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Posted February 24, 2003

Libertarianism of the Deed

As a longtime reader, I thought it was time to send my regards (and, under separate cover, a donation) for the excellence of your peace work. Antiwar.com is a fine example of "libertarianism of the deed" – principled action for liberty, with plenty of mind-altering substance but precious little concern for who's-left, who's-right and what's-his-position on-privatizing-stop signs.

The sheer mass of protest in recent weeks is a source of hope. So is the increasingly fatuous propaganda of the War Toads. (I must have missed the part where France and Germany became wholly-owned subsidiaries of the American State, Inc. Then again, any culture whose proud embrace of the future includes The Bachelorette and "warblogging" should show some manners in the presence of French poets and German composers.) But the key isn't so much keeping our foot on the gas, as it is maintaining this new coalition of the unwilling in the face of the inevitable frustrations and defeats. I'm not sure antiwar activists, here or abroad, realize just how long and costly our war – the one against empire – is going to be.

So there you have it: hard times, long hours, lousy pay. Just what we need to win back our self-respect, not to mention our freedom – that most relentless of gifts left us by the Founders.

~ David Hoefer

Gore is Not the Answer

Phinizy Spalding: What were your views on the Clinton led operation that dropped bombs over Iraq for days in 1998? You were probably fine with it. Your problem is not with this war it is with George Bush and every other Republican on the planet. But you people are too afraid to admit it, so you have chosen to hide behind this war as your reason. Well everyone sees straight through you. The differences between now and 1998 are for one that Bush is not doing this to distract attention from an affair with Monica Lewinsky and that rather than drop some bombs with no real intention of solving the problem, if Iraq does not cooperate we are going to solve the problem, not just sit back and leave it there for the next generation of Americans to deal with.

You aren't going to publish this or even respond to me with a half-logical answer because you only hear the facts you choose to, when the truth is that more innocent Iraqis were murdered last year by Saddam Hussein than there were protesters in London over the weekend. Say what you want, your argument is purely political and no one is buying it. Bush is going to get reelected in 2004, and your web site is hurting your party if anything, because it shows exactly what kind of demented stuff you believe in. This is a waste of time.

Backtalk editor Sam Koritz: We're getting a surprising number of emails making this same claim, so here's a tip: websites usually have an About Us section; in Antiwar.com's case this section is called Who We Are. As you can see, Antiwar.com was founded during the Clinton administration and opposed Clintonian interventionism.

Phinizy Spalding: ...If you are antiwar all the time than I say more power to you. But a large majority of antiwar protesters are in this for pure political reasons, and those are the people that I have a problem with. Once again I commend you if you are against war all the time regardless of the president. I disagree completely with you, but the great thing about America is that I am allowed to say what I believe and you can say what you believe. Though your response was not wordy, thank you, I was honestly not expecting one, not to mention within the hour I sent the message. Oh and by the way I live in Decatur Georgia where there is a "War is not the Answer" sign in every other yard (this is the same district that elected Cynthia McKinney) and it's been driving me crazy. But its not because of the antiwar platform in itself, war should be a last resort. But it should be an option. As I have said what annoys me about these people is that the vast majority of them did not care when Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998 and now they are up in arms. Politics should not have anything to do with this. But hey I am trying to stay open minded here! Thanks.

Why Protest?

I do not understand why you do not want a war. They will one day hurt us if we do not cause them to disarm. We want to do this for peace. I also want to tell you that millions of Americans plus people from other countries protested the war against Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. There protest did no good because the war went on for over 10 years. So I do not understand why you want to protest if you cannot win. President George Bush does not care what you say or what I say. What he is concerned about is the future for the US plus the world. I want to ask you to please stop your protest because it does no good.

~ William Hall

Sam Koritz replies:

If you're in favor of President Bush's threatened invasion and believe that protests are futile, why do you want them to stop? Wouldn't protesters be likely to then spend their time engaged in non-futile antiwar activities?

At worst (from an antiwar point of view) protest marches do not encourage war, and they allow us to believe, if just for an afternoon, that we're not living in some dystopian science fiction movie.

International Boycott

This letter comes to you from a concerned citizen of the United States. Since our President does not seem concerned with either the national antiwar movement, much less the international one, a stronger statement needs to be made. He has even indicated that if the U.N. doesn't play along, he will make it irrelevant. This is obviously a presidency of narrow focus and shallow thinking. His attention needs to be gotten.

Let us call for an international boycott of U.S. made products. Let's hit W. and his corporate machine where it hurts. Since it is no secret that the W. presidency is a product of corporate interests, perhaps this is where they may take notice. Sadly, a boycott of this nature would further damage our already beaten economy. I, though, am willing to suffer the economic consequences of this declaration.

It is time the citizens of the world unite in a way which has never been seen before. The people of our fragile world need to stand up to W's bullhead, warrior attitude and make themselves felt. Since the international "vote" won't affect W's future presidency, their spending habits can. It is time to initiate a global boycott of the US made products. Please join the debate on where to start and what to boycott.

~ Robert Cable


Recently Colin Powell has accused nations opposed to waging aggressive war with Iraq as being afraid of duty. ...

Was it not Colin Powell who helped to cover up the Mai Lai massacre?

Did he not admit privately that, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, Americans were not willing to sacrifice their sons for cheaper gas at the pump, and that Saddam would install a puppet, withdraw, and everyone in the region would be happy? Yet at the same time said little publicly to oppose the war, perhaps fearful of his masters?

Did he say anything publicly about this 'monster, and tyrant' he is so concerned with now, when successive administrations helped Saddam wage aggressive war against Iran (a war crime) or gas troublesome elements, or torture and murder his opponents?

Even now, does he stand up for what he believes against what can only politely be called a gathering of chicken hawks? ...

~ Jim Vinsel

Critical Mass

Saturday, millions of people around the world came together to voice their opposition to the impending war on Iraq. Never before in modern history has such a large gathering amassed in opposition to a war – a war that hasn¹t actually happened yet.

What was so surprising about the protests was how many nations were represented and who was in attendance. Typically, antiwar protests consist of youths and radicals. Yesterday's marches ran the gamut – from the students and radicals to the middle class and white-collar workers of the world, the lawyers, bankers, doctors, military veterans and seniors. An incredibly broad spectrum of humanity was represented.

There were more than 600 antiwar rallies across the globe, from Antarctica to Iceland. It is estimated that nearly 12 million people across the globe protested the war in Iraq. Police estimated that 750,000 gathered in London (event organizers put the figure at closer to two million). There were two million in Spain, three million in Rome, 500,000 in Germany, 300,000 in France, 250,000 in Australia, 250,000 in New York City, 80,000 in Athens, 60,000 in Oslo, 50,000 in Brussels, 50,000 in Dublin, 50,000 in Glasgow, 35,000 in Stockholm, 25,000 in Copenhagen, 25,000 in Amsterdam, 25,000 in Montevideo, 20,000 in Vancouver, 20,000 in Sao Paulo, 9,000 in South Africa, 5,000 in Tokyo, 3,000 in Vienna, 2,000 each in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sofia, Bulgaria and Tel Aviv, 600 in downtown Hong Kong and 50 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Keep in mind that these protests occurred in February, where frigid temperatures reigned on much of the planet.

So, what do these large numbers of protests and protesters signify? Obviously it signifies that almost 12 million people (who were willing to brave the elements) believe that this war is immoral and unjustified. These people want the inspections to continue for as long as it takes to insure that Iraq does not indeed possess weapons of mass destruction.

The other thing the protests signify is that the people's voice is vastly different than that of their governments. In the countries where their governments support the war with Iraq, the protests had some of the largest turnouts – England, Spain, Italy and various cities throughout the United States.

I also believe that it signifies that humanity is ready for an evolutionary change in the way it deals with other nations. Humanity is stating very clearly that war is not the answer, that it is never the answer. President Jimmy Carter recently said in a speech that war is sometimes a necessary evil, but that it is always evil. In the 21st century, there are better, nonviolent means to healing world¹s ills. The world is saying, "Give peace a chance."

Major change throughout the world has always came from the people; it rarely has come through their governments. History has shown that it has only taken a critical mass to create lasting change. Lets hope that Saturday's protests are the beginning of a critical mass to create an equitable, just and peaceful world.

~ Gary Douglas Smith, Sherman Oaks, California


Yesterday, I found a web site that requires immediate attention by anyone who opposes this Administration's foreign and domestic policies. http://www.vote.com is a polling site that appears to be used almost exclusively by the audience of Fox News and Bill Riley and the White House. I was horrified by the disconnect between so many people's brains and reality. Please go there and set the record straight about the public's opinion of Bush and his policies. This could be very powerful for the antiwar movement.

~ Peter Millington

Setting a Dangerous Example for the World

President Bush should be ashamed of himself for trying to push for war on Iraq, over the fact that they might still have chemical and/or biological weapons that have been banned by treaty or resolutions when right here in Oregon at the Umatilla army depot there are several square miles of bunkers full of chemical and biological warheads that have been banned by treaties for much longer than Iraq's. If Mr. Bush were an honest man he would obey America's treaties before ranting about leading us all into war over other Nations following the Examples set by the United States Federal Government.

~ Tom Jones

Regarding 'A "Toxic" Meme?' by Justin Raimondo:

Brilliant and, more to the point, absolutely right! I've been enjoying and admiring your work lately more than ever.

~ Joe Sobran

Regarding 'Excuses and Justifications' by Nebojsa Malic:

Where were you (during 10 years!) to protest when Serbia started to aggress all his neighboring countries one by one?

~ Zane Ostojic

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I have done my best to oppose the real acts of aggression, not imaginary ones.

Regarding 'Hebron, City of Terror' by Ran HaCohen:

I liked your article. You will be able to reach more readers if, at the end of the article, there was a button to click to send this article to a friend.

~ August A.

Sam Koritz replies:

Just such a button can be found in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Regarding Sam Koritz's replies to IM Fletcher's letter of February 11:

IM Fletcher: Do you actually think you proved that a potential US invasion of Iraq "resembles" the Nazi Germany invasion of the Soviet Union with this response as you claimed previously? Your only reasonable response here is to one a gave you, a freebee to see if you were paying attention (Saudi Arabia). Now please answer how these "resemble" each other in your ill-advised comparison.

1) Iraq invaded Kuwait in attempting to take control of a high percentage of the world's oil supply. Tell me what the Soviet Union did to "resemble" Iraq's invasion in inciting Nazi Germany and the rest of the world?

2) The US has went to the UN in trying to actively involve the entire International Community through resolutions. You have listed Nazi Germany using the cooperation of 7 countries in it's invasion of the Soviet Union – what are you smoking that inclines you to believe this is similar or "resembles" our position? We have 15 of the 18 NATO nations currently with us on Iraq, not to mention numerous non-NATO countries that support us. Germany never consulted the international community before it's invasion. Even if we went to Iraq right now, there is nothing here that "resembles" the Nazi invasion of Russia in it's attempt to conquer the world. This disgusts me that you would even make this comparison.

Sam Koritz: I didn't claim that the invasions resemble each other, just that the justifications given by the invaders – preventive 'defense' – resemble each other.

IMF: One other point I would like to make here. You say Cheney "promised Saudi Arabia that our troops would leave" indicating that our troops in Saudi Arabia are under some kind of protest (unwanted) from the Saudi regime. If this was true (which it's not and you know this), all Saudi Arabia would do is complain publicly to the international community if it felt threatened by our troops presence there, or were not wanted on Saudi soil. More anti-American propaganda from Antiwar.com. Maybe you should change your sites name to the former, it appears more accurate as you constantly attempt to depict America as the bad guys throughout history.

SK: Saudi Arabia is ruled by thousands of princes, some of the most powerful of whom don't even hold positions in the government. In the words of the Economist magazine ("The Princes," June 17, 2002.): "Rivalries within the Al Saud are exacerbated by uncertainties regarding succession." A succession struggle appears to be under way currently, with Crown Prince Abdullah apparently acting as interim CEO. Many Saudi princes have business and political/business relationships with current and former US government officials. In a situation like this it's unlikely that the Saudi government or elite would speak with one voice on this issue.

But have Saudi representatives asked the US to withdraw troops? According to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, "Ever since the Gulf War ended, we've been working to try to minimize the amount of time and the size of the footprint that U.S. forces have in Saudi Arabia... They've been asking a long time, and we've been working with them for a long time – not just during this administration but during previous administrations – to reduce the footprint." ("Saudis ask US to reduce forces, W. House admits," CNN, January 27, 2002)

IMF: Let me make this easy for you by simplifying. If you don't want war then you don't shoot at patrolling US planes. If you shoot at and attack US planes then you cannot complain when we come looking for you. Saddam is the aggressor, if he lets our planes patrol without attempting to shoot them down then there is no aggression, period. If Saddam disarms then there is no threat of aggression from him as he has done in the past 15 years. After what Saddam did in his past he should be happy to only have US planes patrolling as peacemakers as opposed to kicking up dust in the ground.

SK: That's a unique and dubious definition of aggression: shooting at foreign war planes in your country's airspace.

SK quote: "That's ridiculous, what you've quoted doesn't even mention weapons of mass destruction. And no, I don't think the US has kept nuclear weapons under pretty good control: several governments have enough nuclear weapons to destroy human civilization, while nuclear attack detection systems register numerous false alarms."

IMF: My comments here were a direct response to your statement that Iraq is not the aggressor so I don't understand your "ridiculous" response.

SK: My comments here were a direct response to your statement that I "talk sometimes like we shouldn't have these weapons but they should."

IMF: To refute your statement of the "US has not kept nuclear weapons under good control": There has been only one war in which the US has used nuclear weapons and it effectively ended that war and saved American and Japanese lives. There has been no other factual usage of nuclear weapons by the US or any other country in over a half of century. Also the US has done a tremendous job policing the world's dictatorships and keeping them from using nuclear weapons on allies, despite countries like Russia and China actively supplying these dictatorships with nuclear capabilities and information.

SK: Nuclear weapons have proliferated. Last year, intelligence experts were saying that even Al Qaeda probably has a nuke. Proliferation is the logical result of a situation in which the world's most powerful government has used nukes, threatened to use nukes, and violated agreements it's made by attacking other countries.

IMF: You took the position of disagreeing with me in that Iraq did not attack the Kurds with chemical weapons by listing 4 Americans who disagree with the rest of the world. It amazes me how you try to weasel out of your statements while twisting and turning the words to suit you when you have no leg to stand on. Now "my confidence" is based on first hand eye witness accounts to this world wide known atrocity while "your confidence" is based on four American citizens who weren't there.

SK: I did not write that "Iraq did not attack the Kurds with chemical weapons," I wrote that there is some question about it. To back this up I linked to a Pentagon report written by three experts who studied the question. Both sides used chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war (and, surprise, surprise, the US supplied bioweapons agents to Iraq – see, for example, "US gave samples of germs to Iraq/Transfers in 1980s used for bioweapons," the Associated Press, October 1, 2001), so I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Iraqi military, knowingly or not, attacked Kurdish civilians with them. (Here's an article, "Fighting Words," Village Voice, May 1-7, 2002, that mentions another Pentagon report, this one suggesting that the Kurds may have been caught in crossfire.)

IMF: I notice here where you refuse to address the importance of American lives, why? You basically said nothing in response to the lives saved by using the bombs on Japan. In War, civilians will die unfortunately and you know this. It's a known fact that in every war civilians will die. Bottom line is if you can save lives and stop war then you do what needs to be done, period. Your position here appears to be that Japanese civilians are more important than American soldiers and Japanese soldiers, despite the fact that the lives saved far outnumbers the Japanese civilian lives lost. As an American, American lives are very important to me. Military or not, an American life is an American life and most valuable in my book. Also, since no one actually knows what would have happened had we not went nuclear to end this war, it bears consideration that we may have saved American civilian lives as well.

SK: I already addressed this in my reply to R.E. Rex's letter posted February 15.

SK quote: "Of course, I never wrote, and don't believe, that chemical attacks on the Kurds were justified – see my ironic quotes around justified above. I'm the one who is opposed to killing civilians."

IMF: Your claim in the above statement is as follows "Iraq could have JUSTIFIED attacks on Kurd villages" in comparison to US nuclear weapons used in Japan. You may say that you do not believe in the chemical attacks but at the same time you give credence to a justification of such an attack on Iraq's part. That's double talk coming out of one mouth in my book. By the way, I'm the one who is opposed to long drawn out wars that cause the loss of many lives, civilian and military.

SK: What I actually wrote was, "Iraq could have 'justified' chemical attacks on rebel Kurd villages using your reasoning: doing so ultimately saved lives by decisively defeating the enemy." Since I reject your reasoning I obviously reject Iraq's hypothetical justification, a point made clearer by the ironic quotes I put around justified.

IMF: In my final opinion: America is our country, a country of freedom and liberty. It appears you prefer to have Russia, China and France determine American policy but I do not, nor do the majority of Americans. Maybe you should move to another country (or at least live in one for awhile) before defending them over US.

SK: Unethical nationalism, exemplified, in my opinion, by your double-standard regarding appropriate behavior for the US and other governments, is an enemy of freedom and liberty.

Regarding "US Will Expel Iranian Opposition from Iraq," originally titled "US Would Remove Iranian Opposition in Iraq," Reuters:

I write to take exception to your headline "US Will Expel Iranian Opposition from Iraq." The linked article clearly states, unless the term "give no quarter" has changed its meaning in recent months, that the Bush regime seeks to massacre the Iranians, not expel them.

~ James Allen Knechtmann

Regarding "Hussein Emboldened by Antiwar Sentiment," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post (not posted on Antiwar.com):

Brian Byer (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): How ironic, just when we were about to see some progress by UN weapons inspectors, your protests are actually pushing us closer to war by emboldening Saddam Hussein to flout the will of the United Nations!

Sam Koritz: Polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of the world's people oppose an invasion of Iraq. Many of these people believe that such an invasion would probably cause a humanitarian catastrophe, increased terrorism, and/or a destabilization of the world. For people with such beliefs – regardless of your and Mr. Chandrasekaran's speculations about Iraq's motives – protesting against the proposed invasion makes perfect sense.

Brian Byer: When people start dying in our cities from Iraqi-made biological and chemical weapons you people should be the ones to fill all the body bags!

SK: Every report I've read indicates that the people who actually attacked the United States seem to have done so to oppose US intervention in the Middle East. Time magazine for example writes that "US support for these regimes and for Israel, as well as the presence of 'infidel' American forces in Saudi Arabia are the reasons he [bin Laden] offers for his 'jihad' against the US." ("Bin Laden Profiled," September 12, 2001) This being the case, it would seem that further intervention, such as a US-led invasion of Iraq, is likely to increase the chances of terrorism in the United States.

BB: Forget your traitorous support the ruthless dictator and murderer Saddam Hussein and try supporting a real hero like George Bush who is trying to make the world a safer place. In case you only read fringe news reports here is a real one for you: "Hussein Emboldened by Antiwar Sentiment." Maybe after reading this you will realize how your foolish protests are leading us to war! ...

SK: None of the Antiwar.com's columnists support Saddam Hussein, and the homepage is full of news stories from mainstream sources.

Regarding "Holding Out for Hope" by Alan Bock:

The neo-cons might claim that one of their goal is to bring democracy to Iraq, and the rest of the region, but we should not be fooled by that. It is just nothing more than a propaganda void of any real substance. It is along the line of "white man's burden," and manifest destiny. It is a packaging of a hard to sell commodity meant to make them, and the American people feel so good and proud of their actions and that of the American government. History is full of such things.

The real motive is not to spread democracy in the region, but to conquer, dominate, and control, and the people of the region know that very well. The war party, and the cheerleaders of war, neo-cons lead by Bush, Blair and company continue to ignore their people at home.

The neo-con's push for unprovoked war against Iraq is driven by many things, but the idea that their wish to see the Iraqis liberated, free to choose their leader, and to pursue happiness is not one of them, as it is illustrated by the assurance given to a member of the Israeli Knesset by Democratic(!) Rep. Tom Lantos of California when he said, "You won't have any problem Saddam. We'll be rid of the bastard soon enough. And in his place we'll install a pro-western dictator, who will be good for us and for you."

Finally, the question should not be whether Iraq, and the countries of the region have any history of democratic rule or not, but does the west really wish to see real democracy in a region that the west had once controlled for a long time, but never allowed the people there any say in their affairs at that time either. Countries were never born democratic over night, nor were all the people in many countries able to participate in the democratic process all at once. It took centuries for women and blacks in the US to be fully able to vote long after independence from England.

~ Salem S.

Regarding "The New Leninism" by Chad Nagle:

Several times in this piece Mr. Nagle mentioned the electrification of a nation (every – or nearly so – home and business receiving electrical power) as a basis of Leninism. Can anyone tell me the percentage of such a goal which had been accomplished by the time Stalin came along? I'm equally interested in the same statistic in Germany under Hitler – was Italy also electrified by that same time? How about Japan? Electrification was a goal under the FDR administration here, pretty much achieved by the early 1940s.

There seems to be a correlation, at least between the lines. Yet I have never read anything on this topic. ...

~ Ralph C.

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