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"Conversations with Terrorists"

By jimstaro - Posted on 23 October 2010

Conversations with Terrorists: Reese Erlich: All violence against the U.S. is being defined as "terrorism" To watch a multi-part episode, click here



"Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire"


Review: "Erlich (coauthor of "Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You") questions how the U.S. has dealt with terrorist threats since 2001, suggesting that by 'labeling all opponents as terrorists,' the government has 'from a practical perspective... rendered the term ˜terrorism' meaningless.' read rest here

Reese Erlich evidently uses the traditional definition of "terrorism", "the use of violence or or murder against civilians for a political purpose", and he's right about the leadership of the U.S. using or treating this in double-standard terms, hypocritically.

Some errrors on the part of Reese Erlich:

Regarding Hamas supporting attacks on Israeli civilians on the basis that all Israeli Jews have to serve in the Israeli military and therefore aren't really civilians, I don't think that either Erlich or Hamas are wholly right. Hamas should or needs to take into account that Israeli Jews are required by law, conscription, to serve in the Israeli military, rather than it being a choice. BUT Erlich disregards the fact that the majority of Israeli Jews support the horrific genocide of the Palestinians through repeated crimes of supreme international kind against the Palestinians who are definitely innocent and who practically have no means of defense at all. This majority Israeli Jewish support for these crimes renders Erlich's argument highly incomplete and very wrong. These Israeli Jews are literally [complicit] in these horrific crimes of apocalyptic scale against the Palestinians in Palestine, and any Palestinians who'd return to Palestine or would like to do so!

So Hamas definitely is more arguably right than Erlich is. But Erlich is also wrong for another reason and it's that it's not really counterproductive, politically or otherwise, for Palestinians to occasionally commit what truly are very, very small attacks on Israeli areas, for whenever Palestinians do this, it's always in retalation to Israel's attacks or strikes of genocidal aggression. Israel has also committed such attacks while falsely claiming that it was done because Palestinians fired first, but it's false, more Israeli leadership lies. All Palestinian attacks committed in Israel are retaliation; never acts of aggression.

Whether or not Palestinians completely stopped their very small attacks in or on some Israeli areas, injuring few and killing extremely few Israelis, Israel has a proven track record illustrating that Israel will continue its extremely genocidal crimes against Palestinians anyway. In the past, I have said a number of times that Palestinians' attacks in or on Israel are counterproductive, but to really get to the truth of the matter, stopping them will not stop Israel and its unrelenting genocidal crimes.

And it's very possible that some attacks on Israel that are blamed on Hamas or other Palestinian resistance groups or fighters are actually and covertly committed by Israel. That could be done by either some Israelis within what remains of Palestinian territory, or some treachorous Palestinians covertly/secretly working with Israel for such attacks that Israel then always blames on real Palestinian resistance groups. It's usually or else always blamed Hamas, for some years now anyway. And given the extremely corrupt and treachorous nature of the PA, I would not consider some of them as being incapable of secretly working with Israel to commit attacks on Israeli areas.

Israel is going to continue its crimes either way. And Israel does have some history of committing false flag attacks that Israel would then try to blame on Israel's so-called enemies. What would Reese Erlich say in response to all of this?

I also find it odd that we can very barely make out a "yes" coming from Erlich when Paul Jay speaks of the case of Omar Khadr, while everything else that Erlich says is stated very clearly. The "yes" is barely audible and I had to replay this part of the interview three times to check if I really heard someone say "yes" or anything else while Paul Jay was correctly speaking of Omar Khadr case.

Maybe Erlich stated that very barely audible "yes" only because of not wanting to interrupt Paul Jay, but that would not be a good choice, for the agreement should be clear to listeners. And it's possible that it was nearly a silent "yes" because it's something that Erlich was very hesitant about saying; in public anyway. The latter reason definitely is not unlikely.

Prior to listening to this interview with him on TRNN I did a Web search to try to find out a little about him and while some articles favorably refer to him or his writings, the following very good and [educational] article reveals another example in which he committed some erroneous analysis and/or provided erroneously-based support. The error is quite gross.

"Obama’s Rollback Strategy
Honduras, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan (and the Boomerang Effect)"

by Prof. James Petras, July 10th, 2010

I'll use a little bold typefacing to emphasis a couple of things and to highlight where Reese Erlich is specifically mentioned. Other text that is in bold type, as well as italicized, is as it appears in the above article.

The recent events in Honduras and Iran, which pit democratically elected regimes against pro-US military and civilian actors intent on overthrowing them can best be understood as part of a larger White House strategy designed to rollback the gains achieved by opposition government and movements during the Bush years.

In a manner reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s New Cold War policies, Obama has vastly increased the military budget, increased the number of combat troops, targeted new regions for military intervention and backed military coups in regions traditionally controlled by the US. However Obama’s rollback strategy occurs in a very different international and domestic context. (snip)


Obama’s pursuit of the rollback strategy operates a multi-track policy of overt military intervention, covert ‘civil society’0 operations and soft-sell, seemingly benign diplomatic rhetoric, which relies heavily on mass media propaganda. Major ongoing events illustrate the rollback policies in action.

In Afghanistan, .... (snip)

In Pakistan, .... (snip)

In Iraq, .... (snip)

The covert and not-so-invisible operation in Iran found expression in a failed electoral challenge followed by ‘mass street demonstrations’ centered on the claim that the electoral victory of the incumbent anti-imperialist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a result of ‘electoral fraud’. Western mass media played a major role during the electoral campaign exclusively (my emphasis) providing favorable coverage of the opposition and negative accounts of the incumbent regime. The mass media blanketed the ‘news’ with pro-demonstrator propaganda, selectively presenting coverage to de-legitimize the elections and elected officials, echoing the charges of ‘fraud’. The propaganda success of the US-orchestrated destabilization campaign even found an echo among broad sections of what passes for the US ‘left’ who ignored the massive, coordinated US financing of key Iranian groups and politicos engaged in the street protests. Neo-conservative, liberal and itinerant leftist ‘free-lance journalists’, like Reese Erlich, defended the destabilization effort from their own particular vantage point as ‘a popular democratic movement against electoral fraud.’

The right/left cheerleaders of US destabilization projects fail to address several key explanatory factors:

1. None, for example, discuss the fact that several weeks before the election a rigorous survey conducted by two US pollsters revealed an electoral outcome very near to the actual voting result, including in the ethnic provinces where the opposition claimed fraud.

2. None of the critics discussed the $400 million dollars allocated by the Bush Administration to finance regime change, domestic destabilization and cross border terror operations. Many of the students and ‘civil society’ NGO’s in the demonstrations received funding from overseas foundations and NGO’s – which in turn were funded by the US government.

3. The charge of electoral fraud was cooked up after the results of the vote count were announced. In the entire run-up to the election, especially when the opposition believed they would win the elections – neither the student protesters nor the Western mass media nor the freelance journalists claimed impending fraud. During the entire day of voting, with opposition party observers at each polling place, no claims of voter intimidation or fraud were noted by the media, international observers or left backers of the opposition. Opposition party observers were present to monitor the entire vote count and yet, with only rare exception, no claims of vote rigging were made at the time. In fact, with the exception of one dubious claim by free-lance journalist Reese Erlich, none of the world’s media claimed ballot box stuffing. And even Erlich’s claims were admittedly based on unsubstantiated ‘anecdotal accounts’ from anonymous sources among his contacts in the opposition.

4. During the first week of protests in Tehran, the US, EU and Israeli leaders did not question the validity of the election outcome. Instead, they condemned the regime’s repression of the protestors. Clearly their well-informed embassies and intelligence operative provided a more accurate and systematic assessment of the Iranian voter preferences than the propaganda spun by the Western mass media and the useful idiots among the Anglo-American left.


This article by Professor James Petras clearly illustrates that Reese Erlich is among many people to not rely on for analyses on certainly some critically important world events and issues. Finding out which topics he's very accurate and thorough about, and those he's incomplete and grossly mistaken about, is important, for he clearly is not reliable on some critical topics. For myself, I would not rely on him at all. He's made a few, but still too many gross mistakes, imo.

Americans can also ask ourselves why most Iranians would want to welcome in U.S. influence? None would, if they knew what it means when people do this; and most Iranians surely know what it means. Some would, as some people wanting to profit always do welcome U.S. influence, but most surely would not and it's [never] in the best interests of populations. It's the last thing informed populations would want.


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