To the young Graham, adventure was everything, and each brush with death only pushed him to up the ante—and to bury ever deeper the emotional life needed to make him whole. Then it changed, sometimes dramatically, including a desperate fight to survive in a lifeboat in a typhoon in the North Pacific. More of the story here. You can get the book here.
In 1972, I was US Advisor to the City of Hué, South Vietnam. Some evenings, especially if the day had been difficult and dangerous, I would drive a few miles outside the City to an ancient pagoda called Linh Mu. There I would sit at this very spot on a wall overlooking the Perfume River where I would try to absorb some of the calmness of the river, the temple bells, and the monks sweeping the courtyard with straw brooms. But the war was never very far away. more
I like Jeff Flake a lot. He’s the Republican senator from Arizona who just published Conscience of a Conservative, a slashing, no-holds-barred critique, not just of Donald Trump and his administration, but also of the Republican Party for selling out its principles to support Trump.
I share very few of Flake's arch-conservative principles.
I like Jeff Flake because of something that happened 11 years ago. George Bush had...more
As an Eagle Scout and lifetime supporter of Scouting, I’m appalled by the unhinged speech Donald Trump gave to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on July 24.
Scout jamborees often invite distinguished citizens to speak and the best of them deliver stirring calls for Scouts to live out the personal and civic values of their organization, calls laced with enough inspiring personal stories to keep the boys looking up...more
Some Trump voters now justify their votes by saying they just don't "trust" Hillary.
Yup, I get that. I didn't and don't trust her much either. I also think that she was asleep at the switch in Benghazi (but not a criminal). She was way too beholden to Wall Street and way too oblivious to Main Street.. She ran an incompetent campaign and let the DNC deliberately undermine the campaign of her primary opponent. She totally misread the...more
The report from heads of American intelligence agencies has confirmed the obvious: Russia deliberately tried to influence the outcome of the American election in favor of Donald Trump. The agencies’ report found no evidence that the Russians tried to electronically change vote totals; they were content to mess with our heads, and in that, they did quite well.
I find complaints about these Russian actions by some US leaders laughable....more
At a time when it seems almost naïve to expect public figures to act with transparency, compassion and courage, I vividly remember one who did. I worked for John Glenn, then a Senator for Ohio, for a brief time in the late 70’s as an adviser on foreign policy. He became an icon to me, not so much for what he did as a politician or even as an astronaut, but for who he was as a human being, a man whose simple decency transcended just about...more
John A. Graham
President Obama has announced the resumption of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, good news that I have a particular reason to welcome. It wasn’t that the US has lacked opportunities to do this. We could have at least begun the process thirty-five years ago. I was there, and this is the story you will not read in any diplomatic archive.
The story begins in Iran...
In November 1979 the staff of the US Embassy in Teheran...more
Investigations are still ongoing in Orlando but it seems that the professed allegiance to ISIS by the shooter, Omar Mateen, was more a detonator than the charge itself. What exploded inside the Pulse nightclub was a volatile mix of rage and instabilities that had been building in the man for a long time. The siren call of radical Islam, coming over the Internet, added an ideological justification, a sense of divine mission and membership into...more
Defeating ISIS will not be simple and we must not think it will be. The challenge is stupefying in its complexity, involving, among other things, the split between Sunni and Shia Muslims, a bitter history of Western interventions including blowback from America’s war in Iraq, overlapping power struggles today among at least six nations, the ongoing political chaos of the Middle East, unrelenting poverty and social and political decay...more
If we don’t understand what makes ISIS tick we’ll never be able to defeat it. To view ISIS as simply a determined army of vicious psychopaths is a significant mistake. ISIS is far more complicated than that, in its origins, philosophy and strategies.
ISIS is an ultra-puritanical interpretation of Islam that traces its roots back 1300 years to early decades of the religion, when the prophet Muhammad and a small band of...more