The Old Sixties Left Wages Another Campaign





Mr. Radosh is Prof. Of History, Emeritus at CUNY.

Most Americans readily understand, after experiencing the horror of the 9/11 attack on our nation last year, that evil exists, and that those seeking to destroy what we hold dear are indeed the epitome of evildoers. But not the radical academics and Hollywood celebrities, who are trying their best to resurrect from its coffin the old '60s anti-Vietnam War coalition.

Thus, coming to the ad pages of the New York Times will be what they call"A Statement of Conscience," calling on the"people of the U.S. to resist" American policy, which they claim shows"grave dangers to the people of the world," who want us to join them in resisting"the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration."

What leads these '60s relics to make the most preposterous of arguments? To in effect argue that we face no danger from any nation or any group of terrorists, that the danger stems from our own imperial overreach?

The names on the petition provide an answer. Most are recognizable Old and New Left protesters from the early 1960s; some in fact are elderly pro-Communists whose political life began back in the 1930s.

They have been groomed on the belief that the United States is an imperialist power bent on oppressing the poor people of the world. They see Iraq as Vietnam, with the United States once again trying to destroy a people seeking only independence and a people's revolution.

THE reality of our new situation makes not one dent in their ingrained world view. The petition-signers seem unaware of the dangers posed by radical Islam, al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and other powers which form what our president has rightfully called"an axis of evil." Indeed, they mock the view that a simple contest exists between"good v. evil," when the real issue is the effort to wage"war abroad and repression at home."

Included in their list of such horrible acts of aggression are what they call the"attack" on Afghanistan, the"trail of death and destruction" caused by - Israel - and the blank check the U.S. government wants to kill and bomb whomever it wants.

Their description of America today: a country under the thumb of"repression over society," with free speech"suppressed," groups falsely called"terrorist," a nation they hint sits on the edge of totalitarianism. Their answer: Refuse orders, resist a draft if instituted and support all"resisters." The"machinery of war" has to be stopped.

This old heated rhetoric and '60s-redux arguments can easily be ignored - that is, if one does not pause to look at the luminaries in our intellectual life and the entertainment community that have signed on to the campaign.

They include directors Robert Altman and Oliver Stone; actors Ed Asner, Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover; singers Ani DiFranco and Pete Seeger; writers Kurt Vonnegut and Gore Vidal; radical cop killer Mumia Abu-Jumal, and scores of others - a virtual Who's Who of the leftover Old and New Left activists, writers and artists.

It is a true Popular Front. Playwright and actor Wallace Shawn is on the list, alongside ex-Weather Underground leaders Bernardine Dohrn and C. Clark Kissinger.

COINCIDING with this effort is the Historian's Petition to Congress, instituted by Joyce Appleby, a past president of our country's two major historical associations, and feminist historian Ellen Carol DuBois of UCLA.

Their petition has a more limited goal: They purport only to ask the Congress for a debate and vote on"whether or not to declare war on Iraq," although it is clear from the introduction to the petition that their real goal is to"stop war with Iraq," which they wistfully hope will not occur if there is a"full-fledged congressional vote." If this does not happen, they plan to be in our nation's capital on Sept. 25 to present the petition to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The signers compose a great majority of our professional historians, including some of the most distinguished members of the profession. As Joyce Appleby explained in an open letter to the profession, she and DuBois started the petition because listening to the president at his Crawford ranch left them frustrated, since they know that Americans"feel agitated by the drumbeat of remarks about possible military action."

Should we go to war, Appleby thinks that it would amount to an"unprovoked attack on another country." Any threat from Iraq and Saddam Hussein disappears from her field of vision.

Appleby is furious that the president says he will soon make up his mind,"as though he were a king." This, she pines,"is not what the Founding Fathers intended."

In a forum in Newsweek's issue on 9/11, Appleby fears Bush is"returning us to a Cold War mentality," one in which the United States fought"quasiwars and proxy wars and [ran] covert operations and [used] spies and [practiced] domestic intimidation."

Now, she complains, we seem to be"moving right back into that Cold War mindset, in which we will have a black and white world of good versus evil, and we'll be a part of suppressing dissent around the world," as well as invading"American rights at home."

Appleby and her colleagues are, it seems, living in a dream world - one in which the evil United States is oppressing every nation, and those resisting its grasp are simply opponents of a new imperialism.

Sorry, Ms Appleby. This historian does not buy your arguments. As Larry Miller wrote in The Weekly Standard last Jan. 14,"No matter what your daughter's political science professor says, we didn't start this." Change that to your son or daughter's historian.

WITH all its imperfections, America stands for freedom and democracy - values held in short shrift in those areas of the world where radical Islamic fundamentalists plot to destroy us. Perhaps you can't be a historian to understand this basic truth, or maybe George Orwell was right when he said that there are some things so stupid that only an intellectual can believe them.

Editor's Note Sean Wilentz, a signer of the historians' petition, objected to Mr. Radosh's characterization of Ms. Appleby's position. Mr. Wilentz emailed Mr. Radosh with his objections. Mr. Radosh subsequently included Mr. Wilentz's email in a mailing to HNN:

I have no idea what Joyce's views on going to war with Iraq are, or what she expects, wistfully or otherwise, will be the outcome of that vote. That's all beside the point. I, for one, fully expect that Congress will vote to go ahead. Fine. I have no problem in trying forceably to curtail weapons of mass destruction. But when Bush through Fleischer announced he's going ahead without Congress, I was alarmed. Even if one is a fervert Bush supporter -- which obviously I'm not either -- to lead the country into this kind of war without Congressional approval would be politically dangerous (for Bush) as well as constitutionally dubious. You've read much more into the thing I signed than is there, I think -- and to link it with the moron anti-war left is unfair and misleading.


This article first appeared in the New York Post and is reprinted with permission of the author.



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William Hughes - 10/7/2004

Hmmmm. That's funny. I'm a Democrat (Coulter has made no bones about the fact that..according to her all Dems are extreme leftist). I served in both Desert Storm and Somalia and believed in what I was doing. I guess that would make you a liar.

What I am not is a mindless machine that never questions my government nor do I believe in every single war this country has gotten itself into. I've read Ms. Coulter's book and compared the footnotes and found lie after lie. She takes a piece of a statement instead of using the whole thing and intentionally twists it into something else. It's extremely obvious when you see it. She also likes to use statements in her foot notes from extreme rightists as credible. That's like me going to the Montana Militia and asking them if the government is trying to take away all of their guns. Of course, they are goint to say that's true. Ms. Coulter is as much of a radical and a liar as any of those screwballs or some fanatical Pro-Life advocate that blows up abortion clinics. I have a hard time distinguishing her mindset from that of other nut jobs like Timothy McVay.

Coulter has even went as far as to call many wounded veterans unpatriotic traitors just because they don't agree with her ideals. On the other hand, Ms. Coulter herself has never done a day of military service for her country. In spite of that fact, she tries to paint herself as some patriotic loyalist. The fact of the matter is that she has betrayed the very Americans who have sacrificed so that she can run her loud mouth.


garvin chan - 3/1/2003

your web site sucks.


Joe Fox - 9/25/2002

I will not venture too far into my useless, literary philosophy and will simply point out the "forest" that the trees are blocking for most in this commentary. The Bush administration has intelligence that we simply don't have the benefit of seeing. We now have numerous Pentagon reports, Iraq nuclear engineer defectors, and a very sad history of Sadam's regime and what he sees as paradise. I will side with our administration. Oh, and by the way, Marisa was on Conan tonight discussing her "tap dancing classes" and her "Celebrity Golf Vacation" to the Bahamas but I am sure she is readily informed about the "goings on" in the Middle East, much more so than our administration. Step aside Colin!!!!! There's a lady on deck. Wake up Liberals!!!!!!!


Bill Heuisler - 9/23/2002

Your treatise was quite thorough and made my point by omission. Lenny Steinhorn repeated a smear from last week's Newsweek about bio-weapons being supplied to Saddam by the US. Anyone with fundamental knowledge of such things will agree there is no credible evidence the US ever supplied bio-weapons to Iraq and I resent the implication of such monstrous evil to one of our greatest Presidents. Thanks for your inadvertant support.
Bill Heuisler


Gus Moner - 9/22/2002

Iraq and Poison Gas By Dilip Hiro

It is suddenly de rigueur for US officials to say, "Saddam Hussein gassed his own people." They are evidently referring to the Iraqi military's use of chemical weapons in the Iraqi Kurdistan town of Halabja in March 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War, and then in the area controlled by the Teheran-backed Kurdish insurgents after the cease-fire in August.
Since Baghdad's deployment of chemical arms in war as well as peace was known at the time, the question is: What did the US government do about it then? Nothing. Worse, so strong was the hold of the pro-Iraq lobby on the Republican administration of President Ronald Reagan, it succeeded in getting the White House to frustrate the Senate's attempt to penalize Baghdad for violating the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, which it had signed. This led Saddam to believe that Washington was firmly on his side--a conclusion that paved the way for his invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War, the full consequences of which have yet to be played out.
During the five years following October 1983, Iraq used 100,000 munitions, containing chiefly mustard gas, which produces blisters first on the skin and then inside the lungs, and nerve gas, which attacks the nervous system, but also cyanide gas. From the initial use of such agents in extremis to repel Iranian offensives, the Iraqis went on to deploy them extensively as a vital element of their assaults in the spring and summer of 1988 to retake lost territories. At the time, even as the US government had knowledge of these attacks, it provided intelligence and planning assistance to the Iraqi army, according to an August 18 front-page report by Patrick Tyler in the New York Times.
Iraq's use of poison gases to regain the Fao Peninsula, captured by Iran in early 1986, was so blatant that the United Nations Security Council could no longer accept Baghdad's routine denials. After examining 700 Iranian casualties, the UN team of experts concluded that Iraq used mustard and nerve gases on many occasions.
Yet, instead of condemning Iraq unequivocally for its actions, the Security Council, dominated by Washington and Moscow, both of them pro-Baghdad, balanced its condemnation of Iraq with its disapproval of "the prolongation of the conflict" by Iran, which had refused to agree to a cease-fire until the Council named Iraq the aggressor (which America got around to doing in 1998!).
Contrary to its proclamations of neutrality, Washington had all along been pro-Iraq. It lost little time in supplying Baghdad with intelligence gathered by the Saudi-owned but Pentagon-operated AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) flying in the region. This tilt became an embrace after the re-election of Reagan as president in November 1984, when Iraq and America re-established diplomatic ties.
From mid-1986, assisted by the Pentagon, which secretly seconded its Air Force officers to work with their Iraqi counterparts, Iraq improved its accuracy in targeting, hitting Iran's bridges, factories and power plants relentlessly, and extending its air strikes to the Iranian oil terminals in the Lower Gulf. Under the rubric of escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers, the Pentagon built up an armada in the gulf, which clashed with the puny Iranian navy and destroyed two Iranian offshore oil platforms in the Lower Gulf in retaliation for an Iranian missile attack on a US-flagged super-tanker docked in Kuwaiti waters.
It was against this backdrop that Iraq began striking Teheran with its upgraded Scud ground-to-ground missiles in late February 1988. To recapture Halabja, a town of 70,000 about fifteen miles from the border, from Iran and its Kurdish allies, who had seized it in March, the Iraqi Air Force attacked it with poison gas bombs, killing 3,200 to 5,000 civilians. The images of men, women and children frozen in instant death, relayed by the Iranian media, shocked the world. Yet no condemnation came from Washington.
It was only when, following the truce with Teheran in August, Saddam made extensive use of chemical agents to retake 4,000 square miles controlled by the Kurdish rebels that the Security Council decided to send a team to
But instead of pressing Baghdad to reverse its stance, or face an immediate ban on the sale of US military equipment and advanced technology to Iraq by the revival of the Senate's bill, US Secretary of State George Shultz chose merely to say that interviews with the Kurdish refugees in Turkey, and "other sources" (which remained obscure), pointed toward Baghdad's using chemical weapons. These two elements did not add up to "conclusive" proof. Such was the verdict of Shultz's British counterpart, Sir Geoffrey Howe. "If conclusive evidence is obtained, then punitive measures against Iraq have not been ruled out," he said. But neither he nor Shultz is known to have made a further attempt to get at the truth. Baghdad went unpunished.
That is where the matter rested for fourteen years--until "gassing his own people" became a catchy slogan to demonise Saddam in the popular American imagination.


Dilip Hiro is the author of Sharing the Promised Land: A Tale of Israelis and Palestinians (Interlink), Between Marx and Muhammad: The Changing Face of Central Asia (HarperCollins), Neighbors, Not Friends: Iraq and Iran After the Gulf Wars (Routledge), War Without End: Rise of Islamist Terrorism and the Global Response (also Routledge) and the forthcoming Iraq, Myth and Reality, Culprit or Cat's Paw? (Nation Books).


Gus Moner - 9/22/2002

OK, feel feisty today and I’m up for the challenge you set “Tell me which paragraph is inaccurate”.
Here’s what I find is inaccurate in each:

1) The anti War-on-Iraq people do not equate the Iraq attack (sounds like Mars Attacks, no?) to Vietnam. They see a government populated with oilmen attacking without foundation a nation with the world’s second-largest oil reserves to organise regime change, (read put my guy in). The comparison (and problem) is in the process; it is a new Gulf of Tonkin resolution, not what Mr. Radosh and you claim.
2) Everyone is aware of the dangers lurking in the world. They are no graver today than on 10th September, and may in fact have been lessened by the response to the attacks. That does not mean there may not be other awful terrorist acts in future. No one has been given credible evidence of an Iraqi threat. Everyone is waiting for the UN to determine if there is one, and then to act within the law to resolve the matter.
3) Israel has attacked Palestine more times and killed more people than Iraq in the past 12 months. Irrefutable fact. More danger exists on the Kashmir line of division than in Iraq. Russians have killed more Chechen this year than Iraq has killed anywhere. Where is the threat? Iraq or Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia?
4) That free speech is suppressed is a stretch. However, there is an admitted agreement between the government and networks. There is a conspiracy of silence in the news. I listen to four nation’s news broadcasts every day. I can assure you the coverage is far more broad, in depth and balanced in all four. US reporters are simply not asking the questions nor raising the issues, contradictions, challenging the lies as their colleagues are doing in the rest of the world. No one can deny that legal precedents and laws are being broken, while freedom is being curtailed. Just look at all the people held without due process, for starters.
5) Finally, what Mr. Radosh and you have claimed is a “very accurate summary of far-left anti-war arguments” is so far off the mark I wonder if either of you have ever had an open discussion with anyone who holds differing views? You do not seem to understand the positions of those who, by the looks of it, you consider to be enemies, at all. Remember, to defeat your enemy, know him. Try harder. We may differ, however, we are more logical and rational than you seem to give credit for. That could be your undoing.


Gus Moner - 9/22/2002

Brilliant perspective. Thanks.


Gus Moner - 9/22/2002


Mr. Radosh I am afraid you have failed in your attempt to discredit the “Old and New Left” (…) “a virtual Who's Who of the leftover Old and New Left activists, writers and artists”(…) a true Popular Front” who are purportedly trying to “to resurrect from its coffin the old '60s anti-Vietnam War coalition”. These vague, personal attacks, defamatory at best, have at best produced bad arguments. Your argument, sir, misses the point. Nowhere do you recognise that those you derisively call “elderly pro-Communists whose political life began back in the 1930s” were right on at least that score.
Acknowledge, sir, the fact that the brave civilian men and women (from the left and right) and the many former servicemen who opposed that war were totally right in opposing the war and for the reasons they did so. In time, their view was recognised as the correct one and that of the warmongers as wrong. It happens, not everyone can be right.
Simply invoking the ghosts of the left to discredit someone or some movement is childish and lacks foundation. How can you call yourself a historian and engage in such tactics? Just because one has a particular political preference does not out-and-out discredit their theories.
It happens that the vast majority of people in the world believe the al Qaeda hunt is a justifiable campaign of self-defence, for they attacked the nation. You don’t hear any “Old and New Left” from the “old '60s anti-Vietnam War coalition” opposed to that. They are opposed to the condescending attitude towards other nations, epitomised by the obvious oil grab by a government run by oilmen under the guise of War on Terrorism. It’s an appalling and scandalous affront to the 3000 innocent victims of that 11th September attack to have their memory associated with such a vile, baseless and inane attack on an impoverished people brutalised by a dictator, with no evidence of links to al Qaeda, and no verifiable proof of any WMD.
If there are WMD there, let the proper world authority determine that and what to do in the event. If you are going to enforce UN resolutions with force, you must do it equally for all violators, not just the ones that displease you. If you think the process of issuing UN resolutions and the resolutions themselves are so important, why disdain the UN when it comes to enforcing them? It is obviously duplicitous gamesmanship, a fact that has not escaped the rest of the world’s notice.
I would add here that constitutional procedure requires a declaration of war to attack a nation, or more to the point, to go to war. No president can decide that. Or are you warmongers trying to usurp the rule of law and order to, as you so aptly put it, “destroy what we hold dear?” The constitution is the basis of all power devolved. It cannot be set-aside for Mr. Bush and the oilmen who are brazenly attempting to push their failed domestic policies and corporate misdeeds off the front pages with the blood of US soldiers, nor for anyone else.
Your claim of the war dissenters that “they have been groomed on the belief that the United States is an imperialist power bent on oppressing the poor people of the world” may indeed be true. However be it, time and history have shown that there is truth in that. How else would you describe the US President’s offer to share out Iraqi oil in return for support in the adventure? Why “liberate” Kuwait, or prop up the Saudi princes in brutish Sheikhdoms run by expert female oppressors, if not to ensure their oil keeps on coming? Why support Pakistan, whose people are oppressed by a military dictator? I am not even delving into historical examples here, for the current list is endless.
China is one of the most brutal nations on Earth. They suppress Tibet and their Muslim provinces, violating all human rights known to man, trampling their people under tanks, yet it is our biggest trading partner. The USA supports the Israeli military oppression and their apartheid policies in Palestine, where Israeli government-sponsored murder (or executions, as you please) are rampart in a state with no death penalty. Do the Zionist settlers not oppress the Palestinians? Does the USA not back Israel unswervingly?
If this view of the USA, which you claim is held by the anti-war lobby of the US, were wrong, there would not so many anti-US manifestations round the world, al Qaeda included. Indeed, most nations of the world have a sizeable portion of their populace that believe the US directly or through puppet governments oppresses nations for their resources or political aims. There has to be a reason for this. Bush thinks we’re “not getting the message out that we are good”. Others think the USA is simply behaving badly.
Contrary to your views, I opine that there has been a wave of debate repression in the USA. The media present only one side of events, they fail to ask the most elemental investigative questions and in general, people in the USA spend all our time listening to ourselves. Seldom do people in the USA listen to foreigners in our discussions, foreign broadcasts, panels or, debates. Seldom does a foreign writer get translated and printed. For the media, it’s also a question of “with us or against us”. The USA is discarding with disdain the opinions of friends all over the world who disagree with US policies but want to work with the USA.
Why is it that the right-wing elements insist that anyone expressing different opinions is a leftist, old left, liberal pacifist or what have you? Might it not be to avoid discussing the issues they are raising? No one, sir, doubts there are threats out there. The point is that they were there before the 11th of September, and the USA did not go about madly shooting first and asking questions later. When nations do that, it is indeed creating “grave dangers to the people of the world”.
Moreover, I believe that Ms Appleby and her esteemed colleagues recognise perfectly the weaknesses in the Bush team’s arguments and the transgressions of law and abuses of power the President’s men are engaged in. Whether you agree or not, she and her illustrious colleagues have raised an issue of vital national security. Are the people of the USA to allow a President to ignore the constitution? What security will the people of the USA have then?
It is one thing for the opposition to cease to oppose, as is happening to the Democratic Party. Unless they wake up and ask the hard questions and dare to oppose this madness, they’ll be trounced in the November elections. They may already have capitulated, and be on their way to the scrap heap of history, swept into irrelevance by the fact-less media blitz of sound bites and old information on Iraq that is hiding the political weakness of the Bush team and the error of their ways. The damage that those omissions are doing to democracy does not violate the constitution.
It is quite another to stand by and let the constitution and Congress be steam rolled like new tarmac. It’s a matter of vital national security to protect and defend the constitution. The men and women in power and the armed forces are sworn to uphold it. For the security of democracy in the USA is the constitution.


Jerry West - 9/21/2002

Al Czervikjr wrote:

You conveniently ignore the fact that Iraq was a Soviet client state for decades.

JW:

Not at all, it is irrelevant to the point at hand about the US also supporting Iraq, and given the US opinion of the Soviets at the time, it probably makes them more culpable.

Are you arguing that because someone else supported evil first, subsequent support by another party doesn't count?

AC:

If you are going to have a "trial," I suggest that you make sure you have a very large courtroom, because you are going to have a lot of defendants.

JW:

Now you are starting to see the light. :)


Al Czervikjr - 9/20/2002

>>Supporting dictators with known tendencies of brutality and aggression on the other hand is more akin to arming bank robbers or worse, in which case the law would hold one responsible as well as the bank robbers. This is more comparable to the case in Iraq. Both Saddam and the US government should be on trial here.

Mr. West,

You conveniently ignore the fact that Iraq was a Soviet client state for decades. Virtually all of the weapons Saddam received were from the Soviets and the French. His bio and chemical weapons infrastructure is largely German. His war with Iran was bankrolled largely by other Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia.

If you are going to have a "trial," I suggest that you make sure you have a very large courtroom, because you are going to have a lot of defendants.


Bill Heuisler - 9/20/2002

Please! "Confidential Commerce Dept. Export Control documents"?
Anonymous quotes? Newsweek baldly states the Pentagon blocked sales of Atropine to Iraq, but allowed Fort Detrick to release bio-weapons to the Commerce Department. This is either one of the biggest scoops of the post-9/11 era or another clumsy smear.
Don't you feel used?
Bill Heuisler


Jerry West - 9/20/2002

Alec Lloyd wrote:

My main point stands, however: Cops who have been issued guns and commit crimes with them cannot be punished since we armed them the first place. A fascinating (if odd) theory.

JW:

We normally issue guns to cops after careful scrutiny and training with the reasonable expectation that they will behave in an appropriate manner. If they do not they carry the full responsibility for their actions.

Supporting dictators with known tendencies of brutality and aggression on the other hand is more akin to arming bank robbers or worse, in which case the law would hold one responsible as well as the bank robbers. This is more comparable to the case in Iraq. Both Saddam and the US government should be on trial here.


Jerry West - 9/20/2002

Alec Lloyd wrote:

And the best way to stand up for those values is to leave a brutal dictatorship in power and stand harmlessly on the sidelines while it develops a nuclear arsenal?

JW:

Interesting that you skipped almost all of the points in my post and fired this wild shot. :)

You could have picked up on the first paragraph that points out that many sources indicate that there may be very little threat to the US (as opposed to US business interests, by the way) posed by Iraq. Even a UN weapons inspector is saying there is little, and he is both a Republican and a US Marine, two credentials that you may choose to use to disqualify his view if you like.

So, nuclear arsenal aside we are left with a brutal dictator, so what? The US history of dealing with brutal dictators has more often than not been to support them, even create them, as long as they were good for US business or a counter balance to popular altenatives that may not put US business interests ahead of their own. Even Saddam is a creature of the US and still is. Once useful as a front man, now as a whipping boy. So are we really after brutal dictatorships?

If the US is serious about ending dictatorships and non-democratic governments let it also take action against Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and a host of other countries that we could name, but only the most blinded really believe that democracy, human rights and such have anything to do with US policy except when it becomes convenient.

As for nuclear threats, if we are serious about reducing those why are we not also targeting Pakistan (again, bad government, bad weapons, two strikes), India, Israel and other third rate powers and demanding that they turn over their WMDs or face sanctions and even force?

The real issues here are not brutal dictators, human rights or nuclear threats. For the US establishment it is money and power, and maybe for some, vanity. For at least some of the critics it is US hypocrisy and imperial ambitions that run counter to human rights and equality. Why should thousands die on all sides for this?


Lenny Steinhorn - 9/20/2002

I refer all of you to the recent Newsweek article that documents what I wrote in my original e-mail.

These e-mail responses confirm my original point: that a prime responsibility of historians is to offer context and perspective. Notice that I did not condone or in any way exonerate Saddam. Rather, my point is that his brutality has been known to us for a long time yet we decided to coddle and arm him. So no, as I said, we didn't literally "start this" recent episode. But perhaps we should look at the way we "started" or sustained Saddam for far too many years.

And to disappoint these e-mailers, remember: history is neither left nor right. It's about understanding the context of our past so we can better act in the present. That should be beyond ideology.


Alec Lloyd - 9/20/2002

I could start making name jokes and calling your leaders "stupid."

Nowhere in my statement do I claim such a monopoly (though this “Alex Lloyd” may have done so).

My main point stands, however: Cops who have been issued guns and commit crimes with them cannot be punished since we armed them the first place. A fascinating (if odd) theory.


Alec Lloyd - 9/20/2002

Again, so by not deposing this murderous dictator who has used (and likely still possesses) weapons of mass murder (which he has used before) we are being more moral?

Certainly it is in our interest. However to pretend that America doesn’t give a “fig” for the people in Iraq is also rediculous. We are certainly more scrupulous about avoiding civilian deaths than, well Iraq’s own government for one.

The interesting aside to that charge is that it is a blatant attempt to deny that the “hawks” have any compassion whatsoever. The idea being, I suppose, that the presence of national interest must somehow exclude humanitarian interest as well. I disagree. In this case they dovetail nicely.


Al Czervikjr - 9/20/2002

>>Mr. Radosh obviously recognizes (I hope) the weakness of his intellectual and historical arguments.

If his arguments are, in fact, weak, I guess that Mr. Radosh would have to rely on himself to recognize that fact, because neither you nor others have bothered to point out any of these purportedly obvious weaknesses. Instead, you simply ask for an end to "the ad hominen garbage" while, at the same time, accusing him of "McCarthy style assaults."

Unfortunately, I still recall all of the attacks on Mr. Radosh in years past regarding his "McCarthy style assaults" on such innocents as the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss. I would have more respect for Radosh's critics if they would admit their past mistakes before moving on to others.


Arnold Offner - 9/20/2002

Mr. Radosh obviously recognizes (I hope) the weakness of his intellectual and historical arguments. Hence he always focuses on the individuals whose arguements he rejects and attacks those individuals for being part of some (imagined) discredited world of left wing thinkers or people (he alleges) unable to understand that the United States stands for truth and freedom and its opponents stand for evil.

Is it not about time to stop the ad hominen garbage and focus on the issues, past and present? There are real issues to be debated, including whether a President may--or should--take the nation to war without a formal declaration of war, and whether preemptive action against a nation we say has weapons of mass destruction is a legitimate form of "first strike" and, if it should be deemed such, does this include all such nucelar armed nations whose behavior we disapprove (North Korea? the People's Republic of Chhina? etc.)

I suspect most of the world would not accept--and will not--America's serving as judge, jury and war prosecutor all at the same time.

It's time to talk of real issues, not engage in Joseph McCarthy style assaults on those whose views one disapproves.

Arnold A. Offner
Cornelia Hugel Professor of History
Lafayette College


Trevor Getz - 9/20/2002

I am increasingly concerned about Mr. Lloyd's self-proclaimed monopoly of 'facts' and 'truth'. I am not, personally, decided on this issue myself. Nevertheless, I hope on a site such as this, which I visit regularly, to see a restrained and logical discussion, not irrelevant point-keeping.

Mr. Lloyd, I hope you are not an educator, because students should be taught that the human world is about 'perspectives', and truth is often fleeting, and rarely fully revealed. Only dangerous people really claim to own the 'truth', which is more frequently found in between two opposing positions than on either side.


Trevor Getz - 9/20/2002

I'm glad to see that Alex Lloyd has correctly noted that the 'Right' has a monopoly on 'truth'. I had been worried by the decidedly academic tone of this discussion, but now that it has returned to pre-school levels I can relax.


Trevor Getz - 9/20/2002

I can only agree... Carter was the last brilliant, and geniune, president we had.


Trevor Getz - 9/20/2002

You make Mr. West's comment seem ridiculous - or would, if 'facts' you presented were more than propaganda....

Is Hussein 'developing' a nuclear arsenal? There's little proof he is, but perhaps so... therefore shouldn't we support a renewed investigation process rather than attacking without proof?

Is Hussein a dictator? Sure he is. But so were the leaders of apartheid South Africa (I don't need to reiterate the dastardly deads of that regime), yet Reagen and even Bush senior seemed happy to support them, and today to support Saudi Arabia.

The question is, why are we really ready to move against Hussein. Even you must admit that it's not to redeem Iraq and free his peoples... we're moving in our OWN interests. That's fair enough - countries do that. But don't try to claim our government gives a fig about the people of Iraq. Anyone can see through that argument.


Al Czervikjr - 9/20/2002

>>But let's not forget that it was the U.S. that built up Saddam, particularly when he was fighting Iran. We were the ones that gave him weapons, including biological weapons.

So, the US was the one that "built up" Saddam? I'm sure that this news will come a big surprise to Russia, France, and Germany. By the way, exactly what weapons did the US give to Saddam?


Al Czervikjr - 9/20/2002

>>I am further convinced that such an invasion would be
nothing more than the continuation of a policy of comprehensive
stupidity. I wasn't particularly surprised to find that Mr. Kates is a lawyer. We engineers have learned from experience to expect that kind of thing from lawyers.

Ahh, yes...I seem to remember an engineer by the name of Carter who was simply brilliant when it came to US foreign policy.

--Al Czervikjr, Esq.


Alec Lloyd - 9/20/2002

And the best way to stand up for those values is to leave a brutal dictatorship in power and stand harmlessly on the sidelines while it develops a nuclear arsenal?

Fascinating bit of logic, that.


Jerry West - 9/19/2002

Ronald Radosh wrote:

Any threat from Iraq and Saddam Hussein disappears from her field of vision.

JW:

If one reads widely in the international press as well as the US press it seems there are quite a number of people who think that there is very little threat against the US from Iraq to be seen to start with. Maybe there is isn't much threat to begin with except in the pronouncements of those who see such a threat as being in their own best interests.

Radosh:

Appleby and her colleagues are, it seems, living in a dream world - one in which the evil United States is oppressing every nation, and those resisting its grasp are simply opponents of a new imperialism.

JW:

It is only a dream that the US aided and abetted, if not orchestrated, the facist takeover of Chile in 1973 with all of its resultant terror and brutality. The US, of course, had nothing to do with similar episodes around the world for the last 50 years, choosing only to support those regimes that stood for democracy, equality and human rights, right?

Radosh:

WITH all its imperfections, America stands for freedom and democracy -

JW:

That it does, at least on paper, but what does its government and past governments stand for? What the so called conservatives often seem to miss is that for many who protest US policy, the goal is to bring the US back to a regime that stands for those values in fact as well as in theory, and along with freedom and democracy would include the concept that all people are created equal, and should be treated equal across all boundaries and borders.

http://www.island.net/~record


Alec Lloyd - 9/19/2002

Again, this falls into the “we can never correct a past mistake” non-argument. If a cop goes nuts and shoots a bunch of people, we can’t arrest him because, hey, we gave him a gun way back when.

Of course, as you point out, we didn’t. Then again, the Left never let truth get in the way of achieving its goals.


Alec Lloyd - 9/19/2002

Your suggestion is, of course, wildly impractical. Certainly the WTC could have been reinforced. So can most structures, given a perfect knowledge of the future. Do you have a way to do this?

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work according to your blueprints. It is the height of hubris to think that we can “design” our way out of any problem. Of course, this is a common failing among engineers.

Just to be clear: your solution to the Iraq problem is a massive reordering of civilization, involving devising a new system of propulsion, putting it into production and then replacing every gas- or oil-burning vehicle and facility with it?

It is well we DON’T have engineers running the world after all.


Bill Heuisler - 9/19/2002

Mr. Steinhorn,
Crocodile tears over historian's "lack of understanding" lose their effect when deceit is revealed. To say the U.S. gave Saddam bio-weapons is wrong and malicious. Some repeat this slander in hopes it will become part of the real discussion.
Sorry. Evidence says otherwise:
Nov. 1980: Iraq uses chemical weapons at Susangerd (Tehran radio)
March 1984: Iraq uses chemical weapons at Hoor-ul-Huzwaizeh and seven other Iranian villages (UN verified)
Feb. 1984 US State Dept.: "The US Govt. has concluded that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons." (testimony before Senate) Iraq Foriegn Minister: "Political hypocrisy" "Full of lies"
March 30th, 1984: US revealed plans to curtail exports of any chemical "That could be used in manufacture of chemical weapons."
and urged other Governments to follow suit. (ABC Special Report)
Mr. Steinhorn, if we would not send chemical, how in God's name can you allege we would send these criminals bio-weapons?
Lastly, why and how would we send bio-weapons? Saddam's bio-weapons of choice are easily home-grown - cattle waste and grain fungus - and very difficult to transport (Imagine Anthrax or Aflatoxin spores in a ship at sea or an airplane's cargo bay).
To repeat vicious unsupported rumor is evidence of carelessness or ignorance.
Bill Heuisler


Andrew Todd - 9/19/2002

I see little point in arguing about the ethics and legalities of
invading Iraq until it is first proven to be a policy of good
sense. I am further convinced that such an invasion would be
nothing more than the continuation of a policy of comprehensive
stupidity. I wasn't particularly surprised to find that Mr. Kates
is a lawyer. We engineers have learned from experience to expect
that kind of thing from lawyers.
American policy in the middle east is comprehensively driven
by oil. The reason the United States sold various advanced
weapons to the arabs was to buy oil. Our military interventions
have no purpose save to seize oil. From an engineer's
standpoint, this amounts to one big colossal blunder. You can
find ways to run an automobile on coal for now, and windmills for
later. Furthermore, these methods cost much less than war-- in
money, that is. The highest cost of war is lives, of course. Dick
Cheney is comprehensively implicated in the whole middle east
process, both as an official, and as an oil company executive. I
feel entitled to say that he is an utterly stupid, incompetent
fool. The same goes for his cronies like Donald Rumsfeld, and
Paul Wolfowitz, and the whole Bush family.
I don't hold much of a brief for Bill Gates. I'm a committed
member of the open-source-software movement, with a stack of
public-domain programs to prove it. However, Bill Gates would
never have been dumb enough to get us into the mess Dick Cheney
has gotten us into.
Cheney knew twenty years ago that the oil would not last
forever-- where was his migration path? The beauty of hydrogen as
a fuel is that you can economically manufacture it from almost
anything that will burn, or from any source of electricity.
Hydrogen is like electricity. It serves as a flexibility layer.
Your automobiles and home furnaces are not locked into particular
mineral deposits. By contrast, gasoline is a mixture of octane,
hexane, etc. compounds which are comparatively expensive to make
from anything except oil. People who have thought seriously
about energy for years have repeatedly come to the conclusion
that you have to develop hydrogen wherever you can't use
electricity. Cheney and his cronies persistently neglected
alternative energy in order to stake everything on repeatedly
invading the middle east. The dumb donkeys just kept on stupidly
plodding ahead.
I would seriously recommend to Don Kates and Ronald Radosh
that they read the major works of Alvin Toffler, notably _The
Third Wave_ and _Future Shock_. John Naisbit's _Megatrends_ is
another good book, along the same lines, but more accessible. It
is less given to reflection on big ideas, and more given to
simple, immediately practical, advice. Naisbit is to Toffler in
techno-economic thought as Jomini or Lidell-Hart is to Clausewitz
in military thought. One of the best tests I know for a book is
whether it still makes sense after twenty or thirty years have
gone by. These books pass muster.
Here is a closing anecdote. Shortly after 9/11 I was talking
with an elderly civil engineer. We talked in engineer's code,
where a frown or a grunt, or a raised eyebrow requires about
twenty pages of translation for a layman. I had come to the
conclusion that the World Trade Center could have been prevented
from collapsing if about ten percent more had been spent on it.
The elderly civil engineer, on the other hand, had been trying,
without success, to find a solution that only cost one percent
more, because he judged that ten percent was not within the realm
of practical politics. I defer, of course, to his greater
judgment of practical politics. However, since practical politics
are a social artifact, created by men like Dick Cheney, I can
only repeat: Stupid, Stupid, Incompetent Fools!

Andrew D. Todd


Lenny Steinhorn - 9/19/2002

Of all the people saying the US didn't "start this" conflict, it shouldn't be coming from a historian, especially one so prominent as Ronald Radosh. True, Iraq is a renegade state. True, Iraq is an aggressor. True, Iraq has long been developing the most unsavory weapons. And true, Iraq has used these weapons -- against its own people, the Kurds, and against Iranians during their long war two decades ago. But let's not forget that it was the U.S. that built up Saddam, particularly when he was fighting Iran. We were the ones that gave him weapons, including biological weapons. Some of our policy makers even envisioned him as a new Sadat, one who could modernize and bring stability to his country. So yes, we didn't "start this" in a literal sense. But shouldn't we -- and shouldn't historians -- be more understanding of how we got here?


Alec Lloyd - 9/17/2002

go to Heuisler and Czervikjr. Excellent (and irrefutable) points.


Bill Heuisler - 9/17/2002

Mr Spencer, a shock here: this discussion is not about you.
The thread concerns Mr. Radosh's comments on anti-Bush rants from some on the Left who were silent during Clinton's antics. He quotes these leftists calling on the "people of the U.S. to resist...grave dangers to the people of the world...the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush Administration." These words illustrate a dislike and distrust of W unhampered by history. They demonstrate a doctrinaire, blame-America-first attitude and a maudlin concern for the victim/world tediously familiar in the Daily Worker, but inappropriate to a serious history discussion.
Patriotism? Hard-core Leftists are always proudly unpatriotic and haughtily dogmatic; most don't deny a distaste for this country and a concern for the International Community. The issue here is hypocrisy. These particular Leftists attack motives without evidence and reach conclusions distant from the rational discourse expected from free people in the most liberated society in world history. There's nothing new here. The Left's agenda is obvious to all but purblind partisans. The passion and loathing betrays the deeper, darker uncomprehensible, world-view.
As does yours.
Your blog is not required prologue and reading the liberal mind can tangle the wits into self-destructive, child-like confusion. For instance, you call Ann Coulter a liar rather than dispute her positions and characterizations. Ms. Coulter's book is full of carefully footnoted quotes. Childishly calling her a liar damages your credibility, not hers.
Want wider readership of your blog? Write sequential rebuttals of Coulter's book, Radosh's article and W's position on Iraq if you're equal to the task.
Bill Heuisler


Tom Spencer - 9/17/2002

You're taking some of the things I'm talking about WAY too far but I won't go on. It's clear there's no point to me doing so.


Alec Lloyd - 9/17/2002

The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Mr. Radosh has pretty effectively summed up the leftist arguments:

[Begin quote] They have been groomed on the belief that the United States is an imperialist power bent on oppressing the poor people of the world. They see Iraq as Vietnam, with the United States once again trying to destroy a people seeking only independence and a people's revolution.

THE reality of our new situation makes not one dent in their ingrained world view. The petition-signers seem unaware of the dangers posed by radical Islam, al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and other powers which form what our president has rightfully called "an axis of evil." Indeed, they mock the view that a simple contest exists between "good v. evil," when the real issue is the effort to wage "war abroad and repression at home."

Included in their list of such horrible acts of aggression are what they call the "attack" on Afghanistan, the "trail of death and destruction" caused by - Israel - and the blank check the U.S. government wants to kill and bomb whomever it wants.

Their description of America today: a country under the thumb of "repression over society," with free speech "suppressed," groups falsely called "terrorist," a nation they hint sits on the edge of totalitarianism. Their answer: Refuse orders, resist a draft if instituted and support all "resisters." The "machinery of war" has to be stopped. [End quote]

This is a very accurate summary of far-left anti-war arguments. Tell me which paragraph is inaccurate.

All Mr. Radosh has done is hold up a mirror. If that is a “smear” or a “McCarthyite tactic” it is news to me. I thought truth had some value, at least to historians. Apparently ideology is more important.


Al Czervikjr - 9/17/2002

>>Obviously you don't read my blog very closely at all. I certainly believe in being civil if at all possible

Really? Let's see...

--you repeatedly refer to Rumsfeld as a "ghoul" and to the former President Bush derisively as "Poppy";
--you take a perverse pleasure in the drug problems of Jeb Bush's daughter;
--you refer to former President Reagan as "the Great Fabricator" and make fun of the fact that he suffers from Alzheimer's Disease

Is this your idea of being civil?

Actually, what I really liked was your reference to the Fox News Channel as the "Faux News Channel." Once again, you sound exactly like Ann Coulter and your other bogeymen (and women) on the right who used to refer to CNN as the "Clinton News Network."

>>I always forget that conservatives have a way of reading the minds of liberals

Just like you have a way of reading the minds of all of those evil and hypocritical conservatives and exposing their hidden, sinister agendas, right?


Tom Spencer - 9/17/2002


I don't believe I question the patriotism of people who disagree with me like Radosh does here. Obviously you don't read my blog very closely at all. I certainly believe in being civil if at all possible. I certainly don't have anything near a pathological hatred of W. Criticizing a man's policies is not the same as hating the man. Give me a break.

I would suggest you actually read the blog and you'll see what I mean. However, I always forget that conservatives have a way of reading the minds of liberals and telling us what we mean even if it's not what we say or what we meant. That's why Ann Coulter's book, which looks like pack of lies tied together with phony footnotes to the rest of us, is actually the truth, right?


Bill Heuisler - 9/17/2002

Mr. Spencer,
"McCarthyistic name calling and smear tactics"?
Not in Radosh's piece. Dry your tears and read it again. The words are "Radical, Anti-war, Old and New Left protesters, Elderly pro-Communists and luminaries. The hardest words are, Radical cop-killer, Mumia..." Can you dispute these words? Evidently not. You argue no fact refute no claim, but whine unbecomingly. Radosh has stated facts you don't like. Truth maddens and torments and sometimes has malice. Tough.
Debate or take issue, blubbering is pathetic.
Bill Heuisler


Al Czervikjr - 9/16/2002

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Mr. Spencer. Name-calling, smear tactics, and questioning the integrity and intelligence, rather than the arguments, of those who happen to disagree with you is reprehensible.

With that in mind, why don't you go reread some of your articles and blog postings on this website, with particular attention to your near-pathological hatred of George W. Bush and "simple-minded" conservatives. If you replace "leftist" with "conservative" and "communist" with "reactionary," Radosh's columns would bear an strong similarity to your own.


Tom Spencer - 9/16/2002

Great -- another smear from Ron Radosh of anyone who doesn't agree with his point of view. Can he actually write something that doesn't read like the ravings of an unbalanced Cold War-era warmonger? I guess not. Everyone who doesn't agree with him must be a either a closet communist or a fellow-traveler. He's still living in a frightening era that (lucky for the rest of us) has been over for more than 30 years.

I especially love his suggestion that anyone who is against this war is against freedom and democracy AND is stupid. Great stuff, eh? I'm real impressed.

So this sort of McCarthyistic name-calling and smear tactics are what passes for an intellectual argument on the far-reactionary right, huh? Surely even conservatives of other stripes think this guy is out of bounds, right? Please back me up on this fellow HNN readers!

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