Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Leading Intellectual Gives The Long-Term Perspective On Today's Problems

This article is published on PajamasMedia.

By Barry Rubin

The incomparable Walter Laqueur was born in Breslau, Germany (now Poland), in 1921. Recently, he had a 90th birthday party that was a very special and enjoyable event. Walter was 12 when the Nazis took power and went through his high school years under the increasingly oppressive regime. He was able to go to the land of Israel (i.e., the British mandatory territory of Palestine) but his parents were killed.

He went through the 1948 war as a journalist, became an expert on the USSR, learned a total of eight languages, and wrote far more books on the Middle East, Europe, terrorism (a subject he pioneered), and even wrote novels.  Walter had a lot to do with the development of think tanks. He invented the concept of "contemporary history." He knows everyone, has read everything, and has a remarkable memory and an archive of anecdotes.

At the party, I remarked to him that these are very difficult times we are going through.

His response? "I've seen worse."

We laughed because, of course, it's so true. And that's a good thing to keep in mind as we deal with the phenomena ranging from nonsensical to horrific every day.

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