Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Just Like Kissinger's Cousin (yeah that's kinda clever)

One of the more curious reactions to last night's debate comes courtesty of Andrew McCarthy in a post at The Corner. McCarthy, in a fit of rage, calls his fellow Cornerites "nuts" for not properly labeling McCain's performance a "disaster." But McCarthy does not feel that McCain's poor performance was the result of his meandering oratory, his failure to address policy specifics, his irascible demeanor or his disrespectful digs and failed attempts at humor. Rather, McCarthy's frustration stems from his belief that McCain did not, get this, go full bore on the William Ayers non-story.

Now, as the night went along, did you get the impression that Obama comes from the radical Left?...Would you have guessed that he's pals with a guy who brags about bombing the Pentagon? [...]

Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clealy qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.

Pretty stark choice. Rather black and white. I wonder if that standard is applied evenly to both candidates (more on that in a minute). First, though, what is this talk of Obama being "pals" with Ayers? This is the extent of the documented relationship, and it hardly rises the already low bar of "pal." From Paul Campos:

In fact, Obama doesn't appear to have met Ayers at any time in the past six years. When Obama was running for the Illinois legislature in 1995, Ayers hosted a fundraiser for Obama at his house, and they later served on the board of a community anti-poverty group.

Also serving on that board were stalwart Republicans. Would they, then, fall into the category of terrorist sympathizer when pushed through the binary meat grinder wielded by McCarthy? Let's be clear: Obama's interactions with Ayers are limited and tangential, and even then, the most significant of those limited contacts occured over a decade ago.

It is incontrovertible that Obama has no formal relationship with Ayers. Ayers is not an official advisor, informal advisor, confidant or, in the parlance of the day, a pal. Contrast Ayers' non-relation to Obama with that of, say, Henry Kissinger. As Campos recounts, "Kissinger is honorary co-chair of McCain's New York campaign, and a foreign policy adviser to McCain himself."

Now let's compare some of the terrorist activities of, on the one hand, non-advisor, non-related William Ayers and, on the other hand, official adviser and honorary co-chair Henry Kissinger. Ayers:

...[A]s a member of the Weather Underground, [Ayers] set off several bombs that did some serious property damage. None of the bombings Ayers was involved with killed anyone, but several years later other members of the group took part in an armed robbery in which two police officers and a guard were killed.


An abbreviated list of the events that have made it dangerous for Kissinger to travel overseas, because of the possibility he would be arrested as a war criminal, include: covertly sabotaging Vietnam peace talks in 1968 in order to help get Richard Nixon elected; playing a key role in convincing Nixon to launch illegal wars in Laos and Cambodia (the latter action helped create the conditions that led to the Cambodian genocide); helping to plan the overthrow of Chile's democratically elected government, which included numerous assassinations funded by the CIA (again, all this in direct violation of international law); and helping to facilitate the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which may have killed as many as 200,000 civilians.

Kissinger appears to have had every bit as much contempt for the law as Ayers, with the difference being that his brand of contempt led to millions of deaths.

Campos doesn't even mention Kissinger's involvement with Operation Condor. For those that don't know, here is a description of Operation Condor from one of my previous posts:

Operation Condor [was] an international state-sponsored terror network set up by the Pinochet regime to track and eliminate opponents living abroad with the cooperation of the governments in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and, later, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. US policymakers [including Kissinger] even knew that a Chilean assassination team had been planning to enter the United States to carry out the infamous car bomb assassination on September 21, 1976 of Orlando Letelier, Allende’s foreign minister and later minister of defense, who perished along with Ronni Moffitt, his American assistant. This brazen act of cross-border violence occurred in Washington DC less than fourteen blocks from the White House.

That post (link for those that want to read more about this episode) discussed a book review of Peter Kornbluh's The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability appearing in Foreign Affairs, and the wrath of Henry Kissinger directed at the author in the aftermath of the publication of the review. Here are some more interesting details:

Kornbluh discovered details pertaining to the CIA's involvement in a kidnapping that resulted in the murder of Chile's chief of staff, General Rene Schneider, in 1970. Schneider's elimination, which came three years before the coup, according to Maxwell's review, "was regarded as essential by the Nixon administration, since Schneider was a strict constitutionalist and therefore an obstacle to U.S. efforts to promote a military intervention before Allende could take office."

...[D]ocuments released in the extensive declassification ordered by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2000 [are] reprinted in Kornbluh's book. These documents include: transcripts of top-secret discussions among President Nixon, Kissinger, and other cabinet members on how "to bring Allende down"; minutes of secret meetings chaired by Kissinger to plan covert operations in Chile; new documentation of the notorious case of Charles Horman, an American murdered by the Chilean military and subject of the movie Missing; comprehensive documentation of the Letelier case and the extensive CIA, National Security Council, and State Department reports surrounding it; and U.S. intelligence reporting on Operation Condor.

In addition to the other morally reprehensible acts cited by Campos, and others that remain unmentioned still, Kissenger was complicit in, and oversaw, terrorist activities committed by foreign agents on US soil and abroad. He also oversaw terrorist acts committed by the CIA on behalf of aspiring, and later existing, South American dictatorships.

Kissinger has an official role in the McCain campaign.

So is John McCain a terrorist sympathizer? McCarthy labels Ayers a terrorist and connects Ayers' comparatively innocuous (though still despicable) activies to Obama, and then from this concludes that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer. Using McCarthy's criteria, one could come to no other conclusion: John McCain is a terrorist sympathizer.

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