JOHN LAFORGE – What is the government waiting for? Is a self-inflicted nuclear weapon disaster the only way to force the military to turn the nuclear pistols away from our heads and put the safety on?
JOHN LAFORGE – What is the government waiting for? Is a self-inflicted nuclear weapon disaster the only way to force the military to turn the nuclear pistols away from our heads and put the safety on?
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?
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?
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.
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.”
DR. BARRY GAN – Gun rights advocates rest their case heavily on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, insisting that the Second Amendment gives people the right to keep and bear arms. They are mistaken in their claim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TOM H. HASTINGS – John McCain frequently justifies his most war whacky ideas with, “I’d rather fight them over there than fight them here.” As if those are the two choices. As if presenting a non sequitur null set false dichotomy is a response that would ever work.
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.
NICHOLAS J. S. DAVIES – We need to restore legitimacy and reason to our own country’s international behavior, so we can begin to regain the moral and legal ground from which to defeat terrorism – theirs and ours.
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.
JAMES A. HAUGHT – Christ’s teachings were virtually a prescription for the compassionate “safety net” upholding people and families in modern democracies.
LAURA FINLEY – Surely some uber-conservative political candidates will call me out on “politicizing tragedy” but I don’t care. I don’t want to pray for victims. I don’t want to seek vengeance on perpetrators. I want this never to happen again; I want to never feel this weight again. Not just something but so many things must be done.
MEL GURTOV – The Paris accord gives us something to celebrate—a serious undertaking by virtually every country, rich or poor, to commit to reducing carbon emissions such that our warming planet does not rise another 2 degrees Celsius, and if possible no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The hope is that the combination of global commitments, technological advances, and business investments will literally turn the tide on climate change. But of course the devil is in the details, and in each country’s politics.
GEORGE MONBIOT – By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster, for until governments undertake to keep fossil fuels in the ground, they will continue to undermine [the] agreement they have just made.
DAVID SWANSON – Exploiting one tragedy to fuel hatred toward a large segment of the human population of earth is madness.
PAUL K. CHAPPELL – Today most people’s understanding of violence is naive, because they do not realize how much the Internet and social media, the newest incarnations of mass media, have changed warfare. The most powerful weapon that ISIS has is the Internet with social media, which has allowed ISIS to recruit people from all over the world.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Here is a condensed version of President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office on Sunday night, unofficially translated into plain English.
MAJD ISREB, M.D. – Syrian people have suffered enough for almost five years in the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII. American people who were generous enough to accept about 760,000 Vietnamese refugees, and many Bosnian refugees are surely able to extend a welcoming hand to less than 0.01 percent of the displaced Syrians.
PATRICK O’NEILL – In the wake of Pope Francis’s visit last month, controversy continues to swirl. Some Catholics wish the pope had focused primarily on what they feel is the most important issue for the Catholic church – abortion. Others applaud him for covering a broad variety of global issues. The LGBT community is upset by his private meeting with Kim Davis. Conservatives are frustrated by the choice of a gay man for a lector at the mass at Madison Square Garden. But in one area, Catholics are united. Ever since Pope Francis mentioned two rarely heard of Catholic leaders along with Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln to Congress, Catholics have been intrigued by the social activists their own history seemed to forget.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Even some of my favorite doves are advocating a mixed military response to ISIS. I can’t agree. The history of our violent response to terrorism began as a trickle, then a stream, then a torrent into Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria. Each and every time we “won” (deposed the Taliban in Afghanistan, “Mission Accomplished” by knocking over Saddam, the surge), the response from the terror side has gotten worse. Now, for pity’s sake, we see a genocidal terror caliphate. Our game of violence is a loser.
HARVEY WASSERMAN – As you read this, a terror attack has put atomic reactors in Ukraine at the brink of another Chernobyl-scale apocalypse. Transmission lines have been blown up. Power to at least two major nuclear power stations has been “dangerously” cut. Without emergency backup, those nukes could lose coolant to their radioactive cores and spent fuel pools. They could then melt or explode, as at Fukushima. Yet amidst endless “all-fear-all-the-time” reporting on ISIS, the corporate media has remained shockingly silent on this potential catastrophe.
VICTOR WALLIS – The more extreme the crimes of state, the more the state seeks to shroud them in secrecy. The greater the secrecy and the accompanying lies, the more vital becomes the role of whistleblowers – and the more vindictive becomes the state in its pursuit of them.
MEL GURTOV – The contrast between Obama the engager and Obama the warrior is striking. US arms exports to authoritarian regimes such as Pakistan’s, just one element of military aid, continue to rise even as we celebrate the President’s initiatives with Iran and Cuba.
FODAY JUSTICE DARBOE – In the wake of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris and the double suicide bombing in Beirut on November 12th, many Muslims took to Twitter to loudly and unequivocally condemn the terrorists attacks with the hashtags— #NotInMyName, #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist, but is this enough to counter Islamic extremism? When will “moderate Muslims” stand up and speak against the terror and mayhem committed in the name of Islam?
PETER BERGEL – Thanks to Foday Darboe for setting an example to those he calls “moderate Muslims.” I will follow his lead to set an example for “patriotic Americans.”
RIVERA SUN – In the past 36 hours, I have watched and listened to hundreds of reactions of ordinary people to the attacks in Paris. With a clenched gut, I feared the reiteration of the sequence of 9/11: anger, shock, fear, calls for vengeance, war, and more violence. Instead, I saw the unexpected, and a tendril of hope grew inside my heart.
PHYLLIS BENNIS – France is in mourning and in shock. We still don’t know how many people were killed and injured. In fact, there’s a lot we still don’t know—including who was responsible. The ISIS claim of responsibility tells us virtually nothing about who really planned or carried out the attacks; opportunist claims are an old story. But the lack of information hasn’t prevented lots of assumptions about who is “obviously” responsible and what should be done to them. Already the call is rising across France—“this time it’s all-out war. But we do know what happens when cries of war and vengeance drown out all other voices; we’ve heard them before.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Democracy, said Winston Churchill, is the worst form of government—except for all the rest. This is also true for nonviolence. When people are victims of injustice, especially a violent injustice, a violent response is easy to justify. “I’m not going to sit still while someone attacks me,” is quite reasonable. But the consequences of our actions are worth considering.
LAURA FINLEY – Several days ago, the Miami Herald published an editorial from a college student who argued that allowing students on college campuses to carry concealed weapons was not only a constitutional right but would help prevent rape. While I appreciate her passion for the subject and am saddened to read about anyone’s victimization, this position is deeply problematic. I don’t wish to take up the constitutional argument here, but I cannot in good conscience fail to respond to the argument that a woman with a gun can prevent a rapist from sexually assaulting her.
DAVID SOLEIL – What if instead of living in reactive fear of death, that we engaged in the pro-active, life-affirming love of building a caring community?
ROBERT HINDS – It is a false notion that peace can be won by ramping up for war. As America has been at war, one after another, peace is almost never achieved by this strategy. Peace generally comes from diplomacy and a willingness to put the needs of society above the desires of the elite.
WINSLOW MYERS – Another mass shooting in the U.S.; Russia attacking whomever it thinks most threatens Assad; the carnage across vast swaths of the Middle East, where a Hobbesian chaos reigns so complete that one can no longer tell the players apart enough to decide upon rational strategic policy—these disparate events are united by one primal cultural assumption: that humans murdering other humans represents an effective way to resolve conflicts.
DAVID SWANSON – The accepted story in the United States of what’s happened in Syria is just that, a story told to make narrative sense of something completely un-understood.
ARNOLD OLIVER – More than five years ago a soldier named Bowe Bergdahl left his U.S. Army unit in Afghanistan. He was captured, imprisoned in brutal conditions for five years, and finally released in a prisoner exchange in 2014. The Army is now considering whether he should be court-martialed for desertion and other crimes. Bergdahl’s case needs to be understood, not only in terms of his actions, but also what is known about the psychology of war. What we have learned ought to give pause to those eager to send young people off to fight and die. To explain, let’s review some of the research on the psychological stressors relevant to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
GEORGE LAKEY – Does Japan have a security problem? Of course — to be a nation is to have a security problem. But real pragmatists ask for fresh alternatives to militarism.
NICHOLAS J. S. DAVIES – For millions of victims of U.S. war crimes and for the future of our country and the world, whoever we elect as our next President must be ready on day one to start dismantling this infernal war machine and building a “permanent structure of peace,” on a firm foundation of humanity, diplomacy and a renewed U.S. commitment to the rule of international law.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The New York Times reported last week that U.S. soldiers still fighting the war in Afghanistan — 14 years on — are under orders to be “culturally sensitive” regarding different attitudes among our Afghan allies about, uh … the sexual abuse of children.
MEL GURTOV – Several developments in China over the past few weeks have shown us a country quite different from the one often portrayed by outsiders—an emerging superpower, with global economic reach and ambitions to challenge American predominance, at least in Asia. The real China, the one most familiar to its citizens, faces serious, long-term problems at home. Therefore, President Obama can either press China hard on currency valuation, human rights, and cyberhacking, or he can engage in a dialogue of equals and pursue common ground on climate change, Iran, the South China Sea dispute, and North Korea. In choosing the latter course, Obama would be recognizing that Xi is plagued by domestic problems largely of his own making. US pressure on him now would not only be strongly resented; it would be quite counterproductive. Let the Chinese people determine the fate of what Xi Jinping calls the “China dream.”
LAWRENCE WITTNER – When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons. But the NPT—which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970—has two kinds of provisions. The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability. The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons. Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
TOM H. HASTINGS – In the field in which I teach, Peace and Conflict Studies, we examine alternatives to violence or the threat of violence in the management of conflict. We are a transdisciplinary field, that is, we don’t only draw from an interdisciplinary set of research findings–e.g. Anthropology, Economics, Education, History, Law, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology–but we do so with certain provisos. Our stance favors fairness, justice, and nonviolence. Our research examines both why humans use destructive methods of conflict and why and how we use constructive, creative, transformative, nonviolent methods of handling conflict. We look at interpersonal conflict and social (group-to-group) conflict.
JAMES A. HAUGHT – One of my history-minded friends has a long-range political view summed up in three words: Liberals always win. Complex social struggles may take centuries or decades, he says, but they eventually bring victory for human rights, more democratic liberties, a stronger public safety net, and other progressive goals.
DAVID SWANSON – I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn’t favor “only the smart wars” or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism.
ROBERT J. GOULD – We need weapons of mass instruction, not mass destruction, in order to slow, stop, and reverse the tragic mass shootings that plague our country.
LAURIE DAUGHERTY – Peter Nelson, author of the Aug. 22 guest opinion, “Time for energy realism in Oregon,” and president of Marc Nelson Oil Products, Inc., should join the 21st century.
MEL GURTOV – The dynamics of how the American taxpayer is endlessly tapped to provide massive and unnecessary funds for the US military is explained. Gurtov is not writing about the core military requests for defense of the U.S., but rather the corruption and global adventurism that places US personnel in harms way, and cheats the U.S. itself out of funds needed for the well being of our people.
JOHN LAFORGE – Chinese authorities seized more than 881 pounds of baby milk formula that had been imported from Japan because it had been produced in areas known to be heavily contaminated with radioactive material emitted by three damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi complex. China’s Xinhua news agency reported that quarantine officials said that no excessive radioactive material was found in the formula, but the baby food was sent back to Japan because China has had a ban on any imports from the areas around Fukushima.
TOM H. HASTINGS – We are SOS in the Middle East. Stuck on Stupid. Can we get unstuck?