Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Allen Ginsberg To Henry Kissinger: Let's Get Naked



The National Security Archive of George Washington University has published an online edition of transcripts of 15,000 phone calls of former national security adviser Henry Kissinger. A selection is posted at the archive's web site; the entire collection is available to subscribers.

One call between Kissinger and Nixon concerned their own "shock and awe" campaign during another unnecessary war. Both express their satisfaction over the massive bombing of North Vietnam in a conversation that each recorded without the other's knowledge:

Kissinger: They dropped a million pounds of bombs.

Nixon: A million pounds of bombs. Goddamn, that must have been a good strike. That shock treatment [is] cracking them. I tell you the thing to do is pour it in there every place we can…just bomb the hell out of them.

Kissinger: I mean if as a country we keep our nerves, we are going to make it.

Others were not as enthusiastic about the horrific bombing. The archives contain a call placed by Allen Ginsberg (top photo) to Kissinger, during which the Beat poet tried to arrange a meeting between the administration and antiwar activists. Ginsberg had a novel idea:

Ginsberg: Perhaps you don’t know how to get out of the war.

Kissinger (regarding a possible meeting): I like to do this not just for the enlightenment of the people I talk to, but to at least give me a feel of what concerned people think.

Ginsberg: It would be even more useful if we could do it naked on television.

Kissinger: (Laughter).

Ginsberg's suggestion followed a lifetime of insistence on nakedness in his art and life. In "Dharma Lion: A Biography of Allen Ginsberg," Michael Schumacher describes a confrontation between Ginsberg and a drunken heckler, who asked what he was trying to prove. "Nakedness," replied Ginsberg, who stripped off all his clothes as the heckler retreated. "The poet always stands naked before the world," he declared.

Ginsberg made his suggestion to Kissinger in the same spirit of nakedness, honesty and openness. Kissinger and Nixon, after all, both secretly taped each other. Of greater consequence, however, was their extension of the Vietnam war through secret bombing raids in Cambodia, which cost thousands of lives and led to the rise of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. In addition, CIA documents strengthen suspicions of Kissinger and Nixon's involvement in Operation Condor, whose aim was to assassinate political opponents in Latin America.

Ginsberg's nakedness ran counter to the secretive, dishonest and destructive policies of Kissinger and Nixon–and, for that matter, the war, torture and domestic spying carried on by the Bush administration over the past eight years.

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