Reply to Caleb Carr

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Feb 26 09:29:07 MST 2003

Dear Caleb Carr,

In your rather detached, if not Olympian, treatise on prospects for the 
US military in Iraq in Arthur Carter's NY Observer, you state:

"The question of what methods will be used in our coming action in Iraq 
represents yet another, perhaps decisive, round in this ongoing struggle 
to determine how America projects its power abroad—and how it is 
perceived as projecting that power. The costs of any retreat by Mr. 
Rumsfeld and his faction, or of any failure on the part of President 
Bush to back to the hilt his Secretary of Defense and all other 
progressive military thinkers, will be high, indeed—higher even than 
they would have been in Afghanistan. Further victimization and 
alienation of the Iraqi people by wrongheaded American methods will 
certainly inspire new terrorist activity, whereas a campaign that is 
quickly identified by Iraqis and other Muslim observers as designed to 
spare civilian life—a campaign that looks like a joint effort to depose 
a tyrant—will steal much thunder from demagogues like Osama bin Laden, 
just as the forward-thinking victory in Afghanistan did."


Excuse me for being blunt, but why in the fucking hell did you leave off 
your menu the one choice that most residents of the planet Earth prefer, 
namely peace. I guess I know. When you were approached to add your 
august name to an antiwar newspaper ad, you told the organizers no dice. 
Why? Because, in your own words, "more nuanced interpretations" were 
required than "a very simple statement" of opposition to "the war 
against Iraq."

Actually, nuance is besides the point when we are discussing the 
morality of war that might involve nuclear weapons. What kind of nuanced 
interpretation would a German intellectual have come up with when the 
High Command had announced Barbarossa to the German people? Something 
like this? "President Hitler is faced by difficult choices in his 
campaign to liberate the Soviet Union from the curse of Bolshevism. He 
can either go full-force with the Wermacht using the most advanced 
weapons or he can deploy an advance guard of the SS into the Ukraine as 
part of focused campaign to organize detachments of alienated peasants 
on behalf of National Socialism."

Is that the kind of intellectual you aspire to be? Because that's 
exactly how you sound. Shame on you. You should stick to novel-writing 
where at least your flights into the unreal will do less harm.


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