Backtalk, September 10, 2007

Ron vs. the Huckster

It isn’t apparent from the broadcast program, but people in the audience weren’t actually booing Ron Paul when he was saying we should take our marching orders from the Constitution. In the middle of his remarks, Fox put up a video of Rudy’s reaction to his remarks. That’s what the audience was booing at. Check out this video, taken by an audience member.

It looks like they’re pulling every dirty trick they can think of, to diminish Dr. Paul’s support in any way they can. Ron Paul has ’em scared!

~ Joel

Thucydides vs. Victor Davis Hanson

The continued insistence by Victor Davis Hanson that the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001, happened because the U.S. hadn’t instilled enough fear in the perpetrators only serves as an indictment of his intellectual dishonesty. The man is clearly not an imbecile, yet only a first-class moron could fail to see how patently ridiculous the claim is.

Al-Qaeda may or may not have feared the U.S. – I suggest the latter – but the suggestion that this had any bearing on the decision to attack it is farcical. The only relevance it may have had was to show those who did fear the U.S. that it was not invincible. In this respect, the higher the degree of fear, the greater the impetus to attack and disprove the belief. …

~ Tom D., Sydney, Australia

Thanks for John Taylor’s witty and informative refutation of V.D. Hanson’s faux scholarship on the Peloponnesian War. I’d like to add just one comment concerning the outcome of the conflict. Ultimately, of course, it wasn’t the sophisticated Persians who benefited from the Athenians’ and Spartans’ mutual destruction, but the barbarian half-Greek Macedonian Alexander the Great, who put an end to whatever remained of Athens’ democracy and Sparta’s military oligarchy, then went on to conquer the Persians as well. The rule has always been to be very careful when you start wars, because you release dangerous and unpredictable forces. Too bad our Fantasist-in-Chief never pays attention.

~ LeeAnn Hansen

More Money for Israel?

Although your criticisms of the Israeli lobby surely opens you to accusations of (or, creepily, celebrations of) anti-Semitism, I’ve always appreciated your willingness to separate the views of AIPAC and the Israeli hawks from mainstream Jewish opinion and the diversity of opinion in Israel itself. I want to draw your attention to the lead article in the latest issue of Tikkun magazine: “The Israel Lobby: Bad for the U.S., Bad for Israel, Bad for the Jews.” The article struggles with the contradictions of being represented by “official” organizations that don’t represent your views, the difficulties with Zionist political correctness surrounding Israel, the challenges involved with lobbying congress with a Jewish antiwar message, as Tikkun does, and so on – including a sympathetic review of Mearsheimer and Walt. I was disappointed to see that it was not posted online, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you have the opportunity. The solutions offered are largely of the left-wing progressive sort, but the view from inside is insightful – confirmation of the diversity of views and the real gulf that exists between mainstream Jewish opinion and “mainstream” Jewish organizations. …

~ Ezra Hillel, Montreal, Canada

Showdown Over Iran

Dear Mr. Raimondo,

Thanks so much for your great work at The site is a tremendous resource, and your writing is really informative and right on the mark most of the time. I am puzzled though by your Aug. 31 endorsement of HR 3119, introduced by Mark Udall. It seems to me that this proposal has some very large loopholes that will not do much to prevent an U.S. attack on Iran. …

If you consider the exceptions under which the funding is permissible, it seems as if Bush can do whatever he wants without worrying about this bill. For example, exception two seems to allow a full-scale attack in an attempt to take out Iran’s nuclear program and its military capability if Bush is allowed to define what is meant by an imminent attack. The latest campaign attempting to paint Iran as being behind the attacks against the U.S. military in Iraq could be used as a cover to fit under exception three. Exception four seems to allow almost anything. Requiring a report within 24 hours sounds good, but do we expect the Congress to actually do anything to stop an attack once it has been started?

The title of the bill sounds great, but the details in the exceptions seem to me to suggest that the bill wouldn’t tie Bush’s hands very much, if at all. The earlier amendment that required Bush to obtain congressional authorization for an attack on Iran – that Pelosi pulled – would likely have been more effective than this effort.

~ Ron Forthofer

Death at a Distance: The US Air War

I agree with the Conn Hallinan that air power is being mal-used and overused in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But since my son is in the USAF and is currently in Kirkuk, I have to correct two mistakes in Mr. Hallinan’s article:

(1) USAF tours are not all as short as four months. My son’s is six.

(2) And perhaps my son’s is an exception because he is doing something worthwhile. He is training the 3rd Iraqi AF. And the mission they are flying is a support mission but comes as close to combat action as I want anyway. And they ARE flying Iraqi aircraft – purchased from Jordan. And the mission is NOT dropping bombs (and they are definitely not “transport” aircraft).

~ Col. Larry Wilkerson, USA (ret.)

The War Criminal in the Living Room

Very good article EXCEPT the Christian churches are not indifferent to the massive casualties inflicted on Iraqi civilians. I encourage you to check out the statements from the National Council of Churches and the denominations opposing the war from the time it was first conceived and was being pushed through Congress. … The official teaching of the United Methodist Church to which we have pledged obedience is found in Article 16 of our Confession of Faith and it says, “We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ.”

Possibly it is the fault of whatever media you are watching that you missed the very large Christian antiwar demonstration, with civil disobedience, in the cold, cold rain in Washington, D.C., last spring.

It is a popular claim that the churches are not sufficiently antiwar. It is true that the members are no more activist than the average union member whose union has voted antiwar resolutions. But the churches’ official positions, in the significant majority, are antiwar.

~ Carolyn Scarr


I am an Army officer and a veteran. I am also a Libertarian who supports an isolationist approach to foreign policy. I am leaving the military soon because I am not willing to put my life on the line anymore for this current war. I love your Web site and agree with your cause. Good luck getting your message out to the world.

~ A 1st lieutenant (name withheld)

I refuse to watch most Republican events or Fox News. Because of that I did not know about the success Ron Paul had until the following morning when a disproportionate number of callers into C-SPAN praised him and his views on the war. Paul reminded America that the same people who enmeshed us into their war are now warning us of the unfavorable consequences if we leave Iraq. The intellectually inadequate George W. Bush may not have had the power of prescience to realize the unintended consequences when he launched his insane crusade into the distant sands, but his neocon cabal of advisers were well aware, and what we are now enduring over there is measured by them as being a success. Never in world history have so many been adversely affected by so few. America today is living up to the comment made by the Iranian leader as being “a spent nation.” We have lost our economic superiority because of flawed trade policies and costly failed foreign misadventures.

This new adversary we have taken on, al-Qaeda, is not a nation such as our previous enemies were but a globally dispersed gang of religious zealots who have been kicked so many times by our neocon-directed foreign policies that they have been awakened, and we find that, unlike most of our victims since the end of World War II, they have the ability to fight back. Waging a completely successful war against an international gang has already been shown to be impossible, as we experienced with the Mafia. After a full century they are still with us. In 1946, while still a young man in the Navy, I was crossing over on a ferry from San Diego to the naval air station at North Island and viewed our destroyers neatly lined up in the harbor. I believed they were obsolete if they fought a continental enemy. Since then it has been used against small nations who lack the ability to respond in kind to our aggression. Unlike Bush, those who subscribe to read and know history and understand that empires are unsustainable, as proven by the fact that all end up in the dumpster.

Though we have not officially declared war since 1941, the Lieberman bill has essentially done the same thing by advocating a regime change in Iran. They will respond, and it will not be a cakewalk nor a slam-dunk aftermath. The neocons have succeeded in getting us into a war which can never end nor be won. …

~ Stephen Block Jr.

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