Good Reads: Iran's nuclear program and America's man in Southeast Asia, Jim Thompson
Today's papers focus on an IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program that is sparking calls for tougher sanctions. And Foreign Policy looks back to American spy and silk merchant Jim Thompson.
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Yet not everyone is convinced by the IAEA report. Al Jazeera’s English website notes that Russia and China apparently both lobbied the IAEA to not even publish its report. Russia believes that the report was released specifically to scuttle any chances of a diplomatic solution.Skip to next paragraph
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"We have serious doubts about the justification for steps to reveal contents of the report to a broad public, primarily because it is precisely now that certain chances for the renewal of dialogue between the 'sextet' of international mediators and Tehran have begun to appear," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
All of this cloak-and-dagger, of course, just puts one in the mood for a Graham Greene or John Le Carre novel, or better yet, a nice long Foreign Policy profile of real-life spy – and fabric entrepreneur – Jim Thompson.
Anybody who has visited Bangkok and come away with richly patterned silk shirts will know of Jim Thompson as the man who may have saved Thailand’s silk industry after World War II. But he was also America’s man in Bangkok, working for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Joshua Kurlantzick in Foreign Policy does an excellent job of detailing how Thompson fought to help liberate Southeast Asian countries from colonial control, and how, when America saw its priorities change to fighting communism, Thompson mysteriously disappeared.
Thompson did not only have a unique affection for Laotians; he truly believed that, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt had promised during World War II, the United States would help free countries from colonial masters and set them on the road to democracy. Neighbors on all sides of Thailand -- Indochina, Burma, India, and Indonesia -- were deep in it. "Jim was an idealist, a romantic, an anti-imperialist, and there was no more idealistic time than just after the war," remembered Rolland Bushner, who served in the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. "We had stood with the anti-colonialists, the democrats, in the war, and we expected that would continue."
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