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15/02/2016 | Kissinger's ''green light'' for Argentina's dirty ''war'' v. five-time GOP Ambassador Robert C. Hill

Martin Edwin Andersen

"Tell me, Mr. Navasky," [Henry Kissinger] said in his famous guttural tones, "how is it that a short article in a obscure journal such as yours about a conversation that was supposed to have taken place years ago about something that did or didn't happen in Argentina resulted in sixty people holding placards denouncing me a few months ago at the airport when I got off the plane in Copenhagen?" In Victor S. Navasky, A Matter of Opinion (p. 298).

 

(The article in question, "Kissinger and the 'Dirty War,'" written by me and published in The Nation, October 31, 1987, broke the story about how the then-Secretary of State gave Argentina's far-right "dirty warriors" the green light for their unfolding massacre.)


As seen in the Navasky quote (above), the wily Henry Kissinger thought he could manipulate a reality in which State Department documents were still classified in order to cover up the "green light" he gave to the Argentine military regime--many pro-Nazi sympathizers--for their conduct of the "dirty war," which was no real "war" at all, despite tens of thousands of disappearances and deaths. 

Kissinger had refused to take my phone call before my article was published. Shortly after it appeared, however, the Secretary of State claimed in a letter to Navasky that no one ever remembered the conservative Republican (and by then, dead) envoy, Robert C. Hill, as a "passionate human rights advocate." That despite Hill's now well-documented willingness to be fired by Kissinger, who knew him very well, when he bravely but internally protested the latter's "green light." 

In fact, the Kissinger letter shows how the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize for the Vietnam War baldy lied and in the process defamed Hill, whose life and times offer a unique focus on the importance of ethical dissent and moral solvency in U.S. foreign policy. 

The story is all the more poignant as the New Hampshire native and his family were themselves the object of several assassination attempts by leftwing Argentine terrorists, beginning from the time they arrived in that country in mid-1974. According to several friends and associates, the early death (in 1978) of one-time noted athlete Hill was due in large part to the extraordinary stress he suffered while serving in Buenos Aires.

Hill, a businessman-diplomat, had been appointed by President Richard Nixon as envoy to Buenos Aires in 1973. He had served as ambassador in Costa Rica during the time of the 1954 CIA-sponsored coup in Guatemala as well as in in Mexico, El Salvador and Spain. "Hill's biography reads like a satirical left-wing caricature of a 'yanqui imperialist,' noted the muckracking newsletter Latin America. "He has long-standing connection with the United States security and intelligence establishment."

Following The Nation's publication of "Kissinger and the 'Dirty War,'" Luigi Einaudi, a former Kissinger aide and at the time still a State Department official, dutifully told Foggy Bottom associates he had been in the Santiago, Chile, hotel room when the okay allegedly was given to the Argentine generals and that Hill's version was wrong.

(Einaudi, currently a National Defense University [NDU] Distinguished Visiting Fellow, at the time went around the State Department labeling the author of The Nation article [me] a dangerous "radical." In fact, just months before publishingThe Nation piece I had gotten into a shouting match in Buenos Aires with a supposed Cuban "diplomat" on the fate of what he claimed were "non-existent" political prisoners on the island gulag. It is useful to point out that NDU is the place where just two years ago Professor Jaime Garcia Covarrubias--a former senior aide to Chilean dictator and Kissinger ally Augusto Pinochet as well as an ex-member of the DINA state terrorist organization responsible for one of the worst pre-9/11 attacks ever on Washington, D.C.--was finally forced to resign when he was indicted in civilian court for the torture and murder of seven detainees.)

After The Nation article was printed Einaudi pointed out--as supposed proof that it was wrong--that he, together with Deputy Secretary for Inter-American AffairsWilliam D. Rogers, were with Kissinger at the Hotel Carrera (later made famous, as the Hotel Cabrera, in the chilling movie Missing) during the June 1976 meeting with Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Guzzetti. It was there, as Hill later found out, that the "green light" was given.



Unfortunately for Einaudi and his fumbling effort to defend Kissinger and defame Hill, a cable published on June 11, 1976 in the conservative Argentine newspaperLa Nacion from ANSA, the Italian news agency, clearly stated:

"A few hours before leaving for Mexico, after a period of intense activity in Santiago, Kissinger held his longest interview with a foreign minister, that of Argentina, Admiral Cesar Guzzetti. The meeting took place at a very early hour in the Hotel Carrera, where Kissinger was staying. Both Kissinger and his colleague spoke in their own languages, but Guzzetti demonstrated a good knowledge of English. .... The most serious part of the conversation can be synthesized into two points: a) a frank understanding by Kissinger of the current Argentine political stance; b) his promise to support the Argentine economic plan. ... During the meeting, attended by four American officials, including ... William D. Rogers,Kissinger spoke alone with Guzzetti for a few minutes." (Italics added.)

(On December 14, 2010, a few months after Einaudi told me in the hallway at NDU--without explaining why--that Hill was one of the "sleaziest" U.S. diplomats he had ever met, I tried to interview him about his former colleague for a dissertation and book I planned to write. By that time, me having already been "outed" at NDU as a potential whistleblower focused on his pinochetista friend Garcia Covarrubias, a more cautious Einaudi claimed he could not remember Hill.)

A second, provably false, letter written by Einaudi's sycophantic colleague, William Rogers, that Kissinger ended up passing on ("confidentially", of course; why leave fingerprints?) to The Nation publisher was far more revealing. In it, the most important point Rogers made about the five-time conservative GOP political ambassadorial appointee was the (now) totally-discredited claim: "Hill never told us during the last six months of 1976, while he was working the human rights issue so energetically, that you had misled Guzzetti, or that the junta was under a dangerously misguided impression about your attitude."

Ironically, this was later shown to be false by none other than once and future Kissinger aide Henry Shlaudeman, later ambassador to Buenos Aires, who told William E. Knight, an oral historian working for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, that:

"It really came to a head when I was Assistant Secretary, or it began to come to a head, in the case of Argentina where the dirty war was in full flower. Bob Hill, who was Ambassador then in Buenos Aires, a very conservative Republican politician--by no means liberal or anything of the kind, began to report quite effectively about what was going on, this slaughter of innocent civilians, supposedly innocent civilians--this vicious war that they were conducting, underground war.

"He, at one time in fact, sent me a back-channel telegram saying that the Foreign Minister, who had just come for a visit to Washington and had returned to Buenos Aires, had gloated to him that Kissinger had said nothing to him about human rights. I don't know--I wasn't present at the interview."

The article that came out on Kissinger and the dirty "war" in 1987 in The Nation was not just based on the memorandum of conversation with Hill given to me by Patricia (Patt) Derian, President Jimmy Carter's crusading Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights.

The original The Nation article was also the result of several interviews I had--both before and after meeting with Patt at her home in Alexandria, Virginia--with senior Argentine military officials, all of whom said that Kissinger had indeed given the 'green light,' and supported by my old friend and mentor Juan de Onis who, as The New York Times South America correspondent, had also heard the story.

(Reproduction of the charge about Kissinger's role was contained in my, "The Military Obstacle to Latin Democracy,Foreign Policy, No. 73. (Winter, 1988-1989), pp. 94-113, and in Dossier Secreto: Argentina's Desaparecidos and the Myth of the " Dirty War," published in 1993.)


(In 2008, ​as a vicious cover-up of the role of Professor Garcia Covarrubias in Pinochet's Chile was underway at NDU, ​Kissinger received it​s American Patriot Award "in recognition for his distinguished career in public service."​)​

Perhaps all the more so in a poisoned Washington, D.C. political atmosphere, the Hill story continues to be a crucial example of the importance of those willing to tell truth to power and who see human rights and human dignity as something that necessarily extends to foes as well as to friends, no matter what, or how personal, the threat.

In the U.S. context, it also shows how these fundamental principles are not "owned" by liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats. They are inherent in our Founding Documents, and in examples reaching back to General George Washington--something Bob Hill appreciated.

As Tex Harris, the crusading human rights official in the embassy in Buenos Aires during the Carter Administration, recently noted:

"Ambassador Hill is a hero to Patt Derian. He briefed her on Argentina early in her tenure ... with an impact. [It] put Argentina early on her list of concerns."

"It sickened me," Patt Derian told me as I was writing the original October 31, 1987 Nation story, "that with an imperial wave of his hand, an American could sentence people to death on the basis of a cheap whim. As time went on I saw Kissinger's footprints in a lot of countries. It was the repression of a democratic ideal."

______________________________________

 "How could one of the most civilized nations on the face of the earth be swept away by a bloody and barbaric reign of terror? What was it that caused the kidnapping, torture, and murder of thousands of innocent citizens? In his remarkable history of this terrible time, Mick Andersen has supplied new evidence and new answers to these troubling questions." -- Senator Edward M. Kennedy

______________________________________

For additional information, please see:

UPI: President Videla and Kissinger at Football Match (June 28, 1978) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcq0Q4pbiIk

Jorge Rafael Videla se reune con el Presidente Carter (1977)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK5cxhP_7F8

"Argentina Crying Over 'Hired Guns'"(https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-87460064/argentina-crying-over-hired-guns-u-s-political),

"The Winter of Dr. K's Discontent"(https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/poor-henry-kissinger-martin-edwin-andersen), 

"Un heroe militar argentino durante la dictadura de la guerra sucia"(https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/un-heroe-militar-argentino-durante-la-dictadura-martin-edwin-andersen),  

David Corn's "New Memo: Kissinger Gave the 'Green Light' for Argentina's Dirty War" (http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/new-memo-kissinger-gave-green-light-argentina-dirty-war)

and

Christopher Hitchens' "Kissinger Declassified"(www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2004/12/hitchens200412



Offnews.info (Argentina)

 


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