Page 7


307 West 5th Street Austin, Texas “Dialogue,” from page 2 The Russians should be negotiated down, along with our own arsenal of nukes. One thing seems strange in the review, however. Reiter seems to suggest it would be good for small powers to be able to threaten the U.S. with A-bombs. Otherwise, the U.S. could “continue to intimidate” them, presumably militarily. Our experiences in Viet Nam, Somalia, and Lebanon have probably cured the U.S. of that kind of hubris. They do not need A-bombs to intimidate us. Only with broad international support are we now willing to venture abroad with our armed forces. Examples of our reluctance can be seen in Rwanda and East Timor, perhaps unfortunately. Intervention in Yugoslavia came after a long process of continual requests by the Europeans and our loathing to involve ourselves was patent, under two presidents. Despite some stereotypes left over from the Cold War, the U.S. is more benign abroad these days than many libwill admit. On the other hand, the U.S. has heavily involved itself as a mediator in the search for peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Reiter complains about economic sanctions on Cuba and Iraq. Cuba is a bit of a special case. Imperialism is not the issue here, so much as the residue from the Cold War, complicated by the political strength of the Cuban migrs in Miami. No longer dangerous as an ally of the Soviet should be brought back as a trading partner in its present state \(a result also devoutly desired by the last forever, and, even if he lasts longer than his consumption of cigars would indicate, his presence at this point has little meaning to American military safety. Iraq, of course, is a case of unfinished business. We have an enemy now we did not have before the Gulf War, probably one who wishes us very far from well. The embargo, from our perspective, is a way of depriving Saddam Hussein 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER of the financial means of developing full nuclear capability. Otherwise, we would have been much better off to allow his oil wells to add to world production and, hopefully, contribute to a lower price. “Domination and exploitation” are, quite arguably, not a major motive with either the Cuba or Iraqi embargoes. Certainly relations between the U.S. and the Communist regime in Vietnam has proved much more palatable, “domination and exploitation” by the U.S. being, of course, out of the question there. The review challenges the book’s view of the Munich Agreement by slightly exaggerating the “consistent support of Hitler by the British ruling class.” Churchill, as much a Bolshevikophobe as any, did not take this view, and he, as well as being obviously part of the ruling class, had a strong following among it. Although many may have liked nothing better at the time than a strike against Russia, it is arguable that even Chamberlain might have had serious dismay if Hitler had been successful in its conquest. The British guarantee to Poland was predicated on the idea that Hitler would not move on Poland because of the danger of a two-front war with Russia and Britain. Unfortunately, Hitler’s deal with Stalin emboldened him to call the British bluff, which turned out not to be a bluff, after all. I agree with Reiter that we desperately need a progressive movement \(it is apparently unfashcertainly irrational in many ways, although whether it is decaying is something we know only after the fact. Arguably, the technology and resources exist to bring the entire world to the same standard of living as we now have in the U.S. A progressive movement ought to have that, as well as nuclear safety, as a major goal. Ed Cogburn Houston George Reiter responds: Ed Cogburn seems to find my point that the U.S. seeks not peace, justice and democracy in the world but economic domination and exploitation, difficult to accept. I don’t like it much either, but *it’s a point of view that I find makes sense of the world, whereas Cogburn’s view that the U.S. is now a benign presence, despite some holdovers from a Cold War past, seems to me at considerable variance with the facts. In the case of Yugoslavia, U.S. administrations supported the breakup of the Yugoslavian federation from the get-go, and the Clinton administration was not dragged reluctantly into the attack on Serbia, but was the prime mover. Consider the initial Rambouillet Agreement: we were ostensibly attacking the Serbs in order to overcome their entirely unreasonable reluctance to sign it. Yet it included a provision that NATO troops have free access to Serbia \(not just for damages they might cause, and a provision that NATO, not the United Nations, would supervise Kosovo. The Serbs couldn’t be expected to agree to that, and indeed, the final settlement was essentially the Serbian position before the attack. Or consider that the ostensible reason for the need for the Agreement the ethnic cleansing supposedly going on in Kosovo prior to the NATO assault wasn’t actually happening. That is according to the Indian General who had supervised the U.N. peacekeeping forces there, as well as other members of the peacekeeping forces who chose to go public prior to the attack. In Iraq, Cogburn appears to dismiss the ongoing bombings and the continued imposition of sanctions which are opposed by the vast majority of the international community as necessary for our self-defense, since, having created an enemy during the Gulf War, we have to see to it that Iraq doesn’t regain the economic capacity to develop a nuclear arsenal. This is not even now the stated goal of U.S. policy \(which is to remove aside the clear immorality and illegality under international law of destroying the civilian economy for such a purpose it is hardly necessary from the point of view of self-defense. If the Iraqis had nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, they could not use them without our permission as for example, in our acceptance of, and assistance in, the use of chemical weapons in the war against Iran, and certainly not against us, as they are incapable of defending themselves against any attack we might choose to launch. That they realize this may be inferred from their good sense in not putting chemical warheads on the missiles used against Israel during the Gulf War, although they were available. And, for the most recent example, does Cogburn find our support for the advance of the Colombian military into the FARC stronghold in southern Colombia benign? Perhaps he thinks that is also justified as self-defense, protecting American children from drugs by destroying the lives of the children of Colombia. Cogburn is correct that Churchill saw Hitler as a threat \(to the empire, not to democracy, as he Chamberlain’s policies. The segment of the ruling class that he represented remained a minority, or at least out of power, until after the War had begun. The defense of Poland was a bluff, as the British refused the alliance with Russia and the Red Army that they were offered, an alliance that would have made possible the actual defense of Poland, as they were \(according to Lebovitz and high command that it should attack Russia. George Reiter University of Houston SEPTEMBER 8, 2000