Re: Melvin Lasky, RIP

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Lew’s recent item on Melvin Lasky reminded me of this passage from Frances Stoner Saunders’s The Cultural Cold War, describing a dinner hosted by Arthur Koestler shortly before the first meeting of the CIA-funded Congress of Cultural Freedom in Berlin in 1950:

“[James] Burnham . . . explained how the USA could render Russia impotent in a day by dropping the bomb on major Russian cities. ‘He looked quite pleased at the idea,’ noted Mamaine Koestler (she also noted that ‘Burnham loooks very sweet and gentle . . . but he is much less scrupulous about means than K[oestler]’ — he also said ‘he wouldn’t necessarily reject torture in certain cases’). Using the kind of language which petrified reality, and which was one of the contributing factors of the Cold War (on both sides), Burnham now announced that he was ‘against those bombs, how stored or to be stored later in Siberia or the Caucasus, which are designed for the destruction of Paris, London, Rome, Brussels, Stockholm, New York, Chicago, . . . Berlin, and of western civilisation generally . . . But I am . . . for those bombs made in Los Alamos, Hanford and Oak Ridge and guarded I know not where in the Rockies or American deserts, [which] for five years have defended — have been the sole defense of — the liberties of western Europe.’ To which Andre Philip replied that when atom bombs fall, ‘they do not distinguish between friend or foe, enemy or freedom fighter.'”

12:20 pm on June 23, 2004
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