Pfc. Staley’s backtalk

I hope you understand that when soldiers like PFC Staley complain about Antiwar.com being “a slap in the face” to his brothers fighting for our country, they have no idea of what they are talking about.

I felt the same way when I was a Marine in Vietnam. All the peace marchers were communists and only those overseas willing to kill and be killed were real Americans. It takes a while for a young man to throw off the brainwashing the service puts you through. They have to do that in order to get you to follow orders. It takes a lot of work by the military to get young Americans to the point they are willing to kick in the doors of civilians and to take away the fathers of crying little kids. It takes a lot of training to convince basically honest, good, young Americans that it is in our country’s interest to attack civilian areas and that the deaths of those mothers and their children are just a cost of war.

I am sure in years to come PFC Staley will realize that he was used like so many other young Americans over the years. He will suffer the guilt so many veterans have and just maybe, he will join some antiwar group and help stop the madness of future wars.

~ James Glaser


Kipling’s Brutal Epitaph

Yes, sir, Mr. Buchanan, another excellent article! And your description of what France asked for (and got) in Versailles is correct:

“But, above all, Clemenceau wanted Germany driven off the west bank of the Rhine, forced to rebuild war-ravaged France, stripped of lands and people and so weakened she would never threaten Paris again.”

But once he got it, it was him “Le Tigre” who knew precisely what this “treaty” meant: “It’s not a peace treaty – it’s just an armistice!” And part 2 of this war then started on Sept. 1939, 05:45.

The cost of this criminal aggression against Iraq nobody can even guess at this point in time. …

~ Rainer Vogel, Germany

Another great commentary from Pat Buchanan! Pat has been one of the few who have been consistent in opposing the Iraq policy going back to the first Gulf War. The very idea that a Christian army would be able to change the culture of Iraq is totally delusional. It seems to me that the lessons of Vietnam have long been forgotten by the American public. The biggest lesson being that the civilian leadership “misled” us about the reality on the ground, the very same thing seems to be happening in Iraq.

The first Gulf War is another example of the same thing, but in that case few American lives were lost and it became a great victory, at least it was perceived as such. I agreed with Pat Buchanan back during the Gulf War for reasons that just were to me so obvious. Who in their right mind would ever go to war, or send a loved one to go fight for the Sabah family of Kuwait! Also we argued that it would only lead to worse relations between Arab and the U.S. That is the bottom line period! Saddam is a bad guy, but guess what! Every one of the dictators of the Middle East is generally as bad as Saddam. No human rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, etc. It’s just that those countries play the money game with big business, so human rights and democracy can take a back seat.

I voted for Pat, and hope that more conservatives catch on to the message of him and others, like Ron Paul, Kevin Phillips and others. I would like to see the media expose more of the scandals of private companies getting to have contracts from the government to feed soldiers and drive supply convoys (you know, things that regular G.I.’s used to do). Where are real conservatives when it comes to this scam that rips off the taxpayer? These companies mark up the cost of service many times, these things should be done by the military, like it was in times past! It should not be done by companies that are interested in making money off of the war. The people they hire are mercenaries! Not “private contractors.”

It frustrates me that more people don’t seem to see the obvious connection between certain politicians, talking head commentators like you see on the cable news shows, and big business that seems to have a financial interest in the war.

~ Jeff Smothers, Denton, Texas


Balkans and the EU

I can share with Mr. Malic his doubts about EU. I would express many of them myself. Knowing now how Solana & co. act and why.

However, I do not see why would be much better under “Serbian Balkan Union”? Namely, Mr. Malic finally shows his true political face: “Their (EU) preferred method of controlling Serbia is through amputation – first Kosovo ‘and Montenegro’, then …”

Since when, Mr. Malic, Montenegro was a “part of Serbia”? Now is clear that you are dreaming about Greater Serbia that would enclose all “Serbian lands”. Including Montenegro which never was a part of Serbia (except for 150 period of occupation by medieval Nemanjic state (Raska Ras) and 1918-1941 when Montenegro was brutally occupied by Serbs and joined with blessing of Europe to Karadjordjevic’s Yugoslavia (betrayed by its war “friends” and allies: France, UK, etc., now EU that is again trying to “reward” Serbia for “loss of their territories” by forcing Montenegro to stay in a doomed Union of states of Serbia & Montenegro)

I am really surprised how you had succeeded to persuade people at Antiwar.com that you are “peace lover”. It is obvious that you are enemy of one Empire (USA) and lover of another (Greater Serbia – right or wrong). In any case, that does not qualify you either as an expert on “empires” and even less as “antiwar” supporter. You can’t be both. At the same time.

I bet that you would tomorrow support with great passion war of Serbia against “secessionist” state of Montenegro.

(For those who do not know the history of Balkans, Montenegro had an independent kingdom hundred years before Serbia – in Byzantine times – and was independent territory from Ottomans while Serbia was under their rule – for about 500 years – and finally they both got international recognition as independent states at Berlin Congress in 1878. So there is no doubts about the fact that Montenegro is not – never was – a part of Serbia. If we do not count periods of Serbian occupations but in that case Turkey can claim that Serbia is part of its state.)

~ Danilo Stojanovic

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Ad hominems and twisting people’s words are generally the two most distasteful types of arguments out there. I usually don’t bother responding to either. But this angry letter does raise, tangentially, a valid question: What is Montengro’s position in relation to Serbia? It is pretty clear from historical records that the heartland of today’s Montenegro has been a separate polity throughout most its history. The coerced union with Serbia at the end of WW1 originated in the same minds that championed Yugoslavia – and on the record, I’ve criticized that project as misguided, albeit by necessity posthumously. Montenegro indeed isn’t a part of Serbia.

However, it is a part of Serbian culture – and a major one, if I might add. From the farmers in the fields to the bishop-princes and kings, people of Montenegro identified themselves as ethnic Serbs for centuries. As a believer in power of secession as the ultimate check on the power of government, I do not oppose Montenegro’s independence. However, I see it as being championed not by partisans of political and economic liberty, but by self-serving politicians acting out of greed (for money and power) and in the interest of the Empire as a tool against Serbia. These people are committing a crime against their own people, denying their faith, language and culture and trying to impose artificial ones, all in the name of “independence” that is really just local statism. Instead of a “tyrant” in Belgrade (for the sake of argument), they would have a dozen in Lovcen. If the people of Montenegro support that, all right. But given that majority declares their language as Serbian, and as many oppose secession as support it, seems to me the independence movement is not what it bills itself to be.

As for a “war” between Serbia and Montenegro, it is an empty threat invoked by fear-mongers. Even if it somehow came to pass (it’s the Balkans; nothing is impossible), I could never endorse it. It would be a war of aggression – whether provoked by Montenegrin separatists courting violence to gain legitimacy (a la Izetbegovic in Bosnia), or by a Serbian regime somehow intent on annexing the republic, which even the most extremist political forces have not seriously suggested – and as a libertarian, I can never endorse any war of aggression anywhere. Ever.


The Ill-Wind of the Draft

Three cheers and more for Ivan Eland’s piece opposing a draft. Should it come to pass, all it will accomplish is create ever more cannon fodder for our living room warriors to attack Iran, Syria, et. al. In a season of very bad errors (see Iraq) this may be the worst.

~ Murray Polner

Your article not address the problem regarding the great need for military personnel and the fact that the system we now have is only appealing to the poor families and kids. We have a neighbor girl who signed up for the “Guards” so she could get a college education. The recruiter at the high school pitched how patriotic it was, how people would respect her, how she could help out her family, etc. She is 18 years old; the most sheltered, naive, small-town, church-raised ideological target you can imagine. She has been to boot camp, basic training, and just got her phone call that she is on high alert, probably to go to Iraq. These past 9 months, off and on, she has worked at a local restaurant just to keep busy, but her entrance to college is probably at least another year down the road. She is totally unprepared for the nasty real world! She would be a fine candidate to help out in a natural disaster and such functions as we normally think of for the “guards.”

The fact that the kids of rich people, influentials, congresspersons, etc. are not affected by the situation facing us is a travesty. I believe EVERY FAMILY should share the burden – it is going to be many years of easy sledding for the people who are not affected – easy for them to say we are doing the right thing – as long as other people’s kids are going to war. In all fairness, we need to spread the misery (universal draft) to all levels of society. The “rich” are the privileged royalty in this country, and it is getting more true all the time.

~ Jean Christensen, Litchfield, Minnesota


Neoconservatism Versus Libertarianism

I applaud Justin Raimondo for articulating some of the fundamental flaws with the Libertarian Party. As a former LP member who has grown disgusted by the Party’s actions since 9/11, reading this article underscores what I have been saying about the LP since early 2002. The LP lacks serious leadership and is infested with Republicans disguised as libertarians. The party leadership’s continued focus on the War on Drugs as the only war they care about is a slap in the face of party members who have hitched their carts to the LP’s because of their supposed party-wide opposition to war and imperialism.

Now is the time when the LP should be getting major media exposure by embracing the anti war movement, if even only in a temporary alliance. The current antiwar movement in the US is largely a left-wing buffet of groups, parties and misanthropes, for sure. What is apparent now though is that many soldiers’ families are looking for an outlet to express their anger and frustration with the war and their feelings against it, but are turned off by the very left-wing buffet I mentioned. If the LP would get on board the anti war movement in a serious fashion it would begin to pick up major support from this group who would begin to find other aspects of the LP platform attractive, such as its policies regarding taxes, civil liberties and other issues that conservative leaning folks like.

Another area in which the LP has fallen woefully far behind in is the one area where I personally tried to make a difference when I served as Internet Coordinator for the Indiana LP in 2001. Use of the Internet as an organizing tool, fundraiser and educational effort has exploded within the Democrat and Republican parties, but the LP seems content to rely on one decent national website and a patchwork of state and local party sites that range from amateurish to mediocre. Uses of the Internet as a fundraising tool are nearly non existent and forget about organizational or educational use. Most LP Internet efforts are relegated to party propaganda billboards which are designed for the party faithful and not for the outsider coming by for a look-see.

The party just doesn’t get it when it comes to PR efforts. At a time when the LP should be the voice of reason the party is complaining of a sore throat. It needs to take seriously the idea that playing to the media and promoting ones message is not an abandonment of principle like so many in the LP leadership believes it is. You can take principled stands as a talking head on Fox News so long as you suck up to the producers to get on the show in the first place.

Schmoozing is something we all hate to do but humans love to be schmoozed and this is primarily how you get to be a talking head. The LP leadership needs to hire a PR firm to articulate its case to these folks and instead of buying $80,000 ads in the Washington Times to run a spoof ad of the drug czar’s ads right after 9/11 use its member’s dues to pay for someone to properly articulate the case for libertarianism to the general public. Once they do that I may consider a return to the fold.

~ Joh Padgett

“But what kind of local races is the LP running? In California, where I’ve lived for the past 30-plus years, the party is fielding a full slate of candidates for … local Water Boards, local Community College Boards, and a host of other obscure elected offices – hardly the sort of races that lend themselves to discussions of foreign policy. But why not run for Congress, in races where both ‘major’ candidates represent the two-party consensus on the war and our interventionist foreign policy?

Putting aside, for a moment, the fact that our city council here in my home town of Santa Cruz debates foreign policy regularly, I’ve found that if you want people to pay respectful attention to you, it is good policy to first pay respectful attention to them. It is hard for me to believe that you have even checked in with the CA LP, much less paid any reasonable attention to them at all in the past several months. Otherwise, you would certainly know by now that the CA LP is running a very credible candidate for US Senate, James Gray. You may like or dislike, agree or disagree with him, but how can you not even mention him: a sitting Superior Court judge, former Navy JAG, US Prosecutor and Peace Corps volunteer? Then again, if you did, that would certainly undercut your own argument that the LP in CA is content to be a political wallflower – always coming to the prom but shying away from the dance itself. It’s a convenient myth, but it doesn’t wash when the LP fields candidates of the caliber of Judge Gray.

True, Gray’s prime issue is ending the Drug War – a focus you denigrated in your article without specifically mentioning Gray or his platform. On the other hand, Judge Gray also vigorously opposes the PATRIOT act, so it is not as if he is completely oblivious to your area of greatest concern. As far as I can see, you two are on the same sides of the War in Iraq and War on Terrorism issues. Politically, you seem like natural allies, so I would be surprised to hear that you didn’t support his campaign; if you don’t support Judge Gray, I would be curious to learn the reasons why.

Finally, Gray has challenged his incumbent opponent, Barbara Boxer, to debate. Here is where we would get a wonderful discussion of foreign policy, if Ms. Boxer would deign to accept the challenge. Might Antiwar.com help convince her to debate Judge Gray?

Thanks for your attention. To pay more attention to Judge Jim Gray’s campaign for US Senate from California, please visit JudgeJimGray4Senate.com.

~ James Merritt, Santa Cruz, CA

In Justin Raimondo’s recent article he writes: “We didn’t have any magazines, or any thinktanks – aside from the relatively small Foundation for Economic Freedom…” I believe he was referring to Leonard Read’s Foundation for Economic Education.

He goes on: “At a time when libertarians ought to be providing political as well as ideological leadership…” I would like to call his attention to one of Mr. Read’s favorite articles, Albert Jay Nock’s “Isaiah’s Job,” as well as an article Leonard wrote titled, “The Search For an Echo.” To quote Leonard: “The reason the interventionists have so many leaders is only because there is throughout our land a very substantial body of influential interventionist opinion. The ones out front who are popularly appraised as leaders are, in fact, not the real leaders. They are but echoes of an underlying opinion.” Mr. Read believed that only through a strict adherence to truth and sound principles would change occur. One should not alter his message to appease the masses or spend all his energies in Washington attempting to reform or elect politicians. Change occurs when the Remnant – the philosophers, the scholars, the preachers – exemplify and radiate a new ideology. The masses will then come into harmony with it and consequently elect politicians to office that support it. History will verify this. It is the Remnant that must be targeted, and we have no idea who specifically the Remnant are; we must only advance truth as we honestly see it and develop a degree of excellence within our selves so that others seek our tutorship.

It is interesting to note that after W.W.II FEE was the only libertarian think tank, as pointed out in the article. However, the seeds that it planted in the minds of others, the Remnant, so to speak, have bloomed and today there are dozens of such organizations and the ideas are now far more accessible and gaining greater acceptance.

Please me let know if he would like me to send him these articles, or anything else published by FEE or Leonard Read.

~ Bob Ewing, Spring intern, Foundation for Economic Education


Depravity as Liberation

Your column is brilliant as usual. I will be mentioning your important work in a book that I am writing for teachers entitled Bringing Light into the Darkness: A Guide to Teaching Peace, Empathy, and Understanding.


~ Chris Weber


9/11 and the Israeli Connection

I work in a pay area for the Defence Dept in Australia. My interest in Israel /Palestine is purely personal and private.

I haven’t read your book on what Israel knew in advance about 9/11. I think they did know and did not tell the US. I think what they knew played a key part in their decision to attack the Palestinians in September 2000.

By mid 2000 it was clear that baby Bush was the rep candidate for the presidency. There was a good chance that within a few months the next president of the US (for 4 years) would be a buffoon who would not know the difference between the West Bank and the West Wing. The Camp David charade took place in July 2000. Palestinians get blamed for lack of success at the summit. September 28, 2000 Sharon visits al-Harem al-Sharif. The next day Israeli police /military shoot dead 5 Palestinians, wound hundreds. Palestinians get blamed. US Presidential election November 2000. Bush wins. 9/11 attack happens.

Even if Gore had won, Israel would still have had 9/11 up its sleeve.

Wasn’t it fortunate for Israel that a year after launching war on the Palestinians to finish once and for all what they had set out to achieve in 1948, the US was all of a sudden involved in its own ‘war on terror’. This guaranteed continuing US support for Israeli aggression and US support for the next phase of Israel’s war of dispossession, the construction of the so-called ‘security’ wall.

How far would Israel have been able to push if Gore had won and there had been no attack on the US?

~ Shane McCartin


War Records

I am ex-military, having served 22 years in the Airborne Ranger, including two combat tours in Vietnam, with the 101st Tiger Force Recon Group. I have sat back for many months listening to the Bush spin machine and their personal attacks on John Kerry. The entire scenario is absurd. On one hand you have a decorated, volunteer veteran, who won one of our nation’s highest awards for valor, and on the other, our president, who was jumped over 513 men who were on the waiting list in front of him to join the Houston branch of the National Guard. Why? Plain and simple, to avoid the draft and combat in Vietnam that nearly two million other American men who were not so fortunate as to have an influential family, had to endure.

Have any of you ever wondered why the Alabama guard did not have a plane for George W to fly? It is simple, and a matter of public record. The Texas Guard was well known in military circles as being little more than a haven for sons of the rich to avoid having to deal with the Vietnam experience. The powers that be took no chances that any of their men would have any military value, so they trained their pilots on obsolete, Korean War vintage, F4 fighter jets. Planes that had long since been decomissioned. In order for George W. to have flown, the then modern jets that the Alabama Guard was flying, he would have had to go completely back through flight school again.

As far as the Army having lost part of George W’s service records, that is about as unlikely as it can get. In fact, three separate copies of his records would have had to been lost, from 3 different locations, and losing the archive copies, is really farfetched. The military guards this copy of all servicemen’s records because they are very important, and determine future retirement benefits, pensions and disability payments. After the Bush spin machine claimed that the military was careless with everyone’s service records, I did an experiment. I asked for my grandfather’s service records, who joined the US Calvary in 1903 and who retired in 1928, and my father’s service records who went into the Army Dec. 8, 1941, and who retired in 1966. I received both, and as far as I could determine, nothing was missing. Every month of service was accounted for by pay records, medical files, etc.

It seems as if veterans from Vietnam, have forgotten how poorly the war was actually run. Seemingly, over the passing of time, it has become this romantic experience, that really wasn’t so bad when you stopped and reflected upon it. Bullsh*t. We should have never been in Vietnam in the first place, and every vet knows it. It is not letting your dead brothers in arms down, to say we threw away the lives of over 58,000 of our nation’s finest.

Tell it like it was, not the way you wish it was. Kerry had the courage to come back to the world and tell America what it was really like, and the country recoiled in horror, but pretending that we Americans did not commit atrocities, will not make them go away. My outfit had one of the worst reputations for killing civilians as any outfit in Vietnam. Even the Pentagon admitted that 21 members of the unit should have been charged with crimes against humanity. How many rumors did you hear about entire villages being wiped out, then someone calling in a fire mission from the fly boys or an artillery unit to wipe out the evidence? Can I prove it? No, but those that were there, know that rumors of this happening were constant.

For you conservatives who are constantly beating the drums of war and who rubber stamp whatever George W does, be careful of what you wish for, you might just get it. Our military is so undermanned, that if we find ourselves in another conflict, it will be necessary to reinstitute the draft. Rumsfeld claims he has not even thought about it, but according to men in the 101st that I know, it has been a rumor in the military for nearly a year now, and scuttlebutt in the service is surprisingly accurate. War is interesting to watch on Fox News, but not so much fun when some idiot in some foreign land is trying to blow your head off. Patriotism goes right out the window as men die around you, and you wonder if you are next.

~ Clifford Edwards


City on a Hill

I‘m here in Latvia (we have around 100 soldiers who shouldn’t be in Iraq but are). I make a best effort of advocating libertarian nonintervention on an English-language forum, Latvians Online, which has its share of leftist, crypto-interventionists (via the UN, with US citizen’s taxes, etc.). Small countries, ultimately, benefit from nonintervention if, at the same time, they manage their own affairs rationally and keep an eye on potentially dangerous neighbors (we have Russia). Let America be a city on a hill that never sends its soldiers abroad to fight foreign wars and let us, here in the Baltic states, be neat little towns on small hills, open for trade and cordial relations with all nations, no business of our governments how they run their own affairs. If 100 Latvians (they are professional soldiers, not draftees) want to do whatever in Iraq, let them sign on as freebooters or privateers, not spend tax money and fly our flag where it does not belong.

~ Juris Kaza, Riga, Latvia

I am a Muslim woman from Malaysia. I discovered your website by chance while combing the Internet for sites that can relate to my anger and frustration about what’s going on in Iraq; the injustice, the continual killing of innocent civilians. It is sickening to see that America can get away with this sort of thing. I felt so helpless that it came to a point where I considered all Americans are evil and that the war in Iraq is a war against Islam. Thank God I found your site and now know there are decent Americans too who feel for the Iraqis and Palestinians. I wish you well and keep up the good work, for sure I will visit your from time to time.

~ Ainonaziz


US Combat Deaths in Iraq Top 150

Let me first start off by saying I’m not contacting you to change your views in any way about the war, that’s your right and its one of the rights that I and my fellow soldiers fight to preserve. I would like to clear up the statements that you have used on Antiwar.com. The question the reporter asked was, what’s it like to be in the turret in Baghdad? I gladly explained that you feel like a target and kinda like bait. The reason for that statement was the fact that the city of Baghdad and its wall through the neighborhood are about the same height as the roof of a humv so the gunner is in view at all times with nothing to separate him from would-be enemy, so all day long I ride around the city being seen and seeing all around me. I didn’t think the reporter was going to key on the phrases and not explain the meaning behind them.

As you may have guessed I am a patriot through and through and if my country calls me to war I go willingly without question. It really doesn’t matter the reason behind the fighting, what matters is that my country asked me to go into battle to represent its wishes and will, so I go as do many soldiers. That’s why what we do is called a sacrifice, we leave behind families and friends wives and children to ensure that our way of life is not infringed upon by outsiders. I support the President and his decision to put us in harms way to protect America from future attacks. What else can an American ask for but to defend the country and the people of the greatest nation in the world.

I understand your views and I hope that this letter clears things up for you. I really just wanted to make sure that if my name was being used in an antiwar article that you knew I supported the war and my comments were not intended to be used to show I felt anything otherwise. Thank you for your time.

~ SPC Anthony Gisi, Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment, Najaf /Kufa, Iraq


’52 Wise Men’ Letter to Blair

The following letter has aroused some comment in the UK. What I have noticed through comparing the (London) Guardian version 27iv04 p23 with other versions, including even those published on the web by the very radical medialens.org, is three omissions, two of them of vital import. I am capitalizing them:

A letter from 52 former senior British diplomats to Tony Blair:

Tuesday April 27, 2004
The Guardian

Dear Prime Minister,

We the undersigned former British ambassadors, high commissioners, governors and senior international officials, including some who have long experience of the Middle East and others whose experience is elsewhere, have watched with deepening concern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close cooperation with the United States. Following the press conference in Washington at which you and President Bush restated these policies, we feel the time has come to make our anxieties public, in the hope that they will be addressed in parliament and will lead to a fundamental reassessment.

The decision by the US, the EU, Russia and the UN to launch a “road map” for the settlement of the Israel/Palestine conflict raised hopes that the major powers would at last make a determined and collective effort to resolve a problem which, more than any other, has for decades poisoned relations between the west and the Islamic and Arab worlds. THE LEGAL AND POLITICAL PRINCIPLES ON WHICH SUCH A SETTLEMENT WOULD BE BASED WERE WELL ESTABLISHED; pRESIDENT CLINTON HAD GRAPPLED WITH THE PROBLEM DURING HIS PRESIDENCY; THE INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR A SETTLEMENT WERE WELL UNDERSTOOD AND INFORMAL AGREEMENTS ON SEVERAL OF THEM HAD ALREADY BEEN ACHIEVED. But the hopes were ill-founded. Nothing effective has been done either to move the negotiations forward or to curb the violence. Britain and the other sponsors of the road map merely waited on American leadership, but waited in vain.

Worse was to come. After all those wasted months, the international community has now been confronted with the announcement by Ariel Sharon and President Bush of new policies which are one-sided and illegal and which will cost yet more Israeli and Palestinian blood. Our dismay at this backward step is heightened by the fact that you yourself seem to have endorsed it, abandoning the principles which for nearly four decades have guided international efforts to restore peace in the Holy Land and which have been the basis for such successes as those efforts have produced.

This abandonment of principle comes at a time when rightly or wrongly we are portrayed throughout the Arab and Muslim world as partners in an illegal and brutal occupation in Iraq.

The conduct of the war in Iraq has made it clear that there was no effective plan for the post-Saddam settlement. All those with experience of the area predicted that the occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces would meet serious and stubborn resistance, as has proved to be the case. To describe the resistance as led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners is neither convincing nor helpful. Policy must take account of the nature and history of Iraq, the most complex country in the region. HOWEVER MUCH IRAQIS MAY YEARN FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY, THE BELIEF THAT ONE COULD NOW BE CREATED BY THE COALITION IS NAIVE. THIS IS THE VIEW OF VIRTUALLY ALL INDEPENDENT SPECIALISTS ON THE REGION, BOTH IN BRITAIN AND IN AMERICA. WE ARE GLAD TO NOTE THAT YOU AND THE PRESIDENT HAVE WELCOMED THE PROPOSALS OUTLINED BY LAKHDAR BRAHIMI. WE MUST BE READY TO PROVIDE WHAT SUPPORT HE REQUESTS, AND TO GIVE AUTHORITY TO THE UNTO WORK WITH THE IRAQIS THEMSELVES, INCLUDING THOSE WHO ARE NOW ACTIVELY RESISTING THE OCCUPATION TO CLEAR UP THE MESS.

The military actions of the coalition forces must be guided by political objectives and by the requirements of the Iraq theater itself, not by criteria remote from them. It is not good enough to say that the use of force is a matter for local commanders. Heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the current confrontations in Najaf and Falluja, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition. THE IRAQIS KILLED BY COALITION FORCES PROBABLY TOTAL 10-15,000 (IT IS A DISGRACE THAT THE COALITION FORCES THEMSELVES APPEAR TO HAVE NO ESTIMATE), AND THE NUMBER KILLED IN THE LAST MONTH IN FALLUJA ALONE IS APPARENTLY SEVERAL HUNDRED INCLUDING MANY CIVILIAN MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

PHRASES SUCH AS “WE MOURN EACH LOSS OF LIFE. WE SALUTE THEM, AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR THEIR BRAVERY AND THEIR SACRIFICE”, APPARENTLY REFERRING ONLY TO THOSE WHO HAVE DIED ON THE COALITION SIDE, ARE NOT WELL JUDGED TO MODERATE THE PASSIONS THESE KILLINGS AROUSE.

We share your view that the British government has an interest in working as closely as possible with the US on both these related issues, and in exerting real influence as a loyal ally. We believe that the need for such influence is now a matter of the highest urgency. If that is unacceptable or unwelcome there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure.

Yours faithfully,
Sir Graham Boyce, etc.

(In one version these passage in para 5 from “However much Iraqis may yearn…. Lkhdar Brahimi” is preserved. But not the rest of the passages I have capitalized.)

The last two omissions are the spearhead of the letter, positing moral and political equality between the resistance and the occupation. The fact that they appear to have been censored – how widely I do not know – is itself worthy of serious comment. Their import is that the British establishment is split and a major portion has decided that the Iraqi situation requires a negotiation between equals (Ireland in late 1921, India in 1947).

~ Ben Cosin

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