January 3, 2003 - Tom Paine: Ecuador RPCV Randolph 'Ry' Ryan was a crusader for Peace
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January 3, 2003 - Tom Paine: Ecuador RPCV Randolph 'Ry' Ryan was a crusader for Peace
Ecuador RPCV Randolph 'Ry' Ryan was a crusader for Peace
In 1982, Randolph Ryan drafted a series condemning the stupidity and self-destructiveness of a nuclear-centered foreign policy. His courage and skill in speaking out against the conventional wisdom of the Reagan years was rewarded the following year when he participated in a Pulitzer Prize for a special Globe magazine titled "War and Peace in the Nuclear Age."
This globe above numbers of nuclear warheads held by each of nuclear powers.
Read and comment on this story from Tom Paine on Ecuador RPCV Randolph 'Ry' Ryan, a peace crusader and longtime editorial writer for The Boston Globe, who died this week. Widely-celebrated for his courageous work, he helped create one of the most progressive editorial pages of any mainstream newspaper in the country.
In 1982, he drafted a series condemning the stupidity and self-destructiveness of a nuclear-centered foreign policy. His courage and skill in speaking out against the conventional wisdom of the Reagan years was rewarded the following year when he participated in a Pulitzer Prize for a special Globe magazine titled "War and Peace in the Nuclear Age." Read the story at:
Randolph 'Ry' Ryan - A Crusader for Peace *
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Randolph 'Ry' Ryan - A Crusader for Peace
by Ross Gelbspan
John Randolph "Ry" Ryan, a peace crusader and longtime editorial writer for The Boston Globe, died this week. Widely-celebrated for his courageous work, he helped create one of the most progressive editorial pages of any mainstream newspaper in the country.
For Ry, Boston was too small a stage. His passionate concern was world peace, and his editorials and columns combined a meticulously reasoned argument and an uncompromising focus recalling the very best of the 19th-century Populist writers.
After a stint in Ecuador with the Peace Corps, Ryan became a copy editor at the Globe in 1979, soon moving to the editorial page. In 1982, he drafted a series condemning the stupidity and self-destructiveness of a nuclear-centered foreign policy. His courage and skill in speaking out against the conventional wisdom of the Reagan years was rewarded the following year when he participated in a Pulitzer Prize for a special Globe magazine titled "War and Peace in the Nuclear Age."
[The] reasoned clarity of his writing gave his work a power that drew respect from readers of every political stripe.
That was the era when Bill Casey, heading the CIA under Ronald Reagan, declared that the battleground against Communism had moved to Central America. Almost forgotten in the anti-Communist frenzy that followed was the extraordinary brutality of government forces during the civil war in El Salvador.
Almost forgotten -- but not completely. These were things Ry would not let his readers forget. He explained how the roots of conflict grew out of years of repression and exploitation by a small number of oligarchs who profited from their abused campesinos and enjoyed the protection of the U.S. military and intelligence establishment.
Ry traveled to Nicaragua to observe the Sandinista revolution first-hand, and wrote editorials and columns that were not uncritical of the leftist regime. The persuasive, immaculately-reasoned clarity of his writing gave his work a power that drew respect from readers of every political stripe.
His editorial criticisms of U.S.-created Nicaraguan opposition forces (the "contras") were vindicated in 1987 when Reaganís Central America policies imploded into the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Until his death, Ryís allegiance was to peace and the hope for a truly global community.
Remarkably, Ry was never strident or rude. A soft-spoken person, he was a patient and thoughtful listener who accorded the same deep respect to his intellectual adversaries as to his allies. His sudden death of a heart attack shocked those who knew him as a daring athlete. In The Boston Globeís obituary, U.S. Senator John Kerry laments the loss of the "indomitable spirit" that Ry boldly applied to sports on land and sea as well as to world problems.
In 1990, he won a Eugene Pulliam Fellowship for outstanding editorial writing. He left the Globe in 1996, and became spokesman for the UN Human Rights Commission in Bosnia. He was a political analyst for the International Crisis Group in Sarajevo, and headed up a program for journalists in Belgrade.
Until his death, Ryís allegiance was to peace and the hope for a truly global community. His anger against those who thwarted it shone through.
In 1999, writing about the intellectuals who had opposed Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, Ryan wrote: "These people were the hope for the Balkans. They detest nationalism and ethnic savagery and Milosevic with every ounce of their being. And, bit by bit, this group was growing. Now, in the last two weeks they have been overwhelmed and swept aside. They are furious with NATO and its slick, hypocritical spokesmen and the slanted coverage they see on CNN, which at times mirrors Radio Television Serbia in its bias. They are in anguish, confused, and wild with despair."
Ry Ryan married Jasmina Teodosijevec, a leading print and broadcast journalist in the former Yugoslavia, in Belgrade in 1999, on the last day of the bombing there. He also leaves two children, four step-children and a granddaughter.
Randolph 'Ry' Ryan, Journalist, Activist devoted to Justice
Randolph 'Ry' Ryan, Journalist, Activist devoted to Justice
J. RANDOLPH `RY' RYAN, JOURNALIST, ACTIVIST DEVOTED TO JUSTICE
Author(s): Robert L. Turner, Globe Staff Date: January 3, 2003 Page: B8 Section: Obituary J. Randolph "Ry" Ryan, an international crusader whose work as a journalist for the Boston Globe won him a share of a Pulitzer Prize in 1983, died yesterday morning at his Beacon Hill home of a heart attack. He was 61.
Mr. Ryan was a man of exuberant passions - in politics, people, and physical activities. The statue of St. George the Dragonslayer that decorated the mantelpiece of the Myrtle Street apartment he shared with his wife, Jasmina, was an apt metaphor. By all appearances he had been in robust good health and was planning to join a 40-mile windsurfing excursion from Falmouth to Nantucket with US Senator John Kerry later this year. Yesterday, Kerry lamented the loss of the "indomitable spirit" that he said Mr. Ryan applied equally to his recreational outings and to world problems, especially disarmament issues, the fighting in Central America in the 1980s, and in the last decade, the war in Bosnia, where he worked for the United Nations, among other organizations, after leaving the Globe in 1996.
In general, Mr. Ryan was critical of US efforts to prop up undemocratic regimes in Nicaragua and other Central American countries, but encouraged early US intervention in Bosnia. "He was not doctrinaire," said Kerry, a friend. "He had strong feelings about what he saw."
Noam Chomsky of MIT, who met Mr. Ryan in Nicaragua about 20 years ago, said yesterday that through the 1980s, Mr. Ryan's editorials and op-ed columns in the Globe constituted "some of the most important work on Latin America."
Among Mr. Ryan's frequent contacts was Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 - not long after Mr. Ryan had written that he deserved it. Arias said yesterday that Mr. Ryan stood out as a supporter in diplomatic solutions to Central American conflicts.
Born John Randolph Ryan in New York City, he grew up in Connecticut where his father, a Republican, was at one time president of the state Senate. Mr. Ryan graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and from Yale University, where he was on the ski team. In Spain for a period shortly after graduation, he joined a ski club and ended up winning a national championship. Local newspapers heaped praise on him for insisting that the cup he had won stay with the club.
From 1964 to 1966, Mr. Ryan was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador where, typically, he combined a university-level teaching project with road construction.
For two years following, he was a reporter and feature writer for the Middletown (Conn.) Press, then for eight years was an assistant to the president of Wesleyan University.
Mr. Ryan came to the Globe as a copy editor in June 1978, but before long was brought onto the editorial page staff by Martin F. Nolan, then editor of the page. For most of his time at the Globe, Mr. Ryan wrote editorials and a weekly column. Nolan remembered the columns as an outlet for points of view that were not adopted by the full editorial board, including Mr. Ryan's support for the legalization of drugs.
But it was in reporting and writing about Central America where Mr. Ryan first made his mark. "He was really wrapped up in it," Nolan recalled yesterday, "and he was ahead of the game. It turned out he was right."
William Goodfellow, director of the Center for International Policy in Washington, said yesterday that in the early years, "Ry was almost alone among journalists writing for mainstream publications saying that what we were being told about the war in Nicaragua was just not true."
Goodfellow recalled that Mr. Ryan was not one to feign impartiality. When a US official in Managua tried to say that the country's problems were caused by "an inappropriate macro-economic model, Ry slammed his notebook down" and argued that the culprit was more likely the US policies of mining the harbors and arming the opposition.
In 1982, Mr. Ryan was a lead writer on a Boston Globe team that produced a special 56-page magazine entitled War & Peace in the Nuclear Age, which won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting the following year. One of Mr. Ryan's articles in that supplement ended:
"It's hard to overstate the challenge of democratizing the national-security debate. Without sustained attention and a tolerance for complexity uncommon in mass political discussions, one sort of primitivism may be replaced by another.
"Einstein once said that the atom had changed everything but the way men think. Put simply, the movement's chosen task is to change that, too."
Mr. Ryan also won other prizes, including a Eugene Pulliam Editorial Writing Fellowship in 1989.
After leaving the Globe in 1996, Mr. Ryan worked in Bosnia first as a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, then as a political analyst for the private International Crisis Group, and then helped to train Yugoslav journalists for the International Research and Exchange Board.
In 2000, he helped plan the UN's special session on social development, held in Geneva, and he had since been a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. There, according to Goodfellow, the center director, the two teamed up to help derail the Bush administration appointment of Otto Reich, one of those they felt put out erroneous information in Central America.
Mr. Ryan's recreational exploits were legendary. The beat-up vans and station wagons he favored were rarely seen without some athletic contraption, frequently a windsurfer, strapped on. He was also an accomplished skier, sailor, mountain biker, hunter, and fisherman, and an excellent photographer. He was a licensed pilot who frequently flew to his summer home on Fisher's Island, off Long Island.
Mr. Ryan and Jasmina Vujosevic, one of Yugoslavia's leading print and broadcast journalists, were married in 1999. He also leaves a son, Theodore, of Westbrook, Conn.; a daughter, Melissa Ryan-Hubble, of Milden Hall, England; four stepchildren, Patrick Kilty of Essex, Conn.; Katie Kilty of Gloucester; Tijana Vujosevic of New Haven, and Filip Vujosevic of Belgrade; two sisters, Sharon of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Saville Ryan-Marsh of Santa Fe; and one granddaughter.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
Sovereignty - As essay on the United Nations by Randolph Ryan
Read mSovereignty - As essay on the United Nations by Randolph Ryan at:
Sovereignty - As essay on the United Nations by Randolph Ryan
Invest Fully in the U.N., or Accept Chaos
By Randolph Ryan
Reporter, Special Projects, The Boston Globe
Addicted to pushing deadlines to the limit, I write on the morning of the 20th of July. The wires confirm what I heard a few hours ago on "Nightline": The catastrophe of the season continues. People are dying in great numbers on the Rwandan border. They are doing this on television, so Washington is starting to react. There are signs now that U.S. troops may be sent to hand out food and expand a nearby airport in Goma, Zaire.
No doubt there will be a great humanitarian effort of the kind Americans do well. Once again as in Kurdistan, Bosnia, and Somalia, the nation's generosity will be on parade and many will agree that the United States is responding nobly to a distant tragedy. They will take pride in U.S. "leadership" within the United Nations. And will be relieved at a proviso announced yesterday at the Pentagon: There is to be no American role in peace keeping. No Americans will be placed in harm's way if the going gets down and dirty on the ground.
Ten years from now, when the first histories of the 1990s are written, it will be painful to be reminded of the ways that American ambivalence about pulling our oar in the United Nations made the world, quite predictably, a grimmer, more dangerous place. The Bush and Clinton administrations have paid lip service to the collective security idea represented by the blue helmets of the United Nations, but in important ways they have not paid their dues.
The United States, the world's richest nation, remains hundreds of millions of dollars in arrears in paying what we owe the U.N., this despite all the evidence that the demands on the U.N. are greater than ever, and despite the fact that we are counting on the U.N. to extract us from the no longer appealing world cop role. Moreover, Washington has not even deigned to notice what should have been its highest priority for the past five years: creating a U.N. intervention force--what Brian Urquhart calls a "U.N. legion"--capable of peace making at the early stages of a crisis, and of using force if necessary.
"Peace keeping" refers to sending a lightly armed U.N. force to patrol a border between adversaries who have agreed they need and want a linesman. The tedious but successful missions in Cyprus, the Golan Heights, and Kashmir are examples. But "peace making" is a different movie. It means stepping out on a potential killing field before it has deteriorated into a Bosnia or a Rwanda.
The time to put out fires is early, when there is less to extinguish and so much more to save. Yet here we are, halfway through the '90s, with Rwandas seemingly developing by the day, and the U.S. government has not even endorsed the creation of a fire brigade. In the Rwanda case, the Clinton administration purposefully blocked the deployment of the 5,500-troop U.N. brigade requested by U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in May, when it would have stopped the genocide and saved 300,000 to 400,000 lives.
We don't need to guess where the foot dragging about creation of an international police force is leading. The massive flights of refugees which we see in Rwanda are becoming almost the norm. Feeling immune because of our great moats, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, we have not noticed that the Haitian boat people are part of the same story.
To me, one of the most striking phenomena of the early 1990s has been the policy paralysis in Washington induced by the fear of taking casualties. Three years ago I thought it was certain that U.S. leaders would take a long view of the need to develop a peace-making capacity in the United Nations; would be able to distinguish in their own minds between defensible and indefensible interventions; and would be able to articulate the difference between running risks and spilling blood because of ideology and ego (as in Vietnam), and accepting risks for the important purpose of creating a credible international posse.
Instead, U.S. policy has been hog-tied by the hold-harmless formula first developed in the mid '80s by former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger and repeated more recently by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell. The Weinberger doctrine holds that U.S. ground forces may be used abroad only when interests are vital, aims are clear, firepower is decisive, and the exit at a certain date has been planned in advance. This was the timid, tunnel-vision thinking that led the Clinton administration to block a timely U.N. intervention in Rwanda.
The military came away from Vietnam saying "never again" to pointless casualties in an immoral undertaking, which is no more than the loyalty that the brass owes the troops. Powell has been right to insist that civilian buckaroos think hard in advance about means and ends and the likely costs of military involvement. But it's preposterous for the nation that has invested in the largest force in the world to be afraid to use it, and to habitually dump the dirty work on others.
U.S. leaders should be able to articulate with confidence why it was right a quarter-century ago to oppose the doomed and immoral invasion of Vietnam. They should also be able to explain why it is essential to pull our weight in the United Nations, running the same risks in, say Bosnia, as Canadians, Brits, and the French--and the Spanish and Ukrainians. There is no doubt that had this been done in 1992 it would have stopped the slow-motion destruction of Sarajevo, while greatly retarding the ethnic terror (though it would not necessarily have saved Bosnia as a "unitary" state).
Because the war in Bosnia was the first major crisis of the post Cold War; was in Europe, and hence accessible; and involved issues replicated in multi-ethnic states all across Eurasia and Africa, this was an important case to try hard to get right. It was vital to send a clear message about the international community's view of how multi-ethnic states should behave when they fall apart, and to express a clear view on terrorism against minorities.
Instead, feckless handling of the Bosnian crisis by both administrations sent a message to every potential perpetrator and victim of Bosnia-like violence around the world.
You, the perpetrator: Don't worry about the U.N. or the U.S. or the Western "world order." We are afraid. So pursue your agenda, accelerate plans for ethnic terror, go for it.
And you, prospective victims: Forget about the U.N. No one will be there to help you but yourselves. Get guns while you can.
Both groups got the message and are responding, giving the arms race (and the arms business) a new lease on life.
The lurches and swerves of U.S. policy in the drawn-out fiascos in Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti show that not only does Washington not want to be the world cop, it doesn't even want to be in the posse. The agenda, instead, is to avoid dirty work, dodge the tab, claim credit for "leadership" in speeches at the National Press Club, carp about Boutros-Ghali, and shunt the blame to others. This travesty of leadership has discredited and weakened both the U.N. and the U.S., and it has demoralized Americans and others who understood that a real collective security system, with a U.N. equipped for peace making, is the only alternative to anarchy.
Randolph Ryan became an editorial writer at The Boston Globe in 1981 and a regular columnist in 1985. He contributed a dozen pieces to the October 17, 1982, Globe special magazine, War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Ryan attended SAIS from 1966-67.
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