Backtalk August 1, 2006

The Iraqi Ballot, Translated

I have an actual ballot of the 2002 and 2003 elections and don’t find your political satire amusing especially since there were a variety of issues and people on it and it did cost people their lives to render this document forward, although not perfect. I would be willing to show it to you.

~ Gary Hall, educator

Hawra Karama replies:

Glad to see you’re an educator. Please do educate me on the amazing ballot I missed out on. Send me the document that my country is occupied for. Show me why the USA has butchered over 100,000 of my people since 2003. Have you heard about Abu Ghraib? Have you heard about Abeer Qassim Hamza? She’s a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was raped then murdered and burned by American soldiers. Have you missed the news about Haditha, Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Balad, Qaim? Those are Iraqi cities that have self-respecting residents who have chosen to stand up for themselves and have paid the price for it dearly.

Do you have any idea what the U.S. has been doing to Iraq? Don’t consult any Arab sources. Look at what your own politicians have done. … In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan funded Saddam’s war on Iran and on Kurds and Shia. In 1991, the Bush Sr. encouraged the Kurds and Shia to rise against Saddam, only to later abandon them to Saddam’s wrath. The USA starved to death 1.7 million Iraqis (according to the UN) in the 1990s and added that it was worth it, words that were uttered by your own Madeleine Albright.

Was all that innocent life worth a piece of paper? Since when do occupiers care about human rights and equality in the countries they occupy? Yours is a superiority complex known as the White Man’s Burden; an orientalist belief that “uncivilized” Third World peoples can’t get by without the guiding hand of the Westerner. Don’t let the puppets of the Iraqi government who are enjoying the ride, fool you. They’re called Uncle Toms and Quislings, Mr. Hall.

Constitutions and elections under illegitimate occupations (which the U.S. has in Iraq) have no more legitimacy than the occupations that brought them. The U.S. also allowed for elections in Vietnam, you know. I doubt citizens of Vietnam whose flesh burned with napalm, or Iraqis who died with white phosphorus, find these elections and ballots worth it.

Your question makes it obvious that you missed the whole point of the article. Don’t try rereading it. Instead, go to Iraq (not controlled areas like Kurdistan, but try the Sunni triangle), if you have the courage, and see for yourself what misery your tax dollars are causing innocent civilians whose only crime is holding their heads high in their own homeland. Don’t tell me supposedly benevolent corporations like Halliburton are helping with “reconstruction.” I don’t imagine you’d feel excited about your house being rebuilt by the same person who bulldozed it in the first place.

Iraq doesn’t need the U.S. to write ballots or constitutions for it. Iraq, if you know anything about the cradle of civilization, invented both writing and laws millennia before the U.S. was even discovered.

Open your eyes, Mr. Hall, to the stupidity of the question asked too frequently in the U.S.: “Why do they hate us?” I’ll rephrase that. Arabs don’t really hate Americans. They hate America’s policy toward them. Arabs, like any other people on earth, don’t like bombs falling on their heads or foreign soldiers roaming their streets in big tanks. If Abeer was your teenager child, would you feel it justified if the people who raped and killed her handed you a ballot? If you can honestly answer yes, then you either don’t you have kids or you don’t have humanity.

The Lies Israel Tells Itself (and We Tell on Its Behalf)


While I generally agree with the point of the article, isn’t it written in a vacuum? Don’t you have to have the reality of what the Israelis face? I mean, the Israelis do do some questionable things, as your article points out, but they don’t do them in a vacuum. They are generally in response to the basic fact that from the beginning Arabs have violently opposed a Jewish state in their midst. Perhaps some of the Israeli response is mild compared to some of the Arab actions?

~ George Buddy, Pennsylvania

Jonathan Cook replies:

It’s a strange argument. The Arabs – I think you mean the Palestinians – opposed the handing over of their homeland to Jewish immigrants by the European powers, the same Europe that had been committing genocide against the Jews and had caused them to flee in the first place. Those Jewish immigrants established for themselves an exclusivist ethnic state from which they expelled most of the indigenous people, and the few who were allowed to remain became second-class citizens. Ever since the region has been plagued by violence and war. And you think the Arabs are to blame for that?

Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon?

Mr. Frank’s article saying that the Israeli soldiers might have been kidnapped inside Lebanese territory was well written, though poorly researched, clearly to the benefit of Mr. Frank’s assumptions and the detriment of his presumably ill-informed audience.

If the attack in which Israeli soldiers were kidnapped happened inside Lebanon, and Israel still had not recovered the bodies of the other soldiers who were killed in the attack (as of July 25, when Mr. Frank’s piece was published), then how were the bodies of the fallen soldiers identified by their families and buried the next day in Israel? Perhaps Mr. Frank was referring to the difficulty in recovering the bodies of the solders who were killed in an ambush inside Lebanon in an attempt to find the kidnapped soldiers. Well, they were also recovered long before Mr. Frank’s article was published, as well.

Reports were corroborated by the Lebanese police? Hello? The only “security” forces operating in southern Lebanon are Hezbollah and Amal. There are no Lebanese police in southern Lebanon.

If Mr. Frank is antiwar, why is he supporting the claims of Hezbollah? Are they an ally for peace? For antiwar activists, isn’t it actually illogical to support a bloodthirsty terrorist army who daily fire dozens of missiles at civilian population centers in Israel? The same Hezbollah who further contravenes the Geneva Conventions by using civilians as human shields, putting them in the line of fire? The whole article confused me. How can this type of “reporting” stop a war? In my humble opinion, it actually encourages it.

~ Seth Greenberg

Understanding Fourth Generation War

This is my first encounter with your site, thanks to metafilter, although I have seen the term in use. I commend you for taking the role of, and suffering the pejoratively hurled, intellectual. It is a sad commentary that the culture of leadership in both our nation and our military finds such offense in education and assaults it on all fronts. I am grateful, as a lower enlisted National Guard member, that there are in our military those who will unabashedly examine the climate in which we are to engage the enemies of our nation and culture with the honorable motive of defending the same. It is popular conjecture that the current motive is more about enriching the defense contractors than actually providing our nation with the world’s best military. I regret finding some truth to those assertions and am troubled that we purchase an unending supply of gadgets while fielding an ever smaller force poorly compensated in an objective assessment of equitable recompense in any civilian arena.

Again, thank you, and I look forward to reading your site in the future.

~ Charles Turnipseed

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