By John R. MacArthur
Twice in the last two months I've heard the world's most famous (and venal) diplomat - now said by Bob Woodward to be advising President Bush on Iraq - make speeches that might be deemed comical if they weren't so depressingly emblematic of this country's endless tolerance for con men, courtiers and failures. Kissinger should have run out his string years ago, but there he was, nearly 84 and still vigorous, commanding the rapt attention of people who by now should know better.
How does he get away with it? The crimes committed by Kissinger in the service of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford are well-known, exhaustively described by William Shawcross, Seymour Hersh and Christopher Hitchens, among others. I've always thought that Kissinger's role in pointlessly prolonging the carnage of Vietnam while Nixon's national security adviser was his greatest sin. But I don't mean to minimize his other acts of diplomatic debauchery, both large (contributing to the destruction of Cambodia and the overthrow of Salvadore Allende, in Chile) and smaller (giving the green light to Indonesia's immensely bloody invasion, and subsequent occupation, of East Timor).