Cause and effect?

I respect the views of Norman Markowitz and have been educated and enriched by his many articles and letters. However, I was disappointed in his argument appearing in “The London attacks and the ‘war on terror’” (PWW 7/10-8/5).

I take issue with his claim that by the Soviet military’s occupation of Afghanistan and its war against the U.S. backed warlord tribes, the Soviet Red Army was, in effect, “defending the people of New York and London.”

This claim involves a convolution of logic, and sets the truth on its head. Markowitz seems to think that his maxim, that military interventionism to fight terrorism only breeds more terrorism, only applies to bourgeois states. Actually, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan is a prime historical example illustrating the truth of his maxim. It was the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan which gave the U.S. government the impetus and excuse to deploy CIA Special Ops forces as a conduit for funneling money, supplies and weaponry to tribal warlords. It was this backing and CIA training over time, combined with the tribal fighters’ resentment and feeling of abandonment when the U.S. presence and support abruptly ended, which became some of the key ingredients toward their evolution into al-Qaida and other terrorist forces.

Erik Ray

Tampa FL

Norman Markowitz responds: My reading of the events in Afghanistan is very different. The Soviets failed in Afghanistan to successfully support the People’s Democratic Party government and the Afghan revolution. They were not directly fighting to “protect” London and New York, but were fighting a savage counter-revolution that within a few years would threaten London and New York. Their aims, to support a revolution that would advance mass literacy, land reform, women’s rights, economic and social progress, were much more in line with and in the interests of the people of the United States and the United Kingdom than the forces of British and U.S. imperialism.

Pakistan and its CIA-linked intelligence service, the ISI, had already involved itself in supporting right-wing guerillas fighting in Afghanistan in opposition to the revolutionary government that had been established in 1978. Zbigniew Brezinski in mid-1979 convinced the Carter administration to have the U.S. actively support the Pakistanis in order to have the Soviets fall into what he called the “Afghan trap.”

Many left radical groups attacked the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan out of an uncritical support for Third World guerrilla wars, regardless of the social purposes of the guerrillas.

Proposal One – step in right direction

On Nov. 8, New Yorkers can significantly improve state government by voting ‘yes’ on Proposal One – the Budget Reform Amendment of 2005.

Every time our state budget is late — and it’s been late in 20 of the last 21 years — school aid and other vital state services are disrupted. We can do better.

Proposal One would reform Albany’s budget process so that these vital services never again are interrupted. It would create two-year budgeting cycles for our schools, a nonpartisan Independent Budget Office and more transparency in Albany, something we’ve all wanted for years.

Proposal One is strongly supported by the New York State School Boards Association and by good government groups, including Common Cause, the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and the League of Women Voters.

It is an important step toward reform of the state budget process.

Barbara Bartoletti

Albany NY

Barbara Bartoletti is legislative director of the League of Women Voters of New York State.

Corporate stadiums

While PWW staffers celebrate the World Series victory of their neighbors, the Chicago White Sox, a handful of us in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area continue our 10-year battle to keep greedy rich professional sports team owners from tapping the public treasury to build themselves new stadiums from which only they would profit.

Minnesota apparently is the only community in the U.S. successfully fighting off these public bloodsuckers. Our No Stadium Tax Coalition has no budget, hardly ever meets, but we get it done by monitoring and communicating regularly with the state Legislature, county boards and city governments and with strategic letters to the editor and op-eds to local publications and the occasional radio and TV appearance.

Willard B. Shapira

Minneapolis MN

White Sox working-class team

After a long drought, 1917 to be exact, Chicago finally has won a World Series. On the night of the White Sox sweep, residents in the Southwest Side working-class neighborhoods, from Bridgeport to Mount Greenwood and all those in between, took to the streets to celebrate without any confrontations.

I must take to task the letter of Joe Hancock (PWW 10/29-11/4) who called for readers to rally behind the Houston Astros. Since he is not a Chicago resident, the writer possibly does not realize the White Sox are the team of the working class. Fans attending the White Sox games tend to be much more blue collar than our counterparts on the other side of town. Even more so, the neighborhoods around Comiskey Park were the birthplace of organized labor and its neighborhoods are still working class.

Tom Downes

Chicago IL

Congrats to the Sox

My congratulations to all of you at the PWW in Chicago as the White Sox celebrate our World Series victory! I’m a diehard, never surrender White Sox fan for over 30 years! White Sox rule!

Kimball Cariou

Vancouver, Canada

Kimball Cariou is the editor of People’s Voice, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada.

Opiate of the people?

I was dismayed to see the PWW celebrate the World Series with a front-page story and photo. Insult was added to injury by the headline on page 2: “Baseball fans of Chicago unite!” I am a Marxist who believes that professional sports is just one more way of distracting and pacifying the working class, turning our attention away from class struggle and the need to make revolution. Why should any worker take joy or pride in the athletic exploits of narcissistic, arrogant, millionaire baseball players and their capitalist owners? What’s next? NASCAR coverage? America has a corporate media designed to lull workers into passivity and false consciousness. We need something different from the PWW.

Michael James

Via e-mail