September 21, 2001 (Ira Pilgrim)
For the American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.
I have just finished reading Christopher Hitchens' book The Trial of Henry Kissinger. It is a documented polemic against Kissinger. I don't know why he selected Kissinger, who was merely following the orders of his boss Richard Nixon. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that reams have already been written about Nixon. Many of Nixon's cohorts have been jailed, while Henry hasn't been singled out for prosecution. Hitchens argues that people have been tried and hung for similar crimes, even though they too were "only following orders." That is what many defendants at the Nurenberg trials after World War II claimed. The Germans have a saying "Befehl ist befehl."(Orders are orders), which is a article of religious belief in all military organizations.
In 1970 in Chile, the leftist(Marxist) candidate for president Salvador Allende won the election and was slated to become president. Nixon, who was always a fanatical anti Communist, ordered that this was not to happen, and that Kissinger was to see to it. The top military man in Chile was General Rene Schneider, who was a firm believer in the military not interfering with the political process. This doctrine of non interference by the military has kept the US from going the way of many South and Central American countries. They decided to get rid of him, which was done by killing him. Despite the murder of Gen. Schneider, Allende assumed the presidency. In 1973 his government was overthrown in a coup by General Augusto Pinochet, with US support. Allende died during the coup. Pinochet's people said that he committed suicide, but most believe that he was murdered. Pinochet was responsible for a large number of political executions (100 to 320), for which he was to be tried by an international court. This was interfered with by his ill health and it seems likely that he will die before he is prosecuted by the Chilean government.
What I find amazing is that someone took extensive notes at the US government meetings where they plotted the demise of the Allende government. The incredible stupidity! This is the equivalent of a meeting of Mafiosi, where they are plotting a murder and having someone taking detailed notes of what happened at the meeting. Only a secret government bureau is capable of that magnitude of stupidity.
Gore Vidal's play The Best Man takes place at a political convention. There is an ill president (believed to be modeled after Truman) who is expected to endorse one of two candidates for the presidential nomination. Who will be nominated depends on whom he endorses. The candidate who has come to be known as the Nixon character tries to solicit the president's support, assuming that the president is going to endorse the Stevenson character who was philosophically closer to the president.. At the end of the discussion, the president tells him that he was planning on endorsing the Nixon character, but that this discussion has changed his mind because, "It's not that I mind your bein a bastard, don't get me wrong there.....It's your bein such a stupid bastard I object to."
After reading Hitchens' book, I thought that they were all stupid bastards. No, they are not stupid. They are what might be called clever fools. At the head of the list is Richard Nixon and next in line is Henry Kissinger.
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