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Aktuellt nr 5 1962 John F. Kennedy

JOHN KENNEDY

USA:s PRESIDENT

En hjälte föddes

i Stilla Havet

En fantastisk artikelserie börjar

Tidskriftsomslag: Aktuellt ur Levande Livet, nr 5, 1962 (pris 95 öre, oms inräknad)

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HISTORIA | Dagens politiker låter sig gärna intervjuas av journalister. Intervjuer har blivit ett medvetet sätt för partierna att få ut sitt budskap till allmänheten.

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousuf Karsh

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousuf Karsh

Därför medietränas politiker hårt för att klara en intervju och undvika journalisternas fällor. Samtidigt ingår intervjuteknik i journalistutbildningen.

Så har det inte alltid varit.

Förr intervjuades inte politiker speciellt ofta. Och eftersom de möttes med större respekt än idag behövde de inte heller förbereda sig lika minutiöst som idag. Skjutjärnsjouranistik är ett förhållandevis nytt fenomen.

Men en fördel med den gamla stilen var att politikern ofta hade möjlighet att formulera sina tankar kring komplexa problem.

Men trots detta är det inte från intervjuer vi fått vår bild av politikern Winston Churchill. När vi tänker på politisk kommunikation i förhållande till Churchill handlar det oftare om hans tal och retoriska förmåga.

Dessutom är det mer bilden av talaren än själva innehållet vi känner igen. (Hur många vet t.ex. att han talade om ”blood, toil, tears and sweat” och inte ”blood, sweat and tears”?)

Även ikonen Churchill – t.ex. hans bulldogsliknande framtoning – är tydligare för eftervärlden än hans politiska åsikter. Än idag står han som den stora symbolen för motståndet mot Adolf Hitler under andra världskriget.

Det är därför inte direkt den nyanserade politikern vi minns. Men läser man Kingsley Martins intervju med Churchill i New Statesman, åtta månader innan världskrigets utbrott, är det just den bild som framträder.

Han är både principfast och klartänkt. Han är en övertygad demokrat och långt ifrån den reaktionära konservativa politiker nidbild som så många revisionister har velat framhålla efter hans död.

Han talar initierat om de demokratiska och fascistiska staternas väsen. Och han är väl medveten om att de demokratiska rättigheterna riskerar urholkas om Storbritannien överreagerar för att skydda samhället mot i kampen mot ett totalitärt hot.

När han svarar på intervjufrågorna handlar det inte om några utslätade politiska ”talking-points” eller klyschor.

Kingsley Martin The country has learnt to associate you with the view that we must all get together as quickly as possible to rearm in defence of democracy. In view of the strength and character of the totalitarian states, is it possible to combine the reality of democratic freedom with efficient military organisation?

Mr Winston Churchill The essential aspects of democracy are the freedom of the individual, within the framework of laws passed by Parliament, to order his life as he pleases, and the uniform enforcement of tribunals independent of the executive. The laws are based on Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, the Petition of Right and others. Without this foundation there can be no freedom or civilisation, anyone being at the mercy of officials and liable to be spied upon and betrayed even in his own home. As long as these rights are defended, the foundations of freedom are secure.

KM One point people are especially afraid of is that free criticism in Parliament and in the press may be sacrificed. The totalitarian states, it is said, are regimented, organised and unhampered, as the Prime Minister suggested the other day, by critics of the Government “who foul their own nest”.

WC Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.

KM Do you attribute the slowness in preparation of which you complain to any inherent defect in democratic institutions?

WC I am convinced that with adequate leadership, democracy can be a more efficient form of government than Fascism. In this country at any rate the people can readily be convinced that it is necessary to make sacrifices, and they will willingly undertake them if the situation is put clearly and fairly before them . . . It may be that greater efficiency in secret military preparations can be achieved in a country with autocratic institutions than by the democratic system. But this advantage is not necessarily great, and it is far outweighed by the strength of a democratic country in a long war. In an autocracy, when the pinch comes, the blame is thrown upon the leader and the system breaks up. In a democratic country the people feel that they are respon­sible, and if they believe in their cause will hold out much longer than the population of Dictator States . . .

[…]

KM People who are not necessarily pacifist are horrified at the idea that we may go into another war with the same kind of generals who were responsible for Passchendaele and other horrors in the last war. They say that they might be prepared to fight for democracy if they were democratically led; but that they are damned if they will be sacrificed again for the Camberley clique that was so horribly inefficient and wasteful in the last war. Do you think it is possible to democratise the army?

WC It is quite true, I know, that many people consider that the cadre of officers is selected from too narrow a class. I have always taken the view that merit should be rewarded by promotion in the army as in any other profession. I support this not only from the point of view of democratising the army, but mainly because I think it leads to efficiency such as no other system can achieve.

KM May I ask one more question of a more general character? Most of us feel that if there is a war it will be so destructive that the very substance of our civilisation, let alone our democracy, is likely to be destroyed. Clearly the great object is to prevent war. Is it possible in your view still to regard these military preparations, not as the acceptance of inevitable war, but merely as a necessary complement of a policy which may keep the peace?

WC I fear that failure to rearm Britain is bound to lead to war. Had we strengthened our defences earlier, the arms race need never have arisen. We should have come to a settlement with Germany while she was still disarmed. I think it is still possible, with a strong Britain and France, to preserve the peace of Europe.

KM Is it not true historically that an armaments race leads to war?

WC To say that an arms race always leads to war seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse. A government resolved to attain ends detrimental to its neighbours, which does not shrink from the possibility of war, makes preparations for war, its neighbours take defensive action, and you say an arms race is beginning. But this is the symptom of the intention of one government to challenge or destroy its neighbours, not the cause of the conflict. The pace is set by the potential aggressor, and, failing collective action by the rest of the world to resist him, the alternatives are an arms race or surrender. War is very terrible, but stirs a proud people. There have been periods in our history when we have given way for a long time, but a new and formidable mood arises . . .

Läs mer: En intervju med Churchill i The New York Herald den 2 februari 1915 när han var First Lord of the Admirality.

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ATEN | Grekernas egen Donald Trump hette Kleon. Han var en populär folkledare (d.v.s. demagog) kring tiden för Perikles bortgång 429 f.Kr.

Författaren Peter Jones, som skriver krönikor där han  drar lärdomar från antikens Aten och Rom för den modern läsaren, har tittat på likheterna mellan dessa två demagoger.

Why does the Republican party loathe Donald Trump? Because Trump is the ultimate loose cannon, beholden to no one. And even worse, he is popular. What trumpery! Ancient Athenians would have loved him. Themistocles

With no known political or military experience behind him, Cleon surged into the gap left by the death of Pericles in 429 BC, when Athens was locked in a difficult war against Sparta. The son of a rich tanner — certainly not ‘one of us’ — he presented himself as the warmongering, go-get-’em alternative to the cautious Pericles. Full of extravagant promises (including state handouts), he increased the tribute from Athens’ imperial possessions and worked up a strong following by his heated speeches in the rough and tumble of the democratic Assembly. It was this ‘brutal and insolent’ speaker, said the historian Plutarch, who introduced shouting and abuse and excessive gesturing, encouraging other speakers to behave equally irresponsibly. A contemporary of Cleon’s, the historian Thucydides, called him ‘violent’ but ‘very persuasive’.

Och hur gick det för Kleon? Han blev en framgångsrik general. Vilket naturligtvis retade många atenare ännu mer.

Bild: Themistokles, politiker och general i det antika Grekland.

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USAElizabeth Warren är presidentkandidaten som demokraterna aldrig fick. Om hon kandiderat hade hon utgjort ett rejält hot mot Hillary Clinton.

Bloomberg Markets June 2015.

Till skillnad från Barack Obama har hon lyckats samarbeta med republikaner. Detta trots att hon uppfattas ligga på sitt partis vänsterkant.

Om inte attityden hos republikanerna förändras kommer alla demokrater, inklusive Hillary Clinton, att få en svår tid i Vita huset.

Och om Bernie Sanders mot förmodan skulle vinna kommer han att få det än svårare med en republikansk majoritet i kongressen.

Warren har blivit den mest kända politikern när det gäller att kritisera banker som är så stora och inflytelserika att ingen vågar låta dem gå omkull.

Hon har till och med , enligt Katrina Brooker i Bloomberg Markets, hänvisat till Teddy Roosevelt, “her favorite trust-busting president, who took on the big corporations of his day”.

När man läser Brookers artikel om Warren i Bloomberg Markets från förra året så förstår man varför hon inte är populär på Wall Street.

Barney Frank, the former congressman from Massachusetts and co-author of the Dodd-Frank legislation, says Warren has protected the act. “She can raise hell and make clear to people they will pay a political price if they try to attack it,” says Frank. In particular, he says, Warren has helped make modifying Dodd-Frank politically untenable for Democrats, without some of whom Republicans can’t hope to roll back the law. “I think it is safe until 2016,” Frank says.

“A Republican Senate would not take up Wall Street deregulation now,” says Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a watchdog organization that monitors Wall Street’s influence in Washington. “Nobody wants to be seen as siding with the big Wall Street banks.”

[…]

For Warren, the fight is definitely not over. In April, in a speech titled “The Unfinished Business of Financial Reform,” she laid out how she hopes to move her agenda forward. Among other things, she called for the breakup of the big banks; they are still too big to fail, she said, and bailing them out of the next crisis would cost billions. And she wants jail time for managers who violate the law. “It’s time to stop recidivism in financial crimes and to end the ‘slap on the wrist’ culture that exists at the Justice Department and the SEC,” Warren said.

An important part of her legislative agenda is the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, which she and three co-sponsors introduced in 2013. The bill is a modern version of the 1933 law that split commercial and investment banks. (The original Glass-Steagall was effectively repealed in 1999.) So far, 21st Century Glass-Steagall hasn’t gained traction on Capitol Hill, but for Wall Street, this will be one to watch.

“There are only two things I’m looking for from the biggest financial institutions in this country,” Warren says one cool spring night in New York. She’s standing before a packed crowd on the fourth floor of a Barnes & Noble bookstore on 17th Street. She’s come here, while the Senate is in recess, to promote the paperback version of her autobiography, A Fighting Chance.

[…]

Those two things she wants from the banks: “No. 1, I don’t think they ought to be able to cheat people,” Warren says. “Second thing, I don’t think they ought to be able to risk destroying this economy. Too big to fail has got to end.” The room erupts.

[…]

Warren isn’t the only politician tapping into the public’s frustration and anger at the financial system. Other lawmakers have been vocal supporters of tighter regulation. David Vitter, a Republican senator from Louisiana, sided with Warren and other Democrats in December in their fight against Citi. “I know it surprised a lot of people,” he says, explaining that he also fears the risks posed by large institutions. “Too big to fail is alive and well.” In late April, Bloomberg reported that Vitter and Warren were working together on another piece of legislation, this one designed to curb the authority of the Fed to bail out banks in a crisis. John McCain, the senator from Arizona and former Republican presidential candidate, is a co-sponsor of the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, along with Democrat Maria Cantwell and independent Angus King.

Last fall, Clinton tried to mimic Warren’s populism, declaring in a speech, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” This was way off the mark Warren hit when she famously argued during her Senate campaign in 2011 that businesses owe some part of their success to citizens and to the government. (Obama echoed Warren’s rhetoric in his 2012 “you didn’t build that” speech.)

The Warren version is worth examining. It gives, in plain language, her view of American capitalism: “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”

Tidskriftsomslag: Bloomberg Markets, juni 2015.

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POLITIK | Har vänsterns försök att vinna val på klasskamp misslyckats? Det ser åtminstone så ut i Storbritannien.

Francis Urquhart, played to icy perfection by the late Ian Richardson.

Idag ser inte Labour ut att kunna komma ur den grop man grävt åt sig själv genom att välja Jeremy Corbyn till partiledare.

I tv-världen är Ian Richardsons tolkning av karaktären Francis Urquhart, från den engelska serien House of Cards, den typiske maktpolitikern inom det konservativa partiet.

Men även om premiärminister David Cameron har just en sådan privilegierad bakgrund som lätt kan framstå som den klassiska nidbilden av en konservativ politiker så är det Torypartiet som väljarna har förtroende för.

Toby Young, associate editor på tidskriften The Spectator, tror att det mest är den politiska klassen och media som tror att politiker från “överklassen” är till nackdel för ett parti. Väljarna däremot bry sig inte.

Following Labour’s triumph at the 1945 general election, the aristocracy became convinced that the nation had been seized by revolutionary fervour and embarked on a frantic public relations offensive. Stately homes were demolished, accents were played down and ostentatious displays of wealth became taboo. As Nancy Mitford put it in her famous essay on the subject in 1956: ‘The English lord has been nurtured on the land and is conversant with the cunning ways of the animal kingdom. He has often seen the grouse settle into the heather to rise and be shot at no more.’

Whether as a result of this strategy or not, no serious attempt to redistribute wealth has taken place since the Attlee administration. One of the most striking facts about post-war politics is that if you discount the three victories won by Tony Blair — who was about as left-wing as David Steel — Labour hasn’t won a general election since October 1974 and that barely counted. Without Blair, Labour hasn’t won a convincing majority since 1966, almost 50 years ago. The politics of envy has failed.

To be fair, even the Tory party, which prides itself on understanding how to win and retain power, took a while to wake up to this. After Alec Douglas-Home failed to win in 1964, it concluded that the party should never again be led by a toff and the next three leaders seemed to vindicate that decision with varying degrees of success. But after three consecutive losses in 1997, 2001 and 2005, it was forced to re-evaluate this policy and put another Old Etonian in charge. Exactly 10 years later, David Cameron has proved to be one of the most successful leaders in the party’s history.

Some might argue that Cameron has only triumphed by toning down his privileged status — resigning from Whites in 2008, for instance – but such efforts have always been half-hearted.

[…]

Inside the Westminster bubble, the Prime Minister’s promotion of his friends to his inner circle is regarded as a political mistake, since it adds to the impression that he’s in politics to help out his rich chums. In fact, there’s no reason to think it has harmed his party’s electoral prospects. The British public isn’t nearly as obsessed by class as political journalists. In their eyes, I suspect, all politicians seem to be from another planet, with little attention paid to whether they went to Eton or Haverstock Comp.

Bild: EMPICS, via Landov. Ian Richardson som Francis Urquhart i den engelska tv-serien House of Cards.

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VAL 2016 | Donald Trump ser allt mer ut att kunna bli republikanernas presidentkandidat.

“He’s got the mo, he’s got the masses”, säger den politiska strategen Rick Hohlt. ”He’s attracting a new class of voters.”

Försöken att stoppa Trump har så här långt misslyckats. Inte minst för att han blivit smartare ju mer han har varit ute och kampanjat. “He knows when to push and when to back off.”

Men hans motståndare måste försöka göra något för att stoppa honom om man skall ha en rejäl chans att bli nominerad.

Enligt David Von Drehle på tidskriften Time har Ted Cruz plockat fram en gammal strategi som användes av Barry Goldwater redan 1964.

Men om denna strategi lyckas kan det mycket väl innebära att Cruz splittras och sänka möjligheterna för Cruz att bli president om han skulle lyckas bli nominerad.

The man is moving people, and politics does not get more basic than that. Trump is a bonfire in a field of damp kindling—an overcrowded field of governors and former governors and junior Senators still trying to strike a spark. His nearest rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, has traction in Iowa among the evangelical bloc and—in contrast to Trump—is a tried-and-true Suite 3505 by F. Clifton Whieconservative. But with little more than half the support Trump boasts in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Cruz has a long way to go to show that he can move masses.

Cruz staffers, tellingly, have been studying a 1967 tome titled Suite 3505 as a playbook for their campaign. This F. Clifton White memoir, long out of print, tells the story of the 1964
Barry Goldwater campaign. That was the last successful populist rebellion inside the Republican Party, propelling a rock-ribbed conservative past the Establishment insiders–just as Cruz hopes to do. But this triumph of intramural knife fighting proved a disaster at general-election time. Goldwater suffered one of the worst defeats in American political history. It’s no wonder that GOP leaders are every bit as wary of Cruz as they are of Trump.

In short, the GOP has awakened less than a month from the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary to find itself in bed between a bombshell and a kamikaze. It’s a sobering dawn for a political party that seemed, not long ago, just a tweak or two away from glory.

Bild: Omslaget till boken Suite 3505 av F. Clifton White.

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PROFIL | Få väljare har någon tydlig bild av premiärminister David Cameron som person och politiker.

Standpoint November 2015

Trots att Cameron nu är inne på sin andra mandatperiod framstår t.o.m. hans ideologiska övertygelser som aningen otydliga.

Och trots sina valsegrar – som bl.a. gett det konservativa partiet egen majoritet i parlamentet för första gången sedan 1992 och räddat kvar Skottland i det förenande kungariket – kommer historien antagligen bedöma honom resultatet av kommande folkomröstning om Storbritanniens medlemskap i EU.

Stephen Glover, krönikör i Daily Mail och tidigare redaktör för Independent on Sunday har försökt ge en bild av vem han är som person och politiker.

Glover skriver så här om Cameron i tidskriften Standpoint:

What kind of man is David Cameron? It is strange to be asking this question of someone who has been leader of the Tory party for 10 years, Prime Minister for more than five, and about whom there exists a colossal amount of information.

[…]

It is true he is almost unthinkingly ambitious (at 14 he declared without having shown much interest in politics that he was going to be Prime Minister), and capable of ruthlessness. We saw how at Prime Minister’s Questions he loved to play Flashman to poor, heavy-footed Ed Miliband. But if he knows how to be shitty, he is not a shit. On the contrary, his nature is sunny and well-meaning. I even found myself reinterpreting some words of congratulation he had uttered after I had delivered a eulogy at a friend’s memorial service in 2007 at which he was present. He twice complimented me, which seemed excessive. I assumed then that he was trying to oil up to a journalist, but now I wonder whether he wasn’t going out of his way to be kind to a stranger, offering words of reassurance to someone plainly exhausted by making a testing speech that was probably not particularly good.

Of course, we should never be starry-eyed about the people who rule us, but I submit the proposition that, his sense of entitlement and flashes of ruthlessness notwithstanding, Cameron is unusually decent for a leading politician, as well not unpardonably (in view of his considerable gifts) confident.

With the elegance and self-assurance of one of those natural cricketers at school capable of scoring a hundred without breaking sweat, he has eased his way forward through life apparently effortlessly. There were sadnesses, of course: his father’s disability, and later, and much more tragic, the serious illness and death of his first child, Ivan. But the early misfortune was mitigated by his father’s good cheer and lack of self-pity; and the latter, when it came, could be dealt with because he was such a well-balanced and grounded person.

[…]

Most of us grow tougher as we get older, and doubtless David Cameron has done so, but I don’t think this unguarded benevolence has left him. If he were a dog he would be an enthusiastic Labrador, bounding up to strangers with automatic good will and lack of suspicion, his tongue lolling out ready to bestow a lick, and reluctant to bare his teeth even when provoked. (He does, however, bear unLabrador-like grudges. Two prominent Tory MPs have told me that he has not spoken to them since being, in his view, crossed by them.) There is also an innate languor that can make it difficult for him to work up his energy levels.

[…]

As I write, David Cameron is basking in the sun. He has won the first Tory majority since 1992. The Labour party has turned in on itself. His only plausable rival, Boris Johnson, is marginalised and diminished. So confident is the Prime Minister that he made a centre-ground, even left-leaning, speech at the Tory party conference that might have tumbled from the lips of Tony Blair. In it he reached out rhetorically to the poor and dispossessed. (There was, however, one surprisingly tough-sounding passage about Islamic extremism in Britain that was largely ignored.) Things have never looked so good for our suave, sleek, soft Prime Minister who has filled out a bit, and looks ever more authentically Tory — master of all he surveys.

But there are once-in-a-generation issues in politics that cannot be dodged or massaged away by efficient despatchers of business and consensus-seekers. Europe is one of them. It looms like an iceberg in front of David Cameron and his administration. I am not at all sure he has any idea of what is coming his way.

Tidskriftsomslag: Standpoint, November 2015.

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