Comings and Goings

-

I lost two friends recently, one was older and frequently ill and the other was as healthy as (I think) I am. I want to mention them here and salute them because I learned a lot from both.
We all lose folks — part of life. But losing people for the wrong reasons — as in the Iraq War in which the country is now mired — is so sad. I didn’t lose my friends that way but I often think about people I know and don’t know caught up on the front line of this war and appreciate what they are doing — even though I think that they have been sent into the worst kind of war — one which will undermine the very society they believe they are protecting.


But the two guys who recently passed away in my world left via natural causes — R. Wayne Sayer and Sunil Mehta.
Wayne Sayer was one of my political mentors here in Washington — a lobbyist for the high tech sector who worked for years as the guy in D.C. for Applied Materials. He had had all sorts of health difficulties over the years but always seemed to chuckle them away — and finally, that strategy reached a point of diminishing returns. I’ll miss him.
And Sunil Mehta — who is just about the same age I am. He was the Vice President of NASSCOM in India — and had become a good friend over the years as I got more deeply interested in the many, many dimensions of what India has been and was trying to become. Sunil died from a massive heart attack, shortly after visiting Washington, and leaves his wife and two daughters, 6 and 13.
I also want to pay tribute to a young guy, Paul Matthew Zeller — who was shot and killed by an unknown assailant outside the Pentagon Row shopping center at the end of June this year. I didn’t know Zeller — but his case has stuck with me for several reasons. He was shot at a place I freqent — and had only recently gotten out out of the military after having served for three years as a mortarman in the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. He was also from Westcliffe, Colorado — which is one of the other places I frequent most years and where I have many friends.
His brother and family are still making appeals for those with information to come forward. It’s beyond tragic to survive Iraq and then to be gunned down walking home from work in this country. In any case, I wanted to remember a former soldier who deserved far better.
On less emotional fronts, there are a couple of other tidbits that have made their way to me.
First, CSIS’s Senior Vice President and Henry A. Kissinger Chair in National Security Kurt Campbell is departing that institution along with CSIS security expert Michele Flournoy and going to head up a new organization, The Project for a New American Security. Don’t know much about the outfit yet — but will share more when I hear from Kurt Campbell and others involved.
Also, former House Leader Dennis Hastert “was” No. 1 on the list to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Sources now tell us that he has removed himself from that list after the Ethics Committees findings that he bore some responsibility in the cover-up of (or lack of curiosity about) the Mark Foley page scandal. That’s stuff he’d rather not have aired via Senate confirmation hearings.
More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

13 comments on “Comings and Goings

  1. tom says:

    Hicks supporters not just bleeding hearts
    THE campaign for the release of David Hicks has brought with it criticism that the cult of celebrity, or “poor David” sympathies, have become the focus in this debate, and that there are tens of thousands of people around the world whose plight is equal to his or worse.
    For me, Hicks’ case is symbolic for Australians who hold a passport and travel overseas: to what extent would the Australian Government protect a citizen caught up in detention overseas? Does our Government consider it a right to have a fair hearing in a timely manner? And how far would it go to ensure these rights are upheld?
    Does it matter that Hicks may be a bad guy? These questions go to the heart of what it means to be a citizen of this country, and the Government’s interpretation of the values of mateship and a fair go.
    Most senior and respected legal authorities, including the state law institutes, have criticised the Australian and US governments’ political expediency, and see real danger for human rights, so surely it is not bleeding hearts alone who have called for Hicks’ release.
    Tom Fanning, Surrey Hills

    Reply

  2. Jon Stopa says:

    “I realize that this site has of late attracted a few commenters who percieve those of us who find nothing but lies and insanity behind Iraq to be America haters. We can hardly understand that. To swallow the administration’s constantly morphing excuse for strategy is hard enough But to hear the likes of a Lieberman callously proclaiming ‘esccalate’; and to hear a Condi Rice speak of ‘investments’ as euphemism for the loss of human life in a lost cause, brings such sadness and hopelessness.
    Those of us old enough to remember Vietnam — perhaps a hackneyed sounding allusion — remember the taste of being lied to in the face of all evidence that the ’cause’ was lost and the players continued to sacrifice lives, disconnected from the existential equaton. And this on top of the truly horrifying madness of King George.
    Posted by: DonS at December 24, 2006 04:52 PM”
    When you read this you realize what a debased age we live in. If you go back to the good old days, like Johnson’s, why then 20,000 or now maybe 50,000 new troops (Boy that number keeps jumping!) would have been a drop in the bucket. Sigh. There were giants in those days!
    Doesn’t that word, “esccalate,” send a shiver up your spine? Make you clasp your hands together, and wish you could slip into an alternate time-line?
    That said, I wish you well with all the good meanings that the celebrations of growing light can bring you. Happy Holidays.

    Reply

  3. Alex says:

    I find that one of the things that disappoints me the most about the war in Iraq, besides the killing and dying on both sides, is the creation of a whole new generation of disabled and traumatized veterans. I can hardly stand to think about what their lives will be like.

    Reply

  4. ... says:

    Steve, sorry to hear of the death of your friends.. happy holidays to you and everyone here, and enjoy the company of your loved ones especially over this holiday season.

    Reply

  5. Carroll says:

    POA..
    I am not sure how realiable that article is…or the purpose of it… I have seen so many conflicting “reports” on/from Isr lately. the congress recently increased the store of US weapons in israel and upped the amount Israel can “borrow” from the US supply there.
    HOWEVER…it is apparent that someone is applying pressure on Israel…they did a 180 recently on their talking points about Palestine…and have been forced to hand over the tax money witheld and belonging to Palestine…no way they would do that unless someone twisted their arm or bribed them to do it with the promise of a big payoff in another area.
    BUT….as always, watch them….when pressured by the US they will comply on the issue they are being pressured about but then at the same time up their control in some other sector…if they lift some roadblocks per Condi, they then increase and put up others that wern’t “specifically” named in the US request…just like when they pulled out of Gaza and them upped their bulding in the West Bank area….their form of operation is the con “which shell is the pea under”….that’s why the shell game is called the shell game. The one thing you can count on is the Israelis always lie, always..to everyone, including the US, especially the US. Even when you watch their actual actions you better watch their other hand…it will be doing something else.

    Reply

  6. Matthew says:

    POA: Remember Patton, the movie: America loves a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Like you, I hope that the relations with our violent client state continue to deteriorate. If true, that’s a nice Christmas present.

    Reply

  7. DonS says:

    The ongoing slaughter in Iraq is indeed a sober reminder of the closeness of death, including those we have lost, as well as our own mortality.
    I realize that this site has of late attracted a few commenters who percieve those of us who find nothing but lies and insanity behind Iraq to be America haters. We can hardly understand that. To swallow the administration’s constantly morphing excuse for strategy is hard enough But to hear the likes of a Lieberman callously proclaiming ‘esccalate’; and to hear a Condi Rice speak of ‘investments’ as euphemism for the loss of human life in a lost cause, brings such sadness and hopelessness.
    Those of us old enough to remember Vietnam — perhaps a hackneyed sounding allusion — remember the taste of being lied to in the face of all evidence that the ’cause’ was lost and the players continued to sacrifice lives, disconnected from the existential equaton. And this on top of the truly horrifying madness of King George.

    Reply

  8. Pissed Off American says:

    Gee, now Bush is gonna shovel ten billion into Iraq to “create jobs” for the “Iraqi unemployed”. The press is touting it as an effort that parallels Roosevelt’s actions during the Great Depression. I wasn’t alive during the Depression, but I certainly do not remember my history lessons on the subject including anything about secular militias, a devastated infrastructure, or the United States being over-run by an occupying army. How many lives, and how much treasure, is this lying traitorous bastard’s ego worth?
    Sistani is apparently joining hands with Sadr now. Is it just a coincidence that such a union comes right on the heels of yet another effort to privatize the Iraqi oil assets?
    Heres what this ignorant livid American thinks. I think that after Sistani derailed the intitial plans of privatization, (theft), of the Iraqi oil assets, we cut a deal with him. We told him we would stop trying to steal his country’s wealth if he would mellow out and try not to rile his Shiite majority, while we tried to “stabilize” the situation in Iraq. He stood for a more moderate attitude towards the American presence in his country than that displayed by Sadr, and he agreed to our terms. But now, having once again been betrayed by Bush and big oil, and seeing us once again trying to steal the Iraqi people’s wealth through the privatization of their oil assets, he has come around to Sadr’s way of thinking. Bush’s incompetence in waging a military adventure devoid of any understanding, diplomacy, or altruistic designs has finally erased any hope we may have had for a moderate religious leader working with us to stabilize the situation in Iraq. Sistani is tired of of the ignorance, the corruption, the lies, and the arrogance displayed by the Bush Administration. Iran just recieved a leg up in Iraq, and it is a very dangerous time to be a Sunni in Iraq. (Or, of course, an American). Blood??? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    Reply

  9. Pissed Off American says:

    BTW, speaking about “murder”, perhaps there IS a few in Washington that know the definition of the word. I suffer from no delusions that such an embargo will be very long lived, but if the following story is true, it imposes a small tickle of hope into my cynyicism. I wonder if Steve has heard any rumors about this, and if so, who exactly is spearheading it? And, just as importantly, who exactly is leading the fight to restore the flow of weaponry? I would hazard a guess that our so called representatives on the LEFT, such as Pelosi and Reid, have joined hips with several rightwingers in fighting to restore the flow of arms and technology. Dare Steve touch this subject, or does he risk having doors slammed shut if he speaks out? How about it Steve, who in Washington is for, and who is against, this embargo? (Honestly, I doubt such an embargo actually exists.)
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=118022
    Report: U.S. Blocking Weapons to Israel, Relations Worsening
    15:35 Dec 24, ’06 / 3 Tevet 5767
    (IsraelNN.com) Relations between Israel and the Bush administration have worsened to the point that the United States has blocked arms and technology transfers to Israel the past three months, according to the authoritative Mideast Newsline.
    The report quoted unnamed sources in both countries that relations have soured since the Hizbullah terrorist war last summer. The U.S. was expecting Israel to fulfill its announced intentions of beating back Hizbullah and rescuing two kidnapped IDF soldiers.
    American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had stated that there would be no ceasefire until the soldiers were returned but had to back down after Hizbullah withstood an Israeli offensive and killed and wounded dozens of soldiers. The Americans also have expressed disappointment and even anger for anti-terrorist incursions that resulted in a high number of civilian casualties in Lebanon and in the Gaza area.
    “Nobody will say openly that there is a problem,” a government source told Mideast Newsline, “but there is a serious problem that reflects the marginalization of Israel in U.S. strategy.”

    Reply

  10. Pissed Off American says:

    Nothing like a close death to rattle us out of our own arrogance and self-centered bubble. We loudly decry the deaths of 3000 American servicemen, or the loss of a close friend or family member. Yet we whisper about the 600,000 dead Iraqis. My bet? We probably had killed over 3000 Iraqis in the first 24hrs of our air campaign, and they have been dying ever since. The loss of our three thousand service men and women was self imposed by our leadership. By lies. But not so the 600,000 Iraqis. Their deaths are nothing short of MURDER. These are true “innocents” in every sense of the word.
    Steve speaks here of predictable mortality. A friend with long term health problems. Another friend struck down by heart attack. And he describes yet another victim of the terrible crime rate that Washington is known for.
    Now, multiply the pain, the loss, by hundreds of thousands, children, mothers, fathers, providers, all struck down by the arrogance and corruption of this Executive Administration. We are ALL judged by the actions of our President. How many Iraqis are directly affected by the rain of death that Bush has unleashed upon thier communities? How many Iraqis feel the pain Steve describes? The pain of loss? How many Iraqis now hate the nation, the leaders, the people, that have wrought such pain upon their communities, their families?
    And our cowardly mewling incoming leadership says “impeachment is off the table”. No one is to be held accountable for the lies? For the sea of blood we have bathed Iraq in? Our leaders are free to criminally unleash such misery without fear of retribution or punishment? Good God, we just MURDERED more than half a million people, and these incoming assholes raise less stink than was raised over a fucking blow job?
    Its no wonder they hate us.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    We are probably going to be crying a lot more.
    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/122206B.shtml
    here is interview between Scott Ritter and Sy Hersh..take it for what it is worth. Ritter has been right once…but there is something about Ritter that has always had a little quirk in it….I can’t put my finger on it..but too often I get the impression he is getting us “ready” for an attack on Iran while posing as a bystander.

    Reply

  12. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks MLS — steve

    Reply

  13. MLS says:

    Re Campbell and Flournoy’s departures, you should check your email … as Chris Nelson reported on Friday, they are not going to the Truman Project, but instead a brand new venture called the Project for a New American Security.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *