Category: Analysis

Report Includes Recommendations for U.S. Fathers

ROB OKUN – Millions of men will wake up Sunday to handmade cards, neckties, and, maybe, a new electronic gadget. It’s Father’s Day 2016, a time to acknowledge dear old Dad. But beyond this increasingly commercialized day of purchasing manly presents lies a deeper, more important question: where is fatherhood in the U.S. going today?

Why Tuition-Free College Makes Sense

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – The major argument for free public college and university education is the same as for free public education in general: like the free public elementary and high schools already existing in the United States, free public higher education provides educational opportunity for all and strengthens the American workforce.

Evaluating Obama’s Foreign Policy Record

MEL GURTOV – How should we evaluate Obama’s foreign policy record? Right-wing critics will of course excoriate Obama for all the usual things—weakness against adversaries like Russia and China, negotiating with instead of subverting Cuba and Iran, eviscerating the US military, undermining relations with Israel. On the left, Obama is already being cast as another liberal leader whose actions failed to deliver on his promises, from Guantanamo to the Middle East. Historians will have plenty of things to quarrel about, but we need not wait.

Obama in Hiroshima Paints a Peace Sign on a Bomb

DAVID SWANSON – President Obama went to Hiroshima, did not apologize, did not state the facts of the matter (that there was no justification for the bombings there and in Nagasaki), and did not announce any steps to reverse his pro-nuke policies (building more nukes, putting more nukes in Europe, defying the nonproliferation treaty, opposing a ban treaty, upholding a first-strike policy, spreading nuclear energy far and wide, demonizing Iran and North Korea, antagonizing Russia, etc.). Where Obama is usually credited — and the reason he’s usually given a pass on his actual actions — is in the area of rhetoric. But in Hiroshima, as in Prague, his rhetoric did more harm than good. He claimed to want to eliminate nukes, but he declared that such a thing could not happen for decades (probably not in his lifetime) and he announced that humanity has always waged war (before later quietly claiming that this need not continue).

North Korea, Following China and India, Pledges No-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons. So Could Obama

JOHN LAFORGE – North Korea’s May 7 declaration that it would not be first to use nuclear weapons was met with official derision instead of relief and applause. Not one report of the announcement I could find noted that the United States has never made such a no-first-use pledge. None of three dozen news accounts even mentioned that North Korea hasn’t got one usable nuclear warhead. The New York Times did admit, “US and South Korean officials doubted that North Korea has developed a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile that would deliver a nuclear payload to the continental United States.”

Woman Describes How Street Abuse Feels

LAURA FINLEY – It wasn’t the first time. Like most women—84 percent across 22 countries, in fact– I have been catcalled by random men many times. In a widely shared 2014 experiment, a woman in New York City received 100 catcalls in just ten hours. But last night was definitely the scariest I have ever experienced. This man amped up his harassment.

Yes to Assertive, No to Aggressive

TOM H. HASTINGS – I teach and write in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, with a special focus on strategic nonviolence. It is a rich field, growing in its scholarship and its widespread usage. I’m so enthused by this—the more we wage our conflicts with nonviolence the lower the costs. Counting the costs of conflict, we normally think of blood and treasure, of casualties and expense. We are slowly beginning to also count other costs, including our environment, our relationships, our civil rights, our human rights, our metrics of democracy, and more. Nonviolence is superior to violence in every way if we read the research and consider all the costs.

Nuclear Ground Zero Is Everywhere Now

WINSLOW MYERS – Torture and rape are unbearable enough, but a nuclear war anywhere could throw billions of people into the misery of worldwide starvation. It is a dangerous illusion to assume that our political leaders and foreign policy experts will magically prevent apocalypse—that the generals on the front lines in Pakistan or anywhere else are sufficiently trained and disciplined never to fall into fatal error. With each further deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons, weapons that the United States and other nuclear powers are also developing, the temptation grows to cross the nuclear threshold. As Lao Tzu said, “if you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” All nations share an interest in stepping back from a catastrophe where any “victory” is a mirage that briefly disguises defeat for all.

Panama Papers Reveal How the 1% Operate

MEL GURTOV – One of the many tools at the disposal of multinational corporations (MNCs) for maximizing profits and undermining state sovereignty is moving operations to low-tax countries. Global companies do not simply “go abroad”; they shift capital, as well as labor and technology, to wherever the advantages are greatest. This reality of globalization is well known, and it is matched by the similar behavior of powerful, wealthy individuals, including present and former top government officials. Like the MNCs, wealthy individuals are not content to make tons of money at home if they can make even more by finding tax shelters abroad, where their money is completely hidden from public view. It’s what the One Percent do.

Here’s What a U.S. Military “Mistake” Looks Like

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “The people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces.” The doctor who uttered these words still thought the hospital itself was a safe zone. He was with Doctors Without Borders, working in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government forces were engaged in hellish fighting and civilians, as always, were caught in the middle.

North Korea’s New Weapons: Full Speed Ahead

MEL GURTOV – North Korea is on a military tear. How and when any of the weapons the North claims to have might actually be operational is open to speculation. What does seem clear is that Kim Jong-un is pressing his weapons specialists to produce a reliable deterrent that will force the issue of direct talks with the U.S.

Voices of Reason vs the Doomsday Lobby

JOHN LAFORGE – In 2010, three high-ranking military officials including Air Force Colonel B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of the US Air Force’s Strategic Plans and Policy Division who had worked directly for the Secretary of the Air Force, published a major policy paper suggesting that the US should unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal by more than 90 percent.

“Modernizing” the Opportunities for Nuclear War

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – A fight now underway over newly-designed U.S. nuclear weapons highlights how far the Obama administration has strayed from its commitment to build a nuclear-free world. The fight, as a recent New York Times article indicates, concerns a variety of nuclear weapons that the U.S. military is currently in the process of developing or, as the administration likes to say, “modernizing.”

Nonviolence is the Key to Bloodless Occupations

TOM HASTINGS – Video footage of the Oregon State Police shooting of armed occupier LaVoy Finicum following a vehicular chase is so very sad to watch. Finicum may have been quite stupid in his belief that American public lands should belong to private ranchers, but he did not deserve to die. Sadly, he arranged for his own death.

What Should We Conclude From the Sanders and Trump Victories?

WINSLOW MYERS – Trump and Sanders in their stark difference both from each other and from establishment candidates exemplify our national duality: fear-mongering and oversimplification from Trump, idealism and authenticity from Sanders. Every four years we have a fresh chance to look both for the real America and for the best possible America. Fifty-seven years ago, King pointed the way.

Dragging Our Feet Toward Nuclear Disaster

IRA HELFAND – A United Nations meeting in Geneva [in early March] could have enormous implications for United States national security, but it is being ignored by most of the media and by America’s political leaders. It deserves serious attention. A new policy-making body called the Open Ended Working Group [was to] consider ways to break the current impasse in efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear war.

Stifling Academic Freedom the NRA Way

LAURA FINLEY – That conservative forces have long sought to squash dissent and curtail rigorous academic debate on campuses is far from a secret. From the militarization of many campuses, academic repression of faculty, excessive and difficult-to-navigate bureaucracies, limitations on free speech and more, college students, staff and faculty members today face many challenges as they seek to explore, debate, and take action on critical and difficult issues. The gun lobby has seized on this environment of academic stifling, promoting firearms as the answer to an array of problems on campuses and beyond. Don’t want to get raped? Carry a gun, or it’s your own fault. The best way to prevent an active shooter situation? Everyone pack heat. The chilling effect of the campus carry laws that have been enacted has been immediately visible.

The Trillion Dollar Question

LAWRENCWE WITTNER – Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates? The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died.

Building New “Nonviolent Cities”

JOHN DEAR – If Carbondale, Illinois can seek to become a nonviolent city, any city can seek to become a nonviolent city. This is an idea whose time has come. This is an organizing strategy that should be tried around the nation and the world. The only way it can happen is through bottom-up, grassroots organizing, that reaches out to include everyone in the community, and eventually becomes widely accepted, even by the government, media, and police.

Zero-Sum in Brussels: the Savage Vision Driving a Terror-Ridden World

CHRIS FLOYD – The atrocities in Brussels — and they are horrific, criminal atrocities — are not occurring in a vacuum. They are not springing from some unfathomable abyss of motiveless malevolence. They are a response, in kind, to the atrocious violence being committed by Western powers on a regular basis in many countries around the world. And just as there is no justification for the acts of carnage in Brussels (and Paris and Turkey and elsewhere), there is likewise no justification for the much larger and more murderous acts of carnage being carried out by the most powerful and prosperous nations on earth, day after day, year after year.

Diplomacy Needed in Dealing with North Korea

MEL GURTOV – The longstanding US approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons is way off the mark. The Obama administration’s strategy of “strategic patience” shows little attention to North Korean motivations. The US insistence that no change in policy is conceivable unless and until North Korea agrees to denuclearize ensures continuing tension, the danger of a disastrous miscalculation, and more and better North Korean nuclear weapons. The immediate focus of US policy should be on trust building.

More U.S. Troops Killed by Halliburton than by Iraqis

DAVID SWANSON – The geniuses running the U.S. military set up U.S. bases in Iraq at the sites of old chemical weapons piles, dug giant burn pits into the ground, and began burning the military’s trash — monumental quantities of trash, something like The Story of Stuff on steroids. They burned hundreds of tons of trash every day, including everything you can think of: oil, rubber, tires, treated wood, medicines, pesticides, asbestos, plastic, explosives, paint, human body parts, and . . . (wait for it) . . . nuclear, biological, and chemical decontamination materials.

We Must Confront Our Toxic Legacy

ROBERT C. kOEHLER – Maybe if we declared “war” on poison water, we’d find a way to invest money in its “defeat.” David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz make this point: “The price tag for replacing the lead pipes that contaminated its drinking water, thanks to the corrosive toxins found in the Flint River, is now estimated at up to $1.5 billion. No one knows where that money will come from or when it will arrive. In the meantime, the cost to the children of Flint has been and will be incalculable.” I sit with these words: “No one knows where the money will come from.”

Why Brother Bernie Is Better for Black People Than Sister Hillary

CORNELL WEST – The future of American democracy depends on our response to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And that legacy is not just about defending civil rights; it’s also about fighting to fix our rigged economy, which yields grotesque wealth inequality; our narcissistic culture, which unleashes obscene greed; our market-driven media, which thrives on xenophobic entertainment; and our militaristic prowess, which promotes hawkish policies around the world. The fundamental aim of black voters—and any voters with a deep moral concern for our public interest and common good—should be to put a smile on Martin’s face from the grave.

What Republicans Risk By Obstructing Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination

BILL SCHER – Seeing the madness that is the Republican presidential primary, one could see why the Republican Party’s first instinct is to reflexively obstruct. But after making a cold calculation, clear-headed Republicans will see that the logical move is to make a deal. The only question remains: How many clear-headed Republicans are left in the Senate?

Put the Threat of Nuclear War Back on Your Radar

IRA HELFAND – Recently, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced it was keeping its famous Doomsday Clock at three minutes to midnight. In making this decision, their panel of experts, including 16 Nobel Laureates, cited the growing danger of nuclear war. The danger of nuclear war? For most people today, the threat of nuclear war isn’t even on their radar screens. It needs to be.

Open Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

ARVIN PARANJPE – In the United States, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated widely with candy, flowers, and private expressions of affection. I proposed to my wife on Valentine’s Day and my kindergartner daughter, who was born on its eve, observes it with heartfelt cards to friends and family. I never suspected that St. Valentine’s Day, so sweet and whimsical, actually stands tribute for the ancient struggle against war and oppression.

WAAAHHHH…But We Don’t Wanna Get Arrested!

MIKE FERNER – As the macho, gun-toting, testosterone-addled cowboys who took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon call it quits, their pitiful whine can be heard all the way to Florida: “Waaahhh…but we don’t wanna get arrested…” So much for the rugged-individualists and badass proponents of personal responsibility. Let’s see what happens as their armed insurrection winds down. How will the system treat the militant bullyboys?

Time for a Reset in US-Saudi Relations

MEL GURTOV – How long must a so-called ally be tolerated and coddled, with mountains of arms, when its actions contradict US policy and violate international norms? Indefinitely, since access to oil, support of Israel, and reliance on the authoritarian Middle East monarchies have been staples of US policy for many decades. Yet wouldn’t it be worth considering that the violence and deprivations of human rights in the Middle East might be alleviated by US adherence to a different set of priorities: social justice, environmental protection (with a focus on water), accountable and transparent governance, and demilitarization through substantial reductions of armaments and arms transfers?

Open Letter: Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age

RICHARD FALK, DAVID KRIEGER (pictured) and ROBER LANEY – By their purported test of a hydrogen bomb early in 2016, North Korea reminded the world that nuclear dangers are not an abstraction, but a continuing menace that the governments and peoples of the world ignore at their peril. Even if the test were not of a hydrogen bomb but of a smaller atomic weapon, as many experts suggest, we are still reminded that we live in the Nuclear Age, an age in which accident, miscalculation, insanity or intention could lead to devastating nuclear catastrophe.

Nonviolence is the Key to Our Future

MICHAEL N. NAGLER – He came out against the war. Against all advice. In his famous speech opposing the Vietnam War at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King announced to the world his departure, or rather expansion, of his role as civil rights leader to that of a prophet warning “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, my own government,” that they had put themselves on a course “approaching spiritual death.”

Slaves in All But Name

COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND – Communities across the U.S. are stripped of their right to local self-government, and the right to protect themselves from corporate harms and the corporate state. Read how we are “Slaves in all but Name” in Community Rights Paper 11 – and what is possible with the Community Rights Movement.

Which Nation Truly Speaks for Nuclear Peace?

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And . . . as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it. “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Uh . . . These words, the core of President Obama’s first major foreign policy speech, delivered in Prague in April 2009, now resonate with nothing so much as toxic irony — these pretty words, these words of false hope, which disappeared into Washington’s military-industrial consensus and failed to materialize into action or policy.

What the Women of Berlin’s Rosenstrasse Protest Can Teach Us About Trump

RIVERA SUN – Many United States citizens are appalled at recent remarks by Donald Trump and other bigoted politicians advocating policies against Muslims that are eerily reminiscent of Nazi policies toward the Jews. The parallels between the 1930s-40s in Germany and the United States in 2015 are frightening. It is clear to many citizens that the rise of bigotry and fascism in our nation cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged. Organized resistance is essential. In this effort, revisiting the history of resistance to the Nazis offers us some tantalizing concepts.

Still Torture After All These Years

JOHN LAFORGE – A full accounting and criminal investigation of the torture regime must be made, including disclosure of videotapes of CIA interrogations under Bush and of force-feeding under Obama. There is no other way to demonstrate that law binds U.S. presidents, to ensure that such crimes are not repeated, to recover the right to condemn torture by other states, and to reduce the chances that captured U.S. soldiers will not be tortured using the same sickening rationale that Cheney still spews on Sunday talk shows.

Has the Time Come for Democratization of the Economy?

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Many Americans are becoming fed up with economic inequality. Of course, they might be distracted by xenophobia and fear-mongering, which have been promoted assiduously in recent months by pro-corporate politicians. Even so, there are growing indications that Americans favor democracy not only in their politics, but in their economy.

10 Good Things About The Not-So-Great Year 2015

MEDEA BENJAMIN – It would certainly be easy to do a piece about 10 horrible events from 2015, from the ongoing war in Syria and the refugee crisis, to the bombings in Beirut, Paris and San Bernardino, to the rise of Donald Trump and Islamophobia. But that wouldn’t be a very inspiring way to bid farewell to this year and usher in a new one. So let’s look at 10 reasons to feel better about 2015.