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Posted July 31, 2003

"Behind the Hudna Scenes"

Ran HaCohen writes of the "almost blind obedience to the hudna on the Palestinian side", noting that "Armed resistance to the occupation, as well as terror attacks on Israeli citizens, have fallen to a minimum."

What does "a minimum" mean? The least that can be expected? An acceptable number?

The Palestinian Authority, cited in Haaretz, lists 26 separate terror incidents in the first three weeks since the Palestinian factions announced their "cease-fire." These include shootings, a stabbing on the street in Jaffa, mortar fire, and rockets fired. And there are other incidents reported daily about suicide bombers who have been stopped before they set off on their mission.

Since the hudna is supposed to last 3 months, we can expect over a hundred attacks on Jews in the "blind obedience" of this peaceful period. Unless of course, the frustration level picks up and the attacks increase.

Yes, the pace has lessened considerably. But, to use HaCohen's own term, one has to be blind – or unwilling to see – not to recognize that the Arab war on the Jews of Israel is continuing.

~ Glenn Farber

Ran HaCohen replies:

I may be blind, but you might need to clean your glasses too: I wrote of an almost total obedience to the Hudna – "blind" is your misquotation. Which means, for example, that the number of "hot terror alerts" stated by the Israeli army (unreliable as it is) dropped from an average of 60 to just about 15. Blood must be quite cheap in your eyes if you don't see the difference.

I believe that the best way to stop resistance to the occupation is to stop the occupation itself first. Since Israel has not taken a single step towards this end so far, you can hardly expect the Palestinians to have all become Zionist and converted to Judaism.

"Casualties in Iraq"

Each day I check your website to keep track of the war dead. My local paper and most of the news services list the number at 49 since May 1st. You do also, but then list 105 total casualties. Where do the other 56 come from?

~ Barry Condorman

Mike Ewens replies:

The 56 "missing" deaths are non-combat related, as defined by the US military.

"Worthless Words"

Thanks for the "false history" books' listing. Could you add also any of the featured newsmagazine stories, including specific journalist names of the prominent newspapers (NY Times, WStJ, etc.), that contributed the lies at that time swaying public opinion against the Serbs and acquiescing an acceptance of the demonization/ bombing/ capitulation/ occupation of Yugoslavia's sovereign territory?

Am looking forward to your "factual history" listing. What a great way to learn about this fraudulent 20th century history-writing perpetrated on the Serbian people – via reference to your comparison lists! Surely the Serbs in the Diaspora and most of the deluded Serbian-Americans (including the several other ethnic Yugoslavs) will be in gratitude for this effort to expose the truth. (Interesting that the American Legion, in opposing this US/NATO Balkan adventure from the start, sensed the U.S. involvement was flawed, discriminatory, and unwarranted.) Your lists should be "must reading" and stapled in the library shelves wherever claimed nonfiction writings on Yugoslavia are stored.

~ Pyotr K.

Nebojsa Malic replies:

Thank you! I am actually working on a list of 'factual history' books (to the extent there are any) for posting shortly. Putting together a list of defaming journalists is a time- and resource-consuming project, on which I would welcome assistance. If you, or other readers, have any suggestions (backed by actual examples, of course), they will be most welcome.

Mike Ewens Replies

First off, I'd like to tell you that I am in favor of the war in Iraq. Anybody who has all the facts would probably agree with the war. Saddam has killed over 2 million people NOT including the people his sons have killed. Who did he kill? People who speak out against their government, people like you. Also Kurds, why? Cause Saddam is a racist, and basically kills them for the purpose of ethnic cleansing. What a nice guy, let's keep 'em where he was. Seriously though, think about it. So far the war has killed 10,000 people including soldiers. About 5000 are civilians. I don't want innocents to die. In fact, I also want peace. So what's so different about us? It's the way we try to get to that peace. You want peace through appeasement, and, for a lack if a better word, isolation. Basically you're proposing we stay the hell out of other people's business. But then what do the people of Iraq do? Not much. That's where the US comes in. I don't want to make it sound like we're some super heroes, after all we do profit from this war, and we're also just protecting ourselves. But there is no better alternative than war. Common arguments are that we will get more people to hate us, and that it will cause more death. But this isn't necessarily true.

In fact a majority of Iraqis are in favor of the war. And war doesn't always end up with revenge. Has Japan, Germany, or Italy attacked us after World War II? Has Russia after the cold war? Then why Iraq? If this war can save even one more life than it kills, it's a totally legitimate and worthy war to be fought, and considering the numbers of people killed by Saddam and his sons, I'm sure people would have died under their rule, rather than this war. By the way, there IS a connection between Saddam and 9/11, since Saddam had been funding and had been giving aid to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Saddam has got to go, and there's no other way to do it than war. We did try other ways, but none of them have worked. I'm not some crazy war fanatic, I just don't want people to die, or at least I want less people to die, and war can accomplish that goal.

~ Mike Cows

Associate Editor Mike Ewens replies:

I will only respond to the most frightening argument you make:

"If this war can save even one more life than it kills, it's a totally legitimate and worthy war to be fought, and considering the numbers of people killed by Saddam and his sons, I'm sure people would have died under their rule, rather than this war."

OK, let's say it was predicted that 2 million a year would die with Saddam in power. You would contend a war of the following modes of liberation would be "legitimate":

Without intervention: 2,000,000 dead Iraqis.
With intervention (barring no collateral damage): 1,999,999 dead Americans.

= 1 more live saved than lost. Or:

Without intervention: 2,000,000 dead Iraqis.
With intervention (no US troops; "aerial war"): 1,999,999 dead Iraqis.

= 1 life saved.

To the former, the role of the American military is not to die saving foreigners and to the latter, you willingly killed innocents to save innocents. The second scenario could be justified if

1.) There was absolute certainty that 2 million would die – say there was a "doomsday" device that could only be destroyed by nuking it and you only kill those Iraqis that would have died otherwise (and not nuke, say Iran, "accidentally") I doubt this will ever be the case. Even if you are absolutely certain that Saddam would kill all these people (as certain as you were about WMD, perhaps?), then we get to the second choice:

2.) It is not the US military "saving" the moribund. If you care so much about foreigners – excuse my bluntness – you go save them. The American government and US military have delineated roles, of which liberation is not one.

SGT Paul: I am sitting here with my army buddy SSG Crocker having a beer. Less than 6 days ago I did not know what beer tasted like, due to our unit sitting in Iraq/ Kuwait for the last 6 1/2 months. How was your beer 6 days ago? Smooth, refreshing, quench your thirst? Well I hope you enjoyed cause due to outstanding soldiers like my unit, and all units, fighting for your rights and freedom.

Mike Ewens: This would be true if your leaders (President, Sec. of Defense, et al) sent you to actually fight and defeat a threat to my rights and my freedom. Yes, the pronounced goal of the US military is to protect America's freedom. But I think that you will have a difficult time demonstrating that Saddam and Iraq was such a threat. The government's mandate is to protect our "life, liberty and property" but I can make a huge list of government actions and laws that violate each one of these... from the IRS, the Patriot Act and economic regulation... each of direct violation of my freedom. Your job – one of defense – is commendable... however, the mission in Iraq, though fought valiantly, was not for our "freedoms" or our "rights."

SP: Now I know you will say that we fought for Iraq, not Americans. Let me tell you something, Have you ever looked a kid that has no home, no parents, and no hope? Have you seen the smile a kid like that has on his face when the tanks rolled into Baghdad? Well we have, and let me tell you I would not trade it for the world, even though I traded it for my family and friends. I spent 6 months out of my life defending the human right to be free. That is 1/80th of my life if I make it to 40. But that is more to SFC Smith, SSG Hollensaid, Pfc Myers who will never be coming home. I know you say that you are for the soldiers and not for the war, but when you belittle what we are doing, do you think that the soldiers appreciate it. Do you think that we believe you when you say that you support us and not the war.

ME: I think that the best support that I can give you and your fellow troops is demanding your quick and safe return. By protesting the actions of the bureaucrats and appointed administration officials who sent you to war, I am NOT criticizing you. I cannot avoid the offense that you may take at that.... just believe me when I say that I have a problem with American foreign policy and those who direct it.

SSG CROCKER: I sit here and look at my best friends' 2 children and wife and go home to my wife and daughter and I know what I do is right. I do what I do so that my child and your children and all the children of everyone who reads this on your website can grow up in a country where they will never have to worry about some stormtroopers busting their doors down and dragging mommy and daddy out of their homes off to prison to be tortured for months on end or even being killed just because they don't believe in the same thing as the local party leader.

ME: That is a respectable reason to do your job, although it doesn't show that the war in Iraq was a way of stopping these supposed "stormtroopers." If the president sent you on a mission to bomb and destroy a nation he hated – and was NO threat to America – would it still be wrong of me to oppose it? What if that mission involved killing innocents and destroying a nation that did no harm to America? Would it still be wrong for me to oppose it? Or I am to turn a blind eye to the actions of our military when "the decision is made" and the "President says go"? I maintain that we must have principles that guide our foreign policy which you and your fellow troops are a part of. One of these principles is the defense of American freedoms. How was Saddam a threat to American freedom?

SC: While in Baghdad I had the privilege to meet an elderly gentleman who had spent the last 9 years of his life in prison being tortured and maimed just because someone else heard him say something about Saddam HUSSEIN'S wife. While in prison the rest of his entire family was systematically rounded up and executed. That was his wife, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, cousins, everyone, over 90 people killed because of a statement about his leaders' wife's dress that she wore out in public one day.

ME: What does the plight of Iraqis have to do with my and other Americans' freedom? Nothing. I thought that the American military was defending Americans not foreigners. I honestly don't care about the plight of foreigners enough to demand troops like you go "liberate" them, just as much as I don't want Uncle Sam to take my income and redistribute to the poor through welfare programs.

SC: In our country that would not happen because myself and thousands of others like me defend your right to say and do anything you want like make this website. It sickens me and other solders that you would abuse your freedoms that we fight and die for,and turn your backs on us and your country.

ME: Yes, you are the defenders our our freedom... when it is threatened. Saddam was NOT a threat.

SC: You need to thank every servicemember you meet for the freedoms that we afford you. NOBODY prays for peace more than the people who have to fight and die for it. But we gladly do it if it means your children get to live free.

ME: Keep praying for peace, and I will keep demanding the they bring you home.

"Respect the Troops – Not Their Spineless Leaders"

Just finished reading this article, and I wonder if anyone on your staff has any military experience. I don't get the impression that many of your staff has any firsthand (i.e., in uniform) military experience. Here's why I think that way.

You made a big deal about Rumsfeld's non-visit. Nothing I heard is any different than at a civilian firm when the boss says that a vice president is dropping in on a "surprise visit". We all give ourselves a little look in the mirror before a big date, right?

Canceling a hospital visit because of "a cold" is not unusual, either. A couple surgeries ago (I lose count), my son was not allowed to come into the ward because he had a cold. His visit would have been a danger to the other surgical patients. Wounds and weakened immune systems do not need to be exposed to viruses, no matter how important the visitor might or might not be.

So, the troops are bitching about Rumsfeld and the other high brass? Situation normal. Soldiers gripe because that's one of the few outlets they have. It's a tradition going ALL the way back in our army. There were bad names and dark thoughts about all the leaders, for just the reasons you mentioned: "We're out here fighting lice and getting shot at, while the politicians and the reporters and the news commentators and the war protesters are getting hot chow and a shower every day." If I was with them, I would be bitching, too. God knows I bitched enough during my 20 plus years in uniform.

I have to bitch about you, now. Way back when I first went into the Army, the All-Volunteer Force was a new concept. The antiwar protesters and the liberals pushed hard for it because they were getting tired of the hard work of draft-dodging. Let the kids from Appalachia and East Saint Louis and the South Bronx do the fighting; we intellectuals have better things to do with our lives than go to Vietnam. I still favored a draft then, because everyone should take the risks if they enjoy the fruits of freedom.

Fast forward: we have an all-volunteer force now, and the same crowd that crowed for an end to the draft is calling to reinstate it for the same reasons the conservatives wanted to keep the draft. I am still in favor of the draft. I can only shake my head at the folly of both groups.

You're bitching about the non-combat injuries over there now: where the hell have you been the last 25 years? That goes on all the time. Suicide is a problem in the military, and not just because of bad leadership. It's a high stress profession, and the pressure hardly ever lets up. I have lost 8 friends to various "non-combat", peacetime causes, but they're just as dead as if they'd been shot by a sniper. My disabilities are related to combat training, non-combat causes, and bad food and water. My service-connected injuries preclude holding a remunerative civilian job, but my VA disability is subtracted from my military retirement. Without my wife working two part-time jobs, our family would be below the poverty line. I haven't heard any antiwar protesters pushing for better housing, or more doctors, or higher pay for soldiers. I haven't heard antiwar protesters and liberals shouting their support for HR 303, which would end the disability tax for retired career soldiers, so they could draw military disability payments like any other retiree entitled to VA disability payments.

We've been here all along. Why haven't you spoken up earlier? With friends like you, who needs enemies?

That said, I thank you for at least raising the questions, even if you don't like the answers you get. A healthy political opposition helps keep the ruling party honest, no matter which party it is. In retirement, I am still subject to recall to active duty. I disagree with you, but I will fight to the death for your freedom to disagree.

~ JS, Master Sergeant, United States Air Force, Retired

Christopher Deliso replies:

Thanks for your detailed letter. Interesting point re. Rumsfeld's cold, but in this case – where all manner of celebrity visitors were passing through daily – I don't think that was the problem.

Like several other readers, you suggest that military griping is not newsworthy, since it comes with the territory of being a soldier. Fair enough. My point is not that today's American soldiers should be coddled in comparison to your generation's, but rather that today's American soldiers should not be fighting a destructive and needless war against a country that never attacked us. Indeed, while you are no doubt further correct in asserting the commonality of "non-combat deaths," I have to wonder how many of those deaths would have occurred, were it not for said destructive and needless war.

Finally, please don't get me wrong – the implication of my article is exactly what you are saying: that soldiers and veterans need to be better paid, better cared for, and better respected. Right now in Iraq you have private mercenaries and even security guards making $70,000 a year with various perks, behind front-line soldiers earning maybe $20-40,000, who go home to the meager reality you describe. It's ludicrous to imagine, but even the guy safely peeling spuds for Brown & Root makes more than the soldiers. Some go to Iraq for duty, and some go for profit.

And sincere thanks to you, sir, for standing up for my "freedom to disagree." Although in the end, if you reread my article carefully, I don't think we are in such disagreement.

I back the President 100%. He's doing the right thing. And I totally despise so-called Americans who try to stir up hate and discontent by writing the kind of articles I just read. Evil needs to be wiped out, no matter the cost, and Saddam and his sons were/ are totally evil.

~ P. Horn

Christopher Deliso replies:

A number of letters have taken up your general argument – some more successfully than others.

If "evil" indeed needs to be wiped out anywhere and everywhere, I suggest you take out your light saber and get cracking, young Jedi. For, from the sound of it, you will have a lot of work to do.

I have never taken the time to respond to any antiwar rhetoric before but your article really burned me.

You hit the nail on the head when you said:

"Of course, it's true that America's is a professional army, and its soldiers were aware of the dangers – even if they'd never experienced them for real – before going to Iraq."

Yes, ours is a "professional" army with all kinds of benefits for the soldiers and their families that are not afforded to the general public at large.

I am frankly appalled at the lack of professionalism of some of the soldiers and their wives mouthing off about wanting to come "home", hating to be where they are at, hating the Iraqis, etc. For heaven's sake, they are employed by the Army and they take a pledge not to criticize their leaders and to do what they are told and serve where they are sent. THIS IS THEIR JOB. THIS IS WHAT THEY GET PAID FOR, OUT OF OUR TAX DOLLARS!

I am reminded of the old World War II slogan "Loose lips sink ships". What kind of Americans are these to endanger our troops even more, lessening morale more and strengthening the resolve of the terrorists? You know I get a picture of spineless young American soldiers, not spineless leaders.

I was a Navy wife. My husband was deployed for 9 months at a time, more than once when we had 3 small children. Did we Navy wives complain? NO, we knew it was our husbands' jobs to be gone.

All your rhetoric about leaders not going off to war and sending the young to die is as old as the hills and falls on deaf ears as far as I am concerned. ...

~ Lesley Garban

Christopher Deliso replies:

Regarding your last comment- you imply that since this dynamic is "as old as the hills" that war is therefore equally archaic.

In your opinion, the former is not worthy of discussion, because you seem to have accepted war as a normal part of life. If war too is "as old as the hills" does that mean we shouldn't speak out against it? If that's the case, I'm glad to be a throwback.

"White House Used Info from Iraqi Exiles in Bush's Speech"

WHY, WHY, WHY, and why has the link between the Israeli Mossad and the Iraq exiles that provided the information to the war Hawks in the DOD omitted from the news where it should have been to alert the American people to the dangers of the beggar nation of the middle east in causing this unnecessary war in Iraq. The controlled press by the amen corner continues to keep the presents of the Mossad from exposure to it dastardly deeds and it is inexcusable for you as a journalist to do the same.

As a World War II combat veteran I find your article of 29 July was insulting as to the truth of the Iraqi situation because you permit the instigators of deceit to go with out a mention in the press.

It seems as the lies of the NYT journalist has invaded the complete journalistic venue of the national press media.


~ Edward Tkacik, World War II combat veteran, Pennsylvania

Jason Leopold replies:

Although there may be some truth to your argument, I have been unable to independently verify the issue on my own. That doesn't mean that I will stop trying. But if there is any truth to the Israel connection, meaning documents and communication to back up your assertion, it will take some effort to get the information. I, for one, want to make sure I have rock solid evidence before I even write such a story.

How Do You Judge a People?

... We here in Canada were spared the Iraqi war by our current prime minister. Yet the prime minister before him has stated publicly he would have sent Canadian troops to fight beside American and British troops.

There really was no democratic process here. But I have to believe Mr Chretien did what he did based on what he and the rest of the world saw. This war had no real reasons to take place other than those in the minds of the American president and his immediate circle of consultants. The reasons stated by the American President now seem to be getting more
shallow every day.

The anger and frustration I feel every day as I read about American soldiers dying in a hell for a cause they themselves now question, the thought of cluster bombs exploding in the hands of young children for untold years to come can only be offset by my firm believe that the AMERICAN PEOPLE will now have to end this nightmare.

Do not judge a people by their politicians. Judge them by how they the remedy the problems their self-serving politicians put them into.

Let me say, ALL politicians LEAVE THE ROOM. Now.

GOD BLESS AMERICA. Do what you have done in the past to make things better for the whole world and do it from the heart.

~ Bob Pascas, Montreal, Canada

"Who Lied Us Into War?"

I think that antiwar voices – whether left, right or libertarian – are making a mistake by concentrating on the issue of the lies that Bush and his cabal of warmongers told.

Even if everything that they said were true, the war is still immoral, illegal and unjustified.

Iraq has as much right as any other country in the world to arm itself as it deems necessary for its defense. The possession of weapons by Iraq does not justify the US assault. If the mere possession of weapons justifies attacking other countries, then the US could attack any country in the world. This illogical nonsense should not be allowed to pass for rational thought. Iraq did not attack us nor did they threaten to attack us.

An actual Iraqi-Al Qaeda connection would not justify our attack either. The CIA and Bush personally had connections to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. By such skewed logic of guilt by association, Bush would have been required to attack both Langley and the White House.

I agree that the War Party's lies should be uncovered and that those responsible should be punished. But all that the lies did was gain public support for the war. The public should have seen through the lies but it didn't. What is more important is that even if what the public was told had been true, they still should have opposed the war as unconstitutional, immoral and unjustified.

That is the point that antiwar voices should be making clear to the American people.

~ Robert Backas

A New Liberal Right

Normally, I would prefer critical thinking in analyzing why the Bush administration has taken certain actions (both within and outside the borders of the United States) which seem to conflict with their words to the public. However, since the administration has exercised a right to take unsupported assertions and hold them out as "truth", demanding everyone else prove them wrong, I figure I also have a right to make my own allegations against the administration and demand that I be proven wrong. After all, a right exercised by those elected to represent me must also be my right as a member of that democracy "of, by and for the people".

So, in exercise of this new liberal right established by this administration, I allege that the war on Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or WMDs or liberation. I allege that this administration perpetuated public panic from 9/11, exaggerated (at least) the claims concerning WMDs, and played upon public sentiment about liberation in order to achieve certain political (power) goals. I allege that those goals (which included certain actions in the middle east) were created years before 9/11 and are stated in the "Project for a New American Century (otherwise known as PNAC).

The Statement of Principles for PNAC include signatures from numerous members of this current administration and can be found at http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciple.htm.

An interesting and informative overview of the goals and plans contained in PNAC can be found here.

Now, in accordance with my new liberal right, everyone else has the burden of proving my allegations wrong. By the way, I require hard evidence (smile).

~ Dr. L. Monica Hamrick, Hinton, West Virginia

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