Backtalk, July 24, 2006

Stop That Shit, Indeed


I love your site. It and Lew Rockwell are my favorite sites on the Internet, and the ones I read most regularly. You have even published a couple of my own articles in the past. So, I am a huge fan. With that said, may I humbly suggest that you remove the s-word title of a current article from your site? The article may well merit reading, but placing such a word in full view of the world grieves me and indicates a coarsening of our sensibilities. Plus, I like to refer friends and students of mine (I am a history teacher) to, and having such vulgar language placed in so prominent a position on your site (in a title currently running at the top of the page in the “Highlights” section) gives me pause in doing that. I hope these comments are received in the spirit I intend them, of respect, admiration, and support.

~ John J. Dwyer

Eric Garris replies:

Dear John,

It is our policy not to use vulgar language in our original articles.

But this is a rare exception. When the president of the U.S. uses such a word in a very important (although overheard) political statement, it is important to be clear about what he said and why he said it. This is essentially a direct quote from the man who believes he is the most important person in the world and has the power to show it.

I hope you can understand why this is such a rare exception. I hope that it does not become necessary to repeat it.

July 20 Backtalk

I wish to address Mr. Potemkin’s letter concerning the legitimacy of the Israel attack.

Article 51 of the UN Charter provides for legitimate self-defense against impending or armed attack. For the sake of clarity, I will ignore any controversial issues involving provocation and accept Israel’s prima facie claim of self-defense. Article 51 also requires the member to immediately report to the Security Council whose mandate is to restore peace. Article 51 is not a blank check to bomb bridges, water systems, power stations, roads, wheat silos, hospitals, etc. On the contrary, Israel, when exercising her right to “self-defense,” is bound by the protocols established in the Geneva Conventions (to which she is a signatory). The Geneva Conventions are quite clear: collective civilian punishment is prohibited.

Can you call what Israel is doing anything but collective punishment of Lebanon for the actions of Hezbollah?

Regardless, Israel claims her war is with Hezbollah, not the nation of Lebanon, so her actions should be seen as directly violating Article 2 of the Charter, among other international laws.

If Mr. Potemkin is interested, a simple google of the UN Charter or Geneva Conventions should supply him with all the answers he needs.

~ B. Charest

If Pinochet Is Guilty, so Is Bush

Pinochet’s greatest “crime” was privatizing their Social Insecurity system. He was always be vilified by the socialists and the neocons for doing that.

~ Chris Baker

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

The reader has a point. Pinochet is hated because he undid the socialist state. His regime had to deal with domestic terrorism. He did less damage to civil liberty in Chile than Bush has done to civil liberty in America, and the Pinochet government killed far fewer people than the Bush regime has killed. Moreover, Pinochet invaded no other country. Nor did he drop bombs on civilians. Moreover, Pinochet voluntarily stepped down and reconstituted constitutional democracy in Chile. It remains to be seen what Bush does.


The current conflict between Israel and Lebanon drives me to again ask the question: Who killed Rafiq Hariri?

As your readers will recall, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated by parties unknown in February 2005.

Blame was largely assigned to Syria and international pressure forced Syria to end its army’s 29-year occupation of Lebanon completed in April 2005.

Barely 14 months later, ground forces of Israel, with the aid of air and sea power, have taken control of portions of Lebanon with the threat of a full-scale invasion looming. If the goal was to shift the axis of power in Lebanon from Damascus to Tel Aviv, it would seem that the assassination of Mr. Hariri has helped to accomplish this.

Who, then, killed Rafiq Hariri?

~ Vijay Venkataraman, Baton Rouge, La.

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