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"THE IRAN WAR BUILDUP"

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Letters submitted by our readers are read and published in the magazine.

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Who wants pot to be illegal?… BDS: every little bit helps… on the beach… son of Deadline Poet…

Sunni-Shiite class struggle… grabbing the populist moment… dissent as illness… the Snowden letters…

Arlington, Va.

It is possible, even likely, that the United States is preparing military scenarios for invading Iran, but Michael Klare presents too little evidence in "The Iran War Buildup." Except for citing Seymour Hersh on the use of unmanned spy planes over Iran and quoting defense analyst William Arkin on the use of such data ("I would be greatly surprised if they're not doing this"), Klare falls back on an old trick to convince readers he's made a case: "Rumsfeld is no doubt considering a variety of options"; "It is these considerations, no doubt, that are preoccupying US military planners"; "As this information becomes available, it is no doubt being fed into various 'strategic concepts.' " Klare needs to find people in the armed forces willing to give him facts to establish the parallel between the Iraq and Iran buildups. Repeating "no doubt" won't do if he to wants play Seymour Hersh.

GEORGE SALAMON


"THE STAKES IN ROBERTS'S NOMINATION"

Denver

Bruce Shapiro's article is the first sensible one I've read in regard to Bush's recent Supreme Court nominee. Most analysts have been saying this was a "home run," since Roberts's record is so short there is nothing to analyze. Shapiro hits the nail on the head, as there is much to glean from Roberts's record. I was intrigued to find out that he had an interview with the President for the position one day before his ignoble decision in the Salim Ahmed Hamdan case. One would think that his judgment must have been colored by the knowledge of his upcoming meeting with the President. The conflict of interest in this case, because of what he had to gain by siding with the President's view, is tremendous. As Alberto Gonzales's legal advice is the advice of a war criminal, Roberts's recent decision is of similar ilk.

MARK CARBERRY


"WAL-MART NATION"

Rapid City, SD

My husband has worked at Wal-Mart as a greeter on the graveyard shift for the last three years. Though he's 55 years old, he's never earned $8.50 per hour before. So he stays at Wal-Mart, even though he feels that the managers (and there are many) treat him like a boy, raising their voices at him and ignoring his feelings. He is the only African-American greeter. We have complained, written letters and had others write letters addressing this problem--to no avail. When he greets the managers they ignore him, and when he is ordered to do something they don't address him by name or even acknowledge him first. For example, today one of the managers came in and proceeded to bark orders at him. One of the customers responded by telling her, "Don't talk to him like that." We have gone to a civil rights group, and they advised that he get a group together to file a formal complaint. He will not let them do mediation, as he doesn't want to lose his job by revealing his identity. So he complains, writes letters and just spins his wheels.

DELORES ALLEN


"GENERATION NEXT"

Homdel, NJ

Sam Graham-Felsen, after gauging student reaction to Campus Progress's keynote speaker, President Bill Clinton, decided that it should have been called the Campus Centrists convention. The issue of renaming is interesting because four years ago, this would have been a Campus Liberals Convention. Unfortunately, the term liberal has been maligned and vilified. Similar defeats in the battle over public perception have led to the excessive debate surrounding framing and how we progressives, or whatever we are, present our agenda. Graham-Felsen shouldn't be surprised that, after hours of lectures on shrewd politicking, and a speech from the Democratic Party's shrewdest politician, my peers and I could say nothing stronger than, "I thought President Clinton gave a good speech, even if I don't agree with him on everything." Clinton was not chosen for his politics, but to attract student interest. The Center for American Progress was very conscious of the divide between student activists and the centrist Democrats, and questions for Clinton were screened. They opted to have students ask generic questions about political documentaries and blogs, instead of allowing someone to ask, for example, "How does it make you feel to lecture young progressives a decade after you sold out the left?" The radicals were there, however, in stronger numbers than one might expect, and from the Ivies and Jesuit schools and from the South.

But in this age of carefully chosen words and ridicule for liberalism, only after several nights of living together could several students admit their anarchist, socialist and Green tendencies. Even then, they did so in confidence and with the same quiet reluctance with which another student admitted his bisexuality. The all-business and hurried atmosphere of the conference did not lend itself to frank discussion. On the other hand, in the dorms where some students were housed, late-night discussion ranged from environmentalism to universal welfare policy. Students guiltily confessed to reading and agreeing with Chomsky, and were surprised and relieved to see their sentiments were echoed. The conference was only a day long, and not many students had the opportunity to open up and discuss politics so candidly. The real problem is the nature of political discourse today, both among strategy-obsessed progressives and within society at large. Campus Progress is on the right path, though. This event, and more like it in the future, will help develop a respected and legitimate progressive community. Students will more easily find the familiarity and conviction that enables them to openly discuss the broader spectrum of their political beliefs and hopefully carry this dialogue into mainstream America.

NIRAL SHAH


"CHINESE SHARK ATTACK!"

Frisco, Tex.

Doug Henwood is indeed correct in comparing the economic hysteria surrounding Chinese investment in the United States to the same hysteria that existed in the 1980s surrounding Japanese investment. It is also correct to suggest that some of this hysteria is racist, or at least misguidedly nationalist, in nature. I also feel, however, that Henwood is harboring a pro-PRC outlook that is just as skewed--and is perhaps even more dangerous. Henwood writes: "Instead of talking about a rational energy policy, we obsess about a nonexistent threat to our national security." Henwood seems to think that China does not offer a substantial threat to US national security. I'd like to point out a few salient facts that he omitted:

1. China has long had the capability to deliver nuclear weapons as far as North America. However, until the guidance system technology transfer that occurred in the late 1990s (sanctioned by President Clinton), there was not much risk that Chinese ICBMs would actually hit what they aimed at. This is no longer true. China's ICBM threat is now every bit as dangerous as our own threat is to China.

2. China has long had the military advantage of being able to "throw bodies" at military problems. Recently, however, it has added dramatically to its military technology and weaponry, giving it a double-threat. China is fast becoming one of the strongest military nations in the world, possibly second only to the United States.

3. China is a dictatorship that answers ultimately to no one. At present this dictatorship finds it convenient to engage the United States economically and act as a regional peacemaker. This dictatorship also, however, had no compunction about slaughtering thousands of students in 1989 when they threatened its rule. This dictatorship does not allow a free press, considers speaking against the state a capital offense and strictly regulates the free exchange of content on the Internet. I hardly think that distrusting the peaceable intentions of these dictators is unreasonable.

4. China is composed of approximately 200 million middle- to upper-class people, and nearly 1 billion peasants who live in abject poverty. More alarmingly, the divide between the haves and have-nots is growing wider--and is in fact accelerating with China's economic growth. This is an unsustainable situation.

Though I have lived in China for months and love Chinese culture, I must admit that the current Chinese government is a very real threat. Henwood is, in my view, burying his head in the sand if he trusts them.

DARRELL BURGAN

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