Backtalk, October 20, 2005

Good News, or Urban Legends?


Congratulations on an excellent article. Did you know the U.S. is spending $23,000 per Iraqi citizen on the occupation ($60 billion divided by 26 million population)? Why don’t we just withdraw all troops and all reconstruction efforts and pay each Iraqi (man, woman, and child) $23,000 per year to be good?

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

~ Bill Rood

Making the Middle East Safe for What?

I regularly read, and find the articles thought-provoking.

I was somewhat surprised by Leon Hadar’s article, because its premise seems to be that what the neoconservatives or the Bush spokespersons say is that they want progress and stability in the Arab and Muslim regions. I for one do not buy this at all, and I don’t think the means they are using in the region could seriously be associated with such a policy. Diplomatic and military machinations and worse could not possibly be construed as the foundations for positive progress in the region. What I have sensed from the beginning is that the real goal – obviously not stated – is to create weakness and unleash mayhem that will take down any regime that can offer even the slightest resistance. Breaking up Iraq, the only country in the region that has both oil and a variety of other resources and HAD a well trained and educated work force, is surely in the sights of the pro-Israel forces. Reducing Iran to rubble is certainly on the wish list of this group of evildoers, and finding a Syrian leader who is weak, and therefore more pliant toward Israel’s demands, must be high on the list. One need not love or respect the current leaders of these countries, which I do not, in order to allow for the possibility that the architects of current U.S. foreign policy do not wish anyone in the Muslim regions well. I am surprised that your writer would base an entire article on the premise that what they offer as a justification for these policies is even remotely aligned with their real aims.

~ S. Douglass

Leon Hadar replies:

My commentary makes the same point that S. Douglass has raised, that the reality of the Bushies’ policy is very different from their rhetoric. But Douglass seems to give these guys a lot of credit by suggesting that President Bush and the neocons have succeeded in implementing their non-stated goals (to destabilize the Arab world, etc.). That proposition is based on the premise that they are highly intelligent and smart guys and that they know what they are doing. I don’t buy that.

The Apartheid Wall

Your illustration of Israel’s wall is way out of date. The current wall route takes only 7 percent of West Bank land and follows the 1967 border most of the way. If you really want to inform the public you will publish the new route. If you instead just want to cause trouble you will of course keep the current map on your Web site, which would in fact be lying to your readership.

~ A. Garlon

Ran HaCohen replies:

It’s true that I do not update my columns retroactively. The route of the Apartheid Wall has indeed been somewhat modified for the better after the rulings against (parts of) it by the International Criminal Court and Israel’s High Court. Parts of it are still under debate.

“Takes only 7 percent of the West Bank” is a typical Israeli formulation, generous when robbing others’ lands – how would you react to the idea that Israel should build the Wall inside its border (which would make it legal, for a change), and give 7 percent of its own territory to the Palestinians? The number – 7 percent – is dubious, first because the Wall hasn’t been completed yet, and because Israel has its own ways to miscalculate the percentage – e.g., leaving greater Jerusalem out of the calculation, which counts for about 20 percent of the West Bank.

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