Category: Analysis

Major Liberal Groups Silent As Senate Passes Historic Yemen Resolution

CLIO CHANG and RYAN GRIM – The senate vote this month to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen marked a historic break from a bipartisan embrace of a pro-war foreign policy, yet it was accomplished without strong backing from Washington’s liberal foreign policy infrastructure. The resolution, co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., invokes the rights laid out in the War Powers Act of 1973 that assert Congress’s authority over war, and it was the result of many months of work by a coalition of progressive activists and anti-war lawmakers. The war is Saudi-led, but the U.S. has provided critical support, and an end to that support effectively means an end to the war.

Could This Be Our Best Hope of Removing Trump From Office?

PAUL STREET – The case for Trump’s ouster grows stronger by the week. Beyond his possible obstruction of justice, criminal acceptance of foreign emoluments while in office and felonious campaign finance violations—any one of which could provide grounds for legal proceedings against him—the president has routinely embraced authoritarian rulers around the world and engaged in obvious appeals to violence. He has, at every turn, revealed himself to be entirely unfit for office.

Why Trump Decided To Remove U.S. Troops From Syria

POPULAR-RESISTANCE – On Friday, December 14, President Trump had another long phone call with the Turkish President Erdogan. Thereafter he overruled all his advisors and decided to remove the U.S. boots from Syria and to also end the air war. This was the first time Trump took a decisive stand against the borg, the permanent neoconservative and interventionist establishment in his administration, the military and congress, that usually dictates U.S. foreign policy. It was this decision, and that he stuck to it, which finally made him presidential.

Trump’s Middle East Retreat: Problems for Everyone

MEL GURTOV – There are no winners, here or abroad, in Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. But there are important losers: innocent lives and prospects for peace. However remote a political settlement in Syria and Afghanistan might have been before, it is even more remote now. With the US largely out of the picture, incentives for adversaries—Syria and Russia in Syria, the Taliban in Afghanistan—to negotiate war-ending or at least violence-reduction agreements are now gone. Civil war is likely to gain intensity. Civilian casualties and refugee numbers will rise substantially. A new regional war is possible. The defeat of peace should be the focus of critics’ concern.

How to Take on Fascism Without Getting Played

GEORGE LAKEY – The cause of rising fascism is the economic elite and its wish to take more and more of the country’s wealth for itself. But, while touring the country the past couple years, I’ve seen an enormous amount of reactivity among progressives. That’s the opposite of what works for making progressive change.

The Senate’s “Symbolic” Yemen Vote is Enormously Significant

ROBERT KOEHLER – The Senate’s “symbolic” Yemen vote matters hugely (you might say, in honor of co-sponsor Bernie Sanders). For one thing, Dems gain control of the House next year and the resolution could be reintroduced. Also, according to Reuters, some of the supporters are determined to introduce legislation calling for a ban on weapons sales to the Saudis; in other words, there’s more political action to come regarding U.S. involvement in this war.

Beto, We Hardly Knew Ye

NORMAN SOLOMON – As candidates and in office, the last two Democratic presidents have been young, dynamic and often progressive-sounding, while largely serving the interests of Wall Street, big banks, military contractors and the like. Do we need to make it three in a row?

A Mandate for Left Leadership

KATE ARONOFF – Democratic socialism will be defined by what its most public adherents—people like Sanders, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez—are able to accomplish once they have the opportunity. At least in the short term, turning their ambitious bills into law will mean prying open the Overton window in policy debates to accommodate what might elsewhere be considered fairly basic social-democratic demands. But with just 12 years left to prevent a total climate catastrophe, time is a luxury that progressives simply don’t have.

U.S.-Supported Mid-East War Has Killed 85,000 Children

KATHY KELLY – Recent polls indicate that most Americans don’t favor U.S. war on Yemen. Surely, our security is not enhanced if the U.S. continues to structure its foreign policy on fear, prejudice, greed, and overwhelming military force. The movements that pressured the U.S. Senate to reject current U.S. foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen will continue raising voices. Collectively, we’ll work toward raising the lament, pressuring the media and civil society to insist that slaughtering children will never solve problems.

War With Russia?

STEPHEN F. COHEN – War With Russia?, like the biography of a living person, is a book without an end. The title is a warning—akin to what the late Gore Vidal termed “a journalistic alert-system”—not a prediction. Hence the question mark. I cannot foresee the future. The book’s overarching theme is informed by past and current facts, not by any political agenda, ideological commitment, or magical prescience. This article is adapted from the concluding section of Stephen F. Cohen’s War With Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate, just published, in paperback and e-book, by Skyhorse Publishing.

Voting Is Not the Only Way to Make Change Happen

RIVERA SUN – Change happens on many levels: cultural, economic, industrial, social, artistic, personal, psychological, spiritual, and more. We must work in all of them if we hope for lasting, systemic shifts. Don’t be fooled by the annual circus of voting. Go vote, sure, but don’t sit back down on the couch when you’ve cast your ballot.

The Top 11 Things the Dems Absolutely Must Do in the House

JUAN COLE – More progressive Democrats in the House must be prepared to fight like hell against the Pelosi-Schumer establishment, which will try to make them quiescent and go along with corporate priorities. What 2016 showed is that that platform is a formula for humiliating defeat and irrelevance. Democrats have to stand for something or people won’t bother to vote for them.

Collaboration, Not Fighting, is What the Rural West is Really About

STEVEN C. BEDA – While the origins of many present-day rural extremist movements can be traced back to frustrations with BLM policy in the 1970s, the Sagebrush Rebellion spawned another less talked-about movement: collaborative land management. Many people recognized that fighting over wilderness, grazing rights, timber harvests and endangered species protections was getting them nowhere. So in the 1990s, rural workers sat down with environmentalists, government agents and tribal representatives, and together they worked out agreements that would protect the land, preserve tribal resource rights and allow for continued grazing, mining and logging.

The Forever War’s Cheerleaders

LYLE JEREMY RUBIN – Coming home from the Forever War can be difficult. Not long after returning from Afghanistan as a Marine officer in early 2011, I found myself feeling betrayed by compatriots who worshiped the idea of my service while refusing to confront what that service entailed. There is a chasm of awareness that often exists between veterans and civilians, especially during an age in which an all-volunteer military prosecutes never-ending wars, and in which those Americans who end up experiencing combat prove statistically negligible. It isn’t so much a chasm of awareness as a chasm of memory.

Immigration Detention is a Stain on America’s Soul; Abolish It!

ANDREW MOSS – How do we transition from being a republic of fear to being an exemplar for other nations wrestling with issues of migration? And how, in redefining our identities as individuals and as a nation, do we come to see the border not as a site of separation and of threats, but as a place of coming together, as a site of possibility and creativity?

Nuclear Industry Continues Trying to Minimize Nuclear Accidents

JOHN LAFORGE – he World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. Claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.

Safety Eroding Further in the US Nuclear Weapons Complex

ROBERT ALVAREZ – Though the Cold War is long over, the Energy Department’s antiquated, contractor-dominated management system—in which safety goal posts are easily moved behind closed doors—continues to endure and, in some cases, thrive. Without the meaningful oversight of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the nuclear weapons complex will predictably march back to a time, in the not-so-distant past, when public and worker safety was an afterthought—with serious consequences.

U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue, for Now

KEVIN MARTIN – On September 12, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially certified Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “…are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.” This is required to allow U.S. planes to continue refueling jets for the Saudi/UAE coalition, without which it could not keep dropping bombs on targets in Yemen. Secretary of Defense James Mattis concurred with Pompeo, though congressional legislation required only Pompeo’s say-so.

Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, and No One Is Talking About It

LEE CAMP – We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names. Once every 12 minutes.

Bipartisan Dysfunctionality Puts The World At Risk

POPULAR RESISTANCE – All of humanity is being put at risk by the duopoly of Democrats and Republicans opposition to dialogue with Russia. The combination of Russophobia and the Democratic Party’s compulsion to criticize Trump’s every action, even when he accidentally does something sensible, is preventing the two largest nuclear powers, with the two most advanced militaries in the world, from working together to create a safer and more secure world.

NATO: Time To Re-Examine An Alliance

CONN M. HALLINAN – It is finally time to re-think alliances. NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there is no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force. It is time NATO went the way of the Warsaw Pact and recognize that the old ways of thinking are not only outdated but also dangerous.

Curing Fascism

DAVID SWANSON – Fascism is a disease, a delusion, a toxic worldview. It’s encouraged and manipulated by propaganda. Its characteristics are numerous and to various degrees widespread and long-lasting.

Border Security: Wall vs. Principles

ROBERT KOEHLER – Consider the limited thinking that produces a concept such as “border security.” The essential assumption here is that the United States of America is primarily a physical container – three and a half million square miles of freedom and prosperity, whoopee, but the supply is limited. Sorry, have-nots, we don’t have room for you.

While Rome (and Most Everywhere Else) Burns: Climate Change Asserts Itself

MEL GURTOV – Every world leader who shrinks from directly addressing climate change through public and international policy is, to my mind, guilty of a crime against humanity. A harsh judgment? As I read scientists’ reports about just how fast the polar ice caps are melting, how quickly seas are rising, and how temperatures worldwide are making new records, I conclude that worsening environmental conditions are outrunning both scientific predictions and the ability to act in time. Inaction in such dire circumstances is inexcusable, and should be punishable, on behalf of humanity.

Which Is More Occupied, Crimea or Afghanistan?

DAVID SWANSON – I don’t propose comparing the horrors of the so-called longest U.S. war — as if the wars on Native Americans aren’t real — with World War II or Iraq. I propose comparing them with the people of Crimea voting to make their little piece of land part of Russia again. Which is more barbaric, immoral, illegal, destructive, and traumatic?

It’s a Miracle We Have Not Destroyed Ourselves Yet

KARY LOVE – Given we are still here, and the history of close calls, I concluded on the road to understanding the “Damascus” disaster, that only a loving god, watching out for drunkards and fools, can account for the many unexplainable “miracles” that have occurred along the way. As has been said, man has killed god, fortunately god is more merciful. Let us pray.

Russophobia Does Not Serve Our Self Interest

WINSLOW MYERS – With the executive branch demonstrably willing to gallop bareback off the established foreign policy reservation, the knee-jerk adversary of progressives for decades, the so-called “deep state,” with its reflexive fear of Russian totalitarian infiltration and its perpetuation of military dominance in all earthly spheres, may at least be providing a sorely needed element of restraint and integrity.

More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution

MATT WILKINS – The only thing worse than being lied to is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it’s true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it.