Backtalk September 2, 2006

The Five Morons Revisited

I must protest at Paul Craig Roberts’ article “The Five Morons” (revisited or otherwise). As a Briton, I feel strongly that my own prime minister, Tony “The Murderer” Blair, should be included as one of these dangerous handful of morons. If this means that there has to be six morons, then so be it.

The only reasons I can fathom for Roberts’ failing to include Blair in this coterie of loonies is that: (a) It’s one of those U.S.-centric things and some readers might not know who Blair is (that’s easy – he’s the one who appears next to Bush occasionally and looks like Mr. Bean), or (b) maybe Roberts realizes that Blair is actually quite intelligent. (If so that makes him all the more dangerous, and all the more culpable for the slaughter.)

~ Dave Taylor, York, England,

Paul Roberts replies:

The way I see it, Brits like Dave Taylor can stick it to their own morons.

I think Blair went along with Bush because he was promised 10 U.S. corporate directorships at $100,000 each. A million dollars a year is a good addition to Blair’s retirement income.

Bigotry and Ignorance of Islam

I enjoy Reese’s articles, but this was a bit much. “Hezbollah is concerned with ending Israeli occupation of Lebanon.” Come again? They left in 2000.

~ Zvi Gross

Matthew Barganier replies:

Israel never really left Lebanon.

Reese, what are you smoking? Religion of peace? Not militaristic? Come on. Religion is what it is as implemented by it’s practitioners. I give you Cat Stevens – Mr. “Peace Train” becomes a Muslim and says it’s OK to put a fatwah out on a writer. It’s widely publicized how the majority of Middle Eastern Muslims admire the murdering thugs of the Hezbollah. Look, I am proud of being a liberal, I’ve never been in favor of the Iraq war, I feel that Israel way overreacted in Lebanon, and I despise the current Republican regime, but there’s no way in heck I could buy those ideas.

~ Bo in Maine

Dear Mr. Reese,

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your article on Islam and the misconceptions about it that are common among some people in the West.

I am an Egyptian Muslim myself and, like many people around the world, Muslim or not, have a growing concern over the cultural gap that keeps widening day after day between the East and the West, thanks to propaganda machines on both sides that play along with the facts to push forward a certain political agenda, whether it’s lobbying for war in the U.S. or overthrowing Arab governments in the Middle East, demonizing one side or the other in the process.

You provide a simple yet comprehensive and very accurate outline of Islam and, in the process, you have come to capture the true essence of what Islam is truly about. In a few lines, you have managed to say what thousand-page books usually fail to.

You have my utmost respect and support. I truly wish our world had more people like you.

Thank you.

~ Ahmed Raafat

Wishful Thinking

Mr. Nebojsa Malic would have you believe that Koco Danaj is a “political adviser to Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha.” This is not true. A statement by the Albanian prime minister’s office denies that Mr. Danaj is or has ever served under Mr. Berisha.

The Italian news service, AKI, is the only one to carry that claim and no other news organization, save Serbian ones, has done so. Mr. Malic should retract his story and apologize.

~ Aldo Plepi

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I have absolutely no intention of apologizing. For what? My attribution comes from AKI, which referenced Epoka E Re. If Epoka misrepresented Mr. Danaj’s identity, then that is their responsibility. I am no fan of Mr. Draskovic, but he issued his statement in accordance with the information he had available (taking Epoka and Mr. Danaj at face value), and for once I agree with his actions.

Whether Koco Danaj falsely represented himself doesn’t matter to me one whit; what he said does. And I’m noticing a conspicuous silence about the content of his comments in the flurry of denials about his character.

Will the US Again Attack Iran?

Dear Chris,

Logical analysis. Doesn’t it also follow that the neocons’ favored long-term outcome for Iraq was partition all along? They’re so confident in their control of U.S. politics and propaganda channels that nothing appears to be beyond their capability. WWIII is doable.

The problem is that while they’ve been creating the infrastructure for a fascist dictatorship, an even more threatening force is gathering pace and volume, one that will make the neocons seem sane in comparison.

The sons of snake-oil salesmen are as slippery as their forefathers and the resources they have at their control are immense, going on infinite. U.S. Christian fundamentalism is a hothouse of religious hysteria where salvation is sold by the sinful and alliances between the various strands are forged for commercial rather than doctrinal reasons.

Are Pastor Strangelove and his equally unsavory supporters now lobbying for the bombing of Iran to fulfill biblical prophecy? Blessed are the warmongers.

~ Chris Smith

Chris Moore replies:

Mr. Smith’s letter touches upon two important points about the Iraq war and the larger (so called) “war on terror”: (1) The coalitions that brought us into Iraq had an agenda other than their professed agenda of eliminating dangerous WMD, and (2) the war on terror is being fought for religious purposes (as opposed to security purposes).

With regard to the first, I believe that the primary motive of the Iraq war was to achieve the introduction of U.S. troops into the region in order to to later escalate the conflict into a World War III-level struggle between the West and Islam. The neocons knew the Iraq war wouldn’t be a cakewalk, as some of them professed; their goal was to create facts on the ground in order that the presence of American troops could eventually be leveraged into a larger conflict. This was done on behalf of empire interests, oil interests, military-industrial complex interests, and religious interests. But the last held by far the most sway.

With regard to the religious interests, I believe that in order to understand the religious motives behind the conflict, it is important to break down the two religious groups that pushed the hardest for the war: Christian Zionists and Jewish nationalists.

Christian Zionists seem to be motivated by dispensationalist beliefs that mandate the support of an expansionist Israel in order to fulfill biblical prophecy leading up to Armageddon, while Jewish nationalists are motivated primarily by religious/ethnic loyalties to their fellow Jews in Israel. Christian Zionists don’t speak for all Christians; Jewish nationalists don’t speak for all Jews. But each group hopes to translate its association with its larger respective community into a commitment from all Christians and Jews to fight World War III. This is classical religious manipulation, and inasmuch as religion is ideally a means of bringing humanity closer to God, it is heretical.

If Christian Zionists and Jewish nationalists want to send their own money to Israel and enlist themselves in World War III, so be it. But to burrow into the U.S. government and then lie America into the Iraq war in order to coerce all of us into backing their larger personal religious agenda is just plain dishonest – and wrong. What does such an act tell us about their morals, religious or otherwise? It’s not a pretty picture.

Hypocrisy About Hezbollah

Dear Jonathan Cook,

I guess I’m one of those people who automatically attempts to defend Israel from criticism that seems to be based on prejudice and invention – like your article.

You want to vindicate Hezbollah’s strategy of shelling what Israelis insist are civilian targets by claiming: “Israel has located most of its army camps, weapons factories, and military installations near or inside civilian communities.” You reiterate your belief by observing “it can be known beyond a shadow of a doubt that Israeli army camps and military installations are based in northern Israeli communities.”

However, you will not – or cannot – provide evidence of your claims because, in your words, “Under the censorship rules, it is impossible to mention any issue that touches on Israeli security or defense matters: the location of military installations, for example, cannot be divulged.”

If telling where Israeli installations are located is forbidden, how did YOU learn where they are?

I live in Israel and the only army camps and military installations I know the locations of are those indicated by highway signs that I see when traveling by bus between cities: they are off the highway in non-residential areas, not around the corner from where I live.

So my question to you is, How dare you argue that Hezbollah and you know the location of appropriate military targets in Israel, while you weasel out of offering proof of your claims by saying it’s a secret?

If you fear being molested by the IDF for revealing your sources on the Internet, kindly reply to me privately by e-mail: I promise not to tell.

~ David Shaffer, Jerusalem

Jonathan Cook replies:


Why show off your ignorance about your own country, and condemn others because they are not as ignorant as you – unless, more likely, you think this is your chance to do a bit of hasbara (advocacy for Israel)? You are right that many informative signs can be found on Israeli roadsides, such as those marked “Rafael” for where armaments factories are located. That’s why I do not believe a word you say: the signs are to be found in many Israeli towns and villages, as you must surely know. You and I cannot discuss those locations publicly because Israel argues that Mr. Nasrallah and other Lebanese citizens cannot drive around the Galilee, like you or me, noting where the sites are. That is nonsense in itself, as we both know: a Hezbollah spy drone flew over northern Israel a few months back (as Israeli ones regularly do over Lebanon), as was reported in the Israeli media. So the censorship laws are designed not to protect Israel’s security, but to keep people like me gagged so that members of the hasbara crowd like you can work their magic.

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