POLITICAL LEADERS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

A Christmas Carol

By: Charles Dickens

Narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Cranham, Roger Allam, Brendan Coyle, Miriam Margolyes, Time Mcinnerny, Jamie Glover, Emily Bruni, Jenna Coleman, Joshua James, Hugh Skinner

Charles Dickens, Author.

Dickens appeal in the 21st century is magnified by economic change.

The industrial revolution, like the tech revolution, put people out of work. In Dickens’ time, Great Britain’s and the world’s industrial growth demanded change. 

Today’s tech revolution demands the same.  The change required is different in one sense and the same in another.

The industrial revolution occurred in a time of scarcity while the tech revolution takes place in a time of abundance.  Both revolutions require training for new kinds of jobs.

Smog plagued Great Britain as it grew in the18th century. 

(This is smog in today’s Beijing.)

Dickens is born in 1812 and dies in 1870.  He witnesses and writes of the squalor that existed in London during his adult years.  “A Christmas Carol” is one of many stories he wrote that reflects on the human cost of economic change.

London fog 1952

In 1952, the streets of London were enveloped in a fog caused by coal used for domestic heat and industrial production. 

An incident of London fog in the 20th century is comparable, on a local scale, to the world’s pollution crises today.  An estimated 4,000 people were said to have died, with 100,000 made ill because of unusual windless conditions in that year. 

Today, air pollution is compounded by global warming. 

“A Christmas Carol” is a reminder of the damage world leaders can do by ignoring the plight of those who are most directly impacted by economic change.  Too many American leaders are acting like Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley by ignoring the Bob Cratchit s and Tiny Tim s of the world. 

For those who may not remember, Scrooge and Marley were capitalists who believe all that matters in life is personal wealth.  Marley comes back as a ghost to offer Scrooge a picture of past, present, and future Christmases, based on how he lives the remainder of his life.

Todays’ political leaders are in Jacob Marley’s ghostly presence with a chance to change the future for the Crachits, Tiny Tims, and wage earners of the world.  The world needs leaders who are not blinded by the allure of money, power, and prestige at the expense of the jobless, homeless, and disenfranchised.

TESTING DEMOCRACY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Price of Peace

By: Zachary D. Carter

                                                  Narrated by : Robert Petkoff

Zachary D. Carter (Author, journalist.)

Zachary Carter has written an interesting biography of John Maynard Keynes.

Carter details Keynes’ personal life with an interpretation of Keynesian economics. This is a a history of a man of many parts that explains Keynes economic beliefs and their evolution and interpretation by later economists.

Though Carter is not an economist, his characterization of Keynesian economics has meaning for the world’s recovery from Covid19.  Government action in this century would be highly benefited by Keynes’ post WWI and WWII economic policy recommendations.

Carter notes Keynesian economics, though more widely adopted by liberals, springs from the conservative and moral philosophical beliefs of Edmund Burke, an Irish Statesman who lived from 1729-1797.

Burke’s conservative credentials reject the rights of American colonies to claim independence from Britain.  Burke abhors the French revolution and French citizens belief that they have a moral right to overthrow a monarchy.  In contrast to this conservative view of the world, Burke plays a leading role in arguments against executive authority of a King and rejects support of the slave trade when it is a lucrative source of income for Britain.  Though clearly a conservative thinker, Burke joins a liberal group of leading intellectuals and artists in the 18th century, led by Samuel Johnson.

Carter notes Keynes identifies with Burke’s conservative belief in a government that serves the best interest of the people, whether authoritarian or democratic.  Keynes never abandons Burke’s conservative belief in national government’s right to rule within the confines of human morality, a morality that relies on betterment of all economic classes of the state.

Interestingly, Carter notes Keynes, like Burke, joins leading intellectuals and artists known as the Bloomsbury Group that formed in the early 1900s. 

The 10 core members were Clive and Venessa Bell, E.M. Forster, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, John Maynard Keynes, Desmond MacCarthy, Lytton Strachey, and Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

The first half of Carter’s book addresses Keynes’ rise to fame.  Keynes is called upon by the British government during WWI for advice on how to finance the war against Germany.  Keynes role becomes more pronounced with war reparations negotiation after the Kaiser’s defeat in WWI.

Keynes works with J. P. Morgan and the banking industry in the United States to finance much of the Allies needs during and after WWI. 

Carter explains Keynes tries to ameliorate the demands of the Allied powers for reparations from the defeated Central Powers. Keynes tries but is unable to gain the cooperation of America as the only country capable of backing such an unreasonable reparation from the war’s estimated cost.

Carter illustrates how the seeds for WWII are sown by Allied powers that unreasonably expect WWI’s defeated nations to pay for all financial costs of a war that Britain, France, and its allies had won.  That cost is many times the annual GDP of the Central Powers which were already bankrupted by war. 

Keynes is shown by Carter to be an astute economic and political theorist that understood the tenor of his time and the price needed to pay for peace.  However, Keynes’ prescient understanding of post WWI economies fails to persuade political leaders in Britain, France, and America to pay that price.  The stage is set for the rise of Nazi Germany by the economic intransigence of WWI’s Allied Powers.

The surprising perspective given by Carter’s biography is that Keynes’ economic theory is grounded in the conservatism of Edmund Burke.  Today’s view of Keynes is that faltering economies can spend their way out of depression by deficit spending, a highly liberal political and economic theory.  What Carter explains is that Keynes argues economic policy should be designed to benefit the general welfare of the public.  Keynes looked at economic policy impacts on all classes of citizens when developing his economic theory. If the private sector creates jobs and the general public’s economic health is improving, government that governs least is considered best by Keynes. 

However, Keynes argues-when the welfare of the public is harmed, the government must act to regulate unfair practices of the private sector that diminishes the economic health of the public, particularly the poor.

The world economy is in crises because of the effects of Covid19.  The private sector is not responding to the consequence of the Covid19′ crises just as it did not adequately respond to the depression in 1929. 

Johns Hopkins Resource Center reports that worldwide–there are 4,901,012 citizens dead from Covid19 as of October 2021.

The economic consequence of those deaths and fear of further death feed an economic storm that continues to wreck havoc on nation-state economies.

Carter’s history of Keynes illustrates why Biden’s plan for reinvestment in America is important. The government stepped in with employment programs like WPA that began a  recovery for America after the 1929 crash.  One may argue that is where America is today.  It is not just the aftereffects of Covid19.  The world’s recovery depends on a transition from an industrial to a technological economy.  The private sector is not investing enough in that transition.  Partly because of industries resistance to change, but also because of their inability to privately finance the transition.

Carter notes Keynes insists on free trade and suggests restraint of trade unduly raises prices for commodities for those least likely able to pay. 

Tariffs only weaken private sector innovation and reduce the general public’s welfare.

Keynes is channeling Adam Smith (1723-1790) in his belief about free trade.

Carter infers Keynesian theory would allow government to help private industry innovation when harmed by foreign producers that can produce product at a lower cost.  To Keynes, government help should not be in the form of tariffs but in investment in change by the industry that is affected.  An example is in government investment in transition to work on the environment or service industry at an employee level of investment and training. 

Carter notes that Keynes insists that government investment be limited to those areas that are not being addressed by the private sector.  The obvious example is public works investments by the government in roads, bridges, water, and sewer services. 

Carter explains Keynes argues that when the private sector is benefiting the public through their actions, no government programs should compete.  However, when the public is not being served by the private sector in areas of human need, Keynes argues government should intervene.  Homelessness is a case in point.  How can the richest nation in the world ignore the plight of homelessness?

When the public is not being served by the private sector in areas of human need, Keynes argues government should intervene.  Homelessness is a case in point.

The last chapters of Carter’s book reflect on Keynes efforts at Bretton Woods to create an economic system to insure world economic stability. Keynes is mostly unsuccessful in his idea of creating an international banking system that would be a safety valve for nation-state economic crises. With a brief evaluation of economists that distort Keynes ideas in the late twentieth century, Carter completes his history of the price of peace.

Carter concludes with the thought that this is a dark time for Democracy.

He offers a brief evaluation of modern Democratic and Republican Presidents that suggest neither clearly understood Keynesian economics. Carter decries the mismanagement of the economy by Kennedy, Clinton, the Bushes, and Obama because they fail to see the impact of their policies on human inequality.

Keynes fundamental belief is that all governments must evaluate the affect of their administrations on the poor and middle class because they are the engines of prosperity.

It is an investment that would lessen inequality and raise the standard of living for millions of Americans. It is a government policy grounded in Keynesian economics that addresses the fundamental purpose of lifting all boats in a storm driven economy.

President Biden’s 3.5 trillion dollar investment in American Democracies’ future offers some hope.

Carter reminds listener/readers of the history of the 20th century in this excellent biography of Keynes.  Carter’s biography reminds one of Keynes’ contributions to economics in the way of Newton’s contributions to physics.  Both were geniuses.  Both were ahead of their time and laid the groundwork for fundamental understanding of their disciplines.

AMERICAN SPIES

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War-A Tragedy in Three Acts

By: Scott Anderson

                                  Narrated by : Robertson Dean, Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson (Author)

“The Quiet Americans” is an investigative reporter’s view of the American spy service.  It is written by a veteran war correspondent and son of a former foreign aid officer.  The author, Scott Anderson, is raised in East Asia.  He reviews America’s spy network during and after WWII. 

The American independent spy agency is formed after WWII to provide intelligence on growing clandestine activities of the U.S.S.R.  The author notes there were intelligence operations during WWII, but they were not independent.  During the war, Intelligence services were defined and executed by the military.  It is only after WWII that an independent branch is formed along the lines of British intelligence.

In Anderson’s opinion, President Harry Truman is an inept manager of the nascent American intelligence service. 

 There are several surprising facts and interpretations of history compiled by Anderson.    Kennan is characterized as a great diplomatic analyst, but capable of lying to protect his reputation. 

George Kennan is viewed as an influential diplomat in the creation of what becomes known as the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Dulles brothers solidify the role of the CIA in American clandestine operations in the world.  Their modus vivendi for CIA operations prevails today.  Their intent is to have an agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully.  However, Anderson shows their action belies their intent.

Dulles Brothers (John Foster on the right, Allen on the left.)

Parenthetically, as an example of Stalinist ideology, Anderson notes Adolph Hitler’s remains were not found in a burned bunker in which Hitler is alleged to have committed suicide.  His burned remains were secreted by Joseph Stalin and placed in an archive in the U.S.S.R.  Stalin’s motive for secrecy is unknown.

 

An independent spy agency is initially opposed by Truman, and perennially opposed by FBI Director Hoover. 

J. Edgar Hoover–Director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972. (Died in May of 1972 at the age of 77)

Anderson notes Ambassador Kennan’s prescient analysis (the long memorandum) reflects the duplicitous nature of Joseph Stalin.  Kennan recommends a surreptitious and aggressive American containment policy enacted through the practice of espionage.  Kennan plays an important role in the formation of the American Intelligence service.  The first director of this operation is a close friend of Kennan’s, a man named Frank Wisner.

“The Quiet Americans” Anderson profiles are Edmund Michael Burke, Frank Wisner, Peter Sichel, and Edward Lansdale.  In their stories, Anderson reveals the beginnings of the CIA and a history of minor espionage successes and significant failures.  In the back of a listener’s mind is the consequence of American espionage—their cost in human lives and dollars, and American truths about what measures are taken to presumably secure freedom and equality in other countries.

             

This is not a pretty picture.  American efforts to change the world for the better through covert action is shown to be, at best, questionable, and at worst horribly misguided.  As an American, it seems clear that most covert activity is meant to do good but the definition of good is distorted by human nature.

America’s role in Albania, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan raises the hopes of many but at a cost of too many lives and dollars.  Hope of many of these country’s citizens becomes despair. How many lives and dollars could have been saved and repurposed for freedom and equality, rather than destruction of cultural difference.  What Anderson makes clear is that national purpose (American or other) is distorted when it is undisclosed because human beings are seduced by self-interest, whether that interest is money, power, and/or prestige. 

Government disclosure offers visibility to the public.  Disclosure offers opportunity for public  influence on government policy.  America prides itself on being a government of, and by the people–through popularly elected representatives.  Covert government action that is undisclosed to elected representatives gives no opportunity for citizens to influence government policy. 

The idea of full disclosure discounts poor intelligence like that given about “weapons of mass destruction” that compelled America to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein.  False disclosure by American intelligence misled both citizens and elected officials about what America should do in Iraq.

Dulles Brothers (John Foster on the right, Allen on the left.)

Anderson’s exposure of John Foster Dulles’s tenure as Secretary of State and his brother Allen, as the fifth CIA Director, exemplifies the worst characteristics of covert activities without oversight by elected representatives. 

Anderson’s view is America’s opportunity to change the course of history after Stalin’s death is lost because of Dwight Eisenhower’s actions based on the Dulles brother’s political influence. 

To Anderson, the course of the U.S.S.R. and American relationship may have been entirely different if the Dulles’s had not run Eisenhower down the wrong diplomatic road.  It is impossible to judge what may have happened if a different course had been taken, but Anderson infers the Dulles’ Road led to years of lost opportunity.  On the other hand, hindsight is always more perfect than foresight.

Though Burke, Wisner, Sichel, and Lansdale are great patriots, Anderson implies their patriotism and actions often failed to serve American ideals.

Burke’s extraordinary life led him to Italy, Albania, and Germany. He served his country by trying to save Albania from communism, and Germany from further encroachment by the U.S.S.R. At best, his success is limited to non-existent. Albania remained in the fold of communism and success in Germany is the split of Berlin from the eastern block at the expense of food deliveries by air and an agreed upon East and West Berlin.

Wisner kept the light on for covert operations of what became the CIA but failed to get the top job or temper the excesses of secret operations.

Sichel survives them all but appears to compromise a principle of not using bad actors who participated in the holocaust that murdered over 6,000,000 Jews and Nazi resistors.

And finally Wisner, who manages to gain the trust of Philippine and Vietnamese leaders, many of which America abandons by leaving them to fend for themselves.

Trapped, as all humans are, by the times in which they live, they were the instruments of many wasted lives.  How many people must die because of undisclosed covert Intelligence operations? 

Listening to “The Quiet Americans” makes one understand how important freedom of the press is to America.  

Americans must lead by example, not by covert action. More recent episodes in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan show America continues to ignore history’s lessons.

TIBET

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Eat the Buddha

By: Barbara Demick

                                       Narrated by : Cassandra Campbell

Barbara Demick gives listeners a picture of Tibet with a darkness that rivals the narrative she creates for North Korea in “Nothing to Envy”. 

“Eat the Buddha” is a reminder of China’s insistence on Tibet’s acceptance of Communist authority in the face of Buddhist and Tibetan ethnic and religious identity.  Like the Uyghurs in mainland China, Tibetans practice a religion that conflicts with Communist atheism.  Unlike Islamist Uyghurs, Buddhists eschew violence against oppressors.

Demick addresses self-immolation as an example of Tibetan protest which does not harm others but only one self. Well over 100 men and 28 women have set themselves aflame.

Demick bases “Eat the Buddha” on living seven years in Beijing, with personal visits to Tibet. She interviews Tibetans and Chinese, including the Dalia Lama who is exiled in India. 

Demick interviews many who consider Buddhist teaching a positive and integral part of their lives and culture. 

Demick’s history of the treatment of Tibetan citizens under Maoist communism reminds one of America’s treatment of Indian tribes in America.  Mao tries to erase Tibet’s nomadic culture by murdering Tibetan leaders and excommunicating the Dali Llama. Mao’s object is to thwart the influence of Buddhist religious belief and indoctrinate Tibetan citizens into the ways of Communism.

Mao era attack of Buddhism during the Cultural Revolution.

Demick tells the story of Maoist cadre’s eviction and eventual murder of a regional Tibetan King and his wife during the cultural revolution.  The daughter of the former King is one of Demick’s many interviews.  The irony of this daughter’s experience with Chinese culture offers both positive and negative memories of her early life in Tibet.  She adapts to Chinese doctrine but eventually becomes an assistant to the exiled Dali Lama in India.  She cannot abandon her Tibetan cultural beliefs.

Tibetan demonstration in 2020.

Mao, and today’s Chinese leaders, believe any ethnic self-identification, other than Communist party doctrine, conflicts with the State. 

Like America’s treatment of Indians, China’s leaders use carrots and sticks to integrate Tibetans into Communist doctrine and Chinese culture. 

Rather than accepting culture difference, both America and China suppress their ethnic minorities.  However, the suppression is qualitatively different. The significant difference is that China sees minority ethnicity and religion as a direct threat to Communist ideals.  In contrast, American history implies ethnicity and religious difference are an evolutionary characteristic, bending toward freedom and equality.  That does not make American history less violent, but it suggests hope for something better than China’s expectation of ethnic and religious absorption by Communism.

Demick suggests Tibet is currently in the carrot stage of influence by the Chinese government.  Having personally traveled to Tibet in 2019, much of what Demick describes about the modernization of Lhasa, the capitol of Tibet, is obvious. 

The restoration of the Potala Palace by the Chinese government is astonishingly beautiful.  It is the burial place of past Dalai Lamas.  Though it is no longer a practicing Buddhist temple, it is a tacit acknowledgement by China of Tibetan culture.

The last chapters of Demick’s book acknowledge her extensive research. She notes Tibetans are better off now than they were during the Mao years.  However, she explains Tibetans do not have the same economic opportunity as the ethnic Chinese.  It is important to be Chinese and even more important to be a member of the Communist party. (Our guide in a trip to China and Tibet reinforces the value of being enrolled in the Communist party. Though he abjures the tragedy of Tiananmen Square, he has a slender hope to join the Communist Party because of the opportunity if would afford him and his family.)

Demick infers Tibetans face the same discrimination as American minorities (these pics are not of Tibetans but American Asians attacked by non-Asian Americans in 2021), and presumably the same discrimination felt by many women in the world.

In Demick’s interviews of the Dalai Lama, she finds he is optimistic about Tibet’s future and survival as a Buddhist haven.  The Dalai Lama continues to negotiate with China’s leaders with hope of a return to Tibet.  (He was exiled in the 1950s by Mao’s government. That exile remains in place.)   His successor is to be chosen by the Gaden Phodrang Trust, an India-based group set up by the current Dalai Lama. However, the Chinese government says it will approve the Dalai Lama’s successor.  The Buddhist belief is that the Dalai Lama must be a reincarnation of former Dali Lamas.

GADEN PHODRANG FOUNDATION OF THE DALAI LAMA

Demick writes of a Padme Dalai Lama in Tibet with a marginal explanation of their importance in Buddhism. The Padme Dalai Lama plays an important role in selecting the next Dalai Lama. The Padme Dalai Lama is second in the hierarchy of primary Dalai Lamas. A Padme Dalai Lama is identified (chosen) by a current Dalai Lama. The 14th Dalai Lama chose a 6 year old boy but he was taken by the Chinese government after his selection. Demick explains the Chinese government chose to select the next Tibetan Padme Dalai Lama despite the 14th Dalai Lama’s choice. No one with certainty knows of the Padme Dalai’s fate.  Some suggest he is now a college graduate living an anonymous life. Theoretically, today there are two living Padme Dalai Lamas.

Today’s Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.  He is the 14th Dalai Lama. As of this writing, he is 86 years old.

Pictures of the 14th Dalai Lama are forbidden in China. Demick notes that a travel book in her carry on luggage is confiscated by a Chinese Airport inspector as she returns to the United States in 2o20. The confiscation is because the travel book had a picture of the Buddhist leader.

Demick draws an interesting picture of Tibet. It reveals both the truth and weakness of one historian’s view of China and Tibet. It is founded on the truth of what a number of Tibetans remember of the Mao’ years and the current relationship of China and Tibet. As is true of all books of history, China’s and Tibet’s past is not perfectly clear and the future, at best, becomes a cloudy past.

APPALLING SIMILARITY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Vietnam (An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975)

By: Max Hastings

                          Narrated by : Max Hastings, Peter Noble

Max Hastings (British author, journalist, editor, military historian.)

The parallel tragedies of Vietnam and Afghanistan are appallingly similar. 

There is no perfect government, whether authoritarian or democratic. Anyone who has traveled outside the United States understands how great it is to be American. Though American wealth and freedom cannot be taken for granted, it is not an exportable commodity. Failures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan do not suggest America should become an isolationist country.  However, America must let independent nation-states manage themselves. 

Thomas Jefferson’s slaves.

America’s human rights are far from perfect. More importantly, they are not an exportable commodity.  Only through a country’s cultural acceptance can human rights be achieved by indigenous populations.

There is a difference between America’s role in WWI, WWII, the first Gulf War, and modern 20th and 21st century American military interventions. 

Military intervention is folly when it is for any other purpose than preserving nation-state borders. Vietnam is a pre-historic nation and Afghanistan has been a nation since 1880. Their cultures have been formed over hundreds of years of experience.

All nation-state cultures are flawed.  They are flawed in their own ways.  Enforcement of human rights is determined by the culture in which they exist.  Every country in the world violates human rights but human rights only change within existing cultures.  

Enforcement of human rights stops at it’s geographic borders.  Political and financial influence are the only tools interventionists should use to influence a foreign nations’ adoption of human rights. Military intervention in foreign countries only leads to the tragedy of injury, death, destruction, and anarchy. 

Those who argue that a foreign country harbors terrorist leaders is true but irrelevant. That the Taliban in Afghanistan harbored Al Qaeda is true but military invasion of a sovereign country does not make America or the world any safer.  Al Qaeda operated in many countries, not just Afghanistan.  Historians have shown Osama bin Laden proselytized for revolution and terrorism in African nations, Pakistan, and other middle eastern countries. 

To cite Afghanistan as the country that harbors terrorist cells is a red herring to justify interventionist beliefs.   Any number of countries are potential havens for terrorist cells.  Some would argue military intervention only increases terrorist potential in the world.

Max Hastings’ history records intimate personal stories of participants in America’s failure in Vietnam.  America’s fundamental mistake is the same mistake made in Iran, Iraq, and now Afghanistan.  Military intervention by a foreign power does not give indigenous citizens true experience of the interventionist’s culture.  Without cultural understanding on both sides of a military intervention, there is no prospect for peace. Further, it is unrealistic to believe a combatant will truly understand or care about another nation’s culture.

Heart rending accounts of America’s military intervention in Vietnam make one wonder how forgiveness could be given by either Vietnamese or Americans that served in the war. 

Hastings explains Vietnamese and Afghanis have no choice to join or resist a culture they do not know. Neither could they become citizens of America. They did not have the interventionist’s cultural experience, or a foreign country’s willingness to allow unregulated immigration. Interventionist countries are always outsiders to the indigenous.

Hastings notes invaded countries’ citizens know the culture in which they live, and that culture is something they understand and can choose to join or resist. 

Hastings recounts the tragic mistakes made by France in Vietnam and then shows similar mistakes made by America.  Hastings shows how France and America have different cultures and motivations for military intervention, but they are equal failures.  Like France’s and America’s failures in Vietnam, America repeats Russia’s failure in Afghanistan. 

Hastings explains how North Vietnam soldiers were more committed to winning the war than South Vietnamese soldiers. 

The North clearly understood what they were fighting for, the South knew only the idealism of America, a concept clouded by Vietnamese culture.  Vietnamese could resist or join a North Vietnam culture because they were part of that culture. In contrast, they could not join American culture because it was not a part of their experience. They had no choice while North Vietnamese had communist indoctrination and an ideal that fit within their cultural inheritance. Those Vietnamese who fought communism had little understanding of American culture and were not likely to be offered citizenship.

Tragically, what is happening in Afghanistan threatens women’s human rights.

It is a threat that may be better understood with America’s intervention, but Afghan women’s alternative is only to resist or join the culture they know and understand.  They can either resist or join the Taliban way of life.  They cannot join the American way of life because it is not a part of Afghanistan, and they do not have America’s cultural experience. 

Misogyny is a python that swallows its prey whole, crushes it, and smothers it to death. 

This is a cruel irony. Misogyny exists in America but not in the same way as Afghanistan.  The Taliban have won but it is a pyrrhic victory because human rights are universal, and resistance will grow.  It is a resistance that an interventionist outsider cannot join for the same reason the resister is unable to join the outsider.

As Mark Twain said, if history does not repeat, it certainly rhymes.  Change can only come from within.  Military intervention only works when nation-state sovereignty is at stake.

George H. Bush, in the first Iraq war knew what is possible and correctly chose to stop America’s intervention in Iraq when Kuwaiti borders were secured.  His son ignored his father’s example and America failed in Iraq. 

Francis Fukuyama notes every society grows via its own cultural norms which suggests sovereignty should be inviolable. Only Iraqis, Iranians, and Afghanis can decide who they want to be.  America can only lead by example and offer political and financial support to resisters of tyranny in other nation-states. Hastings marks the limits of outsiders’ military intervention.  America can only lead by example and offer political and financial support to resisters of tyranny in other nation-states.  The sole exception is when nation-state borders are violated by foreign nations. Even then, other nations must come to agreement on the inviolability of borders for a military intervention to be justified.

GOD’S RELEVANCE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

On Revolution

By: Hannah Arendt

Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert

Hannah Arendt (1906-1979, Author, Political Theorist, Phiosopher.)

Hannah Arendt’s “On Revolution” is a paean to religious belief.  God’s relevance is at the heart of her detailed history of revolution. 

Arendt is an ardent secularist.  Arendt’s belief or non-belief in God has no relevance except as it relates to her understanding of revolution.    

“On Revolution” compares the differences between ancient Greece and modern times.  Arendt particularly contrasts America’s 1776 revolution with France’s 1789 revolution.  She explains why one succeeded (within limits) and the other foundered.  Her explanation offers insight to the failures of past, present, and future revolutions. 

Humankind is endowed with the ability to reason.  Use of reason may be distorted by false facts and mental limitation but thought and action conform to what one thinks they know and believe.  Arendt notes social circumstance of the many, whether rich, poor, satiated, or hungry are proximate causes of revolution.  Further, she notes success or failure of revolution is eminently impacted by a nation’s cultural history. 

Arendt infers citizens become politically apathetic or active based on what they think they can control. 

“On Revolution” explains how social discontent can lead citizens to rebel against their government.  It might be because of a gap between rich and poor.  It may be because of social or economic inequality.  Revolution may come from factionalism where a particular group of citizens lack recognition.  Arendt does not label all the reasons for revolution but human desire for money, power, prestige are proximate causes.

“On Revolution” explains how social discontent leads citizens to rebel against their government. 

Arendt argues any success after a revolution depends on the institution of laws that supersede individual human desire.  She amplifies the reasons for all revolutions’ success or failure.  America’s short history as a colony with a remote King (burdened by parliament) contrasts with France’s history of a long line of King’s with divine right of rule.  America is not burdened by a King who has God’s authority to rule. 

Arendt suggests invoking God’s commandments (a superior being’s directions) allows human rule-of-law to be acceptable to America’s colonial citizens. 

 Arendt explains America makes arguments against rule by a King based on “taxation without representation” and the principal of citizen representation in government.  In contrast, Arendt notes France’s history of a King’s divine right makes leadership acceptance from a mere citizen unacceptable. 

The only philosophical backdrop for a French citizen’s authority is Rousseau’s philosophical belief in democracy, equality, liberty, and the common good of all citizens.  This is not enough to convince France to accept man-made’ rule-of-law. There is no divine right given by God to a King or any French citizen. Arendt argues rejection of divine guidance is at the heart of France’s failure.

Arendt notes American revolutionaries emphasize the importance of families and citizen groups in cooperating and joining to reject rule by King George.  Small groups of Americans congregate to create laws that supersede individual rights to accomplish their goal of independent sovereignty.  This level of group cohesion is not cultivated in France. Arendt explains America is better prepared for revolution than France.

Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794, French lawyer and statesman.)

Even if Robespierre wishes to, Arendt explains he is unable to institute laws that protect French citizens.  Robespierre has no divine right.  There is no foundation in France’s history for rule-of-law instituted by mere citizens.  French history has little history of citizen cooperation and government opposition. 

A fundamental point made by Arendt is that many revolutions appear to succeed because they capitalize on events that occur in the uncontrolled circumstances of revolution. It is not because of a belief in a cause fomented by a great leader but by an opportunist who takes advantage of events.

Arendt suggests success of Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1917 is not from forethought or planning but from a leader who let events determine how force could be used to take control of a country in turmoil.

Among her many observations Arendt offers a blueprint for a revolution’s success.  Of course, success is not necessarily in the best interest of a country’s citizens.  If citizen control is the only measure of success, Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran have had successful revolutions.  Today’s example of revolution is Haiti. One wonders which route it will take in its revolution.

When impingement is great enough to increase economic disparity between rich and poor, the threat of revolution increases. 

Arendt illustrates how America is nowhere near a perfect nation.  Denying equal opportunity for all, disenfranchising citizens, and distrust of elected representatives are three concerns expressed in today’s media.  Arendt notes the rising apathy of American voters.  Arendt shows how God is as relevant today as when she wrote “On Revolution” in 1963.

Arendt explicitly warns America of its failure to maintain a role for citizens in government. She argues less time is committed to citizen involvement than existed at the time of the revolution. Arendt suggests direct citizen participation in American government is distorted by corporate and monied interests. Arendt argues growing lack of citizen participation works against American government stability, and longevity.

America’s history of Democracy has lasted for 3 hundred years. The Roman Empire lasted for over 14 hundred years. French monarchy lasted nearly the same number of years as the Roman Empire. The obvious question is how long will American Democracy last?

CENSORSHIP

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Dangerous Ideas (A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News

By: Eric Berkowitz

Narrated by: Tim Campbell

Eric Berkowitz (Author, human rights lawyer and journalist

Eric Berkowitz recounts the history of free speech and censorship.  His history infers censorship is a misdirected waste of time.  Berkowitz argues freedom of speech is unstoppable.  Even in the most repressive governments in history, citizens have exercised freedom of speech. 

Berkowitz recounts many who chose to exercise free speech that were exiled, tortured, dismembered, maimed, or murdered.  However, these free speech martyrs insist on having their say. That seems Trump’s justification for suing Facebook and Twitter.

Pundits suggest Trump has no chance of winning his suit against Facebook and Twitter–Berkowitz’s presumed response would be “who cares?”

The fundamental point made many times in Berkowitz’s history is that censorship does not work because there is always someone who is willing pay any price to say what they think must be said.  Berkowitz offers many historical examples of why free speech is a confusing and difficult problem. 

Free speech can spread both truth and lie.

One of Berkowitz’s answers to the conundrum of free speech is that more freedom allows each listener to choose what they wish to believe.  Problems arise when freedom of speech offers lies as truth and misleads the public. 

White supremacism lies and Covid19 falsehoods have historically destroyed lives. 

In every country of the world, free speech is unstoppable because it is controlled by the few, not the many.

Listening to Berkowitz’s history vivifies a trip to China in 2019.  A guide, presumably at some risk to himself, took our small group into a private room to remind us of China’s response to the idea of free speech in Tiananmen Square . 

Our guide reminded us of one protester who moved in front of a Chinese tank whenever it tried to change directions.  The guide explained the “tank man” (who was never identified by name) was arrested, and never heard from again. 

At the direction of President Deng Xiaoping, 300,000 troops were mobilized to stop a demonstration by Chinese students.  China’s soldiers fired on college students and friends who were demonstrating their belief in free speech.  An unknown number of Chinese citizens (some say hundreds, others say thousands) were murdered at the direction of government leaders.  Our 2o19 Chinese guide was exercising his right of free speech by reminding us of what happened on June 4th, 1989.

Government is the first seat of control for free speech.  However, that first seat is diminished by singular economic interests. 

The rise of newspapers, radio, and television focused and expanded the principle of free speech.  Economic interests influenced these early platforms of free speech but with a more limited threat and benefit to the public.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the blogosphere have widened the principle of free speech and significantly increased potential public threat and benefit. 

In the age of newspapers, radio, and television, government controls were explicitly legislated but in the internet age control is hidden in platform algorithms.  Government may still have the first seat of control, but media moguls have usurped legislated government censorship.

Berkowitz offers no answers.  He only reveals the complexity of freedom of speech.  He suggests freedom of speech is an essential ingredient of a just society.  However, at the heart of free speech is economic interest. Free speech is secretly used to distort truth and sometimes incite violence. 

Whether it is a newspaper reporter told to revise an article that criticizes corporate advertisers or a discloser of government secrets there is societal threat.  Even more pernicious is the Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter executive who orders a coder to increase customer clicks for corporations that pay more for advertising.  And then there are the media trolls who distort the truth, lie, or incite violence to increase click count with no regard to consequence.

Freedom of speech is “…a riddle wrapped in an enigma” (a Winston Churchill quote about Stalinist Russia). Freedom of speech is a two edged sword, a tool for defense and destruction.

AMERICAN DIPLOMACY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

America and Iran (A History, 1720 to the Present)

By: John Ghazvinian (Executive Director of the Middle East Center

at the University of Pennsylvania.)

Narrated by: Fred Sanders

John Ghazvinian (Author, historian and former journalist with a Doctorate from Oxford University.)

John Ghazvinian has written an important book to help one understand Iran and its relationship to America.  It reminds one of how important respect for different cultures is for effective foreign policy.  In the real politic of international relations, ignorance of nation-state’ cultures are a recipe for world conflagration.

Listening to Ghazvinian reminds one of how important well-informed diplomats and foreign service officers are for world peace. 

Unlike George Kennan in his 1946 “long telegram” about Russia, American diplomats fail America and Iran.  

As a diplomat, Kennan understood Russia because he spoke Russian and studied its history before offering a diplomatic opinion about how America should deal with the U.S.S.R.  Kennan’s containment policy served America well despite Stalin’s horrendous treatment of the U.S.S.R.’s people.  

Few, if any, American diplomats of importance before and after the 1979 revolution in Iran appear to have much understanding of Iranian language or its remarkable history.  Ghazvinian notes the well-intentioned but inept handling by President Carter of the student takeover of the American embassy in Iran.  He recounts the preening and then waffling treatment of Iran by every President of the United States before and after the 1979 revolution.

Zbigniew Brezezinski (U.S. National Security Advisor to President Carter 1977-1981.)

Ghazvinian recounts the hostility of the diplomat Zbigniew Brzezinski (President Carter’s National Security Advisor) toward Iran.

Recognizing 9/11 and its momentous impact on the American psyche, President George W. Bush’s administration exercises an obstinate, and Ghazvinian suggests, ignorant assessment of Iran, its history, nuclear ambition, and role in the Middle East.  This second Bush administration is characterized as an abject diplomatic failure when it comes to dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

George W. Bush (43rd President of the United States).

Ghazvinian’s book illustrates how America during the Shah years (prior to 1979) views Iran as a buffer against communism and an ATM cash machine for the American economy.  Iran purchases billions of dollars of American weapons.  American defense industry corporations reap huge rewards from business with Iran.  Equally lucrative were American ancillary military training companies that were paid big money by an effete and highly privileged Iranian Shah. 

The Shah of Iran is fascinated by American military hardware.  In that infatuation, the Shah fails to serve the domestic needs of Iran’s citizens. 

At direction of the Shah, vast oil resources are used to enrich the American economy rather than aid the social and economic growth of Iran’s citizens.  America did not concern themselves with Iran’s people because it hugely benefited from Iran’s government purchases of military equipment.

Ghazavinian explains how American Presidents from Eisenhower to Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, (and after the Iranian revolution)—Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton fail America in its diplomatic relationship with Iran. 

None of the American Presidents effectively manage either Iran’s threat or potential real-politic’ benefit to world peace and prosperity. 

In the 20th century, Ghazavinian notes the closest any American President came to understanding Iran is H.W. Bush.  However, American political opposition thwarts H.W.’s opportunity to mend broken trust. 

In an overture to H.W., after the successful ejection of Hussein from Kuwait, the Islamic Republic’s President offers a peace proposal to America.  Bush acknowledges the overture and wishes to capitalize on Iran’s written commitment to ameliorate Hezbollah opposition to the State of Israel and to reestablish diplomatic relations with America.  However, Bush’s party leaders object, based on a belief that Iran is a terrorist state that cannot be trusted.  Iran’s diplomatic opening is lost. 

Ghazavinian notes Iran’s interest in improving diplomatic relations during H.W. Bush’s administration is partly related to America’s quick military defeat of Iraq. 

Iran had fought the Iraqi army for over 20 years without defeating or removing Hussein.  American forces removes Hussein and defeats his army in six weeks. The author infers fear of American invasion of Iran should not be overstated. However, Ghazavinian does imply America’s quick defeat of Iraq’s army sent a message to Iran.  For the first time in history, Ghazavinian notes the Islamic Republic of Iran put its commitment to improve diplomatic ties with America in writing.

Even though America exacerbates Iran’s crisis, Ghazavinian suggests Iran is responsible for the situation in their own country.  The author notes the last Shah of Iran fails to listen to his people.  Iran’s wealth is spent on the latest American military equipment while most Iranians are poor, malnourished, and caught in a cycle of despair.  Iran’s people are looking for a leader who will listen to their plight.  They turn to an exiled religious leader.

Ruhollah Khomeini (1st Supreme Leader of Iran, 1979-1989)

The last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, exiles Imam Ruhollah Khomeini to France where he becomes the voice of the people who have been ignored by their government. 

Ghazavinian suggests Khomeini begins as a religious teacher but is seduced by the politics of government.  The seduction comes from the student takeover of the American consulate in Iran.  Khomeini initially views the takeover as inappropriate but begins to see the political value of American hostages in negotiating with America. 

In Ghazavinian’s opinion, Khomeini abandons his religious teaching with the political decision to use American Embassy hostages as a lever for change.  Prior to Khomeini’s political use of the Iranian student’s takeover, there was a separation between church and state.  Now church and state became intertwined. 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran 2005-2013)

Ghazavinian notes the rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  This former mayor of Tehran exemplifies the melding of church and state in Iran’s governance.  Interestingly, Ghazavinian creates a revisionist (less negative) history of Ahmadinejad. He may be showing a more accurate picture of this populist, poorly educated, President, or he may be gilding a fundamentalist ignoramus.

Ahmadinejad is best known by Americans as the fool who said the holocaust is a myth.  Ghazavinian argues Ahmadinejad’s words were mis-translated.  In any case, Ahmadinejad, in contrast to former Iranian Presidents, listens to the Iranian under-class.  He increases wages and initially improves the lives of many Iranians.  Ghazavinian notes the cost of those improvements caused inflation, diminishing the economic good but not the intent of this new President.

Ghazavinian suggests Ahmadinejad compares to George W. Bush in some sense.  Like W. Bush, Ahmadinejad is viewed like the guy next door.  His jokey way of dealing with people is like W. Bush’s.  On the other hand, unlike Ahmadinejad, W. Bush is well educated and wealthy. 

Ahmadinejad seems more like Trump (though not a billionaire) than George W. Bush.  Ahmadinejad, like Trump, taps into the real needs of an underclass ignored by government. 

Many Iranians approve of Ahmadinejad’s effort to raise the social and economic conditions of Iran’s underclass.  The same might be said of many Americans who supported Trump’s stated intent but unrealized goal.

A reset of American relations with Iran is attempted in the Obama administration but Ghazavinian argues Obama reverts to the diplomatic mistakes of past American administrations. 

Politics interferes with Obama’s initial attempt to renew relations with Iran. Obama shows a disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu’s jingoistic opposition to any American effort to repair diplomatic ties with Iran. However, in an election year Obama is painted into a corner that delays any improvement in Iranian diplomacy. It will be interesting to see how President Biden deals with Iran.

Ghazavinian fails to paint a complete picture of modern Iran. There is little explanation of the covert activity of Iran in middle east destabilization. The element of religious fanaticism and proselytization among some of the Ayatollah’s followers is not fully examined. Ghazavinian uses his final chapter in a vituperative and somewhat justified assessment of Israel without fully explaining what Iran’s agenda is in the Middle East.

The valuable substance of Ghazavinian’s history is in the immense importance of understanding any country’s culture.  Before making decisions about what, where, why, and how to diplomatically engage another country, one must have some cultural understanding of both allies and opponents.  It does not mean real-politic will not be used to get one’s way but that there needs to be a respectful understanding of why there is opposition.  In that understanding, there is the chance of finding common ground to arrive at a mutual, if not amicable, agreement.  Without cultural respect and understanding, chaotic unpredictability is unleashed.

EMPERORS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

From Yao to Mao (5000 Years of Chinese History)

By: Kenneth J. Hammond (Great Courses)

Lecturer-Professor Kenneth J. Hammond

Kenneth J. Hammond (Professor of History at New Mexico State University.)

In some ways, America’s 300 hundred years is a microcosm of Kenneth Hammond’s informative lectures on China’s 5,000-year history.  Not to carry this idea too far, America has no emperors and is a mere baby in the history of the world.  However, social struggles of China and America have striking similarities.

The fabric of a nation’s society is woven by leaders and followers.  Hammond recounts long stretches of China’s history that demonstrate social and political changes that predate and foretell America’s history.  American presidents are unlikely to experience dynasty. However, there are similarities between American leaders and the reign of Chinese Emperors.

Yu the Great (2123 BC to 2025 BC–95 years of life.)

In 2070 BC, “Yu the Great” manages to organize China’s fragmented ethnic groups into a kingdom.  Yu makes the first written record of an attempt to control nature.  By introducing flood control, Yu improves the lives of millions of his followers in what becomes China’s Xia dynasty. This dynasty, with various emperors, lasts for over 400 years. 

Yu is characterized as an “upright moral character”. Though the Xia dynasty is a hundreds years longer than the United States, Yu reminds one of George Washington’s brief role in America. 

Both set the stage for all national leaders who have successes and failures in their journey through history.  National leaders strive to form one nation from people of many different ethnicities and beliefs.  Successful national leaders manage external and internal crises to unite disparate followers.

Hammond identifies 16 different China’ eras, from Yao to Mao.  China’s leaders are not uniformly successful which can be equally said of Presidents of the United States.  At times, leaders of nations are petty, greedy, self-righteous, and wrong but China became the most advanced, powerful, and rich country in the world at different times in their history. 

Religion and society play parts in both China and America’s rise in the world. 

Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam play parts in China’s successes, and failures.  Hammond notes how Confucius belief reinforces importance of family in the success of nationhood.  Buddhism, though imported from India, instills introspection, meditation, and abstinence into China’s leaders during tumultuous times.  At times, Christianity and a burgeoning Islam threaten China’s future.  Hammond recounts a claimed brother of Jesus who nearly overthrows a Chinese emperor but fails. 

The Uyghurs, a largely Muslim Chinese minority, join Genghis Khan to establish the Mongol Empire.  This empire rises at the end of the Song Dynasty that leads China for several generations.  The Islamic faith is adopted by descendants of Genghis.  It plays a role in China’s history.  Fundamental religious and societal conflicts are equally evident in America’s short history.

In Hammond’s last lecture, he reviews China’s pragmatist movement. Deng Xiao Ping, in modern China, introduces capitalism into Maoist communism. Private property (though restricted by government limits) encourages accumulation of private wealth.

Entrepreneurial vigor is unleashed in China. 

Hammond chooses not to mention Xi but conflicts between Maoist communism and Deng’s capitalist introduction are renewed. Xi reinforces the importance of the communist party at the expense of capitalism. One might argue Xi’s political moves are to combat the temptation of greed.

However, human nature ensures greed will play into communist party bureaucracy just as it does in capitalism.  Capitalism and communism have a common failing—the desire for power which comes from entrepreneurial wealth as well as bureaucratic privilege.

One gathers from Hammond’s history of China that there remains no perfect form of governance.  Every country’s leadership deals with the failings of human nature. 

All these conflicts are evident in America’s 300 years—they are played out in China’s history.  China has managed to remain a nation state for 5,000 years.  Presumably, America can do the same. 

There are no pat answers that can abate the rise and fall of China or America.  Rome is no longer Rome, but Italy is still Italy.  The same may be said of America if one uses China’s history as a guide.

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Reporter (A Memoir)

By: Seymour M. Hersh  

Narrated by: Arthur Morey

Semour M. Hersh (Author, investigative journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner)

“Reporter” reveals why freedom of the press is both feared and revered.  Seymour Hersh is an investigative reporter.  After listening to “Reporter”, one realizes Hersh is among the best journalists of the 20th and 21st century. To many newspaper readers (embarrassingly including this reader) Hersh is not well known.  Hersh’s reporting uncovered the My Lai massacre early in his career and followed that with revelations about the clandestine bombing of Cambodia, CIA exposure of domestic spying, and a still controversial contention that Obama lied to the American people about the Abbottabad raid that leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

Hersh’s reporting uncovered the My Lai massacre early in his career.

The tenor of “Reporter” is personal to Hersh as one suspects all his reporting has been throughout his career.  His tenacity in confirming facts before writing a story lets one know Hersh is relentless.  When one is interviewed by Hersh, one suspects there is fear of being misunderstood or misquoted.  “Reporter” alludes to that fear in anecdotes of his search for facts.

The NYT’s paper on 10.11.21 writes about a difference of opinion about how news should be covered.

Hersh shows no fear or favor but his pursuit of facts gives no value to reasons for misleading public perception of events.  This is not criticism of the duties of an investigative reporter, but facts do not always speak for themselves. 

One knows America’s government has mislead the public many times in its history.  Whether that misleading is justified or not is not the concern of reporters like Seymour Hersh.  To Hersh, all that matters is–facts speak for themselves.  Therein lies the fear of freedom of the press.

The problem with thinking that facts speak for themselves is that all the facts revealed are never all the facts. 

The many books that have been written about historic figures is ample evidence of the problem.  With the principle of facts speak for themselves there would be no revisionist history.  History is re-written in every generation.

This is not to denigrate the great work reporters like Hersh provide to Americans.  Without freedom of the press America would not be America. 

Even though all the facts are never known, those that are known should be revealed in real time.  How else can American freedom be preserved?  Hersh, like all good investigative reporters, is not always on the right side of history.  Not because his facts are wrong, but that they fail to tell the whole story. 

Every human being is trapped in their own world of experience and genetic predisposition. Facts are by nature pieced into our personal experience and predisposition. Facts do not change but they are influenced by one’s perception of reality.

Many consider Henry Kissinger to have been one of the most highly regarded Secretary of States in the 20th century.  Hersh uncovers facts which suggest that is wrong.  Hersh’s facts are compelling.  They show Kissinger lies and distorts the truth. 

Kissinger flatly denies spying on government employees while Hersh reveals facts that clearly show Kissinger lied. To Hersh, much of the secret opening of China to America happens as a result of an Arab go-between, not Kissinger’s diplomatic skill. 

The covert bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam war is a policy soundly supported, if not initiated, by Kissinger.  Hersh’s facts speak for themselves, but one doubts they tell the whole story.  The whole story is left to historians. Though it may seem a contradiction, investigative reporter’s revelations in real time are good for American government. Only with transparency, can government become better.

Secret American bombing of Cambodia.

A most interesting chapter of Hersh’s book is an episode to expose the bad deeds of Gulf and Western Oil in the 70s. 

His investigation is toned down and effectively stopped by his employer’s lawyers because of fear of its repercussion.  Hersh concludes it is imprudent to expose seamy activities of corporate America because of potential negative economic consequence to publishers.  Hersh does not back off from private industry investigations but he only refers to one other effort to expose corporate shenanigans. “Reporter” primarily focuses on government employee and policy miss-directions and lies.

Though Hersh is a Democrat, he shows no favor. Hersh notes that facts show President Obama distorted the truth in the hunt and killing of Osama bin Landen.

Hersh dutifully reveals evidence that strongly suggests Pakistan cooperated in the plot to capture or kill bin Laden. Facts suggest bin Laden was not buried at sea but his bullet-ridden remains were dropped from a helicopter into the sea. Those may be the facts but do they explain the whole truth?

“Reporter” is a memoir of a great newsman who is justifiably proud of his contribution to freedom of the press.  America needs driven reporters like Seymour Hersh even though print and media news can never reveal all the facts in real time. 

There is good reason to both fear and revere freedom of the press. Fear comes from truthful as well as false reporting of facts.  Freedom is dependent on good reporting by reputable reporters.