The day after the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, war hawk Henry Kissinger is due to speak in front of a selected 500 people at a closed gathering in Norway. Kissinger is one of the main people responsible for the deaths of millions of Asians during the Vietnam War. Despite this, he has been invited to Norway by the Nobel Institute and the University of Oslo (UiO).
On December 10th, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, will receive this year’s Peace Prize at Oslo Town Hall. Colombia’s brutal conflict has lasted over 50 years and caused at least 200,000 fatalities. More than five million people has become internally displaced due to the fighting between the guerrilla, paramilitary death squadrons and governmental army.
Santos is awarded this year’s Peace Prize for his efforts in ending this bloody civil war. Although I believe the prize should really be shared between the President of Colombia and the FARC-guerrilla, there is every reason to light the peace torches for President Santos.
More astonishing the news that newly-launched debate forum, Nobel Peace Prize Forum Oslo, is inviting Henry Kissinger to Oslo at the same time as Santos. He is to speak on «world peace following the USA election».
The director of the Nobel Institute, Olav Njølstad, comments that they «are very, very proud» to be able to set up this meeting with Henry Kissinger. Ole Petter Ottersen, University of Oslo Chancellor, states that he is very pleased about the university’s recently initiated collaboration with the Nobel Institute. This is actually an incomprehensible statement by the Chancellor.
The Nobel war prize. What makes this visit and invitation especially tasteless, is the fact that the event is affiliated with the Peace Prize ceremony itself. There is nothing peace-ful about Kissinger’s political merits and bloody past. In 1973, Kissinger received a Nobel Peace Prize alongside the North-Vietnam Foreign Minister Le Duc Tho. The USA and Kissinger had bombed, and bombed again, Asia, making this one of the most shameful prize distributions in the entire history of the Nobel Prize Committee. Two of the committee members, Helge Rognlien and Einar Hovdhaugen resigned in protest. Le Duc Tho refused to travel to Norway to accept the award. Kissinger did not appear either. His prize was accepted on his behalf by the then USA ambassador in Oslo, Thomas R. Byrne.
The shock of the prize distribution reverberated far beyond the committee ranks. The New York Times dubbed the Peace Prize the «Nobel War Prize». US folk singer Tom Lehrer exclaimed: «Political satire became superfluous the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. » Four million Asians were killed during Kissinger’s tenure as National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary under President Richard Nixon. Around 100, 000 Cambodians lost their lives as Kissinger’s fighter planes attacked. The terror bombings laid the foundations for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot.
Birth defects. My relationship to Kissinger’s vile actions is both personal and emotional. During the Vietnam War, the USA sprayed the country’s rice fields and other agricultural areas with Agent Orange – a chemical substance killing all life on Vietnam’s arable land. This led to as many as 500, 000 children being born with severe birth defects. They were blind, with missing arms and legs. Many suffered such grave injuries that they were unable to ever lead a decent life. In 1996, I visited a Northern Vietnamese hospital which treated and looked after the injured «orange-children». I was shown round by a nurse. She stopped by a bed. In it was a mute child sans eyes. The nurse uttered only one sentence: «They were animals. Murderers!»
For four years, I covered Chile as NRK’s Latin-American correspondent. I witnessed and described the brutality of Augusto Pinochet up close. Thousands perished, tens of thousands were tortured and hundreds of thousands fled the country in exile. The USA supported the coup with weapons, money and plans. Kissinger was one of its key architects. He stated: «I am unable to understand how we can stand back and watch as a country becomes communist due to its irresponsible people. This is too important for the Chilean voters to decide for themselves. »
This is the man whom the Nobel Institute and UIO are excited to get to Oslo. This is the fighter who will be basking in the glory of the Nobel Prize award. It is a disgrace.