The Motive for the Invasion

If the motive for the invasion was chaos and devastation for the purpose of extracting oil from the Iraqi corpse, what, in your view, would be the motive behind the motive? Global nuclear war? World domination? Political suicide? If any of these, why, and what do you think is the likelihood of success?

Given that you studied with Hannah Arendt, whose writings on Eichmann and on totalitarianism seem immensely informative and courageous, I feel compelled to ask – what was she like as a teacher?

Do you see any similarities between the political situation in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s and events in the world today?

~ TM

Michael Doliner replies:

Thank you for your reply.

Control of oil, and through that power is the primary motive. World oil production is peaking in this decade and there will be a struggle between three power centers, the United States, the EU, and China, for sufficient supplies. Britain, which has been self sufficient thanks to North Sea oil, is scheduled to start importing around 2007. I guess they have thrown in their lot with the US. But I do not think either Bush or Blair has national interests at heart. In the end they hope to somehow escape the catastrophe of the energy shortage through amassing wealth for themselves. I think they are quite ready to bring on WW III if they think it will serve their purposes.

Arendt was a wonderful teacher. I met her in 1965. It was a very small class that met in her office at the University of Chicago. She had the ability to make every student in the class think she was talking just to him or her.

When she addressed something I had written about in a paper she would make eye contact in recognition that this was a part of our personal conversation. It was also very exciting being in her class because she would often get phone calls and start talking in French or German to who knows whom on the other end. If you know any of her writings she believed that everyone had the potential of bringing forth something new.

Incompetence or calculation. That’s the question!

I’ve often thought of this dilemma regarding politicians.

Problem is both alternatives are scary, but which is the most?

If I apply this thinking on the Iraqi war what’s the worst alternative:

1. The World’s one and only superpower is reigned by an incompetent leader with no contact to reality?

2. He have a Machiavellian masterplan which would be destroyed by telling the truth.

Neither alternative is reassuring, but what’s the worst?

I don’t know.

~ Bjørn H., Denmark

Michael Doliner replies:

I agree, both choices are scary. I suppose I would rather have incompetent good intentions than diabolical bad ones, but it doesn’t really matter. They’ve got to be defeated before we can even hope to meet the terrible dangers facing all the people on this planet.

Thanks for your interest.


It’s pretty clear that the stated motives for the invasion are just blather to confuse the rubes, and that the Bush administration takes to heart the adage that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the public.

As to the actual motives, the needle keeps swinging between “incompetence” and “evil.” It’s a classic and perhaps undecidable question. Are they smart people who are putting us on, or are they idiots who mean it.

The Bush administration is notably the one with the most former CEO’s on board. My experience with those worthies (your mileage may vary) is that they often appear stupid or crazy if you believe that their stated aims are their actual aims, but once the real game is exposed, you see they are “crazy like a fox.”

So its not hard for me to believe that “what you see is what they was intended.” …

~ Lee J.

The editorial you carried by Michael Doliner, suggesting that a real motivation for the destruction of Iraq and its peoples was to permit easier control of the oil resources seems plausible as far as it goes. However, I feel that there was an additional motivation, namely that when something bad happens you have to punish SOMEBODY. No matter how farfetched the connection, if there is a convenient scapegoat, people will cheer as the victim is lynched on the nearest tree or bombed to oblivion.

The attitude certainly runs deep in the American psyche, not just to get retaliation for 9/11 and in our troubled history of persecution of blacks, Chinese, “Indian savages” or whatever might be the out group du jour but in economic affairs as well. Consider the plethora of class action lawsuits which even the most pro-business of congressmen seem powerless to prevent. And certainly Bush and Rove learned in the rough and tumble of Texas politics that the path to social approval leads directly to the execution chamber at Huntsville. As long as someone – it helps if they are as generally undesirable as Saddam – gets the injection, people will ignore any question about whether that individual did any of the things for which he was executed.

And when the overwhelming thirst for revenge is being satisfied, it is far easier to light the TV screen with shock and awe bombing campaigns than to show troops trying to find elusive Taliban or Al Qaeda members blending into a local population or moving on to the next valley when they hear the helicopters and HMMWV’s approaching. It makes very poor television and very poor politics to be seen as unable to apprehend the wrongdoer.

So far, alas, the deceptive showpiece execution seems to be working quite well. It’s not just the Fox News viewers and the dittoheads cheering for our victories. Never mind that not only is the US leaving plenty of space in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan for not yet defeated troops to regroup, train and plan (and finance the effort with locally grown poppies – which keeps the DEA back in the USA profitably occupied) but their heavy handed actions are breeding a new group of insurgents in Iraq. Somebody got punished. The bombs fell and so did the statue. …

~ Frank Snively

Divide and Scamper

I think that this article omits the most major objection to “cut and run”, which I would state as:

Iraq is the country with the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world, and borders the countries with the 1st, 4th and 5th largest reserves. If left to itself, it will descend into total chaos which may spread to its unstable neighbours, jeopardise the Western world’s oil supplies, probably causing global economic meltdown.

I don’t think that you adequately answered that one.

However that is not to say that “cut and run” may not be the least bad strategy. Put simply, I don’t think that there is a solution to the problem that Dubya et al. have created in Iraq. I can see similar problems with “tough to out” and “internationalise”.

Achieving the least bad outcome for the Iraq problem is an inconceivably difficult and complex problem, and it quite beyond the competence of fundamentally flawed individuals current in charge.

~ Ian Miller, UK

John Zmirak replies:

I‘m sorry if perhaps I didn’t place enough emphasis on this point: The single way to guarantee a more likely positive outcome in Iraq is to divide the country, to empower regional rather than pseudo-national authorities to take our place as our forces pull out.

The organic units of political order which currently exist in Iraq, albeit in damaged form – the Shiite mosques, the Kurdish militias, the remnants of the Baath and other political parties – can operate effectively, with less need for repression, in the regions to which they are native. Put any one of them in charge of the country – whatever promises of federalism you exact from them – and they must use force to lash together what will not by nature cohere.

Furthermore, by dividing the country, you’d be diminishing the oil revenues accruing to any one section – particularly the most anti-American region, the Sunni “triangle.” And finally, the oil industry in Iraq is in such an advanced state of decrepitude that American authorities could not imagine it paying for U.S. expenses for at least a decade. That places Iraq – or the post-Iraqi “successor states” firmly off the world stage for the foreseeable future. Perhaps it would give them time to mature politically – as the cantons of Switzerland matured, in alliance but never in union, for many hundreds of years before they formed a cohesive (yet blessedly decentralized) state after 1848.

Balkan Express

I enjoy your articles and I highly respect your effort in searching for the truth. I haven’t seen anything on or elsewhere on this event though:

If I can recognize their badges correctly, these soldiers are members of so called ‘freedom fighters’ from Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

~ Dan T.

Nebojsa Malic replies:

These are indeed KLA, and the article in which the image appears, featured by the Rascia-Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has two of them – as well as the victim – identified by name. I linked to the article in my column, “An Edifice of Lies,” posted the day we received your email.

FTAA Miami

WHY are there no reports from Miami on your site? I’ve just returned and it is an absolute WAR ZONE there – many activists are still detained in complete violation of our civil rights and are being abused in jail. PLEASE check any imc site or ftaa imc for more info.

~ Lynn Gonzalez, San Diego, California

Eric Garris replies:

We do have such commentary, although I have a feeling you won’t agree with it.: supports complete free trade as the best course for achieving world peace. We oppose trade restrictions for the same reason we opposed sanctions against Iraq. We support capitalist acts between consenting adults.

However, there is one aspect to the Miami Free Trade Conference that we definitely oppose. The cost for the event was paid for by a rider to the $87 Billion Iraq bill.

John Kalter’s backtalk

I am writing in reference to the exchange between Ran HaCohen and John Kalter.

I would like to point out that Mr. HaCohen is hardly the first Israeli to reveal the affinity between Israeli policies against the Palestinians and the crimes of Nazi Germany. Consider the diary of Yosef Nahmani, the original version of which was recently uncovered by the Israeli historian, Benny Morris.

Yosef Nahmani was director of the Jewish National Fund office in the Eastern Galilee between 1935 and 1965, and was a senior member of the Yishuv’s first military organization, the HaShomer.

During operation Hiram, which was meant to “cleanse” the inner Galilee of its native Arab population, Yosef Nahmani witnessed and recorded the following events:

“In Safsaf, after… the (Palestinian) inhabitants had raised a white flag, the (Jewish soldiers) collected and separated the men and women, tied the hands of fifty-six fellahin (Palestinian peasants) and shot and killed them and buried them in a pit. Also, they raped several women…. At Eilaboun and Farradiya the soldiers had been greeted with white flags and rich food, and afterwards had ordered the villagers to leave, with their women and children. When the villagers had begun to argue… (the soldiers) had opened fire and after some thirty people were killed…. In Saliha, where a white flag had been raised, …they (Jewish soldiers) had killed about sixty-seventy men and women. Where did they come by such a measure of cruelty, like Nazis? … Is there no more humane way of expelling the inhabitants than by such methods?”

You may find these passage quoted in: Benny Morris, “Falsifying the Record: A Fresh Look at Zionist Documentation of 1948,” Journal of Palestinian Studies, Volume 24, Issue 3, (Spring, 1995), pp. 55 and 60.

Although Benny Morris is Israeli, a self-professed Zionist, and a recently born-again Likudnik, he has done more to reveal the truth about Israel’s dark past than any other single historian. For obvious reasons, the original version of Yosef Nahmani’s diaries were conveniently edited by the publishers in order to delete the offending passages. Nor are these atrocities at all unique, but were reproduced with efficient brutality in Deir Yassin, as well as several other towns and villages, both prior to and during the 1948 war. The Israeli myth of “Tohar Hanushek” (purity of arms), and the attendant notion that the IDF is the “most moral army in the world,” is just that, a national myth which has been revealed to be a ridiculous but useful lie.

Thank you Mr. HaCohen, for your bravery, and shame on those who wish to deny the obvious reality of Israel’s inhuman treatment of the native Palestinian population.

~ Ishmael M.

November 17 Backtalk

M.W. Brown, Chicago, Illinois: This is a reply to the folks talking about the American presence in Occupied Europe. And I’m fully aware this probably won’t get printed. Where are your sources for rape stats?

Nick Turse: The sources of these statistics are available at the US National Archives, see:

CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION BRANCH, OFFICE OF THE THEATER PROVOST MARSHAL, SEMI-ANNUAL REPORT, JUNE-DEC. 1944 (1944) – and – European Theater of Operation Historical Division, Department of War, Criminal Investigation Branch, in HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF THE THEATER PROVOST MARSHAL, European Theater of Operations USA: 1 OCT. 1944-8 MAY 1945, § III, at App. A (1945) (statistical graphs).

MWB: Why not mention the stats of German soldiers in Poland, Czech, Russia, etc.?

NT: Basically, because they were not integral to the discussion at hand, despite their obvious relevance in their own right. Moreover, I’ve never seen such statistics, but would be glad to see them. Do you have a source? In any case, I don’t think many would argue that the Nazis were not a vile and vicious lot. Those interested in a chronicle of Nazi sexual atrocities ought to read Susan Brownmiller’s seminal work: Against Our Will, which contains a section on US sexual atrocities in Vietnam, as well.

MWB: You can cite the Parisian girl and I can get 100 who were at least a little pleased to see the GI’s in both Germany and France and elsewhere. …

NT: Actually, I cited the US military’s own statistics, not French documents (or girls). As for your offer to provide a survey of 100 civilians, please do so. I’d be interested in seeing it.

MWB: How do reconcile the vile American with German statements like the following, “The Russians promise everything and deliver nothing. The British promise nothing and deliver nothing. The American promise nothing and deliver everything.” This was a popular German phrase that I learned from my father’s German girlfriend. … Yes, the Americans are a beastly lot. Better we should have stayed on our side of the Atlantic and Pacific. Sanctioned all sides and sat back and watched the slaughter. At least the German /French women would have been safe from the American barbarians. …

NT: How about, instead: better we not rape and abuse those we liberate. Why must this be an either /or proposition?

MWB: Puking at such pusillanimous pedantics.

NT: Hope you feel better soon.

While stationed in Naples, Italy from 1961 to 1964 I talked to many locals about their experiences during WWII. Many people told me that during the German occupation women were safe in the streets, and God help the German soldier caught abusing a local female – the punishment was harsh. However, when the Allies arrived everything changed. Woman had to hide because rape by the GI´s was so common. I was quite proficient in the language and totally shocked the first time I heard such a story, so continued asking around, even the local prostitutes, who knew what was going on everywhere in the city and up to date on military secretes as well. The fact is that I never heard anything to the contrary, well meaning people simple wouldn´t talk about it.

Those were the very same people who broke down and cried in public when my president was assassinated – truly proud days to be an American.

~ Wally Cole

The Tip of the Iceberg

Read the article of November 14, 2003, written by Nick Turse, which must be the truth.

Vietnam changed the morality of America in many ways. I’m not saying it was moral before, but Vietnam has brought us many of our day’s problems too numerous to mention.

I am “a 1964 length of service military retiree” who has been BETRAYED by the government I serve during and over three major engagements in them, i.e., the government, reneging on our retired pay. After 432,000 of us had done our time for retirement they changed the way retired pay would be paid in the future and we, remains of that BETRAYAL, have endured a 1/4 less monthly retired pay. A pay discrimination or “hidden tax on us.”

Also, Medicare did not even exist when I retired, but I “knew” that I had earned lifelong health care. Then in the 1970s congress decreed that once we attain age 65 and no longer subject to recall to active duty that if we wanted health care, “Go to Social Security and sign up and pay for Medicare Part B.” This after my retired pay had been emasculated and based on the LOW DRAFT ERA PAY.

Our son spent two years and 18 consecutive days in Vietnam as a combat medic. They broke all promises to him at 10 months service over there sending him home in April 1970 as: “A designated drug addict.” What drug? Of course: Amphetamines.

Gave him a dishonorable discharge, stigmatized for life as a 19-year-old. We, my wife of over 55 years, and, I, ain’t seen him in over 19 years. A sad case about which I’m writing a book.

Keep up the good work Nick.

~ W.D. Gray, Illinois

Jeffrey Briggs’ backtalk

As I was reading some of your letters; one of your readers wanted something of a poem to reflect our feelings on this mess in Iraq. So I took a few moments to jot some thoughts down, not much but some feelings we all might want to share. …

~ Manny C., Florida

Sam Koritz replies:

I‘m sorry but Backtalk has a strict no-poems policy.

Four Former Heads Of Israeli Security Speak Out

Charley Reese is among the best. The article about the four Israeli former security heads opinions is one of the best. “Go get ’em,” the leaders shout from New York and Washington to the Israelis. “The check is in the mail.”

Personally, I am tired of signing blank checks for Bush and friends when our Texas school system can’t even fund school buses among a myriad of things I thought I was taxed for.

~ Richard Wilkinson Ponder, Texas

When four Shin Bet heads speak out against the policies of the Sharon government we should all listen carefully.

These men can see the writing on the wall, they see the demise of Israel as a Democratic Jewish state if the Sharon government policies continue. The course being pursued by the Sharon government is state sponsored ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from a greater Israel by coercion, confiscation and destruction of property, economic hardship, untenable living conditions and exile. Sharon never intended to follow any “Roadmap” that would lead to a two-state solution, nor would he ever accept a single state solution where Palestinians would outnumber Jews in a pluralist democratic society.

In the climate of fear created by the Iraq war and the “War on Terrorism,” the introduction of such euphemisms as “transfer” for ethnic cleansing into the lexicon desensitizes the American populace to radical and extreme behavior by its ally. The more the occupation forces in Iraq behave like the IDF, the more parallels that can be drawn between Israel and the US fighting the same “War on Terrorism,” the more likely Sharon can continue to pursue his dream of a Greater Israel and full control of Jerusalem. …

~ Cherie J.

Contact the Commish

Contact the White House to demand that they allow full disclosure of the facts pertaining to 9/11. The fact that the White house is trying to control what is available to the commission, can only mean for some reason, the White House does not want the truth to be found.

3000 people lost their lives and so many more lives were change irrevocably on that day. They deserve the truth and if we don’t have the truth, how can we stop history repeating itself? Please contact the Commission and the White House: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

We need ‘The Truth, The Whole Truth and nothing but The Truth.” No matter who it leads to. …

~ Jackie L.

Conrad Black and the Corruption of Empire

Congratulations to you for such a steady stream of well researched and linked pages. It is great to discover that actually Americans can have a passionate interest in justice and truth. It helps counteract the gloom that spreads through your mind whenever you think about the Prime Minister’s role in recent events.

~ TD, UK

MI6 Ran ‘Dubious’ Iraq Campaign

Ritter is correct but nothing will ever become of his charges. They will be added to the “issue-go-round” which is a term I coined a few years back when I worked in the corporate world. When some issue arose that needed to be acted upon and top management was unsure of how to proceed they would tell you to go out and get some more bids or studies done. That was a their way of keeping the wheels spinning while actually doing nothing about the subject in question.

Remember all of the talk about Blair losing the confidence of his government and the people? Well we don’t hear much about it any more, do we? The issue go round is just a process by which controversial claims and charges are allowed to come to the fore where they are batted around for awhile and then flushed down the memory hole.

When someone in the future brings up this event: “do you remember when MI6 was charged with cooking intelligence about Iraq?” the answer will be, “Oh they checked into that but nothing ever became of it”. You know that Ritter, “he was a disgruntled former employee with an ax to grind”.

~ KW

100,000 Troops in Iraq Until 2006

Leaving aside what anyone else tell you, think about it. Look at Northern Ireland. Troops have been there for 800 years.

Look at Kosovo or Bosnia. How long are troops going to be there? Some have already said 50 years. Personally I think it will be a lot closer to 250 years.

Now, here’s the clever political bit. The politician have already said that there will be no occupation after the Iraq government is formed.

Ah, but there will be, only it will be called something else. After the ‘Iraqi government’, really the American puppet government, is formed the so-called Iraq government will ‘invite’ the Americans to stay, and hence they will not be an occupying force but part of a joint defence force.

~ George Blahusiak, Australia

Lesser-Known Stories from the Only Democracy in the Middle East

Ran HaCohen is one of the most exciting and intelligent writers today on this “conflict.” His objectivity is remarkable. Not since Uri Avnery have I been as impressed with an Israeli writer! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to read his work!

~ Angie F.

New Colombian Military Chief’s ‘Slap’ in US’ Face

While, in substance, I agree with the worldwide efforts to improve human rights abuses, there are several points I would like to make. On this, allow me to say that I feel perfectly qualified, having lived through The Terror here in Peru, when Shinning Path was determined to bring gloom to our country. We (my family and myself) did not run away from here.

Only blind, idealistic do-gooders will push for such immediate reversals of procedures. By this I mean that there is such a thing as socio-cultural dynamics in societies which do not change overnight. To bluntly use an example: the rapacious nature of all capitalism (and I am not a left-winger or libertarian), at present exemplified by the American corporate culture, breeds hatred in those who suffer it.

Of course, it is always possible to say that nothing illegal was done, so that those affected are only complaining because: (a) they are losers (favourite slur) or (b) “they envy us” (another favourite slur) or (c) they are backward people “who do not understand how the world works” (which shows a particularly heartless perspective). But no matter how much this hatred of America is bubbling over (we can see it daily now), socio-cultural dynamics has prevented any change or concession being made. WE are RIGHT; YOU are WRONG, is the message. It works that way everywhere.

If meddling, foreign-based ‘human right groups’ are so interested in getting things done right, why don’t they start by setting their own house in order? Let’s forgo the too-often-used examples of ‘Native and Afro-Americans’ and concentrate on the refusal of the American state to submit to World Court rulings. The argument that their soldiers would be arraigned there “for political reasons” is as hollow as a gourd; just as hollow as the argument used to defend the use of landmines and cluster bombs. What, if not political motivations, can be pushing the agendas of these meddling ‘rights’ groups in blanket accusations against abuses? Do we ever hear them condemn the guerrillas or terrorists for abuses? During the 10 years we lived in daily fear we heard nothing from these wispy Wilsonians. Did they defend the REAL rights of those tortured and maimed by Shinning Path? Do they expect governments to fight heartless and desperate organizations with wimps and moralists?

Maybe a salutary doze of ‘reality’ – the REAL one, not the sanitized TV version which only shows the side of the story which sells – would cure them of their ill-founded illusions. Let them come and share, not the comforts of air-conditioned rooms, but the hardship of the common people struggling to make ends meet while terrorists are trying to destroy their lives. Let them come and work here and try to earn a living while their fellows push sanctions and badmouth us after having seen two pieces of news in Fox or CNN. Let them come and forgo their cushy lodgings and fat paycheck to do some real work and risk their necks like we do daily; and see a large part of their efforts hampered by the hatred we hold for their empty, immoral and meddling value judgments.

Maybe they could … write a new book on how to survive in such an unfair, cruel environment, in economies hamstrung by American market-cornering; while the American state calls for ‘modernization’ of the political and economic establishments. Maybe then they would come to realize that so many empty words are much worse than doing nothing, and may finally grow up into the real world and come to their senses.

As for “human rights abuses”, why don’t they prosecute those soldiers (and their commanders) who tie up young children in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or is it because these children are not white, blue-eyed Caucasians? Most of the world isn’t, you know?

Hoping that some of these ‘organizations’ read this piece and get something out of it may be too much to ask, but it may start some other, more down-to-earth, people thinking what use these NGO’s really are; besides collection pools for otherwise unemployable sociologists and others of their ilk.

~ Leonard Hussey

TV Party

On Sunday, December 7, 2003, will hold thousands of house parties across the country to show a new documentary “Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the The Iraq War.” This 56 minute documentary will clearly describes, in the words of experts and former intelligence officials, how The Bush Administration manipulated evidence to take America to war.

These House Parties will be brought together through a huge cross-country Conference Call which will take place at 5:30PM PST /8:80PM EST. Party attendees will be able to speak to Director Robert Greenwald, the team, and guests from parties all over the country. You’ll also be able to submit question for Mr. Robert Greenwald and the team online. would like to invite everyone to attend the advent. To find out which area is airing the documentary just log on to: …

~ Lamont Lipford

New Leak Smells of Neocon Desperation

Fascinating and good to see that this administration is increasingly lame, unable to orchestrate the media anywhere near as effectively as it has in the past. The lies and dishonesty are catching up. With luck the American public will see on their news that George’s trip to the UK has not been a great success – that it is not America or its people that Europe dislikes but the crook who is and would again be president. It is George who is unwelcome in Britain, it is George who is unloved and distrusted by the Europeans – nothing to do with the American people generally nor the country. Demonstrators in London this week have amongst their number – and very welcome they are too – many, many Americans who wish to show the world and this idiot that he acts and speaks, perhaps in their name but neither with permission nor with their voice!

Great stuff!

~ Charles Craske, UK

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