Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hard to Believe Letters to the Editor

My local news paper, The Contra Costa Times, asks a question of the week whose answers are published every Saturday.

The question for Saturday, February 24, 2007 was, “What do you think of escalating talk of taking military action against Iran?”

The fact that the respondents were even divided at all initially surprised me, although 31% of Americans still think that “President Bush” (READ; The Regime) is doing a good job in the war in Iraq. Consequently, I guess I should have expected one response, maybe two at the most, supporting letters.

Unbelievably, six out of sixteen letters supported our invading Iran. Not only did they support the invasion, but their support was written in ways that only pro Regime people can write. The letters included references to Vietnam, to the “Iraq War” and was filled with character assassinations.

I would like to have answered these letters in my own letter to the editor. Unfortunately, the limitation on word count for letters to the editor of the Times is prohibitive.

Consequently I wrote the following letter to The Times:

I wrote a letter to the editor for publication over a month ago.

I realize it pushes the envelope somewhat, as most of my letters do. However, if some of the answers to your question for Saturday, 2/24/07 don’t push some kind of envelope, then I guess I don’t know the meaning of “pushing the envelope”.

There may be a bright side to your not publishing my letter, however. I want to answer all of the lies found in some of the 2/24/07 letters supporting actions such as our bombing “the bastards back to 571 AD”, but your word limitation in prohibitive.

Consequently, I would ask you to not publish the original letter so that the letter below directing the people who are for such actions by the US to, for whom I am an occasional contributor, my web site or my blog. In those forums, I can give them the answers they deserve without word count limitations.

Thanks in advance.

I hope that The Times indeed publishes my letter and the people who wrote the hateful pro war letters come to this site and/or the other sites I gave to read the response to their opinions.

I’m using the names of the people because, in responding to letters to the editor, it is acceptable to do so. For example, in response to a letter I wrote some years ago, someone wrote, “It’s obvious that Mr. Bonanno is an Islamofascist”.

I didn’t sue for libel because I believe the statement was probably not taken seriously by most readers.’

Besides, if we take name calling away from Regime supporters, they’d have nothing to write.

Here are responses to the letters in question. I won’t, obviously, include their letters in their entirety. I will merely take some of the more “interesting” points and try to address them.

In a letter entitled “Be ready to bomb”, after explaining why he supports our incursion into the Middle East, Bob Armstrong asserts that “we should have bombed the bastards back to 571 AD in 1979.”

I hope Mr. Armstrong is reading this because I want to know who he considers “bastards”.

Does he consider every man, woman and child who lives in Iran a bastard deserving the consequences of a horrific nuclear attack?

Does Mr. Armstrong believe that women, who are already suffering under Islamic rule, children and infants, not to mention other life forms, deserve the following medical conditions:

Severe stomach problems like vomiting and nausea

The radiation may also cause cataracts; which are like little areas of cancer on the skin

Most documentations of Hiroshima report that the victims have a loss of blood cells

It is believed that these conditions often increase the risk of: Leukemia, cancer, infertility, and even, birth defects.

During the 1980's scientists from around the world in a joint effort to study the effects of a nuclear war in modern times came up with a theory about what the effects would be. They decided that a nuclear winter would be the result of a full scale nuclear war. If a full scale nuclear war would result in a nuclear winter, would not a number of smaller nuclear bombs turn their target into a small scale nuclear winter?

Would not hundreds of thousands of people in the affected area die horrible deaths? Would not infants who are guilty of nothing be among the people who would perish? Would not animals who are also guilty of nothing perish? No crops could grow and the local food chain would come crashing down.

Finally, has anyone ever told you to “make time” to do something? Can we “make time”? I’d like to meet anyone who can “make time” because I need a whole lot more of it. My point is that we can not control time. In spite of what Mr. Armstrong says, no one can bomb anyone back to 571 AD. All we can do is bomb people into eternal misery.

Mr. J. J. Marteer guarantees that we will be hit again in a letter appropriately entitled “We’ll wait to be hit”. This flies in the face of those who credit The Regime for our not being hit since September 11, 2001. As certain as he is that we will be hit again, he qualifies his certainty with the words “depending on the results of the 2008 elections.”

How can a certainty be qualified? Either we will or we won’t be hit again.

Mr. Marteer offers some scenarios of what will happen in the Bay Area here in Northern California. Subways and malls with be blown up and car bombs will be planted throughout the area.

In response to this, NATO and the UN will “do nothing”.

I submit to Mr. Marteer and to those who share his opinion that, on 9/11 and shortly thereafter, when I still thought Middle Easterners carried out that deed, I believed that George W. Bush would truly leave a wonderful legacy.

NATO and the UN, as well as US allies everywhere, were willing to help us capture bin Laden and members of Al Qaeda and help to bring them to justice. What a wonderful world wide effort that would have been on behalf of the people of the United States.

If Mr. Marteer remembers, however, it was when The Regime began to ignore the very people they told us committed the act and began talking about toppling Saddam Hussein that we lost our support. Bush’s legacy began to decline at that time in spite of the fact that most Americans supported his invasion of Iraq.

As mentioned above, NATO, the UN and all of our allies would help us do the right thing. If by “do nothing”, Mr. Marteer means that they wouldn’t help us do the wrong thing, he’s absolutely right. I’d like Mr. Marteer to explain why any of those organizations or nations should help the US do the wrong thing.

Finally, I must speak of the letter entitled “I was right” written by Randall Angella.

Mr. Angella, who’s a visionary heretofore unrivaled by any prophet dead or alive, writes “I was right” and then names a number of now historical events that he called ahead of time.

Among his premonitions were:

Bill Clinton would be president for eight years and then Hilary would become president. He doesn’t mention anything about a Regime ruling the nation between those two presidencies.

He again calls out Clinton by reminding us that the president “didn’t have the will to react appropriately” to terrorist attacks which took place during his administration.

Timothy McVeigh’s death sentence may be looked upon as inappropriate if one disagrees with capital punishment. The arrests of Ramzi Yousef and Sheik Abdel Rahman, although inappropriate according to Mr. Angella, at least ensures that those two men will not be directly involved in any further terrorist attacks.

Many people would like to see Osama bin Laden dead, but would probably settle for his imprisonment in an American jail where he would be serving several thousands of years of life sentences.

That won’t happen, however, since The Regime could care less where he is. Bush made this very clear on March 13, 2002 when his said, "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."

That’s right, Mr. Angella, The Regime doesn’t care where the man is who they say attacked us.

Mr. Angella knew that the Democrats would fight Bush’s invasion of Iraq and lead us to “another Vietnam style defeat”.

Is it possible that Mr. Angella has never looked at the roll call for the bill that gave Bush a blank check – the same kind of Vietnam style blank check that Congress gave to Lyndon Johnson? There weren’t many Democrats who voted against that bill.

My interpretation of a “Vietnam style defeat” is a defeat of our military because it really doesn’t know what it’s fighting for, it’s fighting in the home of the enemy, a place that the enemy knows like that back of its hands and our military only knows like the front of a map.

We were defeated in Vietnam because we shouldn’t have been there in the first place and will be defeated in Iraq for the very same reason.

Mr. Angella knows that we are in a fight to the death. What kind of “victory” leaves everyone dead?

Mr. Angella knows that Democrats are aiding and abetting the enemy by debating on the floors of Congress. The implication is that our Congress should cease debating about war, let alone cease to be the only branch of government allowed to declare war. Should they stop debating until there is no more terror in the world? That, in my humble opinion, would be a very long silence.

For all of this, Mr. Angella says his children and grandchildren will pay.

I agree with Mr. Angella on this point.

Not only will our children and grandchildren pay for the ungodly deficit that this war of choice has helped to create, but they may very well pay with their lives.

Many military personnel who are now in Iraq, like those who served in Vietnam, really don’t know what they’re fighting for. Many have begun to refuse their second, third or fourth recalls to Iraq.

If Mssrs. Armstrong, Marteer and Angella believe that invading Iran would somehow have a positive effect upon the FUSA (former United States of America), the Middle East or even the world in general for that matter, perhaps they should read the following article:

“U.S. generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack”

If that article doesn’t make them think twice about their opinions, it could only mean that they hold themselves in higher stead than generals who are presently commanding in the US military.

I don’t know Mssrs. Armstrong, Marteer and Angella personally, but I have serious doubts that they are indeed more militarily knowledgeable than those generals who are threatening to quit and I’m sure that they don’t have the inside knowledge that leads the generals to make such serious statements.

To friendship,

“Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to.” - H. Mumford Jones

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Answer to Ad That Will Change Everyone’s Mind

Those who are familiar with psychotherapy know that one of the methodologies used is to help people “find their center” or live in “the now”.

This is why Rabbi Michael Lerner’s ad to end all ads is, itself, a non binding resolution which those few die-hards who still support the occupation of Iraq by American troops have already answered.

Far too many of us have signed far too many petitions and donated money to far too many “solid” causes that were sure to tug at the heart strings of The Regime in a way that no other peace movement approach had hit them previously.

The problem is no matter what reason one believes for why we carried out our horrific invasion of Iraq, it all deals with fortune telling. It never asks, “What’s true for us now?”

All peace movement solutions do the same in an attempt to bring rationality to the argument.

It ends up being a game (a sad and horrible game, at that) of fortune telling intended to make sense of what’s true for us now. It tries to convince others that our leaving Iraq will or will not have this or that consequence.

Like the reasons for the war itself, Rabbi Lerner’s ad tries to predict the future and therein lies the problem. Convincing someone that a certain action will cause a certain reaction is fruitless.

Hasn’t every reason for invading Iraq and, consequently, continuing to occupy Iraq been based upon the unknown, a guessing of the future rather than an inventory of what was true for us during the “now” that existed at the time?

Reason number one:
If we believe The Regime, Iraq possessed stockpiles of WMD and was either going to use them to attack the US or was going to give them to terrorists so the terrorists could attack the US. If we believe that The Regime had what it considered solid evidence that Iraq had those WMD, we didn’t know what it was going to do with them. We never knew what it was going to do with them.

We could easily have guessed that Saddam was gathering such weapons to strengthen Iraq against Islamic radicals which he didn’t want in his country.

We could have guessed that he planned to use them against Iran as Iraq’s relationship with Iran was not very friendly while Saddam Hussein was Iraq’s leader.

We could have guessed that he had them simply for defensive purposes as Iraq had previously been invaded.

Covert surveillance may have been able to tell us that Iraq possessed WMD, but covert surveillance never told us what Iraq was going to do with the WMD because that truth did not exist for covert surveillance at that “now”.

This is why all of speeches by members of The Regime were based upon guesses of what Iraq could do with its WMD.

For example, on October 7, 2002, George W. Bush said, “We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used (emphasis mine) to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.”

Bush was not speaking of what was true at that particular moment. He was attempting to tell the future.

Alas, Iraq had no WMD. What The Regime was claiming as truth at that moment was not true. The Regime lied.

Reason number two:
Mohamed Atta met with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague on April 8, 2001.

What was true about that meeting was that Czech officials differed with one another over whether the meeting even took place.

What was true was that, even if the meeting took place, those who would use that meeting as a reason to invade Iraq didn’t know what the meeting was about.

What was true at that time or during that “now” was that Osama bin Laden was angry because Kuwait opted to use the US to remove Iraqi forces from its country in 1991 instead of using Al Qaeda. What was true was that Al Qaeda would rather have fought Iraq than worked with it and, as far as Saddam Hussein was concerned, the feeling was mutual.

Nonetheless, there are serious doubts whether or not the meeting took place and there is absolutely no record which would prove that Atta and al-Ani spoke about plans for September 11, 2001 if they did meet.

Reason number three:
The fact that there was a reason number three should have raised a red flag in the minds of all thinking people. It should have been obvious to the most casual of observers by this time that The Regime was trying to find believable “facts” to build around an already formulated policy.

Nonetheless, when The Regime told the American public it was urgent that Iraq, of all nations in the world, must become a democratic society and that Saddam Hussein, because of his crimes against humanity, needed to be brought down and punished, many Americans believed it and supported an invasion that had already taken place based mostly upon reason number one.

What was true at that time during that “now” that forced the US to invade Iraq? It makes little to no sense to say that Saddam’s crimes against his own people was a truth for the US at that time. Unless the US had plans to begin toppling all governments in the world which mistreated their own citizens, Saddam’s mistreatment of his own citizens may have been true, but it wasn’t true for the US.

We don’t even know if Saddam was torturing his own citizens at the time of the invasion. We don’t even know if that was true for Iraq during the “now” during which the invasion took place.

All we have is “now”. No other time exists.

Granted, if crimes are committed in the past, the criminals must be tried, judged and, if necessary, punished. This is one time in which the past is relevant.

The past should be relevant for learning purposes as well. For example, the past tells us that when we invade a small third world nation for no legitimate reason, we are at a disadvantage. The citizens of that nation know the geographic nooks and crannies of their own home, something about which we are totally unaware.

We are in their nation. Therefore, anyone we see may be friendly or may not be friendly. We have tended not to know until it was too late.

The past also tells us that we have never been victorious if our invasion is looked upon as an intrusion by the people of the invaded nation, as in the cases of Vietnam and Iraq. “Wiping out” the enemy becomes difficult as long as people see us as intruders.

The past tells us that citizens of the invaded nation continue to be born, to grow and to hate the intruders. The past tells us that those who are born, grow and hate the intruders will continue to join the ranks of those defending their nation against us.

In psychotherapy, we are told that the past and the future are merely fantasies. The past is not a fantasy under the two conditions mentioned above. However, psychotherapists teach us not to project into an unknown future and act upon the projection. They also teach us that, whatever happened to us in the past which may have injured us is no longer true. It helps people overcome PTSD and the residuals of child abuse.

Rabbi Lerner and Dennis Kucinich can no more tell us what will happen if the US leaves Iraq than can George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

Will it get better? Will it get worse? Will a military made up of the surrounding Arab states help the situation in Iraq or hurt it? We don’t know.

What’s true for so many of us right now is that we want this madness to end and we want our troops to come home. That’s true for me and that’s why I signed Rabbi Lerner’s ad.

Will it be the ad that finally touches the hearts of the members of The Regime? We don’t know.

It’s missing the answer to one question, unjustifiable as it might be, that the past says The Regime and its supporters ask when they hear people talking about bringing our troops home. That question is, “What about 9/11?”

That question is not based upon the past, upon capturing those responsible for 9/11. It’s based upon the future. It’s based upon doing what we have to do to avoid another 9/11.

I have no idea what “winning” in Iraq looks like. I do know that we are still there based upon our “drifting from the moment” far too many times. We are there because we want to avoid another 9/11.

If we win in Iraq, will we avoid another 9/11? None of us knows the answer to that question.

Until we stop projecting and start looking at what’s true for us now, we are bound to continue to impulsively react to a future that will always be unknown to us.

To friendship,

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone –
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own.” - Adam L. Gordon

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