It was forty years ago this date …

… Paul McCartney starts to litigate.

He brought a bill in equity principally to relieve the partnership of the Beatles and Apple Records of the mismanagement of Allen Klein. The Beatles band was clearly finished before this, but the litigation provided the legal punctuation. McCartney would achieve his chief goal: the appointment of a receiver.

Two years later, on the very same calendar date, December 30, 1972, Richard Nixon called a halt to bombing of North Vietnam. The US had been negotiating secretly with the North for some time and reached a tentative agreement two months before. Henry Kissinger, a man who intended to make himself into the Metternich of our time, was our negotiator and strategic adviser to President Nixon. The president of South Vietnam (which had been excluded from the talks, though nominally the US’s ally), Nguyen Van Thieu, vehemently objected to the agreement because he saw in it his own doom. To demonstrate our friendship (and to hint at our continued support in the future) Nixon employed a particularly Nixonian step: He ordered a massive bombing of the North, operationally known as Operation Linebacker II, but popularly called the Christmas bombings. The strikes were relentless and destroyed much (if not all) of the industrial stock of Hanoi and Haiphong. It lasted from December 18-29, 1970, and was unilaterally called off on December 30, after Hanoi signaled its willingness to negotiate additional concessions. There was in fact nothing left to target. It would be some time before the humiliating final withdrawal from Saigon by helicopter (which Nixon did not have to preside over having resigned in disgrace so as to avoid impeachment), but December 30 was essentially the day that the US gave up on a military solution to the war.

So for the generation that lived through the 60s this date has special meaning for the ying and yang of the 60s: a band that made a kind of pop music universal so it became medium for a generation’s social protest and the war that ignited and solidified that protest. Both symbolically ended on this date in history.

McCartney of course went his own way continuing to make pop music. He received all the awards a pop musician is eligible to receive (I think) and even received the condescension from the British throne  of the feudal title of knight.  Henry Kissinger one-upped his idol. Unlike Metternich, Kissinger survived the downfall of his own prince. And instead of an indictment or public disgrace, Kissinger was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize along with his brutal counterpart Le Duc Tho.

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