Echoes from the Past
to the course modern events are taking.
Reagan's View of Yalta (posted 5-17-05)
From the Houston Chronicle, May 15, 2005, quoting Ronald Reagan's speech in 1984 on the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising:
Let me state emphatically that we reject any interpretation of the Yalta agreement that suggests American consent for the division of Europe into spheres of influence. On the contrary, we see that agreement as a pledge by the three great powers to restore full independence and to allow free and democratic election in all countries liberated from the Nazis after World War II...
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote (posted 2-1-05)
From the New York Times, September 4, 1967:
United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.
A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.
The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.
Was 9-11 an Exceptional Act? (posted 8-18-04)
From the New York Times:
If the attack against the World Trade Center proves anything it is that our offices, factories, transportation and communication networks and infrastructures are relatively vulnerable to skilled terrorists.... Among the rewards of our attempts to provide leadership in a fragmented, crisis-prone world will be as yet unimagined terrorists and other socio-paths determined to settle scores with us.
From a cover story in Newsweek:
The explosion shook more than the building: it rattled the smug illusion that Americans were immune, somehow, to the plague of terrorism that torments so many countries.
From the London Sunday Times:
He began the day as a clerk working for the Dean Witter brokerage on the 74th floor of the World Trade Center in New York and ended it as an extra in a real-life sequel to Towering Inferno....
All three of these quotations are from 1993. The NYT quote appeared March 2, 1993. The Newsweek quote appeared March 8, 1993. The London Times quote appeared Feb. 28, 1993.
Source: James Der Derian,"9/11: Before, After, and In Between," in Understanding September 11, ed. Craig Calhoun et al. (New Press, 2002).
Life in Iraq Under British Rule (posted 5-18-04)
Excerpts from the letters of Gertrude Bell, a British national, fluent in Persian and Arabic, who lived in Iraq at the time it was colonized by the British; from NPR (May 15, 2004):
March 14, 1920: It's a problem here how to get into touch with the Shiahs, not the tribal people in the country; we're on intimate terms with all of them, but the grimly devout citizens of the holy towns and more especially the leaders of religious opinion, the Mujtahids, who can loose and bind with a word by authority which rests on an intimate acquaintance with accumulated knowledge entirely irrelevant to human affairs and worthless in any branch of human activity. There they sit in an atmosphere which reeks of antiquity and is so thick with the dust of ages that you can't see through it -- nor can they. And for the most part they are very hostile to us, a feeling we can't alter…There's a group of these worthies in Kadhimain, the holy city, 8 miles from Baghdad, bitterly pan-Islamic, anti-British…Chief among them are a family called Sadr, possibly more distinguished for religious learning than any other family in the whole Shiah world….I went yesterday [to visit them] accompanied by an advanced Shiah of Baghdad whom I knew well.
June 14, 1920: We have had a stormy week. The Nationalist propaganda increases. There are constant meetings in mosques where the mental temp. rises a great deal about 110. I enclose an exposition of the moderate party. The extremists are out for independence, without a mandate. At least they say they are, knowing full well in their hearts that they couldn't work it. They play for all they are worth on the passions of the mob and what with the Unity of Islam and the Rights of the Arab Race they make a fine figure. They have created a reign of terror; if anyone says boo in the bazaar it shuts like an oyster. There has been practically no business done for the last fortnight. They send bagsful of letters daily to all the tribes urging them to throw off the infidel yoke. The tribes haven't responded except with windy talk. I personally don't think there will be an outbreak either here or in the provinces, but it's touch and go, and it's the thing above all others that I'm anxious to avoid.
June 21, 1920: The second tale was … propos of the vaunted and wholly illusory union between Sunnis and Shi'ahs which was the feature of Ramadhan."I got up at a gathering" said Mustafa Pasha"if the Prophet, God give him salvation, and the Khalifs Umar and Abu Bakr and the rest were here now, they'ld [sic] be on the side of the English.""How is that?" asked the company."Because the English have united Islam.""You have no religion" they cried. But though meant as a compliment to us, or a gibe to them I don't know that we can get much satisfaction out of it.
June 12, 1921: We can't continue direct British control though the country would be better governed by it, but it's rather a comic position to be telling people over and over again that whether they like it or not they must have Arab not British Government….
Lincoln on Soldiers Who Went AWOL (posted 2-13-04)
From Secrecy, the newsletter of the Federation of American Scientists (Feb. 13, 2004):
President of the United States. Absent without leave.
These terms, much in the news lately, may have first appeared together in close proximity in an 1863 proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, who ordered all soldiers who were absent without leave to promptly return to duty and promised amnesty if they did.
"All soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave, who shall, on or before the first day of April, report themselves... may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence; and all who do not return within the time above specified shall be arrested as deserters, and punished as the law provides," President Lincoln declared.
See A Proclamation by the President of the United States Respecting Soldiers absent without leave, March 10, 1863:
FDR: Nations Need Friends (posted 12-11-03)
FDR, in the course of his five-minute inaugural address, January 20, 1945:
And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons, at a fearful cost, and we shall profit by them.
We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well being is dependent on the well being of other nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.
We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.
We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that the only way to have a friend is to be one. We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear.