Daniel Schorr & NATO

Clark's Corner -

National Public Radio, partially funded by the U.S. Government, has long been known as a liberal organization though it probably achieves more balance than that for which it is credited. Its program All Things Considered has as its political guru Daniel Schorr, now in his 90s and just as acerbic as a sharp-tongued far-left liberal as ever. He pontificated the other day about NATO, concluding by stating that the organization has no clear mission or sense of unity – predictable stuff from Schorr.

It helps to understand Schorr by remembering that he was an operative until 1976 of CBS, the same network that gave us Dan Rather in 2004…enough said. Schorr came into possession of the Pike Congressional Committee's report on illegal CIA and FBI activities back in the 70s. Congress, however, had voted not to make the report public. In hopes of being able to publish the report Schorr contacted Clay Felker of the Village Voice, who agreed to pay him for it and to publish it, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

To Schorr's surprise, instead of supporting him many of his colleagues and editorialists around the country excoriated him for selling the document. Making matters worse was Schorr's initial reaction, which was to shift suspicion from himself as the person who leaked the documents to his CBS colleague Leslie Stahl (still around on CBS 60-Minutes program). Sound familiar? In the aftermath of Rather's outright dishonesty in 2004, his neck was not among those four that fell to the journalistic guillotine, though Schorr was forced out at CBS in 1976 after he pulled his sneaky financial bonanza and Rather was eventually forced out as well. Perhaps it didn't occur to Schorr that people's lives can be endangered by actions such as his, but then, would it have mattered?

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) came online with 12 member-countries in 1949 primarily as the force that would keep the Soviet Union from further expansion. It now includes 26 nations, nearly all in Europe, with both Ukraine and Georgia also seeking membership, understandable since the Putin era in what is now just Russia seems inclined toward the old ways marked by the KGB, in which Vladimir Putin was an operator in other years. In the current meeting this week, Albania and Croatia have also been invited to join NATO.

Schorr mentioned a sort of expedient in NATO, to wit, "keep America in, Russia out, and Germany down." The key, of course, is that Russia and Germany, the countries shedding the blood of tens of millions of innocents in the 20th century, will be held at bay as long as the USA is the glue that holds the NATO countries together and, more importantly, has the determination and firepower to ward off all threats. He also mentioned Defense Secretary Gates' remarks about the NATO members who share the load while others are free riders. So…there isn't always an aura of togetherness in the organization, but, just as in a family, keeping an eye on the goal is enough to force cooperation when the chips are down.

Schorr has reported from all over the world and, being born in 1916, was well aware of the atrocities toward his Jewish race committed by a lot of countries in the last century, but mostly by Russia and Germany. What he's bound to understand is that the United Nations is woefully weak in carrying out one of its goals – keeping the peace and guarding against genocide.

It was NATO in the 90s, not the UN, that made some sort of order out of the chaos in the former Yugoslavia by first acting militarily, especially regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, thus virtually stopping the ethnic-cleansing carried out by the Serbs. The main player, of course, was the USA, which had the airpower to help the Serbs see the light. NATO, not the UN, provided the bulk of the first peacekeeping force in the former and still provides the peacekeepers in the latter.

The peacekeepers in Afghanistan now are NATO troops, not those furnished by the UN. Schorr knows this, of course, just as he knows the history of all Eastern Europe, including the above-mentioned, and was at one time the head of CBS News in Moscow. He opened the office in 1955 but after returning to the states for a short time in 1957 was not allowed reentry by the Soviets. They'd apparently had enough of him.

According to Fox News, President Bush won NATO's endorsement this week for his plan to build a missile defense system in Europe over Russian objections. The proposal also advanced with Czech officials announcing an agreement to install a missile-tracking site for the system in their country. The Russians have been invited to join in this effort, obviously to protect against missiles from the Middle East, but have declined. The plan also calls for 10 interceptor missiles based in Poland.

So…why would Schorr say that NATO has no clear mission or sense of unity? Well…why did he actually sell secret documents? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Schorr is just an opportunist and/or grumpy old curmudgeon. Being on NPR allows him a sort of unique notoriety. Maybe he just doesn't like this government. After all, it continues to consider NATO a very important part of the world's machinery…and he doesn't.