Backtalk, August 11, 2004

Corruption in the Corps?

Couldn’t agree more. Watching general officers on C-Span gazing at Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and even the Controller of the DOD(!) the way Nancy used to gaze at Ronald Reagan is a truly stomach-churning experience.

I was a lawyer for one of the largest contractors in Vietnam and you could see the process beginning then. I remember we hired a retiring Army Major General for “government relations.” A complete joke, paid for by the taxpayers to screw them.

Keep up the good work.

~ Anthony J. Van Patten

We we saw the same thing in Vietnam. I did two SE Asia tours in the ’60s – one in combat-and could see the miscalculations then. I thought it was a problem of my own analysis. It wasn’t. I vociferously opposed the unjustified invasion of Iraq, of course to no use. This is a neoconservative war hijacked to assist the expansion of Israel. It amounts to support of ethnic cleansing and may bankrupt America. I hope our citizens will soon see the as yet unpaid costs (except by the maimed and dead). This amounts at least in part to another dereliction of duty by our top ranking officers. Colin Powell and a few of the generals should have resigned before carrying out ill-conceived orders. They failed us as they did in Vietnam.

~ RT Carpenter, Lynn Haven, Florida

Dear Mr. Lind: I always enjoy your articles, but I was taken aback by your comments on the Navy’s “strike cruiser.” …

First, your premise, that the Soviet Navy was primarily a submarine navy, is not entirely true. More accurately, the primary Soviet naval threat came from submarines rather than their large surface fleet. But it does not follow that the entire US Navy should be geared to destroying submarines, nor is it clear that strike cruisers would have been incapable of performing this task. As you well know, the strike cruiser design carried bow-mounted sonar, two Lamps III helicopters, ASW torpedoes, and there was discussion of including a passive towed array sonar. Further, the originally specified Mk 26 launchers were capable of launching ASROC, though I’ve never seen ASROC mentioned as part of the strike cruiser’s weapons outfit. However, the flexibility of the Mk 26 meant that ASROC could be added, and had the strike cruisers been built, they could have been retrofitted with the Vertical Launching System, which makes it much simpler to carry, and rapidly select, a wide variety of Standard SAMs, Tomahawk and ASROC, and to fire whatever is needed.

That the Navy “had no answer” to Taft’s objection – and yours – that fighting subs with nuke cruisers was futile is, frankly, difficult to believe. I provided several answers above, and I was only an E-5 Fire Controlman. A further answer would be that the strike cruiser was planned as an Aegis ship with, theoretically, the ability to defeat near-saturation air attacks. As such, the eight planned strike cruisers would be valuable escorts for the supercarriers. This is especially true given the Soviet war doctrine of recalling their surface fleet to home waters, where they’d enjoy protection from land based aircraft, which the carrier battle groups would have to face as they closed for attack. The strike cruisers were to carry 128 missiles which, combined with Aegis and the carrier’s interceptors, was theoretically a strong counter to superior numbers of Soviet warplanes.

The Navy might also have observed that programs for construction of frigates, destroyers, and fast attack submarines were all underway, and these vessels were geared to ASW.

The other main Aegis warship of the time, the CG-47 Ticonderoga-class cruiser, also had no ASROC provision in the original design, but 27 of them were built anyway, starting at $800 million a pop. At the time, only 16 were planned.

Another answer the Navy might have provided is that, while it was true that the Soviet Navy was primarily a submarine force, the wars the Navy was actually fighting, first in Korea, then in Vietnam, did not involve the Soviet Navy. In these wars, the Navy’s job was the time-honored one of keeping the sea lanes open, destroying enemy warships, and bombarding enemy shores. To the latter end, the strike cruisers were designed to mount a lightweight, rapid fire 8-inch gun. This weapon would clearly outdo the old 5-inch/54 at shore bombardment, and would be a better anti-ship weapon as well.

The strike cruiser had less easily-appreciated qualities, too. For one, it was big enough to serve as a flagship, thus allowing retirement of the Oklahoma City and other overage cruisers. For another, increased size would lead to better sea-keeping, important for the crew. Third, the strike cruiser had armored control centers and armored waveguides, making it more survivable. As for cost, a planned conversion of the Long Beach to strike cruiser status was set to cost $783 million. The result would be a powerful but old ship, whereas a new strike cruiser would have at least double the useful life of a refurbished Long Beach. …

~ Steve Duff

Attacking Neo-Cons From the Right

Neoconservative thinking can be summarized in four simple words: American dominance, democracy and capitalism.

Indeed, according to the neocons, American style democracy and capitalism are the great saviors of the world, the solutions to all the world’s problems, big and small, and the world in the 21st century is to be dominated by its great remaining superpower through forced democratization and globalization. Hence the reasons for our invasion of Iraq, the first step in putting this great master plan in effect. And one does not have to read Halper and Clarke’s book to get a full understanding of neoconservative thinking, our National Security Strategy, the infamous Bush Doctrine, as posted on the White House website, is word for word the disastrous neoconservative philosophy.

~ Carl Mattioli

Revenge of the Mahdi

Raimondo’s insistence on admitting the Bush administration is highlighting real terrorist threats ignores the political reality of the war on terror. Bottom line: After 9-11, Bush did precisely what al-Qaeda wanted him to – invade Iraq virtually alone. As Richard Clarke wrote, it was as though bin Laden manipulated Bush using mind control from his mountain redoubt, because the US played right into the terrorists’ grand strategy, reacting precisely as bin Laden hoped and predicted. If he’s reelected, Bush is likely to expand the scope of the war to Syria and/or Iran. Of course, bin Laden wants both those governments overthrown!

In the Madrid bombing, the change in government meant a change in policy al-Qaeda wanted – a Spanish pullout of Iraq that helped isolate America. But regarding the November election, surely al-Qaeda WANTS Bush to stay right where he is – John Kerry may be a warmonger, but he’ll eschew Bush’s neo-isolationism, which would be bad for the terrorists.

Though it’s unpopular to say, al-Qaeda terrorists are rational political actors, not madmen. It seems highly unlikely they will attack before November, because the current administration offers them the best opportunity for long-term success. More likely they’ll attack right after a Bush reelection, to stir up his bellicose tendencies again and launch the US into a new, misguided Middle Eastern misadventure.

The Bush administration says we haven’t been attacked because they do such a good job protecting us. I think they haven’t attacked because we’ve done exactly what they wanted.

~ Scott Henson, Austin, TX

Casualties in Iraq

Please tell me (and publish) information on the deaths within 3 months of American and coalition soldiers evacuated from Iraq due to injuries. This delayed-death number should be available to add to the number of deaths of soldiers in Iraq for a realistic total of war-related deaths.

~ A Scott, MD

Michael Ewens replies:

That number is already included in the totals. There have been over a dozen instances.

Boot Boortz

Thank you Justin Raimondo for saying what needs to be said about Neal Boortz. I thought I was the only person who found it disturbing that quite a few so-called “libertarians” were actually pro-war, pro-Bush statists. I find Boortz appalling and I’m glad others agree. is fast becoming my favorite website and I am thankful that I have finally found a place where there are people who value the true meaning of liberty and freedom.

Thank you for the great website and the Boot Boortz article.

~ Jon Face

Passport to Terror

Doesn’t much matter what states will do about passport fraud. Israel regards its very existence to be threatened and will do what needs to be done to minimize the ambitions of its enemies. Aggravating friends, neutral states and others is a small price to be paid. Terrorists feel deeply aggrieved and, given that many are willing to give up their lives (most, in exchange for the promised afterlife), they too cannot be deterred from passport fraud. I’m afraid the solution is technological and even that will likely, though with biometrics not certainly, introduce a cycle of technology and counter-technology.

The real Passport to Terror is hate of the type that is evidenced by the destruction of yet another Jewish graveyard in Wellington N.Z. This, similar acts perpetrated by any individual, group and nationality and its etiology is what responsible journalism should be about. I do hope that the N.Z. authorities attempt to deal with this Passport to Terror with the same vigor as they do the use of their passports.

~ Moe Litman, Associate Dean (Academic), University of Alberta

Arab Troops Would Be Unwelcome

The Americans are looking for Arab soldiers to substitute the now relentless flow of American blood in Iraq with their own. If the most powerful army in the world has failed miserably to contain let alone crush the insurgency, what hope Arab armies, adept only when shooting and torturing their unarmed people.

What a difference a year and few months make. The Iraq invasion was designed to illustrate the sheer reach of American power. It’s ended up demarcating its limits. The lies and obfuscations of the mainstream, domesticated media can no longer disguise what is essentially a popular struggle against a hated alien occupation in Iraq. The corrupt Arab plutocracies have their work cut out maintaining the peace in their own homes to stretch themselves helping their patron stabilize the recent extension to his.

~ Odetola Kola

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