Backtalk, May 3, 2006

Mad Cow

If Condi is going around saying that the UNSC has approved a deadline for Iranian compliance with IAEA demands, then just what is that deadline supposed to be? Does she mention a specific date? If there really was no deadline approved, then how does she expect to get away with such an outrageous lie?

~ David Wade

Gordon Prather replies:

What Bush-Cheney-Rice-Bolton-Joseph have been claiming – and what the media elite has been accepting uncritically – is that the UNSC demanded that Iran do something or other by Friday, April 28, 2006. Basically, what really happened is that the IAEA Board asked the UNSC to “take the case” and the UNSC declined to do so.

The UN security council “cannot have its will and its word simply ignored by a member state”? Well, what about the U.S. on March 18, 2003, in a war of aggression against Iraq? Have we and the rest of the coalition of the “willing” nations forfeited our UN memberships? Bovine W-speak indeed.

~ Janie Anderson

Gordon Prather replies:

Maybe Condi was referring to Israel. UNSC Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967, called on all parties to the Six-Day War to “negotiate a solution” to Mideast territorial issues. To say that Israel has been “ignoring” the will and word of the UNSC for 40 years is putting it charitably.

Sofia Under Siege as Condi Comes to Town

After reading this article, I can only conclude that you have been hoodwinked into running propaganda issued by a far-right racist political party known as Ataka on the basis of general Western ignorance about Bulgarian domestic politics. Within Bulgaria Ataka is notorious for its violent rhetoric against Roma (Gypsies) and Turks and other minorities in Bulgaria. This is how it has risen in popularity. I suggest that a more nuanced view of Bulgarian politics should take notice of this racism, and not serve as one-sided promotional propaganda.

Here‘s an extract from a good summary on Ataka. A recent summary of Ataka’s activities can be found here.

~ S. Nechaev

Matthew Barganier replies:

Yes, yes, we know – any group that opposes the U.S./EU/NATO is racist, anti-Semitic, etc. But the fact that there are some racists in, say, the American Republican Party does not mean that every Republican position (or every person who supports it) is motivated by racism. I doubt that anti-Roma or anti-Turk sentiment is what drove 5,000-plus Bulgarians to march (and 200,000 to sign a petition) against a planned U.S. military presence in that country. The Republican Party would, I’m certain, vigorously oppose a Russian military presence in America, for reasons that have nothing to do with hostility toward African-Americans or Latinos. And virtually all Americans of every ethnicity and political orientation would join the Republicans in defending their country’s sovereignty.

Why We Cannot Talk With Hamas

Dear Professor HaCohen,

I thought your article well-written and -reasoned.

I was curious about your understanding of what will result from Olmert’s convergence plan. If Israel plans to annex the Jordan Valley, do you think it will build an eastern security barrier between the Palestinian-populated areas and the Jordan Valley?

You say that Olmert’s plan has overwhelming support in the Knesset. However, what about among the population? Although it is usually assumed that most Israelis would support a withdrawal from the territories, I recall (from reading the Israeli press) that the Gaza disengagement was not met with overwhelming enthusiasm by Israelis. The convergence plan, which will evacuate 10 times as many settlers as in Gaza, will be opposed not only by the proponents of the “Whole Land,” but also by those who want a negotiated settlement. Kadima may claim a popular mandate for their plan, but could their unexpectedly low level of support at the polls against very weak opponents indicate that all may not go as planned?

~ Ira Glunts

Ran HaCohen replies:

Thank you for these insightful questions, which would take an entire column to answer. Very briefly, an eastern barrier was indeed part of the original Israeli plans; at the moment, the Jordan Valley is kept out of Palestinian reach by a system of roadblocks and permits, which might make a barrier superfluous. Olmert’s convergence plan is very vague, and thus – just like the Gaza withdrawal – it enjoys the support of the majority of Israelis, who are led to believe it would put an end to the Occupation; but this, of course, is definitely not Olmert’s intention. I’ll try to say more about it in one of my next columns.

Is the War Party Really Reduced to This?

We have degenerated into a Propaganda Nation – and as a lifelong American patriot, and a combat vet (Tet), I am humiliated. This Iraq invasion/occupation was so obviously unnecessary that millions of us ordinary citizens opposed it when it became an obvious plan in 2002. We must tax ourselves to cover obligations and reduce spending to prevent a national financial (as well as moral) collapse! Tough impeachment talk is BS and gets nothing accomplished. Our craven Congress needs to choke off funds now. That seems the only way to stop further wars and force Bush to withdraw from Iraq.

~ R.T. Carpenter, Florida

Kerry’s Halfhearted Reversal

You say Kerry is a flip-flopper because he signed up to kill in Vietnam and then came home and opposed the war. Well, I did the same thing, so if you believe it is “flip-flopping” to change one’s mind when new evidence becomes available, then I too am a “flip-flopper.” But at least in the case of John Kerry and me, we stood up for something, which is way more than you can say for our current president, who has never stood for anything but himself. Certainly he has never stood up for this country.

~ Wayne Walter


On Wednesday, April 26, 2006, there is a letter to the Editor in The Wall Street Journal by Rep. David L. Hobson (R-Ohio) admitting that there is no low-yield atomic bunker-buster that we could use against Iranian nuclear facilities that may be underground. He reports that the Air Force is to start testing in June 2006 at its Nevada test site, followed later by tests at the White Sands Missile Range. You might ask Jorge Hirsch if he has read this letter, and does he have any comment on it. Rep. Hobson claims that an atomic weapon would cause a million-plus casualties, with even more horrific political fallout. He would certainly be correct on that count.

~ David B. Lowry

Jorge Hirsch replies:

I have not read the Hobson letter. However, the yield of particular nuclear weapons is classified information, and I don’t believe Rep. Hobson is privy to the totality of classified information on this issue. He may know about some B61-11s that are high yield, and not about others that are low yield. According to Bob Peurifoy, a former Sandia labs weapons-design manager, “I know how to give you most of those [low] yields today with a pair of wire cutters and a wrench.” The weapons they intend to use are not the ones that will kill a million; they will use those expected to cause “reduced collateral damage,” whatever that is, to make it “easier to swallow” that we will have crossed the nuclear threshold. The political consequences and the long-term consequences will be just as horrific.

To focus on the fact that big nuclear bunker-busters kill millions as an argument to oppose them is not a good idea, because you are implicitly saying that if you kill hundreds they are OK.

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