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The Arrogance That Led Us To Iraq Infects Washington Again

Is anyone here old enough to remember the urgent warning issued in a speech to the National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002 by an American vice president who had artfully avoided the military draft during wartime? Dick Cheney, after acknowledging he was convinced that Saddam Hussein would “acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon,” went on to beat the war drums: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction; there is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

There was not then, and there never would be, any stockpile of Saddam Hussein’s WMDs to be used against us. It was worse than “fake news”; it was taking his country into war under false pretenses, leaving as its legacy death, disillusionment and, yes, despair. But let us also recall the wise, if unheeded, words of a former Marine Corps company commander in Vietnam who there earned the Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts; he posed the consideration the Republican administration sending American troops into Iraq refused to broach with the American people: “whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years.”

That was Jim Webb, who would later be elected to the U.S. Senate from Virginia as an anti-war Democrat. He warned, “wars often have unintended consequences — ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days.” Today, 75 years after World War II, the U.S. still has troops stationed in both Germany and Japan, and 67 years after the Korean War ended, American soldiers remain on dangerous watch in Korea.

Does anyone else remember the young Army captain in Vietnam who had held in his arms a young soldier who had stepped on a landmine and was dying? Colin Powell knew firsthand how painful it was to write condolence letters to the grieving next of kin. That led directly to the doctrine that would carry his name; it says that the U.S. should commit men and women to combat only as a last resort and after policy options have been exhausted — and then only 1) when a vital national security interest of the nation is at stake, 2) when the U.S. force employed is overwhelming and disproportionate to the force of the enemy, 3) when the mission and military action are both understood and supported by the American people, and the mission has international support, and 4) when there is a clear and plausible exit strategy for the U.S. troops sent into harm’s way.

Maybe you recall the gentle rebuke Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf had for the fawning flatterers who lionized him after his successful leadership in the Persian Gulf War. He said: “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” These thoughts all come back when an American president, our only chief executive never to have served a single day in either public service or military service before coming to the White House, again confronted a hostile Iran by sending more American troops into harm’s way in Iraq. Now is the time to be sure to remember.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Tom Hayden, 1960s Activist Who Championed Liberal Causes, Dead At 76

By Michael Finnegan

LOS ANGELES — Tom Hayden, a 1960s radical who was in the vanguard of the movement to stop the Vietnam War and became one of the nation’s best-known champions of liberal causes, has died in Santa Monica after a lengthy illness. He was 76.

Hayden vaulted into national politics in 1962 as lead author of a student manifesto that became the ideological foundation for demonstrations against the war.

President Richard Nixon’s Justice Department prosecuted Hayden in the raucous “Chicago 7” trial following the violent clashes with police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Hayden later married actress Jane Fonda, and the celebrity couple traveled the nation denouncing the war before forming a California political organization that backed scores of liberal candidates and ballot measures in the 1970s and ’80s, most notably Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure that requires signs in gas stations, bars and grocery stores that warn of cancer-causing chemicals.

Hayden lost campaigns for U.S. Senate, governor of California and mayor of Los Angeles. But he was elected to the California Assembly in 1982. He served a total of 18 years in the Assembly and state Senate.

During his tenure in the Legislature, representing Los Angeles’ liberal Westside, Hayden relished being a thorn in the side of the powerful, including fellow Democrats he saw as too pliant to donors.

“He was the radical inside the system,” said Duane Peterson, a top Hayden adviser in Sacramento.

A longtime target of government surveillance, Hayden took pride in his history of dissent. A photo from the late 1970s shows him pondering, with apparent satisfaction, his 22,000-page FBI file, stacked about 5 feet high.

After the deadly 1967 riots in Newark, N.J., where Hayden had spent several years organizing poor black residents to take on slumlords, city inspectors and others, local FBI agents urged supervisors in Washington to intensify monitoring of Hayden.

“In view of the fact that Hayden is an effective speaker who appeals to intellectual groups and has also worked with and supported the Negro people in their program in Newark, it is recommended that he be placed on the Rabble Rouser Index,” they wrote.

Hayden’s charisma, drive and intellectual heft made him a potent force. “Tom had the gift of articulating the larger meaning of smaller events,” said Todd Gitlin, a writer who succeeded Hayden as president of Students for a Democratic Society, a flagship organizer of 1960s protests. “He was very crisp and clear and unlikely to be at a loss for words as a public voice.”

Hayden, who enjoyed media attention and was skilled at attracting it, worked closely with militant radicals but was equally at ease with the likes of governors and presidents. “He’s always been someone who would much prefer to work and get things done than stand on the sidelines and protest,” Fonda once said.

Born Dec. 11, 1939, Hayden grew up in middle-class Royal Oak, Mich., a Detroit suburb. His father, John Hayden, was an accountant at Chrysler; his mother, Genevieve Garity, was a film librarian at local schools.

At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Hayden was editor in chief of the campus newspaper and was captivated by the burgeoning civil rights movement in the South. In 1960, he hitchhiked to California to cover the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, where John F. Kennedy was nominated for president.

Soon after, Hayden made his first journey south for civil rights work, driving to rural Tennessee with fellow students in a station wagon packed with clothing and food for black sharecroppers who’d been evicted from their homes after registering to vote. Hayden returned to the South in 1961. He and a friend were beaten and arrested at a civil rights march in McComb, Miss., in a rural area where few blacks dared to vote.

On his 22nd birthday, Hayden was arrested again in Albany, Ga. He’d been in a “Freedom Ride” group of black and white students who, on a train from Atlanta, ignored an order to leave the “white” car, then got thrown in jail for blocking the sidewalk upon arrival in Albany.

“To those who did not pass through the Southern civil rights experience, willfully going to jail may seem like a career-threatening act of despair,” Hayden wrote in his 1988 memoir, “Reunion.” “It was not. It was both a necessary moral act and a rite of passage into serious commitment.”

In 1962, Hayden joined dozens of other students at a Students for a Democratic Society convention in Port Huron, Mich. As primary author of the group’s Port Huron Statement, he gave voice to a youth disaffection that foreshadowed the explosive power of the antiwar and civil rights protests of the years ahead.

“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit,” the manifesto began.

Inspired by sociologist C. Wright Mills and French author Albert Camus, among others, Hayden and his fellow students bemoaned poverty, racial bigotry, the Democratic Party’s tolerance of Southern segregationists, the threat of nuclear war and an apathetic citizenry. They called for mobilizing students and like-minded Americans through “participatory democracy.”

“If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable,” the statement concluded.

Before long, the Vietnam War, the draft and violence in the civil rights struggle darkened the nation’s mood and opened sharp racial and generational divides. In Newark, Hayden collected eyewitness complaints as police and National Guard troops waged street battles for six days in the impoverished neighborhoods where he lived and worked. Twenty-six people were killed.

More and more, Hayden focused on opposition to the war — “this slaughter of a distant people,” he called it.

“From the very beginning, Tom played a visionary role in developing strategy for the antiwar movement,” said Bill Zimmerman, a Santa Monica media consultant who was close to Hayden.

Gradually, Hayden’s activism became focused primarily against the war. In 1965 he traveled with an antiwar group to Hanoi, the capital of communist North Vietnam. The 10-day trip offended many in the U.S., and the State Department temporarily withdrew Hayden’s passport.

He returned to Hanoi in 1967 with another antiwar delegation during a period of heavy U.S. bombing. Hayden, wearing a helmet, was forced at one point into a ditch and worried a U.S. bomb would kill him.

The trip ended with a detour to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where an emissary of the Viet Cong, the communist force fighting the U.S., had offered to release three American prisoners of war to Hayden. Initially uneasy, he agreed to the plan. He met the POWs on an airport tarmac, and they boarded a Czechoslovakian plane bound for Beirut. Hayden accompanied the servicemen to the U.S. Embassy.

Nearly two decades later, one of the POWs, Jimmy Jackson, would travel to Sacramento to support Hayden when Republicans were trying to oust him from the Legislature for what they alleged was his treason during the war.

The climax of Hayden’s antiwar work came in 1968, when he and fellow radical Rennie Davis served as co-directors of protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The nation was torn by social upheaval as the August convention approached. The assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in April had sparked urban riots. Two months later, a gunman killed New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles on the night he won California’s Democratic presidential primary.

As protests were spreading across college campuses nationwide, Hayden joined the student occupation of buildings at Columbia University in Manhattan. Police stormed the campus with tear gas. FBI brass in Washington berated local agents in a May 1968 cable for failing to track Hayden at the Columbia revolt. “The investigation of Hayden, as one of the key leaders of the new left movement, is of prime importance to the Bureau,” they wrote.

In Chicago, Hayden and Davis tried for months to get protest permits from Mayor Richard J. Daley’s administration, to no avail. “I told a New York audience that they should come to Chicago prepared to shed their blood,” Hayden recalled in his memoir.

At the convention, thousands of Chicago police and National Guard troops overwhelmed crowds in the street, blasting them with tear gas. Police in blue helmets clubbed front-line protesters, Hayden among them.

“The whole world is watching,” demonstrators chanted as police charged forward. The violence, televised live, contributed to Democrat Hubert Humphrey’s loss to Nixon in November. A government report later called it “a police riot.”

In March 1969, the Justice Department had Hayden and seven others indicted for conspiracy to incite a riot at the convention. The group included Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale and counterculture icons Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, leaders of the Youth International Party, best known as the Yippies.

Frequent courtroom outbursts marred the trial and the judge, Julius J. Hoffman, was openly scornful of the accused and their lawyers. The dramatic high point came when marshals carried out his threat to have Seale gagged and chained to a chair. Seale’s case ended in a mistrial, leaving the “Chicago 7” as the remaining defendants.

Hayden was convicted of traveling across state lines to incite a riot and sentenced to five years in prison. The conviction was overturned on appeal, largely because the judge had sided openly with prosecutors. The government declined to retry Hayden.

After the trial, he moved to a commune in Berkeley but fellow residents kicked him out. They decided “I was an oppressive male chauvinist,” Hayden wrote in his memoir. Angry and humiliated, “I drove away in my beat-up Volkswagen convertible to Los Angeles, the notorious New Left leader and national security threat alone in a world of hurt.”

Hayden’s first marriage, to fellow student activist Sandra Cason, ended in divorce. He crossed paths with Fonda in 1971, when both were speaking at an antiwar event in Michigan. The following year, Hayden saw Fonda again at an antiwar event in Los Angeles. He had just written a book on Vietnam and was traveling the country doing a multimedia “teach-in” on Indochina.

Fonda invited him to her Laurel Canyon house to share his slide show. “I wanted a man in my life I could love, but it had to be someone who could inspire me, teach me, lead me, not be afraid of me. Who better than Tom Hayden?” she wrote in her 2005 autobiography, “My Life So Far.” The couple married in 1973.

By then, Fonda’s 1972 trip to Hanoi had made her a political lightning rod. She’d been photographed sitting in a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun battery, an incident her detractors considered traitorous and for which she later apologized.

Hayden and Fonda joined forces on an antiwar project, the Indochina Peace Campaign, which lobbied against military funding. Often hounded by protesters, they also went on a national speaking tour with singer Holly Near and former POW George Smith.

Looking back on the war in his memoir, Hayden voiced a few regrets. Time proved him “overly romantic about the Vietnamese revolution,” he wrote. Hayden also admitted “a numbed sensitivity to any anguish or confusion I was causing to U.S. soldiers or to their families — the very people I was trying to save from death and deception.”

As the war came to an end, Hayden embraced mainstream politics in California with a campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. John Tunney. He lost the June 1976 Democratic primary to Tunney, who was ousted in November by Republican S.I. Hayakawa. Some Democrats blamed the defeat on Hayden.

But the campaign laid ground for Hayden and Fonda to start the Campaign for Economic Democracy, later known as Campaign California. The group fought for such causes as Santa Monica rent control, public spending on solar power and divestment from apartheid South Africa.

Much of the group’s money came from Fonda, whose movie career was booming and whose workout video business would spawn a fortune in the ’80s. It helped elect scores of liberals to local offices statewide and campaigned for Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure that requires signs in gas stations, bars and grocery stores that warn of cancer-causing chemicals.

Hayden represented Santa Monica, Malibu and part of the Westside in Sacramento. His legislative achievements were modest — research into the effects of the herbicide Agent Orange on U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; repair money for the Santa Monica and Malibu piers; tighter rules to prevent the collapse of construction cranes, to name a few.

Hayden paid a personal price for his work as a radical.

His father, a Republican, refused to speak with him for 13 years. They reconciled before his father’s death, a few days before Hayden won election to the Assembly in 1982.

In Sacramento, Hayden was isolated even among Democrats, who were put off by his disdain for the capital’s favor-trading culture. He feuded with Willie Brown, then Assembly speaker, who ultimately stripped Hayden of a committee chairmanship and moved his Capitol office to smaller quarters.

Hayden’s 1992 elevation to the state Senate came after a nasty and costly campaign, funded largely by his Fonda divorce settlement. After his quixotic run for governor in 1994, Hayden tried to unseat Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan in 1997. Riordan trounced him, 61 percent to 34 percent.

Hayden’s Senate tenure ended in 2000, when term limits barred him from seeking another term. He ran once more for elected office, a seat on the L.A. City Council. He finished first in the primary, but lost the June 2001 runoff to former prosecutor Jack Weiss by 369 votes.

A prolific author, Hayden wrote books on Cuba, Ireland, Vietnam, street gangs, spirituality and environmental protection, the Iraq war and the Newark riots.

Hayden is survived by his wife, Barbara Williams, an actress and singer; their adopted son, Liam; Troy Garity, his son with Fonda; and his sister, Mary Hayden Frey. He is also survived by stepdaughter Vanessa Vadim and her two children.

Photo: Tom Hayden announces his candidacy for mayor of Los Angeles during a news conference in this file photo dated January 5, 1997 in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/File Photo

Muhammad Ali Feted By The Famous And Fans In Final Farewell

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Muhammad Ali was extolled on Friday as a boxer of incomparable grace, a magnetic entertainer and a man of conviction who gave a voice to the oppressed, as a two-day celebration of “The Greatest” came to a rousing end in his Kentucky hometown.

At an emotional memorial service at a Louisville sports arena, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal, Ali’s wife Lonnie and leaders of many of the world’s religious traditions delivered powerful tributes to the man who Clinton called a “universal soldier for our common humanity.”

“He decided at a very young age to write his own life story,” the former president said. “He decided he would never be disempowered.”

Earlier in the day, an estimated 100,000 people came out to honor Ali on a hot and sunny day, chanting his name and throwing flowers along the 23-mile (37-km) funeral procession. At the end of the route, he was laid to rest in a private burial, one week after he died at the age of 74.

At the interfaith service, A-list celebrities and sports stars converged with thousands of ordinary people to hear Ali remembered as a man who went from Olympic gold medal winner in 1960 to three-time world heavyweight champion to an elder statesman suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Ali, who was once scorned for converting to Islam and lost three years of his boxing career for refusing U.S. military service during the Vietnam War, ended up becoming one of the most celebrated Americans in modern history, at home and abroad.

“What does it say of a man, any man, that he can go from being viewed as one of his country’s most polarizing figures to arguably its most beloved?” sportscaster Bryant Gumbel told the service, which was led by Iman Abdul Shakir, one of Ali’s spiritual mentors.

One of his enduring contributions was to restore pride in African Americans after centuries of being denied a sense of “somebody-ness,” said Rev. Kevin Cosby, senior pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville.

“Before James Brown said, ‘I’m black and I’m proud,’ Muhammad Ali said, ‘I’m black and I’m pretty,’ Cosby said, comparing the boastful boxer to the “Godfather of Soul.” Ali “dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves.”

The event proved to be a rare combination of politics, sports, entertainment and religion, a testimony of Ali’s impact on so many aspects of life.

At times, it took on a decidedly political tone.

The crowd cheered when Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the Jewish interfaith magazine Tikkun, made a rousing reference to Hillary Clinton, Bill’s wife and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Lerner also took a swipe at Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has called for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the country.

“We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people,” said Lerner.



Ali had laid out the plans for his own funeral many years before. Boxers, actors, old friends and even Jordan’s King Abdullah came to Louisville, while Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attended the Muslim funeral on Thursday and did not stay for the Friday event, as had been planned.

Adding levity to the service was Crystal, who reprised bits of his trademark comedy routine in which he imitates Ali and sportscaster Howard Cosell, an important early supporter of Ali during his most polarizing years.

“He was funny, he was beautiful, he was the most perfect athlete that you ever saw … and those were his own words,” said Crystal, a longtime pal who Ali called “my little brother.”

But Crystal also highlighted Ali’s significance as a cultural force, a conscience of the country at a time of sweeping social change.

“He was a tremendous bolt of lightning created by Mother Nature out of thin air,” he said. “Muhammad Ali struck us in the middle of America’s darkest night. Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves.”

Hours before the indoor ceremony, some 1,500 people gathered outside Ali’s boyhood home in a traditionally African-American section of town, awaiting the procession. As Ali’s hearse arrived, police standing shoulder-to-shoulder cleared a path, much like a fighter’s entourage clears his way to the ring.

The hearse stopped at the pink house as the people, many of whom waited in the sun for more than three hours, chanted his name.

“It was important for me to be here,” said Matt Alexander, 63, who traveled from Florida. “I cried like a baby when I heard he’d died. I just didn’t want to believe it because I wanted him to live forever.”





























Muhammad Ali: ‘Greatest’ Boxer, Showman, Ambassador

(Reuters) – More than 60 years ago, a bicycle thief in Louisville, Kentucky, unknowingly set in motion one of the most amazing sports careers in history.

An angry 12-year-old Cassius Clay went to a policeman on that day in 1954, vowing he would find the thief who took his bike and have his revenge. The policeman’s advice was to learn to box first so Clay, who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali, went to a gym, where he learned quite well.

He would go on to be a record-setting heavyweight champion and also much more. Ali was handsome, bold and outspoken and became a symbol for black liberation as he stood up to the U.S. government by refusing to go into the Army for religious reasons.

As one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, Ali did not believe in modesty and proclaimed himself not only “the greatest” but “the double greatest.”

He died on Friday at the age of 74 after suffering for more than three decades with Parkinson’s syndrome, which stole his physical grace and killed his loquaciousness.

Americans had never seen an athlete – or perhaps any public figure – like Ali. He was heavyweight champ a record three times between 1964 and 1978, taking part in some of the sport’s most epic bouts. He was cocky and rebellious and psyched himself up by taunting opponents and reciting original poems that predicted the round in which he would knock them out in. The audacity caused many to despise Ali but endeared him to millions.

“He talked, he was handsome, he did wonderful things,” said George Foreman, a prominent Ali rival. “If you were 16 years old and wanted to copy somebody, it had to be Ali.”

Ali’s emergence coincided with the American civil rights movement and his persona offered young blacks something they did not get from Martin Luther King and other leaders of the era.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize,” Ali said. “But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

Ali also had his share of fights outside the ring – against public opinion when he became a Muslim in 1964, against the U.S. government when he refused to be inducted into the Army during the Vietnam War and finally against Parkinson’s.

The one-time Christian Baptist became the most famous convert to Islam in American history when he announced he had joined the Black Muslim movement under the guidance of Malcolm X shortly after he first became champion. He eventually rejected his “white” name and became Muhammad Ali but split from Malcolm X during a power struggle within the movement.

The U.S. Army twice rejected Ali for service after measuring his IQ at 78 but eventually declared him fit for service. When he was drafted on April 28, 1967, he refused induction and the next day was stripped of his title by the World Boxing Association. In June of that year he was found guilty of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in jail.

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger,” Ali said in a famous off-the-cuff statement.

He never went to jail while his case was on appeal and in 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction. Still, Ali’s career had been at a standstill for almost 3-1/2 years because boxing officials would not give him licenses to fight.



He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 17, 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a name shared with a 19th century slavery abolitionist. His early boxing lessons led to several Golden Gloves titles in his youth and his career took off when he won a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

His first professional fight was a six-round decision victory on Oct. 29, 1960, against Tunney Hunsaker, whose day job was police chief in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

Despite an undefeated record, Ali was a decisive underdog 3- 1/2 years later in Miami when he faced Sonny Liston, the glowering ex-convict who was then the heavyweight champion.

Ali’s credo in the ring was “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and his dazzling hand and foot speed confounded Liston, as it would many bigger, more powerful opponents to come. Ali became world champion when Liston did not answer the bell for the seventh round.



Joe Frazier became the heavyweight champion while Ali was dormant appealing against his draft conviction and, after Ali’s 1970 return to the ring, the two took part in three classic fights.

The first, billed as the “Fight of the Century” in New York in 1971, was a tremendous battle that showed Ali still possessed his skills. Frazier dropped him with a left hook in the last round and, even though Ali rose quickly, Frazier won the fight on a decision. It was Ali’s first defeat after 31 victories.

Frazier lost the title to Foreman in January 1973 but the second Ali-Frazier bout still drew enormous attention in 1974 with a 32-year-old Ali winning a unanimous decision.

Then came the “Rumble in the Jungle” match against Foreman for the heavyweight crown in Kinshasa, Zaire, on Oct. 30, 1974. Ali had a surprise ploy – a passive “rope-a-dope” strategy in which he laid back against the ropes, essentially hiding behind his arms and inviting the larger, stronger Foreman to hit him until he was too tired to hit anymore.

It paid off in the eighth round, when Ali knocked out the weary Foreman with a left-right combination.

It was one of the brightest moments of Ali’s career, confirming him as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Ali defended his title three times in 1975 before meeting Frazier once more in October in the “Thrilla in Manila.” The bout was fought in brutal heat and Ali won when Frazier’s trainer would not allow him to go out for the final round.

On Feb. 15, 1978, a careless, lethargic Ali lost his title to little-known Leon Spinks in a 15-round decision. Seven months later, he reclaimed the title with a 15-round decision over Spinks. The victory, when Ali was four months shy of 37, came 14 years after he had won his first championship.

However, Ali, whose entourage helped him to spend several fortunes, needed money and refused to leave the sport even when it was apparent that age had sapped his talents.

He retired about a year after beating Spinks but came back in 1980 to fight former sparring mate Larry Holmes, losing a lopsided bout that was stopped after 10 rounds.

A year later, he ignored pleas to retire and lost to journeyman Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas. Then he retired for good with a record of 56 wins, including 37 knockouts, and five losses.



Ali did not have to be in a boxing ring to command the world stage. In 1990, a few months after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein held dozens of foreigners hostages in hopes of averting an invasion of his country. Ali flew to Baghdad, met Saddam and left with 14 American hostages.

A nation that once questioned his patriotism cheered loudly in 1996 when he made a surprise appearance at the Atlanta Games, stilling the Parkinson’s tremors in his hands enough to light the Olympic flame. He also took part in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, looking frail in a wheelchair.

In November 2002 he went to Afghanistan on a goodwill visit after being appointed a U.N. “messenger of peace.”

Ali was married four times, most recently to the former Lonnie Williams, who knew him when she was a child in Louisville. He had nine children, including daughter Laila, who became a boxer.

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s syndrome, which has been linked to head trauma, came about three years after Ali retired from boxing in 1981. He helped establish the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at a hospital in Phoenix.


(Writing and reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Frances Kerry and Paul Tait)