Backtalk, June 19, 2006

Fourth-Generation Hell

Writing at a time when we’re trying to sort out what happened at Haditha and why, Mr. Lind writes, “Blood Stripes does not paint a picture of an easy war. As a Marine officer said to me many years ago, ‘If your unit is the one getting ambushed, it’s not low-intensity war.’ The Marines whose stories Danelo ably chronicles, and the thousands of others like them, have gone through hell in Iraq, a Fourth Generation hell where enemies are nowhere and everywhere.”

People on the left and people on the right argue back and forth on how Iraq is like Vietnam and how it is not like Vietnam. At a geopolitical level, I could make a case for either side. There are some glaring similarities and some equally powerful dissimilarities.

As one who experienced small-unit combat as an Army infantryman in Vietnam, however, I can assure you that, in the eyes of the soldier and where the rubber meets the road, Iraq is the Arabic word for Vietnam. War – the more it changes, the more it remains the same. How sad. Will we ever learn?

~ George Clavel Gould

No doubt counterinsurgency is a bitch. I’m a Vietnam vet (infantry). Getting a little tired and pissed off with articles portraying the troops as victims. The troops (our troops, us) are in Iraq to put down an insurgency, supported by the vast majority there, through the efficient, cold-blooded application of intimidation and terror (Uncle Sam-style, but terror, nonetheless). That kind of complicates their status as victims, does it not? I didn’t feel like a victim, or a hero, in Vietnam, but did feel real bad about what we were doing to another people’s country, and couldn’t wait to get out, that the guys we were fighting were actually the good guys. We’d been had, and only in that sense were we victims, that, and in the government’s indifference to us upon our return.

Make no mistake. There were plenty of guys over there, as in Iraq, who brought with them a lot of ugly cultural baggage, and enjoyed making gooks suffer, sort of like a cat torturing a mouse. Casual torture and murder, as easy as pulling a trigger or driving a vehicle over a gook. Except now they’re “ragheads,” but that’s the only thing that’s different. Oh yeah, more sand.

~ Winston Warfield

Trapping Iran With a Tripwire

Interesting article: if your observation that no matter the will and wishes of the American voters, those in charge of the U.S. government will soon unleash nuclear bombs on the humans of other nation-states of the world, then the question is what facts are available to educate the America public so they can question of their representatives the wisdom of allowing such actions to transpire?

Do the elected U.S. elite have the powers needed to indulge the American people:

a. in the use of nuclear weapons against any nation anywhere in the world?

b. to initiate a physically unprovoked, but propaganda-supported, nuclear attack on any nation of the world?

c. to use nuclear weapons against a nation of the world just to prevent that nation’s access to its own nuclear technology?

Seems to me these questions should be debated. To debate such questions, the voting humans of America need to understand the issues. The voters of America should be able to play with and massage the facts and to envision the true scope of the meaning to them personally should our government render, in its actions against other nations, affirmative answers to any one of the questions you raise.

In America, information is kept so secret, or top secret, or classified that gaining the knowledge and acquiring the information needed to confirm the issues your article raises have been rendered very difficult.

Do more than just write about the use of nuclear weapons in unprovoked attacks, as if your story were a hypothetical: expose agencies and middle and lower persons involved by name, and provide some verifiable tangible facts so that the debate can begin.

How can American voters see and understand the buildup you suggest? Are there any documents which can support your claims? Is Tony Blair to be involved? …

~ S. Stouden

Jorge Hirsch replies:

The article you are commenting on provides several links for the information you ask for. More information and links to documents and other articles are compiled in my Web page.

Certainly, I fully agree that these questions should be widely debated; this decision affects everybody and should not be made just by the president in a secretive meeting with advisers handpicked because they share his crazy view of the world.

Bush Hitches GOP’s Political Star to Iraq

There’s a little problem with Rove’s plan – this isn’t 1968!

In 1968, the Democratic Party imploded over Vietnam because not only were the people divided over the war, a majority still believed we would ultimately win in Vietnam if we just “stayed the course.” The antiwar movement was really just getting started, and it would be another two years before the public turned decisively against the war.

But today, the “stay the course” idiocy is only supported by about 30 percent, and they’re almost exclusively the hard-core base of the Republican party.

Really, Rove’s plan is simply another “rally the base” attempt. He’s not seriously thinking that independents are going to support the Republicans over the war if Bush ramps up the rhetoric once again and criticizes the Democrats for being “wishy-washy.”

But, if there’s a very low turnout election and most voters – especially independents who tend to side with Democrats – are disgusted enough with Washington to stay at home, and if Rove can fire up the base enough with apocalyptic rhetoric and simplistic messages repeated endlessly on talk radio and Fox TV, and can rely upon his GOTV organization in every state, it just might be enough to keep Republicans in power for another two years and save the Bush administration from immediate irrelevance.

The problem is that Bush has to keep talking about “making progress” in Iraq to keep hope alive in the hearts of the faithful. The death of Zarqawi was another such moment.

Zarqawi is killed, Bush’s polling numbers bounce up a bit for a while. The reason is that some people give way to hope that THIS is finally the moment that things get on track in Iraq, that NOW we’ve finally “turned the corner” Bush keeps talking about, and things are going to start looking up.

But slowly over time the grim reality sets in, that it was just another lie and charade. The casualty list just grows longer, civil war burns more fiercely, and disillusionment sends Bush’s numbers downward again. It’s this process that has slowly eroded Bush’s support from around half down to less than a third since November 2004 and convinced more and more people that he’s fundamentally dishonest.

The problem for Rove is that the more times Bush is caught “crying wolf” over Iraq, the fewer and fewer people are even listening.

Rove’s strategy can always fool the talking heads inside the Beltway, but outside in the rest of America it’s clearly a big yawn.

~ John Stege

The Tripolar Chessboard

The Klare/Engelhardt piece on “The Tripolar Chessboard” should illumine readers of about how difficult getting a change in our foreign policy will be. One of the leading voices on foreign policy is Zbigniew Brzezinski. He formulated much of the policy that is being pressed and added to by the Republican neoconservative movement now in leadership in Washington. For those of us wanting a change in foreign policy, it is essential to remember that this will not merely be decided by a vote for a Democrat or a Republican this fall. Rather, we will have to find a way of identifying men and women from both parties who are by principle not committed to a policy of global hegemony. Brzezinski’s comments on Iraq are always hypocritical. He blames only the Bush administration for the present situation. But it was he that formulated a policy of trying to take advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union to control central Asia that has led to the situation in which we find ourselves. If Democrats are elected to a majority and they turn to Brzezinski in the future, as they have in the past, to direct foreign policy, we must expect more of the same. I hope will lend the voter a hand in seeing how to spot the principled opponent of any sort of concept that views the USA’s place as to be policeman and global authority in the world. Our leadership needs to be by example and in concert with other leading nations. How do we recognize potential congressmen who recognize that by principle and not merely as a passing necessity in the ongoing chess game?

~ Dan McDonald

Previous Backtalk