Today signifies a day many have been waiting patiently and apprehensively for —the death of Henry Kissinger or a name more comforting to him, Satan. His bloodstained legacy is a grim tapestry woven with the blood of millions, victims of the most heinous and violently orchestrated murders. To label him a plain war criminal seems to be an understatement, as he stands among the most treacherous individuals of the 20th century, and perhaps, in the depths of human history itself. His life was marred by extremist hatred, leaving behind a trail of unimaginable suffering and tragedy.


“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.” - The words of the late chef and TV presenter, Anthony Bourdain



His 'realistic', realpolitik approach drew criticism for its perceived callousness and lack of empathy—a coldness consistently condemned by peace organizations throughout his controversial career. What led to his branding as pure evil? The answer lies within the Vietnam War. In the U.S.A.'s efforts to dismantle North Vietnamese and Viet Cong bases, utilising Cambodia as a sanctuary, they ruthlessly carpet-bombed the region. Kissinger advocated bombing "anything that moves." Unfortunately, he succeeded, with bombs hitting civilian-populated areas, causing the deaths of approximately fifty thousand Cambodians (official numbers unverified). Kissinger sought to justify these atrocities by claiming they targeted uninhabited areas. The destabilisation of Cambodia through the torrential bombings created a pathway for the Khmer Rouge, a communist revolutionary group that wreaked havoc throughout Cambodia. Its leader, the infamous Pol Potts, was responsible for almost two million deaths through implementing brutal policies, including forced labour, mass executions, and forced relocations of people from urban to rural areas. These policies led to widespread suffering, starvation, and death. 

If this is not enough to convince you that Kissinger's not the nicest person, don't worry because there's a plethora of examples just as bad as the human rights violations of Cambodia. During the Vietnam War, Henry was the National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and his role in shaping foreign policy was influential. This included the secret bombing campaigns in one of East Asia's poorest countries, Laos. Just like Cambodia, the U.S.A.'s bombing of Laos was in an attempt to disrupt the supply routes of North Vietnamese forces. Laos became the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The extensive bombing caused significant damage to infrastructure and had devastating humanitarian consequences. The estimates range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives during and after the bombing campaign. Additionally, many more suffered injuries and were displaced from their homes. To this day, the country is still littered with UXO (unexploded ordinances) which stops them from progressing away from the war, still tainting them with the suffering of their ancestors. 



In this moment of reflection, as we look back on the legacy of Kissinger, it's important that we look back at his career in grief for those who tragically lost their lives, instead of a sense of pride and achievement for the small amount of good he has done.