September 1, 2002 - San Fransisco Chronicle: Swaziland RPCV says USA can't avoid making dangerous enemies in the Third World by making war against it

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 09 September 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: September 1, 2002 - San Fransisco Chronicle: Swaziland RPCV says USA can't avoid making dangerous enemies in the Third World by making war against it

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 1:20 pm: Edit Post

Swaziland RPCV says USA can't avoid making dangerous enemies in the Third World by making war against it

Read and comment on this op-ed piece from the San Fransico Chronicle by Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews who says that "Maybe it's the Peace Corps still in me, but I don't think we win friends or -- and this is more important -- avoid making dangerous enemies in the Third World by making war against it."

Read the piece at:

Putting a - 30 - on weekly column*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Putting a - 30 - on weekly column
Sep 1, 2002 - Tulsa World

Author(s): Chris Matthews

Newspaper Enterprise Association

WASHINGTON -- For 15 years, I have shot the moon. In a world that discards, I have gone for all the hearts and the queen of spades.

Yes, I have been among the grand and lucky few to write a newspaper column.

It was something I had wanted for a long time, something I owe to one bloke: Mr. Larry Kramer.

In June 1987, I lingered with him over lunch and several carafes of house white in a San Francisco restaurant south of Market Street. My relative Ann was about to get married at the Metropolitan Club, and I was just checking in with an old friend. Larry had been Metro editor of The Washington Post and was now running the San Francisco Examiner.

He asked if I wanted to write a column. I said, as if kneeling at the altar of my life, "I do," and it has made all the difference.

I can't remember a time when I did not want to be a columnist. When I was in college, my hero was Joe McGinnis. Just 25, he was writing three times a week in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"So, what did you think of McGinnis today?" I remember a radio- talk jock starting off his 9 a.m. show one morning. It was the best and sharpest of questions in a city that awoke to McGinnis and was already buzzing about his latest outrage.

How could anyone go to Vietnam to report on the war, and then send back a column describing the work of the graves' registration unit stacking the metal containers of our fighters' bodies like tuna fish cans, getting them home just in time for Christmas? McGinnis could.

I got into reading these guys in grad school. At Chapel Hill in North Carolina, I'd sit at the Carolina Cafeteria and pore over the page of the Raleigh News & Observer across from the editorials, what I'd later learn to call the "Op Ed." That's where I came across that crusty Dixiecrat James J. Kilpatrick and began my lifelong homage to him and the other great nationally syndicated columnists.

When I got to Washington, I learned the crackle of the Washington Post, just then beginning its Watergate heyday. At the bottom of the Style page -- Ben Bradlee's child -- I discovered the inimitable Nicholas von Hoffman.

He called his column "Poster," and what a piece of work it was. A political son of Chicago firebrand Saul Allinsky, Nick did just as much as Woodward and Bernstein to rip down the Nixon cover-up. I will never forget his portrait of aide Ron Ziegler trooping mechanically in and out of the White House press-room like a figure in a Schwarzwald clock.

What von Hoffman could do from the left, George F. Will soon matched from the right. I remember an early column -- it may have been his first -- that lampooned Walter Mondale's proposal for a government-paid council to advise the president on "national values." It was the highest inflation of big government, and George showed up with the sharpest pen to administer the needed puncture.

I watched Will join the masters of the universe: David Broder, Joseph Kraft and Bob Novak in Washington; Jimmy Breslin, Murray Kempton and Jack Newfield in New York.

I never made that world. I remember having dinner one night in Belfast. It was on the eve of the Good Friday peace referendum. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, Mary McGrory of The Washington Post, Mike Barnicle of the Boston Globe and I sat around the table.

The four of us were eating Italian food. We all had our roots in Ireland, and I loved it.

But I didn't kid myself then, and I can't now. Those were the best writers in the business. When I turn in this column and see it run in the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, I will continue to worship those people from below. Even after 15 years of trying, I don't know how they do it: the endless flow of new ideas, the ever-surprising settings, the out-of-the-blue insights, the fine and faultless language.

And yes, I hunger still for the imagined thrill of walking into a dark, big-city bar and having some guy look up from his drink or newspaper and either knock me or love me for something I'd written that day.

"Sez who?" Mike Royko once titled a collection of his Chicago Tribune columns, "Sez ME!"

That's what it's about. That's the lure of it: the taste and the appetite that makes you long for the hot coffee, and the free keyboard and the blank page facing you, daring you to really do it.

I remember what Sen. Ed Muskie said the night he won his last election back in 1976. He'd had some vodka. He decided to share a sentiment with his staff, one I hope never to forget.

"The only reason to be in politics is to be out there all alone and then be proven right."

That goes for good columnists, too. That's one thing I knew from the beginning, but know better now.

So, I'll say it. I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. We Americans are reluctant warriors. We fight when attacked. We didn't even invade Cuba when we learned the Russians had missiles there. We didn't want to do to them what the Japanese had done to us.

I'm afraid this crowd around President Bush would have. They also would have gone to an all-out war a generation later when those Iranian students grabbed our diplomats.

I oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it.

Maybe it's the Peace Corps still in me, but I don't think we win friends or -- and this is more important -- avoid making dangerous enemies in the Third World by making war against it.

Well, that's it for now.

I wish I could keep writing like this, but I can't. "Hardball" runs Monday through Friday on MSNBC. I've got a new syndicated show coming this fall on NBC that will run on Sundays. The wisdom of middle age has taught me I can't have -- or do -- it all.

So this is my last column for a while. If I'm lucky -- and I've been very lucky -- I'll be back. Hell, if I'm really lucky, I'll be back with my own newspaper!

And, if I'm any good at all, I'll still be shooting the moon.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Speaking Out; COS- Swaziland



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