Why Bernie Sanders sees Henry Kissinger’s controversial history as an asset

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tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016, Henry Kissinger, Bernie Sanders



It was Kissinger who in early 1969 -- about a month after Nixon took office -- orchestrated a plan to dramatically escalate airstrikes within the neutral, Vietnam-adjacent country of Cambodia, which the North Vietnamese military was using to avoid U.S. attacks (the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail). The United States began carpet-bombing the country without informing Congress -- an early example of Nixon's long-term plan to convince the North Vietnamese that he would pull out all the stops in his effort to win the war. These attacks were hidden from official records. Planes were diverted mid-flight to fly raids into Cambodia.

When a coup replaced Cambodia's ruler with a leader amenable to the United States, we invaded on the ground. (The extent to which that coup was the work of the United States isn't clear.) When that didn't work -- and, later, as the Khmer Rouge threatened to take the nation over -- the bombings increased dramatically, including in more heavily populated areas. The United States dropped an estimated 2.7 million tons of ordnance on Cambodia; more than the 2 million tons that were dropped in all of World War II.

For which Kissinger gets the credit/blame. In one phone call with Nixon, transcribed as part of Kissinger's papers, Nixon expresses concern that heavy bombings (in this case within Vietnam) will work. Kissinger tells Nixon that a million pounds of bombs were dropped on Haiphong, a port city in the north. "Goddamn, that must have been a good strike!"




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