Backtalk, April 9, 2005

In Defense of John Paul II, Peacemaker

Thanks and kudos to Justin Raimondo for his recent Behind the Headlines column. Whether one is Catholic or not, agnostic, atheist or true believer, those who are all these things and antiwar, can appreciate the Holy Father’s leadership and moral clarity in destroying the faux moralism of the War Party. …

The Pope turned out to be right not just considering all the needless deaths the war has caused, but the persecution of Iraqi Christians and the destruction of their centuries-old culture in Iraq from Islamic fundamentalists is happening right under the noses of the occupation forces as was predicted. And it’s just more added to the pile of failure in this latest round of empire-building.

The words of John Paul II have already isolated the War Party into little redoubts. Hopefully the next pontiff [will] have the same moral stature and leadership to take those redoubts and bring a lasting peace to the world.

~ Sean Scallon

Looking Back: ‘Curveball’ and the WMD Lie Factory

Since the first day I saw it, I’ve been trying to point out that the CIA/DIA white paper on the trailers in Iraq was a crude, deliberate lie (it is). They did rely some on “Curveball’s” statements, but the white paper relies more heavily on homegrown fables (about the cooling unit and about the compressor and gas bottles. The Duelfer report does effectively demolish the white paper, although you’d never know that for the press and media). The fables about the cooling unit and the compressor and storage system aren’t attributed to any outside source: they’re flights of imagination used to present components needed for hydrogen manufacture as sinister proof of WMD culture activity.

Curveball’s statements about the trailers are suspect on their face. He claims he’s a chemical engineer, but the intelligence he supplied was little more than reporting Bush administration speculations about mobile laboratories back to them (no wonder they resonated: they were hearing their own lies back.) A chemical engineer would talk in terms of components, material flow, energy flow, conditions – technical aspects. That the “chemical engineer” described only superficial appearances is a huge clue that he was lying. …

~ Brad Madison

An Improbable War and Turkey’s New Opportunities

Turkish superpower? Definitely improbable!

This article by Mr. Deliso careens off the tracks of reality and does a disservice to and more importantly to readers. I have noticed a definite non-objective, pro-Turkish slant in this author’s previous writings. In this piece he describes and then proceeds to subscribe to the deep Turkish paranoia regarding its interactions with the Western world.

The notion that Turkey will be the center of a vast Turanian superpower that will stretch from the Adriatic to China is both laughable and oddly a sad notion.

Laughable because economic superpowers are plural, tolerant, economically vibrant, technologically innovative societies that attempt to minimize corruption. This description does not apply to Turkey. Superpowers send orbiters and satellites into space – I doubt we’ll see a Turkish astronaut and accompanying portrait of Kemal Ataturk on the moon. …

I disagree with Mr. Deliso’s contention that the U.S. is upset over some book titled Metal Storm. Rather, Americans are fuming at Turkish ingratitude for American efforts to secure and provide loans when other nations in similar dire straits (e.g., Argentina) had to declare bankruptcy. They are fuming at the cynical efforts by Turks to shake as much money out of Uncle Sam in negotiations that ultimately faltered on allowing an American route into northern Iraq. If the U.S. is reevaluating the uncritical, unconditional support for Turkey it has shown over five decades no matter how odiously Turkey has behaved, then so much the better!

Turkish continuing occupation of the tiny island of Cyprus (population one million) with 40,000 heavily-armed (with American weapons) troops in violation of international law and despite worldwide condemnation is now ridiculous and unacceptable. If Syria can withdraw 15,000 troops from Lebanon (population over 4 million), then the Turks can also leave Cyprus, an island they invaded making 200,000 mostly Greek Cypriot refugees, killing thousands of civilians and stealing their property. …

Regarding the Kurds, Turkey’s policy in Turkish Kurdistan has been similarly abominable, characterized by savage repression and human rights abuses that have been well documented by a myriad of international agencies. The Turks refer to the Kurds, a distinct race with a separate culture, language, and traditions as simply “mountain Turks” who are not even allowed simple TV programming rights. I wonder what the Kurds Mr. Deliso talked to would have said about Turkish abuses in Turkish Kurdistan if he had bothered to ask?

Furthermore, Turkey continues to deny freedom of religion to the ancient, ecumenical Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Istanbul. It passes laws that seize long-standing church property, and it denies the church the right to open seminaries, schools, and orphanages. …

I disagree with Mr. Deliso’s characterization of U.S. actions in Iraqi Kurdistan. The U.S. was correct in arresting undercover Turkish special forces that were trying to smuggle weapons into – and destabilize – Iraqi Kurdistan, the one relatively peaceful bright spot of today’s Iraq. Turkey continues to try to stir up trouble through their proxies the Turkmen, who number a very small minority that demands territorial concessions far beyond their number justify. Turkish bellicosity regarding northern Iraq reflects insecurity that Turkish Kurds will want some of the same freedoms and progress Iraqi Kurds have made, under U.S. protection.

Furthermore, most people would be heartened at U.S. recognition of the historical fact that is the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks, a development that both Turkey and, apparently, Mr. Deliso both abhor. Turkey would go a long way in establishing its credentials as part of the West by facing up to this sad event in its history – an event cited by Hitler when he famously declared “no one remembers the Armenians” before he embarked on the Holocaust. Unfortunately, Turkish paranoia and blinding juvenile pride do not allow for such a humane development.

Turkey and Mr. Deliso constantly refer to EU prevarications and tricks – yet refuse to see the errors in Turkey’s ways. A healthier Turkish attitude would focus on removing occupying forces from Cyprus allowing for a truly fair solution and providing universal human rights to all people in Turkey. Important measures addressing the increased population growth and job creation are also required.

Instead of unhealthy pipe-dream fantasies of a martial, pan-Turkish Asiatic empire that would rival other superpowers, perhaps Turkey should focus on shoring up its credentials of human rights and civility toward neighbors, elements that are key to truly joining the West.

~ Michel Cruner

Christopher Deliso replies:

“Pro-Turkish”? I’m more often told that I’m pro-Greek, or pro-Macedonian, or pro-Serbian, or pro-Georgian, or pro-Russian, etc. – all wonderful peoples and places (and note that some of these have conflicting interests), so I’m happy to oblige your accusation by taking in another one.

You raise many compelling points. I fully agree with many of them. However, I’m (deliberately) not putting myself in a position of dictating how the Turkish government “should” act. I am merely trying to analyze the situation and show why things are proceeding as they are.

If we were to continue in your vein of historical and minority grievances, this would make too for a very interesting article, in that we could see just how difficult a challenge it is for Turkey to chart its course successfully. History, geography, and alliances have created highly specific conditions in which the Turks must operate. While certain kinds of liberalization might be nice in the future, do not forget how every action to appease one group has knock-on effects from others. Considering the complexity of all this, the Turks could have done much worse.

Howard Dean Still Selling Out the Antiwar Movement

I‘m impressed that the antiwar crowd is finally figuring out what Howard Dean was about almost two years later. None of what Mr. Frank speaks to was any secret and in fact, was all touted by Dr. Dean during the campaign. I, for one, was against the Iraq war because I felt it was a poorly defined mission, not based on a hard principle of peace activism. This was what my support of Dr. Dean was based on, his ability to articulate this position. It showed an ability to think critically about foreign affairs and take into account not just what we want to accomplish, but rather what we can accomplish in the actual world we live in, not the one we wish existed. What I am disappointed in, is the idea that we should somehow decry Dr. Dean for taking what should have been a winning position and playing politics in the political process. If you felt fooled, it’s partly your own fault. Dr. Dean never said he was an “antiwar principle” candidate; that was something that was put on him. His opposition to the action in Iraq was based on the way the White House took us to war, not that we went to war at all. His was the mainstream position, and showed a sophistication that is uncommon in governors running for the White House. Bush, after four years on the job, still doesn’t show the sophistication Dean did.

I do agree that Dennis Kucinich was the true “antiwar” candidate, and he should be commended for not compromising his principles, but martyrs generally don’t win.

In closing, Dr. Dean said he originally got in the race to balance the budget and do something about rising health costs, the war thing just happened, and was never his chief issue. So, sure, keep tearing down the left-leaning party, we’ve been doing that since 1968 and it’s really worked out well for us!

~ Mark M.

Second Thoughts, First Principles

Thank you for a very well-written essay.

Arnold Toynbee wrote in one of his essays, “The World of the Greeks and Romans”:

“But what about the Greek and Roman dominant minority that had devastated the world by conquering and plundering it, and were now patrolling the ruins as self-commissioned gendarmes? ‘They make a desert and call it peace’ is the verdict on their own handiwork that one of their own men of letters has put into the mouth of one of their barbarian victims.”

Re: Ghengis Bush – I’ve been calling him Caligula Bush.

~ Randy Louis

Ilana Mercer replies:

Agreed, but what a great contribution to civilization the ancient Greeks and Romans made.

“Ghengis Bush,” (used first in “Lethal Weapons: Neocon Groupies“) is better because it’s faithful to Bush’s initials. (I thank the spouse for that one.)

Dear Ilana,

A very good piece today. The neocon and Christian-warrior echo chamber seduces all concerned, and the continuing derelict citizen refuses to step up to the plate of accountability. Why should they? Their cocky and determinedly ignorant president sets the tone.

Does anyone remember the continuous and emerging Iranian liberalization and moderation movement that was gaining steam before the Iraqi debacle? Suffice to say that de Villepin had it right when commenting on the run-up to war in 2003: “The world is a perverse place, ill-suited to grand plans.” If Bush can be proven “right,” a comical supposition at best, it will only be as a result of the perversities of the world breaking his way in fool’s luck. This, of course, being his pampered and buffered leitmotif, so perhaps there is hope.

Lastly, does anyone need any more examples of a government seriously beyond redemption when, in the middle of the night, waking the president to sign it in fact, the Congress of the United States of America enacts a bill tailored specifically for three individuals in an act of craven political maneuvering worthy of only the most habitually offending monarchists? The nanny state has moved beyond the rod and is growing fangs. I hope the public enjoys the feel of canines in its neck.

This republic may well prove to be the first victim in this administration’s most vaunted “democracy movement.” The mobocracy thinks in 24-hour cycles, and their leaders in Washington, including the third rail of K Street, offer them no end of gooey emollients to salve their softening skulls. Too bad cars don’t run on incredulity. But then, that is at the heart of the problem: credulity is this ruling claque’s greatest weapon, and the people wear it proudly. Hillary haunts my dreams: It takes a nation of idiots to screw up a fine republic this badly.

~ Dirk Sabin

Ilana Mercer replies:

Dear Dirk,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We probably have to disagree on the case of Terry Schiavo. (My views on the case are here. Or here.)

Vulliamy Accuses Russia

I was wondering what had happened to “Evil Ed” Vulliamy as nothing had been heard from him for some time.

His “revelations” in Britain are notorious and played a major role in war propaganda to get support for the attack on Yugoslavia. He was part of the team revealing the “Serb concentration camp” story in July ’92.

He himself is thus a war criminal on the basis of the Die Sturmer charges.

At the time of the Ukraine putsch, they lost control of the key sections of the liberal press in Britain and the most amazing articles appeared in the Guardian. Since then, efforts appear to be being made to reassert control with reactionary journalists being brought back.

~ Richard Roper

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I‘ve noticed Vulliamy recently on IWPR, where he pleaded for preservation of his “death camps” so people like him could have sinecures teaching their “history.” But I had not seen him in mainstream journalism until this outburst. I would not be surprised if the Blairites enlisted Vulliamy to beat the war drums again. That sounds appropriately desperate.

Syria Blog

Being a big fan of you guys for a long time, I wanted to let you know about my blog, In the Axis, which I write for the Reading (Pa.) Eagle from Damascus, Syria. My goal in writing is to give Americans a ground-level view of life in the Middle East. With Bush & Co. gunning for Syria as they are, it is important to let Americans know that there are real human beings here. I guess you could call it a “show-don’t-tell” antiwar blog!

Please visit soon and often, and tell everyone you can.

~ Brian Anthony

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