With Colonel Kangaroo at a Soldier of Fortune Convention
The firing range lay in spectacular desert hills rising to a huge sky over Las Vegas, a blue immensity bounded by worn red stumps of rock like shattered molars. Startling pink strata cut through darker layers the color of clotted blood. Scrub vegetation struggled on the dry earth, forming such a wasteland that it was... Read More
A Place I Cared About
Dawn comes to the alleys around Tan Son Nhut Field with a faint grey light seeping past the graveyard and up the dusty road toward the banana market. Pots begin to clatter and red charcoal dims in brightening court-yards. A hungry dog sniffs in the ditch. A cyclo, a motor-driven coal scuttle equally... Read More
A Course In Democracy, As Harvard Will Never Know It
Boot camp. Yawning gateway to military life, an adventure outrageously funny and frightening, source of a lifetime of lies, all growing worse with each bull session. No one forgets boot. Get two GIs together over a bottle of gin, talking about old times, and sooner or later the talk will turn to tales of boot,... Read More
A Bad Mood, A Six-Pack, And A Typewriter
I begin to weary of the stories about veterans that are now in vogue with the newspapers, the stories that dissect the veteran's psyche as if prying apart a laboratory frog-patronizing stories written by style-section reporters who know all there is to know about chocolate mousse, ladies' fashions, and the wonderful desserts that can be... Read More
Bouncing across southern Lebanon is a convoy of 125 reporters, photographers, and TV crazies in 25 rented Subarus, the assembled war corespondents of the western world. Somehow I don't think this is how Ernie Pyle did it. We look like a traffic jam in Tokyo. Photographers dangle acrobatically from windows. Three TV cameras protrude like... Read More
The State Department’s white paper entitled Communist Interference in El Salvador purports to provide evidence demonstrating: The white paper fails to provide a convincing case for any of those propositions. On the contrary, its evidence is flimsy, circumstantial or nonexistent; the reasoning and logic is slipshod and internally inconsistent; it assumes what needs to be... Read More
Letter to the Editor
Mr. Robert Dujarric (Letters, January 15th) believes that an increased Nato reliance on “smart” anti-tank weapons instead of tactical nuclear weapons is inadvisable. His analysis overlooks several important points. Many American tactical nuclear warheads are stored close to the East German border and might be quickly overrun during a Soviet attack. An American president would... Read More
The Kims, père et fils.
If the quickest way to get some insight into a phenomenon is to look at its most extreme manifestations, the student of modern totalitarianism can do no better than to curl up for half an hour with a copy of the Pyongyang Times, an English-language weekly newspaper published in North Korea. Take the occasion when... Read More
Teaching Eng. Lit. in China.
Everybody knows the frustration of having to explain a joke. Teaching the literature of one's country to foreign students is something like explaining jokes for a living. This has been my living for the past few months, as resident "Foreign Expert" in the English department of a teachers' college in North China. My course is... Read More
A Sordid But Instructive Interval At Soldier of Fortune Magazine
I came into the weird mercenary vortex of Soldier of Fortune magazine when the phone rang in 1980. The voice on the other end was low and conspiratorial, the vocal cords sounding as if they had been ravaged by gargling gravel. Something in it whispered of far places and dark secrets too evil to be... Read More
Pouring cold water on mid-1980s enthusiasm for China.
When you go to China they give you a banquet. The format of these functions is always the same, whether you are President of the United States or the export manager of Nuts & Washers, Ltd — though of course there are differences of scale. Smiling officials usher you to the seat of honour. The... Read More
An attack on the TV series The Heart of the Dragon.
The Heart of the Dragon — Channel 4's series on life in China, has attracted much attention. But, as one who has lived in the People's Republic in close contact with ordinary Chinese, I feel qualified to say that the creators of this series have been taken for a ride. I am sure the filmmakers... Read More
The difficulty of economic reform in China.
I have a friend in China — let us call him Wu Ming — who is a schoolteacher. His salary is £20 a month. He lives in a bare concrete dormitory with other single men and eats canteen food (which is awful). Wu Ming's hobby is electronics. He's quite a wizard — once I needed... Read More
Stones of the Wall, by Dai Houying
To Get Rich is Glorious, by Orville Schell
Since 1978 China has been settling down into an easy-going style of traditional oriental despotism, a re-tread of the old imperial order. For 30 years before that date, however, the country was a laboratory for experiments in chiliastic socialism. All the experiments were failures, of course; each one left behind a desert of abandoned marriages,... Read More
Strategy for Survival, by Chiao Chiao Hsieh
An acquaintance of mine arrived in Taiwan (alias the "republic of China") in 1971, the week after Nixon announced his intention to visit Peking. The air was thick with anxiety. Those who had somewhere to go were preparing to leave, considering that, with the collapse of American support and the anticipated expulsion from the U.N.,... Read More
Splendor, Loose Cows, and A Very Large Gun in Texas
To an observer on one of Fort Hood's flattened prominences, the Abrams M1 tank would seem a dark mote below a high plume of dust, a glint of periscopes, a small furor lost in the vastness and pastels of central Texas. Not even the grandest of tanks can intimidate a landscape. By day and night... Read More
Letter to the Editor
As a long-time subscriber to your newsweekly I wish to bring to your attention an unfortunate skew in your coverage of world events, namely your overemphasis on Europe and your under-reporting of the Far East. Such an observation may seem curious since your newsweekly clearly contains the best and most comprehensive western coverage of the... Read More
An account of my marriage.
On Thursday we went to the Civil Affairs Office. Like most substantial buildings in Manchuria, this one dated from the Japanese occupation. It had certainly not seen a coat of paint since Liberation. Running round all the interior walls was a sort of dado of black grime reaching to shoulder height, where generations of citizens... Read More
Aboard a Nuclear Missile Sub
We stood, the captain and I, high in the sail, the rounded steel dorsal fin that used to be called the conning tower, as the sun rose red over the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. A bitter cold wind raced over the Hood Canal, leading to the open Pacific; the water was black and... Read More
The Chinese Democratic Party gives a press conference.
The Chinese Democratic Party presented itself to the world on the afternoon of 8 May at a restaurant in New York's Chinatown. The world was represented by: a Japanese reporter somewhat the worse for drink, who kept falling asleep, two people from the New York Tribune (one of the Revd Mr Moon's enterprises), someone from... Read More
The admission of three former members of the Eastern bloc into NATO was described by President Clinton as ”a very great day not only for Europe and the United States, not simply for NATO but indeed for the cause of freedom in the aftermath of the Cold War.” Behind the euphoric rhetoric of the NATO... Read More
or, None dare call it imperialism
The newly emerging "vital American interest," where democracy and freedom are also alleged to be at stake, is the Caspian Sea Basin. If you happen to peruse almanacs, you might recognize the Caspian as the world's largest inland body of water. You might also know that it has the world's largest sturgeon stock (now in... Read More
With the release of the Cox Commission report, the growing national hysteria regarding relations with China has reached troubling, even alarming, proportions. Growing international hostility between America and China rather than apparent Chinese spying in America is the far greater threat to our national security. The basic conclusions of the Cox Report are certainly correct:... Read More
Dear Potentates: With all the recent talk about American intervention in East Timor, which is about as far as one can get from the United States, you may be wondering about the safety of your own oppressive regime. Is any oppressive regime safe and secure from the long arm of the United States? In fact,... Read More
Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books). This book provides a detailed account of the ways in which the CIA penetrated and influenced a vast array of cultural organizations, through its front groups and via friendly philanthropic organizations like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. The... Read More