Archive for August 9th, 2009

By Mark LeVine, Al Jazeera, Aug 8, 2009

Some human rights groups want Obama to investigate top Bush administration officials [GETTY]

Somewhere in the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier, is being held captive by the Taliban.

The threat of execution hangs over him if the US does not agree to the still unspecified demands of his captors.

Bergdahl is the first US soldier captured in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion and the circumstances of his capture, which occurred around July 1 outside a US military base in Helmand Province, remain unclear.

But in the wake of years of revelations of abuses by US personnel of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib, and of alleged Taliban or al-Qaeda detainees elsewhere, the spectre of US troops in enemy hands is disturbing because of the possibility that they could face copy-cat treatment.

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On August 8, in a televised address to the American people, Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States of America, announced his intention to resign, effective at noon the following day. In a terse, one sentence letter to Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State, he wrote: “I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States.”

In an emotional and, no doubt, calculating Farewell Address to his White House Staff in a crowded East Room, he was uncharacteristically personal, talking about his “old man”, whom people called, “a little man, common man”, which partly explains what was eating Richard Nixon all those years, and of whom he says:

You know what he was? He was a streetcar motorman first, and then he was a farmer, and then he had a lemon ranch. It was the poorest lemon ranch in California, I can assure you. He sold it before they found oil on it. And then he was a grocer. But he was a great man because he did his job, and every job counts up to the hilt, regardless of what happened.

Then some words about his mum:

“Yes, she will have no books written about her. But, she was a saint.”

Then a sad quote from T. R. Roosevelt about the tragic loss of his young wife:

She was beautiful in face and form and lovelier still in spirit. As a flower she grew and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine. There had never come to her a single great sorrow. None ever knew her who did not love and revere her for her bright and sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving, tender, and happy as a young wife. When she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and then the years seemed so bright before her, then by a strange and terrible fate death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died — died, the light went from my life forever.

This had litle to do with Nixon’s resignation, though he seems to link it in his own mind with two personal tragedies — no, not the loss of two of his brothers to tuberculosis, but the loss of two elections. And, of course, it adds to the bathos of the occasion.

And is there a hint, even in this, his darkest hour, in this comment on Roosevelt, at future hopes and ambitions?

…as an ex-President, he served his country always in the arena, tempestuous, strong, sometimes wrong, sometimes right, but he was a man.

A Study of Defiance in the Face of Adversity: Nixon leaving the White House shortly after his resignation

A Study of Defiance in the Face of Adversity: Nixon leaving the White House shortly after his resignation


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