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  1. #1
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    Published on Monday, June 21, 2004 by AnitaRoddick.com

    A Time to Weep

    by Ted Sorenson



    Ted Sorenson, a former aide to President John F. Kennedy, gave this moving commencement speech at the New School University in New York on May 21, 2004. (The "President Kerrey" he refers to is, alas, former Senator Bob Kerrey who is president of the New School, not future US President John Kerry.)

    This is not a speech. Two weeks ago I set aside the speech I prepared. This is a cry from the heart, a lamentation for the loss of this country's goodness and therefore its greatness.

    Future historians studying the decline and fall of America will mark this as the time the tide began to turn - toward a mean-spirited mediocrity in place of a noble beacon.

    For me the final blow was American guards laughing over the naked, helpless bodies of abused prisoners in Iraq. "There is a time to laugh," the Bible tells us, "and a time to weep." Today I weep for the country I love, the country I proudly served, the country to which my four grandparents sailed over a century ago with hopes for a new land of peace and freedom. I cannot remain silent when that country is in the deepest trouble of my lifetime.

    I am not talking only about the prison abuse scandal, that stench will someday subside. Nor am I referring only to the Iraq war - that too will pass - nor to any one political leader or party. This is no time for politics as usual, in which no one responsible admits responsibility, no one genuinely apologizes, no one resigns and everyone else is blamed.

    The damage done to this country by its own misconduct in the last few months and years, to its very heart and soul, is far greater and longer lasting than any damage that any terrorist could possibly inflict upon us.

    The stain on our credibility, our reputation for decency and integrity, will not quickly wash away.

    Last week, a family friend of an accused American guard in Iraq recited the atrocities inflicted by our enemies on Americans, and asked: "Must we be held to a different standard?" My answer is YES. Not only because others expect it. WE must hold ourselves to a different standard. Not only because God demands it, but because it serves our security.

    Our greatest strength has long been not merely our military might but our moral authority. Our surest protection against assault from abroad has been not all our guards, gates and guns or even our two oceans, but our essential goodness as a people. Our richest asset has been not our material wealth but our values.

    We were world leaders once - helping found the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, NATO, and programs like Food for Peace, international human rights and international environmental standards. The world admired not only the bravery of our Marine Corps but also the idealism of our Peace Corps.

    Our word was as good as our gold. At the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, President Kennedy's special envoy to brief French President de Gaulle, offered to document our case by having the actual pictures of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba brought in. "No," shrugged the usually difficult de Gaulle: "The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me."

    Eight months later, President Kennedy could say at American University: "The world knows that America will never start a war. This generation of Americans has had enough of war and hate ... we want to build a world of peace where the weak are secure and the strong are just."

    Our founding fathers believed this country could be a beacon of light to the world, a model of democratic and humanitarian progress. We were. We prevailed in the Cold War because we inspired millions struggling for freedom in far corners of the Soviet empire. I have been in countries where children and avenues were named for Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. We were respected, not reviled, because we respected man's aspirations for peace and justice. This was the country to which foreign leaders sent not only their goods to be sold but their sons and daughters to be educated. In the 1930's, when Jewish and other scholars were driven out of Europe, their preferred destination - even for those on the far left - was not the Communist citadel in Moscow but the New School here in New York.

    What has happened to our country? We have been in wars before, without resorting to sexual humiliation as torture, without blocking the Red Cross, without insulting and deceiving our allies and the U.N., without betraying our traditional values, without imitating our adversaries, without blackening our name around the world.

    Last year when asked on short notice to speak to a European audience, and inquiring what topic I should address, the Chairman said: "Tell us about the good America, the America when Kennedy was in the White House." "It is still a good America," I replied. "The American people still believe in peace, human rights and justice; they are still a generous, fair-minded, open-minded people."

    Today some political figures argue that merely to report, much less to protest, the crimes against humanity committed by a few of our own inadequately trained forces in the fog of war, is to aid the enemy or excuse its atrocities. But Americans know that such self-censorship does not enhance our security. Attempts to justify or defend our illegal acts as nothing more than pranks or no worse than the crimes of our enemies, only further muddies our moral image. 30 years ago, America's war in Vietnam became a hopeless military quagmire; today our war in Iraq has become a senseless moral swamp.

    No military victory can endure unless the victor occupies the high moral ground. Surely America, the land of the free, could not lose the high moral ground invading Iraq, a country ruled by terror, torture and tyranny - but we did.

    Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein - politically, economically, diplomatically, much as we succeeded in isolating Khadafy, Marcos, Mobutu and a host of other dictators over the years, we have isolated ourselves. We are increasingly alone in a dangerous world in which millions who once respected us now hate us.

    Not only Muslims. Every international survey shows our global standing at an all-time low. Even our transatlantic alliance has not yet recovered from its worst crisis in history. Our friends in Western Europe were willing to accept Uncle Sam as class president, but not as class bully, once he forgot JFK's advice that "Civility is not a sign of weakness."

    All this is rationalized as part of the war on terror. But abusing prisoners in Iraq, denying detainees their legal rights in Guantanamo, even American citizens, misleading the world at large about Saddam's ready stockpiles of mass destruction and involvement with al Qaeda at 9/11, did not advance by one millimeter our efforts to end the threat of another terrorist attack upon us. On the contrary, our conduct invites and incites new attacks and new recruits to attack us.

    The decline in our reputation adds to the decline in our security. We keep losing old friends and making new enemies - not a formula for success. We have not yet rounded up Osama bin Laden or most of the al Qaeda and Taliban leaders or the anthrax mailer. "The world is large," wrote John Boyle O'Reilly, in one of President Kennedy's favorite poems, "when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide, but the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side." Today our enemies are still loose on the other side of the world, and we are still vulnerable to attack.

    True, we have not lost either war we chose or lost too much of our wealth. But we have lost something worse - our good name for truth and justice. To paraphrase Shakespeare: "He who steals our nation's purse, steals trash. T'was ours, tis his, and has been slave to thousands. But he that filches our good name ... makes us poor indeed."

    No American wants us to lose a war. Among our enemies are those who, if they could, would fundamentally change our way of life, restricting our freedom of religion by exalting one faith over others, ignoring international law and the opinions of mankind; and trampling on the rights of those who are different, deprived or disliked. To the extent that our nation voluntarily trods those same paths in the name of security, the terrorists win and we are the losers.

    We are no longer the world's leaders on matters of international law and peace. After we stopped listening to others, they stopped listening to us. A nation without credibility and moral authority cannot lead, because no one will follow.

    Paradoxically, the charges against us in the court of world opinion are contradictory. We are deemed by many to be dangerously aggressive, a threat to world peace. You may regard that as ridiculously unwarranted, no matter how often international surveys show that attitude to be spreading. But remember the old axiom: "No matter how good you feel, if four friends tell you you're drunk, you better lie down."

    Yet we are also charged not so much with intervention as indifference - indifference toward the suffering of millions of our fellow inhabitants of this planet who do not enjoy the freedom, the opportunity, the health and wealth and security that we enjoy; indifference to the countless deaths of children and other civilians in unnecessary wars, countless because we usually do not bother to count them; indifference to the centuries of humiliation endured previously in silence by the Arab and Islamic worlds.

    The good news, to relieve all this gloom, is that a democracy is inherently self-correcting. Here, the people are sovereign. Inept political leaders can be replaced. Foolish policies can be changed. Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.

    When, in 1941, the Japanese Air Force was able to inflict widespread death and destruction on our naval and air forces in Hawaii because they were not on alert, those military officials most responsible for ignoring advance intelligence were summarily dismissed.

    When, in the late 1940's, we faced a global Cold War against another system of ideological fanatics certain that their authoritarian values would eventually rule the world, we prevailed in time. We prevailed because we exercised patience as well as vigilance, self-restraint as well as self-defense, and reached out to moderates and modernists, to democrats and dissidents, within that closed system. We can do that again. We can reach out to moderates and modernists in Islam, proud of its long traditions of dialogue, learning, charity and peace.

    Some among us scoff that the war on Jihadist terror is a war between civilization and chaos. But they forget that there were Islamic universities and observatories long before we had railroads.

    So do not despair. In this country, the people are sovereign. If we can but tear the blindfold of self-deception from our eyes and loosen the gag of self-denial from our voices, we can restore our country to greatness. In particular, you - the Class of 2004 - have the wisdom and energy to do it. Start soon.

    In the words of the ancient Hebrews:

    "The day is short, and the work is great, and the laborers are sluggish, but the reward is much, and the Master is urgent."


    There are 3 ways to do anything in life; Good, Fast, Slow: You can pick any 2.

  2. #2
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    How much did this guy weep over the decapitated bodies of (at least) 3 Americans and 1 Korean?
    No reserve. No retreat. No regrets.

    For those who have fought for it, freedom has a sweetness the protected will never know.

    http://www.airwarvietnam.com/16thSOSGunners2.jpg

    Proud member of KA Club

  3. #3
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    yeah,hopefully when we look back on this misguided period in our history;it will be written as a brief foray into the absurdity of might can make right.

    Rather than the beginning of disasterous times a civilization brought upon itself.

    or the inability of that civilization to temper itself instead of being seduced by the power and pride of empire.

    for all empires,...FALL

  4. #4
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    serious question

    Where is this HATRED of USA coming from.
    The musulems have been building on this hatred for years.
    Even when Democrat/liberals were in control.
    Why are democrats/liberals joining the muslums???

    I personaly am not proud of ALL that the USA has done, but I don't hate it, nor do I want to see her demise.

    WHY do some of you???

    THAT is what I don't understand?


    Those who dance, appear insane to those who do not hear the music.
    Those who believe, appear ignorant to those who do not know God.

  5. #5
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    cehs

    if you don't understand,maybe part of it is that we don't hate the USA.
    Ilove this country,that is why I personally am so hard on the ruling elite that have the power to change the world,but only do so to make money.

    I,m a populist

    I don't understand how people can defend the actions of certain people just because of their social status.

    I am forced to assume people that stick up for their "superiors",have been "taught","raised","brainwashed",or whatever you call it ;to ignore critical facts when the implications of those facts goes against their "training".

    Both political parties have been manipulated by money and power that is working to keep the status quo,on the backs of the people.

    and to keep that end they have resorted to education(lying/propoganda),secrecy,intrigue and high crimes and misdemeaners.


    and when these multinational companies to exploit the world and everyone in it,stay afloat with gov't subsidy and competitive protections.

    the US taxpayer contributes in so many ways,and still the consumer is just for "milking".and the citizen is forced to identify with the company,which is part of where our bad reputation come from.
    the other part is when the military goes in to pave the way for companies to come in and exploit later.

    we have the same problem all colonial powers have had.

    public relations.

    and a populace stuck in "us and them",is gonna be a problem.
    and we don't wish our own demise,we see irresponsibe actions of a minority that is speaking as a majority,that is using dirty tricks to steal power.

    and to see so many people beguiled by celebrity,into thinking "what I see is wrong,but they must have a plan"

    or to be so beguiled by cheap psychological tricks,so as to not even see anything wrong,that is mind-boggling.

    these people going down on the titanic amazed and stupefied by the training and skill it must take to pilot such a vessel.


    and then the mantra,"you have them to thank for a job"...don't get me started....what a crock!


    so who is to say who loves the country more,I say we do.
    for we see more of what really happened to get us here.

    maybe we love the freedom of the human spirit more than the corporation calling itself a gov't we instituted in the first place to fascilitate the journey of the spirit.

    the human becoming is greater than a temporary form of gov't we created for our own good.

    when that gov,t becomes rife with abuse,it ceases to be our creation,it is our hindrence.

    the culture of the beauracrecy is so broken,they will not be able to "fix"themselves,because they think they already have.

  6. #6
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    Remember,

    Please take this with good intent, but you sound like a russian communist.
    When you use the words like populice and brainwashed it sounds like communism.
    I stated earlier that I did NOT agree with everything our government does, but I did not agree with everything my father did but chose to love him anyway.

    I am not condemning your anger, you have that right. I just believe it is just misplaced and would be better spent on improving things that can be improved.

    Those who dance, appear insane to those who do not hear the music.
    Those who believe, appear ignorant to those who do not know God.

  7. #7
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    cehs,please take this as it is sent;with good intent.

    You say "russian communist"...


    I believe that if you knew much of the stories of our history,you would not tolerate the mindless drivel that passes for the "official" version of history.

    especially,this being the fourth of july and all.


    the men who uphold the british tradition of "federalism";those founding fathers(hamilton,john adams,john jay,james madison,etc.)who were federalists,and sided with the english monied aristocracy,which has become synonomous with the northeastern monied families(rockefeller,bush,harriman,brown,walker,he inz,forbes,etc.). Have formed a network/culture(a community of intrest),which is effectively an "endrun" around the system of "checks and balances",that the founding fathers wisely incorporated to prevent the abuses of gov't/commerce.


    without going on too much;


    after several failed revolutions in russia since 1905,after the tsars ceded power,western industrialists put together the money needed to fund the bolshevic revolution.

    trotsky,who was a reporter at "the world",in new york(or canada?)was given money and papers by the USA and transportation to get back to russia.
    lenin was given 5,000,000 pounds and sent across germany in a sealed train from switzerland,by the allies to foment a bolshevici revolution.

    and then after the takeover,banks like Kuhn,LOEB&co gave them the necessary credit /money to be a viable revolution. they even financed stalin's 5-year putches,that killed millions.

    jacob Schiff(a rothschild relative-married)was running Kuhn,loeb at the time.he was from germany originally,but was living in the US.(His great-grandson,john? is now married to Al gore's daughter Karinna Gore-Schiff)personally contributed 20,ooo dollars to keep the revolution afloat.

    in a 1944 state department report by Averill harriman,@2/3 of their infrastructure was contributed by the US,in some way.

    before the "lend-lease act"and after certain beaureucrats(with private buisness intrests)propped up lenin and stalin.


    one company formed to help bankroll the bolshevics,was "the american international corporation..1915"which was a venture by some of the biggest names in finance,morgan,rockefeller,harriman,George herbert Walker,etc.


    then after these companies profit with all the "handling fees" and Intrest payments on loans by propping up an arch enemy;they profit by the myriad of buisness overlaps with the defense industry in the role to protect us from them.than incomes the media shills,who stir up the "boogeyman"and how we need to spend "whatever it takes "to combat this enemy.along comes the "cold war".

    sounds neat,but that is paraphrasing something that is at least in part,organic.

    but that type of thing is just one facet of the many faces to study.

    and during wartime,the same cast of characters have had dealings(selling war supplies) with both russia(during vietnam,and korea)and germany(during WWII)and the USA and everyones allies.

    even a "commie fighter"like wallace was a joke.

    he was never serious about searching out commies,

    during the korean war,him being a representative of wisconsin,where the Andreas family had large holings in soybeans(ANDREAS's are ADM..the future of whats to come);he lobbied to get them special trading privileges with the soviet union,who used the oil for certain lubricants.even though at the time they(russians)were supplying both the chinese and the north koreans.as well as donating an airforce.

    the same thing has happened in vietnam.companies getting special privileges to trade with russia for materials ,that were turned to be used against american soldiers.


    that is the story of WWII...by dec 13 1941,roosevelt signed the trading with the enemy act,which had provisions giving certain companies the ability to sell goods and services to the enemy,germany.


    Standard oil(exxon/mobil,chevron/texaco,marathon,sunoco,conoco/phillips,sohio,socony vacuum,etc.;sold more oil to the axis powers than to the allies by changing their port of laden to venuzuela

    ford produced trucks in germany and during the war built the germans two more heavy equiptment factories in vichy france and in africa (for rommel)


    chase bank(rockefeller)and national city(citigroup)(rockefeller)and the union bankin corporation(prescott bush -chairman..they had their assets confiscated by the alien property custodianfor trading with the enemy)

    kept the money flowing all throughout the war.
    the bank of international settlements was specifically created so entities could exchange credit with sovergn enemies during war without entanglments.

    sounds patriotic ,huh


    but the lists go on and on and on.




    this administration
    members of Council on foreign relations:
    dick cheney
    colin powell(fcc chair micheal powell's father)
    don rumsfeld
    paul wolfowitz
    george tenet
    john negroponte
    condeleeza rice
    robert zoelleck
    lewis "scooter"libby
    richard pearl
    elaine chao(mitch mcconnel's wife)
    george's dad was a director at one time
    alan greenspan

    among others;



    bill clinton stffed his administration with them too;

    bill clinton,
    al gore
    madelaine albright
    bruce babbit
    bill cohen
    john deutch
    bill richardson
    donna shalala
    dick thornburgh
    james woolsey
    warren christopher
    sandy berger
    henry cisneros
    les aspin
    anthony lake
    george stephanopolous
    strobe talbott

    among others


    and that is just the few of them at the top in the executive branch

    not to even start the list on the supreme court and in congress, the federal reserve,the national media conglomerates,the preeminent academic boards and chairs,as well as the upper eschelons of the big "bluechip" buisness'


    like armand hammer(occidental oil)
    jeff skilling(enron)
    david rockefeller(chase bank)
    among the 1500 or so members they have every year since 1921.
    and that is just one organization that is probably the most transparent organ of "the establishment"

    It seems to me there is so much you could take issue with,to think american citizens are unmolested by the ruling elites,is just silly.
    not to be disrespectful.

  8. #8
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    Remember

    But you choose to be bitter and hateful.
    I choose to look forward with hope...

    Those who dance, appear insane to those who do not hear the music.
    Those who believe, appear ignorant to those who do not know God.

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