Backtalk May 25, 2005

Parents: The Anti-Recruiter

Teresa Whitehurst does some nice deconstructing of military sales propaganda, but I believe her advice at the end (“Parents and teachers who care about kids should study each of these appeals and inoculate na├»ve, trusting teens against their seductive powers”) does not go far enough. Inoculating students who are exposed every day to what she is describing, when they are away from home for hours, and even when they are in their homes, is just not realistic – not in this particular media-driven culture, during this particular era.

Yes, parents should try to help their kids see through the propaganda and tricks, but it is even more essential for parents, students and others to take action to demilitarize the schools where youths spend so much of their time “learning.”

There is a reason why the military seeks to be inside schools – and it’s the same reason why we should seek to get them out. The military understands that as institutions of socialization, schools are an extremely effective tool for propagandizing without parents or others around who could contest the propaganda.

My own organization (www.projectyano.org) has been countering recruiters in San Diego public schools for over 20 years, during which we’ve probably gotten our message across to over 50,000 students, but it has always been clear to us that with our very limited resources, we can’t come close to competing with the daily in-school presence of military recruiters, JROTC, the Young Marines, military aptitude testing (the ASVAB), Channel One, etc.

The only real solution is to restore the civilian character of education and get the military out!

~ Rick Jahnkow, Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities, www.projectyano.org


The Palestinian Gandhi

Ran HaCohen writes: “… the Israeli culture itself worships violence, with the semantic field of ‘war’ being the richest in the modern Hebrew language, with militarism as the state religion….”

Of course, HaCohen speaks about a country which has not been at war since its inception. No hostile neighbors tried numerous times to physically destroy it; it did not lose more than 30,000 of its citizens in wars, etc., etc. In spite of their “peaceful” history those terrible Israelis worship war and “militarism.”

The fact is that in spite of a permanent state of war in which Israel has been since its founding (and before), it managed to maintain a democracy with free elections, a robust press with freedom of expression and flourishing scientific enterprises. Per capita, it is third in the world, after the U.S. and Great Britain, in the number of scientific articles published in peer review journals. Israeli high tech startups are only second to the USA. And all that in spite of the need to maintain a strong army, without which Ran HaCohen would be writing in Arabic, if he was alive at all.

HaCohen writes: “They fought the Second Intifada (00-2004) with weapons….”

He does not mention that many of those weapons were suicide murderers aimed exclusively at Israeli civilians. Contrary to HaCohen’s assertion, international law and conventions unambiguously prohibit violence against civilians even when people fight against occupation.

~ Jacob Amir

Ran HaCohen replies:

Israel’s being at war is its own choice – militarism needs war for its survival, and therefore Israel consistently rejects or ignores every peace initiative (most recently, the Saudi Initiative from 2002) as well as international legislation and UN Security Council resolutions.

Israel’s strong high tech sector (as well as large parts of the alleged flourishing “scientific enterprises”) is also an offspring of the state- (and U.S.-) subsidized military industry, and it supplies excellent career opportunities for army veterans – yet another channel for Israel’s militarism, alongside the frightening overrepresentation of former army officers in parliament, in the civil service, and in every part of the economy and public life. Israel is indeed highly innovative in developing and exporting techniques for killing human beings; I personally think that entering Heaven through the suppliers’ entrance is nothing to be proud of.

As for the celebrated Israeli democracy: As several social scientists have argued (most notably Dr. Uri Ben-Eliezer), this democracy too is maintained mostly at mercy of the army. No Israeli government can risk an open dispute with the army; the governments thus tend to adopt the army’s line as their own policy, which feeds Israeli militarism and rejectionism further and further.

I believe that you have created a highly biased article. You are misconstruing the facts, and twisting the words. The thing that you must understand is that Israel is not a Zionist state. You must understand the distinction that not all Jews are Zionists, which is what the Palestinians are trying to make you believe, and apparently have succeeded at doing.

Also, the following passage is a highly biased, 100% incorrect lie about life in Israel: “after all, the Israeli culture itself worships violence, with the semantic field of ‘war’ being the richest in the modern Hebrew language, with militarism as the state religion, and with popular wisdom expressed in rules of thumb such as ‘where force won’t do, try more force.'”

The problem with this quote is that, though all Israelis are required to report for Army service when they turn 18, there is no obsession with it. The people who go off to fight are kids. One of my best friends is training to become a fighter pilot. Why did he decide to be a fighter pilot? He wanted to do that because he wanted to have some fun. For him, flying a plane is not a tool of war, but a great way to have some fun. …

Also, though American money does go to support Israel, not all of it is used in military defense. The reason the military budget is so high is because the nation of Israel is still in a state of war, just with an armistice line. After the six-day war in 1967, a treaty declaring an end to the war was never signed. All that happened was a cease-fire agreement. Thus, Syria and Israel are still at war. As long as Israel and Syria do not have a peace treaty in place, and only have an armistice to keep the two of them away from each other, Israel will still be at war, and will thus need to have a large military budget, most of which will come from America.

~ Daniel Engel

Ran HaCohen replies:

You obviously do not live in Israel. So just to put the facts straight:

(1) Israel is a Zionist state.

(2) The fact that not all Jews are Zionist is explicitly stated in my article.

(3) Israel is one of the most militaristic societies on the globe, as many social scientists would agree.

(4) If flying a fighter jet is “just fun,” how about dropping bombs and launching missiles? Is it even more fun? Do you think it’s fun also to be on your friend’s backsight when he drops a bomb? And how about suicide-bombings: do you think they’re also just fun, the ultimate sort of fun perhaps?

(5) The state of war between Syria and Israel is a direct consequence of Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and to respect its international border with Syria.


Whitewashing the Holocaust

All of this belongs to history books and kept for future generations, we have heard it often enough.

Why do historians keep avoiding tallking about the holocaust and the human rights violations in Yugoslavia after the war ended and why is it not documented in the history books the proper way? 190,000 German POWs executed without trial. All ethnic Germans stripped of their properties and civil rights although calling Yugoslavia their home for over two centuries. More than 600,000 murdered or starved to death in camps like Rudolfsgrad, Molidorf, Gakova, Krushewlje, Jarek, Mitrowitz, etc. 40,000 shipped in boxcars to the USSR for the purpose of slave labor. During the war, the N.Y. Times quoted Moshe Pijade stating that after the war there will be no more room in Yugoslavia for ethnic Germans. Instead of committing this genocide Yugoslavia should have expelled these people like so many other eastern countries did. It is astonishing that so many Yugoslavs seek residence in Germany 60 years after the war. My pride would not allow that. Serbia is on it’s way to pay the price over a long period of time. The so called Black Hand and Mr. Princip did a fine job in 1914.

~ H. Reichel, Montreal

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I was talking about the Ustasha crimes, and you answered with something completely different, in a way that not only suggests an attempt at moral equivalence, but a strong streak of Serbophobia. What else should one conclude from “Serbia is on it’s way to pay the price over a long period of time. The so called Black Hand and Mr. Princip did a fine job in 1914”? That hatred is your problem, not mine, but just for the record – nobody forced Austria-Hungary to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina, oppress the Serbs (or Croats, or Muslims), and invade Serbia in 1914.

As for the mass executions, starving-out and death marches of Yugoslav Germans (Volksdeutscher), they are a part of the sordid catalog of Communist atrocities that occurred within the first few years of their takeover. Croats like to point out Bleiburg, where thousands of Ustasha and Domobrani (NDH military) POWs were executed in April 1945. Serbs cite thousands of Serbian civilians shot after 1944 for “aiding the enemy” by being royalist sympathizers, or simply having too much wealth. This is not to imply the Volksdeutscher didn’t suffer – quite the contrary – but to dispel the insinuation that they suffered at the hands of “Serbia.”

Dear Mr. Malic:

Your claims about the genocide against the Serbs in W.W.II, done by the Croats and supported by the Catholic Church is fully documented in the book Inside the League by Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson. The book was published in 1986, by Donald, Mead & Company, Inc. New York.

This book covers many other atrocities including those ordered by our “beloved” President Reagan in Latin America. The book is very credible with inclusion of official documents and actual testimonies by the witnesses. I recommend this book to all who care about the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

~ Bozidar Kornic

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Thank you for the recommendation. I will seek out the book, and I hope my other readers will as well.

Nebojsa Malic – unlike the Bosniaks under UN “protection” – has apparently found safe haven in the antiwar movement. Very good for him. Nonetheless, it is no simple matter to differentiate Malic’s rhetoric from that of the former U.S. Congressman Robert K. Dornan, who in the midst of the Balkan wars claimed we should be thanking the Serbs for having protected Europe from Muslims during the Middle Ages. Yes, good men discharging their Christian duties as did their forefathers (rape camps and mass graves don’t seem to register with Malic so long as the victims are Muslim).

FACT: the Bosniaks are not “Turks,” but the likely remnant of an old Gothic tribe whose form of Christianity was quashed by Rome.

FACT: the U.S.-supported arms embargo against Bosnia spelled doom for the Bosniaks (Bosnian Serbs, of course, enjoyed a constant flow of arms from Yugoslavia proper — “Serbia”).

FACT: UN declared “safe havens” a sick, sick joke.

FACT: Dayton Peace Accords (aka “reward the aggressor”).

If he could, Malic would write Bosniak deaths out of history as completely as Stalin did his own enemies (both real and imagined).

~ Scott Barrios, Roanoke, Virginia

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Let’s see – guilt by association, straw men, false authority and ad hominems, all spiced up with “FACTS” that are actually assertions. Why should I bother responding? Because these “facts” are vicious nonsense.

“Bosniaks,” as Izetbegovic’s junta named the Bosnian Muslims, are physically indistinguishable from Serbs and Croats. They are most definitely not Goths; that was a popular thesis in W.W.II, when Nazis wanted to find “Aryan” origins for the Ustasha to avoid classifying them as Slavic untermenschen. Stories of the specific “Bosnian Christianity” are political in origin and dubious at best.

“Rape camps” were proven to be a propaganda hoax, which doesn’t seem to stop people who bought into it from repeating it ad nauseam.

The “embargo” the UN established for the entire Yugoslavia in 1990 applied to Serbia (which was under another UN blockade, only slightly less harsh than the one of Iraq) as well; that did not stop Washington from arming Croatia, or shipping weapons to the Bosnian Muslims via Iran. There was even a Congressional investigation about this, though it was given little publicity.

The “safe havens” were indeed a sick joke – on the civilians stuck therein and the UN troops supposedly guarding them, who were then officially used as human shields by the Bosnian Muslim army. Unless the original intent of the UN resolution was to create protected areas for the Muslim military, the placement of Corps headquarters and tens of thousands of troops and artillery in these areas was the vilest perversion of the “safe havens” concept.

No one ever mentions that the original “UN protected areas” were Serb-inhabited regions of today’s Croatia, which were crushed by a U.S.-backed Croatian offensive in 1995 without so much as a peep from the paladins of humanity who’ve made profitable careers out of denouncing “ethnic cleansing” whenever doing so benefited the Empire.

The Dayton Peace Accords indeed rewarded the aggressor – acting as a Trojan horse for the Muslim centralizers and their sponsors in the West, who have been perverting the letter and the spirit of that treaty almost since Day 1. If the Bosnian Serbs are “aggressors” for opposing an illegally established, tyrannical central government, then what does that make Izetbegovic, who set up that government intent on dominating Bosnia against the wishes of more than half its people (and not a few Muslims, either)?

I’ve actually written about the Muslim death tolls, pointing out that the little-publicized ICTY report indicates their military casualties were disproportionately high. I don’t think you’ve read it – but then again, your venomous diatribe suggests you haven’t read just about anything I’ve written at all, and that my name was enough for you to make a whole set of assertions and claims. So which one of us is a bigot, then?

I thank Nebojsa Malic for telling the truth about the roll of the Catholic church during W.W.II in former Yugoslavia. I am one of the survivors of genocide in fascist Croatia who lost almost my entire family in Western Slavonija. I was a young girl when Ustashes arrived to my community and and their leader read to us the order, what will happen to us if we do not convert to the Catholic religion: “A Serb could not be able to hide under a rock, then the child will not be left inside the mother’s womb.” The third choice left to us I do not remember, since I was in total shock. My mother sent me hidden under a coat to friends in another part of the country and that was the last time that I saw her. Where was Mr. William A. Donohue to fight for my rights and life? I am still waiting for the Catholic church to admit to and apologize for the terrible crimes committed toward the Serbs in name of God(?). I am writing this as a witness. Mr. Malic explained it best and his work is always well researched. Mr. Donohue’s words are so out of place. He should be ashamed of himself and should learn the facts of the crimes in name of the religion he defends.

I survived to tell the truth and I am not alone

~ Rhoda D.


America’s Global Fifth Column

“Her shtick is to complain that the Russian media is too consolidated, dumbed-down, and subservient to the demands of advertisers with a political agenda – pretty much the Russian version of the Goody-Two-Shoes school of journalism here in the US, which loathes the idea of news-gathering as a commercial enterprise and instead insists on some unrealistic and obnoxiously high-minded concept of journalism as pedagogy: public television, albeit with some advertising.”

OK, Mr. Raimondo, I’m convinced. Since you have not proved yourself as a commercial enterprise, I will stop donating to Antiwar.com. In the process I will release myself from the nuisance of supporting all those free-riders who read but don’t pay, and free myself from giving handouts to the commercially challenged.

No more cost-free capital from me. Now if you want to issue shares and go for-profit.

~ Clinton Greene

Justin Raimondo replies:

You are free, of course, to refrain from contributing to Antiwar.com if you like – and that is exactly the point. Antiwar.com is entirely financed by private voluntary contributions from our supporters. On the other hand, the Russian “dissident” you reference is looking for U.S. tax dollars – that is, money involuntarily “donated” to the U.S. Treasury by oppressed American taxpayers. If you don’t see the difference between Antiwar.com and, say, the National Endowment for Democracy – or the Marines, for that matter – then I suggest you examine the issue a bit closer.


Commemorating a World War

After reading Messrs. Raimondo and Buchanan’s columns about W.W.II, I am unclear as to what they think President Roosevelt should have done during the war. For example, does Justin Raimondo think that a Nazi victory over the Soviet Union would have been the preferable outcome? If so, why? Does Mr. Buchanan think that the U.S. should have gone to war with the Soviet Union after Germany surrendered?

I only a recent daily reader here so if they have covered this topic already, please direct me to the archives.

~ JP

Justin Raimondo replies:

I wouldn’t be “rooting” for anyone in a Soviet-Nazi death struggle, and I don’t think either side would have “won.” Like two scorpions in a bottle, Hitler and Stalin would have stung each other to death. Whichever side “won” would soon expire from its wounds. In any case, the U.S. should have stayed out.


Iran Defends the NPT

It is my understanding that the only purpose of enrichment in the nuclear industry is to produce a nuclear weapon. Am I wrong?

~ Lee Loe

Gordon Prather replies:

Well, when they find out they have given you that mistaken impression, the neo-crazies and their media sycophants will be dancing in the streets. Simple gun-type nukes can only be built with almost pure U-235. However, modern sophisticated U.S., UK, French, Russian and Chinese as well as Indian and some Pakistani nukes are Plutonium-based. So, probably are Israeli nukes. Virtually all uranium being enriched in the world these days is being enriched in IAEA Safeguarded facilities (USEC, Urenco, EuroDif, MINATOM) for use in IAEA Safeguarded nuclear reactors. No country has ever diverted “special nuclear materials” from a peaceful to a “military purpose” from an IAEA Safeguarded facility.


What Is Bush Celebrating in Moscow?

I have had my pieces published on Antiwar.com, and I like what you do. BUT the piece by Buchanan today is off the wall.

What is being celebrated in Moscow today is the defeat of Hitler and Nazis, a point that Buchanan cannot seem to grasp. That was a great victory for humanity and it cost the Russians 27 million lives compared to the U.S.’s 400,000. As for Stalin’s decision to side with Hitler, remember that Truman famously said that when the Nazis were winning we should support the Russians and when the Russians were winning we should support the Nazis. There is considerable evidence that that was precisely what the U.S. did during the civil war in Spain where fascism might have been defeated. And Russia learned its lesson well in that war, in which it supported the Republicans and found no support from the West. …

And this is Buchanan, the so-called opponent of the Iraq war, who nevertheless supported Bush in the last election, because they were both Republicans! That is the sort of partisan mindlessness, whether Democrat or Republican, that makes war possible and which should not be welcome on Antiwar.com. Buchanan’s bottom line is that presidents who wage unjust and unnecessary wars should be supported as long as they are Republicans. This is not an antiwar position and it does not even reflect the opinions of the majority of the Buchanan’s fellow editors at the American Conservative, none of whom would endorse Bush for reelection save for Buchanan. Buchanan says the Democrats try to gloss over their endorsement for war, voting to give Bush the authority to wage it. (And the whole ugly Dem establishment still supports the war.) That is true. But Buchanan is in the same position, claiming to be against the war but endorsing Bush. Hypocrisy of the rankest sort in both cases

~ John Walsh


A Fire Bell in the Night for the West?

The main point of Scheuer’s article is well taken. Apparently, however, he is mistaken in attributing the Afghan rioting to the Newsweek article. One of the top U.S. generals on the scene said the rioting was not caused by the Koran story. Also, it has been extensively documented that stories about U.S. abuse of the Koran have appeared everywhere for several years: the NYT, Washington Post, CNN, Financial Times and so on.

One other point. Although Scheuer does not say it, Muslims emerge from his article as better people than Americans, who desecrate everything and reelect war criminals who fabricate lies in order to justify military invasions. What is it that makes Americans so special that they can dictate to the rest of the world how they are to behave and what political system they are to live under? Why does America have the right to impose a harebrained president’s will on the world?

~ Paul Craig Roberts


America’s Reputation in Tatters

Paul Craig Roberts asks at the end of his article whether American democracy has failed at home.

How can it NOT fail when the House Congressional district boundaries are gerrymandered to such an extent that 99% of incumbents are reelected? For the past 5 elections that figure has been 98% or higher – and it has been over 90% for all but one election since 1954 (88% in 1964).

How can any elected representative be accountable when the system has been rigged by partisan state legislatures so almost one can lose?

Democracy has been failing in the U.S. for a long time now. Vietnam and Iraq (and much else besides) are the symptoms of this failure.

What’s the answer? Most democracies (well over 80%) use some form of proportional representation to populate their legislatures. The Center for Voting and Democracy (www.fairvote.org) advocate PR fur use in America. No, the U.S. Constitution does NOT specify a voting system for Congress. The voting system is defined in normal statutes that legislatures can change if they want to.

~ Steve Withers


Etc.

From the day that the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor took place on December 7, 1941 to the day that the U.S. defeated Japan (VJ Day – “Victory Over Japan” Day) on August 15, 1945, a time period of 1,348 days had elapsed.

Friday, May 20 of this year marks the day that the so-called “War on Terrorism” reached it’s own 1,348th day (from September 11, 2001), making the duration of the current conflict which our country finds itself engaged in as long as the U.S. involvement in World War II was.

Regardless of what one’s opinion is of the “correctness” of this ongoing military action, the fact that this endeavor is exceeding the time frame that World War II was fought within is a disturbing one to say the least.

The U.S. cannot “win” in Iraq no matter how good our intentions. The anti-American insurgency will grow with the creation of each civilian casualty, regardless of whether these casualties were inflicted by the insurgents or by the U.S. This might not seem fair, but “fair” is not part of the equation in this conflict. Any “calm” that American forces are currently experiencing in Iraq (relative to that experienced by ordinary Iraqi citizens) is illusory.

I personally witnessed this same situation in Lebanon in 1983. We tried “nation-building” there the same way we are trying it in Iraq – with similar results: more noncombatants were killed than combatants. When the U.S. pulled out of Lebanon in 1984, the people of that country eventually sorted their own problems out.

The Iraqi people will have as good a chance as the Lebanese of solving their own political situation without the presence of U.S. forces as with.

Let’s not allow this war to drag on any longer.

~ Eric B.

First off, I think Antiwar.com is a very well done and informative site. The columns and commentaries have the occasional moments of hyperbole, but they sound a lot more convincing than the propaganda dispensed by FOX news.

However, the problem is, you’re preaching to the already converted. Very few, if any, pro-war people are likely to come to this site, read the columns, and then suddenly decide “Hey, they’re right! The whole Iraq thing was a huge mistake!” The very name of the site, Antiwar.com, discourages all but the extremely open-minded war supporters.

I could be wrong, but I’d say that at least 95% of the readers of Antiwar.com were already antiwar before they ever heard of the site. The people with “Bush/Cheney 04” bumper stickers on their cars probably take one look at this site, maybe pause long enough to send you a message saying “Stop dissin’ the prez!” or something like that, and then never come back again. In short, I don’t think you’re changing a lot of people’s minds about war or imperialism.

I want the War Party to be exposed as the liars and hypocrites they are just as much as you do. But I don’t really know how much good Antiwar.com is doing. Yes, you’re giving antiwar people more reasons to be against wars in general, and the present and possible future wars in particular. But are you really convincing any of the blind supporters of the war that they have been misled, or that the Bush Administration’s foreign policy decisions may have disastrous consequences for the U.S. in the long run?

The only way to stop the horrible trends of the past few years is to change a lot of people’s minds. So I have to ask you this: Do you think Antiwar.com is helping to change many people’s minds?

~ Chris Lang

Scott Horton replies:

Dear Chris,

First of all, thanks for the compliments, and secondly, I am happy to report that we get through to new people all the time. We get an incredible amount of new traffic everyday. We now average about 70,000 unique visitors a day, and climbing steadily. Our articles are featured on Google and Yahoo News, which generate an incredible amount of traffic, and we get email from people who have changed their mind about this country’s foreign policy as a direct result of reading our page every week.

Also, I think I can say that due to Antiwar.com’s libertarian / paleo-conservative perspective, we have a broad appeal for all types of folks, instead of just the liberal-left stuff most people are used to. When we run Pat Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts and our favorite congressman, Republican, Ron Paul, we get whole new groups of visitors from all over.

Previous Backtalk

Read more by Backtalk