Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp
Vol. 2012 No. 8



I am writing this the day prior to the last of four presidential and V.P. debates which, according to media reports, have attracted viewing audiences in the range of sixty to seventy million.  Those of you who will note this issue of Windows on the World are undoubtedly concerned as you seek to reach your own conclusions as to where the U.S. electorate is likely headed, based on the fourth and final debate.


Much of the basis for how I have led my life is contained in my memoir, “A Small Difference,” the affirmative acceptance of which has thus far gone beyond my expectations.  The book is intended to contribute primarily to youth by encouraging and empowering them toward constructive ends and to go beyond their basic objectives of earning a living and supporting their families, as they mature and actively seek in their own way to make “a small difference.”  In fact, my closest and most respected associates are “like thinkers” and doers, perhaps less likely to be “community organizers” than strong builders toward a constructive culture. Our standing nationally and internationally can presently bear witness to our economy’s losing  rather than gaining the momentum necessary to strengthen both values and will for the private sector versus continuing to expand the  role of government at multiple levels.  Substituting political control for the creative initiatives and results achievable has throughout history failed to the point of becoming class warfare and posing added danger to the survival of humankind.  

My perception of the Vice Presidential debate between V.P. Biden and contender Paul Ryan was a glib, rude, ridiculing, interrupting Biden whom, together with, not a moderator, but a partisan political warrior, were bent on destroying Paul Ryan.  V.P. Biden and the “moderator” were at the peak of political damage control frantically taking turns stomping on Congressman Ryan, who won on substance and self-control. Biden was doing his best to denigrate Ryan, age 42, as I realized I was 23, piloting a heavy, four engine bomber, with ten men aboard, killing the enemy in the Pacific Theater with three of our crew wounded, none killed, who recognized our responsibility to protect our country from madman Adolph Hitler and Emperor Hirohito.


I’ve now watched that “debate” three times, along with a four-year earlier debate between then Senator Barack Obama and John McCain, the Arizona Senator seeking the presidency with Sarah Palin his “more colorful” running mate in the last election.  It was moderated by the neutral Tom Brokaw, author of “The Greatest Generation.” At the time, I was convinced that, while the “greatest generation” might previously be born and “on the ground,” youth had yet to be empowered; that in a healthy country, successive generations had both opportunity and their work cut out for them. Today, they may be swimming in indecision but could still “get it right” as and if they pursue life time learning.   


Not more than two weeks prior to the V.P. debate, the tragic death of four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya, occurred in Benghazi, despite repeated calls for American reinforcements to protect our Consulate and feet on the ground.  The administration and Biden were in conflicted political denial, and while the world knew otherwise, the administration remained in denial, and an outraged Intelligence Service turned on their political leadership.  Not caring to depict the Democratic Party for their symbol of donkey or ass, I labeled him, after consulting Webster’s dictionary, as a jackal, defined as “opportunistic omnivores, predators of small to medium sized animals and proficient scavengers.”


My concern for America is that should V.P. Biden be again “soft soaping us,” the implications could be horrendous.  Very clearly he noted they would not repeat prior errors (those of his team’s making, or prior administrations) they continue to attack whether justified or not.  In jackal attack and defeat mode V.P. Biden seeking to spread reassurance, and protection with either impromptu or planned remarks, that the U.S, had four to five years of grace before Iran would have delivery capability not to make, but rather to deliver a nuclear attack.


My mind turned to Graham Allison, the Harvard Kennedy School and Belfer Center’s nuclear guru, known to me, and mutually respected, whom Professor William Hogan the Raymond Plank Professor of Global Energy Policy, introduced me to at a meeting at Cambridge, Harvard’s home. The last occasion Graham and I were together he introduced me to the former Soviet Leader, Gorbachev who addressed a standing room only audience of international relations worldwide college seniors.  Since that time I have been privy to his appropriately timely informational reports.


If anyone could comment on when Iran would likely have delivery capability of a nuclear bomb, it is Graham Allison.  

Having followed Belfer’s analysis over the last four to five years regarding Iran’s progress toward developing a nuclear bomb and the delivery capability to deliver same, I had called him to ask a specific question: “Do you believe that Iran presently may have nuclear strike capability."  It took several days for his response, which I received on Friday.  Graham had a particularly heavy schedule as he addressed a series of national media events focusing on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a topic on which he is the preeminent expert.

I would want Graham's concurrence before releasing his full response, but toward the end of his comments, he noted that Iran could currently have a usable bomb, which could be delivered by ship or plane, which is adequate for my basis of concern.  I believe my favorite “jackal” went too far in his barking, but that both presidential contenders will, to the extent they discuss the topic in the final debate, call for a peaceful resolution and not allow themselves to be trapped into ultimate militant threats of a one bomb attack on innocent civilians.


For me there is more than enough grist in the energy mill to want to close this chapter of Windows with observations from the Brokaw moderated debate between the then Senators seeking presidency and attendant power.


The debate of four years ago saw Senator Obama calling for five million additional U.S. jobs from our reliance on domestic use of oil and natural gas drilling, the use of clean coal, and nuclear power, a number I lack the tools in 2012 to place in excess of a tremendous boom of a million new jobs.  In that debate our current president blamed the Republicans while stating he would open federal lands and leases previously withheld from exploration in Alaska, the Rockies, the offshore waters both inland and offshore deep water Gulf of Mexico, offshore Florida, California and east coast.  As president, he reversed himself across the board, as drilling permits applied for have shrunk by two thirds in the Gulf, as well as elsewhere have declined.  That decline after four years in the White House, seat of power, presently finds the U.S. dependent on foreign imports, largely Near East, for five million barrels per day, as opposed to added jobs in the U.S. and less imported barrels.  On his watch supported by casting blame elsewhere while until two years into his administration he controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate, also while understating the level of present inflation, which does not include either gasoline or groceries.


Newsweek has announced they will cease print publication at year-end.  I recommend reading its August 27th issue.  We all know electronic media are replacing newspapers and news magazines like Newsweek, and Life, are gone or are on the ropes.  That which is of interest is the commentary, the cover and the obituary.


Thank you,