NICHOLAS KRISTOF – We face wrenching budget cutting in the years ahead, but there’s one huge area of government spending that Democrats and Republicans alike have so far treated as sacrosanct. It’s the military/security world, and it’s time to bust that taboo.
MICHAEL TRUE – “The same war continues,” Denise Levertov wrote, in “Life at War.” Her lament is even more appropriate for 2011 than as it was when she wrote the poem forty-five years ago. Columnists and academics, including International Relations professor Andrew Bacevich, Boston University, are finally acknowledging facts familiar to anyone “awake” regarding failed U.S. policies, wasted lives and resources during this period, Willfully ignoring such facts, as Professor Bacevich wrote, “is to become complicit in the destruction of what most Americans profess to hold dear.”
MICHAEL MARIOTTE – Citizen lobbyists sent more than 15,000 letters to Congress in December and made many, many phone calls to stop $8 billion in taxpayer loans for new nuclear reactor construction. And the final government funding bill, signed by President Obama, contains not one dime for new nukes!
The Senate was forced to pull the “Omnibus” funding bill it had proposed, which included the $8 billion in taxpayer loans for the nuclear industry, and instead a “Continuing Resolution” was passed that funds the government through mid-March.
DON KRAUS – The United States Senate has agreed to the New START Treaty. The bilateral nuclear arms treaty passed with bipartisan support by a 71 to 26 margin. The roll call vote came after months of highly partisan debate and despite a packed Senate schedule.
SPACE MART STAFF — Billed as the world’s first mass-produced electric car, this month’s launch of the Nissan Leaf is expected to send a jolt through an auto industry racing to build greener vehicles. The Leaf — short for Leading Environmentally-friendly Affordable Family car — has enjoyed a crescendo of industry buzz, last month becoming the first electric vehicle to win European Car of the Year.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In Oregon, the Nuclear Freeze movement was led by Citizen Action for Lasting Security, one of the organizations that later merged into Oregon PeaceWorks. As we end one year and begin a new one, it is encouraging to look back at historian Lawrence Wittner’s chronicle of that exciting movement. – Editor
Thirty years ago, Randall Forsberg, a young defense and disarmament researcher, launched the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Designed to stop the drift toward nuclear war through a U.S.-Soviet agreement to stop the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons, the freeze campaign escalated into a mass movement that swept across the United States. It attracted the support of nearly all peace groups, as well as that of mainstream religious, professional, and labor organizations.
NORMAN SOLOMON – On December 5th, in a column about economic policy, Paul Krugman focused on “moral collapse” at the White House — “a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.” Meanwhile, President Obama flew to Afghanistan, where he put on a leather bomber jacket and told U.S. troops: “You’re achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission.” For the Obama presidency, moral collapse has taken on the appearance of craven clockwork, establishing a concentric pattern — doing immense damage to economic security at home while ratcheting up warfare overseas.
ROBERT RACK – I happened into a conversation with man sitting next to me on a plane ten or fifteen years ago that today seems almost prophetic. It was one of those gradual conversations that can happen when you’re in a car or maybe in a stuck elevator for a long time with someone, where there’s no agenda or expectations and plenty of time to quietly think about what each other is saying.
TOM HAYDEN – We know that conservatives are extremists for order, but why have so many liberals lost their minds and joined the frenzy over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? As the secrets of power are unmasked, there is a growing bipartisan demand that Julian Assange must die.
RON LOWE – Let’s cut to the chase about the Tea Party. Do you want to spend another year listening to their hypocrisy and tomfoolery? Could it be that Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, and Republicans, are getting away with their lies because their base and many Americans are simply dumber than they are?
REID WILSON – Members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus may tout their commitment to cutting government spending now, but they used the 111th Congress to request hundreds of earmarks that, taken cumulatively, added more than $1 billion to the federal budget.
PETER BERGEL – Former U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford wrote in his journal on March 20, 1990, “Artists and peace workers are in it for the long haul and not to be judged by immediate results. Redemption comes with care.” Seeing the results of last month’s election, it would be easy to get discouraged. That’s why Stafford’s words are important. It reminds us that to deserve the name “peace worker,” we must take a long view, dedicating ourselves to a lifelong challenge.
JOE CIRINCIONE AND PAUL CARROLL – Headlines and pundits once again declare that we have a crisis on our hands in the wake of discovering that North Korea is building a new nuclear reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. More ominously, last Tuesday brought news of direct artillery barrages between North and South Korea, heightening tensions and costing lives. But as provocative and serious as this is, neither is a crisis. Both fit a clear pattern of North Korean behavior — a pattern that ultimately holds out the opportunity for progress.
BY LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this December on ratification of the New START Treaty, Republican legislators appear on the verge of producing an international disaster. From the standpoint of logic, there are excellent reasons to ratify the treaty. This agreement between the U.S. and Russian governments provides that each of the two nations would reduce the number of its deployed strategic nuclear warheads from 2,200 to 1,550.
BY ANGUS REID PUBLIC OPINION – As a new Congress prepares to take office in January, Americans believe that Health Care and Social Security should account for a large proportion of the country’s next budget, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found. Health Care (9.9%) and Social Security (9.9%) were the two main priorities for Americans, followed by Labor (8.4%) and Education and Training (8.4%).