Backtalk, April 12, 2006

Networks, Terrorism, and Global Insurgency

Mr. Deliso,

It is way past time to stop the bullsh*t. Do not call them “private military contractors,” nor “private security contractors.” Call them what they are: mercenaries! Guns for hire. Why should I give a sh*t if some “hired gun” is killed? American troops being killed, that gets my attention. I was a Marine and served a tour in Vietnam. The “private” military is very well paid compared to the “regular” troops. They know the risks. Sure, it is sad when any human being is killed. But don’t expect me to cry over the hired guns of the “new world order.” Not today, not ever!

Mercenaries get no sympathy from me. If that is uncaring, so be it. They do NOT represent my country, never have, never will. They work for the highest-paying companies. As far as I am concerned, they are on their own. If they want compassion, then they should get jobs that PRODUCE something of value, not death and destruction.

Just my 2 cents worth.

~ Charlie Ehlen, Glenmora, La.

Christopher Deliso replies:

Dear Mr. Ehlen,

I tend to agree with you, but no matter what you or I may think, the situation I refer to in my review (the Blackwater killings in Fallujah) stoked great outcry from the American public, the greater part of which seems to be disinterested in the mercenary status of these “guns for hire” – as compared to some poor kid from the inner city serving in the legitimate U.S. armed forces.

For me, this is the interesting part: why do the American people express patriotic fervor for any American with a gun, no matter who may be funding them? In the prevailing cult of the soldier, as propagated by so many films, Old Glory has become a cheap commodity prone to manipulation.

Does Israel Conduct Covert Action in America?

I agree that something is wrong with our relationship with Israel. If we had another client state with an ethnic dispute like theirs with the Palestinians, we would press them to settle it – if it was in our interests.

I have a hard time believing Israel is the tail wagging the American dog. If our dysfunctional relationship was a development of just this or the last couple of administrations, it would be possible to believe that they had manipulated gullible pols. But this relationship has persisted in its present form since the 1967 war, over several administrations of both parties. You can say a lot of bad things about Nixon and Kissinger, but gullible they weren’t.

Noam Chomsky and an embattled Palestinian scholar at Columbia University, Joseph Massad, have put forward a more plausible thesis: that we support Israel because they are looking after our strategic interests in the region, knocking down any Arab nationalists who get too big for their britches, and therefore might stand up to the oil companies in negotiations. They also give us the advantage of playing “good cop, bad cop,” with Israel as the bad cop. Cheney did this pretty ham-handedly when he said that if we did not attack Iran’s nuclear capacity, Israel would, effectively saying, “Don’t make me send in the bad cop!”

It’s hard to believe that the most powerful nation in the history of the world could be snookered by a young, tiny country to act against our own best interest in a region of such strategic significance as the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.

~ Mike Dixon, Santa Monica

Iran: The Next Neocon Target

Congressman Ron Paul’s article is a great piece of eloquent truth that I hope every American will read and take to heart. I would like to add to it the key fact that war with Iran is almost certainly going to lead to the U.S. using nuclear weapons against Iran, with catastrophic consequences.

The U.S. has changed its nuclear weapons policies in the last five years (starting with the Nuclear Posture Review of 2001), and it now envisions an “integrated” use of force that includes nuclear weapons (New Triad), as just reaffirmed by the president in the March 16 National Security Strategy. Nuclear earth-penetrating weapons have been in the U.S. arsenal since September 2001 (B61-11) and are likely to be used against Iranian underground facilities, to effectively destroy them and to deter an Iranian response, which “in theory” could include chemical-weapons armed missiles. The drafters and advocates of the new U.S. nuclear weapons policies occupy the upper echelons of the Bush administration today (Hadley, Joseph, Cambone, Brooks, Schneider, Bolton, Cheney, Rumsfeld).

The president has sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. Congress could limit that authority by passing a law, under Article I, Sect. 8, Clause 14 of the Constitution, that would require explicit congressional authorization for the president to order the use of a nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear country. I would like to urge Congressman Paul to consider introducing such a bill in the House of Representatives.

Nuclear weapons are on a completely different scale than other WMD. Crossing the nuclear threshold against a non-nuclear country like Iran, for the first time in 60 years, would destroy the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and dramatically increase the risk that other countries will acquire nuclear weapons and the likelihood that any regional conflict could explode into all-out nuclear war, with the potential to destroy our civilization. Not to mention the added incentive it will give to terrorist groups to obtain a nuclear weapon and detonate it on American soil.

The decision to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear country will affect America for generations to come and should not be made by the president alone. Everybody should demand from their congressional representatives that they confront this very real possibility in congressional hearings and debates. Congress is derelict in its responsibilities if it doesn’t address this issue before it is too late to do so. I hope Congressman Paul will let us know his views on this issue.

~ Jorge Hirsch, professor of physics, University of California-San Diego

Go See V for Vendetta

It may interest you to know that there are plenty of conservatives who oppose the Iraq War and find that Mr. Bush’s religious vocalisms are disingenuous at best. There are also plenty of conservatives who can’t stand Rush Limbaugh, either, because he is betraying our republic and the morality he pretends to uphold.

Like many people, the reason that I will not be seeing V for Vendetta is that I am fed up with the filth and gore in movies. We are tired of being expected to pay money to watch films that insult us and our values and celebrate that which we find repulsive.

It used to be that art was considered the creation of beauty. When filmmakers figure that out, we’ll come back to the movies. In the meantime, I hope everyone will follow the Legion of Decency pledge, which enjoined the swearer to shun films that glorify crime and criminals like V for Vendetta.

~ Miss Ross

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