Backtalk January 16, 2006 Surrenders

I agree with your statements 100%. As a progressive lesbian feminist, I would never have dreamed I would be opposed to a Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy. But my antiwar sentiments trump everything, and I would not vote for Hillary if she were running for dog catcher.

As for MoveOn, they will not get another dime from me – neither will John Kerry. I delete all of his “call for action” e-mails in disgust.

One thought, though, on the subject of MoveOn’s failure to criticize Dems: my partner thinks that MoveOn and others are taking a page from the conservative playbook by not making public statements that give the opposition hope that progressives do not have a cohesive message.

It is an interesting theory.

~ Carrie Ross-Stone

Where IS any opposition to this mindless atrocity Fox calls “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? I believed Scott Ritter and Hans Blix in 2002 that Saddam was castrated and contained. I’m a Vietnam War vet and was never antiwar – until “Shock and Awe.” What a disgrace! I changed my registration as a Republican after that, but as a Democrat, I see no sign of leadership. Wesley Clark or Rudy Giuliani are qualified moderates, but seem not to be in the presidential race. We must find a capable leader for our beloved country!

~ R.T. Carpenter, Lynn Haven, Florida

Joshua Frank’s “ Surrenders” was quite absurd. First of all, there is such a thing as picking one’s battles, and battling Sen. Hillary Clinton on the war in Iraq is completely worthless. Hillary Clinton did not start the war, George W. Bush did! John Kerry did not start the war, George W. Bush did! The function of should be to hold THIS ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE for the lies about chemical weapons, WMD, etc., and to do so until the cows come home. The Democrats who have continued to support the war have at least criticized the administration for its incompetence and have pushed for scrutiny for the Iraq War….

~ Dino

You neglected to mention MoveOn’s position on Sen. Lieberman, whom they will be contesting because of his stance on the war. I generally agree with most of your statements, but you need to get all of your facts straight in order to appear unbiased. Forgetting to mention they will be siding with another candidate against Lieberman does not aid your credibility.

Just some constructive criticism!

~ Janie Mackenzie-Cohen

How to Stop the Planned Nuking of Iran

The whole idea of bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, whether by Israel or the U.S., is nonsensical. There are only two kinds of places that they could bomb: (1) those known by the IAEA, in which case they are already being fully monitored and proven to be unconnected with weapons development, and (2) those unknown by the IAEA.

The IAEA has unfettered access to go anywhere they wish in Iran, so if the U.S. or Israel know of another location, all they have to do is tell the IAEA. If the IAEA is obstructed from monitoring such a location, then there may be grounds for assuming Iran is in noncompliance. But until such a condition arises, Iran is in full compliance with its obligations.

There are other countries with rogue nuclear programs way beyond the scope of Iran’s. Israel, Pakistan, and India come immediately to mind. We don’t hear any talk of bombing those countries.

If Iran is attacked under the current scenario, woe to the U.S. Forget about Muslims only, the entire world will be on the street demanding the removal and punishment of such madmen. Forget impeachment; launching a nuclear warhead is a crime that goes way beyond constitutional misdemeanors.

~ Greg Cunneen

Jorge Hirsch replies:

You are using rational arguments; however, the same arguments would have said that the idea of invading Iraq was nonsensical. Still, it did happen. I agree with your final comments. Unfortunately, contrary to what you say, U.S. documents say “no customary or conventional international law prohibits nations from employing nuclear weapons in armed conflict.”

Judith Foster Wali’s Backtalk

Your Jan. 11 letters include one by Judith Foster Wali. Sadly, Judith’s trust in American administrations, past and present, is much misplaced.

She might wish to know that on April 29, 1975, the Shah met with Saddam Hussein in Tehran. They settled a border dispute with an agreement whereby the Shah would cease to arm and support the Kurds in their battle for independence. Shortly after that, a series of raids and incursions by Iraqi troops and planes killed many thousands of Kurds. This is well documented in the book by Barbara Dobson, Iraqi Kurds, Their History and Culture (refugee fact sheet series no. 13, 1996, Center for Applied Linguistics, Refugee Service Center, Web site:

On April 28, one day before the above meeting, Henry Kissinger chaired a world review of events. The meeting was secret, but the verbatim transcript was declassified Jan. 6, 2001 (National Security Archive of the United States). Kissinger was happy for Saddam to negotiate with the Shah, and joked about the Shah-Hussein agreement with the words “a settlement of the Kurdish thing.”

In the 1980s, the policy continued. Arms were secretly sold to Iran, and NASA target coordinates provided to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. It was managed slaughter, all in the interests of achieving a deadly stalemate so that American interests could be advanced. Also sold, by Dow Chemical with the approval of the State Department, were tons of chemical precursors for “agricultural use.” Some were used against the Kurds in the form of poison gas. All this is recorded in e-mails dated Oct. 2-3, 1986, and other dates, in exchanges between Admiral John Poindexter, Dennis Ross, William Cockell, Oliver North, Vincent Cannistraro (White House e-mail, National Security Archive of the United States, editor Tom Blanton).

If Judith has difficulty finding the above documents, I would be glad to send her copies via Web site They make invaluable reading for anyone interested in what the American government really gets up while the people sleep.

~ Peter Biddulph

The International Highway to Hell

I am retired from the Marine Corps and have participated in campaigns in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Somalia. You seem to tie in military members’ willingness to messianically succor the citizens of Third World dung heaps with their eagerness (when wounded) to return to their “buddies” back in theater.

The first, I believe, results from a lack of sophistication and knowledge of other cultures, a propensity to swallow their commanders’ (all the way to the top) propaganda on the necessity of a given conflict, and because today’s military is less peopled by the more cynical dead-end kids of yore.

As to their longing of rejoining their units, this stems largely from the guilt of the survivor, a universal, timeless condition of warfare. You did not die, therefore you are a lesser being than the valiant dead. You lived, but are now hospitalized, and unable to aid the rest of your platoon mates, thereby letting them down. This is a universal theme in all Marine Corps nonfiction battle lore (Leon Uris, William Manchester, James Webb, etc.). One fights, sacrifices, suffers, and dies for one’s platoon mates, period; gauzy, abstract visions of patriotism are a tertiary motivation.

The sadness is that even though the average grunt is much better trained and grounded in the warfare arts and their attendant technologies than their predecessors, they seem more clueless as to an Iraqi or an Afghan culture’s willingness and adaptability to become classic liberal democracies.

~ Al Struelens, Rancho Santa Margarita, California

Bill Lucas’ Backtalk

Like Mr. Lucas, I too display those numbers. Mine are on display in the rear window of my car, and I change them weekly. So far no one has tried to punch me out, but I did have one confrontation last year, while getting my car worked on, by someone who accused me of being a coward because I didn’t have my name listed. If anyone confronts me again, I will be sure to ask them if they have anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan, and I will tell them that I do have someone over there. My loyalty is to the troops, and I want them brought home alive and in one piece.

~ Linda Walden

Sheehan Urges Supporters to Take Action

You have a link to Don Thompson’s piece for the AP wire on Cindy Sheehan’s appearance at Saturday’s event in Sacramento (“Sheehan Urges Supporters to Take Action”). It contains a touch of revisionist history when it says in paragraph four that she “attracted hundreds of antiwar protesters to her makeshift camp near Bush’s ranch in August.”

Hundreds? Hundreds of media buzzards, perhaps, amidst the (conservative estimate of) 12,000.

Subtle and sneaky, no? The shrinking of a growing movement. And then in the final paragraph, he allows Deborah Johns to use “thousands” in her phone-in quote.

(I’m a fan of Ray McGovern, by the way, and have appeared with him at a few Bay Area events. I’m the singer/writer of “Sons and Daughters,” which I performed at the Sheehan/Penn/Sacramento event, etc.)

~ Jesse Dyen,

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