Backtalk, September 29, 2007

Why Does Norman Podhoretz Hate America?

It is an egregious affront to George Kennan to portray him simply and completely as the man who invented the containment strategy vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, then infer from that his posthumous support for the neocons’ calls for endless war against Islam. Kennan was firmly against the Vietnam War and appeared before Sen. William Fulbright’s Foreign Relations Committee to attack U.S. involvement there. His antiwar testimony was considered so controversial that CBS refused to cover it live prompting its president, Fred Friendly, to resign over that decision. Though he argued against the dangers of precipitate withdrawal, Kennan said that there is “…more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant and unpromising objectives.”

I think a fair reading of history would have Kennan resolutely against the folly of Iraq and the neocons’ naive pursuit of complete U.S. dominance over all competitors, through preemptive wars if and whenever necessary to consolidate that dominance. In fact the neocons really wish to forever repudiate John Quincy Adams description of the U.S. as a country that “…goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

~ Peter Thom, NYC

Marching Against the War

While some factors limiting the size of antiwar demonstrations are beyond ANSWER’s control, others – such as the hard left atmosphere of the protests and the overemphasis on tangential, divisive issues – aren’t. One byproduct of ANSWER’s strategy has been a splintering of the antiwar movement. There are many groups organizing small protests, dispersing energy that should go into generating the largest possible actions.

Last spring, the organizers of ANSWER recognized that they were not getting sufficient numbers at their protests, and changed strategy.

They issued an open letter to other antiwar activists, inviting them to join a broader coalition aimed at holding single issue demonstrations. The September 15th protest is the first manifestation of that, but more time will be needed to see if this strategy will work. Herding together the many disparate elements of the peace movement is going to be challenging.

The next attempt comes on October 27, when 10 regional demonstrations are planned. I’m helping to organize one in San Francisco and I hope that other individualist opponents of the war will try to engage this coalition.

~ Marc Joffe, Albany, CA

Greenspan Misses Cheney’s Memo

Greenspan is telling us it is about oil, but he is a smart guy, he knows it is not about oil for American consumers. How can it be about oil, but not be about oil? Greenspan is signaling an important tipping point, but he leaves it to the informed listener to connect the dots.

Granted, oil production and availability to consumers may be affected very little by who owns or controls the resource in the ground. To turn oil wealth into income you have got to sell it.

But ownership and control determines who gets the contracts to extract, process, and ship. It will even affect the terms. Will it be Russian, Chinese, French, or American companies making the profit and what sort of royalties will they have to pay? It can be about oil for Bush and his associates and a wide swath of businesses tied to the fortunes of particular oil companies. Crony capitalism has long been the norm in Central and South America and much of the Old World. And our own history includes many episodes in which we caught a mild case of the infection, usually associated with some trivial imperial adventure such as the Spanish-American war, spearheaded by volunteer adventurers such as the Roughriders, and requiring little effort or expense on the part of our citizenry as a whole. But now the infection has captured both our government and our view of what is normal.

Greenspan is telling us it is politically incorrect to notice that crony capitalism has become not only acceptable, but mandatory. But the reality has lost its ability to deeply offend, and the pretense is becoming a mere irritating inconvenience which he is ready to shrug off.

Taxpayers are for subsidizing the speculative, high risk adventures that benefit the few, the few that have succeeded in making themselves matter. The statement “it is about oil” is not a statement about a particular war or particular resource, it is a statement about our way of life and who Greenspan has in mind when he says “we” need to do something. It is about oil, and it is about much more than oil.

~ Clint Greene

Not in Kansas

I‘m in the Army and stationed in Emerald City, Baghdad at the moment. I just want to say that I’ve read everyday since discovering it only a few months ago.

Keep up the good work!

~ (Name withheld)

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