Backtalk, November 10, 2007

Veterans Day: In Memoriam

Dear Mr. Henderson,

You might do better to quote British poet Wilfred Owen – especially "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young" and "Dulce Et Decorum Est." Owen was a true peace advocate, although a member of the military himself. As you may know, he was one of the last killed before the end of World War I. In contrast, "In Flanders Field" seems highly aggressive, advocating as it does the passing of the torch to cannon fodder to come.

~ Rosemary Molloy, Little Egg Harbor, NJ

David R. Henderson replies:

Dear Ms. Molloy,

Thank you for your suggestions. I do recall Wilfred Owen’s poems from my high school days. They are quite powerful.

I agree with you that "In Flanders Fields" seems highly aggressive. And notice that you correctly used the word "seems." The reason Owen’s poem did not work for my purposes is that my purpose in the article is to show how the quintessential Veterans Day poem lends itself to a much more antiwar interpretation, not necessarily one that the author would share but one follows from his admonition not to "break faith." I want to get the reader thinking about what it would mean to "break faith." I found myself moved by that poem at a young age and when I started thinking about it later in life, I realized that what moved me was the other part of the poem I quoted, namely that these were vital young men in the full of life. How do we increase the probability that future such young men will survive and not even have to go to war? Not exploring this question is the ultimate in breaking faith.

Who’s Behind the PKK?

It is important that Justin Raimondo’s article NOT stand as a reliable source for those opposed to the war and occupation of Iraq. The history of the PKK goes back 30 years and the actions of the Kurdish government in response to it has included the arrest of Kurdish mayors, the disappearing of PKK fighters and other Kurds, the imposition of emergency rule in the Kurdish provinces, the repeated bombings and prior invasion of southern Kurdistan, the forced dislocation of thousands of Kurdish villages and the joint intelligence operations of Turkey and the U.S. to assassinate PKK leaders based in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. In his zealotry to oppose U.S. occupation he mistakes a social movement for independence for a U.S. puppet. The tag of puppet belongs much more appropriately on the Turkish military regime. Article 301 of Turkey’s Constitution has empowered the Turkish government to arrest journalists and writers for "insulting Turkishness."

The Turkish military is already working with the United States, as revealed by columnist Robert Novak, to assassinate PKK leaders and violate Kurdish territory. The justification for its actions lies in its opposition to Kurdish independence and in the acquisition of a stable economic resource that would be acquired by integration of Kirkuk into the Kurdish Autonomous Region. There is no NEED for any Turkish invasion. The Turks had the right to prevent U.S. troops from going through Turkey to invade Iraq. They certainly do NOT have the right to invade now. Not to assassinate President Barzani, not to seize Kirkuk, and certainly not to prevent the referendum. The 1998 CIA Factbook states that Turkey spends about $7 billion a year on the war with the PKK, which contributed to a 99% inflation rate for 1998 and a national debt equal to half the government’s revenue. The situation in northern Kurdistan has changed significantly since the cease-fire declared unilaterally by the PKK.

There are certainly plenty of criticisms to go around, but it is hardly news that Turkey and the U.S. have been actively engaged together in attempting to crush the PKK and destroy any Kurdish political resistance that might lead to independence. There is right now a Kurdish Regional Government. There is right now a Kurdish Autonomous Region. There is right now a Kurdish Region Guard for self-defense. This is what Turkey wants to change. Its agenda is no less than to destroy and undermine ANY Kurdish national entity that it does not dominate or control. Mr. Raimondo might also want to recognize that between 1980 and 1999 the U.S. exported $11.551 billion in arms, $4.627 billion in grant aid (none since 1992), and $1.982 billion in direct loans (none since 1997). Further, transfers of U.S. weapons to Turkey under the CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) Treaty, 1991-1993, included: 264 M-60A1 main battle tanks,658 M-60A3 main battle tanks, 250 M-113 armor personnel carriers and 72 M-110 Artillery. Between 1994 and 2003, Turkey took delivery of more than $6.8 billion in U.S. weaponry and services. Ending military aid for Turkey is certainly a preferable option to assassination of Kurdish leaders. It certainly demonstrates that the Kurdish movement is not simply an appendage of U.S. foreign policy.

~ Martin Zehr

It’s Not Only the Israel Lobby

What I find saddest about the whole modern fiasco of liberal vs. conservative, is that people who oppose the fiasco in Iraq remain afraid to attack the obvious conservative Christian liars where it counts. For example, in a recent appearance by Ann Coulter on Hardball, Chris Matthews, who professes to be a practicing Catholic and thus, should know better, just let Coulter rant on and on about how "godly" and "biblical" she and her side supposedly is, without once bothering to point out that what Coulter claims and what Jesus said are entirely opposite.

Likewise, Jon Basil Utley in this article does not one time bother to point out that what conservative Christians promote and what the New Testament actually teaches are polar opposites. …

~ Richard Aberdeen

Jon Basil Utley replies:

Dear Mr. Aberdeen,

Your point is well taken. However, almost no one has written more on that subject than myself and my previous article on was all about "America’s Armageddonites." Regarding the last article, there is only so much space and I wanted to bring up other important arguments. People who read my commentaries mostly know of my other writings on the points you mention.

Thanks for your comments.

Invade and Bomb With Hillary and Rahm

"A recent Pew survey similarly indicates that war hysteria is on the rise, with … two-thirds believing Iran is likely to attack the US."

Following the link it says:

"Two-thirds or more of those polled said they think that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, it is likely to attack Israel, Europe or the United States."

Which is not exactly what you wrote. Still, alarming, I will grant, but slightly less absurd than saying two-thirds thinks Iran is likely to attack the U.S. Keep up the good work, though. I still get the newspaper for sports and some local news and the crossword puzzles, but all my "real" news I get from It’s a bit of a joke what’s in the newspapers, which is very sad.

~ Eric Spencer



Previous Backtalk