Backtalk, July 23, 2008

Are 400,000 Terrorists Trying to Attack the United States?

I‘ve always wondered why the list is secret.

If the intent is to make us safer, then why not publicize the list so that the bad guys know that they will be hassled at the airport? They will not show up with their current identity and thus they will become bankrupt by the constant expense of getting new ID documents, or they will choose to use alternate forms of transport. Either way we are safer, and the list serves its alleged purpose.

Also, if I notice my name on the list, I will not bother showing up at the airport until I have resolved the issue. This would prevent the unpleasant spectacle of the inspection dudes hassling an overweight senior citizen trying to get to that special vacation trip he has been saving for all his life. Much better PR for the Stasi!

~ Doug Jacques

Ivan Eland replies:

I suppose they think they can grab terrorists if they don’t know their names are on the list. But, of course, for a while they didn’t have a single list, and agencies still don’t cooperate with each other. There would also be “privacy” concerns because the government might get sued for labeling people terrorists (even though many of them on the list aren’t) if it were made public. But people can still sue them, I would think. The courts might side with the government, though, because they are mesmerized by the “national security” defense.

The More Things Change

Nebojsa Malic hits the nail on the head, again. Spot on! Malic’s analysis connecting the dots is providing superb insight into the continuous destabilization of the Balkans and the “stabilizing” of big-power interests in the region.

Malic also makes an excellent point of connecting the EU’s subtle condition for considering Serbia’s membership in the EU, which is based in no uncertain terms on Serbia’s readiness to recognize Kosovo’s “independence,” something that is politically explosive and for that reason kept hushed up in Serbia almost to the point of censorship. It is noteworthy to mention that the opposition (the Serbian Radical Party and the Serbian Democratic Party) had accused the Tadich-led pro-EU coalition of planning to do just that (technically treason), which Tadich and his partners adamantly deny. But the truth is out.

~ Kosta Vranjican, Florida

One Million Terrorists?

Exactly right. What’s next for the USA – block captains?

I won’t fly to, from, or through the U.S., because I have been subject to these petty thugs at TSA. I have gotten a much more welcoming reception in Cuba (nasty, repressive dictatorship, etc.).

The sad thing is that I was in Maine two weeks ago (drove across the border from Canada) and found that ordinary Americans remain just as I remember them pre-9/11. Friendly, welcoming, helpful, etc.

A lot has changed. The most admirable quality of Americans used to be their absolute confidence in their rights as citizens and their willingness to defend their rights whenever challenged.

Now they meekly shuffle through the line, shoes and belt in hands, eyes toward the floor, praying that the petty tyrant won’t select them for “random additional screening.”

The land of liberty is lost.

~ Marcus Johnston

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

The complete transformation of Americans from “don’t tread on me” to sheeple is extraordinary.

Maybe the government is a superpower. The American people certainly are not.

Only Little War Criminals Get Punished

Bravo, Paul Craig Roberts.

There is nothing more sickening than listening to Western puffery about so-called human rights abuses in countries – like China, Russia, Zimbabwe, and others – that are conveniently on the West’s hit list.

The West’s media seems incredibly proficient at pointing out the faults of other countries and leaders, yet somehow is unable to deliver even a tiny kernel of truth to its own people about what their own leaders are doing.

“We got it wrong” on WMDs, shrugs the media. Ho hum, no big deal. We only enabled a propaganda project to brainwash 300 million citizens about a fairytale “threat” to America from a tinpot country half a world away, enabling our leaders to launch illegal wars of aggression that have resulted in untold thousands of innocent deaths and the utter destruction of an entire country or two.

Yet that same media is able to, with a straight face, pontificate endlessly about how the Chinese government is supposedly persecuting some obscure cult, the Falun Gong.

They squawk endlessly about capital punishment in China, yet we never hear anything about the far worse travesty of extra-judicial killings in the U.S. – most of them people of color gunned down in the streets by U.S. law enforcement, with no accountability whatsoever.

Russia gets similar treatment. “Backsliding” on democracy is the endlessly repeated mantra, but no one wonders about an American Congress elected with a resounding antiwar mandate that nonetheless continues to fund Bush’s wars of conquest – without so much as a token gesture to the people’s unmistakable will, as delivered via the ballot box. That’s a quite a testament to American “democracy” right there.

The simple truth about the world we live in is that the West is a global empire that sustains itself by bleeding the rest of the world dry. Any small, poor country that resists is crushed by direct military might, like Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Those that are too big to take on with guns and missiles – Russia, China, Iran – are targeted with powerful demonizing campaigns by the media.

Kangaroo tribunals, like the International Criminal Court and its Hague predecessors, have been set up by the West as simply a tool for the demonization of targeted countries and individuals. They provide an endless stream of grist for the media to regurgitate. The goal is to fool our own people into believing how “free” we are, and how well-behaved our own leaders are, and how lucky we are to live in a “civil society” while the rest of the world is going to hell in a handbasket. (Of course they never tell us that the reason the rest of the world is going to hell is because we are pushing them down that hole at gunpoint.)

In the meantime, the American people – and the rest of the West’s citizens – are slowly being reduced to wage-slaves who have zero say about their own lives or destiny. The triumph of “democracy” indeed.

~ Gordon Arnaut, Ontario, Canada

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

We, the salt of the earth, can murder at will, but anyone who fights back is evil beyond redemption. If Americans were not indifferent to the slaughter of other peoples, Bush would have been impeached for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Today about half the U.S. population is ready to nuke Iran, a country about which Americans are totally ignorant.

I am astonished at an antiwar columnist describing Field Marshal Bashir as a “little” war criminal. Perhaps Paul Craig Roberts wasn’t watching Sudan back in 1989 when Col. Bashir seized power in a successful bid to forestall peace talks intended to end a civil war that subsequently cost millions of lives. If he wants to forgive 50-year-old crimes by ex-Nazis and indict Bush and Blair for their criminal adventurism, that is up to him, but please don’t write off the blood of millions of Sudanese shed by this serial genocidaire, and remember that in Darfur, these crimes are still ongoing.

~ Peter Moszynski

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

NPR this week reported maximum Darfur deaths at 250,000. Information Clearing House reports Bush’s Iraqi killings at 1.24 million.

I stated clear as day that little war criminals and big should be held accountable. If a 19-year-old kid training guard dogs is a war criminal, then everyone in the U.S. military is a war criminal.

Stephen Zunes’ Backtalk

Again, Zunes is wrong on AIPAC. If you look at the U.S. Senate votes on anything to do with Israel, it is almost always 99 to 0. Maybe the House is as low as 94 percent (!) which figure actually proves my point, not Zunes’.

AIPAC did work hard to promote the invasion of Iraq, as we all saw from their media appearances, internal publications, and the ceaseless pressure on members of Congress to vote for Bush’s invasion. Why deny the obvious?

The $120 billion figure is way too low. Since 1967, the average annual U.S. aid to Israel is between $3-5 billion, more often the latter when everything is factored in. At $4 billion a year, that would total $164 billion; at $5 billion a year, that would total $205 billion, which is conservative because there have been many other extra grants for Soviet Jewish resettlement in Israel, which in one case was a flat $10 billion grant. See the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which has been documenting these figures for decades.

Zunes is really stretching when he claims the U.S. invasions of the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama are analogous to Iraq. These countries are in the Western hemisphere and have been considered subject to U.S. interference since the Monroe Doctrine. Iraq is on the other side of the world and was in 1948 the fiercest enemy of Israel in combat. Israel has always wanted to destroy Iraq, and the U.S. was doing Israel’s dirty work in so doing. Israel is by far the largest single foreign recipient of U.S. aid, so anyone concerned with our tax money should focus on Israel. Zunes hides behind the “anti-Semitism” smear, so the question to ask is, would critics of Israel favor Israel if it were run by Gentiles? The question answers itself, and Zunes is exposed as the leftist apologist for Israel that he in fact is. I have given the empirical data, have made factually accurate claims, the “insults” are my factual exposé of Zunes’ many lies, and the “profanities” are one cuss word, more than justified in responding to Zunes.

~ Al Blue

Stephen Zunes replies:

I have never been “an apologist for Israel.” Please check my Web site under the “recent publications” tab and check the section on Israel and Palestine. You will find no apologetics there.

What Al Blue and I disagree about is what motivates U.S. policies in the Middle East. I say it is the same combination of perceived strategic, economic, and ideological factors that have influenced U.S. policy elsewhere in the world. Al Blue says that it all comes down to AIPAC and that those of us who would dare disagree with him are guilty of “many lies.”

On my Web site, I have two major articles and several shorter articles that examine empirical data (including detailed citations) to make the case that U.S. Middle East policy is far more complex than this simplistic reductionist formula of blaming everything on AIPAC. AIPAC is one factor, to be sure, but not nearly as significant as the Pentagon, the oil companies, U.S. imperialists, the Christian Right, and other factors.

I would challenge Al Blue to cite his supposed evidence that AIPAC was strongly pushing for an invasion of Iraq prior to early 2002, when the decision was made in the White House. Or explain where he gets his inflated figure about the total aid to Israel when I also used WRMEA as my primary source. Or why Vietnam, Angola, Cambodia, Congo, Laos, Somalia, Yugoslavia, and other U.S. military interventions and massive foreign aid programs would fall under the Monroe Doctrine, which is exclusively in regard to this hemisphere. Or why raising such questions somehow constitutes “hiding behind anti-Semitism.”

Rather than waste his time and energy attacking people like me who are working to change U.S. policy in the Middle East, including U.S. support for the Israeli occupation and the massive taxpayer subsidies that make it possible, perhaps he should instead put his time and energy in joining me and other concerned citizens in that effort.

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