Colbert I. King has won the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary category this year. He is a respected editor at Washington Post. Here is the extract of Pulitzer comment on him released today: “Awarded to Colbert I. King of The Washington Post for his against-the-grain columns that speak to people in power with ferocity and wisdom.” Yes, Mr. king writes with wisdom and his writings strike the nerve of many in the power hierarchy.
Mr. King is no fan of Saddam Hussein. He writes: “Let's get this straight: Hussein is a menace and should be disarmed by force if necessary. Ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction is one thing, however. Taking over and running the country is quite another.” And Mr. King is equally straight in asking the questions of our time: “Imagine what an American occupation force in Iraq will do for anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. Does the administration know what it is getting into? Are Americans ready to pay that high a price?” These were written in February 22nd, 2003, and you can access the entire article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A45350-2003Feb21¬Found=true
Mr. King is equally coherent in his critique of Saudi regime, which is pampered and protected by the American bases: “when it comes to Saudis, religion is a one-way street. Saudis expect to practice and proselytize their faith across the United States without hindrance. But reciprocation is out of the question. And that double standard is enforced without shame.” Here is the link to the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A28287-2002Nov22¬Found=true
A few more articles on related issue by Mr. King can be found from the following links:
Saudi Arabia’s Apartheid. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A15193-2001Dec21¬Found=true
Saudi Arabia’s Apartheid (Cont’d): http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A6735-2002Jan19¬Found=true
On December 1, 2001, Mr. King takes on the arch conservative Pat Robertson: “Robertson has an awesome capacity to leave people slack-jawed. He attacked The Post, accusing us of calling for the downfall of his late friend, President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, a thoroughly corrupt, dictatorial ruler whose life gave a deeper and richer meaning to the term "kleptomaniac." Could Robertson's loyalty and devotion to Mobutu have anything to do with the diamond-mining rights in Zaire that Mobutu gave him?” The link to the article is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A42413-2001Nov30¬Found=true
Mr. King has written a few more articles on Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, some of them can be found from the following links:
Before the Iraq war began, Mr. King writes, “I write this as one who has serious reservations about the wisdom of this country's trying to democratize a post-Hussein Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. The notion of an American or U.S.-picked international Caesar running the show in Iraq with thousands of allied military and civilian workers ought to concentrate the mind of every member of Congress. How would an Iraqi government honed and shaped by Western powers be regarded by its neighbors? And what's the price tag for rebuilding Iraq and running its economy while at the same time suppressing warlordism, refereeing regional strife and fighting off internal and external power grabs? That Congress hasn't budgeted for any of this makes the situation all the riskier, given our already shaky economy.” There are dirty politics are getting regarding the war in Iraq, and Mr. King exposes it brilliantly. The links is the following: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A59558-2003Mar7¬Found=true
I have attached an article of Mr. King, “Two Generations of War”, a sharp article that finds analogy between his generation that was ravaged by wars after wars, and ours new generation that is on the brink of repeating the similar cycles of wars, deaths and destruction. He talks about the American kids who are being brought up in the vicinity of war drum roll and it is a must read. The other day, CBC had shown a startling documentary. It showed how a new generation of Arab kids are getting showered with anti-western hatred, how this devastating and illegal war are creating a new generation dedicated to take revenge.
Can anyone predict our world’s future? Can those highly paid neo-conservatives be certain of making their moronic ideas into reality without irreparably destabilizing our world?
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
April 7, 2003
Two Generations of War
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, March 29, 2003; Page A17
Whenever I visit a school and I am expected to share my life experiences with the young students, it is usually I who ends up being more enriched. My visit a few weeks ago to the Washington Jesuit Academy in Northeast Washington proved to be no exception.
Officials at the seven-month-old Catholic school for 23 bright adolescent boys had invited me to their morning assembly to talk about my odyssey from the Foggy Bottom-West End neighborhood where I was born to my present position with The Post. By the time I left, I was flying high, sustained by the spirit of young boys from difficult economic and social circumstances who, because of the encouragement of their teachers, were growing strong through the tough times of their lives.
Those kids at the Washington Jesuit Academy are giving it all they've got.
You'll find them in school at 7:30 a.m. And they don't leave the building until 7:30 in the evening. In between, they split into small classes to tackle their assignments in a highly disciplined teaching environment. For them, learning is king.
But so is the challenge to think critically and to grow emotionally, spiritually and physically. The school's mission, which is pursued with a single-mindedness seldom seen in area schools, is to prepare these young boys for college preparatory high school and ultimately manhood.
Back in the office a few days after my visit, it dawned on me that despite the vast difference in our ages, the boys and I had more in common than being native Washingtonians from working-class families. America was at war about the time most of them were born. The campaign was called Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 invasion to free an Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. Now sixth-graders, they find their country back in the Persian Gulf and at war once again, in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Like the boys at the Jesuit academy, I was born when the nation was gearing up for battle. It was the dawn of World War II. And like them, I found myself, years later in my sixth-grade class, reading and hearing new stories about American troops at war. For me, it was a place called Korea.
The similarity of our experiences with war takes on added meaning when I think of the decades after the Korean War.
Since 1951, my generation has gone through a laundry list of military encounters, including a bloody war in Vietnam (1961-75), an invasion of the Dominican Republic (1965), intervention in Grenada (1983), the overthrow of Manuel Noriega in Panama (1989), the Persian Gulf War (1991), deadly attacks in Somalia (1992-94), a U.S. troop landing in Haiti (1994), U.S. bombing in Bosnia (1995), missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan (1998), bombings in Kosovo (1999), and war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan (2001 to present). And that's not counting the Cold War, the abortive raid in Iran to free U.S. hostages (1980) and the shelling of Syrian positions in Lebanon in response to the truck-bomb attack that killed 239 peacekeeping U.S. Marines (1983).
In my lifetime, more than 500,000 Americans have been killed in wars.
Coming away from a visit to the Jesuit academy, it's hard not to wonder whether these adolescents, with all their promise and potential -- as with boys and girls just like them elsewhere in America -- will face a similar future of military engagements.
There's little reason to doubt that today's children, if their time comes, will train, march, take orders and step up to pay the price if called, just as earlier generations have done. But if it comes to that -- that the boys of the Jesuit academy also will eventually grow up to take lives or to give their own -- what will that say about the world we give to them? What will that say about us?
This isn't a sly back-door argument against war. War at times is justifiable. Wars at times are fought for moral reasons. But war, at all times, calls for sacrifice.
Is that what lies ahead for today's youth? Their hopes for achieving a life beyond their hard surroundings were on display during my visit. To illustrate various stages in my own career, I brought to the assembly three lifelike drawings: a rifle, which I was trained to use before becoming a U.S. Army officer; a .357 Magnum that I qualified to use as a special agent with the federal government; and a desktop computer, which has been my constant daytime companion during my nearly 13 years with The Post.
Which of the three items, I asked the boys, was the most powerful?
Hands immediately rose around the room. The unanimous answer: "the computer."
Many of the boys are no strangers to weapons. Some go to sleep at night with the sound of gunfire outside their windows. They know about the potency and the destructive nature of guns.
Yet the boys talked enthusiastically about the computer. They discussed how, through a computer, words can be used to influence people and events. We discussed words and their capacity to promote harmony, or to cut as deeply as a knife.
We talked about the importance of reading, the benefits of reading and the power of words -- and how important it is, as their reading teacher, Bob Wassmann, has been telling them, to read, read, read. We talked about values, the use of the mind, the meaning of respect and of self-respect.
The kids at the Jesuit academy are doing their part. They are getting ready, they are on their way.
But what kind of world are we passing on to them?