Category: Analysis

Two Parties: Two Countries

TOM H. HASTINGS – In my field of Conflict Transformation, one of the things we study is the lingering effects of a conflict. How that conflict was resolved is key. If it’s done peacefully, very little legacy of resentment persists. If it’s done destructively, there is often a burning desire for revenge, often handed down inside the defeated tribe, nation, or people. It is the collective version of the passive-aggressive individual problem with being harmed and humiliated. 

So Long, CENTCOM, and Good Riddance!

ANDREW BACEVICH – Recognizing that the safety and well-being of the American people do not require sustaining a regional U.S. military command that fancies itself called upon to determine the fate of 560 million inhabitants in 21 different countries might just offer a path toward regaining sobriety. After all, recovery begins with taking that first step.

Afghanistan: What Went Wrong? What Have We Learned?

MARC PILISUK – For years, military preparedness and war itself have been granted extensive support in the United States. At the current moment, public opinion is questioning whether this support has added to Americans’ security or placed it in greater danger. Indeed, the termination of a failed war in Afghanistan has brought into question, whether that war was wrong from the start.

Why America Goes to War

ANDREW COCKBURN – Sometimes the naked pursuit of self-interest is unabashed, and certain policies or war is pursued, but even when the real object of the exercise is camouflaged as “foreign policy” or “strategy,” no observer should ever lose sight of the most important question: Cui bono? Who benefits?

Congress Will Consider Immigration Reform. Will It Act?

ANDREW MOSS – It’s easy to say, “our immigration system is broken.” Or to declare: “we are a nation of immigrants.” But neither description goes very far to explain the realities of immigration and immigration policy in America. To get closer to the reality, you need a more sharply focused statement – something like the following: “we are a nation in a long-standing struggle over immigration, a struggle that reaches back to the founding of this republic.”

Building Social Solidarity Across National Boundaries

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Although there are no guarantees that social movements and enhanced global governance will transform our divided, problem-ridden world, we shouldn’t ignore these movements and institutions, either. Indeed, they should provide us with at least a measure of hope that, someday, human solidarity will prevail, thereby bringing to birth “a new world from the ashes of the old.”

A ‘Strategic Apocalypse’ in Afghanistan: A Seismic Shift, Years in the Making

ALISTAIR CROOKE – A huge geo-political event has just occurred in Afghanistan: The implosion of a key western strategy for managing what Mackinder, in the 19th century, called the Asian heartland. That it was accomplished, without fighting, and in few days, is almost unprecedented. As a consequence, among other “seismic shifts,” China is more determined to shape the region than many analysts realize.

How “Moral Disengagement” Permits War Atrocities

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Agent Orange, the most powerful of the herbicides used in Vietnam in Operation Ranch Hand, begun on August 10, 1961, contained dioxin, one of the most toxic substances on the planet. We dropped 20 million gallons of this and other herbicides on Vietnam, contaminating 7,000 square miles of its forests. Half a century later, we are fully aware of the consequences of this strategic decision, not just for the Vietnamese, the Laotians, the Cambodians, but also for many American troops.

Legacy of Failure in Afghanistan Started in 1979, Not 2001

JAMES W. CARDEN – Hawkish US officials overstated Soviet gains in the third world in the 1970s, and “exhibit A in the case that the USSR was inexorably expanding…was Afghanistan.” And after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, “Washington believed Russia’s objective was the Persian Gulf.” Yet, it is argued by John Lamberton Harper, that the hawks within the Carter administration, led by Brzezinski, “were misled by their schematic conceptions.” 

Hold the Generals Accountable This Time

RAY MCGOVERN – There must be accountability for Afghanistan. The more so since generals and admirals, active duty and retired, are going off half-cocked. Some of them, like Admiral Charles Richards, head of US Strategic Command, are saying nuclear war is possible. Earlier this year Richards wrote that the US must shift from a principal assumption that nuclear weapons’ use is nearly impossible to “nuclear employment is a very real possibility.” And retired Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO, is already talking about war with China “perhaps ten years from now.” Accountability and effective civilian control of such general officers can prevent the next March of Folly.

Corporate Liberalism Is No Match for Trumpism

NORMAN SOLOMON – A vital challenge for progressives is to not only block Republican agendas but also to effectively campaign for policy changes that go far beyond the talking points of current Democratic leaders offering to tinker with the status quo. Merely promising a kinder, gentler version of grim social realities just won’t be enough to counter the faux populism of a neofascist Republican Party.

The Savage We Need to Civilize is Within Us

ROBERT KOEHLER – Robert Koehler asks questions of the United States’ history not in regard to individual, but rather collective — governmental — behavior. He fears that as we unite, we diminish our ability to respect, and understand, the complexity of the universe, and of our fellow humans. We unite around simplistic certainties, and these certainties seem always to involve an enemy, or Other. And empowerment means being able to kill, rather than understand, embrace and learn from — or hear the music of — that Other.

Intensifying the Threat of Nuclear Devastation is not a Security Strategy

DR. MARC PILISUK – After a war has ended, historians, elected officials, and faith leaders, no less than the people involved, often raise doubts over whether the outcomes were worth the many horrific costs. But mourning diminishes over time and life for the survivors goes on. Such a recovery from destruction is no longer assured or even likely in the age of nuclear weapons. World leaders, however, continue to play the game of war in ways that risk the war that could end life on earth.

Biden Administration Picks the Wrong Side in Immigration Dispute

ANDREW MOSS – The Biden administration’s support of an appeal of an earlier U.S. District Court ruling that largely upheld a 2019 California law mandating the phase-out of private immigration detention facilities in the state constitutes a serious mistake. It’s not just a matter of the fact that this legal position contradicts Biden’s expressed commitments to end private prisons and detention facilities; it also continues support for a dark and destructive side of our immigration policies.

In 18 Months, Republicans Are Very Likely to Control Congress. Being in Denial Makes It Worse.

NORMAN SOLOMON – Next year, if Republicans gain just five House seats, Rep. Kevin McCarthy or some other right-wing ideologue will become the House speaker, giving the GOP control over all committees and legislation. In the Senate, where the historic midterm pattern has been similar, a Republican gain of just one seat will reinstall Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader.

Biden Acknowledges “Over the Horizon” Air Attacks Planned Against Taliban

NICK MOTTERN – On July 2, fleeing questions from reporters about U.S. plans in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden sought refuge behind the July 4th Independence Day holiday, yet obliquely acknowledged that the U.S. will use some level of “over the horizon” air attacks to prevent the Taliban from taking power, attacks that will include drones and manned aircraft, possibly even B-52s.

Time is Running Out for US-Iran Nuclear Agreement

MEL GURTOV – Despite the best efforts of the Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu to disrupt the nuclear talks with Iran by attacking Iran’s nuclear computer network, the news out of Geneva is that a new agreement is close to being signed. It has been a very rough road to get there—a road worth recalling because among that agreement’s accomplishments will be resumption of multilateral diplomacy with the US at the table.

“Usable Nukes” – Our Government’s Latest Security Fantasy

ROBERT KOEHLER – We must free ourselves from the mindset of militarism, which is perpetuated not merely by politicians and generals but, inexcusably, by much of the media, which compliantly speaks their language. In militaryspeak, civilians may be bombed but they’re never murdered, at least not by us. If we can’t avoid acknowledging their deaths, then they become collateral damage, necessary for “the restoration of strategic stability.”

Is the Biden-Putin Summit Doomed?

RAY MCGOVERN – Whether or not Official Washington fully appreciates the gradual – but profound – change in America’s triangular relationship with Russia and China over recent decades, what is clear is that the US has made itself into the big loser. The triangle may still be equilateral, but it is now, in effect, two sides against one.

Amid Widespread Disease, Death, and Poverty, the Major Powers Increased Their Military Spending in 2020

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Last year was a terrible time for vast numbers of people around the globe, who experienced not only a terrible disease pandemic, accompanied by widespread sickness and death, but severe economic hardship. Even so, the disasters of 2020 were not shocking enough to jolt the world’s most powerful nations out of their traditional preoccupation with enhancing their armed might, for once again they raised their military spending to new heights.