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The Trials of Henry Kissinger is based on Christopher Hitchens’ short book of almost the same name, which makes the case that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is a war criminal. Producer-writer Alex Gibney and producer-director Eugene Jarecki follow Hitchens’ brief, which is based primarily on the U.S. policies Kissinger shaped for Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor, and Chile. (They omit Hitchens’ discussion of Greece.) At 80 minutes, the polemical film budgets even less time to indict Richard Nixon’s top foreign-policy henchman than did Hitchens’ The Trial of Henry Kissinger, and it gets a little distracted by Kissinger’s alleged charisma. The documentary opens with an overlong biographical sketch and wastes precious moments on swinging Henry’s dates with the likes of Barbara Howar and Jill St. John—to the tune of “Mr. Big Stuff,” no less. This is apparently an attempt at balance, demonstrating that Kissinger was not always the wretched, embattled man he is today, shown in a TV clip refusing to respond to Hitchens’ charges on the utterly bogus grounds that his accuser is a Holocaust denier. The relevant holocausts, of course, are in Asia, where Kissinger prolonged the Vietnam War by betraying Lyndon Johnson’s negotiations with the North Vietnamese in order to benefit Nixon’s 1968 election campaign—and to guarantee himself a job in the Nixon White House. Half the American troops killed in Vietnam (and countless Vietnamese) died after Kissinger’s gambit scuttled the original peace talks, and as many as 3 million people perished in Cambodia during the Nixon administration’s secret and illegal bombing and the chaos that followed. The death tolls were lower in Chile and in East Timor, where Kissinger and new boss Gerald Ford signed off on an Indonesian genocide campaign, but the policies were no less culpable. The film ends with journalist Seymour Hersh’s remark that Kissinger has “to live with himself,” but there’s no reason to think he’s having any difficulty doing that. An international war-crimes tribunal would trouble him more effectively than his conscience, the existence of which has never been conclusively demonstrated. —Mark Jenkins