eugene jarecki has done us all a service with the trials of henry kissinger. beyond looking at kissinger’s record in cambodia, east timor and chile, this film asks the big questions about how we should perceive war crimes and diplomats. the film follows in the steps of christopher hitchens’ condemnations of kissinger in his articles and book, and features plenty of footage of hitchens railing against kissinger. hitchens is a compelling character, and makes a strong argument throughout. you don’t get the sense that hitchens is being petty, either. he is a man possessed with demonstrating the hypocrisy behind the history of american foreign policy and the ego of kissinger.
jarecki makes us reassess the concept that statesmen must choose between evils – that they are somehow above the law when they directly affect the lives of thousands (or millions) of people. as well, the film forces us to question why american politicians can be held to a different standard than those elsewhere in the world (the case recent cases against milosevic and pinochet are good examples).
because kissinger operated at a different time in history, when his breed of realpolitik allowed for more flexible morals and ethics, should he be allowed to escape the ramifications of his actions? should we continue to condemn the past, rather than setting guidelines for the future? the film does not broach this point, but insists that politicians should be held to the same laws as the rest of us.
another interesting concept is that since the late 60s the media eye has penetrated deeper into the daily machinations of political decision making. i think this film is a lesson to all of those operating in washington right now. they are not beyond the law or the careful gaze of your people – and can no longer operate in a moral vacuum, under the invisible guise of backroom deals and personally motivated power plays.