Posted by: Chris | December 15, 2010

I Must Be Crazy

Christopher Hitchens, in his continuing, if still fruitless, effort to convince everyone else in the world of Henry Kissinger’s criminality and inherent villany, has highlighted a section from some recently released Nixon White House tapes, wherein Kissinger argues that:

The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.

To Hitchens, this statement is tantamount to moral indifference towards (and, further into his disconnected screed, approval of) genocide, an endorsement of both communism and fascism, and, bizarrely, a “tactical Holocaust pre-denial.”  Even putting aside the much of the hyperbole caused by a decades-long pursuit fueled solely on Hitchen’s excess moral unction, I cannot see how this claim is controversial in the least.  Kissinger, alluding to a hypothetical genocide, claims that it would be a humanitarian concern (and likely personal as well, considering Kissinger fled Nazi Germany to avoid persecution, which goes strangely unobserved in Hitchens’ post).   However, it seems to me not unreasonable asserts that it is not the American government’s concern, considering it would be an internal affair of the world’s other major stakeholder.  It is worth remembering that, six months after this conversation, the Nixon Administration’s established relationship with the Soviet Union helped end the Yom Kippur War swiftly without either superpower becoming directly involved. 

I was expecting a far more damning quote, based on the title and lead-up, but, given the reaction, it might be my own reading and understanding might be off.   To a certain extent, this fits naturally into the rest of Hitchens’ oeuvre on the subject, combining as it does a deliberate misinterpretation of Kissinger’s statements and actions with multiple degrees of guilt by association.  But even those charges seem substantially more substantive than this, the supposed greatest offense.  Can someone help me figure this out?  Perhaps this all goes back to the instrumentalist/intrinscist divide CF broached earlier…

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