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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Last night’s debate found some more daylight between the two Democratic presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders clashed with Hillary Clinton over the former secretary of state’s praise for Henry Kissinger, who Sanders described as one of the worst secretaries of state in living memory.

During a series of questions about foreign policy, Sanders, who has remained fairly vague about his own foreign policy influences, pinned Clinton on her ideological ties to Kissinger:

The secretary and I have a very profound difference. In the last debate and I believe in her book, very good book by the way, in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger.

Now, I find it rather amazing because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger, and in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia when the United States bombed that country, and created the instability for the Khmer to come in, who butchered generations of people—one of the worst genocides in the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.

The crowd in Wisconsin responded positively to the broadside: among some Democrats, Kissinger is associated with state secrecy, support for military juntas, and his lingering presence inside the national security apparatus.

In 2005, Kissinger penned an opinion piece in which he outlined what the Bush administration’s exit strategy should be in Iraq. “American strategy, including a withdrawal process, will stand or fall not on whether it maintains the existing security situation but on whether the capacity to improve it is enhanced. Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy,” he wrote. He cited American attempts to stabilize the South Vietnamese government as a model exit strategy, until the North won the war in 1975.

Sanders’ distaste for Kissinger is par for the course among far left liberals: Kissinger’s enthusiastic support for military coups against the leftist governments of Salvador Allende in Chile and Isabel Peron in Argentina led to the suppression of all civil liberties under a military regime and the disappearances of thousands of leftist political opponents. In southeast Asia, he championed the secret bombing campaign against Cambodia in an attempt to stop Communist Vietnamese fighters attacking South Vietnam across the border. The campaign helped lead to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, who forcibly depopulated all urban centers, put the entire nation to work in collective farms and killed up to 3 million Cambodians. By one estimate, Kissinger’s policies lead to the deaths over at least 4 million civilians, not counting deaths in Vietnam.

Clinton countered Sanders’ accusation of Kissinger’s influence on her foreign policy with his lack of credit advisors: “Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy and we have yet to know who that is,” she retorted, exposing what has been a weak spot in Sanders platform.

“Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger, that’s for sure,” Sanders responded.

Nevertheless, Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term was seen positively by most, both for her efforts to rescue troubled relationships internationally, and for her attempts to peacefully resolve international conflicts.

Clinton led the reset efforts with Russia in 2009, repaired Pakistani relations by hosting a series of discussions with various segments of Pakistani society, and pushed the perception of a new era in foreign relations in this country. She also called for Bashar Al-Assad to step down in 2011 after he ordered the Syrian military to start shooting protesters. In Egypt, albeit belatedly, she called for an orderly transition to democracy, a veiled demand for Hosni Mubarak’s to step down in 2010. Kissinger only ever paid lip service to the concept of democracy.

By registering his dislike of Kissinger, Sanders taps into the Democratic electorate’s awareness of this country’s poor foreign policy record. In a 2010 Gallup poll published during the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, 74 percent of Democratic voters and 57 percent of independents said the Iraq war was a mistake. Younger voters have benefited from the passage of time, including document declassifications on anti-Communist foreign policy during the Cold War. At the onset of President Obama’s attempt to lead a multi-national effort to intervene in Iraq and Syria against ISIS’s burgeoning military power, young people aged 18-29 disagreed with the action more than any other group.

In Clinton’s review of Kissinger’s book World Order, she said of Kissinger, “Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.” But Kissinger’s wisdom will be a hard sell to younger Democratic voters, who have come to dislike the sort of policies associated with him.

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22 Responses to Sanders And Clinton Split On Henry Kissinger’s Legacy

  1. It’s scary knowing Kissingers policy are still with us. Our current presidentidenial debates are a joke, and only aid in covering up the truth. Why are we trying to overthrow the Syrian gov? Note anything Assad has done the US has done 10 fold to the people of the WORLD. Our mainstream media is nothing more than a propaganda ministry for Washington, D.C. Without a doubt, the controlled major media in America rivals the controlled major media of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Here’s the truth about the war.

    Read more at http://www.judicialimmunitynecessarye...

    • It sounds to me that an “overthrow” of Syria is not, if it ever was, the goal. The goal was for Assad to go. I understand the strategy for that by allies in the cause for Syria, is trying to stabilize Syria and roust the terrorists of all kinds, including within the official government, and to try to offer Assad an offer he cannot refuse with asylum somewhere, and a replacement government either in some kind of election, or some other means.

      Hopefully, that will not be considered finished, done, and over with. We have learned that kind of scenario is not success in and of itself. It requires continued assistance and monitoring so that one failed leader is not replaced with another as bad, or worse, than the one replaced.

      This is not going to be an easy task. Terrorists are so rooted in there; they may relocate somewhere else; power is a huge aphrodesiac in the ME; and intentions of ME leaders are not always pure and wholesome, although I believe King Abdullah of Jordan is an entirely different story. The emergency in Syria, is the abominable situation of the people. If they have not fled and are roaming the world trying to find refuge, they are still in Syria, under threat, starving, et al. And, if some of Assad’s most recent statements are true, he may believe this international intervention is for HIM, not for his people, and he has learned nothing from any of this, or, so it seems.

      There are no easy answers, especially from us far removed from the midst of it and from the responsibilities of it.

      • I don’t think your getting the point. The US GOV wants Assad out because he refuses to bend over. The mainstream media tells us Assad is a bad guy. Ask yourself who is support rebels (terrorist) that are using WMD against humanity. When u find the answer that entity is also quilty of war crimes.


        • I don’t pretend to know in depth foreign policy or, especially, the real facts about Syria. There are too many elements, groups, individuals, to know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I do know, from reports of journalists who were there before all the chaos of competing combatants, and from other human rights organizations, that the government was abusing and slaughtering their own people, causing instability, but, the abuse of the people is bad enough to want him removed.

          It is hoped he will be tempted to leave of his own accord. It is hoped that a replacement government and system would be a more stable one, but, that will take years of international assistance and monitoring if the same outcome in other places is not to be in Syria.

          I have never been sure how anyone can distinguish whom to assist with arms in that melee. I have to select my news sources carefully, from credible sources and not from propaganda of any source from any entity.

          I have to rely on the involvement of the international world, allies, the UN, all of whom are involved in this now, and not one country, including our own. And, I hope for the best.

          • My minister always told me, “I can tell u what the bible says but it’s your responsibility to find the truth in the words.
            We’ve lost the most important part of our system of government. That is the ability to question their authority, and that’s not a democracy.
            At least your looking for truth. Keep it up.

          • I’ve been reading your comments with great interest because I truly appreciate the intelligence with which you express your views. It is indeed a complex world we live in and extremely difficult to know where to get factual information. Please note the moniker 🙂

            Here are a few facts about the media with sources (and comments). You can judge their veracity for yourself:

            1. Just 6 corporations control more than 90% of all media outlets (including newspapers, radio, television and movie theaters.

            Comment: Is it any wonder that infotainment passes for news and the bias toward the sensational is ever present. Does the Donald know this and milk it for all it’s worth? You bet. Have they intentionally minimized Bernies’ campaign and tried to distort his message. I think there’s no doubt. Especially the DNC which should be ashamed of their behavior


            2. But the demographics of where people get their news is changing rapidly and more and more people are getting their news online.

            Comment: Still the majority get their news from Cable TV (24%), local TV (14%) and Network nightly news (10). And when they do get it online they often (13%) get it from a News website / app. It’s not clear how much of this comes from alternative news sources or the traditional news outlets. Only 14% comes from Social media (mostly Facebook).

            So the bottom line is those 6 corporations still have an enormous influence on what we see and hear.


            3. 18 – 29 year olds on the other hand get most of their news about the election online and most of it (35%) from Social media.

            Comment: This is why Bernie has done so well with voters in this group.

            Being the skeptic that I am I get my news mostly from outside sources like the BBC, France 24 and Al Jazeera. I think it’s important to understand how the rest of the world sees us. I have found that while they are not totally free of bias (nothing is) they seem to me to be much less interested in selling you something and more interested in providing facts. I occasionally view news clips from the major networks just to observer their naked attempts at manipulation.I’m also part of that 1% 65+ group who watches and participates in the Social media.

    • If you can say that, then most leaders throughout history, are disqualifying. Churchill, as Sanders himself pointed out and endorsed with a disclaimer of “well, in wartime”, had huge flaws and made judgments that were not “ideal”. Every leader, with exception to the maniacal despots in history who were insane, yet convincing enough initially to garner the massses in support, did some good and some bad. Very little is Absolute. Most people in our everyday life have something to admire and something to reject. People with major responsibilities and leadership, will have the same with more impact on more people, but, they often can balance out. I know of no one in history with such responsibilities who was perfect and I do not expect to find any in the time I have left. I, like Hillary, believe Kissinger’s work with China was a significant achievement, and, while I do not excuse some of his other less stellar involvements, I can wonder about the difficulties of working with and for a paranoid schizophrenic President, who, even he, managed to achieve something before his paranoia, left unchecked by his close staff and advisers, made him dysfunctional and dishonesty reigned. History tells us, however, that the objections of Kissinger to some of the tactics employed in Viet Nam, got him placed at the top of Nixon’s “enemies’ list”. Yet, when Nixon was on his knees at the very end, near mad or at least in complete melt down, it is interesting that the only other person who was in the room with him, able to have an ounce of guarded compassion, maybe, pity, was Kissinger.

      I have never had strong opinions re Kissinger and I neither support nor defend him, but, I think I am realistic and, since I have never been in such a position that has so much significance for so many, I cannot categorically condemn anyone for being more wrong and bad than they were correct and good, except, perhaps, those in the cadre of decision making who deliberately deceived, neglected, and perpetrated ill in the last Republican Administration. I continue to have strong opinions about them and cannot find any good thoughts or balance there. I can find no good, just all bad, and I think I have ample justification for feeling that way.

      • You are completed misreading the democratic base today. We don’t want more intervention in the Middle East. In fact we want no intervention. We really don’t think our current policies are effective and these countries should fight their own battles. We are tired of feeding the military industrial complex with this wasteful spending. Hillary would make a great GOP Commander in Chief as demonstrated by her adoration for Henry Kissinger. This will end up as a uuuuge liability for her in this primary.

      • Churchill may have been a good war leader but the British people would have been far better off if he had never served in peacetime. I know most people have some redeeming qualities though I’ve never seen any evidence of that with Kissinger. He would have fit right into the Bush/Cheney cabal except that his penchant for always trying to show off his “brilliance” would have alienated Bush who liked to feel he was the smartest man in the room even though he probably never was. But they say Hitler treated his dogs very well so who knows, maybe Hank treats his piranhas well.

        I doubt Kissinger had any compassion for Nixon. He just wanted to be where he could manipulate the situation to his advantage. he may be the exception to your theory in that like Dick Cheney he seems to be thoroughly evil or sick if you prefer that view of people like them.

        “I cannot categorically condemn anyone for being more wrong and bad than they were correct and good, except, perhaps, those in the cadre of decision making who deliberately deceived, neglected, and perpetrated ill” Kissinger meets your criteria for condemnation.

      • Please listen to what you’re saying. Henry Kissinger did more to deliberately deceive, neglect and perpetrate ill on our country than any SOS in modern history. The fact that he was articulate and smart does not excuse him.

        There is only one reason that I think he could possibly be excused in some sense. And that is that he truly believed that the administrations policies were the best thing for the majority of the American people. But frankly I have seen no evidence to support that. When you deliberately institute a policy of carpet bombing and destabilization that allows a dictator like Pol Pot to commit genocide on 1.5 – 3.0 million people (roughly 38% of the population). It was an effort to demonstrate to the North Vietnamese that we have the power to destroy anything that moves.

        Kissinger quotes from documents released by Wikileaks: After reading these tell me again that this is a man you want our president to admire in any capacity. Please pay special attention to 7 – 10.

        1. Soviet Jews: “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” (link:

        2. Bombing Cambodia: “[Nixon] wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It’s an order, to be done. Anything that flies or anything that moves.” (link: )

        3. Bombing Vietnam: “It’s wave after wave of planes. You see, they can’t see the B-52 and they dropped a million pounds of bombs … I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month … each plane can carry about 10 times the load of World War II plane could carry.” (link; )

        4. Khmer Rouge: “How many people did (Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary) kill? Tens of thousands? You should tell the Cambodians (i.e., Khmer Rouge) that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in the way. We are prepared to improve relations with them. Tell them the latter part, but don’t tell them what I said before.” (Nov. 26, 1975 meeting with Thai foreign minister)

        5. Dan Ellsberg: “Because that son-of-a-bitch—First of all, I would expect—I know him well—I am sure he has some more information—I would bet that he has more information that he’s saving for the trial. Examples of American war crimes that triggered him into it…It’s the way he’d operate….Because he is a despicable bastard.” (Oval Office tape, July 27, 1971)

        6. Robert McNamara: “Boohoo, boohoo … He’s still beating his breast, right? Still feeling guilty. ” (Pretending to cry, rubbing his eyes.)

        7. Assassination: “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.” (Statement at a National Security Council meeting, 1975)

        8. Chile: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” (link:

        9. Illegality-Unconstitutionality: “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” (from March 10, 1975 meeting with Turkish foreign minister Melih Esenbel in Ankara, Turkey)

        10. On His Own Character: “Americans like the cowboy … who rides all alone into the town, the village, with his horse and nothing else … This amazing, romantic character suits me precisely because to be alone has always been part of my style or, if you like, my technique.” (November 1972 interview with Oriana Fallaci)

  2. Hillary is not so rigid and extreme that she cannot appreciate that human beings, in personal lives, and in important powerful positions, are not all good or all evil, well, most of them and us. She knows that public records of their work are not all good nor or they all bad. Just as Sanders qualified his choice of Churchill as his favored person in international affairs with, “well, in wartime”, one could qualify any or most in the same manner. Sanders picks and chooses those for whom he can give a bit of slack to. To him, Kissenger is all bad, all evil, and worthless. Anyone with any commonsense knows he is not all bad, all evil, and that he was worthless and evil, and not deserving of any recognition. As Hillary pointed out, Kissinger did do significant work on opening a constructive relationship with China.

    In prior statements re Kissinger, Hillary has said that there is a group of former SOS who have congenial relationships, supportive relationships, collegial relationships in which they discuss their experiences and learn from each other’s successes and mistakes.
    That is possible when a person is not stubborn, rigid, and so absolute they write another off because of a difference of opinion, ideology, etc to their own. That’s what makes for angry and divisive discourse and is self-limiting to what is the possible. My way or the highway, as we’ve seen with extreme Conservatism, produces nothing. I reject it in my own Party by Democratic Socialists or Progressives, or whatever they label themselves.

    For me, it is another example of what I find lacking in Bernie Sanders. It is another confirmation that he has not been as effective as he might have been on the risky and critical issues that have been chronic for the 30 years he has been in Congress, and for which he will be ineffective in addressing as a President.

    His logic is questionable to me. If a candidate cannot speak to what he/she will do in the WH, as he does and as every candidate does, because “they are not in the WH yet”, then, they all, including himself, need to restrict their campaign discourse to the weather.

    If a candidate is called out for having debated and disagreed on policy issues in a primary campaign for the nomination of a President, with one of those candidates securing the nomination and the Presidency, then there should be no debate between candidates during a campaign, because one of them will surely end up being the President, and, not even discussing the weather would be a smart thing to do.

    It’s one thing, and a required thing, to debate, question, criticize policy issues, of an equal opponent in a campaign, and another thing to criticize and demean the personality of the sitting President from your own identified Party that has, in your opinion, caused that President to be “weak, centrist, and ineffective and not aggressive enough.”

    Complicating this bit of “logic”, and making the criticism even more unacceptable to many of us, is that criticism leveled by someone who sat in the same Congress and witnessed and knew about the avowed mission of the opposition Party to obstruct, undermine, sabotage, this Administration and to make it a one term Administration, by making the President….and the country….fail.

    It says entirely too much about Sanders’ own personality, one that is lacking in any kind of moderation, altruism, wisdom, and capacity to separate reality from theory and his own narrow world of rigid opinions that seem to make him believe he is one of those “all correct, all good” kind of people, which even he was unable to choose to identify when asked the question to do so.

    He may be so confined in that narrow mind and logic and in his rigidity and extremism and stubborness, that he really believes he can achieve his agenda by having masses of people demanding it, even when the evidence that grieving parents of slain children have not been able to accomplish anything with this Congress by showing up on their doorsteps, but his campaign management must surely know better, and that leads me to the conclusion that, not only are the supporters of Bernie being lied to and exploited, so is Bernie Sanders, by his campaign staff, who are highly skilled in the ability to manipulate, misrepresent, exploit, and sleaze their way to some level of success. I would not have expected from Socialism and all that Sanders disavows, the same kind of sleaze and dishonor he condemns in others, unless that is why Socialism always ends in the same corruption and greed, and with the same Haves and Have Nots, as any other form of “ism”, with their own plutocracy and daily workers whose opportunities for risk taking to advance themselves is thwarted for the survival of “the system”, or “the Party”.

    One has to wonder to what gain; what’s in it for them? Could it be the same gain that Wall Street and Special Interest groups and billionaire donors expect when they contribute to politicians? Is it for their own resumes and personal ambitions? I question the nobility of this entire adventure.

    • I appreciate your articulate defense of Ms. Clinton. It’s refreshing to read ideas that seem reasoned if somewhat misleading and colored by a clear bias in your perception. For myself I find any defense of Henry Kissinger abhorrent. It’s a little like saying look at the education and other social welfare programs that Qaddafi offered to some of his people. He wasn’t such a bad guy.

      Yes, people are complex and they often promote good and bad ideas. But even those ideas that look good have unintended consequences. As Bernie rightly pointed out the middle class has suffered tremendously because of the trade agreements following Dr. Kissinger’s (or Nixon’s if you believe some foreign policy pundits) “opening the door to China”. It was more about getting that “historical agreement” than anything else. I’m all for opening relationships with China or any other country but this has not been a net plus for the majority of Americans

      The problem with Dr. Kissinger and Hillary Clinton from the perspective of the middle class is that their egos will not allow them to see those potential unintended consequences. I don’t know if Dr. Kissinger is an “evil” person. I do know that his involvement in the Nixon administration’s policies in Cambodia resulted in the unnecessary deaths of more than 3 million people and that’s a pretty evil thing to be a part of and should not be dismissed because he helped a lot of very large corporations to become even larger at the expense of the rest of us.

      This mindset is completely consistent with her willingness to support the War in Iraq, the No Fly zone in Libya and support for the “rebels” that overthrew Qaddafi and later turned out to be connected to the same group that attacked the embassy. And now she wants to take us even deeper into the wars in Iraq and Syria. It’s the same old arrogant philosophy she’s had all along. When you talk about foreign policy experience as if the time involved in the subject is the only criteria then you have to admit that Dick Cheney has more experience than anyone around today. Judgement does indeed matter and judgment means assessing the potential unforeseen consequences.

      “Complicating this bit of “logic”,… ” Are you implying that Bernie was part of the obstructionism simply because he sat in obstructionist congress? Please elaborate because it’s my understanding that he caucused with the democrats and supported the president whenever he could. If he was so anti-democratic why would they even accept his decision to run as a democrat? Is it because they thought that he didn’t stand a chance. That it would be easy to hang that “Socialist” label around his neck. If that’s the case then I have one thing to say about that. In the words of Adelai Stevensen during the House Unamerican Activities committee: “To those small-minded, sinister, purveyors of the perverse, we say tonight, Mr. Speaker, shame. Shame on you and your tactics. Shame on you and what you attempt to do.” You know very well that Bernie’s Democratic Socialism is nothing like the failed philosophy of those communist/socialist countries of the decades following WWII.

      Disagreeing with a president’s policy even one of your own party or the one you caucus with is something everyone needs to be able to do. This is after all supposed to be a democracy is it not.

        • If she should get elected she has hopefully not been listening to him at all but she did identify him as a friend and mentor. If he was not a Jew he and Hitler would have been very comfortable in each others company.

          I’m sure you agree with me taht Obama had done nothing to deserve a Nobel when he received it. However any outrage we may have felt was muted by the fact that they had already given a Nobel to an accomplice in mass murder like Kissinger.

          • I really don’t care about the views of someone as despicable as Kissinger. He was wrong about so many things in his prime and instrumental in so much killing and misery why would I care what he thinks now that he is a has been.

  3. “Sanders’ distaste for Kissinger is par for the course among far left liberals:” The “far” left only looks that way when you’re looking at the middle from the far right position that the Clintons and neolibs have taken the party. Eisenhower would look like he’s on the far left from Clinton’s view. He said this in his 1952 campaign against Harry Truman “These “Old Guard” Republicans talked about eliminating not just Fair Deal but also New Deal programs and rolling back government regulation of the economy.”

    He intended to lead the country “down the middle of the road between the unfettered power of concentrated wealth . . . and the unbridled power of statism or partisan interests.” Bernies’ economic policies are in perfect alignment with FDR’s “New Deal” while Hillary’s “pragmatism” and “incrementalism” leads down a path of despair for the declining middle class.

    Today that “unfettered power of concentrated wealth” is precisely what Bernie is targeting and Hillary, in spite of her rhetoric is not. And her admiration for Dr. Kissinger is the perfect example of the distinction between an elitist who doesn’t give a damn about the lives that are destroyed by the policies you push and someone who has stood up for the economically disadvantaged and the working class all of their life.

    The elite foreign policy “experts” heap praise upon Kissinger for opening up China and engaging in talks with the Russians. But look at the results. The only people who have benefited from those improved relationships were major corporations that moved operations to China to reduce labor costs and the Military Industrial Complex that profits from the war machine produced by the constant military incursions being created by an imperialistic foreign policy.

    Bernie is absolutely right. Kissinger is a war criminal and should be treated as such. Whether he was the actual architect of those policies or iwas “just following orders” from Nixon (an idea that some are trying to push to excuse him) really doesn’t matter. He certainly took the credit when everyone thought it was such a good idea and he should be held responsible now that we understand how devastating it has been for the majority of us.

    It’s long past time for the public to know and to expose him for who he is and what he did.

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