Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Insightful words

Two op/ed pieces in today's Washington Post. (I know, I've already lost the conservative readers by claiming that insight could come from the Washington Post; bear with me, please, I'll be talking about the Washington Times below).

The first piece is by Anne Applebaum and begins with a quote attributed to the spymaster Markus Wolf: I did of course know of many of the terrible crimes of the Stalin era even while they were under way; anyone who says he knew nothing is a liar. She ends by writing,
Indeed, in retrospect, Wolf's intelligence "achievements" hardly seem to matter: The significance of a few moles pales beside the larger and more important cultural struggle between East and West. Even as he fought on behalf of the Soviet Union and its client states, Wolf -- who had spent his boyhood in Stalinist Moscow -- knew perfectly well that the West was more just, more affluent and more humane than his own cramped, repressive society. Most ordinary people knew it, too.

As we now debate torture, or domestic spying, or other dubious methods that will allegedly help us defeat radical Islam, it's worth remembering that the West won the Cold War not by matching the nastiness of Markus Wolf -- though some certainly tried to do so -- but by being, and remaining, a more open society.
Catch that ending: we won by being, and remaining, a more open society.

The other piece is by Richard Cohen. He writes,
There is something refreshing about George Stephanopoulos. After George Bush announced that he was firing Don Rumsfeld, Stephanopoulos -- on the air at the time -- actually seemed shocked that just a week earlier the president had said he would do no such thing. Stephanopoulos not only suggested that the president had lied but that he was wrong to have done so. In Georgetown, where the ABC newsman lives, such innocence must be considered quaint.

Washington's easy acceptance of lying, especially presidential lying, is beyond lamentable. It has cost the country plenty, including, of late, a war in a godforsaken place, which we are losing and are fighting for reasons that we no longer remember or that even matter.

Okay, I promised the Washington Times, in order to ensure equity between right and left. I already linked to this earlier today, but it's worth another round.

A piece by Nat Hentoff, who writes
Is there any wonder why -- among citizens of countries who are U.S. allies -- our leaders are regarded as hypocrites when they preach democracy and such American values as the rule of law?
Okay, that wasn't quite fair of me. Aside from leading with Mr. Hentoff's last sentence, Mr. Hentoff is, according to Wikipedia, an
American civil libertarian, free speech absolutist, pro-life advocate, anti-death penalty advocate, jazz critic, historian, biographer and anecdotist, and columnist for the Village Voice, Legal Times, Washington Times, The Progressive, Editor & Publisher, Free Inquiry and Jewish World Review.
My question to you, gentle reader: How do we hold our elected officials accountable? How to we ensure they follow the law and the Constitution? How to ensure truth and transparency in government?

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