Casualties in Iraq

Anne Wicks: Please include those soldiers who have committed suicide while in Iraq and those who committed suicide as a result of PTSD once they returned to the United States. Thank you.

Mike Ewens: We do. I believe that there have only been two reported.

AW: I can tell you that there have been a hell of a lot more than that. I thank the US government for keeping those numbers under wraps. I can tell you that my brother committed suicide after coming back to the US (he was a marine sergeant and part of the first infantry that saw fighting in Bagdad last year). He told family members here about cutting another marine down who hung himself while in Iraq. Even some of the articles I’ve found online indicate that even the numbers being released by the army admit that there are more than two as you said. You guys either need to dig a little deeper or question the government’s numbers.

ME: First, I am very sorry to hear about your brother. In fact, I include a similar death in our number: a heart attack death of a soldier who had just returned from Iraq (5 hours after landing home).

I and Antiwar.com always question the government’s numbers and that is why in my previous email I emphasized “reported.” Such questioning is the basis of our ideology. However, the numbers I stated are nearly all that I can go by. Without sufficient data, we cannot add the names. We have the same problem with the wounded count; the official count differs dramatically from those reported on the ground and in foreign military hospitals. So we try to report and distinguish both counts.

If you have any links/ resources that point to any data on suicides I would be more than willing to consider adding them to our count.

I‘m anticipating you’ll have another category, Since the Hand-Over.

Love what you are doing. We are watching and hoping for change in November.

~ Kathryn H., Canada

Mike Ewens replies:

Good idea… done: http://antiwar.com/casualties/.


Phony Disengagement, Secret Escalation

I bet you believe in BLACK CHOPPERS, too, huh?!

~ AH

Paul Sperry replies:

So apparently does the Washington Post. Click here for their lead story on the call-up of the IRR, something the Pentagon is only officially and publicly announcing today, a month after my column about internal Pentagon e-mails ran.

Why hasn’t the press been on this! I got the heads-up yesterday. And I thought I was informed.

I’ve been warning friends, etc. about the impending “draft” for some time. I have an archive of doublespeak and propaganda from different sources including the original “ad” that was deleted from a military website soliciting Draft Board members.

Excellent story, by the way. I am a recovering Republican. Your facts are straight, thanks for speaking up.

~ Randy Marshall, Assistant Veterans Service Officer


Three Steps to Sanity

Mr. Buchanan,

Your knowledge of history is so vast. Why oh why were you not posing these questions before we invaded Iraq? Now we’re in this quagmire, and the loss of life and limb is overwhelming! Why haven’t I heard you speaking out against this war? If you do speak out as forthrightly as you write, are you concerned that MSNBC will ” can” you, as they did Donahue? Your voice is needed, and the Republicans need to hear it! Every day I grow more sickened by this terrible thing our President has done. Why did George Bush think we Americans were protesting before he invaded? And he dared refer to us as “a few focus groups.” Average Americans like myself knew this was going to be a disaster! Bush has so much blood on this hands, and I didn’t need anyone, not even Michael Moore, to convince me of that.

I read every article of yours that appears in Antiwar! I wish you would send a copy, with today’s words of wisdom, to the President.

~ Nancy Walker, Avila Beach, California

Eric Garris replies:

Actually, Pat wrote over 20 articles before the war saying we was against the invasion. His role at MSNBC is a bit different, but I recall him constantly saying we were headed for quagmire.

Here are some selected columns from last year: “Costs of War Already Coming In,” “The Unintended Consequences of War,” “Why Does Iraq Top the Enemies List?,” “After Baghdad Where Do We Go?” and “War Party’s Saber Rattling.”

More are available here.

THERE CONTINUE TO EXIST THE CORE REASONS FOR THE COMING DESTRUCTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Oil and Israel. Until America develops independent sources of energy and unless Israel returns all seized and occupied land to the Palestinians, America and Israel shall never have peace.

~ Bruce Westcott, Independent Candidate for President of the United States, Westcott2004.com


How Much do the Neocon Woes REALLY Help Us?

I came across a bit in Foreign Affairs mag where Sandy Berger talks about what a Kerry foreign policy would be. Here’s the article: “Foreign Policy for a Democratic President.”

Here’s a notable paragraph:

“[The Bush Admin’s ideas] are not new ideas. During the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, a hard-line faction of congressional Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Robert Taft, fought virtually every measure to build the postwar international order. They opposed NATO and the permanent deployment of U.S. troops in Europe, believing we should rely on the unilateral exercise of military power to defeat Soviet designs. They fought the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and turned against the UN. And they disdained ‘one worlders’ such as Eleanor Roosevelt for their support of international law. Taft Republicans were briefly dominant in the US Congress (until the combined efforts of Democrats and internationalist Republicans such as Dwight Eisenhower relegated them to the sidelines). But their radical world-view never drove policy in the executive branch — until today.”

Can you folks see the problem here? Berger is calling Taftism and neoconservatism the same thing! This is something that should bother you. The neocons are starting to get bad press, but that bad press never mentions paleos as the Right’s alternative. They’re acting like the only choices are between the Bush Doctrine and Eleanor Roosevelt! This is a subtle, insidious effort to write REAL Taftism out of the foreign policy debate!

So, sure, we can be happy that the neocons are starting to get exposed for the creeps they are, but what good will it do if all we get instead of them is Eleanor Roosevelt?

~ Buddhadev Chakraborty

Matthew Barganier replies:

Thanks for the link. Sandy Berger is an idiot, and, like most liberals, he’s bereft of any historical comprehension of the Right. If Robert Taft weren’t already dead, he’d have a massive coronary upon hearing himself compared to Bush.


Don’t Call it a Wall

The Walls described by HaCohen appear to be a high-tech, permanent Israeli version of the Indian “reservations” used by the American Army in the 19th century to control the Indians.

The US denounced the Spanish “reconcentrados” in Cuba, but then proceeded to use them in the Philippines against the insurrection there, as a part of its “benevolent pacification” program. The British refined the concept in the “strategic hamlets” in Malaysia in the 1950s, which the US then attempted to use in the 1960s in Vietnam as a part its “pacification” program.

One of the first efforts to use such hamlets was in the British “pacification” program in the American Revolution. Trenton, NJ, was to be the first of these, but when the Americans crossed the Delaware River and attacked it in the early morning, destroying the Hessian force there, that strategy pretty much went down the tubes.

So “counterinsurgency” tactics have a very long history, indeed, and one could without difficulty trace then back at least to Rome, Some American military leaders after W.W.II wanted to interrogate the Nazi specialists in such tactics before they were executed, but were turned down by the Tribunal at Nuremberg. Harry Truman was concerned about this streak of “totalitarianism” within the American army. After its defeat in Vietnam, the US intensified its explorations to refine such tactics, which have always been used in conjunction with torture of those caught in the counterinsurgency net. Several of these tactics were used in Central America in the 1980s, so that there is a direct lineal descent right to Iraq, and our new ambassador John Negroponte is illustrative of that connection.

With respect to Israel, one of the key Israeli military counterinsurgency strategists, now also advising the US in Iraq, remains Martin van Creveld. HaCohen several years ago (“Against Negotiations“) described him thus:

“A real Nazi version of this rhetoric was recently offered by Prof. Martin van Creveld, a renowned military historian from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The learned scholar suggested to bombard Palestinian cities and carry out a genocide: ‘Perhaps 5.000 or 10.000 killed won’t be enough, and then we will have to kill more’ (Jerusalem regional weekly, 1.3.2002). Though this eccentric, almost insane person can hardly be classified politically, his suggestion shows the very same pattern: he concludes by saying that ‘it is better that there be one massive crime, after which we will exit and lock the gate behind us’. So this is his real objective: ‘exit’, leave the occupied territories – like any good peacenik.”

And so, “Wall” and all, the Game goes on. …

I do think we should separate van Creveld’s writings as a military historian from his consulting work to the militaries of several nations, just as we separate judgments about Adolf Hitler’s work as an artist and architect from his actions as F├╝hrer of the Third Reich.

That being said, some of the recent scholarship on The Origins of the Final Solution (04) by Christopher Browning and his earlier work, Ordinary People (1992), offer us some clues about personalities like Stalin, Heinrich Himmler, and van Creveld. …

As Browning describes it, the Baltic German people in the East began to organize their own death squad militias to kill Slavs and Jews. Rather than confront these outbursts, Himmler and the German bureaucracy ultimately went along, formalizing this into policy at the Wannsee Conference and afterwards.

As an historian who has written several articles on the sociology of revolution, I have always felt that intellectuals are prone to pushing ideology as a factor when, in reality, it has been developed to mask much baser motives.

A British war hero friend of mine once mentioned that his father was doing business in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. It turned out their Butler was the head Commie in the area, and as he escorted them to the boat, noted, “we Slavs intend to take Russia back from the Baltic German bureaucracy that has ruled us since the Baltic Czarina Catherine the Great brought them here.”

Alfred Rosenberg was one of those Nazis whose family had been expelled from Russia. I suspect that for Rosenberg, “wir mussen lebensraum gehaben,” meant, “I want my Russian estates back.”

And so, in conclusion, it would appear that the emerging Israeli policies toward the Palestinians over the last decades are really an extended version of what happened in Poland and Russia in 1941-2 as the German army surged into that area.

Radical settlers in Israel — not unlike the “ordinary Germans” of 1941 — have taken policy into their own hands, and the politicians and the army have followed along behind. It is to the credit of the nation of Israel that civilian and military dissent to these policies continues.

That the American government condones these increasingly genocidal policies, and underwrites them with aid dollars, is another great tragedy of American diplomacy. That a man like Martin van Creveld … has admitted he does not flinch from such “massive crime,” does not bode well for the future of Israel. And, we call it Democracy!

~ Bill Marina, Prof. Emeritus in History at Florida Atlantic University

Ran HaCohen solicits ideas on what to call the Israeli “wall,” which he correctly argues is misnamed. For me, the term “quarantine” comes to mind. When my virus software is unable to eliminate an infected file, it “quarantines” the file – leaving the file on the hard drive, but cutting it off from the rest of the system, preventing its propagation. Of course, there are other uses of the term that raise equally spooky analogies.

~ Jamie Hutchinson, Urbana, Illinois

Ran HaCohen replies:

A good idea!


Role Reversal

“Senator Robert Byrd (D, W.Va.), the Constitution’s greatest – and perhaps only – defender in the US government…”

Hmm. Top rating might instead belong to Hon. Rep Ron Paul (R-Tx)?

Senator Byrd has definitely been on the right side of the antiwar position, unwavering in the face of extreme pressure.

Over the long haul though, I’d still consider Dr. Paul the more constitutionally concerned member of the legislative branch.

~ W. Gerald Hicks

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Yes, I should have included Ron Paul. Any others?


Why Didn’t They Speak Out Earlier?

Good article, but the comment that this is the United States first war of aggression is incorrect. The Mexican War and the Philippine War were blatantly wars of aggression and expansion. These are national tendencies that with particular leadership in the White House and current events can and will happen. Bush and company are not an aberration (just extremely incompetent), those who really believe this will be very disillusioned. A change of leadership is truly necessary, but that will not change our national tendencies.

~ John Christensen

Ray,

I’ve followed your informed comments with interest and admiration since your appearances on DemocracyNow. You complain that no one took up “Mike’s” timely prudent advice before the fact, or yours in Vietnam times, but as you know so well yourself, policy drives analysis and Cassandra’s is not a recent legend. What bothered me in your essay is that you did not take up “Mike’s” current policy counsel: full court military action. Do you agree that this is a way out of the crisis? I wonder if Gandhi could not have imagined something a little saner?

~ Moss Roberts, Prof. of Chinese, New York University


Warmongering Is Universal

I like your website. However, I have made the observation that your discussions seem to be limited to an America-centrist worldview.

It is my opinion that such an approach to the omnipresent human proclivity for waging war is opening you up for the old dialectical bugaboo. Believe me, warmongering is universal. If we really want to stop it, we must broaden the scope of our worldview.

I remember the retort that I always received from the “Trots” and the SDS back in the ’60’s at their “antiwar” rallies when I pointed out the atrocities all over the planet associated with the Marxist-Leninist Revolution: “We are US citizens and thus we must limit our protests to warmongering American foreign policy.”

Of course the fact that some of them were not US citizens did not bother their reasoning. I soon got the impression that they were not really opposed to war per se; they were just opposed to America’s bourgeois culture gaining international power and influence.

Apparently that would hamper the greater good of the “Revolution” which would eventually deliver us all into the great wonder of the World Worker State – the permanent non-cultural “Empire.”

Now that wouldn’t, per chance, be the reason that your website refuses to train its altruistic eye upon the worldwide mischief of human warmongering? Would it?

~ Pat Brown, The Libertarian Avenger

Matthew Barganier replies:

We report on atrocities worldwide, including ones in which the US government is not directly involved. However, as US citizens, libertarians, and conservatives, we are naturally more interested in the actions of our own government than we are in those of, say, Sudanese militiamen. Most US interventions are justified by atrocities, real or fabricated, committed elsewhere. We cannot make the world perfect; in fact, the effort to do so is integral to interventionism. Other people must solve their own problems, just as we must solve ours.


A Tale of Two Movies

Was Fahrenheit 9/11 fair and balanced? No. But then neither was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Only time will tell if Moore’s movie has a similar impact. Both represent evocative propaganda.

In his defense I will add that Moore is not the first to raise questions about the Saudis. Nobody in his right mind has suggested the Saudis intentionally sponsored the events of 9/11. But it is worth noting that the Saudi royal family sits atop a tiger. They made their deal in the ’20s. They would run the government, foreign policy, the treasury, etc. The Wahabis were free to set up madrasas. Between 1980 and 2000 per capita income fell from a little over $20,000 to less than $7,000. Meanwhile the government was happy to see troublemakers go off to Afghanistan (maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll get killed!) and provide financial support for the cause. Just stay away.

Many American politicians have been on the Saudi take and willfully refused to ask the uncomfortable questions. Like, “how dependable is this connection for the long run?” But few have benefited more than the Bushes. As Moore says, “$1.4 billion buys a whole lotta love.” It is time to ask some long overdue questions about our relations with several countries in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the Israeli Likudists should top the list.

~ Thomas Kleeman

Normally I agree with Justin’s Behind the Headlines but not when it comes to “A Tale of Two Movies.” I wouldn’t be so sure about Mr. Moore and the rest of the leftist kooks being “on the right side of the barricades.” They simply want to wrest power from the neocons so that they can continue with more of the same. They will turn the Patriot Act and the wheels of big government back on their enemies, but will not move to eliminate these tyrannical powers one bit. Don’t think they will make any distinction between either type of conservative, neo or paleo. Kerry will not get us out of Iraq any sooner, if at all. He will use the fight there just like Clinton used that phony war in Kosovo for political gain.

~ Christopher D.

I have to agree with most of your analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11. However, your statements that the movie was racist towards Saudis seems a bit incredible. It seems to me that the point that Moore was trying to convey is that the Bush administration has a conflict of interest when it comes to choices between America and Saudi Arabia. So, he took the administration to task — showing links between them and the Saudi/ bin Laden money piles.

Never once did he suggest that all Arabs should be rounded up. Nor did he say that they should be treated with racist intent. What he did rightly call for is that the bin Laden clan be questioned for any leads to the whereabouts of Osama. That doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable idea in my mind. …

~ Stephen Nichols

So far I have had no chance to see Moore’s film and cannot comment on it directly. Still, I find it hasty to rule out a Saudi contribution to the treacherous disaster of 9-11. Is it absolutely necessary to demonstrate a solid connection between al Qaeda and Riyadh in order to attribute some culpability there? Wahabi clerics have vilified Western culture for some decades now and dissenting views are less than welcome to say the least. The culture of suppression and hypocrisy prevalent in the Prophet’s homeland was likely a large factor in rearing those 15 suicide hijackers. Despotism spawns violence and the wry example set by the ruling family doesn’t help either. Conventional wisdom, in the land of Mecca and Medina, has it that the liberties we cherish are the basest corruption. Prince Bandar may be keen on Western ways but the realm sees to it that his subjects are not. The Cosa Nostra, at heart, knew themselves to be sinners, the truncheon wielding morality police of Saudi cities will never be convinced of this. The West is on a long trek away from cultural absolutism, it remains to be seen if Araby, and greater Islam, can turn in that direction.

~ Tim Hartnett


A Boy and His Nukes

“If you were a Russian, none of those acts could be considered friendly.”

I am a Russian. And my overall feeling is, and I am sure many or most of my Russian co-citizens share it, that the post-cold war American administration is tightening the noose around the only one of the two military rivals US has left in the world. Never mind the antagonistic nuclear policy – the American press never mentions what the Russians are constantly talking about – the russophobia encouraged by America in the Baltic states, the growing American presence in the Caucasus, highlighted by the recent upheavals in Georgia, American infringement on Russian interests in the Near (Middle) East and the ex-Soviet south, and the attempts to influence Russian internal politics such as the defense of the business elite against government control practiced by Clinton. Do you think the Persian Gulf War would have happened if the Soviet opposition was still around? What about the bombing of Iraq and Serbia in the late ’90s? Russia is reasserting its strength, and perhaps the Americans should look a few years into the future when planning their foreign policy with this nation.

~ Anna Yakubovskaya

I read your article with interest and found your point of view interesting, however I think that nuclear weapons are the best thing that has ever happened, its all but ended major wars. I believe it is because nuclear weapons kill everyone, that is politicians, the rich and the poor that the people in power don’t want to die themselves. Since politicians can no longer ensure their own safety and the safety of their family/ associates they will not risk using these weapons. Speaking as a 21-year-old UK citizen, I honestly believe if the nuclear bomb had not been created then I would be fighting a politicians’ war that I would rather not be involved in. The nuclear bomb has probably saved millions of lives because it has prevented war. I am under the impression that nuclear disarmament will once again allow politicians to send young men into major battles as they know they can’t be hurt. …

~ Tom D’Arcy


9/11 Panel Links Al Qaeda, Iran

Khobar Towers could have been entirely an al-Qaeda operation. Saudi Arabia is al-Qaeda’s heartland. Al-Qaeda had the resources and motive in 1996 to carry out this attack. There are also many news reports that al-Qaeda had been planning attacks against the US – including the 9/11 attacks – at this time. Why not attack Khobar Towers in an early attempt to drive out the infidel US military from Saudi Arabia? What real motive did Saudi Hezbollah or Iran have for attacking the US? Their involvement in this attack would only risk retaliation from the US and the Saudi government. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Iranians may have supported our presence in Saudi Arabia in order to contain Saddam Hussein. What needs to be investigated is whether Saudi Hezbollah and the Iranians were framed in connection with this attack. We know, for instance, that the Saudi government has for years been trying to hide al-Qaeda activity in the kingdom. Could they have been trying to cover-up al-Qaeda’s role in the attack back in 1996 by framing Saudi Hezbollah and the Iranians for the attack? We also know that there are elements in the US government and media that are always looking for pretexts to create hostilities between the US and Iran.

~ GM


In Your Ear, Bolton

Great editorial on the mistakes of John Bolton. It’s a shame that our mainstream press doesn’t produce work like this. However one thing you didn’t mention Bolton’s absurd 2002 assertions that Cuba was producing biological weapons and sharing or planning to share these obviously nonexistent weapons with other nations.

I know your editorial was focused on the current threat caused by Bolton but I think your readers could have used that little historical tidbit to help put into perspective just how dangerous this man is.

~ Dana Minor

Previous Backtalk

Read more by Backtalk