Am 20.8.2011 schickte mir mein Freund und Ex-Kollege Calvin Arnason aus Portland, Oregon, die folgenden beiden, von ihm stammenden Buchbesprechungen. Mit seiner Erlaubnis gebe ich sie hier wieder. Mein eingefügter Link verweist auf Besprechungen derselben Bücher in der NY Times.
The CIA book received a National Book award in 2007 and Weiner got a Pulitzer Prize for previous reporting work on the Pentagon and CIA. He met and interviewed the majority of CIA “executives”. The conclusions I make from this book are:
- US history (especially foreign affairs) during my lifetime (born 1947) is very little known by US citizens. Amazing anecdotes!
- The CIA from its beginning after WW II up through George Tenet’s WMD “Slam Dunk” is permeated with incompetence, arrogance, corruption, treachery, and ineffectiveness.
- As an intelligence service, the CIA has a nearly perfect record of providing data that does not in any way deserve the word “intelligence” ... over and over again, whenever it was really important, the data was usually wrong, often thoroughly wrong and misleading.
- The CIA was encouraged in the belief that it was not bound by any law, either US or international…by a succession of US Presidents. As long as covert operations did not become public, there was no problem. That attitude bred some really crazy ideas.
One particular example I list here – the CIA funded an attempted coup of right wing army officers against Indonesian President Sukarno in the 1960s (an American bomber pilot was shot down, captured, and sentenced to death in the process) while the State Department attempted to assist Sukarno (because they did not know that the CIA was working the other side). Robert Kennedy personally apologized to Sukarno in Jakarta for the fiasco and brought him a couple of kazillion dollars as peace offering. Reread point #1.
This book is the story of the US Ambassador to Germany in 1933, Dodd, who took his family (wife and two grown children) to Berlin and interacted politically with all the beastly luminaries of that time of Schrecken – his daughter was sexually intimate with a number of them (e.g., early head of Gestapo) and others in Berlin.
There are many illuminating anecdotes that throw light on the difficulty of understanding ones own time. So many people could see then, right in front of their eyes, what was happening in Germany. But they could not understand and evaluate it. And those who saw it and understood it were all either perpetrators or else in danger of going mad themselves. These were a very small minority. Most visiting Americans were delighted with Berlin at the time.
If we could look back at our own time right now in 2011 from a distance of 80 years in the future, what would be the glaringly obvious that is not being appreciated? No one in America saw the failure of the Soviet Union coming. And yet after it happened, most economists said, “Well, of course, central planning – it was destined to fail.” What are WE not seeing?
I will venture one surmise on this subject – I believe that we will see growth (in the long term) of communities that are access controlled, smaller, more insular and dense, and more homogeneous. Why is the incidence of urban riot mobs increasing in Europe? Why did the United States see so much of it in the late 1960s and 1970s? Why did it stop after that? Lack of faith in government is a sign of missing moral authority. Low approval ratings for our government and institutions (banking, education, justice) are a sign of impending peril.
Für diejenigen Leserinnen und Leser, die Calvin nicht kennen, nur so viel. Er kam Ende der 1960er Jahre als Student nach Göttingen, heiratete eine Deutsche und blieb bis etwa zum 50. Lebensjahr in Deutschland. Seit Jahren lebt er mit Frau, Kindern und Enkelkindern im Westen der USA. Wer ein LinkedIn-Konto hat, kann sich dort über sein aktives Rentnerdasein genauer informieren. Besonders beeindruckt er seine Freunde als virtuoser Interpret der Klavierwerke von Brahms, Mozart und Schumann.