Review of Tim Weiner’s “One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon”

Years ago, after Richard Nixon had resigned and gone into temporary exile, my boss introduced me to Sam Dash, the former Senate Watergate Committee’s chief counsel. I remember asking Dash if he thought we had heard the last of Nixon. “Never!” he answered. “He’ll always be around, with people attacking and defending him.”

First there were those devastatingly dark TV portraits, then the well-publicized David Frost interviews for which he received $600,000 according to Tim Weiner, plus an additional $2 million for his ghosted memoirs. Rick Cleveland’s well-received new play, “Five Presidents,” has our five living ex-Presidents gathering in Yorba Linda for his funeral. Gerald Ford arrives early at the Presidential Library and Museum and finds himself staring at a photo of Nixon. He then asks a Secret Service agent not to leave. “I’m not sure I want to be left alone with him,” says the accidental President who saved Nixon from time in Leavenworth. Continue reading “Review of Tim Weiner’s “One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon””

VERIFIED: Where Wars Do — and Don’t Come From

Where wars DO come from:

It is not civilizations that promote clashes. They occur when old-fashioned leaders look for old-fashioned ways to solve problems by rousing their people to armed confrontation.–Kenichi Ohmae, The End Of The Nation State, (New York: The Free Press 1995), p. 11.

Why of course the people don’t want war. … That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along –Head Nazi Hermann Goering

Mr. Bertie Felstead: “A German began singing All Through The Night, then more voices joined in and the British troops responded with Good King Wencelas… the next morning, all the soldiers were shouting to one another, “Hello Tommy, Hello Fritz” … The Germans started it, coming out of their trenches and walking over to us. Nobody decided for us – we just climbed over our parapet and went over to them, we thought nobody would shoot at us if we all mingled together… There wouldn’t have been a war if it had been left to the public. We didn’t want to fight but we thought we were defending England. England’s Oldest Man Remembers The 1915 Christmas Truce

People do not make wars; governments do. –U.S. President Ronald Reagan

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials… made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. …an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that …led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses. –Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith, False Pretenses: Iraq THE WAR CARD Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War,

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. …The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose–especially their lives. …the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die. That is their motto The Anti-war Speech That Earned Eugene Debs 10 Years in Prison, Socialist Party convention in Canton, Ohio, 16 June 1918

By contrast, where wars DON’T come from:

…we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came…They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. Crazy Horse/Tashunkewitko

The Aztec strategy of war was based on the capture of prisoners by individual warriors, not on working as a group to kill the enemy in battle. By the time the Aztecs came to recognize what warfare meant in European terms, it was too late. Aztec

New England’s first Indian war, the Pequot War of 1636-37, provides a case study of the intensified warfare Europeans brought to America. Allied with the Narragansetts, traditional enemies of the Pequots, the colonists attacked at dawn. … The slaughter shocked the Narragansetts, who had wanted merely to subjugate the Pequots, not exterminate them. The Narragansetts reproached the English for their style of warfare, crying, “It is naught, it is naught, because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” In turn, Capt. John Underhill scoffed, saying that the Narragansett style of fighting was “more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies.” Underhill’s analysis of the role of warfare in Narragansett society was correct, and might accurately be applied to other tribes as well. Through the centuries, whites frequently accused their Native allies of not fighting hard enough. -James W. Loewen, LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME, (New York, NY: Touchstone 1996), p. 118

Cold War Americans Not as Fainthearted as You Might Think

At Reason, Greg Beato sketches the history of the fallout
shelter in Cold War America. Apparently, most people didn’t get too carried away
with doomsday preparations

I don't wanna go down to the basement
I don't wanna go down to the basement

“Despite what a 1961 issue of Good Housekeeping derided as ‘massive propaganda to induce Americans to burrow underground like worms,’ officials were never able to secure the level of funding a widespread shelter-building program would require. The government’s more general efforts to persuade citizens to build shelters on their own dime were only slightly more successful. After a decade of federal proselytizing, Newsweek noted in July 1961, American families had built around 2,000 shelters. In contrast, they’d built around 300,000 swimming pools during that time. (A New York Times article, also from July 1961, put the estimated total of family bomb shelters in the U.S. at 60,000.)”

Of course, all they had to worry about was the Soviet Union, not guys who put bombs in their underwear. Shelter chic is making a bit of a comeback today, so if you think a pool is a waste of a hole in the ground, then I have an investment opportunity for you:


Medvedev’s ‘Tough Guy Act’

According to CBS, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first six months in office have contradicted the “liberal” reputation he (apparently) had when he was first elected. Maybe it’s a shock to some that one can be “soft spoken” and never have been a KGB spook and yet still, as president, look out of the interests of one’s country. But the examples given for Medvedev’s alleged illiberalism don’t hold water.

Opposition to missile defense? Nearly everyone with a clue is opposed to the US basing a missile defense system, especially one that does not even work, in Poland and the Czech Republic. Being a liberal in either the contemporary American or the classical sense doesn’t preclude opposing US imperial ambitions, anyhow.

Criticizing the US financial system? Hasn’t everyone all the way up to our own president done so by now? Economists have been warning of a collapse for years and classical liberals have been warning about bubbles since before anyone alive on this planet was born. This is hardly a “continu[ation]” of “Cold War rhetoric” on Medvedev’s part.

Georgia. Please. I think any journalist who would like to remain credible at this point should just recognize that Georgia did indeed begin the August conflict, and not desperately reach for something, anything with which to bludgeon Russia — even for filler in a weak hit piece. Really, if all you have is that Russia “used excessive force against Georgia” — not at all an objectively measurable statement — you simply must shut up.

And then, oh no! Russia sends a warship to Venezuela. Somehow, the completely insignificant country of Venezuela has become the boogeyman not just of the right wing, but of the mainstream as well. You don’t have to be a fan of that Chávez clown to be confused by all the wasted breath over a government with no choice but to sell Bush’s America its oil. That Russia wants to add a little luster to its rusty, crumbled image does not make Medvedev suddenly anti-liberal.

No, it’s not Medvedev’s image as a liberal that is in doubt — if it ever existed. It’s CBS’s as a significant source of original journalism. This frivolous, vacuous bit of tripe doesn’t belong on a news page. For more sophisticated analysis of Russia and its foreign (and domestic) policy, I suggest War Nerd.