Backtalk, November 11, 2008

Forget the Honeymoon

Dear Justin,

It’s too early to panic. Look what we just avoided: Krauthammer and the whole Giuliani gangs of neocons.

The good news:

1. Obama has been elected largely by the antiwar people, therefore any war in Iran or Syria is, I believe, off the charts.
2. A good chance to get out of Iraq.
3. We are broke, which makes war more difficult.

About Afghanistan, this is another matter. If you remember, the neocons were never very interested in Afghanistan. No oil, far away. What the neocons want, among other things, is the partition of Iraq, in order for Israel to get oil from the Kurds, a non-Arab nearby supplier. I believe that the West, which is broke, is going to get tired of Afghanistan pretty quickly. …

~ Yves de Montaudouin

Justin Raimondo is correctly concerned about Barack Obama, as the president-elect is judged by his appointments. However, there is no way anyone could be worse than Bush, so let’s at least give it a chance. Furthermore, with Barack Obama’s election and the Republican Party in disarray, without a leader, this is a good opportunity to rebuild a conservative/libertarian consensus around a person such as Ron Paul. It is not too soon to begin preparation for 2012. We must first define what conservatism really is, and make it clear that the Republicans have been flying under false colors. We can then recruit the real conservatives, grow in strength, and make the Republican Party the third party.

~ John Dente, Wilmington, Del.

Obama’s Neocon in Residence

Thanks for the article about Dennis Ross.

I’d like to add that not only did Dennis Ross sign on to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s task force on Iran, he co-convened one for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which, among other worrisome things, called for the next president to make preventive military action (attack) a viable policy option along with “coercive” options (which I believe would include the refined petroleum embargo, etc.). Ross worked on this with none other than R. James Woolsey. Also of note, three other Obama advisers signed on: Richard Clarke, Susan Rice, and Anthony Lake. The photograph on the cover of this “statement” put out by WINEP is of U.S. and Israeli flags flying as a backdrop to uniformed and armed men and women.

That plus WINEP’s overall push to make a preventive attack an accepted option can be found at this link: “Washington Think-Tank Cultivating ‘Last Resort’ Against Iran and Priming Next President” (the section on the task force Ross worked on begins at the bottom of page 5 under “Priming the Incoming President”).

~ Cheryl Biren-Wright, managing editor,

Philip Giraldi replies:

Thank you for your additional information on what Ross has been up to at WINEP. I would like to think that we can “out” his record enough to deny him a senior policymaking position that would enable him to push the Israeli agenda for the next four years. But the appointment of Rahm Emanuel has made me pessimistic, suggesting that Obama is nervous about what a hostile AIPAC can do to him. What Obama does with senior appointments at State and Defense will be critical in shaping the foreign policy agenda, so we can only wait and watch.

Is a ‘Resurgent’ Russia a Threat to the United States?

Your article and all opinions on the Russian-Georgian so-called war should state the reality that Georgia was the aggressor. All stories from the so-called Left should make clear that Georgia committed atrocities and war crimes against South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers. To ignore these facts in any opinion or story on this summer’s conflict only reinforces the perception that Georgia was in any way justified in its murderous actions. Sadly, when a person accepts the premise of Georgian innocence, all examination of the truth is perverted. Whatever the reasoning of Georgia’s drug-addicted, cowardly leader for sending in his troops to kill innocent women and children, many if not most still in their homes, these actions must be condemned. The fact of Israeli and U.S. operatives and even the reports of Blackwater troops’ involvement only strengthens the case for Russian justification. Is Russia a threat to the USA? I think Cheney and the boys got pretty good indication from the result of this summer’s conflict. Anyone even remotely opposed to war should be ecstatic that Russia proved that taking over the world will be messy for any U.S. dictator, whether that be Bush or Obama.

~ Ed Simkin

Ivan Eland replies:

Please read my previous columns, where I do say that Georgia was the initial aggressor and should not be allowed into NATO.

A Win-Win Situation for China

America’s ignorance of history is the most accurate assessment in your article. My daughter just entered high school this year in a local district that boasts academic achievements among the top 3 percent in the nation. Their curriculum in history begins with the French Revolution, as compared to the American Revolution. The second through the fourth years only deal with the last two centuries of American history. Talk about arrogant disregard and lack of respect for the most important subject in social studies. The central planners realize that a well-educated citizenry with a well-rounded historical perspective is a much tougher crowd to control and fool, so they have watered down the academic requirements. …

~ Giuseppe Spizzichini

Sascha Matuszak replies:

Absolutely. I went to school in Germany and the U.S., so I have a very clear idea of what could be taught and what isn’t taught. I think what the Chinese and Americans have in common might surprise all of us, given the rhetoric we hear all of the time. The Chinese school system is rigidly controlled and blatantly politicized and nationalistic. While America points the finger at that system, we are blind to the exact same characteristics in our own schools. And the lack of history education in American schools is truly sinister and appalling.

School in America for me was a joke and a struggle to get through with as few detention slips as possible. In Germany it was an eye-opening experience in which knowledge and learning were placed at the top of the agenda, not who has the coolest pants and who is dating whom. I learned more in my first six months of school in Germany than my entire 8 years of schooling in the U.S. Thank God I graduated in Germany.

But would the German system ever take hold here? The Germans separate kids starting in fourth grade. There are three tiers: Hauptschule, which goes to 9th grade; Realschule, which goes to 10th grade; and Gymnasium, which goes to 13th grade. Only those who graduate from a Gymnasium can continue on to university. The system is flexible: anyone who wants to move from one tier to the other and has the test scores and grades to do so can do it. It would be very interesting to see who actually made it if we did have that system here in the U.S. But here fears of racism would kill such a system.

What is a parent to do in the U.S. when private schools are expensive and exclusive and still do not provide a good education? A parent has to pray that her district has a decent school. Or they have to home school. Or move.

Good-Bye Neoconservatives. Hello to Their Liberal Brethren?

If the Harry Reid and the author get their wish it would at best be odd. Odd for a president who advocated using a scalpel instead of ax on government programs during his campaign to suddenly advocate across-the-board cuts on defense systems. At worst, it would leave the U.S. unable to defend its allies or its critical interests. The U.S. would be unprepared for war and as we have seen in history that always guarantees the need to fight the next one, if not today then the day after.

Scrapping the DDX is plausible. There are problems with the program, and it may be superseded by the CGX. Scrapping the JSF would leave the Navy without a 21st-century fighter to counter the existing aircraft the Russians are exporting to North Korea, Iran, Syria, China (where they are being copied and exported as well), and even Venezuela. The existing F-18 is a good plane, but it can’t lead this fight. It would leave the Navy completely unprepared for the Russian F-22 look-alike (which will also be exported) or the surface-to-air missiles it is exporting now to the same countries listed above. The Air Force would likewise have no ground attack capability, and since all U.S. military strategy is predicated on control of and support from the air, it would leave our troops vastly vulnerable. It’s fair to talk about the numbers and the mix, but the system really is a requirement for going forward.

Killing the FCS would likewise be odd since it is completely on time and on budget (despite the spin to the contrary, independent audits have found it is). In fact, depending on your point of view it is ahead of schedule. Just ask the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan asking for more of this stuff that wasn’t even supposed to available yet. Taking a re-look always makes sense; however, killing the whole project – all the systems in the system of systems – would leave the U.S. with just the Cold War relic Army liberals and armchair generals have been complaining we were building in the first place. As a point of contrast, the UK has a similar project, FRES: Future Rapid Effects System. Recently, while looking for things to cut to make budget, they came to the conclusion that this was something they desperately needed, not something they could cut. In addition, cutting the FCS would cut funding for important technology advancements that will have great application in the civilian sector – new hybrid engines; new, long-life, high-output, rechargeable batteries; complex geometry composites fabrication. It goes on and it is pretty impressive. Funding these projects directly on the civilian side would probably violate all sorts of trade agreements, and that’s exactly why other nations are funding the research exactly the same way. So killing the FCS would not just hurt defense but civilian industry in the U.S. as well.

If the author or the Congress wants to keep the U.S. Army at home, he/they should advocate that policy and specifically that policy. Building and maintaining an unequipped Army creates an illusion (to us, not our enemies and a world full of violent opportunists) that we can defend ourselves and the imports we need to live our daily lives with (food, oil, mineral resources, computer components) with an open ocean and a large economy. Recent events have shown just how small oceans are and just how much damage can be done to an economy by just a few people dedicated to that cause. The military has a job to do; they should be equipped to do it. Doing away with fire trucks won’t do away with arsonists. Focus on policy, not capability; you will need that capability some day.

~ Sal Magnone

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