Category: Analysis

Ten Years After Powell’s U.N. Speech, Old Hands Are Ready for More Blood

NORMAN SOLOMON – When Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003, countless journalists in the United States extolled him for a masterful performance — making the case that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The fact that the speech later became notorious should not obscure how easily truth becomes irrelevant in the process of going to war.

Congress Must Act to Save Lives: Reauthorize VAWA

LAURA FINLEY – Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of violence endured by women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one-fourth of U.S women will endure an abusive relationship, while some 1,300 people are killed each year by intimate partners. Thankfully, we have come a long way since the 1970s, when laws did not directly prohibit domestic violence, police often failed to respond, and few resources were available to victims. Yet we stand at the brink of losing much of that progress if Congress does not act now to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Peace Movement Drones On and On: Wisdom from the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk

MIKE FERNER – During the Vietnam war, there was a vibrant, courageous resistance movement within the military itself. Young men and some women did anything they could to end the killing. They demonstrated, sabotaged military equipment, and fragged their officers. They also published dozens of underground newspapers, one of which was put out by the crew of the carrier, USS Kitty Hawk, cheekily called Kitty Litter.

The Riddle of the Gun

SAM HARRIS – Editor’s Note: Readers may be surprised to find this article reprinted by The PeaceWorker, since it takes a largely pro-gun stance, but it makes a number of very cogent points which gun controllers need to be able to answer. Comments welcome.

Risking Peace is Our Best Security Policy

WINSLOW MYERS – Because we are the wealthiest nation on the planet, we have the luxury of being proactive in ensuring our future security. But the path to that security looks very different from the way it did even a few years ago.

A primary example of our transformed security context is the realization that there is only one ocean of air surrounding the earth. Unless all nations make a concerted effort to convert to sources of clean energy, global mean temperatures will continue to rise and cause undesirable extremes of weather.

King: I Have a Dream. Obama: I Have a Drone.

NORMAN SOLOMON – A simple twist of fate has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”

Time is Money – The Devastating Impacts of American Culture on Foreign Policy

ERIN NIEMELA – Two days before Christmas my brother called, frantically demanding I tell him what to purchase for my two young children and myself. For the kids, I said, buy Legos. For myself, I neither need nor want anything. I requested he write for me a brief letter answering the following question: If you could give me anything in the world for Christmas, what would it be and why? My dear brother’s response was less than agreeable: “What the hell? I’m too busy to do that! Just tell me what you want!” In his defense, he just had a new baby, but his response warrants a closer look into American culture and how it impacts all of us.

Gun Control and Arms Control Are Similar

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In a number of ways, gun control issues are remarkably similar to arms control issues. Gun controllers argue that the availability of guns facilitates the use of these weapons for murderous purposes. Arms controllers make much the same case, asserting that weapons buildups lead to arms races and wars.

Make Pentagon Savings Part of Budget Negotiations

REPS KEITH ELLISON AND MICK MULVANEY – We believe pursuing savings in the Pentagon’s budget must be one part of the larger — and critical — effort to improve our nation’s fiscal condition.
To argue that the defense budget should be off the table ignores the growth in defense spending–which since 2000 has increased more than a third after adjusting for inflation. We can disagree about the proper amount of defense spending, but it is clear that recent growth has not been tied to strategic needs.

Repeal the Second Amendment

TOM HASTINGS – I’m a peace person, as are my friends. I am striving to be nonviolent and have tried to learn nonviolence for years. I can point to alternatives to guns, I can argue against them, and that’s about it. What we need — what would dramatically change our national discourse on this — is for gun owners to stand up and tell the rest of us, “We no longer want our possessions to be regarded under our Constitution as sacred and above the law. We reject the kneejerk response from the NRA and the gun industry every time there is a tragedy. Not once — never, ever one single time — have they admitted that guns can ever be a problem and are just things that should be subjected to laws like anything else.”

We Are the Cause of Our Own Misery

JENNIFER BROWDY DE HERNANDEZ – A couple of weeks ago, when I heard that my 14-year-old son and his friend had been playing with the other boy’s air-soft pistols by shooting each other at close range, I saw red. “But it just stings like a bee-sting, Mom,” my son protested. “It just leaves a welt. Why are you getting so upset?” At the time, I wasn’t sure why I was getting so upset — after all, these were only toy guns…

Understanding the Fiscal Cliff (In 2 Minutes 30 Seconds)

ROBERT B. REICH – MAKE REPUBLICANS VOTE ON EXTENDING THE TAX CUTS JUST FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS. After all the Bush tax cuts expire, have Republicans vote on an extending the Bush tax cut just for the middle-class. If they refuse and try to hold those tax cuts hostage to tax cuts for the wealthy, it will show whose side they’re on. They’ll pay the price in 2014.

Here’s How to Cut the Military Budget

RANDY SCHUTT – ilitary spending (inflation-adjusted) has nearly doubled in the past 12 years, from $361.3 billion in FY2000 to $610.9 billion in FY2012. This massive increase has taken place during a time when the United States has the most powerful military ever in history and when we have no significant military enemies. The U.S. spends more on the military than the next 14 countries combined and vastly more than any possible enemies: roughly 5 times more than China, 10 times more than Russia, and 95 times more than Iran.

U.S. Has Responsibility to Help Make Peace in Gaza

DAVID MCREYNOLDS – We should be reminded, in looking at anything involving Netanyahu, that we are not dealing with an “ordinary” head of state, but with a man of the far right. His late father was an open racist whose comments about the Palestinians are fully the equal of the Nazi views of the Jews, and was a follower of the Jabotinsky movement – the extreme right of the Zionist movement (Jabotinsky worked with Mussolini before WW II). The Israeli Prime Minister is truly his father’s son.

Nonviolence, Not Violence, Promises a Brighter Mid-East Future

MICHAEL NAGLER – The big picture is this: we live in a violent system. Overriding the unquenchable yearning for peace and unity in every one of us, and which is arguably much closer to our actual nature, is a distorting culture that possesses the world of our thoughts and emotions. We see it in, among other things, The overriding narrative of our culture, which is predicated on a dispiriting image of the human being. Institutions, like retributive justice that operate from this narrative. The guiding principle of competition that has come to be enshrined in business, education, entertainment, sports — and of course war.

Don’t Fall for the Right’s “Fiscal Cliff” Hysteria

THOM HARTMANN – They’re up to it again – this time with what they call the “fiscal cliff.” Beware of con men bearing slogans. The oldest trick in the book is for conservatives – cons – to create hysteria around something, and then get all of us to give them billions of our tax dollars to fix the problem they’ve gotten us all hysterical about. Four generations ago, the right was whipping up hysteria about Reefer Madness. They got us to spend trillions over the years incarcerating mostly poor people for a mostly victimless crime.

Honor Our Veterans – Don’t Make New Ones

CRAIG CLINE – On Sunday, November 11th, the Statesman Journal asked its readers to vote on “how they observe Veterans Day,” the legal holiday on which citizens honor all veterans of our armed forces. Interestingly, Veterans Day is observed on Armistice Day, the anniversary of the armistice (stopping of warfare by mutual agreement) of World War 1 in 1918.

Will Hurricane Sandy Save the World from Nuclear Catastrophe?

PETER G. COHEN – As of November, 2012, New York, New Jersey and other states are reeling from the overwhelming property damage done by the storm. At this point we cannot even estimate how many billions of dollars will be required to assist the devastated areas in their rebuilding, or the new and unknown infrastructure needed to reduce the damage of such storms in the future. What we do know is that without very substantial help from the already strained federal budget this highly productive area of the U.S. will be unable to rebuild itself for a long time.

My Sequel to We’re Not Broke

CHUCK SHEKETOFF – It doesn’t take too long for your blood to boil when watching We’re Not Broke. The documentary, which recently aired at the Salem Progressive Film Series (and, hopefully, will soon come to your neighborhood theater) shows how the corporate loophole lobby and its army of tax accountants have rigged the system, enabling corporations to avoid federal income taxes. As corporations stash away oodles of tax savings, some politicians claim that the country is “broke” and aim the budget ax at the social safety net.

“Nuclear Renaissance” Stumbles as Kewaunee Reactor Shuts Down

JOHN LA FORGE – With its October decision to end the Kewaunee nuclear power experiment on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore, Dominion Resources has shown the over-hyped “nuclear renaissance” to be a “reactor reassessment.” Calling its decision final, Dominion said it will close the pressurized water reactor permanently next spring, store tons of ferociously radioactive waste onsite indefinitely, and send its workforce of 655 to unemployment lines in “phased layoffs.”

How Big Oil Spent Part of Its $90 Billion in Profits So Far in 2012

DANIEL J. WEISS and JACKIE WEIDMAN – Lingering high oil and gasoline prices contributed to another quarter of huge profits for the big five oil companies: BP plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp, and the Royal Dutch Shell Group. They earned a combined $28 billion in the third quarter of 2012, reaping more than $90 billion in profits through the first three quarters of the year. (see Table 1) As they did last year, the “big five” are on track to easily exceed $100 billion in profits this year.

Milestone: 1/4 of the Way to Revoking Corporate Personhood

PETER SCHURMAN – With victories on Nov. 6th in statewide votes in Montana and Colorado, both by nearly three-to-one margins, we’re now one quarter of the way to amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. This a huge milestone, one we could not have achieved without your help, along with the help of many friends and allied organizations, including Common Cause, which led the way on the Montana and Colorado victories with our support, as well as People for the American Way, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, Move to Amend, Ben & Jerry’s, RootsAction, the American Sustainable Business Council, Auburn Seminary, Avaaz, Credo, unPAC, and

Would You Change Your Lifestyle to Protect Your Progeny?

ELLIOTT CAMPBELL – I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Eco-Summit, held in Columbus Ohio and hosted by William Mitsch at Ohio State University. This was a large conference, over 1600 people, featuring preeminent ecologists from around the world including Simon Levin, E.O. Wilson, Robert Costanza, Bernie Patten, Sven Jorgensen and plenary sessions by popular authors Jared Diamond and Lester Brown. As a recent PhD graduate and nascent systems ecologist I found the Eco-Summit to be edifying, inspiring, as well as incredibly frustrating.

Environmental Groups Whistling Past the Graveyard?

HEATHER RODGERS and SAMANTHA COOK – Environmental groups have long warned that America’s ravenous consumption of fossil fuels is not sustainable as a matter of public health or econmic health — either on a national or planetary level. But on the heels of a boom in domestic natural gas production — most of it the result of the adoption of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — their opponents are in the ascendency. The conservation and convert-to-clean-fuels messages of the environmentalists are increasingly deridedas out of touch, unrealistic, and harmful to the economy.

How to Not Fix the Filibuster

DAVID SWANSON – Leaving the 41-senator filibuster in place but requiring that they run their mouths (and some of us have to listen) is not exactly the kind of Change most of us Hope for. Nor is it supported by the Constitution, any other law, any treaty, any rule necessary to the functioning of our government, anything or anyone we just voted for, or any public opinion poll. The proper thing to do with the filibuster is to eliminate it, which 51 senators can do at the start of the session if they see fit. I know you’ve been told they can’t, but keep reading.

New York Cops Hide Behind Nuremberg Defense

ERIN NIEMELA – “I will break your f**king arm off right now,” a New York police officer shouts. “You want me to smack you?” warns another. The exclusive audio is shocking and the first of its kind. It is the only known audio evidence of a NYPD stop-and-frisk in progress, released Tuesday in the documentary “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy.” The audio captures the experience of Alvin, a Harlem teen, who the police claim is being stopped for “being a f**king mutt.”

Why Chavez Won in Venezuela: A Peacemaker’s Inside View

LISA SULLIVAN – My inbox began to fill up with similar inquiries, many from people who I had met when leading delegations here to Venezuela, my home of 27 years. They were confused, wondering why Chavez was going to lose, die, or steal the elections, or all of the above. Those were, after all, the only stories to be found, countered by that of the great white hope in the form of a young, skinny opponent (the adjectives repeated ad nausea by the media describe opposition candidate Capriles).

10,000 Americans Thank Italy for Convicting CIA Agents

DAVID SWANSON – Almost 10,000 Americans have sent messages to the Italian Embassy in Washington thanking Italy’s high court for upholding the conviction of 23 Americans (22 CIA officers and one military official) for the offense of kidnapping a man off the street in Milan on February 17, 2003, and shipping him to Egypt to be brutally tortured.

How Hawkish Are Americans?

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In the midst of a nationwide election campaign in which many politicians trumpet their support for the buildup and employment of U.S. military power around the world, the American public’s disagreement with such measures is quite remarkable. Indeed, many signs point to the fact that most Americans want to avoid new wars, reduce military spending, and support international cooperation.

Three Ways to Fix the Climate in 2012 and Beyond

EBAN GOODSTEIN – It’s hot. It’s going to get hotter. And despite the politics of the moment, extreme weather will eventually drive a national consensus on climate action. What can each of us do to insure we get there soon, rather than too late? There are three answers. The first is to build political power. Elect clean-energy champions at the municipal, state, and national levels who can pass policies enabling a clean-energy revolution. The second is to stop expansion of the global carbon infrastructure. This will cut pollution — some — but will also build the morally grounded movement that must ultimately drive a strong clean-energy politics. Answer three? Grow the green shoots of the emerging sustainable economy.

Will the 2012 Presidential Election Be Stolen?

DAVID SWANSON – I’ve been trying (with virtually no success) to get everyone to drop the election obsession and focus on activism designed around policy changes, not personality changes. I want those policy changes to include stripping presidents of imperial powers. I don’t see as much difference between the two available choices as most people; I see each as a different shade of disaster. I don’t get distressed by the thought of people “spoiling” an election by voting for a legitimately good candidate like Jill Stein. Besides, won’t Romney lose by a landslide if he doesn’t tape his mouth shut during the coming weeks?

Democrat, Republican Policies Overlap Substantially

RITIKA SINGH and BENJAMIN WITTES – Political parties in the United States, like a spatting couple in a bad marriage, have been fighting over the law of counterterrorism for more than a decade. And like the spatting couple, they have developed an almost rote script for their fight. The script has a logic of its own. It is a comfortable one for both spouses—and the fight is soothing in its own way. Republicans and Democrats alike wrap up some portion of their party’s identity and self-image in the conflict over national-security policy. The fight gives each side the impression—and the confidence—that the other endangers America. And it gives each side something to tell voters about why they should vote one way rather than another.

Republican Small Government Aspirations Exposed

LAWRENCE WITTNER – The Republican Party has stood up with remarkable consistency for the post-9/11 U.S. government policies of widespread surveillance, indefinite detention without trial, torture, and extraordinary rendition. It has also supported government subsidies for religious institutions, government restrictions on immigration and free passage across international boundaries, government denial of collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, government attacks on public use of public space (for example, the violent police assaults on the Occupy movement), and government interference with women’s right to abortion and doctors’ right to perform it.

Ending the Violence Starts with You and Me

MICHAEL NAGLER – Until today I didn’t even know there was such a thing as white supremacist music. Wade Michael Page knew; the “domestic terrorist” who killed six people at the Oak Creek Sikh temple in Wisconsin a week ago Sunday had played in a neo-Nazi band called “Definite Hate” and started one called “End Apathy” in 2005. So Page, when you think of it, has something in common with his immediate predecessor in mass murder, James Holmes, who perpetrated the Aurora, CO shooting two weeks earlier. Despite their differences, in his case also a form of contemporary “art,” namely the Batman film, played some role in the buildup to his murderous violence.

Peace and Feminism: Understanding the Connection

ERIN NIEMELA – About a week ago I had the unfortunate experience of being followed off a bus on a dark corner. The man who followed me made it clear that he intended harm – even growling at me as I hastened into a nearby open market. The experience was benign compared to many others I’ve had, but it compelled me to revisit my understanding of and beliefs in feminism.

Looks Like the 1% is Going to Get Away with It

PETER J. HENNINGS – The criminal investigation was prompted by a referral from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, based on its 635-page report on the financial crisis that included details on Goldman’s transactions in mortgage-backed securities. The report highlighted potential conflicts of interest in how Goldman dealt with its clients and questioned whether Mr. Blankfein testified truthfully at an April 2010 subcommittee hearing when he said that the firm did not have a “massive short” position to bet on a decline the housing market.

Will Nuclear Power Continue to Hobble Along Despite Its Radioactive Achilles’ Heel?

ALLISON FISHER – Radioactive waste has often been referred to as the Achilles heel of nuclear power. It should be. It poses a threat to human health and our environment for hundreds of thousands of years. To date, a safe and viable way to permanently isolate it has not been identified. However, this dilemma has not kept nuclear out of the U.S. energy portfolio or dampened the zeal for a new generation of nuclear reactors by the industry and its congressional allies. A recent court decision, the termination of the Yucca Mountain geological repository and lessons from the Japan nuclear crisis present new arguments for why radioactive waste should be a chief reason we abandon nuclear power once and for all, but it is still might not be enough.

Keep Genetically Engineered Canola Out of Oregon

BRENDA GAINES – Late last Friday, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) sent out a news release announcing its plan to file a temporary administrative rule that would dramatically expand the area in the Willamette Valley where canola can be grown: from a few hundred acres to 300,000 acres. This short-sighted ruling, which would invite canola, including GE canola, into the protected zone of the Willamette Valley, could mean the ruination of the specialty seed industry.

FBI Raids Homes of Occupy Protesters in Oregon and Washington

TOM CARTER – Over the last month, heavily armed “domestic terrorism” units of the FBI used battering rams and stun grenades to conduct early-morning raids on the homes of political protesters in Seattle and Olympia, Washington and Portland, Oregon. On July 25, three homes were raided in Portland alone and, since July 10, as many as six homes have been raided.
These raids are only the latest in an emerging pattern of similar raids conducted by the Obama administration in order to terrorize, suppress and chill political dissent, in flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Why Do We Have So Much Violence in the U.S.?

MICHAEL MINCH – Can anything be said in the wake of the most recent murderous eruption, this time in Aurora, Colorado? On one hand, many people jump forward quickly with new laments, calls for greater gun control, appeals against such control, and frankly, everything we’ve heard so many times before. Others, on the other hand, are offended by the very idea that we would try to answer the question of why such violence occurs. To suggest that explanations might exist, seems, for them, a move toward affixing blame somewhere close to their own values, interests, and lifestyles. They are people who tell us that murderers alone are to blame for murders. Period. This view is a preemptive strike against calls for, and criteria of, accountability and moral maturity.