Mr. Kissinger, Have You No Shame?

December 27, 2010

Ignore the recent excuses. Henry Kissinger's entire career was a series of massacres and outrages.
By Christopher Hitchens

"Until the most recent release of the Nixon/Kissinger tapes, what were the permitted justifications for saying in advance that the slaughter of Jews in gas chambers by a hostile foreign dictatorship would not be "an American concern?"
Read More (Slate)

40 comments:

1st Lt. L. Diablo said...

kissinger probably has no shame; quite literally. shame and guilt are products of neurotransmitters (dopamine, seratonin for example) interacting with specific regions of the brain (e.g., the amygdala).

it seems as though in certain people these regions and/or transmitters do not function as they do in most other people. these people have impoverished regions, or they just don't get activated -- and so they feel no shame/guilt or empathy at all.

they feel about other humans the was most people feel about a piece of lumber.

i suspect most people in power are sociopaths. some are better at hiding it than others, but it's a common enough phenomenon and should be recognized as such. no need to get angry, just treat them like sharks or vipers etc-- avoid, and dispatch as necessary/possible. (but don't try arguing with them or attempting to convince them of their immorality-- it's useless-- they are incapable of that kind of calculus).

lock & load...

FGFM said...

Diablo, might I inquire about your professional qualifications to make such a diagnosis and why one couldn't say the same sort of things about Hitchens?

Anonymous said...

While not endorsaing diablo's comments entirely, it's ratrher easy to point out why one couldn't say the same things about Hitchens. Hitchens is a writer, and always has been. He's never been in power. Paranoids like to think Hitchens' kind words about Paul Wolfowitz and Michael Chertoff mean Hitchens personally launched the war on terror. But of course that's silly. Kissinger was an extremely powerful man for a long time. Hitchens has been, at best, a persuasive writer. Apples and oranges.

FGFM said...

Hitchens may not have held power like Kissinger, but I don't see why Kissinger is considered a sociopath for humoring Nixon over something that wasn't going to happen and did not happen while Hitchens gets a free pass for wanting to turn the Middle East a "killing field for Baathists and Jihadists" which did happen to a large extent if you include women, children, and civilians in those categories.

Anonymous said...

Very well said anon.

Mark G said...

Kissinger certainly was more powerful than Hitchens. But I wouldn't underrate Hitch's influence, esp. in the lead up to the war in Iraq. It wasn't just his "kind words" for Wolfowitz: accounts suggest the two men became quite chummy and Hitchens accepted an invitation from the WH to give a presentation of his ideas.

Tony Blair's fawning words for Hitchens in their recent non-debate is the latest piece of evidence suggesting Hitchens' impact went all the way up to the top.

That's how sad our government is...

Anonymous said...

What are YOUR professional qualifications for anything, FGFM? The doctorate of "mummy didn't hug you enough?"

HJ said...

Kissinger certainly was more powerful than Hitchens. But I wouldn't underrate Hitch's influence, esp. in the lead up to the war in Iraq. It wasn't just his "kind words" for Wolfowitz

Kissinger was simultaneously Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under Nixon and Ford while Hitchens was "quite chummy" with Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense.

If you think they are anywhere near close in influence then yo u need a brain transplant. Kissinger was the architect of the bombing campaigns of Cambodia and Laos as well as terrible things in Indonesia and also the scuppering of the peace proces in Vietnam while LBJ was presidnet. Not to mention what happende in Chile which only wasn't the CIA's responsibiltiy by accident.

Now, I can see you are just about to "But Wolfowitz was one of those who persuaded Bush to go to war in Iraq maybe this was because Hitchens made him do it when writing his Slate columns!" But of course you would be wrong because Wolfowitz wanted to go to Baghdad way back in 1991 when Hitchens was opposing the war to end the Iraqi takeoever of Kuwait. If anything Hitchens was persuaded by Wolfowitz and then simply gushed his enthusaiam for the war to get rid of the evil dictactor Saddam Hussein.

But, now you are no doubt going to tell me that "Actually, in Iraq people liked Saddam Hussein and he got landslide election victories and he's much better than Gerog W Bush who never got elected anyway except with voter fraud...blah...blah..blah... everything's the same there are no distinctions to be made in the world of politics...blah...blah..."

HJ said...

L.Diablo, I am not sure I agree with you that Kissinger is as much of a complete psychopath as you think. Now, yes he did some terrible things and made terrible orders as the SoS and NSA but the type of people you seem to be talking about are those that torture and mutilate kittens, or do a dump on the floor or pull their willies out in meetings start plucking it and saying "willie banjo!"

If he had no shame at all he wouldn't so narcissistically cultivate and protect his reputation. Let's face it he's poweful, popular and rich and among many powerful people thought of as a kind fo national treasure from his politicking and that is as much of a motivation or explanation as is needed to explain who Kissinger is.

1st Lt. L. Diablo said...

Look, I'm an autodidact of sorts on these things, and as Thomas Paine said, every man is ultimately his own teacher.

But, if you read anything on the latest neurology of the brain and specifically neurotransmitters, and the limbic region of the hardware itself, then you may come to the same conclusion I have. To wit: certain people don't have the hardware, or the neurotransmitters necessary to feel empathy, and its corollary: guilt shame, solidarity with the species.

I'm actually surprised this is even controversial-- but I forget some people are still stuck in a bit of a retrograde orbit around 18th century philosophy. The Lockean notion of tabula rasa has been exploded; thus the atavistic conceit that we humans are blank slates that are written upon by our experiences alone is fatuous given all that we now know vis-a-vis the brain (see: Chomsky's 'language cortex' discussion; and Steven Pinkers', The Blank Slate, for a crash course FGFM).

FMRI technology allows us to see just how dormant or active a region of the brain is during moral stimuli (e.g., showing photographs of certain morally charged phenomena). And a certain small, but real, segment of the test subjects have different brains (either the grey matter or the biochemistry or both) and these correspond to what we call sociopathic or psychopathic personalities/behavior.

see part II...

1st Lt. L. Diablo said...

(cont.) ...Liberals hate this cuz it means not everything is society's fault and conservatives hate it cuz it means that immorality is sometimes really a body/brain illness not 'irresponsibility' or a 'loss of god' like they love to stupidly say. But, all I was saying is that once we recognize some people will never feel guilt or shame- we can then stop trying to reason with them using moral suasion. We can just get down to locking them up or dispatching their amoral ass...

And Hitchens clearly has empathy and solidarity with the species-- he just thinks that US hegemony can be used to do good sometimes (like getting a wobbly democracy going in Iraq to supplant a fascistic madman). I think the war was cynical and evil and run by psychopaths-- but Hitchens wasn't one of them-- he was sincere in my estimation and made damn good (left-wing) points to justify the invasion.

However, Bush/Cheney are clearly amoral sociopaths who tortured and killed with no qualms. There is a clear difference between Hitchens and the creeps he supported to get Saddam ousted. The enemy of my enemy... as they say.

And FGFM-- try to show some appreciation for nuance and integrity in your response-- like an adult. Seriously.

FGFM said...

"What are YOUR professional qualifications for anything, FGFM?"

I graduated with honors from a top university, work in finance on LaSalle Street in Chicago, and have decades of experience in the field. How about you?

James said...

@FGFM

Since you don't believe that Kissinger is a sociopath (I agree, incidentally), perhaps a better way to disagree with the OP would be to give your reasons rather than twist the original assertion into an ad hominem attack on Hitchens.

@Mark G

Blair's flattery doesn't necessarily indicate policy influence by Hitchens, and might indicate nothing more sinister than a desire to repay Hitchens' kind words for Blair when the rest of England wanted to lynch him.

Anonymous said...

"...while Hitchens gets a free pass for wanting to turn the Middle East a "killing field for Baathists and Jihadists" which did happe..."

The insertion of the word "wanting" is perplexing as is the entire tone of the statement. FGFM are you Saddam's forth cousin's nephew, wtf.

Brendan James said...

The really sad thing about folks like FGFM and Mr. G is that they've allowed their dislike for Hitchens, which is understandable, to evolve into a remarkable delusion that the man's polemics in Slate or Vanity Fair had any affect on the policies pursued by the US and UK governments.

"Hitchens' (sic) impact went all the way up to the top." Please. For someone who claims to disdain the man's ego you sure have a fun time stroking it.

Anonymous said...

"Hitchens gets a free pass for wanting to turn the Middle East a "killing field for Baathists and Jihadists" "

Hitchens calls for the fight against genocidaires while Kissinger discourages opposition to genocide. I don't even want to get into how twisted your reasoning must be for it to allow the moral equation of these two perfectly antithetical sentiments.

Anonymous said...

"I graduated with honors from a top university, work in finance on LaSalle Street in Chicago, and have decades of experience in the field. How about you?"

None of your damn business, but thanks for sharing.....even if the claims are highly dubious.

HJ said...

Hitchens calls for the fight against genocidaires while Kissinger discourages opposition to genocide. I don't even want to get into how twisted your reasoning must be for it to allow the moral equation of these two perfectly antithetical sentiments.



This site once linked to a discussion about Hitchens on Vietnam and someone there quoted a good line by William Buckly to the effect of:

"One man pushes an old lady in front of a speeding bus and another man pushes the old lady out of the path of the speeding bus. The radical Left are the type of people who see both as men who push old ladies around."

This really sums up the thinking of people like Mark G and FGFM. In their mind a bunch of slavering jihadis who stone apostates, adulterers, homosexuals, COMMUNISTS, and others to death are no less innocent victims as an ethnic minority who are gassed to death for being an ethnic minority. They willfully refuse to see any difference.

HJ said...

Oh yeah, just noticed the second part of this:

Tony Blair's fawning words for Hitchens in their recent non-debate is the latest piece of evidence suggesting Hitchens' impact went all the way up to the top.

That's how sad our government is...




Tony Blair wasn't any part of the US government! And yeah, this is really confusing cause and effect to think that Hitchens wrote some articles which resulted in a war in Iraq. Hmmm I seem to remember you pouring scorn on the idea that Hitchens had any sway in getting Tariq Aziz's death sentence commuted. So you think he couldn't possibly have any influence there but the very war which put Tariq Aziz in the dock was of Hitchens making?

FGFM said...

The really sad thing about folks like FGFM and Mr. G is that they've allowed their dislike for Hitchens, which is understandable, to evolve into a remarkable delusion that the man's polemics in Slate or Vanity Fair had any affect on the policies pursued by the US and UK governments.

I don't, but Hitchens appears to think so.

FGFM said...

None of your damn business, but thanks for sharing.....even if the claims are highly dubious.

Don't worry, I won't be sending my CV over to the Institut Curie any time soon.

FGFM said...

And FGFM-- try to show some appreciation for nuance and integrity in your response-- like an adult. Seriously.

Not only are you not any sort of psychologist or brain surgeon, I'm going to guess that you aren't even a lieutenant!

Anonymous said...

"I graduated with honors from a top university, work in finance on LaSalle Street in Chicago, and have decades of experience in the field. How about you?"


Great, another finance weenie. Just what we need. Why don't you go back to pulling wool covers over your clients heads.

1st Lt. L. Diablo esq said...

I know more than you about brain hardware, chemistry, and the possible/probable affects they have on ethical thinking and emotions than you FHEADFM.

Now, you know how adolescent I can be. ;)

That's what I love about you (and people like you)-- when you are fearful that you've been outmatched on an argument you resort to the ad hominem, and too-kool-for-skool- hipster-dork irony. You avoid ever admitting error, or that someone may have subject-matter expertise that you lack. It shows a real lack of class and a wealth of insecurity.

Lastly, the brain has actually been shown to exclude information that runs contrary to the person's established political bias and only accept info that confirms that tendencious vector of thought (the brain-- not the mind-- the actual hardware/wet-ware will not work to assimilate info is it is counter to their stated politics).

Most people's brain's are incapable of accepting new or radical ideas passed a certain age (usually around late teens to early 20's) due to the way belief systems are hardwired during youth (it's more of that biochemistry stuff that you deny out of hand). The real irony (not the hipster-dork kind you flaunt) is that your brain is incapable of letting you assimilate new information that runs counter to your politics including the notion that the brain has this bio-chemical bias in the first place. Ha. Funny.

This is the central difference between honest people and frauds. We honest folk can accept new info even if it radically changes the notions we previously held. I never understood people like you (e.g., rednecks who never get it that the Republicans are bad for them and so they vote for them every time, Christians who refuse to accept the absurdity of their illiterate dogma no matter the evidence, liberals who eschew science that says genes matter and not everyone can be smart, or moral, or free-thinkers...et.al.). But now thanks to recent studies on the brain-- I do understand. You are a certain brain type; a tout le monde brain type for sure... very common, average and lame. ;(

I bet you haven't understood a word I've written, huh? lol.

FGFM said...

I bet you haven't understood a word I've written, huh? lol.

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

m said...

of course this carefully sidesteps all the recent work around neuroplasticity and fairly stinks of elitist eugenics apologia. but A for effort diablo.

may i recommend you read a little david bohm, stanislav grof, julian jaynes and rupert sheldrake? consider too that you have a second brain in your gut not just the pulp behind the brow.

nyomythus said...

Following up with "m" ... here are some titles to begin with, local libraries should carry some of the these:

David Bohm, "Changing Consciousness: Exploring the Hidden Source of the Social, Political and Environmental Crises Facing our World" (1991)

Stanislav Grof, "LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious" (2009)

Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976)

Rupert Sheldrake, "The Sense of Being Stared At" (2003)

nyomythus said...

It’s wonderful that we are exploring the mysteries of nature, and the interrelationships of life, but I have to ask myself why do these studies bother with the serious work of ethics and modern world societies, what can they contribute to improve policy making and how we respond to evil in the world?

Joseph Campbell--Circumcision

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kh1JEb94as&feature=channel

These Joesph Campbell types are spectators, observers, and don't bother with ethics at all, other than this is how it's been so this is how it shall be. In some of the most important ways this is antithetical to Liberalism.

m said...

yo nyomythus.

a distinction is in order. the point of symbolic/mythologic inquiry isn't to serve the old fetish, this literal transduction of lore into codes of practice, nor is it to debate the merits of such an approach. never the heuristic endgame of this work, certainly not in the last half-century. the archaic-revivalist vogue for living in identification with symbols as if fact and without reflective pause was and is the signature by which you will identify insecure, primitive cults the world over.

once the nature of the psyche and it's unconscious, archetypal agents came to light, it became evident that mythology was the extant language of not only inner experience, but the persistent dramas, polarities, and learning devices of the species. as we evolve, we move from an unquestioning, compulsive acting out of these impulses, to cultivating the capacity to interpret the symbols psychologically, as befits the quantum age.

joseph campbell, and jung more particularly, were important pioneers in this copernican shift from action to interpretation. to judge them as somehow deficient figures, passively observing the horrors without issuing directives as to ethics, is to rather miss the point entirely.

1st LT. L. Diablo said...

I read Jaynes' seminal work over 10 years ago and Sheldrake's best work (Presence of the Past) at the same time. I've also read MacKenna (Food of the Gods) and think all that work is outstanding.

But none of it contradicts anything I've posited here; nor any of the most recent work done in biochemistry and neuroscience. So m and nyomythus, I'm afraid your reading list is a bit of a non sequitur.

Trust me I think the Origin of Consciousness is one of my favorite books ever... and morphogenetic fields one of the most fascinating conceits ever. But that doesn't mean that the brain isn't the seat of consciousness and that the hardware and wetware (MacKenna) isn't different among individuals resulting in different personalities including sociopaths and hyper-empaths (and the rest of us in between). The brain can be measured and "seen" in ways that neither Jaynes nor Sheldrake could imagine twenty and thirty years ago. And that new technology (FMRI) can tell us things about our brains/moods/morality/personality not unlike the microscope could illuminate the microbial world. Plus, the genome wasn't sequenced then either... so...

Try reading Steven Pinkers', The Blank Slate; and Barbara Oakley's, Evil Genes, and Sam Harris', The Moral Landscape. I've already read your books, so try these then we'll be on even footing...

1st LT. L. Diablo said...

and m it is worth noting that Jaynes was outlining how the breakdown of the bicameral brain changed humans from pre-conscious into fully conscious beings. He says the 'thinking with the gut' phenomenon (always metaphoric IMHO) was pre-conscious, and that the metaphorized mind-space of the "I" was the result of biochemical and hardware centered morphology.

The brain changed and consciousness was born. Consciousness is a phenomenon of material consequences. So, maybe a re-reading of Jaynes is in order for you.

Gut thinking is pre-conscious and not modern humans at all... which isn't to say we don't feel things in our gut, our hearts etc. But the brain is the seat of consciousness according to Jaynes and myself. I hope this makes sense... and while I think you are wrong, at least you are a serious person unlike you-know-who... ;) I suspect you might even read the books I mentioned instead of dismissing them out-of-hand with equal parts ignorance and arrogance.

FGFM said...

Internet brain theorists.

M said...

oh diablo, where do i begin?

"thinking with the gut" is no metaphor. just ask the over a million functioning neurons that call your GI tract base camp.

and nope, consciousness is no mere feature of brain pulp activity but an amalgam of whole-body cellular events. [see Candace Pert]

i have to say this line made me grin like an idiot, "the brain is the seat of consciousness according to Jaynes and myself..."

the core of our disagreement here is your stated fondness for machine theory, imagining a primacy of the biological and an emphasis on causalistic dynamics. brain event = thought = action = manifestation of personhood in space/time, therefore brain events are the signature expression of core individuality.

i have a fondness for more holistic tropes, looking at mind and body as concomitants. the mind is not an epiphenomena of the body, nor is the body an epiphenomena of the mind. they're concurrent manifestations of an a priori gestalt that runs our lives while we're busy doing something else.

the idea of reading a whole book of pinker's makes me vaguely nauseous, but i'll pinch my nose and get down to it at some point this month. normally i wouldn't bother, but i'm learning that if i want to be a really effective writer, i have to get down with the many arguments against my starting lineup.

when i'm ready to post further, i'll drop a quick idea or two in the comments box for you since we internet brain theorists are now off-topic in this kissinger thread.

Marlon Brando III said...

I do notice that m, you did not really refute any of my assertions; but just keep on re-stating your mistaken belief that consciousness is a phenomenon of the gut with very little evidence. The books you wanted me to read (that I've already read) don't offer any either (and Jaynes buttress MY claims actually). But maybe I'll try the latest one you mentioned if you promise it is relevant and intelligent. But your exasperation with me is a little odd-- like like Keanu Reeves poking fun of Marlon Brando's acting skills. ;) But feel free to yuk it up dude.

At any rate, it is absurd and demonstrably false that consciousness resides anywhere except the brain (a simple syllogism would work here-- but I just can't believe you will accept it-- to wit: do other creatures have guts like ours-- yes-- are they conscious-- no? Do they have brains like ours-- ah, no they do not... ). To be frank, you have completely misinterpreted Jaynes if you think he was saying anything other than what I have already attributed to him-- consciousness is a byproduct of the breakdown of the bicameral brain. This is central (it is the subtitle of the book is it not? lol)-- and to miss this is really just to miss everything.

You may disagree with his conclusion but not that this is what he is saying (and I only included myself in the earlier quoted sentence to show I have sympathy with the conceit-- not that I formulated it; if that is what made you smile sardonically. I think my willingness to admit that none of these ideas are my own is fairly obvious yes? So, I'm not sure the sarcasm is warranted).

I still think my point vis-a-vis Kissinger obtains and I just can't get on board with all the hippy-dippy nonsense that says our GI tract is where dreams come from. And Jaynes doesn't say any such thing either... But feel free to think that Pinker is an idiot or blah blah. I submit (again) that people are just too rigid and dogmatic to accept new data if it runs counter to their politics. And for the record I am a radical leftist with sympathies with every goddamn liberation movement you can name; but I feel an allegiance to the truth first and from that all else follows. And if it is true that our genes dictate much of our personality and aptitudes then that is the truth regardless of how 'elitist' or politically incorrect it may FEEL. The earth moves around the sun regardless of the Church's desires. Grow up ya'll... grow up.

M said...

dear brando bloater
you've gone all puff fish. relax. what, are you three years old?

i'll repeat "and nope, consciousness is no mere feature of brain pulp activity but an amalgam of whole-body cellular events."

that's not saying human consciousness resides in the gut, ya chooch. stop scanning for hooks and take the time to read.

i said i'd read your schmuck of choice, pinker, and get back to you with references we can both share and understand, what more do you want? i'll deconstruct your ass like i know you secretly want me to, just don't be so bloody impatient.

and stop calling me a hippie. i'm a cunt. there's a difference.

1st Lt L Diablo said...

tick tock cunt... tick tock.

Pinker is smarter than you and I put together... but whatever-- you postmodern hippies just must pretend that art school is as difficult and important as engineering school and blah blah-- it betrays your insecurity vis-a-vis your worth in a modern society but relax, we need art and soft sciences too-- just not as much as real shit (think of it like heated seats in a car; they are grand; but the engine is more important and more complicated, savvy?).

However, I do know that without modern science and pharmacology our life span would be around 40-- how do I know this? Cuz this is what it was before the modern age! We had herbs and rain dances for millennia and we all died at 3 -fucking- 5... but feel free to think chanting cures cancer; and we'd all be healthier without antibiotics; but know this: WE KNOW YOU ARE CRAZY.

Love,
Marlon

FGFM said...

Pinker is smarter than you and I put together... but whatever-- you postmodern hippies just must pretend that art school is as difficult and important as engineering school and blah blah-- it betrays your insecurity vis-a-vis your worth in a modern society but relax, we need art and soft sciences too-- just not as much as real shit (think of it like heated seats in a car; they are grand; but the engine is more important and more complicated, savvy?).

What are your professional credentials again?

1st Lt L Diablo said...

I READ BOOKS FGFM. SAVVY?

You are such a little diploma nerd. Your point is-- if I don't have a degree in physics or biology then I cannot competently offer a rechauffe of Pinkers' (Oakley, EO Wilson, Dawkins, Harris, et.al.) most salient conceits? I guess I cannot mention new FMRI technology either (unless I have a Functional Magnetic Decoder Ring)? Or the Human Genome Project (unless I have a HGP Merit Badge).

Really? This is your little bourgeois contribution to this discussion?

Look, if you disagree with the notion that the brain affects personality/emotion (and that the brain is hardwired with some variation between people)-- do so. But, your insipid claim that I am not a biologist is effete and boring. I never even claimed these were my ideas-- I was submitting that they are plausible ideas and we as a species should consider accepting it so as to not stupidly attempt to convince a shark to become a vegetarian-- so to speak. Rather, we should avoid chumming the waters if sharks are around, or hunt the fish down and kill it. But fuck reasoning with a shark (or a morally-stinted right-winger or a pusillanimous liberal). Savvy? No, I didn't think so.

Go read some more John Locke and BF SKinner...

FGFM said...

I READ BOOKS FGFM. SAVVY?

Fine, what's the second derivative of a parabola?

This is your little bourgeois contribution to this discussion?

My working class credentials are impeccable, thank you very much.

Look, if you disagree with the notion that the brain affects personality/emotion (and that the brain is hardwired with some variation between people)-- do so.

I'm sure that the brain affects personality and that you read a lot of books, but that doesn't mean that your crackpot theory about Kissinger and powerful people in general being sociopaths is correct. Except for Fidel Castro, of course.

FGFM said...

Obama defies Hitch!

---

Obamas host 'quintessentially American' dinner for Hu Jintao

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Among the guests are Barbra Streisand, Yo-Yo Ma, Michelle Kwan and Jackie Chan.

...

Former Presidents Clinton and Carter were among the guests, as were former secretaries of State Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz and Madeleine Albright.

 
 
 

Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir