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Letters to the editor

August 20, 2004 | Page 12

Spreading the Iraqi resistance
Why did Nader disappear?
Palestinians' fight for justice
The poverty that statistics ignore

The horror of a rotten system

Dear Socialist Worker,
On August 6, I flipped on the evening news to hear of another tragedy of the "desperate for a job" economy that Lee Sustar wrote about in last issue of SW ("Desperate for a job," August 6). Komo 4 News of the Northwest was telling the "story of corporate downsizing, unemployment, health care coverage for the few, and mental illness."

"Carol blames the system," commented the reporter. Carol Hetherwick, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, talked in the interview of how she had made many phone calls, but couldn't receive any help for Brennan--her 5-year-old grandson with bipolar disorder, whom she and her husband Bryan had adopted.

Bryan also suffered from mental illness and depression, which worsened after he lost his insurance job and was without health insurance. Looking for work, they moved to Monroe, Wash. On August 5, Bryan shot the boy, and then himself, in front of the police station.

Carol had a note from Bryan filled with hopelessness and worry about her and the boy's future. As I turned the channel, there was news that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent, which wasn't "significant."

I feel that Socialist Worker really does give us the truth about the system. I don't feel that the mainstream media is asking the questions it needs to about the lack of jobs.
Brooke Weney, Seattle

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Spreading the Iraqi resistance

Dear Socialist Worker,
From Bush yapping about "Mission Accomplished" to recognition that Iraq is Mission Impossible is a huge jump in a short time, but facts on the ground are stubborn things. The resistance won and holds Falluja. Al-Sadrs' Madhi Army is still patrolling on the streets of Najaf, and holds the huge Shia section of Baghdad by armed force against the occupation.

This is the face of the U.S. military defeat that some in command are whispering about, but the top generals and the politicians around Bush refuse to admit. Generals always are obsessed with fighting the last war. After Vietnam, they thought danger to U.S. imperial dominance came from peasant-based insurgencies led by nationalist intellectuals. Wrong.

Today the world is dominated by huge cities, concentrating the working classes of various nations and shifting the balance of power to them. It's no accident that the Iraqi resistance is centered in the big cities.

As Iraq veteran Mike Hoffman points out, there's nothing command can do now but launch suicidal patrols to try to impress the U.S. media with "shows of force," and send the bodies back to Dover. "The future of warfare," the journal of the Army War College declared years ago, "lies in the streets, sewers, high-rise buildings, and sprawl of houses that form the broken cities of the world."

To help develop a geopolitical framework for urban war-fighting, military planners turned in the 1990s to the Rand Corporation. "Insurgents are following their followers into the cities," Rand warns, "setting up 'liberated zones' in urban shantytowns. Neither U.S. doctrine, nor training, nor equipment is designed for urban counterinsurgency."

As a result, the cities have become the weakest link in the American empire. The Generals paid no attention. "Rapid urbanization in developing countries," wrote Captain Troy Thomas in the Aerospace Power Journal spring 2002 issue, "results in a battlespace environment that is decreasingly knowable since it is increasingly unplanned."

There is no Mission Accomplished. Operation Iraqi Freedom is Operation Iraqi Disaster. Every dead or maimed soldier is nothing but another casualty in the hell of an un-winnable war, sacrificed to cover the ass of politicians at home who are terrified that admitting defeat means losing their power and prestige.

That's not a reason to keep fighting. That's a reason to start organizing against this war in the one place that can stop it cold: the U.S. armed forces in Iraq.
Thomas Barton, New York City

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Why did Nader disappear?

Dear Socialist Worker,
It's true that many people want an alternative to both Bush and Kerry, but where has Ralph Nader been since 2000, and where is he now politically? I voted for Nader in 2000--and was proud of my vote for the first time since I was 18. I am still proud of that vote.

But Nader disappeared between that campaign and this one, squandering all the energy, hope and momentum of the movement that backed him in 2000--a movement that he and others could have built for the real alternative we all want.

Instead, he remained silent during the horrific past four years, and when he finally did start talking, he was avowedly trying to appeal to disgruntled conservatives, the Reform Party, and the Democrats--not us.

I don't know what Nader's motivation is, and I don't care. All I know is that I can't vote for Bush or Kerry, and I won't vote for "a vaguer Nader" in 2004.

Will the International Socialist Organization now promote an electoralism only of the unelectable, organizing every four years to back the least of three evils? I hope and believe not.
Julia Daugherty, Iowa City, Iowa

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Palestinians' fight for justice

Dear Socialist Worker,
I would like to thank Toufic Haddad for his report on the hunger strike against the wall in the West Bank ("The world must not tolerate apartheid," July 23). I think it is so important to know what activists are doing there. It is up to the Palestinians to decide what is next for their movement, but I would like to debate the effectiveness of hunger strikes.

I agree that it is crucial for Palestinians to come together to discuss how to build an independent, grassroots movement, however deliberately weakening the bodies, even in protest, of the very people that can lead that movement is a waste. Palestinians can not fight against the U.S.-funded Israeli occupation alone. They are under extreme military repression and poverty and have no social power in Israeli society.

That is why the Palestinians need the support of the Arab working class and other Arab activists in the Middle East. Within the Arab world there is discontent with the brutal dual occupations of Iraq and Palestine, the oppressive regimes of their own rulers and their complicity with the U.S. and Israel.

For example, Al-Jazeera reported that Egypt is supplying the cement used in building the apartheid wall. A few months ago, riots broke out in Lebanon against rising fuel prices brought about because of the implementation of neoliberal policies. The potential for mass struggle is there.

I think it is important to create links between Palestinian activists and other Arab activists as a way to create new organizations in Palestine and the Middle East to fight for real justice.
Stephanie Smith, From the Internet

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The poverty that statistics ignore

Dear Socialist Worker,
A recent study by Rhode Island College shows that a typical family of four needs a combined income of $50,000 a year to survive in Rhode Island. This is a troubling figure, but far more troubling is the fact that 47 percent of families fall short of this mark.

That means that hundreds of thousands of people across the state live in a position of permanent financial instability as they struggle to keep up with the most basic expenses. This was a local study, but Rhode Island is certainly not unique.

If anything, this report is overly optimistic, since it is based upon some obviously flawed figures. For instance, it allots just $768 for housing a month, which is well below what a family would have to pay in rent in almost any Rhode Island city.

Also, the study's use of a family of four as "standard" is clearly a myth. While it admits that families dependent upon a single income have an even harder time making ends meet, the study leaves out families larger than four.

These mistakes and omissions mean that if the study had been more detailed, it would have found that even more than 47 percent of the state's families do not make enough to keep up. In comparison, the 2003 poverty threshold according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was not the $50,000 found by Rhode Island College, but instead an absurd $18,400 for a family of four.

This figure is completely out of touch with reality. It should be no surprise, though, that our government is clueless about the needs of working families. Bush and Kerry may disagree narrowly about which way the economy is headed, but neither see anything wrong with touting economic "plans" that just mean increased tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Rarely does information about the real state of the economy make it into the mainstream press. This is why SW's weekly coverage of otherwise unreported labor struggles and economic matters is indispensable for anyone fighting for a just society.
Alden Eagle, Providence, R.I.

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