Greg Grandin says Kissinger can teach Trump how to survive impeachment

Historians in the News
tags: impeachment, Kissinger, Trump

Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University and a Nation editorial board member, is the author of a number of prize-winning books, including The Empire of Necessity, which won the Bancroft Prize; Fordlandia, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Empire’s Workshop; The Last Colonial Massacre; The Blood of Guatemala; and, most recently, Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman.

So yesterday, with social mainstream media lit up with discussions of Watergate, Saturday Night Massacres, and impeachment, who but Henry Kissinger should show up at the Oval Office and sit down for a photo shot with Donald Trump, where Trump took questions on Syria, Russia, and Comey.

About two years ago, I published a book called Kissinger’s Shadow (now out in paperback), which argued that Kissinger is good to think with. By this, I meant that his long career (as an early Cold War defense intellectual, a top foreign-policy maker, a consigliere to the world’s elite, and a hawkish pundit), combined with his very self-aware philosophy of history, helps illuminate the contours of postwar militarism, tracing a bright line from the disastrous war in Southeast Asia to the catastrophic one in the Persian Gulf.

The book came out long before Trump appeared a serious option, when I thought an autumnal Kissinger’s last act would be to bask in the warmth of neoliberal love offered by Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power. Its conclusion focused on the ways in which Barack Obama’s pragmatic, managerial militarism echoed Kissinger’s earlier justifications for interventionism and war, and the way Kissinger used Obama’s disregard of national sovereignty, in his reliance on drones and bombing campaigns, as an ex post facto absolution of his own past actions. Asked about his involvement in the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile and his illegal bombing of Cambodia, Kissinger answered: Obama does it, pointing to the drone program and the ouster of Gadhafi in Libya. I took this as a perfect expression of American militarism’s merry-go-round: Kissinger invokes today’s endless, open-ended war to justify what he did in Cambodia and Chile (and elsewhere) nearly half a century ago, even as what he did half a century ago, as the book tries to show, helped create the conditions for today’s endless wars.

Kissinger has been writing about someone very much like Trump nearly his whole life. ...

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