Backtalk, November 18, 2004

Pledge Week

This morning I contributed $20 to

On the surface it would appear that it is insignificant. The sum of my income is dependent on a disability benefit. I was hesitant to even contribute such a paltry amount for concern that it may appear as an insult.

I couldn’t continue reading any further today without at least making a humble statement. I am writing this letter to urge others who have the wherewithal to contribute to do so now. …

~ Henry, Jacksonville, FL


The Big Dog’s Lapdogs

“‘One of the first things you learn in the military,’ my father was saying during the monthly call I put through to his home in South Africa, ‘is to stay mum about impending operations.'”

Perhaps Mrs. Mercer’s father mistook “Operation Phantom Fury” as a real military operation and bought into the nonsense comparisons of the Marine Commanding General and his top sergeant absurdly likening it to the Battle for Iwo Jima in W.W.II, the Inchon landing in the Korean War or even the recapturing of Hue City during the Tet Offensive of 1968 in Vietnam War: all quite absurd analogies to what is occurring now at the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Once again, a number of so-called antiwar essayists give “aid and comfort” to the illusion by presenting their own false caricatures of the battle for Hue (ignoring completely, as usual, the thousands of Vietnamese civilians who were murdered by the north Vietnamese regular army troops who invaded and captured the city of Hue) and presenting the subsequent battle between those north Vietnamese regulars and American forces incorrectly as being between American naval and military forces and mere insurgents. Nonsense. …

First off, unlike Fallujah, all of these were battles. Also unlike Fallujah, all ultimately were clashes between large numbers of regular conventional forces; secrecy in pre-battle planning was essential and strict. Both the Iwo Jima and Inchon operations were conducted in utmost secrecy by U.S. naval and military forces in the months and days preceding them. Hue was also conducted in utmost secrecy by the north Vietnamese regular military forces in the months and days preceding its invasion and capture of the south Vietnamese city of Hue in its failed Tet Offensive of 1968.

Mrs. Mercer is correct, “Operation Phantom Fury” is merely the “American euphemism for flattening Fallujah.” The American forces are so absolutely overwhelming, and the Iraqi opposition so absolutely trivial, that no secrecy whatsoever for this military conducted “police action” (or whatever this massive show of force and slaughter should be called) is needed.

If one wishes to find a suitable analogy of Fallujah to US military efforts of the past, then, personally, I would suggest that the Pine Ridge Campaign of 1890-91 is by far more apt (right down to the exaggerated awards of heroism): a huge massing of conventional military against a proportionally very insignificant opponent. However, even that analogy fails badly given that the “Order of Battle” between “opposing forces” in the city of Fallujah is orders of magnitude more imbalanced than that of the Pine Ridge Campaign in favor of the American occupation forces versus the Iraqi insurgents. In short, this is a pathetic (and, personally, I would say criminal) sham.

A more apt analogy regarding American “tactics” has been rightly recognized by at least some who have likened this assault on the city of Fallujah to the Syrian military slaughter and destruction waged upon Syrian city of Hama in the spring of 1982. An act rightly condemned by the United States at the time. Again, proportionally speaking, this American assault upon the city of Fallujah dwarfs the Syrian assault upon Hama. …

~ Paul Crowley

Ilana Mercer replies:

What my father was alluding to is this: no matter what you think about this war, why would you endanger your own people? He was not endorsing the military worthiness of this operation.

Ilana Mercer … appears to tailor her writings to appeal to whatever audience is reading them on a particular day. In this way she very much resembles Ariana Huffington another woman with a decidedly opportunist bent.

I was just on the vdare site where Mercer is decrying Muslim immigration to the United States with a ferocity and racism that Abe Foxman of the Antidefamtion League would have trouble matching. The article of hers that was posted on the vdare site seems to show that her true intellectual influences include quite a dose of the writings of Irv Rubin, the late head of the Jewish Defense League, and his ilk. Her racism easily matches the most virulent racism of the most extreme members of the Israeli settlement movement.

Mercer, despite her protestations, is avidly pro-Israel. Her antenna is constantly scanning her environment for even the slightest hint of supposed anti-semitism. Every so often this unfortunate side of her reveals itself in very subtle ways.

I am at a loss as to why libertarian sites such as and are so naive about this woman.

~ John Fraser

Ilana Mercer replies:

It never ceases to amaze me the degree to which readers demand writers reduce – rather than stimulate – cognitive dissonance.

My opinions on immigration and Israel have been with me well before I began to write professionally.

Unlike Ann Coulter’s opinions (and the many other pundits who have never lived outside the US), to whom I am compared with derision, these opinions are, doubtless, greatly influenced by life experience. (Some readers have even welcomed this as a plus.)

It is well known, and no secret, that I am and have always been:

1) A nationalist – as opposed to an internationalist – and, as such, a proponent of limited immigration. (The reader will agree that I should never have been allowed into the U.S.)

2) What best-selling author Peter Brimelow called “a proud Zionist,” who disagrees with the far right and radical left on Israel. (I suspect the million or so Arab Israelis who do not wish to leave Israel for the PA or for Syria or Jordan may be more partial to my analysis than the reader is.) I have not only disagreed with the far right and radical left on Israel, but have, I think, motivated my opinions logically.

3) In opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

4) In support of a mission to search out and eliminate bin Laden in Afghanistan (although categorically opposed to nation building or occupation in that – and any other – country).

Unlike Huffington (another insulting comparison), neither have I ever wavered in my commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. There are quite a few classical liberal Misesian scholars whose opinions are much like my own. Philosopher David Conway comes immediately to mind. The reader ought to read what Mises had to say about unfettered immigration as well as about “the Mohammedans.”

But, if consensus is a meaningful measure of anything (and the reader implies it MUST be), there are others who agree with me, not least many in the far-from-monolithic libertarian community.

There are even readers who are less invested in uniformity of thought.

Buck Up, You Lefties!

As someone from the far left I wanted to thank you for your encouragement, but just wanted to add that many of us were also not taken in by the Kerry sham.

In your opinion is there any hope of the Old Right and far left coming together, perhaps putting some of the thornier social issues aside to defeat a common enemy and save the very essence of America before turning on each other again? And if so how should this be done?

~ Michael D. Carrasco

Justin Raimondo replies:

Yes, there is a possibility of an Old Right-Old Left coalition: a single issue movement against foreign interventionism. That is the only way forward. As to whether it will happen, that’s another question.

In “Buck Up, You Lefties!” Justin Raimondo attempts to establish a parallel between the second Nixon and Bush administrations, giving reasons why Bush may yet face his own Watergate. But Raimondo overlooks two important points. One is that Bush can count on the backing of a Republican-controlled Congress, a luxury that Nixon did not have. Democrats controlled both houses then. The only way that the current Republican Congress will impeach Bush is if his crimes are so heinous and his guilt so plain and unequivocal that it would be political suicide for Republican congressmen not to vote for impeachment. Second, if Bush gets impeached, who is to replace him? Cheney? And if Cheney gets impeached along with Bush, then who will be president? Someone appointed by the Republican-controlled Congress? Tom DeLay maybe? It seems that impeachment, even if it were to happen (which is basically impossible), will only get us more of the same, or worse.

Bush’s political base is impervious to any scandal likely to come up against him (otherwise, the scandalous conduct of the Iraq war, already evident by election day, should have been enough to have Bush relieved from his duties). The only thing that could rattle them would be a sexual scandal involving the President. Bush has many shortcomings, but lack of sexual control doesn’t seem to be one of them.

~ Kynn Jones

Some recommendations for the opposition:

First of all, demonize the GOP for its hypocrisy in terms of the Red Staters’ own values. Point out how far its actual practice of corporate welfare and crony capitalism differs from its rhetoric about “free enterprise,” “rugged individualism,” and “bootstraps.” Keep up a running commentary on the news, and every time a corporate looter grabs all it can get with both hands from the treasury, ruthlessly expose it to the light of day. Make this the central theme of coordinated talking points. Every single day.

Second, show the Religious Right how little they’re actually getting from the GOP. The GOP establishment, for all their “Famly Valyas” rhetoric in the election, doesn’t want to deal with abortion or gay marriage once and for all because then they wouldn’t be wedge issues. “Hey, you voted to screw yourself economically and throw more cannon fodder into a hopeless war because you care about ‘moral issues’ more than anything – and you didn’t even get that!” The Religious Right are the GOP’s equivalent of organized labor: they get all the red meat rhetoric during the election, until both parties settle down to serving the state-privileged corporate ruling class.

Third. Keep in mind that for every one of Karl Rove’s energized fundies, there was probably a demoralized small government conservative who stayed home in disgust. If these people – the Bob Barr wing – could have been energized to show up and vote for Badnarik or Peroutka, Bush’s majority would have fallen by half a vote for every vote they cast.

Fourth. Make policy proposals that trump the GOP in terms of Red Staters’ own values, while promoting genuinely populist ends. For example: the Congressional Democrats’ first item of business in January should be to propose a bill eliminating all direct subsidies to big business, and using the savings to raise the personal income tax exemption to $30,000. And then demagogue it for all it’s worth.

Fifth. Ruthlessly disseminate the meme of the “November Surprise,” which I saw somebody suggest in an Atrios comment thread. For example, Bush deliberately put off his big offensive in Iraq until after the election, because he didn’t want to be hurt politically by the massive casualties when he razes Fallujah, or whatever. He says one thing, and then does what he wants when he’s safely elected and has a free hand. We can expect all kinds of November surprises now that Bush no longer fears being held accountable.

Our strategy right now should be to weaken and demoralize Bush’s own base, and to sow seeds of doubt and disunity.

~ Kevin Carson,

Another War?

As always, Justin, right on with your analysis, but I must object strenuously to the denigration of anacondas. By your own link it states, “After a big meal the Anaconda will rest for several days while digestion occurs. Many Anacondas will not eat again for several weeks or even months, depending on the size of the last meal. One captive Anaconda is on record for fasting over two years!”

Natural critters like anacondas rest after they eat something. Only something insane would eat and eat and eat until it dies.

~ John McGill

Justin Raimondo replies:

You make a very good point, and I surely wish I had made it.

Bush Unleashed

Happy now, Justin? Or will you not know for sure until after he has killed another few thousand in Falluja. The message was very clear to most of us and it will soon be clear to you, that’s assuming that you care. Anything but Bush would have been a start of backing away from the warmongering US agenda. Had you backed Kerry for that reason alone then Kerry would have the clear message that the antiwar movement was going to hold his feet to the fire. Instead, you and have helped to give Bush the justification he needs.

I’m sorry but I won’t be donating to because it doesn’t fit with my antiwar agenda. Best of luck and I’ll be thinking of you as the Iraqi casualty figures roll in.

~ Don Stewart, disappointed Canadian

Justin Raimondo replies:

Sheesh, a CANADIAN telling me how to vote! Good lord, between you and the pro-Bush Israelis – not to mention the Guardian‘s backfired campaign to “help” Kerry in Ohio – it’s a wonder that Americans don’t just take that Global Test we heard so much about and forget about going to the polls at all!

Look, bud, you are flat-out wrong: Kerry called for the flattening of Fallujah on several occasions, and criticized the Bushies for not going far enough. Go look it up. If he were President, not a single Fallujan would be spared.

Keep your money, you friggin’ loser – I voted for Ralph Nader and I’m damned proud of it.

Sharon’s True Face Exposed (and Ignored)

I am not defending Ariel Sharon, or all of Israel’s moves, because I know that there have been numerous times where if they had acted with peace instead of force, the situation would be different. I do not know if there would be peace, but at least I think had Israel acted differently at times, it would be difficult for anyone to stand against it. But to me, it is difficult to fault Israel for what it does when it is clear that the idea of a two-state solution to this process will never be accepted by the Palestinians. There is no other way to explain how Arafat, despite the urging of many Arab leaders, not only turned down the offer on the table in 2000 by President Clinton, but did not even make a counteroffer. In fact, it was Arafat’s actions in 2000 that directly led to the extreme hawk Sharon coming into power. Israel has made, and continues to make, a number of mistakes, but I don’t know how they can be ultimately be faulted when Israel is surrounded by those who
want to see its demise. You refer to Israel’s actions as the “anti-peace plan.” What peace plan do the Palestinian’s want? How many chances have the Palestinians had to make peace; and time and time again rejected it. And to call Israel terrorists is simply wrong.

~ Ben Miller

Ran HaCohen replies:

Thank you for repeating for the millionth time the Israeli propaganda legends. Since so many people have proven so many times why all these theses are wrong, I’ll just repeat it in a nutshell: The PLO accepted the two-state solution years ago; Arafat did not make a counteroffer in 2000 because their was no Israeli offer to counter; the peace plan most Palestinians want is the one in accordance to international law, UN resolutions, or the Saudi/ Arab peace initiative; Sharon was elected by the Israelis, not by Arafat; and calling many Israeli actions terrorism is simply right.

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