Category: Analysis

The Mythological Basis of Foreign Policy

DAVID SWANSON – War gains support and acceptance from widespread belief in false information, and the accumulation of false information into generally false concepts or myths about war. This is good news, because it means we are not intractably divided by ideology or worldview. Rather, we will find more widespread agreement about war if we can just achieve more widespread awareness of accurate information.

A Nickel a Year Could Prevent Starvation in Afghanistan

KATHY KELLY – In Afghanistan, funds have been available for tanks, guns, bullets, helicopters, missiles, weaponized drones, drone surveillance, Joint Special Operations task forces, bases, airstrips, prisons, and truck-delivered supplies for tens of thousands of troops. But funds are in short supply for children too weak to cry who are battling for their lives while wasting away.

The Keystone Principle: Stop Making Climate Disruption Worse

KC GOLDEN – President Obama was all over the map on climate in his State of the Union address Tuesday night — exhorting us to do what’s right and necessary to protect our grandkids, then turning around and defending his senseless and climate-destroying “All of the above” energy policy. But now, the president faces a defining and unambiguous real-world test of his resolve on climate: whether to issue a permit for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Will 2013 Be the Year Coal Died?

ANGUS DUNCAN – What was the biggest energy story of 2013 in the United States? Most observers would point to the vast, unlooked-for quantities of natural gas and oil released by new “fracking” recovery techniques. National oil production has surged by 30 percent just since 2011. Five yearsago the natural gas industry was looking for sites to import liquefied natural gas (LNG); today it’s flipping those sites around to export the stuff. But, the real energy story of 2013 may turn out to be the death of coal.

Retirement Theft in Four Despicable Steps

PAUL BUCHHEIT – The fear of running out of money in retirement is America’s greatest financial concern. It’s a fear greater than death. But the American workers who have paid all their lives for retirement security are being cheated by wealthy individuals and corporations who refuse to meet their tax obligations, and who have found other ways to keep expanding their wealth at the expense of the middle class.

Why the Washington Post’s New Ties to the CIA Are So Ominous

NORMAN SOLOMON – American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain. A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos — who’s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder. The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA.

Let’s Learn from the History of the American People’s Support for War

LAWRENCE WITTNER – There would certainly be less disillusionment, as well as a great savings in lives and resources, if more Americans recognized the terrible costs of war before they rushed to embrace it. But a clearer understanding of war and its consequences will probably be necessary to convince Americans to break out of the cycle in which they seem trapped.

MLK’S Lessons for the Climate Justice Movement

JOSE-ANTONIO OROSCO – Today, the annihilation of humanity looms again as a possibility because of climate change. In 1964, King could not have imagined the particular features of global environmental destruction that we now face. Yet, he had reflected carefully on the forms of action needed to avert mass extinction before, so his work can still be useful today in thinking about directions for the climate justice movement.

Looking Beyond the Current Budget Agreement

GLEN GERSMEHL – It’s time for a serious New Year’s resolution: Among our friends and in citizen groups and faith communities to which we belong, we must discuss budget priorities and the elimination of wasteful and unnecessary defense spending. And we must take the next step and urge our elected officials to focus on our nation’s real priorities and on where we can find the resources to pay for them. That is what our members of Congress most need to hear. It also suggests some New Year’s resolutions that they should be making.

Want to Win the Climate Debate? Stop Debating

LUCY EMERSON-BELL – In early November the Diane Rehm Show on NPR featured an episode on the natural gas boom in America. After panelists glorified the natural gas revolution, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, chimed in by saying, “Nobody (on this panel) has mentioned climate change. What we should acknowledge is that production of oil and gas is undermining our goals to achieve a stabilized climate.”

Staying in Afghanistan is the Wrong Course for the U.S.

DAVID SWANSON – When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later. Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s. Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”

Raise the Minimum Wage

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Some 47 million Americans live in poverty, and a key reason is the decline of the minimum wage. First established under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the nationwide minimum wage was designed to lift millions of American workers out of poverty and to stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, however, it was not indexed to inflation, and big businesses — hostile from the start — fought, often successfully, to prevent congressional action to raise it.

Bombing Food Stamps, Feeding Bombs

JOHN LAFORGE – Beginning Nov. 1, food stamp cutbacks mean $36 per month less for a family of four. Public ‘servants’ like Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan and Democratic former President Bill Clinton point to the failure of poverty programs to end poverty, and then slash those program budgets or abolish them altogether. Meanwhile, the chronic test failure of anti-missile rockets never results in budget cuts, but is called reason enough for more funding.

Big Brother’s Loyal Sister: How Dianne Feinstein Is Betraying Civil Liberties

NORMAN SOLOMON – Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance state. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she generates an abundance of fog, weasel words, anti-whistleblower slander and bogus notions of reform — while methodically stabbing civil liberties in the back.

Fukushima Situation Now Critical – Global Environment Threatened

HARVEY WASSERMAN – Four climate scientists have made a public statement claiming nuclear power is an answer to global warming. Before they proceed, they should visit Fukushima, where the Tokyo Electric Power Company has moved definitively toward bringing down the some 1300 hot fuel rods from a pool at Unit Four. Which makes this a time of global terror.

STARBASE: Selling the Military to Your Child

ERIN NIEMELA – I am a parent of a an elementary school student in Portland, Ore., and early this week I discovered our school is participating in the STARBASE program. STARBASE is a Department of Defense initiative offering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) training to at-risk public school students. . . .While some parents applaud STARBASE for bringing STEM subjects to students in an engaging, exciting way, others – myself included – are concerned about the intentions of the program.

How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt

NAOMI KLEIN – In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. . . . But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

How Disarmament Activists Saved the World from Nuclear War

LAWRENCE WITTNER – The conventional explanation for nuclear restraint by the relatively small number of nations possessing nuclear weapons is that the danger posed by these weapons has “deterred” nations from waging nuclear war and, overall, has created a situation of nuclear safety. But something is missing from the conventional explanation. The missing ingredient is a massive grassroots movement: one that has mobilized millions of people in nations around the globe: the world nuclear disarmament movement. This is the text of a talk delivered by Dr. Wittner in May 2013 to the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Ottawa.

Congressional Oversight Means Overlooking the NSA

CONGRESSMAN ALAN GRAYSON (D, FL) – Members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight. On the contrary, “oversight” has become “overlook.” Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I’ve learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from “intelligence” briefings.

Military Expert: Some Pentagon Spending Actually Harms Our National Security

LT. GENERAL ROBERT GARD (Ret.) – Instead of engaging in political gamesmanship to raise the debt ceiling or enacting periodic government shutdowns, we should be focused on eliminating waste and allocating government expenditures more efficiently. Unnecessary defense spending that detracts from security instead of improving it is at the top of the list.

Google: Doing Evil with ALEC

NORMAN SOLOMON – Google Inc. is now aligned with the notorious ALEC. Quietly, Google has joined ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — the shadowy corporate alliance that pushes odious laws through state legislatures.

Why Water Issues Demand Conversion to Renewable Energy

GRANT SMITH – In surveying the energy landscape, there’s an emerging, inevitable trend. Old coal and nuclear plants are being decommissioned while new ones are extremely difficult to keep within estimated construction budgets. Moreover, the next nail in the coffin for these passé technologies is water. The water/energy nexus, as it is known, is a big deal.

Why Snowden’s Passport Matters

NORMAN SOLOMON – When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.

What on Earth Are Nuclear Weapons For?

WINSLOW MYERS – Eric Schlosser’s hair-raising new book about actual and potential accidents with nuclear weapons, “Command and Control,” sharpens the dialogue, such as it is, between the anti-nuclear peace movement and nuclear strategists who maintain that these weapons still enhance the security of nations.

Climate, Keystone and the Problem of Fossil Fuel Demand

KURT COBB – If reducing consumption of fossil fuels is the goal, what we actually need to do is strike at demand. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to levy high and rising taxes on fossil-fuel-based energy. The Europeans have done this for a long time, and their per capita energy consumption is half that of Americans.

Justice Department Mounts New Attack on Press Freedom

NORMAN SOLOMON – There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism — and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Private Gain to the Few Trumps Public Good for the Many

ROBERT REICH – Why the decline of public institutions? The slide . . . started more than three decades ago with so-called “tax revolts” by a middle class whose earnings had stopped advancing even though the economy continued to grow. Most families still wanted good public services and institutions but could no longer afford the tab. Since the late 1970s, almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top. But as the upper-middle class and the rich began shifting to private institutions, they withdrew political support for public ones.

The Real Culprit in Syria: Climate Change

WILLIAM R. POLK – Underlying the political situation in Syria is an economic and ecological disaster resulting from climate change. As more and more people competed for scarce jobs, food and other resources, they became desperate and their desperation led inexorably to war. Military support for neither side of the conflict will address its root causes.

Obama Has Many Options For Dealing with the Syrian Situation

PATRICK T. HILLER – The red line was crossed; let’s fire a shot across the bow. It sounds so easy, so clean, so surgical. Splash! A harmless shot landing in the water to make the enemy compliant. Since the American public – and for that matter the entire world – is rightfully doubtful of yet another U.S. military adventure, the administration is trying to play down what indeed are the preparations for going to war with another country.

Opposition to Iraq War May Save Syria

DAVID SWANSON – Evidence of “weapons of mass destruction” is “no slam dunk,” U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet. Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it.

Moral Obscenities in Syria: Who Benefits?

PHYLLIS BENNIS and DAVID WILDMAN – The threat of a reckless, dangerous, and illegal US or US-led assault on Syria is looking closer than ever. . . . The US government has been divided over the Syria crisis since it began. . . . But the situation is changing rapidly, and the Obama administration appears to be moving closer to direct military intervention. That would make the dire situation in Syria inestimably worse.

What Would It Take to Start a Peace Army?

STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – Nonviolent Army: to many, this would seem like an unnatural contradiction. Armies are by definition violent; nonviolence is too passive and weak to be of any use in societal defense. But . . . soldiers are only conditioned to use violence, . . . and nonviolence does not mean passivity; it means active, creative courage that goes beyond refraining from consciously harming others toward building a community where everyone belongs–where no one is “other.”

Will Public Inaction Allow a War With Syria?

TOM H. HASTINGS – How culpable is the person who watches a mugger rob someone and does nothing? What is our social psychology as we bystand silently while our government gears up toward yet another war crime? Lies or misleading information that leads to war should be an enforceable war crime and crime against humanity.

Landmine Foe’s Book Reveals Winning Strategy

DAVID SWANSON – Jody Williams’ new book is called My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, and it’s a remarkable story by a remarkable person. It’s also a very well-told autobiography, including in the early childhood chapters in which there are few hints of the activism to come. One could read this book and come away thinking “Anyone really could win the Nobel Peace Prize.”

If Peace Is Prized, a Nobel for Bradley Manning

NORMAN SOLOMON – Bradley Manning saw an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion, thereby illuminating terrible actions of the USA’s warfare state. He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders. The Nobel Committee must award him its Peace Prize to recognize his dedication to human rights and peace.