“It was not immediately clear how close the U.S. military recon jet was flying near Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between NATO allies Poland and Lithuania. This fall, Russia moved nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, putting some European capitals in strike range.” — Armed Russian jet comes within 5 feet of US recon jet
“At the end, we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war. We came that close to nuclear war at the end. Rational individuals — Kennedy was rational, Castro was rational, Khrushchev was rational — came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today. The major lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis is this: The indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations.” –U.S. Vietnam “War” Defense Sec. Robert McNamara, The Fog of War
So, is it just “Nuclear Chicken” – or is it Russian Roulette? Or maybe both?
Pfaff was the singular heir of American writers who preceded him in condemning our historic addiction to war. And the more he criticized the U.S. for shooting first and thinking later, the fewer America dailies printed his columns. The New York Times, which owns the International Herald-Tribune where his work regularly appeared, rarely if ever published his piercing anti-interventionist columns. He was, after all, an outspoken opponent of the Iraq invasion when the paper went overboard in favor of the war. His few daily newspaper outlets were limited essentially to Newsday and the Chicago Tribune though liberal journals like the New York Review of Books, William Shawn’s New Yorker, which printed some seventy of his pieces, and Commonweal, the liberal Catholic magazine, welcomed him.
I was hired in 1972 by the American Jewish Committee to serve as editor of a new magazine I named Present Tense. My vague assignment was to be more “Jewish” than the well-established and influential Commentary magazine, which, while also parented by the AJC, had shifted its primary attention to more worldly interests under Norman Podhoretz, its smart and creative editor, who had abandoned his and the magazine’s traditional liberalism and moved right, very far right, into the brawling territory of U.S. foreign policy and national politics. From 1972 to 1990, when we were closed down, my office was one flight below that of Commentary.
From the very beginning Present Tense was “a sort of counter-Commentary,” as Susan Jacoby, one of our regular columnists, shrewdly noted in her illuminating book, “Half-Jew: A Daughter’s Search for Her Family’s Buried Past.” Early on, a reader wrote us that we were doomed to obscurity and worse because the further we veered left, the more we became too liberal for the AJC’s conservative donors (they also had liberal donors, equally unhappy with Commentary). Even so, we lasted for many years, sometimes taking on the Israel Lobby, disdainful of Reagan for Iran-Contra and his proxy war in Central America, while celebrating his anti-nuke huddle in Reykjavik with Gorbachev and publishing all sides of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and I mean, all sides, including right, center and left. We also refused to forgive and forget the ugly legacy of McCarthyism and how its impact still blunted dissent in the American Jewish world, as the novelist and journalist Anne Roiphe, another of our intrepid columnists, pointed out in our final issue. Continue reading “The Neocons: First in War, Last in Peace”
“Leave them to their sectarian religious wars. They’ve been killing each other for thousands of years, and it will continue unabated no matter what we enlightened, secular westerners do. Best not to get mixed up in it.”
This sentiment is prevalent within certain strands of anti-interventionist thought, and it betrays an incredible ignorance and arrogance. It neglects the central fact of Muslim civilization since World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and especially since World War II and the establishment of the state of Israel: the western imperial domination and exploitation of virtually all Muslim lands and people, whether through occupation, puppet dictators, civil war sponsorship, or chaos-inducing regime changes. Westerners sigh derisively at “backward” Muslim culture, yet it is western culture that, by sanctioning such a foreign policy, has proven to be far more barbaric.
A splendid 2011 Ron Paul presidential campaign ad invited viewers to imagine how Americans would respond if another country ever did to America what the U.S. government does to Muslim countries on a routine basis.
Of course, as the ad indicates, the response would be an armed insurgency. Think the “Wolverines” in the 1984 film Red Dawn.