Category: Analysis

Hope, Voting and Creating the World You Want to Live In

PAUL ROGAT LOEB – We live in a time fraught with bad news. From the toll of violence and poverty to the escalating march of climate change, every week brings temptations to despair. Hope may actually be more beleaguered in the wake of a president who won the office in part by branding himself with it. Many have concluded that political participation has become a futile game. For myself, I deal with potential despair by finding ways to act. And remembering that the doors to social change are never irrevocably closed, even in unimaginably difficult situations.

Warning to War Supporters

DAVID SWANSON – I know you mean well. I know you think you’ve found a bargain that nobody else noticed hidden in a back corner of the used car lot. Let me warn you: it’s a clunker. Here, I’ll list the defects. You can have your own mechanic check them out:

Stepping Away from the “Gates of Hell”

WINSLOW MYERS – The way the United States has chosen to approach the chaos of the Middle East has far more frightening implications than we think, especially in terms of the world our children will inherit. If we are honest about how our adversaries perceive us, we will have to admit that there is a grand cycle of violence and insult operating, in which we ourselves are implicated up to our necks. If we are to have any chance of breaking this potentially endless cycle (our military bases in Saudi Arabia leading to 9-11; 9-11 leading to the second Gulf War, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; the second Gulf War helping to create ISIS; ISIS beheading our journalists; President Obama suckered into reluctant bellicosity etc. etc. etc), we have to start by admitting our own role in it—something extremely difficult for our culture, and therefore almost impossible for our political leaders.

Conventional Military Has Lost Its Power

STEPHEN KINZER – Today’s conflicts illustrate the declining value of conventional military power. For many decades, the United States dominated the world mainly because we had the most potent military. We still do — but that no longer brings the dominance it once assured. For much of history, power has been won on the battlefield. Victory depended on your army. If it was bigger, stronger, and better led than the enemy, you would probably win. That charmingly simple equation is now evaporating

Oregon Has Nation’s Lowest Total Effective Business Tax Rate

CHUCK SHEKETOFF – Oregon has the lowest “total effective business tax rate” in the country, according to a study (PDF), conducted by the accounting firm Ernst & Young on behalf of the Council On State Taxation (COST). The accounting firm found that the total state and local taxes paid by Oregon businesses amounted to 3.3 percent of Oregon’s private sector economy in fiscal year 2013, the smallest such contribution among all states.

Five Rules on Which to Base Authentic Security and a World at Peace

KENT SHIFFERD – The latest border changes in Ukraine are just another replay of too many past scenarios: the breakup of former Yugoslavia, East Timor, Chechnya, the Sudetenland Crisis of the 1930s, and the centuries-long back and forth of the Alsace and Lorraine between France and Germany. If we could base the resolution of these types of conflict on recognizing the five principles outlined here, we could greatly reduce the dangers of civil and interstate war.

The Lone Ranger Rides Again – America’s Return to Iraq

MEL GURTOV – In an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times on August 8, President Obama stressed that the US was only fighting the Islamic State (IS, or ISIS) in Iraq as a partner, not as Iraq’s or the Kurds’ air force. Obama claims his officials are reminding everyone, “We will be your partners, but we are not going to do it for you. We’re not sending a bunch of US troops back on the ground to keep a lid on things.” Now, less than three weeks later, the strategic picture has changed, and emphases on “partnerships” have faded while the US military complex advances largely on its own.

Possible GOP Ultimatum to Putin Too Much for True Conservatives

PAT BUCHANAN – Editor’s Note: “Who would have thought The PeaceWorker would run an article by conservative Pat Buchanan? Read it and you’ll see why.” July 28, 2014 – With the party united, the odds are now at least even that the GOP will not only hold the House but also capture the Senate in November. But before traditional conservatives cheer that prospect, they might take a closer look at the foreign policy that a Republican Senate would seek to impose upon the nation.

“Who Speaks for Earth?”

WINSLOW MYERS – Few people remember them today, but there were significant global leadership initiatives in the 1980s against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The dawn of the nuclear era had coincided with the beginning of the Cold War. People in the United States and their leaders viewed the world through the lens of East-West cold war superpower tensions, reinforced by the rigid dualistic convictions of officials like John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959. A quarter century further into the cold war era, nearly 200 less powerful nations came to realize that a superpower nuclear exchange was potentially just as life threatening to them as to the superpowers themselves.

Doom from the Depths: Coming Your Way

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Ever since the horrors of submarine warfare became a key issue during World War I, submarines have had a sinister reputation. And the building of new, immensely costly, nuclear-armed submarines by the U.S. government and others may soon raise the level of earlier anxiety to a nuclear nightmare.

U.S. Voters Hold Key to Peace in Middle East

DR. TOM H. HASTINGS – More than any other time in the history of the conflict over the tiny ancient land we call Israel and Palestine, voters from a land across the sea hold unused power to change the basic course and outcomes of that conflict. At this time, those voters–who are also largely taxpayers–are keeping the conflict hotter and more bloody by their failure to prioritize the issue.

It’s Time to Reform the Supreme Court — Here Are Five Ways to Do It

ERWIN CHEMERINSKY – In a forthcoming book, The Case Against the Supreme Court (to be published by Viking on September 25), I argue that throughout American history, the Supreme Court has largely failed at its most important tasks of enforcing the Constitution and protecting the rights of minorities. The Supreme Court’s decisions about race – aggressively enforcing the rights of slaveholders, approving “separate but equal” and Jim Crow laws for 58 years, most recently striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – have made society worse. Throughout American history, the Court has failed to enforce the Constitution in times of crisis, allowing violations of basic rights without making the country any safer. And the Court, especially today, has consistently sided with the interests of business at the expense of workers, unions, and consumers. In the last chapter of the book, I ask how the Court might be reformed to make it more likely to succeed at its most important tasks in the future. . . . I can identify at least five reforms, some large and some small, that would change the Court significantly for the better.

Editorial Position of the New York Times: Thumbs Up for Gaza Slaughter

ABBA SOLOMON and NORMAN SOLOMON – Over the weekend, the New York Times sent out a clear signal: the mass slaughter of civilians is acceptable when the Israeli military is doing the killing. Under the headline “Israel’s War in Gaza,” the most powerful newspaper in the United States editorialized that such carnage is necessary. The lead editorial in the July 19 edition flashed a bright green light — reassuring the U.S. and Israeli governments that the horrors being inflicted in Gaza were not too horrible.

In Gaza, U.S. Citizens are Paying Israel’s Tab

WIM LAVEN – A riveting letter is making its rounds from Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor volunteering in Palestine. In it, Dr. Gilbert describes his first-hand account of Israel’s boots on the ground in Gaza – the sounds of F16s, drones and Apache helicopters, “So much made and paid in and by US,” blended with the screams, the smells, the sight of shivers and blood. He pleads, “Mr. Obama – do you have a heart? I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa … I am convinced, 100 percent, it would change history.” Like President Obama, I’m complicit in this campaign of aggression in Gaza. We all are. The U.S. is using our money to pay for Israel’s party of death.

Suppression of Dissent in World War I: A Reminder of Where Fascism Leads

AL CARROLL – It is the anniversary of the assassination that led to the start of World War I. Some articles will focus on the veterans, or on what some falsely claim was the first time the US was not isolationist. (That was never true. The US freely invaded Latin America many times before this. World War I was just the first time since 1812 the US warred with a white nation.) But I would argue it is far more important to remember another American first, the first time modern propaganda stampeded the US into war and dissent was effectively criminalized.

Ready to Die for Oil? – Twenty-First-Century Energy Wars

MICHAEL T. KLARE – In a fossil-fuel world, control over oil and gas reserves is an essential component of national power. “Oil fuels more than automobiles and airplanes,” Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told a State Department audience in 2002. “Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics.” Far more than an ordinary trade commodity, “it is a determinant of well being, of national security, and international power for those who possess this vital resource, and the converse for those who do not.”

Before the Next ISIS, We Need Nonviolent Counterterrorism Strategies

ERIN NIEMELA – A relatively new group engaging in non-state political violence, ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, recently called for the creation of an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and a continuation and strengthening of jihad during Ramadan, according to a video that emerged through social media. ISIS, born of Al Qaeda members in Iraq and matured in the Syrian civil war power vacuum, is so radical that Al Qaeda “disowned” it. As if its goals of coerced dominance aren’t bad enough, Al Qaeda criticized ISIS for its brutality against civilians and Muslims. Repeat: Al Qaeda criticized ISIS. For brutality.

Iraq: It’s the Oil, Stupid!

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ – Events in Iraq are headline news everywhere, and once again, there is no mention of the issue that underlies much of the violence: control of Iraqi oil. Instead, the media is flooded with debate about, horror over, and extensive analysis of a not-exactly-brand-new terrorist threat, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are, in addition, elaborate discussions about the possibility of a civil war that threatens both a new round of ethnic cleansing and the collapse of the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Inequality Is Not Inevitable

JOSEPH SITGLITZ – An insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality?

Use Of Pilotless Drones For Assassinations Violates The Rule Of Law

ALICE SLATER – A secret US government legal memo, prepared for President Obama, was recently ordered to be released to the public by a Federal Court responding to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Administration’s legal reasoning clearly fails to justify the use of pilotless drones, controlled by a killer operator, sitting behind a desk somewhere in the US, aiming his computer joy stick at human targets on the ground, thousands of miles away.

Everywhere is War

ANDY PIASCIK – Summer approaches and the stench of war is all around. Or, as the great Bob Marley put it, Everywhere is War. Start with the commemorations over a five-week span of Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day, all presented varyingly as celebrations of our war dead, symbols of our greatness, the freedoms we love so dearly and seek to export to every corner of the world and, perhaps most important, the unquestioned rightness of our cause.

A Conservative Prescription for Avoiding the Coming Climate Crash

HENRY M. PAULSON JR. – There is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage. For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

Green Illusions: Climate Change Makes More Demands Than We Thought

OZZIE ZEHNER – Every day, the news about climate change and the harms that are sure to accompany it gets worse and worse. To many environmentalists, the answer is simple: power shift. That is, shift from fossil fuels to clean, green, renewable, alternative energy. Well-meaning concerned citizens and activists have jumped on the bandwagon. The problem with this simple solution: Things aren’t as simple as they seem.
TOM ZELLER JR – If his goal was to capture attention by tweaking the nose of clean-energy enthusiasts everywhere, Ozzie Zehner might well have succeeded. His new book, published last month and provocatively titled “Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism,” takes on what Zehner considers the sacred cows of the green movement: solar power, wind power and electric vehicles, among others.

Unparalleled Failure

TOM ENGELHARDT – The United States has been at war—major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, airstrikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts and covert actions—nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. That’s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions. Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that can’t be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.

Does War Have a Future?

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Countries are not only preparing for wars, but are fighting them―sometimes overtly (as in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan) and sometimes covertly (as in portions of Africa and the Middle East). Nevertheless, there are some reasons why war might actually be on the way out.

The Impossibility of Growth Demands a New Economic System

GEORGE MONBIOT – To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were miraculously to vanish, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible. Economic growth is an artifact of the use of fossil fuels.

“Army of One” Breeds Terrorists

ROBERT C. kOEHLER – “The definition and practice of war and the definition and practice of mass murder,” I wrote last year, “have eerie congruencies. We divide and slice the human race; some people become the enemy, not in a personal but merely an abstract sense — ‘them’ — and we lavish a staggering amount of our wealth and creativity on devising ways to kill them. When we call it war, it’s as familiar and wholesome as apple pie. When we call it mass murder, it’s not so nice.”

No, EPA’s New Regulations Are Not Going To Make The Poor Poorer

JEFF SPROSS – “The notion that we’re going to have poor people suffering because this measure is pushing up their electric bill is just nonsense. There’s literally nothing to support that.” That’s Dean Baker, a prominent Washington, D.C. economist and the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, reacting to the argument that new federal regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will drive up energy costs for lower-income Americans.

An Inconvenient Truth: U.S. Proposed Emission Cuts Too Little Too Late

KEVIN ANDERSON – While the science and math around 2°C provides an unequivocal basis for radical reductions in emissions from wealthier nations, the politics continues to deliver grand but ultimately ineffectual gestures. Politically Obama’s proposal is certainly courageous and one for which he deserves credit. But scientifically, the 30% target and the collective acquiescence it has triggered, is a death sentence for many of tomorrow’s more vulnerable communities.

Global Climate Change and Nuclear Abolition: One Urgent Issue

WINSLOW MYERS – The two-in-one of climate change and nuclear abolition is not something to be addressed after supposedly more immediate brush-fires are extinguished; by viewing it instead as a single challenge, an opportunity for cooperative prevention based in planetary self-interest, success will become a model for resolving more local conflicts without violence.

President of Prestigious Colleges Explains Why Divestment Makes Urgent Sense

JAMES LAWRENCE POWELL – Humans have already emitted enough CO2 to ensure that global warming will not end in the lifetime of any person reading this essay. As the years and decades go by and its effects become ever more dire, global warming will grow into a perennial campus issue. It is not going away. Some colleges will take the lead and divest now; others will follow eventually. The question for each college is whether, on the most important issue of this century, it will be a leader or a follower.

The Climate Is Invading the Earth!

DAVID SWANSON – If an alien invader with a face were attacking the earth, the difficulties that governments have getting populations to support wars on other humans would be multiplied a thousand fold. The most common response to officials calling some petty foreign despot “a new Hitler” would shift from “yeah, right” to “who cares?” The people of the world would unite in common defense against the hostile alien.

How is the Use of Fossil Fuel Like Slavery?

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The money system we live under, as Charles Eisenstein points out in his book Sacred Economics, is backed by growth: the necessity for more money. It’s called profit. We understand wealth, then, to be not a state of spiritual balance with ourselves and our environment, but as something that endlessly and forcefully accumulates, to no end except sheer linear growth. Our allegiance to such growth bequeaths us a moral system that justified (and continues to justify, with different terminology) slavery; and that excuses us from looking after the future. Knowing this may be the key to deciding to grow up.

The Art of Satyagraha (Gandhian Nonviolence)

David Swanson – Michael Nagler has just published The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action, a quick book to read and a long one to digest, a book that’s rich in a way that people of a very different inclination bizarrely imagine Sun Tzu’s to be. That is, rather than a collection of misguided platitudes, this book proposes what still remains a radically different way of thinking, a habit of living that is not in our air. In fact, Nagler’s first piece of advice is to avoid the airwaves, turn off the television, opt out of the relentless normalization of violence.

Your Doctors Are Worried About Nukes

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Your doctors are worried about your health―in fact, about your very survival. No, they’re not necessarily your own personal physicians, but, rather, medical doctors around the world, represented by groups like International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). As you might recall, that organization, composed of many thousands of medical professionals from all across the globe, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for exposing the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons.

Time to Wake Up – Replace Violence with Nonviolence

MICHAEL N. NAGLER – Maybe a kind of awakening is beginning. Former New York Mayor Bloomberg is setting up a $50 million fund to counteract some of the political muscle of the NRA, which is an interesting first step. But most politicians, when in office, are apparently unprepared to listen to this kind of reason. When that happens it is opportune to start small – simply don’t expose yourself to violent media and try to live in trust instead of fear. We make a difference as individuals, and we must make our difference in the right direction.