Backtalk, August 16, 2007

US Hegemony Spawns Russian-Chinese Military Alliance

Let those Americans who still don’t get it read Paul Craig Roberts’ “US Hegemony Spawns Russian-Chinese Military Alliance.” Let them hear his message loud and clear. Those of us who are condemning the neocons and the Bush administration for their policies are not doing so solely because of our monumental self-defeating blunder in Iraq, which has empowered Iran and al-Qaeda and set back the war on terror, but also because of how it has turned the rest of the world against us. Who has been cowered by our illegal and disastrous show of force in Iraq? How, in any way, has it served our interests when two of the most powerful countries on earth are uniting against us? How have our interests been advanced when so many in the world now view us as a dangerous, self-interested, rogue state operating above international law?

~ Carl Mattioli

In his otherwise poignant article, Roberts writes:

"Is Bush blind to the danger that he will cause an Islamic revolution within Pakistan that will depose the U.S. puppet and present the Middle East with an Islamic state armed with nuclear weapons?"

Pakistan is not in the Middle East. I assume Roberts knows that, but the connection here isn’t clear unless it is supposed to mean that Pakistan will be available for Middle Eastern forces to use for its own devices (pun intended). Either way, I don’t get the point of this passage.

I do think this line deserves repeating all over the virtual and real worlds:

"Americans need to understand what the neocon Bush regime cannot: a nuclear exchange between the U.S., Russia, and China would establish the hegemony of the cockroach."

Now that was brilliant.

~ DJ Toman

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Pakistan is Muslim. The country borders Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. If Pakistan falls into Islamist hands, the situation in the Middle East is radically altered.

Why is our congress just sitting by and allowing Bush to damage our reputation as a nation? I have not seen them seriously do anything but cower at president Bush. They have almost 70% of the American population against Bush and yet they stand there gutless; or could it be that they just want us to think they are against President Bush in his mindless decisions?

~ Gayle M.

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

The same interest groups own both parties.

China’s ‘Nuclear Option’

This article succinctly covers a lot of ground, including Chinese (and British) history – the Opium Wars – and even the Chinese psychology: their multifaceted approach to complex issues (unlike Westerners who tend to seize on an idea – revalue the RMB! – and run it to ground).

It’s a well-written and -considered piece, but the following sentences are regrettable:

"Almost 200 years ago, China played the same game with the British empire, which resulted in the Opium Wars and the occupation of key Chinese ports. The humiliating defeats led directly to a national leadership crisis and the disintegration of the Chinese nation. A weak China was easy prey for Japan."

The author has placed the onus of blame for the Opium Wars squarely upon the shoulders of Chinese leaders who played a "game" – and lost – with the British empire. If there’s value in the multifaceted Chinese approach, we surely ought not to ascribe a simplistic interpretation to the causes of that ruinous war – which helped to usher in well over a century of foreign domination and humiliation for the Chinese. Gamesmanship involves at least two players. To ask a child’s questions: What was the role of British imperialism; and, a little deeper, human cupidity and stupidity?

~ Gary Corseri

Who Cares?

There is one Democratic candidate running for office who has a completely different take on the United States’ role in foreign affairs. Dennis Kucinich. Why do the media and now YOU marginalize Kucinich? He is for getting out of Iraq now, universal health care, cleaning up our environment, putting money into our infrastructure, putting money into our schools, etc.

I am furious that you would write as if the Democratic candidates are all the same. They are not!

~ Frances Grant

The Democrats Are Selling Out the Peace Movement

Thanks for your analysis of the top Democratic candidates and their positions on getting the U.S. out of Iraq.

I disagree with your assessment, however, that Richardson has no chance of getting the nomination. Kerry got 38,000 votes in Iowa in 2004 – that gave him first place and overnight transformed the Democratic race. Richardson is polling in Iowa at the same level John Kerry was in the summer of 2003 (and far ahead of where Edwards was four years ago; and he finished a surprising second). Richardson is at 12% in New Hampshire as well, only 3 points behind Edwards in the latest poll. Richardson is a master at retail politics. The more people get to know him, the more support he generates.

Richardson was the only Democrat aside from Obama to show an increase in donations in the second quarter over the first quarter of 2007. He has strong organizations in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. He has enough money on hand to run competitive races in each of those states. Keep in mind that HRC and Obama can’t risk spending all their money on the early caucus/primary states or they’ll have nothing for Super Tuesday on February 5th.

The only governor competing for the Democratic nomination, Richardson is uniquely positioned to win in November 2008. Over the past 30 years four governors have won the presidency. In the entire history of our nation, only two senators have accomplished that feat.

I’m not predicting Richardson will win but, assuming Al Gore doesn’t run, Richardson is one of four persons in America that will be the Democratic nominee for president.

The dominant issue in the campaign for Democrats is the Iraq War. Of the top four Democratic candidates Richardson has the only crystal clear, unambiguous approach that most Democrats favor – a total withdrawal of our forces. Richardson understands the path the U.S. must take to get out of Iraq. For the Senators (Clinton, Obama and Edwards) our withdrawal will be a long and slow march. The intervention will continue for years to come. Once Democrats in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire focus on the race and this particular issue, I predict Richardson’s poll numbers will further improve.

Finally, keep in mind, almost half of the Iowa caucus voters in 2004 didn’t choose a candidate until less than a month before the election. A lot can change between now and election day.

~ Stephen Cassidy

I want to congratulate you on your fine and thoughtful prose. I agree with the article. The only point that I would like to add is that, in the primaries, it is necessary to vote your conscience. Clearly, that should be Dennis Kucinich. In fact, his recent strong showing during the AFL-CIO debate underscores this reason. His concise and unequivocal answers caught on with the audience and, indeed, even with pundits, finally. And, as a result, Kucinich suddenly is in fourth place.

The whole point is that as Kucinich is viewed as more viable, his issues will have to be incorporated into the Democratic platform. Indeed, I believe, for the same reason, that Ralph Nader should have run in 2000 in the Democratic primaries. So, even if Kucinich is not, ultimately, the candidate, his issues are heard and the party has to incorporate his point of view in their platform.

I share your disdain for the Democratic Leadership Council, but even their invisible hand is now being debated openly, so I am encouraged instead of discouraged. …

~ Jerry Coutu

Statism as Disease

I often tell my lefty friends that if socialism worked, then the Soviet Union would have been a paradise!

Of course it failed.

I appreciate Mr. Malic’s article because it brings to attention a much overlooked state of affairs, which is that Europe has turned commie. I think the reason people look the other way is the disbelief that after all the blood spent making Europe safe for democracy, it seems to have been a pyrrhic victory.

~ Will B.

Memo to Rep. Ron Paul

Memo to Charles Peña,

The American people would have nothing to fear if their government would simply get out of the face of the world. That would cost very little. Some wealthy and well-positioned people are using our military for their own purposes. Why doesn’t Sweden need to do the things you suggest?

~ Jack Dennon

Remembering Hiroshima

With so much loose talk flying about over whether and when the U.S. might use nuclear weapons on Iran and now the Northeast Frontier of Pakistan, it is shocking to me that there has been so little discussion of the possible and probable consequences, and so little outrage that this could even be considered.

Among the consequences would be a breakdown of the "nuclear threshold," the unspoken rule that nuclear weapons will only be used against other nuclear powers and only as a last resort or if they start it; collapse of the nonproliferation regime, as non-nuclear states conclude that nuclear weapons are essential to true national sovereignty; massive death of civilians and panic among civilians, spreading across national boundaries; and massive outrage of the people of the world against the U.S. Radioactive clouds would reach the U.S., inducing panic at home. The very fact of nuclear weapons going off in anger, even if only U.S. weapons, would raise to a new level the government’s ability to control the U.S. population through fear. This would be true in other countries as well. The world would be made a significantly worse place by this act.

Any candidate for president who does not firmly declare against such an act is unworthy of our support, no matter what their position on other issues.

~ Christopher Horton

The Illegal – and Immoral – Option

It seems to me that Prather conflates the prohibitions under the NPT, which refer to nuclear explosives, with “military purposes," which is not mentioned in the NPT.

It would seem that the NPT permits, for example, enrichment of uranium to so-called “bomb grade," provided that the enriched material is simply set aside, e.g. not assembled into an explosively configured machine, or, also for example, provided that the enriched material was used in a power reactor. There does not seem to be any prohibition in the NPT against use of enriched uranium in a military but non-explosive application – for example in a lightweight attack submarine engine. The same observation would apply to plutonium, so far as I can see.

Indeed, it seems that the NPT permits the manufacture of parts for, and stand-alone parts testing of, and modeling of, and even dummy runs where an Nth gadget is tested, imploded, without a critical charge or “pit." Nuclear explosive machines, provided that they are not assembled as functioning devices, could be, it would seem, developed under the NPT.

Not that doing any of this would make any particular sense; these things are not weapons, they are suicide pills.

To be brutally honest with ourselves we should confront several facts. These include: There are no significant atomic secrets. The NPT is all but gone, thanks to recent efforts and policies of some “folks." While it may be possible to stop an Nth party from building a factory to produce a regular supply of gadgets, it is problematic to prevent “one-off” ad hoc devices being built with “diverted” or “stolen” material by exceptional individuals or small skilled cadres. One should note too that modern computers permit good hydrodynamic modeling – something that was a real problem for the boys on the mesa back in the day. And finally one should note that pure “bomb-grade” materials are not necessary, even mild reactor fuel can, in a large and well designed machine, produce satisfactory explosions.

The best way, it seems, to avoid the unhappy aspects of these facts is to stop attacking people and to stop stealing from them. “We” have more to lose than “they” do, and there’s no reliable defense.

~ William Yerkes

Previous Backtalk