Backtalk, October 7, 2004

Antiwar.com Bridging the Gap

After going through this website, I noticed that I have perceived Americans in a false way. I have wronged Americans with my false perceptions. Now, I am an Egyptian youth who lives in Qatar, and what I hear in the news and see just makes me more frustrated, angry and start to hate Americans. Now, Mr. Bush did not tackle the problem of terrorism and did not tackle the big gap between the Arab world and the American world, instead he has widened it and is making matters worse for both sides. But, fortunately, an extravagant website such as this one is moving on the right track to reconcile such a gap between the Arab world and that of the Americans.

Thank you very much!

~ Ahmed Shehata


 

After Their Heads Roll, America’s Dead Remain Faceless

Ilana Mercer, a former legal resident of Israel, is little more than a lobbyist for Israel who has accused libertarians who dare to criticize Israel – including Justin Raimondo – of being anti-Semites. Why would Antiwar.com publish her?

~ Carol Moore, Washington, DC

Justin Raimondo replies:

I don’t recall Ilana actually calling me an “anti-Semite,” and I believe she explicitly said I was not an anti-Semite, although she disagrees with me about the nature of the Israeli state and the present Israeli government. But, so what? The criteria for appearing on Antiwar.com are only that a given article must be 1) making a point against U.S. intervention, 2) well-written, and, hopefully, 3) doing these things in an interesting way that teaches readers something new. Ilana’s piece satisfied all or most of these criteria.

The article by Ilana Mercer tells more about our government’s hypocrisy than any official pronouncement. Most conservatives are for capital punishment, against abortion, and pro-war – but why? Are our soldiers no more than pawns on the chess board? Are their lives so cheap that we can ignore them and their families? Why should anybody enlist to serve when he/she knows that their government will not lift a finger to save them in case of their capture? The government which does not care about its subjects is not the government for the people, it is for all intents and purposes an illegitimate government, and should be changed!

~ Bozidar Kornic

Ilana Mercer replies:

Dear Bozidar: You got the point of the essay exactly right.

I hope that once youngsters realize this simple reality, they will not enlist. This is not an unlikely scenario; it’s one for which we can at least realistically hope.

Ms. Mercer: I just read your article entitled “After Their Heads Roll, America’s Dead Remain Faceless.” I would like to remind you that since you are so disgusted with President Bush and the “American way,” you are free to go back to Israel at any time – I promise we Americans won’t miss you and will not attempt to stop you in any way! Perhaps you are of the opinion that you have somehow done the world, or at least America, a favor by coming here. Let me assure you, that is not the case.

It’s interesting that since you have so much angst with the attitudes, beliefs and “the way things are done” in America you would want to be here – maybe you should ponder that for a while. Perhaps the reasons you came here exist because America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists – ever consider that?

Again, I invite you to leave! If Israel – or Korea or any other country you praised – is so much more “on track,” I would think you would be racing to get there – if not, stop condemning President Bush and the American government and be thankful to be here!

Here’s something else to consider: all of the American men and women who have died thus far in the war voluntarily joined the military. They were not drafted or forced by the government to go to Iraq – nor were the American civilians who went. Every single person in the US military made a conscientious choice to place their life in harm’s way – as did every American civilian.

~ Natalie McGraw

Ilana Mercer replies:

I love America (especially the original idea of America) and am dedicated to fighting for liberty here, not elsewhere. If I see good things in other nations and think we should learn from them, it doesn’t mean I don’t love America most and want to fight for justice here.

The reason I wrote the column was because I thought Americans were being abandoned by their leaders.

Just because you put your life on the line for what you think is the good of your country doesn’t mean you should be treated as the dispensable property of the state. It is the obligation of the military to do everything it can to retrieve its captured soldiers. If this is not its code, then it should be.

On the other hand, maybe once young people realize the military thinks of them as expendable, they will not enlist.


Kerry Cleans the President’s Clock

I agree with Justin Raimondo’s insights. Possibly, however, there is reason to be more hopeful concerning Kerry’s handling of the Iraq mess. Kerry, like most everyone, including the media, is boxed in by having trusted the Bush administration’s initial claims about Iraq. Kerry is also boxed in by the widely held perception that he is unpatriotic because of his protests against the war in Vietnam. With polls showing that about half of the US population believes that Saddam Hussein is responsible for September 11, Kerry has to present himself as a warrior president who will protect the country.

It is possible that a Kerry administration would abandon the lies about Iraq, and as the truth gets across to the American people for the first time, they might have the intelligence to understand the strategic blunder Bush has committed, thus making it possible for a Kerry administration to withdraw from Iraq and to impose on Israel a settlement of the Palestinian conflict that would restore Muslim confidence in the United States, while saving Israel from the growing hostility against Jews in the Middle East.

On the other hand, Kerry might create a new quagmire for the US. He struck at Bush by claiming North Korea and possibly Iran have nuclear weapons. These are new lies that prepare the ground for new aggression.

Kerry missed his best chance, offered by Bush repeatedly saying that Kerry looked at the same intelligence as he had and supported the decision to invade Iraq. Kerry should have said: “Yes, Mr. President, we were both deceived. Why haven’t you fired the neocons who deceived us? How can the US have any credibility when you leave in office the officials responsible?”

That would have been a knockout blow.

~ Paul Craig Roberts


Ghosts of 9/11

Bin Laden has NOT been indicted for 9/11 – only for the embassy bombings in Africa.

According to the official FBI Internet site as of 9 September 2004, bin Laden is sought for:

“MURDER OF US NATIONALS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES; CONSPIRACY TO MURDER US NATIONALS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES; ATTACK ON A FEDERAL FACILITY RESULTING IN DEATH.”

Keep up the great work. Your articles are excellent.

~ Joseph Centofanti, American citizen, Prague, Czech Republic


Can Ethnic Cleansing Bring Back Jesus?

I am a Pentecostal Christian (NOT United Pentecostal) and I just wanted to say that not all of us think that Bush is the greatest thing since popcorn. Many, like myself, believe that America may very well be Babylon, the end-time world empire described in Jer 50, 51, Is 14, Rev 17, 18.

You mentioned the United Pentecostals as influencing Bush. United Pentecostals are post-trib; they believe the rapture will occur after Armageddon. I would guess that Bush’s faulty eschatology is derived from the popular Left Behind series.

Scripture teaches that Israel will be restored after the Messiah returns (Ez 36,40,42). It is the Messiah who will build the temple AFTER He returns: Is 2:2-4, Mic 4:1, Hag 2:7-9. Zech 6:12, “From His place He will branch out; And He shall build the Temple of the LORD.” The man-made temple will house the Antichrist during the tribulation.

Also, in Ezekiel’s vision of the restoration of the land, the area east of the Jordan (Transjordan and Gilead) is not included.

~Morella


Who’s Defending the Constitution?

Gordon Prather makes a good point about defending our Constitution.

I would just like to add that the UN Charter is also a part of our Constitution. Article 6 of the Constitution states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all TREATIES made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the SUPREME LAW of the Land.”

The UN Charter is the treaty of treaties and duly ratified by the US Congress. It forbids the US not only from waging war, but from even threatening war.

~ Chris Meyer, Altoona, WI


The Grand Illusion

OUCH! “Mohammedans” is an archaic term for Muslims. Muslims abhor such a European-invented word describing their religion, the main reason being they do not worship their revered prophet, Mohammed. His example is followed and life studied, but he is never regarded as a deity in any form: in fact worshipping anyone but the Creator – God, or Allah, the Arabic word for God – is considered an unforgivable sin. Forget that word and file it in “totally outdated and ignorant.”

For those interested there are numerous other terms invented by non-Muslims that are similarly misinformed and mistranslated; such misnomers include: “holy war” for “jihad,” “the Muslim Sabbath” for “Jumah prayer” or “Friday prayer,” and “70 virgins” denoting the pure companions, male and female, of paradise. The list goes on and on. Not everyone can be an expert on all subjects, but it would be better to consult one from the source if you want to inform others.

Otherwise, enjoyed the article.

~ Saida Coulombe


Blowhards, Left and Right

As an avid reader and sometimes financial supporter of Antiwar.com, I found Justin’s recent column with regard to the hurricanes in Florida amusing. I live near Orlando. We were punched hard by Hurricane Charlie, real hard. No electricity for 10 days; since we’re on a well, that means no running water or flushing toilets. Gas was a pain in the ass to get; the lines and tempers were awful. The grocery stores lost power; this caused them to dump all refrigerated items, like meat, dairy, etc. Many businesses were shut down. Orlando has a huge service and tourist-related industry with low-paying jobs which were shut down. Charlie hit on August 13; since then, we have been visited by Francis (80 mph sustained winds for 24 hours) and Jeanne (gusts up to 100 mph for 30 hours). In essence, we’ve had a little taste of Baghdad. The debris piles are unreal, I live on a lot which is almost an acre-and-a-half, formerly heavily wooded; many trees are down. It will take months of hard work to recover.

My point is this; FEMA is now stretched to the breaking point, our National Guard, who would normally assist in cleanup, is off to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight imperial wars. The Bush Bros. are constantly on TV with updates and photo ops in regard to disaster management. The idiots never counted on natural or manmade disasters to foil their plans for Mideast conquest. My 83-year-old mother tells me that these hurricanes are God’s payback to the Bush Bros. for their war. While I don’t believe in divine intervention, at least Grandma Tina has a point to argue with the Christian numbskulls that support Bush. We need to get these schmucks out of office.

~ Rick O’Connor


West Africa: Where the Empire Will Come to Ruin

Does asserting that Africa is a “God-forsaken continent” do the writer’s credibility any good? I would have thought that someone who had done an MA in Byzantine Studies at Oxford – and came out with a Distinction – would have shown more analytical sophistication.

~ Carlos Coke, MA African Studies (Merit), School of Oriental and African Studies, London


If America Were Iraq

If America were at war, the result would be vastly different than you described, mostly by the fact that “assault weapons” are once again available. (Not that they were unavailable for the last ten years, but are they now less expensive.) The firearms held in private hands are the cornerstone of our republic. No entity dares to conquer America. Men like me are willing and standing by to deliver violence on your behalf, should it become necessary.

~ Jacob Sandoval


Lebanon the Wrong Model for Iraq

I have no major disagreements with this article, but I wish Mr. St. John had mentioned that the Kurds themselves are almost all Sunni. I’m not just nitpicking or trying to make his job more complicated, there is a point to my criticism. The author could have used that fact to buttress his argument that the Lebanese confessional model will not work in Iraq (it doesn’t even even work well in Lebanon) because virtually all Lebanese are Arabs while in Iraq there is not only the Sunni-Shi’a religious difference which cuts across tribal lines, unlike Lebanon, but also the two major linguistic national groups: Arabs and Kurds.

~ Peggy G.

There were two incorrect statements in Bruce St. John’s article, “Lebanon the Wrong Model for Iraq.”

First, he wrote, “Like Iraq, Lebanon was a Great Power creation following the implosion of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.” This was not correct for the Lebanese struggled for self-determination and independence from the Ottomans for centuries, paying highly for their revolts. However, even under the Ottoman occupation, Lebanon was the only semiautonomous province in the Empire. The Lebanese, believing in self-determination and spearheaded by the Catholic Church in Lebanon, achieved their goal by lobbying profusely the Great Power of that time, France, for their complete independence, but even then they had to struggle against the French mandate to achieve their independence in 1943. It is very insulting to constantly read articles claiming that if it were not for the western Great Power we would not be Lebanese. We have been Lebanese longer than the Americans have been Americans!

The second error in the article was when Mr. St. John wrote, “The population problem in Lebanon was compounded in 1948-49 by the emigration of some 140,000 Palestinians refugees.” First, the Palestinians did not immigrate to Lebanon. The Israelis kicked them out of their homes and towns. The Palestinians came to Lebanon as refugees and remain today as homeless, citizen-less refugees.

Lebanon is a land of religious and ethnic minorities. The largest sect in Lebanon does not even comprise 30% of the population, and this is why it is unique in the world. We are all minorities. Despite the many flaws in the Lebanese constitution and the National Pact of 1943, they do guarantee the minorities of Lebanon a role in politics and government that is not found anywhere in the world, not even in the United States.

I hope next time you publish an article on your site it is well researched and not just reiterating the incorrectness that is prevalent in media and continuously contributing to the divide that is harming the world.

~ M. Louay


Have 1,000 American Souls Died for Oil?

Personally, I think the main reason for the invasion of Iraq was just to make a classic show of force – intimidate countries in the region by showing we have the power and political will to attack them if we so desire. Of course, the move may have backfired. We may be forced to withdraw from an Iraqi quagmire, which will decrease the likelihood that the public will support a similar venture in the near future. Can anyone say “Iraq Syndrome”?

But I think Mr. Eland underestimates the possible oil-related motives for the Iraq adventure.

First, the invasion of Iraq may be part of a global strategy to break OPEC. It is true that Middle Eastern countries will have to sell oil to us no matter what – we purchase 25% of the world’s petroleum output. But the price at which they sell it has much to do with whether they are able to collude on a high price or are forced to compete with one another. As world oil supplies decline, prices will rise steeply, and the OPEC countries will be in a position to reap windfall profits while keeping the big oil-consuming countries in a dependent position. Even if the prices don’t push us into recession – which would not be in OPEC’s interest – they will be a long-term, persistent drain on the US economy. Creating US-friendly governments in the region could serve as a wedge to break up OPEC. The pot could be sweetened by creating favored free-trading blocks among these clients as compensation for leaving OPEC.

There is also a long-term strategic military consideration. US military power depends to an overwhelming degree on military machines that run on petroleum. Military strategists who take a long view must worry that, at some point in the future, OPEC will be able to pick sides in a military confrontation, possibly to our disadvantage. China, for example, already consumes a tremendous amount of petroleum, and that amount is rapidly rising. In the future, the oil producers will probably be able to make a handsome living selling to China alone. Suppose the US and China are at war some decades hence, and suppose the OPEC nations make a deal with China to embargo petroleum sales to the US and its allies in exchange for increased purchases from China and security guarantees. We would have to rely on our strategic reserves, but ultimately a war of attrition could bring us to our knees.

There is also the possibility that US strategists hoped to put the US in position to simply seize the oil fields someday, and annex them. That would be political madness right now. But the US and the world may find themselves in a desperate oil crisis in the future, when the unthinkable will become thinkable. So perhaps US leaders have decided to put the US pieces in position now, so as to win the future game whenever it has to be played. Before the oil runs out, there will be a massive transfer of wealth from oil consumers to oil producers. Those who have some oil in their possession will be the winners.

Finally, our old friends in resource-poor Israel must spend a lot of sleepless nights trembling at the specter of an Arab world growing richer and richer, and more powerful militarily, as they reap windfall oil profits, and gain ever greater political leverage over Israel’s current protector the US.

~ Dan Kervick


While You Weren’t Looking

Justin Raimondo’s recent article “While You Weren’t Looking…” incorrectly claimed that neither of the presidential candidates cares about wasting the taxpayers’ money on the Iraq adventure, and offers as evidence the national debt counter. Actually, John Kerry has spoken out against the Bush administration’s shell-game tactic of putting the tab onto our national debt while cutting taxes for rich people. That’s part of what the famous argument over the $87 billion supplemental funding was about.

When Kerry explained to the public why he had said he would support the funding if it were paid by rolling back Bush’s unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthy, but he was against billing it to our children and grandchildren, the GOP took 9 words out of context (“I voted for it before I voted against it”) and used them to claim Kerry was flip-flopping. Actually, Kerry was standing up against the administration’s plan to drive us all down the road to financial ruin as it bogs down our military in Iraq. Kerry has repeatedly pointed out the failings in Bush’s Iraq policy, from the needless rush to war to the ludicrously irresponsible way it’s being funded. If people don’t know this, it’s because the GOP spin, aided and abetted by a media that often fails to do its job, has obscured Kerry’s message. The site kerryoniraqwar.com (for which I’m the webmistress) was created to counter the GOP spin and give people the facts. You can find Kerry’s statements about the $87 billion and other aspects of the war there.

~ Karen van Hoek


Sunni and Shi’a and Kurds, oh my!

Yes, it seems the US military wants to pick a fight with EVERYONE. You forgot the the Turkmen. The army didn’t. They are attacking Talafar too.

~ Ian Miller


Etc.

Refine your words. One of your article headlines stated that Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped. Soldiers are captured. Civilians are kidnapped.

And keep up your fine efforts.

~ Doug Buchanan, DougBuchanan.com, Vietnam veteran

As the upcoming election approaches, and as someone who knows the pain of losing their child in the military, I strongly urge you to read the following letter sent to President Clinton in 1998, long before 9/11. This letter was written by members of the neoconservative organization called Project for a New American Century. These same people who authored this letter are now members of the Bush administration….

If you read the letter below, you will notice that the rationale that was used to convince Congress and the American public that Saddam was an imminent threat after 9/11 was the same rationale being used way back in ’98 (minus the now-proven-false al-Qaeda link) to persuade Clinton and Congress to invade Iraq then.

The mission of PNAC is the following: “Established in the spring of 1997, the Project for the New American Century is a nonprofit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.” In essence, these people, now in control of the US federal government’s executive branch, are proposing global domination.

You should read their mission statement, letters, publications, views and strategies and draw your own conclusions. I am convinced that you will find them as disturbing as I have.

These people have no compunction about sacrificing your children, your loved ones, your spouses and family to achieve their goals. …

In addition to the human costs of these imperialistic invasions, the monetary costs will be borne by our children. The superior services on which Americans pride themselves such as decent primary and secondary schools, decent highways and infrastructure, national parks, law enforcement and any of the other services that once made America the envy of the world will no longer be affordable with the mounting costs of maintaining a military presence throughout the world. The America in which we were raised will deteriorate and crumble to support the empire-building goals of a group of people claiming to represent the Republican viewpoint.

The Republicans of the past were fiscal conservatives and mostly social moderates. The policies of this group of people do not represent traditional Republican values. They do however engender hatred toward America and Americans in those who believe that they will be targeted and in those who simply resent the current administration’s blatant disregard for other sovereign nations and their violations of international treaties and laws. Many longtime Republican party members and elected officials do not support these policies either as they feel the current leadership does not represent their views on foreign policy as well as other economic and social issues.

Before you go to the ballot box this November, I hope that you will read the words not of liberal critics but of the people in power and decide if you feel safe with these people making decisions that affect all of the world. I also encourage you to seek information from news websites from around the world to gain some insight into the growing hatred of our beloved country and to gain the perspective of outsiders looking in. …

PNAC’s letter to Clinton

PNAC’s letter Congress (1998)

~ Karen Gayda

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