Why the Kissinger Connection Matters

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”
Anthony Bourdain, A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

While Armchair Firebrand does not condone, endorse or encourage acts of violence, this publication certainly understands the sentiment Mr. Bourdain expressed in the quote above.

For me, the moment of truth on Hillary Clinton was when Sen. Bernie Sanders called her out for praising Henry Kissinger as her mentor during one of the primary debates.

At the time, my first thought was that Sen. Sanders overstepped because no Democrat Secretary of State would ever overtly state such a close relationship with a well-documented war criminal. Instead, Clinton replied by saying something to the effect of, “Yes, I take advice from him and I am proud to call him my friend.” My jaw hit the floor. It was like a spell had been broken.

For the first time, I actually started researching Clinton’s history, and was disgusted by what I found. Her record is disturbingly Nixonian, right down to the dirty tricks, militarism, and power-driven paranoia.

Given Ms. Clinton’s neoconservative foreign policy positions, it makes sense that G.W. Bush’s foreign policy team is lining up right behind her. That fact should give any responsible citizen pause.

Some Kissinger defenders seem to imply that the ends justified his destructive means. That argument makes me curious about what we actually gained from roughly 60,000 American deaths, over a million Vietnamese deaths, roughly a million Laotian deaths, and roughly 700,000 Cambodian deaths.

Did those deaths make the world any safer? Were our vital national interests ever really at stake in Indochina? In Iraq? In Afghanistan? In Libya? In Syria? Or do these disasters primarily serve the needs of well-connected energy conglomerates and defense contractors.

Kissinger’s illegal excursion into Cambodia led to the rise of Pol Pot, and the ensuing genocide that destabilized the region for decades. And then there’s Chile, East Timor, and Operation Condor to consider.

Kissinger’s well-documented actions go far beyond those of a usual Secretary of State. Christopher Hitchens, hardly a pacifist himself, makes a compelling case for Kissinger’s indictment as a war criminal.

It’s no wonder Mr. Bourdain feels the level of animosity towards Kissinger demonstrated in the quote above. The fact that Kissenger’s favorite disciple is already sounding the drums of war should alarm all Americans.

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Breaking The Wheel

Fans of HBO’s hit drama Game of Thrones are surely familiar with Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen: The Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, and rightful ruler of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men. Lately, however, the Dragon Queen may have taken on a larger historical significance. To me, she seems to represent the restless spirit of the emerging progressive movement sparked by Bernie Sanders’ candidacy.

Earlier this season, Danaerys engaged in a strategy session with one of her advisers, the diminutive but formidable Tyrion Lannister. As they discuss the possibility of ruling without the rich, the Dragon Queen describes the Great Houses of Westeros as “spokes on a wheel” crushing those on the ground beneath them. The Khaleesi ends the conversation by declaring defiantly, “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.”

For twenty of the last 35 years, we have been ruled by either a Bush or a Clinton.  To me, neither House performed  well enough to deserve another term. And the conventional wisdom was that the 2016 election would be another showdown between these two decrepit Houses, before a certain orange-hued billionaire buffoon bloviated his way to the Republican nomination.

Thus, our two major parties also seem like spokes on a wheel, crushing the American People beneath them. This is especially true given the grim economic realities their failed leadership has brought us.

All evidence indicates that most Americans hunger for an alternative to the stale, two party status quo. In a 5/18 Data Targeting poll, 55% of Americans said they favor an independent challenger to Clinton and Trump. And according to a June ABC News/Washington Post poll, 70% of Americans view Donald Trump unfavorably and 55% view Hillary Clinton unfavorably.

The Democrat Party has made it clear they have no interest in embracing the grassroots, progressive movement Bernie Sanders ignited. Thus, it seems essential to seize this historic moment by channeling the passion and energy the Sanders campaign generated into a viable progressive third party.

Put simply, we are not interested in stopping the wheel by electing an Establishment Democrat for the third consecutive time. We want to break the wheel by relegating the two-party paradigm to the dustbin of history.

This year, Game of Thrones’ season finale ended with the Dragon Queen sailing across the Narrow Sea with her army of freed slaves, bent on liberating her homeland from a corrupt, repressive monarchy that fails to meet the People’s basic needs. Perhaps, this image will prove to be a harbinger of things to come, a peaceful political revolution resulting in real reform.