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Much as I am inclined to just ignore Bob Scroggins’ recent anti-Bush, anti-war rantings, I feel compelled to point out its fundamentally inaccurate premise. Mr. Scroggins states that when the US “stormed into” Iraq in 1991 that country was nearly “a first-class nation.” He reaches this conclusion based on bold assertions with little if any basis in fact.
For one, Iraq was not “far-and-away the most advanced and westernized nation in the Middle East” – that honor clearly rests with Israel, by a long shot. And it probably wasn’t even the most advanced and westernized Arab Middle East nation. So much for the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce approach.
And how can he claim with a straight face that Iraq was “a stable and safe country” after he just noted the horrific “eight-year war with Iran,” a conflict clearly instigated by Saddam, is beyond comprehension. I doubt the Kurds, many thousands of whose women and children were murdered by Saddam’s chemical weapon attacks, would have felt Iraq was either stable or the least bit safe. If one steps beyond shopworn liberal rhetoric and looks at the facts, the truth is that in 1991 Iraq was a brutal dictatorship, with high privilege for Baath party loyalists and squalor for the masses, whose economy and very social fabric had been devastated by the long war with Iran. As a result Saddam was looking for easier foes – hey, how about Kuwait?
Mr. Scroggins totally ignores the fact that our 1991 military action was: 1) wholly precipitated by Saddam’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of tiny Kuwait in August, 1990 in violation of every tenet of international law; 2) supported, indeed directed by the majority of United Nations member states; and 3) preceded by many months of fruitless US and UN diplomatic efforts to avoid the use of force. Revisionist history aside, that’s what the real 1991 Mid East landscape looked like.
Bob, some folks probably look forward to your weekly teachings, but if you must continue, please stop undermining their value by building your arguments on non-existent foundations.
Sam W. Lewis, Esquire
A Case In Point
Scroggins‚ weekly letters-to-the-editor are often amusing to me personally, but rarely honest or factual. Only the ill informed can be mislead by his biased and outrageous distortions of actual events. His latest letter regarding Saddam Hussein, U.S. Ambassador Catherine (April) Glaspie, and the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, is a case in point.
For those interested in a more factual and unbiased account of this incident, I refer you to two authoritative internet web-sites on this incident: “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Glaspie) and “Excerpts from Iraq Document on Meeting with U.S. Envoy,” by The New York Times INTERNATIONAL, dated 9/23/1990 http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/glaspie.html).
Warning: beware of the slippery tongue, which sounds so sweet and persuasive, and is all so beguiling.
Dieter G. Dauber
Great Bend, PA
Not “Another” War!
Those wonderful people who tried to sell us on a thoroughly bogus "War on Christmas" are at it again. Now they're starting to claim that there's a "War on Christians" in America. Oh really? Then by all means, let's rush to the gulags to release them! To start with, the overuse of a pet word is troubling. I remember the "War on Crime", the "War on Drugs", the "Culture War", and the current "War on Terror". War, war, and more war! It seems to me that some people just have a warlike mentality that they need to make an effort to check. Otherwise they'll just go around picking unnecessary and unwise fights all the time.
The latest "war" is being conducted by the leaders of the Religious Right for obvious reasons: they need to keep their followers in a dither constantly as a useful political tactic. But the question is, given this trumped-up "War on Christians", what do they expect to be done about it? Will they demand that no one dissent from their agenda? That would not only violate our First Amendment rights, but it would constitute a covert demand for Theocracy. Or perhaps they think that they should be immune from all criticism, including satire and ridicule. That pesky First Amendment stands in the way again, and it's something they richly deserve. Theoretically, one should even be free to assert that Christianity is a false religion, and Fundamentalism an especially pernicious variety of it. And if they don't like it, let's see them prove otherwise; rather than raise a patently phony claim of a "War on Christians" as a cheap attempt to stifle opposition.
Once again, as with their recent "War on Christmas" campaign, the Religious Right is acting like a collective crybaby. One wonders why the rest of us have allowed them to have the amount of power they now wield. It's clear that they will not be content with anything less than total power, something they do not deserve and that no one can be trusted to handle. That's why we have Limited Government and Church/State Separation to begin with. Of course, denying the latter is another one of their cheap tactics.
Stephen Van Eck
The United States Of Israel
The government of the United States is divided into three parts. No, not the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive. They provide only the trappings of rule. The real decision-making tripartheid is a shadowy entity that forms a secret government: the military/industrial complex, multinational corporations, and the Israeli Lobby. Of these three, one is a sacred cow that must be fed, kept, and nurtured on a diet of freely-given cash. This "cow" is the Israeli Lobby and it should have been led to the slaughterhouse long ago.
A complex of tributaries feed into a river of money that flows from the United States to Israel. Some of these streams are well known, others, rivulets, unmapped, and still more are underground channels. The current of currency has increased dramatically over time. Now it's about $10 billion in aid a year. That's almost $2,000 of taxpayers money for each and every citizen of Israel.
The cumulative amount of aid given to Israel since her inception in 1948 is difficult to calculate. Common estimates range between $90 and $140 billion. However, one economist adding in hidden revenues and indirect costs to the Unites States calculated that between 1973 and 2002 the cumulative sum was $1.6 trillion. Using this comprehensive estimate, Israel is the recipient of $55 billion a year from Uncle Sucker.
Israel has the fourth most powerful military in the world. She is also the richest per capita nation in the Middle East. Yet, one-third of the United States' foreign aid budget is given to a country that needs it the least. Additionally, she is granted a basket of perks given to no other country.
Israel is the only country to receive America's foreign aid in a lump sum. She can then use this money to earn interest, about $90 million. No accounting by her overseas benefactor is required. More money finds its way to Israel through loans. But the Cranston Amendment of 1984 requires that "the United States provide Israel with economic assistance of not less than the amount Israel owes in annual debt service payments." Translation: The Cranston Amendment in effect converts all loans to outright cash grants.
Billions more in charitable donations are raised for Israel. These donations are tax deductible, the only country to be accorded this privilege. Israel is also the only nation allowed to sell government bonds in this country in direct competition with U.S. Treasury Bonds. These bonds are insured by the United States government. And she is given bargain-basement prices on military equipment purchased from the United States.
And what are we getting for this money? Well, the President is found of saying that we – the United States and Israel – are united in a war against terrorism. One could easily say that President Bush has this backwards: We are fighting a war against terrorism because of Israel.
Others say we ought to support the only democracy in the Middle East. But Israel is not a democracy in the way we understand the word. Consider these five differences: 1) In America race and religion play no part in citizenship. In Israel they are all important. Ostensibly citizenship is open to all, in reality, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, this is not so. Racist policies are covert and camouflaged and operate through a bureaucratic agency called the Population Registry. 2) Israel has no constitution or Bill of Rights. 3) There is no private property in Israel. Land is leased from a government agency. 4) There are no jury trails. 5) The prime minister and members of the Knesset (Parliament) are not elected. They are chosen by each party's leaders.
Ironically, this rain of cash may not in Israel's interest. It could be argued that, 1) It has made her intransigent in negotiations with her neighbors, 2) It is a focal point for Arab animosity, 3) It compromises her own independence, and 4) It hopelessly skews the regional balance of power making a peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs unachievable.
Well, then, what are the chances of stanching this river of cash? Judge for yourself. Last year the Presbyterian Church decided to divest itself of "investments that profit from Israel's brutal occupation of Palestinian territories." Later, the Episcopal Church announced that it is considering a similar action. The response? A letter signed by 13 members of the House of Representatives hysterically accusing the church of all but advocating the destruction of Israel.
This letter was followed by another letter signed by 13 different representatives. It was addressed to the Department of Commerce urging that efforts of divestment be discouraged. One wonders for whom these 26 congressmen are working: the United States or Israel?
Last year 100 members of Congress made a pilgrimage to Israel as President Bush did before his first election to the presidency. Why? Was it to further their understanding of international relations? Or was it a rite of passage signifying loyalty and support?
In any case, congressmen who support Israel find themselves aided by her. Money flows into their reelection coffers, or perhaps into the congressman's foundation headed by his wife who is employed at a six-figure salary, or maybe for scholarships for his children. Favors granted are favors bought.
The destiny of Israel seems guided by an Unseen Hand. Expelled from her land in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians, then returning; evicted again by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., only to return once more; exiled yet a third time by the Romans in 135 A.D., she returned and became a nation in 1948. Solomon wrote, "What has been is what shall be, what has gone on is what shall go on. . . ." This bodes ill for Israel. Her reliance – and ours – upon the false gods of military might and money may forge the very sword that will wound her a fourth time and perhaps those who have aided her as well.
New Milford, PA
So Little Respect
The landmark at Milk Can Corners in Franklin Hill has again been damaged. It must have taken a really mature person to have bent the support and wrestled the plastic chicken from the top of its perch above the milk cans!
Neighbors spend time, effort and money to maintain this landmark. I am sorry that there is so little respect for property today.
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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