Tag Archive: Agent Running In The Field


During the course of your author’s life there have been four seminal events, each prompting the question: ‘Where were you when you heard … ?’

For Baby Boomer Almost DailyBrett, these were the four history changing news stories of a lifetime: JFK’s assassination (1963), Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon (1969), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the September 11 attacks (2001).

Ironically, it was a fatal PR mistake 30 years ago that triggered the final inevitable fall of the Wall, and with it the ultimate demise of Soviet Union-style Communism.

East Germany’s Günter Schabowski was tasked with announcing the planned travel policy easing of the so-called German Democratic Republic’s (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). When he was asked if the changes applied immediately … his assumed “as far as I know” response without reading the policy paper …  was affirmative.

Unintentionally he ignited the storming of the DDR’s borders, and most of all the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

Today ein Stück der Mauer prominently sits beside the elbow of your author, accompanying the futile search for the appropriate English words to recapture the global significance of this epochal event.

Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the monstrous Berlin Wall (1961-1989), leading directly to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Communist menace in Russia and Eastern Europe. The world is a safer place as result of overjoyed Ossies walking and driving with their sputtering Trabants  across East Germany’s borders to freedom, one of them being a woman by the name of … Angela Merkel.

She started the evening consuming a beer in a sauna east of the wall, and ended the evening drinking a celebratory brew from a bottle with a label she had never seen before on the west side of the wall. Today, she is the Chancellor of the reunified (Wiedervereinigung) Federal Republic of Germany.

Giving Proper Credit For The End Of Communism

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — President Ronald Reagan speaking before the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall

If you ever travel to Berlin to touch the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, be sure to take the time to check out The Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The visitor can stand without fear on the very spot on the Friedrichstrasse in which American and Soviet tanks went eyeball to eyeball with each other. A critical miscalculation could have triggered a nuclear World War III.

Former Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961, Kennedy, Khrushchev And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth” vividly recounts the tension of the superpower standoff. The museum also recounts these days, and the ingenious plots to escape East Germany and its hideous wall.

A separate wing of the museum is devoted to Reagan, his Tear Down This Wall speech on continuous loop, and his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

And yet there is a debate to this day about who should take the lion’s share of the credit for putting together the plan, which led to the demise of the wall and the end of Communism.

The names in alphabetical order of Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Pope Paul II and Margaret Thatcher all played a role in this transformation, and each should take a bow.

For Almost DailyBrett and those who despise historical revisionism for purely political purposes, Ronald Reagan will always take center stage in the eyes of history. He rejected detente or merely accepting Communist domination from Berlin to Vladivostok. Instead his policy was simple: “We win, they lose.”

The USSR lost.

Another winner was Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), who skillfully linked and achieved feared German reunification with the success of the European Union.  “German and European Unification are two sides of the same coin.” („Deutsche und europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten einer Medaille.“)

Today, Germany along with France are the de-facto leaders of Europe … regardless of when Britain leaves the EU. Germany has acknowledged, addressed and atoned its dark past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), particularly the 12 horrid years of Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.

“The thought that a great nation (Germany) that had run amok should repent its crimes to the world. What other country has ever done such as thing?” — The character “Ed” quoting himself in John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field

And “Ed” speaking about yesterday leading to today:

“Germany was the cat’s whiskers. It’s citizens were simply the best Europeans ever. No other nation holds a candle to Germans, not when it comes to understanding what the European union is all about.”

Naturally, the point of emphasis is made by literary master John le Carré.

And it all started The Night The Wall Came Tumbling Down.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://www.forbes.com/profile/angela-merkel/#71bd54c022dd

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/cool-calm-and-collected-germany/

“We had an identifiable enemy ideologically, that was Communism. Today, we have really no identifiable enemy except among ourselves.” — Author John le Carre’s BBC interview, promoting his new novel, Agent Running In The Field

The world so much simpler, when we sheltering in place under our desks in elementary school.

In Almost DailyBrett’s case the black-and-white clad nuns with their formidable steel rulers were protecting us from the Soviet menace with their evil nuclear-tipped missiles poised to strike us from launching pads in socialist paradise, Cuba.

The real immediate question for impressionable parochial school students: Who was going to protect us from the petty tyranny of the nuns and priests?

Today we can ask: Doesn’t Communism still exist (i.e., China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela … )? Shouldn’t we still be wary with scary ICBMs being paraded at a 70th birthday party in Beijing, while at the same time brutal repression is leveled in Hong Kong?

Keep in mind that totalitarian capitalism is easily more acceptable than the Soviet model with its collective farms, gulags, Iron Curtains, Berlin Walls and a leader pounding his shoe and delicately promising to “bury” us. That historical epoch is thankfully behind us.

Said Le Carre: “The Wall was perfect theatre as well as a perfect symbol of the monstrosity of ideology gone mad.”

His point to the BBC: We no longer have a Bolshie bogey man to collectively fear, so why not instead … fear ourselves?

What Happened To Civility?

“Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love.” — John le Carre (David John Moore Cornwell)

Almost DailyBrett remembers vividly my former boss California Governor George Deukmejian lamenting about the loss of civility in American politics … back in the what-seems-tame-compared-to-today, the 1980s.

He recounted serving as California Senate Minority Leader in spirited debates with former Senate Majority Leader George Moscone on the floor of the Golden State’s upper house. These provocative exchanges typically were followed by a friendly glass of wine with the same when the dust settled.

They were political adversaries, but more importantly they respected each other. They will civil. They were polite.

Undoubtedly Deukmejian was deeply saddened and shocked when he heard about the tragic assassination of Moscone and Harvey Milk in 1978 by an out-of-control county supervisor Dan White. George Deukmejian and George Moscone (photo below) were friends to the end, the bitter end.

Le Carre’s point is that society somehow, someway always needs a villain. For the United States, we unified against Al Qaeda in 2001 with a now seemingly impossible-to-replicate bi-partisan vote of 534-1 authorizing a military response to terrorism.

Those days of national comradery are long gone. Will they ever return?

Heaven forbid: Do we need a nuclear Pearl Harbor to discover the other philosophical point of view actually merits consideration? Hopefully, we would still be here to reconsider our appraisal of our political adversaries. When the chips are down, could they actually become our allies, maybe even friends?

Brit LeCarre is “ashamed” and “depressed” about the affaires d’etat with the long-running Brexit soap opera, which dominates all public life in the United Kingdom. Almost DailyBrett knows his deeply held sentiments apply to “The Cousins” as well.

Fifty-seven years ago this month (e.g., October 16-28, 1962), your author was huddling with classmates under our respective desks, barely understanding that bad people wanted to do evil things. We never asked each other (we were seven years young) which ones were Democrats and which were Republicans. We didn’t ask; we didn’t tell.

All we wanted to do was get out from under our desks and play with each other.

Sounded good then, sounds even better now.

Almost DailyBrett Note: With Amazon two day shipping, Almost DailyBrett will receive Thursday a copy of Le Carre’s Agent Running In The Field. Promise to not tackle the delivery dude or dudette. Happy belated 88th birthday to John le Carre. Another novel por favor?

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-50040187/author-john-le-carr-on-politics-and-his-new-spy-novel

https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2019/10/14/john-le-carres-25th-novel-is-blisteringly-contemporary?cid1=cust/dailypicks1/n/bl/n/20191014n/owned/n/n/dailypicks1/n/n/NA/325041/n

https://johnlecarre.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/penning-his-25th-novel-at-86-years-young/

 

 

 

 

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