The documentary I have chosen for my analysis is The Trials of Henry Kissinger. This documentary is based on Christopher Hitchens’s 2001 bestselling book The Trial of Henry Kissinger where he makes the argument that Kissinger was not the great public hero people thought he was but was nothing short of a war criminal guilty of terrible crimes against humanity. The most important point made here is that leaders of any sort, not just public figures like presidents and judges, should be held to a higher moral standard than the standards of ordinary people. Henry Kissinger was an extremely powerful man in his own time and, through his influence and connection, seemed to be almost as powerful as the President of the USA. As Secretary of State as well as a diplomat, his influence was not just on his own set of bureaucrats, but also on world leaders. His behavior set the tone for how the world saw America and Americans and one very unpleasant fact is that many nations now believe that the USA has placed itself above International Law, even though the USA has invoked International laws very often.
Kissinger was first a leader through his power and influence and only later did he become a ‘pop’ leader who dated the most beautiful women and was a ‘swinger’. He was also one of the first people to fully and effectively cultivate a free press to his own ends and create advantageous situations for himself. For this, he used history to his advantage. In retrospect, most people believe that the American crisis in Vietnam was the fault of the Johnson administration and that Kissinger and Nixon fixed it, but in reality, Kissinger almost single handedly aggravated the problem and brought the then neutral Cambodia into the problem leading to the rise of the Khmer Rouge. He was a brilliant man who used his background as a victim of the Nazi genocide to his advantage and pushed himself up in the American system. Later he set up an advisory firm where he used his foreign connections to help businesses expand abroad. This was a sort of business enterprise that required highly specialized people like Kissinger.
The Trials of Henry Kissinger, dir. Eugene Jarecki. Narr. Brian Cox, 2002. Film.