Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the sixth secretary-general of the United Nations, died on February 16th in a hospital near Cairo at the age of 93. Since I covered the UN for the Los Angeles Times during his five-year term, I can add a few nuances to the obituaries that ran in the major newspapers. There is no doubt that he was denied a second term only because of the animosity between him and Madeleine Albright, the American ambassador to the UN during most of his term and the secretary of state afterwards. He looked on her as thin-skinned, undiplomatic, inexperienced, and bullying. She regarded him as overbearing, arrogant, stubborn, and erratic. A scholar and diplomat for many years, he believed that she felt any criticism of American foreign policy as chastisement of herself. She obviously felt that he failed to show due deference to the demands and requests of the most powerful nation in the world...
March 3, 2016
A little more than forty years ago, after the death of the despicable dictator Francisco Franco on November 20, 1975, the world’s media began augmenting or opening their news bureaus in Spain. Editors feared that the death would unleash a second Spanish civil war. I became the first (and last) Madrid bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. That war never came. Most Spaniards had become too mature and educated and wise for another awful conflagration like the one that decimated Spain and presaged the Second World War. They now longed to take their place among the democratic nations of western Europe. The path to democracy was led in a remarkable way by two men who turned their backs on the teachings of the fascist dictator who had empowered them. The surprising leaders were young King Juan Carlos and his young Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez. They moved slowly but surely, taking steps forward and backward, somehow making every decision, no matter how wrenching, seem inevitable by the time they made it...
January 2, 2016
An Old Jewish
There is an old Jewish joke about a religious man shipwrecked on a desert island. When his rescuers arrive a couple of years later, they discover he has built three huts during his isolation. One is his home. The other two? “This is the synagogue I go to,” he explained, “and that is the one I don’t go to.” The joke is supposed to reflect the disputatious nature of Jews — you can’t put two in the same room without expecting an argument, you can’t even put one alone without the same argument. Since a joke makes you laugh, this one is supposed to reflect the lighthearted nature of the disputes — they never cause lasting pain. Jews argue with each other but, in the end, always love each other...
November 18, 2015
As Congress debates the agreement with Iran, there will be much bluster in the next couple of months about bomb grade fuel, breakout times, centrifuges, heavy water reactors, stockpiles of enriched uranium, and, of course, the impediments to inspection. But all this technical stuff will have nothing to do with what really bothers the most blustering of the nay sayers. In their view, we had the Iranians down. It hurt so bad they were screaming for us to let go. And now, for a bunch of promises, we are letting go. Soon they will bounce up, stronger than ever and just as defiant...
July 25, 2015
Gustave Caillebotte's role in Impressionist history illuminated in
In the late 19th century, everyone looked on Gustave Caillebotte as a leading painter of the Impressionists. He took part in five of the eight exhibitions that the Impressionists mounted. In fact, he organized and helped finance several of the shows. One displayed more than 25 of his paintings; another greeted visitors in the opening room with his stunning depictions of the new Paris. Caillebotte, a wealthy man, also purchased many paintings by his colleagues. He continually loaned money to an impoverished Claude Monet and paid the rent for his studio. Yet while the names of Impressionists like Monet and Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas have lodged in the minds of all students of art for more than a century, there has been little or no room for Caillebotte. As Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art, puts it, Caillebotte "was left out of the early histories of Impressionism..."
LOS ANGELES TIMES
July 10, 2015
Fame finally comes to little-known Renaissance master Piero di Cosimo
When American millionaires bought paintings by Piero di Cosimo in the late 19th century, almost all the works were attributed to other Italian Renaissance artists. Piero, a painter of Florence during its golden age, was simply regarded as too obscure to produce such masterful works. It took many decades for Piero to emerge even partly from such shadows. Not until 1938 did the private Schaeffer Galleries in New York mount a small show of seven paintings all correctly attributed to him. But there was no other Piero exhibition anywhere in the world in the 20th century. Art historians, however, continued to study the fascinating case of Piero, discovering more of his works, many of the highest quality...
LOS ANGELES TIMES
February 14, 2015
by Stanley Meisler
a fictional short story based on real people, not a memoir
Stanley Meisler is the author of Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse, Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War, United Nations : A History and When The World Calls: The Inside Story Of The Peace Corps And Its First Fifty Years. Meisler served as a Los Angeles Times foreign and diplomatic correspondent for thirty years, assigned to Nairobi, Mexico City, Madrid, Toronto, Paris, Barcelona, the United Nations and Washington. He still contributes articles to the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Sunday Opinion and Art sections and writes a News Commentary for his website, www.stanleymeisler.com.
For many years, Meisler has contributed articles to leading American magazines including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, The Nation, the Reader’s Digest, the Quarterly Journal of Military History, and the Columbia Journalism Review. While most of these articles focus on foreign affairs and political issues, Meisler has contributed more than thirty articles on artists and art history to the Smithsonian Magazine...
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