A critic of Evolution thundered recently: “Scientific observations do not support biological evolution! What about the icons of evolution that have been presented in textbooks for almost 50 years? Don’t these icons support biological evolution? Some of these do show microevolution within species. This type of evolution, even if it permanently points in one direction, is not evolution. It is no more evolution than dog breeding.” (What???) “However, if a dog could be bred into a cat, that would be evolution. Even icons like the peppered moths that were only examples of microevolution, used pinned dead moths on black tree trunks that were not a natural resting place for the moths. Hackle’s embryos, ape-to-man drawings, the horse series, etc.”
The above is taken from a site urging the teaching of Creationism as an alternative to Evolution. That these words are incoherent are not the worst of their faults. Unfortunately, these remarks leave the question of evolution validity or falsehood. Not only are they erroneous, they are misconceived.
In the summer of 1988, I wrote the following exclusive for UPI.
“WASHINGTON – Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has been penetrated by “highly placed” Soviet moles and a full-scale internal counterintelligence investigation is under way, U.S. intelligence sources said.
“The sources described the Soviet infiltration as the most serious blow to Israeli intelligence since the 1970s, and said U.S. intelligence also was breached as a result.
“A Justice Department source said that U.S. counterintelligence agents became aware of the Israel-Soviet espionage pipeline when data stolen by Jonathan Jay Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel “was traced to the Eastern bloc.”
“Intelligence sources said that the data came to the Soviet Union via the old rat lines, and included advanced weapons technology strategic plans for Turkey and moderate Arab countries. Israel also gave to the Russians sensitive communications gear stolen by Pollard ‘that proved to be extremely compromising,’ one said.
“Another major blow to U.S. security was Pollard’s gift to the Soviets was that of the firing locations, sequences and coordinates of the U.S. war plan against the Russians. Another was giving the Soviets information about the techniques used by the U.S. Navy to track Soviet subs around the world.
It cost some labor to put these musings of mine together because I am not a scholar on Russian history or the Cold War, but an obsessive reader who turns to books to try and figure out what is happening in certain areas of the world. And it seems to me that the suspicious superiority with which we greet Russian pretensions today is not new, unique or surprising.
John Dewey once said that “habits are conditions of intellectual efficiency,” but when reactions to something new is habitual, we are in a lot of trouble. There have been many warnings by distinguished historians who claim that failures in international diplomacy are chiefly due to a certain national willfulness in pushing ahead idealistic conceptions to save the universe, combined with an inability to see events from another’s point of view. We see this today in the Ukraine crisis. We Americans don’t see other countries for what they truly are, because when a conflict comes, we look for similarities where we should be looking for differences. When we don’t find similarities, we become bitter. We Americans believe that if other nations had made more strenuous efforts to adopt our priceless values, our structures, and worshipped our innovation and hard work, their countries would have turned out to be more like ours -- not good to be equal to us, but sufficient enough for history. There is only way to salvation in the world, we have taken it.
What lies at the base of many of our attitudes of judgment is national conceit. We don’t see others as being different from us. We don’t attempt to see events of another’s history objectively, but through the narrow lens that idolizes our national self image, an image that has never truly existed, but which never gets repudiated by U.S. public opinion because it is so flattering to us and to our pretensions of virtue. In our eyes, the events of our history seem just another testimony of our unique success in the world.
“I don’t like other people. And they don’t like me either.
“My mom says it’s because I’m selfish. But if she improved herself instead of criticizing me all the time, maybe I would have had a new father by now. I don’t have a father, by the way. The old one left.
“I used by BB gun again yesterday. The bird fell. I watched it hit the ground. I wonder what the bird was thinking. Anyway, who cares? Who cares about what a bird thinks? That is why I practice and train. I train to hit targets. I train to get better skills.
“What do I really like to do? I like video games where soldiers kill enemies. It takes skill to kill enemies. It is exciting too. You don’t get bored. On the screen the enemy soldiers pop up from the ground all of a sudden, and you have to hit them to win. You have to pile up points. In the game, when you hit a guy, the blood gets splashed on the ground. I like that. The blood makes it more real. Blood doesn’t bother me, by the way.
“My friend, Roger, has a father who shoots real guns. He is training me to shoot! Roger’s father is okay because Roger gets to do what he likes. At my house, my mom doesn’t like me, as you probably can tell: I am a poor student, I’m messy, I don’t tidy up my room. The other day I left my shower towel on the bed, and she comes in and says in that voice of hers, “Is it really too much to ask that you pick up your stuff? You know the burdens I’m under. You know I can’t bear things. I can’t do all of this alone.” She goes saying that while other boys make their mother’s proud, she has nothing to be proud in me. And I think, proud of what?
“Anyway, life is boring, and I hate school. I have a Latin teacher who doesn’t like me. Why study a language that no one speaks anymore? It is fun watching her getting angry at me. It like watching a dog growling and showing its gums. I saw dog like that once. My mom is after me about school again today, but why should I pay attention? We all sit like groups of grouse on the ground, little seated birds being preached at. My class is full of weenies. A lot of teachers think that I am a boy after their own heart, but I want nothing to do with all that learning shit. It’s not for me. Even before I went to school, knew I would cut a poor figure – I knew it before I went there. So what? Let the other kids be the center of attention. If I could do what I like and do what I really wanted, I would be able to hunt all the time, be out in the big, vacant lot near our house all the time. In school, I cannot study. I sit there at my desk, and I stare at the books, I tried to make out what they meant, but I couldn’t. I really tried, but nothing happened. My mind just doesn’t work. I just sit there.
I used to be the Intelligent Correspondent for UPI and the “Washington Times,” and later for a UPI publication called “The Middle East Times.”
I came across these articles that date from 2003 and it is astonishing, even now, to realize how much US policy in Syria has been driven by pro-Israeli zealots within the U.S. government.
07/17/03 (Washington Times) ) Depicted by the Pentagon as a mere border skirmish, the June 18 strike into Syria by U.S. military forces was, in fact, based on mistaken intelligence and penetrated more than 25 miles into that country, causing numerous Syrian casualties, several serving and former administration officials said.
Although diplomatic relations between the two sides have been frosty after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the two nations have close intelligence ties, which have become strained as a result, these sources said.
"I think this was a deliberate effort to disrupt cooperation between U.S. and Syrian intelligence agencies," an administration official said.
According to a report in The New York Times, administration officials said that attack, carried out by Task Force 20, a Special Operations force, was based on intelligence that a convoy of SUVs, heading for Syria, was linked to senior fugitive Iraqi leaders.
"The (intel) was that senior Iraqis, perhaps even (former Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein were getting out of the country," a State Department official told United Press International.
The ensuing raid "was conducted under the rules of hot pursuit," an administration official told UPI on condition his name not be used.
In the same Times report, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the attack, saying it was based on "solid intelligence."
A successful conversation requires two minds that are similar in strength. A conversation is an exchange of words derived from your experience and your feelings, ideals, aims, hopes, etc. Both minds must have some sound knowledge of the outside world and a grasp of some of its major events. Both speakers should also be talented listeners which implies extensive contacts with different and varying personalities, a wide range of circumstances, and both people speaking must possess a knowledge of the events of their life that they can recount truthfully. Every human being is a vessel of unique experiences of life.
So a conversation thus has to be based on the truth of facts and the truth of personal perceptions. Both listener and speaker should have a sincere desire to share what they’ve learned. You should never talk as if your virtues are a matter of personal accomplishment, The spaciousness and the range and amplitude of each mind will make itself seen in dialogue so there is no need to rush for results. It is natural for people to take each other’s measure, but one should hold back and simply perceive. Each should gauge the other in silence by listening. Half of the pleasure of conversation is sharing insightful perceptions that are accurate to the observed facts. The knowledge of each doesn’t have to be identical, but the replies of each have to form some kind of coherence. The alternative is a dreary exchange of half-thought, half-understood gibberish or merely repeating stale clichés and superficial commonplaces that rule the day and manifest no new knowledge.
Robert Gates in his new memoir used very well chosen words to scorch the U.S. Congress for its defects, calling it, “uncivil, incompetent, parochial, and hypocritical.” Of course, he could have gone to say it is also narrow, self-serving, ill humored, boorish, egoistically self absorbed and largely ignorant of the affairs it pretends to manage.
But let’s leave that for another time.
We can enlarge on the perceptions of Gates by using the words of Vaclev Havel, a clear thinking, articulate and courageous opponent of the Soviet control of Czechoslovakia, a dissident who eventually became the president of his country for two terms.
Havel, during his second presidency, was confronted with the future of his country. He was a man of broad mind and generous sympathies, and he had great insight into the erratic and irresponsible Slovak politicians, and he was engulfed in the most pressing question of the time which was the debate over whether the Czechs and the Slovaks should separate and form two different countries. Havel thought that any such separation would be a “grave misfortune.”
Unfortunately, Havel was almost entirely helpless in debating the problem, and he grew furious over what he called, “the dictatorship of partisanship.” This very phrase is very telling. Havel abominated the “excessive influence of parties in the system of political power,” and accused political parties of being “a state within a state.” He accused the parties of loyalties they demanded counted more than the will of the electorate. He had seen firsthand the pre-election maneuvering that had a tendency to supersede and overpower the broad interests of society.
Newspapers daily retail the abruptly horrific, the superficial, the instantly shocking, the bizarre and the unstable, and in so doing, they smother any attempt at personal observation or personal thought. If a bucket of water is constantly poured over your head, you will soon find it hard to breathe. If your ambition is to want to half-learn something that is not really essential to your own life and your individual consciousness, but it happens to be popular with the dull mass, read newspapers or go to the web. News is the opium of the people.
All of us harbor a growing need to be startled, to be shocked, outraged or made curious by the horrible, distorted and the morbid. This need grows in us all the time as our lives contracts and the mind becomes more bored with itself and shuns the discipline of learning something valuable. I suffer from this myself. I daily read articles on Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, the war on terror, the collapse of Iraq, but how much of these do I remember after I put them down? I read things about teacher’s salaries, the stock market, fracking, the profiles of successful companies, etc, but the inescapable fact of life is that memorization is required to learn anything. What is left in the mind after you put such things down? To read something and afterwards not stage and pass a mental quiz is to have totally wasted your time. Why read something if you cannot remember what it said? Mental progress above all requires having to war with your own lazy inclinations. Reading something and not being able to recall what it said, reminds one of intelligent people who lightly toss off, “Oh, I read that in high school,” as if that is all that could be said on the matter. Is their mind the same as it was in high school? Hasn’t their sense of taste, the appreciation of structure, the growth of their inner critic that sorts the good from the bad, the mediocre from the excellent -- have those things not changed drastically since then?
I was not attempting to be cruel in talking of the seamy side of Camelot. I was trying to address a certain nostalgic myopia, a mood of acquiescent credulity that could be heard and seen everywhere on the anniversary of President Kennedy’s death. To romantize things is to falsify them. There is a certain willful conceit in some forms of admiration, and that was what I objected to.
My wife objected to what I had written, noting that President John Kennedy “inspired us. You have to remember that.”
She is right. That is a wife’s chief function, but she is correct. I was an admirer of John Kennedy because I admired his wit, his directness, his ability to think on his feet, his intellectual self confidence and fearlessness, his gift for accurate perceptions without which all sound and stable thought is impossible. As I said before, he could seize the essence of an issue as if coring an apple. That is no small gift. Toughness of mind was another ingredient needed for success, Kennedy felt,, and he was tough.
Kennedy was a superb listener. When he looked at a document it was with total absorption. He seized its essence with ease. Someone said of him that when he was listening to someone, he was totally there with the speaker. He would lean forward, his chin protruding slightly, and listen, not bothering to want to convey his own thoughts, but to hear completely the other person’s. Lenin, it was said, could exhaust people by listening to them. Kennedy did the same. By holding back, he urged the speaker forward towards full disclosure, without revealing his own mind and its designs. The closed air compelled the more open to speak, said a poet.
President Kennedy’s assassination was a horrible event. To have his wife and the nation having to watch a young President have his brains blown out of his head in front of the eyes of the world, ending a great perhaps, was something ineradicable to those who witnessed it.
That kind of heartless murder is an event every decent human being has to mourn and reflect on. “Each day is yours to live – just as it comes – the rest is luck,” says Euripides. So it was.
But the facts of John F. Kennedy’s career have to be kept in mind. John Kennedy was a brilliant young man. He had a photographic memory, he could write well, and he could immediately understand the heart of a matter at issue as if coring an apple. His handling of the Cuban missile crisis showed a tenacious nerve, a colossal focus, a mind fertile in gradations and expedients and quickness of wit. His conduct has rightly been praised to the roof.
Once again and again and even again, the term “Munich appeasement” is being used by people who should know better, using the phrase as a vulgar tool to attack any American effort to achieve an agreement with Iran on its nuclear enrichment program. Unfortunately, much of the popular understanding of Munich Agreement is entirely mistaken. “Munich appeasement” is a merely label plastered on a bottle that had in most cases never been opened much less tasted.
In the late 1930s, Germany had clearly rearmed, its intentions were clearly aggressive, and clearly, the British, like the French, had not. Their countries had no heart for rearmament. But before the meeting with Hitler, Prime Minister Chamberlin in fact had set in motion a secret policy to confront Hitler, the object of which was to “inject resisting power” into those states neighboring Germany that Hitler clearly wanted to turn into “vassals.”
Chamberlin’s design was to increase financial and economic aid into possible “vassal states” that would make them less dependent on Germany aims. Its goal was to “ensure that Germany’s style was “cramped in every way possible, with a minimum of any provocation” that might be a cause for war. This secret intent to increase anti-German resistance would be buttressed by the public declaration that the French and British were united in resisting Hitler’s designs.
This of course was false posturing. The French generals were muddled ad confused and wanted to avoid war at all costs, and the British were basically unarmed.
The secret British policy was to secretly play for time. It is to Chamberlin’s credit that he did this. Why then all this footwork? At his meeting with Hitler on Sept. 29, Chamberlin permitted the German reoccupation of the Sudetenland, and the agreement enabled Chamberlin to return to London and announce he had secured “peace in our time.”
But the reality was far different. Chamberlin had secured peace for 12 months, just in time for the British Air Ministry to introduce the fast, eight-gun Spitfire fighter into squadron service. A biographer of British intelligence said, “That stay of war proved to be decisive in the defense of the United Kingdom –the Battle of Britain which took place in the summer of 1940 and which resulted not only in victory but ended Hitler’s plan for an invasion.
The lesson of course, was to stall in the face of military weakness until you had gained some position of strength. John Kennedy took that lesson to heart – that without military strength you could do little in foreign policy.
Thank you for Pat for your magnificent story. Everything works: the drawing of the characters, the positioning, the crafted dialogue, the historical background, the underlying tensions.
But in thinking of the Gettysburg Address, one is reminded Lincoln is often portrayed as a man who, when a little boy, read the Bible a lot and he became a great writer because of it. Nothing could be further from the facts. His eloquence was not natural. His excellence with words is the result of a very conscious literary artistry. Everything he wrote betrays a great effort of mind and an intensely critical inner ear.
As a young boy, Lincoln tried to be a poet, wanted to be one, but knew he lacked that gift, but he had a tenacious to know things. One of my teachers, Jacques Barzun, once wrote of Lincoln’s work, “Pick up any volume of Lincoln’s works as if you were approaching a new author. Pretend you know nothing of the anecdotes; nothing of the way the story embedded in these pages comes out. Your aim is to see a life unfold.”
On December 8, 1981, the correspondent from Toronto, John Honderich filed what he thought was a routine story. A document stamped “Confidential” and sent from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC to Ottawa, saying that the U.S. was cancelling a Canadian-U.S. deal involving Lockheed’s anti-submarine plane, the “Aurora,” which had been in the works. Since so few military deals had been pending between the U.S. and Canada, Canada appeared to have been singled out for persecution by the Pentagon. Anyway, that was the slant that Honderich’s decided that his story was to take. The story went out.
But then Honderich got a call from a long-time source who told him that, “You have much more here than you think.” The document that had been leaked, complete with special numbers, security designations, route markings, was a U.S. electronic intercept. It meant that the top U.S. code-breaking outfit, the NSA, had cracked Canada’s unbreakable” code. It meant that America had been caught reading it ally’s mail. But Honderich didn’t seem to know what he had. When I talked to him, he said he had never heard of the NSA. But he had started calling Canadian officials before any publicity could harden them into silence. In reply to Honderich, the Canadian Exterior Affairs Minister (the equivalent of the U.S. Secretary of State, said that Canada’s computerized diplomatic code was “very nearly fool-proof and only rarely does it not fit our purpose.”
A very polite brush off.
The Tea Party is heading a revolt against the idea of government by the majority of citizens elected by national popular vote. To the Tea Party people and the extremist Republicans, a national mandate is a fraud on its face. It signifies nothing but the victory of superior numbers is nothing but a war between the mass versus the most qualified, insightful and effective and the most visionary minority party. A victory in a U.S. national election is to them merely a crude popularity contest, and the means must be found to bypass it. Hitler, after all, was elected by a popular majority.
To the Tea Party people and the extremist Republicans, the nation’s fate does not rest on superior numbers. Its fate depends on the political devices of certain of essential, critical white minorities, and it is only those particular, self-chosen minorities that matter. Isn’t this what we are seeing in the shutdown? The Tea Party and extremist Republicans are saying that that any state has the right to declare specific federal laws void within the borders of the resisting states, and instead there should be set up a “concurrent majority” of the legislatures of each state in addition to the federal legislature to assent to a law for it to have nation-wide effect.
Before we go further let me say stoutly that I have no interest in politics. I have always had the attitude of that mythical old New England woman in her nineties in who, when asked why she had never voted replied, “I never vote. It only encourages them.” I didn’t vote until the 1992 George H. Bush Bill Clinton contest, and I voted for Bush because of his handling of Saddam. I spectacularly disliked Bill Clinton and only slowly changed my mind because in the case of Serbia and Milosevic, the iron at last entered him and he went to battle.
Out my open window, the Paris sky showed a cold gray above the half-hid rooftops glistening in the rain. It was the month of May.
I was 23-years old. I lay atop the hard bed in the attic room, my eyes wide open, and listened to the dripping of the shower on the eaves, the constant patter of rain on the roof slates. Earlier that morning, carrying my suitcase, I stepped from the double door of the bus depot and found myself in a dirty, run-down section of the city. A weak sun greeted my eyes. The solid gray overcast had clear to split into blue pieces, and what had begun by being a damp, dismal day was how lit up by a weak, anemic sun. Even that was something at least, I thought.
National conceit governs the world. No country views itself with impartial eyes.
No country ever gives a full and solid account of its shortcomings, its
failures, its lack of skill and essential capacities.
In order to belittle each other, every country relishes holding up another’s failures, likes to endlessly deride, to depict a rival nation in dark colors as the seat of all the evil in the world – America has done this to the point of exasperation. Yet you learn nothing by dwelling on your idea that you virtues, habits, and victories are superior in meaning and majesty to everybody else’s, yet we Americans continue to do this to the point of nausea.
I have just read two articles whose clumsy language and oceanic complacency irked me t the bottom of the soul. One of them was by Sebastian Junger urged that the United States striker Syria and the other was a retort to Russian leader Putin’s Op-ed in the New York Times.
We have two schools of conceit here. The first school makes us feel invulnerable
in our righteous purposes to the extent that we feel that we are able to correct
the wrongs of the world through brute force, our action to be driven and
excused by our superior “values” and our selfless worship of humanitarian aims.
It is not American welfare that we pursue, it is the worlds. The second article
is a school for helping to develop more insidious and commonplace and
impenetrable national vanity.
Eugene Robinson, in a recent Washington Post column called the ruler of Syria, Bashar Assad, a "thug." In another column he referred to Assad as "The urbane ophthalmologist-turned-ogre." (I thought that Assad had begun as a computer expert.) In any case, Robinson, who really should know better, is now joined by a vast multitude of the unthinking idealistic because of his belittling, commonplace remarks. Recent media reports, in talking about Assad, have carelessly thrown around references to Munich, the Holocaust, and have used such phrases such as "Assad’s gangster regime," "brute," the "Assad criminal crowd," "The Assad gang," which sounds very much like anti-American Soviet propaganda after WW II.
Much of U.S. media is pro-Israel by conditioned reflex and have been marketing threats that pretend that if we don’t bomb Syria and then, after that, bomb Iran, it will "be the end of civilization as we know it," the same dogma using the same words that Republican Party hacks and party bankers used in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to get the country off the gold standard. Insults directed at Assad have reached a horrific pitch of intensity.
Why is this happening?
In 1962, I read a book by Earle Stanley Gardiner, the creator of Perry Mason. The book described the Baja Peninsula in California as a wild, lawless place that demanded caution of any visitor. He also talked about Superstition Mountain, near Phoenix, where prospectors were found beheaded by the local Indians, their heads placed in their laps. Anyone who has ever seen that mountain, dim, gloomy and shrouded by rain, can understand the shivers produced by such stories. And farther on in the book, Gardiner pointed to the dangerous area of Senora in northwest Mexico where the Apaches had stayed on the warpath until 1940, only twenty years before. The warriors rode unshod ponies and raided Mexican villages, slaughtering everyone until the late 1930s, when Mexico military forces finally cornered Geronimo III and his warriors in a box canyon and killed every Indian that they could find. A handful of Apaches escaped and were still believed to be at large and roaming the mountains, and they were still regarded as a menace.
The demonstrations in Turkey and Brazil have stirred to life a lot of half-buried memories.
It was the late summer of 1968. I was a new reporter at LIFE Magazine and had been living with a 4,500 member black gang in the Southside of Chicago. My home base was New York. I had very infected tonsils, and was told by my doctors that I had to spend a week in the hospital to have the infection calm down and the tonsils removed. I was at the end of my energies.
But then a telegram came telling me I was to report to Chicago to cover the coming Democratic Convention, advertised as bloody clash between the Democrats and anti-war protestors, I ignored my doctors and went to Chicago.
At that time, I was a shy person, almost neurotically shy. I had been a badly abused kid, and I disliked crowds. For years, it took me a lot of nerve to enter a crowded restaurant, and, here, in this infuriated city, there was nothing but crowds, and they were intimidating and deafening.
A u.s. Senator warned that “NSA’s potential to violate the privacy of American citizens is unmatched by any other U.S. intelligence agency.”
“Tons of electronic surveillance equipment at this moment are interconnected within our domestic and international common carrier telecommunications systems. Much more is under contract for installation. Perhaps this equipment is humming away in a semi quiescent state wherein at present no citizen is targeted but simply scanned…How soon will it be before a punched card will quietly be dropped to the machine, a card having your telephone number, my telephone number or the number of one my friends to whom we will be speaking.”
The sinister statement above was uttered in 1976.
Under the Reagan administration, the NSA could be authorized to lend its full cryptanalytic support – analysts as well as computers – to any department agency. By then, the microwaves and the internet and satellite coverage had transformed human communication. By 1981 there were domestic satellites in orbit with the capacity of carrying thousands of circuits. Each COMSAT bird had 18,000 thousand circuits that record many thousand phone conversations. Literally tons of billions of words including computer data transfers. Even the mail was being carried by satellite.
A Note on Kohl
By Richard Sale
The observations of the ConfusedPonderer on Jim Baker and Helmut Kohl were absolutely first-rate. They are full of insight, and I agree with him that the most praise must go to Kohl for accomplishing German reunification. He was initially cautious about the topic, suggesting five-year program that would end in a single state.
In 1989, Francois Mitterand, the French PM, said of reunification, “I don’t have to do anything to stop it; the Soviets will do it for me.” But Mitterand was wrong as was Margaret Thatcher. The Soviets were completely open to financial persuasion. Gorbachev tried to hold the negotiations hostage by asking for a ransom of $20 billion. In the end, he settled for $8 billion, with another $2 billion in interest-free credits. From 1990 to 1994, Bonn transferred to Moscow the equivalent of $71 billion with another $36 billion going to the former Communist states of Eastern Europe.
Memorial Day Memoir: Sgt. George Artis Boomer
Close Combat (2)
By Richard Sale
My wife and I came back from Georgetown late one night. It was after one, it was a sweltering, humid July evening without a breath of air. The project crowd had left their sweltering, airless homes and had spilled out into the streets. It was clear a lot of people there had been drinking. Crowds breed fear, but as I scanned this one, my eyes suddenly spotted Skinny Pimp, the gang leader. Sgt. Boomer and his buddy, Harry, had once been attacked in their house in Southwest D.C. by a gang. The gang was trying to get in the front, when Harry and Boomer threw smoke bombs out the front door, then, carrying their M-16s, they came out the back. The gang fled.
The sight of Skinny Pimp put me into a grim, furious, implacable rage. Yes, I had been at a party and had been drinking, but the insult of the little stone rolling by me on the pavement still irked me, and if I wanted to confront Skinny Pimp and the time was now.
I first took steps to get rid of any anger. Anger is the breeding ground of mistakes. Up in my apartment, I put on jeans and a jean jacket. I had a small, short club which I put into the belt of the jeans in case Pimp had a knife. I had no mouthpiece. I kissed my Iranian wife goodbye and went out. Some of the party goers saw me coming and were curious. When I get truly infuriated, I get calm, and my lips go white. I was later told that my lips were white. I was six two and so was Pimp. He was lean, wiry, wore cool clothes, black leather jackets, boots, the dark shades, etc. I told him in front of his own people that he had terrorized the little girl, our baby sitter, and I told him I was doing to send him to the hospital. It was not rhetoric. I was going to break his left ribs, rip his nose from his face, or break his collar bones. There was a tactic that I had trained for in which you sunk both stiff fingers into the hollows around the collar bones and simply sank your weight and yanked them out. I certainly was going to pivot and drive an elbow into his face. My mind was rapidly turning over tactics.
A Memorial Day Memory: Sgt. Boomer
By Richard Sale, author of Clinton’s Secret Wars
I was prevented from going to Vietnam because of a bullet wound, but by 1971, the wound had healed. In those days, Washington, D.C. was a tough town, full of unrest, drug deals and gangs. I was trained in hand-to-hand combat by a “tunnel rat,” a U.S. Army Sgt. whose jobs was to enter North Vietnamese tunnels, plant charges, and then quickly back out in order to keep from being blown up by the charges he had planted. My instructor was one of those men; he was black, in his thirties, a handsome, sensitive man who had a grip like pair of pliers. His name was Sgt. George Artis Boomer. Once he had killed a man in a North Vietnamese tunnel, using his knife in the dark. (His stories were confirmed by the men he had fought with - I talked with many of them.)
His domestic life was turbulent. One time, his wife in Washington, D.C, had tried to stab him, and when she failed, she fled up the stairs and was found sitting on the bed with her baby in her lap. Boomer had gotten an M-16 and was thinking of firing through the floor at his wife when he went up and saw the baby. (Fifteen years later, they were still married.)
Boomer was a hand-to-hand combat instructor for the 18th Airborne Corps, and he had been a special hand-to-hand combat instructor for the 82nd Airborne. In Vietnam, he was almost been killed in a fight with a Vietcong prisoner. The Vietcong was part of a group of prisoners being held by the American Army. The prisoners were bound with their hands behind their back, and they were sitting on the ground. They were guarded by American troops. An Army lieutenant came by, and told Boomer to release this one man. Boomer objected. “Sir, that man is very dangerous,” he said. The lieutenant was arrogant as he was ignorant. Free the man, he said. Boomer did. No sooner had he done so, than the Viet Cong, with his hands now untied, had sprung to his feet and hit Boomer hard in his chest with a reverse punch to Boomer’s solar plexus. The Vietcong then hit Boomer with a sharp, hard side kick to his lower leg and punched Boomer again in the chest and throat. Boomer fell over backwards. The Vietcong, now convinced he was certain of victory, stepped over Boomer’s prostrate body with his left leg, positioning himself to drop his right knee, with using his body weight to land on Boomer’s face, a blow which would have killed Boomer. But the Vietcong had left his right hand hanging down, just before the knee drop, and Boomer seized that hand, pulled it with his own left, and with his right hand, reached up and took out the Viet Cong’s throat in a single movement. Boomer said that when the man screamed, it sounded like a something screaming under water.
I see that my offhand comments about World War II got all the dogs barking. There is a good book by Liddell Hart, the author of Strategy who also did a book, The Other Side of the Hill in which Field Marshall von Rundstedt states that he was surprised that the US didn’t invade France in 1943, not 1944, after Germany had occupied the rest of France in 1943. “I thought you would take advantage of this extensive stretching of our resources,” he said. Can anyone imagine what that invasion would have done to the future of Eastern Europe, if the invasion had been tried a year earlier? Chester Wilmont did a whole book expressing his intense disappointment that the invasion wasn’t tried earlier. At least that is my best recollection of it. Time always matters in war, especially in a war when the future of the continent was going to be decided by the movement of armies. Sale
"I was astonished to find out recently that the population of Auschwitz in 1944 was 80 percent gentiles. Of course, as I stared at the page, the horror gradually dawned me – that by then almost all of the Jews from Europe had been gassed, leaving only the gentiles.
You cannot overstate the horror what the Jews suffered. Most of the Jews carted off by the Nazis were highly educated: they were lawyers, doctors, teachers, technicians, scholars who were used to a high degree of civilization, schooled in courtesy, politeness, tolerance, generosity, and earnest and sincere in giving of sympathy to those who most needed it." Sale
"When we decide to use force to intervene, it is usually after we get emotionally roused, have a sense of being terribly affronted or experience a sudden explosion mass inflammability that forces irresistibly into war. In these cases, we intervene not on the basis of cautious, prudent or carefully measured deliberation and we avoid carefully thinking out what we plan to achieve. As an example, we entered an imperialist war against Spain based on our outrage over having an American warship in Cuba bombed, an allegation that later proved not to be true. We invaded the Philippines, and then waged war on their inhabitants who, at the time of our arrival, were looking forward to their freedom from foreign occupiers. Instead, we became one." Sale
"A reader mentioned that The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman as the best account of the miscalculations that led to the war, but I’m afraid that I cannot agree. Tuchman is a superb writer of history. One has only to think of The Proud Tower, her masterpiece, I think. She displays an expert mastery of color, background, setting, and excels in the vivid depiction of personalities. In addition, she is able to pace and drive a carefully framed narrative of events. She brings history to the complicated pitch of life that it once was lived. But the Guns has serious faults. In some ways a genuine masterpiece, the book utterly scants the diplomacy that led to the war. Perhaps the most detailed study is the diplomacy is L. Alberinti’s Origins of the War of 1914 in three volumes which makes excellent use of all kinds of documents. (It’s very expensive to get.)" Sale
"The situation in North Korea should give us great pause. It should make us pause and think about the role of Miscalculation in the Use of Brute Force in history. It is very clear that most wars are caused by a series of what seem to be trivial miscalculations that bring about horrible results.
The brilliant historian, Max Hastings, sent me an e-mail recently telling me he was working hard on a book about World War I. Given his capacity for insight, for accuracy and capacity for meticulous research, I believe he will produce another masterpiece." Richard SaleDownload Miscalculation
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I was interviewed some time ago by the North Carolina Museum of History concerning the writing of this trilogy.
This podcast is highly recommended
"Science currently holds that time travel is an impossibility, but readers of Down the Sky, thefinal volume of Colonel Pat Lang’s Strike the Tent trilogy will question that assertion. Code-named “Hannibal,” Confederate penetration agent Claude Devereux is firmly lodged in the upper echelons of the Federal war machine. Now a Brigadier General of the Union forces with the new Congressional Medal of Honor on his chest, Major Devereux of the Confederate Secret Service knows time is running out. His minders in Richmond may no longer trust him, his personal life is a shambles, and Union spy-catcher Lafayette Baker is determined to bring him down. Only his peculiar, personal friendship with President Lincoln holds his enemies at bay.
"My goal in writing what I did was to direct attention to the kind of personality that allows one human being to murder another in cold blood -- the defects in emotional make-up, the dearth of imagination, and the inability to insert yourself with compassion into another’s situation. My comments were aimed at people who harbor pet opinions in spite of the fact that those may lack any intelligible logic; people were are so intent on having their narrow positions triumph, they vehemently disdain the ideas they have in common with others; people who have their own pet hobby horses that they are addicted to riding at all costs; people who have such an exaggerated sense of their own value, that they would trample the world beneath their feet in order to gain their own ends. " Richard Sale
"A murder is always the work of a violent, irritable self-will working in perverse directions from the bulk of ordinary, hard working, persevering human beings. A killing embodies the principle of hostility. It has its roots a disease of self-exultation that ridicules efforts and the stature of ordinary humans and disdains their welfare. Killers have had no sound notion of anything. They look down on all others because of their fictitious merits which leads them to believe that they are superior to anyone else on Earth. Killers have no honest or reliable way of measuring values. The ones I knew had crude, coarse, repulsive personalities that looked at ordinary people with no aerial perspective. By narrowing their views and shrinking their capacity for sympathy, killers build a structure in which their figure towers above everybody else. They have no common humanity. Besides them, there is nothing. They are diseased dwarfs that think themselves as mighty and as invulnerable as Everest." continue reading this piece by Richard Sale
"Leaders painted themselves in heroic colors claiming that their wealth was due to their skill, diligence, insight, forethought, perseverance, guts, cunning etc. The result was a romantically tinged picture of what was merely unbridled ruthlessness, and what was not seen or discussed was the fact that they were at heart rough, shrewd, skilled opportunists whose methods were devious, unstable, brutal, corrupt, mean, nasty, rapacious, gross, vulgar and totally unprincipled men who had simply battened on the blood of the American system to suck it out. But they were successful, and so “success became the visible evidence of spiritual merit,” as Schlesinger said. Individuals who made good deserved the gratitude and applause of all mankind. This verges on the disgusting." Sale
"My wife, who is an ambitious reader, recently set out to read Henry James two-volume work, The Portrait of a Lady. Feeling she should enjoy some solidarity, I began to read it as well. I have read it three times, but long ago, and I truly believe that you never read the same book since all of evolve mentally all the time. Things which were mediocre at the beginning become startling vivid over time. So I set out." Richard Sale
When you are a small child, most of what you see will be found to be indistinct, a bewildering multitude of details that are odd, unusual and featureless. William James once said that for a baby all is “one great blooming, buzzing confusion.” The small mind will come to rest only when it finds an interest that allows it to linger. When a child finds an object, a sight, a movement, and object, or even a color, to be interesting, the whole scene comes alive. It is interest that fuels the child’s ability to develop a strong power of attention. Having an interest is a mental affection the child feels for something outside of itself. It is the alliance between attention and interest that impels a child to return again and again to an idea or a sensation, in order to gain further insight and power over what has made it curious. The child’s mind then starts creating meanings and a clearer experience out of chaos.
People sink out of sight in the pedestrian details of their lives. They are captives of repeated falsehoods or distractions that sabotage any settled sense of purpose. An interest secures attention, but to sustain any interest we have to visit it as much as we can. To develop an interest takes time, and an interest has its enemies in restless child’s mind that tempt it away from its task of focusing. The depth of an interest testifies to its genuineness in the child.
In the year 1850, John Parker Hale, free soil Democrat from New Hampshire who had been watching the painful aftermath of the failure of the 1848 revolutions, began a speech to express his sympathy for “the millions who are under the heel of power.” Taking the tone of today’s human rights crusaders, he said he viewed the crushing of the revolution in Hungary by Russia and Austria as a moral, not simply a political, question. He urged “…the American Senate, the highest legislative body of the world, the wisest, greatest and most magnanimous people” to “constitute themselves a high court” whose mission should be “to try the nations of the earth for ‘atrocious acts of despotism.’” Hale urged that we Americans as “a high court of indignation. “are to arraign at our high bar the nations of the earth, and they are to pass in trial before us.” America’s targets weren’t to be small fry or second rate powers, but villains like the Czar of the Russia,” the aim to try him “not only for what he did to Hungary,” but “for what he had done long ago in sending those unfortunate exiles to Siberian snows.” Hale then asked, “And after we arraign Russia, what would the next target be? England for the way they had treated the Irish and for the cruelties oppressions they did there?” (or) “go to Algiers to inquire what the French had done there?” Hale wanted to try the czar of Russia, In other words, Hale felt that the U.S. government should become a unilateral agency for the promotion of human rights.
Author of Clinton’s Secret Wars
The Aspen Security Forum meets every summer and features notable foreign policy officials such as Admiral William McRaven, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the U.S. military’s cyber war efforts. During a discussion last week, participants were floored when Stephen Cambone, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s undersecretary of defense for intelligence, described the U.S. decision to invade Iraq in 2003 as, “one of the great strategic decisions of the first half of the 21st century, if … not the greatest.” He said the results of the decision resulted in “the aftershocks that you see flowing through the region, whether it be in Libya, or in Egypt, or now in Syria.” All the region’s latest developments “can be traced to it,” he said. As a piece of effrontery, this has perhaps few equals. Think about it for a minute. Imagine luring your country into a war based on false premises, on dubious and contaminated information to remove an Arab leader and destroy his nuclear weapons that were allegedly threatening the peace of the world.
By Richard T. Sale, author of Traitors.
Islam is on the march in the Middle East. For the past few years, in every
Mideast election, the Islamic parties have won: in the Gaza Strip in 2006, in Iraq
and Tunisia in 2010. In 2011, they won again in Turkey and Morocco, and in
Egypt the Islamist parties confirmed an overwhelming victory in the first
parliamentary elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt represents the new reality. In February 2011, its youth, liberals, and leftists at last gave voice to theirlong-suppressed outrage over the economic and social injustice of Mubarak’s regime. Within a few weeks, a senior U.S. official passed the word to Egypt’s military that Mubarak had to step down. “It is time for him to go,” the U.S.
official said, and Mubarak did, ending a thirty-year rule.
This was a hardly a revolution, however. It was a revolt, with a dictator being removed, but leaving in place the old military structure that continued to run the country. To the leftists, the youth, and the liberals, who had fully expected that their democratic idealism would own the future of the country, the recent Islamic victory left them stunned and dismayed. Like many in the U.S. media, they were the prisoner of
words like, “democracy,” “liberty,” “the future,” and “the needs of the
individual,” phrases that have been used by so many countries in so many parts
of the world and in so many different ways, that they have become weak,
hackneyed, and dangerously vague.
By Richard T. Sale, author of Clinton’s Secret Wars
For months, there have been rumors of a strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The propaganda build-up is very similar to that directed against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2002. In both cases, an isolated state with limited military and physical resources is depicted as a horror threatens to end the survival of the world, except, of course, that Saddam Hussein's WMD didn’t exist.
According to several U.S. analysts like Steven Heydeman, a perceptive commentator for Foreign Affairs, the message emanating from Israel and its right-wing U.S. supporters, is that the road to Jerusalem and an Arab-Israeli peace leads through Iran. Prime Minister Benhamin Netanyahu contends that since Iran’s support of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza means permanent hostiity to Israel's existence,the only way to make an Israeli-Palestinian peace possible is to use brute force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability. As a result, Iran is incessantly depicted by Israel’s right-wing as the seat of all the world’s evil and calls during the last few weeks for a joint U.S.-Israel strike against Iran have reached a crescendo of frantic anxiety.
Israel’s rationale for a strike is solidly rooted in its past. Avner Cohen, a first rate analyst of Israel’s nuclear and defense programs, wrote recently that the day after the bombing of the Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981, Prime Minister Menachem Begin exclaimed that the Osirak attack meant installing a new strategic doctrine that said that “Israel would do its utmost, including risking starting a war, in order to prevent hostile states in the region from obtaining nuclear arms.” Behind this statement lurked Begin’s fear of new Holocaust of Israel’s Jews.
Israel adopted the so called Osirak doctrine, as if “it were holy writ,” said Cohen. But what the Israeli public in 1981 did not know was that throughout the operation, Begin hadn’t correctly understood his own intelligence, plus top Israeli security officials - including the heads of army intelligence, the Mossad and the director general of the atomic energy commission – had stridently opposed the attack. The obdurate Begin launched it anyway.
Israel’s battle plan also calls for the destruction of all of Tehran’s communication and network surveillance including its electrical plants, radar sites and command centers, said officials who requested anonymity because of their close proximity to ongoing investigations.
By Richard Sale, author Clinton’s Secret Wars and Traitors
The GOP candidates are all working hard to carry a system of negative qualities to complete perfection. They labor diligently to exclude from their minds any ideas or feelings they have in common with others. Have ever in your life heard so many lame-brained inanities, so many staggering misconceptions, so many clichés, so many antique attitudes, and so many grotesque and obsolete positions offered as genuine policy? Have you ever seen such a vast of expanse of historical ignorance incessantly masquerading as knowledge? Their opinions have nothing to do with the merit of a case, but are put forward only as a promotion of the narrow agenda of their party. It’s a disgrace enough to be stupid but to take pride in being stupid and praise it to the unwary as virtue, demands a special gift, and the Republicans truly have it.
Think of their record. (They never do). But in foreign policy, for example, they are always on the wrong side of History. Never mind Palin and her inability to explain why we have two Koreas, all we have to do is remember how the GOP, through Hoover, was urging “peace with dictators” in 1929, ignoring FDR’s description Hitler “as an enemy of the human race.” Or think of today’s candidates urging that Iran be obliterated and its innocent people slaughtered, ignoring the fact that Iran's citizens are not any more evil than Israel’s. Or think of them as urging an invasion of Syria and the creation of democracy there, ignoring the fact that their party invaded Iraq under completely false pretenses and made it unstable. Or think of how they are praising the liberation of Libya, ignoring the fact that that country is a now torturing, mutilating and murdering its rivals even as those factions are busy partitioning it. In other words, just ignore the facts, and instead, embrace dogma.
They are dying one by one.
They are Iran’s nuclear scientists, and they are being murdered. Since 2007, five Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in Iranian territory, many victims dying from magnetic bombs that terrorists had attached to the exterior of their cars.
The latest attack took place on January 11, 2012, when Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan, Deputy Director in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, died without warning in a blast in Tehran shortly after two assailants on a motorcycle, placed a bomb on his car.
According to news reports, confirmed by Truthout, the United States denied that it was to blame for the killing of the 32-old Roshan after Tehran said Washington and Israel were responsible for the attack. “I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters when asked about Iranian allegations over the attack.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor added, “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this. We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like this.”
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of not being identified, said that President Barack Obama reacted angrily to the latest killing because since his election he had tried to prevent any acceleration in the covert U.S.-Israeli war directed at Iranian nuclear facilities.
The Israeli program, which has been in place for almost a decade, involves not only targeted killings of key Iranian assets but also disrupting and sabotaging the Iran nuclear technology by infecting Iran’s enrichment computers with a U.S.-Israel virus that heavily damaged them and by sabotaging Iran’s purchasing network abroad, these sources said.
U.S. opposition to the program initially intensified as President Obama made overtures aimed at thawing decades-old tension between the two countries. Part of his strategy was driven by America’s desire to use Iran’s roads into Afghanistan to help resupply U.S.-NATO forces there.
But in spite of Obama’s desire to relax tensions, Israel continues to carry out killings using its proxies, including an armed group of Iranian dissidents, a group that has high level political backers in the United States despite being a terrorist organization.
Former senior CIA officials said that Israeli terrorists were members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) who are paid by Israel to do targeted killings of Iranian nationals.
By Richard Sale, author of Clinton’s Secret Wars and Traitors.
The great poet Paul Valery once said that politics is the art of getting people to argue, fight and torture each other over something that they know or care about.
What astonishes me always in political debates is the irresistible urge for completely undiscerning people to comment and argue about things they know nothing about. These so-called “public questions,” are the very things that most people (whether Republican or Democrat) are completely indifferent to. Indeed, politics would not be possible except for the indifference of the majority. Unfortunately, it is always a small, venomous, energetic minority who given a computer or a microphone the sight of a camera, are instantly at the throat of anyone who disagrees with them.
At the heart of every human being is a streak of merciless egotism. Each of us has it in some degree or another. Most of use our manners and good conduct try to hold that egotism in check; we even to try and train it to give way to the needs of others. Unfortunately in politics, there is no such delicacy. In politics that self-consuming egotism results in the tendency to sneer, insult, libel, slander, to be wildly inaccurate. In politics, is given free rein. Its crimes against others are done in good conscience because they are done in the service of noble ends, a higher collective human good