Backtalk, September 21, 2004

Antiwar Arguments for War

Good, well-reasoned article but no mention of our relationship to Israel as a major cause of anti-Americanism in the Middle East!

~ Tim McCormick

Anthony Gregory replies:

Thanks for the kind words. I don’t think the Israel factor needs to be mentioned in every article. It is important, and is appropriately mentioned frequently on I didn’t find it necessary to make my point.


Generally I am in agreement with the views of Mr. Gregory, but….

Our position, however suspect, must be that we were right in overthrowing Saddam – a danger to the world, his neighbors and people – and, that done, we are pulling out and leaving them to decide what will follow.

The Iraqis are a talented people with long experience in government, but they need some initial maneuvering room. They are nothing if not survivors. They have been managing a sophisticated society for over 5,500 years and are responsible for some of the most basic ideas underlying our scientific and philosophical concepts. If they knew that we were going to leave within a reasonable time they would certainly organize a system acceptable to them, with probably no more casualties than we will cause in maintaining our presence. But the difference will be the creation of a system acceptable to themselves. The present course, and any reasonably foreseeable incremental permutation of it, will lead to nothing but endless loss of U.S. and Iraqi lives, with all Iraqi constituencies posturing with an eye to our presence rather than focusing on their own internal dynamic.

Mr. Kerry should declare that all US troops will be out of Iraq by June of 2006 (or some earlier date), except those requested to remain (the request to be a joint request of whatever Iraqi government is recognized by the UN, and the UN itself), not to exceed 40% of the number of all foreign troops similarly requested and provided. This will greatly concentrate the minds of the Iraqis on finding some native political arrangement they can all live with and survive under. If the place goes to hell after that, too bad; we got rid of Saddam for them and the rest is their responsibility.

To the question of the waste of 1,000+ lives, I say better they be wasted than 2,000-6,000 lives wasted and 15,000-30,000 wounded and dismembered, still with no acceptable result except for the satisfaction and self-congratulation of chickenhawks and think-tank warriors.

~ Anthony J. Van Patten

Anthony Gregory replies:

The US government won’t fix what it has broken in Iraq any better than it has fixed anything else it has broken in the Middle East. The best of bad choices is to pull out. The bloodshed will only escalate the longer US forces stay. The war removed a despotic ruler that the US used to support in his worst crimes, and replaced him with something no better: a US puppet state, martial law, and possible civil war. The best I think we’ll see is another tyrant ruling Iraq, just like most of the other countries in the region. It is possible we’ll see an improvement over Saddam, but it’s highly unlikely, especially as long as US troops stay there inciting violence.

The war is lost, it was fought in vain, and it cannot be vindicated. The only question is how long the US participates in the madness. The US can stay and continue the futile fighting, ratchet up the violence and kill many innocent people and still probably lose, or simply pull out.

You might be unconvinced. But we will probably see either Bush or Kerry continuing more of the same, and when the US finally does withdraw, if it ever does, I will bet that it will be no better than if the US pulled out now. The only difference will be the many lives were lost in the foolish process of trying to redeem a foolish war.

Finally a perceptive expression of the facts that "we ironically risk seeing the antiwar voices moderating their positions to the point of not being antiwar at all" with the concluding admonition, "Antiwar Americans should focus on principled arguments against non-defensive ‘preemptive’ intervention and for withdrawal." But, my dear Mr. Gregory, how then can a sentence like, "It is just and right to go after al-Qaeda" find a place in your epistle? It is NOT "just and right"! Al-Qaeda is the blowback you so nicely explain. The Rumsfelds and pro-war Americans should put their tails between their legs and go home having learned the hard way never to start another war again. Leave it to a precious few Americans to thank Osama bin Laden for a tough lesson taught.

~ Geb Sommer

Anthony Gregory replies:

Just because al-Qaeda’s actions are explainable as blowback doesn’t make the 9/11 attacks the least bit excusable. It is indeed "just and right" to go after al-Qaeda – this doesn’t mean that everything is acceptable in trying to achieve this goal. I was certainly against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I would be very hesitant to endorse any US government action to retrieve al-Qaeda, and am not holding my breath waiting for it to come up with a just manner of doing so. That isn’t the main goal of this "War on Terror."

We don’t owe Osama anything. He is a mass-murderer of innocents. And he failed to teach us anything. Killing thousands of innocent people is never the right way to teach a lesson, no matter whether done by private terrorists or states. It is murder.

A very good article, but I would like to know in which century were we "mostly at peace?"

It has taken me over 50 years for the idea to sink in that we are anything but a "peace-loving nation."

~ Z. Ervas

Anthony Gregory replies:

Compared to the 20th century, the 19th century saw America mostly at peace. Though certainly not perfectly so.

Please thank Mr. Gregory for his inspiring article on the antiwar movement in America. It inspired me to maintain my resolve that we should pull out all of the troops from Iraq within six months of Kerry’s swearing in as president of the United States. Give money. Give aid. Give whatever it is the Iraqis want to rebuild their own country. If it happens to be three separate regions with some form of government acceptable to the greater population, let it happen. The United States cannot bring freedom and democracy to other nations by sheer will and military power. My hope is that Kerry is campaigning on a platform that will get him into office and that once in office he will build the case to withdraw from Iraq. Maybe I’m wrong, but it beats the heck out of reelecting Bush and policies that we all know WILL cause America greater harm in the long run. …

~ Jeff Morgan

Anthony Gregory replies:

I‘m glad you found value in my article, and I share your hope that we will get the troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. However, I don’t have much optimism that Kerry would make such bold and reasonable moves. He’s a hawk, unfortunately.



Saddam Bankrolled Palestinian Terrorists

I‘m just wondering why two stories that prove Saddam bankrolled Palestinian terrorists (here’s one: "Saddam Bankrolled Palestinian Terrorists") were put in the More News section and not on the front page where they belong?

I think does our nation a great service with its informative articles and commentary, and I am opposed to the war in Iraq, but when I see things like that it looks like a cheap attempt to hide something. It doesn’t prove links to al-Qaeda or 9/11 but it does prove links to terrorism. Why then was it put "on the back-burner"?

~ Gary Davis

Eric Garris replies:

It was on the front page, under "Today in Iraq."

The reason this was not top news is simple: it was not news.

Saddam’s financing of Palestinian militant groups has never been questioned. He admitted to it, the Palestinian groups publicly thanked him, and I have never seen anyone deny it was true.

The only reason there were stories about it is that the fact was repeated in the new CIA report.

This is very old news; we ran stories saying the same thing three years ago.



Blue-Eyed Sheikhs

You might like to remove this from your set of links: it’s not about the war (except insofar as there’s a NATO base there) – it’s about how prosperous Iceland is despite not being a member of the EU. Someone must have made a decision on the basis of the headline, without reading the article.

Aside from that, keep up the excellent work!

~ Karl-Erik Paasonen

Matt Barganier replies:

We certainly did read the article (look at the title we gave it in the Viewpoints section: "Icelanders: Happy, Free, Wealthy – and Outside the EU"). takes a broad interest in issues of globalism and political centralization. Go to our search page ( and Google "EU" or "European Union."


Roald Dahl in Palestine

My goodness, quoting Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl presents the old man in the story as some sinister conspirator (whoops, where’ve we seen that one before?), as someone who merely wants to steal someone else’s land – anyone’s land. Dahl makes no mention of the deep and long historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and acts so disingenuously flabbergasted, as if he never knew anything about this.

Roald Dahl an expert on Middle Eastern and Jewish history?

Read several excerpts from a book (Roald Dahl: A Biography, by Jeremy Treglown) review entitled "Roald the Rotten" written by Ann Hulbert and printed in the April 26, 1994 edition of The New York Times:

Eventually he became a real grown-up and got married. His first wife, the actress Patricia Neal, was moved, more than once, to use a moniker that plenty of his acquaintances – and at least some readers of his misanthropic adult fiction – would have endorsed: "Roald the Rotten," because he could be so appallingly intolerant and cruel…..

And he could be truly repellent, not merely a bully but a bigot, as a public literary controversy in 1983 made plain. Dahl’s anti-Semitic review of a book about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which appeared in The Literary Review, was roundly attacked; this row was a matter of principle, his critics rightly saw, and the principle for Dahl was rank prejudice against Jews. "Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason," he offered in his own defense.

~ Lowell

Sam Koritz replies:

The passage I quoted from Dahl’s autobiography states that he was no expert on Middle Eastern or Jewish history:

I really didn’t know what he was talking about. I had been living in East Africa for the past two years and in those times the British colonies were parochial and isolated. The local newspaper, which was all we got to read, had not mentioned anything about Hitler’s persecution of the Jews in 1938 and 1939. Nor did I have the faintest idea that the greatest mass murder in the history of the world was actually taking place in Germany at that moment.

I’m not an expert on Roald Dahl, and by quoting him I wasn’t endorsing everything he ever wrote and said. I don’t consider the passage I quoted or his autobiography to be anti-Jewish.



Homage to Truthtellers

My comment is that they ought to be brought to trial, all of them, starting with impeachment for Bush.

It would appear that Clinton, like Bush, was more interested in supporting Israel’s demands for land than in protecting this country from the inevitable attack on us, given our military, as well as financial and political, support of Israel. A change of regimes in the Middle East was the goal.

~ Erica Stuart

Gordon Prather replies:

Regime change has headed the agenda of the neocrazies since at least 1992. What’s a bit puzzling is how they got Congress in 1998 to make regime change the stated policy of the U.S. of A.



John Bambey’s backtalk

As a Christian, Mr. Bambey’s letter makes no sense to me. First of all, the Bible states that no one knows the time of Christ’s return except the Father. So, how is he so sure we are in the End Times when Christ’s apostles thought the same thing over two thousand years ago?

Second, under the New Covenant, all are obligated to do their best to seek justice and live peacefully as a priority. I don’t see the Israeli government acting honorably and justly.

Third, I question the validity of dispensationalism and its root causes found in the Scofield Bible. This is a phenomena that has come about in the last 100 years. Its popularity has been aided by the Left Behind series of Tim LaHaye, which in my opinion is "comic book Christianity" that has now taken over as doctrine to many.

Fourth, why is Pat Robertson, a US citizen, sticking his nose in the affairs of other countries? He certainly doesn’t speak for me and neither does Mr. Bambey, who has been hoodwinked into thinking that God somehow needs our help in defending Israel.

I think our whole generation has gone nuts and common sense has gone out the window. We all need to examine why we believe what we believe, just like the Bereans of the New Testament. Beware of false prophets and their doctrines!

~ Phil Crincoli

"You have to keep that in mind when you are talking about Robertson, what he is saying is that evangelicals will not tolerate a foreign policy that is anti-Christian…"

Well let’s parse Mr. Robertson’s syntax regarding the wars of Yugoslav secession. There is, Mr. Bambey, something called a paper trail. Robertson and John Paul II repeatedly called for the Christian Serbs to be bombed into submission: both of them, moreover, championed the cause of that consummate pluralist, Alia Izetgebovic, and his SDA. Meanwhile, the real pluralist, Fikretic Abdic, languishes in prison. If you really want to expose Robertson, see what he has to say on Beslan and Bashayev; are Muslims in the Levant terrorists without reserve but rebels in the Caucasus? Interesting paradox that. Finally, contrast that output with pejoratives attached to Orthodox Christians, Russia, etc. …

~ Petar Milich



David Epstein’s backtalk

First, The UN assembly granted the creation of Israel over the heads of and against the will of the Arabs. The British pushed the separation of former Transjordan into a Jewish and an Arab country through the UN. The Arabs were bullied around because the others had powerful friends.

Second, Israel is part of the Middle East, and its handling of the Palestinians IS one reason for the problems in the region. Israel has not been attacked because al-Qaeda is concentrating on the bigger enemy, the U.S.

Third, do not think for a second that the "rejectionist organizations" are only on the Palestinian side. The ultra-right-wing and radical groups in Israel are no better, and the terror they and the State of Israel spread is equally horrid.

~ Frank Henry



Larry Franklin’s October Surprise

This article is informative, but contains some incorrect assertions. First, long before Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign, Born Again Christians overwhelmingly voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. They were very influential in shaping Reagan’s domestic policies during those two terms.

Second, the analogy between "commies" and "fundies" (you just have to love those titles) is fanciful at best. Communism was a political ideology based upon Scientific Socialism, though its scientific methodology and conclusions were highly flawed. To compare secular Communism with a religious movement (Dispensationalism) is not only erroneous, but undermines valid analytical critiques of Communism. Regarding the accusation that certain American people are disloyal, we’ve heard it ad nausea about so many different people living in the United States. All of these people are Americans, no less so than any one else.

Third, it was a well-known fact that the Soviets were spying on the US, just as the US spied on the Soviet Union. This spy-versus-spy enterprise is an integral part of modern nationalism throughout the world. Enemies spy against each other, and so do friends. Intrinsic to the spy game is the reality that if someone is caught spying against his country, he is prosecuted for treason; and if subject to the law of the land, there is justification for his prosecution. Yet all of this is quite different from the Red Scare perpetuated by Joseph McCarthy and several far-right groups. Their intent was not merely to uncover alleged widespread Communist infiltration in the US government, but to inflame public passions against Communists and their "fellow travelers" (and in their minds, this included liberals). The House Un-American Activities Committee went after writers, artists, intellectuals, actors, etc. They ruined the lives of many people, targeting people like Bertolt Brecht, Lillian Hellman, Clifford Odets, and even Frank Sinatra. This was a state-sponsored witch-hunt during the 1950s, and should be condemned as such by all defenders of liberty. The Red Scare, just like the Cold War, was perpetuated by lies and deceptions. It’s a shame that during that period Communism was not critiqued as a fallacious ideology and Capitalism vindicated by its own merits. Instead, Communists and liberals were maliciously smeared and blacklisted.

Regarding the case against Alger Hiss, I just read the good overview of it in Wilkepedia Raimondo links to. There are many who believe he was a Soviet spy, but Hiss was not convicted of espionage. The evidence was murky at best (in this same article, it’s noted that Hiss’s defense team suggests the documents used against him were forgeries), and even the Venona papers can’t properly identify him as "Ales" the alleged spy. … In these articles and the other one cited by Raimondo, it mentions that no charges were brought against Laughlin Currie or Harry Dexter White, nor was there any solid evidence to prove they were spying for the Soviets. Either Whittaker Chambers or Elizabeth Bentley, whose credibility is questionable, identified all of these figures as Communist spies.

Finally, there is no evidence of spying by AIPAC, only assertions that a couple of its members were involved. Until charges are brought against them, speculation about AIPAC’s involvement in the latest spy scandal is worthless.

~ David Epstein



Diego Garcia: Paradise Cleansed

I have read this article with disgust; being a British citizen but originally from Mauritius I knew a bit about the deportation of these people to Mauritius but did not know the extent of what actually went on between the British and the U.S. It is with dismay that I read that the British court in 2003 denied compensation to the people of Diego Garcia who are living in slums in Mauritius; God only knows what these people have gone through in the midst of this British/U.S. collaboration. I salute the people who are going to the European court to take this further; there are many British citizens here from Mauritius who I know feel very strongly about this issue and would like to know if there is anything we can do to support this. I for one am so incensed with the blasé attitude of the British government who believe to this day that the action in 1966 was the right one with no thought or regard for the people of Diego Garcia. HOWEVER, THINK ABOUT THIS: IF THE POPULATION OF DIEGO GARCIA WERE WHITE, WOULD THEY HAVE BEEN TREATED IN THE SAME WAY? I THINK NOT.

~ Suzette Lindor



The Media’s Culpability for Iraq

Dear Mr. Pilger,

I fully agree with you about the media’s culpability in many tragic events taking place worldwide, presently, and in the past. It looks like those in the media who decide what will be released to the public are worse than the politicians (I expect the politicians to lie).

Let me underscore your points with some personal experience. In 1993 (late September-October), I went to see my mother who was gravely ill in Belgrade. I was told by the doctors that because of U.S. sanctions many medical supplies could not be bought by the Yugoslav hospitals. Many supplies and equipment were also needed, such as painkillers and the drugs for local anesthesia. I had to buy the medicine on the black market for my mother at ten times the cost, bribe the hospital doctors to take my mother in, and take care of her…. She died nonetheless (she had a terminal cancer).

This is tragic in itself, but even more tragic is the lack of any news in the Western media of the plight of the Yugoslav people as a result of the sanctions.

Let me bring up another example in the conspiratorial role the media played in the ’60s. In 1965, there was a U.S.-concocted overthrow of the Indonesian president, Sukarno. According to several sources, our ambassador in Indonesia was feeding the names of the people that needed to be "contained" (read eliminated) to the military that was toppling the president. A million people died in the ensuing civil war, and NOTHING was in the media in the US …

~ Bob Kornic



The Brownshirting of America

Dr. Roberts,

I would like to thank you for your excellent article. Actually I was one of those brainwashed ultrapatriotic conservatives at one time. I was addicted to the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh. (After I entered the liberal nut-house in college, I needed something to counterbalance the filth I was being taught.) However, I then discovered your writings, Pat Buchanan’s writings and many others from Chronicles magazine and The American Conservative. Thank you for helping me to get off that sinking ship of fascist hate. As your article points out, by denouncing their opponents as anti-American, or unpatriotic, they are blind to the fact that they are exhibiting some major symptoms of fascism. Another thing that bothers me is their obsession with military power. Lynyrd Skynyrd now displays an American flag (instead of a Confederate one) – while showing a video of cluster bombs being dropped. So sad. I hate seeing this happen to my country.

~ ZF



Pulitzer Prize

I just wanted to make sure that we are all aware of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for Investigative Reporting as it supports Kerry’s post-Vietnam War actions. The prize was awarded to Michael D. Sallah, Mitch Weiss and Joe Mahr of The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, for their powerful series on atrocities by Tiger Force, an elite US Army platoon, during the Vietnam War. The series of articles can be found here.

I think that it is important for the American people to know of this report and its authenticity as proven by its winning of the Pulitzer Prize. This would make an excellent argument (if needed) in response to the documentary that Sinclair Broadcast Group is planning to show.

~ Hope M. Nagley, Toledo, Ohio


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