Letters to the Editor

Rocky Road to Peace
A friend asks if I share his enthusiasm for the Bush “road-map” for Israeli-Palestinian peace. There seems to be no other game in town, but I can take little encouragement from it. Here’s why.
The road-map’s main provision holds that the Palestinian Authority (PA), now under the leadership of Prime Minister Abu Mazen Mahmoud Abbas, must suppress Palestinian terrorist groups. This proposition presupposes that the Abu Mazen is able to muster the will and the popular Palestinian support to do so. All other provisions are subordinated to this one provision, and the presupposition upon which it rests.
This proposition raises three fundamental questions:
1. Is the new PA able to suppress Hamas; Palestine Islamic Jihad; the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and the various other secular rejectionist parties and factions?....I’d guess the answer is “no.” Everyone wants peace, or course, but on acceptable terms. I see a good bit of evidence to suggest that most Palestinians believe (to my mind wrongly, but firmly) that nothing but continued, armed pressure will bring Israel to concede what Palestinians must have.
2. Will the Palestinian terrorist groups have the will and the strength to mount serious resistance to an attack by the PA? I’d guess the answer is “yes,” at least for a substantial period of time—with a substantial cost of life, limb and property. They have proven their capacity to continue operations against an Israel much stronger than the PA can ever be, and the leaders of the above-mentioned organizations have stated, both publicly and often, that any PA attempt to disarm them will lead to Palestinian civil war. Many Palestinian commentators believe it will. (Let us not forget that right-wing Israeli groups also state that attempts to dismantle the settlements and disarm the settlers will lead to Israeli civil war.)
3. How would the US and Israeli respond to a Palestinian civil war? I’d guess the US would wring its hands and bewail the situation, but do nothing. I’d guess the Sharon government would be delighted and might even join in.
Many Arab commentators today suggest that the “road-map” is a calculated plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war, just as the US instigated Iraq’s war with Iran and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. If the Palestinians decimate themselves, they say, Sharon will be able to achieve Ben Gurion’s dream of a Greater Israel without further cost to Israel. And, George Bush knows it.
I tend not to be a conspiracy buff. But, calculated or not, a Palestinian civil war could well be a way station on the road-map to an ugly Mid-East peace, whether the terminus is a Greater Israel or something else.
Peter D. Molan, Ph.D.
A USDOD Middle East Analyst (retired), Dr. Molan is a member of Veterans for Peace, Baltimore.
Questions for Press
You make a good point on the Embedded “In Bed With” Journalists [May issue]. In my view, the only real journalist in Iraq got fired and sent home.
Here are some more questions for the mainstream press:
• Where is the body count in Iraq?
• Where is the list of wounded and crippled?
• Where is the former Iraqi Army?
Here is a guesswork estimate based on some known (or close) facts:
From Armed Forces News:
• We dropped 29,000 bombs
• We Fired 700 Cruise missiles
• We fired at least 30,000 rounds of artillery
• We fired estimated 12,000 copter rockets
• We fired a millions small arms rounds
If each high explosive killed only one person, where are the reports?....For each killed, how many wounded? Probably triple the number that were killed. Where are they? Where is the bodycount for the machine gun and rifle fire, or the count on those wounded by these small arms? 100,000? 200,000?
Why no reporting on this carnage? The only reports are 100 or so Americans killed and a couple hundred wounded—most by friendly fire or accidents.
....These are just a few questions I think someone needs to answer. Why not ask one of the “In Bed With” journalists?
Keep probing. The American public needs to know about this. Just how much in lives and dismemberment did the Iraqi people pay for their right to live in chaos and horror?
Bill Har
Battle Creek, Mich.
It’s So Absurd
What a theatre of the absurd! We are treated to the spectacle of Bush’s flashy Hollywood-style entrance onto the aircraft carrier staged to look like it was out on the open sea instead of a few miles from the San Diego shore—this, from a man who shirked his duty and went AWOL for about a year while others died in Viet Nam!
All sham, like his recent speech trying to convince us that he’s not really trying to give the store away to the rich, where those standing behind him were asked to take off their ties so they’d look more like “ordinary guys”—with all appearances in front of select audiences: only those willing to bark and clap like trained seals may apply! And did anyone else notice that backwards flag, with the field of stars in the upper right? I’ve seen it a few times now, including on this appearance. Goodness, do you suppose there’s some sort of subliminal message there?....
Then Tom Delay, “the Hammer,” tries to mis-use the Homeland Security forces to track down the Texas Dems who, in protest of his gerrymandering scheme, left the state....
And now this obscene tax-cut giveaway to the rich narrowly passes, with our oily vice Prez leaping out of the limousine to further embellish his ignoble role in
history with this infamous tie-breaking vote in the Senate—with some pathetic turncoat Democrat, and it wasn’t even Lieberman!
 ...Will the outrages never cease? What kind of sicko B-grade movie are we living in these days!?
Bia Winter
Ms. Winter, formerly of Baltimore and a grad of Maryland Institute College of Art, now resides in Maine.
Treatment in Iraq
If you’ve heard or read any of the stories about how the civilian wounded in Iraq were “treated,” you’ll know the survivors are envying the dead right now.
Legs and arms amputated without anesthetic.
Limbs thrown onto piles to be dealt with later.
Weeks later still no morphine for pain.
No medical equipment or supplies.
Daily temperatures over 100 degrees.
Contaminated water.
Repeat infections.
Little electricity.
No air conditioning.
And what would it take to airlift a few of the operating rooms sitting in our military warehouses, all boxed up and ready to go?
How difficult would it be to deliver adequate morphine to at least relieve the suffering? Hell, even our drug companies would be in favor of that one.
But Empire can’t be bothered.
And we are comfortable.
But—what about taking a page from the military’s own psy-ops warfare manual? How about an audio clip of people crying out in pain?? Run it on a tape loop and play it over and over again outside every local congressional office in the land.
Let these people at least hear what they’ve done.
Or something more graphic? It’s time to break out the blood and body parts and dump a few buckets in those offices.
Murderous bastards.
Mike Ferner
For background, Mr. Ferner refers readers to this story in the Christian Science Monitor: http: //www.csmonitor.com/2003/0522/p01s02-woiq.htm
Neo-Con Chop Shop
The neo-con chop shop: They’re carjacking America and stripping her for parts.
   Every morning when we turn on the hot water and it actually comes out of the tap, let’s be really grateful. And when we flip a switch in the kitchen and the light actually comes on, let’s be all appreciative and pleased.
   Then let’s all go out and kiss our SUVs, admire our schools and take one last loving look at our freeways, hospitals and parks.
   Why? Because we may not have these luxuries much longer. America is being systematically stripped by the neo-cons as surely as if it were a Beemer left overnight in a bad part of town.
   It is sad enough that America’s infrastructure is being picked clean by corporate malfeasants—but the truly sad part is that Americans are actually helping these crooks out. We are leaving our keys in the ignition, our car doors open and our purses sitting on the front seat.
We need to start paying closer attention here, America.
Jane Stillwater
Berkeley, Ca.
Declare War on War
We might as well face up to it, war doesn’t seem to work. Long ago we had
the War to End All Wars, and it didn’t. Then there was World War II, the sequel. Didn’t seem to fix things either, nor did others too numerous to mention.
And apart from military conflicts, we have also had a number of civilian wars. We have had the War on Crime, but we still have crime. We have had the War on Poverty, and we still have poverty. Also the War on Drugs, and we still have drugs. And now we have the War on Terrorism, and I suspect that long after I have left this world, there will still be terrorism.
Perhaps it’s time for a new approach. Suppose we declared War on War, and insisted our leaders find ways to cooperate and work together instead of sending their young people out to kill each other? We could even set up a worldwide organization to facilitate that, and give it the same level of financial and moral support we have given to our wars. Who knows? It might just work.
Barry Jedrick
Mr. Jedrick writes from Ellicott City, MD.
Iraq: What Next?
Prior to the US war in Iraq, few people harbored any illusions about the behavior and intentions of the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, President Bush’s rushed initiative tragically undermines the theory of a just war and will lead to a proliferation of war and other acts of aggression.
Already this prediction is beginning to unfold. Buoyed by their apparent success in Iraq, the US is now issuing subtle threats against Syria, Iran and other so-called rogue regimes like Sudan and Libya.
While the Iraqi people have been freed from the oppression of Saddam Hussein, they continue to suffer, now at the hands of US expropriation. It is, for example, no secret how America’s formidable military machine was able to quickly seize control of all the Iraqi oil wells and the Ministry of Oil Building in Bagdad but were unable to protect—despite being forewarned—the irreplaceable heritage of a proud Iraqi people housed in the Iraq National Museum. It is now known that American troops were among those allowed to ransack museums, burn archives, and pillage libraries.
It is likely that the US will be in Iraq for many years—even decades. History shows that the development of democracy is a gradual, evolutionary process. In fact, since the fall of the Ottoman empire and after the period of colonialism—when the Arab states were created—there has been a continuous and difficult search for the proper balance between politics and religion in Arab countries. A nation’s people cannot just change its attitudes and mentality overnight.
Adding to the growing consensus of US dominance in the region is the reluctance on the part of the US to allow the United Nations to take the lead in rebuilding Iraq. To counteract such suspicions, the US will likely establish a legitimate government in the weeks ahead that will attempt to conceal in the world’s eyes the reality of an American military presence. The Arab nations, however, are bracing themselves. Due to growing anti-American sentiment, extremist groups are said to be regaining strength.
Lost in the shuffle—a thorn in the side of the US as an altruistic liberator—is the fact that throughout the world, in over 30 countries, millions of lives are being lost through armed conflict. Since 1998 there have been over 3 million lives lost as a result of fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone.
Evidence continues to mount, then, in the war’s aftermath, that America’s primary objective in Iraq was to gain control of the oil as well as the Middle East region.
Do other nations really want the US to be the world’s lone enforcer? Is this not a time to revisit the concept of a Just War?
Paul Kokoski
Ontario, Canada
Wake-Up Call
Americans—Where are you?
You talk of supporting our troops. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t pray for the well-being and safe return of our troops. But what will they come back to:
Loss of jobs, budget cuts that force the states to cut education for their children, cuts in the budget on the environment and ecology controls—so that their children are more apt to suffer from asthma and toxins in their water and food, cuts in the health care they will need (Bush has even cut funds to veterans hospitals). and a huge deficit to cover the revenue lost in tax rebates to the ultra-rich (including the corporations that have moved their financial documents to tax havens—and put the financial burden of supporting our troops on the returning troops and their children).
Bush has lied to us every time he has proposed a program. Even as he proclaims our benefits, he has in mind the budget cuts for the funds needed to implement those programs. He took those troops from their homes and families to protect us from Hussein’s ‘biological and nuclear weapons’. He and Rumsfeld had ‘absolute proof’ of their existence. But now that we have complete access to all of Iraq—where are the weapons? Did he fabricate the “evidence?!”
America, the administration is deceiving you and manipulating your will and, in the process, rescinding your civil liberties. Wake up before you become comatose!
Henry Perril
Mr. Perril writes from Northwest Baltimore. He identifies himself as a member of Veterans for Peace, Baltimore.
Curriculum Woe
For the third year in a row, the Maryland State Board of Education is attempting to insert “sexual orientation” somewhere in the public schools’ regulations.
Last year the Board tried adding “sexual orientation” to the schools’ multicultural regulations, but minorities didn’t buy the argument that sexual preference is equivalent to race.
So now the Board will vote on whether to add “sexual orientation” to the schools’ safety standards regulation. But the regulations already provide for the safety of “all students in Maryland’s public schools without exception.” (See COMAR School Safety 13A.04.05.05-1.) So why the unnecessary change?
We wish the Board’s unrelenting zeal to add gays to our children’s education regulations would also extend to ex-gays.
Regina Griggs
Ms. Griggs is executive director of PFOX—Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, based in Fort Belvoir VA.
Deception
When Bush wanted to invade Iraq, he yelled, “Weapons of mass Destruction!” When he wanted to give the rich a tax break, he hollered, “To create more jobs!” Now that he wants to cut down the forests, he shouts, “To save the forests!”
Where are you, America?
Frank Kielian
Mr. Kielian writes from San Francisco, Ca.
Daisy Chain of Death
In a recent Sun article, “Unending unemployment” (5/19/03), a professor argues for a more realistic rate of unemployment being pegged at 10.1%. I agree, but it is still a statistic that masks an underlying “employment” problem of far greater magnitude.
We have 6 million working age people collecting disability, and we have another several million in the penal system either incarcerated or on supervised probation.
Then, without even considering the outright horror of minimum wage jobs, and dangerous and/or polluting industries that are ultimately unsustainable, we have to consider the military/security component of the workforce. With 2 million uniformed soldiers and a cottage industry of outsourced, privatized training, consulting and security companies, and the huge defense contracting firms and all the sub-contractors and vendors that depend on military spending, a strong argument can be made that we need wars, terrorism and threats of same in order for our economy to survive.
We essentially export the instruments of war only to destroy them later in combat. It is the daisy chain of death that ended the Great Depression with the jobs created by WWII. When unemployment approaches 20%, most third world nations tend towards revolution. In the US, we have a buffer with unemployment insurance and accumulated wealth to draw on.
J. Russell Tyldesley
Mr. Tyldesley, a business executive, resides in Catonsville, Md. He recently published a book, A Democratic Manifesto: 95 Theses for Radical Reformation of Democratic Policies.
Look at Root Causes
With a record large number of bankruptcies being filed in the United States, it is time to address the root causes. Soon after the age of 18, many young adults begin to receive unsolicited credit card applications. These are offers of credit with absolutely no determination of the person’s ability (or desire) to pay back the debt. Most high school curriculums do not contain courses on financial management and media advertising is quick to promote immediate gratification. Consequently, a large number of young adults start down the path of credit card reliance which ultimately leads to bankruptcy.
The primary reason working adults use credit cards is because it is convenient and/or serves as a means of spending future earnings. But if one loses their job or is unable to work because of illness or injury, bankruptcy becomes the alternative.
Consumer credit counseling agencies have now become the last line of defense before someone files bankruptcy. Consumers are informed by these agencies that if they agree to funnel a “reduced” payment through them, all the debt enrolled in the program will be paid off in five years. This is because the credit card companies are mailed a “proposal” outlining the person’s present financial condition including their ability to pay back the debt. The credit card company then “accepts” the proposal and begins receiving payments at a lower interest rate. This works well for those consumers who are less than 90 days delinquent, as the creditors will “re-age” the account and soon begin reporting it “paid as agreed.”
However, the situation changes dramatically if the account is more than 90 days delinquent (or “charged off”). Once the credit card company charges off a delinquent debt, they can write it off their corporate tax returns so as to minimize the loss. The consumer, however, must contend with this serious delinquent mark on their credit report for at least seven years...
It is amazing how gruelling the process can be to qualify for a secured loan and yet how easy it is to obtain unsecured credit. The US Congress needs to begin requiring credit card companies to utilize more stringent underwriting guidelines before granting consumers credit....
Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio



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This story was published on June 7, 2003.