Backtalk July 13, 2004

Inoculated for a While?

Some time ago I was reading PNAC’s Dec. 3, 2003, National Security Outlook, authored by Thomas Donnelly and Vance Serchuk. The following practically leapt off the page [“Fighting a Global Counterinsurgency“]:

(D)efense transformation must bring about a change in the military mindset from what Eliot Cohen calls a “mass army” to that of an “imperial army”: “The mentality of an imperial army is, of necessity, utterly different from that of a mass army. . . . The former accepts ambiguous objectives, interminable commitments and chronic skirmishes as a fact of life; the latter wants a definable mission, a plan for victory and decisive battles. In the imperial army the trooper finds fulfillment in the soldier’s life; in the mass army in the belief that he exists to fight and win America’s wars.” (Eliot Cohen, Why the Gap Matters, The National Interest, Fall 2000.)

As the wife of an active duty officer and a former soldier myself, I was (and am) greatly alarmed and repulsed by the authors’ vision of transformation. According to this vision, Iraq is not going badly – it is going as the empire’s administrators must expect, and as the empire’s army must be designed to accept.

I’m sure they have given thought to population transformation as well, though I’m not certain that after the arbitrary interventions and projections of military power of the Clinton years, which did so much to lay the popular groundwork for the current crusade, there’s much transforming left to do on that front. I expect, from the voting public, a change in the empire’s management, but not a rejection of empire itself, this fall.

~ Pat T.

Ron Paul

Libertarians claim Ron Paul as one of their own and he is the most libertarian representative in Congress. He claims to be a supporter of the U.S. Constitution and took an oath to uphold it, as did his colleagues. Why then didn’t Rep. Paul offer a resolution to impeach the president immediately after his high-handed, illegal, and unconstitutional invasion of Iraq? Why has he not done so since then? Could it be that he’s from the president’s home state and thinks he’d lose the next election as a result? If a so-called libertarian politician won’t stand up for what is right and take a principled stance on the most important issue of the day, who will? Why vote for a libertarian candidate?

~ William J. Stepp

Eric Garris replies:

Your charge is based on ignorance. Rep. Paul is running unopposed in this election.

An impeachment resolution would not hurt him any more than his opposition to farm subsidies and support of total drug legalization in a rural farming district does.

He recognizes, as do all of us at, that an impeachment move in an election year would not speed up Bush’s exit from the White House and would probably result in a backlash ensuring his reelection. Impeachment would take a minimum of 6 months time. And a failed impeachment (which is the likely result) would produce a stronger Bush White House. Did the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton hurt his standing. Polls and common sense indicate otherwise.

Our Broken System

My thanks to Ms. Edmonds for her pursuit of justice and her rights under the First Amendment. May she continue to write and express herself in the most effective ways possible. Her words of condemnation for Ashcroft are well-deserved. My hope is that, after January of 2005, she’ll be able to speak her mind in public, and the real investigations can begin.

~ J. McDonald

Hats off to Sibel Edmonds for her extraordinary courage and conviction.

~ Carla Howell, Co-Sponsor, 2002 Ballot Initiative to End the State Income Tax, Massachusetts

The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos

The fact that someone stitched a prisoner’s wound shows the value difference between our culture and theirs. I personally felt the sexual positioning was probably a step forward for their culture. Maybe one of these guys got in touch with their inner Iraqi showgirl tendencies. You seem to forget that these people probably decapitated homosexuals, killed innocent people and tortured whomever they could.

You don’t “love evil.” Just look at the juxtapositioning of those words: Love evil. Do you love evil? They are not commensurate, and love IS NOT THE ANSWER TO EVIL. Evil is to be met with COURAGE (the courage of fighting if necessary) and the conviction of knowing that your principles are worth fighting for.

So the American soldiers went a little overboard, so what? Maybe Bush got wet over the thought of going to war with Iraq. Ok, so now what? How about pointing out the true value differences in the cultures. How about acknowledging that a true evil tyrant is gone and that these people in these photos were not “insurgents.” They were murderers and the enemies of a cohesive democratic government in Iraq. This is all that matters now. Bringing stability, security, peace and freedom to the Iraqi people. Terrorists and “insurgents” are not helping to bring about any of this. They are killing innocent Iraqi citizens.

Life isn’t as simple as you’d like it to be. Chanting give peace a chance will not stop the man who is sawing your head off slowly. While you are alive. While you bleed and scream for your life because you are a truly innocent human being whose correct value system brought you to Iraq to help. And then they slaughter you. F*ck those prisoners. They probably deserved every thing they got. Where is the Arab outrage to all the atrocities they commit?

~ Doug Probst

Matthew Barganier replies:

Thanks, Doug, for this truly enlightening letter – you’re probably the first honest war supporter I’ve heard from in months. One tiny detail: according to the Red Cross, 90 percent of the Abu Ghraib detainees shouldn’t have been there at all. But “the sexual positioning was probably a step forward” for them anyway, right?


What we need are magnetic stickers, just like the yellow ribbons adorning cars, which say “Bring ’em Home” instead of “Support Our Troops.” I’d pay 5 bucks for one.

~ Pat Maguire

Mike Ewens replies:

How is this?:

Nebojsa Malic’s reply to Andre Riendeau‘s backtalk

“Did you actually discover evidence of this, or are you simply repeating the indictments of the Hague Inquisition?”

The ICTY was created to establish the facts, bring to justice the criminals, and tell the whole world what happened in the Balkans during this civil war.

Calling the ICTY the Hague Inquisition (sic) shows that just like Milosevic you have no respect for international tribunals and justice.

You should take in consideration all the facts that we know know not only about what Oric did (beheading old ladies), but also about Mladic troops when they entered Srebrenica. Did you know that a Serb soldier took a a 4-year-old infant, who was crying, from his mother’s arms, and beheaded him in front of all, Serbs soldiers and Muslims alike.

You see: many of Mladic soldiers were just as criminal as Oric’s. So, please, don’t tell us only about what Oric has done; Mladic’s troops did the same and sometimes worse. I have lot of material proving this, well documented by journalists from around the world who covered the conflict.

~ Andre Riendeau

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Whatever the stated purpose behind the ICTY’s founding, both its lack of legitimacy and its practices render it moot. It was established by the UN Security Council as an “auxiliary body” to a peacekeeping operation – however, the SC does not have any judicial powers, and therefore cannot delegate any to ICTY, or the Rwanda Tribunal. Even if it were somehow legitimate, the way the ICTY works – which has been documented by many and is often demonstrated clearly – makes it a travesty fully deserving of the name “Inquisition.” I have great respect for international law and justice; it’s the ICTY that mocks them, both by its existence and by its actions. Besides, for an institution that claims to enforce international law to rely for enforcement of its indictments on an institution flagrantly violating that law (NATO) is just too rich even by today’s standards of irony.

You claim a Serb soldier in Srebrenica beheaded a 4-month old baby he ripped from his mother’s arms. Is there a video of this, like the grainy mujahideen recruiting videos showing decapitated Serbs? Or was there perhaps an eyewitness, who swore to this in a court of law and did not engage in perjury? What was the soldier’s name? The baby’s? The mother’s? The reporter who documented this, or his source?

I’ve been through the Bosnian War – on the Muslim side, if that matters any – and heard plenty of stories like this. Many times they were complete fabrications; other times, truth was much more disturbing. So again, unless you can quote a specific article to substantiate your charge, how do you honestly expect me to believe this? Or should I just take it at face value because “Serbs are all such monsters, anyway”?

Casualties in Iraq

What is the total number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began?

~ Tom Sheridan

Mike Ewens replies:

American Vigilantes in Afghanistan

Working with the Lithuanian KGB, Mr. Idema briefed the Pentagon 1992 about the sale of weapons-grade nuclear material from Russia. Afterward, we was supposed to have been approached by members of the FBI and CIA, who were interested in learning of his contacts.

Fast-forward a decade, a Mr. Idema makes an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes to analyze captured Al Qaeda records. In the program he is identified as an American civilian adviser to the Afghan United Front (a.k.a. Northern Alliance), and more importantly, one of the members of the Afghan Interim Administration.

About a year later, the former Green Beret appears on Fox New as analyst “Jack Idema.” Coincidentally, he sued Fox for stealing “an exclusive videotape of an Afghani terrorist training camp to which Idema held the copyright.”

Now we hear from Afghanistan’s Interior Minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali, that he is part of a rebel counter-terrorist group with no known legal link to any sovereign nation. Curiously, he and two other Americans were wearing uniforms that appeared to be from the U.S. military and were armed with assault rifles. Idema’s group also had captured eight Afghan civilians that were found alive but hanging by their feet and apparently beaten.

Lastly, just days before this ugly incident breaks, the Pentagon issues a warning that casts Mr. Idema as a suspicious character with a fetish for pretending to an American military official.

Well you know what I think this all means? After Abu Gharib, the Pentagon needed a clandestine prison wherein inhumane interrogations could continue but with “plausible deniability” as to being its sponsor. So the big-brass contacted an old friend and asked him to run an officially unofficial operation out of a small house in Kabul. But like a lot of what has transpired in Iraq, it’s all starting to fall apart.

~ S. Boyle

Kerry and the ‘Antiwar’ Left

While I agree with many of Raimondo’s points, I think he is wrong about electoral politics. I submit that voting for Kerry and the Democrats is the only effective antiwar action that the majority of Americans can take. My reasons are as follows:

There is the issue of accountability. Bush is responsible for the current debacle. He is a known quantity, especially at this point. The only reasonable assumption is that rewarding him by returning him to office will result in more of the same, in spades after the election.

To the extent that we can speak of a “War Party,” we must at least admit that it is not homogeneous thing. There is a difference between political parties. Do you truly believe that if Gore had been elected, we would have invaded Iraq? I don’t. Clinton was subjected to many pressures to invade Iraq by the neocons. But he resisted.

Kerry is limited in what he can say and do by two factors. He will be inheriting a situation not of his own making, and his policies cannot be the same as if the invasion had never occurred. And he must continually weigh and sift his statements against the background of an all-powerful media elite which has the power to completely scuttle his chances of election if he says the wrong things. (Witness the demise of Howard Dean.).

Furthermore, Kerry’s background does contain periods of antiwar activity, unlike Bush, or the real President, Cheney. Hopefully, these antiwar tendencies are still there in the background. It is at least worth taking a chance on the new unknown quantity as opposed the the present known quantity. I agree that those “looking for immediate results are setting themselves up for disappointment,” but it is likely that Kerry can be effective at the margins of US foreign policy. I certainly expect him to be an improvement on issues of civil liberties. …

~ A. Verbalis

Tiananmen’s Legacy: The Forgotten Rebellion

Matuszak, I’ve read a lot of your articles; glad to know most of your articles are not as biased as other white people’s crap on the Internet and newspapers.

However, there’s an error on your Tiananmen article that’s the same as the rest of the western crap I read: “thousands of students and Beijing residents were shot and killed.”

I know this is a 2-year-old article, but please do more research, (correct research) and correct the number “thousand.” By the way, you failed to mention the death of police/ law enforcers by students, and students which starved to death.

And another thing, “Beijing residents,” does this mean they shot non-protesters? Or did you mean the workers who protested.

Clean up your article please. Too much westernized bullsh*t.

~ Xiaohua

Sascha Matuszak replies:

Nobody seems to know how many people died that day in 1989. The Tiananmen Papers, compiled by a Chinese and sent abroad, seems to be a good source of what happened. The book is banned in China, naturally.

Do you have any good sources? The issue seems to be clouded by “crap” from all over – Western as well as Chinese.

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