November/December 2004

The Good Soldiers

Thank you for publishing “Breaking Ranks.” I read it and wept. Bravo to Hoffman, Hughey, Rising-Moore, Sanders, House, Massey, and to all the unnamed others who have found the courage to be good soldiers and refuse to obey immoral orders. They’re not alone. In my home country, Israel, we call them refuseniks.

BATHSHEBA RATZKOFF
Northampton, Massachusetts


As a father whose only child was dispatched to Iraq at the war’s start, I suggest the parents of that boy in Canada give their child lots of support. They’d find it much easier than to suffer the alternative: listening to the radio every night at 3 a.m. to hear the latest casualty count, and again at 7 a.m. when the units are announced, and always waiting to make sure no one comes walking up the driveway.

RUSSELL STABLER
Palo Alto, California


I am the activist that Brandon Hughey contacted about living in Canada as an alternative to going to war against the Iraqi people. There are viable options for our troops: Of the 38 individuals from every service who have contacted me, only 2 have found it necessary to go to Canada. With proper counseling, most have been able to obtain honorable discharges. With enough preparation and documentation, it is possible to take a stand by saying, “I refuse to deploy under the rights guaranteed me by the Nuremberg Tribunal, the U.N. Charter, and the American Constitution.”

CARL RISING-MOORE
Fishers, Indiana


Here in Canada we know that some of our American neighbors are starting to cross the border to look for our help. And help we will. One large problem though: Our government under Prime Minister Paul Martin is intent on currying favor with the Bush government, and immense pressure will be brought to bear to keep Americans from finding solace in Canada.

KYLE KERR
Surrey, British Columbia


I am an Army reservist with four years of duty left, and the possibility of going to Iraq is never far from my mind. Thank you, Michael Hoffman, for speaking out. Thank you to every military person and every civilian who supports Iraq Veterans Against the War. I can only hope this resistance gains momentum.

ROXANNE KORPAL
Chicago, Illinois


Unfortunately, these young men don’t have a chance of getting the government to admit it gave unlawful orders. Bush hasn’t even fired anyone yet. As a veteran of the Missouri Air Guard, my advice for these soldiers is always hold your head up, resist by any means necessary, and don’t hide from the United

States. Sit down on the ground and don’t move if that’s what it comes down to. There is honor in that.

PATRICK LANE
Saint Louis, Missouri


Critical Breakdown

I’m a long-standing MoJo reader, which means I already knew that the mainstream press was in big trouble. As eloquent and thorough as it was, Todd Gitlin’s analysis of the current situation (“The Great Media Breakdown”) was old news to me. I was hoping for an edgier or more usable answer to the question you posed on your cover: Why did the press fall for Bush’s line? Public apathy and press stenography aren’t answers to that question; they’re just symptoms. I’d like experts such as Gitlin to venture more specific advice to help our press out of this slough and onto firmer ground.

E. SHELLEY REID
Clifton, Virginia


Ninety-five percent of the American public gets its news from TV, yet most of Gitlin’s commentary was directed at the Times and the Washington Post. These papers, for all their many faults, at least provide a considerable amount of news. While Gitlin does give Tim Russert some gentle criticism, he ignores the other TV and radio personalities who dominate what passes for news in most homes.

KEITH ROBERTS
New York, New York


I believe the failure of Democrats to make corporate influence, as exemplified by the media’s role in advancing one party’s perspective, one of their greatest priorities in the

2004 campaign cost them the election. We are all just beginning to pay what is sure to be an inestimable cost for the “dumbing down” of America.

DOUG SUTTON
Costa Mesa, California


False Optimism

In “Over a Barrel,” Paul Roberts writes of the production of oil that “estimates range from the ultra-optimistic, which foresee a peak no sooner than 2035, to the pessimistic, which hold that the peak may have already occurred.” There’s a difference between “ultra-optimistic” and just plain false. With the huge increase in world demand this year, the peak will only come sooner and the depletion curve on the other side will only be steeper. “Drilling ourselves out of this” might extend the peak a year or two, but will only exacerbate depletion in the years that follow.

MIKE MCCARTHY
Reston, Virginia


Here Comes the Sun

In “One Roof at a Time,” you surmise that one user’s solar panels will last 40 years. You’re optimistic. For most of us, the roof that the photovoltaic system is installed on will need to be replaced in about 25 to 30. At that point, we’ll all throw away our solar panels and install something like solar shingles.

CHUCK SIMMONS
Redwood City, California