Thanks to Alisa Solomon for “War Resisters Go North” [Jan. 3], on Jeremy Hinzman’s application for refugee status in Canada. I am a Vietnam War resister at the War Resisters Support Campaign. Our goal is to convince the Canadian government to offer sanctuary to war resisters, as it did during the Vietnam War, when perhaps 60,000 of us came north. We believe that forcing war resisters to go through a drawn-out refugee process is inappropriate. US war resisters, after all, are conducting themselves exactly as Canada did in refusing to join the illegal Iraq War.

We are urging Canadians and Americans to help us pressure the Martin government to follow the example set by the Trudeau government, when war resisters were treated like other immigrants, not forced to submit refugee claims (www.resisters.ca).



Bearsville, NY

Your January 3 lead editorial, “Prosecuting US Torture” (in Iraq) states, “the chain of evidence ends just a whisper away from Donald Rumsfeld.” A recently declassified memo signed by the Defense Secretary removes even the whisper. It shouts direct complicity, if not criminal culpability. In December 2002 Rumsfeld approved the request by Defense Department officials to permit all Category II interrogation techniques, which included forced nudity and the use of dogs, as well as deprivation of light and sound stimulation, isolation for thirty days, the use of head hoods, removal of religious items, forced hair shaving and twenty-hour interrogation sessions. Granted, this approval was for use on prisoners at Guantánamo, but as the guards migrated to Iraq, so did the techniques. A brief glance at the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs reveals nothing that did not have Rumsfeld’s prior approval; except, of course, the photos themselves.



Lincoln, Neb.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for Katha Pollitt’s “Subject to Debate” column about the Iraqi boy maimed by US cluster bombs, brought to the States for treatment and turned into a “feel good story” [Jan. 24]. Articles criticizing this war and the lies that have turned us into the good guys in this invasion/occupation are the exception rather than the rule. Every time the news reports two, four, ten Marines killed in Iraq, I think, “Why?” George W. Bush lied about every one of his reasons to send American troops to Iraq, and the country smiled stupidly and accepted it, even after the lies were shown to us. Just keep those magnetic ribbons on the SUVs. Bush should be facing impeachment rather than another four years.



Vienna, Va.

In “Kissinger’s Shadow Over the Council on Foreign Relations” [Dec. 27] Scott Sherman writes about a dispute among Kenneth Maxwell, the Council on Foreign Relations and the journal Foreign Affairs. Sherman includes the following quotation from an essay by Maxwell, who asserts: “Kissinger had sought to interfere before in Foreign Affairs during the editorship of his [James Hoge’s] predecessor William (“Bill”) Hyland. He [Hoge] said that he did not think that the breach that resulted between Kissinger and Hyland, who were old friends, had ‘ever been fully repaired.'”

This is dead wrong. First, Henry Kissinger never ever interfered with my editing of Foreign Affairs (1984-92). Second, there was never any “breach” between me and Henry Kissinger. We have remained good friends for over thirty years. We are still good friends.



Brooklyn, NY

William Hyland’s quarrel is not with Kenneth Maxwell or The Nation but with his successor at Foreign Affairs, James Hoge. It was Hoge, and not Maxwell, who expressed dismay about Kissinger’s interference at FA during Hyland’s editorship. Maxwell simply reproduced Hoge’s remark, which was uttered at a private meeting between the two men on January 30, 2004. Indeed, Hoge himself has not budged from his assertion: More than a month after the publication of Maxwell’s meticulously documented, 13,000-word paper, Hoge has yet to contest or deny a single fact in it, including the passage about Kissinger quoted in Hyland’s letter.

Scott Sherman


Dover, NH

Patricia Williams’s evocation of E.B. White’s ode to his dog Fred [“Diary of a Mad Law Professor,” Dec. 27] comes, as Williams would tell you, from a 1956 New Yorker essay called “Bedfellows.” I’ve thought of that essay often this past year, in anguish. It begins, “I am lying here in my private sick bay…watching starlings from the vantage point of bed. Three Democrats are in bed with me: Harry Truman (in a stale copy of the Times), Adlai Stevenson (in Harper’s), and Dean Acheson (in a book called A Democrat Looks at His Party).” White goes on to talk about Eisenhower and Kennedy as well.

About Eisenhower he writes, “The matter of ‘faith’ has been in the papers again lately. President Eisenhower…has come out for prayer and has emphasized that most Americans are motivated (as they surely are) by religious faith. The Herald Tribune headed the story, ‘president says prayer is part of democracy.’ The implication in such a pronouncement, emanating from the seat of government, is that religious faith is a condition, or even a precondition, of democratic life. This is just wrong. A President should pray whenever and wherever he feels like it…but I don’t think a President should advertise prayer. That is a different thing. Democracy, if I understand it at all, is a society in which the unbeliever feels undisturbed and at home. If there were only a half a dozen unbelievers in America, their well-being would be a test of our democracy, their tranquility would be its proof…. I hope that Belief never is made to appear mandatory…. I distrust the slightest hint of a standard for political rectitude, knowing that it will open the way for persons in authority to set arbitrary standards of human behavior…. My wife, a spiritual but not a prayerful woman, read Mr. Eisenhower’s call to prayer in the Tribune and said something I shall never forget. ‘Maybe it’s all right,’ she said. ‘But for the first time in my life I’m beginning to feel like an outsider in my own land.'”

Of Acheson, White writes, “I believe, with the author, that security declines as security machinery expands. The machinery calls for a secret police. At first, this device is used solely to protect us from unsuitable servants in sensitive positions. Then it broadens rapidly and permeates nonsensitive areas, and finally, business and industry…. A secret-police system first unsettles, then desiccates, then calcifies a free society.”

Patricia Williams was astute to bring White’s essay to our attention again.



New York City

What a wonderful letter. This is why I love The Nation and its readers–to say nothing of why I love the form of the essay, whether Emerson or E.B. White or Elie Wiesel. White is certainly the single most influential writer on my own thinking, particularly the pieces he did during the McCarthy era and, not coincidentally, during my formative New Yorker-reading years.



Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Thank you for Miles Schuman’s “Fulluja’s Health Damage” [Dec. 13]. I used it for a critical writing assignment in the advanced writing class I teach here in the United Arab Emirates–both because I wanted to give my Arab students a chance to analyze an effective argument on a topic that concerns them and because I was interested in their responses. As I guessed, they weren’t surprised by the information in the piece, but they were very surprised that a US magazine would run such an article, since they get their impression of the US newsmedia from the American network news on TV satellite.

Most of them felt that the most convincing evidence was listing the names of some of the victims. They also admired the rhetorical strategy of saving the declaration that the attacks constitute war crimes for the conclusion, because stating it in the thesis might make it seem like too absolute a claim. However, some of the students felt the piece would have been even more effective if Schuman had presented and then refuted the counterarguments.

I’ll leave you with a student’s quote, which suggests as much about America’s image as it does about the article. “Even though Miles Schuman is an American, he did a good job in creating an effective essay.”



We read with interest “Falluja’s Health Damage,” by Miles Schuman, which quotes UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. On November 16 Mrs. Arbour expressed deep concern about the plight of civilians in Falluja and asked that violations of the rules be investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice. She did not “vow” to do this herself, as Schuman states, as that is not the mandate of our Office.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights



I thank Judith Caesar and her students for their comments. To José Luis Díaz: According to James Ross of Human Rights Watch, the High Commissioner does not herself initiate formal investigations. However, she may request to go to a country to assess a human rights situation or order others to go on her behalf. Mary Robinson, the former high commissioner, did exactly this in Kosovo, meeting with officials and gathering information about the situation there.

According to a 1999 UN High Commission for Human Rights press release, “Ms Robinson said she was outraged by reports of a vicious and systemic campaign conducted by Serbian military forces in Kosovo…. The High Commissioner requested the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the former Yugoslavia to travel to the region to make a first-hand assessment of the situation. She asked the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in Rwanda to accompany him as her personal representative.” At the behest of Kofi Annan, Robinson launched an investigation of Indonesian human rights abuses in East Timor. So, the commissioner does have the mandate to investigate human rights abuses if asked by the UN Secretary General. If not asked, she may still request a visit to a country to make a firsthand assessment and go there herself or be represented by others without prior UN approval.



Chelmsford, Mass.

A sentence by Michael Ybarra in your January 24 Letters column rang a bell: “The Communist Party was a unique challenge precisely because it was not primarily a political entity but rather simultaneously a political entity and a conspiracy.” To what extent would the statement be true if “Republican Party” were substituted for “Communist Party”? I forbear to cite the many instances of public deception, covert totalitarian practice and secret manipulation that seem to prove the case.


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