Backtalk, January 1, 2005

‘Staying the Course’ Won’t Do

The article by Pat Buchanan is EXCELLENT. As a lifelong antiwar protester, it is heartening to read that even the Republican party behind the mess in Iraq has concrete doubts about the direction we are taking.

My husband is enlisted in the U.S. Army, has served for 20 years, and he deeply questions the “wisdom” of our president with regard to the Iraq engagement. He asks himself every day if this is the army that he enlisted in two decades ago – to serve and protect the U.S. from threats. “Where is the ‘continued’ threat from Iraq?” he queries. And for him to be ordered to go to Iraq and put his life at risk for such a nebulous, ill-conceived “war” galls both of us on a daily basis.

I hope that we can soon, VERY SOON, recover from this president and his folly – or the lowered re-enlistment rates will only grow more exacerbated. What right-minded individual would re-enlist to be treated to lies and unacknowledged mistakes – unaccountable rulers and their blind followers’ ambitions?

We will be overjoyed on the day the American people finally see the light and oust this “president” – leaving behind his self-centered, destructive war that is costing American lives every day. Is the price of democracy in Iraq worth even ONE of the Americans’ lives that has been lost? I think not – we need to mind our own “backyard” before we criticize (or start war against) our neighbor.

Retreat can sometimes be the better part of valor; while to blindly charge straight ahead on a path toward continuing self-destruction can be the height of hubris and folly.

~ Lorraine Johnson, Lawrenceville, GA

Pat Buchanan is the man. We need more people like you to speak out to the world through the powers of the media. As a military member Mr. Buchanan’s views represent mine 100 percent, yet I am not authorized to voice them. Thank you, Pat!

~ TA

Another Iraq Exit Strategy

After reading Mr. Sapienza’s article, I cried as I am a mother of two National Guardsmen. One is in Iraq as of last week. My sons were home-schooled. In their youth they witnessed how the National Guard and Forest Service saved our house from a ravaging forest fire. This made them decide to do something for their countrymen. They joined Search and Rescue (for no pay) and then went on to join the National Guard hoping to do the same for other Americans. They never dreamed they would be sent to a foreign war. As a mother, I keep my thoughts on this war to myself as I don’t want to have them lose their confidence and get themselves killed. Mr. Sapienza, I realize you have a reactive mind and let facts and fiction interfere in your logical thinking. My sons and countless of other troops didn’t go in the service for the perks. But is it not a small price if they do get them? …

~ Marcella

Weapons-Grade Paranoia

You see, as the fissile U-235 isotope in uranium fuel is ‘burned’ in a nuclear reactor, a small amount of plutonium is bred. Initially, the fissile Pu-239 isotope is produced. But as more fuel is burned, more and more fissile and non-fissile plutonium isotopes will be produced.

“All plutonium atoms have the same chemical properties. Therefore, the plutonium atoms can be chemically separated out. But weapons-grade plutonium must be about 90 percent Pu-239. So, there is a definite limit to the length of time – much less than a year – the fuel can be allowed to remain in the operating reactor if weapons-grade plutonium is to be produced.”

I‘d like to see Mr. Prather’s data on his assertions about plutonium. I have an engineering degree and have done a bit of reading on reactor physics, and while I don’t claim to be an expert. Mr. Prather’s observations appear (admittedly at a glance) to be not quite informed enough speculation. Of course maybe Mr. Prather is right, which is really what motivates my e-mail because if what he says is true I’d be interested in hearing the details. How does the reaction produce a greater proportion of non-fissile Pu with time? My recollection is that neptunium is the interim element on the way to Pu, and then it decays by beta emission into fissionable Pu, and there’s a Pu isotope somewhere in the scheme that gives a high neutron background, but how does all this lead in time to an impracticably large proportion of non-fissile Pu?

~ Ted S.

Gordon Prather replies:

The principal problem a “state” would face in making nukes with high-burnup reactor-grade plutonium is not the buildup of non-fissile plutonium isotopes; it is that Pu-240 has a rather high “spontaneous fission rate,” which means that the “pre-initiation” probability of an implosion-nuke using it is very, very high. Such a nuke wouldn’t be a “dud,” but it would almost certainly be a “fizzle,” with a detectable but not anywhere near full-scale yield.

The key word here is “state.” The anti-nuclear-anything crowd will tell you it’s “theoretically possible” for anyone to make an implosion-nuke with high-burnup reactor grade plutonium – although you may wonder how the anti-nuclear-anything crowd could possibly know that.

But if you were Iran’s head-of-state, would you rather confront the entire world with a half-dozen nukes guaranteed to “fizzle” – or would you prefer to have a dozen Russian/ Chinese IAEA-Safeguarded 1000 MWe power plants and the associated econo-military alliances with Russia/ China, the EU and all other NPT signatories?

The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos

These pictures are horrible and extreme. This is the type of stuff that the U.S. is attempting prevent in other countries. However, there is no evidence of physical abuse in these pictures. There are prisoners in awkward positions and dogs barking at prisoners but there is no indication of physical harm. We have to remember that these people were the bad guys. These people want to kill you and me. They were not in prison for selling lemonade. Therefore, we must take these pictures in the context of information-gathering to protect our troops and us at home. I do not agree with physical abuse but let us have concrete evidence of physical harm. Pictures of suggested physical harm are not going to prove anything. We need more information.

~ Tim Welsh

Eric Garris replies:

In fact, the military’s own reports show that:

  • In most cases, these were not the bad guys. In fact, many were in jail for nothing more than “selling lemonade” and most have been released without charges.
  • The events shown were not done in conjunction with interrogations.
  • Some of the events shown resulted in serious permanent injuries and a few deaths.
  • The soldiers involved performed these activities without authorization and outside of their duties, which is why they are facing prosecution.

I am not aware of a single military official who has spoken of the authorization and importance of the activities shown in the photos. If you have such information, I would be surprised but happy to examine it.

Never Smile at a Crocodile II

“… They may seem indifferent to suffering and uninterested in the facts, but what really prevents them from hearing what you say is fear, the fear of losing their manufactured identity. Everywhere they look, they sense danger – not so much of terrorism, but of straying from the herd and thereby suffering rejection, even hatred, from others.”

Dear Dr. Whitehurst,

Thank you for your magnificent insights!

Investors know the prime motivators in the markets are greed and fear.

Long ago I recognized that essentially what we are treating in patients was fear. There are the fears of the unknown, the fear of various sorts of loss, and the fear of pain just to mention a few. I remind medical students to remember that and act accordingly.

Little wonder it does no good to fight people. We won’t decrease their anxieties that way!

~ Jeff Zervas

Bravo, American Dissidents!

Thank you,, for publishing an article from my countryman Mendo Henriques. I started reading during the war in Kosovo when I believe it was just a pile of columns called Allied Farce written by Justin Raimondo. These showed me how easy media perception can be manipulated, in my view more often by the bad habit of following “the script” and established convention than by malice the demonization of Serbs being a prime example. Juan Cole often points to an outfit called MEMRI controlled by the Israeli lobby that selects some of the most extreme views from the Arab and Islamic press and produces translations for a gullible public not used to questioning received wisdom. Well, recently some of these translations showed up in Portugal’s oldest daily Diario de Notícias, quoted without any warnings about the origins of MEMRI, or caveats. It is refreshing to know that I am not the only person in Portugal that reads, but that one of its writers is Portuguese and lives in my neighborhood!

~ Andre Barata

Serbia’s Voting Woes

Dear Mr. Malic,

I had a chance to read many of your columns and just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your writing on the situation in the Balkans. It’s not often that in the Western media one can read such intellectually honest and brave analysis. With your talent you could have advanced your career much better and faster by siding with the official misinterpretations and lies about the Balkans, as some others did, but you chose honesty and dignity.

Keep up your good and brave work.

~ Mirjana Petrovic

Orwellian Balkans

As far as I recall, the Dayton Agreement said that a person elected to political office had immunity from being arrested by local authorities while in office. That is unless he/she was indicted by the Hague. I would guess that some such similar agreement is in place in Kosovo.

By allowing Haradinaj a political position, he would be immune from local prosecution and free to move about to continue his activities and actually be more effective due to his increased mobility. It would be quite an embarrassment to the Hague/U.N. to then go ahead and indict. Even if they did, then they could have another sham trial and find him innocent. Perhaps witnesses will become “reluctant” to testify or disappear and end up on the Red Cross missing persons list, etc.

Just a thought. A famous line from Apocalypse Now: “It’s all been approved.”

~ Robert Leifels

The Devil’s Christmas

Dear Mr. Raimondo,

I enjoyed this article and I agree with you that Lucifer’s agents are having a heyday splotching the earth with their filthy lies, deceptions, and murders.

However, I hope I am right in perceiving that your leading declaration, “I don’t believe in God,” is tongue-in-cheek, or else your allusion to Satan (Adversary) is illogical. If there is no God, how can there be a devil? In fact, if there is no God, then how can there be anything?

In the movie, The Thin Red Line (an exceptionally great film), a voice comments on the scenes of war intermittently throughout the movie. Recoiling from the horror of combat, it asks such poignant questions as, “From where does this inclination to do evil come? How did it get inside us?” Later, the voice asks from where love comes – how can we feel it and give it?

Without acknowledging the existence of God, and the fallen angel, who tirelessly works to undo God’s eternally infinite love for mankind and man’s feeble attempts to return that love by prayer and good deeds, those questions can never be answered absolutely. Your work is altruistic, but where did your altruism come from? Where do your ideals come from? What is the source of your good actions? Are you the source? I don’t think so. Christ refuted a young man’s assertion that He, Jesus, was good, when He said only God is good.

Nevertheless, I wish you and the staff at a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year, and thank you for all your efforts to keep us informed of the ongoing demise of Western civilization. Hopefully, the Prince of Peace will reign in our hearts, and then real peace will reign throughout the world.

~ Jerry C. Meng

Understanding Fourth Generation War

Mr. Lind,

I am a Psychological Operations reservist that has just returned from Iraq a couple months ago. Although I disagree with a number of your personal beliefs, I have to say that I have been reading through your articles on and I find your articles interesting and insightful.

Speaking as a Psychological Operations soldier, I would like to say in our defense that our psy-op campaigns are dictated by the theater commanders and the division commanders, which limits our own ideas significantly. Many of the suggestions you proposed in “Understanding Fourth Generation War” are ideas that we had come up with ourselves in theater, but could never get through our approval authority.

As an aside, within the PsyOp community, we do not add an “s” to the end of the word. Because of this, we can then use the word as a verb as well as a noun. “We failed to properly psy-op the Iraqi populace.”

~ John Bornmann, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in the Human Sciences, George Washington University

Luisa Sanchez’s Backtalk

Ms. Sanchez;

It’s usually wise to know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth. It’s very easy to sit in the U.S. and armchair opinions about what you read. I’m sure you have read and listened to all the CNN, BBC, and newspaper articles and commentaries on the Balkans. And, it appears that you believe that you know more about what’s really happened there than Mrs. Jatras. Let me assure you – you don’t. As they say in Bosnia, “Molim.”

I met Stella Jatras shortly after I returned from Bosnia. I lived in Sarajevo and worked all over Yugoslavia and Kosovo for four years. I worked for NATO SFOR and my husband worked for the UN. We were there in early ’96, about five minutes after the shooting stopped, and left in ’99.

I’m not going to get into the details of what we saw and what we know – I will simply say that Stella Jatras is RIGHT ON about what happened to the Serbs and I applaud her for hanging on like a bird-dog to the truth while so many others have covered up, denied, and totally lied about what really happened, and what is continuing to happen in the Balkans and Kosovo. And, as an American, I’m ashamed of the actions we have taken against the Serbian people.

All I have to say to you, Ms. Sanchez, is that you are mistaken – it’s what you have said about Mrs. Jatras that is “profoundly wrong and untrue.” I’ve been there, I saw what happened with my own eyes, and she’s right, so please do not show your ignorance by insulting and trying to censor Stella Jatras over issues of which you have no personal knowledge. By the way, if you’re so worried about people being offended, your statements about Stella have offended me.

To the Serbian people: it is my sincere hope and prayer that Serbia will recover and will be a strong and blessed country. Aku Bog Da.

~ Ann Carter


Is anybody doing any expository analysis of Javier Solana? This is the guy who wrote books attacking NATO, then as NATO chief, ordered the American military to bomb Bosnia and Serbia, all without the approval of the American Congress. He now heads up the WEU ten-nation military alliance and is High Representative of Foreign Affairs for the EU. The guy is practically the Czar of Europe. I don’t like the sound of what he’s proposing. Recommendation 666 is the European Patriot Act and it gives Solana ultimate power in an “emergency.” What are your thoughts?

~ Tony Whelan

Nebojsa Malic replies:

If things are as you say, then Solana is a far more sinister player than even I suspected. Of course, I don’t think he could have become the NATO GenSec, or risen this high in the EU, without U.S. approval. His former opposition to NATO and subsequent service to the same aren’t much different from the purported pacifism of Clinton, Blair, and Schroeder – the crowd Solana ran with during the 1999 Kosovo War. I’m not sure whether Recommendation 666 really gives as much power to Solana; its language is far too dense and bureaucratic for a quick analysis. But it does exist, and it is unfortunately named (then again, Europe’s been so secularized, few would actually understand the symbolism). To be perfectly honest, though, I was almost hoping someone from Spain would do this; Solana is their contribution to the Soviet – er, European Union, and his earlier writings must have been in Spanish.

Western-funded exit polls confidently predicted a 15-20 percent victory for Yushchenko. The actual margin of victory was 7.80 percent. This after a politically charged court annulment of the first round, allegations of poisoning, massive Western media support, and a total flip of state-run media to the camp of Yushchenko. I wonder what the Gore margin of victory in 2000 would have been had Bush been ordered to rerun the 2000 election under suspicions of poisoning Gore. More than 7.8 percent, I imagine.

~ C. Shearer

An effective PR piece might be a graph of all casualties (or KIA only) by month BUT PROJECTED FORWARD!

In other words, show the actual numbers each month since the war started and project those figures, by month, into the next several years.

If released to the AP, UPI, etc., it might make Americans think about our future losses. How much is enough? Make the administration deny the numbers. Then track the projections against the actuals in the future and release each month’s numbers against these projections.

It might have quite an impact.

~ Bob Rossow

They say that the church-going people voted heavily in the U.S. election in 2004.

Good. Let’s use the church to help us.

Let us take pictures of human disasters and injured/dead Iraqi women and children to the Pastors/Ministers and asked them point blank: (1) Could you talk about the brutality that men are capable of committing and (2) Will you please speak up against the killing of Iraqi people? (3) While you are talking about the sufferings of Iraqi people, could you also please remind your parishioners that the Pope himself was against this war.

Just organize going to the pastors, with pictures in hand, in every locality in the US and put the moral issue to the test.

If you can do this, the church will have no choice but to side with the anti-killing movement. And, consequently, it will be clear as daylight who has moral values. Demonstrating elsewhere will not be nearly as powerful as this approach.

Result: You will be able to kill two birds with one stone: (1) Make the antiwar movement stronger with the church on your side and (2) Moral superiority will belong to the antiwar people and not the Republicans.

The solution is really way too simple, yet it will be very, very effective. The red states in the U.S. will listen to their church. The blue states already are listening to their conscience. Let the White House and Karl Rove succumb to the wishes of good people.

And let the antiwar movement win using good moral tactics.

~ Mahmood Ali

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