Will we abandon the Iraqis who helped us?

The President and the military are busy reading up on Algeria’s 1950’s revolt against the French. This very thoughtful blog entry at Paco Pond examines the differences and similarities between these two conflicts and concludes with this haunting question:

But there’s one final consideration, something that truly troubled me about Horne’s book. That is the fate of the harkis, the Arabs who sided with the French. There were many thousands of them, and at the exodus of the French, they were slaughtered. The FLN were always vicious—and their viciousness was reciprocated, to be sure, by the French, but the FLN were brutal and unforgiving and murderous with those who had opposed them. No reeducation camps, as in Vietnam. Harkis had their throats slit, were disembowled, mutilated, left to die within earshot of French troops, who by terms of the disengagement agreement would not intervene to save their lives. The French were incredibly callous in their attitude toward their erstwhile allies. We can contrast that with the American effort to evacuate the leadership of South Vietnam. What will become of the translators, the drivers, the Iraqi collaborators with the American occupation? George Packer, in The New Republic, has argued that we should save everyone we can. But I’m afraid we will not follow his suggestion. Our collaborators will have to make their separate peace, if they can, with Al Qaeda or the Mehdi Army. I doubt we will accept them into this country. And the world will see the truth, to our shame, that to us, to this day, Muslim lives are expendable.

Now that we’ve unleashed Hell on the Iraqies I hear more and more of the Republican architects of this war saying that’s what’s going on is the Iraqi’s own fault. That sounds like the beginning of a rationalization for leaving the people who helped us behind to the same fate as the friends of the French in Algeria.

It would be the second time a Bush enabled the slaughter of innocents in Iraq.

Paying attention to the new Chairman

Right after his reelection I got far more google alerts about breaking news on Jim Oberstar than before. That’s because he was likely to become and is now the new Chairman of the House transoportation committee.

There is also little doubt that he will excercise his clout and do it far differently than Dan Young the Republican who previously chaired this committee. Oberstar is definitely one of the most knowledgable Congressmen on all the transportation issues and that’s what the jump in news stories about him demonstrated.

I’ve been so busy researching the 1974 campaign that got Jim elected that I haven’t taken time to keep this blog up-to-date. But the story in today’s Minneapolis paper couldn’t have happened if the story I’m working on hadn’t happened first.

On the Passing of Gerald Ford

Gerry Ford is one of the four Presidents I’ve seen albeit before he became President. He spoke to the summer interns in 1971 when I was in Washington and welcomed us to D.C.

I was very partial to Ford and when Ronald Reagan attempted to wrest the GOP nomination from him in 1976 I was a strong Ford partisan. I always blamed Bob Dole for his defeat even though most people blamed his loss on the Nixon pardon. I thought the pardon was the right thing to do.

I just read this bruising critique of Ford by Christopher Hitchens which is worth a read. Whenever everyone starts starts acting like a herd (and almost everyone has been saying nice things about Ford) its worth paying attention to the dissenters. Hitchens hasn’t changed my mind though. I’m still a Ford fan.

Christmas Carol and other stuff

Blogging and other political things were largely shoved to the side from Christmas to New Years. A couple days after Christmas Claudia and I traveled to the Twin Cities for one night. Neither of us had ever been to the Guthrie Theater and we were long overdue. As Claudia makes it a habit to watch six or seven VHS versions of the Christmas Carol each year I suggested that we see the famous Guthrie version. By the time we ordered tickets a month in advance the only seats available were for post Christmas presentations. 

We stayed in the old Milwaukee Road Depot which has been converted by the Marriott to a Hotel and dined in Cue (not the Cue) the Guthrie’s fancy restaurant which only serves locally grown produce. We wandered around the Guthrie in the afternoon before the performance and were impressed by the views of the Mississippi from its lofty overlook on the Guthrie’s cantilevered projection. The next day we took in the Mill City Museum in a largely destroyed grain mill. It’s only a block away from the Guthrie and is part of the gentrified and condominiumized grain elevators along the River. The museum is excellent and I learned a number of things about the business that I had not known before like for instance that the milling companies all but closed shop shortly after I moved to Minnesota in the 1960’s and switched over to the much more lucrative business of selling cereal. They’re Great! 

The little movie “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes” by home grown humorist Kevin Kling was a hoot and we bought one of his CD’s to listen to on our way back to DuluthWe then had lunch at “Spoonnriver” next door and sat two tables away from Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. Page was one of the famed Viking Purple People Eaters when I attended Mankato State in the 1970’s. He was seen in Mankato bars carrying what looked to be a very large cloth purse. No one ever gave him any grief about it any more than they would have harassed Rosie Grier for his needlework. 

The last time I saw Page I threw water on him. He was running one of the early Grandma Marathons and Claudia and I happened to be near Brighton Beach and pitched in to hand cups full of water to the runners. Page was running with his wife much to the chagrin of Viking management which was not eager to see one of its PPE’s shedding so much weigh to train for a marathon. When Page ran past I held out the water but he just asked me to throw it on him so I did. 

After lunch Claudia wanted to see the new Minneapolis Library which was also in the vicinity. It’s a grand building and made me long for the life of a librarian. Naturally we had to visit the Museum’s Book Store and to my delight I found three big biographies of Nixon including the Tom Wicker tome that reportedly was very kind to the old goat. They only cost me eight bucks and then on my way out I saw a pile of 25 cent books which included the Haldeman Diaries. I purchased that as well. Upon reviewing it for mentions of HHH I was surprised to see how little Humphrey was mentioned. This was leading up to the time that the Nixon Administration was investigating Humphrey’s campaign misdeeds. Although there was a very intriguing reference to a potential mutual blackmailing by Nixon and LBJ of each other’s actions (which was blacked out due to national security considerations) there wasn’t much on Humphrey. 

Now that Claudia is heading back to work I must renew my historical research. I can’t wait.