Thursday, June 12, 2014

"it's all good" vs. "we TOLD them!"

To keep peace, world leaders have meetings, and visit with one another.  Coffee, or a glass of ice water.  And a room to sit and visit.  And interpreters.

Many of us watch this process and feel impatient -- "Blah blah blah, but what did they achieve??!!"

"Yes," is the answer, "but we're all still alive, and the earth is still Here."  There is not a near-term Result from Summit Meetings, most of the time.  An immediate Result that's big and impressive and beautiful would be nice -- would help win elections! -- but it isn't how it works.

However -- all those meetings of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, etc., sitting around talking with Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev -- accomplished the desired result:  the world has not been nuked, and we are all here.

June 1967

The Glassboro Summit

--------------- [excerpt] ------------- As the host, [President Lyndon] Johnson arrived half an hour ahead of Kosygin, and then greeted him with "an elaborate negotiated handshake" as he left his car.  On the walk to the house, the sixty-three-year-old Kosygin congratulated the fifty-eight-year-old President on the birth of his first grandchild two days before. 

Kosygin, vying to establish himself as the elder statesman, declared that he had been a grandfather for eighteen years. 

Johnson, leaving no doubt who was in charge, led the Premier by the elbow into the house, where he...offered his guest a glass of ice water, and escorted him into the small study furnished with a rocking chair for the President, a three-seat sofa for Kosygin, and two large upholstered easy chairs for the translators.

[stop excerpt------------that's Kosygin in the right-foreground:  he must have moved and left one of the interpreters on the sofa]---------- continue excerpt:

Kosygin impressed the President "as an extremely intelligent and competent person with a personal capacity for humor and human feeling." 

American accounts to the press of the meeting stressed the cordiality between the two leaders.  Reporters were told that Kosygin was "friendly, jolly, and warm" and that half the morning session was taken up with "folksy discussion" of the kind of world "in which their grandchildren could best grow and prosper." 

The Soviet press, by contrast, described the conference as initiated by Johnson and as an occasion for stern lectures to the Americans on "Israel, Vietnam, and other assorted American misdeeds."

Privately, Johnson did not discount the hard edge to the meeting....The two days of meetings...were largely an exercise in "cordial disagreement."  But the subtext was a wish for better relations....----------- [end excerpt]

(Subliminal suggestion:

"Be nice; don't kill people"
"Be nice; don't kill people")

{excerpt from Flawed Giant.  Lyndon Johnson and his Times.  1961 - 1973.  Robert Dallek.  Copyright, 1998.  Oxford University Press.  New York; Oxford.}


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