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Please send your letters to Backtalk editor Sam Koritz. Letters become the property of Antiwar.com and may be edited before posting. Unless otherwise requested, authors may be identified and e-mail addresses will not be published. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Antiwar.com.

Posted August 16, 2003

Question from BBC Reporter

I'm a reporter for the BBC/PRI radio show, The World. I saw some posted comments on this site regarding Ward 57 in Walter Reed. I'm interested in talking with families or soldiers who have passed through the Ward.

You can contact me at quillawrence@yahoo.com.

~ Quil Lawrence

"A Politically Correct War?"

... The fact is, if the slaves had been given voting rights, the slave owners would have had less power. If they hadn't been considered persons at all, the slave owners would have had less representation in Congress than the nonslave states, and thus less power. There were only two other alternatives to what was actually done, and I have outlined both. Both would have lessened the power of the slave states. ...

That has nothing to do with Rice's absurdity that his applies to Iraq.

~ Jenn Brice

Raimondo is right on target here. But he failed to mention that accusing opponents of the Iraq invasion of being "racist" is not original at all. During the Vietnam war I recall the hawks of that era also accused war opponents of "racism" for not wanting to sacrifice US blood and treasure to bring "democracy" to the yellow skinned peoples of southeast Asia.

The Rice speech is not only a crock of BS, but it also smells like plagiarism.

~ George S. Cole

I am in complete agreement concerning your analysis of the Rice speech; however, your sons and daughters "hard earned" tax dollars were really generated through exploitation of the earth's natural resources and if you want to maintain your standard of living for your children, I think you are going to have to live with American deaths. America and Britain were the furthest away, geographically, from "cheap oil" and the US needs cheap oil to buy cheap products made mostly with cheap labor and made from cheap oil (plastics, food), for the benefit of American Companies.

Run your antiwar campaign, but the alternative to war is a much different standard of living for Americans. Do you have any way to sell that idea?

Excellent analysis.

(Whites have always used ethnic minorities to "sell out" other ethnic minorities – Powell and Rice are just the newest form of slave traders.)

~ Greg H.

Backtalk editor Sam Koritz replies:

We don't need to sell Americans on accepting a lower standard of living, since we disagree with your zero-sum economic analysis.

Here's just one argument against your military aggression = wealth formula:

Two of the world's three wealthiest countries – Germany and Japan – have been among the world's least aggressive for the past half-century.

Iraq Vacuum

My heart says "yes, let's get the hell out of Iraq, and leave them to their fate" My head says "we can't – who will fill this vacuum?"

If we DO abandon our venture in Iraq, what, in your opinion, will become of Iraq? Might we not be creating an even bigger problem than we already have?

~ Clay Miller, Brandon, Mississippi

Associate Editor Michael Ewens replies:

This is the same reason that is used to justify continued government intervention. Examples include socialization of medicine, increasing spending on government schooling etc. In each case, further meddling always makes things worse. Simply, the government (and its military) – a public enterprise financed by taxation and mostly immune to corrective market forces – fails at everything that it does. Consider this: through the income tax system, federal and state governments have distorted the labor market and allocation of capital. Eliminating the income tax outright – a great idea – will definitely create temporary imbalances and maladjustments (what will tax accountants do?!). But would you want the government that taxed you be the same one that fixes the problem that it created? Furthermore, is it not better that your income is no longer being stolen? Simply:

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

- Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 1791. ME 8:276

The government's involvement in Iraq has the same characteristics as these

"Who will fill the vacuum?"

On principle, the US should not be governing Iraq. Therefore, the outcome of withdrawal – be it unrest or Saddam reemergence – matters little. However, I suspect that if the US pulled out, Iraq would split into three parts (or more). This will more than likely involve violence and death – just as US occupation has caused. Will this violence be greater than it is now? Perhaps. On the one hand though, Americans will not be killed. And secondly, only then individual liberty of Iraqis will finally be recognized and respected by the US. Yes, Saddam suppressed Iraqi liberty before the war, but remember, in that case the US government had no responsibility for such repression.

Pay Cut for Troops

Let's do the math on that $225/month pay cut the Pentagon neocons are about to hose our troops with:


Iraq 148,000 + Afghanistan 9,000 = 157,000 total.

Cost per soldier:

Danger Pay $75 + Separation Allowance $50 = $225 per troop.

Monthly amount = $225 x 157,000 troops

= $35,325,000.

Yearly amount = $423,900,000 x 12 = $423,900,000.

=or about $424 million yearly.

Now, compare that with the weekly cost of the Iraq war at $1 billion, and it is easy to see that the troops are getting totally shafted by their leaders. In fact, they are having their pay stripped for a mere one-half of one week's worth of Pentagon cost savings.

~ Tom Lowe, Borrego Springs, California

Diane S.'s backtalk

Christopher Deliso, thank you very much for your reply! The Saudi regime has nothing to lose by asking for the release of the "28 pages." They know that Bush has more to fear from this than they do. By covering for these Saudi "charities" and money trails, Bush is ultimately protecting the CIA, who set up this system through the Bin Laden network to finance and recruit for CIA covert operations, i.e. Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Chechnya.

Here's an article that I think you would find interesting – "Heritage or Sacrilege?":

"...[C]haritable organizations from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia were moved to help the Kosovar Albanians, contributing significantly to the relief effort, both in the refugee camps and in postwar reconstruction. Construction began a matter of months after the NATO campaign had succeeded in dislodging the Yugoslav army from Kosovo in June 1999. The SJRC (Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya) is an umbrella organization representing several charities sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia."

What "charities" are included in the SJRC? http://law.about.com/library/911/blcharities.htm ... http://law.about.com/library/911/blsaudis.htm ...

This is the story of Wa’el Hamza Jalaidan: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A59661-2002Sep9?language=printer:

"Jelaidan surfaced in Peshawar, Pakistan, where Arab groups supporting the Afghan resistance were based. Authorities said Jelaidan joined forces with bin Laden's mentor, the late Palestinian scholar Abdullah Azzam, in an organization referred to interchangeably as Makhtab al Khadimat, the Alkifah Refugee Center and the Office of Services. That group, according to authorities, later evolved into al Qaeda."

Makhtab al Khadimat was a CIA operation with plenty of Saudi cash thrown in. http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~pdscott/qfisi.html

"All through the Soviet Afghan invasion of the 1980s, Casey of the CIA, Prince Turki of Saudi intelligence, and the ISI worked together to create a Foreign Legion of so-called 'Arab Afghans' (who in fact were never Afghans and not always Arabs) in Afghanistan. Bin Laden came to Afghanistan to represent Prince Turki in this endeavor. The foreigners were supported by the Services Center (Makhtab al-Khidmat) of the Jordanian Palestinian Abdullah Azzam, in the offices of the World Muslim League and Muslim Brotherhood in Peshawar. (Rashid, Taliban, 131)."

Neither the US government nor the Saudi regime want a thorough bona fide investigation of the Bin Laden organization and these money trails, including Omar al-Bayoumi's former "employer," Saleh Abdullah Kamel, who I mentioned in my previous email to Backtalk.

~ Diane S.

A Case for Hizbollah?

Concerning the AAA shells that make over the border and into Israel, it is interesting to note that the Arrow missile system shoots down other missiles before they make into 'friendly' territory. If any missile from states east of Israel would be lobbed at it, then NBC weapons could end up exploding over Jordan, SA, or Syria, even if these states did not launch them.

Of course, there seems to be little concern for these potential killed bystanders on Israel's part.

~ Brock Bevan, Grants and Accounting Assistant, The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development

Both Hands on the Waistband

I hope the survey responses are coming in fast and furious. I've already filled mine out but instead of sending in a second response, I thought maybe I could write you, with an idea I had for a regular feature that might be called, "Both Hands on the Waistband".

I have often been impressed by the quality of submissions to Backtalk. Sure, there are a lot of lightweights writing in, but even they can be pretty entertaining. ...

What I've got in mind are brief "threads", and actual, two-way, full-on dialogue. Some sort of regular, recurring feature that would offer more than one distinct, individual voice, speaking on broad-ranging general topics of interest. But in no way, shape or form, a "Greek Chorus". (Any and all comparisons to real-life, existing, new, Junior-Justin columnists purely intentional).

"Dialogue" isn't very easy to follow in a regular "Letters to the Editor" format, organized by topic and date. That was the best feature of the late antiwar forum, which I stopped dropping into as it switched to the cumbersome new, advert-riddled structure.

Anyway, here's the idea:

... Feature a short series of exchanges, dedicated to the proposition that while it may not always be possible to prove that The Emperor Has His Complete, Lard-Ass Posterior (and every other anatomical feature) Totally Buck-Naked, just plain 'pantsing' the Imperial S.O.B. – or going the opposite direction, in pursuit of figurative, editorial "wedgies" – is best accomplished with both "a Right Hand and a Left Hand on the Waistband."

I'm thinking of a web page with a vertical line going straight down the middle of the screen, featuring responses, follow-ups, and other commentary to material that's maybe already been posted on Antiwar.com. Maybe not even HTML, just straight black-and-white text, 2-column broadsheet PDF's. Printable and easy to distribute, with a cleaner and better looking appearance than you get with standard webpage formatting. The kind of thing that you might want to mark up with a pen and draw up a reply to. Or mail to somebody.

Of course, long and protracted, blistering polemical exchanges must be avoided, always. Likewise curt, brusque, breezy and dismissive non-responses. Think "dance of ideas", but keep it interesting, personal and real. Try for the two-barreled, set-up-and-slam, punch – killer punch. Both shoes drop, on opposite halves of the page, in both Leftish-speak, and the more measured, sonorous conservative idiom. Which might take a few follow-ups, or re-translations or two, in order to be universally comprehensible. And because that's not a quality that's often within reach, you wouldn't want to try too often or too hard, to avoid forcing untoward or flat embarrassments. ...

I'll admit it. I'm not completely comfortable with the momentum and general direction of the website these last few years. I would like it to be more of a magnet for a wider, more broadly-based audience. I mean, I'm sorry, but I find myself reaching out to other websites (cd.org, freerepublic, f'er Chrissakes) for "balance", as well as "fairness". Which could be related to nervousness and general anxiety related to the impending 2004 elections. Besides the fact that some Americans don't like voting for certain other Americans, who happen to be from specific geographic areas of the country, I think the only other, almost universally held sort of postulate that one could offer is that most of us are instinctively mistrustful of too-strictly-sectarian 'isms. You can aspire to reach a majority of the shrinking angry, white, middle-aged, middle-income male demographic, but in the end, where will those numbers leave you? And if the focus of one's political attention relates directly to foreign policy (but not in an explicitly obvious, draconian, "anti-terrorist" sort of way), you're trying to reach out to that potential "anti-war" voting bloc, well, "good luck", is all I can say. Considering that you're ultimately going to be competing with someone loudly and constantly – and for all I know, even subliminally – claiming to be "a uniter, not a divider". ...

What's going on? Why can't Joe Blow find his ass in the dark, with both hands?

Lay it our for me, Antiwar.com, (But not always in so heavy-handed a manner, please.)

~ A.K.A. Mojowork_n, your fairly long-term reader (since the bombs started falling on Belgrade)

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