Category: Analysis

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.

Why Alan Grayson is Now the Most Effective Member of the House

DAVID WEIGEL – Alan Grayson, the Democratic congressman from Orlando, is using a new strategy that is getting him closer to an unheralded title: The congressman who’s passed more amendments than any of his 434 peers. The strategy is simple. Grayson and his staff scan the bills that come out of the majority. They scan amendments that passed in previous Congresses but died at some point along the way. They resurrect or mold bills that can appeal to the libertarian streak in the GOP, and Grayson lobbies his colleagues personally.

Why Florida Was Dubbed “the Worst State”

LAURA FINLEY – Much attention has been paid to Florida’s asinine Stand Your Ground law, which John Oliver on The Daily Show described as cut and pasted from 1880s Tombstone. That is just the start of it, however. Other backwards laws and policies have been passed, largely under uber-Conservative Governor Rick Scott.

An “Electoral Uprising” in Iran

KEVAN HARRIS – The contentious events of 2009 not only ensured four more years for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the president’s office but were also heralded as signaling the death of reformist politics in Iran. Yet as another presidential election approached, the three-decade political improvisation called the Islamic Republic once again went off script.

U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership: Where Are the Voices of Afghan Citizens?

ERIN E. NIEMELA – While the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement is supposed to ensure a secure and sovereign Afghanistan beyond the U.S. withdrawal in 2014, it does not take into account the opinions of those who will most likely be affected by its implementation – the Afghan people. Without their support, the partnership is more likely to inhibit the realization of a peaceful and secure Afghanistan.

TPP: The Terrible Plutocratic Plan

DAVID SWANSON – Like most of you I do not spend my life studying trade agreements, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is disturbing enough to make me devote a little time to it, and I hope you will do the same and get your neighbors to do the same and get them to get their friends to do the same — as soon as possible.

Trayvon Martin: A Jewish Response

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER – This article by a leading Rabbi connects the travesty of acquitting killer George Zimmerman with climate change and other environmental disasters through Jewish theology, and challenges us all to take personal responsibility for healing, repairing and transforming the world.

The Biggest Oversight in Obama’s Climate Plan is a Doozy

DAVID ROBERTS – While President Obama’s climate plan addresses U.S. coal-fired plants through EPA regulations, it neglects another, equally large aspect of the coal problem. Specifically, coal mining, leasing, transport, and export in the U.S. Northwest. There’s a bad situation there and it’s getting worse. Obama can and must address the situation head on and end coal leases on Montana and Wyoming public lands.

Reward of a Whistleblower: Solidarity or Solitary?

NORMAN SOLOMON – Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington’s high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber — and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable. Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA’s massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day — which is exactly what it can’t stand.

Mayors Call for Nuclear Abolition

DAVID SWANSON – Congress can’t break 10 percent approval. Obama’s arms shipments to Syria just crack 10 percent, with 11 percent approval. Over 80 percent of Americans in more polls than I can count say over and over again that the government is broken and does not represent us. But when the mayors of the cities of the United States get together nationally one begins to see positions taken, at least rhetorically, that resemble government of, by, or for the people.

U.S. Backs Violence and Torture in Bahrain

MATAR EBRAHIM MATTAR and JEFF BACHMAN – The U.S government is arming the authoritarian regime of the Bahraini royal family that uses wide-spread violence and torture to suppress its own people and crush a popular pro-democracy movement. Nearly two-and-a-half years after a peaceful uprising began in Bahrain, mass human rights abuses and torture are reaching new levels. They are used as a tool to extract forced confessions from journalists, democracy leaders, and medical doctors on trumped up terrorism charges.

Let Us Understand Our Government: Obama Backs First-Strike Nuclear War as U.S. Policy

FRANCIS A. BOYLE – “Nuclear deterrence” is not now and has never been the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy from the get-go, then by default this means that offensive first-strike strategic nuclear war fighting is now and has always been the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy. This policy will also be pursued and augmented by means of “integrated non-nuclear strike options.”

What if They Gave a War and Nobody Paid?

DAVID HARTSOUGH – As April 15 approaches, make no mistake: The tax money that many of us will be sending to the U.S. government pays for drones that are killing innocent civilians, for “better” nuclear weapons that could put an end of human life on our planet, for building and operating more than 760 military bases in over 130 countries all over the world. We are asked by our government to give moral and financial support to cutting federal spending for our children’s schools, Head Start programs, job training, environmental protection and cleanup, programs for the elderly, and medical care for all so that this same government can spend 50 percent of all our tax dollars on wars and other military expenditures.

War Not Over for Iraqi Survivors

KATHY KELLY – Ten years ago, in March of 2003, Iraqis braced themselves for the anticipated “Shock and Awe” attacks that the U.S. was planning to launch against them. The media buildup for the attack assured Iraqis that barbarous assaults were looming. I was living in Baghdad at the time, along with other Voices in the Wilderness activists determined to remain in Iraq, come what may. We didn’t want U.S. – led military and economic war to sever bonds that had grown between ourselves and Iraqis who had befriended us over the previous seven years. Since 1996, we had traveled to Iraq numerous times, carrying medicines for children and families there, in open violation of the economic sanctions which directly targeted the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society— the poor, the elderly, and the children.

Defense Giant Tries to Feed at the Public Trough

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – At this time of severe cutbacks in government funding for food stamps, early childhood education, and Meals on Wheels, some Maryland legislators are hard at work looking out for the welfare of one of the world’s wealthiest corporations. Under a bill rapidly advancing in the legislature of that state, the Lockheed Martin Corporation will have the taxes on its luxurious Montgomery County hotel and conference center reduced by approximately $450,000 a year and will also receive a $1.4 million refund for the period since 2010.

Three-Quarters of Progressive Caucus Not Taking a Stand Against Cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

NORMAN SOLOMON – For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.

While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

How Climate Change Affects Communities of Color

HILARY O. SHELTON – With the devastation from Hurricane Sandy fresh in our minds, it is time to deliberately address the menacing climate change concerns that are facing our planet and their disparate impacts on communities of color. With this in mind, we must also recognize and address the air pollutants contributing to issues of climate change. In 2005, many thought Hurricane Katrina would force politicians and decision-makers to pay attention to the buildup of harmful greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and to build momentum for change. Yet here we are again, seven years later, rebuilding after a catastrophic super-storm, which ravaged the Caribbean and U.S. Atlantic Coast. During the election season, the topic of climate change was barely broached. However, President Obama gave it some much needed attention in his victory speech. And, as many know, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and our allies in the environmental justice movement have been speaking with a sense of critical urgency on this issue for years.

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…