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Saddam Wasn't Really Such a Bad Guy
We Forget How Wonderful Iraq Was under Saddam
[323 words omitted.]
Having gotten that out of the way, Germany and Japan in WWII were also sovereign nations. But they were wreaking havoc on other sovereign nations. What's your point? And no, we did not introduce terrorism; the terrorists introduced it. That's like saying there would be no crime in Washington, D.C. if Washington, D.C. had never been settled. I believe in individual responsibility. Finally, far from telling Iraqis how to run their lives we have given them a chance at democracy so that for the first time in history they can run their own lives. We've made a lot of mistakes in Iraq, but somehow you seem to have missed them all in favor of blaming us for those things we didn't do wrong.
I was deeply saddened by your deep sadness. I don't know where you've been, but the Iraqis DID vote – last January. In fact, the only vote they've ever had has been under American auspices. They could have chosen candidates that would have given American troops their walking papers but didn't. Could they know something you don't? As to the seven Marines, I'm very sad about that. I was embedded with Marines. But insofar as I don't attend séances, I won't be able to listen to their words now. I do know that the living Marines I talked to believed very much in their mission. I have no reason to believe these seven felt otherwise. And by the way, there will be a new set of elections in a few months. That's two under us, zero under your benign friend Saddam Hussein.
From a Reader who Can't Read
If we feel what seems to be an earthquake do not be afraid, it is only those killed in our wars turning over in their graves because of festering flesh like you. [Oy! Such a metaphor, already!]
Sad you are in my country,
Dear Mr. Garcia:
How you read into a piece that claimed Bochco's series was anti-American that I am "anti American" I'm not quite sure. I am curious how you know so much about the accuracy of "Over There"? Did you read a treatise on it by Osama bin Laden? I am also sad we are in the same country. Why don't you pack up your pro-terrorist sympathies and leave?
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
ted [sic] church [sic]
Dear Mr. Church:
Please be specific. What lies did I tell?
[He didn't respond to my challenge but later wrote this. Insert your own sics:]
vietnam all over again...
u ever notice.............all iraqis look a like, eh?
[135 words omitted to save you the trouble of "siccing" them.]
and u know that to be a fact, dont u?
four more americans died today.........."mission accomplished"
Dear Mr. Church:
There were 37,000 Allied deaths from a single battle in World War II, the invasion of Normandy. Obviously it was therefore a failed mission and we should have immediately headed for home, tail dragging between legs.
From an "Over There" Boss Man
I'm writing in response to your column in the New York Post this morning.
In the future, feel free to call me if you have any questions about any programs on FX or need production notes on any of our programs. I would be happy to provide you with materials you need to write a more informed column.
It's obvious to me that you have no knowledge about the background of the military technical advisor for Over There. I think if you would have asked, you would know that he is, to use your word, a "true" military technical advisor. He is a former U.S.M.C. Staff [sic] Sergeant [sic] and his ten years of service included an 11-month tour in Iraq where he was a Fire Power Control Team leader with an ANGLICO [Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company] unit. [This already makes him a loser; I reached sergeant E-5 in literally a third the time it took this guy to go one rank higher, staff sergeant E-6. Either the Corps repeatedly held him back or somewhere along the way he lost a few stripes.]
While there have been some complaints with regard to the authenticity of the pilot (first) episode, the majority response from soldiers and military personnel was much more positive/favorable with regard to episodes two and three. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of reviews written about Over There were good to outstanding. The only negative reviews the show received were written by critics who believed that the series should have taken a political position but did not. [A rather bizarre claim, insofar as MY review – albeit presented in column form – did not insist it should have taken a political position, as did the handful of other reviews that didn't slobber all over the Bochco series.]
To buttress your opinion of Over There based on one posting from an antiwar blog is pretty weak. Yes, I know, you could have found plenty more postings to support that antiwar premise. That said, I assure you that I can provide you with as many, if not more, emails/blog postings/letters/etc. from soldiers/veterans of OIF [Operation INDURING Freedom?] that have a favorable opinion of Over There.
I respect the fact that you were an embed and have personal knowledge of what it is like in Iraq. I know other journalists who were embedded in Iraq who have seen the show and happen to believe it is an accurate depiction of what soldiers face in Iraq. They recognize that the series takes dramatic license at times but they clearly understand it is not a documentary. I screened the first three episodes individually for several soldiers who had served in Iraq and they had a few criticisms, but overall they believed the show got it right. Tony Perry, the military staff writer for the Los Angeles Times who was also embedded in Iraq, screened it for a dozen Marines who had served at least one tour in Iraq, most of them had served two tours. You should read his article published in the Los Angeles Times (July 27) to see those soldiers' comments.
Finally, I respect the fact that you're entitled to your opinion and it's fine if you don't like the show. However, for you to write that the military technical advisor on Over There deserves the firing squad is reprehensible. [He's right, something more painful like being buried up to his neck in the jungle and having honey poured over his head would have been more appropriate.] He has served our country honorably, fought to protect our freedom and has first-hand experience of service in Iraq. If you had bothered to pick up the phone and ask a question, I can only assume that you probably would not have written such an insulting and irresponsible comment.
Please feel free to call because I really would like to discuss this with you.
Right. That's why a unit couldn't get air support for 36 hours, instead of the usual less-than-30 minutes. That's why the squad had no reinforcements, no artillery, no armor, and even the heavy machine guns on the two Humvees present weren't used. That's why the enemy marks its improvised explosive devices (IEDs, makeshift bombs set up alongside roads) with white flags, to make sure to warn off Americans. That's why the Humvee gunners (yes including episodes two and three, the "more accurate" ones) have no shielding. It's why a missile or bomb was used to take out 20 Stingers [shoulder-fired missiles] in episode three, making it virtually impossible for forensics to determine all the missiles could be accounted for. (Yes, I know that was necessary to the plotline to make the intelligence officer a liar and make the Americans ruthless killers of civilians.) It's why even though some members of the squad carry grenade launchers only one grenade was fired during episode one with none during those oh-so-accurate episodes two and three.
In episode three, the GIs question why an air strike would be used against two terrorists, without wondering why they won't fire grenades or a mortar and wipe them out within minutes. Oh, but wait; even though they're an infantry unit they have no mortar! It's why EOD [Explosives Ordnance Disposal] simply fails to show up to disarm or detonate a car bomb in episode two, even though the incredibly-professional EOD makes it a point to be enroute in 30 minutes. And sure, legs can keep moving forward even though everything above the waist has been blown clean off with that one fired grenade. After all, Washington Irving's horseman rode without a head! Does a former Marine who served in Iraq really not know all this? Even the water bottles are wrong! Evian in Iraq? No, Mr. Solberg; Iraq is not LA. Americans in Iraq get their water from a Kuwaiti company, not the French. I could go on and on, but to what avail. You either haven't got a clue or you do have a clue and don't care. All you care about is making money and slamming the military and the war effort generally.
Nor do I care about the favorable reviews you've gotten; that's just the blind and biased following the Bochco. I would recommend to you the Seattle Post-Intelligencer article of July 26, 2005. I believe the title speaks for itself: "These Soldiers Say 'Over There' is 'Bogus.'"
If your military advisor does give accurate advice, then you're overriding him at every turn and he should have resigned in disgust. Since apparently he hasn't, he sold out the uniform I and so many others have proudly worn. But maybe a firing squad would be too harsh; he should just suit up and have a real Marine rip every patch off his uniform.
I did read the Seattle P-I story but evidently you didn't read the LA Times story or have no desire to read anything from anyone who said positive things about the show because it doesn't fall in line with your opinion. I will stand by what I said about our technical advisor. For you to claim that he isn't a "real" soldier is offensive. You know nothing about him because you don't care to know anything about him.
Also, you shouldn't make any assumptions about my political position just because I live in LA. My father spent 26 years in the Air Force and I have always supported our military and will continue to do so.
Dear Mr. Solberg:
I briefly listed 14 errors in the first three episodes, some small and some stunningly huge. Your response is that of the consummate politician: "I will stand by what I said." You didn't respond because you COULDN'T respond.
You've got a rotten little show and you know it.
To repeat: We have three alternatives concerning your carefully-selected "military advisor." He's totally incompetent; he's a liar; or he's willing to see his advice constantly ignored for the 200 pieces of silver you tossed him. I suggest putting him in a locked room with a real Marine for 15 minutes and let's see what "conversation" ensues.
Finally, if you call portraying our troops fighting each other with knives, beating and torturing prisoners, not being able to show up to disarm a bomb or even fire a grenade, and bombing civilians for the sake of it when even for military reasons it would have been much smarter to launch a raid as supporting the military then I guess we should say the same of Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War. When will we be treated to footage of you or Mr. Bochco getting behind an anti-aircraft gun and pretending to shoot down American planes?
I'm a Wuss; You're a Wuss
June 1, 2005.
Dear Mr. Fumento; [sic]
This notion Americans have that, if they will just restore to the Iraqis water and electricity, the Iraqis will love them is a poignant whimsy. If foreign soldiers had invaded your home city and slaughtered hundreds of people, and arrested every young man they could find who was still alive, would you forgive them if they repaired the damaged infrastructure?
Sometimes it's as if Americans don't understand that the Iraqis are human. You can't invade a foreign country for bogus reasons, engage in a mass murder of civilians, including small children, claim that the people you've killed were all "bad guys," and then expect that the survivors will think of you as liberating heroes. They will hate you, and a lot of them will become interested in only one thing: killing as many of you as they can.
Dear Mr. Coleman:
As a resident of a nation that has abrogated its involvement in world military affairs by allowing its own military to rust and fall apart, I'm not sure how much you could possibly understand about such things. But let me tell you the story about a man with a big bushy mustache named Saddam Hussein. He directly murdered hundreds of thousands of his own civilians with poison gas and other weapons, then murdered hundreds of thousands of more with pointless wars against Iran and other countries. His cronies and favorite cities thrived while the average Iraqi and Iraqi city like Fallujah suffered and crumbled. Then a country called the United States of America deposed that nasty man and set up free elections, killing the remnants of Saddam's henchmen and the foreign terrorists who came in to cut off civilians' heads with dull knives. And yes, the U.S. did restore and improve electricity and water – something the value of which you cannot possibly understand since you've always had them and therefore take them for granted. You know, like freedom. Maybe it is you the Iraqis should hate, for glancing their way and cluck-clucking your tongue at Saddam's evil doings and then going back to your hockey game and bottle of Molson's Golden. Eh?
The problem of Iraq is exacerbated by the significant probability that U.S. forces will eventually be driven out of Iraq. Your soldiers are volunteers, half of them are married, and they know well that their same-age peers are living in peace and safety in the United States. How much longer can they hold out before they refuse to fight any more for a country whose citizens hate them? They will become exhausted and quit. That's what the Iraqi resistance is counting on, and it's a better than even bet that the American occupation cannot be sustained for another two years.
Ian Coleman. [sic]
Dear Mr. Coleman:
You don't know that the Iraqis hate us; you made that up. Having been invaded so often throughout their history they do resent foreign troops; that's natural. But they also realize that more and more the so-called "insurgency" is being taken over by foreigners. The suicide bombers are believed to be almost exclusively foreign and without them there would be no war. The very head of the "resistance," is a Jordanian. In sheer numbers, the total number of Iraqis already fighting on the coalition side is vastly greater than ALL of the enemy fighters regardless of nationality. Additionally, most of those killed by those foreigners ARE Iraqis.
As to your psychoanalysis of the American soldier, what you miss is what I have already alluded to. You obviously know nothing of the American psyche, merely projecting that of Canadians onto us. Canada was once a proud country. It spent more than its share of blood in World War II and fought in Korea. But that Canada is gone, presumably forever. It now seeks nothing but ease and comfort; it has grown soft and decadent. Americans still like Canadians; you are our kin. But we are also ashamed of you (as indeed many of you are also ashamed of what you have become) and will not stand to be compared to you just because we share a border and a common mother country. We will stay the course in Iraq because we are Americans. That may be something you will never understand, but it is so nonetheless.
Supporting Freedom for Iraqis = A Post-Election Vote for Bush
You are just another terrorist-backer, no matter what. Why don't you go over there and offer to drive a – how shall we say? – "heavily-loaded" car for your buddies? I'm sure they won't care that your learner's permit was yanked.
Such an educated answer...Somehow I'm not surprised at your infantile reply.
[No, I didn't respond: "Takes one to know one!" or "So's your daddy!"]
I Don't Trust the Media – I Worship It
My friend, one new electrical system in Iraq is not news. You and the jerk you defended [columnist Mark Yost, who criticized journalists who insisted on presenting only bad news from Iraq] who slimed his fellow reporters, and all other Republican/Bush cultists should really stop with the childish whining. We are getting a pretty balanced picture of Iraq from the media. We ARE being told that there are small successes...among the larger failures. What they don't dwell on – or even tell us – is about the 100,000 citizens killed by our weaponry. You are, I would venture a guess, oddly okay with that.
My friend, why is each and every violent death in a country of 26 million people breaking news whereas a new electrical grid (necessary also for providing water, since they use a system whereby water is first electrically pumped up to the roof) is not? Do you think the Iraqis read in their newspapers every time somebody is gunned down in New York or Detroit?
Yost said that some of his fellow reporters were filtering the truth from Iraq. He was right. Those who point out the truth are only wicked when they point out a truth you don't like. And how do you know whether we're getting a balanced picture? I went there and say we aren't. How is it you know something I don't? Sorry, but I don't believe in ESP. Your evidence is that since ALL the news isn't bleak it must be balanced. That's the same thinking dictators use when they announce that they won the most recent election not with 100% of the vote but rather 99%. And why do you simply accept the 100,000 deaths figure? Even bin Laden didn't, using a figure about a fourth that! Again, you employ it because it serves your purposes. I wrote two pieces on the nonsense of that study and it was so thoroughly trashed that nobody but the most pathological Bush-bashers still use it. Finally, sorry if you now feel that I've "slimed" you; but why is it you're standing there holding a big bucket over your head that's dripping green goo?
A Fine Whine
Your Op-ed [sic] piece: "Morale Good As Iraqis, Americans Fight Terrorists" was printed today in our local newspaper.
A little background information: This past Monday, June 6, 2005 I put my youngest son on an airplane that would take him back to combat. He is [name omitted] and was home on leave for two weeks after living through 5 months of war while stationed at FOB [forward operating base] Kalsu, Iraq. He returned to finish up 7 more months of his year tour. My older son, [name omitted] will finish his last 3 weeks at Ft. Meade and then will be released from his 4 years of Army service. [Her son] left for Maryland today after being home to see his brother and the rest of our family but not before reading your column that I had pointed out to him. We both laughed out loud at one point.
We both found it incredible you heard no one speak of antiwar feelings. You did not speak to my son or other soldiers we are in contact with on a regular basis in Iraq. [Her son] wrote an editorial to our local newspaper a few months ago about his feelings regarding the war and made it very clear he believes this war is despicable. He went into the Army after 9/11 with his own personal conviction that for him to live in this country he had to do his part to protect and preserve it. He did not join the Army to pre-empitively [sic] go to war by invading Iraq. But he had a duty to fulfill as a soldier and he is doing so honorably.
What brought us laughter was the line where you said the food was "delicious and varied." One of the things we heard [her son] say to people who had asked about the food was that it was actually pretty good but there was very little variety. He mentioned the lack of variety several times. He said it's pretty good for the first few weeks but after that you find out how many ways chicken can be served. I guess some might call that variety. It makes sense that you would think it to be delicious at first but then how long did you actually have to eat it? Even though he grumbled about the lack of variety he was appreciative of a hot meal and all you could eat on a regular basis.
About the hot showers, you are right that they have hot showers but the drains are so plugged that they have to wade in bacteria and fungus infested [sic] water while showering. We bought him sprays and creams to treat the athletes [sic] foot he had contracted from the "hot showers." [Why is "hot showers" in quotes?] [Her son] didn't complain about any of the facilities; he just answered questions from inquisitive family and friends.
[Lots more pathetic whining omitted.]
I was under the notion that you wrote about things that were not mainstream reporting. Your article looked like a piece of rah-rah mainstream pro-war reporting to me. I looked you up to see if you were on the Bush payroll. [Neglecting to say she found that I wasn't.]
You seem to be under the impression that wars are supposed to be the equivalent of picnics. If the most laughable part of my piece to you concerned the variety of the food, I think I must have done a pretty good job. And I'm sorry that your son was informed that showers in Iraq, as opposed to public showers everywhere else in the world, are never contaminated with athlete's foot fungus. But I can say that the PX carries rubber shower sandals because I bought a pair and it's not the military's fault that your son didn't have the same sense. It also carries anti-fungal agents, even though you make it sound like if he didn't get his from mommy he couldn't get it at all. Nowhere did I suggest that out of the 150,000 troops in Iraq there were none who opposed the war. Indeed it seems to me I wrote something about reading a piece of anti-Bush graffiti, if only one piece. But where there's some, there's more. The entire purpose of my column was to report on what I personally saw, experienced, and heard. I was with men who were regularly exposed to the same dangers as your sons and, regardless of whether they cared much for the experience or not, they did not feel that bitching and moaning was appropriate behavior. I suggest that rather than taking your wrath out on me, you take it out on the recruiter or recruiters who told your sons that going to Iraq was the equivalent of attending summer camp.
I read your NRO [National Review Online] piece today and it was interesting and somewhat illuminating as well.
My question to you is this:
Are any of your children or any child of a co-worker at the Hudson Institute or any child of a writer at NRO actually serving in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan?
It is easy to talk in glowing terms about war when your kids are not spilling any blood onto the battlefields.
Until now, if somebody asked me what was the stupidest letter I ever received I would have been flummoxed. No longer. In the article you're responding to, how could you possibly have missed that I spilled MY OWN blood in Iraq after paying my own way there? How many soldiers pay for the privilege of being gutted and given a colostomy? I don't suppose it would matter to you either that a Hudson senior fellow and co-founder lost his reservist son to a terrorist bullet. Nor would it matter that I served my country for four years as a paratrooper. Did you ever serve your country, Mr. Hughes? Did you in fact ever serve anybody but Stephen Hughes? Did you consider risking life and limb to go to Iraq to see if your beliefs matched reality? No, your purpose in life is stuffing your pockets with cash. You clearly not only don't understand our soldiers, you can't even understand what it's like to be anybody but you.
Stoner, Boozer, Cocaine Feind [sic], loser til [sic] Age
Only in Amerika!
Dear Mr. Hughes:
I see you spell the name of our country the way Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and Göring did. Why am I not surprised? You're too late to share a cell with Enron executive Kenneth Lay, but I look forward to hearing that you've inherited it.
If it's in the Paper, It Must Be True … Even if I Don't Remember Which Paper
I don't know which Iraq you visited, but I can say that your observations do not square with any reports that I have read. This includes first person stories from U.S. Army personnel in last weeks [sic] NY Times. These guys have the thankless job of trying to train the "Iraqi Army". To a man, they said that the Iraqi's [sic] will never take over. The Iraqi's [sic] that were interviewed, agreed, and said that they are all going to quit as soon as possible. Some 300 of them, if I remember correctly.
Face it Mr. Fumoto [sic], we're buried deep in a quagmire and we can't get out. Even if we declare mission accomplished" and walk, civil war is lurking on the horizon. Just one more failed Bush administration bullsh--. [sic] story.
We went there under false pretenses and no matter how much you and your right wing [sic] minions try to waffle out, the truth will ultimately prevail. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nor did they have WMD. One thing they did have is lots of oil.
You hardcore Bush supporters always remind me of the story of the boy digging around in a barn full of horse manure. When asked what he was doing, he said, " with all the horsesh-- in here, there must be a pony somewhere."
Interesting. You don't know which part of Iraq I visited even though my column said so. You also misspelled my name, even though as I recall that was at the very top of the column in large letters. You claim I'm trumped by a piece you saw in a newspaper, even though I explicitly said I went to Iraq to compare reality with what the papers were reporting and found them wanting. Finally, you can't even get the paper right. It was the Washington Post, not the New York Times. Bottom line is you aren't very bright and are grossly biased and therefore cannot be edified. But just for the heck of it, I'll send you a copy of a letter I wrote that was printed in the Washington Post (no, not the New York Times) about that very article. If you were capable of being edified you'd see that it completely bears out my suspicion of the media and destroys the faith you put in them. Meanwhile, why don't you go to Iraq and see for yourself like I did? Anybody who wants can take a flight right into Baghdad Airport. But you'd rather trust the newspapers wouldn't you, even if you don't know which one you're trusting.
It Was in the Washington Post; End of Argument
my [sic] newspaper, the Ogden, Utah, Standard-examiner [sic], ran on Sunday an article you wrote about your time visiting the troops in Iraq. In that article you said you wished you had had time to visit and patrol with troops of the Iraq Defense [sic] forces so you could "see their mettel." [sic]
It is too bad you did not, but the nearest best thing is availble [sic] since the Washington Post just ran an excellent story [Translation: He liked the conclusion.] written by an arabic-speaking [sic] journalist [Actually, it was co-authored by three journalists.] who was part of a team that spent considerable time doing just what you wish you could do.
I refer you to [the repeatedly aforementioned Washington Post article making the Iraqi Security Forces look ill-treated by the U.S. because they're worthless] and suggest you ponder the implications before you write any more of those gung-ho little pieces about how well things are going.
Dear Mr. Trentelman:
I refer you to my letter reacting to that very article and demonstrating that on at least one major point the writers were clearly lying. Then I suggest you ponder the implications of making judgments about a war based on mainstream mass media reports in which you put such blind faith.
The Media Are Right because they Say So
According to an April 14 Washington Post story, a Feb. 21, 2005 Boston Globe story and an April 15 NYT story, many Fallujah residents are less than thrilled with the pace of the rebuilding.
Yes, and how many Americans think their local new highway exchanges, airports, bridges, or other construction projects are being built as fast as they'd like? Very impressive. Further, any quote you're getting is filtered through the very media that was the subject of my writing. How do you know they didn't quote 100 people before getting the "right" words? Your faith is touching; your thinking just a bit muddled.
You're Just another Lousy Baiter of Jew Baiters
I admit I haven't followed your career closely since you wrote the very commendable "Myth of Heterosexual Aids." That work was of benefit to me many times,particularly [sic] in getting the concerned to focus on the "gay" lobby's machinations and gay practises [sic] ...and not to worry overly about that which shouldn't concern...
Because of my admiration for that work, I was very dissappointed [sic] that you have taken the interventionist, neocon [sic] position on Iraq. Your piece on [sic] FP [FrontPage Magazine] was the first I read from you on that issue and I can tell you it clashed factually with your "Myth" work,which [sic] was on target.
[168 words of pabulum omitted.]
I suggest you read Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts.Joe [sic] Sobran [sic], Charlie Reece – and join "freedom fries" man himself,Congressman [sic] Jones,in [sic] admitting this war, fomented by Israel-firsters and Big Oil,was [sic] nefarious in design and botched in application..then [sic] call for a timetabled [interesting modifier] and swift exit.
[And another 91 words sent off to the rendering plant.]
Dear Mr. Hoop:
I just love it when e-mailers try to shame me into changing my position on one subject by praising my work on another. I also love people who fancy themselves masters of reading between the lines when they don't even read the actual lines and those who toss around labels like "neo-con" with absolutely nothing to back it up. It's interesting that you didn't note that some of the commentators you mentioned have been repeatedly criticized as anti-Semitic. Finally, it appears your wall calendar reads "1938." I suggest you have it repaired.
First let me start off by sayin [sic] that I'm an avid reader of the post [sic] and think they have one of best papers in New York. Yet I noticed lately since the war started that the paper seems to always make excuses for Bush. How can u [sic] possibly ask the American people to support a man who most likely cheated to get into office and on top of that he waged war on a country without giving so much as the slightest reason why. He lies about policies and while kids are over there dying he's bikng [sic] with Lance Armstrong on vacation. I can't remember a time when a presidents [sic] actions were so widely criticized. I read the paper and say to myself how can so many people in our country be so blind and so stupid. [In reading this letter, I'm wondering the same.] This man is going to bring about the end of democracy as we know it. Instead of taking steps in the right direction we seem to be taking twice as many steps backwards and now he's locking up celebrities for expressing there [sic] right to freedom of speech. AND U [sic] SUPPORT THIS MAN JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE IN THE MARINES. I GUESS BIRDS OF A FEATHER REALLY DO FLOCK TOGETHER
Dear Mr. Jarrett:
I have long observed that there are people who would rather see terrorists take over Iraq and see it ripped asunder at horrible loss of life just to make Bush look bad. I'm writing to one now. Nowhere did my piece "support" Bush; it said progress was being made in the war. YOU'RE the one who made the connection. I was also in the Army while Bush was in the Air National Guard; neither of us was in the Marines. If you had bothered to pay a bit more attention to my piece you would have seen that I was embedded as a reporter with them. What celebrities is Bush locking up, pray tell? And where is it written that for the duration of a war a president shouldn't get exercise? What about FDR's regular swims. How dare he swim while men were dying in the Pacific and Europe! What a horrible, rotten man! You also have no evidence he cheated to get into office. That's just another unfounded statement. But I do agree with you that there are a lot of blind and stupid people out there.
Apparently there's Really No Such Thing as "Self-Evident"
In response to your Fallujah article, here is an excerpt from Kevin Drum's blog in the Atlantic Monthly.
[313 words omitted regarding reporting by Knight Ridder's Tom Lasseter.]
If Lasseter is right – and he obviously has the street credentials to be taken seriously on this – Anbar is about as bad now as it was before last November's offensive; no one has much hope that it can be pacified; and the troops themselves now routinely think of Iraq as another Vietnam. If this is the way the military feels, is it any wonder that reporting from Iraq has taken on a distinctly defeatist tone?
Cat In The Hat
Lasseter has told us nothing about Iraq and everything about Knight-Ridder, that it deserves its reputation as the American Al Jazeera. If "Anbar is about as bad now as it was before last November's offensive" then when I walked down its streets I would have been kidnapped, had my head sawed off with a dull knife, and been available as a video download for ghouls. Insofar as I'm typing this to you, you may presume that did not happen and that therefore Lasseter was not telling the truth. For my part, I have little trouble believing my own eyes and experiences rather than the agit-prop of a pathetic "news" agency that went absolutely bonkers after one of its own columnists, Mark Yost, dared claim that K-R was deliberately obscuring progress in Iraq.
We Must Deal With Terrorist-Supporters in a Kinder, Gentler Fashion
I enjoy and respect your articles on medical issues, but a post hoping that someone's tongue is eaten out doesn't help your credibility.
I wouldn't even wish that on criminals like George Bush or those that support his illegal wars.
It was a joke. You see, I knew that your heroine Cindy Sheehan would not in fact tie herself to the White House fence upon our 2,000th death in Iraq once she sensed the media wouldn't show up. They didn't and so she didn't, hence the crows would have no chance to feed upon such bitter (if plentiful) flesh as her tongue. As to your "illegal" war, your memory is shorter than your manhood. Congress overwhelmingly voted to support it. Congress overwhelmingly still supports it. The U.N. has no jurisdiction over us. That leaves just Duane and Cindy to proclaim the war illegal and Bush therefore a criminal. Fortunately this is a democracy and nobody voted for either of you. But perhaps I have misinterpreted you and what you meant to say was that Cindy Sheehan, who calls the terrorists "heroes," is no more deserving of having her tongue eaten out than you are. I shall not argue with that.
In Which I Keep Failing to Note what he Fabricated
M.Fumento's [sic] denunciation of 'US pullout' [sic] plans
for Iraq notes that the British army has 'prevailed' [sic] by staying
in Ulster until the insurgents agreed
He doesn't note that 44% of Ulster population are [He appears to be British, so I'm letting him slide on both this and "benefitting" below] now Catholic, so those who were backing IRA now have real hope of securing their rights instead by political means. Only 20% of Iraqis are Sunnis; they are hated more and more by the Shiites (60% of Iraqis, controlling most of the oil) who will dominate the new government. Sunnis have no real hope of benefitting from politics. So the insurgents will continue their attacks; Iraq may well sink into civil war.
He also doesn't note that the Brits have been stuck in Ulster for decades,
costing their government billions of dollars. Nor does he note that Brits are
US media are trumpeting hope because the Sunnis voted; but the IRA backers voted, and indeed sat in London parliament--but for decades kept right on bombing, in England and Ulster.
The Brit experience in Ulster does NOT offer hope of our 'total victory' [sic] in just a few years.
Dear Mr. Lyons:
Insofar as the U.S. has announced no "pullout plans" other than a small drawn-down of the pre-election build-up, I could hardly be denouncing that which isn't – or in any case that which I could hardly be in position to know. I merely tried to explain the difficulty of setting any kind of timetables and the foolishness of a quick and complete pullout. Likewise, the British have announced no plans for a withdrawal; you invented that.
With your diversionary writing about percentages, you ignore that I observed Catholics make up part of the Unionist forces that want to keep Northern Ireland permanently tethered to Great Britain. What counts is: Do people feel hopeless disenfranchised? And here you ignore the news that was coming in even before you letter went out, that Sunnis haven't just been voting but in overwhelming numbers.
Dan Lyons feels they have no hope of representation but the Sunnis beg to differ. Whom shall we believe?
Iraq sink into civil war? It seems to me I thought of that, as indicated by my having written: "It's therefore no paradox that that the same French government that vehemently opposed the US invasion now vehemently opposes American troops bidding Iraq 'Adieu!' France cites both the threat of civil war and 'a growing role of terrorism.'" Yes, even France realized that the best hope of preventing civil war is maintaining an American presence.
I used neither the terms "total victory" nor "just a few years," nor the equivalent of either. You threw those in hoping that by the time readers saw your letter they would have forgotten what I wrote. Back when I lived where you do that was called "dishonesty."
Finally, as to my allegedly not noting "that the Brits have been stuck in Ulster for decades," I said they have been there since 1969. It's now 2005. I'm sorry you can't do simple subtraction but please don't project that onto other readers.
Tuggle of War
Dear Mr. Tuggle:
You asked if "the Hudson Institute [has] yet recovered from the loss of all of its fighting-age hired help in Operation 51st Star?" Pardon me if I take that a bit personally, but I served four years as a paratrooper and then earlier this year become an embedded reporter with the Marines in highly-dangerous Anbar Province. I am still recovering from injuries received there. Meanwhile other Hudson fellows have gone into other parts of Iraq, albeit on non-military (but still dangerous) missions. One of those fellows lost his son in the war on terror. As to your latest casualty reports, I must inform you that 37,000 Allied troops died during a single battle of WWII – Normandy. I guess we were just trying to make France the 51st state and surely should have put tail firmly between legs and quit the war.
Dear Mr. Fumento,
Very noble of you to take up for your junior, but this tirade doesn't answer any questions. No need to lecture me on Allied losses in WWII – I'm well aware of them. My point, which you continue to miss (overlook? ignore?) is that the damned fools who got us into this war declared US troops would be welcome as liberators – another lie (hallucination? desert mirage?)
BTW, going into Iraq on Hudson business doesn't qualify. We all know that just landing at the Baghdad airport is dangerous. I take that as an admission that you have "other priorities" than sacrificing yourselves in the Neocon [sic] war.
BTW, it wasn't on Hudson business. I'm a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service. I paid for all of my own equipment (over $5,000), my airfare (about $2,000) and lots of medical bills that keep on coming. And insofar as no plane has had a single casualty flying into Baghdad Airport but Americans die in Al Anbar every week (including the four in the news article you cited), NO it can't be compared to "just landing at Baghdad Airport." My point, which you continue to miss (overlook? ignore?) is that whatever the reasons for getting into the war, to simply withdraw now will be waving a checkered flag to terrorists everywhere. They'll think we don't have the stomach to fight them and guess what? They'll be right.
Ah, so the real terrorists aren't Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; they're George and Laura Bush and Dick and Lynn Cheney. I see where you're coming from now, thank you.
This "Jarhead" Really IS One
You have some very important details wrong in your article. First of all, Lt. Chen was not in charge of the Marine EOD Platoon (company now) at 8th ESB; he was an attachment to that command. Also, the truck you mention hitting a pressure plate equipped mine/IED was a Marine EOD vehicle and it was a Marine EOD tech that was killed. The way your lead-in to the letter is worded leads the reader to think that the Navy is running the EOD at 8th ESB and that a Navy tech was killed. This is not true.
Dear Capt. Miller:
In the opening line of the piece I expressly referred to "a detachment of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion" that was "headed by Navy Lt. Cameron Chen." Neither the terms "platoon" nor "company" are used because I avoid unnecessary military nomenclature with my readers. The photo of Chen's unit on my website, however, shows a grand total of eight men. That would be small for a squad, much less a platoon or company would it not.
My entire reference to the IED death was this single line: "As this piece went to press, one of Chen's former response trucks was hit by a pressure-plate IED killing one man and seriously wounding another." Do you see any reference in there to service branch regarding either man or vehicle? The lead-in, as just stated, merely says that a Navy officer headed the detachment. It doesn't say all the members were Navy or that all the equipment belonged to the Navy. In an article I earlier wrote about my embed with Chen's unit I was explicit that it was a combined Navy-Marine force.
That said, if I were trying to play games like you are I could point out that the Marines operate under the Navy (or didn't you know that?) and that therefore technically the equipment and the serviceman were Navy. But my job as writer is to inform, not to obfuscate or to demonstrate intelligence which turns out to be lacking.
Finally sir, all my readers care about regarding the IED incident is that an American serviceman laid down his life for them that day. If you think they give a rat's rump about who owned the damned truck and what insignia was on that man's uniform you need to get the hell out of Quantico and get a dose of reality by going to the war like Lt. Chen did.
There Was No Violence in Iraq until We Came Along
[This email was cc'd to somebody at leftopia.com and changetheworld.com.]
I read "The Right Place at the Right Time" article [a letter from explosive ordnance disposal Lt. Cameron Chen upon rotating out of Iraq] with some interest. I'm not sure what you meant by "it is unlike what you're accustomed to reading in the newspapers" as the letter is filled with the usual 'gung-ho, we're doing a great job' sort of thing that is loved by the current US media. Unless, of course, you are referring to the particular paragraph below:
I firmly believe we have made some headway and added to the security of
this country and ours. I am not hopelessly optimistic though. The IED incidents
are symptomatic of a deeper problem. This is a culture that begets violent regime
change. Until people are educated in non-violent protest, all we can do is disarm
the masses which will make them inevitably vulnerable.
I think this is what you mean, as this is where Lt. Chen shows some insight and offers a solution, something which is extremely rare in the US media. It _is_ refreshing, to be sure, yet so naive to the point of embarrassment [sic]. One would find greater insight in a five-year-old. The very presence of our troops in Iraq is the greatest argument "this culture" has that the only way to gain political power is through violence. In the past three years, has the United States done _anything_ to show the Iraqis otherwise? Of course not. The United States has done every despicable act, short of genocide, one culture can do to another: torture, the murder of innocents, the bombing weddings [sic], chemical warfare, use of depleted uranium, protecting _none_ of the cultural centers and _only_ the oil fields, the list goes on. It is reasonable to assume that if the present administration felt like it _could_ get away with genocide, it would do that, too.
Is it not telling that we are recieving [sic] this "insight" from a _Lt._ Chen & not a _Mr._ Chen? He is in Iraq as part of the organization (the military) whose job is to kill and be killed. Their modus operandi is violence, the threat & actual use. With such an example as has been set, is it any wonder that the Iraqis, who want to control their _own_ destiny, have taken up the very same modus operandi? Of course not. You and Lt. Chen, no matter how noble your goals, have fallen prey to the same flaw which affects all of American policy: the lack of self-reflection. If you (as well as Lt. Chen) truly have a desire to change the world, your first responsibility is to look in the mirror, see what you have done to bring this situation about. Without guilt, without shame, with honesty and clarity.
Insofar as most Americans believe we should continue fighting the war in Iraq even though most also regret that we got involved in the first place, you're saying the majority of us share Lt. Chen's alleged mentality of a five-year-old. Rather pompous of you, is it not? Moreover, it doesn't bother you that he (and I) were on-the-scene observers, while it's clear your observations are based on surfing Al Queda websites. Even al Jazeera doesn't portray the war the way you do. It appears you believe the Pentagon has developed special bombs that hone in on weddings; am I right?
Meanwhile, those fighting us (You know; the "good guys.") have only become violent because they are "Iraqis who want to control their own destiny." Never mind that the top such "Iraqi," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, happens to be Jordanian. Never mind that since you sent your email he has taken credit for intentionally killing scores of Jordanian civilians, many of whom were wedding-goers. Never mind that most of the victims of your alleged peace-loving freedom fighters are neither American nor military but Iraqi civilians. Never mind that before our military interceded the peace-loving Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, invaded Iraq, gassed Iraqi Kurds, slaughtered Iraqi Shiites, and imposed a reign of terror over the entire country. Did you enjoy Saddam doing that, or did you simply not care? You write of guilt, shame, and honesty. These words are obviously meaningless to you. It's a shame that when Saddam goes on trial you won't be indicted as a co-conspirator; for without people like you there could not exist people like him.
All We Are Saying is Give Terror a Chance
Try telling somebody whose just had his head sawed off by your buddies in Iraq to "turn the other cheek." It's so easy to be a "pacifist" when you're surrounded by people who are willing to lay down their lives to protect you. There are no pacifists, only parasites.
Who do you believe has the larger cojones, the guy who shows up at a Peace Conference unarmed or the guy who shows up with a nuke under each arm? Peace
I went to Iraq, unarmed, to witness the situation. It nearly cost me my life and has cost me part of my body and three major surgeries. I suspect my cojones, then, are just a bit bigger than yours. You've got big mouth, but that's not the same.