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 is published bi-weekly (Wednesdays and Saturdays). Today we publish Part Twenty. Here is the link to Part Nineteen; The “terror archives”.
It may appear as paradoxical by Henry A. Kissinger and Donald J. Trump have something in common: they both see themselves as superb achievers, skilful originators – better still: creators, albeit in different ways.
Kissinger thinks himself as a well-deserving successor in the reputation of a Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Prime Minister Pitt’s Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, combined with Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, Austrian Empire’s Foreign Minister and later Chancellor. Nothing less.
Kissinger condescension to deal with crooks like Nixon or non-entities like Ford comes from his boundless view of himself and a feeling that ultimately he will triumph – no matter how vulgar or ignorant the person he advises.
When it comes to Trump, Kissinger might have a problem, because the ‘qualities’ of the man in the White House are such as well deserving the thoughtful characterisation by professor the Hon. Gareth Evans, AC QC: “Donald Trump – [is] manifestly the most ill-informed, under-prepared, ethically-challenged and psychologically ill-equipped President in US history. Personally driven by instinct and impulse, unhampered by knowledge or judgment, he has led an administration acting so far on the basis of postures rather than policies.” Evans was especially qualified in speaking at the launch of a book by Allan Gyngell, Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World Since 1942 (LaTrobe, Melbourne 2017), at the National Press Club, Canberra, on 13 April 2017.
Kissinger has been on scene – or behind it – for the past sixty years, since he joined the Rockefeller clan as an adviser. Except for the short period during which he was Secretary of State (September 1973-January 1977) he has acted as a consultant. He began in fact while still in that position, for how else would he earn the appointment to adviser to the Indonesian government and the subsequent retainer of US$200,000 and fee of US$600,000, not to mention then position as director and a promise of a 2 per cent commission on future earning by Freeport McMoRan in 1989 – and all that three years before establishing Kissinger Associates?
Kissinger was a member of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro International Advisory Board since 1985, and the Banca was later reported as being a client of Kissinger Associates. It was a client between 1986 and 1988. Kissinger was paid US$10,000 for appearing at an Advisory Board meeting and he was paid extra for speaking at Banca’s functions. It is important to bring these facts out because the Banca is owned by Italian entities and under the control of the Italian government. In effect, Kissinger’s fees were indirectly paid for with Italian taxpayer money.
The Banca had been involved in a major political scandal – referred to as ‘Iraqgate’ by the media – when it was revealed in 1989 that the Atlanta, Georgia branch of the Banca was making unauthorised loans of more than US$4.5 billion to Iraq. The Banca had its U.S. offices at the posh ‘Peachtree Center’ in Atlanta, where the Bank of Georgia was also another client of Kissinger Associates. Many of the loans that the branch made were guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation programme. The loans were originally intended to finance agricultural exports to Iraq, but were diverted by Iraq to buy weapons.
In an article published in The Financial Times on 26 April 1991 Kissinger was quoted as saying that he had resigned from the Banca’s Advisory Board on 22 February 1991. Apparently he said: “I resigned earlier this year because I don’t want to be connected, I don’t want to be asked about this sort of thing.”
But it should be noted that Kissinger supposedly did not resign his Banca post until over 18 months after the Banca scandal became public in August 1989.
Another interesting point to note is the timing of Kissinger’s supposed resignation from the Banca on 22 February 1991. That date is just days before the Justice Department announced a 347 count indictment against the former employees of the Banca after an exhaustive 18-month investigation. There one could observe both a discrepancy and a coincidence.
There was a more sinister connection between the Banca and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, B.C.C.I., the bank which would be used by numerous drugs and arms traffickers around the world (b. 1972-d. 1991). B.C.C.I. helped Gerald Bull, the designer of the Project Babylon ‘supergun’ for the Iraqi government, smuggle propellant for his superguns from Belgium to Iraq and loaned US$72 million through Bank of America to Space Research financier Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. Between 1983 and 1989 the Banca busied itself financing Saddam Hussein’s arms procurement efforts in tandem with the Iraqi Central Bank and Rafidain Bank of Iraq, which had numbered accounts at Bank of America, Bank of New York, Chase Manhattan and Manufacturers Hanover Trust. The Banca’s clearing agent on all transactions was Morgan Guaranty Trust. When Saddam defaulted on the loans, the US multinationals which benefited were paid in full, while U.S. taxpayers were charged US$347 million. (Jim Donahue, ‘Bankrolling the War’, Multinational Monitor. March 1991 at 6).
The Banca often transferred funds to Iraq using B.C.C.I., where Saudi intelligence officers laundered drug money for the Medellin Cartel.
The Banca’s Advisory Board for International Policy included Kissinger and his patron David Rockefeller, until before his death chairman of the Rockefeller Group. In 1984 the United States/Iraq Business Forum was established in Houston, Texas with the assistance of Kissinger Associates. The group had had the blessing of former British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, former Secretary General of N.A.T.O., president of both the Royal Institute of International Affairs and Bilderberger Group. Carrington was on the board of the now defunct Hollinger International Corporation, once the world’s third-largest English-language newspaper empire, which was controlled by Conrad Moffat Black, also known as Baron Black of Crossharbour, a Canadian-born British former newspaper publisher and author. Black was at the time one of the wealthiest Canadians. Kissinger sat on the board of Hollinger. In a 2004 shareholder-initiated prosecution before an American court Black was convicted as a fraudster for stealing from the Corporation and for having obstructed justice, and sentenced to six and a half years’ in gaol. He managed to have the sentence reviewed, thus serving only 37 months. Black was a Bilderberger insider, along with Kissinger.
The Banca was a Kissinger Associates client from 1986 to 1988, as was National Bank of Georgia, that B.C.C.I. investor and agent Ghaith Rashad Pharaon, a Saudi businessman, helped Thomas Bertram ‘Bert’ Lance, an American businessman who served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Carter in 1977, slide out from under. Kissinger is a good friend of Pharoan and an even better friend of his father, who was an adviser to the House of Saud.
Several clients of Kissinger Associates, including Chase Manhattan, Asea Brown Boveri, Fiat, Volvo, Hewlet Packard, Lumnis Crest and Midland Bank (now H.S.B.C.) received the Banca’s favourable financing for Iraqi projects. In time two directors of Kissinger Associates, Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft would become members of President George H. W. Bush’s cabinet, respectively as undersecretary of state and chairman of the National Security Agency. Both had worked on the Banca account, which was funnelling taxpayer-guaranteed money to Saddam Hussein so that he award contracts to US/Iraqi Business Forum members. (Kissinger Associates, Scowcroft, Eagleburger, Stoga, Iraq and BNL’. Chair Henry Gonzalez. H2694. United States Senate House Banking Committee. 28 April 1982).
Eagleburger, a long time Kissinger deputy, had been on the board of International Telephone & Telegraph which had financed the Pinochet coup and was president of Kissinger Associates between 1984 and 1989 and in 1983 joined the board of Dresser Industries, a subsidiary of Halliburton, which was the domain of Richard Bruce ‘Dick’ Cheney. Prescott S. Bush Jr., George Sr.’s brother, was an executive at Dresser. All in the very large and very powerful family !
Scowcroft joined Kissinger Associates as vice-chairman in 1982. He owned stock in many of the multinationals which were members of the American/Iraqi Business Forum. They included A.T.&T., General Motors, Hewlett Packard, I.T.&T. and Westinghouse. These five behemoths were granted 100 of the 800 export licenses that the United States government approved for sales to Iraq. Scowcroft was consultant to Lockheed, which in 1995 merged with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin, an American global aerospace, defence, security and advanced technologies corporation with worldwide interests.
Scowcroft and Eagleburger led the charge in the Bush White House to sell arms to Iraq and any other country that would buy them. Under pressure from the Aerospace Industries Association and the CEOs of Grumman, I.T.&T. Defense, L.T.V., Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and United Technologies, Eagleburger and Scowcroft lobbied to change the name of the State Department’s Office of Munitions Control in to Center for Defense Trade. American Embassies worldwide were put in charge of aiding U.S. defense contractors, turning into sale representatives.
Chief economist and Managing Director of Kissinger Associates between 1984 and 1996 was Alan Stoga, formerly an official of the U.S. Treasury. He continued to be a director and consultant to the firm, while still powerfully connected with the First National Bank of Chicago.
At the time the First National Bank of Chicago’s Chairman was Robert Abboud, who was subsequently and until early 1991 chairman and chief executive of the First City Bancorporation of Texas. He continued to be the chairman of the U.S./Iraqi Business Forum. The port of Houston was then supplying the brunt of Saddam Hussein’s needs, including twenty per cent of the American rice harvest. Abboud was also president of Kuwaiti-owned Occidental Petroleum. In the fall of 1989 Stoga met several times with B.C.C.I. officials, who had a year earlier been indicted in Tampa on money laundering charges.
In October 1988 Kissinger joined the board of Continental Grain, the French Fribourg family-controlled private firm which grew in time to become the second largest grain company in the world until its 1999 merger with Cargill. Cargill, Inc. is an American privately held global corporation based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, but incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware. Kissinger was on the board of directors. It is now the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue. If it were a public company, it would rank, as of 2015, number 12 on the Fortune 500, behind McKesson and ahead of A.T.&T. Cargill is privately held by the Minneapolis-based Cargill and MacMillan families. Cargill Inc. controls over fifty per cent of the world’s grain trade. It is one of four giant privately held companies which have quietly monopolised the world’s grain business since the mid 1800’s. Cargill Continental, the French Louis Dreyfus, the Brazilian Bunge and the Swiss Andre constitute the Four Horsemen of grain. Dan Morgan’s Merchants of Grain: The power and profits of the five giant companies at the center of the world’s food supply (iUniverse Inc., Lincoln, Nebraska 1979) is an excellent exposé of these grain dynasties.
In 1989 Bush Secretary of State James Addison ‘Jim’ Baker III ordered Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Keith ‘Clay’ Yeutter to increase credits to Iraq through the Commodity Credit Corporation, C.C.C. after Eagleburger, Robert M. Kimmitt and Iraq’s C.C.C. lobbyist and C.I.A. agent Kevin Kattke lobbied for a US$1 billion C.C.C. loan. Kattke received help from Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Laurence North and T.G.S. International, an Arlington, Virginia firm named from C.I.A. asset Theodore George ‘Ted’ Shackley, Jr., encountered in previous pages.
Continental Grain and Cargill Continental were in ferocious competition with the Australian Wheat Board. A scandal would follow.
The Australian Wheat Board oil-for-wheat scandal refers to the payment of kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein in contravention of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Humanitarian Programme. A.W.B. Limited was a major grain marketing organisation based in Australia. For much of the twentieth and early twenty-first century, it was an Australian Government entity operating a ‘single desk regime’ – monopsony over Australian wheat, meaning it alone could export Australian wheat, for which it paid a single price. In the mid-2000s, it was found to have been, through middlemen, paying kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein, in exchange for lucrative wheat contracts. This was in direct contradiction of United Nations Sanctions, and of Australian law.
A.W.B. delivered ninety per cent of the Iraqi wheat market, before its practices were questioned in 2005. United Nations investigator Paul Volcker found that the Australian Wheat Board, and later A.W.B. Limited, were not the only, but certainly the largest source of kickbacks to the Iraqi regime. The Australian Government also launched a Royal Commission, which recommended that criminal proceedings commence against 12 people. Ultimately, criminal charges were dropped by the Australian Federal Police. Several Australian civil cases were however successful. Since the payments were discovered, A.W.B. Limited underwent a major restructuring, losing its monopoly supply of Australia wheat exports, and appointing an entirely new management. However, its profitability continues to suffer.
A.W.B. and by extension the Australian Government were not the only entities to be implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal and the event earned a place in Australian political consciousness. Perhaps! John Winston Howard, Australian Prime Minister at the time, Alexander John Gosse Downer, Foreign Minister, and Mark Vaile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Investment were involved in the scandal down to their respective neck. Uh?
The A.W.B. was finally taken over by Agrium Inc. in December 2010 and delisted from the Australian Securities Exchange.
In 1995 Kissinger was rewarded for much of his efforts when Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon him the title of Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael & St. George – the highest honour conferred by the House of Windsor to a non-British subject.
There might have been some unpleasant surprises on the way to such fame, but one should expect them – just, par for the course.
Certainly, Kissinger must have been displeased by the publication on 7 April 2013 of a sheer avalanche of confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. It was the work of Wikileaks: 1.7 million records were released. The documents, dating from 1973 to 1976, were obtained from the National Archives and Record Administration – N.A.R.A. and collated through a year’s painstaking work into a digital format for public access.
205,901 documents from 1 January 1973 to 31 December 1976 are linked to Secretary of State Kissinger, who is the author of many of the cables. A WikiLeaks statement said that the cables contained “significant revelations about U.S. involvements with fascist dictatorships, particularly in Latin America, under Franco’s Spain – including about the Spanish royal family, and in Greece under the regime of the Colonels.” The documents could shed blinding light on previously shrouded aspects of United States history. “While several of these documents have been used by U.S. academic researchers in the past, the Kissinger Cables provides unparalleled access to journalists and the general public,” a statement from WikiLeaks informed.
In an early teaser of the documents’ contents, WikiLeaks had drawn attention to the chilling comment made by Kissinger in 1975 during a conversation with the then-U.S. ambassador to Turkey and two Turkish and Cypriot diplomats. Kissinger had quipped: “Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.’ [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.” The dictum is at Henry A. Kissinger, US Secretary of State, March 10, 1975.
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in August 2012 after losing legal attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden, stated of his organisation’s newest release: “The collection covers U.S. involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on Earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published.”
Announcing the ‘Special Project K’, The Kissinger cables, Assange said that from 8 April 2013 the cables would become part of the WikiLeaks Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy – PlusD. It would hold the world’s largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications – in total some 2 million records.
Of course, there are more of such pearls or irritations among the more than 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic records for the period. They cover a variety of diplomatic traffic including cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence. They include more than 1.3 million full diplomatic cables and 320,000 originally classified records. These include more than 227,000 cables classified as ‘confidential’ and 61,000 cables classified as ‘secret’. Perhaps more importantly, there are more than 12,000 documents with the sensitive handling restriction ‘nodis’ = ‘no distribution’, and more than 9,000 marked ‘eyes only’.
WikiLeaks’ media partners would have been reporting throughout the subsequent week on their findings.
The documents also contain hourly diplomatic reporting on the 1973 war between Israel, Egypt and Syria – the ‘Yom Kippur war’.
While several of these documents have been used by American academic researchers in the past, the Kissinger Cables provide unparalleled access to journalists and the general public.
Most of the records were reviewed by the United States Department of State’s systematic 25-year declassification process. At review, the records were assessed and either declassified or kept classified with some or all of the metadata records declassified. Both sets of records were then subject to an additional review by the National Archives and Records Administration, N.A.R.A. Once believed to be releasable, they were placed as individual PDFs at the National Archives as part of their Central Foreign Policy Files collection. Despite the review process supposedly assessing documents after 25 years there are no diplomatic records later than 1976. The formal declassification and review process of these extremely valuable historical documents is therefore currently running 16 years late.
The form in which these documents were held at N.A.R.A. was as 1.7 million individual PDFs. To prepare these documents for integration into the PlusD collection, WikiLeaks obtained and reverse-engineered all 1.7 million PDFs and performed a detailed analysis of individual fields, developed sophisticated technical systems to deal with the complex and voluminous data and corrected a great many errors introduced by N.A.R.A., the State Department or its diplomats, for example harmonising the many different ways in which departments, capitals and people’s names were spelt. All such corrective work is referenced and available from the links in the individual field descriptions on the PlusD text search interface: https://search.wikileaks.org/plusd.
The C.I.A. and other agencies attempted to reclassify or withhold sections of the United States National Archives. Detailed minutes of U.S. State Department meetings show that these attempts, which originated with the G. W. Bush Administration, have continued on through until at least 2009. A 2006 analysis by the U.S. National Security Archives at George Washington University, found that 55,000 pages had been secretly reclassified. Assange commented: “The US administration cannot be trusted to maintain the history of its interactions with the world. Fortunately, an organisation with an unbroken record in resisting censorship attempts now has a copy.”
Media organisations throughout the world were given advanced access to the records. In Australia this was granted to Fairfax Media Limited for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times and The Australian Financial Review.
Kissinger’s reaction to the disclosure is not known.
Next installment Wednesday: The shadowy role of Kissinger in the Trump Administration.
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.
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