I think my title conveys a fair and widely-held assessment. Left, right, center –all professional and experienced journalists at least admire and many are in awe of the career of the New York Times’ John Fisher Burns. I catch up with him occasionally, and did so today –which was “tonight” for Burns, who was in Sarajevo, which was the subject of his weekend piece which caught my eye. In the course of our conversation, I mention this Burns’ article from 1996, sent to me by The Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein. There is much and more in this conversation. Every young journalist ought to study Burns’ method –and absorb his understanding of the role of the U.S. in the world. Enjoy
HH: It’s really an extraordinary week, and it hit me earlier this week when I read a piece by my guest, John Fisher Burns in the weekend New York Times, that we are on the 100th anniversary of a remarkable event, and it snuck up on me, and I didn’t even notice it until I read John Burns’ piece in the New York Times. He joins me now from London, the New York Times’ senior foreign correspondent. Hello, John, and good evening to you. Thanks for staying up late to talk to me.
JB: Not at all. You’re talking to me in Sarajevo. I’m still here.
HH: You’re still there. Well, tell people, let’s just begin with the piece you wrote and the anniversary that you’re writing about, because I don’t know that many people realize that the world started to go to hell a hundred years ago last weekend.
JB: On a street corner about 75 yards from where I’m talking to you now, where I’ve been watching the United States-Belgium soccer match until you called. There’s a river that flows through Sarajevo. It’s called the Miljacka River. And on June 28th, 1914, the heir to the Austria-Hungarian empire, who were then the colonial rulers of what is now Bosnia, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, Sophie, came here to celebrate what was considered to be a triumph of Austria-Hungarian colonialism. They had built this town, Sarajevo, into the most modern town in the Balkans. It was the first city in Europe to have operating tram railway system. And they came into town by rail that day, and they went to the city hall, and on the way there, somebody threw a bomb at them which bounced off the back of their open car. So they were a little bit shaken. And in one of the great miscalculations of history, Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke, asked the head of security, a certain General Potiorek, in the city hall over a reception, do you think it’s safe to go back along the embankment where we just came, where somebody just threw a bomb? And the general said well, nothing’s sure, but I think you can be pretty certain that whoever it was that organized that, you know, we’ve got him now, go ahead. And they got back in their car, they went 500 yards, and a 19 year old kid called Gavrilo Princip stepped off the sidewalk with a Browning semiautomatic pistol, and assassinated both of them. And that led on to the implosion of the European order and the First World War. Continue Reading