Born in Bavaria in 1923, of Jewish origin, the young Heinz Alfred Kissinger was forced to migrate with his family to the United States to escape Nazism. Becoming "Henry", he was granted American nationality in 1943, enlisted as a soldier in the ranks of military intelligence and joined counter-espionage services. Returning to America at the end of the war, he pursued brilliant studies at Harvard University, teaching political science and specialising in international relations. His career as a diplomat took on a truly global dimension during the Nixon era. Throughout the Cold War, he became a key figure at the head of the Western bloc against the USSR.
Behind his "dark side", the face of imperialism
In keeping with his rank and services to the American nation, a shower of tributes came from major governments to honour the departed diplomat. Biden praised his "fierce intellect”, Xi Jinping the "legendary diplomat", Scholz a "great diplomat", Macron a "giant of history", and so on.
In supposed opposition to this consensus, the controversial figure was the subject of "criticism" by left-wing parties, leftists and several media, condemning the "dark side" of his character. Undoubtedly, from the moment he entered the White House as National Security Adviser in 1969, and then as Secretary of State in 1973, Kissinger inspired little sympathy, to the point where Nixon, highly suspicious, decided to bug his phone. A common practice that would cause scandal later and cost him his job in the Watergate affair.. Kissinger himself used the same methods against his own staff, who also disliked this tireless manipulator, known for his authoritarianism, coldness, lies, and total lack of scruples. In short, a profile typical of all the great representatives of the bourgeoisie and other defenders of capitalism. But by focusing almost exclusively on Kissinger's personality, this propaganda masked the fact that the decisions he had taken, which were indeed criminal, were above all part of the brutal logic of imperialism and therefore of the capitalist system.
None of this detracts from the responsibility of Kissinger and Nixon for their abuses, but it does point to the inevitably barbaric policies of a decadent system that led to two world wars and antagonistic imperialist blocs that even threatened to engulf humanity in a nuclear apocalypse. It is only in this context that we can understand the major crimes that were actually committed during the Cold War as a result of decisions taken at the very top of the American State.
And this was indeed the case with the massive terror bombings of Cambodia, which began in the greatest secrecy in 1969 in the face of threats from North Vietnamese troops. The United States dropped 540,000 tonnes of bombs, causing a deluge of fire that killed between 50,000 and 150,000 civilians. Declassified transcripts prove that Kissinger did indeed pass on the bombing orders to General Alexander Haig: "a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia [...] It's an order, it has to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?" Cambodia, which had become the most heavily bombed country in history, sank into a barbarity that helped bring the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot's bloody regime to power.
These crimes were not just the product of a decision by an unscrupulous individual. It was a planned policy, based on the strategy of terror, designed to counter the enemy bloc: the USSR. Such an approach in no way contradicts the policy of "détente", which is itself based on the principle of a "balance of terror". The doctrine of "nuclear deterrence", defended by the entire Western camp, was therefore not limited to the scheming Kissinger.
Taking advantage of the growing split between the USSR and China at the end of the 1960s to promote "détente" and also distancing himself from the Ostpolitik of German Chancellor Willy Brandt, Kissinger firmly defended the continuity of the same "containment" strategy initiated by President Truman after the Second World War. Here too, the policy of "détente" was discreetly exerting pressure designed to further isolate the USSR. A meticulous and systematic secret policy, in which Kissinger had been the main player and a fine negotiator, was successful for the Western camp. At the same time, thanks to numerous discreet contacts with Chinese minister Zhou Enlai, his policy made Nixon's trip to Beijing possible in 1972. It was a policy that was to bear fruit when China officially joined the Western camp.
Following the Treaty of Paris, the next year, which led to talks in the Middle East and the end of the Vietnam War, Kissinger was to receive ... the Nobel Peace Prize! Naturally, this caused an outcry which even led to the resignation of two members of the Nobel Prize.
To loosen the stranglehold of this very skilful American offensive, the Soviet bloc retaliated with attempts to destabilise it by trying to counter the increased pressure from the Western bloc. In this context, the election of the "socialist" Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 was perceived as a real threat to Washington. Allende's assassination and the putsch that brought General Pinochet to power were, to say the least, greatly facilitated (if not executed) by the CIA and US policy. The American counter-offensive did indeed use terror. The proof is that it turned a blind eye to the torture and summary executions of the new Chilean regime and many others. Kissinger's role and authority over the CIA, and their support for numerous dictatorships, made the 1970s and 1980s "dark years" in this respect.
The Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie
Kissinger's "realpolitik" was in fact that of the entire Western bloc. Using cunning and seduction, lies, concealment, manipulation and violence, it has helped to orchestrate numerous coups d'état and organise massive bombings of civilians, thereby fostering the breeding ground for ethnic cleansing and massacres. All in the name of "democracy".
What is most despicable is the bourgeoisie's ability today to use its own past crimes to feed democratic propaganda in order to mystify the working class by trying to cover up its own system of exploitation, of mass destruction, and massacres. “In order to perpetuate its rule over the working class, it's vital for the bourgeoisie to maintain the democratic mystification, and it has used the definitive bankruptcy of Stalinism to reinforce this fiction. Against the lie of a so-called difference between 'democracy' and 'totalitarianism', the whole history of decadent capitalism shows us that democracy is just as stained with blood as totalitarianism, and that its victims can be counted in millions.
The proletariat must remember that when it comes to defending class interests or sordid imperialist appetites, the 'democratic' bourgeoisie has never hesitated to support the most ferocious dictators. Let's not forget that Blum, Churchill and company called Stalin 'Mister' and feted him as the 'man of Liberation'! More recently, let's recall the support given to Saddam Hussein and Ceausescu by the likes of De Gaulle and Giscard. The working class must take on board the fact that, whether yesterday, today or tomorrow, democracy has never been anything but the hypocritical mask behind which the bourgeoisie hides the hideous face of its class dictatorship, the better to enslave the working class and bring it to its knees."
Henry Kissinger was a typical representative of the bourgeois class, radically separating morality from politics - as he put it: "a country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security". Until the end of his official career in 1977 and well beyond, Kissinger would continue to influence American political life, as demonstrated by his open support for Reagan and his advice to Bush Jr. and many others. Last July, at the age of 100, he was still influential and even able to travel. He was received by Xi Jinping in person in Beijing, just a few months before his death.
WH, 10 December 2023
 Watergate led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
 In order to sow the seeds of fear among the "Soviets", Kissinger cleverly suggested that Nixon might be "unpredictable", i.e. ready to use the atomic bomb at any moment. In short, a division of labour in which Kissinger came across as the "good guy" and Nixon as the "dangerous bad guy".
 Brandt’s policy of normalising relations with the USSR was viewed with suspicion by the Americans.
 American satirical singer Tom Lehrer said that "political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize". Françoise Giroud spoke of a "Nobel Prize for black humour".
 "Let Us Remember: The massacres and crimes of the 'Great Democracies'", International Review 66 (1991)