9/11 changed everything… for Henry Kissinger and friends
As his official biographer Niall Ferguson writes in Newsweek of the infamous diplomat’s recent triumphant return to his alma mater:
Then something remarkable happened. Spontaneously, the audience gave Kissinger an ovation—a standing ovation in many cases. The remarkable thing is that most of those clapping were undergraduates.
Welcome to the new generation gap. In the question-and-answer session, the handful of nasty questions came from aging baby boomers. The attitude of the students was diametrically opposite. Many had stood in line for an hour to get in. At the end, they thronged the stage to take photographs with Kissinger and ask for his autograph.
A cynic might put this down to youthful innocence. “To them, Vietnam is just history,” I heard a faculty member mutter, “like the Civil War.” Yes and no. The 1970s are indeed history if you were born in 1992. But the generation that came of age after 9/11 has a fundamentally different attitude to war than the ponytailed protester.
The Obama presidency has shown that liberals, too, must sometimes use force to uphold the nation’s security: surging in Afghanistan, helping overthrow a bad regime in Libya, killing foes (among them a U.S. citizen) with drones and hit squads.
Who knows? Maybe one day a successor to Hitchens will denounce the “war crimes” of Obama. But if so, his readers will be in their 60s or older. A younger and wiser generation has welcomed Kissinger back to Harvard.
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