Though I found Dr. Moore’s argument sound and convincing in the above article, I must take exception to the following paragraph:
"Then there are King Fahd and Prince Abdullah (Saudi Arabia), Than Shwe (formerly Burma, now Myanmar), Teodoro Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea), Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenistan), Fidel Castro (Cuba), and Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus), each of whom has a claim to being at least in the same league as Saddam or worse."
It is quite simply absurd for Dr. Moore to place the freely-elected president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka, in the same category as unelected dictators such as a Castro or a King Fahd, or the brutal and demented Niyazov in Turkmenistan. Unlike the other regimes in his category, there are no political prisoners in Belarus; there is a lively independent media and multiple political parties which contest elections.
It is perhaps fashionable at present to lump a country like Belarus which has resisted the kinds of "reform" (meaning asset-stripping by connected old-guard cronies) that have made the lives of the average citizen in Russia and much of the former East worse than under communism in with the third-world dictatorships on the list of the world’s "bad guys," but even a cursory objective analysis of the situation in Belarus easily refutes this faulty conclusion. May I respectfully guide the professor to the excellent work of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group an organization that actually spends time in a country before filing a report in Belarus, which he may find here: "Belarus: the new law on religion."
An article (rightly) challenging conventional wisdom about one part of the world should make extra effort to avoid adopting that same conventional wisdom when it comes to another part of the world.
~ Daniel McAdams, Washington, D.C.
Thomas Moore replies:
Thank you for your nice comments. I am no expert on Belarus, but I took my list from Parade Magazine (Boston Globe), February 2003, and also Freedom House ranks Belarus as 6 on a scale where 7 is the worst in terms of civil liberties and human rights and called it NOT FREE.
It is appalling that this author equates Castro with Saddam Hussein without any evidence for the equating. The US has committed terrorist acts against Cuba from the start of the Cuban revolution and Castro must act in self-defense. The US embargo against Cuba can be regarded as a terrorist act. Where is your proof? Did Castro also gas the Kurds (with gas provided by the US)?
Placing Fidel Castro in the same class as Saddam Hussein and other world dictators is outrageous. Castro can walk the streets of Havana without a bodyguard. Could George Bush do that in Washington or New York? People are fleeing Cuba not because of Castro but to improve their lives economically which have been devastated by our embargo. Are Mexicans oppressed? Yet millions have fled that country over the years and it isn’t embargoed. Let’s use a little common sense.
Thomas Moore replies:
I would agree that the embargo against Cuba is stupid and wrong. I also would agree that we tried in the past, to assassinate Castro and to invade Cuba. But that doesn’t make Castro a nice guy. Other more neutral sources list him as a bad dictator.
Parade Magazine (Boston Globe) listed Fidel Castro as the ninth worst dictator in the world. Freedom House listed Cuba at the bottom with seven other countries in terms of civil rights and personal freedom.
America is most definitely better off after the invasion of Iraq. We have taken the war to the terrorists, rather than they come to us, as they did in Spain. You speak of American lives lost during this war. What about the 3000 lives lost on 9/11? Sure, there has been no direct correlation between Iraq and 9/11, but by taking this war to them, we have saved more lives and have showed those bastards that we will not lie down as Spain has done with the recent elections there. The costs of this war, have been high. I have family in Iraq right now. But the monetary cost would be much higher if we did nothing in Afghanistan or Iraq, because future attacks would surely happen. Regardless of Bush’s previous plans about Iraq, we needed to show the scumbag terrorists of the world that we will not take events like 9/11, and future attacks will only bring them more humiliation and defeat. I do not support all of President Bush’s policies, but the one thing he has done is to stand strong against the terrorists, and that is why he will get my vote in November.
Thomas Moore replies:
As you admit, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Neither did the U.K. or Canada, should we attack them as well? Attacking Iraq for 9/11 is like a guy who has a bad day at the office and comes home and kicks the dog. Going after the terrorists who did do it in Afghanistan makes sense but going after a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 is simply childish aggression we’re angry and we will take it out on someone.
If we got out of the Middle East, we would give less offense to radicals and there would be fewer attacks on Americans. If we were less biased in favor of Israel and pushed them harder to settle with the Palestinians we would reduce anger and thereby terror.
I have a son in Iraq. I am behind him 100%, but I am not behind Bush. We should never have went to war. We did not go to war because there were W.M.D.s, we went to war for the oil. Everyone knows this, and if Bush was honest, he would admit it to the U.S. So, Bush, step down, you will never get another 4 years from the people of the US After speaking to my son in Iraq, the men and women over there know it, and they want to come home. The Iraqis do not want them over there, so no matter what you hear from the White House, it will be lies. The troops no longer believe they belong over there.
Huh? How can you people print this biased article? This is ridiculous. What if Iraq had wmd’s and gave them to terrorists? We did not know, and Saddam was not going to come clean, about his weapons programs. Thank God Bush did take the chance and assume there were weapons. After 9/11 he had no choice but to make sure. Clinton never tried. He just slapped more and more sanctions on Iraq; that’s what caused 9/11, so blame Clinton for this.
Also you can blame him for blowing the economy, by going after Microsoft. That killed the tech stocks. I can’t fully remember, but didn’t Clinton have a friend at Netscape? Clinton was the worst president in recent history, and you blame Bush for trying to clean up after him.
Oh, by the way , where were your antiwar statements in Yugoslavia in 1998-99? You should be ashamed, journalism should be nonpartisan, not just your slanted view. Think about what’s right, not just your anti-Republican opinions.
Eric Garris replies:
Sorry if you are unfamiliar with our site. We started Antiwar.com to protest against Clinton’s wars against Serbia, Kosovo, and Iraq. I am personally a Republican and recognize that Democrats are the biggest warmongers.
I support the Constitutional republic that was set up by our founding fathers, not the empire envisioned by the neocons. The US has no right to invade other countries on the basis of beliefs about the intentions of people in those countries. Such a principle would allow us to invade any other country at will. We should support a strong national defense, not an empire that leaves us vulnerable to the blowback of 9/11.
"I think a nation-state is almost certainly inappropriate for most of the Middle East as well. I have argued elsewhere that the main mistake Jews seeking a homeland made was to insist that it be a nation-state on the Western European model (ignoring the ample wisdom Yahweh tried to instill in II Samuel, when the Hebrews wanted ‘a king like other nations’)."
Have you got a link or reference to this?
~ Luke B.
Alan Bock replies:
I guess that’s what you get for relying on memory rather than double-checking. It’s in I Samuel, Chapter 8. One may remember that Samuel was the Judge in Israel, the chief spiritual as well as political and social leader, and according to the scripture his reign was successful in part because he had frequent and reliable contact with Yahweh (from Chapter 7, New International version):
"Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to her, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the power of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites."
The story continues a little later in Chapter 8:
"When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint us a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’
"But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you that they have rejected as their king, but me. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.’
"Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what your king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve you with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattles and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.’
"But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.’"
You can’t say the Israelites (and we who have ears to hear) weren’t warned.
In his column, "Middle East: More Fundamental Problems", Alan Bock concludes wisely by advising that countries of the region be left alone, letting their "systems evolve based on local traditions, customs and current needs rather than having them imposed by wise international bureaucrats".
However, Mr. Bock misrepresents the core problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict when he states that: "Once the Jews had a state, of course, the Palestinians wanted a state, and the stage was set for more or less endless conflict. I don’t know exactly what the shape of alternative institution might have been, but some creative thinking some decades ago might have prevented a good deal of bloodshed."
First, it is not "once the Jews had a state" that Palestinian nationalist aspirations emerged, "of course" or otherwise. Rather, Palestinian nationalism developed along the same time lines as other nationalisms in the region, as the fist of colonialism weakened around the first-to-mid half of the 1900s, and in response to it. (Granted that massive Jewish immigration into Palestine against the will of the Palestinians, helped sharpen Palestinian nationalism, which saw its land slowly devoured by Jewish European settlers.)
Second, it must be noted that the state that the Jews "had" was built on top of the rubble of Palestinian society, most of it destroyed by Jewish conquest and ethnic cleansing now a fact of history. Without this clarification the unaware reader of Mr. Bock’s statement above would think that the Jews were peacefully building their state on the border of Palestinian society, instead of on top of it and at its expense. In other words, what set the stage for more or less endless conflict is the injustice that Palestinians endured, not simply that Israel had a state. It is because of this basic injustice, which continues and worsens today, that no matter how much "creative thinking", suggested by Mr. Bock, wouldve helped to genuinely solve the problem.
Al Qaeda Calls a Truce
Does this smell a little fishy to anyone else? If someone really wanted Spain to have to reconsider withdrawing her troops from Iraq, then this phony boast from "Al Qaeda" would be a nice move, don’t you think? I don’t buy it.
~ Mark Westcott
Sam Koritz replies:
The al Qaeda truce claim is definitely questionable. The alleged group that made the claim, Abu-Hafs al-Masri /al-Qaeda Brigades, also claimed responsibility for the huge US/Canada blackouts last year (falsely, so we’re told), and hasn’t been definitively tied to any act of terror. Some terror experts doubt that the group even exists, never mind that it speaks for the 3/11 terrorists or al Qaeda. So it’s odd that newspapers around the world ran headlines like "Al Qaeda Threatens…"
Where is The Passion?
I went onto the Cato Institute website thinking there would be ringing essay supporting Mel Gibson and his movie The Passion of the Christ on purely First Amendment grounds. I was surprised to find that, despite several searches, Mel Gibson and his movie weren’t mentioned at all. Actually, this didn’t surprise me at all considering most of Cato’s positions seem to be prescreened (i.e. Kocherized).
I then did a similar search on Antiwar.com and came up with a similar result: nothing. One would get the idea from reading Antiwar.com that there hadn’t been the tremendous controversy over this movie. Apparently Mel Gibson has attained similar nonperson status at Antiwar as at Cato.
This is a bit ironic considering the very same forces that sought unsuccessfully to quash the Gibson movie were far more successful at quashing Antiwar editor Justin Raimondo’s recent book The Terror Enigma. Raimondo, if memory serves me right, had to resort to self-publication after his original publisher succumbed to similar pressure and threats.
Eric Garris replies:
Antiwar.com deals with foreign policy. I am not aware of any foreign policy implications to The Passion, and certainly have seen no news stories or reviews that indicate such implications. We did prominently post the news story reporting Gibson’s criticism of the Iraq invasion.
I‘ve been missing Paul Craig Roberts columns. Is he still contributing?
Eric Garris replies:
Yes, he just hasn’t written on foreign policy in the last couple of weeks. You can reach his latest column on our site at: http://www.antiwar.com/roberts/.
Great piece of writing. You have put your finger so accurately on so many points. Perhaps the neocons in their rush to condemn the Spanish will lose Bush the next election to my mind not the brightest thing to be doing damning and condemning the Spanish linked to Latin America when there are so many Hispanic voters. Fine effort really to successfully piss off many Arab Americans and now the Hispanics!
Christopher Deliso replies:
Okay, stop right there we have too many women in the military? That says it all you chauvinist pig! Because everyone knows male soldiers can’t keep their ‘privates’ in their pants? Maybe we should train them with some discipline don’t go blaming it all on the female soldiers now.
Secondly, well of course Private Lynch didn’t fight back, but hello she WENT! The true heroes are the ones who enlist and go when called upon (remember the firefighters and police that responded to 9/11? we still honor them as heroes whether they made it out of those buildings or not). This I learned from my own unit doesn’t matter whether you save a life or kill an enemy. It matters that you have the courage to go and don’t flee for the border when called upon. …
I usually agree with Justin but I think he misses a major reason for the election outcome. After the bombings the Popular Party made a very obvious and blatant attempt to blame it on ETA for the purpose of discrediting the Socialists who they had been blaming in their campaign for being too friendly with ETA. Not only did the Spanish voters see through this, but a big demonstration by the Socialist Party activists helped bring them out in large numbers to vote the next day.
Lastly, I would add. That the attempted coup by the Popular Party certainly sent a message to the Basque people that they had better turn out in large numbers to vote to protect themselves. Here is an article that speaks to this point: "Return of the Moor" by Pepe Escobar. …
Lesser of Two Evils?
I seem to have found myself in the "anybody but Bush" camp, although I never really imagined voting for the Democratic front-runner in my life. The way I see it, if Kerry is elected, the House and Senate will stay Republican, if not gain a few more seats. So there will definitely be a check in place in terms of domestic politics.
Justin seems to think that Kerry would hop on board the invasion force to Tehran, but I can’t believe that is the case. He has none of the ideological /circumstantial motivations that Dubya does a belief that God is on his side in this, a powerful Christian Right lobby demanding we shed blood and treasure for Israel (as if God needs our help to fulfill any of His prophecies), neoconservative hawks perfectly placed next to his ear, a general lack of discernment, a terrifying gut instinct for "bold moves" etc.
Now, I certainly remember the damage that our last liberal Commander-in-Chief was able to level upon the world and America (link to the Clinton intervention of your choice), but to me that seems a completely different can of worms than the agenda of this administration. And, I’ll say it again, the lesser of two evils.
Subservience to the UN and "humanitarian policing" are certainly the monsters that we will have to fight should Kerry win (although perhaps he hasn’t completely forgotten why we protested ‘Nam, we can only hope), but do you really think that President Kerry would continue this current madness?
I know that he voted to allow Dubya to run wild, but I chalk that up to pathetic Democrat fear of looking "soft on terror." Remember, this is the lesser of two evils I’m talking about I mean, we’re already policing Haiti anyway! …
~ Winston Smith