Arnaud de Borchgrave: Visionary of Genius (Part 1) - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Arnaud de Borchgrave: Visionary of Genius (Part 1)

My old friend and boss Arnaud de Borchgrave died at last of cancer on Sunday morning. He was 88.

Arnaud had been the legendary chief foreign correspondent of Newsweek for 25 years. He went on to be the best and most successful editor-in-chief the conservative The Washington Times newspaper ever had and the president of United Press International, which he singlehandedly revived from a totally moribund state for a last decade of innovative and useful coverage journalism. Active to the end,

He lived the kind of extraordinary life that 99 percent of journalists and historians only dream of, which explains the envy and petty-minded contempt he generated in so many rivals. More important, he had the most extraordinary predictive sense of any major journalist or historian I have ever known.

rnaud de Borchgrave (Oct., 26 1926 – Feb. 15,2015) was an American journalist who specializes in international politics. Following a long career with the magazine Newsweek, he held key editorial and executive positions with media organizations, including The Washington Times and United Press International.

Arnaud de Borchgrave (Oct. 26 1926 – Feb. 15, 2015) was an American journalist who specialized in international politics. Following a long career with the magazine Newsweek, he held key editorial and executive positions with media organizations, including The Washington Times and United Press International.

At the beginning of 1986, Arnaud happily made himself a laughing stock in the journalism and think tank circles of Washington by proclaiming that the Soviet Union was going to disintegrate over the next 5-10 years. He put me on the job of covering independence movements, especially in Ukraine and the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and of monitoring the collapse of the Soviet economy. Even conservative friends who loathed communism thought this was a great joke. The Soviets didn’t. Half a decade alter, their empire was gone.

Half a decade later, with communism vanishing across the world like snow after a Sahara sunrise, Arnaud did not share the euphoria. He saw a new dark age of ethnic violence and genocides erupting across Eurasia and Africa and sent us out to cover them. A few years later, he sounded ridiculous again when he proclaimed the collapse of security along the U.S.-Mexican-border and the rise of new ultra-violent, limitlessly wealth cocaine and other drugs cartels in Mexico, Asia and across the former Soviet Union. He saw the world as Breaking Bad 15 years before the fictional Walter White ever stepped on the AMC TV screen.

Arnaud was the only person I have ever met who had the same eerie prophetic genius as Winston Churchill. Violet Bonham Carter defined that quality in Churchill as “a zigzag flash of lightning through the brain.”

Arnaud was the only person I have known –and I have rejoiced in the friendship of Isaiah Berlin, Elie Kedourie, John O’Sullivan, I.F. Stone, Taoiseach John Bruton, political philosopher Jean-Marie Benoist and at least three Nobel Prize laureates — who had that quality. Always, never diminishing. To the end.

He went everywhere. He met everyone. And he was utterly fearless, though he often claimed that he was afraid, but only to embellish a good story. He saved the lives of an elite group of Western foreign correspondents from murderous black mercenaries in the eastern Congo in 1961. More than 40 years later, Jim Anderson, later of DPA, who was there, and who always disliked Arnaud, told me Arnaud’s actions were the most extraordinarily courageous thing he had ever seen in his life.

When Israel and Egypt made their final, lasting armistice at Kilometer 101 in the Sinai Desert Arnaud, who had been through the war as a guest of the Egyptian High Command (he was a drinking buddy of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt as well as King Hussein of Jordan), was there. Bill Coughlin of the LA Times, another long departed and dear friend, told me that while the other foreign correspondents who had gone through the entire war with the Israeli Army waited for the ceasefire announcement covered in stink and desert grime, Arnaud turned up resplendent in an Abercrombie and Fitch safari suit, perfectly pressed.

And, of course, he got the story too.

Part 2: De Borchgrave on the Collapse of Communism and the New World Disorder


About the author

Martin Sieff

Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff Contact the author.
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