Category: Analysis

The Impossible Contradictions of Modern War

WINSLOW MYERS — The article in Rolling Stone that ended the meteoric career of General McChrystal shines light on the thought-process not only of one military man, but also on the dysfunctional paradigm now failing in Afghanistan. It is a textbook demonstration of how the mind-set of war itself, the notion of annihilating an enemy and emerging victorious, has become obsolete.

Why We Must Reduce Military Spending

REPS. BARNEY FRANK AND RON PAUL — As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues to interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree. By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts.

Teachable Moment: Anti- and Pro-War Supporters Lock Horns

WINSLOW MYERS — What an extraordinary civics lesson for the students, faculty, administration, town officials and parents connected with the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School on Cape Cod! Two teachers, Marybeth Verani and Carrie Koscher, stood up at an assembly recognizing six students who were joining the military and held a sign that said “End War.”

Cost-Benefit Analyses for Open and Closed Fists

TOM H. HASTINGS — Here comes the 4th of July and we are barely done with Memorial Day. The flags of nationalistic patriotic fervor sprout and resprout across the land, in the parks, on the lawns, on billboards, on the Internet, and generally everywhere. Military jets will fly in formation, anthems will fill the air, and military uniforms will be ubiquitous. Little children are getting used to this, and they never see the adults they trust question this, so they come to trust the guns, the songs about bombs, the valorization of violence, and the equation of killing with freedom.

Ten Suggestions for Effective Activism

PAUL ROGAT LOEB — Effective activism is a long-haul process, not “save the earth in 30 days, ask me how.” But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. When I was updating Soul of a Citizen, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at Florida Gulf Coast University suggested I gather together the Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed a bit presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful.

Police State Tactics Take Another Step Forward

WENDY MCELROY — In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer. Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

Replacing Offshore Oil Would Take 195 Californias or 74 Texases

CHRIS NELDER — As the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster continues to unfold, the peak oil community has a “teachable moment” in which it can illuminate the reality of our energy plight. The public has had a crash course in the challenges of offshore oil, and learned a whole new vocabulary. They are more aware than ever that the days of cheap and easy oil are gone. What they do not yet grasp are the challenges in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables.

Can We Live With the Bomb?

LAWRENCE WITTNER — For some time now, it has been clear that nuclear weapons threaten the existence not only of humanity, but of all life on Earth. Thus, Barack Obama’s pledge to work for a nuclear weapons-free world—made during his 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in public statements—has resonated nicely with supporters of nuclear disarmament and with the general public.

Harman Gives Cover to Gaza Aid Piracy

NORMAN SOLOMON — When Israel attacked the Gaza aid flotilla, Congresswoman Jane Harman was engaged in a parallel assault. Israel’s government relied on the efficacy of violence; Harman’s campaign was counting on the power of paid media. In both cases, the targets were advocates of human rights for Palestinian people.

The World After Abundance

JOHN MICHAEL GREER — It has been nearly four decades now since the limits to industrial civilization’s trajectory of limitless material growth on a limited planet have been clearly visible on the horizon of our future. Over that time, a remarkable paradox has unfolded. The closer we get to the limits to growth, the more those limits impact our daily lives, and the more clearly our current trajectory points toward the brick wall of a difficult future, the less most people in the industrial world seem to be able to imagine any alternative to driving the existing order of things ever onward until the wheels fall off.

Troubling Questions About Nominee Elena Kagan

GUY-URIEL CHARLES — Elena Kagan, currently the Solicitor General of the United States, is widely rumored to be President Obama’s top choice to succeed Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. The most compelling and least compelling aspect of a Kagan nomination is that we do not know where she stands on many of the issues that would come before the Court. For those of us who would prefer a strong left-of-center nominee, the basic message is that we should trust that Kagan will not be the left’s version of David Souter. I understand why Kagan is politically attractive as a nominee, but I am nevertheless left with some questions.

We Can’t Afford Afghanistan

PETER G. COHEN: While Moody’s is saying that the U.S. could lose its gold-plated AAA credit rating if the budget deficit is not reduced, President Obama is requesting $33,000,000,000 FY 2010 supplemental to fund the troop buildup in Afghanistan. This is in addition to the war-funding budget for 2011 of $159,300,000,000.

War in a Box

NORMAN SOLOMON: The event on the House floor on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, was monumental — the first major congressional debate about U.S. military operations in Afghanistan…

Howard Zinn and the State of the Union

TOM H. HASTINGS: Howard Zinn has crossed over. He was a mensch, a historian and a peace and justice activist. He was not convinced that nonviolence was always the answer, but he often provided expert testimony for nonviolent resisters seeking help in conducting a robust defense of their actions in opposition to militarism and injustice.

Dollars for Death, Pennies for Life

NORMAN SOLOMON: When the U.S. military began a major offensive in southern Afghanistan over the Presidents’ Day weekend, the killing of children and other civilians was predictable. Lofty rhetoric aside, such deaths come with the territory of war and occupation.

Nuclear Power: Still a Bad Idea

RALPH NADER: A generation of Americans has grown up without a single nuclear power plant being brought on line since before the near meltdown of the Three Mile Island structure in 1979. They have not been exposed to the enormous costs, risks and national security dangers associated with their operations and the large amount of radioactive wastes still without a safe, permanent storage place for tens of thousands of years.

Peacebuilding for Conservatives

WINSLOW MYERS: There is big money in polarization, as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other media kingpins understand all too well. But one of the many tragic by-products of our polarized political culture is the demonization of conservatives by progressives.

Where’s the Money?

CRAIG CLINE: On January 4th, the Statesman Journal ran an Associated Press article entitled: “Most state budgets on path to even leaner times.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that state budgets are likely to fall $180 billion short for the new fiscal year. According to the Pew Center on the States, our own Oregon is ninth among the ten “worst” states, and 30th among all states, with a 14.5 percent budget gap for 2009-10 (as of July 2009).

In War, Winners Can Be Losers

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: Thus far, most of the supporters and opponents of escalating the U.S. war in Afghanistan have focused on whether or not it is possible to secure a military victory in that conflict. But they neglect to consider that, in war, even a winner can be a loser.

It’s Time to Escalate the Peace

RANDALL AMSTER: What if they held a war and no one came? No one was out in the streets, no one paid the “big speech” much mind, no one asked for permission to protest, no one wrote an open letter to the President. No one enlisted for it, no one paid for it, and no one watched it on television.