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A letter to the editor March 29, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in DeKalb, Iraq, Politics.

Another quick note. I responded to a letter from an NIU alum, Jason Briski, that appeared in the Northern Star on Monday, March 27, 2006.

My letter was published today. You can see it here.

In case you don’t click links, the text of Briski’s letter is followed by my letter below. As a former Star editor, I was glad to see them publish my letter. : )

Briski’s Letter:

War protestors went too far
Published on: Monday, March 27, 2006

In the March 23 issue of the Northern Star, I read that anti-war protestors accosted a US military recruitment station, ruthlessly vandalizing it by tearing posters from the wall and stealing military literature. I am writing to condemn that criminal action. It is every citizen’s right to question the president and to form a political opinion where the war is concerned. However, it is irresponsible and utterly contemptible for anyone to attack the military like that. The military exists to protect the United States; our brave men and women are subservient to the orders of Congress and the president. They stand willing to make the supreme sacrifice so that we can live in a country with freedoms, particularly assembly and speech. With the freedom of assembly comes the responsibility to act maturely and to recognize the implications of what you are protesting and whom you want your message to reach. By attacking the military, the only case you present is one of blatant disloyalty to American values. If you truly hate this country, rather than attacking an institution most of us wholeheartedly support, why not just leave it?

Jason Briski

My Letter:

Questioning those in power isn’t unpatriotic

Jason Briski’s letter to the editor summed up, in short, the major problem with many Americans. While the love it or leave crowd surely wants no one to question, or as he put it, “attack” the military as they fight so darned hard to protect “our freedoms,” Americans are dying thousands of miles away in an unjust war for a cause that, at best, is murky. To somehow imply that not blindly supporting aggressive military action is tantamount to treason is just what the wingnuts in the White House want the masses to believe. Who are we kidding? Every time someone stands up for the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem it feeds more fuel to the overtly military society we have become. Blatantly disloyal to American values? What is this guy talking about? Since when have American values included the merciless murder of countless civilians? This is not liberty and democracy on the march, this is tyranny and evil and chaos on the attack. If that isn’t blatantly disloyal and criminal, I don’t know what is.

Andy McMurray
Former Star employee


1. yinn - March 31, 2006

Yeah, I see we both had letters in there on the same day. LOL.

2. gonzo - March 31, 2006

Funny how things work out isn’t it? Are you gonna be at Memorial Park on Friday for the protest? If so see ya there, look for a long haired freaky person in a black hoodie. Thats me.

3. Mac - April 4, 2006

War is the natural state and heritage of the evolving human race; peace is the social yardstick measuring civilization’s advancement.

So I would agree then, with Briski, that to break and enter into an office and vandalize and steal items within that office is wrong. And cleary illegal. Such action does not represent social advancement. Plain and simple.

But I believe it to be civic responsibility to challenge all members of a representative government on all aspects of the waging of war. Once war is waged those who are asked to sacrifice for it deserve the commitment and support required for successful completion of the mission. Victory is not in who won, but what was won.

While we should not make the mistake of glorifying war; we should discern what it has done for society to more accurately visualize what its substitutes must provide in order to continue the advancement of civilization. And if such adequate substitutes are not provided, then war will long continue.

Perhaps wars of the past did, through necessity, select the innately great for leadership, but that is no longer true. To discover great leaders now, we must turn to the conquests of peace: industry, science, and social achievement.

4. gonzo - April 5, 2006

oh i agree with you that the illegal actions that day went too far. in fact i left before it got out of hand, having wanted nothing to do with a protest that had unnecessarily degraded into radical violence. but certainly blind support for the military and military action should not be indicitive of the level of patriotism (nationalism) one holds.

5. Jason Briski - April 12, 2006

Did nobody get the point of my message?

Why do we live in such a galvanized society that one cannot support the military yet also be able to oppose the war? Everyone has the right to say whatever they want about President Bush, or the war, but I just think it’s tasteless to attack the military. They obey orders; They do not make policy. We ELECT those that make policy, so it’s just wrong to take it out on those who haven’t the ability to question their orders.

6. gonzo - April 12, 2006

to Jason: i think maybe it was the wording

7. gonzo - April 12, 2006

meaning: if the military truly exists to protect Americans and democracy, they are not doing so in Iraq. I agree that illegal acts are reprehensible. EDIT: not too mention, American values? How does this include illegal military action for which the sole reason for implementation was a lie? Please do explain what is American about that.

8. Jason B. - April 18, 2006


You aren’t exactly being fair about the issue, though.

“Illegal military action?”

The president received authorization from the US Congress to deploy the armed forces to invade Iraq. That is entirely within his ability in the constitution.

Furthermore, how do you know that the sole reason for implementation was a lie? Isn’t it also possible that the president was simply wrong about the weapons of mass destruction? The CIA isn’t quite the agency it used to be, particularly after it began cutting agents and starting relying on technological intelligence (e.g. satellites) during the Clinton administration.

9. amc - April 18, 2006

Yes illegal. The reason the UN is ineffective is because nations such as the U.S. refuse to abide by their rulings. It's funny how when a nation like Iran refuses to listen to the UN they are rogue but when we do it we are simply "acting unilaterally." Doesn't make much sense.

I'll give you that the CIA is inept, as is the FBI. But the administration continued to perpetuate what you say they were simply wrong about well after the war started.

And as recent Washington Post reports show, they out and out did LIE about the so called mobile bio weapons labs. They knew they were reaching, they knew it was a stretching of the truth. They knew so yes, it is a lie.

10. Jason B. - May 3, 2006

Look at the UN, though. The security council is corrupted by nations like China and Russia, who are only friendly to us in the sense that they like to sell things to us. China has shown time and time again that it is willing to do anything to secure low price energy, even by allowing Sadaam to remain in power or by countering the world opposition to Iran having nuclear weapons. The Chinese don’t care about us and their young are becoming more anti-American, as they begin to see their leaders policies as weak.

France negociated a deal with Sadaam for oil too. They have a vested interest in keeping him in power. I’m not entirely sure what Germany’s motivations are, but they seem to be rather pacificistic.

So because a body of nations that couldn’t care less how many US civillians die because of terrorist attacks says “no”, we’re supposed to fold our arms and say “oh well” and allow the Sadaams of the world to continue to plot attacks against us?

11. dr. gonzo - May 3, 2006

“China has shown time and time again that it is willing to do anything to secure low price energy”

What do you think the United States has shown time and again? Exactly? Don’t fool yourself. 91 and 03 Iraq were about oil. Period, dont be naive.

“So because a body of nations that couldn’t care less how many US civillians die because of terrorist attacks says “no”, we’re supposed to fold our arms and say “oh well” and allow the Sadaams of the world to continue to plot attacks against us? ”

Unfortunately, this war on the periphery has nothing to do with terrorism. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Our “friends” in Saudi Arabia (one of the world’s worst tyrannical govts btw) was where the hijackers came from. But we still love Saudi Arabia.

This war is not about freedom, democracy or terror. It’s about, as you say, low price energy. We continue to support regimes around the world that are as bad as or worse than Saddam’s was. Think Pakistan, Russia, Saudi, the list goes on.

There is a reason that the last two major conflicts we have been involved in were in the Middle East, and no, it’s not freedom or democracy or, again, terrorism. We haven’t fought any wars in Africa, and Africa has been home to some of the world’s most evil regimes, including but not limited to the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Other examples of horrible atrocities on that continent we avoided are in Rwanda and Sudan.

If our concern was terror, perhaps Bush would have listened to the warnings pre-9/11 about an attack on American soil. And please, don’t blame the Clinton administration, the guy has been out of power for 5 years.

Realism. Not blind allegiance despite all the evidence to the contrary. There is good reason that 2/3 of Americans think Bush isn’t doing a good job. He isn’t.

12. dr. gonzo - May 3, 2006

Oh yeah. And Germany. They shouldn’t be allowed to do shit for the next 100,000 years. Period. As for France, well it’s France, cheese eating surrender monkeys, what else can I say.

13. yinn - May 4, 2006

Jason B., if you still think that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, please pick up Richard Clarke’s book, “Against All Enemies.” Clarke (who was one of those public servants so dependably nonpartisan that he worked for administrations of both parties) said that after Clinton bombed Iraqi secret police headquarters in retaliation for the assassination plot against Bush I, there was never another credible piece of intelligence linking the Iraqis with terrorism.

He was one of a small group of courageous but anonymous Americans who held things together on 9/11 from the White House despite the distinct possibility that they would die there that day.

Clarke does not support impeachment of this president because he thinks it would be bad for the country. It’s surprising, really, because what he wrote paints a picture of anti-terrorism policies gone mostly right (under Clinton) and mostly wrong (under Bush II). The contrast is stark–which is why he quit as anti-terrorism chief.

14. yinn - May 4, 2006

p.s. Gonzo, thanks for the description. Will look for you.

Now, y’all get over to citybarbs, would you, to see the dirt we got on Denny.

15. yinn - May 4, 2006

I’m back. Dear Mac:

I subscribe to the Desmond Morris-type view that we should think about ourselves as apes. As soon as we start thinking that we no longer are apes or are better than them other primates, we’re in trouble.

That’s not to say that some of us aren’t evolving or that some aren’t seeking less violent “substitutes” for war. I adore your yardstick analogy but think it suggests a more linear type of development than we are capable of. Some of us remain (or scuttle back to, when perceiving a threat) the default “baboon” mode. The default is to establish yourself as the dominant ape, or your “troupe” as the dominant group. That element of our nature will always be with us, and the farther the “civilized” apes get, the heavier the backlash from the “old-school” apes unless and until we can stimulate in a widespread way the type of imagination and capacity for long-range planning that it would take to reach our higher potential.

Desmond Morris wrote “The Naked Ape” in the ’60s. Except for some of his views on homosexuality, I believe his observations stand the test of time, at least as food for thought.

16. yinn - May 5, 2006

Back again. Thought of something else.

“Illegal military action?”

The president received authorization from the US Congress to deploy the armed forces to invade Iraq. That is entirely within his ability in the constitution.

In addition to being illegal according to international law, the invasion was done illegally by U.S. Law, too. Even if you believe that the reasons given for needing to invade were made in good faith, Bush did not fulfill conditions set down by Congress for invasion of Iraq. In fact, what he did in pretending to fulfill them was bizarre (even more bizarre was that he got away with it). IMO the best description of this lapse comes from John Dean in his book, Worse than Watergate.

17. yinn - May 5, 2006

oops, somehow missed italizing that second paragraph above, which is part of Jason’s statement, too. Sorry. Shouldn’t try to do this stuff on the fly.

18. Jason B. - May 10, 2006

This discussion and the recent problems with Iran have made me start to think. I read Mr. Clark’s book about 2 weeks ago (coincidentally) and it does paint a picture completely different from what I had believed. For example, he talked about how the military was reluctant to go on missions to nab terror suspects, but it was something that President Clinton and Vice President Gore approved of. I had believed that Clinton was reluctant to use military force.

Back in 2003, I supported the war in Iraq wholeheartedly. I believed the president when he said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and I even thought that the protestors were somehow disloyal to the country. I assumed that, because he was president, he was priivy to CIA intelligence that I was on and that I should support him, particularly since we were at war (9/11 had only been 1 1/2 yrs earlier). I’ve lost a lot of the respect that I used to associate with the office of the presidency, I think.

Now, it’s 2006. I read a Newsweek article and learned that some of the Insurgents in Iraq are Al Qaeda extremists but an equal number are ordinary Iraqis, who are fighting to get rid of the US presence. They are worried that, when they succeed, they’ll have to deal with the crazy, militant Al Qaeda members that have been lured to Iraq. They want an Iraq free of US control, but they also don’t want a sharia-based, Islamofascist state, if you’ll excuse the Michael Savageism for lack of a better word.

China and Russia are saying that they won’t approve of sanctions against Iran. A week ago, I might have just said what I was saying above. But I’m reading that they are afraid that the US will use the sanctions as justification for a unilateral attack on Iran, if Iran doesn’t give in. They are worried that oil prices will skyrocket if that happens. It occurred to me … that line of reasoning makes a lot of sense, given what the administration has done in the past.

The big worry is that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon. Iran would never launch such a weapon, presumably, because it would ensure a full retaliatory responce from the United States. Even if they do, they won’t have a “briefcase” size nuclear weapon. But suppose they did. I’m a little skeptical that they’d arm terrorists with such a weapon, because if someone set off a nuclear device in the US, we’d look for a scapegoat and the US public would demand a full retaliatory nuclear strike.

19. dr. gonzo - May 10, 2006


I completely agree about the Iranian threat. I think the biggest worry in this instance has to do with what will happen should the US pursue a unilateral course of action.

Based on how far off base pre-2003 intel on Iraq was I cannot not think of any reason why we, as citizens, should believe our governments assertions when it comes to Iran. Meaning, what if our government doesn’t know what they think they know. What if Iran does indeed possess nuclear weapons capability in the present.

This, of course, would not bode well for US forces deployed in Iraq. Current plans, if “unilateral” action proceeds, call for joint Israeli-US airstrikes on some 400+ Iranian nuclear targets, to include enrichment facilities. The problem is that these targets are spread out greatly. It appears that the Iranians subscribe to the school of warfare that says not to put all your eggs in one basket, that way “one grenade can’t take out the whole platoon,” as my drill sergeant once told me in Army basic.

So, worst case scenario: we launch airstrikes against Iran (truly the only viable option considering the state of the American military and its commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan/central Asia, Africa’s east coast, the Philippines and Colombia), Iran, possessing a weapon unbeknowst to us, launches a counter attack on American troops in Iraq. We must remember that while many of Iran’s youth and citizens are seen as more liberal (read-less hardline) than in the past that its government is still dominated by hardliners. A strike from Iran, as you said, would all but guarantee a full US counter attack, albeit an unconventional WMD attack, but an attack nonetheless. But given the current geopolitical climate its easy to see that even fear of retribution on such a grand scale will do little to deter those who simply don’t care about such threats. We need look no further than 9/11 for evidence of this.

This scenario is a big part of the reason I think we must exit Iraq, asap. If that happened, it would open up further military options for the Iran situation, which is the real threat that Iraq never was.

Anyway, this is a good discussion, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

20. Jason B. - June 2, 2006

Sorry that I haven’t been responding quickly. It’s been a busy month.

Does anyone else feel that this recent “deal” offered to Iran is going to come from the American taxpayer’s pockets? I somehow feel that China or Russia won’t be paying any bribes to Iran.

21. dr. gonzo - June 5, 2006

I was out of town.

I missed the deal. Regardless, remember Bush saying he saw into Putin’s soul and it was good?

Putin’s move toward autocracy should be a concern, Bush must not be a good character judge.

Note that U.S. hegemony in the Middle East is in neither China’s nor Russia’s interest. How could be? Of course they won’t be on board.

22. Clinton R. - August 15, 2008

Excellent discussion, anyone care to revisit it with the election coming up? I’m thinking McCain would be the better commander in chief as we are likely to continue in armed conflict.

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