Backtalk, February 20, 2006

Conservatives Endorse the Fuhrer Principle

I too formed a similar conclusion having watched the White House propaganda machine in action before, during and after the Iraq invasion of March 2003.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stood before American forces fresh from their brave destruction of 50-year-old tanks and machine gun emplacements and declared, “In my films I play the Terminator. You are the real terminators.”

The roar of approval was not just a roar, it was animal; it was subterranean. It was the sound that comes from the planet beneath your feet as “The Star Spangled Banner” rings out across a silent stadium. As a Second World War baby, I have heard it before. On 1945 and 1946 cinema newsreels, on grainy film of Nuremberg rallies. It is the sound of a new Master Race.

And if you don’t believe it, ask yourself, what empire before the present empire, what government, what king, what dictator, what tyrant spied on his people to the extent of secretly recording the books that the citizen reads? And what tyrant secretly warned the simple librarian not to talk about police inquires regarding books and magazines read by a customer? It is there, shimmering beneath that wonderful Orwellian title, the “PATRIOT” Act.

The American people get what they vote for and what they believe in. Both Republicans and sufficient Democrats continue to support the expansion of the PNAC Empire. As for the rest of us around the world, America and the Americans have have become highly dangerous. So far, there does not seem to be a way of stopping their advance. Yet as the civilizations move onward, perhaps the way to do so will become clear. God help us if we fail.

~ Peter Biddulph, Worcestershire, England

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

They are dangerous to Americans, too.

Guess Who’s Sticking It to the Man?

Not only are these guys arrogant, they’re STUPID. Everyone with an ounce of knowledge about Iraq knew that the U.S. would face the same nightmare as the Israelis. These buffoons did not think to put two and two together, that the Iranians had been supporting insurgent activity in southern Iraq during the Saddam years. Unless we have a Reaganesque sort of scenario where we play the good cop/bad cop routine and are secretly aligned with the Persians, it’s hard to believe that anyone can be so stupid. …

~ James Tarvin

What is he saying? Mr. Hadar generally manages to express himself with much greater clarity, but I think that in this case he couldn’t resist the lead-in tie to the TV ad even though he had no follow-up.

OK, democracy can install rulers that are nationalistic and whose goals run counter to those of other democracies such as the United States. Is this news? Does anyone in 2006 need to have this said? The National Socialist Party was elected in Germany in 1933 – yes, we noticed this. Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile in 1970 and also presented a challenge to U.S. “hegemony.” Yeah, democracy and nationalism can produce all kinds of results. Are you surprised?

And what are we to make of the gratuitous reference to the Austro-Hungarian Empire? Hardly a democracy under the Hapsburg monarchy, and, given that the Hungarians opted for armed revolution in 1848, not much of an example of the “unifying” effects of nationalism. If there is a point here it remains locked within Mr. Hadar’s mind.

~ M. Carl Drott, College of Information Studies, Drexel University

Dr. Hadar replies:

Dear Dr. Drott:

The target of my commentary was the contradictory policies of the Bush administration: On one hand it is trying to be the Hegemon/The Man in the Middle East, while on the other hand it is encouraging the spread of democracy there, which gives birth to forces that challenge that hegemony, that is, who stick it to The Hegemon/The Man. Hence the United States = The Man who ends up sticking it to himself. I mentioned the Austro-Hungarian Empire as another example of an Empire = The Man who encouraged a process of liberalization and autonomy that only ignited even more challenges from nationalist groups wanting to secede = sticking it to The Man. Get it?

Talking About the Constitution

In his article on the Constitution, Scott Horton writes, “The war against Mexico (in which half of that country was stolen)….” Although consistent with the anti-American tone of Horton’s article, it is gravely misleading. U.S. troops could have taken all of Mexico, but stopped short of Mexico City. And it’s not as if U.S. troops were fighting gentle, freedom-minded peoples. Finally, the U.S. government paid Mexico for the land it had already won by force, and each side signed a treaty regarding the matter.

~ Greg Raven, Apple Valley, Calif.

Scott Horton replies:

If a mugger holds a gun to your head and then pays you $50 while forcing you to hand your wife over to him, but leaving you alive, is that justice? Would it matter to you whether or not you were a gentle, freedom-loving person at the time of the assault?

And if you think that article was anti-American, I guess you just didn’t think about it hard enough.

The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos

To whom it may concern:

I am disgusted and repelled by the images I have just seen at the American military prison in Baghdad. This does not surprise me, since as a medical doctor in Vietnam during the American invasion of that country I personally witnessed U.S. military torturing civilians/combatants, which involved cutting off body parts (fingers and noses) and wearing them. When I treated these American GIs in the underground hospital I commanded in Ban me Thuot I ordered them to take off their human body parts before I treated them since the sight of this sickened me. This is what war reduces people to. All sense of morality is abandoned. The lowest ethical norm or none at all becomes common currency. Any pretense of civilization vanishes. This truism is forgotten by each generation that is forced to repeat the past by committing new atrocities.

~ Chris Stucky


The PATRIOT Act is a poison pill. Along with the overhyped provisions for intelligence sharing, which the administration shills always tout as the reason it must be renewed, are draconian measures that annihilate the Bill of Rights. The GOP opposition lost their nerve and made the deal to renew the Act without serious change, leaving five serious constitutional issues unaddressed.

The outrageously intrusive Article 215 snooping provisions remain untouched. The ever competent FBI, by merely claiming “relevance” to any terror investigation, will be able to go on a fishing expedition and demand your used car dealer, pawn shop, golf club, or grocery store surrender their records, and the business can’t tell you it happened under threat of prison (what if a close friend or relative worked there?).

The administration tends to view anyone who disagrees with its naked power grab as a potential terrorist. Cannot we be forgiven for suspecting that these provisions have more to do with stifling dissent than with stopping terror? This is no longer the America I served to defend or the one that kids are over there dying for. America will no longer be a free society when this totalitarian outrage is made permanent.

~ Lonnie Brantley, former Republican activist

Previous Backtalk