ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Why, why, why, as our ecosystem collapses, as millions of refugees flee the horrors of war and poverty, as the pandemic continues, as World War III and the possibility of nuclear Armageddon rears its evil head, as the planet trembles, does ever-expanding, global militarism remain our primary national purpose?
NETA C. CRAWFORD – The war in Afghanistan, like many other wars before it, began with optimistic assessments of a quick victory and the promise to rebuild at warâ€™s end. Despite Bushâ€™s warning of a lengthy campaign, few thought then that would mean decades. But 20 years later, the U.S is still counting the costs.
MILES MOGULESCU – Since law school, Chief Justice John Roberts personal political crusades have been to undermine protections for voting rights, enable voter suppression, turn a blind eye to gerrymandering and increase the influence of big money in politics.
JOE CIRINCIONE – The panel with no diversity of views was meant to reinforce a forgone conclusion: more money for more weapons.
DAVID BROMWICH – Regardless of which party is in power, US foreign policy since 9/11 has meant a unified government under the masters of war.
MEL GURTOV – The predominant direction of a progressive US president should be toward â€œMaking America Safe for the World.â€ That means focusing on domestic problems rather than on foreign policy crusading, relying on diplomacy before making threats and imposing sanctions, redefining the national interest with an eye toward real friends and urgent issues, and finding common ground with adversaries, starting with China, while remaining faithful to our ideals.
ANDREW BACEVICH – As Americans learned in Vietnam, the only way to end a war gone wrong is to leave the field of battle. If that describes Trumpâ€™s intentions in Afghanistan, then we may finally have some reason to be grateful for his service to our nation. With time, Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell might even come to see the wisdom of doing so.
BRETT WILKINS – The Belmarsh Tribunalâ€”named after the notorious British prison where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is imprisoned as he faces possible extradition to the U.S.â€”was convened remotely Friday morning by Progressive International (PI). The activists “put the United States government on trial” for crimes ranging “from atrocities in Iraq to torture at GuantÃ¡namo Bay to the CIA’s illegal surveillance programâ€”and draw attention to the extradition case of Julian Assange for revealing them.”
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL – Americans know how to engage. In the past four years alone, weâ€™ve seen a groundswell of grass-roots activism on threats from climate change and gun violence to racial injustice and gender inequity. Today, we must add one more to the list: the threat of nuclear weapons. As Collina said, â€œNuclear disarmament must be part of the new mass movement.â€
FRED WEIR – In less than a year, the world could enter a period free of nuclear arms control treaties for the first time in more than a half-century. Is such a state of affairs sustainable?
GREG PALAST – Unless America radically changes the way we send, receive and count mail-in ballots, the massive switch to postal voting, and the mountain of uncounted minority votes it will generate, could lead to Trumpâ€™s re-electionâ€”no matter the will of the voters.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL – After this pandemic passes, there must be a profound reckoning. Iâ€™m not referring to President Trumpâ€™s abysmal performance in the crisis; the election in November will render citizensâ€™ judgment on that. No, there must be a reckoning with the profound failure of the United Statesâ€™ domestic and foreign policies and priorities, a failure that was apparent even before covid-19 revealed the catastrophic bankruptcy of our national security strategy.
ANDREW BACEVICH – Deferred for far too long, Judgment Day may at long last have arrived for the national security state.
PEDRO RIOS – From challenging narratives justifying violence to know-your-rights trainings and cultural actions, border communities are building a powerful movement.
ANDREW BACEVICH – Hereâ€™s the strange thing for the self-proclaimed greatest power in history, the very one that, in this century, has been fighting a series of unending wars across significant parts of the planet: if you exclude Operation Urgent Fury, the triumphant invasion of the island Grenada in 1983, and Operation Just Cause, the largely unopposed invasion of Panama in 1989, Washingtonâ€™s last truly successful war ended 74 years ago in August 1945 with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japanese cities. Every war of even modest significance since — and theyâ€™ve been piling up — from the Korean and Vietnam wars to the ones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere in this century (and the last as well, in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq) has either ended badly (Vietnam) or not at all (see above).
SAM HUSSEINI – A new film depicting the whistleblower Katherine Gun, who tried to stop the Iraq invasion, is largely accurate, but the story is not over, says Sam Husseini.
STEPHEN M. WALT – American elites used to see war as a tragic necessity. Now theyâ€™re completely addicted to it.
NATYLIE BALDWIN – Russia’s vast size â€“ the largest country geographically in the world â€“ and its prodigious resources are present for all to see. But now, having overcome its historical issues with poor agricultural policies, it also has the ability to feed itself, a highly educated citizenry, and the industrial infrastructure to support a space program as well as a sophisticated nuclear and defense system. It has the ability to build cars, trucks, and airplanes completely within its own borders. Unlike many countries in the world, it has very little external debt and major gold reserves. It is weathering the sanctions against it better than Iran or Venezuela.
ALICE SLATER – August 6th and 9th mark 74 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where only one nuclear bomb dropped on each city caused the deaths of up to 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 people in Nagasaki. Now, with the US decision to walk away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) negotiated with the Soviet Union, we are once again staring into the abyss of one of the most perilous nuclear challenges since the height of the Cold War.
JULIAN BORGER – US joint chiefs of staff posted then removed paper that suggests nuclear weapons could “create conditions for decisive results.”
PHYLLIS BENNIS – The Green New Deal must have anti-militarism at its core. Wars and the military render impossible the aspirations contained in the Green New Deal. And slashing the out-of-control military budget is crucial to provide the billions of dollars we need to create a sustainable and egalitarian economy.
DAVID SWANSON – Back before Donald Trump was inaugurated, I wrote an article called â€œFantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump.â€ Perhaps it is less quixotic, or perhaps it is more, to hope that, after more than two years of being barraged with those fantasies, but with their main focus having publicly flopped, more people will now be open to trying something else. That pre-inauguration article read: â€œTrump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. . . . Meanwhile, we have a man planning to be president later this month whose business dealings clearly violate . . .
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS – Washington might be setting up America for a first strike with the extraordinary stream of accusations and provocations issuing from people too stupid to be in possession of nuclear weapons. In the nuclear era, it is reckless for a government to replace diplomacy with threats and coercion. Washingtonâ€™s recklessness is the most dangerous threat that the world faces.
LEE CAMP – We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someoneâ€™s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names. Once every 12 minutes.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Whatever happened to the notion that rich people should pay their fair share of the cost for their countryâ€™s public programs?
ARUN GUPTA – Thwarting Donald Trumpâ€™s war on immigrants and dismantling the vast deportation machine is possible. It wonâ€™t be easy, but it has to be done.
LINDA J. BILMES – Humpty Dumpty famously cannot be â€œput back togetherâ€ again. For those who care about the environment, every day since Donald Trump took office is a Humpty Dumpty day â€” with something being broken beyond repair.
PAUL STREET – Given the current state and rate of environmental destruction, the continuing advance in the destructive power of nuclear weapons systems, and the likelihood of pandemics in a warmer and more globalized world, there are good reasons to wonder if a human civilization with historians will exist a century from today. We may well be standing near the â€œend of history,â€ and not the glorious bourgeois-democratic one that Francis Fukuyama imagined with the end of the Cold War.
ROBERT KOEHLER – Is this moment in history empty of all hope and sanity, occupied as it is by the forces of empire and a militarized presidential ego? Or is there a global, evolutionary counterforce out there as well, equal to or greater than the corporate militarism that seems to have a stranglehold on the future?
ADAM FEDERMAN – A little-known bureaucrat named James Cason is reshaping the Department of the Interior.
ROBERT J. GOULD – Last year, the Economist Intelligence Unit dropped its score for the U.S. from 8.05 to 7.98 (Above 8 is a full democracy; below 8 is a flawed democracy). Not much of a change, and according to the report, no fault of the current President, as the rating has been â€œteetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years.â€ Like other flawed democracies (France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and India), we have â€œweak governance, an underdeveloped political culture, and low levels of political participation, according to the EIU.â€
JOSEPH GIBSON – â€œTrump has taken Obamaâ€™s massive and limitless drone war and quadrupled strikesâ€”more than one a day now,â€ said Courage to Resist’s Jeff Paterson. â€œMy hope is that because itâ€™s now The Donald lawlessly murdering people with flying robots, folks will begin to realize how insane this â€˜less interventionistâ€™ policy is. Aside from being a terrorist recruiting tool, itâ€™s morally unjustifiable. We need to resist, and support those with the courage to do so.â€
NICOLAI PETRO – The Trump administration has a unique opportunity to change the American foreign policy debate about Russia and move beyond the outdated policy of containment.
DAVID SWANSON – When George W. Bush made the case for attacking and destroying the nation of Iraq, he made claims that, if true, would have justified nothing. And he proposed as evidence for those claims fraudulent, implausible, and even ridiculous pieces of information. But he was expected to produce evidence. There was no assumption that he should simply be taken on faith. Those standards are gone.
JONATHAN MARSHALL – Money may not be the root of all evil but it surely contributes to horrible war crimes when lucrative arms sales distort U.S. foreign policy and cause selective outrage over human rights atrocities: Forget oil. In the Middle East, the profits and jobs reaped from tens of billions of dollars in arms sales are becoming the key drivers of U.S. and British policy. Oil still matters, of course. So do geopolitical interests, including military bases, and powerful political lobbies funded by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf states. But you canâ€™t explain Washingtonâ€™s deference to Saudi Arabia, despite its criminal war in Yemen and its admitted support for Islamist extremism, without acknowledging the political pull generated by more than $115 billion in U.S. military deals with Saudi Arabia authorized since President Obama took office.
MEL GURTOV – How should we evaluate Obamaâ€™s foreign policy record? Right-wing critics will of course excoriate Obama for all the usual thingsâ€”weakness against adversaries like Russia and China, negotiating with instead of subverting Cuba and Iran, eviscerating the US military, undermining relations with Israel. On the left, Obama is already being cast as another liberal leader whose actions failed to deliver on his promises, from Guantanamo to the Middle East. Historians will have plenty of things to quarrel about, but we need not wait.
TOM HASTINGS – Video footage of the Oregon State Police shooting of armed occupier LaVoy Finicum following a vehicular chase is so very sad to watch. Finicum may have been quite stupid in his belief that American public lands should belong to private ranchers, but he did not deserve to die. Sadly, he arranged for his own death.
NAOMI KLEIN – What does #BlackLivesMatter, and the unshakable moral principle that it represents, have to do with climate change? Everything.
DAVID SWANSON – Almost 10,000 Americans have sent messages to the Italian Embassy in Washington thanking Italy’s high court for upholding the conviction of 23 Americans (22 CIA officers and one military official) for the offense of kidnapping a man off the street in Milan on February 17, 2003, and shipping him to Egypt to be brutally tortured.
LORI WALLACH – On Sept. 6, as President Barack Obama promised jobs and transparency in his Democratic National Convention acceptance speech, his top trade officials were cloistered in conditions of extreme secrecy at the Lansdowne resort in Leesburg, Va., negotiating a massive â€œtradeâ€ agreement that will promote more U.S. job offshoring and ban Buy American procurement preferences.
DAVID SWANSON – I’ve been trying (with virtually no success) to get everyone to drop the election obsession and focus on activism designed around policy changes, not personality changes. I want those policy changes to include stripping presidents of imperial powers. I don’t see as much difference between the two available choices as most people; I see each as a different shade of disaster. I don’t get distressed by the thought of people “spoiling” an election by voting for a legitimately good candidate like Jill Stein. Besides, won’t Romney lose by a landslide if he doesn’t tape his mouth shut during the coming weeks?
BY JIMMY CARTER – No one can completely understand the motivations of the North Koreans, but it is entirely possible that their recent revelation of their uranium enrichment centrifuges and Pyongyang’s shelling of a South Korean island Tuesday are designed to remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future. Ultimately, the choice for the United States may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding a catastrophic confrontation.
WILLIAM LOREN KATZ – In 2010, with the blessing of a five-to-four Supreme Court, unlimited money from anonymous corporate sources was allowed to select candidates and call the political tune. It is hardly surprising the party best able to tap these funds scored major gains. While suspicious of repentant witches, the public fell for a heroic narrative of capitalist individualism gallantly charging into the 20th century bearing gifts for all. Rand Paul, the clearest voice of the victorious Republican Party, championed the tried and true values of American individualism, freedom and capitalism of this earlier time.
JACK KIRKWOOD — American leaders and commentators often refer to Israel as our ally. Yet despite six decades of relationship, this term gained wide usage only after President Bush declared alliance with Israel against the terrorists after 9/11/01. American forces have never joined Israel in any military campaign.