CLIO CHANG and RYAN GRIM – The senate vote this month to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen marked a historic break from a bipartisan embrace of a pro-war foreign policy, yet it was accomplished without strong backing from Washington’s liberal foreign policy infrastructure. The resolution, co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., invokes the rights laid out in the War Powers Act of 1973 that assert Congress’s authority over war, and it was the result of many months of work by a coalition of progressive activists and anti-war lawmakers. The war is Saudi-led, but the U.S. has provided critical support, and an end to that support effectively means an end to the war.
PAUL STREET – The case for Trump’s ouster grows stronger by the week. Beyond his possible obstruction of justice, criminal acceptance of foreign emoluments while in office and felonious campaign finance violations—any one of which could provide grounds for legal proceedings against him—the president has routinely embraced authoritarian rulers around the world and engaged in obvious appeals to violence. He has, at every turn, revealed himself to be entirely unfit for office.
POPULAR-RESISTANCE – On Friday, December 14, President Trump had another long phone call with the Turkish President Erdogan. Thereafter he overruled all his advisors and decided to remove the U.S. boots from Syria and to also end the air war. This was the first time Trump took a decisive stand against the borg, the permanent neoconservative and interventionist establishment in his administration, the military and congress, that usually dictates U.S. foreign policy. It was this decision, and that he stuck to it, which finally made him presidential.
MEL GURTOV – There are no winners, here or abroad, in Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. But there are important losers: innocent lives and prospects for peace. However remote a political settlement in Syria and Afghanistan might have been before, it is even more remote now. With the US largely out of the picture, incentives for adversaries—Syria and Russia in Syria, the Taliban in Afghanistan—to negotiate war-ending or at least violence-reduction agreements are now gone. Civil war is likely to gain intensity. Civilian casualties and refugee numbers will rise substantially. A new regional war is possible. The defeat of peace should be the focus of critics’ concern.
GEORGE LAKEY – The cause of rising fascism is the economic elite and its wish to take more and more of the country’s wealth for itself. But, while touring the country the past couple years, I’ve seen an enormous amount of reactivity among progressives. That’s the opposite of what works for making progressive change.
ROBERT KOEHLER – The Senate’s “symbolic” Yemen vote matters hugely (you might say, in honor of co-sponsor Bernie Sanders). For one thing, Dems gain control of the House next year and the resolution could be reintroduced. Also, according to Reuters, some of the supporters are determined to introduce legislation calling for a ban on weapons sales to the Saudis; in other words, there’s more political action to come regarding U.S. involvement in this war.
NORMAN SOLOMON – As candidates and in office, the last two Democratic presidents have been young, dynamic and often progressive-sounding, while largely serving the interests of Wall Street, big banks, military contractors and the like. Do we need to make it three in a row?
KATE ARONOFF – Democratic socialism will be defined by what its most public adherents—people like Sanders, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez—are able to accomplish once they have the opportunity. At least in the short term, turning their ambitious bills into law will mean prying open the Overton window in policy debates to accommodate what might elsewhere be considered fairly basic social-democratic demands. But with just 12 years left to prevent a total climate catastrophe, time is a luxury that progressives simply don’t have.
JAMES HAUGHT – In the 2018 election, America’s shrinking segment of white evangelicals mobilized strongly for the Republican Party – but the rising cohort of nonreligious Americans failed to exert their full political power.
NAAMAN ZHOU – Thousands of schoolchildren across Australia walked out of class on Friday, November 30, to demand action by the federal government on climate change.
KATHY KELLY – Recent polls indicate that most Americans don’t favor U.S. war on Yemen. Surely, our security is not enhanced if the U.S. continues to structure its foreign policy on fear, prejudice, greed, and overwhelming military force. The movements that pressured the U.S. Senate to reject current U.S. foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen will continue raising voices. Collectively, we’ll work toward raising the lament, pressuring the media and civil society to insist that slaughtering children will never solve problems.
STEPHEN F. COHEN – War With Russia?, like the biography of a living person, is a book without an end. The title is a warning—akin to what the late Gore Vidal termed “a journalistic alert-system”—not a prediction. Hence the question mark. I cannot foresee the future. The book’s overarching theme is informed by past and current facts, not by any political agenda, ideological commitment, or magical prescience. This article is adapted from the concluding section of Stephen F. Cohen’s War With Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate, just published, in paperback and e-book, by Skyhorse Publishing.
JESSICA CORBETT – After years of empty promises and demands from frustrated members of Congress, the Pentagon finally conducted its first-ever comprehensive audit—and unsurprisingly failed it, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan revealed.
RIVERA SUN – Change happens on many levels: cultural, economic, industrial, social, artistic, personal, psychological, spiritual, and more. We must work in all of them if we hope for lasting, systemic shifts. Don’t be fooled by the annual circus of voting. Go vote, sure, but don’t sit back down on the couch when you’ve cast your ballot.