Backtalk, January 23, 2008

The Hormuz Hoax

Regarding the spoof radio messages heard by U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Hormuz, cannot they use D/F on such transmissions on the international inter-ship frequency and get a good idea of where they are coming from? This was done regularly by the British during World War I, 90 years ago. Is the USN really trying?

~ Guy Bellairs

The Corpse on the Gurney

“Folks, it’s obscene. We’re doing victory laps around, and dancing upon, a corpse.”

Recently after reading the umpteenth piece in the mainstream press chiding anti-interventionists for not sufficiently acknowledging the unqualified success of the surge, I thought of this metaphor (admittedly not as powerful as Tom’s):

Celebrating the success of the surge is like celebrating the diminishing intensity of a fire that has burned your house down.

In spite of this peculiar madness among our political and media elites, I am heartened by news from sources like Media Matters (cited by Engelhardt) that the American people in large part aren’t buying it.

~ Brian Schuck

The Hundred-Year War

Mr. Raimondo:

Osama himself could not have created as effective a video for recruiting terrorists as McCain has. McCain has confirmed big-time what our enemies have been alleging all along: that the United States intends to occupy their turf forever.

I look at this “stay until the job is finished” nonsense this way (maybe I’ve missed something but I don’t recall anybody else putting it quite this way): The Bush administration has put American service people in a situation where their success now is not dependent on their own performance, but on somebody else’s. What a shameful thing for a commander in chief to do.

No amount of skill, intelligence, or hard work on the part of American forces can “win” this thing. The Iraqis have to “step up,” as our rulers constantly tell us. But what does that mean? It means this: instead of our success being dependent only on the performance of our military, as it would be in any truly defensive war, now it is dependent on the performance of the Iraqi military, the Iraqi police, and – worst of all – Iraqi politicians.

Why can’t more Americans understand this simple fact?

~ Roland Walkenhorst, New Haven, Mo.

Lantos’ Tarnished Legacy

Spare us the noble legacy rubbish. Tom Lantos is a Zionist first and an American a distant second at best. His mind is set firmly in Jewish racism.

~ NP

Stephen Zunes replies:

Okay, I may have overdone it with the “noble legacy” phrase out of deference to someone who – despite everything – has at least done some decent things in some cases regarding human rights and who is currently dying of cancer.

Yet what’s this “Zionist first” crap about? In my article, I pointed out that, in addition to supporting the Israeli occupation, Lantos also supports Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. Does that make him an “Istiqlalist first”? Isn’t it possible that defending aggression by expansionist allies might have something to do with supporting America’s hegemonic regional objectives and is not necessarily a case of putting another country’s ultra-nationalist goals above loyalty to the United States?

I also pointed out his strong backing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, indicative of his support for more direct imperial conquest as well. Lantos’ problem is not that he is “an American a distance second at best,” but that he subscribes to an imperialistic and militaristic view regarding the expansion of American power, either directly or through foreign surrogates.

A Progressive Looks at Edwards

In “A Progressive Looks at Edwards,” Professor Zunes has distorted many of Edwards’ positions. Kucinich and Paul supporters have also followed this tactic.

This Feb. 7 article clarifies and refutes many of Zunes’ distortions – and false accusations: “Edwards on Iran.”

~ Nancy Terrell

Stephen Zunes replies:

I did not distort Edwards’ positions one bit. To distort any candidate’s position would be totally unethical, and I would never do that. I provided links to every statement of his I cited, so anyone can look them up themselves.

Though it appears that Edwards was trying to backpedal a bit in the American Prospect interview you cited, I stand by what I said in my original article.

I wrote the article with some mixed feelings because I have many positive feelings about his candidacy on a number of levels and find him so much better than Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, on many key issues. As a native of North Carolina who was once actively involved in Democratic Party politics there, I know a number of good progressive folks who have worked closely with Edwards and think very highly of him. Though remaining quite bitter regarding his initial support for the war in Iraq, I approached the Edwards campaign a little over a year ago, sensing that he had genuinely changed, to volunteer to be part of his foreign policy team. I never heard back from them, despite taking advantage of some of my inside connections to the campaign. I didn’t mind the apparent snub, but what really caused me to lose faith in Edwards on foreign policy issues was a speech he gave by closed-circuit television before the Herzliya Conference in Israel this past January (the link to which is in the body of my original article) in which he revealed some of the same rigid, militaristic ideological predilections that prompted his vocal support for the invasion of Iraq four years earlier.

The fact remains that he has now gone on record falsely accusing two oil-rich Middle Eastern countries of having nuclear weapons programs, authorizing an invasion in one case and clearly threatening it (“all options on the table”) in the second case. I’m sorry, but I just cannot trust someone like that as president of the United States.

Election ’08

Dear Justin,

As an American-born Muslim, I’d become so frightened and disgusted by American foreign policy since 9/11 that I actually convinced my husband to move our family overseas. I’ve been watching the 2008 election campaigns dispassionately via CNN and Yahoo news. Obama doesn’t impress me, and Giuliani and Clinton scare the crap out of me. Anyway, the first thing I ever heard about Ron Paul as a candidate was last week on one of my biannual visits to your blog. I visited his Web site and spent the rest of the evening watching his YouTube interviews. Suddenly, I don’t feel so dispassionate anymore. I know he probably doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning, but it almost doesn’t matter. Just knowing that he exists is enough to re-inspire my “hope for America.” I’ll be sending him a campaign contribution.

Good work, Justin.

~ Malaika Freeland, Rabat, Morocco

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