TED SNIDER – US President Joe Biden’s speech before the General Assembly on September 19 spent surprisingly little time on Russia and the war in Ukraine and, in many ways, hit many of the right notes with its praise of “Sovereignty, territorial integrity, human rights . . . the core tenets of the U.N. Charter, the pillars of peaceful relations among nations. . ..” But America’s past performance on these very issues weaken the persuasiveness and sincerity of the appeal.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Dwight Eisenhower, broadcast with Prime Minister Macmillan in London, 8/31/1959, said, “I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”
KATHY KELLY – Rather than normalize militarism and human rights abuses, the United States should seek, always and everywhere, to salvage the planet and respect human rights.
THOM HARTMANN – The merger of billionaire wealth with partisan Republican governance—and their combined efforts to reshape our government in their own corrupt image, the public be damned—threaten the integrity and future of the American experiment.
WINSLOW MYERS – The anguish of Robert Oppenheimer, who unleashed destruction beyond measure and then tried his best to stop its further spread, reminds us that America bears special responsibility for creating the kind of world he hoped for, where the nuclear curse is finally lifted.
TOM HASTINGS – Congress can fuss all day long over inane culture war issues that are less than a rounding error in the federal budget, but the real theft from all of us who work for a living is from the war profiteer corporations. Congress can pretend that Social Security and Medicare are making us impoverished but it is the contractor corporations who take more than anyone from our paychecks, quite literally. Only the American people can correct this. It will not be done by those we’ve elected so far, with some noteworthy exceptions. Change it up. Bring in those who are actually committed to fixing this.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – War goes deep in the human psyche and, despite the hell it creates, our inner adolescent all too often refuses to surrender belief in it. Humanity has not fully transcended the social organizing principle of war — not when you toss in the corporate profiteering that accompanies it, or the political usefulness of a good enemy. But many, many courageous people are involved in pushing humanity to transcend war.
WIM LAVEN – We would all benefit from an honest appraisal of our painful past. Remembering our collective history—with all its blemishes and bloodstains—could be more than a wake-up call.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually were tests, in more ways than one.
VICKI ELSON – We can safely abolish all nuclear weapons.
TOM H. HASTINGS – But the waste of war, including the massive diversion of the fruits of our labors to the war system instead of health care, education, and infrastructure, seems overwhelmingly stupid and maladaptive. Are we truly Homo sapiens, the self-anointed “Wise ones”? We shall see. It’s looking dubious.
CHRIS HEDGES – The same cabal of war mongering pundits, foreign policy specialists and government officials, year after year, debacle after debacle, smugly dodge responsibility for the military fiascos they orchestrate. They are protean, shifting adroitly with the political winds, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Pseudo intellectuals, they exude a cloying Ivy League snobbery as they sell perpetual fear, perpetual war, and a racist worldview, where the lesser breeds of the earth only understand violence.
MEL GURTOV – Let’s remember that no one appreciates academic freedom more than visitors from China and other countries under authoritarian rule. When that freedom is violated by harassment and suspicion, word gets back to China very quickly, and the rewards for returning to China, in money and prestige, become tantalizing.
GARY M. FEINMAN – The New Gilded Age, wars along the Russian border, a global pandemic, battles for women’s rights, even the Titanic: history does rhyme with the present. Yet as former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert once observed: “If history tells us anything, it’s that we never learn from history.”
CHARLES M. BLOW – There is a recurrent theme in American history: the clawing back of hard-won progress. And the Supreme Court used the most specious of arguments to do so with affirmative action.
ELEFTHERIA KOUSTA – Amid deportations, floods and shelling, grassroots groups have formed to help Ukrainians evacuate the frontlines and occupied territories.
ROBERT C. kOEHLER – Back to pesticides then. Back to weed killers. Back to climate change and the apparent inability of the polluters who purport to be in charge of Planet Earth to address it adequately: Superficial change won’t do it. The change has to be cultural. It has to be spiritual. Believe me, if we fail to change who we are and the bees — the pollinators — disappear, we’ll all feel the sting.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The Fourth of July — the ultimate patriotic holiday — is [here] again. Politicians orate, American Flags proliferate and, even more than usual, many windows on the world are tinted red, white and blue. But an important question remains unasked: Why are patriotism and war so intertwined in U.S. media and politics?
MEL GURTOV – Tensions between the Russian defense ministry and the head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, had been running high for months, mainly because of differences over war strategy and Prigozhin’s accusations of insufficient battlefield support. Last week those tensions reached the boiling point. And now Putin is stuck, a position that the US and NATO can choose either to exploit or, hopefully, to press for peace.
BENJAMIN ABELOW – I am not anti-American. I see my comments here, as well as my book and my broader efforts regarding the Ukraine war, as an expression of American patriotism—an attempt to help realign U.S. policies with the true interests of the United States as a nation. These are my attempts to peacefully influence policies so that they better reflect the highest ethical values of the United States. To achieve this end, a hope which many share, we must face reality, even if that reality is uncomfortable. We must be willing to speak openly.
JUSTIN PODUR – Currency systems reflect power relations in the world: they don’t change them. The Anglo gold standard and the American dollar standard reflected imperial monopoly power for centuries. In a multipolar world, however, we should expect more diverse arrangements.
ANN WRIGHT – The military finds it easier and safer to kill innocent civilians than put its own personnel on the ground to make on-site evaluations. Innocent persons will continue to die until we find a way to stop the use of this weapons system. The risks will increase as AI takes over more and more of the targeting and launch decisions.
JOHN LAFORGE – The important call from Russian President Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for an end to the stationing of U.S. nuclear weapons in other countries, and its direct reference to the U.S. and its allies, helps clear the air around Russia’s threatened escalation — to deploy nuclear weapons to neighboring Belrus. The only practically workable way to move Putin to reverse his planned deployment, is to offer to reverse the Pentagon’s deployment. Call it a Cuban Missile Crisis Redux. That terrible confrontation was resolved when President Kennedy offered to, and then did, withdraw U.S. nuclear-armed missiles from Turkey. De-escalation works, and it can lead to further breakthroughs.
HALEY MORROW – A commonly held myth is that war concludes well with peace. In fact, conflict research shows that the losing side may accept defeat in a public-facing manner, only to fester and plot to get revenge later. Violence and war generally lead to further violence and war. Although it may lead to short-term “peace,” violent conflict rarely works to build sustained peace.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Twenty-two years ago, Congress put sanity up for a vote. Sanity lost in the House, 420-1. It lost in the Senate, 98-0. Barbara Lee’s lone vote for sanity — that is to say, her vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolution, allowing the president to make war against . . . uh, evil . . . without congressional approval — remains a tiny light of courageous hope flickering in a chaotic world, which is on the brink of self-annihilation.
VIJAY PRASHAD – Jared M. McKinney and Peter Harris, in s widely circulated paper from the U.S. Army War College, published in November, 2021, wrote, “The United States and Taiwan should lay plans for a targeted scorched-earth strategy that would render Taiwan not just unattractive if ever seized by force, but positively costly to maintain. This could be done effectively by threatening to destroy facilities belonging to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, While Taiwan’s minister of defense Chiu Kuo-cheng responded to Moulton’s statement about a military strike on TSMC, in fact, the U.S. government has already attacked the ability of this Taiwanese company to remain in Taiwan.
WILLIAM J. ASTORE – Together, it’s time to find an exit ramp from the wars and weaponry highway to hell that we’ve been on since 1953 and look for the on-ramp to President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s highway to peace.
BERNIE SANDERS – The debt ceiling is about paying money that has already been appropriated and spent. It has nothing to do with future budgets and future spending. Yet, Republicans have hijacked the debt ceiling process to impose savage cuts on the needs of working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. President Biden has the authority and the responsibility under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to make sure that we continue to pay our bills.
ROBERT C KOEHLER – We belong to the Earth rather than to a nation.
DEREK ROYDEN – The U.S. never wants war on its own soil, but seems perpetually eager to generate massive profits for its overwhelmingly powerful armaments industry by supplying weapons to the world in conflict. The rest of the world may at last be rejecting that war footing, if the signs from new initiatives are an indication.
WIM LAVEN – Fear of guns is rational; unbiased research is clear: they kill innocent people all the time; it is time we did something about it.
BRAD WOLF – Today, the actual and still-flourishing and prospering Merchants of Death thrive behind a veil of duplicity and slick media campaigns. They have assimilated mainstream media and academia into their conglomerate. But their crimes are clear, and the evidence is overwhelming. Wherever they go, suffering and death, war crimes and atrocities, profits and stock buybacks follow.
PRABIR PURKAYASTHA – We celebrate World Press Freedom Day in May as a reminder that the role of news organizations is to speak truth to power. Not for manufacturing consent—to use Chomsky’s famous words—for the government and the ruling classes. It’s an occasion to remember three people who exemplify the need to speak the truth: Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks; and also of Chelsea Manning, without whom we would not have the proof of what the United States was doing, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but all across the globe. In doing so, I will also deal with the changing nature of government “secrets”, what outing them means then and now.
JOSEPH GERSON – The Ukraine War is about far more than Ukraine. It’s not simply a criminal Russian war of aggression, which it is. But as the recent U.S. National Security Strategy informs us, “The post-Cold War era is definitely over, and competition is underway between the major powers to shape what comes next.” The war, its devastations and nuclear threats, and its catastrophic climate fallout are major elements of the collapse of the bi-polar world disorder, the birthing of a new multi-polar order, and the resulting global competition for power and privilege.
Governments alone will not deliver us peace, nuclear disarmament, or deeper international cooperation and unity. Those goals can only be achieved with pressure from below.
JOHN P. RUEHL – The struggles of Russian weapons manufacturers have added to historic shifts in the global arms market.
HALEY MORROW and TOM H. HASTINGS – The peace movement in the US lobbies for a cessation of military aid, including to the current Sudanese combatants. Lethal aid, paid for by our taxes, is sold or given away, the profits go to military corporations, and the regular tax-paying citizens pay to be part of the bloody business overseas. To the extent we can stop this flow of deadly force, we can help empower nonviolent people power and increase the chances for peace and democracy.
LAURA FINLEY – While there is much to be done to address the many problems with policing in the US, the fix here seems quite simple: Stop hiring and rehiring people who are not good at their jobs.
DEREK ROYDEN – The way sanctions have all too often been used for the past 30 years against weaker nations has been cruel and ineffective, mainly hurting ordinary people who have little control over those that rule them. Sanctions that work are a scalpel, not a broadaxe.
DENNIS KUCINICH – President Kennedy held firm for a peaceful outcome in the Cuban Missile Crisis. As a result, Russia removed its missiles from Cuba. The U.S. removed its then-secret nuclear missile base from Turkey and made a commitment not to invade Cuba. Some believe that to fight is to show strength. America’s doctrine of ‘Peace through Strength’ is an invitation to war. Transformed, ‘Strength through Peace’ emphasizes restraint and inner fortitude, which Kennedy demonstrated at a moment of peril. We need another President Kennedy, with the grace, the inner strength and the intelligence to guide us from our contemporary dangerous encounter with potential nuclear catastrophe … to peace. America and the world are more at risk than ever from the threat of nuclear annihilation brought about through mentalities of greed and hubris.
MEDEA BENJAMIN and NICOLAS J. S. DAVIES – The United States keeps spreading violence and chaos across the world. If we want to stop our rulers from marching us toward nuclear war, climate catastrophe and mass extinction, we had better take off our blinders and start insisting on policies that reflect our best instincts and our common interests, instead of the interests of the warmongers and merchants of death who profit from war.
VIJAY PRASHAD – Ajay Banga will come to the World Bank, whose office is in Washington, D.C., from the world of international corporations. Dilma Rousseff, meanwhile, comes to the BRICS Bank with a different resume. Her political career began in the democratic fight against the 21-year military dictatorship (1964-1985) that was inflicted on Brazil by the United States and its allies.
RIVERA SUN – Nature’s way of correcting itself right now is embodied by the students walking out of school on Fridays, pleading with older generations to take action to ensure their future. Nature is correcting itself through climate scientists publishing well-documented facts about this crisis. Or through activists blocking pipelines or pushing universities and retirement funds to divest from fossil fuels. Earth is speaking through city councils declaring climate emergencies, churches switching to solar and wind, businesses cleaning up their act, and much more.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL – The price for failing to hold the perpetrators of the Iraq War debacle accountable is that their worldview still dominates America’s national security establishment.
ROGER MCKENZIE – Imagine the uproar if China or Russia—or any other country for that matter—said it aimed to exercise military control over land, sea, air, and space to protect its interests and investments. This amazingly has been the stated United States policy since 1997. Full spectrum dominance, as the doctrine is known, is the reason the United States behaves the way that it does on the international stage.
MEL GURTOV – United States policy should be based on common security in the Middle East, social justice, and peace.
ERIC BRAKEY – In his final point about a Maine joint resolution supporting the United States’ continued stance on the war in Ukraine, Eric Brakey concludes: This resolution should be demanding that Secretary of State Antony Blinken go to Geneva and sit down for peace talks with both Russian and Ukrainian leaders to resolve this border dispute, broker a peace, end the war, end the famine, end the energy crisis, and take the very real threat of nuclear annihilation off the table. That is what this body should be calling for: peace, not war!
MEL GURTOV – The new game in town should be engagement of North Korea through reduced reliance on threat and greater reliance on confidence building and arms control.
SHAWNEE BALDWIN – The sight of bloodied shoes still haunts me and I was not even there that day. The images from December 14, 2012 still induce grief. Newtown parents recalling the day picks a scab off a wound that wasn’t even inflicted on me. And this is just one of many gun violence incidents plaguing our country. Guns only have one purpose – to maim, kill, or forever horribly alter the life of another. They must be regulated far more than they are now.
BRAD WOLF – Being fully human means resisting death in all its forms. It means peacemaking. We have hope because we have the power to nonviolently resist, and that is a remarkable power. When exercised properly, it not only shivers the state, but affirms all of life.
BOB TOPPER – We should be happy that we are a secular nation and work to keep it that way. Yet, in their effort to undermine faith in our democracy, the right often and forcefully complains that we have lost our way, that liberalism and diversity have weakened the country. They say that our government is incompetent, that our scientists can’t be trusted, that our children are being brainwashed, that religious liberty is under attack, that our elections are fraudulent; the list seems endless. They are a very unhappy crowd who want the rest of the country to join them in their misery.