HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

August 27, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


The release of the "Presidential Advance Manual" reminded me that I was at a family gathering in Lakeland, Florida in the late summer of 2004, just after George Bush had spoken there. Some of our relatives were thrilled to explain how they had served with units at the gathering that we charged with sniffing out any possible Democratic incursions. They saw it as the performance of a fine patriotic duty.

An article by Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky in Foreign Affairs for September/October reminded me about how the press regularly neglects one of the most significant issues threatening us, that is the control of nuclear weapons. The total number of U.S. nuclear warheads remains at about ten thousand, which is far more than would be needed in any conceivable situation. Most Americans don't recognize that our government has consistently disregarded the terms of the Non- Proliferation Treaty. That agreement not only provided that nations not possessing nuclear weapons would not seek to get them. It also required that nuclear powers would reduce their stockpiles as quickly as possible and work to minimize the role of nuclear weapons in international relations. The United States has taken neither of those actions.

I was pleased to observe that none of the participants on ABC's Sunday morning "Round Table" (George Will, Cokie Roberts, and Fareed Zakaria) were willing to swallow the notion that progress is being made in Iraq. It's not much of a liberal trio, but they all did seem to be focused on reality. Will, for example, pointed out that the Maliki government in Iraq is scarcely a government at all. And Zakaria offered a guarantee that if the United States should withdraw from Iraq, al Qaeda would not be able to take over.

My local paper this morning predicted that Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney will be the two major party candidates for the presidency. This was based mainly on the notion that what the people want now is competence. How the Times-Argus has discovered that the people know what they want was not explained.

As I was in the process of writing this, I discovered that Alberto Gonzales has decided to resign as attorney general. Unlike most people who agree with me politically, I regret it. I prefer to have most of the agencies of the Bush administration paralyzed rather than to be working efficiently. And, surely, Gonzales, has lately been one of the most paralytic figures in our history.

For those of you who are interested, I'll report that the new baby in our family, born on August 14th, is doing well and eating greedily. He still sleeps most of the time, but there are longer sessions now of his being awake, when he shows some signs of interest in what's going on around him.

I'm sympathetic with people who have suffered from the weather this summer. Here in Vermont conditions have been moderate. We did have one day last week when the temperature rose almost to ninety, and my neighbors declared it to be intolerable. But their sense of what's acceptable has been shaped by a normality far more reasonable than what most people around the world are now experiencing.


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