Taki

Taki

Taki has been the High Life columnist for the London Spectator for over 40 years. He has written for National Review, The London Sunday Times, and The New York Post, among others. He is the founder of The American Conservative and the publisher of Taki's Magazine. He has played Davis Cup tennis, competed in the Olympics for Greece, and is Judo Champion of the World 70 and over.


Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea

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Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea

The civilisations that rose and fell on the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea were the makers of the history I’m interested in. Screw Tahiti or the Straits of Malacca. The two great countries of the Med are Greece and Italy, and without those two countries you’d have squat today. And, I suppose, I have to bring in Egypt. Which brings me to the last point. Jihad. Post-Christian European secular elites are avoiding the M-word, as in Muslim.

A Greek in the Temple of Venus

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A Greek in the Temple of Venus

The extravaganza was made possible by the city which turned over some of its most historic sights to Valentino and the Oscar winning film designer Dante Ferretti, who proceeded to put up 40 classical columns illuminated from within in the ruins of the Temple of Venus, adjacent to the Coliseum. We were driven up by electric carts and then walked on red carpets into this vast space, where more than two thousand years ago Aphrodite ruled supreme.

Stauffenberg, Sobieski, and Lepanto

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Stauffenberg, Sobieski, and Lepanto

I rang my friend Elizabeth Stauffenberg Roberti — her father was Claus’s brother and was also put to death after the July 20 plot — and she did not seem too perturbed that Tom Cruise would play her uncle. “He is a foot shorter but what the hell…” My problem with Cruise is not his religion, far from it, but his mannerisms. I don’t think he is capable of playing an upper class Wehrmacht officer of noble background. It takes more than acting lessons to do that. Stauffenberg was very handsome and a great hero, something perhaps a Gary Cooper could bring across, but not Cruise. Mind you, I hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Time to Talk Peace

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Time to Talk Peace

One thing my grandfather taught me very long ago, when as Prime Minister of Greece he talked with the communist rebels in the mountains. Better to talk with your enemies than your friends. It is a long haul but it’s worth it. Sixty years of refusing to talk has made Israel and the United States the two most hated states in the world. Time to start gabbing.

Blair’s Last Sabotage

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Blair’s Last Sabotage

What I find incredible is that there are still people around who wonder why the Middle East is up in flames. Andrew Alexander explained it very well last Friday. 90 years ago Britain initiated a policy of providing a Jewish homeland in Palestine — on predominantly Arab lands. Then Israel was created on land that supposedly belonged half to the Arabs and half to the Jews. But not for the first time, the Jews took a bigger slice. After beating back the Arabs in four wars, Israel now controls the West Bank, the Holy Sites and the Gaza Strip. We Greeks lost Constantinople in 1453, and as late as 1922 were still trying to get our lands back. (We failed miserably but got Onassis and many other good Greeks to move to the mainland). So I ask you, dear readers: Why are people surprised and bored by the fact that only ninety years on Arabs are still smarting over the seizure of their lands?

Love Among the Drones

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Love Among the Drones

My very own piece de resistance came when I danced with Naomi Campbell, a beautiful, carnal, dangerous temptress, smouldering in her skin and luring me to pretend I’m Fred Astaire, however arthritic a Fred. This was taking place downstairs, where an impromptu nightclub had been set up on top of the swimming pool. Red coloured smoke, or my imagination, made me think of a Woody Allen type of Hell.

Why I Kissed a G-Man

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Why I Kissed a G-Man

Her vulgarity and crassness aside, Paris Hilton is butt ugly, tout court. With her, it was go from the very minute her white trash parents began to exhibit her in New York nightclubs. She has neither charm nor looks, lives in a drug and alcohol-induced haze and disguises her emptiness with impudence and nudity. The media love it. Murdoch millions await her.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Hank

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Hank

Kissinger has had a lousy rap about the greatest foreign policy disaster of American history. For starters, he had nothing to do with it. Wolfowitz and Feith convinced Cheney who convinced W. When Kissinger was brought in for advice, it was already much too late. All the good Dr Hank says now is that America cannot suddenly pull out because there will be a regional crisis. In this he’s in agreement with Gates and Rice and the generals in the Pentagon who have long been skeptical that the Iraqi government would use the opportunity created by the troop increase to reach genuine political accommodations. Kissinger thinks that the goal should not be a military solution which cannot be imposed, but a way to provide security so the Iraqis can move toward political reconciliation.

The Victory that Wrecked Israel

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The Victory that Wrecked Israel

On June, 5 Israeli fighter jets launched a strike which caught the Egyptian air force on the ground, effectively destroying it. Exploiting its dominance of the skies, Israel won its greatest victory. One thing is for sure: The Arabs had done their worst as usual to provoke the Israelis, but there was never the slightest chance that they would have attacked Israel. Nasser had closed the Straits of Tiran in an act of folly and brinkmanship, but he was as likely to attack the Jewish state as Saddam Hussein was ready to launch his WMDs on New York City.

Choose Pushkin

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Choose Pushkin

Thomas Lejus, a Moscow university graduate, was the first Soviet to be accepted to the Wimbledon draw after the war. An American friend of mine, “D,” (whom I cannot name because he is now a very big shot in D.C.) was also in the draw. He suggested we take Thomas out to lunch and get him to defect. “Do you know what this will do, if their first player defects ?…..” I agreed, and my friend and I invited Lejus to the Cafe Royal for lunch once he was out of the tournament. If memory serves, Lejus passed a round or two and on the second week the three of us met at Regent Street. After the boring opening pleasantries, “D” got to the point. I can actually repeat it word for word: “Look Thomas, If you leave the Soviet Union, we will give you a house near Washington which will have a refrigerator, and a Ford convertible with a hard roof, one that retracts even while you’re driving…” He made a sign with his hand how the roof worked. I remained silent. Then, after a long pause, Thomas answered.

Slumming with Sarko Senior

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Slumming with Sarko Senior

The funny thing about Sarkozy being president of France is not his size, but his family. His father, Pal Sarkozy, used to frequent the same nightclubs I did back in the early Sixties. Of the beau monde he was not. Pal was rather sleazy, a bit of a conman, and something of a playboy. None of us knew what he did, and by that I don’t mean to suggest he was dishonest, but there were always rumours about him. And an inveterate womaniser, a good thing for a father of a French president to be. But his women, alas, were a pretty lousy bunch.

Duty: The Sublimest Word

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Duty: The Sublimest Word

Robert E. Lee once said that duty is “the sublimest word in the English language.” Yes it is, but dodging duty has now become the operative word in the neocon language. They talk about supporting our troops and all that blather, but how many of these bloodthirsty donut eaters have ever answered the call of duty? The blood of America’s fighting men cannot indefinitely be spilled by a government made up of people who have avoided military duty, which is unwilling to meet the needs of those who have served.

Two Funerals and a Quagmire

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Two Funerals and a Quagmire

Another friend’s farewell, this time at West Point, where Commander Tim Vogel was buried with full military honours. Some of you oldies may have seen the film The Bridges of Toko-Ri, starring William Holden, Grace Kelly, Frederic March and Mickey Rooney. Holden played a pilot based on Tim’s father, a hot shot jet fighter who died in North Korea in 1951. The film had changed his name and presented him as a reluctant hero. Tim’s father was nothing of the kind. Sully Vogel was the strongest midshipman at Annapolis and became a legend in Korea for his aerial exploits. But Timmy outdid his old man. He won two DFC’s and 17 other awards for flying 200 missions over some of the most heavily defended real estate in North Vietnam, and set a record for successfully performing over 600 landings on a carrier. He and I became good friends after his return, and like most heroes he never talked about his exploits.

Who’s Cheering for Bin Laden?

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Who’s Cheering for Bin Laden?

During the German occupation of my homeland in the Second World War there were nightly shouts of “Vasta Rommel” by certain Greeks. “Vasta” in Greek means “Hold on.” In other words, Greeks were praying for the great Erwin Rommel to hold against Montgomery’s 8th army. The German officers who were billeted in our house were immensely flattered. Until, that is, Fraulein, my German nanny, informed them that those shouting “Vasta Rommel!” were black marketeers hoping for an Axis victory because that ensured bigger profits. The neo-cons are essentially shouting “Vasta Bin Laden!” The more bloodshed, chaos and disruption, the more it gives Israel the excuse to practice ethnic cleansing. The more the military-industrial complex thrives. The greater the hold of the neo-con influence within the White House.

Of Snobs and Slobs

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Of Snobs and Slobs

People to the manor born simply do not disapprove of those born in lesser circumstances than themselves. To the contrary, a duke is much more at ease with his dustman than with a hedge fund vulgarian who tries to ape the duke’s manner of speaking. Unlike in America, where one’s pocketbook is taken as one’s worth, an Englishman’s accent counts for more. Or used to, anyway. Even if one learns to fake it, like the great Lady Thatcher who took elocution lessons and spoke la-di-dah English, there are still all sorts of giveaways. For example: A drawing room is never called a lounge, except on a boat. A mirror is a looking glass, except in a car. Wireless is upper class for radio, and one simply never, but never calls a napkin a serviette.

Strip-search the Brits

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Strip-search the Brits

There are 800,000 British passport holders who can at any time come to the United States without a visa or subject to any controls. These Brits are all either Pakistani born and naturalized British subjects, or their sons or grandsons. Pakistani Britons travel to their ancestral land of Pakistan around — get this — 400,000 times per year. 400,000 trips are taken each year by Britons of Pakistani descent who are then free to arrive in the U.S. unmolested and uncontrolled and do their stuff. Jihadist ideology is the prevailing ideology….

…But Dreyfus was Innocent

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…But Dreyfus was Innocent

So we have come to this, have we? Israel is more important than the United States as far as certain Jewish Americans are concerned. Well, I don’t think so, and fervently hope Rosen and Weissman have the book thrown at them. A nation of immigrants like America simply cannot afford to have American citizens
betray Uncle Sam to the country of the origins of their forefathers or fathers.

The Karate Kid

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The Karate Kid

Oldies have a powerful lobby in America, even in sport. Take judo, for example. Last week I went down to Miami for the U.S. national judo
championships, a competition which decides who will represent Uncle Sam in next year’s Olympics. Along with the seniors, as the main competitors are
known as, there is also a master’s tournament. Age groups begin from 30 to 35, and so on. I was entered in the 70 to 75 group.

Requiem for a Buckley

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Requiem for a Buckley

The first time I met Pat Buckley was in 1964 and the circumstances were rather strange. It was at the Palace hotel in Gstaad, and a few friends and I
were drinking around the large piano in the grill while the pianist was playing a spirited version of Mussolini’s favorite tune, “Giovinezza.” Our singing
the ode to youth and fascism apparently did not best please a tall, bald man standing at the bar who suddenly threw his whiskey glass at us. It smashed
against the wall showering us with glass, although no one was cut or seriously hurt.

Swilling from the America’s Cup

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Swilling from the America’s Cup

Larry Ellison, the chief executive of the software giant Oracle and the world’s 11th richest man, according to Forbes magazine, is not imbued by an ounce of grace or elementary good manners. He has constructed a basketball court on board his megayacht, the latter a monstrosity which pollutes more than a battleship and serves no other purpose than as a penile extension to its owner. He’s also so cheap…

Vive La France!

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Vive La France!

I remember when I was living in Flambertin des Creppieres, a small hamlet west of Paris with an admittedly extremely pretentious name, and listening to two butchers arguing about Camus. They both had obviously read him, but it was their evocation of other writers whom they compared him to which left me breathless. After they finished their wine they shook hands and went back to slicing up chickens and lambs. Just like back in old Miami, n’est pas?


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