Was Reagan the First Neoconservative?

I‘ve listened to a lot of talk from just about everybody this past week, but this piece by Buchanan is by far the most evenhanded, the best yet. Thanks for your insight – and your fairness. The quicker we remove the neocons from power in this country the quicker we can rebuild our reputation as being a peace loving nation. The oil? Buy it, don’t conquer it.

~ Ken Gillespie

“…[W]hen he aided resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola and Nicaragua…”

Please recall that the resistance movement in Afghanistan was Al Qaeda and Bin Laden.

In Nicaragua, Reagan (with G.H.W. Bush, Ollie North, Manuel Noriega and other assorted thugs and gangsters) acted in violation of American law and explicit Congressional mandates forbidding him to interfere in the region. Then he had a pre Alzheimers lapse of memory about every detail of the subsequent Iran-Contra scandal. Or perhaps he just lied. Oh, excuse me, is it politically incorrect now to say such a thing about St. Ronnie?

“His strike on Libya in 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of the Berlin discotheque frequented by US soldiers was a measured response.”

Two Americans and one Turk were killed in the Berlin bombing for which there is no evidence linking the event to the Libyan government or to Moammar Ghaddafi. In April of 1986 Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya resulting in the deaths of 31 people including the infant daughter of Ghaddafi, Libya’s chief-of-state, plus another 226 Libyans wounded. Measured response my derriere. Well OK, Reagan didn’t nuke Tripoli. Is that Pat’s definition of a “measured response”?

“Where the neocons are implacable enemies of the Saudi monarchy, Reagan sold the Saudis AWACS…”

The AWACS were then used in violation of US law and the terms of sale with the full knowledge and approval of Reagan to aid Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military in their war with Iran.

“Ronald Reagan was antiwar, because Ronald Reagan was pro-life.”

What utter nonsense! Reagan had eight years to wage a full-out legal assault on Roe v Wade and he he didn’t (Neither have either of the self-declared, pro-lifer Bushes).

And how does Buchanan reconcile the previous statement with this one?:

“…Reagan got along fine with kings, autocrats, generals and presidents-for-life, as long as they took America’s side in the war that mattered: the Cold War.”

Ronnie Reagan: antiwar hero of the Cold War. Have you gone postmodernist on us, Pat? Have you been reading Derrida and Foucault on the instability of signifiers and the uselessness of trying to make words refer to anything with consistency. Words can mean what ever you want them to. Right, Pat? Like antiwar warrior.

An America First foreign policy that truly puts America’s interests first must have a foundation in law and morality, otherwise it becomes a lightning rod bringing down the deadly wrath of revenge on the heads of the American people and a cancer that eats away at our republican form of government. …

~ Robert Backas

The Reagan-Haters

This is a new low for Raimondo and Antiwar.com (or is that anti-anything-Raimondo-doesn’t-agree-to.com). This childish screed full of ad hominem attacks is straight out of the neo-CON playbook. To defend and endorse the unconstitutional and freedom destroying military-industrial buildup and activities of the Reagan administration from a site that claims to be antiwar is perplexing. Clinton and now Bush have only fully endorsed the path Reagan set this country on. Raimondo should be restrained from writing such garbage as this. If he had any ethical integrity he would resign for the damage he has done to the true antiwar movement by writing this screed.

~ BM Graf

Justin Raimondo replies:

Oh please, get off your high horse and look at reality: the Reagan legacy, which is being claimed by the neocons for their own (with your support), does not support a policy of reckless interventionism. If, instead of sponsoring the contras, the U.S. military had gone into Nicaragua and occupied the country, rounding up thousands and torturing them, then you (and the neocons) would have a point. But that’s not what happened. Reagan also ushered in the historic INF Treaty, and presided over the peaceful dismemberment of the Soviet octopus – and I suspect that this last is what really has you riled. Tough. Standing next to the present occupant of the White House, Ronald Reagan is a veritable Saint Francis of Asissi. The trouble with your left-sectarian analysis, aside from its partisan bias, is that it seriously underestimates the world of trouble we are in.

Enough on Reagan already! Murderous scum such as him have no place on a website which is claiming to be antiwar. If in fact you are not really antiwar and are becoming nothing more than extreme right supporters then it’s time to come out of your closets and admit to it.

~ Don Stewart

Justin Raimondo replies:

Who died and left you in charge?

I would like to add my counter to the myth that R. Reagan’s military spending broke up the Soviet Union and that the dissolution took the intelligence community by surprise.

One of my uncles, by marriage, was a general in Air Force intelligence during the Carter and Reagan administrations. In a family reunion during the Iranian hostage crises, he said something very prophetic. “Everyone thinks that Iran is the biggest hotspot in the world. It isn’t. Afghanistan is. The Russians are worried. Their population is declining but the populations of the Muslim Soviet States are exploding. The Russians are afraid that they won’t be able to control them in a few years and they will lose their dominance. They are going see if they can keep control of Afghanistan. If they can’t, they are going to jettison the Soviet Union. Otherwise, they are afraid that keeping control of the Muslim Soviet Republics would bleed them white.” As you know, the Russians lost in Afghanistan, with a little help from other God-fearing peoples of the USA. A very short time later, the Soviet Union dissolved.

Intelligence agencies have allowed themselves to look stupid to make the military-industrial complex and Reagan look good. By doing so, they also kept important credit and aid from going to a war-ravaged Muslim nation. This allowed the Taliban to take control. What a difference a bit of gratitude would have made! …

Keep up the great work.

~ Patrick Leahey

The Essential Dishonesty of Christopher Hitchens

It’s pathetic to see the antiwar brigade writing so terribly. To attack somebody for being an alleged alcoholic, which is entirely irrelevant to what he has written, is entirely childish and useless at that. By saying that Sullivan sanctioned the Abu Ghraib tortures by being pro–regime change is untrue. It is like saying it is someone’s parents if their offspring goes out and commits murder because they chose to have the child so they are responsible. This is clearly illogical and to say that not only that we aren’t responsible for our own actions, but that other people are responsible for our actions is to deny common sense. This article is pure trash.

~ Red Star

Justin Raimondo replies:

If you don’t think alcoholism has a decisive effect on a person’s mental processes, then I’d like to know what would. And I never said Sullivan sanctioned Abu Ghraib because he was for the war – only that his recommendation that we nuke Iraq (on the entirely unsupported grounds that they unleashed the anthrax attacks) seemed inconsistent with this sudden attack of moralism. As usual, Sullivan is rationalizing his purely emotional response to George W. Bush’s denunciation of gay marriage, and is “cherrypicking” reasons to move away from the man he once hailed as the living incarnation of the neocon trinity: Lincoln, FDR, and, of course, Churchill.

Really Antiwar

If you were actually antiwar and for human liberty, this website would contain news about other places where wars were being fought, and condemnations of people besides Bush and his administration. This site takes the childish and preposterous view that the only perpetrator of war on earth is America. You are only interested in being reflexively anti-Bush and anti-US. How come there was nothing on your site about Saddam’s war against his own people? Why is there no news about the war waged on women throughout the Middle East on a daily basis? Why was the war in Kosovo OK but the war in Iraq isn’t? You don’t hate war, you hate the US, and the only way you like the US is if we are weak and willing to sacrifice our interests to those of other countries.

~ Matt Whisnant

Matthew Barganier replies:

We cover wars all over the globe. Read the whole page. Given that it is an American site, run by Americans in America, it tends to have understandably Americacentric concerns. As for Kosovo, you raging illiterate, this site was founded to oppose US involvement in the Balkans.

Is Antiwar.com really antiwar or merely anti-Israel? I have survived terrorism in New York and truly understand its horrors. So why does every protest have to contain a “free Palestine” banner? And why do people focus so much on Israel’s killings of terrorists and say this is more evil than a bus bombing designed to kill civilians and not just bystanders? Israel certainly isn’t perfect, but I think that the Palestinians should be help culpable for their actions too. Remember, if they were led by civilized people, Israel would be forced to retreat from the West Bank and Gaza which were conquered after the Arab invasion of 1967.

~ Dan Murray

Matthew Barganier replies:

Is every protest instigated, managed, or even affiliated with Antiwar.com? What’s your point about “Free Palestine” banners? But please do tell us more about “civilized peoples,” as your beloved Sharon levels Rafah.

It’s obvious what you all are against. WHAT ARE YOU FOR? How would you propose we fight terrorism?

9/11 was PLANNED FOR AT LEAST 18 MONTHS DURING CLINTON YEARS. So, PLEASE, WITH ALL YOUR WISDOM, TELL ME, HOW did Clinton, Kerry, Kennedy, McAuliffe and the rest cause 9/11.


~ Alan Gluck

Eric Garris replies:

We have no objection to going after Bin Laden. The corrupt Bill Clinton was more interested in Monica than in Osama.

But as the bipartisan 9/11 commission has shown, attacking Iraq was the wrong target. Just because “something must be done” doesn’t mean that ANYTHING will work, we have to target the right enemy. What we have done, according to all experts inside and outside the US government, is to increase terrorism with our misdirected response.

Do the Republicans have a Presidential Candidate?

Who cares?

It seems that USA citizens will be better off without a leader. Those political opportunists have cost the taxpayers too much. Most of us would probably vote for “none of the above,” but we do that anyway by not voting.

~ Bud Wood

Tex replies:

I agree that we would all be better off if the office simply stood vacant, an option that is unfortunately not on the table. My point is that the Republicans had better start considering the path taken by Johnson in 1968.

Paul Sperry’s reply to Paul Tremblay’s backtalk

The “problem” is that it is never acceptable for one human being to torture another. The “problem” is that “not losing sleep” appears to mean “continue torturing the bastards as long as you can call them unlawful combatants.” The “problem” is that even though you choose to live in New York and Washington, you choose to throw stones.

~ Walid Nicola

The US Government’s Biggest Single Problem

“We made the Iraqi people pay a horrific price in the name of enforcing United Nations resolutions. We killed tens of thousands of Iraqis with bombs and sanctions and destroyed their economy.

“…We have not only abused Iraqi prisoners, but we handed over some suspected terrorists to countries we know will torture the dickens out of them.”

No, Mr. Reese, I did not do those things, and you did not do those things; George H. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and their henchmen did those things. Yes, at the conscious, logical level everyone understands this. But it is a sad fact that most Americans strongly identify with the government under whose rule they suffer; they think of it as “we” and “us.” When you criticize that government, there is a tendency for them to take it as criticism of themselves, their families, their friends, and their neighbors. By referring to the US government as “we,” you reinforce this identification, put your reader on the defensive, and provoke a resistance to your message – after all, who will readily accept a message that accuses him of killing tens of thousands of people, abusing prisoners, and being bag man for torturers?

You’ll have a better chance of convincing those who don’t already agree with you, and avoiding charges of “blaming America first,” if you are careful to distinguish America (the nation) and Americans from the United States (the government). It’s not that hard to do – just study the writing of Lew Rockwell and Alan Bock, fore example.

~ Brian Taylor

Jeremy Sapienza’s reply to Desbusillado’s backtalk

Jeremy Sapienza claims Antiwar.com does not publish communist propaganda when a letter-writer cites claims Chavez has support in Venezuela. Does he mean that Antiwar.com runs anti-communist propaganda? Is that what pro-Chavez or sympathetic material is, automatically, communist propaganda? If information can be found on an ostensibly communist website to support this Debusillado’s contentions, why would it matter the politics? To rule out information because of the purported politics of the source is fallacious, is it not? Clearly, the US neocon petrolcrats have had Chavez in their sights for some time. Is that of concern to Sapienza and Antiwar.com? Sapienza says that the websites cited by one Desbusillado do not exist. Of course, if a thoughtful check had been made (as I have made), he would have found these, certainly what this Desbusillado intended: http://vheadline.com/main.asp and http://www.aporrea.org/.

Of course, I doubt my comments will be published anyway. But there it is.

~ Ron Leighton

Besieged, Bothered, Bewildered and Busted

As long as a large American army is stationed in Iraq, the neocons are winning. I have read many articles recently (like Justin Raimondo’s “Besieged, Bothered, Bewildered and Busted”) which argue that the neocon strategy in Iraq failed and the neocons are on their way out. This is only true in a superficial sense. The occupation of Iraq is certainly going badly, but that is not the point. As many, many commentators have now pointed out, the neocons had two main goals: (1) acquire a military presence in Iraq that would lead to access to Iraq’s oil and (2) acquire a military presence in Iraq that would protect Israel and provide a continuing opportunity for the American army to become entangled in Israeli security issues. As long as a large American army stays in Iraq, these two goals are being achieved. All of the talk about the failure of the neocons is pretty to hear but beside the point. I oppose the Iraq invasion as much as any of the Antiwar.com commentators (and I have learned a great deal from them), but you have to realistic. I doubt that the neocons really care that they are getting a very bad press. They are winning, and until that large American army departs from Iraq, they will continue to win.

~ Bruce Hayman

Thugs With Lawyers

“The justification for occasional torture is fairly well known, and we might as well give it whatever respect it is due. If you knew for certain that a leader of a terrorist cell had information about a pending attack on Americans that for sure would lead to the deaths of thousands, or tens of thousands of Americans, could you justify torturing him to get the information that would allow you to prevent the attack? Might you use a threat of death, for example, to get the tongue unleashed? Would you stuff him full of sodium pentathol? Would you use sleep and food deprivation, or techniques designed to mix up his sense of night and day and thus feel more vulnerable and possibly forthcoming?

“You would have to be a pretty hard-core opponent of any torture in any form to say you wouldn’t even consider such techniques.”

I don’t know if it means I’m “hard-core” or not, but the primary argument against the use of torture in extracting information, even in extreme circumstances, is that it does not guarantee truthful answers. The idea that sodium pentathol, so called “truth serum” really forces people to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a fabrication at best. He could remain silent. He could bite his tongue. He could fantasize and talk about whatever comes to his mind, and that is precisely what will happen. Interrogators can say, “Is this true?” and he will simply agree. “Are you Saddam Hussein?” Why yes, yes I am. “Are you Osama Bin Laden?” Yes, I’m him too. And Adolph Hitler himself. A drugged suspect can confess to anything you demand, and you will have gained no useful intelligence whatsoever.

The fact is, torture does not work. It never has, and it never will. It’s wrong on moral grounds as well, and for practical reasons. If we torture people, we can expect Americans to be tortured abroad as well. There are important reasons for the Convention Against Torture, which precludes torture in any case whatsoever, and when this convention has been violated, there need to be investigations possibly leading to impeachment and conviction.

~ Mike Goldman

The Torture Working Group

“Though licensing torture is a ghoulish first for America, so was 9-11. So I’m not losing any sleep over any al-Qaeda torture victims at Gitmo.”

So you agree with Rumsfeld that: they’re all bad guys. So you agree that these prisoners don’t deserve a trial. So you think you’re an inhabitant of a civilized country.

Check your facts. In advance of 9-11 your country took steps to legitimize warcrimes or/and make itself not accountable before any international court. The horrors of Abu Ghraib were a logical consequence of Gitmo – moral standards being adapted when a “greater cause” calls for it.

I’m still losing sleep over the Gitmo prisoners. And so should anyone who has still some respect (if not for the Geneva conventions, not for the ICRC, the ICC) for common – Christian or not – decency.

~ René van Wanrooij, the Netherlands

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