Category: Analysis

Which Nations Are the Happiest?

LAWRENCE WITTNER – It appears that the pursuit of ever-greater wealth and military power by national governments doesn’t necessarily create happiness for their people. By contrast, governments that seek to improve everyone’s lives―or, in the words of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, “promote the general welfare”―do a much better job of it.

Russia Madness on the Eve of Destruction: Hegemony Trumps Survival

PAUL STREET – Given the current state and rate of environmental destruction, the continuing advance in the destructive power of nuclear weapons systems, and the likelihood of pandemics in a warmer and more globalized world, there are good reasons to wonder if a human civilization with historians will exist a century from today. We may well be standing near the “end of history,” and not the glorious bourgeois-democratic one that Francis Fukuyama imagined with the end of the Cold War.

A Russian View of Re-Igniting the Cold War

SERGEI KARAGANOV – The problem between Russia and the West is really a problem among Westerners themselves. If there is a new cold war, it is only because established elites have not come to terms with reality: the balance of military, political, economic, and moral power has shifted too far away from the West to be reversed.

‘Corporations Are People’ Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie

ADAM WINKLER – A farcical series of events in the 1880s produced an enduring and controversial legal precedent. Somewhat unintuitively, American corporations today enjoy many of the same rights as American citizens. Both, for instance, are entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. How exactly did corporations come to be understood as “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre—even farcical—series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day.

Although Two Out of Three Americans Oppose Increasing U.S. Military Spending, the U.S. Government Is Boosting It to Record Levels

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Early this February, the Republican-controlled Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed new federal budget legislation that increased U.S. military spending by $165 billion over the next two years. Remarkably, though, a Gallup public opinion poll, conducted only days before, found that only 33 percent of Americans favored increasing U.S. military spending, while 65 percent opposed it, either backing reductions (34 percent) or maintenance of the status quo (31 percent).

Look Deeper Than the Latest Shooting

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – There’s a bigger problem embedded in the social order than our lack of effective gun laws, and I hope the movement that emerges out of the Parkland massacre makes the leap beyond anger and single-issue politics. The nation’s weak gun laws — the easy availability of AR-15 assault rifles — are, in fact, a symptom of the general cheapening of human life in American society, which is reflected in the nation’s ever-expanding obsession with war and a military budget the size of Godzilla. War always has a way of coming home.

Playing by the Rules? Nuclear Powers Could Learn from Olympic Athletes and Fans

MARILYN LANGLOIS – What if powerful nations like the US, Russia, China, Great Britain and France announced to the International Olympic Committee, “We reserve the right to give our athletes performance enhancing drugs and they will participate in the Olympic games anyway, no matter what you say,” adding soto voce, “Oh, and we’ll let Israel use them, too, but we just won’t talk about that.” Unthinkable, you may say? At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games now in progress in PyeongChang, South Korea, IOC President Thomas Bach, hinting at past doping scandals, admonished all the assembled athletes to play by the rules of Olympic sports. So how do the powerful nations, in particular the US, get away with playing by very different rules from others when it comes to one of the most life-threatening scourges of our time, namely nuclear weapons?

Re-imagining Russian-American Relations: A Pragmatic Business Perspective

P.N. LOUKIANOFF – 2017 represented the centennial of the communist takeover of Russia, which indelibly marked the transition from Tsarist Empire to the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. was a menace not only to the free world, but also to its own people. Despite its collapse and Russia’s independence over 25 years ago, many in Washington still cannot allow themselves to imagine, let alone manifest, a productive relationship with Russia. This article provides useful historical context for events and actions affecting U.S.-Russia relations to this day and argues why there’s hope for the future with the new generation of Russians – the kind the Center for Citizen Initiatives will be bringing to the U.S. as part of CCI’s Russians Meet Middle America (RMMA) program.

Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?

MEL GURTOV – In the aftermath of the “Korean spring” at the Winter Games, some observers waxed euphoric over the potential for direct US-North Korea talks. The apparent breakthrough at the Games in North-South dialogue occasioned by Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yu-jong, and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in had put Vice President Mike Pence in an embarrassing position—odd man out as Moon and Ms. Kim discussed a summit meeting while Pence sat on his hands. Pence tried to recover by indicating as he left South Korea that talks with the North might actually be possible—a concession that gave the appearance of a US decision to fall in line with the South Korean view. But has the US position on how to deal with North Korea actually changed?

Trump’s Immigration Reform is Tone Deaf

JOSE-ANTONIO OROSCO – The US has always struggled with how to incorporate diverse peoples into a modern democracy. Philosopher Horace Kallen insists that part of this work has to be about our imagination and the way we talk and listen to one another across cultural differences. Trump’s plan would be like insisting that all voices of the choir have to sing baritone in order to make beautiful music. His plan is not innovative; it’s tone deaf to the current needs of our society.

The Other Superpower?

ROBERT KOEHLER – Is this moment in history empty of all hope and sanity, occupied as it is by the forces of empire and a militarized presidential ego? Or is there a global, evolutionary counterforce out there as well, equal to or greater than the corporate militarism that seems to have a stranglehold on the future?

Capitalize on the Olympic Truce, Formalize a Freeze for Freeze with North Korea

KEVIN MARTIN – Effective negotiators build on any points of agreement the parties to a dispute have at the outset. So why not ditch the “non-equivalency” argument and state the U.S.-South Korea war drills are on indefinite hiatus as long as North Korea continues to observe a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing? That would be solid footing on which to begin real diplomacy. South Korea isn’t afraid to talk to the North, why is the U.S.? If Rex Tillerson can’t do his job, the least he can do is support the North-South talks, and let Koreans make peace.

U.S. Weapons Threaten Beleaguered Civilians In Yemen Conflict

KATHY KELLY – U.S. foreign policy is foolishly reduced to the good guys,” the U.S. and its allies, versus “the bad guy,” – Iran. The “good guys” shaping and selling U.S. foreign policy and weapon sales exemplify the heartless indifference of the smugglers who gamble human life in exceedingly dangerous crossings. The nefarious actions of the US-supported Saudi military in the Middle East must arouse citizen opposition in the one country where democracy is still strong enough to make a difference, the US.

Let’s Stop Lying to Each Other

THOMAS LINZEY – While it’s certainly easier to blame the latest president for our state of affairs, the reality is much more troubling – that we have a system of law and government which poses as a working democracy while guaranteeing the destruction of the planet. In other words, it’s the hardware, not the software. It’s a faulty system.

Trump’s Assault on Solar Masks an Epic Crisis in the Nuclear Industry

HARVEY WASSERMAN – As Donald Trump launches his latest assault on renewable energy—imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels imported from China—a major crisis in the nuclear power industry is threatening to shut four high-profile reactors, with more shutdowns to come. These closures could pave the way for thousands of new jobs in wind and solar, offsetting at least some of the losses from Trump’s attack. Like nearly everything else Trump does, the hike in duties makes no rational sense. Bill McKibben summed it up, tweeting: “Trump imposes 30% tariff on imported solar panels—one more effort to try and slow renewable energy, one more favor for the status quo.”

Why the Resistance Can’t Win without Vision

GEORGE LAKEY – We’ve had our first year of tweets and leaks from the White House, complete with reactions and outrage in the United States and abroad. The tsunami of words and feelings about Trump has dominated the media and is likely to continue. The question is: Will reactivity to Trump continue among activists, or are we ready to channel our passion into more focused movement-building for change?

Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy

JOSE-ANTONIO OROSCO – About a century ago, Americans struggled to find a language to describe what a multicultural, racially diverse, and democratic society would look like. One group of progressive thinkers, led by figures such as John Dewey, Alain Locke, and Jane Addams, urged us to imagine a nation where immigrants were not forced to assimilate to a single mold, but encouraged to keep their traditions and enlarge the possibilities of what it means to be an American. This theme is missing from public discussions on immigration today. But if we are looking to the past for hints today about what to do with our immigration policy that do not involve reinventing a white nationalist vision, then perhaps this is a conversation we need to remember.

10 Good Things About 2017

MEDEA BENJAMIN – When I recently asked a prominent activist how she was doing, she took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “Everything I’ve been working on for 50 years has gone down the toilet.” With so many good people feeling depressed, let’s point to the positive things that happened, even in this really, really bad year.

Bernie Sanders’ New Year’s Resolution

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS – Here is a New Year’s resolution I hope you will share with me. In 2018 we will not only intensify the struggle against Trumpism, we will increase our efforts to spread the progressive vision in every corner of the land. Yes. We will create a vibrant democracy where the voices of all people are heard. Yes. We will create a nation which leads the world in the struggle for peace, and for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. The struggle continues.

Corporate-Spun Science Should Not Be Guiding Policy

CAREY GILLAM – As an invited expert to a European Parliament hearing last month, I joined scientists, regulators and others in what has become a global debate over the activities of the American seed and agrochemical giant, Monsanto, and the “science” surrounding glyphosate, the active ingredient in its popular Roundup herbicide.

Should We Pay the Staggering Economic and Human Costs of Nuclear Weapons?

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Most countries are moving down the road toward a nuclear weapons-free world. This past July, the official representatives of most of the world’s nations, meeting in a UN-sponsored conclave, voted 122 to 1 (with 1 abstention) for an international treaty prohibiting countries from developing, testing, manufacturing, possessing, transferring, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. However, the nine nuclear-armed nations boycotted the conference and are not among the countries backing this Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons―at least not yet. Given the staggering economic and human costs of nuclear weapons, isn’t it time that the nuclear nations got on board?

Let It Go: The Arctic Will Never Be Frozen Again

ERIC HOLTHAUS – Two weeks ago, at a New Orleans conference center that once doubled as a storm shelter for thousands during Hurricane Katrina, a group of polar scientists made a startling declaration: The Arctic as we once knew it is no more. The region is now definitively trending toward an ice-free state, the scientists said, with wide-ranging ramifications for ecosystems, national security, and the stability of the global climate system. It was a fitting venue for an eye-opening reminder that, on its current path, civilization is engaged in an existential gamble with the planet’s life-support system.

Cashing Out From the Climate Casino

BILL MCKIBBEN – It’s hard to be optimistic about climate action, not in a week when federal scientists reported that “the Arctic shows no sign of returning” to the “reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” Not in a month when California’s wildfires show every sign of burning straight through Christmas. And not in a moment when the federal government keeps scrubbing basic climate information from its websites. But something big is starting to shift.

Muslim Ban Threatens the Freedom of All

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Dred Scott lives! With the Supreme Court’s declaration that President Trump’s third version of a Muslim travel ban is now enforceable, even as legal challenges against it proceed, the court and the country reopen the racism that permeates American history.

The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons: Saving Humanity from Itself

ROBERT F. DODGE – Since the beginning of the nuclear age and the dropping of the first atomic bombs, humankind has struggled with the reality of being able to destroy the planet on the one hand and the abolition of these weapons on the other. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear (ICAN) acknowledges these realities and celebrates the efforts to achieve the latter.

Mass Shootings: Time for Thoughts and Prayers or Time for Change?

MELISSA A. WORK – After 20 children were killed by gun violence in Sandy Hook politicians did nothing. They made no changes, and continued to say, “Now is not the right time to talk about gun control. It is the time to mourn.” My question to you is when is the right time to talk about gun control? We see something that worked elsewhere—Australia—and we cannot learn from that?

Cultural Shift on Gender-Based Violence Needed

LAURA FINLEY – November 25th kicked off the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. At no time has this work been more necessary than now. From rampant sexual harassment to sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual trafficking, women across the globe and in the U.S face gender-based violence at horrifying rates.

The Illusion of Armed Salvation

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – This time, the “the fire and the fury” of American mass murder erupted in church. Twenty-six people were killed, including children, one only 18 months old. How do we stroke their memory? How do we move forward? This is bigger than gun control. We should begin, I think, by envisioning a world beyond mass murder: a world where rage and hatred are not armed and, indeed, where our most volatile emotions can find release long before they become lethal.

‘Violent Flank Effects’ and the Strategic Naiveté of Antifa

MOLLY WALLACE – In a 2015 article for the journal Mobilization, Erica Chenoweth and Kurt Schock examined all nonviolent campaigns from 1900-2006 with radical (i.e. maximalist”) goals — such as the “removal of an incumbent national government, self-determination, secession, or the expulsion of foreign occupation” — to see how the presence or absence of armed resistance affected the success of these nonviolent campaigns. Their findings offer compelling evidence that violence is not generally a helpful addition to nonviolent resistance movements. How did they arrive at this conclusion? And what lessons do we learn by adhering to this understanding?

Massive Overkill Brought to You By the Nuclear-Industrial Complex

WILLIAM D. HARTUNG – Unless the nuclear spending spree long in the making and now being pushed by President Trump as the best thing since the invention of golf is stopped thanks to public opposition, the rise of an anti-nuclear movement, or Congressional action, we’re in trouble. And of course, the nuclear weapons lobby will once again have won the day, just as it did almost 60 years ago, despite the opposition of a popular president and decorated war hero. And needless to say, Donald Trump, “bone spurs” and all, is no Dwight D. Eisenhower.

How to Respond When Someone Uses a Vehicle as a Weapon of Terror

PATRICK T. HILLER – There are many ways we can respond to vehicles being used as weapons that make such incidents less likely in the future. If we don’t use these alternatives, it is not because they are not available, but because of artificially imposed constraints, lack of interest, or self-interest. The broad social spectrum gives us ample opportunity in our respective contexts to take the contested area away from the terrorists and dissolve any hateful ideology at its roots.

Trump’s Finger on the Button is not the Main Problem with Nukes

WINSLOW MYERS – At some point in the near or semi-distant future, one way or another, Mr. Trump will have departed public office. For many reasons, perhaps most of all because we managed (if we do manage) to avoid nuclear war during his tenure, we will feel relief. But we may also feel a kind of letdown. Instead of having our anxieties focused upon the shallowness, impulsivity, and macho vengefulness of one particular leader, we will be forced to go back to worrying about the craziness of deterrence itself, irrespective of who is leading us.

The Mote in North Korea’s Eye, the Forest in the USA’s Eye

KARY LOVE – Mass murder of 59 is the mote in the eye of that lone “Las Vegas” killer and we all condemn him. Mass murder of all humanity is the forest in the eye of Donny Trump and we are called upon to salute him. Trump has recently threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation. The USA has thousands of nukes, NK may have 20 and a limited, if any, capacity to deliver them. Thus, the forest in the eye of Donny Trump and the mote in the eye of NK.