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Webmaster's Note: Today's Backtalk marks the 500th edition by Sam Koritz. Sam has done a heroic job over the last two-plus years. The Antiwar.com staff offers our sincere thanks for keeping up with the growing number of letters and continuing to produce a quality column.   ~ Eric Garris

Posted August 13, 2003

"Dean vs. Loserman"

An interesting article on Dean.

And yet there is the troubling matter of Dean's position on the Middle East, which gets very little comment. People assume that because of Dean's antiwar stance he must be a moderate on Israel-Palestine issues. I certainly assumed so. In fact I have a check made out to Dean's campaign, sitting on my desk, which was never sent because of what I learned right after I wrote it.

When asked the question, Dean forthrightly identifies himself with the AIPAC position on Israel. He hasn't, as far as I know, joined the crowd of those condemning Bush's "Road Map" as being too hard on Israel, but neither has he shown any sympathy for any peacemaking efforts that pressure Israel, or any criticism of Israel's settlement policy. He says "At one time the Peace Now view was important, but now Israel is under enormous pressure. We have to stop terrorism before peace negotiations." See "Dean Not Progressive on Mideast" by Ahmed Nassef.

Now this may be explained by realpolitik concerns, but it does pose a giant contradiction with his stance against the war in Iraq. This topic is sure to come up at one point or another and it will be interesting to see what Dean does with it. I am surprised that, given Raimondo's well known views on this issue, he didn't see fit to mention it.

~ Steve Cohen

Joe Lieberman is a disgusting specimen of a human being and his picture should be in the dictionary next to 'politician'. One similarity Dean does share with McGovern though is the vehement opposition from his party's power brokers. The Democratic Party back in '72 decided four more years of Nixon would be better than getting thrown out on their ass by a President McGovern so they didn't bother to lift a finger to help him in his campaign. That as much as Nixon portraying him as Ho Chi Minh's best pal is what did him in.

I think the conventional wisdom on Dean's candidacy is wrong. He is EXACTLY what the Democratic Leadership Council claims to be – an non-ideologue politician who isn't afraid to offend the left or the right to do what he thinks is right. If he wins the nomination his opposition to the war in Iraq will look prescient because he turned out to be right. Painting him as an al-quaida sympathizer is Rove's job, and it is dismaying to see the chickensh*ts in the DLC more than happy to do his bidding for him. A Dean presidency is much much more appealing than a second term for Bush, and if the Democrats were an actual opposition party they would have done what the GOP did four years ago and settled on a candidate before the primary season began. The pustulant boil that is Joe Lieberman is everything that is wrong with American politics, because for all of his rhetoric and 'opposition' to Bush he is doing exactly what is necessary to get him reelected.

~ Daniel Dotson

If the Republicans are to get their philosophical act together, they need more than just a Howard Dean opposition. What they need is the painful good medicine of a principled Republican to run against the establishment candidate in the 2004 primaries, the way Eugene McCarthy did for the Democrats in 1968. Is someone like Ron Paul interested?

~ J. Wroblewski, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Backtalk editor Sam Koritz replies:

You're not the first to suggest this – see "A Modest Proposal:
Ron Paul for President
" by David R. Henderson – but no word yet from Rep. Paul.

While much of what Justin Raimondo said in his recent column about Howard Dean is true in that he is no McGovern, that the old Democratic Party (say before 1912) had a history of non-interventionism and his sudden rise to the top polls is due in large part to revulsion of current U.S. foreign policy, those of us who are antiwar, whatever our political stripes, must be very wary about embracing Dean as someone who can carry that message to the White House.

While Dean may be opposed to the right-wing social democratic (or neocon, whatever you want to call it) critique of foreign policy, he is not opposed and even supports the left-wing social democratic critique of foreign policy and interventionism (otherwise known as the Clinton Doctrine) as Justin himself pointed out in his column of July 7 ("To Heck with Liberia!") by supporting a US intervention with a peacekeeping force into the war-torn country. In fact, I believe, all of the nine candidates running for the Democratic nomination support such an intervention on supposed "humanitarian" grounds. It's perhaps the biggest legacy Clinton has left on the party.

But in reality, it's a trap that the left often falls into. If Dean supports intervention in Liberia because it is "humanitarian" to do so, then what was wrong with invading Iraq for largely the same reasons i.e. the removal of a murderous, tyrannical regime and ending the misery of the Iraqi people? Indeed, it's the type of intervention that Joe Lieberman supports as well and will point out such an inconsistency in Dean's approach during any debate the two have with each other. And even if Dean wins the nomination he will, in order to burnish his foreign policy credentials, make himself acceptable to the social democratic ruling elite and "look tough," will continue to back such military interventions in the future if he becomes President. His foreign policy team will no doubt also be made up largely of ex-Clintonites who hold similar views and were the biggest cheerleaders during the US bombing of Serbia.

Regardless of whether neocon or neoliberal, the social democratic elite is both globalist and pro-intervention. They just have different reasonings for being so. For those of us on the outside looking in, the people who have to supply the manpower and the money to make their sinister dreams come true, both ways lead to economic ruin, statism and death.

It may be true the that Dean's opposition to the war in Iraq and to the neocon means of running it is attracting a lot of support, but it's support for the wrong reasons. I am somewhat less hopeful that even if he is nominated, that we can have honest debate on US foreign policy the way we could if a true anti-interventionist, like a Ron Paul, was running for president. Paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives have the only consistent and honest approaches to an anti-interventionist, anti-globalist foreign policy. Unfortunately, both such groups are tied up in third parties and cannot make their voice heard as well. That's why, even if Dean is on the ballot in November, I'll be writing-in Paul's name and I hope others do the same as well. I am not willing to see US troops in Liberia and more than I am willing to see them in Iraq, no matter what the reason.

~ Sean Scallon, Arkansaw, Wisconsin

Justin Raimondo's column on Howard Dean succinctly sums up why I am a Dean contributor and activist. Howard Dean is the only presidential candidate who came out forthrightly and early against the neocon agenda of perpetual war. Despite 30 years of Libertarian and Republican activism (including a stint as a Republican elected official), I am going to switch parties and join the Democrats so I can more effectively support Dean. I strongly urge all antiwar Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians to do likewise this year. I frankly don't care about Dean's other views, although I note approvingly that he balanced the budget in Vermont year after year while earning the scorn of many of Vermont's big spenders. I'm a one issue voter now, and as long as Howard Dean sticks to his guns on the issue of preemptive war, he has my enthusiastic support.

~ Mike Stamper, Windsor, Connecticut

Thanks for the informative an unbiased article on Governor Dean for a change. It led me to reading all of your other articles.

I spent most of my formative years in the middle east. The daughter of a somewhat infamous American CIA agent. (Of course he did not become infamous until the Iran Contra scandal broke.) I am shocked and concerned that my father believes the current ignorant imbecile in the white house is the best president we have ever had. ...

The current administration's foreign policy of preemptive strikes is blatantly designed around the PNAC's pax Americana. Why are so many Americans ignorant of the danger's posed by this imperialistic organization run by the Perle's and Wolfowitz's of our current society. These people are dangerous. In my opinion they are the American version of the Taliban.

Anyway thanks for the objective work. Glad to see contributions are tax deductible. I wish you guys had pay pal for checks online as I refuse to use credits cards during our current economic crises. Will send a check this week and add antiwar.com to my favorites.

~ Sharon A. Cave

Sam Koritz replies:

Antiwar.com does accept PayPal contributions.

You say,

"But he (Dean) is no con artist, either: he seems far too contrarian and intelligent to take a dogmatic view of economic and domestic political issues, and is thankfully free of the Democratic candidate's traditional subservience to the union bosses."

It appears to me that the subservience now goes the other way. What have the unions gotten for their reflexive endorsement of the Democrats? Not a damn thing. It's been 50 years and we still are shackled by Taft-Hartley.

So the Democrats tell the unions 'Where else are you going to get a better deal?' The union bosses are as spineless in dealing with the Democrats as the Democrats are in dealing with Bush.

~ M.G. Murphy, Seattle, Washington

"Autumn of the Patriarchs"

Barganier would have better served his argument against statism with a closer inspection of the UN's activities in Iraq. Bargainer writes "U.N. sanctions are responsible for half a million Iraqi deaths over the last decade" presumably in reference to the The 1999 Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys in which Unicef, after surveying one million Iraqi households, concluded that the UN sanctions resulted in the deaths of a half million deaths under age 5 since 1991.

Unicef determined from the surveys that 5,000 children under age five died as result of the UN sanctions each month, and has since cited this figure as its current estimate for child mortality in reports from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and now in appeals on its postwar Iraq interim website.

Some of those citations follow surveys similar to those conducted in 1999.

Adding up the months since the 1999 survey, and multiplying by 5,000, we can conclude that according to Unicef's estimates over 3/4 of a million children under age five died as result of 12 years of sanctions. Neither the half-million killed, nor the 3/4 of a million killed estimates includes children over 5 or adults killed by sanctions. We do not know if sanctions have killed a million, or two million adults, only that they have at least killed several hundred thousand children under age 5 and that point should be made clear.

Barganier makes excellent arguments against the promises of the state, and in the UN's case, the supra-state. One sees immediately sees the failure and hypocrisy of that organization when observing, as Bargainer does, that the institution officially committed to world peace admits that in one of its member states it brought about the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

~ Nick Copanas

"A Tale of Two Democrats"

Gancarski calls Howard Dean "an all too unknown commodity." Baloney! Dean is doing everything possible to make himself and his views known, by means of personal appearances, interviews, the Internet, and a growing network of volunteers like me, who have rarely or never gotten involved in a Presidential campaign before.

To me the "all too unknown commodity" was and is President Bush. His public statements are often vague and inconsistent, and there is increasing evidence that some of the most consequential things he says are not based on fact.

I am not, incidentally a Democrat or a Republican. Just a senior citizen who thinks we had better make a change in 2004.

~ Charles Sullivan, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sam Koritz replies:

What do you mean President Bush is an unknown commodity? He clearly stated when campaigning that he's for shrinking government and pursuing a humble foreign policy.

Planting Evidence?

This is a follow-up on my last letter, which implied that it was only a matter of time before Bush's new WMD team found some evidence that they could parade around. When this happens Bush and his media sycophants will be crowing "I told you so" until the cows come home.

It should be clear to most people by now that the "large stocks" of chem and bioweapons that Bush and Blair claimed Saddam had are nonexistent and the nuclear weapons issue was a bad joke. In my letter I stated that the only way that they are going to find anything is if they plant it themselves. This story – "New Revelation Surfaces about Gulf War II 'Mystery Illness'" – should arouse the suspicions of those who might consider this to be a possibility. What were the soldiers "hauling" in their convoy? Why were they taking whatever it was to or from Saddam's palace? Why did the military suddenly disown those involved so that they could cynically classify the illnesses as "non-combat related"?

Coincidentally, Blair is supposed to be releasing a new report on WMD. Do not be surprised if a large stash of chem and bioweapons are suddenly "discovered" in the near future.

~ KW


The mayor of Hiroshima criticized US officials for pursuing new nuclear weapons technology, as he marked the 58th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack. Tadatoshi Akiba said Washington's apparent worship of "nuclear weapons as God" was threatening world peace. "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the central international agreement guiding the elimination of nuclear weapons, is on the verge of collapse," Akiba said during the annual ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park. "As the U.S.-British-led war on Iraq made clear, the assertion that war is peace is being trumpeted as truth."

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II was unthinkable! Dropping the atomic bomb didn't achieve much militarily, but it showed the world that American had the biggest,meanest, worst weapons of mass destruction,as well as the will power to nuke their enemies! ...

~ Ted Rudow III, MA, California

"US Troops in Iraq Are Sitting Ducks"

In "Notes in the Margin", Aug. 8, you say you are puzzled how one could infer that because Dean is working with people from AIPAC he may in truth agree with them. Well, isn't there a precedent for this in recent American history?

George W. Bush kept saying how American foreign policy should be more "humble" and that it wasn't right for the US to go around telling everyone else how things ought to be done. So much for that. But if one were to have scrutinized the bedfellows going into the G.W. Bush presidency, one might have rightly suspected that things wouldn't turn out the way the campaign made it sound. Indeed, you yourself say in the same article that you have little doubt Dean will succumb to pressure from the War Party if he becomes president, and you give even fewer reasons except for an informed generalized pessimism.

In a field of crusty old insiders and deeply corrupt crooks, Dean looks very good, indeed. But I am worried that the political and power structures in this country will make him "fit the old mold" one way or another.

~ Robert Burnier (longtime reader), Chicago, Illinois

Not only do I agree with this assessment of Iraqi situation, but I take it further. I believe that Bush's foreign policy is jeopardizing the welfare and safety of the American public at home and abroad.

For example, last week's bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta was clearly aimed US interests in Indonesia.

This so-called campaign for Iraqi freedom has created a terrible image of the US not only in the Arab world, but in all countries around world. In a recent poll According to an International Poll conducted for the BBC by ICM and other Pollsters for the BBC report "What the World Thinks of America", showed that 71% of the respondents in Jordan and 66% of Indonesia viewed the US as more dangerous then al-Qaeda.

Further, according to the June 16,2003 BBC polls USA "was rated more dangerous than Iran by people in Jordan, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea and Brazil and more dangerous than Syria by all respondents all countries, except Australia, Israel and USA."

Yet, the Bush and Co. insisted that the long repressed Arab and Muslim peoples would welcome a Democratic Regime Change in Iraq. As a result, the growing democratic movement in the Middle-East and Muslim world would overtime increase American security at home and abroad.

Clearly, as the polls indicated the opposite is true. Sadly, as the Jakarta bombing indicates Bush has placed Americans at home and abroad at risk. These international feelings towards the USA are feeding terrorists organizations such as al-Qaeda.

Yet, Most Americans refuse to give up their simple minded Rambo view of the world. In order to destroy terrorism, we must be willing understand complexities of the Muslim world.

~ Doug Characky

Gary Duff's backtalk

I agree with Gary Duff when he asks and answers the question "Would the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats actually encourage the sacrifice of our soldiers or those 14-year-old black kids to increase their chances of winning in 2004? In a heartbeat!"

Of course they would, just as Bush and other Republicans would if it were to their advantage. Ninety-nine percent of the pols in Washington and elsewhere work from expediency, not principle

~ Carter Mitchell, Gurnee, Illinois

Michael B.'s backtalk

Backtalk mentioned a lack of civilian casualty pictures from the Iraq war. You can find a fair amount here.

~ Saïd K.

Unreported Deaths

I work with some very conservative people who are arguing, my guess from what they hear on conservative talk machines, that the non-combat casualties, 60 since May 1, 2003, is the same that the military would suffer during normal training operations. As I am sure you are aware, Rove's got the media reporting only "combat" casualties while deaths like that of Sean Reynolds, May 3, 2003 from "falling off a ladder and having his weapon discharge" nor Jason Deibler from a "non-combat weapon discharge" are not counted. My take is, dead in Iraq is dead in Iraq. The conservatives feel that the other deaths are from normal operations.

I served in Desert Storm with the front line unit Second Armored Cavalry Regiment and the only military death I was ever aware of was one (1) during combat operations. We were in the field over 200 days a year during the cold war and safety was paramount.

Can you please find out the number of accidental deaths and injuries during a normal military year and let these brainwashed conservatives know that ground operations are not of the type that would cause 60 deaths accidentally in three months.

Thank you for the work you are doing. Together, we can take our country back.

~ Louis N.

US Media

It’s getting to be a sad cliché, but these two recent stories in the Independent of England are more examples of why you can’t rely on the US media to give you the "other side" of the story in Iraq. You have to read British papers and others.

This one – "Family shot dead by panicking US troops" – is on how US troops fired on another car full of harmless Iraqis and killed a man and his three children. To compound the tragedy, soldiers let the children bleed at the scene for more than an hour before sending them to the hospital. A doctor said at least one of the dead children would have lived had they been allowed to seek immediate medical attention.

This one – "CIA 'loots' villa where Saddam's sons died" – is on how US CIA agents looted the villa of Uday and Qusay Hussein before bulldozers demolished their former home to prevent it from being made into a shrine by Iraqis nostalgic for Hussein's rule. One bald CIA agent with an automatic rifle slung over his shoulders, said he was from Colorado and admitted he was collecting souvenirs for himself and his colleagues. "He and other armed Americans were removing pieces of blue and pink marble from interior walls and stacking them in the back of their vehicle," the article says.

As a US journalist myself, I’m ashamed of the US media’s cowardice and inability to cover these important stories. But hats off to the British media.

~ Jackson Thoreau

"Casualties in Iraq"

I want to thank you deeply for the lists of names of all the dead Americans in the latest foray into Iraq. The news is unreliable, numbers go down at times as one network or another decides to only list those who died of bullets and bombs.

My husband and I are both veterans, we feel the many not killed by bullets and bombs – the non-combat deaths are just as dead and because they were there!

I needed the names and numbers. I am building my own war memorial to the soldiers we have lost so that The Shrub can create yet another Shah Pahlavi, another Manuel Noriega, another Marco, with or without Imelda! I am building a sandstone labyrinth in my backyard, it will be about 500 feet over the entire circuit of a classical seven ring Cretan style labyrinth. On Nov. 8th this year we inaugurate it with a formal walking by our guests and family, it will be lit by luminaries (paper bags lit with candles inside) inscribed with the names of the dead.

~ L. Labrys

Well, according to CNN we have hit another milestone in the Iraq War – as of August 8, 2003 the total of confirmed deaths of US and British soldiers has reached 300. Since Pres. Bush declared "major fighting over" on May 1st, half again as many of our soldiers have died. It is interesting to note that the difference in combat deaths to total deaths (including "accidents," etc.) have only fallen from 66% to 45%. Since May 1st, the Coalition forces have lost (fairly consistently) 1.2 soldiers per day. If the present rate of casualties continues, the number of deaths post-May 1st will exceed the "active war deaths" by the last week of August 2003. Unfortunately, this conflict is not over.

~ Aaron B.

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