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number 2

Henry Kissinger Pipes Up!

By Shannon Manning

Perhaps you have already heard that I have resigned as head of the September 11th investigation. If I knew my conscience could lighten so abruptly, I would have turned down that Nobel peace prize like Le Duc Tho did. I had sabotaged the 1968 peace talks in Paris in order to assure Nixon's election, dooming Vietnam to seven more years of war and doubling the bodycount of American soldiers. And Dick and my illegal secret bombings in Cambodia were giving rise of the Khmer Rouge and their killing fields, in which millions of civilians died. You can imagine how that can weigh on a man.

What were Bush's people thinking anyway? Did they think you had forgotten, were stupid, didn't care? Haven't they been paying attention? Perhaps they thought you were not. This was a pretty high-profile, sexy position, power being the aphrodisiac that it is. Well-played, I say to those of you who spoke up. Look at what has happened to Trent Lott-even Daschle remained silent until enough of you made a fuss. Did you hear Trent quoting Jesse Jackson in that third apology of his? The country has become a strange place indeed when a Republican leader uses the words of a black Democrat's apology for anti-Semitic remarks to frame his own apology for racist remarks.

And a strange new world for me as well. I step down from a commission because of my business links to Arabs and communists. I find myself agreeing with the most liberal and least hawkish member of the current war junta. And I speak, as I am now, to my fellow Americans, utterly contrite and with full disclosure and humility.

Although my official statement claims that I resigned because of my unwillingness to disclose my client list to assuage concerns about conflicts of interest, we all know that's not the half of it. Surely the current administration's pursuit of a domestic and international agenda directed by the energy lobbies that put them in power could be seen as a conflict of interest. But they can hide behind executive privilege. I, a private citizen, cannot. Not anymore. I'm sought for questioning by authorities of so many countries I can't even keep track anymore-real countries like France and Spain-and I've been charged with murder in a civil suit right here at home. I can hardly even run bases to show that I too heart New York without worrying about a citizen's arrest.

Plus, there's my conscience.

I'm an old man, so you'll pardon my nostalgia. Remember when I said, "I don't see why we should have to stand by and let a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people?" as justification of the murderous coup of democratically-elected Salvador Allende in Chile? Those were heady days. I was young and thinking with it then, like maybe George is now. But the days of big dick diplomacy are over.

After all my buddies ended up impeached or in jail, I was relegated to the faceless corporate world, sitting on boards of multinationals, consulting our old enemies, bumming rides home on the private jets of celebrities and CEOs. But even those glory days are nearly over-power and the trappings of it are slipping away from me (sorry ladies!) Just as secret government is finally being recognized as a threat to democracy, so too is unrestrained corporate influence on economic and political affairs here and abroad. So this is all a huge relief. When I was one of the few people to speak out against Bush's unilateral policy of preemptive strike as a violation of international law, were you surprised? Don't be. I'm a smart guy. I think about these things, perhaps too much. And now, I know what it feels like to be on the run from international law, and don't wish the same upon any country. So let's start leading by example.

I can tell that some of you are still not with me. I can't expect your forgiveness, but I can state my case for understanding. See, I saw a woman who escaped from Tower Two on one of the talk shows. The host asked, insipidly, if "9/11" had been the worst day of her life. The woman thoughtfully and slowly said, no, that day was March 15th, 1983, the day her mother died. It was at that moment that the scope of human history, the parity of human life, and the magnitude of the connectedness of the human family became clear to me.

Each individual in that family is one spirit, one life, and the illegal, unjust taking of such life is a power that belongs only to God, not his proxies. Nowhere in any scripture or democratic constitution is it written that the taking of a life is the moral choice. Sometimes action is needed to prevent the taking of life on a mass scale, such as in the case of the Nazis, or in humanitarian interventions, but then targeted only toward combatants, not civilian populations, not cities, not villages. No humane religion, or state, or stateless people, will long last if their actions do not support this. I wish I had learned this in my youth, but still, it's not too late. We can't stand by and let our country go.

So to all the daughters who lost a mother on September 11, 2001, to all the mothers who lost their sons in Vietnam, to all the children that lost their fathers in the killing fields, to all the families in East Timor, in Bangladesh, in Argentina, in Chile, I apologize. There is little more I can say, but much to do. I will dedicate my time and skills as a statesman to preventing more loss of life, and revisit my memoirs. It seems I left some things out

Henry Kissinger can be seen in the documentary The Trials of Henry Kissinger in an extended run at the Film Forum and in Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Shannon Manning is a filmmaker and actor who lives in Brooklyn and edits this magazine.

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