I have a niece who calls me “Uncle Bob.” That’s nice. Especially because
there has never been an American president named “Bob.” In fact, there
have been only two “Bobs” who ran for that office as candidates of major
parties and both lost: LaFollette in ’24 and Dole in ‘96. That is
discouraging. Robert is as common a name as James (6 presidents),
William (4), John (3), and George (3). I learned these facts from a book
appropriately entitled “The Bob Book,” which explains how
disadvantageous the nickname is and has been.
More to the point: my niece gave me my favorite Christmas present this
morning, a copy of James Earl Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not
Apartheid.” I am withholding her name to protect her from investigation
by the FBI or some other intrusive agency of our federal government. She
has no record of subversion or terrorism, except perhaps verbal
(protected by the First Amendment). Here are the last two paragraphs of
the first chapter of Carter’s new book:
The Bible says that when the first blood was shed among His children,
God asked Cain, the slayer, “Where is Abel thy brother?” And he said, “I
know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What hast thou
done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
And now art thou cursed…” (Genesis 4:9-11). The blood of Abraham, God’s
father of the chosen, still flows in the veins of Arab, Jew, and
Christian, and too much of it has been spilled in grasping for the
inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled
blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God—an anguished cry for peace.
It will be seen that there is a formula for peace with justice in this
small and unique portion of the world. It is compatible with
international law and sustained American government policy, has the
approval of most Israelis and Palestinians, and conforms to agreements
previously consummated—but later renounced. It is this blueprint that we
will now explore.
P.S. My niece wrote the following note at the opening of the Carter book
that she gave me: “I can imagine that you’d have a ‘footnote for every
page’ of this book as well, but unlike that other one, these notes would
express support, and like-mindedness.”
My niece has an incredible memory. What she is recalling is something
that was actually published in the book entitled “Sideshow” by William
Shawcross in 1979. The subtitle is: “Kissinger, Nixon and the
Destruction of Cambodia.” On pages 359-360 the author recounts a dinner
on April 6, 1975, less than a week before we evacuated the entire
American mission in Phnom Penh and many others from that country by U.S.
Marine helicopters as Cambodia collapsed to brutal Khmer Rouge rule. The
host is Ambassador John Gunther Dean, the guests are the American media
people still there, and I am at the other end of the table. I am Dean’s
Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy.
On April 6, Dean gave a dinner for the American journalists who were
still in Phnom Penh. One of his purposes was to persuade the press to
leave with him when the time came. He served a good wine and told his
guests that they were so lucky only because he did not want to abandon
it to the Communists…. In reply to a question of whether things might
have been better had Kissinger accepted his advice about a ‘controlled
solution’ Dean replied, “You said it. I didn’t.”
At the other end of the table, Robert Keeley was openly even more morose
and explicit. Keeley, never a man to accept policies and orders without
question, had jeopardized his career while in Greece by criticizing the
Nixon administration’s close support for the Colonels. He had become
even angrier in Cambodia. “One day,” he said slowly, “Henry Kissinger
will write his memoirs. And we will all go out and buy them. And there
will be a chapter on Cambodia. And I will write a footnote on every page.”
1. Kissinger and his close associates have never forgiven me for this
outburst of “disloyalty” that was published. I couldn’t care less.
2. Ambassador Dean and I once planned to write our own memoir of our
service in Cambodia, but it didn’t happen. Shawcross’s book is a good
3. I am now revising for publication next year (I hope) a long memoir of
my service in Greece under the Colonels. Stay tuned.
Robert V. Keeley