September 23, 2023
GSTAAD—Writing in the Spectator diary, Lady Antonia Fraser, widow of Harold Pinter, recounts how then vice president Lyndon Johnson stipulated at a Jamaican party that he would dance as long as no words were exchanged. Toward the end of her dance with Lyndon, Antonia noted how well Lady Bird looked, and LBJ simply walked off the dance floor. A later occupant of the White House, Jimmy Carter, was not as discourteous as the Texan but in somewhat similar circumstances left the poor little Greek boy standing alone surrounded by Secret Service heavies.
It took place at a grand New York dinner party given in Carter’s honor by a real estate lady, and I was seated with Norman Mailer, who was busy trying to make whoopee with my ex-sister-in-law Betsy Kaiser. Norman and I had talked about democracy at the start of the dinner and whether someone who had contributed nothing to the betterment of his fellow man deserved to have an equal vote to that of someone who had contributed a hell of a lot. Trying to provoke the novelist, I proposed a 10-to-1 ratio for, say, a scientist who develops a cure for cancer versus a drug dealer. “Why don’t you ask Jimmy what he thinks about this?” said Norman, pointing at Jimmy Carter while trying to get rid of me and concentrate on my ex-sister-in-law. After dinner, and well into my cups, I approached the peanut farmer and posed my question. Jimmy Carter heard me out, smiled, and said, “It’s an interesting ahdea,” while simultaneously giving a slight sign with his eyes. I then found myself being moved without anyone laying a hand on me from where I stood with the ex-president to the next room. I have no idea how they did it, but they did, end of story.
The man who preceded Jimmy Carter by one wrote the most wonderfully encouraging and flattering letter to me while I was doing graduate work at Pentonville and had me to dinner a couple of times at his New Jersey home. Richard Nixon was and remains the most underrated and unappreciated president, a man whom the media and the swamp hated because they knew he knew what they were all about. He ended the war in Vietnam, opened up the Soviet Union and China, and won 49 states in 1972, but the same media lefties who run D.C. today and control the country got him in the end. He was never openly bitter, and I remember his unique insight of the then Soviet Union and how he dealt at times with the Soviet leaders. “Whenever Leonid Brezhnev brought up the Middle East, I’d fake being a bit drunk and warn him not to even think about it. We’ll end up nuking each other over that place…”
With the present war of attrition (because that’s what it is), and with no end in sight, I wish Richard Nixon were around with a solution. Every decent human being except for those profiting from the war knows that an armistice offers the best hope for peace in the Ukraine. Neither side seems likely to deliver a knockout blow on the battlefield, and even less likely is Ukraine’s desire to pursue a comprehensive peace deal. Hence it’s up to the gaga in the White House, although any 12-year-old might be a better choice at this point. Owen Matthews said it all a couple of weeks ago: The U.S. will decide Ukraine’s fate.
However unpopular it may sound, and I’m quoting Foreign Affairs, “It is Zelensky who fears any concession could affect his future electoral prospects.” And although some Republican leaders think that continuous support for Kiev is wasteful and reckless, Zelensky continues to insist Donbas and Crimea are his. The old cliché about truth being the first casualty of war has never been truer, but the Ukrainians are running out of men, whereas the Russkies are not. In fact, the latter have some 700,000 ready to enter the fray.
What is frustrating as hell is the inability, or unwillingness, of Uncle Sam to stop the slaughter. Speaking to a Polish friend who knows that the Poles and Hungarians are my two favorite peoples, I reminded him that Poland had defeated the Soviets back in 1921 and would again if there were ever another incursion. That’s when my anti-Putin friend admitted that NATO did not need to go as far as it did to provoke the Bear, which it certainly did.
The trouble with our side is we never, but never, admit to being wrong. Not that our adversaries do, but then why do we pretend to be the good guys? Again, quoting Foreign Affairs: “Russia may be resolved to outlast the U.S. and NATO.” Which means a lot of very bad people will make a hell of a lot of money, and thousands upon thousands of innocent young men will die in vain. Almost as sad is the fact that few in the West before the war understood the extent to which Russians saw Ukraine as central to their destiny.
The great military expert Taki believes that Russia loses 800 men per day, while Ukraine’s losses are 500 per. Do the math. When my Polish friend asked why I love Russia and now loathe America, I answered that the former was the birthplace of Pushkin, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky, whereas the latter no longer has men like David Crockett at the Alamo, Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, or Charles Lindberg over the Atlantic. They’ve even canceled Hemingway, and they only have sleaze and crime to show for it.