Letters to the Editor

There's nothing progressive about this war; ex-smoker is living in the past.

Published April 26, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

The "progressives' war"


War is still war, no matter what euphemistic spin you want to put on it.
Imperialism is a distasteful word for the triumvirate of Clinton, Blair and
especially Schroeder, but they can't avoid it. War is only about
imperialism; if it were about anything else we would have done something
about Cambodia and Rwanda, both of which make the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo
look like a Saturday night bubble bath.

Just because we are not "fighting for territory" doesn't mean that we are
being any less imperialistic. Imperialism is also about forcing your will
down the throat of other nations and peoples.

They may replace words like kill and destroy with words like degrade and
reduce, but ultimately there is no difference in the outcome. Blood is
still spilled, and people still die in the name of ideology and political
gamesmanship. Humanitarianism may be the buzzword for our efforts in
Serbia, but our inactivity and willful ignorance in other parts of the world
show it for what it really is.

-- Charles T. Beckert


There is nothing progressive above
aerial bombing. It's draft dodging at another, higher level: no American
(British or German) troops coming home in rubber body bags, and no draft
required. It makes us feel innocent from the safety of our living
rooms, or from 25,000 feet in the air, where we bomb the bejesus out of
military targets and civilians alike. It's distant, antiseptic and
impersonal, but it's also indiscriminate by its very nature. More like
shooting fish in a barrel than progressive.

Moreover, Salon readers should be reminded that committing an aggressive war
is as much of a war crime as ethnic cleansing, under the precedents set by the
Nuremberg trial. Clinton, Albright, Cohen and their generals are doing
everything they can to join Milosevic in the war crimes dock. This is the
worst foreign-policy, humanitarian, military, political and environmental
disaster since World War II. And what does Clinton do when his policies are
not working? He adds more planes and terror bombing. This is progressive? I
would say it's more like what Hannah Arendt said about the Nazi war crimes in
her report on Adolph Eichmann's trial: "the banality of evil."

-- Dennis Dalrymple

New York

Pride and prejudice

A school that's "living in the '50s" gets a new
activist vice principal who believes in "diversity," whatever that means.
Within a few years she has set up organizations under the guise of "bringing
people together," but the organizations actually fracture the society. She encourages a flaming
gay to enter the school as the final pinch of spice and expresses horror
when the pot finally boils over.

Fiona Morgan seems to move through life with rose-colored blinders on. Fiona, what do you see as
the central duty of a school? Apparently, it is to serve as the supreme
psychoanalyst of teenagers. And reading, writing and 'rithmetic? How '50s!

-- Dudley Crawford

My cancer time bomb

As an ex-smoker who
sucked down the weed for 20 years, I understand Christopher Scanlan's
concern -- no one wants to die of lung cancer -- but I question his search for
causation, his looking back instead of pushing ahead. I hate to be the
one to break it to you, but you (and I) might be members of the walking dead;
we may have destroyed our bodies past saving by smoking as kids. The
difference between us, though, is I refuse to be "terrified" or "scared" or
wracked with "fear" -- as if that will keep one gene or cell from mutating.
More likely, stress will nurture a self-prophesied cancer along.

What is Scanlan doing to heal his body? I see no reference to
finding a proper diet, rich in raw, deep green vegetables (the kind that
fight cancer), or reducing red meats and animal fats (all attributed to early
death). I see no mention of exercise regimens (life-enhancing as well as
life-extending), not one word on organic living or stress reduction, not even
a passing tribute to supplements like green and black teas (all said to
reduce cancer). It's true that I smoked for many years, but now I've found
health -- I can run for miles, I'm in the gym four or five times a week, I jump rope
and do a boxer's workout. I also make sure I take large amounts of wheat
grass and other super green foods -- every day -- as well as ensuring my body
the rest it needs.

Will I die of cancer? Perhaps. I can't stress over what
I can't control. But will I make sure to live in health every day and try to
heal the damage I've caused? Absolutely! This is
my body and I have choices to make regarding its care: I intend to leave this
world on my own terms, not those of Philip Morris.

-- Jeffrey Abelson

New York

Sending out an SOS


In Jake Tapper's article on Dole's Kosovo warnings, there are a few key
elements missing. First, Bob Dole is of Albanian descent. This would seem to
be an essential element to any objective presentation of a particular
point of view (one's ethnic background almost always frames one's views on Serbia). Tapper also suggests that the Kosovar Albanians and the
Serbs lived peacefully side by side until the troubles began. The truth is tens of
thousands of Serbs left the region over the years because of their
treatment by the ethnic Albanians. This is also the main reason Serbs
are such a small minority.

If Bob Dole really wanted to aid the Kosovo Albanians back in 1990, I
wonder why he did not choose a more diplomatic approach, such as
garnishing support for the democratic movement in Belgrade who sought to
oust Milosevic. His choice only strengthened Milosevic's
resolve and support, and fueled the KLA's determination.

-- Signe Matson


I was impressed and moved by the recent story on Bob Dole's early awareness of the dangers pending from Milosevic's
regime. I was surprised, though, to read -- in this account of a decade-long
struggle to get someone, anyone to pay attention to the troubles in
Yugoslavia -- no reference to Dole's presidential campaign. Surely,
having caught at least one of the nation's collective ears (and the big
gray floppy one, at that), he might then have said a few words about the
plight of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, even at the expense of skipping a few
sweet nothings about cuts in the capital gains tax.

-- James M. Pfundstein

Campbell stirs the soup


Finally, one of our congressmen is taking a public stand against
the ruinously expensive ($5.9 billion) and essentially illegal war that
the Clinton administration and NATO have declared against Serbia. It
shouldn't be surprising that a president who doesn't consider fellatio
to be sexual contact wouldn't consider blasting apart another country's
military, civilian and industrial infrastructures to be an act of war.
It points to the fundamental dishonesty of our executive branch leaders
that they have circumvented the War Powers Act and used the
ghost of genocide and other heated, false rhetoric to justify continued
to devastate a small and backward country. Not to say the powers that
be in Serbia are good guys, just that we had no business intervening in a
civil war, and squandering billions of desperately needed dollars to do so.

-- Dave Turnbull

Your April 20 piece on Rep. Tom Campbell's opposition to U.S.
intervention in Kosovo noted the California Republican's alleged
moderation on some issues.

I perceive Campbell to be a hysterical extremist. When he
appeared on an ANA cable network call-in show last week, I phoned in and
asked him why President Clinton should listen to a word he had to say,
since Campbell had voted for impeachment.

Campbell replied stubbornly that he voted for impeachment because he
believed that President Clinton had lied under oath. Is that moderation?
How about a stubborn insistence to admit that one is wrong?

On that same show Campbell also called for an end to sanctions against
Iraq and falsely alleged that the Gaza Strip had the highest population
density of anywhere on earth. (In fact Gaza's density is less than that of
the District of Columbia and about one-eighth that of Manhattan.)

On matters of foreign policy and impeachment, one man's moderate is
another's opinionated crank. To me, Campbell will always be a fool and an
extremist no matter what he does on Kosovo, because Campbell voted for

-- Jonathan S. Mark

Alexandria, Va.

By Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------