Robert Byrd, after living nearly as long as Methuselah and having served in the US Senate since shortly after Brutus stabbed Caesar, has died. Throughout his unpardonably lengthy stint as a public servant, he represented the rollingly rural hills of West Virginia, America’s third-whitest state.

Upon his death, Byrd was the only living member of Congress known to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. But despite that, and despite his white-knuckled opposition to Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, and his characterization of MLK as a “trouble-maker,” and his impenitent use of the “€œN-word”€ (i.e., “€œnigger”€) on TV as recently as 2001—his public legacy remains only slightly tarnished rather than the character-murder he”€™d have faced if, say, he”€™d been a Republican. Since he apologized, and since he was a Democrat, he’s been forgiven.

After all, Byrd claimed to have been affiliated with the Klan for only a year. Then again, it was enough time for him to have ascended to the roles of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops, both of which sound frighteningly authoritative to me, who has never been so much as invited to a Klan meeting. At least three years after Byrd purportedly severed ties with the dastardly Hate Group, he wrote a letter to a Grand Wizard in which he stated, “The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.” Byrd also didn”€™t seem all too fond of darkies when, in opposing integration of the US Armed Forces, he wrote, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

A full two decades after leaving the Klan, Byrd led the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, foaming and frothing and fulminating for over 14 hours until Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen—a Republican and one of the law’s authors—invoked cloture and passed the bill through Byrd’s intolerantly knobby knees. By the by, a much higher quotient of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats. Same thing happened during the next year’s Voting Rights Act.

“Truth is, the Democrats had been rolling with their own ‘Southern Strategy’ for a full century prior to Nixon’s presidency. But unlike Nixon, their strategy involved beatings and lynchings and voter fraud.”

I”€™ve often heard the terms “€œRepublican”€ and “€œKlansman”€ used as if they were synonymous. But who actually birthed the Ku Klux Klan, the White League, the Red Shirts, and the countless other white-supremacist organizations who terrorized, torched, and lynched blacks during and after Reconstruction?

Though hearing this news might hit you like a knee to the groin, these mobs were all organized and supported by the Democrats—at a time, mind you, when nearly all black voters were Republicans and the Party of Lincoln was electing black legislators in, um, spades.

Who wrote the Black Codes and the Jim Crow laws? Democrats. Who fought against the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments? Democrats. Who consistently opposed anti-lynching legislation? Democrats. Who endorsed Anglo-Saxon destiny and white racial purity? Democrats. Who came up with the poll taxes, literacy tests, residency requirements, and wholesale disfranchisement of the poor? Democrats, And which party did the Solid White South vote for starting from Reconstruction all the way up to the 1960s? Democrats, Democrats, Democrats.

Of course, you never hear about any of that. The way history is spun these days, Richard Nixon cynically concocted racial politics with his “€œSouthern Strategy”€ sometime around 1970. Truth is, the Democrats had been rolling with their own “€œSouthern Strategy”€ for a full century prior to Nixon’s presidency. But unlike Nixon, their strategy involved beatings and lynchings and voter fraud.

Who was that dude who opposed those integrated lunch counters in South Carolina? Why, it was Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings. Who stood in front of an Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 and proclaimed, “€œSegregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”€? That was Alabama Governor George Wallace”€”also a Democrat. Who was that fella who wielded an axe handle at Negroes and permanently closed his Atlanta restaurant rather than serve them? That would be Lester Maddox, a Democrat who eventually became Georgia’s governor. And who used his own state police to block the integration of a Little Rock high school all the way back in “€™57? We all know the answer to that one”€” Democratic Arkansas Governor Orval “€œBorn With a Racist-Sounding Name”€ Faubus.

“€œBut that was then and this is now,”€ you say. Yes, yes, I get it”€”times have changed. These days, the Democrats are all about Ghetto Luv. But for a huge chunk of their history, they were the Klan’s Best Friend. And through it all, they”€™ve been so fixated on race, it’s as if they”€™ve impaled themselves with it.

I give props to the Democrats for successfully selling the Big Lie that they always have been, and will always remain, the post-racial party. By casting Republicans”€”a group founded in 1854 primarily to end slavery”€”as The Racist Party, the Democrats appear to have pulled off one of the most impressive cases of large-scale guilt-projection in political history. Really, it took a jumbo-sized set of donkey balls to accomplish what they”€™ve done.

“If you have nothing else, you have your principles,” Lady Thatcher told me when things were pretty tough at The American Spectator in the late 1990s. Sharks were circling the ship, and there was blood in the water; I was getting anxious. She was serene, having just flown back from Beijing, but she was adamant. “You have your principles.” They endure, and they fortify you when things are dire.

Doubtless, Conrad Black has had his principles, too, and they are not much different from mine, though he is Canadian. For that matter, if you are reading this, they are not much different from yours: the sanctity of the individual, individual liberty, limited government, the rule of law. Now, because he has resisted being put away in a dark place for 6 1/2 years, the rule of law is more secure. On June 24, all nine Supreme Court justices sided with him. The “honest services” statute of a 1988 law that has been used ever since to prosecute white-collar crime is too vague and unconstitutional. The court has remanded Black’s conviction back to a lower court for reconsideration. I hope it is just a matter of time before his long ordeal is over.

He has lost his company, which provided an alternative to the mainstream media around the English-speaking world. He lost his fortune and many friends. To the friends, I would say au revoir. They were not much anyway, and besides he has Seth Lipsky, Ira Stoll, Roger Hertog and thousands of others who have proved their mettle by sticking with him. And most emphatically, he has his principles.

Through the years he has fought for his freedom and the 27 months he has spent in prison, I never have seen him waver in his confidence in eventual vindication. Nor have I seen him lose faith in the American rule of law or the Constitution. He got a bad break, but he recognized that in the American system of justice, he still had a chance. Nine justices have spoken. He has his chance. Now let us hope that the lower court does the decent thing and lets him go. He has had one of the most brilliant constitutional lawyers of his generation, Miguel Estrada, who himself might have been on the Supreme Court had it not been for the partisan poisons out there. Estrada will be hustling to get him out on bail while he awaits reconsideration.

“Conrad did not belong there, but that was beside the point. We were paying our respects to a great newspaperman, and he was full of fight.”

I had the opportunity—it would be a stretch to call it a pleasure—to visit him in prison at Coleman, Fla.‘s, low-security prison. I was not the only one. Hertog visited him regularly, sometimes under very unpleasant circumstances. And the excellent Lipsky put in an appearance. Lipsky was like me: “What the hell am I doing here?” But it was the least we could do. We were paying our respects to a great newspaperman, and he was full of fight.
Prison is no place to be. If people talked more about it, not so many people would be trifling with such places today. Conrad did not belong there, but that was beside the point. He wanted to talk about the things we always talked about in the past, but first he directed me from the sun court. I thought I could at least get some sun. He directed me from the heat and saved my hide. He talked about elections, great people and great issues from the present and the past. He speculated on the future and talked about economics and the sorry state of American industrial output. He never dwelt on his own condition. That was the great war of the lawyers.

Through the last few years, he had time on his hands, and seeing an opportunity, I asked him to write for The American Spectator. He is not only a gifted publisher but also a very energetic student of history—and a noted biographer of Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. He did a long essay on George W. Bush, FDR, and the consequences of Bush’s re-election. Later he wrote on Sean Wilentz’s book The Rise of American Democracy, Martin and Annelise Anderson’s Reagan’s Secret War, and my own book on Clinton in retirement, The Clinton Crack-Up. The review was favorable, but I would not say it glowed. Conrad is his own man. Look for our September issue, in which he reviews Teddy Roosevelt’s visions of America. He liked Teddy. They are two of a kind.

Now he sits in Coleman, Fla., awaiting a lower court’s orders. He was tried on 13 counts, and he beat nine of them. He was convicted of three counts of fraud and one of obstruction of justice; he had agreed to his former company’s request that he empty his office. That was construed by our government as obstruction. The hope here is that he will be cleared on all counts.

An anxious nation awaits. Yes, it’s Labour leadership contest time—in which all the thoroughly untarnished candidates from this highly responsible party vie to inherit the glorious mantle let fall by that great statesman and patriot, “Cincinnatus” Gordon Brown.

There are four ex-ministers in the lists. Of these valued veterans, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband is favorite amongst the turf accountant fraternity. Like us all, the bookies clearly cannot wait to see him become “a great unifying force on all shades of centre left opinion in this country”—so obviously what the country needs after 13 years of centre left government.

The BBC tells us that David’s “intellectual ability is widely admired” (although not by whom). As Foreign Secretary, he presided over such triumphs as Iraq and Afghanistan and the devastating chiding of Russia over South Ossetia, after which the crushed Russian foreign minister asked him, “Who are you to f***ing lecture me?”

David has other qualities. According to the Daily Telegraph‘s Bryony Gordon, writing last April, he has a “charming boyishness that appeals to one’s maternal side…he always appears so handsome…when I watched him on Question Time…it was a bit like porn.” That fine judge of men Hilary Clinton is equally smitten, saying in 2009 that she found our hero “vibrant, vital, attractive, smart.” There are two Facebook groups called “David Miliband is HOT,” one with 91 and one with 252 connoisseurs of male attractiveness.

Operating against these innumerable pluses, however, are undoubted minuses—a reputation for prevarication and poor presentation, being disliked by the left, being liked by Peter Mandelson, and worst of all what the Independent of June 10 described as “a little rabbity tuft of hair going up in front”.

“Andy Burnham is the last of the ‘male, pale and stale’ contenders (to quote the Guardian of June 9). Mercifully there is a female, sun-kissed, fresh alternative, in the generous shape of Diane Abbott.

As part of his unifying mission, David will need to start with his own family, because sibling Ed is also standing for the coveted post. David maintains that “brotherly love will survive,” but progressive prognosticators are concerned about a “Cain and Abel struggle” between “the Milkiband Kids.” Again according to the ever-insightful Independent, Ed is “Cuter than David…Gonk to his brother’s Geek.” Against these obvious merits must be placed his authorship of the 2010 Labour manifesto, and being liked by Neil Kinnock.

Next is another Ed, Balls (insert punctuation where appropriate) who, quoth the Independent, “passionately wants to win”. Sadly, Ed would appear to be almost the only person who wants him to win. He will be damaged by his reputation for bullying and what Alistair Campbell called his “awful” strategies and his “drivel” at meetings.

Next is Andy Burnham, who is, says the BBC, “affable…[but] his youthful appearance and lack of wide experience” will count against him. His chief asset is that he is the least unpopular candidate—but this may be because no one knows who he is. 

He is the last of the “male, pale and stale” contenders (to quote the Guardian of June 9). But mercifully there is a female, sun-kissed, fresh alternative, in the generous shape of Diane Abbott, Britain’s first black woman MP and a voluble commentator. She has been especially opposed to selective schooling—for other people. She attended Harrow grammar school, then Cambridge. She later sent her son to a £10,000 per annum private school, which she admitted was “intellectually incoherent” But then, as she explained, non-West Indians “wouldn”€™t understand”. This ultimate outsider has also been a civil liberties campaigner and TV reporter—despite being what the Independent termed “a bit bonkers on the box”. One can only imagine what heights she might have attained had she not been a black woman!

Her candidacy has energized the proletarian commentariat, with the Indie‘s Simon Carr calling her on June 11 “The gatecrasher who can save the party,” while the ever-reliable Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is half in love with the “strong, dark mahogany face” of the “uppity” Abbott who will, she hopes, “lead the resistance” to the despicable Tories.

It is now up to Labour supporters to make the historic choice, to be announced in September. The rest of us can only wait, and hope they select the leader they so richly deserve.

Is the grindingly low scoring in the World Cup soccer tournament a bug or”€”as I”€™m finally starting to suspect”€”a feature? Could it be that the World Cup’s global popularity is not so much despite all the nil-nil draws as because of the grimness of the scores?

The three-match mini-season that opened the 2010 World Cup set a new record for futility with the 32 teams scoring only 101 goals in 96 tries, or just 1.05 per team per game.

The American team, despite seemingly not noticing that its games had started until about a half hour had gone by, was, relatively speaking, an offensive juggernaut, scoring four times in its three group stage games. The only squad the USA managed to beat, Algeria, didn”€™t score at all in 2010. Portugal, led by the world’s most celebrated striker, Christiano Ronaldo, tied Argentina for most goals with seven, but all were notched against North Korean famine victims. Portugal’s other two encounters each sputtered out 0-0.

Six of the 48 games ended 0-0, thirteen 1-0, six 1-1, and six 2-0. In contrast, there was only a single 3-2 game, the final score that naïve American viewers would typically pick as the ideal balance of entertainment and rigor.

Why was scoring down in 2010?

Perhaps the victory of the unheralded Italian squad in 2006 reminded coaches of the success Italy has enjoyed (six Final Fours out of the last eleven World Cups) despite a low birthrate.

Much of the pleasure of the World Cup comes from seeing national stereotypes validated (methodical Germans, fun-loving Brazilians, etcetera), but the Italians have been disconcertingly devoted to winning ugly. Rather than playing like Benvenuto Cellini-style supremos showing off individual brilliance while plunging into collective anarchy, Italian teams have traditionally emulated a contrary regional archetype: the cunning, miserly peasant family. (This year, with even more teams playing like Mediterranean farmers stubbornly conniving Jean de Florette out of his irrigation water, the Italians went home early.)

Although the 2010 World Cup established a new mark for ineffectuality, it’s not as if 1.05 goals per game is anomalous. I”€™ve been following World Cups since 1970, and they”€™ve been like this my entire lifetime. The last time World Cup teams averaged over 1.5 goals per game was in 1958.

“The lack of proficiency also makes each of the few goals seem more epic, more worthy of being carved on the player’s tombstone: “Scored goal against Honduras in 2010 World Cup.”

Scoring trends have diverged in the cousin sports of soccer and American football. In the American cool weather game, scores have gradually risen as competence increased. In the 1970 NFL season, for instance, teams scored 3.5 times per game: 2.2 touchdowns and 1.3 field goals. (I”€™ll ignore point-after-touchdown conversions as vestigial.) That was 2.4 times the 1970 World Cup scoring rate of 1.48 goals per team per match.

By the most recent year, NFL teams were up to 4.1 scores per game (2.6 touchdowns and 1.5 field goals), while World Cup teams were down to 1.05. Hence, the NFL now sees almost four times as many scores as the World Cup.

Yet, both enterprises have flourished extravagantly over the last four decades. In a world that smugly congratulates itself on its purported increasing diversity, tastes in spectator sports have been homogenizing: football in America and soccer elsewhere.

It seems likely that the two kinds of football, in their different but both triumphant evolutions, are giving the people what they want. Hard as it can be for Americans to believe, people like soccer’s offensive ineptitude.

The appeal of high-scoring American football”€”with its action, expertise, and comebacks against the clock”€”is as obvious as the appeal of American summer movies.

In contrast, low-scoring soccer fulfills other human desires: such as, to not lose. Americans find it derisible that of the first 48 World Cup games, 14 ended without a victor. (As General Patton noted, “Americans love a winner.”) But that means that 65 percent of the time, fans avoided the national humiliation of defeat.

Bad offense also keeps hope alive throughout the match. If, say, England takes a 1-0 lead in the first four minutes, you can always hope their goalie will muff an easy one. Moreover, the narrowness of the margin gives you more excuse to complain that the referee cheated you.

The lack of proficiency also makes each of the few goals seem more epic, more worthy of being carved on the player’s tombstone: “Scored goal against Honduras in 2010 World Cup.”

Finally, low-scoring games are easy for fans to talk about because there isn”€™t much to recollect: a couple of goals and your favorite coulda woulda shoulda moment. In contrast, NFL games average eight scores, and, honestly, who can remember all that?

American games, such as baseball, tend to be described best statistically. Yet, humans don”€™t naturally like to think statistically. They like to think in narratives, and attribute outcomes (if they win) to the proper workings of moral justice, or (if they don”€™t) to sneaky villains, for which soccer is perfect.

Patrick Buchanan commented on Friday about the cashiering of General Stanley McChrystal. Buchanan focused upon the dissimilarities between Obama’s firing of McChrystal and President Harry Truman’s firing of General Douglas MacArthur in 1951. McChrystal is a special forces General, a technician dispatched to Kabul to implement a counter-insurgency strategy which Obama himself had ordered. They were on the same page. MacArthur and Truman were not.

McChrystal has been sacked in retaliation for a few off-the-cuff remarks in an overly long magazine article. McChrystal and his gung-ho staff disparaged certain members of Team Obama, including Obama himself. This indiscretion could have easily been overlooked in the interests of the presumed greater good of winning the Afghan war. Every top official in NATO and President Karzai advised against booting McChrystal. But evidently Obama was afraid of looking like a weeny if he only took Stan to the woodshed, and then sent him back on the field.

Stanley McChrystal is a spooky, special operations guy, a cog in the killing machine known—during the co-presidency of Dick Cheney and G.W. Bush—as GWOT, the global war on terror. He was transferred from Iraq to Afghanistan to replace the more traditional four-star General, David McKiernan, whom Gates had abruptly dismissed in May 2009.

McKiernan was in charge of the ground forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. At that time he was the superior officer of both future war heros, David Petraeus and Stan McChrystal. McKiernan did nothing wrong in Afghanistan, but he made the mistake of observing that Afghanistan was far more complex than anything he had encountered in Iraq and that it might take fourteen years to pacify the country. Obama wanted to be successfully out of there before reelection time 2012. Who can blame him?

So this makes the second combat General in a row, charged with the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan, to be relieved of command by Gates and Obama. This suggests to me that the miscalculations of Cheney/Rumsfeld and G.W. Bush have come back to haunt us, and that Robert Gates and Team Obama have only made matters worse. They have spread the fire to neighboring Pakistan and helped further traumatize the region. Concurrently, they are embarked on a nonstop campaign to destabilize Iran, using the dubious premise that Iran is working on an atomic bomb to blast Israel off the map. Shades of Saddam’s WMD.  

Take a look at the big picture. It is easy to get lost in the weeds. Obama, Biden, Gates, McChrystal, Petraeus, the Washington Neoconartists and their “Liberal” Democrat fellow travelers—Hillary Clinton being the most prominent—are all trapped inside the same box of interventionism and empire. They can’t see beyond it; their careers depend upon accepting the circumstances at hand. Most Americans are unable to pick Afghanistan out on a map of the world. Why should they? Full disclosure: I do not regard Afghanistan as worth the life of a single U.S. Marine. It is on a par with Washington’s ruinously expensive misadventure in Iraq. 

“Bear in mind that ‘the mission’ in Afghanistan is not a declared war. This is yet another Presidential war, with a blank-check authorization by a feckless Congress in the aftermath of 9/11. Every official folly in the world has been justified by reference to 9/11.”

At this stage, everyone should take a deep breath and read Professor John Mearsheimer’s essay, entitled Hollow Victory, posted in November of last year on the Foreign Policy website. It is refreshingly honest, although grim and a little scary. A sample: “The real tragedy of Vietnam is not that the United States lost, but that it became involved in the first place.” Mearsheimer graduated from West Point in 1970 and served in the U.S Air Force five years, before heading to Academia. Further on: “In Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, it simply does not matter whether the United States wins or loses. It makes no sense for the Obama administration to expend more blood and treasure to vanquish the Taliban. The United States should accept defeat and immediately begin to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan…. As was the case in Vietnam, more American soldiers and many more civilians are going to die in Afghanistan. And for no good reason.”

Bear in mind that “the mission” in Afghanistan is not a declared war. This is yet another Presidential war, with a blank-check authorization by a feckless Congress in the aftermath of 9/11. Every official folly in the world has been justified by reference to 9/11. Why did the U.S. and NATO become engaged on the ground in Afghanistan in the first place? The answer is, the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington on September 11th, 2001. This is the card Obama played in his important speech on December 1, 2009 at West Point in spelling out his new strategy: “Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them—an authorization what continues to this day…. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan an Pakistan.” One might ask, to where exactly? How does this crusade end?

Which brings me back to Patrick Buchanan. There was an interesting exchange on the night of June 18 between him and fellow conservative, Monica Crowley, of the McLaughlin Group, about why the entrance to the Supreme Court has been permanently closed. John McLaughlin set it up:

MR. McLAUGHLIN: ….no more can Chief Justice John Roberts or anyone enter through the massive sculptured bronze doors, each weighing over 12,000 pounds. The reason? National security, a terrorist attack.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, they’re turning this city of mine that I grew up in into a big fortress. Why? Because of the threat of terrorism. Why are we threatened by terrorism? Because we are not a republic, we have become an empire; we are all over the world, fighting with people, shooting people, and they’re coming over here to kill us.

MS. CROWLEY: We’re a target of terrorism because we’re a democracy. It’s the ideals for which we stand. And we have radical fundamental Islamic terrorists who have targeted us since 9/11, before we were in Iraq, before we were in Afghanistan…

I like Monica’s looks, but her thinking on foreign policy is often irrational, and it puts her into the Dick Cheney/Neocon camp of irreversible myopia. Do people actually think that 9/11 came from out of the blue, or happened because Arab terrorists hate American democracy?

While it is true that we were not in Iraq or Afghanistan prior to 9/11, we were in Saudi Arabia and Palestine, where reside the three holiest sites of Islam: Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. Everything bad that Tel Aviv has done in the name of Zionism since 1948, and especially since 1967, is viewed by the Arab world to have been achieved thanks to Washington’s complicity. With minor speed bumps, that policy continues under Obama, Hillary and Joe Biden. As for Saudi Arabia, we were there pre-9/11 because George Bush Sr. twisted the arm of King Fahd in 1990 to allow the stationing of American troops inside the Kingdom to counter the hyped threat from Saddam Hussein. King Fahd was very reluctant to do that. He understood the implications.

After defeating Saddam and wrecking Iraq in “Operation Desert Storm”, American troops stayed put in Saudi Arabia. Iraq was placed under a murderous economic blockade, similar to what today is being done to Gaza. Concurrently, Bill Clinton presided over an interminable “peace process” between Yasser Arafat and Israel, which charade enabled Tel Aviv to expropriate more land and water from the powerless Palestinians on the West Bank and in Jerusalem, and move in more “settlers”, financed by the U.S. Treasury. These were the proximate causes of 9/11. It is called blowback, the unintended consequences of unwise U.S. foreign policy.

The blowback continues. What the Mujaheddin did to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980’s is being repeated today, roughly speaking, to the lone surviving Superpower. Thanks to the gratuitous sideshow known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (aka the three trillion dollar war) and thanks to the rag-tag Taliban’s comeback in Afghanistan, and to all the ramifications flowing from the larger “war on terror”, Washington is on the verge of going bust. Do we need this? It should have been avoided at all cost. The firing of Stan McChrystal is little more than a footnote to this national tragedy.

President Obama is being hailed for toughness in his firing of Gen. McChrystal and brilliance in his replacing him as Afghan field commander with Gen. David Petraeus, who managed the George W. Bush “surge” in Iraq that saved this nation from an ignominious defeat.

Herewith, a dissent.

By firing a fighting general, beloved of his troops, Obama just took upon himself full responsibility for the McChrystal Plan. The general is off the hook.

As of now, the plan is not succeeding. And given the inability of Kabul to deliver the “government in a box” to Marja, after Marines supposedly de-Talibanized the town, the McChrystal Plan is failing. The Battle of Kandahar has not yet begun, though the June D-Day has come and gone.

Should we be in this same bloody stalemate in December, Obama will be blamed for having fired his field commander who devised his battle plan, and was carrying it out, over some stupid insults from staff officers to some counterculture magazine.

More critically, Obama just made himself hostage to a savvy general who is said to dream of one day holding Obama’s office.

Consider the box Obama just put himself in.

In 2009, he sacked Gen. David McKiernan and replaced him with his own man, Gen. McChrystal. Now, he has sacked McChrystal and replaced him with Petraeus.

The former community organizer and acolyte of Saul Alinsky cannot now possibly fire the most popular and successful general in the U.S. Army, who accepted a demotion to take command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, without a firestorm that would consume his presidency.

“Here is the likely scenario: Petraeus will argue that, while progress is being made, we cannot meet our goals by July 2011. Years more of combat will be required to win the war.”

If Obama has not noticed, the neocons, who want a “long war” in the Islamic world and a new war with Iran, are celebrating the Petraeus appointment with far greater unanimity than Obama’s own staff.

Why is the War Party celebrating? Petraeus is one of them.

And the untouchable general’s demands have begun to come in.

Clearly, Obama has been told he must back away from his declared deadline of July 31, 2011, for beginning withdrawals of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. And Obama is already moving to do so.

Vice President Joe Biden’s statement in Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise” that, “in July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it,” has already been challenged by Defense’s Robert Gates.

No such decision has yet been made, said Gates.

Look to Obama, soon, to walk back that July 2011 date and declare that any withdrawal of U.S. troops will be “conditions-based”—another way of saying that if we are not winning the war in July 2011, we are not coming home.

Here is the likely scenario.

At the December review of the Afghan war, Petraeus will argue that, while progress is being made, we cannot meet our goals by July 2011. Years more of combat will be required to win the war.

Petraeus will ask the president for more time, perhaps years more, and perhaps ask for more troops, 20,000 or 30,000, to complete the mission and ensure Afghanistan is not again a sanctuary for al-Qaida.

Thus, in December 2010, Obama becomes LBJ in December 1967, when Gen. William Westmoreland, with 500,000 troops in Vietnam, came to the White House to ask for 200,000 more. LBJ said no.

And as the Republican right hammered him for not bombing Hanoi and blockading Haiphong, Sens. Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy entered the primaries against him from the left.

Richard Nixon, saying five years of unsuccessful prosecution of a war called out for new leadership, was marching to the nomination of a party he had helped reunite after the Barry Goldwater disaster.

The outlook bleak, his party splintering, LBJ declared on March 31, 1968, that he would not run again.

If Obama repudiates his July 2011 date for first withdrawals of U.S. troops, if he agrees to any new Petraeus troop request, his party will split and he will face a primary challenge from the antiwar left.

But if he stands with Biden and says the July 2011 date holds, and the troops start home in July, Petraeus would likely put out word that his hands are being tied and he will not fight a no-win war.

Should Petraeus resign his command under such circumstances, he would become a Douglas MacArthur-like hero to the GOP, and could wind up as No. 2 on the ticket. And that could send Barack Obama home to Chicago.

Obama should have left McChrystal to succeed or fail with the McChrystal Plan. Had he succeeded, Obama also would have succeeded. Had he failed, Obama would have been free to relieve him and tell the nation: “We gave it our best shot, with our best general, with all the resources he requested. Regrettably, we did not succeed. Now we are coming home.”

That option was closed when he fired McChrystal and made himself the political prisoner of Gen. David Petraeus.


Something happened to British architects after the Second World War. Rugged Howard Roarke-like geniuses and obscure mediocrities alike shared an aesthetic that, for some reason, no one outside the profession understood. Perhaps the architecture schools gave them sets of glasses that made them to see the world in a way the rest of us cannot. I have yet to meet a British architect who does not believe that the Trellick Tower, a 31-storey socialist-realist monstrosity that dominates the northern reaches of Notting Hill, is beautiful. I have never met anyone else who would not prefer to see it erased from the skyline that it disfigures. I curse the Irish Republican Army for accepting a ceasefire before it brought the damn thing down. Blowing up pubs in Birmingham and churches in the City of London (London’s centro storico, not to be confused with Greater London) rather than Trellick must have been Ireland’s punishment for seven centuries of British colonial rule. Ian Fleming hated the Trellick Tower so much when it was commissioned in 1966 that he named his most famous villain for its designer, Erno Goldfinger.

Goldfinger lived in an old brick mansion in leafy Hampstead, even as he confined the proles to concrete prisons that resembled nothing so much as multi-storey car parks. (Trellick became a magnet for criminals, who dealt drugs and raped women in its darkened stairways. It cost millions in “€œsecurity improvements”€ to make it marginally safer for the residents who were forced out of their old neighborhoods and made to live there.) I don”€™t know a British architect who actually lives in a house built in his lifetime. Richard Rogers’s domicile is in a Georgian terrace in Chelsea, and my old friend Tchaik Chassay inhabits a large flat in a Victorian building in Notting Hill. Yet they are creating a world for the rest of us that ruptures our ties to the type of houses in which they choose to live. If I try to see the world as they do, and I have out of consideration for our friendship, I fail. It is hard to contemplate the sublime attributes of the tower blocks south of the River Thames, the indecipherable cement maze that is the Barbican Arts Center and commercial developments like Canary Wharf.

In this, I find myself in the company of the great mass of Britons, with whom I disagree at least 99.9 per cent of the time, and the Prince of Wales. I don”€™t really like siding with the majority, who are invariably wrong. Finding myself allied to a crown prince sits uneasily with my lifelong republican (not to be confused with Republican) sentiments. Yet I must thank Prince Charles for blocking a project to replace the old Chelsea Barracks along the River Thames with modern steel and glass apartments for billionaires that would have made the north side of the river as unappealing as the south. (The only good thing about living on the south side of the Thames is that your view is of the north’s Georgian and Victorian masterpieces. People who live in the Trellick Tower say its only compensation is that it is one of the few vantages in west London from which you cannot see the Trellick Tower.) The prince has saved a stretch of the Thames from the fate of much of the rest of this city, and nobody is thanking him.

For those of you who do not spend much time in England, a little background. A recent trial in the High Court involved Prince Charles, the architect Richard (now Lord) Rogers, property developers Christian and Nick Candy and the royal family of Qatar. The lawsuit was brought by the Candy brothers”€™ company, CPC, against a company called Qatari Diar. The Candy brothers, whose love of Britain obliges them to avoid paying tax in the country that provided their wealth by taking up residence in the Principality of Monaco, sued Qatari Diar. Qatari Diar is the investment company of the royal family of Qatar, said to hold the most valuable property portfolio in the world. Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani , somehow finds time while governing his country to act as chairman of the family property empire. Qatari Diar, to the annoyance of its partners in CPC, withdrew its application for permission to build a complex of luxury apartments at the Chelsea Barracks site that it had purchased for £969 million. The whole project was said to be worth £3 billion. CPC filed a lawsuit that alleged the withdrawal had cost it £81 million. The architect was, as he had been on another Candy-Qatar project in Knightsbridge beside the Hyde Park Hotel, Lord Rogers. The plans were, in common with the rest of Rogers’s oeuvre, modern in the extreme. The buildings on the site would have resembled nothing in the neighborhood and would have contrasted sharply with one of the capital’s masterpieces, Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, nearby. Chelsea residents were opposed, but their views (based on past experience) did not count.

“When the monarchy is abolished Westminster Council must offer Prince Charles a place on its planning committee. He could do more good there than sitting in Buckingham Palace, keeping his mouth shut and obeying politicians.

As the project was coming up for approval or rejection by the planning committee of Westminster council, Prince Charles wrote a letter to Sheikh Hamad. Dated 9 March 2010, the letter asked the sheikh “€œto reconsider the plans for the Chelsea site before it is too late.”€ The prince wrote, “€œI only mention this because, quite frankly, my heart sank when I saw the plans that had been proposed for the old Chelsea Barracks site, opposite the Royal Hospital, by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment.”€ Nine weeks later, Sheikh Hamad found time between cabinet meetings to respond to Britain’s heir to the throne. His letter defended Rogers’s design and said the project would go ahead. Soon after, Prince Charles invited the Emir of Qatar (confusingly called Hamad as well), Sheikh Hamad’s cousin and sovereign, to tea at Clarence House. After that tete a tete, Qatari Diar withdrew the plans.

When it emerged at the trial that Prince Charles had intervened, the architectural establishment and the press put on their self-righteous hats and complained of interference in the democratic process. Ruth Reed of the Royal Institute of British Architects said, “€œNo individual should use their [sic] influence in public life to influence a democratic process such as planning.”€ Anyone who has ever applied for planning permission to enlarge a bathroom in London knows the process is about as democratic as awarding oil contracts in Saudi Arabia. Architects, developers, estate agents and landlords all weigh in with whatever influence they can muster to make sure the bureaucrats come to the decision that will make them the most money. (You need only look at what the developers did to the sites graciously cleared for them by the Luftwaffe in 1940 to understand that democracy “€“ which was manifested in most people’s desire to live in terrace houses with gardens among the neighbors they knew “€“ has not played a major role where property and money are concerned.)

The Guardian‘s Robert Booth intoned in terms shared by most of his colleagues, “€œThe case has raised serious questions over whether the prince overstepped his constitutional role by becoming involved in a democratic planning process…”€ Yet Prince Charles did not overstep his constitutional role (whatever that may be, given that he is a crown prince and not a king) by attempting to influence politicians. He dealt with two businessmen, the Emir of Qatar and Sheikh Hamad, in their capacity as financial backers of scheme the prince believed would blight an area of London whose architectural majesty he did not want to see diminished. He did not lean on Westminster’s local council or its planners (although he appears to have considered doing so). There was nothing improper about a man who happens to be a prince lobbying businessmen to drop a project he did not like. The businessmen were free to deny his request, as Sheikh Hamad intitially did. It would have been odd of the prince, if he felt so strongly about the Chelsea Barracks site, to have remained out of the fray.

The Prince of Wales spoke for everyone in London who has wearied of modernist architecture and its grip over local planning departments. No one likes to see architects, with their peculiar aesthetic, bulldozing of whole neighborhoods to erect temples of vanity to themselves, their patrons and Mammon. One thing is certain. If Prince Charles had not spoken to the Emir, ground would be broken for a scheme that would have disgraced the Royal Hospital and its gardens. Take a look at One Hyde Park, the Candy brothers glass block that obstructs the view of Hyde Park from Knightsbridge and will soon be complete. When its predecessor building, Bowater House, came down, I silently rejoiced. It was a space age (remember the space age?) brute whose only redeeming features were a wonderful Jacob Epstein sculpture of Pan with the family of man and a passage that permitted a sight of the park from the south. Then I saw the drawings for its replacement. As the months went by, I watched it go up, pane by pane. This is where architecture differs from the other arts. If I don”€™t like a painting, I don”€™t buy it or hang it on my wall. If I dislike a composer, I don”€™t go to his concerts. But a building cannot be avoided. It is what you see every day. It fashions your environment. You have a right to be heard if you don”€™t want your world altered beyond recognition.

Rowan Moore wrote recently in the Observer about the Sussex farmhouse, Hancox, in which he grew up (and where I was a sometimes guest): “€œA house shelters a family, but it also represents it… The rambling corridors and stairs were perfect for shoot-outs with visiting cousins.”€ The modernist block houses for thenouveau riche might be perfect for shoot-outs, but more likely between the private security firms who guard them and the mobs clamoring to tear them down.

When the monarchy is abolished, as I hope it will be, Westminster Council must offer Prince Charles a place on its planning committee. There, I am sure, he will do his best to spare us the excess of architectural fantasy. He could do more good there than sitting in Buckingham Palace, keeping his mouth shut and obeying politicians.

If ‘censorship is to art as lynching is to justice,’ artist Gregos Theopsy temporarily sported a loose noose around his neck—and not of the fashionable variety. Little did Theopsy imagine that the killing of three bank employees on May 5 in Athens would have any bearing on the presentation of his hand-crafted bomb in the Palais de Tokyo during the same week.

As Pericles once said, “just because you don”€™t take an interest in politics, doesn”€™t mean politics won”€™t take an interest in you.” It was deemed appropriate to postpone the presentation of his bomb, titled “Revolution Now!”  lest the sensitivities of the public be provoked.

According to Theopsy, Revolution Now! was conceived more by his reflections on time rather than the crises that regularly engulf his country of origin, Greece. Indeed, the ambiguity between the radical action of displaying a bomb in Paris’ museum of contemporary arts—and the object as a symbol of time—is so well preserved by the artist that its duality creates a myriad of aspects to meditate upon.

More than being a powerful reference to political violence, which the artist considers a banal and irrelevant notion, Theopsy explains how creativity has always been a valid means of redemption as salvaging the unsalvageable: 

“I wanted to make a bomb because it incarnates the tyranny of fear and the tyranny of time. I don’t like to be afraid and I don’t like deadlines…that’s why I made a bomb with my own hands, and put it in a display as a toy or an object of art, or even a souvenir…or whatever makes it look unreal enough. Anyway, it won’t explode…that’s the whole point: it never does explode.”

Much like the role experiential theatre plays in Gestalt psychotherapy, by creating Revolution Now!, Theopsy is practicing freedom from fear and is provoking his audience to do the same. Indeed, even though Theopsy points out that the bomb “€˜won”€™t explode”€™ because he disabled the detonator, he chose the context of his object carefully in order to recreate a confrontation with urgency and risk: rather than placing his convincing installation in the gallery of the Palais de Tokyo where people expect reassuring make-believe, he placed his object in its gift shop, the notorious Blackblock. 

“Knowing how hard-pressed Theopsy was to comment on his own work and his penchant for red herrings, it is difficult to accept that to him, “this piece is just a still-life” or a mere mischievous attempt to see what he can get away with in a world increasingly oppressed by political correctness.”

From behind its plexi-glass container, the bomb’s timer, set at 9999 units, decreases furiously and relentlessly, “true only to nature’s commitment to destruction and evolution.” The plexi-glass container itself reinforces the feeling that though we may witness the impending ravages of time, it is inaccessible to our control and indifferent to our instinct to suppress the uglier reality of the human condition—the inevitable process of aging, loss of beauty, loss of independence, loss of dignity, loss of love, and finally, the unpredictable transition to the ultimate unknown, death. 

Nonetheless, Theopsy continues:

“This piece is just a still life you know… Just like the oranges and grapes you will see in the Louvre a little further down the Seine. These oranges were made to look good and fresh forever. Except that oranges are boring today while a bomb is not boring.”

Oranges and grapes, however, are hardly the tools of contemporary asymmetric warfare. And so, knowing how hard-pressed Theopsy was to comment on his own work and his penchant for red herrings, it is difficult to accept that to him, “this piece is just a still-life” or a mere mischievous attempt to see what he can get away with in a world increasingly oppressed by political correctness.

Indeed, unlike Duchamp’s Fountain stunt, where a ready-made object relies solely on its gallery context to have the status of “art” conferred upon it, Theopsy’s bomb was created by hand and using plastic parts from China and his imagination (Google couldn”€™t translate the instructions). More importantly, it was made to look as aesthetically pleasing as possible—showing full awareness that though aesthetic experience may begin with the senses, it does not necessarily end with them.

After all, man’s vulnerability and fear of time invoked by Theopsy’s “terroristic” bomb is the same gripping fear that terrorists have capitalized upon to cost-effectively win priceless concessions from the public. While Theopsy’s bomb blurs the line between real and unreal in order to show the pervasiveness and uncontrollability of time, terrorists have successfully blurred the line between civilian space and conventional battlefield to create this same overriding fear to get people to give up precious freedoms for a semblance of control and predictability over their safety.

Only as recently as April, after a group called “€˜Revolution Muslims!”€™ warned South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker that they will likely “wind up like Theo van Gogh” for their depiction of Mohammed, Comedy Central grossly censored their 200th episode and even went so far as censoring a speech at the end “€œabout intimidation and fear.”€

Toward the end of the interview, the hesitant Theopsy, whose bomb-making skills was hitherto unknown, gives the only tangible clue to the real message for Revolution Now!: “Have you ever felt the luck of the beginner? Because you see, like Heraclitus puts it—time is a child that plays backgammon. So to play with time, you must become a child too.”

Our agent provocateur appears to tell us that it is a child’s abandon and indifference to taboo, and their innocent ability to see things as they are—not censorship or pedestrian political correctness—that defuses our fears and loosens the noose placed upon us by bombs, real and unreal. Children after all, say the darnest things.

Plus, The Railway Children come to Waterloo and the Blue Boat goes up for auction

She & Him
Unlike, say, Lindsay Lohan, Zooey Deschanel can act, write songs, and sing. She & Him, the duo Deschanel formed with M. Ward, just released their second album, which reveals a singer-songwriter more confident than ever; what she can’t carry in her sparkling personality, Deschanel has learned to deftly maneuver in vocal arrangements. Don’t miss her sweetly lilting, timelessly classic-sounding pop confections—She & Him is touring all summer.

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With A View
Typically, if you live in Manhattan, you stay in Manhattan. But we swear, Brooklyn’s outdoor film series is worth crossing the bridge, if only for the magnificent view alone. Imagine watching Annie Hall with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop, or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade while picnicking. Plus, unlike Bryant Park, your films won’t be interrupted by the sounds of harried commuters and Times Square-tourists. DJs from Brooklyn Radio kick off each night at sunset, followed by a short film before the feature presentation.

Vidiots Annex
Forget film school. Starting this July, Vidiots, Los Angeles’ venerable indie video store launches its film studies program taught by industry pros, historians, and critics. Debate censorship controversies throughout Hollywood history, examine comedy from the silent era through today’s talkies, or geek out over the mythology of superheroes and robots. Take group (starting $128/four weeks) or individual classes ($40/sesion), and sign up for the Saturday night film club for evocative flicks followed by even more evocative discussion with fellow cinephiles.

DailyCandy: Speakeasies ‘round the world
Summer may just be the best time to drink in secret, and as our friends over at DailyCandy have pointed out, there are some exceptional places to do it too. Whether you’re in Cleveland, Toronto, Melbourne, or Paris; whether you’re looking for rare-label wines or seasonal cocktails, there is a hidden spot for you. We at Takimag are especially intrigued by Amsterdam’s Reguliersdwarsstraat 74. As the saying at the top of their menu says, “life has to have some rules, otherwise you might as well go and live in France.”

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Since Marie Antoinette, we have long-awaited Sophia Coppola’s next film. And now we”€™ll have to wait a little longer, the flick doesn”€™t come out until December. Still, the trailer‘s worth a look. Unexpectedly, it stars Stephen Dorff, the shrimpy party animal who made his name in the 90s, and Elle Fanning, Dakota’s little sister, who plays his daughter. The film is rather Hollywood, about a film actor living at the famed Chateau Marmont, who suddenly finds himself having to look after his kid. Lets hope this one’s as good as Lost in Translation. It does make us wonder, though, about Coppola’s daddy issues; she seems to pair girls with men an awful lot. At the very least the soundtrack will be worth a listen, Coppola’s baby daddy and his band, Phoenix, do the music.

The Blue Boat
Designer boats seem to be all the rage since Jeff Koontz decked out some flashy Greek’s yacht a few years back.  If you have a few hundred thousand to throw around, now you can have one too. The RAL5105 goes up for auction on July 20 at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monte Carlo. The Parisian Artcurial is putting the latest masterpiece of multidisciplinary artist Xavier Veilhan on the auction block. John Dodelande invited Veilhan to think about creating a boat, and so Veilhan worked with the 80-year-old Frauscher shipyard in Austria, to make it a reality. Potential buyers have a chance to view it in Saint Tropez (June 15 to July 12) and then in Monte Carlo until the auction. The 6.9 meter, eight-person blue beauty is equipped with a MerCruiser 220 HP motor, and will surely turn heads. Looks like a whole lot of flashy fun in the sun, if that’s your thing, but don”€™t fret if you miss out on this blue baby, you can always hire a vintage Riva to cruise the Cote d”€™Azur.

H20 by Axis Mundi, Barcelona
New York architects Axis Mundi have been hired to retrofit the exterior of this office building in Barcelona. Designed for a bottled water brand, the facade will be made of a polymer composite, suspended on steel trusses attached to the existing building, located close to Antonia Gaudi’s residential masterpiece—Casa Mila.  The concept is based on the interference patterns that are created by the flow of water surfaces. In physics, interference is the addition of two or more waves that result in a new wave pattern. If only more such patterns were superposed in order to deal with bad architecture. Looks like a big hit, but then, most Barcelona architecture is.

Alexander Calder in Focus, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, opens July 28
With any luck a gentle breeze will blow through the galleries of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago when an exhibition of more than 60 works by Alexander Calder opens. They will stand alongside 20 new works by young sculptors who have been inspired by the American artist. The seven artists, in their early forties, who have embraced Calder’s hands-on approach to color, balance and movement, include Martin Boyce, Abraham Cruzvillegas, and Kristi Lippire. Many of these artists regard Calder as the “€œgodfather of Green art”€, though no one is claiming Calder was a Green artist. During the 1940s he turned to materials at hand when sheet metal was in short supply. The show will travel to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (11 December-6 March 2011) and then to the Orange County Museum of Art in California, and the Nasher Museum of Art in North Carolina. Don”€™t miss this, we absolutely love, love, love Calder!

John Baldessari’s In Still Life 2001-2010
This free, interactive artwork allows you to create your own still life by rearranging the 38 objects in Abraham van Beyeren’s Banquet Still Life (1667). Each object has symbolic meaning; for example, lobster suggests abundance and earthly prosperity, but may also warn of the dangers of gluttony. Peaches, on the other hand, are a symbol of salvation and truth, as well as fecundity. As Baldessari says, “still lifes are about the fleeting things in life.” The work brings Baldessari’s original In Still Life into the 21st Century. In 2001, he hung van Beyeren’s Banquet Still Life on the wall next to an empty frame at LACMA and invited exhibition visitors to digitally rearrange and remove the objects in the original 17th century Dutch painting, thus creating a new still life of their own.

The Railway Children, Live at Waterloo Station
After two sell-out and critically acclaimed summer runs at the National Railway Museum in York, The Railway Children arrives in London. Join Bobby, Peter, and Phyllis as they come to terms with the mysterious disappearance of their father. See their journey of discovery, friendship, and adventure as they become The Railway Children. Best of all, witness Phyllis averting disaster as she waves her red petticoat in front of a real, moving steam train at a specially built theatre in London’s Waterloo Station. The redundant Eurostar platforms will have the audience seated on two sides of the steam engine. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the classic film, Railway Children, based on the book by E Nesbit. Profits from the play are going to the Railway Children Charity, dedicated to changing the lives of children living on stations and streets in India, East Africa, and Britain.

In confiding to Rolling Stone their unflattering opinions of the military acumen of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, Dick Holbrooke and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff were guilty of colossal stupidity.

And President Obama had cause to cashier them. Yet his decision to fire McChrystal may prove both unwise and costly.

For McChrystal, unlike Gen. MacArthur, never challenged the war policy—he is carrying it out—and Barack Obama is no Harry Truman.

Moreover, the war strategy Obama is pursuing is the McChrystal Plan, devised by the general and being implemented by the general in Marja and Kandahar, perhaps the decisive campaign of the war.

Should that plan now fail, full responsibility falls on Obama.

He has made the Afghan war his war in a way it never was before.

If the McChrystal strategy fails, critics will charge Obama with causing the defeat by firing the best fighting general in the Army out of pique over some officers-club remarks that bruised the egos of West Wing warriors.

And though those remarks never should have appeared in print, they may well reflect the sentiments of not a few soldiers and Marine officers on third and fourth tours of duty in the Afghan theater.

Had Obama, instead of firing McChrystal, told him to shut up, can the interviews and go back to fighting the war until the December review of strategy, he could have shown those soldiers he is a bigger man than they or McChrystal’s team give him credit for.

And if success in Afghanistan is the highest goal, how does it help to fire the best fighting general? Do you relieve Gen. Patton during combat because he vents his prejudices or opinions?

“By firing the fighting general, for his foolish remarks, Obama has deepened the gulf between his party and the U.S. military.”

This city may draw the parallel, but the Obama-McChrystal clash does not remotely rise to the historic level of the collision between MacArthur and Truman.

Truman had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered the airlift that broke the Berlin blockade, and produced the Marshall Plan and NATO. He had won election in his own right with a legendary comeback in 1948.

Obama has nothing like Truman’s credibility as a war leader.

And MacArthur was the most famous U.S. soldier since Gen. Grant. No. 1 at West Point, he was a legendary commander in France in 1918, leading troops out of the trenches with a swagger stick.

Driven out of the Philippines in 1942, he had declared, “I shall return,” and led the liberation of the islands in 1944. He conducted the famous island-hopping campaign up the archipelagos of the South Pacific and took Japan’s surrender on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

As military proconsul, he presided over the reconstruction of Japan, wrote her constitution and converted her into an ally.

When North Korea invaded the South and drove the U.S. Army into the Pusan perimeter, MacArthur landed Marines far behind enemy lines at Inchon in a flanking maneuver that destroyed the North Korean army and will be studied at military academies for centuries to come.

In late 1950, MacArthur was stunned by the intervention in Korea of the armies of Mao Zedong, lately victorious in China’s four-year civil war.

MacArthur’s clash with Truman was not over something so trivial as a gossipy article in Rolling Stone. MacArthur’s hands had been tied by Truman.

He was not allowed to bomb the Yalu bridges over which Chinese troops were pouring into Korea. He was not allowed to bomb Chinese troop concentrations and munitions dumps in Manchuria. He was not allowed to use Chiang Kai-shek’s armies on Taiwan. He was not allowed hot pursuit of enemy aircraft into Chinese or Russian airspace.

MacArthur was being restricted to fighting the war Mao wanted to fight, a war of attrition against the world’s most populous nation, and largest army, while China was allowed to remain a privileged sanctuary, off-limits to U.S. bombers like those that smashed Germany and Japan.

In his address to Congress, after his firing by Truman, MacArthur put it this way: “‘Why,’ my soldiers asked of me, ‘surrender military advantages to an enemy in the field?’ I could not answer.”

MacArthur’s letter to Rep. Joe Martin, in response to a letter from the GOP leader, was indeed a challenge to Truman’s policy of avoiding any risk of a clash with Russia, even if it meant U.S. soldiers would pay the price of Truman’s timidity.

Events would prove MacArthur right.

Truman’s restrictions would ensure a “no-win war” for two more years that would cost tens of thousands more American lives, and Harry would be sent packing with the lowest rating of any president in history.

Gen. Eisenhower would take office, two years after MacArthur’s firing, and threaten the exact escalation MacArthur envisioned, ending the Korean War in six months.

Obama and his party may be celebrating his cashiering of Gen. McChrystal as a macho moment, but by firing the fighting general, for his foolish remarks, Obama has deepened the gulf between his party and the U.S. military.