Backtalk March 14

The Specter of Fascism

This article was spot on. While watching the towers burn in NY on TV, my first thought was for the people in the towers, and my second was how this would energize all the authoritarians who would bend the Constitution to limit our freedoms and extend government power. Note that Gonzales mentioned in a speech recently that as AG one of his top priorities will be going after obscenity. With all the other problems we have that hardly seems a priority. However, it fits with the need to extend more control over the media.

~ John Konopka

Dear Justin Raimondo,

It seems odd for you to focus on smug liberals. Would you rather not have the support of “liberals” because of how you feel about the label you pigeonhole them under? Would you rather preserve the Constitution and Bill of Rights for only those groups with labels you feel good about?

In any event, keep up the good work!

~ Eric Zimmerer

Justin Raimondo replies:

The reason I wrote about “smug liberals” is because these are invariably the people who don’t know about the left-wing version of fascism, and need to be educated.


Who We Are

Michael Friend: Oh, so … you’re “non-interventionists”? So, those unfortunate ones who live with a jackboot stomping their face are just that: unfortunate? Not worth saving? Social garbage? Congolese killed while UN forces do nothing don’t bother your conscience? Bravo on your humanitarian attitude. …

“In so far as it takes effect at all, pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.”
– George Orwell

Sam Koritz: As America’s Founding Fathers understood, military power, and particularly executive military power, is a dangerous force that often threatens liberty (that’s why the Constitution mandates a “well-regulated militia” and a congressional declaration of war). That being the case, the very lowest standard that a defender of liberty can have in supporting a war is that the warmakers have followed the rule of law. Rightly or wrongly, the U.S. government has committed itself (in the UN Charter and elsewhere) to refrain from aggressive war (something that some of Orwell’s totalitarians were executed for at Nuremberg).

Congress did not declare war on Iraq, and as a war of aggression it violates U.S. treaties (the Constitution requires the government to honor its treaties).

Just as (classical) liberal theory would suggest, the same people who ordered this illegal invasion and occupation are undermining liberty in the U.S. and Britain.

As for the Congo, I don’t know what your point is. The U.S. actively avoided intervening to stop mass murder in Rwanda, then, like the UN, did nothing to stop mass murder in the Congo, and then invaded Iraq, a country where mass murder was not occurring. I suggest that you read The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives by former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (pay particular attention to what he says about the Mideast); then maybe you won’t naively accept the government’s humanitarian claims.

Michael Friend: I thank you for your reply. You bring up interesting points and thanks for the links.

I would suggest that mass murder was occurring in Iraq, at least, if the number of mass graves are any indication. Estimates range from 61,000 (a liberal think tank possibly low-balling) to 500,000 by human rights groups (possibly overstating to attract donations). Saddam gassed the Kurds, gassed Iran’s army, invaded Kuwait, and bombed Israel. Obviously, an aggressor, a threat to others – to believe otherwise is to be a denier of reality.

And the Congressional Resolution stated in part:

“SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

“(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

“(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

“(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.”

Not the “classical” declaration of war, but an authorization to use force and stating the reasons why. You disagree, but I disagree with those who wanted to allow Saddam to continue in power. Under what rule of law could he declare himself sovereign leader of Iraq? None. Despotic force was his rule of law.

As for the Congo, my point is your organization advocates zero interventions. If I’m Rwandan, Congolese, Croat, anything other than American, I’m on my own. You can claim it’s to limit the power of the State, and if that is your only interest, so be it.

Sam Koritz: The Hussein regime was indeed loathsome; if the U.S. government had to overthrow a foreign state in a treaty-violating undeclared war of aggression, Iraq was definitely on the less-bad end of the target spectrum.

That said, I don’t think you can use the invasion as proof of U.S. leaders’ humanitarian intentions. I pointed out that the U.S. government did not intervene to stop ongoing mass murder in Africa but did invade and occupy Iraq, a (strategically important) country where mass murder was not occurring. And that’s accurate: mass murder on anywhere near the Rwanda/Congo scale was certainly not occurring in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion.

Last summer, the British government admitted that earlier mass graves claims were exaggerated: 5,000 corpses had been found, with nearly a quarter of suspected mass graves exhumed. (See “PM admits graves claim ‘untrue.’“) I’m not an expert on this, but from what I’ve read, it seems that the majority of the victims were killed in the suppression of the Shia uprising around the first Gulf War, a decade before the U.S. invasion.

The gassing of Iranians and their Kurdish allies (which the U.S. did not condemn at the time) occurred 15 years before the U.S. invasion, during and just after a war that the U.S. encouraged Iraq to start and in which the U.S. aided Iraq. During the war, Reagan removed Iraq from the U.S.’ list of states that support terrorism, gave Saddam hundreds of millions of dollars per year in commodity credits, and provided direct military assistance. (See “U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly Of Intervention” by Sheldon L. Richman.)

The most scientific study conducted so far estimates that the U.S.invasion and occupation of Iraq caused the deaths of 100,000 civilians as of late last year. The researchers compared deaths before the invasion to the deaths afterward, so the former figure includes people killed by the Hussein government. My point isn’t that the 100K figure is correct but that the post-invasion death rate is tens of thousands higher – this was not an interruption of ongoing mass murder. (See “Study puts Iraqi toll at 100,000.”)

In short, the U.S. aided Saddam while his government committed mass murder, ignored mass murder in Africa, and then invaded Iraq when mass murder was not occurring. (See “Partners in Crime: U.S. Complicity in the War Crimes of Saddam Hussein.”)

Michael Friend: To quote another British author: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business.” To push for the limiting of State as your business is to limit yourself to trivial pursuits.

Sam Koritz: Governments killed hundreds of millions of people in the past century, so limiting the power of the State is hardly a “trivial pursuit.” The very basis of the highly successful (in terms of wealth, health, and liberty) Anglo-American political model – from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights – is the limitation of the State.

Refraining from military aggression and honoring treaties are pillars of the rule of law in international relations (and the rule of law is a requirement of political liberty). What we want is law-abiding government, not, as you suggest, for Saddam Hussein to have remained in power.

To sum up: (1) military aggression and executive war power are threats to domestic liberty, (2) military aggression violates the letter and spirit of international agreements and order, and therefore is a threat to peace, trade and stability – i.e., civilization, and (3) from a humanitarian point of view, a U.S. foreign policy of peace and free trade (sound familiar?) is preferable to a policy of military aggression against selected despots.

More controversially (and I think some here at Antiwar.com would disagree), I’ll add: (4) U.S. military interventions are primarily motivated by “Grand Chessboard”-type strategic considerations, not humanitarianism.


MoveOn.org Makes Peace With War

Of course the establishment-created MoveOn.org refuses to support an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Clinton supporters created MoveOn.org during his impeachment – hence the phrase “move on” – and Clinton of course gave us the predecessor to the invasion of Iraq: the Iraqi Liberation Act. Moreover, both Bill and Hillary supported the invasion of Iraq. And why not? The invasion of Iraq represented left-wing interventionism (“the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power”). As Scott Ritter asserts, Clinton sought the removal of Saddam from day one (like Bush) but lacked a pretext or “Pearl Harbor” to attract the necessary popular support.

Recall that Clinton’s war crimes against the civilians in Kosovo provided more than ample precedent for war crimes in Iraq – of course under the cover of “humanitarian” intervention.

After 9/11, Bush could justify the invasion of Iraq to protect Americans from WMD and further bloodshed. And without left-wing support, Bush never could have invaded Iraq. Bush simply repackaged Clinton’s desire for regime change around the stars and stripes and national security to garner the support of anti-Clinton “conservatives” and other fools. MoveOn.org – from the get-go – only pretended to oppose the war because it looked good and brought the ABB (Anybody But Bush) voters over to the Kerry campaign. …

~ Mark E. Moore


The War Path of Unity

Joshua Frank misstates an admittedly small footnote in history in his discussion of the 2004 election, but it’s an important footnote to those of us who were there.

I was proud to serve as one of Rep. Kucinich’s floor leaders at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and I can tell you Mr. Frank does a disservice to the 65 Kucinich delegates who arrived in Boston fully aware that the Kerry machine would be doing everything it could to marginalize both them and the antiwar movement. I can also tell you Mr. Frank is just dead wrong inaccurate when he says of the delegates [that] “most ended up voting for Kerry.”

The truth is that these Kucinich delegates underwent tremendous pressure from the Kerry camp, but that in the end a strong majority of them cast their vote for peace by casting their vote for Kucinich.

Forty-three of the 65 Kucinich delegates – 66 percent – cast their vote for Kucinich. The break down was as follows:

Alaska 8 1 13%
American Samoa 1 0 0%
Colorado 13 13 100%
Hawaii 8 8 100%
Maine 6 6 100%
Minnesota 10 1 10%
North Carolina 4 4 100%
Ohio 5 0 0%
Oregon 3 3 100%
Washington 7 7 100%

65 43 66%

These votes were not easily cast. Charles Underwood is correct that Kerry’s convention troops wore strong hobnails in their boots. They controlled the media and the message. They were uncaring and untruthful in their treatment of Kucinich and his supporters. They browbeat the Kucinich delegates, telling them they would be shunned by their party if they returned home having cast a vote for Kucinich. I don’t quite know how things went down in Alaska. I know that the Minnesota delegates were told they could not vote for Kucinich because he had not been nominated – which was a lie.

I also know that the official ballots were withheld for several hours from the Maine delegates while the Kerry forces worked on them, and that in the end it was a pro-life Maine Kucinich delegate who demanded her ballot so she and the rest of her state’s Kucinich delegation could vote for the antiwar candidate.

All of us who went into the convention as Kucinich supporters were also fully aware that unless Kerry did take a strong stand against the war, he would ultimately answer the “electability” question, which had been the theme of the media and the Democratic Leadership Council throughout the primary season. Some made the decision that it was best to sign on with Kerry at that point in the hopes we could move him to an antiwar stance before November. We – and Rep. Kucinich himself – kept sending that message to Kerry right up to election day. But in the end it was not Rep. Kucinich, or Gov. Dean, or Ambassador Moseley-Braun, or Rev. Sharpton, or the hundreds of thousands of antiwar Democrats who lost the election for John Kerry. John Kerry lost that election all by himself.

Still, the landscape is changing. The pro-Kerry chairman of the DNC is gone, replaced by Gov. Dean himself. In Colorado, the Kucinich delegates were active in replacing their state party chair with a progressive activist. And here in Maine, the the pro-Kerry chair chose to not even stand for reelection. She was replaced by the former speaker of the Maine House, who was the highest-ranking Maine Democrat to have publicly supported Dean during the caucuses.

These are admittedly small victories. They give us hope. But the hundreds of thousands of Kucinich supporters across this land continue on. We are not content to have just won these small battles.

Yet nor are we intent on winning the war.

Our goal remains to end it.

~ David Bright, Dixmont, Maine


A Fascist America: How Close Are We?

Thank you, Mr. Raimondo, for your excellent and chilling “A Fascist America: How Close Are We?” It expresses the private fears of many of us, and private fear can be numbing. Getting the information out in the open and calling, for example, the neocons what they really are – fascists – helps to provide fire and focus to an emerging American antifascist movement.

While there is much to be worried about, there’s a lot to hope for. The anti-Nazis in 1930s Germany were not connected to an entire world through an Internet, nor were they fully aware of the horrid depths to which a supposedly civilized society could plunge. We have few illusions today. And we have at our disposal an unfortunately rich history of the development of fascist states in modern times that can be used to fight an emergent American one in the wake of a second 9/11. This knowledge base includes an abundance of political tacticians and activists, historians, economists, etc., as well as individuals who have been in close combat against authoritarian regimes as part of underground movements. While history does have a way of often horribly repeating itself, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

~ Jay Hilgartner


Other Side of an Ugly Story

Just wondering if Ms. Jatras even bothered to speak to Col. duCellier or not. Not sure why this story about Kosovo and the crimes within had anything to do with Col. duCellier’s letters home. Maybe Ms. Jatras would be interested to know that Vince has since been home and back and is now in his fifth mission. Maybe she should talk to him about what he sees there, since he is there everyday. He was not reporting as she does; he was simply writing a letter to his wife to tell her what he saw. I’m sure in the last five years he has seen more than the Albanian boy. Maybe she should do some real reporting. Maybe. Just a suggestion. Before you bash someone.

~ Jedu Cex

Stella Jatras replies:

It is not “bashing” to tell the truth. The writer doesn’t seem to want to understand that former Maryland police officer Vincent duCellier was suspended because of incompetence. It is interesting to note that, as director of the prison where Serb war crimes suspects staged a successful mass breakout, he “is now seeking to look for a new Kosovo job.” (The Washington Times, Sept. 8, 2000). The first article published in The Washington Times was a touching letter written to his wife, titled, “Lessons of a Lifetime,” (Aug. 3 editorial page). The second article published in The Metropolitan Section of The Times is dated Aug. 21 and titled, “‘We are the police’ in war-torn Kosovo, Maryland cop learns the value of America from volunteer mission,” and was almost identical to the first article, which piqued my curiosity as to why The Washington Times would give double coverage to identical reports in so short a time. The writer says that Officer “Vince” has been back no less than five times on his “humanitarian” missions. I repeat the following report from The Washington Times of Sept. 15, 2000, in a letter written by Tika Jankovic of San Jose, Calif. After recently visiting the prison in Mitrovica, “The U.N.-run prison is shameful. It is a smelly, filthy, inhumane, dungeon where the accused – not tried – inmates live for months. Vincent de[u] Cellier, the Maryland man who was prison director, has been replaced by another American.” Since Officer “Vince’s” missions back to Kosovo, did he see any improvement on the prison, and did he write his wife on this?

And if, as claimed, Officer “Vince” has been back on five missions, was he there when the Kosovo Albanian mobs in March of last year destroyed churches and murdered Serbs in what is referred to as “Kristallnacht in Kosovo“?:

“A pogrom started in Europe this week, with one UN official being quoted as saying, ‘Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo.’Serbs are being murdered and their 800-year-old churches are aflame. Much of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever. By these deeds too many of Kosovo’s Albanians have shown that their rhetoric about ‘democracy’ and ‘multi-ethnicity’ is false, and demonstrates also that the international community’s acceptance of them has been na├»ve.”

Some of the most damning words come from former Canadian UNPROFOR Commander Maj. General Lewis MacKenzie when he wrote,

The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius [my emphasis]. We have subsidized and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure and independent Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early ’90s and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today in spite of evidence to the contrary. When they achieve independence with the help of our tax dollars combined with those of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, just consider the message of encouragement this sends to other terrorist-supported independence movements around the world.”

Where are “Vincent’s” letters to his wife on the eradication of Serbs from their Jerusalem? Reports are that this March, our good friends, the KLA, plan to implement its final solution for the Serbs in Kosovo in order to achieve their independent Kosova – and they will achieve this with the help of former President Clinton’s cronies who are still in the State Department.

Well, my friend, just as the Kosovo-Albanians have played Officer “Vince” like a Stradivarius, they have played you and many others as well.

And since you are so knowledgeable regarding Officer “Vince,” can you tell me how much compensation he has received for his five missions to Kosovo thus far? It would be helpful to know.


U.S. Gaining World’s Respect From Wars, Rumsfeld Asserts

I realize the burden of this article is that Rumsfeld is under the delusion that taking on and being unable to pacify a couple of the world’s military basket cases has prove American (and allies) military prowess. However, there is an intriguing statement at the end: “Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said Congress has created a new license to allow Rumsfeld to waive U.S. laws to speed the production of jammers and other battlefield equipment.”

What the hell is that about? What laws need to be waived to accelerate production of such equipment? The only thing that I can think of is placing contacts without competitive tendering to make sure that all of the extra billions go to the administration’s pals.

~ Ian Miller

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