Backtalk, July 10

Reality Beneath the Flag-Waving

Sadly, every word of Paul Craig Roberts’ 4th of July essay decrying the death of American morality in the face of the Bush administration’s criminality is 100 percent accurate.

I never thought I would see our once-great nation so turned on its head – becoming, ourselves, what we grew up deploring. Following in the fascist footsteps of Nazi Germany, we are now a nation of gutless fools, allowing preemptive war, torture, extraordinary rendition, and the evisceration of the Bill of Rights, among other travesties of justice. As Roberts states, the USA will, one day, pay a very heavy price for this.

As a former soldier who served proudly with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during the Persian Gulf War, I am grieved that I no longer recognize my Army. Not so long ago, it was an institution that upheld the highest standards and rule of law. Our leaders were wise and courageous. They are now, obviously, few and far between. Herr Rumsfeld, the war criminal, does not allow true, experienced leaders who speak the truth. Therefore, I grieve for my fellow soldiers who have been, and are currently being abused, thrown into the hellish nightmare of Iraq.

It’s past time for those gutless wonders, the architects of this Iraq disaster to be held accountable, to be tried for their crimes. Until we the people demand this, we are no better than them.

~ Rochelle Reynoldson, Charlotte, N.C.

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

I agree with the reader. The Bush regime has made innocent Americans complicit in its war crimes. Americans can never recover their heavily soiled reputation unless they achieve Bush’s impeachment and turn him and his criminal government over to the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague.

Bravo, to Paul Craig Roberts for so well describing one of the most disturbing aspects of the irresponsible debacle in Iraq. Imagine the press being criticized for the monstrosities taking place in Iraq and our catastrophic failure there, and not those directly responsible! Beyond belief! Imagine, in the 21st century, in the age of education and science, so many Americans childishly believing the propaganda coming out of the White House and being unable to understand the very basics about Iraq and the Bush administration! Frightening!

~ Carl Mattioli

Paul Craig Roberts replies:3

Shooting the messenger is the traditional policy of failures.

Bush’s Assault on Freedom: What’s to Stop Him?

Paul Craig Roberts finally comes out of the closet – the fascist closet, that is. He shows his true colors by saying “This is partly the fault of the ACLU and left-wingers, who go to extremes to make a point.”

Perhaps in future columns Mien Fuehrer Roberts will enlighten us as to what extremes the ACLU and those dreaded “left-wingers” (What a classic smear!) suggest. Defending the Bill of Rights? Or is it mildly suggesting that all Americans have access to health care?

It helps to remember that Roberts served Reagan in an earlier incarnation. Once a Nazi, always a Nazi!

~ Stan

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Like neocons, who believe that they have a monopoly on virtue, this reader believes virtue lies entirely with the Left and its issues. The reader lacks the intelligence to understand that the left wing has defined civil liberties for the right wing as homosexual marriage, abortion, racial quotas, flag burning, and lax punishment for criminals. The important civil liberties – the ones actually spelled out in the Bill of Rights – have to do with the security of the individual, such as habeas corpus and the requirement of warrants for invasion of privacy. Consequently, both Left and Right have lost sight of the civil liberties that protect individuals from the power of the state. When I mention civil liberties, the right wing thinks I am talking about homosexual marriage. At the time when the president declares an end to habeas corpus and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the ACLU wastes its resources on pledge-of-allegiance cases in schoolrooms and the display of Christian religious symbols in public places.

Only a total fool would call Ronald Reagan a Nazi. Reagan never threatened our civil liberty and he never claimed immunity from law in the name of national security. When the neocons made a mess, he fired them.

People like “Stan” are the reason for the resentments on the Right that are buttressing Bush’s assault on civil liberty. The left wing’s responsibility for brewing right-wing resentment is heavy.

Can’t We Drop Even One Alliance?

Mr. Bandow deserves a wide audience for this well-reasoned article. It is indeed time for America to reassess our many alliances in view of the fundamental geopolitical changes of the past 20 years. Mr. Bandow makes a good case for our military withdrawal from Korea, now.

I will add one more point in favor of bringing our 33,000 troops home. We should bring them home because they are bad for business, especially the American auto manufacturing business. Every dollar we Americans are taxed to help Korea defend itself is a dollar the Korean government can divert from their defense budget into something else – say, health care and retirement for their auto workers. The American auto industry, saddled over the years with astronomical health care and retirement obligations, is stampeding toward bankruptcy. It needs every break it can get if it is to survive. The biggest break would be a reduction in the cost of labor vis-à-vis the competition, but that is hard to pull off when most of our international competitors have their health care and retirement expenses paid for by their governments. That would seem to be handicap enough for our domestic companies, but the case with Korea is compounded by the fact that we are helping them pay their defense bills. Meanwhile, Hyundai adds to its slice of the American pie chart at the expense of GM and Ford. How does it make sense for our government to collect tax money from American car companies and their workers, our fellow Americans who are struggling just to keep their heads above water, and then send that tax money to Korea to subsidize the competition? It’s just downright unpatriotic.

~ Ed Patterson, Raleigh, N.C.

Somalia: A Case Study in Interventionism

Justin’s otherwise excellent piece on Somalia would have been greatly improved by more insight into the “clan alliances” he shrugs off as simply the way things are. In fact, these clans have a very libertarian way of life known as “kritarchy,” similar to the Icelandic Commonwealth of 920-1260 and the Irish kritarchy before complete subjugation by Cromwell in the 17th century.

Justin seems to imply that these clans would use Islamic courts; however, the Islamic court movement is separate from the clan-based system of justice, just as in Ireland, where the ecclesiastic law system was different from the clan-based system.

Somalia represents a modern experiment in a very natural, ancient form of anarcho-capitalism. Libertarians would do well to understand it, and to that end I suggest Justin read the excellent book The Law of the Somalis. Or Google “kritarchy.” Excellent studies on the Icelandic and Irish kritarchies can be found on the Web site.

~ Brendan Trainor

Fiddling While Afghanistan Slides Away

Dear Mr. Bandow,

I could not disagree more than with your statement that “The war in Afghanistan … which, unlike Iraq, was justified, given the Taliban’s hosting al-Qaeda terrorist training camps … is not going well.” Your position ignores the fact that war in Afghanistan had been planned long before 9/11. At a UN-sponsored conference on Afghanistan in Berlin in June of 2001, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik told BBC that American officials warned that “military action would take place in Afghanistan before the end of October 2001.” Your position also ignores the many overtures presented by Taliban officials to the U.S. to solve the bin Laden impasse that were unceremoniously ignored by both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Furthermore, your position ignores the fact that the U.S. was duly warned by Sudanese intelligence officials that bin Laden was en route to Afghanistan with his precise itinerary, information that could have easily led to his capture. In 1997, Osama bin Laden’s redoubt was revealed by an American journalist to U.S. officials with precise information, which also included a map. The European press contends that the Taliban’s fate was sealed when they gave UNOCAL the boot in favor of Bridas of Argentina to construct the TAP, Trans-Afghan-Pipeline. To support this hypothesis, two French journalists reported that in early 2001 (see: Forbidden Truth) that officials in the Bush administration threatened Taliban with bombing when pipeline negotiations began to falter.

Your mention of “Karzai as a man with impeccable fashion sense” reads like tabloid journalism. For the record, Karzai’s writ does not extend much beyond the muzzles of his American bodyguards’ MP5 submachine guns. You also note an expanding drug trade, but fail to mention that drugs were mostly eradicated under Taliban or that the president’s brother, Wali Karzai, has been arrested for drug trafficking and released by his brother the president.

I also note your statement that the warlords that ruled supreme have been disarmed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rashid Dostum has a army of 35,000 armed soldiers, MiG 23 and SU-17 attack aircraft, Scud-B missiles, and hundreds of T55 and T-62 MBTs. And what’s more, Dostum enjoys the support of Iran, Uzbekistan, and Russia. Lest we take comfort in the fact that Dostum aided the U.S. invasion, let us remember too that Dostum once before had sold out his country for Soviet gold. And there are other warlords that continue to hold sway in the country as well.

Therefore, I believe your position that Afghanistan somehow deserved to be attacked is unsupported by fact, and certainly does not reflect the reality on the ground, but rather sounds like more of the same bovine scatology emanating from administration sources to put the American people, the Congress, and the world to sleep.

~ Bruce G. Richardson, author: Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror

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