Category: Analysis

Errors and Lies: How the U.S. Was Lied into War

PAUL KRUGMAN – Surprise! It turns out that there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago. But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Jeffrey Sterling vs. the CIA: An Untold Story of Race and Retribution

NORMAN SOLOMON – A dozen years before his recent sentencing to a 42-month prison term based on a jury’s conclusion that he gave classified information to a New York Times journalist, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was in the midst of a protracted and fruitless effort to find someone in Congress willing to look into his accusations about racial discrimination at the agency. ExposeFacts.org has obtained letters from Sterling to prominent members of Congress, beseeching them in 2003 and 2006 to hear him out about racial bias at the CIA. Sterling, who is expected to enter prison soon, provided the letters last week. They indicate that he believed the CIA was retaliating against him for daring to become the first-ever black case officer to sue the agency for racial discrimination.

Iran Nuclear Talks. A Fresh Tone in Washington with a Breath of Oregon

PATRICK T. HILLER – It is easy to be a cynic listening to some of the more nonsensical chatter coming out of Congress. Despite the most comprehensive international agreement between the United States and its P5+1 partners (the members of the UN Security Council and Germany) with Iran on its nuclear program, the calls to bomb Iran are still too loud for them to be dismissed.

U.S. Bill of Rights Rewritten to Match Today’s Reality

DAVID SWANSON – There just might be a big boost in government honesty soon, as both houses of Congress have now passed with two-thirds votes and sent to the states for ratification a potential 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution bearing the unofficial title “The Truth in Advertising Amendment.” This is the text as passed by Congress: Amendment 28.

The Limits of U.S. Missile Defense

STEVEN PIFER – On March 23, 1983, Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as “Star Wars.” After thirty-two years and tens of billions of dollars, defending the U.S. homeland against attack by strategic ballistic missiles still poses a daunting challenge. Missile defense ambitions have been regularly scaled-back. The United States should make prudent investments in missile defense as part of its overall force mix. But Washington should bear in mind the limits of technology and the nature of the relationship between offense and defense, in which offense has and, for the foreseeable future will retain, the advantage.

Could Iran be Just the Start?

ERIKA SIMPSON – The most high-profile nuclear issue is the interim accord between Iran and six world powers to restrict Iran’s development of nuclear power. And if the fundamentals of the Iranian deal could be treated as a template for all countries, the international community would be well on its way to choking off the supply of weapons-usable material everywhere.

Earth Day Means Leave It Better than You Found It

TOM H. HASTINGS – How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football. The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenges and social meaning for many of us.

Can War Be Ended?

JOHN HORGAN – Fisticuffs have broken out in The Guardian between two intellectual big shots, philosopher John Gray and psychologist Steven Pinker. The fight, which features lots of rhetorical flourishes and high dudgeon, addresses a serious issue: Is humanity achieving moral progress? Or, as Gray would put it, “progress”? More specifically, are we becoming less violent? I’ve written about this question myself, so in this post I’ll try to adjudicate the dispute, indicating what each scholar gets right and wrong.

Meeting Einstein’s Challenge: New Thinking about Nuclear Weapons

ROBERT R. HOLT – In May 1946, The New York Times reported that Albert Einstein had sent a telegram appeal to several hundred prominent Americans, asking for contributions to a fund “to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential” in the atomic age. Einstein wrote in his telegram: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” It is clear from other statements made by Einstein that the new thinking he called for was to abandon competition and the preparation for war, and to focus instead on cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Einstein added that, to be successful, such changes presupposed the eventual creation of a world government.

$56 Billion to be Spent on Nuclear Weapons This Year

ROBERT F. DODGE, M.D. – Following the arrival of spring each year, our nation renews its commitment to our priorities on Tax Day, April 15th, from education to health care, infrastructure and national defense. Included among these expenditures are nuclear weapons programs—weapons that can not and must not ever be used. The funding for these programs, while more transparent than in the past, is still quite secretive. From the beginnings of our nuclear programs in 1940 we have spent as a nation in excess of $6 trillion dollars on them. This Tax Day we will spend ~$56.3 billion more on these same programs. From Los Angeles County’s expenditure of $1.785 billion to our nations capitol at $107 million, these are monies that we can ill afford to spend.

Bacevich: National Security ‘Experts’ Are Bullshitting Us Into Another Quagmire

ANDREW J. BACEVICH – Policy intellectuals — eggheads presuming to instruct the mere mortals who actually run for office — are a blight on the republic. Like some invasive species, they infest present-day Washington, where their presence strangles common sense and has brought to the verge of extinction the simple ability to perceive reality. A benign appearance — well-dressed types testifying before Congress, pontificating in print and on TV, or even filling key positions in the executive branch — belies a malign impact. They are like Asian carp let loose in the Great Lakes.

Why Corporate America is Reluctant to Take a Stand on Climate Action

MARC GUNTHER – The EPA’s Clean Power Plan might be the only hope the US has to make a real dent in the climate change battle. So why aren’t more companies onboard? Many environmental groups consider the Obama administration’s plan to regulate carbon-spewing coal plants, which aims to cut carbon pollution by 30%, as one of our last chances to win the fight against climate change. But the vast majority of their top corporate partners – companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, FedEx, UPS, Target and Walmart, which have worked with environmental NGOs for years – aren’t backing them up, according to a Guardian survey.

Obama Admits Global Scale of U.S. Militarism

PATRICK MARTIN – [January 3, 2015] Last month President Obama dispatched a formal letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, listing a series of countries where US troops were or have been engaged in military operations during 2014. The preamble explains that the document is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.” If one combines the operations reported in this letter with published reports about the deployment of US troops in supposed noncombat situations, as well as joint military exercises with NATO countries and other US allies, it is possible to present a picture of the vast worldwide scope of US military activities in the course of last year.

Interconnected Struggles: Jeju Island, Detroit, Sao Paulo

KATHY KELLY – Living, as I briefly do, in a world of imprisoned beauty, on an island inside that archipelago of U.S. prisons so unacceptably similar to that of our old superpower rival, it’s no wonder I’m thinking of Prof. Yang Yoon Mo. What we do to the environment, we’re doing to each other. What we let our state impose on those walled beyond our borders we will tend to inflict on more and more people walled up within them, until there is no world of beauty left to keep safe for our own use, and no trust left on which any safety can be built. Until it all dries up. Whereas if we recommit to risk and beauty, refusing paths of alleged safety which only avoid temporary danger by leading us toward certain doom, if we seek our security in treating other people fairly, we may find our way to decent lives, along the way toward “decent human survival.”

Great Speech in Selma, Mr. President!

WINSLOW MYERS – Very stirring and eloquent words at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Mr. President, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. President Obama: “What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.” Not only that nonviolent change is possible, Mr. President, but that nonviolence is by far the most effective route to change both at home and abroad. So stop sending those drones to kill innocent children in faraway desert lands, murders that create more terrorists than they eliminate!

How Obama’s Aggression in Ukraine Risks Nuclear War

ROBERT ROTH – I voted for Barack Obama for president twice, for one reason: I thought he would not get us into a nuclear war. Now I’m afraid even that reason for my vote is wearing thin, threatened by US and NATO aggression in Ukraine. As the US continues threatening to send so-called “defensive” weapons to the Ukraine government and to impose yet more economic sanctions against Russia – despite the recent ceasefire agreement beginning to take hold – the prospect of Armageddon by accident increases. Moreover, Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he would (understandably) regard the US arming the Ukrainian military an act of war, to which Russia would respond. I don’t think that means he would resort to nuclear weapons, at least initially. But if the already tense situation continues to heat up, anything could happen.

Will the U.S. Government Stand Alone in Rejecting Children’s Rights?

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Within a matter of months, the U.S. government seems likely to become the only nation in the world still rejecting the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Sometimes called “the most ratified human rights treaty in history,” the Convention has been ratified by 195 nations, leaving the United States and South Sudan as the only holdouts. South Sudan is expected to move forward with ratification later this year. But there is no indication that the United States will approve this children’s defense treaty.

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.