Category Archives: World Events

‘Open a new window.’ The U.S. State Department’s May 24, 2012 reporton global human rights for 2011, Chinese General Secretary and President Zemin,and me.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. It is 4:58 a.m. Eastern time, and I ought to be in bed, not least because last evening I took a nasty fall and sprained my ankle. But I cannot lay about, simply cannot, with all the ingredients for an important story, perhaps a world-changing story at hand. My ankle is puffy but of no account, my brain and fingers raring to go.

Here, like a recipe, are the features:

Item: A copy of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011.”

Item: A clip of film from the 1939 tear-jerker “The Little Princess” starring that pint-sized money machine Shirley Temple.

Item: The then General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President Jiang Zemin in my front yard, just inches away from me, just the two of us (and a chauffeur).

Item: Angela Lansbury’s always stirring song “Open a New Window” from the 1966 Broadway production of “Mame”.

And more than a dollop of cock-eyed optimism, for after all I am a Midwestern boy.

Are you ready for this ride?

Then go to any search engine and find Lansbury’s soaring achievement and play it now. Sing loud and proud… make your good wishes for a better world than the one outlined in the document before me be heard around the globe, especially in Beijing which needs to open that new window more than anyone…

“Travel a new highway/That’s never been tried before.”

Let me start this with a paean to America and a recommendation. Goodness knows we have our problems in these United States. Let’s be honest. Simply by perusing any newspaper on any given day, you’ll find the full panoply of horrors. However, when you read even a fraction of Secretary of State Hilliary Rodham Clinton’s latest report on global human rights violations (easily accessible on line), you cannot but perk up and say, “There but for the grace of God…”

Thus, Recommendation #1. I suggest the Secretary of Education (no slouch at producing long, windy, indigestible tomes), get this into the hands of every school board, superintendent, principal, teacher, student and parent. Let’s cut the America bashing and look at the record. All this would take is the will, a link, and an email suggesting this. Not difficult at all.

The shocking 2011 Chinese human rights violations.

In opening her report to Congress Clinton wrote this, “The world changed immeasurably over the course of 2011.” And mostly for the bad. Indeed, there is such a plethora of woe, you may be forgiven for wanting to pull the covers over your head and turning on the Disney Channel. This stern, even somber document relates in explicit detail just how 194 countries managed to oppress their own citizens. Now consider this: there are just 196 countries. Thus in plain language, where there are humans, there are human rights violations, even in places like the tiny principality of Andorra which was cited for failing to effectively protect the right of workers to bargain collectively.

This is bad but almost derisory when compared to the chronic, systematic rights violations daily perpetrated by the usual suspects, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Belarus… and China. Their records are appalling, distressing, dismaying, the stuff of nightmares and a shock that seems ironically to diminish as the flagrant facts inexorably increase, no more so than with China. We know… but we do not want to acknowledge, not least because the health of our fragile economy now depends on China expanding its open door policy. Laissez les bons temps rouler… never mind garden-variety outrages like these… They are serious, of course, but not important. Thus page after page of unmitigated detail taken randomly from this deeply disturbing report…

How in 2011, there was continuing “deterioration in key aspects of the country’s human rights situation.” How this was manifested in repressions and coercions, particularly against enumerated organizations and individuals involved in rights advocacy and public interest issues. How political activists and public interest lawyers were silenced. How authorities resorted to extralegal measures including enforced disappearances, “soft detention”, strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members.

And so it goes, word by alarming word, line by disheartening line, page by page of proven indignities, not merely conjecture, but actual, certain, confirmed. Those desiring to inform the world and shine the full light of day on such malice have done their laudable work well and responsibly, and they must continue to do so, at the risk of profound dismay in the face of so much chagrin.

Jiang Zemin and me, an incident that haunts me.

On the morning of November 1, 1997, I went for my morning walk as usual. But this was to be no ordinary day. I stepped out of my residence and crossed the ancient narrow lane to the Common near at hand, my task to walk and think. But then in this city of Harvard, where there is nothing more usual than the unusual, something different occurred. It was a limousine with diplomatic trappings, a small flag… the flag of China… on the hood. The car was running slowly along the sidewalk… and then it stopped, blocking the path.

It was Jiang Zemin, Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party (1989-2002), President of China (1993-2003).

I knew him at once and I deduced the situation immediately, for I had seen the mass of protestors marching through Harvard Square en route to Memorial Hall where this man, more powerful than any emperor, the butcher of Tiananmen Square, the very incarnation of what was once called the Red Menace, was to give an address entitled “Enhanced Mutual Understanding and Build Stronger Ties of Friendship and Cooperation.”

He was idling in his official car whilst the police cleared his path through the disruptive throng just blocks away. And so the chauffeur waited… Zemin and I, exemplars of such very different systems, face to face, no police, no escort, just us.

I did what you would have done. I smiled and waved… so did he. What next? I wanted a scene like the one from “The Little Princess”, where, at film’s end, Temple’s character throws herself at the feet of Queen Victoria and pleads successfully for the great sovereign’s help. That classic scene brought refreshing tears to millions. And no wonder, for we all want to believe that a chance encounter with greatness could change history. It is one of mankind’s enduring beliefs.

“The road not taken.”

I should have knocked on the window or beckoned him out, inviting him home, just a few steps away. I should have told him our peoples must be friends, problem-solvers, not wary, cautious, and suspicious. But of course I did none of this… thus as I read Secretary Clinton’s report of near unremitting gloom, I rebuked myself… and will always wonder “what if?” What would have happened if I’d trod the road not taken and so helped open the new window humanity so desperately needs? I’d give anything to relive that moment to find out.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.

Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Info Cash ->

‘Look away Dixie Land!’ The day that determined the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. The Battle of Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862. And you are there….

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The American Civil War began April 12, 1861 with the firing of the rebel forces on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. It officially ended on April 9, 1865 when General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House. In between, 212,938 people from both sides were killed in action, with total casualties exceeding 625,000 in what was the most bloody war ever fought on this planet… and the most embittered, as is always the case when brothers fight each other to the death, enraged, grieving, broken hearted but determined to have victory, whatever the cost…

This war was filled with incident, great deeds of valor, deeds, too, of squalor, treachery, unmitigated cruelty… and chivalry… but of all the deeds in this great struggle, the deeds of just a handful of men determined the outcome. These were the men who fought each other at the Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia March 8-9, 1862. And I am taking you there today… for you will want to know who won, who lost, and why it happened the way it did.

For the incidental music to this article, I have selected Daniel Decatur Emmett’s famous tune, “Dixie,” also known as “I Wish I Was in Dixie,” a song originating in the black face minstrelsy of the 1850s. It is a tune that makes even the least likely ready to jump up and whirl. I have selected it today because, as Abraham Lincoln himself said on April 10, 1865, it’s “one of the best tunes I ever heard” … but also because of its famous line, “Look away, Dixie Land.” After the Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia and all the other Confederate states had nothing to look forward to… and everything to look away from.

But it didn’t look that way on March 8, 1862… quite the contrary.

News of the most alarming portent arrives in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 9, 1862.

Gideon Wells, a New England journalist, found himself urgently summoned to the White House. Come! Come at once! And this Connecticut Yankee, in his unlikely role as Secretary of the Navy, scurried to a meeting where he found Mr. Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, in the greatest possible dismay… and so alarmed himself that he was alarming, too, the President of the Dis-united States of America.

It was a scene to brighten every heart in Dixie… and cause shrewd financiers to sell U.S. Treasury bonds short before Wall Street opened Monday, to chaos and defeatism.

Mr. Stanton could not keep still, could not hide his profound anxiety and fear. He sat down, only to jump up again and rush to the windows… What was he looking for? A savior for the Union cause… What did he expect to see? The CSS Virginia in all her glory steaming up the Potomac, sinking the Federal cause with effortless grace. It was a scene of destiny, and every man on both sides of the struggle knew that history of the gravest magnitude was happening now! To them! At Hampton Roads! And so depending on their point of view and allegiance they either gave way to unbridled joy… or profound despair and lamentation. No one was neutral on this urgent matter.

USS Merrimac into CSS Virginia.

The largest naval installation of the Great Republic was at Norfolk in Virginia… and so after the Old Dominion seceded (April 24, 1861) it became a matter of the greatest urgency to both sides to arrange matters there to their greatest advantage. This to the Federal forces meant moving as much as could be moved, destroying the rest. And, to the rebels, to do just the reverse.

Thus was the USS Merrimac, unable to be removed in time and against the rebel sentiments of her crew, burnt and sunk… but not effectively. Her new owners quickly discovered both hull and engines were serviceable… and so began her transformation into the CSS Virginia, the vessel which made Secretary Stanton quail with acute fear and humiliating anxiety.


Because CSS Virginia, for all that she had just weeks ago been scuttled, was transformed into the mightiest ship of all the navies of all the seas… a ship sheathed in iron, designed to deal death to the picturesque, now ineffectual sailing ships of every navy, but without suffering a single nick at all. Thus did the dead Merrimac come to be the super weapon the Confederacy needed to pulverize the Union and secure their freedom from the meddling, inept Yankees they despised.

Confederate triumph March 8, 1862.

The world changed this day… as the Virginia, with the merest motion, rammed the hapless USS Cumberland, 121 seamen going down with her… then the USS Congress was put out of action, surrendering… and everyone, from the merest cabin boy, saw the future… and knew that every gallant wooden vessel, yesterday puissant, was now dross. And so, as cat to mouse, Virginia moved to her next sure triumph, USS Minnesota… while every telegrapher sent on the news, the news that so discomfited Secretary Stanton… and every other brave Union heart. Armageddon was here… and it flew a Confederate flag.


In August, 1861 Gideon Wells authorized work on a top-secret Union ironclad… and in due course the USS Monitor was born, the most radical naval design ever; the invention of Swedish engineer and inventor John Ericsson. And it was this curious, much mocked vessel that steamed into Hampton Roads March 9, just in time, to reverse what but yesterday had seemed certain, Southern command of the seas and therefore victory.

And as Monitor and Virginia battled each other to a draw, each unable to finish its deft opponent, the entire strategic scene changed. All wooden ships, every single one, was now obsolete; thus a new arms race started for command of the seas. USS Monitor had, simply by maneuvering to a draw, stopped the South’s “certain” advance and commenced a war of bloody attrition, a war the North could win, and the South had most reason to fear. For without access to the world, the South could only rely on itself… and that would never be enough to ensure independence as every Southern family would, in tragic due course, come to understand only too well. As for both the historic ships of this engagement, neither sailed for long. Virginia was burnt again and sunk when Union forces took back the Norfolk port facilities in May. As for the plucky Monitor, she sank December 31,1862 off North Carolina. The remains of one of her stricken crew, 24-year-old James Fenwick, were just recently brought to the surface for honorable burial. He had been married just a few weeks before Monitor embarked on her final voyage; her history short but epochal.

“Old times they are not forgotten; Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.”

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Painless Traffic ->

Jacqueline Kennedy’s tapes (1964)…. and my afternoon with Mrs. Onassis (1977).

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I am writing this article because my father, Donald Marshall Lant, asked me to. Like millions of people, he — and I — have been fascinated by the candid memories of the Queen of Camelot. They are mesmerizing and make us wish that other consorts had had the equipment and chutzpah to do the same. Think of Anne Boleyn, for example, or Marie Antoinette.

Then be glad that Mrs. Kennedy, as she then was and as we all expected her to remain, iconic widow of her sexy, philandering man, be glad, I say, that she permitted herself the luxury to be herself and open up in a way which has horrified many who think the lady was indiscrete.


But these tapes, and even my encounter with Mrs. Onassis (as she then was), make her human… and very much the kind of engaging company one would like to spend an afternoon with, as I luckily did.

For this article, I have selected the theme music from Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot” (1960). You’ll find it in any search engine. Both husband and wife liked the music and were perfectly willing to be cast in the leading, royal, roles… but let’s be clear: the actualities are quite different.

In the musical, King Arthur loved his queen and none other; loved her so much he was willing to sacrifice what he most loved, so that she could be truly happy with his best friend, the man he most loved and admired.

In real life, JFK had a randy obsession with a multitude of women, dalliances which embarrassed and humiliated his wife. In Camelot the queen found profound love and satisfaction with Lancelot. In reality, Jackie stood by her man and tried to make the best of an unabashed hedonism which only the discretion of the media kept from becoming a national scandal.

The lady, her objective, and herself.

In 1964 Mrs. Kennedy was, as she would remain, the most celebrated woman on earth. She was known by all, revered by most, a by-word for chic, style, classical elegance, and, yes, frosty detachment. But this was just the public woman… and the public woman was not the most interesting part. That was saved for those with entree… and, now, for auditors to these tapes.

Item: Here’s a quote from the time of the Cuban missile crisis (October, 1962) when official Washington, D.C., including the most senior White House officials, were quite convinced Götterdämmerung was about to obliterate their world.

“Please don’t send me away to Camp David… Please don’t send me anywhere,” she implored JFK. “If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you… even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House… I just want to be with you and I want to die with you.”

At such a moment, death creeping close and menacing, one tells the truth… and means it. Jackie Kennedy loved her man, perhaps to distraction, and so we understand her better, and wish he had, too.

Item: “Bobby told me this later, and I know Jack said it to me sometimes, he said ‘Oh, god, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?’… I mean, he didn’t like that idea that Lyndon would go on to be president because he was worried for the country.”

Quotes like this are telling; there’s a “he said, she said” frat house quality about them… (First Brother Robert Kennedy) Bobby agonizing about Lyndon Johnson… then (Vice President) Lyndon sitting in his office agonizing about how the brothers hated him… and (First Lady) Jackie parroting back her husband’s line, oblivious to what it meant and just how silly it reads and how fatuous. This is most assuredly not the language of great Shakespeare; it’s more like the “telephone hour” from “Bye-Bye, Birdie” (1960), a musical about teen-age love, hot, smoldering, obsessive.

Item: “Jack told me of a tape that the FBI had of Martin Luther King when he was here for the freedom march. And he said this with no bitterness or anything, how he was calling up all these girls and arranging for a party of men and women… And I said, ‘But Jack, oh that’s so terrible, I mean, that man, you know, is such a phony then’.”

Consider this remark for a moment. A great philanderer’s comments about another leader with sexual peccadilloes gets his wife to call that leader a “phony,” and our mouths drop with amazement at the double standard, the pot calling the kettle black… the wife seemingly unaware of the gall and irony. Yes, these tapes are eye-opening all right.

History will out, compliments of Caroline Kennedy, once First Daughter.

Stalwart partisans of Camelot, afflicted by age and gnawing uncertainties about the people they elevated to near god-like status, must be chagrined and dismayed by these tapes. Advocates for women’s rights will be disappointed, too, by the former First Lady’s almost geisha-like obeisance to her lord and master. It reminds one of another character, Lady Thiang, in “The King and I” (1956), the Number One wife whose vocation was tolerance.

“This is a man you’ll forgive and forgive, And help protect, as long as you live… He will not always say What you would have him say, But now and then he’ll do Something Wonderful.”

This is not the Jackie Kennedy we thought we knew… and it was most assuredly not the lady I met in New York in 1977 at a high octane fund raising party at the home of Lally Weymouth in aid of Radcliffe College, where I then worked. The guest list was small, exclusive, and studded with celebrities, starting with Weymouth’s mother Katherine Graham, owner of the Washington Post, Barbara Walters, Sam Spiegel, John Chancellor, all stars, the most celestial being Mrs. Onassis, there as mother of Radcliffe undergraduate Caroline… and I was her designated go-fer of the day. As a Harvard-educated historian, I was ecstatic to be in the presence of History… and I was determined to note and remember everything.

Scrutinizing Jackie O.

I can see in my mind’s eye the room in which we met and can still feel the frisson when our hands touched. She spoke to me in that celebrated whisper all her own. I offered to get her a drink, not just now, she said, and maneuvered us towards the couch. “When you have the chance to sit down, take it”, she said… thus spoke a woman who knew how to stay comfortable. The words were followed by the slightest pressure on my right arm, indicating I was to sit down, too. This was careful strategy. She rightly supposed I would follow her lead and me in the place beside her meant none of the media stars, always searching for a story, could do so. Smart.

She was a lady who loved books, and we would have chatted about them, including my first book about the British monarchy then in preparation (Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion at Queen Victoria’s Court). She expressed polite interest; after I saw her collection of books years later, I knew why. My subject and approach were right up her alley.

In due course, the almost regal presentations to Mrs. Onassis commenced, but she made it clear I was not to move… and so I began my intense scrutiny, as if she were out of a portrait by Whistler, “Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain.” (1864) Her skin was a skein of veins, a delicate mosaic. I looked… but did not wish to be seen looking. However, I could not take my eyes away. She must have accepted the fact that everyone would look, stare, unable to stop, but few of those looking ever had as good a vantage point as I.

After a time, my space was needed for bigger fish, and my hostess needed assistance. In due course, Mrs. Onassis, having done her bit for Radcliffe, prepared to leave. I got my final reward when she thanked me and, again, I felt the frisson as we shook hands in farewell. It must have been the same with Cleopatra… the Lady Livia… the Empress Alexandra of All the Russias. She looked directly into my eyes as she spoke… and I looked into hers.

I saw these famous eyes again the next day when she graced the cover of “Women’s Wear Daily.” It was one of the famous “Jackie-O” photos, no sign of mosaic, just wide set eyes and a look to wow by. Next to her in that photo there was, said the caption, an “unidentified man.” You can, I think, guess who that unidentified man might be….

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. at, providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

‘To the shores of Tripoli’, let freedom ring as one of the world’s nastiest and most enduring tyrants dies by inches. The end of Moammar Khadafy.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Like so many of my Scottish countrymen, my family left the Highlands in the mid-eighteenth century to pursue a better life in America. But though they left physically, a portion of their heart remained behind and their love continued strong and enduring. The current events taking place in Libya returned my attention to the cruel end of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland when 270 innocent passengers were shredded in mid-air to satisfy the blood lust and barbarism of one man, Moammar Khadafy. Today this most bestial, longest-serving dictator in the Arab world, is inches from the retribution he has long deserved and is hopefully as painful as his deeds demand. But first, take a moment to find the evocative, spectral song “Loch Lomond” in any search engine. Let it sooth the spirits of the airborne dead and remind them, we have never forgotten what Khadafy, his henchmen, and their hatred did to you… and to so many innocent others.

Today the remnants of Khadafy’s insolent regime are crumbing, block by block, desertion by desertion, as the everyday people of Tripoli, and throughout Libya, do what they have not been allowed to do for the nearly 42 year regime — think for themselves! Live for themselves! Be who they want… not merely whom they have been told to be.

Today is one of the rarest days for one of the world’s oldest civilizations… a day of possibilities, not restrictions. A day of high hopes, not of grinding despair. A day when the heart beats faster and when the world’s peoples extend the hand of friendship and fraternity… glad to share the joy of a people who have experienced so little of it.

This is 21 August, 2011 and their long dreaded, capricious lord comes closer, closer to his inevitable conclusion, squalid, bloody, wherein the reigning monster of their long terror is shown to be what he always was, a man of small mind, mendacious habits, and contempt for every human but himself. And so the great man is revealed and abased… humbled… and shown to be at the end so very little.

So now this man of hatred, contumely, and abuse is reaping what he had sown day by day….

Today is a day which looks resolutely forward, for today the people of Libya, who have and have always had under this regime, so very little, at least have the prospect of a future. But today must also be a day of full remembrance for the full litany of dislocations, murders, maimings, disappearances, and ceaseless terrors perpetrated by a regime with power but no vision, weapons but no soul, destructive prowess but without humanity and compassion. Let us pause to remember them now… and vow that these outrages, every one of these outrages, will never be forgotten and stand as a vital testament to the never-ending saga of what a man is capable of doing when the world stands by and pretends that this diabolic business as usual is acceptable.

So now tolls the bell, for each and every one of these outrages, each a manifestation of malice aforethought…

As one of his first deeds, Khadafy in 1970 expelled the Italian population of Libya. He detested all Westerners… and ordered the extirpation of all evidence of their culture… and their systematic dislocation and removal.

From the first days of his power, and reaching full speed and application by 1973, he became the living symbol of Orwell’s Big Brother. Dictators all have a compelling need to know what their peoples are doing at all times and places. Khadafy’s need to know was the very essence of dictatorial thoroughness. Surveillance took place at every level of the government, on all people in any position of power, no matter that he had put those people there himself. Surveillance was constant, intrusive, paralyzing in factories, in education, in the military, everywhere where two or more people might meet and converse.

In short order, human behavior, human contact, human interaction in Libya became just what “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” permitted, and absolutely nothing else, upon pain of unimaginable suffering and horror. Libya was not a nation; it was a prison, where everyone was in thrall to a man of unmatched skill in the business of refined and exquisite torments,

His capacity for inflicting sufferings developed apace…

He hung dissidents to his all-encompassing regime in public, the better to intimidate. He headed a band of zealots perfect in the art of mutilation; so happy in this severe art that he had its execution and best examples played on television, to a nation which never failed to grasp the glaring meaning: so could thy life end, in an instant, with such pain.

But this quintessence of evil had more pain and suffering to deliver…

He censored the press, of course, by the simple expedient not just of suppressing content but by killing its writers, brutally and publicly, so that the ones not executed today would not even think of thinking, much less writing and publishing the brutal truths they knew to be irrefutable.

He executed, too, after the full panoply of torture, all those who sought national redemption through means political. Their moment of dissent was their last. They went to prison where they experienced the full pain humans can inflict. Such outrages against humanity were constant, brutal, the stuff of everyday existence for every Libyan.

Of course, he had a special regard for the growing ranks of his critics worldwide… they were a menace, a problem, and as such he increased the ranks of his thorough executioners, the better to diminish, and painfully so, the ranks of the disaffected.

There is more, much more, every instance an outrage to every sentiment that makes us human. And at last, Libyans, who saw nothing more for their lives than the constant chaos and confusion of their existence, saw that revolt was their only hope against a regime without any limit to the abuses perpetrated against the long suffering Libyan people.

On 17 February, 2011 major political protests began, as Libyans looked carefully at the events that had toppled the Mubarak tyranny in Egypt and called forth the admiration of the world, in their attempt to become the men they were, the men Khadafy had tried so long and with such bitter means to control.

Khadafy, with more men at his command, more armaments, more mercenaries, more money yet failed to eradicate the often ramshackle forces against him. The reason could be deduced in a single word: FREEDOM. Khadafy sought to control, to regiment, to hurt and divide. His opponents, whose names are now the names of patriots, wanted only one thing: for the people of Libya to control their own destinies, free from the daily terrors and anxieties each knew so well under the current regime.

And so, bit by bit, they advanced… never without hardship, never without the immemorial difficulties of war, experiencing want, sacrifice, their own political difficulties and conflicts… but still, despite every drawback, they advanced… until today the end of the regime is nigh, perhaps just hours away. These are the valiant days in Tripoli… the days proud men of action will impart to their grandchildren. It is a great day not just for Libyans but for all of us who value freedom and know its unending cost. Today all us ride with you through streets of Tripoli, optimistic, hopeful, grateful for your courage and application in a cause we all must hold dear.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books.

Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Surveys Paid ->

Remembering London, as riots shake the greatest of cities… resurrecting theEdward R. Murrow style, August 10, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: In the early days of World War II, and most importantly during the punishing air raids of 1940-41, one man, with gravel in his voice, brought that war, its devastation and its courage, home to America, in all its reality.

That man was Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), and he worked for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).

Murrow was a journalist’s journalist… and thus every real journalist who aspires to honesty and integrity wants to be like Murrow…. and so, owing so much to this man, I now pen my own paean to him.

To hear some of his wartime broadcasts, go to any search engine. Listen carefully. These reports are each of them historic not just because of where they were made and when but because of the distinctive Murrow touch, deft, real, unforgettable.


Hello, this is London calling.

Today I broadcast to you not so much as a journalist but as a man intensely grieving for a great city he loves, the greatest city on earth, London. I am now in the charnel house of the eastern neighborhood of Hackney… and the scene is one of mayhem, violence, and anger.

I am in London, but I cannot believe this city of culture and history has been laid so low. But it has…

When we think of London, we think of its kings,queens and princes… for never forget this is a royal city where the greatest of sovereigns, and some of the worst, have trod the very stones we trod.

We think, too, of the greatest of authors, of the Globe Theatre and the Bard of Avon backstage, refinishing a line moments before the fretful player would have to utter it.

We think of ladies of high style and ladies who compromised… of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire with her profound ability to give love… and of such a royal mistress as Nell Gwynn whose knowledge of that subject was different but exhaustive and effective.

We think of politicians and statesmen like the great William Pitt, who helped forge an immense empire in North America… and the infamous Lord North, whose lack of judgement threw it away.

This is the London I love.

And now, this London, though I cannot quite believe it, is burning… right before my eyes.

London has burned before, of course…

There was the Great Fire of 1666 when King Charles II showed his people where his heart was, not by fleeing the great Metropolis, but by going into the fire, the flames, the billowing and choking smoke and passing water pails like the least of his subjects. Why did he do it? “Because I am a Londoner, too” and this pithy sentence procured him a lifetime of indulgence. For his Londoners loved him too.

London burned too in the Blitz of 1940, when the best the Nazis had turned their destructive genius to the pulverizing of a city determined it would not bend the knee, would not waver, and would never die… no matter how punishing each wave of airborn catastrophe might be.

For this is London… more lasting than the Eternal City itself. Determined to live and to flourish.

And now this great city burns… and at the hands of its own disgruntled citizens, as if they know that immemorial London, this hallowed place, can only quaver from within, at their own restless hands.

This is London… blackened, in rubble, humiliated… by those who care not for the English genius of politics and law… but only for immediate gratification of an anger they are determined to show a world aghast at what is happening.

What you see here, at this moment, will disturb you, distress you, revolt you…

Buildings of valuable commerce and utility, set afire, burnt, still smoldering.

Vehicles much needed by the good people who require them to get to work and deliver children and pick them up, now just smoking bits of dangerous metal.

Trash dumps… each required for the modern life we wish to live… now places of the utmost danger and peril, for here fires burn deep and may flash high and mighty at any time.

This cannot be the London I have known for a lifetime… it is not possible.

Yet it is…

Here there is riot!

Here there is wanton vandalism!

Here there is woe deliberately undertaken… with profound malice aforethought.

The perpetrators are young and thoughtless.

They who have every means of communication at their disposal select the most ancient means of communicating of all — with rocks, bricks, sticks, bottles, and any sharp instrument to hand. They do not want resolution…. they want chaos. And now they have it.

Like the malcontents of Ancient Rome, their weapons are the most primitive, but effective. They prize the old paving stones of Londinium and smash them into pieces small enough to throw… big enough to wound a man for life. Molotov cocktails cannot be far behind…

London is not defenceless, of course. She has thrown at these dark forces the men and material to put the insurrection down…. and she has arrested hundreds, who will soon understand English justice better.

How had it all started? Why did it grow so fast?

On August 6, 2011 there was a small antipolice demonstration in Tottenham over the fatal police shooting of a local man, Mark Duggan. This, as if by magic, spiraled into looting, violence, and madness.

There are a legion of “excuses” for what has happened. The economy is bad, the government is unpopular with its pinching austerity plans, jobs are hard to find. All this may be, probably is, true. But it does not account for the denizens of London, who have undergone so much more in times past, destroying their own shops, residences, offices, and neighborhoods… and with such incendiary menace.

16,000 police officers have been deployed. 111 of them have been wounded, many seriously. And riotous conditions have spread to other English cities, like Birmingham where three people are already dead.

All this, too, shall pass. But not until we faithful lovers of London, shocked and appalled, have scrutinized these events and grieved for them, for anything that hurts the London we love hurts us, and so we are hurting deeply now…. and for many days to come.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is also a historian and author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Remembering the commencement of World War I, when the road to Tipperary proved to be very long and arduous indeed, 1914.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s Program Note. This day in August 97 years ago was a day of general European warfare. The great powers, the most civilized nations on earth, had, at last, done the unthinkable, allowing a regrettable incident to morph into mayhem.

For this story, I have selected one of the most famous songs of World War I, “It’s a long way to Tipperary” to be the musical accompaniment. Written by Jack Judge in 1912, it started life as a rousing music hall number, and you can almost hear the clinking of glasses as you listen. It’s got a catchy beat of course but the underlying message is sad, even tragic, for with each passing day, the way back to Tipperary got longer… and the list of those who would never go home again did, too. You’ll find this tune in any search engine. Try to get the version by celebrated tenor John McCormick (born 1884) It’s grand indeed. Once you’ve found it, play it a couple of times. And listen to the words… carefully… many men died with this song on their lips and in their hearts….

How had it happened…

Once a war begins, people cease to be very interested in how they got there… and focus instead on how to ensure that they go home again safe and sound. That is entirely understandable, but not what we want to know today. We want to know why, so that (we hope) we can avoid such travail and grief for ourselves.

The proximate cause of the war was the assassination of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. I have two autographed pictures of this man, known to history solely for his assassination and death, when, had he lived and reigned he would have been known for more.

The photographs I am looking at as I write show him first in 1890 (age 27 ) and then later in a glorious silver presentation frame with his archducal coronet blazing in gold at the top looking supercilious, complacent, a tad silly, and not just for his outsized handlebar mustache either.

He looked like a man you wouldn’t want to cross… and insiders within the empire knew he was adamant about reforming the ramshackle imperium, bringing her antiquated systems and infrastructure up-to-date. He gave every impression that he meant not just to be emperor… but master. “Yes, Gustave, he means what he says,” they whispered over their snitzel, then went on with the national obsession, living well. This was Austria in 1914… where things were significant, but not important.

Franz Ferdinand has gone down to history as stern and unyielding. The Hungarians certainly thought so… and Hungarians (whose royal status had been upgraded in 1867) had a huge (entirely negative) influence in the empire. Franz Ferdinand meant to change all that, with a system he called “tri-alism”, aimed to elevate the Slavs in his empire to equal status with the Germans who founded it and the Hungarians. The Hungarians, especially the nobility of this most aristocratic of nations, were opposed… and not just mildly, either. In fact, had one heard that Franz Ferdinand had been shot your first reaction would have been to assume the deed was done by an Hungarian. There was certainly (suppressed) joy around the noble tables of Budapest when the news of his death became known… joy and (very subtle but heartfelt) toasts (in the very best tokay, Aszu Escenzia).

A man of cultivated taste and sensibility and a gnawing sense of injustice.

Though Franz Ferdinand’s public persona was grave, censorious, insistent, he was very different at home… for there he was a man in love, whose deep affection was equaled only by the burning rage he felt because his wife could not be accorded his imperial honors. She was Sophie Chotek von Chotkovato, a mere countess, hence beneath the contemptuous notice of the sublime Hapsburgs.

Franz Ferdinand was forced to sign a declaration prior to his marriage saying that while he retained his position in the succession… his wife, of such lowly rank, could not share it, neither would any issue by her be allowed to reign. And so out of his great love for his lady came an abiding, gnawing sense of injustice, rage, and dishonor. Growing exquisite roses, collecting exquisite furniture, the tastes of an accomplished aesthete, did not begin to heal his anger and mortification. The humiliation was as calculated as 650 years of Hapsburg rule and unbending protocol could make it… she could never walk into any imperial function on his arm; she had to walk instead where her rank as lady-in-waiting placed her… each slight an insult like acid… to be endured but could never be amended. He fumed… and whilst fuming sought ways to show her and the world how he felt about the woman he so loved… such an opportunity came in July, 1914. He was going to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in connection with his military duties. He brought Sophie along because she could share his rank there… and he was insistent that she should.

A young revolutionary, burning with youthful zeal and the righteousness of his cause, the cause of Slavic independence, gave Sophie equal treatment indeed, killing both her husband and herself at the same moment. Ironically he got his chance because the car carrying both made an erroneous stop just a few feet from Gavrilo Princip, one of the several terrorists placed in the crowd that fateful day. Even the novice that Princip was couldn’t miss… and didn’t. Another Balkan crisis, amidst an unending stream of Balkan crises,was underway. But “crisis” didn’t necessarily mean “war”. While this great question was being answered, Princip, in prison, probably tortured, became the third fatality. He was just 20 years old…

War did not have to come; a negotiated settlement was not only probable but virtually certain.

Patriotic Austrians were rightly outraged and aghast at the murder of their imperial heir. He might not be popular but the dynasty he represented was. Importantly those with political acuity saw an opening, to weaken the Slavs who wanted total independence from an empire not willing to concede the point. And so an ultimatum, reckoned to be the most severe one sovereign nation had ever sent to another, was drawn up in Vienna and sent to Serbia… an ultimatum which made it clear that each point was not negotiable and that any quibble, even the smallest, would result in an immediate invasion of Serbia and the most abject of terms, even worse than in the ultimatum.

Serbia, having no means ready to combat Austria-Hungary, capitulated… with one minor, even trivial exception. Here was the basis for peace and even the German Kaiser Wilhelm II knew it.

And yet war came. Why?

Because a militaristic coterie in Vienna (headed by Conrad von Hotzendorf, Chief of Staff) and one in Berlin (headed by the Kaiser and the court and army officials who kept this mercurial emperor on track), wanted this war, at this time, sure they could win it. They almost won their bet, too… only to be handed in due course ignominy and total defeat.

Along the way, the road to Tipperary became long and bloody indeed, inscribed as it was with the names of all who knew the poignant significance of its words. As for us, we must remember that we, too, have more than enough people amongst us with a penchant for war. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay to ensure we do not experience any more of the long roads than we already have.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is also a historian and author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

It’s all Greek to David Norris as this once shoo-in to be president of Ireland fights for his political life.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

By any standard David Norris is an unusual man. For openers, consider this….

He is an Anglican in a country overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

He was born in the Belgian Congo.

His mother was Irish, but his father was not only English, but in the British Army.

And he is openly gay, something which can still cause a frisson even amongst the most sophisticated of Dubliners.

Norris, in his own personal history and biography, is a symbol of how far Ireland has come from the bleak and bigoted land of recent history.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago this man of determination, grit and grace, gifted with a smile that suggests everything is possible, was riding high in his quest to become the first openly gay Irish president.

Then some sexual habits of the ancient Greeks — and Norris’ opinion about them — surfaced, to create a maelstrom which has laid the man low.

Here are the facts.

In January 2002, Norris gave an interview to the politics/current affairs magazine “Magill”. In this article he questioned the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse and reflected on social attitudes towards incest. At the time, this little read article in less read “Magill” had no influence whatsoever, seemingly sunk without a trace… until it looked like liberal Independent Senator Norris might become President Norris.

Enter the conscience of Helen Lucy Burke.

Burke was a restaurant critic, more at home with souffles and novelle cuisine than Irish politics and statecraft. However she was assigned to do the “Magill” article, perhaps hoping to get Norris, whose girth and enbonpoint showed a gourmand’s disposition, to make some witty culinary remarks. In any event, when the Senator focused on sex rather than truffles, Ms. Burke found the subject distasteful, disgusting, disgraceful.

As the likelihood of Norris becoming president surged along with his poll numbers, Burke found herself on the horns of a dilemma. She knew where duty (and lots of great publicity) lay… and so she took her disgust and outraged conscience to national broadcaster RTE.

Burke titillated the nation with her rendition of what Senator Norris had said in that soon-to-be-infamous “Magill” interview. Words like “incest” and “pedophilia” were on every Irish lip… and every time they were uttered there was another puncture in Norris’ candidacy.

For Norris the timing of Burke’s remarks could not have been worse. After all, the nation stood abashed at the extent of the pedophile priest scandal and how the Church had (mis)handled it. The distinction that Norris wanted to make, and kept reiterating about the difference between the sanctioned man-boy love of the ancient Greeks and the coercive sex forced by priests on innocent boys was lost on the nation. Ireland’s moral conscience, always ready for arousal, drew an adamant line at men and their boys, totally, completely, resoundingly, absolutely.

A sumptuous dinner party chez Agathon.

The source of all this outrage and anger was a fictional dinner party described by the celebrated Greek philosopher Plato c. 385-380 BCE. In this important document 7 well-heeled Athenians come together in what was termed a symposium for superior cuisine and even more superior, entirely candid conversation between men of education, wit and culture.

The subject of this night’s conversation was the genesis, purpose and nature of love… a topic on which every guest could, and did, wax bold, provocative, amusing, even lyrical. It was just the kind of event that the well-educated and clever Norris would have been delighted to attend (and to which he would surely have been invited). Helen Lucy Burke would have wanted to go, too, if only to review the menu, but that was unthinkable! Really, what an outrage against tradition and the proprieties that would be!

Plato placed this dinner party in the house of the tragedian Agathon in Athens, the cultural capital of the world. Each man was to deliver an encomium, a speech in favor of erotic love. The dishes (the squid perhaps a tad overcooked) removed, the wine flowing liberally, these high-placed Attic gentlemen (who had each secretly practiced for their moment) got up on legs less steady as the evening progressed to say his piece… for his friends and, as it turned out, for all of human history.

Socrates, always tendencious, preachy, overbearing, went first, the better to get over his predictable remarks that the highest love was to become a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. Younger wits reckoned he would say that, being he was a philosopher, the most important philosopher. Still, poor old Soc, what a bore.

The encomium of the legal expert Pausanias ranged far and wide; perhaps lawyer Pausanias had drunk too deep of Agathon’s fine wines, for some words were muddled indeed. Still this man of the law knew how to please an audience as he discusses the superior wisdom, beauty and intelligence of men… and their undoubted fitness to be the teachers, the friends and counselors… and the lovers of young boys and adolescents. As Pausanias warmed to his subject, his auditors (seduced by the orator’s compliments and graceful asides) would have given their full concurrence.

Over 2000 years later, David Norris,would have given it, too. And he did understandably but not wisely in his “Magill” interview and other, later comments. For Norris the lure of ancient Greece, when men of his inclinations had every freedom, was palpable. But for Helen Lucy Burke, who did not understand, who was perhaps entirely incapable of understanding, it was all sin, abomination, writhing bodies, lost souls…

… and so this mere restaurant critic of painfully few readers took it upon herself to end the political career of the one man best capable of taking their nation to another level of tolerance, acceptance, and comity.

This is why today (June 10, 2011) you’ll find David Norris, whose poll numbers have now crashed, trying to resurrect his once-certain candidacy. To do so he must persuade local councillors that he would be the best president of Ireland, that his remarks have been misunderstood, and that he understands and appreciates the national outrage about his advanced, unwisely stated views.

In other words, this great gourmet must first eat a liberal portion of crow… and even that too little to achieve his goal.

Ireland, of course, will be the poorer without a President Norris, but even in his likely defeat Norris will do what he has done so often: advance the cause of human (and particularly) sexual rights. It is not what he wanted and thought he would get, but human society moves slowly… and, as we all know, painfully slowly in Ireland.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.details. Dr. Lant is also a hisorian and author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Osama bin Laden has been killed and we say Hallelujah

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I am not a violent man but I have waited, with all Americans, for the violent end to one man of consummate evil, Osama bin Laden… and now — at long last — his end has come and my heart beats quicker and in gratitude to the people who have done this worthy deed and rid the world of the man whose face was the face of death.

The facts.

For years, the CIA had been monitoring an al-Qaida courier. They knew he was important because detainees told investigators he was profoundly trusted by bin Laden and might very well be living with bin Laden. Last August, as a result of monitoring this courier, intelligence officials got a break. The courier arrived at a highly fortified compound nestled in an affluent neighborhood of an affluent Pakistani town two hours outside Islamabad.

Everything about this compound suggested some nefarious purpose. It was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet, topped with barbed wire. Two security posts were the only way in. A third-floor terrace was shielded by a seven-foot privacy wall. No phone lines or Internet cables ran to the property. The residents burned their garbage rather than put it out for collection. Intelligence officials came to believe that this highly distinctive compound was built about 5 years ago at a cost of about one million dollars for a person of consequence in al-Qaida.. The question now was who that person of consequence might be.

Increasingly, after innumerable reviews of the compound and everything known about it, intelligence officials came to believe that the compound was bin Laden’s… but for this most important of covert operations there could not be any error of any kind. Americans, they knew, had to have success, total success from this mission… and that’s precisely what these officials aimed to give an aggrieved, long-suffering, and patient nation.

And so they did their important work, their painstaking work, their essential work so that when they did what they must do they would be completely successful, and Osama bin Laden would not escape yet again.

Absolute certainty required.

By mid-February, intelligence from multiple sources was clear enough to enable President Obama to “pursue an aggressive course of action.” During the next two and a half months, Obama led five meetings of the National Security Council focused solely on whether bin Laden was in that compound and, if so, how to get him.

Everyone was agreed from the President on down: this time there must be complete success…

And so, first of all, just who had access to this growing body of intelligence was drastically limited. Our closest allies — Britain, Canada, Australia, etc. — are ordinarily in the loop… but not this time. Too, the United States does not normally carry out ground operations inside Pakistan without collaboration from Pakistani intelligence. But this was the ultimate covert operation and what was “normal” in such matters was not good enough.

There had to be total success; everything had to be done right… the first time.

April 29, 2011. The President approved the operation to kill Osama bin Laden and the countdown to vengeance began.

For this most important of missions, Obama went with real people instead of our sophisticated Predator drones. President Obama entrusted the honor of America to some of America’s finest, the elite Navy SEAL Team Six under the command of CIA Director Leon Panetta. The names of team members have not (so far) been released… but they have well and truly earned the gratitude of the nation.

A fiery end, a bullet to the head.

In the dead of night, helicopters descended out of darkness to deliver Armageddon. One can imagine the event.

The inhabitants of the compound would have awakened, drowsy and disoriented, to their worst nightmare. Coming for them, every one of them, were the deliverers of promised retribution… the representatives of a great nation delivering at last what every citizen of that nation wanted: Revenge! Retaliation! Justice!

Unimaginable horror scarred the night skies as, one by one, the representatives of al-Qaida fell… the courier who lead the CIA to this place… bin Laden’s brother… his son… and the man of practised and unfathomable evil Osama bin Laden himself… one blessed bullet into the brain that brought so much undeserved pain to so many.

This was the man whose hatred created, on the fateful day of September 11, profound misery; a man who turned happy children from happy homes into orphans… a wicked man who tore wives from husbands and husbands from wives… a man who turned doting grandparents into crazed people mad with despair… asking a single question over and over again: “Why?” What had so many innocent people done to deserve so much….

And so, even as the Twin Towers fell, even as a great nation reeled and wept… the sentiment took root that the perpetrator of this great evil must be found and punished.

And that day of righteous punishment came — May 1, 2011.

Buried according to Islamic practice and tradition.

The bodies of Osama’s victims were buried in the burning debris of the once majestic towers, the very symbols of our greatest city. The bravest of the brave found these bodies and gave them the most reverential burials. We gave the remains of bin Laden the same high respect… burying him with decency and full honors, so that no one could say we treated him with the deep contempt with which he treated us. Here, as so often, we rose above… to behave with the deep decency which is the core of who we are.

An incident, not the end.

I am not, as I said, a violent man; I often wonder why we humans seem to need, even crave, so much of it. But of this I am sure: the total eradication of this man was needed, warranted, and beneficial. His misguided followers, now disoriented and dismayed, will turn the man into a martyr, but they will be wrong to do so. His twisted perspective hurts them, too, and can deliver nothing more than more infernos and more pain.

That is why we must continue to be vigilant. One bullet is not the end… but that bullet surely marks the end of the chapter which began September 11, 2001.

It is a beautiful day here in Cambridge, Massachusetts… the kind of day that makes one glad to be alive. I intend to go, in a minute, into the sparkling air and the brilliant sunshine… to say a little prayer for the victims, our honored dead… and hope their spirits may now rest more easily, abiding forever in the Peace of God they came to know too soon.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

What we can and must learn from the Great Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

This week nature in all its brutal savagery punished us, hitting our brothers in Japan with an earthquake of unparalleled strength and a tsunami that was the very definition of awe.

Today the world is rightly focused on the necessary work that follows such a cataclysmic event — there are still survivors being pulled from the rubble of their lives… there are bodies, thousands of bodies, bobbing in the surf, a sight horrible and mesmerizing.

There are the dispossessed to feed, house, and comfort. Their worlds are gone… and in that instant the great earthquake struck their worlds were eradicated. They are now strangers in a land once theirs, now crushed by the profound power of nature.

These people need assistance, and they need it now. Fortunately, the governments of this planet, and the generous peoples of the world, are reasonably equipped to handle even this severe and escalating need.

But let us be very clear with each other: this work, no matter how urgent and pressing, is not the only work to be done regarding this raw and potent occurrence; the real work will be putting this event under a microscope. For the next great earthquake, the next great tsunami is already forming… and we must be better prepared. Here, then, is what we must do.

1) We must first treat these events not merely as crises which diverted our attention and lives but as learning opportunities. We must know which preparations and responses worked and how these things could be improved. We must also be clear on what went wrong, in each and every aspect of the matter. Those who ignore the lessons of the past are compelled to relive its horrors, unnecessarily so.

2) There must be a review of all in place tsunami reporting methods. Every time we improve our warning systems, by even a single minute, the lives of real people are saved. Thus, we must be certain that the latest tsunami warning technologies are in place and that adequate provision has been made for their improvement.

3) The world’s nuclear nations must gather, with grave and serious intent, to review in the most minute detail, each and every nuclear installation on this planet. This scrutiny must be scientific, dispassionate, thorough.

The events of this week in Japan will undoubtedly fuel acute hostility to nuclear power. Many will wish, indeed insist, on throwing the baby of nuclear power out with its bath water. Now is the moment when calmer heads must prevail.

The great nations, you see, rely upon this power source. The question should be how to ensure its safety, not how to facilitate its removal. Now, then, is the right and proper moment to review, in full detail, each aspect of each facility. These facilities were created with human limitations. Today, therefore, some of these facilities are at more risk than others. So, let us resolve, not to condemn, but to scrutinize and improve.

4) Communications must be better understood and improved. Leaders of the world must understand and review their role in the dissemination of crucial details. Questions about what information should be distributed and how are far too important to be left to commercial news media, which have different objectives.

The minute the earthquake happened, the minute the tsunami occurred, the Internet was full of concern, anxiety — and waves of disinformation which continue to this minute.

This was the moment for President Obama and other world leaders to take control of the story… and, understanding the anxiety of the people, to assuage it with up-to-the-minute accuracies; timely facts, not sound bites from off-the-cuff pundits.

This did not happen and as a result there were moments approaching hysteria not merely in Japan but around Asia to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Ronald Reagan was called the Great Communicator… but every president and head of state must be such a practised communicator and must never merely allow the news media to follow their natural bent.

These media want the lurid, the melodramatic, the ghastly and horrifying. Leaders want to inform and calm the people, never inflame them. But we had too little such leadership and such communications to the people on this occasion. Into such a void, it is easy for Chicken Little to rise and frighten. President Obama let this happen… and he must accept responsibility for a lack of leadership that resulted in much avoidable pain and agitation.

Why didn’t he use his powers to calm the nation? It seems to me an address to America was well and truly necessary. The president could and should have understood what people were feeling and taken action to inform and comfort them, minimizing the dread and uncertainty when the subject turns to nuclear power and the unseen killer that is radioactivity.

The president no doubt knowing these things slept soundly. His citizens, assailed by the endless drumbeat of horrible details, did not. Second terms have been derailed for less… and rightly so.

What is occurring now is not merely a Japanese issue, an Asian issue, an American issue. It is an issue of worldwide importance, one affecting not merely our comfort and security today, but the very essence and maintenance of our civilization.

That is why the people, unsettled, inadequately and confusingly informed, cry out for Leadership as today’s headlines blare: “U.S. shows growing alarm over Japan nuclear crisis.” (March 17, 2011.)

For days now, the news media of the world have dished out a diet of alarm along with ersatz “experts”, old and stale “facts”, slip shod analysis and details which do everything except inform and assure. It has been an embarrassment on a cosmic scale… and it was all avoidable if the officials at the highest reaches of government had been clear on the objective: keeping us all reliably and timely informed.

Meanwhile the situation in Japan continues to deteriorate as we all, every last one of us, wonder about what will happen next. And whether, once this series of interlocking crises has passed, the leaders of the world will remember their charge: to do what’s necessary to solve the problem, not merely apply a patch and be glad they’ll be out of office when the next such crisis hits. God help us all should we get no better service than that.

About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Ali Khamenei’s cur. The rise and ultimate fall of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Imagine that you are Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the elect of God and the Prophet. You are a man of decided views, regarding the theocracy that masquerades as the Islamic Republic of Iran as the dernier mot in acceptable governance.

You are the Anointed One; you are a man of discernment, learning, sternness because sternness is demanded by God, the ultimate authority on belief, the faith, right and wrong, and who shall live or die.

You are accustomed to giving directives… but need others kow-towing to your powers derived from God to implement them. You will not soil your hands… but your work is pressing. You must stay remote, unapproachable by mere mortals, never by infidels.

Such a man needs, as such men throughout history have needed, a cur of his own, a loyal, unquestioning mongrel, useful not least because he can, in an instant, for whatever reason, be disposed of without difficulty or remorse.

The man you have chosen is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 6th and current president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. You imagined him, you have chosen him, you give him his daily orders… and he gives you obedience. But the winds of change started in Egypt are now blowing in Iran, and the whole world is watching your dangerous regime to see what you and your hand-picked president will do.

Tehran situation report

Valentine’s Day to the rest of the world, February 14, 2011, was a day of massive anti government demonstrations in the Iranian capital. Just how massive we may never know, since the first thing this controlling regime did (learning from Cairo) was to curtail the Internet as much as possible and drastically limit where foreign journalists could go and under what circumstances. Limiting, restricting Internet access is the first thing threatened autocratic regimes do, making it abundantly clear that freedom of information is the early casualty of the insurrection. Despite such measures, dozens of home videos have appeared on Youtube, and these have given the world a very clear sign about what is going on.

Still, reports have varied on how many demonstrators made the boldest statement of their lives by standing tall for the kind of freedom in Iran that the fall of the Mubarak regime makes possible in Egypt. Whether those appearing measured tens or hundreds of thousands wasn’t the point; it was the fact that massive demonstrations were happening at all in a land where the power emanates from the Supreme Leader, never from the people, who are viewed as obstreperous, dangerous, in need of constant chastisement, and always maximum control.

Demonstrations have occurred in Tehran before, of course; the latest happening in 2009, stemming from widespread public dissatisfaction and disgust at Ahmadinejad’s hotly contested re-election, generally viewed as rigged. But this new round of protests is already fundamentally different from those taking place in 2009. Then the protests largely concerned the re-election of Ahmadinejad. This time they have significantly broadened; they are not merely about the president. They are also aimed at the very idea of an Islamic Republic and thus the rule of the Muslim conservative establishment epitomized by Khamenei.

Obviously both the Iranian president and Supreme Leader view this transformation with alarm, particularly given the huge number of demonstrators. But, this time round, they faced a tactical difficulty: they could hardly respond with the massive police and special forces presence which is the regime’s knee-jerk reaction to any popular unrest). After all, they had just praised the way matters had been handled in Cairo (not least because of the opening for the previously outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which always looked to the Islamic Republic for inspiration and support.)

Having so praised Egypt for its “gentle revolution”, Khamenei and his man were forced to limit the number of police (and thus the stream of violent, bloody images hurtful to the regime) and take other measures.

Thus, February 15, while Ahmadinejad was claiming the protests were not home grown but inspired by foreigners inimical to the regime (Israel implied but not mentioned), members of Iran’s tame Parliament urged immediate death sentences (with decapitation or hanging always possible) for at least three of the most prominent demonstrators and regime opponents, Mir Hussein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and former president Mohammed Khatami.

At the same time the ghastly means available to all autocracies (including mass arrests, detentions, beatings and official brutalities of every kind) were begun, the better to dishearten and dismay the demonstrators and every freedom loving Iranian.

In the past such actions worked and worked relatively fast. This time such sustained suppression by the regime may well work, too. Or not.

Ahmadinejad has been living on borrowed time since the nation erupted in demonstrations not merely because he was re-elected but because the re-election (however dubious) was certified by the Supreme Leader. Khamenei might well have reckoned that such a move, while saving his cur, ultimately threatened him and the entire regime. So necessary to the fastidious, cloistered Supreme Leader is Ahmadinejad that Khamenei risked everything by standing by his man — then.

And now, for an instant, we must consider that man, discovered, crafted, owned by Khamenei. Ahmadinejad was raised in poverty rising to become an engineer and teacher. Pliant when it counted, he could be the seeming pit bull the reclusive Supreme Leader needed. He rose, like so many before him, by doing what he was told, while providing complete cover for the real decision maker, a true asset for a reclusive cleric with a taste for classical Persian poetry.

Under this arrangement, Ahmadinejad blustered about Israel, the United Kingdom and United States; made reckless statements on many subjects (not least denying the very existence of the Holocaust), and made himself quite clear on Iran’s right to nuclear power (and by implication The Bomb). At first his presidency was applauded, not least because of his lavish social programs, sustained by Iran’s ace in the hole, oil.

But Ahmadinejad’s position since his disputed re-election has noticeably deteriorated. His bluster, once arousing, is now seen as hackneyed and contrived. His economic missteps have been notable, with social programs slashed because of the poor financial condition of the country. His reputation amongst the poor has plummeted accordingly, and it bears mentioning that for the first time, anti-government demonstrators came from these districts, an ominous development.

The Supreme Leader may now have concluded that the cost of his cur is greater than his utility. If so, Ahmadinejad, the president who was never presidential, will fall fast, just as he rose. Khamenei will see to that. For after all, such a cipher as Ahmadinejad, no matter how helpful, can always be replaced by another, suitable cur. But to replace one Anointed by God and regularly in contact with Him is unthinkable.

About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books.

Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer