Eugene Jarecki

This BBC-produced documentary explores the allegations that Christopher Hitchens first put forth in a series of articles in Harper's Magazine, which essentially call influential U.S. statesman Henry Kissinger a war criminal and suggest he be tried as such. The film focuses on three major Kissinger-influenced periods in recent U.S. history, positing that Kissinger consistently implemented foreign policy that led to countless deaths but furthered his own personal, political and diplomatic agendas. The first and most elaborate section of the film talks about Kissinger's involvement in the Vietnam War, accusing him of almost single-handedly prolonging the conflict by years by sabotaging Johnson's 1968 peace accord efforts in order to ingratiate himself with Nixon and then detailing his engineering of the "secret" bombings of Cambodia (which indirectly caused the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime). The film also goes into Kissinger's condoning of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, which led to a massive genocide of the Timorese people, and into his involvement in the Chilean coup that overthrew democratically elected socialist leader Salvador Allende and installed brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet. This film is a thorough and well-documented indictment of Kissinger's nefarious political acts. It offers surprising access to former Kissinger aides and U.S. government and military officials (including former Secretary of State Alexander Haig), as well as the journalists who covered these Kissinger-related stories. Unfortunately, the documentary does not have a compelling style to match its content. The uninspiring visuals alternate between stock footage and static, close-up interviews and the bulk of the story is told by a typical informative but dispassionate voice-over, conforming to some boring cliché of documentary filmmaking. This disappointing absence of style was made all the more glaring to me after just having watched Michael Moore's new documentary Bowling for Columbine, which takes on equally serious subject matter with a humour and visual flair that this film sorely lacks.