|William Safire claims
Kissinger is the best man for the job of sharpening America's future
anti-Terrorism strategy because Kissinger has something to prove to
the world--that he's not what history says he is. I'm not so
sure. But I have an open mind. My question is,
Will Henry Kissinger really seek to protect Americans from Terrorism
by insisting they police it, or will he continue to believe
anti-Terrorism is government's job, and seek the approval of his peers
not his public? You be the judge.
2, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 446
A Second Look At Kissinger's Role In Revamping America's Terror Hunters
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
ZERO, New York City, Dec. 2 --Terror hunting is an art. It
takes a Terrorist to find a Terrorist. It takes the hunted to hunt
An old friend of
mine taught me a few lessons when we went boar hunting on Catalina Island
one stormy year. It was the worst storm in decades along the
West Coast. Rain pounded so hard you could barely see the tip of
your rifle barrel. Each time you peered through the scope the lens
fogged, blurring the outline of the prized Russian Boars we stalked on the
pristine island of Catalina, a limited hunting refuge twenty-six miles
west of Los Angeles. Phil Randazzo, a native of Rochester, New York,
myself and a hulking bear of a man who hunted Grizzly's with bow and arrow
and owned a taxidermy business, had been granted rights to hunt for boar.
We didn't know the worst storm in recent history was going to be our
partner, or that it would challenge all our hunting skills.
"Think like the hunted," Phil whispered to
me in the pelting rain. "Think like the hunted."
Phil was a great hunter. He was short and burly, a street-smart Italian
boy who used to carry a loaded .38 caliber to equalize his enemies who
were larger and more threatening. He was driven to succeed in
spite of himself, and used everything he had learned growing up in the
rough-and-tumble neighborhoods of Rochester to burrow his way up the
ladder of success. But first and foremost, he was a hunter.
His home looked like a
section of the New York Historical Museum. Trophies lined the walls
and each carried a story of how Phil braved the elements and thought like
that which he stalked to hunt it down. I was a novice compared to
his expertise, and my ears scooped up his advice. I got my
boar, took it home and butchered it on the kitchen table, reminding my
children we hunt to eat.
In business, Phil was a hunter
too. Profits were his prey. He sought them with stalking
precision. He built from scratch one of the largest hair care
franchise systems in Southern California and became a millionaire before
he was forty, a goal he had that burned its way into his soul.
While hunting was his most
macho passion, his true thirst was Big Game fishing. Like Zane
Grey who said he wrote books to afford to fish the seas, Phil loved to
travel the world in search of Black Marlin or swordfish, and was able to
catch all nine of the elusive billfish in one year, a record few have
achieved. And to top it off, he caught all nine in one year twice,
just for insurance.
Zane Gray in Cabo
San Lucas 1925
When it came to
running a business, he beat the brush of business with the alacrity of a
big game hunter. Early in his foray into business ownership,
he was struggling to understand the retail hair care business. He
was franchising the stores he built, so he hired a old friend to help him
manage the stores he owned. He caught the friend stealing from the
register, skimming off the top. Phil's wife, Mary, insisted Phil
fire him. But Phil, the forever hunter, said no. Instead, he
studied the thief's techniques. Once he figured out the thief's
system, he confronted him and told him not to steal anymore.
He would be watching.
Then he put into place security
measures to alter any of his other store managers from stealing, and
designed security systems for his franchisees to assure all the money that
came in the door stayed in the till. He kept the thief close to him, using
the thief to help figure out who the next thief might be and how to stop
him or her before they could get their fingers in the till.
"Think like the hunted, not the
I thought of Phil this morning when I read William Safire's editorial in
the New York Times about why Henry Kissinger was a great pick by President
Bush to head up the Nine-Eleven investigation on why the government failed
to anticipate and avert the events of September 11, 2001.
Kissinger was like Phil's friend who got his hand caught in the till.
He was the hunted, now turned hunter--Terror Hunter.
The other day I railed on Henry Kissinger
with unjustified righteousness. I am still angry at our politicians
for the way they handled the disgrace of Vietnam. I can still
see the faces of my dead buddies staring at me as their blood gushed out
their jugulars, and feel their fingers grasping my blood-soaked fatigues
as their last words gurgled: "Why me? Why not you?"
I'm stuck in that resentful quagmire of
memories when our nation's leaders turned their backs on the warriors and
made us "contain" rather "assault" the enemy, and politics rather than war
tore our country apart. Kissinger was one of my voodoo dolls I
stuck pins in. McNamara was another. I always felt
they sacrificed the brave and loyal for glory without guts.
They were the hunters then, unable to think like the hunted, riding in
shiny limos thousands of miles from battlefields, intellectualizing the
art of killing and trying to wash their hands of the blood stains of two
million Vietnamese and over 50,000 Americans. When I was
spat upon after my return from Vietnam, I always consider the spittle to
come from Kissinger's mouth, and McNamara's, and the other tyros of Terror
who soiled the pages of American statesmanship.
So it wasn't easy for me to take a second
look at the role Kissinger is slated to play regarding his selection as
the Terror Hunter.
I have to credit Safire for opening my
eyes. My heart is still in jury deliberation, however, because a few
well chosen words aren't sufficient to crack the walls of my thick
resentment. But, I am open to what Safire said in his column.
If I can be presumptuous to boil down my opinion
of what Safire said, his thrust was that Kissinger, once the hunted, has
now become the hunter. Having been a man of nefarious tactics
to achieve what he wanted to glorify himself, now, in the final moments of
his life, he has the wisdom of a "thief" to be able to catch other
"thieves" in the act.
Can his Eye of the Hunted become the Eye of the Hunter?
Safire claims that
Kissinger is now working on his "historic reputation." At 79, the
former Secretary of State (1973-1977) and Assistant to the President for
National Security Affairs (1969-1975), is reconstructing himself as a
statesman--one who is more concerned with the future of the world than his
own aggrandizement. That, I have yet to see.
Safire suggests that Kissinger has shifted
his emphasis from realpolitiking (expansion of national interests at the
expense of global one) to an awareness of Wilsonian idealism.
Wilsonian idealism emerged as a distinct policy philosophy at the end of
the First World War. One of the central concerns at the time was how
to avoid war and conflict in general. The crucial priority was the
need to establish people-oriented internal and international democratic
institutions that would act as the custodians of democracy and human
rights as conceptualized within the general rubric of self-determination.
Wilson promoted the formation of the League of Nations to spread the seeds
of democracy and human rights around the world.
Historically, the Cold War with Russia
drove America away from Wilsonian idealism into
realpolitiking--positioning the interests of the United States above all
other nations in the struggle to be the singular super power over Russia
and to prove it was the Sentinel of Vigilance of democracy.
National versus global interests drove political decisions both at home
Kissinger was at the vortex of
His German accent didn't help me think more
highly of his self-serving behaviors, or the idea that a few non
combatants hiding in bunkers back in Washington would sacrifice their men
on the front lines without a blink.
Safire is giving Kissinger the benefit of
He's suggesting that maybe, just maybe,
Kissinger's spots have changed. Or, if not changed, been rearranged.
really change their spots?
As the head of the
commission investigating the Nine Eleven debacle in American preparedness,
Safire suggests Kissinger's real power isn't going to be castigating those
who made strategic errors in leaving our borders open to assault by
Terrorism, but in designing systems to close such gaps in the future.
Safire is suggesting the scars on
Kissinger's back give him credence to hunt down the Terror pitfalls of the
future, to drive wedges in the holes in America's security dike, and to
use his power as an intellectual and politician to strengthen America's
overall ability to fight Terrorism down the line.
Basically, he's betting Kissinger will take
the "Big Leap."
Safire cited the example of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt appointing Joseph P. Kennedy as first chairman of
the Securities Exchange Commission because the "predator knew all the
manipulative tricks." Safire says Bush selected Kissinger
because "the old operator can see through the secret obfuscations he
mastered long ago."
I hope so.
I'm not big on Safire's use of the analogy
of the S.E.C. appointment of John Kennedy's father to head it up, for "Old
Joe" might have seeded back then the genes of negligent management which
have just recently proved rotten roots in an old structure.
I'm not one to promote that resurrected people are the best examples of
leadership into the future, for despite any "purifications" they may have
undergone, their roots still carry the fungi of the past.
But that doesn't mean that Kissinger is not
a good choice from my viewpoint.
At least I know what he is and isn't.
My friend Phil Randazzo reminded me its better to
know you have a thief at the cash register than to think you have a saint.
That way, you won't be surprised if the saint fails to be perfect.
In that sense, I like Kissinger at the
helm. I can view him from what he was to what is and judge
what he is going to do with a clearer view. Hopefully, the
Bush Administration is viewing his actions the same way.
I'm also becoming convinced it takes a
Terrorist like Kissinger to hunt down Terrorism.
My credentials as a Terror Hunter are
solely based on my own experience of both being Terrorized and being a
Terrorist. I know what it's like to bomb, maim, pillage
and plunder the innocent under a flag of glory that ends up dripping the
guts of the dead on your head. As a child, I know what it's like to
hide under my covers as the violence between my mother and father raged
just outside the door. I also know what it's like to chase power,
for I climbed to the top of my profession, earning over $300,000 a year in
the 80's, and then fell flat on my face wishing only death because I was
I also know resurrection.
September 11, 2001, as I sat in the rubble of the World Trade Center
holocaust, I pounded the keys of my laptop, capturing the moment in words
and images. I saw the swirling spirits of the Sentinels of Vigilance
rising out of the ash, and wrote about them forming a Circle of Vigilance,
their primary mission to protect the future of the children's children's
children from both physical and emotional Terror.
I also saw the Beast of Terror that day. I
saw his face and eyes and fangs and vowed to myself to hunt him down and
constrain him by exposing him for what he is--Fear, Intimidation and
Since that day, I have written over one million
words on the Hunt For The Beast Of Terror, and each day I have
strengthened my resolve that one day we will stop looking outside our
borders for him, and see him in the mirror, and know he is within us.
Henry Kissinger has a good a chance to look
in the mirror and see his Beast of Terror as anyone on the planet.
If Kissinger has the Courage, Conviction and takes the Right Actions as a
Sentinel of Vigilance, he will incorporate both realpolitiks and Wilsonian
idealism and fold them into a State of Vigilance where national and
international interests can blend as one with the ultimate goal being the
protection of the future generations, and not some expedient political
whitewash that drives America's attention back to the flaws of our past
but rather fortifies our future.
That would be a feat indeed.
If Safire isn't just "stroking" Kissinger's
fur because of their past associations, and really sees something I'm
blind to, then Kissinger might be America's best Terror Hunter.
If he is, he'll want to take the Pledge of Vigilance and want all of his
staff to take it. He'll want them to answer this simple but
profound question: "What measures must we take to protect the
children and the children's children's children from Terrorism both from
foreign and domestic sources?"
If Kissinger is a real
"resurrectionist" as Safire infers, he will recognize that Terror begins
with individual Complacency, individual Fear, and individual Intimidation.
He won't focus his attention at finger-pointing at American government,
but rather challenge the society of America to stand up and take command
of Terror Hunting in their own lives, to protect their children from Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency at the doorsteps of America's 100 million
Then he will move up the Chain of
Vigilance, from the parents and citizens, to the neighborhoods, cities,
states, nation and finally the world.
Hydra of Terrorism
Terrorism is a hydra-headed beast, Kissinger cannot put on of them on a
silver platter and deliver it with a bow and then wash his hands.
He has a lot of heads to cut off to keep the Beast of Terror at bay, and
countless silver platters necessary to serve them upon.
If he is "reborn" in principle and
dedication, he will not be afraid to reach into the guts of Terrorism and
yank out its bowels for the world to see. Neither will he be
wary of presenting the Pledge of Vigilance or the Principles of Vigilance
as the tools for a world to use to turn the tide of Terrorism.
He will not, if he is a true Sentinel of Vigilance, as "governments" to
perform the act of protecting their people from Terrorism, for that would
be the worst kind of Terrorism possible.
It is not government that can control
and manage Terrorism. It is the people, the Mothers and Fathers of
Vigilance, the Grandparents of Vigilance, the Uncles and Aunts of
Vigilance, the Cousins and Loved Ones of Vigilance, the Brothers and
Sisters of Vigilance--only they, committed to ridding the Beast of Terror
a lair in their minds and hearts--will be the true stopgaps of future
Will Kissinger be able to lower his sights
from the power of government to administer the safety of the future
generations to the power of the people to do it?
My guts tell me no.
I fear deep down that Kissinger is a old
political animal seeking glorification in the waning light of his
career--but not from the public, but rather from his "good-old-boy" peers.
I don't see him kneeling down next to a child and asking the child, "Tell
me you fears, child? Tell me what intimidates you? Tell me
your complacencies? Tell me what you would like me to do to
keep the Beast of Terror locked up so he doesn't haunt you?"
I don't think
Kissinger sees that the next Terrorist is being born as these
words are written, or that it is how the child grows up that
creates the Terrorism or Vigilance of the future.
Instead, I see Kissinger polling his peers, and listening to
the choir sing the same tiring song about our "duty to
protect the people." Seeking that tune will
not shine the stained pages of his history.
But I could be wrong.
Safire could be right.
After all, who am
Dec. 1--The Immorality of
Teaching Children Morality
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