Collateral Damage in Bush’s Wars

I downloaded and listened to your interview with Matthew Barganier. In general it was good, but I was disappointed by your weak argument in support of investigating the underlying causes for September 11. We should be defensive about this. May recommend a better (in my view) line of argument.

We want to prevent terrorism, and to do this we must known our enemy. This is simple military strategy. I quote Sun Tzu’s Art Of War (end of chapter 3):

Therefore I say: “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.

When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning and losing are equal.

If ignorant of both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”

The most important aspect of knowing your enemy is understanding his mind. Without this, you cannot predict is behavior, or come up with a strategy likely to change that behavior to your own advantage. People who refuse to examine the mindset and motivations of terrorists are willfully ignoring the most crucial information required to confront the threat. This isn’t a matter of sympathizing with them, merely a cold calculation on how to defeat them.

Personally I think the willful ignorance is often deliberate. They are have thought a little about, realize what would be required, and find it so politically repugnant that they prefer to ignore it.

~ Ian Miller, UK

Matthew Barganier replies:

You’re certainly right about the need to examine underlying causes. I didn’t realize that I had been weak on that, but if I was, let me now emphasize my support for such a discussion.

Chinese and US Bluffs

To tell you the truth, I can’t understand Taiwanese fears. If they are not going to unilaterally declare independence, they have nothing to fear. One can easily find a parallel in the U.S. Civil War. If the South didn’t act to get separated from the Union, would they have to fear the wrath from the rest of the country? When you and all Americans enjoy a wholesome union today, please do not act like a saint and pretend you care about Taiwanese. With all the munitions the US sells to Taiwan and the strategic interest involved, one can understand its ‘lofty’ motive very well, if I don’t know yours.

FYI, Taiwanese is not a race or nation. Chinese call them Taiwanese because they are Chinese who live in the Taiwan Province, much like Texans are Americans who live in the State of Texas.

~ R. Chan

Sascha Matuszak replies:

There is a parallel between the US Civil War and the Taiwan issue: Both deal with separatism.

But there are also fundamental difference, which may help you understand what Taiwanese fear:

The South had a vast population of slaves who had no civil rights. Concerning Taiwan and the Mainland, the Mainland has a vast population of farmers and workers with few if any civil rights.

In the US civil war, the part of the nation with less civil liberty wanted to secede. In the Taiwan issue, it is the part of the nation with more civil liberty that (may or may not) want to secede.

Also, Beijing has reneged on Deng Xiao Ping’s promise to grant full democracy to Hong Kong. Instead, Beijing has taken what little democracy Hong Kong had away. Taiwanese have probably noticed this.

Taiwan’s election may have been a debacle, but they are still allowed to have one and debate the results publicly and freely without the fear of having government troops round them up and ship them to Inner Mongolia.

So the price of stability in China is a continued problem with Taiwan.

Question: how unstable do you think China would become if Hong Kong could elect their representatives instead of having them appointed by Beijing?

Who Won World War II?

So the German officers who tried to assassinate Hitler were as evil as he was?!

~ FL Millner

Ran HaCohen replies:

No. The officers who tried to assassinate Hitler were not a State. A thug raping a woman is a crime; a State giving an order to its soldier to rape a woman is a crime of a totally different dimension.

The Long Ignominious Slide to Defeat in Iraq

Your organization should really scrutinize your wording of these releases.

To call former US Servicemembers mercenaries when they are working for a private, recognized firm within the US is a gross breach of conduct. Also a slap in the face of those families. But I guess you can’t complain to much about a paper that ranks on lines of The Globe and other TABLOIDS. You folks are so lucky you are protected by the constitution and soldier’s who have fought, died and mourned for those rights.

Grow up and start acting responsible and quit slapping the soldiers and their families.

~ Edwin Garcia

Eric Garris replies:

In what sense are they NOT mercenaries? You did not explain that.

Pray tell me from where does your columnist Ivan Eland gets his interpretation that Iraq is sliding into civil war. Surely a civil war involves factions from the native population fighting one another. What is occurring in Iraq now is a full scale revolt against the occupying forces that is uniting Iraqis from both sides of the sectarian divide. Iraqis
battling foreign occupiers does not constitute a civil war but a popular uprising against an illegal, immoral and corrupt foreign occupation.

~ Dean Moriarty (UK)

Upside Down

Here is the real deal. I am a retired warrant officer with 20 years of active duty in the US Army. IF I were in the military service today I would not go to Iraq to fight a war for a bunch of politicians in Washington, DC. We already give $4 billion dollars to Israel each year to keep them independent. Why give Iraq billions of dollars to keep them subservient? The world is turned upside down and it won’t get better until about 5.5 billion people die off so that the remaining souls can be sustained without the use of fossil fuels.

~ Jeff Morgan

A Call for an Exit Door from Iraq

Sir, thank you for finally stating what is on all of our minds. I hope that there are more like you in the Senate that are ready to challenge Mr. Bush and his policies. As I recall the executive branch should not have as much power as he has been displaying. Please for the lives all that are serving in Iraq, Bush\Co. must be made accountable.

~ LCpl Steven M Dunning

Like Ike

In 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a Republican candidate for president and ex-wartime hero, vowed that he would go to Korea to extricate the nation from the mess that macho General Douglas MacArthur had gotten us into when he crossed the Yalu River into China. Did he intensify the war to achieve total victory? Did he say that our resolve is unshakable; that we will prevail; that he was proud of our troops. No, by compromise he got us a draw, a stalemate which exists to this day. Was he pilloried by the press and the Democrats for that? Was he called a traitor, or at least an appeaser? No. He was hailed for his achievement and easily reelected in 1956. Have we learned nothing from that example? Why is it necessary to achieve “total victory” in Iraq? Why do we try to bring democracy to the Iraqi people even if it kills them? At what cost to the American taxpayer, that is to those of us who can’t escape taxes as most corporations and many of the rich can according to the latest news? Why can’t we call it quits as Eisenhower did? Won’t everyone be better off? Would we have been better off if President Eisenhower had sent more troops to Korea and upped the fighting as George Bush and that other presidential candidate want to do in Iraq? Why can’t George be like Ike? Perhaps Karen Hughes and Karl Rove can find a way out without having him say he’s sorry. Condi Rice and the rest won’t so why should he? We’ll understand.

~ Daniel Zamos

Delete Without Reading

Your website is evil and hateful. If you respond to this letter, I will delete your reply without reading it.

~ Anonymous

Jose L. Perez: YOU make me sick, you guys say you support the troops. WELL I am a troop and I rather die with my brothers in IRAQ and feel proud of our service than to see people like you saying you support us. YOU want to support us, pick a weapon up and come join the fight. YOU SUCK BUDDY! LONG LIVE AMERICA AND GEORGE BUSH! I have seen many of my fellow soldiers and they have all said we are doing good things here. SO F*CK OFF! GO SUPPORT SADDAM AND OSAMA BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING!

Mike Ewens: If the troops were fighting for my freedom or liberty, I would support them in the way that you imply that I should. Considering they aren’t fighting for such things, I will support them the only way that I can: demand they be brought home now.

JLP: We will continue to fight, we do as our President asks and once the order is given we fight for freedom, GO to Iraq and see the families lined up by the insurgents and shot, just ’cause they wanted to be free. YOU probably have not even visited the place. Get a life buddy. The next Iraqi insurgent I kill when I go back I will think of you, I will kill him in your name. LONG LIVE PRESIDENT BUSH! FOUR MORE YEARS!

ME: Ironic, isn’t it Jose? You – an apparent soldier – “fight for my freedoms,” presumably one of those being freedom of speech. When I exercise that right, you shun me, give implicit death threats and scream. First, what kind of man implicitly threatens another individual who has not coerced him?

Second, you never addressed my point: that the war on Iraq has nothing to do with freedom and may, in all likelihood diminish it. I agree that there were many unfree Iraqis before America invaded, however, nowhere in the US Constitution (which you as a soldier are meant to protect and serve) does it delineate an American responsibility to save them, especially not when other, more pressing issues are at hand (read: American security and the war on terror). Furthermore, who says that the US military /government is any good at freeing foreigners. The latter has failed at schooling the majority of our children, eliminating poverty and curing unemployment. I follow an ideology which believes that the government cannot fix these things and thus should be removed from trying. The same principle follows for the military “saving” and “freeing” the world. Protect me, my mother, friends and all Americans first… save foreigners on your own time and money.

I will respond to any relevant points you may have on this topic, while I hope that you refrain from spreading more violence and death.

I happen to disagree with the views put forth from this website. I respect the opinion of others, however some of the things said on this website anger and sadden me. What good is it to protest a war that we are in the middle of and can’t pull out of. Of course we could pull out of Iraq now and let the country fall into ruin. Even if the US did make a mistake of going into Iraq, we shouldn’t lash out against president Bush and the troops. The only thing that this accomplishes is destroying any morale that the young men fighting in Iraq have. Also, it saddens me to see so many people lashing out at president Bush. I think its every Americans duty to show at least a little respect to our president.

~ Noah H.

Mike Ewens replies:

Who says that we can’t pull out? Should we have “stayed the course” in Vietnam? America has no obligation to prevent civil war or unrest in foreign nations. Besides that, it has a horrible record of attempting to do so (Haiti, Vietnam, Kosovo, Somalia….. on and on).

So from both a principled (in this case, with regard to the Constitution) and an empirical (America sucks at intervention) standpoint, we should get out now.

Why does the President demand my respect? Respect has to be earned. His position does not grant him an unswerving right to the utmost respect. That is what totalitarians and kings demand.

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