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This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (7-9-12)
Robert Sarner, a former journalist in Israel, France and Canada, is the director of Communication and Public Affairs at Roots Canada in Toronto.
SOURCE: National Interest (7-10-12)
Franck Salameh is an assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic and Hebrew at Boston College and the author of Language Memory and Identity in the Middle East: The Case for Lebanon (Lexington Books, 2010).
SOURCE: BBC (7-9-12)
Lucy Williamson is the BBC's Seoul correspondent.
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK) (7-8-12)
Wolfgang Munchau is associate editor and European economic columnist of the Financial Times.
SOURCE: TomDispatch (7-8-12)
William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, a TomDispatch regular, and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.
There was a time when nuclear weapons were a significant part of our national conversation. Addressing the issue of potential atomic annihilation was once described by nuclear theorist Herman Kahn as “thinking about the unthinkable,” but that didn’t keep us from thinking, talking, fantasizing, worrying about it, or putting images of possible nuclear nightmares (often transmuted to invading aliens or outer space) endlessly on screen.
Now, on a planet still overstocked with city-busting, world-ending weaponry, in which almost 67 years have passed since a nuclear weapon was last used, the only nuke that Americans regularly hear about is one that doesn’t exist: Iran’s. The nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons on missiles, planes, and submarines possessed by Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea are barely mentioned in what passes for press coverage of the nuclear issue.
Today, nuclear destruction finds itself at the end of a long queue of anxieties about our planet and its fate. For some reason, we trust ourselves, our allies, and even our former enemies with nuclear arms -- evidently so deeply that we don’t seem to think the staggering arsenals filled with weaponry that could put the devastation of Hiroshima to shame are worth covering or dealing with. Even the disaster at Fukushima last year didn’t revive an interest in the weaponry that goes with the “peaceful” atom in our world.
Attending to the Bomb in a MAD World
Our views of the nuclear issue haven’t always been so shortsighted. In the 1950s, editor and essayist Norman Cousins was typical in frequently tackling nuclear weapons issues for the widely read magazine Saturday Review. In the late 1950s and beyond, the Ban the Bomb movement forced the nuclear weapons issue onto the global agenda, gaining international attention when it was revealed that Strontium-90, a byproduct of nuclear testing, was making its way into mothers’ breast milk. In those years, the nuclear issue became personal as well as political.
In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy responded to public pressure by signing a treaty with Russia that banned atmospheric nuclear testing (and so further Strontium-90 fallout). He also gave a dramatic speech to the United Nations in which he spoke of the nuclear arms race as a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the human race, poised to destroy us at any moment.
Popular films like Fail-Safe and Dr. Strangelove captured both the dangers and the absurdity of the superpower arms race. And when, on the night of October 22, 1962, Kennedy took to the airwaves to warn the American people that a Cuban missile crisis was underway, that it was nuclear in nature, that a Soviet nuclear attack and a “full retaliatory strike on the Soviet Union” were possibilities -- arguably the closest we have come to a global nuclear war -- it certainly got everyone’s attention.
All things nuclear receded from public consciousness as the Vietnam War escalated and became the focus of antiwar activism and debate, but the nuclear issue came back with a vengeance in the Reagan years of the early 1980s when superpower confrontations once again were in the headlines. A growing anti-nuclear movement first focused on a near-disaster at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania (the Fukushima of its moment) and then on the superpower nuclear stand-off that went by the name of “mutually assured destruction” or, appropriately enough, the acronym MAD.
The Nuclear Freeze Campaign generated scores of anti-nuclear resolutions in cities and towns around the country, and in June 1982, a record-breaking million people gathered in New York City’s Central Park to call for nuclear disarmament. If anyone managed to miss this historic outpouring of anti-nuclear sentiment, ABC news aired a prime-time, made-for-TV movie, The Day After, that offered a remarkably graphic depiction of the missiles leaving their silos and the devastating consequences of a nuclear war. It riveted a nation.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of that planetary superpower rivalry less than a decade later took nuclear weapons out of the news. After all, with the Cold War over and no other rivals to the United States, who needed such weaponry or a MAD world either? The only problem was that the global nuclear landscape was left more or less intact, mission-less but largely untouched (with the proliferation of the weapons to other countries ongoing). Unacknowledged as it may be, in some sense MAD still exists, even if we prefer to pretend that it doesn’t.
A MAD World That No One Cares to Notice
More than 20 years later, the only nuclear issue considered worth the bother is stopping the spread of the bomb to a couple of admittedly scary and problematic regimes: Iran and North Korea. Their nuclear efforts make the news regularly and garner attention (to the point of obsession) in media and government circles. But remind me: when was the last time you read about what should be the ultimate (and obvious) goal -- getting rid of nuclear weapons altogether?
This has been our reality, despite President Obama’s pledge in Prague back in 2009 to seek “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” and the passage of a modest but important New START arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia in 2010. It remains our reality, despite a dawning realization in budget-anxious Washington that we may no longer be able to afford to throw money (as presently planned) at nuclear projects ranging from new ballistic-missile submarines to new facilities for building nuclear warhead components -- all of which are slated to keep the secret global nuclear arms race alive and well decades into the future.
If Iran is worth talking about -- and it is, given the implications of an Iranian bomb for further nuclear proliferation in the Middle East -- what about the arsenals of the actual nuclear states? What about Pakistan, a destabilizing country which has at least 110 nuclear warheads and counting, and continues to view India as its primary adversary despite U.S. efforts to get it to focus on al-Qaeda and the Taliban? What about India’s roughly 100 nuclear warheads, meant to send a message not just to Pakistan but to neighboring China as well? And will China hold pat at 240 or so nuclear weapons in the face of U.S. nuclear modernization efforts and plans to surround it with missile defense systems that could, in theory if not practice, blunt China’s nuclear deterrent force?
Will Israel continue to get a free pass on its officially unacknowledged possession of up to 200 nuclear warheads and its refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Who are France and the United Kingdom targeting with their forces of 300 and 225 nuclear warheads, respectively? How long will it take North Korea to develop miniaturized nuclear bombs and deploy them on workable, long-range missiles? And is New START the beginning or the end of mutual U.S. and Russian arms reductions?
Many of these questions are far more important than whether Iran gets the bomb, but they get, at best, only a tiny fraction of the attention that Tehran’s nuclear program is receiving. Concern about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and a fear of loose nukes in a destabilizing country is certainly part of the subtext of U.S. policy towards Islamabad. Little effort has been made of late, however, to encourage Pakistan and India to engage in talks aimed at reconciling their differences and opening the way for discussions on reducing their nuclear arsenals.
The last serious effort -- centered on the contentious issue of Kashmir -- reached its high point in 2007 under the regime of Pakistani autocrat Pervez Musharraf, and it went awry in the wake of political changes within his country and Pakistani-backed terrorist attacks on India. If anything, the tensions now being generated by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands and other affronts, intended or not, to Pakistan’s sovereignty have undermined any possibility of Washington brokering a rapprochement between Pakistan and India.
In addition, starting in the Bush years, the U.S. has been selling India nuclear fuel and equipment. This has been part of a controversial agreement that violates prior U.S. commitments to forgo nuclear trade with any nation that has refused to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (a pact India has not signed). Although U.S. assistance is nominally directed towards India’s civilian nuclear program, it helps free up resources that India can use to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal.
The “tilt” towards India that began during the Bush administration has continued under Obama. Only recently, for instance, a State Department official bragged about U.S. progress in selling advanced weaponry to New Delhi. Meanwhile, F-16s that Washington supplied to the Pakistani military back in the heyday of the U.S.-Pakistan alliance may have already been adapted to serve as nuclear delivery vehicles in the event of a nuclear confrontation with India.
China has long adhered to a de facto policy of minimum deterrence -- keeping just enough nuclear weapons to dissuade another nation from attacking it with nuclear arms. But this posture has not prevented Beijing from seeking to improve the quality of its long-range ballistic missiles. And if China feels threatened by continued targeting by the United States or by sea-based American interceptors deployed to the region, it could easily increase its arsenal to ensure the “safety” of its deterrent. Beijing will also be keeping a watchful eye on India as its nuclear stockpile continues to grow.
Ever since Ronald Reagan -- egged on by mad scientists like Edward Teller and right-wing zealots like Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham -- pledged to build a perfect anti-nuclear shield that would render nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete,” missile defense has had a powerful domestic constituency in the United States. This has been the case despite the huge cost and high-profile failures of various iterations of the missile defense concept.
The only concrete achievement of three decades of missile defense research and development so far has been to make Russia suspicious of U.S. intentions. Even now, rightly or not, Russia is extremely concerned about the planned installation of U.S. missile defenses in Europe that Washington insists will be focused on future Iranian nuclear weapons. Moscow feels that they could just as easily be turned on Russia. If President Obama wins a second term, he will undoubtedly hope to finesse this issue and open the door to further joint reductions in nuclear forces, or possibly even consider reducing this country’s nuclear arsenal significantly, whether or not Russia initially goes along.
Recent bellicose rhetoric from Moscow underscores its sensitivity to the missile defense issue, which may yet scuttle any plans for serious nuclear negotiations. Given that the U.S. and Russia together possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, an impasse between the two nuclear superpowers (even if they are not “super” in other respects) will undercut any leverage they might have to encourage other nations to embark on a path leading to global nuclear reductions.
In his 1960s ode to nuclear proliferation, “Who’s Next,” Tom Lehrer included the line “Israel’s getting tense, wants one in self-defense.” In fact, Israel was the first -- and for now the only -- Middle Eastern nation to get the bomb, with reports that it can deliver a nuclear warhead not only from land-based missiles but also via cruise missiles launched from nuclear submarines. Whatever it may say about Israel’s technical capabilities in the military field, Israel’s nuclear arsenal may also be undermining its defense, particularly if it helps spur Iran to build its own nukes. And irresponsible talk by some Israeli officials about attacking Iran only increases the chance that Tehran will decide to go nuclear.
It is hard to handicap the grim, “unthinkable” but hardly inconceivable prospect that August 9, 1945, will not prove to be the last time that nuclear weapons are used on this planet. Perhaps some of the loose nuclear materials or inadequately guarded nuclear weapons littering the globe -- particularly, but not solely, in the states of the former Soviet Union -- might fall into the hands of a terrorist group. Perhaps an Islamic fundamentalist government will seize power in Pakistan and go a step too far in nuclear brinkmanship with India over Kashmir. Maybe the Israeli leadership will strike out at Iran with nuclear weapons in an effort to keep Tehran from going nuclear. Maybe there will be a miscommunication or false alarm that will result in the United States or Russia launching one of their nuclear weapons that are still in Cold War-style, hair-trigger mode.
Although none of these scenarios, including a terrorist nuclear attack, may be as likely as nuclear alarmists sometimes suggest, as long as the world remains massively stocked with nuclear weapons, one of them -- or some other scenario yet to be imagined -- is always possible. The notion that Iran can’t be trusted with such a weapon obscures a larger point: given their power to destroy life on a monumental scale, no individual and no government can ultimately be trusted with the bomb.
The only way to be safe from nuclear weapons is to get rid of them -- not just the Iranian one that doesn’t yet exist, but all of them. It’s a daunting task. It’s also a subject that’s out of the news and off anyone’s agenda at the moment, but if it is ever to be achieved, we at least need to start talking about it. Soon.
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (7-5-12)
Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine.
In November 2004, a sad but very familiar scene played itself out: A sick, 75-year-old man who had been living in squalor for several years after an extremely difficult life -- including a near-death experience in the Libyan desert -- finally passed away. Doctors at the Percy hospital in France determined he died of natural causes: a stroke caused by an unidentified infection. As is so often the case, human life ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.
But, of course, this wasn't just any ailing and frail 75-year-old man. It was Yasir Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, president of the Palestinian Authority, and national symbol of the Palestinian cause. This was the man who had overseen the revival of the Palestinian political and national identity, and who held a certain iconic status even for his most bitter Palestinian critics.
From the outset, there was a refusal to believe that such a "great man" could have died a squalid, mundane death. For many, his ending had to be heroic and romantic. He must have been assassinated. Anything less wouldn't do justice to his mythological, larger-than-life status. As early as November 2004, Palestinian journalist Maher Ibrahim wrote in the Dubai-based newspaper Al-Bayan, "Israeli Radiation Poisoning Killed President Yasser Arafat." A Palestinian grocer, Terry Atta, reflected public sentiment that has been widespread since Arafat's death when he recently told Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper, "We all knew it was poisoning."...
SOURCE: Lee Ruddin (7-6-12)
Lee Ruddin is Roundup Editor at HNN. He lives in England.
The cost to the British taxpayer of supporting the monarchy rose marginally during the last financial year, according to Buckingham Palace accounts published this week, with the Queen’s official expenditure increasing by £200,000 from £32.1 million in 2010/11 to £32.3 million in 2011/12. Despite a 0.6% increase meaning that the Queen still only costs the taxpayer 52p per person, republicans have been quick to give their two cents’ worth on what Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith describes as ‘one of the most profligate institutions in the world’.
Whilst I share Smith’s disbelief that ‘it costs the taxpayer more to send [Prince] Charles to [post-riot] east London than it does to send the Prime Minister to Afghanistan’ and agree that ‘most people, monarchist and republican alike, would find that impossible to justify,’ I do not believe ‘Palace spin doctors’ are required to illuminate the necessity of the Queen’s trips abroad. I say this since ITV3’s documentary Elizabeth II – The Diplomat Queen does the job for them and provides all the ‘evidence’ and ‘benefit’ (if not ‘cost’) ‘analysis’ which Smith demands.
The Queen has made an incredible 261 official visits overseas to 116 different countries. Of the 96 State Visits until her Diamond Jubilee year, two particularly stand out: her October 1986 and October 1994 visits to China and the Russian Federation respectively. The rise of the east forced Margaret Thatcher, an ardent foe of communism, to deploy Her Majesty to communist China on behalf of the Government. Thatcher’s Conservative successor, John Major, likewise, deployed eastwards what Sir Roderic Lyne (former Ambassador to Moscow, 2000-2004) refers to as ‘Britain’s number one diplomat.’
The benefits of such visits are evident for all to see. Less than a decade after Elizabeth II became the first the British sovereign to step foot on Russian soil, she played host – in June 2003 – to Vladimir Putin, the first Russian leader to be invited to Britain for a full State Visit in 114 years in an attempt, Lyne recounts, ‘to help Russia establish itself as a democracy [and] as a free-trading nation.’ Either side of Putin’s presidential visit, Chinese Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao also visited Buckingham Palace (in 1999 and 2005 respectively) as a symbol of the growing trade links and to cement capitalist ties.
The most beneficial of all, though, would have to be last year’s State Visit to the Republic of Ireland, as evidenced by the recent handshake between Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness and the Queen, the preeminent symbol of British rule in Ulster. The latter’s conciliatory words and gestures on her acclaimed visit won over the former, paving the way for last month’s historic moment: a moment that marked the end of chapter in the labored history of Anglo-Irish relations. ‘Politicians don’t open doors like the Queen does’, Camilla Tominey, Royal Editor at the Sunday Express, affirms in the hour-long programme and the PM’s official spokesman reaffirmed this only recently when he said that the Queen had ‘taken relations between the two countries to a new level’.
The Queen has ‘been an inspirational and unmatched example of the highest ideals of our society,’ Foreign Secretary William Hague said in his Lancaster House Speech, displaying ‘dignity in the face of responsibility and adversity [and] selfless devotion to duty.’ Shaking the blood-soaked hand of a die-hard republican in Belfast who was a commander in the terror group which murdered her cousin, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, was an astonishing act of forgiveness and one most people, either monarchist or republican, should applaud.
It is for her role as host to visiting heads of state, however, which leads me to agree with Hague that ‘Our Queen is the unsurpassed Briton.’ I say this for the simple reason that, as significant as the State Visits to China and Russia were in bringing about return ones from communist-cum-capitalist premiers, playing host to the German Head of State and meeting a new American one had far-reaching consequences. President Theodore Heuss’s 1958 State Visit was, for instance, the first time in half a century that a German president visited the UK (the last being the Kaiser, Edward VII’s guest, in 1907) and it helped Britain and Germany, in the Queen’s words, “to forge anew the bonds of amity and peace.” In the post-war world, Anglo-German harmony was indispensable to the pursuit of peace and the Queen (the last person to perpetuate enmity, as evidenced above) showed Heuss that both monarchs were at one in determination to avoid the scourge of war.
Although Britain and America fought on the same side during World War II, Anglo-American relations were at a post-war low as John F. Kennedy touched down on British soil for a private visit in 1961. There had been, Sir Christopher Meyer (former Ambassador to Washington, 1997-2003) reminds viewers, a ‘row immediately after the war about money, and what we owed them, and would they give us a loan... Then Suez.’
It was a good job, then – at a difficult time of austerity and strained relations – that Britain’s Royal Family connected instantaneously with America’s own glamorous first family at an event which saw a Commander-in-Chief entertained in Buckingham Palace for the first time in over forty years (since Woodrow Wilson dined with George V back in 1918). Despite JFK’s assassination in November 1963, though, and the fact that the Queen did not meet his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson (which contributor Hugo Vickers, royal historian, erroneously says she did when stating that ‘she’s met every president of the United States, back to President Truman’), Meyer believes this period marked ‘a new dawn in Anglo-American relations.’
That may be so since it was during this time that America took over the mantle of the British Empire and became the preeminent economic power of the day. Yet despite not being able to ‘afford that many aeroplanes [or] many aircraft carriers’, as Lyne points out, the Queen continues to project herself around the world, as ‘an aspect of British soft power,’ staying true to the words she uttered to President Eisenhower on her first State Visit to the U.S. in 1957: ‘On the maintenance of understanding between us, the future of the free world depends.’
Republicans prefer elected heads of state and yet the pricless – not pricey – work Elizabeth II carries out should make them think again about the Diamond Queen as their best friend. ‘Men grow cold/As girls grow old/And we all lose our charms in the end,’ as Marilyn Monroe said in the film Gentleman Prefer Blondes, when singing the song “Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” so anti-monarchists must stop thinking that an elected head of state would surpass the unsurpassed monarch.
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (7-3-12)
Grover G. Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform and co-author, with John Lott, of Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future.
SOURCE: American Spectator (7-2-12)
Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, Wilhelm Röpke's Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America's Future.
SOURCE: National Interest (7-3-12)
Paul D. Miller is an assistant professor of international-security studies at the National Defense University. He previously served as director for Afghanistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007–2009. The views expressed here are his own.
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (7-2-12)
The author is a serving American Army Colonel. In 2006 he commanded a combat battalion in West Baghdad. He holds a PhD in history from Stanford University.
SOURCE: Washington Times (7-2-12)
Thomas J. Basile served as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from 2003-2004.
SOURCE: NYT (6-30-12)
Maureen Dowd is a columnist for the NYT.
...In leading a reconciliation with Ireland, reaching a white-gloved hand across the bloodstained tide, the queen has restored a luster dimmed by her 1992 “annus horribilis” and her insensitivity after the death of Princess Diana.
Her elevation to Ireland’s Prodigal Mother began last year when Liz, as The Irish Daily Star calls her, arrived for a four-day visit to the Irish Republic — the first by a British monarch in a century — wearing an emerald green suit, surrounded by ladies-in-waiting not reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” but wearing 40 shades of green....
Niall O’Dowd, the editor of New York’s Irish Voice and Irish Central Web site, was here and was struck by the utterly changed world.
“This will end Irish and British what-abouting,” he told me. “What about my suffering? Who suffered the most in this conflict? We must just say one death was too many and all are responsible. There’s no moral high ground here.”...
SOURCE: NYT (6-30-12)
Bill Scher is the executive editor of LiberalOasis.com and host of the LiberalOasis Radio Show podcast.
PRESIDENT OBAMA has endured much criticism of his legislative skills from his fellow progressives. His conciliatory approach has been compared unfavorably with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s gleeful pugnacity and Lyndon B. Johnson’s relentless arm-twisting. His willingness to strike deals with corporations has been tagged “business as usual.” Many progressives, frustrated over the past three years, have concluded that the political system is fundamentally broken because corporate power has been allowed to suffocate popular liberal policies.
But the Supreme Court’s upholding of Mr. Obama’s health care law reminds us that the president’s approach has achieved significant results. If his liberal critics paused to assess how he achieved such results, they would not see a system paralyzed by corporations; they would see that the most liberal reforms in more than 40 years have been brought about because Mr. Obama views corporate power as a force to bargain with, not an enemy to vanquish.
The necessity of corporate support for, or at least acquiescence to, liberal policies is not a new development in the history of American liberalism. Indeed it has been one of its hallmarks....
SOURCE: Lee Ruddin (7-2-12)
Lee Ruddin is Roundup Editor at HNN. He lives in England.
For all the talk surrounding the rise of the East and interest in the “new” economic powers, the “special relationship” between older, Western states continues to interest authors and correspondents alike.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was as good a reason as any for an op-ed column, and a fair few were penned and posted online. Writing for The Huffington Post (UK), Lord Alan Watson of Richmond, co-author of The Queen and the U.S.A., talks about Elizabeth II’s ‘feat of monarchical longevity’ while H. Edward Mann, his co-author, applauds (in the same “internet newspaper”) her ‘life-long and constant support’ for Britain’s transatlantic cousin. President Obama, himself, weighed in with a video message saying that the Queen was a ‘living witness’ to the strength of the Washington-Whitehall alliance and the ‘chief source of its resilience.’
A month hardly goes by without a book being published on Churchill and May was no different with Peter Clarke’s Mr Churchill’s Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book that Defined the ‘Special Relationship’ hitting shelves. The former Cambridge don’s hardback is an engaging tome about the four-volume literary work A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (published between 1956 and 1958) that ostensibly undergirds the Anglo-American relationship and is certainly worth a read.
As frequent as the publication of new tracts on the theme of Anglo-American relations are, though, it is the number of news reports which quickly overwhelm the most ardent Americanophile: If you are not learning about the forthcoming disclosure of George Bush and Tony Blair’s pre-Iraq conversation, David Cameron and Barack Obama agreeing on the need for an ‘immediate plan’ to resolve the Eurozone crisis and the latter snubbing the former’s ‘problem[atic]’ austerity measures, you are digesting quotes from General Sir David Richards about Britain being forced to abandon the “special relationship” with America due to enforced military cuts, reading that the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) has reaffirmed the Organization of American States’ resolution calling for Falklands negotiations or watching Iain Duncan Smith testify (as the first foreign Secretary of State to do so) before the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.
Those in need of some sort of Anglo-American fix would have found it hard-going last month (either because it was the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 or, like me, because there was so little commentary on the bicentenary) with the wall-to-wall coverage of “Watergate” focusing purely on how events forty years ago changed American journalism. Do not get me wrong, what Los Angeles Times columnist Matt Pearce says about “the affair” being ‘a landmark moment in modern American history’ is a given. Yet a more fascinating perspective relates to how domestic considerations influenced foreign policy and how the political scandal led Richard Nixon to abandon what I refer to as a consultative relationship with Britain.
It has become a truism that the “special relationship” reached its nadir with Edward Heath and Nixon residing in Number 10 and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue respectively. This is correct, but only to a degree, since relations between the 46th Prime Minister and 37th President started off “special” enough. Heath was, despite voluminous commentary to the contrary, anything but anti-American; he only eschewed relations with the United States in favour of a whole-hearted commitment to the European Economic Community because he fundamentally believed that the Europeans should shoulder more of the burden within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and become a true partner of the Americans.
His vigour as a Cold War warrior and support on Vietnam (albeit verbal) certainly did not go unnoticed by Messrs. Nixon and Henry Kissinger, either, with the National Security Advisor referring, in December 1972, to Heath as “the honorable exception” when it came to European leaders not backing the President’s “Linebacker II” bombing campaign. Bilateral relations were so “special” going into the spring of 1973 that Kissinger consulted, much to the annoyance of State Department officials, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Deputy Under-Secretary Thomas Brimelow to help draft the Soviet-American declaration renouncing nuclear war. ‘Far from being bit players lurking in the wings of the Cold War,’ Stephen R. Twigge writes in Diplomatic History journal, ‘British officials were integral to the negotiations and largely responsible for drafting the treaty.’ But as Twigge goes on to explain in “Operation Hullabaloo: Henry Kissinger, British Diplomacy, and the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War”,
‘[T]he dictates imposed in maintaining an exclusive bilateral relationship with Washington were often at variance with the need to develop a European security identity. The strain soon became evident and placed considerable stress on the transatlantic relationship. The outbreak of the fourth Arab-Israeli [W]ar in October 1973 exacerbated these divisions and, according to some commentators, posed the severest threat to alliance unity in its history.’
The FCO official makes a very important point here. Although the Nixon administration had a “cavalier attitude to consulting with allies” (as John Graham, Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Alec Douglas-Home, said in the wake of Nixon’s opening to China in July 1971), unilaterally ending the direct convertibility of the dollar to gold (which Heath thought “destroyed” exchange rates and undermined the international system) and pursing a unilateralist line on the Indo-Pakistan War, the secret nuclear alert of 25 October 1973 (less than a week after Nixon dismissed the independent special prosecutor and accepted the resignations of both the Deputy and Attorney General), which Heath only heard about on a news agency wire, caused the PM to express his displeasure at the C-in-C’s behaviour in no uncertain terms:
‘We have to face the fact that the American action has done immense harm, I believe, both in this country and worldwide. We must not underestimate the impact on the rest of the world. An American President in the Watergate position apparently prepared to go to such lengths at a moment’s notice without consultation with his allies … without any justification in the military situation at the time.’
Files suggest that Kissinger, the then newly-appointed Secretary of State, misled the British ambassador in Washington, Lord Cromer, over the U.S. alert, notwithstanding the fact that the worldwide nuclear stand-off (in response to Leonid Brezhnev’s threat to intervene in the Yom Kippur War) covered American troops stationed in Britain. This action, coming at the height of the Watergate scandal, was in stark contrast to pre-Watergate reports when, Cromer recalled (Mary Elise Sarotte informs readers of Fredrik Logevall and Andrew Preston’s (eds.) Nixon in the World: American Foreign Relations, 1969-1977), “the most powerful nation in the world invok[ed] the aid of a foreign government to do its drafting for it, while totally excluding its own Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The U.S. decision to unilaterally move its military to Defense Condition III (DEFCON III) was not an isolated one but merely added insult to injury after Kissinger called for a “Year of Europe” on 23 April 1973, a week after presidential aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were implicated in the Watergate cover up. ‘For Henry Kissinger to announce a Year of Europe without consulting any of us was rather like me’, Heath wrote in his memoirs (The Couse of My Life), ‘standing between the lions in Trafalgar Square and announcing that we were embarking on a year to save America!’
Readers may be forgiven for thinking that the Anglo-American consultative relationship ended forty years ago with the Watergate scandal. Yet the fourth volume of Alastair Campbell’s diary, The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq, illustrates that post-imperial Britain continues to be consulted by post-Watergate America and that Blair – like Brimelow three decades before him – played a quite ‘extraordinary’ role as chief foreign-policy consultant – at the expense of the Vice-President’s Office as well as the State Department in this instance – when it came to taking the UN route over Iraq. After reading what Amir Taheri has to say in Standpoint magazine (UK), about post-Saddam Iraq ‘remain[ing] the best hope for democratisation in the Middle East,’ it is my sincere hope that such consultations remain a constant in the Anglo-American relationship.
SOURCE: NYT (7-1-12)
Paul Krugman is a columnist for the NYT and an economist at Princeton University.
Over the past few months I’ve read a number of optimistic assessments of the prospects for Europe. Oddly, however, none of these assessments argue that Europe’s German-dictated formula of redemption through suffering has any chance of working. Instead, the case for optimism is that failure — in particular, a breakup of the euro — would be a disaster for everyone, including the Germans, and that in the end this prospect will induce European leaders to do whatever it takes to save the situation.
I hope this argument is right. But every time I read an article along these lines, I find myself thinking about Norman Angell.
Who? Back in 1910 Angell published a famous book titled “The Great Illusion,” arguing that war had become obsolete. Trade and industry, he pointed out, not the exploitation of subject peoples, were the keys to national wealth, so there was nothing to be gained from the vast costs of military conquest....
We all know what came next....
SOURCE: WSJ (7-1-12)
Mr. Boskin is a professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush.