Media, Conservatives Team Up to Lionize War Criminal Henry Kissinger

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Henry Kissinger, a national security adviser and former secretary of state under two presidents, has long evaded accountability, even after death. But on Wednesday, the notorious war criminal responsible for the deaths of millions died at the age of 100.

During his lifetime, Kissinger prolonged the Vietnam War and expanded it to Cambodia and Laos; green-lit Indonesia’s bloodshed in East Timor and Pakistan’s bloodshed in Bangladesh; and supported military coups in Chile and Argentina. According to Yale University historian Greg Grandin, author of the biography Kissinger’s Shadow, the estimated death toll for foreign policy policies tied to Kissinger is between three million and four million.

Yet the headlines following his death have been not surprisingly void of accountability. Publications from both the left and right lionized the war criminal. The Wall Street Journal credited Kissinger as the man who “Helped Forge U.S. Foreign Policy During Vietnam and Cold Wars,” while BBC called him the “Divisive diplomat who towered over world affairs.” In a loaded headline, Daily Mail lauded the him as a “Nobel Prize winner who stared down the Soviets,” while also labeling Kissinger as a “VERY unlikely sex symbol.”

Elsewhere, major publications appeared to gloss over Kissinger’s war crimes, framing him as a venerable world-shaping figure who drew controversy in his relentless pursuit of U.S. interests. Fox News hailed him as the pioneer of “the policy of détente with the Soviet Union” who “won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for negotiating the Paris Peace Accords to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam,” while noting that “[s]ome of his policies remain controversial.” NPR highlighted Kissinger’s “unwavering commitment” when advocating “bombing campaigns in Vietnam and Cambodia to strengthen the U.S. negotiating position,” and touted him as a “superstar ex-diplomat.”

Kissinger, who ingratiated himself to various Democrat and Republican leaders for 50 years, was remembered fondly among some right-wing and conservative commentators, as well. Stephen Miller, Trump’s former senior adviser, declared on Wednesday: “May God bless Henry Kissinger, who devoted his life to the pursuit of peace, and comfort his family during this time of pain and loss.” Meanwhile, the Governor of South Dakota, Kristi Lynn Noem, advised Fox News viewers to “go learn a little bit more about him… Around your dinner table or when you’re driving in the car with your kids, tell them a few Kissinger quotes that were used in strategic times.”

Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s former mayor who was indicted on racketeering charges with Trump in August, took to X (formerly Twitter) to write: “Henry Kissinger was not just the foremost expert on foreign policy, but he was a great teacher and someone Im proud to call a friend.”

Another former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, weighed in on Thursday, lamenting Kissinger’s death as a “loss for our country and the world.” Kissinger was such a fixture of New York City’s upper echelons that the Yankees even eulogized him, writing in a statement that the organization is “profoundly saddened” by the loss.

Not long before Kissinger died, Grandin predicted the media’s reaction to his death. “The Cubans say there is no evil that lasts a hundred years, and Kissinger is making a run to prove them wrong,” Grandin previously told Rolling Stone. “There is no doubt he’ll be hailed as a geopolitical grand strategist, even though he bungled most crises, leading to escalation. He’ll get credit for opening China, but that was De Gaulle’s original idea and initiative. He’ll be praised for detente, and that was a success, but he undermined his own legacy by aligning with the neocons. And of course, he’ll get off scot free from Watergate, even though his obsession with Daniel Ellsberg really drove the crime.”

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