(Richard Vague and blogger Juan Cole speak at New America Foundation/American Strategy Program dinner for Zbigniew Brzezinski)
I have become a fan of a daily email and blog site, DelanceyPlace.com, that is published by businessman Richard Vague.
Vague is the founding Chairman and former CEO of First USA Bank which he sold before becoming the head of Barclays’ American credit card operations at Juniper Financial. He has now moved on from that and is planning a new foray in the energy sector.
Vague wrote his own critique of Geoge Bush’s so-called global war on terror in a set of collected essays titled “Terrorism: A Brief for Americans” which I have helped distribute. I think that it’s a clear-headed, honest, and classically conservative take on America’s deteriorating global position.
His essays are well worth reading. One of the fascinating things to see is the widespread interest in Richard Vague’s brief at Rotary and Lion’s Club groups across the U.S. And reaching small business owners and other general conservatives frustrated with our current national security course has been hard to do, but Vague has been doing it.
But separate from the heavy stuff, I also recommend if you have the patience for another email list the roster of his daily missives that derive from the extensive reading he does. Today’s hit is a snippet of Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate. There is always some fascinating tidbit that he sends out — to a list of now more than 11,000 people.
And here is his important entry of May 17th on Israel’s nuclear weapons program:
In today’s encore excerpt — in the 1950s, Israel becomes one of a now-growing list of countries that have made an unauthorized, clandestine entry into the world of nuclear armaments:
“The Israeli program is nearly as old as the state itself. [David] Ben-Gurion authorized it in 1952. . . . [Benjamin Netanyahu] told me that if the survival of the country was at stake, the Israelis would use it and worry about the consequences later. . .
“In the 1950s, with French assistance, the Israelis had begun to construct a large reactor in the Negev and a facility for processing the fuel rods needed to make plutonium. Then, in 1959, De Gaulle became president of France and said French assistance could continue only if Ben-Gurion gave public assurance that the reactor would be used solely for peaceful purposes.
This he did, while knowing full well that the reactor was going to be used to make plutonium for nuclear weapons. The reactor was completed in 1963. During this time the Israelis and the Americans engaged in a kind of theater of the absurd. The Americans demanded inspections and the Israelis came up with one ingenious maneuver after another to avoid them. For example, the Americans were informed that the nuclear complex at Dimona was a textile factory. . .What brought an end to this farce was the testimony of an immigrant Moroccan Jew named Mordechai Vanunu.
“In 1977. . .Vanunu got a job as a manager in the graveyard shift at the nuclear plant. . .Vanunu’s clearance gave him access to all levels of secure sites at the plant.. . . He went to London with his story of Israel’s nuclear program and photographs to back it up.
These were published in the London Sunday Times and created a sensation. Vanunu was lured to Rome by a young woman, an Israeli agent, and kidnapped by the Mossad [Israel’s intelligence agency]; he was taken back to Israel where he spent seventeen years in prison, partly in harsh solitary confinement. He is now living under tight security in Israel. It was clear from what he revealed. . .that Israel. . .has a very considerable and varied nuclear arsenal.”
Jeremy Bernstein, “The Secrets of the Bomb”, The New York Review of Books, May 25, 2006, pp. 42-3
I’m so busy reading a mound of other foreign policy and national security related materials that the remarkably diverse daily selections from Richard Vague keep me semi-balanced.
Off to New York today.
— Steve Clemons
Update: For those with further interest, here is a short speech that Vague presented on May 24, 2007 to the Wilmington Rotary Club titled “A Solution to Terrorism.”
— Steve Clemons