Category: Analysis

The Paris Climate-Change Agreement: Hold the Champagne

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.

How Our Naive Understanding of Violence Helps ISIS

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.

U.S. Values Demand That We Accept Syrian Refugees

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.

Pope Francis’ Call for Social Activism Follows in the Footsteps of Other “Radical” Catholics

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.

Don’t Try to Overthrow ISIS; Undermine It

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.

Nuclear Power Makes ISIS an Apocalyptic Threat

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.

Terrorism is Un-Islamic; Terrorism Is Un-American

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.”

Bombs Will Not Heal Our Broken Hearts

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.

Justice Not Vengeance After Paris

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.

Nonviolence Works Better

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.

Rape on Campus: Guns Are Not the Answer

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.

Can War Lead to Peace?

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.

Paradigm Shift Desperately Needed

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.

PTSD: The Hidden Price We Pay for Our Wars

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.

Record Military Budget Is Not a Decline in War Spending

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.

U.S. Policy Must Acknowledge China’s Insecurity

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.”

After the Iran Nuclear Agreement: Will the Nuclear Powers Also Play by the Rules?

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.”

How to Win Hearts and Minds in the Middle East

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.

The Tide of History Flows Left

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.

A Peace Activist Leads the Labour Party

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.

Pentagon Slush Fund Continues to Grow

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.

Fukushima Baby Milk Formula Declared Unfit by China

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.

Unlimited Power: Poison to the Nation’s Soul

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The awareness that must emerge from a decade-and-counting of torture revelations is that absolute power over others does not keep us safe and should not be pursued. And torture is only a minute fraction of the wrong we promulgate through unchecked militarism, the aim of which is domination of the planet. Step one in the unhealthy pursuit of power is the dehumanization of “the enemy.” The consequences of what we do after that will always haunt us.

Recent Civil Resistance Against Shell Oil Shows Important Role Nonviolence Plays

PATRICK T. HILLER – I don’t know any of the 13 activists who lowered themselves from the St. John ’s Bridge in Portland, Oregon, nor any of the dozens of kayakers paddling in the Willamette River below them, but they succeeded in a temporary blockade of the Shell-leased Arctic-bound icebreaker MSV Fennica. I know that the activists participated in our democracy—they were nonviolent and far more civil than many members of Congress. The ship was in Portland for repairs of damage to the hull, which ironically occurred when it was scheduled to leave for the Arctic as part of the safety conditions Royal Dutch Shell Oil needed to fulfill for federal approval to drill for oil after a series of accidents in 2013.

What Do Americans Think About Economic Inequality?

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Academician Dr. Lawrence Wittner performed many literature reviews in his scholarly career; this essay is a mini-version of US citizen opinion on the questions surrounding our growing gap between rich and everyone else, as well as the decimation of the middle class. In this clear and objective logical survey of the wishes of the American people on serious questions, Wittner poses the unstated query: If we want it, why can’t we get it? The more times we ask this, the closer we come to saying it out loud and acting on it.

Obama and Osama: Where Does the Truth Lie?

IBRAHIM S. BAHATI – Since Osama bin Laden’s death 2 May 2011, the official account of the Navy Seals’ raid has been challenged, most recently and cogently by journalist Seymour Hersh, alleging that “Washington’s official account of the hunt for Bin Laden and the raid that led to his death was a lie.” In fact, there have been more “conspiracy-factual theories” about this event than there are on Illuminati. Was OBL there? Was he even alive then? Is he still?

In Iraq, I Raided Insurgents. In Virginia, the Police Raided Me.

ALEX GORDON – I had done this a few dozen times myself, 6,000 miles away from my Alexandria, Va., apartment. As an Army infantryman in Iraq, I’d always been on the trigger side of the weapon. Now that I was on the barrel side, I recalled basic training’s most important firearm rule: Aim only at something you intend to kill. I had conducted the same kind of raid on suspected bombmakers and high-value insurgents. But the Fairfax County officers in my apartment were aiming their weapons at a target whose rap sheet consisted only of parking tickets and an overdue library book.

Obama Must Ignore Middle Eastern Whiners About Iran

MEL GURTOV – One of the predictable outcomes of any US effort to reset relations with an adversary is that allies start whining about their vulnerability and demanding some sort of compensation for it. Thus, no sooner was the nuclear deal with Iran concluded than the Israelis, Saudis, and other Middle East partners criticize it as representing abandonment and emboldening Iran to become a stronger meddler in neighbors’ affairs. All sorts of dire predictions about horrendous consequences are already on record, clearly intended to influence the Obama administration to give these folks something for their pain—like money, arms (both of which they get in abundance), and especially new commitments.

NBC Dares Mention Climate in Spread of Lyme Disease, But Not Who Created Lyme Disease

DAVID SWANSON – Climate change is apparently encouraging the spread of Lyme disease, and a report by NBC News dares to say so. This may seem like a fresh breath of honest sanity in a media context in which even the weather reports usually avoid the topic of human global destruction. However, another topic is clearly still off limits: the topic of who created Lyme disease.

Nonviolence Was an Important Part of the U.S. Struggle for Independence

STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – When Gandhi met with the British viceroy Lord Irwin after his imprisonment following the 1930 Salt Satyagraha, they shared a pot of tea. Gandhi, mischieviously took out a package of contraband salt, opened it and sprinkled a bit into his cup. Looking at the astounded Lord Irwin he told him he did so in remembrance of the Boston Tea Party.

Obama’s Legacy for Africa Needs Improvement

FODAY DARBOE – In light of President Obama’s 2015 trip to Africa, likely his last trip to Africa as the U.S. president, it is appropriate to evaluate his government’s foreign policies in Africa since he assumed office. Through this assessment, it is sadly plain to see that Obama’s policies have not helped the vast majority of Africans. Instead, the policies have allowed the suppression of the African people’s hoped-for democratic reforms while simultaneously bolstering the power of corrupt African elites.