- Aaron Hernandez investigated for threatening to kill prison guard
- Putin tells Merkel that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war
- San Antonio mayor to Obama: Give amnesty to illegals with legal families
- NYPD disbands unit that spied on Muslims to go after ‘real bad guys’
- Donald Rumsfeld has ‘no idea’ if he paid taxes correctly
- Bradley Manning named honorary grand marshal of San Francisco Pride parade
- Look out PayPal: Facebook working toward mobile payments system
- U.S. rebukes Iran’s U.N. envoy pick over 1979 embassy attack
- Stoned mom avoids jail after driving 12 miles with baby on roof
- More than 100 ‘inappropriate’ encounters between NYC school staffers, students since 2009: report
Constantine Menges: A tribute
With the passing on Sunday of Constantine Menges, whose hauntingly prescient foreign affairs columns have graced these pages for many years, the Free World lost a revolutionary strategist.
An academic by training, Mr. Menges was recruited by new CIA Director William Casey in May 1981 to be national intelligence officer for Latin America. It was not just Constantine’s impressive intellectual firepower that attracted Casey but his fierce independence, tenaciousness and overriding vision that it was America’s destiny to serve as the standard-bearer of freedom to the oppressed of the world. Casey wanted to challenge the corporate views of agency insiders, and saw Mr. Menges as the right man for the job.
Constantine’s goal in life was to devise strategies for defeating tyrannies, just as V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky had devised strategies to create them. He was a professional revolutionary on the side of freedom.
Just before joining the CIA, Menges proposed the U.S. government establish a “National Foundation for Democracy,” to promote nascent democratic movements in countries under communism and other forms of tyranny. President Reagan embraced the idea, and two years later convinced Congress to fund the National Endowment for Democracy.
While working for Casey, Mr. Menges urged the CIA to adopt a “pro-democracy” approach toward defeating communism in Latin America that skillfully blended support for pro-democracy political movements with selective use of force. When he moved to the White House in 1983 to become a special assistant to the president for national security affairs, his first assignment was to draw up plans to restore democracy in Grenada after a communist coup. It was this part of the Grenada mission, more than the military intervention alone, that marked the definitive end of the Carter era and demonstrated it was possible to “roll back” communism, surely Ronald Reagan’s greatest legacy.
When I met Constantine four years ago, I never would have imagined it would be in the “sunset” of his life. He had just turned 60; he and Nancy, his wife of 25 years, were enjoying Georgetown like a young married couple. Dining with them at restaurants, or in their home or in mine invariably became an intellectual fireworks display. Constantine was not only bursting with his own ideas, but knew how to inspire others.
Indeed, over the past two years, Mr. Menges has been more active than ever in warning of new threats looming just over the horizon. He warned the Bush administration repeatedly about the active infiltration of Iraq by thousands of Iranian government thugs and intelligence operatives.
Even as the U.S. was celebrating the end of major combat activities in May 2003, Constantine predicted the lull in violence would be only a respite. The Iranians had established 42 Arabic radio and television stations beaming anti-American propaganda into Iraq, he said, without an effective U.S. response. The results were predictable, and deadly.
In Iran itself, Constantine urged the Bush administration to aid pro-democracy groups to build a broad-based national movement capable of challenging the tyrannical rule of Iran’s clerics. As a strategist of freedom, he knew dictators could be defeated — but that it required hard work, good planning, training and dedication. Armchair revolutionaries, who ran for cover at the first shots, would never do the trick, he knew. But equally dangerous were armed Marxist-Islamic groups who sought to replace one dictatorship with another.
The son of German refugees from World War II, he had a special understanding of appeasement, and blasted the Clinton administration for caving in to Communist China. But in a just-completed book-length manuscript called “2008: The Preventable War,” he was scarcely gentler toward the Bush administration for failing to recognize the threat of growing military and strategic cooperation between Russia and Communist China.
Those whose loss is arguably the greatest, however, are those who have never met him and who don’t even know his name: freedom-lovers in countries such as Iran, who aspire to break the yokes of tyranny. They have lost not only a friend, but a revolutionary thinker and strategist who understood that if you failed to fight for freedom you inevitably die in chains.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is senior writer for Insight magazine (www.insightmag.com) and author of “The French Betrayal of America,” published in March by Crown Forum.
By returning to goodness, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- HURT: Wilson and Obama ... 100 years apart, but so alike
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- U.S. military on high alert as Ukraine troops trade gunfire with pro-Russian militants
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell entangled in MetLife lawsuit
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes