Further lessons in history recommended for all

By Chandran Nair

Click here to read the original article as published in Financial Times.

Sir, Simon Schama’s interview with Henry Kissinger (“The history man”, Life & Arts, May 21) is typical of many with him which studiously avoid the hard questions.

Perhaps those were the conditions of the interview, in which case your readers should be told. Saying that he tried “not to like Henry Kissinger for the usual Nixon-Cambodia-Chile reasons” and then sweep all of those serious issues under the carpet is unfortunately an insult to the millions of Cambodians, Vietnamese and Laotians who paid a very high price for Dr Kissinger’s foreign policy over-reach.

Yes, Dr Kissinger likes to lament that contemporary politicians may have a poor sense of history and he is keen to remind them of the lessons. But as far as the recent history of south-east Asia is concerned, those interested should not be listening to his version or his-story.

Hopefully the time will come soon when the FT will be interviewing leaders from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for their version of events and their story.

For those interested, though, in some facts: Laos is the most bombed country in history with more bombs dropped by the US on it than in all of Europe during the second world war; 260m cluster bombs were dropped; the equivalent of a planeload of bombs was dropped every eight minutes, 24 hours a day for nine years.

Let us not forget that Dr Kissinger was a key figure in this war on a hapless nation.

Chandran Nair,

Founder and Chief Executive,

Global Institute for Tomorrow,

Hong Kong