Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger

White House Photographic Office

Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger

Open Letter to Westmont College

Thursday, October 3, 2013
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I am writing to express my deep concern about Westmont’s widely advertised sponsorship of a paid speaking engagement with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. I grew up next to Westmont, attended at least a dozen summer camps there, was a water boy for the basketball team, and know a number of fine human beings who were educated there. In all of my years of acquaintance with the college, nothing would lead me to believe that Westmont would want to formally associate itself with a person as out of alignment with Christian values as Henry Kissinger.

Since the release of declassified CIA records in 2000, numerous documents and tapes have connected Kissinger to secret bombings in Cambodia (which killed over a half million people), to support of the dictator Augusto Pinochet (who, with the help of the CIA, overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile), to support for the military dictatorship in Argentina that “disappeared” thousands of people, to support of President Suharto of Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. These tapes and documents present a very real picture of a man characterized by a callous lack of regard for human life and a complete lack of Christian values. Please do not take my word for it. As an academic institution, Westmont is in an ideal position to access the public records and analyses of Kissinger’s time in office.

If, after review, Westmont still thinks Henry Kissinger is a man of moral fiber and good Christian values, then so be it. If not, I would like to suggest that this should be a topic of public discussion. What type of behavior is acceptable in our leaders? Are secret bombings of nations, with which we are not at war, appropriate? How many civilian casualties are acceptable in these bombings? Whether Cambodia in the 1970s, or Yemen today, these issues come up again and again.

It is my hope that Westmont will take a moment to remember its core values and to support people, ideas, and causes that uphold, rather than undermine, those values.

Thank you for your consideration.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I'm a Westmont grad (class of 2011) and I know nothing about Kissinger beyond what a brief google showed. While I think it's certainly an odd choice for Westmont, I think that just because Westmont invites someone to speak doesn't mean it's giving a stamp of approval to everything that person says.

We're a school that values discussion and I think Westmont respects its students enough to not have to be afraid that they'll blindly accept anything that anyone, Christian or not, says. However, I can see how someone would see an invitation to speak as a way of supporting the guy *shrugs*.

Tahlia (anonymous profile)
October 3, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thalia, Kissinger was complicit in mayhem and secret wars involving killing of innocent peoples. He is not worthy to speak at a wonderful institution such as Westmont and college administration should be admonished for allowing him to speak on campus.

geeber (anonymous profile)
October 3, 2013 at 5:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Always remember that those most invloved in mass killings have a great and convincing way of explaining how they tried to stop the killings.

The Nuremburg Trials showed this, and also look at how nobody seemed to be responsible for the Iran-Contra scandal.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 3, 2013 at 6:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you review all Sec'y of States in recent history, I doubt any one them would meet the moral standards Abe wants to hold them to.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 3, 2013 at 6:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

(Westmont '91) I'm going to do what I can to hear him speak. Unlike the caringtolerant left that wants to silence anyone that doesn't walk in lockstep, those of us on the selfishracisthater right appreciate hearing from all types. I suppose it's a shame that Juan Peron, Daniel Ortega, or Hugo Chavez can't make it? Maybe some protestors can wear Che shirts and shout him down while he's speaking.

MPHaus (anonymous profile)
October 3, 2013 at 11:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe we can all wear shirts with the faces of dead Vietnamese, cambodians, bangladeshis. Americans, Pakistanis and Indians that Kissinger who's lives Kissinger so wantonly sacrificed for his ego and bank account. perhaps westmont can have a whole series of talks with serial killers, I'm sure Manson would fit right in with that crowd.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 12:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good point, MPHaus. Commie regimes haven't been lax in the liquidation department (shout out to Asian commies in China, NK, Viet & Cambodia.) Prosperity (lack of) is another conspicuous erroneous zone of theirs.

I got no over-arching position, just bringing up a couple of points.

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 12:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Do the good leaders of Westmont College know the blood of genocide on KISSINGER'S hands detailed in Gary Bass's new book, THE BLOOD TELEGRAM? I agree with Powell that this invitation needs more and more open discussion.
Bass indicts Nixon and KISSINGER for ignoring specific telegrams from their own counsel general in Dacca (Archie Blood) detailing the genocide going on there in 1970-71 as the West Pakistanis massacred 300,000 people? The USA ignored this and kept sending arms to East/West Pakistan. I hope Westmont considers withdrawing their invitation to the war criminal Kissinger.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 5:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@Adonis: MML recently told me that several countries have said that if Kissinger visits them, he will be arrested on site.

@DrDan: Is Bass any relation to Diane Butler Bass--the former guest columnist for the News-Press who was a teacher at Westmont?

Kissinger ist von Deutchland, und die beiden herren Adonis und DrDan sprechen deutch. Sehr interessant.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 6:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@MPHaus, Powell isn't part of any group, left or right, that "wants to silence anyone that doesn't walk in lockstep" -- he asked very politely if Westmont would reconsider and ponder their invitation to this least-of-all "Christian" diplomat and devotee of Realpolitik. Reread it: Powell writes:
"If, after review, Westmont still thinks Henry Kissinger is a man of moral fiber and good Christian values, then so be it."
Your reaction tells us a lot more about you than about Powell, who sounds pretty reasonable. It would be at least "Christian" of Westmont's leaders to respond politely.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I direct all of you to Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger.
And watch,

70sbartender (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

great video, 70sbartender, thank you, all you posters should check it out. This is the earlier, more lefty 'Hitch, not the one who supported Bush 43's insane Iraq invasion in '02/'03. This earlier wiser Hitchens utterly indicts Kissinger in his book of that earlier time, THE TRIAL OF HENRY KISSINGER, and as I stated in a post under another Westmont/Kissinger article, the guy's a legitimate war criminal, and Hitchens says this time and again AND with full data: see his citations.
What kind of US citizen would contribute $1500 to this man, or to those sponsoring this vituperative war criminal? Yes, he's quite intelligent, but he fell into his own prison of reason and abetted massacres and genocide in at least two places. Cambodia. Much more than mayhem, geeber, and I agree.
Why won't Westmont respond? Will the Press be invited? Will there be transparent opportunities to interview him and ASK HIM QUESTIONS?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2013 at 7:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tahlia has her (?) head on straight. No censorship, please, and admission to speak does not constitute agreement with values.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2013 at 3:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Inviting him to speak doesn't indicate approval for what he has done but it gives the students an educational opportunity, as well as an opportunity to question him. No censorship, what kind of education would Westmont be providing if they only invited people to speak that the majority agreed with? They are young adults that need to make up their own minds and as Christians, they can pass their own individual judgments. I am sure that they will maintain themselves with dignity though, regardless.

santabarbarasand (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2013 at 6:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with free speech and all, but we are talking someone who should be on death row for his crimes against humanity. Who will they have next charles manson? Does that sound like a silly question? Kissinger's crimes make manson's look like child's play. This man mesmerized the already criminally mesmerized Nixon administration into some of the worst war crimes in history, and Westmont thinks he is an 'educational opportunity' for it's students? Pardon me but students should be reading about Kissinger's execution on the gallows, hardly witness to him alive and on stage.
The empire crumbles....................

70sbartender (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2013 at 8:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

see for another letter to Westmont College. This one is focused on Kissinger's role in Indonesia absorbing of West Papua. The same site has a lot of info on Kissinger's role in Indonesia illegal invasion of East Timor

JMM55 (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 9:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Does the excellent management of Westmont Higher education know the blood vessels of genocide on KISSINGER'S arms particular in Grettle Bass's new guide, "the blood telegram"? I believe the fact with Powell that this invites needs more and more start conversation such as mentioned in an article that I recently read on internet published by I guess

ELearners (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2013 at 12:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with John Locke in that there should be no censorship. This, at $1,500/ticket was pretty clearly a fund-raising speech and not an educational presentation.

What's shameful about Westmont is that a recent graduate, 2011, Tahlia, had never heard of Kissinger and had to google his name! That is quite shocking.

at_large (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2013 at 8:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm no fan of Nixon's old henchman but I still say him him speak.

Noletaman (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2013 at 10:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Absolutely he had the right to speak! And others have the right to question Westmont's Christian philosophy and values when they want a war criminal like Henry the K to orate at their fund-raising luncheon. The News-SuPPress -- found it on the floor of a coffee shop -- led off their reportage of this event with a large page 1 picture of Kissinger and noted his intimate conversation with Gayle Beebe, Westmont's President. Wonderful! A Christian educational leader conversing with a known war criminal? What would Beebe's Jesus say about that? Did Beebe at least ask Henry some honest questions about his role in genocide in Cambodia, East Pakistan, and so on?? What a poignant lesson for Westmont students!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Poor Beebe, he's collected the money from Kissinger's talk but himself fails, as a Christian and as an educator, to discuss K's genocidal past and the impact of the very public knowledge of K's bloody hands on Westmont students. You were a teacher, Mr. Beebe??

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 12, 2013 at 6:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As far as I know, Kissinger's role in Cambodia was not a very good one.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 12, 2013 at 6:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm troubled by the concerns regarding censorship expressed here. Especially the post by MPHaus which is disturbingly simplistic. Sure, K has a right to speak wherever he chooses and can find an audience. That said, Westmont is not obligated to give him a soapbox to help him express his views. To confuse a simple refusal to give K a megaphone and censorship is to make a very fundamental and grievous mistake.

If at_large is correct that tickets are $1,500 then any assertion that this is an educational opportunity is completely wrong. How many students have that kind of pocket change? Moreover, both acknowledged Westmont grads posting here apparently have such a woeful history of recent USA foreign policy that listening to K will be indoctrination, not education.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2013 at 11:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

great post, SezMe, but Beebe & Westmont are so tone-deaf and proto-Tea Party in their evangelical bent that they'd never deign to respond to any moral inquiries about inviting the war-criminal Kissinger and making money off him.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 19, 2013 at 2:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have a different take on this. What does Kissinger have to say that is so important that people are willing to pay so much money to hear him? If it were Julian Assange or Edward Snowden or anyone else with previously unhashed information I would understand, but this seems ridiculous.

It's all about our freedom to choose, and even if I had the money, I wouldn't spend it to hear Kissinger speak.

Follow the money.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 19, 2013 at 7:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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