Category: Analysis

Petraeus won’t serve a day in jail for his leaks. Edward Snowden shouldn’t either.

TREVOR TIMM – The sweetheart deal the Justice Department gave to former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking top secret information compared to the stiff jail sentences other low-level leakers have received under the Obama administration has led to renewed calls for leniency for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And no one makes the case better than famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

It’s Time Oregon Put a Price on Carbon

CAMILLA THORNDIKE and DAN GOLDEN – Climate change hurts Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The region’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, viticulture and forestry — all of which are climate-dependent. Summers are hotter and drier with rains occurring as storms, rather than the typical drizzle. The snowpack is decreasing. Less water for irrigation, increasing incidence of pests and disease, and growing competition from weeds threatens local agriculture.

China-U.S. Strategic Nuclear Stability: The Chinese View

CHARLES D. FERGUSON – “To destroy the other, you have to destroy part of yourself. To deter the other, you have to deter yourself,” according to a Chinese nuclear strategy expert. During the week of February 9th, I had the privilege to travel to China where I heard this statement during the Ninth China-U.S. Dialogue on Strategic Nuclear Dynamics in Beijing. The Dialogue was jointly convened by the China Foundation for International Strategic Studies (CFISS) and the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). While the statements by participants were not-for-attribution, I can state that the person quoted is a senior official with extensive experience in China’s strategic nuclear planning.

A Military Manual for Nonviolent War

TINA ROSENBERG – Several years ago, before their protest movement was co-opted by violence, a group of young Syrians looking for a way to topple President Bashar al-Assad traveled to an isolated beach resort outside Syria to take a weeklong class in revolution. The teachers were Srdja Popovic and Slobodan Djinovic — leaders of Otpor, a student movement in Serbia that had been instrumental in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. After then helping the successful democracy movements in Georgia and Ukraine, the two founded the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Canvas), and have traveled the world, training democracy activists from 46 countries in Otpor’s methods. These two Serbs start with the concepts of the American academic Gene Sharp, the Clausewitz of the nonviolent movement. But they have refined and added to those ideas. In a new book, “Blueprint for Revolution,” Popovic recounts Canvas’s strategies and how people use them.

How to Get Out of the Nuclear Swamp

XANTHE HALL – This week I read an email exchange that made me think. Actually, it worried me deeply. In one of the messages an old friend described the Nuclear Weapons Convention – an idea many of us fought for since the early nineties – as a “fairy tale.” A second mail called it a “distraction.” The authors of these mails are not government representatives from nuclear weapon states or their allies, although you might be forgiven for thinking so. Both those descriptions have been used by states that want to brush aside the idea of a convention summarily, as if only for the very stupid or naïve. No, these were colleagues. Since the strategy of pursuing a so-called Ban Treaty has been advocated by the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear weapons (ICAN), at least by its International Steering Group and staff, a fierce debate has been raging between two groups. These are principally the younger and the older generation.

The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower

NORMAN SOLOMON – The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling — after his conviction Monday, January 26, as a CIA whistleblower. Sterling’s indictment four years ago received fleeting news coverage that recited the government’s charges. From the outset, the Justice Department portrayed him as bitter and vengeful — with the classic trash-the-whistleblower word “disgruntled” thrown in — all of which the mainline media dutifully recounted without any other perspective.

Congress Seeks Netanyahu’s Direction

ROBERT PARRY – Showing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech. Boehner made clear that Netanyahu’s third speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress – scheduled for Feb. 11 – was meant to counter Obama’s assessments.

How Rich Are the 400 Richest Americans – and What Do They Do with Their Money?

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In the supposedly classless society of the United States, the wealthiest Americans are doing remarkably well. According to Forbes, a leading business magazine, the combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans has now reached the staggering total of $2.3 trillion. This gives them an average net worth of $5.7 billion–an increase of 14 percent over the previous year.

The Revenge of the CIA: Scapegoating Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

NORMAN SOLOMAN – This [past] week, in a federal courtroom, I’ve heard a series of government witnesses testify behind a screen while expounding on a central precept of the national security state: The CIA can do no wrong. Those CIA employees and consultants are more than mere loyalists for an agency that soaks up $15 billion a year and continues to loosen the bonds of accountability. The docket says “United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling,” but a more discerning title would be “National Security State v. The Public’s Right to Know.”

Taking a Meaningless Progressive Stand in Congress

DAVE LINDORFF – The Democrats are showing their true colors now that they have lost control of both houses of Congress. Suddenly, with the assurance that they don’t have to worry about being taken seriously, the “party of the people” has come forward with a proposal to levy a 0.1% tax on short-term stock trades, particularly on high speed trading.

The Christmas Truce: Pitting Sanity Against Insanity

WINSLOW MYERS – A hundred years after the “Christmas Truce” it seems we would prefer to sentimentalize the story of Christmas in the trenches rather than using it as a measure of our own mental health. In the way we think about war, most of us suffer equally from group schizophrenia, made infinitely more dangerous by the presence of nuclear weapons combined with antique delusions of victory.

It’s Time Oregon Put a Price on Carbon

CAMILA THORNDIKE and DAN GOLDEN – Climate change hurts Southern Oregon. It hurts local businesses that rely on skiers and snowboarders when Mount Ashland fails to open. It hurts ranchers and farmers with drought and unseasonable heat. It hurts our forests when the fire season starts sooner and ends later each year. But these hardships are tiny compared to the challenges our children and grandchildren face if we fail to act on climate change.

How About Another Christmas Truce?

ARNOLD OLIVER – On the evening of December 24th a century ago, peace broke out in the most unlikely of places. In the blasted, putrid trenches of Belgium and France, soldiers fighting on the Western Front put aside their arms in what became known as the Christmas Truce. Although World War I was then only a few months old, there had already been a million combat deaths. Many soldiers were weary of the futility and horrific costs of the war, and thousands of them spontaneously stopped trying to kill each other.

Six Myths About Climate Change that Liberals Rarely Question

ERIC LINDBERG – We have a situation, then, where one half of the population says it is not happening, and the other half says it is happening but fighting it doesn’t have to change our way of life. Like a dysfunctional and enabling married couple, the bickering and finger-pointing, and anger ensures that nothing has to change and that no one has to actually look deeply at themselves, even as the wheels are falling off the family-life they have co-created. And so do Democrats and Republicans stay together in this unhappy and unproductive place of emotional self-protection and planetary ruin. Here are some of the stories we tell ourselves, to allow us to continue this behavior. How to kick the habit? That’s a little tougher.

How We Learned to Stop Playing With Blocks and Ban Nuclear Weapons

RAY ACHESON – “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.” This is the view of the 155 states that endorsed the joint statement delivered by Ambassador Dell Higgie of New Zealand. “The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination. The majority of states and their publics share this view. It is only a handful of states, generally among the most wealthy in the world, that have consistently resisted progress in this area.

Ferguson: Reliving or Reversing a Violent Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

DAVID RAGLAND with WAYNE ADAMS, MAHDIS AZARMANDI and MARK LANCE – It’s been 100 days since Darren Wilson killed unarmed young African American Michael Brown and the world is watching and waiting to hear the forgone conclusion of white officer Wilson’s non-indictment. Many expect a violent reaction from an angry community when there is no indictment. There is little mainstream coverage of the many groups within the St. Louis region that have begun important conversations, nonviolence trainings and planning to make positive change in their communities.

Obama Extends War in Afghanistan

KATHY KELLY – News agencies reported this morning that weeks ago President Obama signed an order, kept secret until now, to authorize continuation of the Afghan war for at least another year. The order authorizes U.S. airstrikes “to support Afghan military operations in the country” and U.S. ground troops to continue normal operations, which is to say, to “occasionally accompany Afghan troops” on operations against the Taliban.

American Journey From Terror to Peace, 9/11 to 11/11

ELIZABETH KUCINICH and DENNIS KUCINICH – America’s future may well be described by whether we can successfully navigate the path from terror to peace, a path from 9/11 to 11/11 and the spirit of Armistice. It is a path that requires truth, reconciliation, commitment and courage. War-weary Americans are ready for a new direction, whether official Washington is ready or not.

The Bases Of War In The Middle East

DAVID VINE – With the launch of a new U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State (IS), the United States has engaged in aggressive military action in at least 13 countries in the Greater Middle East since 1980. In that time, every American president has invaded, occupied, bombed, or gone to war in at least one country in the region. The total number of invasions, occupations, bombing operations, drone assassination campaigns, and cruise missile attacks easily runs into the dozens. As in prior military operations in the Greater Middle East, U.S. forces fighting IS have been aided by access to and the use of an unprecedented collection of military bases

Divestment on Campus: Debate is One-Sided

EVAN J. MANDERY – Climate change is our era’s defining challenge, but most of America’s universities are planning to sit this one out. Though students and faculty members at more than 400 colleges have called for administrators to divest from fossil-fuel energy companies, fewer than 20 have committed to doing so. Stanford recently divested from coal, but none of the other schools had endowments within the 150 largest in 2013.

Nuclear Power’s Dangers Are Not Banished by Denial

JOHN LAFORGE – Weakening radiation standards, a cap on accident liability, reactor propaganda vs improvements, old units running past expiration dates, revving the engines beyond design specs …. You’d think we were itching for a meltdown. The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended increased radiation exposure limits following major releases. It would save the industry a bundle to permit large human exposures, rather than shut down rickety reactors.

Risen’s New Book Exposes the “War on Terror”

NORMAN SOLOMON – No single review or interview can do justice to Pay Any Price — the new book by James Risen that is the antithesis of what routinely passes for journalism about the “war on terror.” Instead of evasive tunnel vision, the book offers big-picture acuity: focusing on realities that are pervasive and vastly destructive. Published this week, Pay Any Price throws down an urgent gauntlet. We should pick it up. After 13 years of militarized zealotry and fear-mongering in the name of fighting terrorism, the book — subtitled “Greed, Power, and Endless War” — zeros in on immense horrors being perpetrated in the name of national security.

When Liberals Go to War: As ISIS Slaughters Kurds in Kobani, the U.S. Bombs Syrian Grain Silos

AJAMU BARAKA – The U.S. is conducting a curious humanitarian war against ISIS in Syria. While Kobani, the largely Kurdish district that straddles the border with Turkey is being attacked by ISIS forces and facing the very real possibility of mass civilian killings if it falls, U.S. military spokespersons claimed that they are watching the situation in Kobani and have conducted occasional bombing missions but that they are concentrating their anti-ISIS efforts in other parts of Syria. Those other efforts appear to consist of bombing empty buildings, schools, small oil pumping facilities, an occasional vehicle and grain silos where food is stored to feed the Syrian people. Turkey also seems to be watching as the Kurds of Kobani fight to the death against ISIS.

Why Vote?

STARHAWK – We’re getting close to voter registration deadlines here in the US for our November elections, and it’s time for my periodic voting rant. Why vote, when politics are vile, the right wing is a pack of intransigent bullies and the politicians who call themselves progressive inevitably go belly-up and give in to them? Obama, the guy who stood for hope, turned out to be just another good-looking guy who let us down, and a true progressive like Bernie Sanders – I’m at an age where I go for older men! – probably doesn’t stand a chance. Nonetheless, it is vitally important that you vote, and here’s three good reasons why: the practical, the political, and the spiritual.

People’s Climate March Was a “Glimpse of the Movement We Need”

NAOMI KLEIN – Once every five or 10 years, Naomi Klein publishes a book that changes the way we see things. With No Logo, published in 1999, she explored corporate power in a globalized world and the movements springing up to resist it. The Shock Doctrine, published in 2007, showed how governments collude with big corporations to take advantage of natural and human-made disasters to push through deeply unpopular change.Her newest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is another transformational book.

What Would a Paradigm for Peace Look Like?

DAVID SWANSON – Raise your hand if you weren’t surprised when fancy films of beheadings resulted in bombings? Keep your hand up if you weren’t shocked when bombings resulted in more brutality and beheadings? Is it possible we need a radically different way of thinking about how to solve violence?

Overcoming Our Inner Dinosaur

WINSLOW MYERS – Is it too much of a stretch to link the alleged police execution of Michael Brown in Missouri with the terrorist execution of journalist James Foley somewhere in Iraq? Setting aside obvious differences, do these tragedies have anything in common?

A Good End Date for the New War Is Today

DAVID SWANSON – Here’s my basic contention: Congress knows how to compromise. We don’t have to pre-compromise for them. (How’d that work out on healthcare?) (How’d that ever work out?) And when we do pre-compromise for them (such as the time AFSCME banned “single-payer” signs from “public option” rallies, so as to simulate public demand for what “progressive” Congress members were pretending to already want) we give significant support and respectability to some serious outrages (such as privatized for-profit health insurance, but also such as bombing Iraq yet again and bombing the opposite side in Syria that was to be bombed a year ago and while arming that same side, which — if we’re honest about it — is madness.

Human Shield and Collateral Damage Excuses Are Terrorist Arguments

ROBERT J. GOULD – Lady Justice, Justitia, depicted as a blindfolded statue since the 15th century, illustrates John Rawl’s conception of justice as requiring a veil of ignorance (A Theory of Justice, 1971). Such a veil of ignorance means that, in order to be just, we must ignore the differences between people, such as their identity, power or weakness. To be just, in the following cases, we must not victimize the innocent, whether that person is a cherished child in one’s family or an unknown girl in Iraq, Gaza, or Israel. To do otherwise, in cases of violent conflict, would not only be unjust, it would be terrorism. If one accepts this principle, then the justifications of bombing “militants,” regardless of their use of human shields, or the inevitable civilian deaths as “collateral damage” are fallacious arguments, as explained below.

It’s Time to Give Up Our Nationalist Illusions

LAWRENCE WITTNER – After thousands of years of bloody wars among contending tribes, regions, and nations, is it finally possible to dispense with the chauvinist ideas of the past? To judge by President Barack Obama’s televised address on the evening of September 10, it is not. Discussing his plan to “take out” ISIS, the extremist group that has seized control of portions of Syria and Iraq, the president slathered on the high-flying, nationalist rhetoric.