A 'civilization' that makes such a ridiculous fuss about alleged 'war crimes' - acts of violence against the actual or potential enemies of one's cause - and tolerates slaughterhouses and vivisection laboratories, and circuses and the fur industry (infliction of pain upon creatures that can never be for or against any cause), does not deserve to live.
The American intellectuals, in their preoccupation with reality, seem to have forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany. There is work to be done to prevent this war of ours from passing into popular mythology as a holy crusade. What shall we do with leaders who tell us that we go to war in moral spotlessness or who make democracy synonymous with a republican form of government?
The burden therefore rests with the American legal community and with the American human-rights lobbies and non-governmental organizations. They can either persist in averting their gaze from the egregious impunity enjoyed by a notorious war criminal and lawbreaker, or they can become seized by the exalted standards to which they continually hold everyone else. The current state of suspended animation, however, cannot last. If the courts and lawyers of this country will not do their duty, we shall watch as the victims and survivors of this man pursue justice and vindication in their own dignified and painstaking way, and at their own expense, and we shall be put to shame.
Kissinger projects a strong impression of a man at home in the world and on top of his brief. But there are a number of occasions when it suits him to pose as a sort of Candide: naive, and ill-prepared for and easily unhorsed by events. No doubt this pose costs him something in point of self-esteem. It is a pose, furthermore, which he often adopts at precisely the time when the record shows him to be knowledgeable, and when knowledge or foreknowledge would also confront him with charges of responsibility or complicity.
But witnesses incur responsibilities, as anyone who has ever seen a traffic accident and had to go to court to testify, knows. In the new world of globally televised war crimes, the defence of 'not knowing,' or neutrality, will dissolve for everyone. To be a witness or bystander is not a value-free choice but, inadvertently, a moral position; and in this sense the 'guilt' of people who live with the memory of crimes committed by members of their families, or communities, has been unwittingly extended to everyone who watches appalling pictures on the news.
At the end of this journey, it seems to me that reconciling the long shadows cast by the uneasy past may ultimately depend on elements so basic that they bring to mind a simple Slav proverb I once came across and never forgot: Eat bread and salt and speak the truth. They are the recovery of fact, public accountability and the instituting of fair trials of one sort or another, to help mark ends and beginnings and to return the moral compass as close to the centre as possible.
Respectable opinion would never consider an assessment of the Reagan Doctrine or earlier exercises in terms of their actual human costs, and could not comprehend that such an assessment which would yield a monstrous toll if accurately conducted on a global scale might perhaps be a proper task in the United States. At the same level of integrity, disciplined Soviet intellectuals are horrified over real or alleged American crimes, but perceive their own only as benevolent intent gone awry, or errors of an earlier day, now overcome; the comparison is inexact and unfair, since Soviet intellectuals can plead fear as an excuse for their services to state violence.