Backtalk, April 20, 2006

America’s Newest Strategic Partner

Lots of talk at your site (Gordon Prather and others) about what a dumb nuclear deal Bush made with India. How it doesn’t safeguard anything since India’s military reactors are not part of the deal, only the “domestic” reactors are (the ones painted in pastels). So India gets the benefit of receiving nuclear fuel from the U.S. for its domestic use, while remaining free to develop big bombs on the military side. Is Bush dumb or what?

No, he’s not dumb; he has another agenda. His agenda is to prevent Iran from selling their natural resources and keeping all the profits. The typical way we deal with our enemies, e.g., countries who resist our economic domination, is to squeeze them financially. If we can squeeze countries financially, they either come around to our way of thinking or at least remain weak and serve as a model to others.

Over the past few years Iran has been signing natural gas deals with many of the world’s biggest economies, such as China, Brazil, and India. Since money is the main source of power, these deals will eventually give Iran financial muscle that can be translated into military power and diplomatic influence, things we don’t them to have.

Bush’s plan (the one he was given) makes India an offer they can’t refuse – because it’s so good to them – in exchange for canceling or forever stalling the big natural gas deal with Iran. It was a mutually beneficial package deal; the nuclear part benefits India and the economic part benefits America’s empire by preventing Iran from selling its resources. Saying the deal was bad for the U.S. is myopic.

~ William Bianchi

Why Cal Thomas Is Wrong

I have known Thomas for over 30 years. He is sincere, although misguided, in his beliefs. I will take “professor” Henderson to task over his article linked above. Namely, I pay little or no attention to articles written by people who give no direct avenue of response to their missives. Henderson is one of those fellows who falls into the “talk is cheap” category. They love to write wordy prose and pontificate over who is right and who is wrong but usually have an insignificant track record of any tangible accomplishments. They will have degrees, letters, papers, etc., but have they ever done anything except talk and theorize? Have they ever done heavy labor for extended periods of time? Have they ever lived hand-to-mouth for extended periods? Have they ever taken up arms and killed others?

That is the problem with our current society: we have ad men painting rosy pictures of life and if we only listen and do what they tell us then we will all be happy. Well we have been doing what they tell us for a few decades now and as far as I can tell there are very few happy people out there. We are about to plunge the world into chaos and we still bicker over the details.

~ KW

David R. Henderson replies:

Dear KW,

I didn’t doubt Thomas’ sincerity. What I challenged was his argument. Notice that you yourself wrote that Thomas is “misguided.” I’m used to people criticizing my arguments, as I did Thomas’, but you didn’t criticize mine. You settled instead for writing that you “pay little or no attention” to articles written by people like me. Which raises the question of why you chose not to follow your principle here: it sounds as if you did give more than “little or no attention” to my article, although not enough attention, apparently, to actually come up with an argument against anything I said.

As for whether I’ve done things other than “talk or theorize,” you’ve got me. That is what I do, just as it is what Thomas does. I’m an academic, and I make my living “talking and theorizing.” I think it would be more relevant to discuss whether my theories are right.

You ask whether I’ve done “heavy labor for extended periods of time.” I have, if you count my four months working in a nickel mine in northern Canada, including lots of overtime and extra shifts during the summer of 1969, although it wasn’t all that heavy. You also put weight, unduly in my opinion, on whether I’ve “ever lived hand-to-mouth for extended periods.” Again it depends on definitions. I’ve been financially independent since age 16, not in the euphemistic sense of rich, but in its actual meaning: financially on my own. Pizza without a soda was my big once-a-week treat in college. I went to one movie every two months and zero rock concerts. How all this qualifies me to write about what I do write about I really have no idea, but you asked. Finally, you ask whether I have ever “taken up arms and killed others.” I confess that I have not. In case others are reading this, let them be warned: I have never killed anybody.

Inside the International Terror Market

What can the editor of be thinking? Deliso is reviewing a book written by a professional statist employed by the state. What do we expect Ms. Napoleoni to say? Drug trade is bad. Okay. Who forces people to buy them? Stateless regions are bad. Why is that, again? Those tricky Arabs can transfer wealth, even gold, heaven forbid, anonymously. Uh, where do I buy in? The PATRIOT Act needs to apply everywhere on Earth. Didn’t the Nazis say something like that?

Napoleoni and Deliso are welcome to express themselves in the marketplace, but is now endorsing state coercion? Do let me know, my donation depends on it.

~ Robert Klassen,

Christopher Deliso replies:

I don’t think she means that the PATRIOT Act needs to apply everywhere on earth. She was mentioning this simply as an example of the kind of efforts made against terrorism in the past five years. I can’t speak for her, but I imagine she was highlighting the financial part of the fight, as embodied in that act, rather than condoning the anti-civil liberties nature of it. She was just drawing the example to make the point that Europe does not have similar legislation and that this disarray on the policy level was hampering their abilities.

In any case, she is highly critical of the Bush administration, and in the interview with me, she implied that the neoconservatives were using terrorism as a smokescreen which they could use to profit from. As I understand, she believes looming environmental hazards are greater than the threat of terrorism.

Is Veneration of the Military Good for the Republic?

I am writing to express my disagreement with some of the points posited in the article by Mr. Ivan Eland.

Mr. Eland incorrectly states that “The government of a free society hypocritically enslaved only one specific group in the population…”

As a member of an Army family, who has lost a family member during his time of service, I must disagree with his statement, as I know firsthand about the lies and hypocrisy that the Army employed, as of late, to compel soldiers to remain in service.

I have personal knowledge of situations like the following:

  • The Army had issued retirement dates for soldiers, then reneged in those agreements in order to send the soldiers to war.
  • The Army realized that a soldier had a medical problem, tried to correct the medical issue for six years, determined the soldier to be “undeployable,” then one day decided to hold a five-minute meeting with the soldier (without the Army doctors) and suddenly declared that the soldier was fit to be sent to Iraq. I guess this was a magical cure.

The point is that yes, the men and women in the armed forces did make an agreement to serve and protect; however, many segments of the Army are not acting appropriately to fulfill their end of the arrangement, leaving our soldiers without recourse.

So I personally will continue to support our soldiers for discharging their duties honorably, even in the face of “hypocritical enslavement” (i.e., repeated stop-losses, broken agreements, and “magical cures”).

And, yes, I am antiwar, even though some of my family has chosen to serve. We choose to display mutual respect in attempting to reach our goals. I hope that more Americans will choose the same approach so that we can work out the best ways to end this debacle in Iraq.

~ L. Johnson

The President’s ‘Final Jeopardy‘ Question

The administration’s lame spin on this is that the president has the right to declassify secret documents when it is in the interest of the public to have the information known. I suppose the best way to get this important information out is for George to tell Dick to tell Scooter to tell Judy. This is the method teenagers use to start rumors about someone to get even for stealing someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend. Start a rumor, preferably false, in order to ruin someone’s reputation. If this information were so important (as opposed to false) why didn’t the president just hold a news conference or publicly declassify the portions of the NIE? Answer: someone might have asked if their were any dissenting views. The method used to disseminate this information gives the lie to the administration’s spin.

~ Neil Rovner

AIPAC’s Complaint

While I agree with Alterman’s description of the ugly and predictable reaction of the Israeli lobby regarding the recent paper by the honorable professors John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard University), I can’t understand his assertion that the paper is “weak” just because it doesn’t point out influence of other lobby groups such as the NRA and Big Pharma.

As the title of the paper indicates, the authors focused on the Israeli lobby. Not about the NRA, not about Big Pharma, etc. Yes, these are interesting topics in their own right (and somebody should write about them), but the subject here was the Israeli lobby. Hence there is no need to claim Jews may feel singled out. They were not, and the authors were very careful, and rightly so. Indeed, some of their Israeli references go further in that direction, but these men were academics and hence less sensational than journalists.

Besides, it serves no purpose if each time a group is worthy of critique, one can’t walk the mile unless another group is slaughtered just for the eventual satisfaction of some readers. Although one may kill two birds with one stone, you don’t need to drag Catholics into a critique of Evangelicals (or the other way around), and you don’t have to offend Christians if you want to write a piece critical of Muslims. There’s no need to attack capitalism if you want to focus on the failure of communism. In each case, one has to carry out a critique or analysis on the premise and merits of the subject under discussion.

Since the professors were not carrying out comparative analysis of the impact of lobby groups on the U.S. political landscape, they were right to solely focus on influence of a particular lobby: the Israeli Lobby (or Jewish Lobby as it’s called in Israel). It wasn’t more dramatic than that.

~ Adam Rooble, Norway

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