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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

EDITORIAL: The Enemies Among Us

EDITORIAL

The Enemies Among us
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
April 16, 1963

Canada is a funny place, with funny little people in it. Dr. King would have said it's full of "moderates" -- the kind who are more dangerous to liberty than the KKK.

Take Robert Amsterdam, for instance.

A couple weeks ago, Kim Zigfeld posted on Pajamas Media about the revolting activities of former U.S. Congressman Kurt Weldon, who's now out of office and facing a massive corruption investigation. Kim wrote that in October 2006
the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the investigation began in response to a 2004 report in the Los Angeles Times about Weldon’s efforts to seek lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter Karen involving murky forces in Russia and Serbia. The day after the newspaper report blew their cover, FBI agents raided Karen’s home and office (as well as those of several other Weldon associates) and carted off boxes of evidence. Two days after that, the Washington Post reported that a grand jury had been impaneled

Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that a former congressional aide of Weldon’s has “admitted in court proceedings that his wife received unreported payments from an arms-control group with ties to top security officials in the Russian government. Rep. Weldon had sought a federal grant for the Russian organization, known as International Exchange Group [IEG], according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Rep. Weldon’s former aide, Russell Caso, pleaded guilty in December to failing to disclose payments made to his wife, but the origin of the funds wasn’t identified.”

The WSJ concludes: “The Weldon inquiry is significant in part because it is an element of a broader U.S. Justice Department probe into what officials suspect are efforts by Russian-backed firms to gain influence or gather information in Washington.” That’s the polite way of saying that, knowingly or unknowingly, Weldon may have been spying for the Kremlin.

As our post below indicates, the Weldon story keeps growing because Weldon appears quite determined to sell out his country. Wired.com reports: "Former congressman Curt Weldon is helping broker deals between Russian and Ukrainian weapons suppliers and the Iraqi and Libyan governments as part of his new job with a private American defense consulting firm."

Coming upon this story, apparently for the first time, blogger (and Khodorkovsky attorney) Amsterdam stated: "Hot stuff. Yet another example of how the Americans simply cannot claim to be any kind of moral authority in discussions with Russia." Not only did Amsterdam, not link to Kim's post on Pajamas it seems he didn't even know about it, nor did he read any of the reports it links to. His blog had never before reported on Weldon's behavior -- so in his words it really was "hot stuff" to him, and he doesn't seem to have read the article he's reporting on, which clearly states that the FBI is investigating Weldon, looking to put him in prison. What more is it exactly, Mr. Amsterdam, that America need to do satisfy you and win the high moral ground? Shoot Weldon on sight? Poison him like the Russians did Litvinenko?

A bit dicey to rely on someone that far out of the loop for your main source of information on Russia, no?

But more interesting is the jaw-dropping hypocrisy. Canadians are funny little people, aren't they? Here they are holding themselves out as being all non-confrontational and cerebral and what not, and yet just give them the chance to bash an other country in a haughty, prejudicial manner and they grab for it like a fat man in a candy store. They dwell in a tiny (population-wise) and largely inconsequential (influence-wise) land, yet they presume to lecture the world's only superpower from on high. Americans have "no kind of moral authority" over a regime run by a proud KGB spy which has, by Amsterdam's own assertion, wrongfully and illegally imprisoned his client.

Does it really "represent" the interest of Amsterdam's client to polarize and alienate the world's most powerful democracy, and the only one whose influence can possibly free Khodorkovsky, by condemning them as totally lacking in moral authority (to say nothing of the Americans who publish this blog and who have been among Khodorkovsky's staunchest defenders)? Is America the one that expelled Amsterdam from the country and sent his client to Siberia? One might think so from his haughty, polarizing rhetoric.

Is it really an expression of the sort of "moderation" Amsterdam routinely calls for? Wouldn't it be more "moderate" (to say nothing of being more accurate) to say that there are things American can do to increase it's moral authority, rather than engaging in basically insane hyperbole? Isn't this exactly the kind of hyperbole that Amsterdam routinely scoffs at on his blog, and in fact exactly the kind that most offends those who are offended by Americans?

All this is to say nothing, of course, of the fact that Amsterdam clearly doesn't understand the Weldon story and is perverting its basic facts beyond all recognition. Weldon is not representing the U.S. government now, to the contrary he's been summarily drummed out of office and is now facing a criminal investigation that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. What he is doing now is acting like a rogue traitor, and blaming the U.S. government for it is like saying Khodorkovsky deserved selective prosecution, a rigged trial and a Siberian prison sentence because -- and nobody disputes this -- he has broken the law from time to time.

A week ago, Amsterdam published a post about a column by Professor Steven Cohen in the International Herald Tribune without realizing that the column had been published by the IHT by mistake. It had already appeared in the paper's pages months earlier, and we commented on it extensively at that time. Looks like Amsterdam missed our issue that day, and missed the boat on that issue as well, just as he did in the case of the Weldon story.

We'd like to respectfully suggest two things. First, the U.S. government should redouble its efforts to get Mr. Weldon into prison just as soon as humanely possible. Second, Mr. Amsterdam should ratchet back his ego and his latent anti-Americanism at least a few notches, if not for the sake of his own reputation then at least for the sake of his client, who's already well on his way to spending the rest of his life in Siberia.

As we move into a phase of full-blown cold war with Russia, it's well to remember that perhaps the most dangerous opponents we face, as Dr. King well knew, are those who profess "moderation." Sometimes they are simply spies seeking to undermine and destroy us; other times, well . . . you know what they say: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

1 comment:

James said...

Well this hurts my feelings, I suppose - after you've written so many supportive things about us.

Then again it's a good reminder that vigorous debate is still possible out there in the blogosphere.

We're all entitled to the expression of our opinions, because thankfully the Kremlin can't quite censor the internet ... yet.