May 31, 2008
A Japanese man who was mystified when food kept disappearing from his kitchen, set up a hidden camera and found an unknown woman living secretly in his closet, Japanese media said Friday.
The 57-year-old unemployed man of Fukuoka in southern Japan called police Wednesday when the camera sent pictures to his mobile phone of an intruder in his home while he was out on Wednesday, the Asahi newspaper said on its Website.
Officers rushed to the house and found a 58-year-old unemployed woman hiding in an unused closet, where she had secreted a mattress and plastic drink bottles, the Asahi said. Police suspect she may have been there for several months, the paper said.
“I didn’t have anywhere to live,” the Nikkan Sports tabloid quoted the woman as telling police.
Local police confirmed that they had arrested a woman for trespassing, but would not comment further on the case.
May 30, 2008
The worldwide boom in commodities has come to this: Even guano, the bird dung that was the focus of an imperialist scramble on the high seas in the 19th century, is in strong demand once again.
Surging prices for synthetic fertilizers and organic foods are shifting attention to guano, an organic fertilizer once found in abundance on this island and more than 20 others off the coast of Peru, where an exceptionally dry climate preserves the droppings of seabirds like the guanay cormorant and the Peruvian booby.
Thousands of stick-wielding ethnic Gujjars shouted slogans and squatted on main roads on the borders of east and north Delhi. They threw stones at police and at places broke windshields of cars and buses.
The Gujjars, already considered a disadvantaged group, want to be reclassified further down the complex Hindu caste and status system so they qualify for government jobs and university seats reserved for such groups.
A highly decorated Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth died a painful death in Iraq this year. He died not on the battlefield. He died in what should have been one of the safest spots in Iraq: on a U.S. base, in his bathroom.
The water pump was not properly grounded, and when he turned on the shower, a jolt of electricity shot through his body and electrocuted him January 2…
Army documents obtained by CNN show that U.S.-paid contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) inspected the building and found serious electrical problems a full 11 months before Maseth was electrocuted.
KBR noted “several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.” But KBR’s contract did not cover “fixing potential hazards.” It covered repairing items only after they broke down.
Only after Maseth died did the Army issue an emergency order for KBR to finally fix the electrical problems, and that order was carried out soon thereafter.
In an internal e-mail obtained by CNN, a Navy captain admits that the Army should have known “the extent of the severity of the electrical problems.” The e-mail then says the reason the Army did not know was because KBR’s inspections were never reviewed by a “qualified government employee.”
A man who had a six-year relationship with Sheila LaBarre testified he has a vanity plate that reads, “I’m Alive,” and recalled they would fight every day and that she attacked him with scissors, a knife, an ax — even a gun..
Brackett, who dated LaBarre between 1996 and 2002, said Thursday in addition to those attacks, LaBarre also whacked Brackett in the face with a 2-foot-long wooden grill brush after they had taken a bath together, knocking out two of his teeth…
Brackett, who lived with LaBarre at her Epping farm, said he was so desperate to leave, he hitchhiked through a blizzard to a homeless shelter in Portsmouth. He said the fights had grown so violent and he was afraid one of them might be killed.
LaBarre pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 24-year-old Kenneth Countie and 38-year-old Michael Deloge…
Brackett testified that LaBarre stabbed him in the head with a pair of cuticle scissors, chased him through a field with a knife and hacked her way into a camper Brackett was hiding out in with an ax during one of their many arguments.
There were a few times LaBarre shot at him with a .38 pistol, bullets whizzing by his head, Brackett said. He also said LaBarre would often claw and scratch at his face…
May 30, 2008
She’s no Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. She is the other kind of American.
Hundreds of Cambodian villagers welcomed the arrival of a new school Wednesday, a gift from an American teenager who raised $52,000 after reading about the hardships of growing up in Cambodia.
Rachel Rosenfeld, 17, made her first visit to the Southeast Asian country for the opening of the R.S. Rosenfeld School, which brings five computers and Internet access to 300 primary school students in a small village of Siem Reap province, a poverty stricken area that is home to the country’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex.
Rosenfeld, of Harrison, N.Y., said she learned about the village of Srah Khvav after reading a newspaper article last year that discussed the plight of poor Cambodian children who often have no access to education. The American said she was horrified to learn that some young Cambodian girls end up being sold into prostitution by their parents.
The teen said she set out to help after spending most of last year battling a stomach disorder that caused her constant pain. She required months of medical treatment that forced her to miss a year of school.
To raise money, Rosenfeld sent out hundreds of fundraising letters, sold T-shirts and offered naming rights for several structures in the school. The $52,000 she raised was supplemented by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which contributed $10,000 and $13,000, respectively, said her mother, Lisa Rosenfeld.
“It makes me feel great to know that I was able to help so many people,” the teen said. “Just seeing everyone so happy. It meant a lot to me.”
She was accompanied by her parents, grandparents and her brother and sister.
Children in white shirts and navy pants, the Cambodian school uniform, stood in two neat lines and clapped as Rosenfeld and her family arrived. The students pressed their palms together in a sign of respect and thanks.
Ung Serei Dy, an education official from Siem Reap province, said the school was only one of two in the village.
“The school donated by Rachel Rosenfeld is very important to us,” he said, adding that she had “set a standard that all of us should learn from.”
Others have joined in the effort to build schools in Cambodia.
In upstate New York, Hamilton College instructor Chris Willemsen led a fund-raising drive to build a school in a village in the province of Kompong Thom. Her group worked with American Assistance for Cambodia, a nonprofit organization that has built nearly 400 schools in rural Cambodia since 1999.
Clearly, there are other Mamacitas out there. Thank goodness for that!
This post has been previously published.
May 29, 2008
“Jews against Muslims, Sikhs against Christians and Hindus against Buddhists, with contestants competing for cash prizes.”
May 29, 2008
This could be very interesting … or maybe a flop. Islam Channel, a British Muslim TV channel broadcast on satellite and webcasts, plans to host a weekly religion quiz show called “Faith Off” from mid-June. It’s meant to promote better understanding among religions by pitting teams from different faiths against each other. As the Guardian’s religion correspondent Riazat Butt put it, the show will pit “Jews against Muslims, Sikhs against Christians and Hindus against Buddhists, with contestants competing for cash prizes.” Sounds like an interesting idea, but I don’t know if it will make great TV.
Like all quiz shows, its success will depend on how well it’s presented, how interesting the questions are and how knowledgable the contestants are. But one of the recurring religion stories you see is the survey about how little many people know about their own religion. In fact, they’re hardly news anymore.
So I wonder how well contestants will do even with questions about their own faith, let alone anything dealing with another religion. And what about issues where there are differences of opinion within one religion? If the producers weed out all the difficult and contentious questions, is there enough left to make a lively and challenging show?
It’s like living inside a Salvador Dali painting.
May 29, 2008
Iran’s leaders are racing to obtain nuclear technology in the face of United Nations disapproval, backing troublemakers in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza, and issuing weekly predictions of the death of Israel. But there is one thing that seems to make them mighty nervous: Barbie.
Recently Iran’s top prosecutor warned that the ever-popular long-legged plastic doll with streaming blonde hair and an exaggerated figure is a “danger” to the state. The Associated Press says Barbie is sold on the black market wearing swimsuits and miniskirts in a society where women must wear head scarves in public and men and women are not allowed to swim together. The government has been trying to stamp out Barbie as what it calls a Western “Trojan Horse” since at least 1996.
“The irregular importation of … toys,” including Barbie, Spiderman, Harry Potter, and computer games, “which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger,” the prosecutor said in a letter to Iran’s senior vice president, a copy of which was made available to the AP. “Undoubtedly, the personality and identity of the new generation and our children, as a result of unrestricted importation of toys, has been put at risk and caused irreparable damages.”
Demographics help explain why the mullahs quake at the sight of Barbie. Iran’s rulers come from the first generation of revolutionaries who took over the country 30 years ago. But two thirds of Iran’s citizens are under the age of 35. Life is not good for most Iranians. One in four lives in poverty. The country cannot create enough jobs for young Iranians joining the work force, according to a paper recently published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Official unemployment is in double digits despite record oil income. Many young Iranians are well educated and would like to live under a more liberal and better run regime. Barbie may well represent their aspirations — and those of their children — for a freer life.
Western pop culture, democracy and free markets have much, much more to offer young Iranians, as well as Muslim youth worldwide, than the crabbed patriarchal rules of conservative Islam. Iran’s rulers have every reason to fear their oppressive system is doomed. That speaks to their fear of Barbie.
May 29, 2008
FDR lied to Congress to get us into World War Two (a war many leftists believe was ‘unnecessary’):
FDR “lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it,” Rep. Clare Luce blurted out in 1944.
The target of Luce’s accusation was a president who by then had entered the pantheon alongside Lincoln and Washington. FDR’s courtiers savaged the lady for maligning the Great Man, but few could credibly deny the truth of what she had said.
No matter the justice and nobility of America’s cause in World War II, FDR had lied us into war. Even as he soothingly reassured the mothers and fathers of America (“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars”), he was stoking war, and provoking Germany and Japan.
FDR lied about the secret war he had ordered U.S. warships to conduct against German U-boats. He lied about who fired the first shots when the U.S. destroyers Greer and Kearney were attacked…
FDR sent picket ships out into the path of the Japanese fleet in the hope they would be sunk. He gave Lord Halifax secret, but unconstitutional, assurances America would defend His Majesty’s colonies in the Pacific. He spurned a secret peace offer from Japan’s Prince Konoye and issued a secret ultimatum to Tojo’s regime on Nov. 26, 1941.
As Secretary of War Henry Stimson wrote in his diary two weeks before Pearl Harbor, “We should maneuver them into … firing the first shot.” FDR was guilty of impeachable high crimes. But as Field Marshal Moltke told Admiral Tirpitz, as he ordered the German army to invade neutral Belgium in 1914, “Success alone justifies war.”
One has to wonder why the catastrophe of World War Two (an ‘unnecessary’ war in the eyes of many on the left) has not led to the excoriation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by the left (and the inevitable elevation of Adolph Hitler as a misunderstood ‘victim’ of democracy as is the case in the Arab world), a conflagration that cost 50 million lives.
George Bush isn’t even in FDR’s league.
The company that published Scott McClellan’s new Bush-bashing book is Public Affairs Books, and their Editor at Large is a guy named Peter Osnos: About The Century Foundation.
The owner of Public Affairs Books is a company called Perseus Book Group. Here’s their ownership tree: Perseus Books Home.
The firm is owned by Perseus Funds Group, (holding company Perseus LLC) a capital management firm that grew from about $20 million in 1995 to over $2 billion now. Big infusions of cash seemed to help it grow exponentially and it closed funds almost as fast as it opened them. The board has tons of liberals from the Clinton and Carter Administrations with credentials that almost put Osnos’ to shame as far as far left causes go. Their website is here: PERSEUS – merchant bank and private equity fund management.
Here are 6 other fun books by the publisher of former Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s stupid new book. The George Soros funded publisher Perseus was in charge of this. Notice that George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton both are criticized, but Barack Obama gets graded on a different scale, as usual:
May 28, 2008
May 28, 2008
From The Times OF London:
To say that Henry Kissinger is the most controversial of twentieth-century American Secretaries of State would be an understatement. No other holder of that office has inspired opprobrium of the sort heaped on Kissinger by journalists such as Seymour Hersh and Christopher Hitchens. The latter’s polemic, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (2002), for example, accuses Kissinger of having “ordered and sanctioned the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of inconvenient politicians, the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers and journalists and clerics who got in his way”. Hitchens offers no explanation of his subject’s alleged record of “promiscuous violence abroad and flagrant illegality at home”. The reader is merely left to infer that Kissinger must be a terribly wicked man.
Quite apart from the distinctly thin documentary foundation of Hitchens’s footnote-free case for the prosecution – which quotes from little more than a few dozen primary documents, all from US archives – The Trial of Henry Kissinger suffers from a strange absence of historical perspective. It would in fact be much easier to implicate a number of Kissinger’s predecessors in civilian bombings, coups d’état and support for murderous regimes. Unlike the case of Chile, to give a single example, there is no question that the Central Intelligence Agency had a direct hand in the coup that overthrew an elected government in Guatemala in 1954. It also played an active role in the subsequent campaign of violence against the Guatemalan Left. Many more people (around 200,000) died in this campaign than were “disappeared” in Chile after 1973 (2,279). In any case, Richard Nixon was not the first President to seek to influence Chilean domestic politics. Both of his immediate predecessors did so. Yet you will search the bookshops in vain for “The Trial of John Foster Dulles” or “The Trial of Dean Rusk”.
The more books I have read about Henry Kissinger in recent years, the more I have been reminded of the books I used to read about the Rothschild family. When other nineteenth-century banks made loans to conservative regimes or to countries at war, no one seemed to notice. But when the Rothschilds did it, the pamphleteers could scarcely control their indignation. Indeed, it would take a great many shelves to contain all the shrill anti-Rothschild polemics produced by Victorian antecedents of Hitchens and his ilk. Which prompts the question: has the ferocity of the criticism which Kissinger has attracted perhaps got something to do with the fact that he, like the Rothschilds, is Jewish? (Nota bene: this is not to imply that his critics are anti-Semites. Some of the Rothschilds’ most fierce critics were also Jews. So are some of Kissinger’s.)
Jeremi Suri’s Henry Kissinger and the American Century puts Kissinger’s Jewishness centre-stage in an interpretation of his life that stands out among recent books on the subject for the extent and depth of the author’s research. Unlike Hitchens (to say nothing of Robert Dallek and Margaret Macmillan, two other writers who have recently published books critical of Kissinger), Suri has done some real digging before rushing into print. He cites documents from sixteen different archival collections. His sixty-seven pages of notes are a model of academic rigour. I should at this point declare an interest: I am currently researching a biography of Kissinger based (in part) on his own private papers at the Library of Congress, to which Suri did not have access. I hope this lends credence, rather than the reverse, to my positive judgement. Though I do not agree with all Suri’s conclusions, I salute his scholarship. This is surely the best book yet published about Henry Kissinger. (Jussi Hanhimäki’s 2004 study of Kissinger’s foreign policy is more comprehensive on Kissinger’s time in office, but is much less insightful.) Unlike so many previous writers – particularly those journalists steeped in the blood of the Nixon administration – Suri actually makes an attempt to understand his subject in the appropriate historical context rather than simply joining in the never-ending hunt for “smoking gun” quotations.
For Suri, Kissinger’s Jewish origins are the key to understanding both the man and the world’s reaction to him. Kissinger, writes Suri in one of his boldest sallies, was like “a hybrid of the Court Jew and the State Jew – what we might tentatively call the ‘policy Jew’”. He portrays his subject as ascending from academia to the corridors of power by doing “grunt work” for the goyim: first his Harvard mentor, William Elliott, then McGeorge Bundy, then Nelson Rockefeller, then Nixon and finally his successor Gerald Ford (about whom, like nearly all writers on Kissinger, Suri says much too little). But Kissinger’s Jewishness has a wider significance. In Suri’s account, it was Kissinger’s German-Jewish youth – born in 1923 at the height of the Weimar hyperinflation, ten years old when Hitler came to power, fifteen when his family emigrated to the United States in 1938 – that laid the foundation for a distinctly pessimistic world view. “Life is suffering, birth involves death”, wrote Kissinger in his sprawling Harvard senior thesis, “The Meaning of History”: “Transitoriness is the fate of existence. No civilization has yet been permanent, no longing completely fulfilled. This is necessity, the fatedness of history, the dilemma of mortality”. The influence of Oswald Spengler, Suri suggests, imbued Kissinger with a fear of “a return to the violence, chaos and collapse of Weimar Germany”. Kissinger entered the White House as Nixon’s National Security Advisor filled with foreboding, anticipating four years of “disorder at home, increasing tension abroad”. This, he suggests, helps to explain why Kissinger felt so much was at stake in Vietnam. As he put it in the first volume of his memoirs:
“Until I emigrated to America, my family and I endured progressive ostracism and discrimination . . . . I could never forget what an inspiration [America] has been to the victims of persecution, to my family, and to me during cruel and degrading years . . . . It seemed to me important for America not to be humiliated, not to be shattered, but to leave Vietnam in a manner that even the protesters might later see as reflecting an American choice made with dignity and self-respect.”
When Watergate struck the Nixon presidency, Kissinger feared “irreparable damage” that might take the US over the “edge of a precipice”.
I am not sure I quite buy these two arguments. Advising politicians politicians can be interesting, usually involves a measure of sycophancy, and is not a peculiarly Jewish activity. As for the Weimar trauma, I am inclined to think the experience of returning to Germany as a GI had a much greater impact. Still, these are matters of interpretation. Suri deserves credit for producing a more convincing account of his subject’s German-Jewish background than any previous biographer of Kissinger, including the broadly sympathetic Walter Isaacson.
Heinz (as he was originally named) and his younger brother grew up in an Orthodox household in Fürth, Bavaria, where their father Louis was a respectable schoolteacher, a firm believer in the benefits of German Bildung. Louis Kissinger’s world was shattered by the rise of the Nazis, but it was his wife Paula who had the wit to get the family out of Germany just months before the regime’s anti-Semitism erupted in full-blown pogroms. Kissinger lost at least a dozen relatives in the Holocaust, including his grandmother, Fanny Stern (who Suri says perished in the Belzec death camp). “I had seen evil in the world”, Kissinger commented in an interview many years later, “and I knew it was there, and I knew that there are some things you have to fight for, and that you can’t insist that everything be to some ideal construction you have made.” Suri is surely correct to see that an awareness of this searing experience is indispensable to our understanding of the man.
One puzzle that is not quite resolved here is why Kissinger abandoned his parents’ Orthodox allegiance, which they maintained after moving to New York’s Washington Heights by joining the most conservative synagogue in the neighbourhood. Was it the drudgery of the brush-cleaning factory where Kissinger worked for a time? Or was it, as Suri seems to imply, the experience of “eating ham for Uncle Sam” in the US Army after he was drafted in 1943? Suri’s account of Kissinger’s wartime career is tantalizing in other ways too. We do not hear enough about his work as a military administrator in the post-war occupation of Germany, a role which involved apprehending and interrogating Nazis. The link that Suri draws between these experiences and Kissinger’s subsequent close relationship with Konrad Adenauer seems tenuous.
As Suri shows, post-war Harvard provided the young veteran with an altogether more propitious environment than the military. With the proportion of Jews at the university rising from 17 per cent of enrolments in 1947 to 25 per cent in 1952, Kissinger can scarcely have felt like an outsider. He was also fortunate in his mentors: just as Fritz Kramer had spotted Kissinger’s intellectual potential in the army, so William Elliott soon identified him as “a combination of Kant and Spinoza”, hyperbole that Kissinger almost lived up to by producing a senior thesis so long that it prompted Harvard to impose a maximum word-count. Elliott’s influence, Suri suggests, was as much political as academic. As early as 1950, with Elliott’s encouragement, Kissinger was writing hawkish briefings for Paul Nitze, then Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Running the long-lived International Seminar at the Cold War Summer School (a classic “soft power” initiative partly funded by the CIA) also provided him with first-class networking opportunities, particularly among the next generation of Western European statesmen and diplomats. As Suri says, Harvard at this time was truly a “Cold War University” – in marked contrast to the hotbed of liberal sentiment it became almost as soon as Kissinger departed for Washington.
In addition to illuminating Kissinger’s cultural roots, Suri does a good job of tracing the development of his strategic thought in the 1950s. He also gives a fair appraisal of Kissinger’s doctrine of limited nuclear war as a way of avoiding “impotence in the atomic stalemate” (as he put it in 1954). All-out nuclear war, Kissinger reasoned, “would not be an act of policy but of desperation”. There needed to be “options less cataclysmic than a thermonuclear holocaust”. Kissinger was therefore an advocate of increasing West German and Japanese conventional forces, while creating a “compact, highly mobile US strategic reserve” in the Middle East. He also recommended, in Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957), a greater readiness to deploy and to use smaller “tactical” nuclear weapons. This has subsequently been misrepresented as a reckless “Doctor Strangelove” argument that underestimated the risks of nuclear escalation. But, as Suri shows, at the time Kissinger’s argument was welcomed by such luminaries as Bernard Brodie, Reinhold Niebuhr and even (albeit with qualifications) by President Eisenhower himself.
How far had Kissinger worked out a framework for American grand strategy before he entered the White House? Suri does not quite answer this question, but provides ample evidence to suggest it was quite a long way. For example, he early on grasped the significance of American “relative decline” as the rest of the world finally put the economic devastation of the Second World War behind it. This implied not only a basic acceptance of the division of Europe between the superpowers, but also a reconfiguration of the Western alliance system.
In lectures he wrote for Rockefeller in 1962, Kissinger advanced an argument for a new confederal “framework . . . for the free world” – an Atlantic Confederacy with an Anglo-American-French “Executive Committee”. At the same time, Kissinger made the case for an autonomous European nuclear force. As all this suggests, Kissinger still considered himself a European specialist. During his brief stint as an adviser to McGeorge Bundy, when Bundy was serving as President Kennedy’s National Security Advisor, Kissinger was mainly concerned with the division of Berlin.
Yet America’s principal foreign policy preoccupation by the mid 1960s lay far from Germany. Suri shows that Kissinger had formed a pessimistic view of American policy in Vietnam as early as 1965, when he first visited the country. He also shows how Kissinger became persuaded that “ending the war honourably” was “essential for the peace of the world” since “any other solution may unloose forces that would complicate prospects for international order”. Contrary to the assumptions made (and still cherished) by a generation of liberals, Kissinger felt the US “could not simply walk away from an enterprise involving two administrations, five allied countries, and thirty-one thousand dead as if we were switching a television channel”. Pace Hersh and Hitchens, Suri contends that there was nothing untoward in Kissinger’s bipartisan communications about Vietnam at this time.
As has often been remarked, there have been few odder couples in American politics than Nixon and Kissinger. Not the least of the oddities about their relationship was Nixon’s tendency to give vent to his own anti-Jewish prejudices, sometimes even in Kissinger’s presence. Yet Suri argues that their differences were always outweighed by fundamental similarities of outlook. In particular, Kissinger was impressed by Nixon’s faith in his own willpower and the effectiveness of firm, decisive action. As the President told his adviser, his long, hard ascent of the greasy pole had given him “the will in spades”; hence his readiness to take “action which is very strong, threatening, and effective”. On occasion, Kissinger could talk in similar terms. As he told Yitzhak Rabin in 1973: “When you use force it is better to use 30 per cent more than is necessary than 5 per cent less than is necessary . . . . Whenever we use force we have to do it slightly hysterically”. Suri details the two occasions when Kissinger used nuclear sabre-rattling to exert pressure on the Soviets – October 1969 and October 1973 – though he does not offer a clear verdict as to whether these actions were effective diplomatically, or needlessly reckless.
The obverse of occasional sabre-rattling was Nixon and Kissinger’s shared and unshakeable faith in regular “back channel” negotiations. Beginning in February 1969, Kissinger cultivated a hotline to Moscow via the Soviet ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin. At first designed primarily (though never exclusively) to bypass the State Department, the back channel gradually evolved into a highly effective and highly sensitive system of superpower communications. Subsequent criticism of the policy of détente (from the Right more than the Left) cannot detract from the tangible achievements of Kissinger’s period in office: the Four-Power Agreement on Berlin, the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Helsinki Accords. Suri also seems to concur with the view that Nixon and Kissinger’s opening to China (or, as Margaret Macmillan would have it, Mao and Zhou Enlai’s opening to America) worked as a way of exerting pressure on the Soviets by shattering the illusion of a homogeneous Communist Second World.
In Suri’s version of events, Nixon and Kissinger approached the problem of Vietnam with a similar combination of tools: the unflinching use of force plus sustained back-channel negotiation, allied with the hope that either the USSR or the PRC could be induced to lean on Hanoi. Suri does not dismiss the strategy as doomed to fail. The use of force certainly hurt North Vietnam. Le Duan, General Secretary of the North Vietnamese Communist Party, later admitted that the mining of Haiphong “completely obliterated our economic foundation”. Equally, Kissinger’s tenacity in negotiation ultimately bore fruit in the form of the Paris Accords, signed on January 23, 1973. The question – which Suri does not quite answer – is how long that peace might have endured had not domestic opposition undercut American assistance to South Vietnam.
A similar question can, of course, be posed about Kissinger’s policy in the Middle East. Could more have been achieved? But there is a danger in posing unrealistic counterfactuals. An enduring peace in the Middle East was probably not attainable in the wartorn 1970s. What was attainable was a diminution in the power of the Soviet Union and a stabilization of Israel’s position relative to her Arab neighbours. These goals, as Suri points out, Kissinger was uniquely positioned to achieve. As a Jewish Secretary of State, he could credibly promise the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to “get [Rabin] to move in the right direction . . . to work on him”. At the same time, he could withstand the bitter claims of Menachem Begin that he was one of those “Jews, who out of a complex feared non-Jews would charge them with acting for their people, and therefore did the opposite”. And, having ousted the Soviets from Egypt, he could reassure Rabin, with equal credibility: “We are working for a common strategy, one element of which is a strong Israel”.
“Kissinger”, Suri writes, “was above all a revolutionary.” To those who have read their Hitchens, this may come as something of a surprise. Kissinger a revolutionary? The man who told the Argentine junta’s Foreign Minister, Cesar Guzzetti: “We wish [your] government well”? The man who promised his South African counterpart to “curb any missionary zeal of my officers in the State Department to harass you”? The man who told the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet: “We are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here”? Yet Suri has a case to make, even if he does not make it more than obliquely. An integral part of Kissinger’s grand strategy was always to establish priorities. In order to check Soviet ambitions in the Third World – the full extent of which we have only recently come to appreciate – some unpleasant regimes had to be tolerated, and indeed supported. Besides the various Latin American caudillos, the Saudi royal family, the Shah of Iran and the Pakistani military, these unpleasant regimes also included (though the Left seldom acknowledged it) the Maoist regime in Beijing, which was already guilty of many more violations of human rights than all the right-wing dictators put together when Kissinger flew there for the first time in July 1971.
Yet the real revolution Kissinger had to achieve was not so much in the realm of grand strategy as in that of domestic politics. As he himself put it in one of the many “heartland speeches” he delivered in the US in 1975 and 1976, his underlying aim was “to end the self-flagellation that has done so much harm to this nation’s capacity to conduct foreign policy”. In this he was ultimately unsuccessful. Indeed, US self-flagellation reached its zenith during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Jeremi Suri, who was still an untenured junior professor at the University of Wisconsin when he wrote this book, draws back from passing an unambiguous verdict on Kissinger’s “revolution”. He does not say how far the strategic benefits of supping with sundry devils outweighed the domestic costs. Indeed, he leaves open nearly all the major questions about Kissinger’s grand strategy. What he has done is to provide an invaluable insight into the background of an American statesman who has surely received a disproportionate share of criticism relative to his predecessors. How far Kissinger’s Jewishness provides the real key to his inner motivations remains a matter for debate. (My own preference would be to see him as first and foremost a historian – one of the very select band of serious scholars of the past who end up actually making policy in the here and now.) But it certainly provides a part of the explanation for the vitriol that has come his way.
HENRY KISSINGER AND THE AMERICAN CENTURY
358pp. Harvard University Press. £15.95 (US $27.95).
978 0 674 02579 0
Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is currently working on a Life of Henry Kissinger.
May 28, 2008
“Such is the disgusting and terrifying state to which Britain’s intelligentsia has now descended.”
Today, the Universities and Colleges Union is discussing whether universities should single out Israeli and Jewish scholars for active discrimination.
Yes, you read that correctly. The UCU is debating a motion which not only raises the spectre yet again of an academic boycott of Israel but demands of Jewish and Israeli academics that they explain their politics as a pre-condition to normal academic contact. The motion asks colleagues
to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating… the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions… Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.
The implication is that, if they don’t condemn Israel for the ‘occupation’, or practising ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel’s door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won’t be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted. The views they are being bludgeoned into expressing as a condition of their employment are based on lies, distortion, propaganda, gross historical ignorance, blood libels and prejudice. And this in the universities, supposedly the custodians of free thought and inquiry in the service of dispassionate scholarship.
What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Israelis and Jews alone who are being singled out for this treatment. No other group is to be barred from academic activity unless they hold ‘approved’ views; no state-run educational institution controlled by any of the world’s numerous tyrannies is to be ‘grey-listed’. The UCU’s own rules state that it
actively opposes all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.
Well, various Jewish groups in the Stop the Boycott campaign have obtained a legal opinion from two QCs which states that today’s motion constitutes harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination on grounds of race or nationality. It says:
If the Motion is passed it would expose Jewish members of the Union to indirect discrimination… Additionally, the Union faces potential liability for acts of harassment on grounds of race or nationality. The substance of the Motion may also involve the Union in becoming accessories to acts of discrimination in an employment context against Israeli academics…No doubt, if such Israeli academics speak in favour of the Palestinian viewpoint they will be immune from further action; if they are against it or possibly even non-committal they and their institutions are to be considered potentially unsuitable subjects for continued association…
The Union will accordingly be adopting a provision, criterion or practice which will put Jewish members at a particular disadvantage compared to non-Jewish members. That is because Jewish members are much more likely to have links with Israeli academics and institutions than non -Jewish members. To require Jewish members to act consistently with the Motion (if passed) would be to impose a professional detriment upon them as Union members which is based on their race. If they acted inconsistently with the Motion, we infer that they would also be subject to disadvantage or sanction under the Union rules or practices — an alternative detriment. We do not see how any such detriment would be justified as pursuing a legitimate aim. No proper Union purpose is promoted by imposing this detriment on certain members. Thus the Motion will have the effect of indirectly — and unlawfully — against Jewish Members of the Union.
The opinion is thus unequivocal. Today’s motion breaks the law; it breaks the UCU’s own rules; it is prejudiced, discriminatory and unjust towards Israelis and Jews. But the motion also notes
legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful
In other words, two fingers to the Jews. Such is the disgusting and terrifying state to which Britain’s intelligentsia has now descended.
May 28, 2008
Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody’s fool. Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, “Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back of the room, answer it for me.”
Jacob considers himself to be one of the lucky ones because he’s the only one of his family to have survived two years in a concentration camp. He’s now nearing 90 and his only remaining joy is the national lottery, which he’s been playing for years without success. But then he wins the big one, a prize of $10 million.
A journalist from the Times calls on him for a story.
Jacob tells him, “As I’m the only one in my family to have survived the concentration camps, this has helped me decide how to make use of my large win. So, I’ve decided to donate $5 million to the Save the Children Fund, $3 million to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, $750,000 to the Jewish Museum, $750,000 Hadassah Hospital and $500,000 to be shared amongst my friends. I’m also thinking of donating $1 to the Nazi Party from my winnings.” The journalist is surprised. “But Jacob, how can you think of donating even $1 to the Nazi party after everything that’s happened to you and your family?”
Jacob rolls up his sleeve, points to his arm, smiles and replies, “It’s only fair. They gave me the winning numbers.”
Take a look at the photo in the attached. Then, without taking your eyes off the photo… back away from it. It’s weird. Then once you recognize the photo, walk towards it without taking your eyes off of it. *Twilight Zone* theme plays in your head.
May 27, 2008
THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIES
Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.
Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.
There is no fast food.
Each man must
- Take care of his 3 kids
- Keep his assigned house clean
- Correct all homework
- Complete science projects
- Do laundry
- Pay a list of ‘pretend’ bills with not enough money.
In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.
Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time–no emailing.
Each man must also take each child to a doctor’s appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment.
Each man must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care.
Each man must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.
Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.
The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.
The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed.
During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.
They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.
They will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.
A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information for each child:
- Height and weight
- Shoe size, clothes size
- Doctor’s name
- Weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor
- Favorite color
- Middle name
- Favorite snack
- Favorite song
- Each child’s favorite drink,
- Favorite toy,
- Biggest fear
- What they want to be when they grow up.
The kids vote them off the island based on performance. The last man wins only if…he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment’s notice.
Nothing to it.
May 27, 2008
There is more to this story than meets the eye.
KHARTOUM: Sudan and Darfur rebels on Tuesday dismissed as baseless a claim by an Egyptian state-run newspaper that Iran was behind a brazen rebel attack on Khartoum earlier this month.
“Iran played an important role in the coup attempt by the Justice and Equality Movement,” Al-Gomhuria alleged in a front-page report, attributed only to unnamed “sources.”
“Sudanese forces searching the rebel JEM movement found modern Iranian weapons with them,” the paper said, claiming that Sudanese authorities had also seized large amounts of ammunition and Iranian equipment.
On May 10, JEM rebels attacked Omdurman, one of three adjacent cities that make up greater Khartoum, the first time that domestic conflicts gripping Sudan for decades have come so close to the seat of power.
Sudan organized a huge public display of trucks, weapons and ammunition apparently captured from the Darfur rebels, and blamed Chad for financing and backing the rebels. No mention of Iran has surfaced in public at any point.
JEM flatly denied any links with Iran. The Sudanese foreign ministry and a spokesman for the Khartoum government told AFP that the Al-Gomhuria article was the first they had heard of any allegations against Tehran.
“That’s funny … It doesn’t make sense. We don’t have any relation with Iran.
We don’t talk to them, they don’t talk to us,” said London-based Gibril Ibrahim Mohamed, who calls himself an advisor to JEM commander Khalil Ibrahim.
“I don’t think this Gomhuria newspaper has a real source. … There is no issue like that in our media or our decision-making department,” said Rabbie Abdul Atti, who speaks for the government in Khartoum.
The Sudanese army said more than 222 people were killed as troops countered the JEM advance. They included nearly 100 troops and 34 civilians, two of them Egyptian. Sudan has since broken off diplomatic ties with Chad.
Al-Gomhuria compared the JEM leader to Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s powerful Shia fighting movement Hezbollah, and Khaled Meshaal, exiled political supremo of Palestinian hardline Islamist group Hamas.
Both groups are backed by Iran.
The Islamist-inspired JEM is the most powerful military rebel group fighting pro-government forces in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, where conflict has raged since 2003.
Egypt has blamed Iran for backing conflicts in the region, including Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
Diplomatic ties were broken in 1980, a year after the Islamic revolution, in protest at Egypt’s recognition of Israel, its hosting of the deposed shah and its support for Iraq during its 1980-1988 war with Iran.
Relations have recently warmed, with both countries signaling a willingness to restore ties. In January, President Hosni Mubarak held talks with Iran’s parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hada Adel, the first such high-level meeting in almost 30 years.
Is Iran opening another ‘front’ in Sudan? The geography tells the story
If true, the Iranians can confront the Saudis on two fronts.
They would be in a position to help destabilize Egypt and cozy up to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sudan is a relatively closed (and poor) society. Pressure on the Bashir government to resolve the Darfur crisis is increasing. The rebels would be most grateful for help from Iran.
And that’s just stating the obvious.
May 27, 2008
May 27, 2008
To: Senator Barack Obama:
From The Negotiating Team:
Have you ever wondered why there were never any Palestinian demonstrations against the building of the Israeli settlements? Can you imagine the PR value of a hundred little blue eyed school girls, sitting in the road, shaking in feigned terror as they blocked bulldozers?
The reason those images never materialized is because PA ministers own the construction companies that build the apartments. Israeli settlements are being built by Palestinian companies, owned by PA ministers and big wigs- including Hamas big shots. They are in no rush for a peace deal- the Israelis always pay , other Arabs don’t. It’s been going on for years and the matter has barely been discussed in the Arab press. ‘Cementgate,’ as the scandal was referred to, is no longer on the Arab media agenda. Settlements are built because Arab construction companies promise they wil be built on time and on schedule.
The ‘peace process’ has never been about negotiating for peace. It has been about negotiating and legitimizing the pervasive corruption and bigotry. If the Palestinians ‘negotiate’ away Israel, they are negotiating their way to perpetual poverty- a disaster for the corrupt Palestinian ‘leadership.’ Senator Obama, will your ‘negotiations’ center around usurping the Palestinian corruption and instititionlized racism, bigotry and hate, so that real peace might be arrived at?
In Saudi Arabia, state approved and employed Imams talk about how it is incumbent on Muslims to rape and take as slaves, Jewish and Christian women and girls. We have open and ongoing relationships with the Saudis. They are comfortable espousing their beliefs with no fear of repercussion. Senator Obama, will your negotiations with the Saudis address these ugly realities?
We have open dialogue with the Saudis, Gulf Arabs, Egypt and Jordan and yet the Muslim world has done nothing as the tragedy in Darfur continues to be ignored. Hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Arab militia Janjaweed- and not before the women are raped as the Janjaweed women sing. Senator Obama, will your ‘negotiations’ make a difference? Over a million died in Rwanda as a result of protracted negotiations. How will your negotiations be different?
Senator Obama, let’s go back to the Palestinians. The negotiating team suggests you are read Who Is Samir Kuntar? by Shrinkwrapped. he clarifies and puts into perspective, exactly who it is the Palestinians consider heroes. Here is an excerpt:
I emphasized the joy and hatred in their voices for a reason. It is hard for anyone with normal sensibilities to comprehend how someone can feel joy and hatred while smashing in the head of a 4 year old child. What kind of pathology can cause a society to celebrate such evil? The myth of the poor, wretched Palestinians, driven to suicide bombings by despair, persists among the foolish of the West. For Palestinians, murderers are not wretched, they are heroes…
A Palestinian grade school teacher was interviewed on BBC radio this morning and the interviewer asked if perhaps it was a mistake to elect Hamas, considering the hardships the teacher was facing. He has five children, there is no food in his house, and he doesn’t know when he will be paid because the donor countries have cut off funding for the PA until Hamas gives up their dream of murdering Jews. His response was that Hamas represents the Palestinians highest aspirations; they are willing to give up their lives for freedom. Noble sentiments; however, the freedom they seek is the freedom to murder, not to build, and no one should mistake their goals.
We seem to be all too willing to attach complex ‘root causes’ to immoral behavior and actions only after the bad acts and immoral behaviors. Yet before these bad behaviors occur, we are told the perpetrators are ‘just like us.’ Well, you can’t have it both ways, Senator Obama. Either the perpetrators are ‘just like us’ or or they are dysfunctional. The Palestinians are either ‘just like us,’ people from whom we can expect civilized behavior, or they are dysfunctional.
While poverty, child abuse and corrupt politics may influence a person or society, in the end, the ‘root cause’ of most ugly, vicious and immoral acts is an immoral character.
Senator Obama, will your negotiations address these truths? Will you address the unadorned ugliness of radical Islam and the impact that it is having on civilized society? Will you chastise the media for their gross and blatant misrepresentation of reality so that a particular agenda might be advocated over the truth?
Iran fought a war that resulted in the death of over a million people, many of them children, used as fodder. The choice to use children as land mine detectors was not the result of their aversion to America or Israel.
In Algeria, the GIA did not rape and dismember thousands of children because of America or Israel.
Saddam did not invade Kuwait, or threaten Saudi Arabia because of America or Israel.
Poison gas was used in Yemen, in the 1960’s. The perpetrator? Our friends, the Egyptians.
You cannot negotiate with people who are broken.
What were once acknowledged as universal laws, no longer exist in the Arab world. What was once assumed to be understood as universal expressions of civilized behavior are no longer a reality in the Arab world.
The civilized world understands the rule of law. The ideals of human rights are meant for all, rights that include free speech, a free press, and the need for rules that cross borders and languages. The fact of the matter is that today, we face an enemy that that uses hospitals and schools to shield terrorists, and Houses of Worship are used as armories. Senator Obama, you can negotiate with like minded people who share similar values. To be clear- you cannot negotiate as equals with people who believe for example, that children are fodder, to hide behind and used as human shields, counting that our civility will not address their barbarity. We cannot deal with as equals those who believe that children are disposable chattel, as they were in Beslan.
Senator, why on earth would you believe that negotiating with people for whom beheadings and kidnappings are celebrated with fervor and joy might be productive? You aren’t even speaking the same moral language! What do you think can be accomplished with people for whomthe mutilation of corpses takes place within view of frenzied, dancing mobs? How can you negotiate with people decapitated and then used his head used as a soccer ball and later displayed that head on a table during on a Palestinian TV talk show? Senator, do you really believe you can enter into negotiaons with these people as civilized equals?
Palestinian ‘leaders,’ by their own admission, are racing to develop weapons of mass destruction- and proudly announce their intent to use them.
In plain view, they proudly pronounce their aims and intent. They want to destroy us Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Officially appointed Palestinian government clerics reiterate those goals in mosques and on television. School curriculum’s educate from an early age, the Islamic destiny, to be fulfilled by a never ending Jihad. These aren’t matters of debate or issues up for discussion. Those are the facts. Senator Obama.
The Nazis attempted to hide their evil and deny it. The Palestinians, including the elected Hamas government, can’t be bothered.
Senator Obama, negotiations are about ‘give and take.’ Given these realities what exactly is there to negotiate?
Should we demand the Israelis extend full civil rights and equal status to those who’s stated aim is to destroy them? Should they be obligated to respect the sanctity of a Holy Shrine if it is being used to as a military base from which to shoot and bomb?
Should they target schools and hospitals used by terrorists? Should the Israelis refrain from searching women, knowing that terrorists have used pregnant women to smuggle explosives? Now that women have publicly volunteered and formed a brigade of wanna be suicide bombers, should the Israelis exercise restraint? In a time and place where ambulances are used to transport murderers and ammunition, can the excuse of ‘cultural differences’ be considered adequate?
All these scenarios are examples of what the Israelis face, day in and day out.
It isn’t just the Israelis that face the collapse of universal laws in the 21st century. Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan face the same challenges- and they met those challenges head on. The results are undeniable and unambiguous. When we make clear that we do not negotiate with barbarians and that we will confront them head on, they run.
Desperation is not the magical elixir that makes weapons, explosives and rockets appear out of nowhere. Neither does despair turn a whole society into one that supports and rejoices at the death of innocents, the mutilation of corpses and indiscriminate terror. These are cruel people, with no regard for human life, including the lives of their fellow countrymen. No amount of negotiation will change that, Senator Obama.
Suicide bombers and those deliberately target innocents are calculated, cold and vicious. These behaviors are taught. They do not come naturally or spontaneously. Terrorists leaders and their enablers- some in this country- however, care a great deal about themselves and are entirely focused on their own power, control and wealth. It is an effort that is succeeding, largely because of the backwardness of a people, and their willing, desperate search for an escape from their dark medieval prisons. As has often been repeated, there are no sons or daughters of Arab religious or political leaders to be found among the legions who claim to want to blow themselves and others up, in the name of Allah. The promise of heavenly sexual delights and pleasures apparently, is a message that does not get passed on to some.
The promise of the respect and recognition by a grateful Ummah, are also not enough to inspire the children of religious and political leaders in the region- or here. It is enough to send money or support the cause as loudly as possible, and to divert attention away from the reality. Those to whom the message is passed, are the easily influenced. The poverty stricken (the promise of money for the shahid’s family has been referred to more than once as a motivating factor), children or women somehow disgraced, are offered redemption instead of ‘honor killing.’
Terror organizations and terror supporters are using our own language to defeat us. Suicide bombers and terrorists are now ‘military factions,’ while those that plan and pay for the crimes are now referred to as ‘political factions’- as if patterning themselves after the IRA will somehow camouflage their identity and objectives. Ever dutifully, the media parrots these ridiculous assertions as credible. Palestinian strings are being pulled by others that have paid the Palestinian ‘leaders’ a few pieces of silver. All the while, the Palestinians are made to suffer because their leadership sold them out.
We are still working on the premise that we in the west and the Israelis are somehow contributory to the problems of the Middle East. Well, here’s a reality pill. If there were free and democratic governments in the region, the problems they face would have been long since overcome. The problems remain because those despots and tyrannical regimes want those problems to remain, to deflect attention away from their own evil.
We- and the Israelis- have allowed ourselves to be ‘dumbed down,’ in an attempt to negotiate a way out of an impossible situation.
Sooner or later, we’re going to have to deal with reality and deal with the problem clearly and substantively– and we’re not going to be able to talk our way out it. Until the Arab community deals with the reality that we and the Israelis and our support for Israel are not their biggest problem they face, they cannot possibly contribute or achieve their own salvation and redemption- and no amount of negotiations can change that.
With each passing day, the distance between the Arab world and universal laws of decency and behavior, grows greater- and no amount of negotiations, no matter how well meaning, can turn a dysfunctional, corrupt and bigoted society into a successful one.
May 26, 2008
On June 5, 1973, Gordon Sinclair sat up in bed in Toronto and turned on his TV set. The United States had just pulled out of the Vietnamese War which had ended in a stalemate – a war fought daily on TV, over the radio and in the press. The aftermath of that war resulted in a world-wide sell-off of American investments, prices tumbled, the United States economy was in trouble. The war had also divided the American people, and at home and abroad it seemed everyone was lambasting the United States.
He turned on his radio, twisted the dial and turned it off. He picked up the morning paper. In print, he saw in headlines what he had found on TV and radio – the Americans were taking a verbal beating from nations around the world. Disgusted with what he saw and heard, he was outraged!
At 10:30, on his arrival at CFRB to prepare his two pre-noon broadcasts, he strode into his office and “dashed-off” two pages in 20 minutes for LET’S BE PERSONAL at 11:45 am, and then turned to writing his 11:50 newscast that was to follow. At 12:01 pm, the script for LET’S BE PERSONAL was dropped on the desk of his secretary who scanned the pages for a suitable heading and then wrote “Americans”" across the top and filed it away. The phones were already ringing.
Gordon Sinclair could not have written a book that could have had a greater impact in the world than his two-page script for THE AMERICANS. A book should have been written on the events that followed. But, no one at CFRB, including Sinclair himself, could have envisioned the reaction of the people of the United States – from presidents – state governors – Congress – the Senate – all media including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines – and from the “ordinary” American on the street. Nor, could have the Canadian government – stunned by the response to what has come to be regarded as one of Canada’s greatest public relations feats in the history of our relations with the United States of America.
But, how did Sinclair’s tribute to Americans reach them? It had been swept across the United States at the speed of a prairie fire by American radio stations – first, a station in Buffalo called and asked to be fed a tape copy of the broadcast with permission to use – both freely given. Nearby American stations obtained copies from Buffalo or called direct. By the time it reached the Washington, DC area, a station had superimposed Sinc’s broadcast over an instrumental version of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER, and was repeating it at fixed times several times-a-day.
Congressmen and Senators heard it. It was read several times into the Congressional Record. Assuming that it was on a phono (33 1/3 rpm), Americans started a search for a copy. CFRB was contacted. To satisfy the demand, CFRB started to make arrangements with AVCO, an American record company, to manufacture and distribute it as a “single”.
As they were finalizing a contract that would see all royalties which would normally be due Gordon Sinclair be paid (at his request) to the American Red Cross. Word was received that an unauthorized record, using Sinclair’s script but read by another broadcaster, was already flooding the US market. (Subsequently, on learning that this broadcaster had agreed to turn over his royalties to the Red Cross, no legal action was taken).
Sinclair’s recording of his own work (to which Avco had added a stirring rendition of THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC) did finally reach record stores, and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but the potential numbers were depressed by the sale of the infringing record. Other record producers and performers (including Tex Ritter) obtained legal permission to make their own versions. In Ritter’s case, because of the first-person style of the script, Tex preceded his performance with a proper credit to Sinclair as the author. The American Red Cross received millions of dollars in royalties, and Gordon Sinclair was present at a special ceremony acknowledging his donation.
Advertisers using print media contacted CFRB for permission to publish the text in a non-commercial manner; industrial plants asked for the right to print the script in leaflet form to handout to their employees.
Gordon Sinclair received invitations to attend and be honoured at many functions in the United States which, by number and due to family health problems at the time, he had to decline. However, CFRB newscaster Charles Doering, was flown to Washington to give a public reading of THE AMERICANS to the 28th National Convention of the United States Air Force Association, held September 18, 1974 at the Sheraton Park Hotel. His presentation was performed with the on-stage backing of the U.S. Air Force Concert Band, joined by the 100-voice Singing Sergeants in a special arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
8 years after the first broadcast of THE AMERICANS, U.S. President Ronald Reagan made his first official visit to Canada. At the welcoming ceremonies on Parliament Hill, the new President praised “the Canadian journalist who wrote that (tribute)” to the United States when it needed a friend. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had Sinclair flown to Ottawa to be his guest at the reception that evening.
Sinc had a long and pleasant conversation with Mr. Reagan. The President told him that he had a copy of the record of THE AMERICANS at his California ranch home when he was governor of the state, and played it from time to time when things looked gloomy.
On the evening of May 15th, 1984, following a regular day’s broadcasting, Gordon Sinclair suffered a heart attack. He died on May 17th. As the word of his illness spread throughout the United States, calls inquiring about his condition had been received from as far away as Texas. The editorial in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune of May 28th was typical of the reaction of the United States news media – A GOOD FRIEND PASSES ON.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan: “I know I speak for all Americans in saying the radio editorial Gordon wrote in 1973 praising the accomplishments of the United States was a wonderful inspiration. It was not only critics abroad who forgot this nation’s many great achievements, but even critics here at home. Gordon Sinclair reminded us to take pride in our nation’s fundamental values.”
Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau: “Gordon Sinclair’s death ends one of the longest and most remarkable careers in Canadian Journalism. His wit, irreverence, bluntness and off-beat views have been part of the media landscape for so long that many Canadians had come to believe he would always be there.”
Following a private family service, two thousand people from all walks of life filled Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s City Hall for a public service of remembrance organized by Mayor Art Eggleton. Dignitaries joining him on the platform were Ontario Lieutenant-Governor, John Black Aird; the Premier of Ontario, William Davis; and Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey. Tens of thousands more joined them through CFRB’s live broadcast of the service which began symbolically at 11:45 – the regular time of Sinc’s daily broadcast of LET’S BE PERSONAL.
As Ontario Premier William Davis said of him “The name GORDON SINCLAIR could become the classic definition of a full life.”
May 26, 2008
A couple of hundred years ago- not even an instant on the cosmic clock- America took her first tentative steps towards freedom. Since those tumultuous days, this nation and the freedoms she represents, have grown, prospered and has served as a source of inspiration for billions of people in their own search for freedom.
When we see veterans marching in a Memorial Day parade, we are watching the men and women that are a living testimony to those who would defend the principles and ideals of freedom. They fought for more than geography and they fought for more than country.
From the time of our inception as a nation, there have been forces determined to destroy what it is we stand for. Entire political ideologies are predicated on vilifying us and our belief that freedom serves all of mankind. Even some religious ideologies, under the thumb of the oppression, have become a tool of those who would sooner kill others and their own, rather than see people live free.
Some people regard culture and society as an extension of Darwinian theory. Current versions and models are the ‘latest and the greatest,’ with past cultures and societies as flawed and limited. The leaders of other cultures and societies co opt and rewrite the past to support their own ideologies, reinterpreting that past to fit, support and endorse their particular vision.
Americans are different. We are raised with the conscious understanding that those that came before us were giants, and that we are obligated to defend and build upon those principles and ideals of our Founding Fathers. We are not better than them. Their legacy serves as our guiding light- we do not need to reinterpret freedom with each new regime or to serve successive generations. We are beholden to our founding fathers and those who came after, for having elevated successive generations and for having instilled in us the morals and obligations that come with freedom.
Indeed, when we think about, consider and debate our freedoms, we go back in time and become participants in the meetings that that took place in Philadelphia. We share in the arguments, passions and dedication to an ideal that will shape the future.
Americans talk about freedom so passionately because we are passionate about that great ideal.
Freedom is the foundation of our beliefs. Because of freedom we free to choose the things we believe in, without fear of violence or repercussion. Freedom is the only ideology that wants to make the world a better place, a place where each and every one of us can author our own destiny- and do so without without stripping others of their rights. In a free society, we are free to exercise free will. We can choose to believe in God or we can exercise that free will and choose not to believe in God. In a free society, God takes care of His affairs. In a society that isn’t free, the tyranny du jour takes it upon itself to handle God’s affairs for Him.
The fight for freedom has not been easy. It never is. There are those that see the cost of freedom and want us to abandon the citizens of nations that so desperately need liberation from tyranny. It is tempting indeed to walk away, in the myopic and absurd belief that we would be forever extricating ourselves from a problem.
There is an undeniable truth. Freedom supports righteousness and make the world a more civilized and moral place. Notwithstanding the reality that much of the world doesn’t care about those ideals, that truth about freedom is unassailable. Those that resist and resent our involvement in helping to secure freedom for others, may at times, seem to prevail, but in the end, even that is illusory.
There are those that will go to great lengths to keep us from bringing freedom to others. They will excoriate us, berate us, laugh at us and even support violence against us. There are those who would align themselves with evil so as to hurt us- and rejoice in our pain. There are those that would support the propaganda and ideologies that would demoralize and weaken us. With all their might, deceit and hatred, they would relentlessly attack us- but in the end, it will all be for naught. Americans will defend freedom, from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
They may at times kill the messenger, but the world cannot kill the message.
There are really only two ways you can hurt someone. Take away their dignity or take away their hope. When a tyranny oppress a citizen, they take away dignity. When that oppressed citizen no longer believes that there are free and good people who care about them, there are left without hope. What is hope? Well, it is an average American, from an average place, that put on a uniform and fought to liberate oppressed people- and then went home.
Of the almost 7 billion people on this planet, only 300 million are Americans. In other words, less than 5% of the population of this planet are Americans- and yet, the world is obsessed with our existence. In the course of 200 odd years, we have provided the world ideas, contributions and realities that are in the consciousness of every human being on the planet. Given our numbers and short history, we should not have had this profound influence on history and mankind. The secret to our our successes and influence can be attributed to one powerful word: Freedom.
The notion that all men are created equal, is a biblical concept. It took America to make that a reality, in those ideas called freedom and democracy. “They will beat their swords into plowshares…nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore,” can only come about as the result of freedom and democracy for all mankind. It is an illusion to believe that anything less will bring about peace. The one thing we have learned is that democracies don’t wage war with each other. They do not take up arms to settle disputes.
We wrote, in Our Way, No Exceptions And Freedom Is Not Subject To Negotiations, that
“To presume that we must somehow persuade populations that freedom is better than tyranny is absurd. It presumes that tyranny and freedom are of equal value and standing. In fact, we appear foolish- and weak- when are forced to plead our case. In reality, when we argue the case for freedom as equal to tyrannical regimes, we belittle freedom. A casual observer would ask why we would denigrate ourselves in such a manner…
What kind of impression do we make if we are willing to belittle ourselves to plead the case for democracy over tyranny? That is like lowering ourselves to argue the merits of kindness over evil”
If you see an average looking man or woman today, marching in parade, walking around or even on TV, wearing a veterans cap, beret or hat, remind yourself that is what hope looks like- and that is more precious and beautiful than anything in any museum, anywhere.
Happy Memorial Day.
Portion of this post have been previously published.