By Dr George Venturini
Heinz Alfred ‘Henry’ Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich – two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them.
In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as “a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming an international potentate. The signature qualities were there from the inaugural moment: the sycophancy and the duplicity; the power worship and the absence of scruple; the empty trading of old non-friends for new non-friends. And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger’s global career started as it meant to go on. It debauched the American republic and American democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more vulnerable societies.”
The story is all here: from the martyrdom of Indochina to becoming the real backchannel to Moscow on behalf of his new client: Donald Trump.
Editor’s note: This outstanding series by Dr Venturini will be published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays).
Sometime towards the end of 2016 the Nobel Institute and the University of Oslo decided to initiate the activity of a Nobel Peace Prize Forum. The organisers thought that Dr. Henry Kissinger and Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski would be the appropriate persons to invite. It was a well considered choice, prof. Olav Njölstad, a distinguished historian at the University, serving both as head of the Nobel Institute and as secretary of the Nobel Committee. Prof. Njölstad was undoubtedly supported in his choice by the University Rector, Dr. Med. Ole Petter Ottersen.
The event was to be held in the University Aula Magna, where the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony took place for more than forty years, from 1947 to 1989. Many constituency voices were to be attending the Forum, representing government, business and non-profit sectors. Content was to be shared with a broad audience through social media. The event was to be organised by the company InCircl in partnership with another called GoodXChange. “It is clear that this year’s topic has implications for all of us.” said Jeff Sparrow, CEO of InCircl, sponsor of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo. “Among others, we believe it is important to encourage peace by engaging businesses in discussion platforms like this.” InCircl is described as “a global partnership of companies which foster the relationships of digital communication through identity management, finance technology and proximity marketing. The company’s goal is to provide clients with the best tools to invest in relationships with their consumers. GoodXChange is a marketing affiliate of InCircl which is facilitating a digital awareness campaign in conjunction with InCircl and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo.”
The decision caused an immediate reaction.
The Nobel Peace Prize Watch objected strenuously. ‘The Watch’ was born from the association Lay Down Your Arms, which had been founded to continue the efforts of Norwegian lawyer and author Fredrik S. Heffermehl, who in 2007 suddenly discovered that Nobel and his purpose had landed in oblivion. The Norwegian awarders of the Nobel Peace Prize had disconnected entirely from the original purpose described in the will of Nobel. In August 2007 Heffermehl published an article publicly requesting the Norwegian Nobel Committee to check its mandate and find out and respect what Nobel actually wanted. In his view what Nobel really wanted was to liberate all nations from weapons, warriors – and thus from war.
‘The Watch’ has repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, taken the view that persons responsible for the Norwegian committee and the Nobel Foundation itself have, at least since 2007, systematically shown reluctance to discuss the points raised both about Alfred Nobel’s own intention and the decisive legal importance of what Nobel really wanted. In 2007 the awarders had forgotten Nobel entirely, and the rediscovery led the awarders to offer frivolous claims to adhere to the will, but in actual practice – since – no visible interest in understanding Nobel and his actual intention. This is why the Lay Down Your Arms Association was incorporated and registered in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2014. Founding members are Tomas Magnusson and Fredrik S. Heffermehl.
On 6 December 2016 Fredrik S. Heffermehl and Tomas Magnusson wrote to Tor-Aksel Busch, the Director of Public Prosecutions, P.O. Box8002 – Dep, 0030, Oslo, Norway, and in copy to Jan F. Glent, Head of International Prosecutions Unit for the following:
“REQUEST: SUMMONS FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION – HENRY KISSINGER
By a preliminary request of November 30 (that is hereby revoked and should be deleted) we informed the Director of Public Prosecutions that former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor of the USA, Henry Kissinger, will be in Norway in the second week of December 2016. He is invited as an honoured guest by respected institutions, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and the University of Oslo, to share his views on US foreign policy, by all appearances not to regret or repent, or be held to account.”
The writers argued that: “The discrepancy between the world of Kissinger and the peace by global disarmament and co-operation, the demilitarized “fraternity of nations” ideas, the Nobel committee was supposed to promote, is so glaring that it defies comment. The same applies to the University of Oslo. We wish to draw your attention to Kissinger’s comprehensive, unparalleled record of serious international crimes and the need for prosecutorial action.”
For the purpose they attached a set of documents:
“Document 1: Invitation by the Nobel Committee and the University of Oslo.
A book by the famous journalist Christopher Hitchens has given a comprehensive survey of Kissinger’s international crimes:
Document 2: The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Verso, 2001).
A recent article in The New Yorker refers to new evidence, documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act:
Document 3: DOES HENRY KISSINGER HAVE A CONSCIENCE? By Jon Lee Anderson, in The New Yorker, August 20, 2016.
The Trial of Henry Kissinger is not available in Norwegian, but can be downloaded (Atlantic Books). We attach a resume of some points relevant to the prosecutorial evaluation, translated into Norwegian, with some remarks. A good resume is found in the foreword to the 2002 edition.
Annex 1: In Norwegian; oversikt over omtalt kriminell virksomhet (criminal activities) i Hitchens “TheTrial…” (2001) with some remarks, p.10 below.
Annex 2: Foreword Christopher Hitchens, The Trial… (2002), p.14 below.
The menu of crimes ordered or organized by Kissinger, war crimes, torture, aggression, subversion, interference and interventions in violation of international law is without end. The cases most suited for prosecutorial action seem to be 1) the warfare in Vietnam, 2) the “secret” bombing of Cambodia and Laos, 3) the genocide in East Timor.
1. HENRY KISSINGER – A FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE
It is well known that, for fear of being apprehended and tried for a unique record of serious crimes under international law, Kissinger is very careful about where he travels. See Hitchens opening chapter (Document 2) and Document 4: Christopher Hitchens, “The Fugitive” (The Nation, Jun 7,2001) https://www.thenation.com/article/fugitive/
In 2001, in Paris, Kissinger was served with summons to appear before a judge the next day, and then immediately checked out of the Ritz Hotel and left the country. The summons was for his role in the “Operation Condor” in the 1970s, a coordinated effort by the secret police forces of seven South American dictatorships. The death squads of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Bolivia agreed to pool resources and to hunt down, torture, murder and otherwise “disappear” one another’s dissidents. They did this not just on their own soil but as far away as Rome and Washington, where assassins and car-bombs were deployed to maim Christian Democratic Senator Bernardo Leighton in 1975 and to murder the Socialist Orlando Letelier in 1976.The main architect and supervisor of these grave crimes was Henry Kissinger, wrote Hitchens.
Hitchens further explains that the French judge learnt that:
“the inquiry can go no further until US government figures agree to answer questions. In refusing to do this, Kissinger received the shameful support of the US Embassy in Paris and the State Department, which coldly advised the French to go through bureaucratic channels in seeking information. Judge Le Loire replied that he had already written to Washington in 1999, during the Clinton years, but had received no response.
On the Friday immediately preceding Memorial Day, another magistrate in a democratic country made an identical request. In order to discover what happened to so many people during the years of Condor terror, said Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, it would be necessary to secure a deposition from Kissinger. And on June 4 the Chilean judge Juan Guzmán Tapia asked US authorities to question Kissinger about the disappearance of the American citizen Charles Horman, murdered by Pinochet’s agents in 1973 and subject of the Costa-Gavras movie ‘Missing’. … So that, in effect, we have a situation in which the Bush regime is sheltering a man who is wanted for questioning on two continents.”
Hitchens concluded his article by remarks on the will and the obligation to adjudicate the war crimes of Kissinger and his accomplices:
“The seven Condor countries, groping their way back to democracy after decades of trauma, are making brave and honest attempts to find the truth and to punish the guilty. Time and again, commissions of inquiry have been frustrated because the evidence they need is in archives in Washington.And it is in those archives for the unspeakable reason that the United States was the patron and armorer of dictatorship.”
Kissinger, his character, activities, and the official US protection of him are well described and condemned by Fred Branfman in a 2013 Alternet article:
Document 4 B: “America keeps honoring one of its worst mass-murderers: Henry Kissinger.”
2. NORWAY SHOULD PROSECUTE TO UPHOLD INTERNATIONAL LAW
“Norway´s wide rules on universal jurisdiction should not pose any problem with the apprehension, questioning and trial of Mr. Kissinger. The rules in Norwegian and international penal law defining international crimes, war crimes, torture etc. have been thoroughly dealt with by the late professor of law at the University of Oslo, Ståle Eskeland.
Document 5: Ståle Eskeland “De mest alvorlige forbrytelser” (Cappelen Damm 2011).
On page 47 Prof. Eskeland quotes a decision in 2009,where the Norwegian prosecutors refrained from action in a complaint citing war crimes during the 2009 war in Gaza. The prosecutors noted that Norway had a right to initiate investigation and prosecution, but not an obligation,
“and none of the accused have any form of connection to Norway and in our opinion the authority should exercise great caution with opening an investigation in cases of alleged crimes committed abroad by a perpetrator not domiciled in Norway or having any other form of connection to our country.”
The case of Kissinger, however, seems very different. Several of his acts are within a category of crimes where all nations are obliged by treaty to prosecute; they “shall” take action if such criminals come within their jurisdiction. Furthermore, Kissinger has for decades had a major influence upon Norwegian politics and foreign and military affairs, by shaping and conducting the policy of the NATO alliance of which Norway is a member.
Several of Kissinger’s crimes come under one of the treaties where it is mandatory for Norway to prosecute. He is complicit or main actor in many violations of the CAT, the Convention Against Torture, and the Genocide Convention. However, we are aware of the difficulty that the obligation to prosecute under CAT applies only to acts after its entry into force on June 24, 1987, by which time Henry Kissinger seems no longer to have been in a position to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. But there is no time limit for prosecution of violations of the Genocide convention.
All nations have comprehensive obligations to protect and realize the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, enact and enforce legislation penalizing any of these crimes, and are also obligated to search for persons who commit these crimes, and to bring them to trial regardless of their nationality and regardless of the place where the crimes took place. Article 85 (1) of the first additional protocol (1977) to the Geneva Conventions extends the agreed obligation to prosecute to military strategy and warfare that cause “excessive loss” of civilian lives.
Document 2 contains ample documentation of war crimes and excessive loss of civilian lives, see some extract in Annex 1. Indeed, Kissinger has shown unparalleled cynicism and callous co-operation, he colluded and conspired with foreign despotic leaders. Human rights, international law, mass murder, loss of civilian lives, or even deceiving the US Congress and Constitution, did not concern him if he thought it would serve US interests to ignore them.
Henry Kissinger is famous for communicating President Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, having said:
“Anything that flies on everything that moves”. This shows a callous and shocking insouciance about the basic rule of the laws of war, to protect civilian lives.
The responsibility of national prosecutors to take action against the gravest international crimes are the result of a long development where it is seen in the interest of the world community that all countries co-operate to end impunity. If Western political and military leaders shall continue to enjoy impunity this is bound to do serious harm to law and order in the world.
Nations do not commit international crimes, but persons, individuals, acting for the state do, said the post WWII Nuremberg judgment. Therefore acting for a state or under superior order is no excuse, neither is acting under a broad national consensus. This was a major leaping global ethical awareness. History has shown what disasters can result from the judiciary failing to stand firm against the waves of national emotions that often permeate military and international issues; war and peace.”
At this point the writers made their specific request:
“The Director of Public Prosecutions as a high public official has an individual and personal duty to act to uphold law and order. It is incumbent on him to live up to this responsibility also in the present case, even if it is likely to offend many, at home and abroad, in the street and in high office alike.
The leading Norwegian expert on issue of universal jurisdiction and immunity, Professor of law Jo Martin Stigen, has written these articles:
Document 6: (2010). Hvilken immunitet for internasjonale kjerneforbrytelser? Retfærd. Nordisk Juridisk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0105-1121. 33 (1=128), s 57-94.
Document7: (2009). Universaljurisdiksjon – en kritiskanalyse. Tidsskrift for rettsvitenskap. ISSN 0040-7143.22(1), s 1-46.”
The writers asked:
“3. HAS NORWAY GUARANTEED SAFE PASSAGE TO KISSINGER?
It is a fact that Mr. Kissinger is very careful about foreign travel. His travel to Norway raise an awkward question: has he decided to go to Norway because he has been promised safe passage, or is he so confident about Norway as a loyal subordinate that he takes it for granted? Neither alternative is very honourable to a presumed independent country. If Kissinger will enjoy automatic impunity it stands out in shameful contrast with denying protection to whistleblower Edward Snowden for a stay of two days to receive the Ossietzky prize from Norwegian PEN. Can Norway really have offered protection to one who has committed the most serious international crimes and at the same time denied it to one who has exposed grave crimes against the US Constitution?
Snowden revealed how the US government are guilty of massive criminality in the form of extensive and invasive surveillance activities, infringing the privacy of people at home and abroad, including foreign governments, and putting our free societies and civil liberties at risk. Many feel that he should have won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, [and] he is included in the NPPW list: http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7#bolkovac
The late Christopher Hitchens was disgusted by the way Henry Kissinger was treated as a respected statesman and would have been appalled by Norway’s submissive attitude. “Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded,” Hitchens wrote. “No more dinners in his honor; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers.”
Rather than fawning on him, Hitchens suggested, “why don’t you arrest him?” And this is an idea with wide support.
Millions of people, victims and survivors, will question or be seriously offended if Norway goes through with praise and honors to a person in the top ranks in the history of callous international state criminality. The suffering ordered or managed by Kissinger has led to increasing insecurity and violence for which all citizens of the world pay a high prize.
We foresee that our request will be received with the same mixture of the surprise, rejection and incredulity that Hitchens describes in his Foreword 2002:
“When this little book first appeared, in what may now seem the prehistoric spring of 2001, it attracted a certain amount of derision in some quarters, and on two grounds. A number of reviewers flatly declined to believe that the evidence presented against Henry Kissinger could be true. Others, willing to credit at least the veracity of the official documents, nonetheless scoffed at the mere idea of bringing such a mighty figure within the orbit of the law.” (underlinings by NPPW)
But your high office is obligated to rise above such an immediate automatic reaction and has an obligation to evaluate the case on its merits. Some questions ought to be considered. How would I react to a request for extradition, investigation or action against an individual torturer, death camp manager, killer of civilians? Surely I would not consider acting under order an excuse. But can I then abstain from ensuring that a person who gave the orders is brought to justice? To bow respectfully to one who, probably more than anyone in the last 70 years, pulled the strings and managed the most and the gravest crimes against humanity and the laws of war, would surely not be in line with the new level of global ethics reached with the Nuremberg principles?
It was more than a paradox when, in her Dec.10, 1973, speech in honor of Kissinger, the Nobel chair Aase Lionæs offered the very true comment that “peace must be based on rules to which all states, at any rate the great powers, adhere in their conduct.” True, there will neither be peace nor justice if in the law between nations continues to be like cobwebs, strong enough to detain only the weak and too weak to hold the strong.
The International Criminal Court, ICC, is presently in serious danger of being destroyed by the attitudes of hegemonic Western powers. Its application of justice has become so lopsided that Third World countries are starting to withdraw. They cannot be expected to accept forever the guaranteed impunity of the war criminals of powerful nations. A potential collapse of this essential institution ought to concern all tasked with law enforcement and the protection of citizens all over the world against terror and lawlessness.
Many civil servants who once served their nation with unquestioning loyalty have been harshly condemned after shifts of power and in new political settings. We trust the Norwegian prosecutors, mindful that history is watching, will act in a professional and unbiased way and give the right answer to our request.
DOCUMENTATION AND EVIDENCE
The articles referred to above are available by links to websites. The books and legal articles are presumed to be in the possession of your office. We shall be glad to assist with further documents and information.
Nobel Peace Prize Watch
Fredrik S. Heffermehl Tomas Magnusson
Adresser: email@example.com, Nobel Peace Prize Watch, c/o Magnusson, Marklandsgatan 63, 414 77 Göteborg, Sverige.
We support and join the call for prosecutorial action by Norway:
Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, USA
Erni and Ola Friholt, Peace movement activists, Orust, Sweden
Jon Hellesnes, Professor emeritus of philosophy, Tromsoe, Norway
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Ph.D., Author, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026, Australia
Gunnar Nerdrum, attorney-at-law, Tromsoe, Norway
Jan Oberg, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Lund, Sweden
Antonio Carlos da Silva Rosa, M.A., editor, researcher. Porto,Portugal/SãoPaulo, Brasil
Sven Ruin, Human rights activist, Köping, Sweden
David Swanson, author, World Beyond War, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Ola Tellesbø, Attorney-at-law, Norway
Kenji Urata, Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law, Waseda University, Japan
Gunnar Westberg, Prof. emeritus, Sahlgrenska academy, Göteborg, Sweden.”
As things stood, at least in the intention of the organisers, the two specialists and experts on warfare and interventionism were – in Orwellian style – to speak about “The United States and World Peace after the  Presidential election.
At the time, as well as now, the United States is the country which has used nuclear weapons without apology and owns the second largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Since 1980 it has intervened violently in Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo/Serbia, Yemen, Pakistan and Syria, that is in 14 Muslim countries. The United States has at least some 630 base facilities in 130 plus countries. It has U.S. Special Forces (S.O.F.) in 133 countries.
The United States stands for about 40 per cent of the world’s military expenditures, is the world’s leading arms exporter and has killed more people than anybody else since 1945. It is the master of drone strikes – despite everything said, a non-discriminating weapon. It presently supports Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and conducts a military build-up in Asia and the Pacific planning, as it seems, for what looks like a future confrontation with China – and all that with no terribly positive results in its Middle East policies since 1945.
So with all these credentials, should that country be spoken of in association with world peace?
Next installment Saturday: One of the most evil individuals alive
Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini, formerly an avvocato at the Court of Appeal of Bologna, devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reach at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.