micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

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Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Sunday, October 12, 2003
Oh Rummy

In a speech from Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke on the legacy of Ronald Reagan and the "war on terror" in a manner that seemingly ignored any possibility that the United States ever did anything for reasons that do not support the proposition that the U.S. never does anything with an alterior motive.

I laughed out loud at this part:

Like President Reagan, President Bush has not shied from calling evil by its name or declaring his intention to defeat its latest incarnation -- terrorism -- just as free men and women of all political persuasions, here and abroad, defeated fascism and communism before.
I doubt that the Bush Administration has any consistent definition of "terrorism" for explicit public consumption but if they did, it is hard to imagine that would be anything "new." That said, here Rumsfeld appears to say that "terrorism" is the umbrella term for violence against the U.S. in the post-Soviet period. In other words, in the present tense, it is violence that the U.S. doesn't like.
When President Reagan came to office, Soviet Communism was on the march and our country was still weakened by the experience of the Vietnam War, and a lingering fear of the projection of American power. President Reagan saw the danger. He knew that weakness is provocative. One of his most important strategic innovations was the idea that to roll back the communist expansion, America need not send a half a million U.S. troops to every trouble spot where freedom was threatened. In many cases, there were people in those countries who were willing to fight and die for their own freedom. It was Ronald Reagan's genius to make common cause with those freedom fighters, providing them with arms, training, intelligence and other support.
Yeah getting local support for interventions is an act of "genius" and had nothing to do with a political need to keep U.S. casualties low.

Rumsfeld also said, "it would have been impossible for Iraqis to overthrow that regime without significant numbers of coalition forces. Still, we've kept our footprint relatively modest" as if the U.S. isn't running Iraq and keeping U.S. control in only certain areas didn't provide any advantages for Team Bush in their "war on terror."

There's also this brilliance from Rumsfeld:

One in particular is worth mentioning here. It's a letter he [Reagan] wrote by hand in April of 1981 to Soviet leader Brezhnev. Brezhnev had sent him a letter accusing the United States of destabilizing the world with its territorial ambitions and imperialistic designs. President Reagan replied, quote, "There's not only no evidence to support such a charge; there's solid evidence that the United States, when it could have dominated the world, at no risk to itself, made no effort whatsoever to do so.

"When World War II ended, the United States had the only undamaged industrial power in the world," he wrote. "Its military was at its peak, and we alone had the ultimate weapon, the nuclear bomb, and the unquestioned ability to deliver it anywhere in the world. If we had sought world domination, who could have opposed us?"

He went on to say, "But the United States followed a different course, one unique in the history of all mankind. We used our power and wealth to rebuild the war-ravaged economies of the world, including those nations that had been our enemies," unquote.

Reagan's response doesn't deal with the actual question at hand, which was U.S. intentions in 1981. At the same time Reagan, and apparently Rumsfeld, seem to be suggesting that nuclear bombings of numerous other countries as a means of pacifying them didn't propose some serious problems and was a way of getting around costly occupations. It is left to your imagination to figure out what exactly the point of controlling a world that you have obliterated is.

Along the same lines, but coming earlier in the speech, Rumsfeld says:

I arrived this morning from Colorado Springs, where the United States hosted a meeting of the NATO defense ministers. At that meeting of the 19 NATO nations were three former Warsaw Pact adversaries: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, now NATO allies. Also present, interestingly, were seven former East Bloc nations: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia, nations that have been invited to join NATO and will becoming part of that alliance in the early part of next year. The membership of those recently-free nations is changing the alliance. It is injecting a new energy into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a new love of freedom which can really possibly only come from nations that so recently were enslaved. That's the world that Ronald Reagan left us.

Or take the coalition in Iraq. It now includes military forces from 32 nations. Consider some of the countries that are contributing troops in Iraq today: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine. They all have forces in Iraq assisting the coalition. There are others, as well, but I just mention these because those are the nations helping in Iraq today that President Reagan helped to make free.

Why are so many of these nations, many small, most not very wealthy, sending their forces, their young men and women put at risk halfway around the world to help bring freedom to the Iraqi people? I suspect it's because so many of them have just recovered their own freedom, and they're eager, they're proud to help the Iraqi people recover theirs. God bless them all, and God bless Ronald Reagan for what he did to help liberate them.

In a sense, their contributions are important in another way. They demonstrate that the seeds of freedom, when planted, can do more than simply take root where they're sown. They can have the power to spread freedom across the globe to other countries.

I could cite counterexamples of former Soviet Bloc entities that have been less supportive in Iraq or who have done other things that don't mess with some aspect of the "war on terror." That, however, is less important than that it at least appears like assisting the U.S. isn't particularly popular in at least some of the countries Rumsfeld cites, which suggests that another factor could be in play. Could it be that the governments in these countries see lending a hand to the U.S. as a good way to get some carrots and become further part of a U.S. empire along the lines Chalmers Johnson sketches out in Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2000)?

Such a possibility deserves consideration that is absent from Rumsfeld speech because, I suspect, even granting a mention or consideration to that idea means acknowledging that something about U.S. policy could be less than the perfect ideal that he has presented. We can't have that, now can we?

By ignoring this possibility Rumsfeld looks like a fool because it also means ignoring U.S. President George W. Bush's famous September 20, 2001 proclamation, "[e]very nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Since all regimes -save for France, of course- don't like being overthrown -we'd take over France in an instant if we didn't know how happy it'd make them bastards-, one could be excused for thinking that these countries have an alterior motive for helping the U.S. But I guess alterior motives don't exist in Rumsfeld's world.


Truth be told, the "[e]ither you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" was probably macho bluster not meant to be taken as a literal principle except when utilizing it comes in handy...

In today's Independent Patrick Cockburn writes:

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.

The stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protrude from the brown earth scoured by the bulldozers beside the road at Dhuluaya, a small town 50 miles north of Baghdad. Local women were yesterday busily bundling together the branches of the uprooted orange and lemon trees and carrying then back to their homes for firewood.

Nusayef Jassim, one of 32 farmers who saw their fruit trees destroyed, said: "They told us that the resistance fighters hide in our farms, but this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They didn't find any weapons."

Other farmers said that US troops had told them, over a loudspeaker in Arabic, that the fruit groves were being bulldozed to punish the farmers for not informing on the resistance which is very active in this Sunni Muslim district.

Jazz? Cockburn is a bit loose on where he got that part exactly so I wonder if it is true. Actually, he is a bit loose on all of the details so I am less than completely confident on any of it. Still I have the most difficulty imagining some saying, "put on some Bird, we're fucking with some towel heads."