FC: Replies to novelist John le Carre and "U.S. has gone mad!"

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Jan 21 2003 - 10:07:37 PST

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    [Some folks have said that the previous message was off-topic for Politech, 
    and in retrospect I agree. Discussion about the future of our freedoms is 
    of course on-topic, but le Carre's essay was focused on war, and there are 
    better fora to discuss that. Previous message: 
    http://www.politechbot.com/p-04331.html --Declan]
    From: someoneat_private
    To: "'declanat_private'" <declanat_private>
    Subject: RE: Novelist John le Carre: "The U.S. has gone mad!"
    Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 12:55:57 -0500
    Declan, I thought that the Politechnicals who might not agree with Mr. le
    Carre's assesment might enjoy this reply by James Lileks (a columnist in the
    Minneapolis Star Tribune). (it's long, so here's the link -
    If possible, please delete my name.  Thanks
    Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 10:30:11 -0800
    Subject: Re: FC: Novelist John le Carre: "The U.S. has gone mad!"
    From: Louis Rossetto <louisat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    I'm not sure why this is being disseminated to your list. It is wrong,
    and wrong headed. The US a junta? Give me a fucking break, this just
    after Bush sweeps to victory in the midterm elections after pretty
    full-throated debate on precisely whether Bush deserved a mandate to
    pursue his agenda. What's going on now is worse than the Bay of Pigs?
    Only if the attack on the Iraqi despot fails, and we get a few million
    Iraqi refugees fleeing to Miami -- or is John LeCarre arguing that
    Castro is a democrat and Cuba the people's paradise? Actually, LeCarre
    might actually be arguing that.
    I hope you're not suggesting that being for civil rights in cyberspace
    means you're also cravenly anti-American. Because people can be for
    civil rights in cyberspace, and still be for confronting islamic
    fascism. Indeed, I can't imagine human rights in any society in which
    islamic fascism triumphed.
    Maybe you should send out this one by Christopher Hitchens too, just
    for a little rational perspective.
     From The Stranger (Seattle):
    Otherwise, keep up the good work!
    From: "Thomas Lipscomb" <tomat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: RE: Novelist John le Carre: "The U.S. has gone mad!"
    Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 16:38:47 -0500
    As a publisher of espionage bestsellers as well as a journalist myself...
    there is some background one needs on writers like John Le Carre before
    getting too excited about his rather noisy London Times piece "The US has
    gone mad!"
    John Le Carre, AKA David Cornwell, became a writer after a short term of
    service as a low level member of the British Foreign Office more than 40
    years ago. He has about as much pertinent experience for understanding the
    current confrontation with Iraq as Barbra Streisand, although he sure spells
    a lot better.
    So far as anyone has been able to determine, he has had one truly innovative
    concept in his life as a writer. Le Carree ported the noiresque notion of
    the detective novels of Dashiel Hammett, Ross Macdonald and others that cops
    may have more in common with robbers than commonly understood over to the
    world of espionage fiction and moved its center of balance beyond the
    tiresome good guys vs the bad guys world of Ian Fleming and Eric Ambler.
    It was perfectly timed for a book reading audience suffering from Cold War
    battle fatigue. And Le Carre mined the vein of East-West "moral equivalence"
    with talent and imagination for all it was worth. Finally his foggy
    ambiguous point of view became as predictable as the trick ending of an O
    Henry short story and inspiration started to lag along with sales.
    Now there are two highly effective bilge detectors in pronouncements on
    politics AND opinions on the arts. Artists and writers who are underemployed
    seem driven to opine portentously about the dire state of politics and world
    affairs. And over the hill politicians seem to have no end of comments to
    make about the dire state of the arts and popular culture.
    If you simply IGNORE statements made by either kind of party about either
    subject.... you can't go too far wrong.
    The good news, it is so easy to recognize them.
    Thomas H. Lipscomb
    From: "Sarah Stang" <sarahstat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: Re: Novelist John le Carre: "The U.S. has gone mad!"
    Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 16:35:18 -0600
    This is so scary and John le Carre is so right.  The U.S. has gone mad.  We
    are giving up our freedoms and civil rights without a question.  It makes me
    sick at heart.
    If the President and Congress are so set on war in the Mideast, they should
    put themselves in the front lines.  Then we would see how fast they want to
    start the fireworks.
    Sarah Stang, 319 S. 11th St. Osage, IA 50461
    From: "Wendy Leibowitz" <wleibowitzat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: RE: Novelist John le Carre: "The U.S. has gone mad!"
    Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 11:20:08 -0500
    Dear Declan,
    If you're going to circulate anti-American screeds like the crap from John
    le Carre, please also circulate the (occasional) pro-American pieces, like
    the one below that also appeared in the Times. Please also note that every
    letter the Times published in response to le Carre's ill-informed diatribe
    opposed it. I will send you those letters--I think you have the obligation
    to circulate them, too. What this has to do with technology is beyond me.
    A Patriot for Peace,
    Wendy Leibowitz
    Hatred of America - the Socialism of Fools
    By Michael Gove
    The Times Online (UK) | January 14, 2003
    Tony Blair appears to have set himself his toughest task yet. Neither
    reforming public services nor maintaining economic stability compares
    in difficulty to the mission he took on yesterday. For a Labour
    politician to confront anti-Americanism is to set himself up in
    opposition to the dominant ideology of the contemporary Left.
    Knocking America off its superpower pedestal has long supplanted
    taking control of the commanding heights of the economy as the idea
    which holds the Left together. Forget Clause Four. That was a dead
    red letter. It's opposition to Uncle Sam which is the glue in the
    Left coalition, the brew which puts fire into bien-pensant bellies,
    the opium of radical intellectuals. And the crack in Osama bin
    Laden's pipe.
    Anti-Americanism provides the drumbeat for the protesters who march
    at every significant left-wing rally. Whether the protest is
    nominally against war, global capitalism or environmental
    degradation, the real enemy is Washington. Every significant Left
    intellectual, from Harold Pinter through Dario Fo to Gore Vidal and
    Noam Chomsky has made criticism of the American imperium his defining
    belief. But Yankee-phobia now extends far beyond the protest march
    and the academy.
    The German Social Democrats and Greens put opposition to US foreign
    policy at the heart of their, successful, re-election strategy last
    autumn. The Liberal Democrats here have made criticism of US policy
    towards Iraq the single biggest dividing line between themselves and
    the Blair Government.
    [...snip --DBM...]
    From: "Wendy Leibowitz" <wleibowitzat_private>
    To: "Declan@Well. Com" <declanat_private>
    Subject: responses to le Carre's diatribe
    Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 11:26:00 -0500
    Dear Declan,
    Here are letters to the Times of London published in response to John
    le Carre. I do hope you will circulate them, unless you've decided to
    circulate just anti-American pieces now. Thank you,
    Wendy Leibowitz
    January 17, 2003
    Le Carré's criticism of America's proposed action in Iraq
     >From Mr David Fisher
    Sir, While I agree with the sentiments expressed in John le Carré's
    column (Comment, "The United States of America has gone mad", January
    15), I don't know where he learnt that 88 per cent of Americans
    support this war. In fact, most polls show that little more than one
    third of Americans support this madness without UN support, and even
    with the UN involved only slightly more than half agree with the
    I also have not seen any poll that suggests half of all Americans
    believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World Trade
    Center, although with a cleverly worded question that result might be
    achieved. The Bush Administration has made many efforts to link
    Saddam with past terrorism and so far has failed, so it has
    concentrated its efforts on linking him to future terrorism.
    Unfortunately, in a fearful nation, that has resonated.
    I do not, however, support Mr le Carré's statements concerning
    Israel. Its use of overwhelming military force is a by-product of its
    existence under siege for more than half a century. I continue to
    believe that the day the Palestinians decide there will be peace,
    there will be peace.
    357 West 19th Street, New York 10011.
    January 15.
     >From Mr Ed Feuer
    Sir, John le Carré's criticisms of Israel in his rant against America
    are unjust.
    Precisely which United Nations resolutions has Israel disregarded?
    The only ones that count are Security Council resolutions that are
    The core of the Arab-Israeli conflict remains the refusal by the Arab
    side to accept Israel's existence. And that, I believe, is because
    Arab political and religious leaders fear genuine peace with Israel.
    A Jewish state in the area just isn't part of the Muslim
    fundamentalists' triumphalist script. The Jews, who were treated as
    second or third-class citizens in the Arab world, can't now be
    regarded as equals with a state of their own. Remember, too, that
    Israel is a Western society with much of the cultural decadence
    fundamentalists love to hate. And peace would remove the scapegoat.
    People would start thinking about the deficiencies and corruption of
    their regimes. Arab reformers might be encouraged to call for copying
    the Israeli example.
    Yours faithfully,
    30 Brooks Cove,
    Winnipeg MB, Canada R2V 4M9.
    January 15.
     >From Mr Alexander C. Ives
    Sir, I may admire John le Carré's passion and agree with the heart of
    his criticism, but his depiction of America is wrong.
    " . . . as our Governments spin, lie and lose their credibility, the
    electorate simply shrugs and looks the other way," he writes. The
    former may be quite true of the United States, but the latter I know
    to be false. Plenty of friends, colleagues and fellow Americans have
    expressed their aversion to the war. It was a constant topic of
    conversation over the recent holidays.
    A January 3-5 Gallup poll showed 42 per cent of the American public
    felt Iraq was not worth going to war over, while a further 76 per
    cent of the American public were somewhat or very worried about the
    current situation. Those are tight, thin, divisive margins that show
    a questioning, skeptical public, not a strong, supportive majority,
    and they could change very quickly.
    Do not assume because of our President's policies that the
    whole "United States of America has gone mad".
    Yours faithfully,
    237 Jamaica Lane,
    Palm Beach, Florida 33480-3321.
    January 15.
     >From Mr Don Frost
    Sir, Since John le Carré feels free to lash out at the nation that
    has provided him a very good living for many years, do you think
    he'll offer us Americans a refund?
    I wouldn't want his conscience weighed down by blood money.
    Yours faithfully,
    38158 Lincolndale,
    Sterling Heights, Michigan 48310.
    January 15.
     >From Ms Carole Newton
    Sir, Since when is John le Carré or any other celebrity an expert in
    the field of foreign policy? It is amazing to me that a newspaper
    such as yours should give any credence at all to these people. They
    are entertainers, for heaven's sakes, not statesmen or government
    Newspapers who allow these celebrity tirades on their pages lower
    their credibility.
    Yours faithfully,
    5310 Keller Springs, Dallas, Texas 75248.
    January 16.
     >From Mr Henry MacLean
    Sir, If I wish to read an anti-capitalist, anti-American left-wing
    polemic I will buy The Guardian.
    If you wish to feature the work of Mr le Carré in future, then I
    suggest that you restrict yourself to his fictional output.
    Yours faithfully,
    Dunglass View,
    Strathblane, Stirlingshire G63 9BQ.
    January 15.
     >From Mr Mladen Andrijasevic
    Sir, What utter nonsense coming from the best spy novelist of all
    George Smiley must be turning in his grave. So probably is Karla.
    Meir Grossman 19/10,
    Be'er Sheva, Israel.
    January 15.
    Wendy R. Leibowitz
    Digital Discovery & Electronic Evidence
    Pike & Fischer
    1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1400
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
    Telephone: 301-562-1530, ext. 234
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