MAIL ARRIVING VIA THIS WEBSITE is more voluminous than I had at first anticipated. I appreciate all of it, including those letters that are other than supportive or constructive. I read every letter and answer all, although I ask readers’ patience in the latter task.

As the mail arrives, it often occurs to me that what readers of the column have to say may be of interest to other readers. These letters are posted here. To preserve readers’ privacy, those letters chosen are signed with initials only. There are occasional exceptions, as when a reader’s remarks deserve, in my view, all the light one could possibly shine on them.

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Reply from Patrick Lawrence:

Monday morn 24th.

Thanks v much for the note. And your generous encouragement is well, well received. Ev’one who writes gets a reply–en principe, I should add, and it often takes ages for me to get to it. But yours jumps the queue.
Your one-sentence summation of our current condition goes straight to what I find myself so often writing against: Too few of us understand the gravity of the moment–what time it is, as I sometimes put it. It is always difficult, and for ev’one, to grasp one’s time as history: We are in it, history’s actors. But it is not impossible. This consciousness of history, I consider, is essential. It is how one comes to understandings such as yours.
Keep reading. You now know where to find me. A fine spring to you.
Kind regards.

From D.P.:
Mr Lawrence-

Recently a friend introduced me to your writing and I’m blown away. You have the tone, command, and skill of the great dissenters – Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn, and more currently Chris Hedges. It’s a challenge and joy to read your columns. I’m genuinely surprised to find them running in The Nation.

Unlike the novelty klaxon sounded at every closely-managed election, we *are* living in a time when we’ll either get our collective act together or, as Chomsky has said, there won’t be much more human history to discuss. In America, the growing demographic and political clout of the Millenial generation offers at least some hope.

I’m sure you’re quite busy – no need to reply.

Best wishes,
Plymouth, MA, USA

]  [

From M.S.:
Dear Mr. Lawrence,

I merely wanted to drop a line and say how much I have enjoy reading your articles over the past year since discovering your column on ““. I appreciate your fresh takes and perspective on foreign policy issues affecting the US. This subject, which has always received far too little critical attention from mainstream sources, is fascinatingly complex and like you say is often covered without enough historical context. Thanks for being a bright source in our internet political coverage.


]  [

Re Journal Entry, April 9th 2017; The Crisis of the Liberal Order and Pankaj Mishra’s ‘Age of Anger’, April 6th 2017; Famine Could Kill 20 Million in Africa and Yemen—Why the Deafening Silence? March 24th 2017:

From A.B.:
Thanks for the call on Thursday. I appreciated it greatly.
As I appreciate that you are still doing thoughtful work.
Since the column on Yemen, I have been unable to escape the thought that for the cost of just building one aircraft carrier, 13 million starving people in Yemen could be fed for a decade.
The other haunting is the concept you articulated in the (dense for me) Nation column and your journal entry: there is now no means to self-correct.
Global warming is hardly a concern if we are unlikely to make it through the next four years.
Experiments such as Lula are important, even if imperfect. But the U.S. had to squash that too.
Pray for Bolivia after the UN profile in courage.
Do keep at it.
Allen in Oregon

]  [

Re Trump Acts on Obama’s ‘Red Line’ by Launching Missiles at Syrian Targets, April 6th 2017:

From A.B.:
Your thoughtful work has been an inspiration to me for years as I’ve watched our profession descend into hell. Each column has taken a deep, faceted look at an international problem, with proper skepticism.
So I was deeply disappointed when I saw you took the gas attack in Syria at face value, as presented by our government and the fawning versions of reporters we now have in New York and Washington.
Does it make any sense for Assad to order a gas attack in broad daylight in a town full of White Helmets just after the U.S. declared that removing him was no longer a priority? And when he’s winning the war with conventional weapons, which he has in virtually unlimited supply?
Who benefits? Who has solid evidence? A bunch of staged photos in rebel-held territory mean nothing.
This smells of a false flag, or a strike that hit one of the many labs for chemical weapons production in al-Quaida territory. Best guess is that the rebels took a bunch of prisoners and decided they could use them by gassing them. If so, it sure worked.
And you got truly taken, in my estimation.
I do hope you come back with something more on this that meets the ordinary standards of your extraordinary work.
Allen (former AP, Post-Dispatch, WSJ, and many small community papers)

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Re Journal Entry, January 9th 2017:

Reply from Patrick Lawrence:
Sunday aft 23rd.

Thanks v much for this note. I always appreciate it when readers take a moment to write. And especially, I have to say, readers of the Journal. My working assumption is that when I post in Cu Chulainn I am whispering in the wind.
It’s interesting to read these thoughts coming from a former advisor to Mr. Blair. I couldn’t be more thoroughly in agreement. In my view, and w/ reference to the American scene, I do not think this egregious righteousness we now see among liberals is at bottom a political question. It is a psychological question. There is something far deeper than politics driving these people.
I started an essay a couple of months ago w/ the working title “On the Pleasures of Hating Donald Trump.” The title comes from the great Hazlitt, who wrote “On the Pleasures of Hating” for The Plain Speaker in 1826. In it he explored all the psychological purposes served by one’s contempt of others. My brief essay became an extended essay, and the extended essay shaped up as a brief book, and now the brief book shapes up to be more than brief. When I am well enough along I will start posting bits of text. I mention all this because I think it goes to your points.
We are amid the more or less complete collapse of principled disinterest in our institutions and consequently the collapse of institutional authority. Few of us could be prepared for a reality of this magnitude, but this is not an excuse to avoid it. We are required to renovate the frame of all our thinking.
Again, I am grateful to see your note. Do keep reading, and we can remain in touch.
Kind regards.
Patrick Lawrence.

From Tim:
Agree with the Comments on Trump. As a former Blair Government advisor, though from a more left of centre background in a mining town in Wales, I have been shocked at the infantilism of my former colleagues and indeed comrades at both Brexit and the Trump victory. Bad losers isn’t the half of it. There is a massive arrogance and ignorance at the heart of this. The latter is the more ironic given that ‘educated’ upset Remainers and Clinton worshippers appear not to know what Joe Average knows before he gets up in the morning: that the EU is a busted flush, is anti-democratic and has no idea what to do about the economy or migration. Similarly the non educated knew that Hillary would not bring the change the country and they needed. And she ran a dud campaign based on another idiocy – identity politics. The wonder is not that the non educated have been taken in by fake news. It’s that the educated have been taken in by fake politics.

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Re It’s Paul Krugman vs. Noam Chomsky: This is the history we need to understand Paris, ISIS, November 17th:

From M.R.:
WTF? Chomsky’s name does not appear once in your article.


From K.B.:
Thanks for talking sense.

Just finished your recent piece on Salon. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am saddened every day by the way people swallow their stories whole without any investigation. From Christians who don’t realize that the Last Supper was probably a Passover sedar to “conservatives” who don’t understand that they’re actually radicals, we have become a nation of frightened AND ignorant people. Sad, sad, sad. Thanks for turning on a flashlight in a VERY dark room.

I’ve been working on a history of the modern period comparing it to the Axial Age (800-200 BCE). If you’d ever like to discuss some of these issues, feel free to get in touch.


From B.R.:
The post I read on Salon today is about the first I stayed with. Alternet usually (it seems to me) does better.

I’d like to edit your column. Some nerve, huh?

I’ll have to reread to see how a Krugman/Chomsky dialectic works in your thinking.

I am 80 y o & have a politically aware son who is 50. We read different writings. By occasionally reading what he reads, I observe changes in meanings of words and new words with meaning I have to look up.

I bought Naomi Klein’s book but I don’t have to read it because I knew it already. I just read Superforecasting by Tetlock—not really a lot of news there, either.

Since you are well positioned to educate Americans, I encourage you to write for the full spectrum of us. You churn out a lot of copy. Maybe some of it could be targeted toward the people with the least sense of history.

Maybe “root of evil” is not good language for U.S. interference in democratically elected governments elsewere . . . but it is, IMO, criminal.

(Which is a culturally defined word , too.)

Language, semantics, are important. For example, there is no such thing as race and there is no such thing as identity. Yet people live their lives as though there is/were. Political discussion needs its lexicon cleaned up and polished.

Whaddyathink ?


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Re We brought this on ourselves: After Paris, it is time to square our “values” with our history, November 15th:

From S.B.:
Apropos we brought this on ourselves, what manner of being colonizes, unleashing a near genocidal fury upon millions for close to one hundred years, with added flourish at the dawn of the 21st century, and expects no retribution especially at home?  Perhaps a “civilized” apex predator hotly mournful at the loss of some of its own kind, blithely uncaring of its prey’s losses and lamentations. Sociopathy undergirds and subverts this rank order, at home and abroad.

Let us hope that a Syrian ceasefire fashioned in Vienna by a Congress of Great Powers, together with the Iran nuclear deal, ushers in a new era. See link below.


From B.D.:
Hi Pat[rick],

It’s been a long time since we former Daily News copy boys were last in contact, and I hope all is well with you.

Just came across your post on Salon; I’ve been trying to make that point (among others) with a Romanian-American friend who is quite the Islamophobe.

I’ll be in NYC on-and-off over the next couple of months (currently at our country home in upstate NY), so if you’d care to get together for a beer or the like I’d be more than pleased to see you again. So, let me know.

Best regards,


From J.D.:
Kudos. Literally the first thing that came to my mind on 9/11 after the first plane and before the second one was “The chickens have come home to roost.” Getting people to see how our “Western” values and actions are disjunct with our foreign policy and force projection is beyond difficult. The irrational religious beliefs that engender false identities, illogical positions, and fear of other people are the root cause of the world’s most persistent and bloody problems. For me,

[This letter breaks off.]

From L.O.E.:
I have been waiting for someone other than myself or a few keys friends to say what we all think.


From Keith Brand,

A big hearty go fuck yourself you cunt.

Keith Brand.

From P.H.:
I enjoy reading your columns as they provide insights that I can’t read in other places.

When I was growing up in the 70’s my next door neighbor was a guy named Milton Burgh. His name isn’t important, but he was a writer for Walter Cronkite. One time I bragged about being news aware and he snorted something about the New York Times containing “All the News that Fits.” not ” All the news that’s fit to print”.

Well I had to leave after the Bush reelection, a country can make a mistake in electing a new president once, but re-electing the same jackass …

We in Australia made the mistake of electing Tony Abbott, but he didn’t even make it to his first re-election. His own party did him in after looking at the polls.


From J.P.B.:
It’s not DECADES, it is centuries. The West has been invading Arab lands since 1050. Establishing the Israeli State after WWII certainly didn’t help any.


From B.L., Jr.:
We brought this on ourselves? Shocker, a lib blaming American for the acts of monster. Never thought I would see that happen.


From J.F.S.:
Dear Patrick,

I am an avid reader of your articles in Salon. I have read with the utmost attention your book Time No Longer, as well as the one on Japan.

Broadly speaking, I am in agreement with most of your arguments. However, in all that you write the fact that you are American is telling. As much as you are right in your arguments about exceptionalism and causality, you also increasingly show a handicap in that you partake of the very same exceptionalism.

Namely, the narrow focus, bordering on obsession, that you bestow on America’s and the West’s responsibility for everything. Which is also a form of exceptionalism. There is a vast world beyond America and its problems and actions. (Eppure si muove—said Galileo.) Maybe you should get out of only seeing these, and pay attention to the following:

There is also a marked responsibility and perversion in the countries and societies of the Middle East, independently of our actions there. Many important historical studies point to the social, economic, cultural and scientific gap between these societies and those of the West and East Asia.

Other parts of the world have also endured attacks from, and wars with, America and the West, and they never reacted with systematic acts of terrorism, but rather with political action combined with military action, when possible. Think slavery, colonies, apartheid, Vietnam, etc.

Nowhere in history, except the Nazi-regime, have we seen this intimate association between societies, their culture and religion, and the systematic cult of terrorism and glorification of death, and their general backwardness in all aspects of life.

I think you should also pay attention to these factors, and stop seeing the world exclusively through American lenses.

It’s a matter of credibility and exactitude.

Yours sincerely,

]  [

Re Bernie Sanders is a cruise-missile progressive: False hope, foreign policy and the stubborn endurance of American exceptionalism, November 12th:

From R.G.:
I enjoyed the depth of your article on Sanders’ foreign policy. I do have a question though. Is it necessarily ideal that foreign and domestic policy be linked? That certainly hasn’t been the case for many European social-democracies especially France who the late Christopher Hitchens accused of having a jackal regime.

If Sanders is of the Social Dem Playbook 101, what fundamental harm to this nation would his foreign policies do if the domestic ones are realized?


From B.N.:
Hi Patrick,

Your voice is such an important one. Keep up the good work. However, your most recent piece in Salon I feel you kind of dropped the ball a little bit on. I think you gloss over too much of Bernie Sanders’ voting record and rely too much on counterpounch’s assertions. Also, his comments on drones (when we’ve made mistakes we have created more enemies) is more nuanced than you allow. Same for his statements on Syria. For your perusal his votes against funding, intervention, the status quo, etc. all post his vote against the Iraq war:

S 754 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015Nay
H J Res 124 Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015 Nay
PN 48 Nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Nay
HR 5949 FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 Nay
HR 4310 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 Conference Report Nay
S Amdt 3025 Requires Sufficient Sizing of Civilian and Contract Services WorkforcesYea
S Amdt 3096 Accelerated Transition of US Military Operations to the Government of Afghanistan Yea
S Amdt 3245 Prohibits the Use of Funds for the Transfer or Release of Individuals Detained at Guantanamo Bay Nay
HR 2055 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 Nay
HR 1540 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 Nay
S Amdt 1125 Limits New Detention Rules to Prisoners Captured Outside the U.S. Yea
S Amdt 1126 Prohibits Detention of U.S. Citizens Without Trial Yea
S Amdt 1274 Authorizes Further Detention After Trial During Wartime Nay
S Amdt 1064 Repeals Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Yea
S Amdt 1107 Removes Provisions Requiring Military Custody of al-Qaeda SuspectsYea
S Amdt 753 Prohibits the Use of Funds for Prosecution of Enemy Combatants in Civilian Courts Nay
S Amdt 634 Sale of F-16 Aircraft to Taiwan Nay
S Amdt 149 Department of Defense funding and Continuing Appropriations Nay
Treaty Doc. 111-5Treaty with Russia to Reduce and Limit Offensive Arms n Yea
S Amdt 4204 Requiring Afghanistan Troop Redeployment Plan and Timetable Yea
S Amdt 1469 Repealing Funding for F-22 Aircraft Procurement Yea
S 3001 Defense Authorizations Bill Nay
S Amdt 4818 Funding for Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan Nay
HR 4986 Defense Authorizations Bill Nay
HR 2764 Inclusion of Iraq and Afghanistan Military Operations Funding with the Consolidated Appropriations Concurrence Vote Nay
S Amdt 3875 Iraq Withdrawal Amendment Yea
HR 4156 Supplemental Appropriations for the Department of Defense and Timeline for Withdrawal from Iraq Yea
S 2340 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for the Department of Defense Nay
S Amdt 3017 Expressing the Sense of Congress Regarding Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Nay
S 1927 Foreign Intelligence Acquisition Nay
S Amdt 2087 Iraq Troop Reduction Yea
S Amdt 643 Iraq Withdrawal Amendment Nay
S J Res 9 United States Policy in Iraq Resolution of 2007 Yea
S 3930 Military Commissions Act of 2006 Nay
HR 6166 Military Commissions Act of 2006 Nay
H Res 861 Global War on Terror Nay
HR 2863 Defense Department FY2006 Appropriations Bill Nay
HR 2601 State Department FY 2006/2007 Authorization Bill Nay
HR 1268 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2005 Conference Report Nay

H Con Res 95 Budget FY2006 Appropriations Resolution Conference Report Nay
H Con Res 95 Budget FY2006 Appropriations Resolution Joint Resolution Nay
H Res 557 War in Iraq Anniversary Resolution Nay
HR 1588 Defense Department FY2004 Authorization bill Nay
HR 3289 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense Nay
HR 1588 Defense Department FY2004 Authorization bill Nay
HR 1559 Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003 Nay


From E.E.:
This piece on Bernie Sanders is so well-, I had to make contact to congratulate you. Secondly, I am working on a book, “Jesus Dies Again” and would like to discuss collaboration with you. Write back soon. Thank you.

From B.D.:
Hi Pat[rick],
It’s been a long time since we former Daily News copy boys were last in contact, and I hope all is well with you.

Just came across your post on Salon; I’ve been trying to make that point (among others) with a Romanian-American friend who is quite the Islamophobe.

I’ll be in NYC on-and-off over the next couple of months (currently at our country home in upstate NY), so if you’d care to get together for a beer or the like I’d be more than pleased to see you again. So, let me know.

Best regards,

]  [

Re Judy Miller’s ghost lingers: Putin, Syria, and how the New York Times cheers on a new Cold War, November 4th:

From S.B.:
Haass was on Fareed Zakaria’s show last Sunday, talking about a future Syria consisting of autonomous regions, Kurds, Alawite, Free Syrian, and get this, one for ISIS! Talk about a revisionist foreign policy.



Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to this letter he had just published “Testing Putin in Syria” in Project Syndicate.

From D.P.-R.:

Good morning Patrick,

I am both amused and somehow not surprised that you have met my father, who is still supervising Dignity’s health programmes (RCT went through a name change). This from Dallas, where he is also volunteering for IRC—this is what my dad deems to be retirement. Which country did you two meet in?

I was actually already planning to read Somebody Else’s Century for my literature review and am very much looking forward to it. Can’t promise anything but will undertake some lobbying efforts to find you a speaking engagement here—we had Joseph Nye back in June who still insists that America is the hegemon of the 21st century, and much as I respect him I don’t understand how he can be so blind. There are lots of Americans here and this kind of thinking, frustratingly, proliferates.

Am very familiar with the need for escape hatches, mine used to be Iquitos though I’ve never been! The UK is reaching the point of requiring escape hatches as well.

Best wishes,


]  [

Re Defense and State in a Tug of War Over Obama’s Syria Policy, November 2nd:

From B.C.:
Thanks for your incisive article about the policy battle between Defense and State on Syria.

Just one minor criticism about your use of “begs the question.” This phrase has gotten popular in recent years, and many people use it, as you did, to mean “invites the question,” or “brings up the question.”

But “begging the question” has a very different meaning in logic and philosophy. It means to assume the conclusion, instead of proving it. The standard example is the one where someone says that God exists, because it says so in the Bible, and the Bible is trustworthy because it is the inspired word of God.

Yes, “begging the question” and “circular argument” mean the same thing. So instead of using “begs the question” why not say, “invites the question”? That way you won’t look like an uneducated fool to people who read your excellent articles.

Best regards,

]  [

Re Does anyone have a plan? Here’s how we fix decades of overseas neo-conservative adventurism, October 28th:

From T.K.:

As one who graduated from high school in 1965, I have more than a passing acquaintance with military conscription. And as much as it would appall the eighteen-year-old me to say it, the sixty-eight-year-old me thinks perhaps the first step is to resurrect the draft.

Except, this time, the draft would be universal. Some would be drafted into a CCC-like infrastructure rebuilding effort, some to be teacher aides, some to be Peace Corps or VISTA workers, and, of course, some to the military. But the assignments would be random, and as impervious to middle/upper class evasion as possible.

My bet is that the patriotic fervor for endless war might be tempered by the thought that one of our kids or grandkids might be called upon to involuntarily fight and die for a neo-con wet dream war of choice. There might even be protests in the streets.

You can see all comments on this post here:


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Re This is not a democracy: Behind the Deep State that Obama, Hillary or Trump couldn’t control, October 21st:

From L.M.:
The dark state needs to be fully exposed but I can’t seem to find anything about the current beast. It would be nice to know who the primary, secondary, tertiary players are (domestic and foreign), meetings, agendas, location, and decisions, and dissemination routes for decisions.

Corporate media is obviously not going to address this need and so we rely on the web’s Salons. I want to encourage people to spread what we information we have. As you note in your article, the dark state has stepped out into the open – just barely to improve their image. People would be, in my opinion, outraged if they knew what is their goal and how they are going about achieving it.

So, we need details about the dark state and we must develop a system to get the news to the people. I would greatly appreciate any direction regarding point one.

Best regards,

From P.J.:
Hello Mr. Lawrence. I am not aware of Salon‘s policy on reprint, so i am simply asking for permission to reprint “This is not a Democracy…..” at . without edits and with link to the original of course.

I am President of the Board of directors of the Free Press (Columbus Institute of Contemporary Journalism), proudly assisting Bob Fitrakis et al.


From G.G.:
As I doubt we have another fifty years left before modern civilization collapses, finding out exactly WHO was behind the 9/11 attacks will probably remain a mystery forever.

What I think CAN be accurately deduced from the available physical evidence (found in abundance at and elsewhere) is that pre-planted explosives, and NOT hijacked airplanes, were responsible for the spectacular carnage that galvanized the public into supporting illegal wars of aggression, which presumably were planned in advance to gain control over Middle Eastern oil supplies.

Since it been calculated that 80% of the proven fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to avoid an environmental catastrophe, the fact is that the perpetrators’ huge success has likely doomed mankind and many innocent species to a horrible death is ironic, to say the least.

Although I realize it sounds incredibly far-fetched at face value, Richard M. Dolan and Catherine Austin Fitts suspect that the super-wealthy power elites have, through illegal “deep-state” financing, already formed a “breakaway civilization” with a fleet of space craft based on back-engineered alien technology at their disposal/

Keep Smiling!


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