Editorials

commonweal BITBURG & THE CENTURY OF ASH THERE IS an ancient truism: we are what we eat. But in the latter half of the twentieth century it has been amended by a distinctly modern correlative: we...

...the embargo was announced...
...Did we eat it in the leaf of yesterday's lettuce...
...At the very least the Democrats should stick with the facts: there is no "national emergency...
...funds to prop up either side should be forbidden by law and enforced...
...Reagan's Star Wars research...
...Many in Congress had suggested it...
...Memory is the only practical muzzle we have discovered to guard human generations from so easily repeating our bloody past...
...air base at Bitburg is said to be the site of one of the largest concentrations of American nuclear weapons anywhere...
...How can we calibrate what parts per billion still drift silently in the atmosphere...
...Herskovik recounted recently, ' 'the ashes began to fall on my arm.'' The Nobel poet Nelly Sachs wrote of such a soul in her prize-winning collection, O The Chimneys: Then she kisses the air-born being And dies...
...And even if they could, there is no reason to believe they enjoy a majority of popular support, or that they are competent to lead a fledgling democracy...
...Most outrageous is the president's claim that recent actions by the Nicaraguan government "constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States...
...Kohl has won considerable favor from this administration by installing U.S...
...Of all the lessons of his presidency, the one we must not fail to heed is Ronald Reagan's stumbling at Bitburg...
...This morass accounts for the fact that while the Democrats are suspicious of Mr...
...Only vigilance will keep the volcanic ash from exploding...
...First, we cannot evade reality...
...Yet none of this can take away the fact that the Jewish cemetery in Bitburg is today tended by non-Jews...
...It is a reference to the most meticulously calculated and carefully executed of human disasters, the Nazi Holocaust of Jews and non-Jews alike...
...Such moments of self-revelation are a gift for self-knowledge...
...Reagan, we have a deep desire to be spared, to be rid of 17 May 1985: 293 the unpleasant present and past...
...Some years ago when Lilian Cavani was asked by Le Monde why she had written The Night Porter, her play about the Nazis, she responded: "So that we can live wake-fully...
...The second lesson is that we all tend to smooth out memory...
...But surely there is little need to hurry the process...
...Kohl and we all long to be expiated...
...Some of these latter are now being considered by the president as well, such as a freeze on Nicaraguan assets in the U.S...
...But in place of a police badge it bore a Star of David...
...The wrong key never grants release...
...Nevertheless, reversing the vote on aid to the contras a move now being contemplated merely sidesteps the problem...
...Does it lie sleeping in the mechanical air ducts of our mechanized bureaucratic halls...
...Noticeably absent from this list, however, is the primary nonmilitary suggestion: direct negotiations with the Sandinistas, which, to Mr...
...If there is one lesson we of the Century of Ash should ponder at the gates of Bitburg, it is unsparingly that...
...Nixon himself had yet to learn the lessons of his own fall...
...The morass is filled with accumulated suspicion over the ' 'covert'' nature of the war...
...The president's executive action appeared in reaction to the defeat in the House of a proposal to give $14 million in aid to the contras...
...private fortunes collected to bolster the rebels...
...The president's chief-of-staff has said that the uproar over Bitburg has deeply wounded the president...
...This embargo is a unilateral step taken by the president of the U.S., whose allies apparently do not take seriously the urgent security threat...
...Lacking a politically unified Germany, Chancellor Kohl's desire for reconciliation led him to seek it in approval from abroad...
...The U.S...
...Yet the same newspapers that carried notices of the Bitburg controversy carried headlines of FBI agents and state troopers raiding neo-Nazi paramilitary compounds in the lush Ozark mountains, arresting fugitives from justice who had vowed to overturn the "Jewish-dominated" U.S...
...The great blue banner raised in protest at Bitburg to greet the president was correct: "Neither hate nor forgetfulness...
...Will we smell it tomorrow in the rose the rose we clamp into a wreath...
...None of us knows for sure how much The Ash (the ash of the Holocaust) has settled in our souls...
...While the embargo is admittedly and laudably a nonmilitary and overt move, the logic-beneath it is equally feeble...
...What is needed is a way to relieve tension and to check Nicaragua's dependence upon the Soviets...
...Memory, of its nature, tends to sand down the jagged incisors of history...
...Alexander of Arkansas...
...government...
...The embargo distracted media from the president's other decisive commitment to visit the cemetery in Bitburg...
...Reagan and the White House for misrepresenting their particular views on resolving the conflicts in Central America...
...The president's forte has never been getting the facts all straight...
...Surely, Elie Wiesel was correct when he insisted before the president that the issue was not one of politics, but of good and evil...
...There is no question as to the president's abhorrence of the Holocaust...
...Wiesel was too categorical, too simplistic...
...Reagan's unstated motives in Nicaragua, they are downright appalled by Nicaraguan President Ortega's recent visit to Moscow to solicit aid...
...An illustration of executive command...
...and one reason given was Nicaragua's "rapid and destabilizing military buildup...
...Reagan not to retreat from Bitburg lest he show weakness before the world, it was cruelly apparent Mr...
...More truly than any moment in his tenure, it has revealed the president's deep inner human disconjunctions...
...So it should...
...Reaction to the Moscow trip is symptomatic of a new intellectual and political morass which sucks down logic like quicksand...
...intervention than in the past...
...Or they can be the occasion of ultimate evasion, the moment human pain settles for mere self-suffering...
...Logic demanded it...
...But suddenly the world found him, on the record, equating the sufferings of conscripted German soldiers with those of the victims of the SS...
...And, Ms...
...The facts simply do not support Mr...
...And to what shores have the tides borne it...
...Otherwise, how can we account for their refusal to take credit and satisfaction for defeating contra funding and nudging the president toward nonmilitary pressure...
...When Arkansas State Trooper William Young went before the cameras with a wooden practice target found in the Ozark compound, it was shaped in the form of a state trooper...
...A kick at an unheeled Congress...
...There are no Jews left in Bitburg...
...When former President Nixon counseled Mr...
...But in the latter half of the twentieth century it has been amended by a distinctly modern correlative: we are what we breathe...
...For only God and the dead can forgive the sins Mr...
...Meanwhile, the CIA can occupy itself by investigating who mysteriously supplied surface-to-air missiles to the rebels precisely when Mr...
...Reagan acted against his own expressed intentions: on April 23 he wrote to Congress, via Senator Dole, that the administration will' 'favorably consider economic sanctions against the Government of Nicaragua and will undertake multilateral consultations with other Central American states in this regard...
...Even if all these allegations were true, the contras show no ability, with or without increased financial backing, to overthrow the Sandinistas...
...Commonweal: 294 FACING CONTRAQUENCES Once again decisive action by the president has befuddled the less-than-decisive Congress...
...Yet what has become apparent in his recent actions and unguarded phrases is what we secretly sense of ourselves...
...PrivateU.S...
...Someone pointed to the chimneys: "Look, there's where your father and whole family are...
...Despite appearances to the contrary, even the Democrats in Congress are now more supportive of Mr...
...Anti-Semitism, like the plague of seven-year locusts, constantly threatens to bore up out of the ground of our carefully hidden subconscious, to cover again the drowsy landscape of our century...
...This is not a Victorian lament about the polluted skies of Liverpool, or Bhopal weeping its lethal tears...
...When Pearl Herskovik arrived a little girl at the gates of Auschwitz, she asked where her family was...
...In politics it is easiest to play politics...
...Reagan was sulking over non-acceptance of his Nicaraguan "peace initiative...
...Why has Congress moved from banning all aid for the rebels to haggling over who should receive aid, how it should be spent, and who should distribute monies...
...It was a morally indefensible equation, and came at a time when both the Vatican and President Betancur of Colombia were correcting Mr...
...Granted, this4eaves the contras high and dry, but a moratorium would test the actuality and degree of their popular support...
...As Americans, we have little stomach for prolonged, enduring suffering...
...Reagan's view of the "covert" war and U.S...
...Whatever the president's intention, the House is right to have denied funds for the rebels...
...Oregta's trip to Moscow triggered a reaction in die House and provides overwhelming support for the need to show the flag," says Rep...
...and the recent history of U.S.Soviet interventions in the affairs of sovereign nations...
...In that sense, it reveals to each one of us our own hidden human face...
...citizens going to Nicaragua...
...To most Americans it was a surprising request, one they had granted a generation ago...
...Perhaps, speaking as a prophet, Mr...
...Has The Ash sifted down to cover the whole floor of the ocean's sands...
...Democrats who argued against giving military aid to the contr.as cited economic sanctions along with other nonmilitary alternatives...
...But facts like these apparently count for little...
...They should spearhead a moratorium on all U.S...
...But two lessons should emerge from Bitburg...
...The Sandinistas' need for financial support is obvious, and yet that cannot dispel Congress's shock at watching their growing dependence upon the Soviet Union as the source...
...They can be an encounter with truth...
...But seeking such approval through a grand symbolic gesture has proven finally barren, had it ever been really possible...
...Finally, no one predicts that the sanctions will succeed...
...embarrassment over CIA involvement in mining Nicaragua's harbors...
...Reagan's chagrin, the Sandinistas are anxious to resume...
...Like Mr...
...We go to great lengths to assure our personal contentment and its constitutionally guaranteed pursuit...
...cruise missiles and supporting Mr...
...It may indeed further bar the way...
...When President Reagan chose not to go to Dachau as part of his initial itinerary, he was seeking, in the name of reconciliation with a German ally, to evade what Saul Friedlander has called the most extreme upheaval of our time, the "indelible reference point of Western imagination" (Reflections on Nazism, Harper & Row, $13.95, 141 pp...
...First, an embargo needs international support...
...and travel restrictions on U.S...
...Reagan's declaration of a' 'national emergency," nor can the Sandinistas be called "totalitarian" despite serious human rights abuses and curtailed civic freedoms...
...Reagan's well-timed May 1 trade embargo against Nicaragua was neither surprising nor original...
...Is the embargo a media ploy...
...intervention in Nicaragua, for a specified time, expressly to allow the neglected Contadora leaders to work out a regional solution...

Vol. 112 • May 1985 • No. 10


 
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