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Posted October 29, 2003

J. Sultan's backtalk

I just wanted to tell you that this 43-year old healthy left-wing feminist heterosexual who reads Antiwar.com and your articles regularly wishes there some left-wing male pundits who looked as good as you do. You look like a damn fine specimen of the human male to me! I know someone of my gender or politics doesn't run to your tastes but I look forward to looking at that photo each time I click on your column. Ignore the idiots complaining about the photo. Next time you get another complaint about it, send them a personalized copy of it with your compliments.

~ Sandra Nichols, Brooklyn, New York

May I suggest an even more defiant picture? Show Justin blowing smoke at the viewer!

~ C. Bergin

Casualties in Iraq

What a stupid war. Kids getting killed so rich men can make money. Why do they want more money when they are wealthy beyond my wildest dreams? I think they are sick puppies, period. And they claim they are doing it for me and my safety! Bullsh*t!

I would appreciate your help if you can give it. The American casualties: I need to know more about the wounds, i.e. anatomically where these kids were getting shot (back, face, etc.) and other specifics about the contacts. Where can I learn more?

~ Mantega

Mike Ewens replies:

I don't think that that information is available. I comb all the press releases on a daily basis and have never seen detail as specific as you are requesting. You can try and call the friendly (they are friendly!) folks at CentCom:

Phone: (813) 827-5894
Fax: (813) 827-2211
DSN: 651-5894
E-Mail: pao@centcom.mil

Great website and fantastic information. One suggestion: why don't you keep a statistic with the U.S. casualties since the infamous "bring them on" uttered by Bush on July 2? I also hear that daily attacks have increased in number after his silly challenge.

~ Corrado P.

Mike Ewens replies:

I don't follow that metric, but another site does. They show 147 killed since July 2nd. Here is the link: http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Summary.aspx.

I am writing an article for the World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org) on American soldiers who have died in this latest Iraqi war. I understand that the first casualty was a young Hispanic soldier. I want to find out his name, place of birth, and, if possible, his family's address & telephone. I need to interview them.

Can you help me? Of course, I understand if you don't want to to give me their telephone or address, but any bit would be of great help.

Thank you for whatever help you might give me.

~ Raoul R.

Mike Ewens replies:

Admittedly, I had qualms helping you with your research. I detest socialism and all its incarnations. I suspect that socialism /communism has killed more people than all modern war combined – Stalin, Hitler (National Socialist – Nazi), Mao, etc. Moreover, in action, socialism is an utter violation of all that it means to be free and human – in sum, it is collective slavery.

Nonetheless, I dug up the name of the soldier:

Gutierrez, Jose Antonio from Guatamala... was an immigrant... died 3.21.03 from friendly fire. ...

Here are some readings concerning the evils of socialism, if you are interested:

The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek


I am an army spouse who consults your website when I need to peruse the latest headlines or the casualty list.

Although I support what our soldiers are doing in Iraq and back their efforts both prayerfully and financially, I find most of your website most helpful.

Thank you for such a professional website. My husband loves the Iraqi people and finds most of them to be hospitable. They are adjusting to the new idea of freedom and it's consequences. He patrols the streets of Baghdad regularly and also guards the MEK up north.

His unit has helped restore water and power lines up north as well. They are working very hard and most of his young soldiers are willing to sacrifice their lives for this cause. There are 143 under his command. I don't understand why the media does not publish such information. I guess because it's not popular, but it is another reality of the situation over there.

If something happens to Tom, I will personally go over to Iraq as a missionary and help feed, clothe and restore the Iraqi people. We are Americans, blessed with every material thing. We must help damaged nations. The tyrant, Hussein, will be stopped. Bin Laden will be stopped as well. Our military is dedicated to this cause, even when a minority of the American people and the media are not with them. After 9/11, I am no longer a pacifist.

~ Lisa C. Cantwell, Family Support Group Leader 324th MP BN

"The Real Izetbegovic"

Rabid, alarmist, anti-Muslim propaganda as usual. I would have figured so; it's trendy to blame everything on "Islamic Fundamentalists" these days, rather than, say, Serbian Nationalism-God forbid.

The old Nazi canard used by young Nebojsa to tarnish the plight of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia is not surprising either. Israeli "experts" do the same in dismissing the rightful claims of Palestinians, pointing to a past in Arab involvement with the Handzar division and the SS. Each attempt fails to understand that there is something called context in the study of history, but of course, who can resist to call the Muslims Nazis?

As for Izetbegovic not defending the various ethnic races of Bosnia, I'm sure it pales in comparison to the wonderful things the glorious Serbs defended when they cleansed a considerable part of Europe of its Islamic identity.

It's funny to see implications of Izetbegovic's inherent fundamentalism and fanaticism. With an archaic and backward understanding of Islamic theology and scholarship, young Nebojsa manages to cut and paste a quote from a book by Izetbegovic on general Islamic society and government (not about the Balkans) and turn it into a manifesto for the domination of Christians by Muslim overlords. In fact, Izetbegovic's writing in that particular book was directed at the fact that non-Islamic political and social institutions cannot be imposed on a society comprised of Muslims (i.e. cultural imperialism, colonization – get it?). He goes further to point out that Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim societies (Bosnian Muslims are implied here) are obligated to be loyal and obedient to the community, so long as Muslims are give religious freedom and rights of practice.

It's very easy to discredit Muslims these days with the wonderful red-herring of fundamentalism, but I'm sure young Nebojsa fancies this new trend of blaming the evil Muslims, kind of like Bush's wonderful comic book crusade against the "axis of evil."

~ H. Usika

Nebojsa Malic replies:

My article was neither rabid, alarmist, or anti-Muslim, but a simple analysis of Izetbegovic's obituaries, documented with a score of hyperlinks, and the fallacies contained therein. What you call an "old Nazi canard" I documented by a link to the Waffen-Gebirgs SS Division Handschar, which undeniably existed, was composed of Bosnian Muslims, and endorsed by Hajj Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. I did not even mention the Muslims who joined the genocidal Ustashe regime. Yes, there is context: Bosnia was occupied by the Axis and annexed to the Ustasha-run Croatian state. Some Bosnian Muslims chose to side with the Axis, some chose otherwise. My contention was, and remains, that Izetbegovic was in the first group, and that this should be noted.

Your snide comparison of Izetbegovic with the Serbs is meaningless. Bosnian Serbs never claimed they were the paragon of virtue and multi-ethnic tolerance, nor have they enjoyed such reputation in the international media; Izetbegovic has, and I claim that this reputation was not grounded in reality.

Further, I'm not interpreting Islamic scholarship, merely quoting passages from Izetbegovic's book (and offering a link to it, so one can read all of it for himself) which contain a very unambiguous message: this is what Islam is, and because that is so, it cannot peacefully coexist with non-Islamic societies or states. While true that Izetbegovic advised Muslim minorities to obey the law, he also said they should do so until they are numerous enough to take over. Besides, from his pronouncements over the years, he clearly believed the Muslims were a majority in Bosnia, and therefore his views on Islam and its control of the state and society clearly applied there. I stand by my contention that Alija Izetbegovic was not the man the world press claimed him to be, and I've offered references and evidence to that extent. If you can prove me wrong without name-calling, false analogies and spurious allegations, by all means try again.

Bravo, Nebojsa!

How much longer will the Western world (aka "international community"?) continue to believe in lies, lies and lies?

As always, I enjoy your articles very much.

~ Maie Kark, Stockholm, Sweden

"Rushing to See the Bright Side"

Drug prohibition will terminate right after prohibition to prostitution.

The masses think that it is more important to arrest a drug dealer or prostitute than actually stopping Muslim extremists.

I think we all got into this mess from Christian extremists.

Hey let's not forget public schooling too.

~ Kyle Blair, Michigan

Alan Bock replies:

I'm not quite so sure about the masses. Every national poll, at least on medical marijuana shows substantial majorities in favor. Support for the drug war is waning among the population at large, but for most ordinary Americans it's not a high priority issue, the kind that can make you vote for or against a candidate based on that issue alone; at least that's my perception. So the politicians and law enforcement people who do benefit, in terms of power, money and bureaucratic empires, continue to defend their positions successfully. The old story of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs keeps this government program, like many other useless or harmful government programs, alive.

Well said. I particularly liked the closing comment that each agent freed from chasing drugs could fight terrorism. So, the question left hanging (screaming?) in the air is, "Since the powers that be supposedly have all of the information you have, why do they choose to keep the failed status quo?"

My answer is that in the past the price of funding terrorist activities overseas (sometimes on purpose by the CIA, i.e.: Laos, Afghanistan) was worth the benefit of locking up all those undesirables living in our communities. Call me a cynic, but I fear it's true.

~ Steve Callas

Alan Bock replies:

There's another possible answer, that at about $20 billion per year at the federal level and at least that much again at the state and local levels, the drug war provides lots of jobs (let alone opportunities for profiting from asset forfeiture and occasionally from outright corruption), along with a feeling on that part of many drug warriors (quite sincere in some cases) that they are participating in an endeavor that is beneficial for society at large, but plenty of people who might feel insecure about where their next paycheck would come from if the drug war were to end. The status quo may be failed, as I believe, but lots of people prefer the devil they know to the devil they know not.

I am perhaps not quite as cynical as you, but the idea that the drug war is a means of social control, of being able to lock up people who make us feel uncomfortable, is worth consideration too.

As a person who has worked in the medical field and studied herbology for many years, I am in total disagreement with your view that marijuana ought to be used as a painkiller. Not all plants are beneficial. The active ingredient in marijuana is an insecticide that the plant produces to defend itself from insects. The reason that it intoxicates humans is that it is also a potent neurotoxin. Why would you think that you can poison your way to good health?

There is a cheap, readily available painkiller that is legal and readily available: pure water. E.g., when F. Batmanghelidg, M.D. was imprisoned for political reasons in revolutionary Iran in 1980, a prisoner in agony was brought to him. The prisoner's ulcer pain was so acute that he could not get up.

Having nothing else at hand to help him, Dr. B. gave him several glasses of water. Within minutes, the pain was relieved and the man got up.

Dr. B. went on to study the effects of chronic dehydration and reaffirmed centuries of knowledge that we need water more than food and suffer illness when we don't get enough pure water. Most of us foolishly drink diuretics like coffee, tea, and sodas thinking that will supply our need for water.

That doesn't work because diuretics pump more water out of your body – for every cup of tea or coffee, you need at least another cup of water to replace the water lost. Pain and illness are often the result, particularly since the sensation of thirst diminishes in most people as we age.

There are many illnesses that either disappear or improve upon adequate hydration: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, depression, and so on. Of course, it takes time to overcome chronic dehydration, but the effort is worth it. You can learn more about it at http://www.watercure2.com/Home/.

Finally, I enclose a series of quotes by medical doctors demonstrating that drugs are poisons and do not work. We are coming to a time when the medical field is starting to recognize the need to give up our collective dependence on drugs and return to safer and more sensible remedies like pure water without the addition of deadly poisons like chlorine and fluoride.

(Dr. B. says that adequate hydration also helps habitual drunkards and dope fiends to overcome their vice.)

~ Miss Ross

Alan Bock replies:

I have nothing against pure water, and I'm prepared to believe that drinking more of it is probably good for most everyone and might well be therapeutic. As for the larger issue of whether pharmaceutical drugs should be used, I don't know enough to have a strong opinion. From what I know – more than the average bear but not at the level of a specialist – I
suspect that modern American medicine tends to use more pharmaceutical drugs than is advisable, but it seems likely that some are useful for some patients in particular circumstances.

Cannabis is an herb, and has been used as an herbal medicine for thousands of years. As the 1999 Institute of Medicine report acknowledges, it does not have one active ingredient but several compounds that are believed to have therapeutic qualities, but in part because of prohibition nowhere near enough modern research has been done to separate the effects. The IOM report did note, however, that "Advances in cannabinoid science of the past 16 years have given rise to a wealth of new opportunities for the development of medically useful cannabinoid-based drugs. The accumulated data suggest a variety of indications, particularly for antiemesis and appetite stimulation. For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy, and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication."

Among the "advances in cannabinoid science" has been the discovery of a specific cannabinoid receptor in the human brain – analogously, a pathway into the brain that can be "unlocked" only by a specific substance.

Does this mean human beings are "hardwired" for cannabis or is the explanation more circuitous and complex? We'll only know (if ever) with more research, and most of the research that might lead to an answer is blocked by prohibition. Reputable researchers can obtain cannabis for research purposes only through the government, and the government has approved less than a handful of research projects in the last 20 years.

The real issue, it seems to me, is whether the government should decide what sick people – or any people, for that matter – are allowed to put into their bodies. All drugs – all substances – have side effects, some of them quite harmful. Those who believe the side effects of cannabis outweigh the benefits should certainly be free to act on their beliefs, and I have nothing but respect for their decisions. But should they – or the government acting on their behalf – have the power to force those whose assessment of personal risks and benefits, or body chemistry, is different from theirs to make the same decisions? That seems insupportable to me, something of a relic of the Dark Ages.

Who's subsidizing "war on drugs" – ever consider the alcohol lobby which has much to fear if pot is legalized?

~ Leona Marti

Alan Bock replies:

I don't have the precise information at my fingertips, but I know I've seen credible information over the years about the alcohol industry subsidizing aspects of the war on drugs, including parents' groups and (I believe) some research, as well as contributing to drug warrior politicians. What seems striking to me in recent years, however, is the extent to which the drug war is backed mostly by government employees, with private interest groups almost always turning out to be supported by the government (although I'm pretty sure some of those who opposed last year's Nevada initiative, for example, would have done so without government backing). To me this is a point of interest, but not necessarily dispositive – although the issue of government employees paid with tax dollars participating so actively in political campaigns is worth more exploration than it has received; if it isn't illegal it probably should be, and it certainly is dubious ethically.

The arguments against the drug war ultimately should stand on principle, logic, what one's view of limited constitutional government is, and consideration of whether prohibition has made drug problems better or worse, not necessarily who gives money to one side or the other.


I met someone whose husband is going to Iraq and I mentioned he could file as a a conscientious objector. She didn't know they could I don't have that info handy do you know where I can get it?

~ Erik S.

Eric Garris replies:

The best resource for this is the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors:

Paula Little's backtalk

Paula Little wonders why nobody makes the "point" that "God's promise to Abraham INCLUDES the Arabs or Palestinians, whoever they are, the non-Jews."

I myself often wonder why the Paulas of the world keep missing the real point: that an alleged promise from an alleged deity to an allegedly chosen race doesn't isn't worth the paper it's alleged on.

Abe's offspring in the Mideast should toss the scripture and come up with real claims to the land, such as being born there, inheriting it, buying it, finding it first, or some such thing. Killing the current owners in the name of this or that god doesn't rate as an excuse.

~ Milivoj Savin

Mike Larkin's backtalk

Mr. Larkin's astute observation that "failed hawkish policies rebound to the benefit of the failers" can, and more than likely should, be taken a step further.

The cabal that has formulated over the years, and now managed to implement the policies in question, did not get to where they are today by being stupid, or not ahead of the curve.

When one ponders the writings of such neocon 'theorists' as Michael Ledeen extolling the virtues of "creative destruction" and "America undoing traditional societies" it is hard not to escape the conclusion that, beneath the veneer of civility, chaos, be it 'managed' or otherwise, is precisely what they seek and instigate as the means to achieve their ends. We are, in fact, actually being told and shown this quite clearly, but don't expect such candid honesty from the big guns of the current administration, or such a conclusion being drawn by millions still in denial.

For those who think, and act, along these lines, certain reactions to their provocation, or even perceived 'inactions', are as entirely predictable as they are cynically sought in support of "the status quo." ... What the less deviant and cynical of this world may define as 'failure', may be just what the doctor ordered to many of our fearless, so-called 'leaders' who know they have to sell us lies and promote fear because they are smart enough to understand that they could never sell the REAL agenda even if they tried.

~ Shane D.

Law of Unintended Consequences?

While watching the ugly aftermath of the Iraqi occupation, it occurs to me that the US government may unintentionally be creating a new domestic terror threat totally unrecognized in the general noise of the usual “war on terror” propaganda.

Executed Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh was a Gulf War I vet who became embittered at the US government as a result of his failed military career. For whatever reason, the Army Special Forces did not want his services. One of the accused DC area sniper defendants is likewise a GW I vet, similarly disillusioned with the government, though his precise motives remain unclear. At least one other GW I vet was later convicted of providing military advice to al Qaeda itself.

We are now witnesses to a massive disconnect regarding top government pronouncements about “progress” in Iraq. The reality is US soldiers being killed daily while they are conducting armed raids on the civilian populace in fruitless attempts to stop these attacks. Morale in the ranks is low. While many soldiers may believe they are serving a noble cause, how many are now nursing the seeds of disillusion and resentful cynicism?

These servicemen see firsthand the deadly effects of small, secretive guerilla tactics and the killing power of improvised explosive devices used to attack heavily armed targets.

Eventually all of our Iraqi occupation forces will be rotated back to the States. If history is a guide, many will be quickly unemployed. Unlike the first Gulf War which was generally popular and quickly decisive, the current quagmire faces a skeptical audience. The longer it drags on, the more ungrateful and forgetful the US public will become.

A few returnees are certain to be personally traumatized and blame the government for all of their subsequent personal, financial and emotional difficulties. Some so cynical, having witnessed government lying firsthand, that they may be willing to lash out using terrorist methods or promote violent solutions for political change.

The already shabby treatment of wounded US service personnel is just the tip of the iceberg. Serious Iraqi veteran medical and psychological problems are certain to be covered up or ignored, their disability claims denied or minimized. Expendable Iraqi war vets will quickly discover that their “heroic sacrifice” counts for next to nothing in obtaining real civilian jobs. A few bonus points on civil service exams will be about it.

This is a possible recipe for future home grown terrorists. Trained by the US military in the latest tactics of escape, evasion and low tech killing. It wouldn’t take many, and we have already seen this before.

For the sake of us all, let’s hope we don’t reap what Bush and his neocon cabal are sowing.

~ Mike Holmes CPA

"A Holocaust in the Making"

This is just awful. Before I spread Paul Craig Roberts' article across the globe, I'd like to be able to see this report or an article from the Telegraph on this report. I couldn't find it on-line. Can you help?

~ Phil T.

Eric Garris replies:

Here it is: "Pentagon wants 'mini-nukes' to fight terrorists."

Biological and chemical weapons are very difficult to deal with once released. Consider what we went through to deal with the infinitesimal amounts of anthrax that was used in 2001 here in this country rendering government facilities inoperative weeks and the cleanup took months.

It seems to me that if the people planing the attack on Iraq really thought that Saddam had tons of biological and chemical weapons then we would have had to proceed much more cautiously with our assaults and bombings for fear of unleashing large amounts of these weapons into the atmosphere. The enormous loss of innocent life would make Saddam's attack on his Kurdish people look like a clam bake and the time necessary to clean up the dreadful consequences would probably take years, having worse consequences that the present guerrilla war in resources and money. The aggressive way we went in we had to know these weapons weren’t there. There hasn’t been any evidence that our military planner ever made any strategic arrangements to neutralize or some how secure these weapons in our conduct of the war, strongly supporting the fact that this administration lied to us about Iraq’s stock piles of tons of weapons of mass destruction.

A corollary:

Iraq must also have recognized the consequences of maintaining large stores of Chemical and biological weapons, It was prudent of them to have gotten rid of them right after the "Gulf War" as that is the international consensus. Weakened from that war, their military decimated, financially week from years of economic sanctions, it would have been suicidal for them to try to store any amount of these weapons.

We have had 11 years of smoke and mirrors about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

~ John Gormley Port St. Lucie, Florida

"Does Noam Chomsky Hate America?"

Not to my way of thinking! Thank you for a well-written article. I, too, stand up for our right as individuals to speak our minds, even in the face of conflicting sentiments. As a Patriot for Peace, I have been called unpatriotic because I did not and do not believe the Iraqi war was justified. I'm an American who still eats French fries, believes that Americas are more than what political party one belongs to, and values OUR Constitutional and Civil Rights. Mr. Chomsky speaks eloquently for me and I owe him a great vote of thanks.

~ Surya-Patricia Lane Hood, Arizona

Thank You

I wanted to thank you. I've visited your site for the first time, and for the first time since the start of the recent Iraq conflict I've found an organization that sees the whole picture. No, I don't support your cause, but I find that you tastefully express the facts at support your opinions, and your opinions in a non-biased manner. My main complaint about other "Antiwar" organizations is that they tend to be republican bashers, and fail to realize that the other parties have had their share of conflicts. The fact that you bring up the Haiti incident, the bombings of Sudan, and Afghanistan, the other various military ventures used by not only the United States, but several members of the Security Council. With admiration of the respect, that you've shown for the truth I'll keep my hot-headed opinions to myself. Once again though, thank you for a neutral antiwar organization.

~ Jason Thomas

"America Versus the World"

You are 100% correct to say that there is not a "drop of conservative blood in any one of these Neo-Conservatives." However to suggest that the Neo-Conservative's allies are the "Nationalistic Patriots" is ridiculous. Our world wide alienation has nothing to do with "Isolationism" or Nationalism, more like ostracism from the world community secondary to our "Internationalist Interference" in the affairs of sovereign states. Patriots, Constitutionalists and "nationalists" all despise George Bush and see him as a left leaning Internationalist stooge without a "drop of conservative blood" flowing in his veins. ...

~ Chem E.

"Googling the War Party"

I can in no way support the mass mailing effort that went was carried out by the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry. I couldn't imagine how I would have responded had the letter crossed my desk when I was there with the 2-503rd Infantry in Kirkuk, Iraq. I served with the battalion from March 2003 to August 2003, when it became my time to move elsewhere. I did serve for /with Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo.

While the power of Google will definitely show how many times he’s spoken to different media organizations on range of topics of concerning Iraq and how well it seems to be going, it will not show you the realities of what’s going on unless your there. I believe that Lt. Col. Caraccilo has so many positive things to say about things about Iraq, because there are so many positive things going on.

From my experiences with the battalion, the letter that was mass mailed to many different media outlets is on the whole true. My suspicion why so many of the soldiers signed and sent the letter is because they agreed with it.

Hell, I agree with it.

The battalion and the 173rd Airborne Brigade has been able to accomplish many different positive things for the people of Kirkuk region, and continues to press on for the safety and happiness of the people of the region. The will do so until the day they leave.

Again I cannot support the actions of the form letter, but the soldiers there in 2-503rd don’t have much time write op-ed pieces to the Washington Post and USA Today. My challenge to many pundits and conspiracy theorists is to go to Kirkuk, Iraq, do four weeks of patrolling, nation building, raiding, investigating, volunteering, teaching, training, bonding, analyzing, collecting, sweating, bleeding, sacrificing, and dying. Then, write your own letter and see what it says.

~ Specialist (SPC) Darrien Jackson, Ft. Huachuca, Arizona

"Rumsfeld's Ruminations Reinforce Reservations"

It is obvious that Rumsfeld is on his way out and wants to shake things up before he goes. Maybe it's his gift to Dr. Rice on the eve of his "retirement."

~ Jeff Morgan, Rochester, Minnesota

"A Nation With Questions"

I have a tremendous respect for Sen. Byrd as he is the only one in his position to come out and say it as it is, and still to say it all would put the public in an uproar (if they can take time away from their toys), which is what we need here now to get answers to all of the catastrophes that have blossomed with this administration and this corporate government.

I have a solution, although maybe an ideal one, for the payment of reconstruction of Iraq: I suggest that we ask the reconstruction costs of the invasion be paid by Halliburton and affiliates, Mr. Lay (the still active Enron CEO), and all of the other companies and their affiliates based in our country via offshore accounts avoiding the possibly trillions of dollars of taxes that should be going back into our economy, including a subcontractor for the IRS that is offshore also (if I remember correctly) and the military industrial complex. They, and I say THEY, should give back to repair the damage they have done, and are still planning on doing, to the American public and foreign entities.

Thank you for your good work.

~ Janice Ramsteck

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