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Posted November 13, 2003

Draft Board

I have heard through word of mouth and on one public TV station that the government is beginning to get a draft board together. For some reason I can't seem to find any information about this subject online or elsewhere. Do you know where I can get links for this if it is in fact true to pass it along?

~ Tiphanie M.

Eric Garris replies:

Here are some articles on it:

I saw your article, below. I responded to the website and received a comprehensive info packet. Useful quotes: "The Standby Local Boards are ... a critical element in our National preparedness." "If necessary, the SSS will be mobilized to direct registrants to (induction)," "100,000 (inducted) in 30 days" "Officer will contact you to... conduct an interview." Seems pretty serious to me.

I plan to volunteer (this is unpaid); if accepted, I plan to do my best to ensure that this distasteful activity is performed equitably. Therefore please do not publicize my name.

~ JS

Is it me or is it odd that the site requesting for draft board volunteers gives a 'File Not Found' message now?

~ Mac Beaulieu

Eric Garris replies:

Here is the Google cache of that page: "Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member."

Casualties in Iraq

Can you add "Death & Wounded" since Bush said "Bring 'em on"? Sorry I don't have the date when he said that.

~ Biz S.

Mike Ewens replies:

As of November 9th, 2003: 188. The speech was on July 2nd.


I rather wonder why Antiwar.com never seems to comment on illegal immigration. It will certainly destroy American if unchecked, and has already destabilized the State of California.

But I never see it mentioned. I am under the impression that Antiwar.com generally reflects the old pre-WWII conservative stance. These are the fellows that gave us the 1924 immigration law, and it served us very well indeed.

At the very least I might suggest you add FAIRUS and Vdare to your links list. And I think you might be well served to run articles that center on the illegal (and excess) immigration theme.

If I could suggest one item for a column, it would be the number of Mexican illegals in the military. It is changing the character of our military rather a mercenary character as opposed to serving the country for patriotic motives. ...

~ J. Paige Straley

Eric Garris replies:

We don't take a stand on illegal immigration. I understand how people may consider this issue to be related to foreign policy, but our supporters fall on both sides on this issue.

I personally believe that we should address the issues of property rights, and not government-enforced borders.

There have been numerous charges emanating from this website that claim that the US CPA has created an "unfree" press climate in Iraq. The charges stem from a CPA official order #14 last summer that does implement restrictions on press content (http://www.cpa-iraq.org/regulations/CPAORD14.pdf). However, it is a gross mischaracterization to site the order as creating an "unfree" press climate in Iraq.

The actual text laying out the restrictions reads;

"Media organizations are prohibited from publishing or broadcasting original, rebroadcast, reprinted or syndicated material that;
A) incites violence against any individual or group, including racial, ethnic or religious groups and women;
B) incites civil disorder, rioting or damage to property;
C) incites violence against coalition forces or CPA personnel;
D) advocates alteration of Iraq's borders by violent means; advocates the return to power of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party or makes statements that purport to be on behalf or the Iraqi Ba'ath Party."

This Order was modeled after very a similar order during the occupation of Germany following WWII. Not only are the restrictions reasonable and desirable in the context of stabilizing Iraq, but more importantly, are not uncommon to press law in western nations who regularly rank in the top ten for press freedom by outside media rights organizations (they are certainly less intrusive than campus speech codes). To give just one example, Germany currently has enshrined restrictions banning Nazi propaganda both in its press laws and within its very constitution, and yet has ranked having one the most open press climates in the world.

Critics who maintain that Order # 14 creates an "unfree" press climate are not only exaggerating by ignoring similar legislation abroad, but they beg the logical question, in order to create a truly free press in Iraq, must inciting of violence be permitted? Is the official line at Antiwar.com that inciting violence in the Iraqi press is desirable or necessary? Or is the actual intent to merely sully the occupation by making truculent charges of an "unfree press?"

~ Jonathan Dowd Gailey

Eric Garris replies:

Yes, we are opposed to this order. The reason is: we are opposed to the occupation period. Aside from the fact that US military occupation bureaucrats have forced the closure of many media outlets all over the world, most recently in the Balkans, for purely political reasons using the vague points you outline US bureaucrats have no right to make these decisions.

The US CPA is unfair because it exists. The only moral course is to get out of Iraq now.

What has happened to your website? The same material has been on for several days.

~ Mary Ellen Siener, Groton, Massachusetts

Eric Garris replies:

We are updating every few hours. Your browser must be set to "cache" old pages.

"Miss Afghanistan Takes Prize at Miss Earth Contest"

I appreciate your right to express your beliefs on your webpage, as much as I disagree with it, but the fact that you are against war, yet parade a picture of Miss Afghanistan on your site, is the ultimate example of irony! Without our troops involvement, you peace-lovers would not have the ability to display such pictures make up your minds already!

~ R. Staub

Eric Garris replies:

You obviously didn't even read the headline. The point is, that Miss Afghanistan is not better off than when the Taliban were in power, in spite of the US-sponsored regime that wants to jail her for appearing in a swimsuit.

"Mistreating Soldiers and Veterans"

I've long admired Congressman Paul. Did he support that $87 BILLION bill, do you know? Thanks.


Eric Garris replies:

Ron Paul was a vigorous opponent of the $87 billion:

"The Deadliest Day"

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Iraq guarantees free elections, minority rights, "freedom of conscience," and even property rights, and would satisfy Muslims as it makes Islam the state religion. Shorn of its monarchical provisions, it would do in a pinch. I especially like Article 30, Section 9, which prohibits membership in the national legislature to anyone "who is a lunatic or an idiot." If only our own Founding Fathers had thought of it!
That's got to be one of the most hilarious lines I've read!

Anyway we should call for such an Amendment to our Constitution, unfortunately we'd have to repeal the ADA, first.

~ Robin Adair

"Halfway to a Kurdish Triangle in Iraq"

Great article by Ortiz, but why does Ms. Ortiz assume that the US won't resort to 'brutal village razing' as she claims in her first paragraph.

The US is already dropping 500 pound bombs in the so-called 'Sunni Triangle' and threatening more. US actions are already war crimes as they clearly represent collective punishment as is proscribed by the Geneva Conventions.

The US destroyed most of South Vietnam this way. The US is destroying Palestine in the manner via its client Israel. The US ruined Nicaragua by funding the Contras in the '80s.

This kind of thing is clearly standard US policy. We get away with it because we have the biggest guns.

~ Chris Meyer

Pictures of the Dead

I am not surprised that the Bush administration is doing its best to suppress all coverage of American dead returning. Since Vietnam, the USA has been, in the view of this Briton at least, oversensitive about "body-bags".

However I find the disingenuous excuses put forward to explain this very discreditable. They mostly seem to be about "respect for the families". I can remember the 1982 Falklands war. About as many British servicemen died there (255) as Americans have so far died in Iraq, and we only have about a fifth of the population. Then our government showed what I consider to be true respect for the dead and their kin. There were often pictures of the dead being carried off arriving aircraft. The coffins were draped in a flag and carried by a squad of soldiers in full dress uniform. TV cameras were allowed, even encouraged to be there.

This time it seems there is far less in the way of TV coverage, I suspect due to pressure from the Bush administration. Nevertheless our dead are still being returned with appropriate honours, and the Ministry of Defence web-site http://www.operations.mod.uk/telic/casualties.htm even has pictures, notably the following two which should how it should be done:

Repatriation 2

I really don't have the words to describe what I feel about the claim that smuggling bodies of men and women who have died for their country, as though they were so much diseased meat to be quarantined for disposal, is out of respect for dead's families.

~ Ian Miller

"Phooey on Tough Talk"

Thank you for your wise and convincing arguments against our government's unwise and unconvincing policies.

Some weeks ago I became aware of your column via Antiwar.com, and since have become a regular reader in addition to the piece deconstructing Bush's tough talk I particularly admired your moving eulogy for Edward Said.

Keep fighting the good fight and inspiring Americans at a difficult time in our history!

~ Richard Cretan, Co-author, West's Encyclopedia of American Law

Charley Reese is probably in the top 5 on my list of writers of political and cultural commentary. This was a FANTASTIC decision by Antiwar.com to pick up Charley's columns.

This article "Phooey on Tough Talk" is just one more outstanding effort
in a long line of great work by Charley!

~ Trinity N.

This talk always goes on. At best it might be enjoyable for about 30 seconds with another guy that has been there, done that. But it really does not matter who says it.

Like childbirth or a divorce it is absolutely impossible to empathize with anyone on the topic unless you yourself have experienced it. I have heard people from Rush Limbaugh to Senators claim that one did not have to be present on the battlefield in order to know about war. Well this is true, anyone can know about war by reading about it in a history book or watching television. On the other hand when someone attempts to project themselves into serious matters that they have never personally experienced they simply know nothing of which they speak.

It is very common, as well as accepted, for a good citizen to say I never served but I support the troops and I appreciate them. Well that talk is very nice for me to hear but if you happen to be about the same age I am, although I may not ask you outright, I will wonder why you didn't serve your country like me.

This is not to say that I think you are a punk or anything but what you did and I did during various points of time in our lives were entirely different. This is why I do not like to hear "tough talk" from President Bush or anyone else for that matter about what we should do to people on the other side. All it is, is just that, talk.

It is entirely possible that if you were actually there you might suddenly discover that "tough talk" was the last thing you would think about. It might be replaced with your personal survival as your main thought of the moment, every moment. I found this to be very true when I was a combat infantryman. "Tough talk," winning medals and glory were quickly replaced with: how and the hell can I get through this thing and get out of here?

So, when the President or any other "Patriotic American" quips the "tough talk," I don't even think about what they are saying. I just consider the source and it goes in one ear and out the other.

~ Jack Webb

Excellent article. May I suggest through that veterans, such as myself, be reminded that our tough guy leader avoided the draft during the Vietnam War? He jumped ahead on the National Guard waiting list and then went AWOL for over a year.

Let him lead a squad in Baghdad for a year to redeem his cowardice.

Every soldier and veteran should know his sorry record.

~ Gene Jones

I appreciate your work very much-thank you.

I am a Vietnam combat vet with a realistic viewpoint on guerrilla wars.

Than our richest send our poorest to fight is despicable. That they talk like Bush talks is horrible. Words fail.

Please keep up the fire. We need you.

~ Terry Bell, Florida

There is a grade school joke that makes Charley Reese's case equally well.

A kid is looking for his keys in the grass under a streetlight. His friend asks why the kid isn't looking over where the keys were actually lost. "Because the light is better here," is the response.

Ergo: Where did we lose OBL and al Qaeda? Afghanistan.

Where are we looking for them? Iraq.

Why there? Because the light (oil) is there.

~ Dr. Robert Hellman, Washington DC

I have found your columns to be honest, clear, direct, and well written. I believe you are the type of American who was the norm before the awful Cold War twisted everything inside out and upside down.

~ Robert A. Oklejas

I like your article. Such words as "bring 'em on" "we ain't runnin" are schoolboy bully talk indeed. Why impose a kind of government on a sovereign nation? Is this the kind of democracy this president wants? It's not democracy at all because there's NO FREEDOM to choose the kind of government the people in Iraq want. Let the people themselves be the ones to choose what government they want. That's why to solve this problem there should be a referendum on its people for this purpose what kind of government they want. Then prepare a constitution to be included in the referendum. Then the election of true representatives of the people, by the people and for the people as Abe Lincoln once said and not set up puppets. This way there shall be no more killings of invaders because the inhabitants themselves are the ones who set up their own government. When said government is in place, then it's time for the invaders to go home. Never mind if they kill each other once the invaders leave if that's what they want and mind their own business. If they kill each other then they're practicing democracy in their own way. So the faster this government is formed by the Iraqi people themselves the better for the whole world.

~ Ben Abellera

"Ein Volk, Ein Fuehrer, Ein Israel"

This is just a small thing, but I recall a visit to Hebron four years ago that included an interview with the Jewish settlers' spokesman David Wilder. This fanatic, full of bile for Palestinians who dare cling to their land, instructed me to "go to Gaza, you must go to Gaza to see how 'they' live," as if to say those filthy Arabs are untermenschen.

Well, I did go to Gaza soon after and saw how Nazi-like the Israeli presence was. The good burghers of Netzarim refused to meet with me (I later discovered hardly anyone ever actually lives there, it's just there to make life miserable for the natives). The Palestinians, for the most part, were beautiful people, though embarrassed for the ghetto they were forced to inhabit. Going from Gaza to nearby Ashkelon was like intergalactic travel, the contrast in living standards was so great. And Ashkelon is hardly an affluent city. Wilder's suggestion backfired badly.

I greatly enjoy the website and Raimondo. ...

~ Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun

As a keen socialist and member of the (UK) Labour Party I was shocked by the following report yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald, which is confirmed by the London office of the EU Commission. There has been no comment upon or report of it in The Guardian, though today the relentlessly bien pensant Martin Woollacott comments on the Israeli (but not the EU Commission /President's) reaction to the poll.

The European Commission has apologised to Israel for an opinion poll which found that Israel is the country most ordinary Europeans regard as the biggest threat to world peace.

Israeli leaders and international Jewish groups have angrily denounced the poll, saying European criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism.

In apparent agreement, the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said the results "point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand".

"To the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical," he said.

The present holder of the rotating European presidency, the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said he felt "surprise and indignation" and that the question had been "misleading".

Mr Berlusconi recently weathered a similar controversy after publicly denying that the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini played any role in the Holocaust. He was subsequently awarded a prize by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League for his support for Israel and the US.

Carried out as part of continuing surveys by the European Union, the telephone poll sampled 7500 respondents in all 15 EU member states.

Presented with the names of 14 countries, the respondents were asked if they regarded each in turn as a threat to world peace. The results showed 59 percent of respondents agreed that Israel was the biggest threat to world peace. The US, Iran and North Korea came joint second with 53 per cent. Iraq came next with 52 per cent, followed by Afghanistan.

Libya, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Somalia, Russia, Syria and Pakistan all scored less than 50 per cent.

Palestine was not listed because, the EU says, it is not a country.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Russia, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said he was prepared to meet the recently appointed Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurie, to discuss the stalled "road map" for peace.

The Israeli Government froze contacts with the Palestinian Authority following the breakdown of a short-lived unilateral Palestinian ceasefire, saying it could not negotiate while the authority's chairman, Yasser Arafat whom it accuses of terrorism is still pulling the strings of power.

From this it would appear to be the case that citizens of the EU must not express any view on the foreign and military policies of the state of Israel, for fear of being labeled as anti-semites. If we do, Signor Prodi will rush to apologize on our behalf. Or 58% of us allowed to take a critical view of Israeli policies? Perhaps 57% would be an acceptable maximum? Maybe 56%? (I think you can see where this argument is leading.) Perhaps it would be better to put at the front of the questionnaire: any completed questionnaire that in any way takes a critical view of the state of Israel will be disallowed, as by definition it is racist.

Alternatively, one might ask: why does Sr. Prodi not apologize to the Americans, the Iranians and the North Koreans?

Then again, since "Iraq came next with 52 per cent, followed by Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Somalia, Russia, Syria and Pakistan all scored less than 50 percent" is Sr. Prodi going to apologize to the Somalis, for example, whose habit of invading the USA and killing peace-loving US Marines makes them a notorious threat to peace. And of course, the Chinese, whose provocative habit of putting their Belgrade Embassy precisely in the path of American bombs, and their domestic security zone precisely in the path of US spy-planes, shows them to be a very bellicose nation?

Can you imagine any policy or statement better calculated to endorse and support neo-Nazi contentions that the Israelis, or the Jews (so often and so perniciously confused) regard themselves as a chosen race and that any one who dares to criticize them must be hounded and denounced as a racist? ...

~ Ben Cosin

"Baghdad George"

Charley Reese is almost always without exception right on target and I enjoy reading everything he writes, which is usually succinctly intelligent. One small bone to pick with him in his piece "Baghdad George": he states that Bush cannot properly assess situations and make wise decisions "despite his good intentions."

What evidence does Charley have that Bush has good intentions, or is he just giving Bush the benefit of the doubt, or is he being facetious? Although it certainly appears that Bush is being manipulated to some extent by his staff, it stretches credulity to think that he is not doing what he fully intends to do which is unwise, downright bad, and, counterproductive to the best interests of our country.

In any case, Charley would probably agree with me that Bush must be held accountable for the consequences of his decisions regardless of his intentions.

~ William Sittig

"Let Iraq Take Care of Iraq"

Would someone tell me just what country Bush is President of?

Seems to me his concern is more for Iraqi people, than the Americans.

I must be missing something.

~ Ginny T., veteran

"Bush Advances Mission-Creep in Mideast"

Regarding Bush's declaration that "Communism, and militarism, and rule by the capricious and corrupt are the relics of a passing era":

The Cambridge dictionary defines militarism as: "the belief that it is necessary to have strong armed forces and that they should be used in order to win political or economic advantages."

Surely Bush must realize the inconsistency here between his rhetoric and his actions.

Rather than being a relic of a passing era, it seems as if Bush and company have embarked upon a new era in which militarism will be a means to an end. That end, being the advancement of US political and economic agenda whenever and wherever we choose.

~ Jerry Lavergne

Justin Raimondo's reply to Chris Cahill's backtalk:

There is honor in downing a tyrant, so believes Justin Raimondo.

I disagree. Honor belongs to the honorable.

America is hardly honorable in attacking, invading and overthrowing any tyrant, for that matter, at the deadly and painful expense of destroying others, especially women and children, whose only crime is the misfortune of living in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is never honor in waging the insanity of war, most surely filled with the hubris of the cultish, utilitarian delusions of grandeur swirling about in the wide, open spaces of George Bush's disgraceful, hollow heart and dishonorable, empty head.

Any minuscule measure of honor, if it manages to exist at all, by an expedient, unequivocal exit, perhaps is similarly virtuous in the pain relief experienced when one ceases to bang their head against a wall. "As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool," Proverbs 26:8.

~ David d'Apollonia, Quebec, Canada

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