Backtalk, December 4, 2007

Interest Group Foreign Policy

Doug Bandow writes that the recent controversy surrounding the recent Armenian genocide resolution (1) did not have any “conceivable relevance” to the U.S. government and (2) modern-day Turkey has nothing to do with the genocide perpetrated by the predecessor Ottoman Empire, and is unlikely to stage a “repeat performance.”

One could only hope that Bandow’s analysis is correct; however, the reality presents a considerably more complicated and disturbing picture. It is a crime in today’s Turkey to publicly accept the Armenian genocide, just as it was a crime, up until a few years ago, to acknowledge the very existence of Kurds. Stated plainly, the Turkish body politic is suffering from too many self-imposed taboos and restrictions on free thought and self-analysis. These taboos and limits on free speech have created a malignant and institutionally intolerant atmosphere toward non-Muslims, ethnic minorities, and all those who dare not parrot the official line. Whoever has the audacity and temerity to challenge these taboos is exposed to judicial sanctions, imprisoned, physically threatened and attacked, harassed, or simply assassinated.

The Turkish authorities, though, are not merely content with exercising their taboos inside Turkey proper; they are hard at work in importing and promulgating these “valiant” practices to other counties as well – and with considerable success. Last year’s firing of the U.S. ambassador to Armenia is a case in point. The ambassador’s fault? His State Department superiors simply fired him for publicly stating that the Armenians had suffered genocide.

Had the higher echelons of the State Department adopted a more transparent approach and addressed this issue in an intellectually honest and ethical manner, there would be no need for any commemorative resolutions. As the firing of the ambassador demonstrates, however, this is hardly the case.

~ R. G. Adontz

Iraq Veterans Against the War

I am writing to share some exciting news, Iraq Veterans Against the War is launching a public investigation into the atrocities we witnessed and committed as veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. We are circulating a statement of support throughout the antiwar community. This statement will be the basis for a full page NY Times advertisement. We believe the patrons of would be interested in hearing about this project. …

~ Liam Madden, Iraq Veterans Against the War

Why Are They So Afraid of Ron Paul?

“This same Smear Bund brought out a ‘psychological analysis’ by a group of psychiatrists that diagnosed Barry Goldwater as being mentally unstable…”

It’s interesting to recall that when Ralph Ginsberg was idiot enough to publish an article in one of his magazines to this effect (something like “1,800 psychiatrists say Goldwater is insane”), Barry sued him for $6 million and won, effectively breaking him. Sometimes the good guys win. Maybe the Paul campaign will prove to be another such instance.

~ L. Neil Smith

An American in Paris

“No one would dispute that democracy is a worthy goal.”

What goal? Regime change by any means including aggression? I am pretty sure there are many people who would dispute this. I for one.

“And certainly the United States should encourage the formation of liberal democracies throughout the world.”

What right has the U.S. to do that? The same right that USSR had to encourage the formation of communism throughout the world?

“But there are at least twenty countries in the world that can be categorized as undemocratic by the dictionary definition of democracy: ‘a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.'”

There are many definitions of democracy. The current pragmatic definition of a democratic country is “What the U.S. says.” I do not think there is a single country in the world that is truly democratic. Switzerland is probably the closest to that (though only for natives).

~ Predrag Ostojic

Charles Peña replies:

Thank you for your note. I think it should have been pretty clear from what I wrote that I was not advocating that the U.S. should be imposing democracy around the world, by regime change or otherwise. And “encourage” is certainly not the same thing as “force.” And I thought I was pretty clear when I used the phrase “dictionary definition” as I found it in the dictionary. Your criticisms are certainly fair criticisms of current U.S. policy under the Bush administration, but the point of what I wrote is that the U.S. should not make democracy a goal of its foreign or security policy.

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