It occurred to me the other day, as I remarked to a contemporary of mine, that this is the first time in my life that I am older than the President. Came close a couple of times - Bill and George - but they had me by a couple of years. A bunch of you reading this, I know, can say the same. Feels a little weird, doesn't it? It might be more important than it appears at first glance, too.
June 19, 2009
June 17, 2009
It's been a lot of years since I read Il Principe, Machiavelli's masterwork on political science (incorrectly translated as "The Prince"). Nick's basic thesis is that wielding power is not for the faint of heart; if you go about it timidly, you're certain to be deposed. Thus, an effective and durable leader must be ruthless from the beginning. Especially at the beginning, in fact, because that's when the leader is most vulnerable to overthrow. Machiavelli espoused a lot of actions which don't really fly in modern democracies with functioning judicial systems; he advocated, for example, that the New Prince, if he's interested in fundamental change, should act immediately to neutralize not only his political opponents but also his political allies who might rise up as rivals. And when he said "neutralize," you know, he didn't mean reduce their salaries. Stalin was said to be a great student of Machiavelli's work, which is why his inner circle came to appreciate that it was only a matter of time before Joe turned on them too.
June 16, 2009
So now Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has stated in a "court" document (in a kangaroo forum, no doubt delivered by diplomatic "pouch") that he lied while under torture about a lot of things, including his knowledge as to the exact whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. This one should probably go in the "Duh" file, but while we're thinking about it: didn't we just find out that the Bush Administration was waterboarding detainees in order to establish a link between 9-11 and Iraq? Thus, how major a leap of deduction is it to wonder whether the Bush Administration, having already invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, was looking for additional support for its contention that Afghanistan was essential to the planning and training of the 9-11 hijackers, and tortured KSM and others to get it?
June 15, 2009
Having become semi-addicted to reading David Halberstam's histories of the recent American past, I'm now deep into his fascinating The Fifties, which just happens to be the decade that my consciousness was formed. It's still early in the decade, as far as my bookmark is concerned, because those years between 1950 and 1954 were chockablock with tidal changes in the American political landscape as the United States assumed its role as the only real economic superpower in the world, and, for a while at least, the only nation with the H-Bomb. The Republicans were able at last to throw off about 20 years or so of complete electoral frustration, the two decades between the first election of FDR in 1932 and Ike's election in 1952.