Posted January 21, 2003
Regarding 'Slouching into Iraq?' Alan Bock:
Another astute article on Iraq by Alan Bock! One minor quibble in assessing the U.S. foreign policy elites willingness to commit to a political-diplomatic operation for generations, we need to consider Americas decades-long manipulation of Japans military and foreign policy through the Liberal Democratic Party. Chalmers Johnson did a superb job of summarizing the history of this domination in Blowback, demonstrating that Japanese policymakers have often ignored public opinion and Japans best interests to satisfy their behind-the-scenes paymasters. This will probably be harder to achieve in Iraq our puppets would be all too obviously propped up by American bayonets. The Japanese pseudo-democratic model is, however, doubtlessly the ideal for the architects of American empire.
A thoughtful report. However, it doesn't adequately address the moral questions of why a country whose power is in it's human rights values, and which is militarily so superior, should attack a country without either, destroy its political structure and many of its people, and in the process destroy America's reputation as the nation which represents the rights of people.
We have allowed the cowboy mentality in Washington to create a myopic perspective and now act as if it were reality. This is dangerous, not only for other nations, but more so for the US Control does not lead to leadership, but dictatorship.
This is probably an article that Bock regrets having written. It is full of inconsistencies and displays a remarkable lack of knowledge on the leadership of Saddam Hussein. I will only state a few of the problems that I noticed.
The US government does not propose foreign policy that is entirely altruistic in its nature. No nation does, in fact, and there is no reason to hold the United States to an absolute moral standard. But we, as Americans, still possess freedoms and privileges that most people can only dream of. If we can give to the world some of those "truths" that we hold to be self-evident, then maybe that's an ideal that's worth fighting for. ...
Alan Bock replies:
No regrets. No doubt, in the unlikely event Saddam could be persuaded to accept exile, it would be a messy proposition, and maybe some struggle over the sons would develop (though I don't accept the premise that they're his "natural" successors). But the effect on human-rights organizations and international courts seems to me negligible compared to the effect on the Iraqi people not that the next boss would be guaranteed to be all that much better, not by a long shot. I will admit it's a tactical rather than principled idea the truly principled position, from my perspective, might well be to abolish the nation-state, but without years of persuasion I expect there would be a demand for them that would be quickly filled.
So we deal, as usual, with half-measures we calculate might make things marginally better. And I admit I prefer to consider them based on calculation rather than "what if he killed your family" emotional issues.
Regarding 'Watch Your Back' by Justin Raimondo:
Why is it such a shock when Bush's closest international ally and mentor emulates US foreign policy? Just as the "congressional staff member with deep knowledge of intelligence matters" stated, there is little basis for protest, when the US government has already declared its citizens to be absolutely without recourse if it chooses to target them.
If Bush declares, either openly or in chambers, that an American "citizen" is an "enemy combatant," the courts are disinclined to challenge this characterization, and the "citizen" is stripped of all Constitutional rights including the extra-Constitutional right to life. A US citizen was among those killed in Yemen; a spokesperson at the time said that in principle, such "targeted assassinations" could just as legitimately take place in Washington, DC, and the press allowed "Condi" (as in "Operation Condor"; remember the killing of Orlando Letelier on US soil by the Chilean DINA when GWB Senior was in charge of the CIA?) to aver that "no Constitutional issues" were raised by the attack.
So, if the US government chooses to murder its dissidents both at home and abroad, why shouldn't Israel do the same thing? Of course it's a declared policy of international terrorism, but so is everything the US has done since 9-11, including the attack on Afghanistan, the daily bombing of Iraq, the kidnapping of Muslims or swarthy people in general, and turning them over to supposedly "less squeamish" allies for torture and murder, the running of the Basra concentration camp, the blackmail of North Korea, etc.
While the open declaration of terrorism as official policy may be new, the use of terror to support Empire and fascism has a long and bloody history. Those who insist that Bush has a "moderate" set of advisors that includes Rice and Powell are essentially carrying water for the policy of state-sanctioned terrorism and murder you complain about.
Just think about the policies of assassination with a single standard for a moment and you'll understand the chilling consistency of what Israeli and US officials are saying. The targeting of "enemy terrorists" in Yemen, minus your lingering sense of nationalism, equals Israeli assassinations in this country. What exactly does it take to be defined as an "enemy terrorist," and from whose perspective? As far as I know, all we have is the CIA's supposedly honorable assertion that they are against the US, not even specifics of what, if anything, they allegedly did wrong. It must be every day that the CIA makes and breaks their new resolution to not kill people for freely expressing their ideas and legitimately asserting them. It's no small leap from there for the Israelis to decide to kill you or me because we speak and agitate against the murderous, imperialist policies of countries regardless of nationalism.
Absent a declaration of war against the country in question, it is never acceptable to assassinate dissidents in an ally's country. If a country's assassins and secret police are concerned about such a dissident, the legally correct course of action is to bring this concern and supporting intelligence to the correct jurisdiction: the allied government. Without this premise, a murderous wild-west mentality quickly develops where the "rule of law" and "legitimacy of government" everywhere are complete farces and impossible to believe in at all.
If you steal my truck, should I track you down, kill you, and take it back? It could be more effective and expedient than small claims court, but no. If I discover that your brother is angry that I killed you and is bulking up on arms and ammo, is it right for me to preemptively kill him first? Of course not, even though it makes strategic sense. It's only a step away from the Nazis at their best.
I'm sure you can see how this line of reasoning soon starts sounding like world affairs and the standoff with Iraq. The US government warns of "appeasement" while it plots aggression and schemes with imperialistic coldness, drooling over resources and influence. War has been declared, and our status as white intellectuals or US citizenship is little protection. I welcome and encourage your questioning of liberal dogma, but keep an eye on your own assumptions as well.
Even though Israel has now proclaimed that it will carry out political assassinations in "friendly" countries, as others have noted, the only real change in policy is that the country has decided to be upfront about it.
Now that the subject is publicly out on the table, this is a very good time for another cold, hard look at the violent death of the leading, most outspoken opponent of recognizing the state of Israel in the Truman administration, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal. Forrestal's body was found in the wee hours of May 22, 1949, 13 stories below an open window of the Bethesda Naval Hospital where he had been involuntarily confined for "exhaustion" for seven weeks. The belt of a hospital dressing gown, presumably his own, was tightly knotted around his neck. The newspapers and the local coroner immediately pronounced the death a suicide. Admiral Morton Willcutts, the head of the National Naval Medical Center, appointed a review board to take the testimony of all the relevant witnesses to determine just what had happened. The board completed its work on May 30, but did not release its conclusions until October 11, 1949. Though no one in the press remarked upon the fact, the board did not conclude that Forrestal had committed suicide. Its basic conclusions, rather, were that a fall from the window had caused the death and that no one associated with the US Navy bore any responsibility for it. The testimony of the witnesses was given in secret and it remains secret to this day.
World War III
Bush's eagerness to make his mark during this administration is going to plunge us all into World War III. Blair and Bush will open a Pandora's box of destruction and hate if they go ahead with this war. Most ordinary people, it seems, from the protests, just want to live in peace and get on with their lives. I can't see that invasion of Iraq is the solution to the problem but only the beginning of something that will escalate and take many years to resolve.
Bush's problem: people in the world feel oppressed by America's aggressive foreign policy. Bush's solution: make foreign policy even more aggressive.
If war in Iraq creates a epidemic of international terrorism which proves to be unstoppable without major restrictions on us all, who really wins the war?
I'm sick of all this pretense about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. The fact that the US is prepared to act diplomatically to "defuse" the "crisis" over nuclear weapons with North Korea shows clearly the hypocrisy of the US stand. This is and always was about oil.
The lives of innocent people living in Iraq today are worth every bit as much as the lives of innocent people who were in the WTC on September 11, 2001. The indiscriminate killing of either of these groups of people is equally unjustifiable, and anyone who would direct such killings is equally despicable. Enough of these assumptions that the US and the UK have enough proof to justify war. War is not the only answer, it is that propaganda of the media that tells us that it is the only way. It's that same lie that landed us into trouble in Korea, Vietnam, and a never-ending list of Third World countries. We need to study our history and look at the options before jumping to such fatal conclusions.
This is still no excuse for starting a war. The inspectors should be allowed to continue the good work they are doing for as long as it takes. Unless Iraq kicks the inspectors out or starts aggression itself we should continue with the peaceful disarmament process which is causing no harm to anyone. A preemptive strike will cost thousands of lives, destabilise the whole region and set a very dangerous precedent.
Regarding 'Ethnic Cleansing: Past, Present and Future' by Ran HaCohen:
I would like to thank Mr. HaCohen, firstly for bringing this matter to my attention I will be contacting my M.P. at the first available opportunity, to bring these matters up with him, and to urge him to address parliament over these issues and for his scrupulous analysis and courage in telling it how it is , or at least how he sees it.
I shall be asking my M.P how it can be that such continued actions by Israel, and the subsequent disaffection and hatred for Israel, America, and her allies this undoubtedly causes, can possibly be consistent with the goals of the "War on terror", where victory can never be achieved lest we win the hearts and minds of honest and conscientious Muslims worldwide. Thanking you once again,
Although I dont dispute the facts of the article, there is one thing that those who seem to be pro-Palestinian never want to admit: There will never be peace for the Jews. If they laid down their weapons today, they would be slaughtered by every available Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim, as vengeance for their past deeds (which the Jews call self-defense). As countless have said, they will not rest until Palestine is free from all Jews. Others have gone to more extreme lengths, saying they will not rest until every Jew is dead. If I were a Jew, Id be making weapons 24/7.
Think about it, how many Arab and Muslim leaders have been chastised, threatened, or even killed for wanting to make peace with the Jews? How popular is peace and freedom for Palestinians among the Jews?
The problem is both sides are so right and have had so many atrocities visited upon them, that they wear their wounds as badges of honor and self-righteousness. They feel the land is theirs, the right to be there is theirs, the right to live their free of the other side is theirs, and the right to kill is theirs.
Is every Arab, Palestinian, Muslim or Jew inherently violent and murderous? I think not, but there is enough hatred, seated in religious zealotry, and plain old racism, that peace will never be attained. Never, I say, unless every individual agrees to stop fighting, forgive, and not let religion and race get in the way of earning a living and raising ones children, and enjoying the precious few years we have on this earth.
How naïve of me to think that would ever happen. The whole thing makes me sick.
Ran HaCohen replies:
I don't know what you base your prediction of eternal hatred on. As I wrote in my column, Jews have been living rather peacefully under Arab rule for more than a millennium. Both the Arab League and the PLO have recently committed themselves to peace with the State of Israel once it ends the occupation. And as far as I remember, the only Middle-Eastern leader murdered for what was presented as a sincere wish to make peace was Yizchak Rabin, assassinated by an Israeli Jew. As for your plea against hatred and violence, I can only second it.
I realize that you people probably receive a lot of fan mail. This will not fall into that category. As you can see I attend a major private university in the south (TCU). Maybe that adds to my conservative beliefs. However let me say a few things first to prove I am not just a redneck. I scored a 1330 on my SAT's and 29 ACT's. My IQ is 130. In the fifth grade I read on a college freshmen level, in math I was on a college junior level. I am not a redneck. I am not a hick nor am I ill informed.
I have probably wasted a good deal of my time writing you this letter. It has been a nice release for me. I hope you enjoyed my logic, and should you choose to respond I look forward to hearing the logical stance behind your ideals.
The Backtalk editor replies:
Thanks for writing. Taking your letter a paragraph at time:
Since you claim to be a conservative and a member of the armed forces, I suggest that you read the Constitution's enumeration of powers: "Congress ... shall declare war" something that hasn't happened here. You might also want to read "Cultivate Peace," an article by Antiwar.com guest columnist (and first Constitutional president of the United States) George Washington.
If We Don't Go to War, How Will We Stop Iraq?
While watching the news last night, I saw the hundreds, if not thousands or antiwar rallies in Washington DC. While I don't want a war either, as a close friend of mine may lose her boyfriend, and I do want to join in the protests. But, I wanted to first learn about the antiwar movement before blindly taking on a cause. Here are a few questions I have. If you could answer them, that would be wonderful.
I truly thank you for any answers. Peace is the answer, I just have to know more about the process.
Editorial Director Eric Garris replies:
'Warheads' a Calculated Misnomer
With the White House frothing at the mouth to attack Iraq, the discovery of twelve so-called "chemical warheads" couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
Unfortunately, the press releases omit three critical details, in the interest of stirring up fear-induced support for the war campaign.
Three small omissions that make a world of difference.
A Call to Action
The antiwar movement in the United States is growing and gaining momentum. Today hundreds of thousands of American citizens met in protest against the war. However, do any of us doubt that "President" Bush will still go to war in Iraq?
Because of this on the day the United States begins war/bombing of Iraq all students and conscience citizens of the United States are called to walk out of school/work.
Shatter the idea that there is an unquestioning majority in America. Reclaim our revolutionary roots and beliefs. Shut down the Universities. Refuse to acquiesce. Do not pretend that a day when we begin begin unbridled aggression for oil and personal vendetta and to distract us from the reality of life inside the United States under the Bush Administration is "a normal day." Remember we still live in a nation where the economy is faltering, unemployment is up, middle eastern men are required to register with the government, dissent is considered dangerous, a woman's right to choose is in grave danger, and the rich are getting tax cuts.
Let the men in power know that "We the People" still matter and we are pissed! That a a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world/country. That grassroots organization still works better than all the machinery, public opinion polls, and management techniques.
Regarding "So Many Fronts, So Little Sense" by Christopher Deliso:
As with so many other articles that decry US Imperialism's rush to conquest side by side with the notion that America is becoming more and more defenseless, one has to wonder if (along with oil, Israel and vendetta) that hasn't been part of the power elite's agenda all along.
Think that's nothing but nutso conspiracy-mongering? Then how come thousands of terrorists of various stripes (and now, the Israeli Mossad! Heaven help us! thank for the info, Mr. Raimondo!) have been allowed into the USA by Clinton and Bush II administrations? Then how come (as reported on several occasions in WorldNetDaily thanks, John Dougherty) ranchers and other US citizens are being thwarted from resisting invasions of Latin American (and not a few Islamic terrorists with them) "illegal immigrants"? Then how come, what with Clinton's weakening of the defense capabilities (under the tutelage of the UN, for instance) of the US, Bush now thinks we can "win" in Iraq and the various other fronts Deliso talks about, knowing our weakened forces are now supposed to live up to Bush's arrogant and bellicose-bullyish policy statement of last September which gives us the right to (borrowing the catchphrase of the cartoon "Pinkey and the Brain") "try to take over the world!" With even the National Guard being up, just who do you think is going to defend the US against 2 million jihadists (that is, one percent of 200,000,000 Islamics worldwide)? Certainly not the FBI, CIA, and so-called Homeland Security, who will be too busy instituting the fascist police state against law-abiding Americans (you know, us folks with guns?), the real enemy of Bush and Co.
Regarding "Do Neocons Exist?" by Justin Raimondo:
Hello to USA and bravo! It is very important what you do, it´s to American people to say to bush no to war. Here in Europe, we are against.
Regarding "Don't Count on China" by Sascha Matuszak:
Enjoy your blog and latest piece on Bush's "ally" very much. I am a journalist who covers China's telecom sector and the rest of Asia.
Hardly anyone in the US knows the history of Korea, or of the dirty, frightful US-sponsored Korean war, in which my father served as a US army draftee. This ignorance has consequences.
For example, Syngman Rhee's ROK army commander when war broke out in 1950 was the same Japanese officer entrusted to hunt down Kim il-sung's band of guerillas during World War II the CIA basically put Japanese collaborators in charge of the country, while the North resisted doing so with the help and connivance of China and Russia.
Sascha Matuszak replies:
Wow. Imust plead ignorance as well. I didn't realize that Kim Il Sung was Korea's Ho Chi Minh. (Is that fair to say?)
Regarding "Stand Up for Peace" by Justin Raimondo:
Raimondo's last missive was an activist's dream. Yes, whatever your politics, get on the marches. Yes, whatever you think of lefties, get out with them. Unite on what you agree with, leave the rest for discussion in the pubs after.
However, one thing caught my eye. He said that Antiwar.com had made criticisms of the leftist leadership of the antiwar movement in America, and that it stood by every word. In particular, its criticisms of ANSWER. This tells me something about the editorial position of Antiwar.com which ought to be made explicit on the site (perhaps under a link indicating 'where we stand'). I don't mean this to be a sectarian point, particularly since some of your criticisms seem to be true. But it is not clear to the browser that your site is a site for rightist critics of the war, (particular paleoconservatives of the libertarian or authoritarian variety).
Whatever, I hope to see maximum unity on the demonstrations. I took my girlfriend to an antiwar meeting with the first President of Algeria, Ahmed Ben Bella, and the former MP, Tony Benn. She had never attended such a meeting before, but she was enthused and excited by what she heard. Now she wants to attend future meetings, and demos, and will probably be a more principled anti-imperialist than your average liberal critic of the war.
That is unity in action. We agree for now on the antiwar business, argue on the rest later.
The Backtalk editor replies:
A description of Antiwar.com's editorial position can be found by clicking the "Who we are" link in the upper left-hand corner of the homepage.