Note: This article was first
posted in April, 2002 at Indymedia.
Reprinted below is a remarkable text by that
remarkable man, Henry Kissinger. It was posted online at
washingtonpost.com not much more than twelve hours after the first
airliner struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. The text is
notable for a number of reasons, but has gone largely unnoted to date.
It seems to express the measured, even reassuring, view of a major,
widely (not universally!) respected statesman, calling for a new
approach to the threat of terrorism, reassessed in the light of the
morningšs events. Its publication didnšt elicit much comment -- it was
just a drop in a mass media tidal wave.
Since September 11, however, a long list of
unanswered questions and suspicions have floated to the surface. The
unrelenting media flood still serves to distract most people, but many
are starting to wonder. Coming out of a state of shock as time has
passed, with difficulty shaking off the mesmerism induced by television
and corporate newspapers, a growing number of people are starting to
look more carefully at the situation we find ourselves in. As part of
this process, I'd like to look more closely at this short utterance of
Henry Kissinger, posted at 9:04 pm on September 11.
A quite extraordinary aspect of the text is its
succinct expression, before Pres. Bush had collected his breath after
his day's extensive travels, of the entire "anti-terror" battle plan.
With no time for the many experts on terror in the many branches of the
federal government to discuss what had happened, let alone what to do,
with Bush back in DC for just a couple of hours, Cheney hunkered in a
bunker somewhere, and everyone presumably in a state of shock at the
unexpected calamity, Henry Kissinger is able to articulate in careful,
composed tones the overall structure of the US response, from which
there has been no official deviation since: a war on the terrorists
wherever they lurk, including attacks on "any government that shelters"
them. It's as if Henry had won the lottery. Good guess, big guy!
As a Washington "insider", of course, it isn't
surprising that Kissinger still has the clout to post his views
immediately at the Washington Post. We are supposed to accept
at face value that his statement was inspired by and written after the
horrific mass murders of the morning. It is a very well-written
statement, calm, rational, and broad-minded. Kissinger's considerable
experience at top levels of state decision-making and intelligence
analysis authorizes him to draw probative conclusions very rapidly,
such as his very first sentence: "An attack such as today's requires
systematic planning, a good organization, a lot of money, and a base."
Not much to argue with here; maybe his moderate adjectives
("systematic", "good", "a lot") could be upgraded a bit (you know, like
"incredible", "superb", "unlimited"). But he is being measured; not a
guy to fly off the handle, despite the PROVOCATION!
So cool is he in fact that he doesn't forget, in
this moment of our agony, to mention others in a "similar" situation:
"we should henceforth show more sympathy for people who are daily
exposed to this kind of attack." Daily?! Who? Where? Oh, he means the
Israelis! Palestinian suicide bombers commit atrocities like this on a
daily basis (oh please!), and "we" just don't show enough "sympathy"
for the state of Israel ($3 billion a year is not enough!). Funny he
should interpolate this digression. But maybe AIPAC paybacks are never
Then he's straight back to business. Providing now
historical perspective, he calls for a "systematic response" by the US
Government "that, one hopes, will end the way that the attack on Pearl
Harbor ended." It appears Henry isn't keeping up with recent historical
evaluations of the attack at Pearl Harbor, now known to have been
encouraged and permitted by FDR and the Chiefs of Staff to rally the
domestic population behind US entry into World War II. As a member of
the Council on Foreign Relations, however, Kissinger should be
sensitive about mentioning Pearl Harbor. His co-member on the Council,
Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his book The Grand Chessboard (1997),
called for the US to launch a conquest of Central Asia, pointing out
repeatedly that such a venture would require an attack on the US
comparable to Pearl Harbor to noodge the population into a "supportive
mood." This naked imperialist Machiavellianism raised a bit of a stink
when the book was published, that Henry should be careful to avoid
being tarred by, don't you think?
Finally Kissinger gets to the point. He briefly
outlines the main parameters of the subsequent US Government consensus
on how to "respond" to the terror. "Of course there should be ...
retaliation, ... but it cannot be the end of the process and should not
even be the principal part of it. The principal part has to be to get
the terrorist system on the run; any government that shelters groups
capable of this kind of attack, whether or not they can be
shown to have been involved in this attack, must pay an exorbitant
price. It is something we should do calmly, carefully, and inexorably."
Just like Henry Kissinger. Calmly, carefully, and
inexorably he lays out our future. The plan hatched full-grown from his
wrinkled bald brow, while those woosses in the Government are still
hiding under tables and flying from one underground bunker to another.
Destroy the Network
By Henry Kissinger
Tuesday, September 11, 2001; 9:04 PM
An attack such as today's requires systematic planning,
a good organization, a lot of money and a base. You cannot improvise
something like this, and you cannot plan it when you're constantly on
the move. Heretofore our response to attacks, and understandably so,
has been to carry out some retaliatory act that was supposed to even
the scales while hunting down the actual people who did it.
This, however, is an attack on the territorial United
States, which is a threat to our social way of life and to our
existence as a free society. It therefore has to be dealt with in a
different way with an attack on the system that produces it.
The immediate response, of course, has to be taking care
of casualties and restoring some sort of normal life. We must get back
to work almost immediately, to show that our life cannot be disrupted.
And we should henceforth show more sympathy for people who are daily
exposed to this kind of attack, whom we keep telling to be very
measured in their individual responses.
But then the government should be charged with a
systematic response that, one hopes, will end the way that the attack
on Pearl Harbor ended with the destruction of the system that is
responsible for it. That system is a network of terrorist organizations
sheltered in capitals of certain countries. In many cases we do not
penalize those countries for sheltering the organizations; in other
cases, we maintain something close to normal relations with them.
It is hard to say at this point what should be done in
detail. If a week ago I had been asked whether such a coordinated
attack as today's was possible, I, no more than most people, would have
thought so, so nothing I say is meant as a criticism. But until now we
have been trying to do this as a police matter, and now it has to be
done in a different way.
Of course there should be some act of retaliation, and I
would certainly support it, but it cannot be the end of the process and
should not even be the principal part of it. The principal part has to
be to get the terrorist system on the run, and by the terrorist system
I mean those parts of it that are organized on a global basis and can
operate by synchronized means.
We do not yet know whether Osama bin Laden did this,
although it appears to have the earmarks of a bin Laden-type operation.
But any government that shelters groups capable of this kind of attack,
whether or not they can be shown to have been involved in this attack,
must pay an exorbitant price.
The question is not so much what kind of blow we can
deliver this week or next. And the response, since our own security was
threatened, cannot be made dependent on consensus, though this is an
issue on which we and our allies must find a cooperative means of
resistance that is not simply the lowest common denominator.
It is something we should do calmly, carefully and
The writer is a former secretary of state.
Š 2001 The Washington Post Company