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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Of Chickenhawks, Wasps and Foreign Affairs

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Email the Opinion Page Editor

In response to "Chickenhawks Crow for War," a column by Matt Bivens on Sept. 2.

Editor,
I enjoyed this article very much. Charles Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, suggested that if Richard Perle was so anxious to go to war with Iraq, he should volunteer for combat duty.

Fat chance.

At a recent forum on the war in Indianapolis on Aug. 20, F. Willis Johnson reminded us that "the pawns of war, directly or indirectly, are youth." He is an African-American, and he did not state another truth -- that the poor and a disproportionate number of minorities in the United States are also pawns of war.

Not the policy-makers, as Matt Bivens points out -- they have something better to do than to go to war themselves.

The Indianapolis Forum's main speaker was Scott Ritter, a retired major in the U.S. Marines and former chief of the weapons inspection teams in Iraq (until he resigned in 1998). He saw combat in Iraq during the Gulf War.

No one would consider him a dove, yet here he was -- with one of the "loudest voices," as Bivens put it in describing the chickenhawks -- opposing a war with Iraq. He knows the horror of war.

The majority of public opinion in the United States -- as ill-informed as it is -- does not support going to war with Iraq under the current circumstances.

Editorial boards and members of Congress -- mostly the Republicans -- are increasingly voicing their concerns or outright objections to going to war.

Still, the Bush administration seems to have its heart set on it.

It's as though someone were trying to take away a child's favorite toy. Needless to say, peace activists and progressive-thinking groups are going bonkers over this.

I invite your readers to check out Traprock Peace Center's web site, www.traprockpeace.org, for a view of one campaign to stop the war.

You'll be able to hear a great speech by Scott Ritter via streaming RealAudio and peruse the photo journal of our recent swing through the U.S. heartland with Ritter.

Maybe this craziness can be stopped.

Charlie Jenks
Deerfield, Massachusetts



Editor,
I thought Matt Bivens might like to know that the term "chickenhawk" in American lingo means someone who molests boys.

In U.S. political terminology "hawk" means warmonger. "Draft dodger" or "yellow belly" is applied to someone who is afraid to fight in a war.

Maybe the term Bivens would like to invent is "yellowbellied hawk"; one who calls for war but has avoided serving as a soldier himself.

Jo Fullerton
Boston, Massachusetts



Not in Russians' Hearts



In response to "The Man Without a Face," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on Aug. 27.

Editor,
Please thank Boris Kagarlitsky for his column.

I think that President Vladimir Putin is just the nominee of former President Boris Yeltsin in the minds of the majority of Russian people.

And Putin is unlikely to be in their hearts.

Nikolai Smirnov
Moscow



Waspish Responses



In response to "Dacha Break Turns Into a War on Wasps," a column by Vladislav Schnitzer on Sept. 2.

Editor,
I thought Vladislav Schnitzer might like to know that we do have a home spray available that is quite effective against wasps. It is sold under several brand names, the most popular being Ortho Wasp and Hornet Killer. It sprays a jet of wasp poison quite a distance, enabling you to murder the little beasts.

Now, perhaps we have identified something that America can sell in Russia. Instead of exploring sales of grain, beef or medicine, perhaps what we really should be sending to Russia is Ortho Wasp and Hornet Killer!

Gary Huff
Las Vegas, Nevada



Editor,
An ultraviolet light with an electric grid behind will grill any flying insects (with some noise and smell however).

Marc Venot
Vancouver, Canada



Reality Check



Editor,
Russia, or President Vladimir Putin and the State Duma, is moving to establish territorial interests (economic, philosophical and otherwise) in its backyard -- Iran, Iraq and related areas.

At the same time, Russia has wisely and correctly helped the United States and her allies put down the terrorist regime inside Afghanistan by openly supporting the use of military bases in areas outside Afghanistan and formerly under the Soviet Union's control.

A key aide to Putin only a few months ago wrote a comment in The Moscow Times ("The Iraq Quandary" by Vladimir Frolov on March 19) stating that Russia needs to be prepared for a regime change in Iraq and should focus on how to continue and maintain scheduled debt payments from Iraq, owed to the former Soviet Union since the 1980s.

One can only hope that Putin and the Duma are looking at reality, and when the United States and her allies are moving into Baghdad's streets, with, I fully expect, joyful support from ordinary men, women and children on the streets of every town and village of Iraq, will realize this was a good and necessary move.

Moscow, not unlike New York, could wake up one day to a dirty trick worse than planes crashing into buildings -- nuclear bombs in suitcases, perhaps, or biological and chemical attacks on the public water supply, you name it. Russia will be less likely to face such horrors if the United States gets the unenforced 1991 Desert Storm Peace Treaty fully implemented and that war over with, which is not now the case.

Russia has a special role of play at this crucial juncture in world and southwest Asian affairs, and I do not believe that role should be that of obstructionism. The real loser will be as much Russia as the United States and her Western allies if we do not finish what we started in 1991 in reaction to the invasion of Kuwait.

George Singleton
Birmingham, Alabama



The Sucker Punch



In response to "Global Eye -- Sucker Punch," a column by Chris Floyd on Aug. 30.

Editor,
Chris Floyd is right to say that the decision to go to war has already been made (separately reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Manchester Guardian in February) and the military preparations now under way are much more real than the media manipulations of the so-called debate.

But there is no evidence to support his theory that the various op-eds by Scowcroft, Kissinger, Schwarzkopf and Democrats such as Holbrooke and Brzezinski are all scripted by the Bush clan in order to deflect attention from the Harken and Halliburton scandals.

There is every reason to believe that Bush the Elder and the elder statesmen of his administration, as well as Republican congressmen and the rest of the world that is not floridly insane, are genuinely concerned about Bush Jr.'s recklessness in plunging the United States into its most nakedly aggressive war in recent memory. The risks are too great, the known costs too high to make this good policy.

It's true that Bush I can talk to Bush II any day of the week, but it's also easy to understand that communication of this sort needs to take place on many levels.

Pop can't directly boss Junior, and a message that is delivered personally about a matter as significant as this needs to be delivered also publicly and courtier to courtier, since Junior and his courtiers are also talking to the public. The courtiers have a certain group perspective that needs to sort itself out as well.

Floyd attributes the timing of this pseudo-debate to breaking news about Harken and Halliburton, but this theory overlooks the role played by Senator Biden's hearings held at the beginning of August, the timing of which was determined by the fact that war is fast approaching (an October to February window).

A debate was long overdue, and I would suggest that the Biden hearings unleashed a lot of pent-up concerns and thoughts of a lot of people.

Floyd's perspective is insightful. What bothers me about it is that it seems to be minimizing the importance of the Iraq issue.

It's not too late to prevent this war, if enough public opposition is demonstrated quickly. But make no mistake, this war is extremely dangerous, and that is what has motivated all the warnings from erstwhile hawks, war criminals, Bush courtiers -- and the world.

Mark Avrum Gubrud
College Park, Maryland



Editor,
It is so scary to say that Chris Floyd is absolutely correct in everything written in his "Sucker Punch" column.

We are being scammed like we've never been scammed before by this administration.

As was apparent this Labor Day when Dubya was in Pennsylvania, soon the average American will be expected to work for the corporate crooks completely for free as well. Bush and co. will call it "volunteering." We will be expected to take pay cuts (e.g. U.S. Air) down to below what will soon be a lowered minimum wage at some degrading retail store in an endless strip mall, then have to scan our own groceries at the checkout (e.g. Giant Eagle) while the corporate elite give themselves millions of dollars of bonuses (e.g. pick any big corporation) and spend all their time on vacation (The Washington Post -- Politics, "Bush by the Numbers," Sept. 3).

The year before the presidential election, Dick Cheney reported a personal income to the IRS of $36 million and gave not a dime to charity, and I have never seen anything about him donating his time either -- so much for his spirit of volunteering and giving. That is not the final insult either, as we can look forward to having our pensions robbed from us (e.g. LTV Steel Corp., Enron) at the same time as social security is disappearing.

Honest small businesses already cannot afford to buy employees' health care, let alone any other benefits, and are being further squashed by the Walmarts of the world.

Tuition at public colleges and universities is excessively high and climbing but the money is not going to services for the students, living wage stipends for grad students or better benefits for teachers.

It is going to the guys on top and to excessive, idiotic projects like tearing down a perfectly good stadium for a ridiculously priced convocation center (e.g. Pitt).

If Bush has his way, soon there will only be megacompanies owned by that 1 percent who will own every last one of us Americans and who can force us to keep our mouths shut about it as well.

We will let it happen because we can be suckered into it by the egregious misuse of community spirit, hope and good will in emotionally vulnerable times.

I just about lost my mind when I saw today in The Washington Post just how much people are willing to give up the First Amendment ("Belief Erodes in First Amendment," Sept. 3). Only the free city weeklies have written as scathingly as the Global Eye, which is probably the norm for most papers outside the United States. I do not understand how so many Americans can be so blind to such obvious greed for money and power.

Everyone on the outside seems to have a much clearer perspective of this administration. I am deeply afraid that if this nation continues on the Bush path, we will no longer be an example of liberty, freedom, opportunity or justice and the American people will pay dearly for giving it up. I can only hope we start to wise up and see this wolf who comes in sheep's clothing (compassionate conservatism) for what this administration really is when elections come around (assuming they won't be fixed).

Mary Assenat
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Editor,
I really liked the commentary Chris Floyd wrote about the thug we so lovingly call President Bush. I search the world online for signs of intelligent life forms. It's too bad that you're so far from home.

Rita Valencia
Tampa, Florida



Editor,
I find Chris Floyd's column very interesting and amusing. In fact I look foward to it in every edition. He has a certain writing style in the vernacular that is refreshing and delightful -- if only it could be taken seriously. With all due respect, if our government leaders are so diabolical, how come our standard of living is so great?

Richard Papp
Groton, Massachusetts



Axis Angst



In response to "A Relationship in Need of a Spark," a comment by Ariel Cohen on Aug. 29.

Editor,
It does worry me that Russia seems to be supporting "axis-of-evil" countries in spite of the fanaticism that exists in them. It would be like the United States supporting Chechnya.

James Phillips
Fairmont, West Virginia



Turning a Blind Eye



In response to "Alliance Hangs in Balance," a column by Pavel Felgenhauer on Aug. 29.

Editor,
Pavel Felgenhauer is right on in his column about the Russian government's efforts to destroy its budding relationship with the United States by fomenting relationships with and providing military assistance to U.S. foes such as Iran, China and North Korea.

I dare not think how outraged Russians would be if the United States began providing military aid to Chechnya, yet Russians apparently have no hesitation in supporting America's enemies. Surely, as Felgenhauer convincingly shows, Russia's actions will alienate U.S. policy-makers and their constituents. Perhaps this is what the Russian polity desires. After all, it was ordinary Russians and not the regime who besieged the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, burning American flags and chanting anti-U.S. slogans, when the United States sought to oust Slobodan Milosevic (now on trial in Europe for war crimes) in Yugoslavia. The regime merely turned a blind eye. But how can Russians imagine that their country can afford such folly?

When was the last time any Russian saw an American burning a Russian flag?

Lenard Leeds
Atlanta, Georgia