Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders said former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was “not my kind of guy,” and attacked rival Hillary Clinton for speaking of him highly in a previous debate and in a book review because of his role in the Vietnam War.
Mr. Sanders called Mrs. Clinton’s praising words for Mr. Kissinger “rather amazing.”
“Because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country,” Mr. Sanders said. “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Kissinger.”
Mr. Sanders blames Mr. Kissinger for creating the instability in Cambodia because of the bombing that happened in 1970 and creating a vacuum for the Khmer Rouge and dictator Pol Pot to flourish.
“So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger,” he said.
Mrs. Clinton scathingly questioned who, then, on foreign policy does Mr. Sanders listen.
“Well I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is,” Mrs. Clinton said.
To which Mr. Sanders replied: “Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger, that’s for sure.”
In an indication that mentioning Mr. Kissinger was a planned attack, the Sanders campaign put out a lengthy footnoted statement on the matter even before the debate was over.
The Sanders campaign attacks the 1970s secretary of state on more than a dozen counts as a genocidal criminal and calls Mrs. Clinton someone who “aligned herself” with him.
“Kissinger is known for direct involvement in secret coups against democratically elected presidents, support of notorious dictators, the expansion of the national security state, and various human rights violations. New York University History professor Greg Grandin wrote in The Nation that Kissinger’s policies led to ‘3, maybe 4 million deaths’ in Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere (he caveats that this is a likely underestimate),” the Sanders campaign statement said.
The Sanders team also called Mr. Kissinger, who is Jewish, for remarks he made about Soviet human-rights record on Jewish emigration.
“In White House tapes released in 2010, Kissinger is heard telling Nixon in 1973 that helping Soviet Jews emigrate, and escape oppression, was ‘not an objective of American foreign policy.’ He also said ‘And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern,’” the Sanders campaign wrote.