Backtalk, November 7, 2004

Bravo Company Mourns Its Fallen

Thank-you for the link to "Bravo Company Mourns Its Fallen" (Christian Science Monitor, November 4). My nephew is currently assigned to Bravo Company, and was slightly injured in the attack. He recently told his fiancee that he wanted us to vote for Kerry "so he could come home." He doesn’t yet understand that the politicians at the top are basically interchangeable, and that only immense pressure from us "regular folks" will bring them home.

The sad truth is that sustained opposition to the War Party will not happen until enough young Americans come home in body bags.

I will be thinking about how close he came to death while I attend the regular antiwar vigils this weekend.

~ Jim Ellsworth, Oakland, Maine


And the Winner Is …

Predictions:

1. The neo-cons are history.

2. The fundamentalists and the religious right are history.

3. Israel will be put in line.

4. The new cabinet will reflect the rescue from the aforementioned.

This will happen because the true power in this country will sit president Bush down and tell him so. If you think the Rockefellers, Duponts, Fords, Waltons, Gates, et al, are going to sit idly by while the nation goes over the cliff, well, you don’t know your history.

By the way, at Bush’s press conference he already began to set a new tone; welcome to real politik.

~ Tom Gavin


Justin Raimondo replies:

I sincerely hope that you, Bob Novak, Pat Buchanan, and others are right. Will Atlas shrug? I’m not going to hold my breath, but hope, as they say, springs eternal.

Well Bush has won. As an internationalist who reads like a fish swims in water, I say this: Bush may have been selected by 51% of Americans to rule America, but he sure has no mandate to rule the world as he suggests. Bombing some and bribing others is tantamount to bullying. You guys should stop trying to rule the world by force or coercion. It just does not work. It never did. Hubris will bring down the empire.

Pity the world has no say in US elections since every person in the world knows that the world’s people dislike Bush for his ignorant and arrogant pride.

If Americans want the world on their side, then they had better learn to be humble and peaceful, and to address world issues with equality. Only then you can demand the status of being seen as a great nation.

God bless the world.

~ Ahmed Asgher, Bahrain


The Wedge Politics of Osama Bin Laden

What is a conservative Republican like Pat … [Buchanan] doing on Antiwar.com? Get rid of him!

~ Clayton Hallmark

Eric Garris replies:

Pat has been opposed to the Iraq War from the start, he was even against the first Gulf War.

In fact, I am the founder of Antiwar.com and I am a Republican. I started it to protest against the illegal wars in the Balkans (Clinton’s wars).

Antiwar.com reflects a wide variety of antiwar views in order to effectively oppose war, rather than pushing a narrow political agenda.

Concerning the excellent article by Pat Buchanan, indeed most of what he said was extremely relevant and to the point. My only issue is with his comment: "The problem with Osama’s message is the messenger, a man complicit in the murder of 3,000 innocents. He can never escape it."

Indeed, he can never escape it. Neither can Mr. Bush escape, even in a world of blind justice the fact that he too is a criminal, with the blood of at least 30 thousand people in his hands, and all with the use of deliberate lies as a justification. And to add insult to injury Mr. Bush, a war criminal, has been reelected by over half of the American voters. This paralyzing violation of law has granted Mr. Bin Laden the moral candor that he exhibits on the tape, even if like Bush’s it is but a thin veneer used to hide an untried delinquent.

~ Dr. S. Livian


Agent Orange: An Ongoing Atrocity

In Michael Austin’s review of Philip Jones Griffiths’ book on Agent Orange, Austin wonders why the US hasn’t admitted fault for deformities in Vietnamese children from Agent Orange, but then admits in the next paragraph that "theoretically and scientifically there are no proven connections between the maimed subjects of Griffiths’ photographs and the presence of dioxin in Agent Orange." He also mentions that "selective experts" (presumably actual scientists rather than journalists and photographers) deny links between birth defects and dioxin. So why the confusion over who should accept fault for health problems in Vietnam? The fact is that the evidence in animal studies that dioxin is toxic in massive amounts hasn’t been observed in human populations. The limited evidence of health effects that is available suggest that heavy exposure to dioxin increases the risk of certain types of cancer but not birth defects, with the possible exception of spina bifida.

Griffiths’ photos of birth defects are tragic, but these birth defects occur in every country on the planet including the US, and are unfortunately much more common in countries with poor nutrition and health care such as Vietnam. A targeted nutrition program in Vietnam would do more to reduce the rate of birth defects than any multi-billion dollar program to clean up every molecule of dioxin that remains.

The suggestion that international scientists are uninterested in dioxin research in Vietnam is wildly inaccurate. The Vietnamese government has stymied research at every turn, stonewalling on scientific cooperation and even at times outright seizure of research materials from scientists. A US-funded conference in Hanoi on Agent Orange in 2002 resulted in a plan of action on joint research, but to date the Vietnamese have not taken the first steps toward initiating the research.

Before you start throwing around words like atrocity and war crime, take an objective look at the facts.

~ Peter Toren

Dear Mr. Toren:

Your assertions about the lack of proof of dioxin’s cause of deformity and the Vietnamese governments role in preventing research and help from outside are certainly interesting, and I don’t doubt there is truth in them. But I certainly know of evidence to the contrary as well.

I feel compelled to point out that most, if not all of the statements you accuse me of making in my review of "Agent Orange" are actually not my statements, but direct quotes from the book. My review was meant as a descriptive opinion of the book’s pictures and words and the response they evoked in me; it was by no means meant to be read as a fully researched and objective news article about the effects of Dioxin. I am well aware the book is meant to advance a certain point of view, and willing to concede that I could have played devil’s advocate more than I chose to in my review, but I felt my description of the books’ frustrating vagaries would go far enough to explain that it, like almost every book of its ilk, is hardly objective. The fact is, the author/ photographer believes that the deformities he captured on film were the direct or indirect result of dioxin from Agent Orange, so I took that as a given for the length of my review. Before you start pointing fingers at book reviewers, take an objective look at the fact that you are responding to a book review, not a news article.

Thank you for reading, and for your interest.

~ Michael Austin, Culture Ed./ Outreach Coordinator, Antiwar.com

Thank you for a very good review of Philip Jones Griffiths book on Agent Orange. As you may be aware, in January of this year the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange have filed an Alien Tort Claims Act lawsuit in the Brooklyn federal against the chemical companies that produced AO and the other dioxin contaminated defoliants. The chemical companies are in the process of submitting their motions to dismiss the case and oral agreements will be heard in front of Judge Weinstein (the same lawyer who heard the US vets’ case) in January.

As with the vets’ case the lawsuit will depend a lot on public pressure to force it to settle out of court since the issue of causation is extremely difficult to prove and the chemical companies have a lot of resources to keep this thing going on and on for years. Unlike the Vietnamese, the British-Vietnamese Friendship Organization has started an on-line petition in support of this case and it has over 600,000 signatures.

My organization has been working on an exhibit on the long-term health and environmental affects of Agent Orange. The exhibit will be virtual (on line at the end of this year) and part will travel throughout the U.S. in the upcoming years. We aim to answer some of the questions raised by Mr. Austin in his review. We will let you know when the exhibit is up and running.

~ Susan Hammond, Deputy Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development


The US Will Now be Ruled by the Imperial Party

Mr. Raimondo – it was not a thin margin of victory!

You write in the Australian:

"George W. Bush’s thin margin of victory is a mandate for nothing. Instead, it is a testament to the weakness of his political position, the sharp divisions in the country and the frittering away of the most advantageous position any Republican incumbent has held since 1864."

The facts: a 3.5 million vote margin in the popular vote – the greatest in the history of presidential elections. An increase in both House and Senate. A win as well in the electoral college.

This is some weakness!

Then, you forget his win in 2000 which could be construed as a weak victory. But look what he did with what he was given and how he has capitalized on it to get a majority of Americans to agree with him!

~ Peter J. Paola

Justin Raimondo replies:

It is a thin margin in terms of electoral votes – the only votes that count in the American system. If not for Ohio, the outcome might have been quite different. As for Republican gains in Congress, these contests were largely decided on local economic and social issues. That hardly amounts to a mandate for Empire.


Peter Vujacic’s backtalk

To Nebojsa Malic and his readers who might still be looking for a copy of the text Milosevic’s opening statement, I just want to let you know that it IS available. It must have been provided by the ICTY, but the quickest way to find it is at http://slobodan-milosevic.org, where it has been posted for some time. If you do a "find" search for "opening statement" on the home page you should go directly to it. If you want to scroll down for it, you’ll find it just short of the middle of the page of posted documents and articles.

~ Anna Pullinger

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Thank you – I have indeed found the text of the statement, and it is most intriguing.


Bush’s Backward Nuclear Policy

"But the North Koreans have vigorously and consistently denied having such a program. Despite repeated requests for him to do so, Bush has never provided anyone – including the Chinese – any convincing evidence that North Korea has such a program."

The story-line, if I am remembering correctly, was that the US charged North Korea with have a uranium enrichment program, and the Koreans shocked everyone by admitting that to be true. Am I remembering correctly here?

~ E. Spencer

Gordon Prather replies:

Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly claimed to have confronted North Korean officials in October 2002 with allegations of a clandestine uranium enrichment program. North Korea reportedly admitted to the program.

But the North Koreans immediately, officially and vehemently denied not only having a uranium enrichment program, but denied that a North Korean official had made such an admission. Kelly then countered that the unnamed North Korean official had made the admission at a cocktail party and that an unnamed Russian and an unnamed Chinese "delegate" had overhead the "admission" and could confirm it. The Russians and the Chinese promptly denied that any of their delegates had overheard any such admission.

According to Sig Hecker, former Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory who visited the Yongbyon facility last year, "Officials of the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs … stated categorically that the DPRK has no program for enriching uranium. Moreover, they claim to have no equipment and no scientific expertise to do so." SIG also testified to Congress that, "I saw nothing and spoke to no one who could convince me that they could build a nuclear device with that metal, and that they could weaponize such a device into a delivery vehicle."

Earlier this year, Fu Ying, a senior Chinese diplomat, stated that China did not believe that North Korea possessed an HEU program, and that U.S. evidence has failed to convince China that such a program exists. Zhou Wenzhong, China’s deputy foreign minister, said in an interview with the New York Times "We know nothing about the uranium program … We don’t know whether it exists. So far the US has not presented convincing evidence of this program."


Why Are Some American Christians So Bloodthirsty?

While I think the Dr. Whitehurst has identified many of the factors that allow those who claim to lead their lives according to the teachings of the Prince of Peace to so enthusiastically endorse the war in Iraq, I believe she has missed the single most important. US citizens, like the troops we have sent to Iraq, have been conditioned to believe a very important concept, the value of human life varies according to what country you live in. You hear this message repeated daily as it pertains to the followers of Islam. First those millions of followers are lumped together into what the psychologists would call "the other", though the variation in belief and custom among Muslims is as great as among Christians. We are then told that "they do not value life as we do," a reinforcement of the definition as "the other."

What is my evidence? I offer two elements in defense of my assertion. When talking to those on the "Christian" right, how often does the discussion of the war in Iraq turn to the general topic of a struggle between Islam and Christianity. In my experience, it does not take long at all…. Some may couch the explanation in terms of Biblical prophecy, others may not. But a persistent thread is that this war is part of an epic struggle between two of the three religions that sprang from Abraham – the role of the third is only whispered at among those of the "End of Days" school of thought.

My second piece of evidence? Me. As a young man being trained by the USMC in 1967 I was the recipient of the same messages that today’s troops have received. The "other" was different, of course. The language was precisely the same; "you gotta understand, these people, these Vietnamese are different, they don’t value human life like we do." It worked then and it works now. Even with the TV coverage of civilian death in Vietnam, the outrage that drove people to protest was far more about the loss of US lives than Vietnamese. With the scenes from Iraq available on US television masking the horrible toll this war is taking on the innocent, we don’t even hear a whisper of outrage at the loss of Iraq lives.

~ Dave Collins, USMC 1967-71, RVN 1968-70, Vietnam Veterans Against the War 1971-73, 2002-present


Etc.

Since there is no doubt any more what happened in Srebenica (it took nine years for Serbian side to admit its crimes and mass murder of innocent people in Srebrenica) now, it is your moral obligation to reverse and denounce the lies and propaganda of Stella L. Jatras….

~ Jasmin B.

Stella Jatras replies:

I respond to Jasmin by referencing analyses by Gregory R. Copley, Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, The Balkans, where he makes the following points:

– The international High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown, took steps on June 30, 2004, and July 1, 2004, to "punish" the Bosnian Serb community, as exclusively predicted by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily. His move represents the first stage of an anticipated attempt to totally overturn the internationally-agreed 1995 Dayton Accords by destroying the Bosnian Serb state, Republica Srpska, placing power in the hands of the Bosnian Muslim leadership which has, since the early 1990s worked closely with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

– Gregory Copley’s report of September 8, 2003, entitled US Official Implicated With Bosnian High Representative Ashdown in Attempting to Force Fabricated Report on Srebrenica, spelled out explicitly how Ashdown, aided by Deputy HR Amb. Donald Hays of the US, intended to force a fictional account a narrow section of the Srebrenica fighting during the Bosnia-Herzegovina civil war on to the Bosnian Serb (Republica Srpska) Government, effectively then giving Ashdown the tool to dismiss the democratically-elected Government and President of Republica Srpska. Under the Dayton Accords, the High Representative can dismiss any elected or appointed official without contest, and without necessarily stipulating a reason, or having to prove cause. The September 8, 2003, report noted: "Very reliable sources within the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other sources in Sarajevo, have told GIs/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily that a seconded US official, Amb. Donald S. Hays, the Deputy High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been actively engaged in attempts to force a fabricated report to be published on the controversial wartime fighting at the city of Srebrenica."

– Amb. Hays, presumably at the insistence of High Representative Paddy Ashdown, the former British politician, has demanded the publication of a so-called "final report" on an alleged mass-killing of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995, during the Bosnian civil war, by the Government of Republica Srpska, the predominantly Serbian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In essence, Amb. Hays and Lord Ashdown are attempting to force the Government of Republica Srpska (RS) to admit that Serbs were responsible for killing thousands of Muslims at Srebrenica.

– On October 15, 2004, Republica Srpska Pres. Cavic issued a statement — known to be totally against his personal knowledge and convictions on the Srebrenica affair, and totally at odds with the forensic research by several European governments and international forensic experts — which said that Bosnian Serbs had proven their political maturity by admitting for the first time that their forces slaughtered more than 7,000 Muslims in the 1995 "Srebrenica massacre." Pres. Cavic told Republica Srpska’s SRNA news agency the report was "proof" of the Serbs’ "political maturity to face up to the bad things in the wartime past."

Pres. Cavic was known to have been told that he would be removed from office by HR Ashdown if he refused to accept the "findings" of the so-called Commission on Srebrenica which had been sponsored by Ashdown, and dominated by his appointee, the head of the Muslim dominated Commission on Missing Persons. The firing of almost 60 elected and appointed Republica Srpska Government officials on June 30-July 1, 2004, while leaving Pres. Cavic in place, obviously reinforced the fact that they would not be able to speak the truth about Srebrenica or any other issue that clashed with the view of the OHR and still retain in their jobs.

I also invite Jasmin and all other Antiwar.com readers to read my commentary, "Carla del Ponte’s Pound of Serbian Flesh," of 9 December 2003 whereby I state: "One by one, Serbs are confessing to their guilt regarding Srebrenica. Are we witnessing another Stalin show trial, where the defendants were told, ‘if you sign, we won’t shoot you’? Well, Stalin’s victims signed and many were shot anyway, or worked to death in the Gulag."

The Hague "Tribunal" seems to have taken Uncle Joe’s lesson to heart. Serbs have been so demoralized, so dehumanized, and so brutalized that they are willing to confess to anything and everything that is put before them hoping to get a better deal for themselves and for their families. It is obvious to this writer that The Hague’s Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, must have her pound of Serbian flesh either by hook or crook, in order to justify her kangaroo court. "If you don’t confess (regardless of the accusation), we will guarantee that you will receive no less than 20 years," is clearly the offer from del Ponte, who, like a jackal, has tasted blood and will not rest until she has devoured her prey. It should also be remembered that the majority of funding for The Hague’s International kangaroo court is being provided by the American people.

You guys rule – I just want you to know that!

My daughter turned me on to this website, shortly after her return from 11 months of "freeing the Iraqi people." I check you out several times a day, because I can always count on you to spew the truth, no matter how ugly it is – how refreshing and admirable! I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate what you are doing!

~ Annette B.

If Bush was right and Saddam actually had WMD, right now there would be 20,000 insurgents and 50 terrorist organizations running around with the "thousands of tons of chemical weapons" Bush claimed Saddam supposedly had. Nobody mentions the chaos that would have occurred if he had actually toppled a government that had WMD. Bush would have taken us headlong into catastrophe. And the Bushies would have been thanking him and worshipping him for creating the very scenario he was supposed to be avoiding. Right now we would be seeing chemical attacks against the U.S. Thank God he was wrong about WMD. Too bad it took a war to figure out what everyone knew to be the truth – there were no WMD.

~ Joseph Zrnchik

What’s the difference between Vietnam and Iraq?

George Bush had a plan for getting out of Vietnam.

~ Howard Wolf

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