Backtalk March 6, 2004

Bush Keeps Fueling the Fire

I really respect Eric Margolis and his views, but he is just plain wrong when he says that the one true election to occur in the Arab world was that in Algeria in 1991. It needs to be hammered home repeatedly and at every opportunity that Lebanon already IS a democracy. They are not suddenly going to have elections in May because the Karameh government just resigned. Those elections were already on the schedule. Lebanon has been having regular elections (with some interruptions) ever since it was founded. Israel is NOT the only democracy in the Middle East, never has been; Lebanon was a parliamentary democracy before Israel ever existed. This little secret is finally leaking out in some places in the semiofficial government press. Even that loathsome benthic arthropod Thomas Friedman has finally acknowledged it, in passing, without much fanfare, as if he and his readers had known it all along but were just too busy with other more pressing matters to concern themselves too much with such a minor detail (“Hama Rules,” NYT, February 17, 2005).

~ David Wilmsen, Contributing Editor, Transnational Broadcasting Studies,, Arabic and Translation Studies, The American University in Cairo

Scott Horton replies:

Thank you for the correction. You are right that Lebanon is a democracy, an incredibly complex one, as I learned in part from Justin Raimondo’s column of March 2.

I believe the point still stands that were true democracy to exist in the Middle East generally, those allied with America would lose. I will consider Israel a democracy when they let people in the West Bank vote for reps in the Knesset.

This is the most brilliant article. Why isn’t anybody listening? I am going to send it to all of my contacts worldwide. It was frightening to hear Bush over here in Europe. But, the reports I hear here in Sweden on TV and radio. Their reaction terrifies me. They treat him as a joke. Remarks like, “He is only talking like this because he is talking to his home audience. Look how he waits for the applause.” Or, “You’re not taking him seriously are you?” Yes, I am, I say. They look at me as if I am half stupid. But, Johanna, he will be gone in four years. As if this means he can’t do anything in these four years. This is very worrying. I mean these are thinking people I am talking about. They read Fisk, Pilger, Chomsky and Edward Said. How do you get people to believe he is serious?

Anyway thanks very much for a wonderful article.

~ Johanna (Joan) Moren, Australian Swede

Scott Horton replies:

First of all, thank you very much.

Secondly, The European media is right that it’s all for domestic consumption. Foreigners know Iran isn’t making nuclear bombs, but our government is trying very hard to make us here in the U.S. believe it. It’s the same way with Iran as with Iraq, as long as Americans buy it for the short term, they think the rest of the world is irrelevant.

Third, I am not sure what to do either. So far, my best ideas are interview folks about it on the radio, and try to put my rants in written form, but who knows what good it does. I am impressed that a nice lady in Sweden read my article today, and sent it on. It would be nice to change history, but we at least owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to call the score on the way to Hell.

What an article! Oh my, what an article. Mr. Horton does an excellent job of pulling together in one place the highlights of just some of the crap the U.S. Government has been doing to get the populace to agree.

And thanks for making the audio mp3!

~ Randy Schultz

Scott Horton replies:

Thank you very much. It’s only my third article, and I was afraid it was a bit overdone.

Feel free to download all you like:

Please tell all your friends to read Gordon Prather. The USG has a very limited timetable for getting Americans to believe Iran is building nuclear weapons before the truth is made clear; we must debunk as loud as we can!

Outfoxed by bin Laden

I have seldom heard such bull. I’ve read some interesting stuff about this conflict, including bin Laden’s plan to use his own army to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, but one must assume now the U.S. government was right. Bin Laden is not a rational person; neither are his followers. If it were not for the American military and its willingness to go track down evil and crazy men you would have no platform to speak about your objections to war. Nobody is for war but everyone in America wants to be free. They attacked US; maybe it wasn’t Iraq but since we have been there I bet we have killed many suicide bombers and most likely several plane hijackers. America is still the Home of the Free and the Brave. No other country is comparable to US. What do you think we should do? Just sit back and let people take away our freedom or defend it?

~ Chris Cole

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

This guy just wants to attack some country because a non-country attacked the World Trade Center. “Maybe it wasn’t Iraq,” but we have killed some bad guys anyway. Yeah, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

This is the most moronic article I have read in a long time. Bin Laden does not want us in the Middle East; that is plain as day. What do you think 9/11 was about? Not to get America more involved in the Middle East; any idiot could see how this president would respond to an attack of such magnitude on American soil. Not to get America to topple Arab governments? No it was to encourage America to get out of the Middle East, but guess what: like all plans from morons it backfired. Now look: America is all over the Middle East. People in Lebanon are decreeing that Syria was involved, not the U.S.; the intelligence that points to Syria is from Lebanese and Palestinian sources not the CIA. Please do more investigation before you write these articles. It is one thing to be against war but another if you call yourself a journalist to compromise objectivity just to print antiwar bull. Tell me what evidence are you referring to when you say Iran is not attempting to obtain nuclear weapons; name one. Even the Europeans disagree with you on this issue, or do you think they are talking incentives for Iran not to build nukes is just a ploy? America will stay until Iraq is able to handle its own security so get off that kick; we’re are not going to pull out until the job is done, period. Move on to another topic you can distort; you have lost that battle as the election has proven with a significant Bush trouncing of Kerry. Your agenda was vetoed by the majority of the American people.

~ Darry L. James

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Let’s see, bin Laden attacked the U.S. so that we would not invade and help him create the instability he needs to topple the secular rulers in the Middle East. The U.S. invaded Iraq in order to create an Islamist Shi’ite crescent from Iran to Lebanon. Now I understand the intelligence that elected George Bush.

The International Atomic Energy Agency regularly inspects Iran and finds no sign of weapons programs. However, Bush “knows” Iran is making nukes, just as he “knew” Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. To heck with facts; they are “reality based” and “against us.” Only the completely brainwashed who get their daily doses of propaganda from Fox “news” are objective.

10 Ways to Protect Your Child From the ASVAB

The ASVAB or Armed Services Vocation Aptitude Battery has everything to do with the military! I had to take it before enlisting in the Air Force to determine what kind of training I was qualified for.

This is a simply way of finding out what kids have what abilities in order to fill critical jobs through either targeted recruiting, or a selective draft.

Keep your kids away from this test.

~ Steve Barrett

This article omits a very important point: ASVAB stands for Armed Forces Vocational Battery.

Its only purpose is to determine suitability for career positioning within the military.

The ONLY time a person can be ORDERED or FORCED to take the ASVAB would be during a draft. Under our current all volunteer military, you cannot order or force anyone to take the ASVAB, therefore, any threat of consequence for high school students who do not take the test would be illegal and absurd.

It think that if the article had pointed out exactly what ASVAB stands for, it would have provided a better argument for those that oppose this test in schools.

God bless America and no place else!


Matt Barganier replies:

I have three words for you: special skills draft.

Man, Technology and State

Like the forest obscured by the trees, the point here is obscured by the details. The same article could have been written two thousand years ago, detailing how advanced metallurgy provided advantage to those who used the “political means.”

The Constitution is a dead letter. Technology had nothing to do with it. As Lysander Spooner put it, the Constitution said a great many things it didn’t mean, and it meant a great many things it didn’t say. When it created an entity empowered to suck law out of its fist and permitted to assume monopoly of violence, what were we expecting? That another Thomas Jefferson would come along every few years to restore liberty?

The problem in America is not technology, it’s not even the government, which is only doing what governments do. Look about you. America’s problem is Americans.

While Americans still have cheeks to grab they would do well to take them in hand and get their heads out where they can breath.

~ Jack Dennon, Warrenton, OR

Scott Horton replies:

While the means of enforcement available to state power has been on the increase since the dawn of civilization, the technology available today advances so quickly that there doesn’t seem to be any time for our society to figure out how exactly we may (or may not) want to use new inventions before they are already implemented.

See, for example, court rulings which compare the police placing a transmitter on your car to “tailing” you, which under the law requires no probable cause, rather than a search, which does. Of course, as you point out, governments do what governments do, but it is becoming more and more difficult for the defenders of liberty to keep up.

The Constitution has been a dead letter since when, in his first term, Washington ignored Jefferson’s warning about “stepping onto a boundless field of power” from which there could be no return, and created the 2nd Bank of the United States. Coincidentally ;-), the US has been at war ever since. While I tend to agree with Anthony Gregory that the Constitution was a reactionary throwback which undid many of the gains of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution still gives those in the national government an excuse to show up for work everyday. As long as that’s the case, we should, I think, attempt to hold them to their end of the contract.

The head-in-place-where-hard-to-breath thing, I assumed was just understood.

A Republic, Not a Democracy

In modern political science theory, democracy is considered impossible if you do not have checks on the power of the people to violate certain principles. In short, to be a democracy, you almost have to be a Republic (though Britain is an interesting exception). Democracy does not, in the current definition of the word, mean majoritarianism.

The United States is a democracy, and it is a republic. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Other than that, I think Pat Buchanan’s article was excellent.

~ Scott Erb, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Maine at Farmington

The Yushchenko Mythos

While I am usually impressed with Justin’s prescient analyses in his articles and his ability to boil out the bullsh*t from the issues and cut straight to the heart of the matter, he certainly hit the mark with this column. I’ll just give you the headline of the story from the AP that ran in the March 1 edition of the Moscow Times: “Odessa-Brody Pipeline to Carry Caspian Oil.” I think that just about sums it up.

~ Michael S. Mehan


‘Anti-Islamist’ Crusader Plants New Seeds

Jim Lobe quotes Dan Pipes as referring to Muslim immigration as … “brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene.”

Here is Pipes’ response from his own Web site.

This sentence has over the years attracted considerable attention. My goal in this article (available at was to characterize the thinking of Western Europeans, not give my own views. In retrospect, I should either have put the words “brown-skinned peoples” and “strange foods” in quotation marks or made it clearer that I was explaining European attitudes rather than my own. By way of example of those attitudes, here are some quotations from top French politicians from that era. …

Jacques Chirac, June 19, 1991:

“Notre problème, ce n’est pas les étrangers, c’est qu’il y a overdose. C’est peut-être vrai qu’il n’y a pas plus d’étrangers qu’avant la guerre, mais CE n’est pas les mêmes et ça fait une différence. Il est certain que d’avoir des Espagnols, Des Polonais et Des Portugais travaillant chez nous, ça pose moins de problèmes que d’avoir Des musulmans et Des Noirs […] Comment voulez-vous que le travailleur français qui travaille avec sa femme et qui, ensemble, gagnent environ 15000 francs, et qui voit sur le palier à côté de son HLM, entassée, une famille avec un père de famille, trois ou quatre épouses, et une vingtaine de gosses, et qui gagne 50000 francs de prestations sociales, sans naturellement travailler… si vous ajoutez le bruit et l’odeur, hé bien le travailleur français sur le palier devient fou. Et CE n’est pas être raciste que de dire cela.”

Translated into English:

“Our problem is not foreigners, it’s that there is an overdose. It may be true that there are not more foreigners [now] than before the [Second World] War, but they are not the same ones, and that makes a difference. It is certain that having Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese working here with us creates fewer problems than having Muslims and Blacks. … How do you want the French worker, who along with his wife earns altogether about 15,000 francs [a month], and who sees across the landing a family with a father, his three-four wives, and twenty or so kids, and which receives 50,000 francs from welfare, of course without working. … If you add to this the noise and smell, well the French worker goes crazy. And it is not racist to say this.”

Valery Giscard d’Estaing, former president of France, September 21, 1991:

“Bien que dans cette matière sensible IL faille manipuler les mots avec précaution, en raison de la charge émotionnelle ou historique qu’ils portent, le type de problème auquel nous aurons à faire face se déplace de celui de l’immigration vers celui de l’invasion.”

~ Morgaan Sinclair

James Lobe replies:

Thanks. I’ll note that in subsequent articles.

Don’t Be Spun by the Spin

Been waiting to see who would start raising our consciousness about HOW bin Laden is “destroying” America. You could look it up. The man told us it would be by destroying our economy, not our army or our buildings.

If the attention and billions of dollars being spent on war and nonexistent “security” were allowed to drift into our economy, the economy would not be vulnerable to the continuing chip chip chip that bin Laden is causing.

With economic strength comes true security. Mr. bin Laden is not secretly building an army or a navy to invade the US.

~ A. Sanford

A Fascist America


Kudos for standing up (again) on this issue. But I’m thinking that there is one more fascist element that you could have highlighted, namely deliberate irrationalism. I dug out my old political philosophy textbook to check my recollection and it posits this element as one of the three pillars of fascism and goes on to say: “sometimes an attitude, sometimes a manipulative device, sometimes a seriously proposed methodology, the express denial of the competence of reason to guide human life opens the door to acts and claims immune to effective criticism.”

In light of recent events, including the comment about the “reality-based community,” I’d say that we’ve already traveled many miles down this treacherous road. Moreover, this is yet another example of a “bizzaro” world where right/left distinctions blur; it used to be that the right criticized the left’s tendency to gloss over facts and use misguided emotion to stir up its minions (the Sharpton/ Brawley debacle comes to mind). Now, the minions on the right are like chicks in a nest, mouths agape, waiting for mama bird to shove an emotive worm down their throats. Fertile ground for fascism? You bet.

~ Greg Brownfield

Fickle Victory

I‘ve read this article on Tuesday, March 01, 2005, it’s almost 2 years after the infamous invasion of my country, Iraq.

It’s an attestation to the writer of being so accurate in foreseeing future by combining simple clear factors and realities together, surprisingly not seen by policy-makers in U.S. and by their allies elsewhere.

~ Bassim, Baghdad, Iraq

Behind These Bars I Am Free

I believe the raw power and understated eloquence of Camilo Mejia’s heartfelt essay place it at the top of all the articles I have ever read at your wonderful site. It is by far the most emotionally moving antiwar piece I have ever come across. If there is any way it could be featured for longer than the typical 24 hour cycle, I believe humanity would be benefited.

~ James Cunningham

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