Backtalk July 15, 2004


Thank you for your succinct article that struck like a hard slap upside my head, causing me to read and reread the sentence ending with the phrase “lack the competence or character for self-rule.” For me, it resounds a truth throughout history with but the mere change of a name and an adjective. My meager understanding of the recent past yields images of the populace of pre-W.W.II Germany, Italy and Japan, following lemming-like the pied-pipers of aggression all to their collective destruction.

~ JD Sherlock

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

And we wondered how it happened to the Germans, “the best educated people of Europe.”

“November will tell us whether there is any moral integrity left in the electorate or whether nothing remains but partisan politics – my party right or wrong.”

It certainly will, that is why I am leaving the Republican party, to vote for the Constitution candidate. I wonder if Roberts will leave his party as well with the lies told by Kerry, who constantly makes up stories, and wonder where was on the impeachment of Clinton for lies in a sexual harassment case under oath and was disbarred in the State of Arkansas.

His party, right or wrong?

~ Greg G.

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

This confused person seems to think I must be a Democrat because I criticize the Iraq war. Couldn’t have better demonstration that Americans think in partisan political terms and cannot recognize independent thought.

The Senate report on the CIA was not so much a whitewash as a red herring. The issue of the CIA’s intelligence is really irrelevant to Bush’s decision to rush to war against Iraq. Let’s review the sequence of events: at the time Bush launched the war Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors had been in Iraq for months. They were on the ground, gaining access to presidential palaces and other sites that had previously been off limits. They were being given info by the US regarding suspected sites. And they found nothing. Blix was pleading for a few more weeks to finish his inspections, and Bush turned a deaf ear. Bush rushed to war before Blix could declare that Iraq had no WMD. The CIA’s intelligence, correct or otherwise, was irrelevant once inspectors were on the ground in Iraq. …

~ Alan Shrader

Michael Moore, Richard Perle Join Forces

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels once said that if you tell a lie big enough and repeat it often enough, some people will believe it. Tanya Hsu seems to have carried that advice to the letter.

First, Clinton administration officials went on record to acknowledge that the terror tag on the Mujahedin-E Khalq (MEK) was part and parcel of the policy to curry favor with the Tehran regime.

Second, to suggest that money was raised at the event in which Mr. Perle spoke, could not be farther from truth. That event was not a fundraiser. The American Red Cross initially indicated an interest to set up a booth to collect help for the Bam victims, but chose not to do so.

Third, that “funds raised” were immediately seized after the event by U.S. Treasury agents is also an utter lie simply because there was no money raised. The author should have consulted the Treasury to get the facts straight.

Fourth, the Clinton administration’s grudge against the MEK was not because of an incident more than 30 years ago, but because the MEK is committed to overthrow the very regime with which the White House was trying to dance.

Misconstruing facts to score a political point is not impartial and objective journalism one expects to see in America. It is shooting from the hip.

~ Ali Safavi, President, Near East Policy Research, Washington, DC

WOW. You clearly miss the entire point of the film. First, you do a disservice to all, including your own reputation, by your hysterical and ridiculous title, as if you are going to present some evidence of a collaboration of Michael Moore and Richard Perle. That is stupid beyond words and is the exact same kind of reasoning that the neocons, Jesus-crazies, and the people who manipulate them use to justify their policies. What do you hope to accomplish by trying to make Michael Moore an enemy? Do you really think that Moore is somehow in bed with Ariel Sharon or Richard Perle?

The point is that it is Bush who is shown to be unworthy of the trust of the American people. Moore presents the case that SOMETHING is wrong, he sows doubt in the believers, and renews the resolve of the patriots. His film is a demonstration of LOVE for the AMERICAN PEOPLE, he did not make a movie that calls for the invasion of Saudi Arabia or anyone else.

We – Mike, me, and everyone else who works for a living – understand that this film is a call to action, and that the blame, mistrust, anger, and resentment, is clearly trained on Bush, his associates, the weak, corrupted Democrats that go along, and the lazy and compliant media that has largely abdicated its responsibilities in favor of trinkets and access to the best parties. …

~ Jean LR

This is the old Stalinist method: Trotsky criticizes Stalin, Hitler criticizes Stalin, therefore Trotsky and Hitler are “objectively” allied.

I hold no brief for Moore’s amateur foray into international policy, and the liberal discourse on Saudi Arabia he represents does smell of Saudi baiting, but Tsu is just sweeping the problem under the rug. The Bushies have a lot of explaining to do about the bin Laden airlift, for example. Their cozy relationship with the Saudi royals, which Moore documents, leads to the appearance of impropriety which they don’t seem to be in a hurry to dispel, which would lead an honest observer to wonder if they can indeed provide an explanation for their behavior.

~ Khargushoghli

I thought Tanya Hsu’s article was unfair to both Moore’s movie and its audience. Like most of the staff, I wish Moore had played up PNAC and played down the Bush/ Saud connection, if only because the latter is too murky and filled with mixed motives on both sides to present any clear causality.

But I don’t know anyone who saw the movie and became more inclined to invade Saudi Arabia under the banner of W and the neocons. My reaction – and to the Craig Unger book as well – was that the US should keep its ties to the Saudis as minimal as possible (ditto, more crucially, with Israel). For about 60 years now, the US has befouled most everything it has touched in the region, with one meddling blunder leading to another.

Going into the movie, I believed something like “The US shouldn’t be involved in the Mideast on account of oil, both on principle and because the strategy has been counterproductive.” I didn’t see anything in the movie to contradict that opinion. Though you might want to respond “Counterproductive for whom?” in which case the answer would have to exclude the Bush and Saud clans. But maybe not for long.

~ Christopher Draco

Tanya Hsu replies:

IRmep [Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy] double-checks its sources and maintains a policy of not, officially, responding to each and every critique of material. Our main goal at IRmep is to disseminate the facts as we find them, verify them and not intentionally politicize the material.

The feedback from members has been vast and interesting, in that on the whole, readers appear to have misunderstood the point. The point is that, quite simply, Michael Moore has unintentionally combined forces with the very people he illustrates as being the driving forces behind the Bush administration foreign policies. Nowhere in the article have I, as author, suggested that Moore supports an invasion of the Kingdom and frankly I’m intrigued as to why so many readers would leap to this conclusion.

When neo-conservative supported think tanks, using Middle Eastern issues as their policy, complain… when middle America complains… when LaRouche supporters complain… then we are surely bringing to light what has been opaque for too long. Hitting a “nerve” is not our goal: we merely intend to bring important issues to light.

If the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is being so maligned because of neo-con philosophy which has now seeped in to the mainstream (the intentional message of Moore’s film), our job at IRmep is to confirm the inaccuracy of this or any Middle Eastern policy. Far more is left to be written, and for that we hope that the majority of readers who have made this the number one forwarded story at will support IRmep so that we may continue our examination of what is never black and white: the facts.

Nebojsa Malic’s reply to Dragan Popovich’s backtalk

Unfortunately, a philosophy of free trade is a philosophy of war. It has always been so in modern times, the worst offender being Britain. The free trade power must constantly seek outlets for investment and trade, and the penetration of other nations on terms favorable to itself.

An example is yourself. America was lined up for an intervention in your civil war because the free trade crowd wanted the North American markets and cheap cotton, an event only narrowly defeated by the British peace party of the day.

The classic is the behavior of Bush and the US today.

As to a Ludwig von Mises Institute in Belgrade, the conquest would then have become absolute, the whole object being to get Yugoslavia (and everywhere else) to adopt the free market to the overwhelming advantage of ourselves.

~ Richard Roper

Nebojsa Malic replies:

The “trade” you describe isn’t free, by definition – it is mercantilism, a government-dominated monopoly system that is currently practiced by most G-8 members. Bush is not a free trader, he is a protectionist (steel tariffs being just one example). In fact, this sort of economic nationalism, where state control of property takes precedence over private ownership, is chiefly responsible for the invasion of Iraq. People who lead the Empire, in their infinite misguided stupidity, could not understand the concept of acquiring Iraqi oil by free exchange (i.e. purchase on the open market) but sought instead to acquire it by conquest and control it physically – probably not so much for the sake of US consumption, but more in order to deny it to the developing economies of China and India. As we have seen, they’ve accomplished the denial – but to everyone, including themselves. Iraqi oil isn’t flowing, what with partisans bombing pipelines daily. Furthermore, the country has been devastated by the war, the occupation is preventing any sort of meaningful rebuilding, and the war is slowly strangling the American economy. How is any of this, exactly, trade – much less free?

It is funny you should mention the 1861-65 conflict in America, amidst recent and well-documented research (see Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln, for instance) that despite popular propaganda, a major cause of that war were tariffs (imposed at behest of Northern mercantilists on Southern exporters).

As for the butchered Yugoslavia, I would be overjoyed if it turned from protectionist pseudo-socialism it practices now to a more free-market oriented philosophy, with the government sharply reducing its power over people’s lives. It is my conviction that such a system would be much more fair, just and prosperous, not to mention peaceful, than the currently ongoing disaster. I will not, even if I could, coerce anyone into believing that, but I will endeavor to the best of my abilities to persuade as many people as I can.

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