Wow, where to begin with this? There is actually one major point in
this piece that I agree with, which is that "liberals" should not be
supporting or sympathizing with Islamic fundamentalists, and that
liberals should be the ones encouraging American sacrifice in order
to help improve the lives of people in the Middle East. There are,
in fact, some liberals who do take multiculturalism too far, to the
point of supporting oppressive practices of other cultures. That,
however, is about as far as the agreements go.
The only other point on which I agree with Mr. Kraft is this
comment: "Remember, perspective is everything, and America's
schools teach too little history."
That's certainly true, however I have a feeling that he isn't
thinking of the same history that I am thinking of, and this gets to
the point, because it is Mr. Kraft's lack of historical accuracy and
historical framework that contributes to his, and many American's,
misperceptions about not only our past, but also our present and how
we address situations like the problem we face in Iraq today.
Mr. Kraft starts with a stirring account of the events leading up
to and surrounding World War II, telling of the rise of Nazism and
Japanese Imperialism and the all too sad reluctance of "Americans"
to engage these threats in their infancy.
What this "conservative" fails to address, however, is that there
was, in fact, a major group of Americans who did want to get into
the war sooner, who did want America to become involved militarily.
Who were these people? Were they right-wing war hawks, ever watchful
of the need for America to protect freedom around the globe? No, not
at all. The Americans who protested Nazi and Japanese imperialism
and called for American intervention were none other than the most
liberal and Leftist of Americans. They were members of the American
Anti-Fascist League, members of the Abe Lincoln Brigade (a Communist
and Anarchist organization that fought in the Spanish Civil War
against Francisco Franco), members of the Communist Party USA,
and members of student organizations.
That's who did support going to war against Germany and Japan. Not
only that, but America's president at the time, Franklin Roosevelt,
who is known as the most liberal president in American history, was
also pressing for war, perusing actions that were likely to get
America involved, and giving aid to Britain and the Soviet Union.
(Notice how Mr. Kraft calls it Russia. The name of the country was
not Russia, it was the Soviet Union, and they were our ally at the
time and they by far made the largest contribution to the war effort
and played the biggest role in defeating the fascists)
At the same time, conservative Americans attacked FDR and others
for seeking to get involved in the war. Yes it is true that the
American military was under funded in those days, however this
was not the case because of liberals, but rather it was the
conservatives and Republicans who refused to provide the funding to
Famous right-wing Americans like Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, and
media mogul William Randolph Hearst actively promoted US isolation,
while at the same time collaborating with and aiding the fascist
parties of Europe.
American supporters of the European
Banners from Charles Lindbergh's America First campaign
American companies were falling all over themselves to do business
with the 3rd Reich, Japan, and Italy during the 1930s.
When Pearl Harbor was finally attacked Senator Aurthur Vandenberg,
a conservative Republican, wrote that the United States would have
had to yield "relatively little" to pacify Japan. Of Japan
he said that, "we may have driven her needlessly into
hostilities through our dogmatic diplomatic attitudes."
"We asked for it, and we got it."
Many on the American Right saw the religious fanaticism of the
German and Japanese imperialists as better than the godless
Communists of the Soviet Union and China, and that's exactly why
Americans stood by while Imperial Japan invaded China and killed
millions of members of the Communist Red Army, and why Americans
stood by while Germany invaded Western Europe, rounded up Communists
and Jews, and then invaded the officially atheist Soviet Union.
American conservatives now hold out the killings of people in Iraq,
whom at the time they endorsed killing, as a moral justification for
their own actions. This is the same when looking back today at both
World War II and Saddam Hussein. In both cases the people being
killed were primarily Communists. The killing of these people was
supported by the American Right. Now, after it's over, the American
Right holds these killings out as examples of tyranny and asks us
all to be horrified at them. The Right never says who the people
being killed were though, or that they endorsed the killings when
they first took place. The political killings that took place in
Iraq, that conservatives now condemn, were killings of Iraqi
Leftists. The largest number of people killed in China by the
Japanese were also Communists, and the same is true of the Nazis,
who targeted primarily Communists and Jews. The Kurdish people have
been the vanguard of the Communist movement in Iraq for the past 50
years, this is why they have been targets of the Saddam regime. This
is why America stood by and let them be killed initially. Now when
they tell us that Saddam is a monster for killing "Kurds", they
don't say that they were also Communists.
Let us all be clear: On the issue of World War II it was the
American Left who was supporting American involvement in the war. It
was the American Right who was promoting isolationism and leading
the anti-war effort, and indeed some of them were in fact aiding the
fascists. America was led in World War II by the most liberal
Commander in Chief in American history, a man whose domestic legacy
the Bush administration is now seeking to completely overturn. The
American involvement in helping to rebuild Europe and Japan after
World War II was successful because it was a liberal undertaking.
Then Mr. Kraft simply gets his facts wrong when he states:
"Russia lost something like 24 million people in the sieges of
Stalingrad and Moscow, 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly
civilians, but also more than a million soldiers. More than a
It's pretty easy to look up these statistics, and if he had done so
perhaps he would have found the accurate numbers. The Soviet Union
did not lose 24 million people during these sieges. The Soviet Union
is not recognized to have lost more that 8 million civilians in the
entire war, much less over 20 million people in two sieges, his
numbers are just plain incorrect.
Nevertheless his point is valid. Yes the Soviets paid a
huge price and made enormous sacrifices during World War II,
however, getting back to Mr. Kraft's point about American history,
hardly any Americans are aware of this fact and many Americans,
especially younger Americans, are completely unaware of the Soviet
contributions to winning World War II. American soldiers made up
only about 1.7% of the Allied soldiers killed during World War II.
The inflated self-image that Americans have about American military
history has led to a false sense of American ability to go-it-alone.
Mr. Kraft then segways into the present day, presenting to us the
threat of Islamic terrorists. Well, what he says is true, though
it's an extremely limited view. The threat of terrorist attacks
using Weapons of Mass Destruction is not simply an Islamic issue, it
is more accurately described as a
religious fundamentalist issue.
What Mr. Kraft fails to point out is that the most persistent
threat that we face here in America is not terrorist activity from
Islamic fundamentalists, but in fact from Christian fundamentalists,
white supremacist, and other ultra right-wing organizations. This
isn't a shallow jab or a means to redirect the conversation, this is
a solid fact. The biggest terrorist threat in America today comes
not from the Middle East, but from the American homeland.
In 1995 Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City
killing 168 people.
Immediately following 9/11 there were the Anthrax letter bombings,
strongly suspected of being perpetrated by a domestic American,
though no arrests have been made yet.
In May 2003 federal agents arrested a white racist couple dealing
in weapons of mass destruction in a small town near Tyler, Texas.
The feds seized a cyanide bomb capable of unleashing a deadly poison
cloud, chemicals and components for additional WMDs, gas masks, 100
conventional bombs, an arsenal of automatic weapons, silencers and
half a million rounds of ammunition.
In February 2004 a letter containing the toxic poison ricin was
mailed to the White House threatening to use weapons of mass
destruction to turn Washington DC into a "ghost town" if new
trucking regulations were put into effect. The letter was from
Chattanooga, Tennessee and a similar one came from South Carolina.
Over 8,000 acts of violence have been committed against abortion
clinics and doctors since 1977. In the past 10 years over a dozen
doctors have been assassinated by Christian fundamentalists.
These are just a small sampling of the most prominent real
terrorist threats that we face in America, and virtually all of this
terrorist activity in America is associated with militant right-wing
groups, often religious.
Map of Hate Groups in America
Tolerance.org- U.S. Map of Hate
So yes, there are Islamic militants that seek to use weapons of
mass destruction against the "civilized world", but this by no means
describes the entire threat, and in fact the most accurate way to
describe the threat is not to describe it as Islamic, but rather to
describe it as fundamentalist in general and recognize that this
threat exists in America as well as the Middle East, and in fact a
large base of President Bush's support comes from a body of people
who make up this threat.
Mr. Kraft then describes how Islamic fundamentalists want to spread
their system all over the entire world, even killing non-believers
in some cases, but this of course is no different than the desires
of some Christian fundamentalists as well.
He then asserts that if the Islamic moderates "win" in the Middle
East then everything will be okay and the Middle East will become
prosperous. He also calls the Saudis rational and well-educated,
warning of what might happen if OPEC falls into the hands of
Jihadists. Well, first of all, Saudi Arabia is a theocratic monarchy
ruled by Islamic law. Now sure the Saudis do things that are
beneficial for America in terms of oil production, but the fact is
that the West has embraced this theocratic monarchy because
they have used religious fundamentalism, Wahhabsim in fact, to keep
their people oppressed and thereby keep themselves in power,
preventing the Saudi people from having a democracy and thereby
ensuring that they can distribute as much oil to the West as
possible for which the West helps to keep them in power.
The very nature of our relationship with the Saudi royal family
promotes the religious fundamentalism and anti-democratic theocracy
that Mr. Kraft is now urging "liberals" to back this war in
The real fact of the matter is that the West has greatly
contributed to the problems that we now face with fundamentalist
Islam in the Middle East. The Saudi, Kuwaiti and other theocratic
monarchies have been kept in power with aid from the West.
Conservatives champion Ronald Reagan for "winning the Cold War",
despite the fact that the Soviets folded from the inside and would
likely have done so even sooner if not for the fuel that Reagan gave
the Communist hardliners, but what these same conservatives
completely fail to do is to understand the connection between Reagan
era policies, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the rise of Islamic
First - American support for Osama Bin Laden and Islamic
In April 1978, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)
took power in Afghanistan. The PDPA was committed to land reform
that favored peasants, trade union rights, an expansion of education
and social services, equality for women, and the separation of
church and state. The PDPA also supported strengthening
Afghanistan's relationship with the Soviet Union.
Not only this, but the PDPA began an extensive anti-drug program
and began eradicating the vast opium fields and combating the opium
trade in the region. The opium trade was a major source of revenue
for many Islamic tribal leaders.
Taken from a 1999 Congressional Report on CIA involvement in drug
Soviet-backed coup in Afghanistan sets stage for explosive growth
in Southwest Asian heroin trade. New Marxist regime undertakes
vigorous anti-narcotics campaign aimed at suppressing poppy
production, triggering a revolt by semi-autonomous tribal groups
that traditionally raised opium for export. The CIA-supported rebel
Mujahedeen begins expanding production to finance their insurgency.
Between 1982 and 1989, during which time the CIA ships billions of
dollars in weapons and other aid to guerrilla forces, annual opium
production in Afghanistan increases to about 800 tons from 250 tons.
By 1986, the State Department admits that Afghanistan is "probably
the world's largest producer of opium for export" and "the poppy
source for a majority of the Southwest Asian heroin found in the
United States." U.S. officials, however, fail to take action to curb
production. Their silence not only serves to maintain public support
for the Mujahedeen, it also smooths relations with Pakistan, whose
leaders, deeply implicated in the heroin trade, help channel CIA
support to the Afghan rebels.
After the PDPA took power, the Soviet Union sent troops to
Afghanistan to support the regime. At that point a jihad against the
Between 1978 and 1992, largely through Ronald Reagan's presidency,
the US contributed somewhere between $6 billion and $20 billion
worth of arms to the Islamic fundamentalist resistance, who were
fighting against the secular PDPA and the Soviet Union.
Now, you can call this Soviet imperialism if you wish, or assume
that there was an ulterior Soviet agenda, but the fact is, right or
wrong, that the US single handedly did more to develop and foster
radical armed Islamic fundamentalist terrorism with this action than
any other event that has happened in the past 50 years.
Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK), the Taliban, Al-Queda, and dozens of
other terrorist organizations have come out of the fighters who
fought on the side of the CIA during this conflict.
Osama Bin Laden formed Al-Queda in 1987, while receiving aid from
the United States. The United States embraced Islamic jihad and
Islamic fundamentalism and helped to catapult the radical Islamic
terrorist movement to heights never before imagined, and it was done
in opposition to a secular regime.
This brought the terroristic Islamic fundamentalist movement
against secularism to a new high across the Middle East.
Secondly, in part due to the American approach to dealing with the
Soviet Union, Mikael Gorbachev was taken out of power in 1991 and
the Soviet Union was dissolved, practically overnight, by Boris
Yeltsin. The world would very likely be a safer place today if
Mikael Gorbachev had stayed in power and brought the USSR through
more measured reforms.
The breakup and rapid "privatization" of the Soviet Union, while
hailed as a victory by conservatives, was actually a tragic event
that had a direct impact on the rise of global terrorism and the
threat of weapons of mass destruction.
The rapid dismantling of the Soviet system, and the corrupt means
by which privatization took place, led to a major proliferation of
weapons, weapons materials, and weapons scientists around the world.
When the Soviet system was privatized it was done so in a very
corrupt manner, resulting in a major economic depression in Russia,
where GDP has still not come back up to match GDP from 1990.
Russians lost their retirement plans and multi-billion dollar
industries were privatized and sold off for a small fraction of what
they were worth. The buyers were often KGB or other people who had
secretly built up stores of money through illegal activity, or
people who were financed by foreign investors who funneled money in
quickly to buy up major factories and plants at a fraction of their
Under the Soviet system, however, industry was public property and
contributed to providing for public needs (although poorly). All of
the Soviet people had certainly sacrificed a lot to build their
industry, but with the privatization they had nothing to show for
it, which is why poverty has dramatically increased in Russia since
the fall of the Soviet Union.
That is not to say that privatization was a bad idea, only that it
was very poorly done.
This led to a major economic crisis in the country that led to many
Russians looking for the fastest way to make a buck, and that has
resulted in Russia becoming a major source of not only conventional
arms, but some extremely deadly weaponry as well, including weapons
of mass destruction and delivery systems for these weapons,
including things such as submarines, rockets, and jet fighters, all
of which are known to have been sold on the Russian black market
after the fall of the USSR.
The American approach to the Cold War has definitely contributed to
the growing terrorist movements around the world. Not only did
America back Islamic fundamentalists against the Soviets in
Afghanistan, but the US also supported the Ba'ath party of Saddam
Hussein in the 1963 Iraqi coup because the Ba'ath Party was
anti-Communist, and continued to support him during the 1980s,
supplying him with his weapons of mass destruction programs and
The United States covertly funded and utilized terrorist
organizations around the world during the Cold War as a means to
indirectly attack the Soviet Union. The focus of these organizations
was the destruction of superpowers. Now that the Soviet superpower
is gone, these organizations are targeting the only remaining
superpower that is left - America.
Mr. Kraft points out that France, Germany, and Russia were selling
weapons to Iraq, but fails to mention that the US also sold weapons
to Iraq. He also fails to mention that Halliburton, under Dick
Cheney, was the largest American contractor doing business with
He fails to mention that it was Republican Senators Bob Dole and
Alan Simpson who were Saddam Hussein's biggest American supporters
during the 1980s.
Mr. Kraft then goes on to state that, "[w]e have to help the
Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition,
i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic
"We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time
and place of our choosing, in Iraq."
Yes, and that's certainly a big part of the problem, because we
took a country that didn't have a problem with an Islamic
fundamentalist insurgency and then brought Islamic fundamentalism to
By attacking Iraq, one of the most secular countries in the Middle
East, we have managed to unify the Islamic world, create an increase
of Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq, and validate all of the things
that fundamentalists and terrorists have been saying about America
for the past 30 years.
The fact is that Islamic fundamentalism hasn't been an issue in
Iraq in a very long time. Even before World War II Iraq was one of
the more secular regions of the Middle East, and it remained so
after World War II.
If the objective, as Mr. Kraft states, is to combat the forces of
Islamic fundamentalism, then why on earth did we pick the least
fundamentalist country in the region to invade?
Because it was an easy target? Yes, and because that was not the
real reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq in the first place, it is
now just a new justification for occupation because every other
justification for this war has fallen apart. The truth is, however,
that we do need to win this war now, but the Bush administration is
incapable of doing so.
The facts are that the Bush approach is not fruitful. We have
already seen that:
- The Bush administration was dishonest, manipulative, and
misrepresented the facts in order to sell the invasion of Iraq. The
recent excuses about bad intelligence are just scapegoating, as the
rest of my website is testament to.
- Tons of weapons and explosives have been
lost, not secured, since the invasion. This is material
that was out of the hands of terrorists prior to the
invasion and under the control of the International Atomic Energy
Agency. CNN.com - Tons of Iraq
- Saddam had been neutralized by the sanctions and
inspections, proven by the fact that there are no WMDs to be found
- Islamic fundamentalism has risen
in Iraq since the invasion, not gone down. Secular Iraq Women Take Up the
- Iraq wasn't involved in 9/11 and had no links to Al-Queda any
more than George Bush himself does. (afterall his family does
business with the Bin Ladens, which is about as concrete a link as
Saddam's ties to Al-Queda, which is to say, very weak)
- The Administration has been shown to have endorsed, or at the
very least turned a blind eye to, systematic torture and humiliation
of thousands of Iraqi prisoners, many of whom are now known to have
been not only completely innocent of any wrong doing, but in fact
children. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal is one of the worst bruises
to the American image in our country's history. Abuse Panel Says Rules on
Inmates Need Overhaul
And this is where Mr. Kraft fails to understand the nature of
"liberal" opposition to this war and why "the Left" fails to fully
get behind it.
The problem is not that we shouldn't be engaged in an effort to
combat Islamic fundamentalism and help the people of the Middle East
secure peace, democracy and human rights. The problem is that this
approach is not a fruitful way to achieve these goals.
Not only is the Bush administration's approach not fruitful, but it
is impossible that the ideologues who have helped to create the
problems in the Middle East over the past 30 years, who have
mishandled the Cold War, many of whom themselves are fundamentalists
or pander to religious fundamentalists, can be expected to address
these problems and solve them.
How on earth can American liberals believe that this is a war to
build a peaceful, tolerant, secular democracy in Iraq, when the war
effort is led by an arrogant, secretive, religious fundamentalist,
war mongering, self-serving, deceptive administration?
This administration has stood on national television in front of
the entire nation, and the world, and straight out lied through
their teeth, repeatedly, and not just about this war, but about a
wide variety of issues. There is zero trust here.
The biggest irony of this whole thing is that we all know damned
well that if any leaders, Democrat, Republican or otherwise, had
gotten up in front of America and said that we needed to invade Iraq
in order to help the Iraqi people and to overthrow Saddam in order
to establish peace and justice and rebuild the country for
humanitarian reasons, that most of the citizens who have supported
this war would have opposed it, and many of the people who have
opposed this war would have supported it. The reality is that we
probably would never have gone to war, because there would have been
way too much "conservative" opposition against a purely "nation
Popular support for this war was built through fear mongering and
hate rhetoric and we all know it. The case for war was not made on
humanitarian principles, it was made on fear, intimidation and
There has also been no show of good faith in the execution of this
war either. We've had Halliburton no-bid contract
scandals, billions of dollars unaccounted
for, contractors making outrageous
sums of money, mismanagement, conflicts of interest left
and right such as James Baker of the Carlyle
Corporation negotiating debt repayment deals with Kuwait and
defending the Saudi royal family against a lawsuit brought by
victims of 9/11. We have Christian extremist generals
who have been kept in office and then been involved in prisoner
abuse scandals. The list goes on and on. There are so many ways that
this administration has failed to win the confidence of liberals, or
for that matter even moderates and conservatives.
The fact of the matter is that our civilization is not facing a
threat from Islam, our civilization is facing a threat from
religious fundamentalism. Yes it is true that Americans need
to support the secular forces in the Middle East and support any
efforts that give aid to these elements.
It is completely inconceivable, however, that religious
fundamentalists are going to be able to face this threat and resolve
this problem. This is why liberals cannot support George W. Bush, a
fundamentalist, in a war against fundamentalism, because George W.
Bush is incapable of resolving the real problem. He is a part of the
Information and resources on secularism in the Middle East:
Institute for the Secularization
of Islamic Society
Revolutionary Association of the Women of
Women's Alliance for Peace and
Human Rights in Afghanistan
Liberal Democratic Party of Afghanistan
Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition
Workers Communist Party of Iraq
The Iraqi Communist Party
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation (IDAO)
Kurdistan Communist Party
Worker-communist Party of Iran
Iranian Secular Society
Socialist Party of Iran
US Labor Against the War- Statement of
Iraq-Worker communist Party
Left and Right out of step in Iraq
In Iraq, long a secular Muslim
country, religious power is making inroads
MSNBC - Iraqi schools turn away
from secular teachings
Iraq- we want democracy, secularism and
workers' rights, not occupation! | Workers' Liberty