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Web Letter

I first met Seth Lipsky in mid-1970 standing forlornly in his brand new jungle fatigues in the dust of the 1st Cav's base camp at Phuoc Vinh, where I was then NCOIC of the Information Office. A little later I joined him and Jack Fuller, who was to become president of the Tribune Cos., at the Saigon bureau of Pacific Stars & Stripes. We lived, ate and worked together, and, given the situation, were about all we had for entertainment. Around 5 every evening, though, Seth would take a Raymond Chandler novel and a bottle of Jack Daniels from his desk drawer, pour himself a drink and begin reading. I finally asked him what the fascination was, and he said he did to punch up his prose. I never had a hint then that Seth would become as rabid a Zionist and Friedmanite as he appears to be today, for I was the one who thought, and I think rightly, given subsequent events, that the US at that point had the war won if it stayed, and that if it left, it would mean considerable hardship for a lot of people, a feeling I have today about Iraq, though I opposed both. In those days I was, BTW, a Nation subscriber. If I recall correctly Seth and Jack were very excited to interview John Paul Vann. I was surprised, too, that he had joined the WSJ, because there was no sign of that, either, just that he liked being a newspaperman. Of his Zionism, I can't say, but he certainly was not observant when I knew him. But there is a suggestion of compensation in all of this in my mind, and the sort of enthusiasm one sees not only in the very religious, but also the kind of politics that believes all people naturally good and opposed to any restraint, and which has its counterpart in the economics of unlimited credit. It comes, I think, from a belief that all is the history of man and man's God, and not at all of Nature's God, which is I suppose why the Jews have so often come into conflict with the more philosophically oriented Protestants. Writing this now, I am sorry, nevertheless, that the Sun failed, but, I hope, Seth should understand why.

R.E. Mant

McLean, VA

Oct 11 2008 - 3:23pm

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