It is quite easy to view The Daily Beast, edited by Tina Brown, as a repository of gossip of various descriptions: gossip about celebrities, movie stars, politicians,literary figures even journalists and the intersections where all these beings meet and interact. Leslie Gelb in his essay of December 23,2011 provides the reader with his special variety of gossip as history. It is entitled The Forgotten Cold War: 20 Years Later, Myths About U.S. Victory Persist, in which Mr. Gelb casts himself as an objective observer and commetator of American Cold War policy, while demonstrating as the essay unfolds, that he was one of it’s intellectual servants and implementers. His resume,alone, gives lie to this almost comic pose: this is just a part of the entry devoted to Mr. Gelb on Wikipedia,
“Gelb was director of Policy Planning and Arms Control for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense from 1967 to 1969, winning the Pentagon’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. Robert McNamara appointed Gelb as director of the project that produced the controversial Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War.
He was diplomatic correspondent at The New York Times from 1973 to 1977.
He served as an Assistant Secretary of State in the Carter Administration from 1977 to 1979, serving as director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs and winning the Distinguished Honor Award, the highest award of the US State Department.”
Here are the cast of characters, I mention only three of the major political actors, leaving the walk ons and mentions as mere rhetorical filler: Reagan,Bush the Elder,Gorbachev or Gorby in the amiable chatter that Mr. Gelb indulges in, while carefully refraining from characterizing any other historical actor by nickname, perhaps a sign of contempt for Mr. Gorbachev, one can only speculate. The one point of interest in this essay that is touched upon is Mr. Gelb’s interview with Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, a figure that could have been a central character in an essay that might have been more revelatory, of certain historical realities,expressed with candor by a ranking member of the Soviet military and inner circle. A living vivid presence surrounded by the sepia tones of Mr. Gelb’s memories. Predictable in it’s pedestrian observations, while attacking, but only mildly, the Cold War triumphalism of the Reaganites. Perhaps we will have to wait a little longer for a candid and coherently organized meditation on the implosion of the Soviet ruling apparatus, from one of that now rare species of policy intellectuals called the Kremlinologist? I mention just one possibility, Strobe Talbott.