BOAVENTURA DE SOUSA SANTOS – When armed conflicts take place in Africa or in the Middle East, Europe’s leaders are the first to call for a cessation of hostilities and to declare the urgent need for peace negotiations. Why is it then that when a war occurs in Europe, the drums of war beat incessantly, and not a single leader calls for them to be silenced and for the voice of peace to be heard?
CHRIS DE PLOEG – International aggression has major consequences and can lead to massive loss of human life: 2.4 million dead in Iraq, 1.2 million dead in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the U.S. war against the Taliban. Senior American defense officials claim that Russia is still holding back and that its bombers are primarily focused on military targets. These same officials also warn that civilian casualties could massively spike if Russia does decide to enact an Iraq- or Chechnya-style bombing campaign. Can that kind of fate still be prevented in Ukraine? That is the primary question that should concern all commentators. That and the prevention of further escalation, nuclear war. Where do we go from here?
FRIDA BERRIGAN – If anything good can come out of the horrific war in Ukraine, it might be a renewed movement to abolish nuclear weapons once and for all.
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.
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.
PETER BERGEL – Not so fast, fellow progressives! Weâ€™ve underestimated Donald Trump a couple of times now. Letâ€™s not do it again. He may be all the things we think he is â€“ racist, xenophobic, narcissistic, homophobic, anti-Muslim, power-mad. At the same time, though, heâ€™s also getting away with a deadly distraction game â€“ one which threatens life on this planet. If you think heâ€™s dumb, think again.
VETERAN INTELLIGENCE PROFESSIONALS FOR SANITY – More than two dozen ex-U.S. intelligence officials urge President Trump to rethink his claims blaming the Syrian government for the chemical deaths in Idlib and to pull back from his dangerous escalation of tensions with Russia.
GILBERT DOCTOROW, UTE FINCKH-KRAMER, LUDGER VOLMER, ROLF EKEUS and NOAM CHOMSKY – A transatlantic appeal for a new policy of dÃ©tente with Russia has been launched. The declarationâ€™s authors invite the general public to join leading political figures and social activists who have publicly rallied to support the call.
ALASTAIR CROOKE – In the aftermath of the U.S. attack on the Syrian army positions overlooking and commanding the Dier A-Zor airfield â€“ the airfield, whose daily â€œBerlin air-bridgeâ€ style flights, are the sole lifeline to a city long besieged by ISIS â€“ the Russian U.N. Ambassador asked a pertinent rhetorical question at the United Nations Security Council: Who is running U.S. policy: Is it the Pentagon or the White House?
WORLD BEYOND WAR ISIS STATEMENT – The following is an assessment of the current ISIS crisis. The statement examines: (1) the social context of the destructive violence in Syria and Iraq — where we are; (2) viable nonviolent alternatives — what should be done; and (3) opportunities for civil society to advocate and push for those alternatives — how we can make it happen. The alternatives and pathways toward achieving those are not only preferable from a perspective of humanity, but proven to be more effective.
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 Iraqâ€™s or the Kurdsâ€™ air force. Obama claims his officials are reminding everyone, â€œWe will be your partners, but we are not going to do it for you. Weâ€™re not sending a bunch of US troops back on the ground to keep a lid on things.â€ Now, less than three weeks later, the strategic picture has changed, and emphases on â€œpartnershipsâ€ have faded while the US military complex advances largely on its own.
PHYLLIS BENNIS and DAVID WILDMAN – The threat of a reckless, dangerous, and illegal US or US-led assault on Syria is looking closer than ever. . . . The US government has been divided over the Syria crisis since it began. . . . But the situation is changing rapidly, and the Obama administration appears to be moving closer to direct military intervention. That would make the dire situation in Syria inestimably worse.
TOM H. HASTINGS – How culpable is the person who watches a mugger rob someone and does nothing? What is our social psychology as we bystand silently while our government gears up toward yet another war crime? Lies or misleading information that leads to war should be an enforceable war crime and crime against humanity.
WINSLOW MYERS – Albert Einstein, the full measure of whose prophetic stature still has not been taken, wrote in a telegram to President Roosevelt in 1946: â€œThe unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.â€
PHYLLIS BENNIS – Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, as former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan noted: “Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders.”
BILL RHATICAN – Just over two weeks ago the town of Houla was the scene of a horrible massacre claiming more than 100 innocent lives, many of them women and children. The violence is yet another tragic event in an increasingly violent conflict driven by the Assad government, its supporters and a wide array of opposition groups.
DAVID SWANSON – A magazine asked me this morning for my thoughts on Iraq and the peace movement. What did this war produce?
ALON BEN-MEIR – Despite efforts to internationally isolate Syria, especially during the Bush era, Syria has reasserted itself as a central player in the Middle East. Following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, the United States withdrew its ambassador to Beirut, intensified sanctions against Damascus and sought to deepen Syria’s isolation from the international community. The recent array of high-level visitors to Damascus-including United States officials-demonstrates that President Bashar al-Assad has weathered the storm of isolation and has emerged as an essential actor in resolving regional disputes, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel should now respond favorably to Damascus’ call for renewed peace talks, and in so doing utilize Syria’s influence to advance peace, rather than thwart it.