Dec. 25, 2002
Henry Kissinger's quick trip across the news headlines as chairman of
the new commission to investigate the September 11 attacks was curious. I
wish the nosy media, which love to indulge in the sport of "gotcha," would
apply their investigative talents to ferreting out the details behind both
his appointment and his speedy resignation.
After the Senate Ethics Committee issued its legal opinion that
Kissinger must comply with congressional financial disclosure requirements,
Kissinger quickly resigned. Apparently he had accepted the appointment
believing he could ignore the rules that apply to other government
Kissinger's plan to reveal his list of clients only to an anonymous
third party, chosen by the 9/11 victims and bound to secrecy, was
ridiculous. It's not just some closeted individual or even the 9/11
victims who have the right to know his conflicts of interest; it's the
In light of the considerable influence Kissinger has had on U.S.
public policy for so many years, where he gets his money should be a matter
of public interest. Why aren't investigative reporters searching out his
relationships with foreign governments that have a stake in U.S. foreign
policies, his loyalties to his clients, and the financial rewards he
Another question for investigative reporters is why the White House
was so desperately eager to keep Kissinger as chairman of the 9/11
committee. According to Ethics Committee Chairman Senator Harry Reid, the
White House was "calling and berating" the committee staff to pressure them
into okaying Kissinger's personal secrecy demands.
It looks as though President Bush selected Kissinger because of his
reputation for extraordinary secrecy and his remarkable ability to
bamboozle the press by talking out of both sides of his mouth. The
appointment couldn't have been because Kissinger supports Bush's ideology
and policies, because he doesn't.
In one of the memorable highlights of George W. Bush's presidency, he
repudiated the tour de force of Kissinger's career, namely, the infamous
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty signed by Richard Nixon and Leonid
Brezhnev in Moscow in 1972, as part of the SALT I agreements. On December
13, 2001, President Bush gave formal notice to Russia that the United
States was withdrawing from that 30-year-old ABM Treaty.
In the ABM Treaty, President Nixon signed away our right to build an
anti-missile defense system because of the theory called Mutual Assured
Destruction, popularly known by its acronym MAD. The ABM Treaty should
have been immediately judged unconstitutional because it reneged on our
government's prime duty: to "provide for the common defense."
Each of the superpowers was supposedly deterred from launching a
nuclear attack on the other because of the knowledge that a launch by one
side would be followed by massive retaliation that would assure the
destruction of both sides. President Reagan exposed the fallacy in that
theory when he asked the crucial question on March 23, 1983, "Would it not
be better to save lives than to avenge them?"
John Newhouse's 1973 book "Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT" confirmed
that every substantive provision of the 1972 U.S.-Soviet agreements was
dictated secretly to Kissinger by the Kremlin without the knowledge of our
U.S. negotiating team, was accepted by Kissinger, and was then rationalized
by Kissinger to the President and Congress. Newhouse's book showed how
Kissinger was personally and solely responsible for promising the Soviets
that we would not build an anti-missile defense, even though the offensive-
weapons provisions of the SALT I agreements guaranteed the Soviet Union
superiority in numbers of missiles.
In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kissinger
personally endorsed Newhouse and called his book "outstanding." This made
Newhouse's book the authentic historic account of the Moscow agreements.
Kissinger successfully obfuscated the tremendous danger to America in
the 1972 agreements, and he made the media his ally in the coverup. It was
not until President Reagan (who excluded Kissinger from foreign policy
influence) spoke out against the ABM Treaty that Republicans began
demanding that we withdraw from it.
We thank George W. Bush for doing exactly that, and it should be a
national priority to build an anti-missile defense system now.
Even though we no longer worry about Russia using its still-existing
6,000 nuclear warheads against us, the danger of attack or blackmail from
other nuclear arsenals is real. China has 300 nuclear warheads deployed on
ballistic missiles and 13 ICBMs targeting U.S. cities.
The list of Third World countries developing nuclear, biological and
chemical weapons, plus ballistic missile delivery systems, includes North
Korea, Iran and Iraq. The risk comes not only from intentional use but
from accidental or unauthorized launches.
While our curiosity has not been satisfied about the details
surrounding Kissinger's latest foray onto the national scene, we know
enough about Kissinger's ABM Treaty to know that he shouldn't be in any
position to influence U.S. policies.