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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 Unless otherwise requested, authors may be identified and e-mail addresses will not be published.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 October 16, 2003

"US War Propaganda Is Pathetic"

I enjoyed Mr. Raimondo's article, but I have two comments. First, I wouldn't characterize Bush's poll ratings as "plummeting." They are actually flatlining around 50% and in the most recent Gallup poll have risen from 50-55%. These are extraordinarily high numbers for a President with so many troubles.

Second, I wouldn't assume that U.S. failure in Iraq will lead to Republican failure at the polls. Rather, we may well be in for a US version of Ariel Sharon Syndrome: Failed hawkish policies rebound to the benefit of the failers. US interventions overseas breed the terror and statism that supports the status quo. It's a bleak prospect, but a likely one.

~ Mike Larkin

Justin Raimondo replies:

I agree with you. Failed hawkish policies rebound to the benefit of the failers – as long as the opposition is inarticulate, inconsistent, and generally clueless. Which pretty much describes the Democrats to a tee.

Oh my God! I have just read your Antiwar.com piece, "US War Propaganda is Pathetic," and it's perfect! You have brilliantly covered this travesty our administration has taken we Americans into. Bush and his ilk are an embarrassment! Condi, when speaking, always has the most pained expression on her face. (The expression my kids, as teenagers, used to have when they attempted to sell me a lie.). And Rumsfeld, in the beginning of this fiasco, used to smirk and joke when he talked to the press, which I found repulsive. (Was he so insensitive that he didn't care if humans were being destroyed as he spoke and smirked?) Even Colin Powell can't cover the face and body language he's now projecting. It's sad.

I am so disheartened, although writers like yourself give me hope as does Antiwar.com.

~ Nancy Walker, California

Please don't take my comments personally as I don't know you!

I have been redirected to your page many many times.

The first picture that greets me is a person that refuses to face the camera (donates dishonesty). The second aspect is that he is smoking. Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-smoking (I am a smoker too), but this displays a very casual and 'don't care' look.

As I said initially; these comments are not meant to be personal. But first impressions, last! I dread to read any further after seeing this picture! I suppose many others would feel the same way as I do. I must have closed down the browser at least 50 times, before I bothered to read one of your articles. To my surprise; they were intelligently written and were serious. I suppose other people who want to read about serious events could be mistaken – like me – by the homepage.

I will leave you with this thought: Only your friends would point out an embarrassing feature of you – the rest would laugh behind your back!

~ J. Sultan

Justin Raimondo replies:

This just goes to show how subjective the concept of beauty is: hey, bud, I get mash notes (from girls, mostly) based on that picture. To each their own.

I just want to comment on Justin Raimondo's picture.

I have read a few letters from those who suggest that Justin get rid of the picture with the cigarette in his mouth. To me, the picture symbolizes a more aggressive attitude towards the war happy neoconservatives. The perception that the antiwar movement derived from the 1960's peace movement is dead wrong. Many of us are not pacifists, including myself. And in many cases, you need to "fight fire with fire." Keep the picture, Justin, it's a symbol of defiance.

~ Tom Davidson, California

Justin Raimondo replies:

You got that right!

Where Are You Coming From?

I just wanted to let you know that it is very hard to understand where your antiwar sentiment is coming from. I am for the war and back Bush and Blair 100%. However, I am writing a paper for English class and there is a huge lack of information on why people are against the war. The only thing I can find is a bunch of people saying, "The government lies, The government lies!" You can't prove anything that you claim to be lies. Put some real information on here so that maybe you can really persuade somebody.

~ Emmie L.

Associate Editor /Student Coordinator, Mike Ewens replies:

You certainly won't receive a passing grade on that English paper if you commit a fallacy such as the one in your letter. Simply, you have generalized all arguments against the war into a easily defeated statement. Such a fallacy is called "straw man." Perhaps you should take some time and read the editorials featured at Antiwar.com. Then you will discover that our opposition rests on solid, principled ground.

I always knew that the government lied... it is its nature. Hence, I wasn't surprised that all the rhetoric that "supported" the march to war was a bunch of fabrications (WMDs... al Qaeda links... imminent threat, etc.).

In fact, I (and Antiwar.com) was right about the war; we didn't lie. It has led to a bigger government at home that has more powers than ever, it has cost the lives of hundreds of Americans and thousands of innocent Iraqis, it has embroiled the hatred towards America, making US citizens less safe and it has not led to an improvement in the economy. I could go on and on... but I wouldn't want to write your English paper for you.

Finally, if you plan on succeeding at writing your paper (and all others that follow), I would advise you do a little research, perform a bit of introspection and then make a conclusion.

Recently it was noted that a Pentagon website has stopped listing casualty reports from Iraq among its top daily headlines, instead creating a small, unobtrusive link at the bottom of its webpage called "casualties."

As a contributor and daily reader, I am concerned that Antiwar.com is doing something similar by not keeping casualties listed at the top of your webpage.

Any death in Iraq should be your central story and set apart from the other articles and opinion pieces. It is getting more and more difficult to tell if the articles /reports on your list pertaining to casualties are old news or just posted.

Why not create a banner headline on the top with the death tallies and the dates of each report? We must keep reminding the world that men and women are dying each day in this illegal war. The way you do it now is confusing and feels like are you "burying the lead".

~ Mary Nemick

Mike Ewens replies:

I don't know if you have noticed, but I maintain a constantly updated website with prominent placement on the front page of Antiwar.com: https://antiwar.com/ewens/casualties.html.

We also have a counter available at the blog (see top right): https://antiwar.com/blog/.

If you are looking for the most up to date facts and stories about US casualties, just see these links.

Kosovo-Related Trials

I did not notice this when it came out, but surely this is the first example of anybody actually being convicted for such crimes in the Kosovo conflict?

The fact that the victims were Albanian Kosovars is noteworthy perhaps for two reasons:

(1) It goes some way to showing that non-terrorist Kosovars were (and are) more at risk from the KLA – apparently now defunct rather than promoted into the KPC! – and from Blair and Wesley Clark, rather than from Serbs however formally or informally organised.

(2) Nonetheless, I take it that this further endorses the suspicion that in Kosovo, Serb and other non-Kosovar lives are worth less than Kosovar lives in the eyes of the ICTY and presumably "world opinion" so that in order to convict KLA terrorists, it must be Kosovar not other victims who are singled out. (These four KLA terrorists did not kill anyone who was not a Kosovar? Perhaps they were part of an organised squad designed to single out "traitors".)

In passing, I notice that the NYT carries alleged confessions from two Bosnian Serb officers claiming detailed responsibility for the alleged events at Srebrenica. Not detailed enough to comment on yet?

~ Ben Cosin, UK

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I was aware of the conviction of the five KLA for murder, torture and abuse of other Albanians (I avoid the term "Kosovar" as much as "South-eastern Europe" – it doesn't mean anything). I believe I even mentioned it in one of my previous articles, in the context of Albanian riots protesting the conviction of their "heroes." See, to them it doesn't matter that the KLA killed Albanians; it was all in service of the Glorious Cause (Greater Albania, independent "Kosova," human rights – depends on who you talk to and when), and thus justified. The ultimate display of New Logic, really. Jayson Blair had nothing on the current NY Times Hague correspondent. Every story that comes out of her keyboard is distorted. Not two, but three Bosnian Serb officers made plea-bargains with the prosecutors to receive lighter sentences in exchange for implicating their superiors. Problem is, one of them (Momir Nikolic) was caught in outright perjury about ten days ago, casting doubt on the veracity of all other plea-bargain witnesses.

The papers carry their "confessions" in lurid (invented?) detail, without mentioning the perjury issue, and we end up with Belgian babies or Iraqi incubators again. Typical.

"Vodka flows as tearful Russian troops tell tales of Chechnya"

You are posting links to obvious bullsh*t: a dubious source that published an unsigned anonymous reporter-style article without mentioning reporter's name. Links to websites like that do not add to your credibility.

~ Sika Likainen

Managing Editor Eric Garris replies:

This story is from the Agence France Presse, one of the largest news services in the world. The fact that you have not heard of the Website doesn't make this less of a news story. AFP is identified at the top and bottom of the story. As with many wire stories, no reporter's name is given. This is pretty standard for a significant number of newspapers in the world when running news stories. Often, the stories are written by multiple reporters.

If you have a substantive comment on the content of the article, we would be happy to print that.

"Hands Off Bob Novak!"

You say, ". . . never mind that Novak is of Jewish heritage . . . "

I thought Bob Novak was a Roman Catholic.

~ Morley Evans

Justin Raimondo replies:

Novak is a convert to Roman Catholicism.


Why aren't you covering the story that has just come out about Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction? This story has been independently confirmed by the New York Daily News.

~ N. Ewell

Managing Editor Eric Garris replies:

The issue has nothing to do with foreign policy, which is our focus.

"Looking Into Putin's Soul"

"What is terrorism? Increasingly, it's become defined as simple resistance to rule imposed from on high in Moscow, Washington, or any other place with which the Bush team has a security arrangement..."

I'll give you a few examples – all happened in Chechnya during period of Cechnyan de facto independence, when Russians were out of sight and "rebels" were left to their own devices.

Kidnapping 4 British civil engineers and beheading them when their families could not pay ransom.

Attacking a hospital with old and sick people in a neighboring republic.

Kidnapping Russians and sending their families requests for ransom along with parts of the victims' bodies. Just imagine, you receive the video, where some bearded freedom fighter shoots the finger off from palm of your little son. Or tearing out the hair of your little daughter. Or killing your brother like a pig – knife in the throat, with friendly smile. Nice photo op, isn't it? Or beheading your father with ax. Now his head here, and now – oops! on the ground. I've seen some these videos – you could not sleep for a few nights. ...

A few more more recent examples – taking hostages in the Moscow theater. Exploding bombs in Pyatigorsk and other Russian cities close to Chechnya. Murdering their own brethren, branded as "traitors" for cooperation with Russians.

Murders, kidnapping, torture – all directed against civilians, not military personnel. ...

~ Boris B.

"The Iraq Dilemma: An Illegitimate Occupation"

Hunsinger raises an important consideration when he notes that the invading nations are responsible for paying the costs of the war imposed on the invaded nation. This is particularly appropriate here since Iraq has been and still is paying Kuwait for the damage imposed on it in the 1990 invasion.

~ David MacMichael

"Abusing 'Anti-Semitism'"

Hey, great stuff.

It is definitely time to recognize what the author is saying. Mankind may not be perfect but we are way, way ahead of what went on in the past for all people everywhere. We see terrible conditions all around the world today. In the past we never knew they existed. We are not able to correct all the wrongs of the world but we know they exist and there are efforts to bring about change. For that we should be grateful and encouraged to do more.

~ Gail Lightfoot, California Libertarian

"Meeting Al Jazeera, Hearing Hamid Karzai"

There are some commentators whose pages I open immediately upon finding them on Antiwar. One of those is Alan Bock. I particularly appreciated his recent piece about al-Jazeera. I watch that station all the time, and as someone who does know Arabic, I can assure you that the station does try to cover all sides of an issue (more-so than US outlets do).

There is a lot about the station in English that may be accessed at the web journal Transnational Broadcasting Studies, of which I am a contributing editor. Included among those is my defense of the station against the attack by Fouad Ajami.

While the home page – http://www.tbsjournal.com/ – can direct you to other pieces including interviews with station administrators and content analysis pieces, etc.

~ David Wilmsen, Director, Arabic and Translation Studies, The American University in Cairo

Like Mr. Bock, I neither speak nor read Arabic and don't have access to Al Jazeera's cable channel. However, one can get an idea of how the network covers the news by visiting the English-language portion of their Web site (http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage).

~ David Haines

"Bring 'Em On Home, That Is"

Since the Revolutionary War, right up to now, we have had a family member or more serving in the arm service. People who have not served or had a family member who has served, can wave their flags and talk patriotic things, till the cows come home but they do not have a clue what these service people and their family sacrifice to keep them safe or in this case follow a bad set of orders that came down from bogus lies, that put them in harms way.

Bogus information, lies and no WMDs should have every American in the streets, on the phones and demanding that our troops are brought home, so the question is why aren't they speaking out? Why is such a large amount of people still believing that Iraq was a part of 9/11? Maybe controlled one-sided reporting by the mainstream media, maybe they can't admit the administration is in the wrong, national ego.

I live in east Tennessee, and in east Tennessee there is a nuclear plant called Watts Bar nuclear plant that is days away from becoming the only commercial station in the U.S. to produce electricity and isotopes for bombs.

Hello, this is first our backyard and second we are telling other countries they can't make exactly what this plant is about to make and no one is reporting it much and I do not hear any outcry about it, what does that tell you!

I'm not a kid, I'm almost 60 years old, I have a great-granddaughter and I'm speaking out on behalf of those who will follow in my footsteps and I am sad at what we in the name of love are leaving to our own children to deal with and to clean up, all in the name of love. If we love them, we would try and figure things out, stop making environmental mess for them to deal with and leave them a sane world to raise their children in.

The problem is we live in fear-based societies and other countries live in fear-based societies, which make a collective whole, of a bunch of fearful mistrusting people. Yes our troops need to be brought home now. We do not need to give David Kay another dime to search for something that isn't there. If he had WMDs and he knew after seeing what happened in Afghanistan, that he was going to be taken out, he would have used them and fought with every thing he had, you corner a dog or a snake they will strike.

9/11 shook us all up but it is long past the time for all of us to stop catch our breath, calm down and think clearly where we are at as a nation and were we should be heading and that takes a clear head.

You do a good job in reporting, keep up the good work.

~ Jo Ann Cordell

"Israel Is the Problem"

Really excellent article – as usual. I want to ask why it is that nobody makes the point that God's promise to Abraham INCLUDES the Arabs or Palestinians, whoever they are, the non-Jews, because they are the FIRST descendants of Abraham, the descendants of Abraham, BEFORE Isaac. They are the descendants of Ishmael and Hagar. I'm not sure where Mohammed got into it, but I know how it started out. That land is every bit theirs by God's promise as it is the Jews. They know this very well and know that they are Abraham's children too.


~ Paula Little, Garland, Texas

Antiwar.com 'Blocked'

You might be interested to know that, as of October 6, Websense, the filtering service used by my employer, has placed Antiwar.com into a new sort of blocked purgatory. Performing my usual sign-in ritual today, with cup of coffee in hand, I attempted to access your site this Monday morning, only to be greeted with a new message that I should only visit your site on my home computer, unless I could give assurances that my visit to the site was "work-related." Since it was not, and since it is unlikely to be related to the work of many people who visit the site, the new Websense hurdle for visiting your site amounts to a prohibition every bit as effective as communicated by their continuing "Site Blocked" message reserved primarily for pornographers, gambling sites, and skeptics of the Holocaust.

At first I took the message personally, thinking that my employer had simply decided to keep me away from a site I visited frequently. But then I found that I was not blocked from LewRockwell.com, which I visit almost as frequently, nor was I blocked from Sports Illustrated or other sports sites that I have an admitted weakness for. I found, as well, that a colleague had encountered the same message as I upon attempting to visit Antiwar.com, and had had the same experience as I with sports and other public affairs sites.

Most interestingly, I found that none of the popular war-supporting "conservative" sites such as World Net Daily, Matt Drudge, Free Republic, or Newsmax were blocked in any way. Antiwar.com must be doing something right. I do think, though, that you might want to have a word with the people at Websense (http://www.websense.com/) .

~ David Martin

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