In this, his second autobiographical essay, the author tells of his government career in Catholic Ireland near the end of the Second World War, of his discovery of the major themes of his intellectual life, and of the motives that impelled the Irish Prime Minister to pay a (universally condemned) condolence call on the German legation at the news of Hitler’s death
A father and son revisit South Africa and are encouraged to find the country irreversibly on the path to interracial government—but that path is bloody, and many of the overwhelming problems at its beginning will remain at its end
It is one of the grimmer and more ironic developments of the late twentieth century: religion, which is on the whole a benign force in Western societies, often combines combustibly with nationalism to fuel political murder in the Third World. In India, for example, the teachings of a militant guru are used to justify the atrocities committed by Sikh terrorists in their campaign to dismember the nation and establish “Khalistan”
On South African television recently, Atlantic contributing editor Conor Cruise O’Brien put forward a scenario about the future of the country which drew this response from a former high South African diplomat: “That thing is my nightmare. ...” The “nightmare ” is joint U.S.—Soviet military intervention to depose the apartheid regime. This shocking result, O’Brien writes, is where the political dynamics generated by the “incipient civil war" in South Africa may be leading. The South Africa that O’Brien evokes for us here is at once grimmer and more ambiguous than the place depicted on our71screens—a country in which the cause of justice is championed by “a political movement whose sanction, symbol, and signature is the burning alive of people in the street. ”
Though he was a man of legendary virtues, did Albert Schweitzer really understand the Africans among whom he lived for much of his life? Not sufficiently, says the distinguished diplomat and writer Conor Cruise O’Brien, and many in Europe and America share the late doctor’s narrow and incurious opinions about Africans. This essay grows out of Mr. O’Brien s experience as a major UN political adviser during the Congo explosion and his three years as vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana. He is now Regents Professor and Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at New York University.