RALPH NADER — The war in Afghanistan is nearly nine years old â€” the longest in American history. After the U.S. quickly toppled the Taliban regime in October 2001, the Taliban, by all accounts, came back stronger and harsher enough to control now at least 30 percent of the country. During this time, U.S. casualties, armaments and expenditures are at record levels.
WINSLOW MYERS — When I was working as a teacher, I loved the phrase â€œbest practices.â€ It suggested pooled wisdom, a collective weeding out of the more effective from the less effective, a distillation of the authentic out of a world of potential baloney. It implied disinterested cooperation to figure out what really does work when weâ€™re trying to help children learn. Any collection of best practices would synergize with each other in a perfect storm of competency.
PHIL DAVIS — What are 308,367,109 Americans supposed to do? First of all, despite clamping down on immigration, our population grew by 2.6M people last year. Unfortunately, not only did we not create jobs for those 2.6M new people but we lost about 4M jobs so what are these new people going to do?
NORMAN SOLOMON —
Washingtonâ€™s spin machine is in overdrive to counter the massive leak of documents on Afghanistan. Much of the counterattack revolves around the theme that the documents arenâ€™t particularly relevant to this yearâ€™s new-and-improved war effort.
WES BENEDICT — The long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been back in the news recently, and we just had the bizarre spectacle of the Republican National Committee Chairman saying he didn’t like Obama’s war in Afghanistan, while the DNC chastised him for failing to support the troops.
WINSLOW MYERS — The article in Rolling Stone that ended the meteoric career of General McChrystal shines light on the thought-process not only of one military man, but also on the dysfunctional paradigm now failing in Afghanistan. It is a textbook demonstration of how the mind-set of war itself, the notion of annihilating an enemy and emerging victorious, has become obsolete.
REPS. BARNEY FRANK AND RON PAUL — As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues to interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree. By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts.
DAVID SWANSON — The Democratic leadership in the House had to resort to an unusual and underhanded tactic to pass war funding last week.
NORMAN SOLOMON —
For the warfare state, it doesnâ€™t get any better than 99 to 0. Every living senator voted to approve Gen. David Petraeus as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Call it the unanimity of lemmings — except the senators and their families arenâ€™t the ones whoâ€™ll keep plunging into the sea.
WINSLOW MYERS — What an extraordinary civics lesson for the students, faculty, administration, town officials and parents connected with the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School on Cape Cod! Two teachers, Marybeth Verani and Carrie Koscher, stood up at an assembly recognizing six students who were joining the military and held a sign that said “End War.”
LAWRENCE WITTNER — The offshore oil drilling catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico brought to us by BP has overshadowed its central role over the past century in fostering some other disastrous events.
NORMAN SOLOMON — When the wheels are coming off, it doesnâ€™t do much good to change the driver. Whatever the name of the commanding general in Afghanistan, the U.S. war effort will continue its carnage and futility.
TOM H. HASTINGS — Here comes the 4th of July and we are barely done with Memorial Day. The flags of nationalistic patriotic fervor sprout and resprout across the land, in the parks, on the lawns, on billboards, on the Internet, and generally everywhere. Military jets will fly in formation, anthems will fill the air, and military uniforms will be ubiquitous. Little children are getting used to this, and they never see the adults they trust question this, so they come to trust the guns, the songs about bombs, the valorization of violence, and the equation of killing with freedom.
PAUL ROGAT LOEB — Effective activism is a long-haul process, not â€œsave the earth in 30 days, ask me how.â€ But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. When I was updating Soul of a Citizen, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at Florida Gulf Coast University suggested I gather together the Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed a bit presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful.
RAJ PATEL — A top ten list of things that arenâ€™t as cheap as you think.
WENDY MCELROY — In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer. Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
CHRIS NELDER — As the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster continues to unfold, the peak oil community has a â€œteachable momentâ€ in which it can illuminate the reality of our energy plight. The public has had a crash course in the challenges of offshore oil, and learned a whole new vocabulary. They are more aware than ever that the days of cheap and easy oil are gone. What they do not yet grasp are the challenges in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables.
LAWRENCE WITTNER — For some time now, it has been clear that nuclear weapons threaten the existence not only of humanity, but of all life on Earth. Thus, Barack Obama’s pledge to work for a nuclear weapons-free worldâ€”made during his 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in public statementsâ€”has resonated nicely with supporters of nuclear disarmament and with the general public.
NORMAN SOLOMON — When Israel attacked the Gaza aid flotilla, Congresswoman Jane Harman was engaged in a parallel assault. Israelâ€™s government relied on the efficacy of violence; Harmanâ€™s campaign was counting on the power of paid media. In both cases, the targets were advocates of human rights for Palestinian people.
JOHN MICHAEL GREER — It has been nearly four decades now since the limits to industrial civilizationâ€™s trajectory of limitless material growth on a limited planet have been clearly visible on the horizon of our future. Over that time, a remarkable paradox has unfolded. The closer we get to the limits to growth, the more those limits impact our daily lives, and the more clearly our current trajectory points toward the brick wall of a difficult future, the less most people in the industrial world seem to be able to imagine any alternative to driving the existing order of things ever onward until the wheels fall off.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER — Rand Paul’s criticism of the federal civil rights legislation of the 1960s can be better evaluated by looking at the workings of similar legislation that appeared on the state level two decades before.
NORMAN SOLOMON — Official Washington may be good at spinning rhetoric in murky fog, but thereâ€™s no way around this fact: war can only continue if Congress votes to pay for it.
GUY-URIEL CHARLES — Elena Kagan, currently the Solicitor General of the United States, is widely rumored to be President Obama’s top choice to succeed Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. The most compelling and least compelling aspect of a Kagan nomination is that we do not know where she stands on many of the issues that would come before the Court. For those of us who would prefer a strong left-of-center nominee, the basic message is that we should trust that Kagan will not be the left’s version of David Souter. I understand why Kagan is politically attractive as a nominee, but I am nevertheless left with some questions.
NORMAN SOLOMON — If President Obama has his way, Elena Kagan will replace John Paul Stevens — and the Supreme Court will move rightward. The nomination is very disturbing, especially because itâ€™s part of a pattern.
BARRY-LEE COYNE: Whether you are a conservative or liberal or lie somewhere in between, I have a challenging question to pose: Do you really want to suffer from the pitfalls of Government-on-the-Cheap?
PETER G. COHEN: While Moodyâ€™s is saying that the U.S. could lose its gold-plated AAA credit rating if the budget deficit is not reduced, President Obama is requesting $33,000,000,000 FY 2010 supplemental to fund the troop buildup in Afghanistan. This is in addition to the war-funding budget for 2011 of $159,300,000,000.
NORMAN SOLOMON: The event on the House floor on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, was monumental — the first major congressional debate about U.S. military operations in Afghanistan…
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: The Golden Rule is in danger. No, not the famed ethical code — though proponents of selfishness certainly have ignored it — but a thirty-foot sailing ship of the same name that rose to prominence about half a century ago.
BECKEY SUKOVATY: When desperate Haitian earthquake victims tried to save themselves or rescue others by looking for resources needed to survive in the collapsed buildings of Port-au-Prince, they were often branded â€œlooters.â€ New Orleans residents in dire need after Hurricane Katrina were similarly condemned.
NORMAN SOLOMON: The new budget from the White House will push U.S. military spending well above $2 billion a day. This isnâ€™t â€œdefense.â€ Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.
TOM H. HASTINGS: Howard Zinn has crossed over. He was a mensch, a historian and a peace and justice activist. He was not convinced that nonviolence was always the answer, but he often provided expert testimony for nonviolent resisters seeking help in conducting a robust defense of their actions in opposition to militarism and injustice.
NORMAN SOLOMON: When the U.S. military began a major offensive in southern Afghanistan over the Presidentsâ€™ Day weekend, the killing of children and other civilians was predictable. Lofty rhetoric aside, such deaths come with the territory of war and occupation.
RALPH NADER: A generation of Americans has grown up without a single nuclear power plant being brought on line since before the near meltdown of the Three Mile Island structure in 1979. They have not been exposed to the enormous costs, risks and national security dangers associated with their operations and the large amount of radioactive wastes still without a safe, permanent storage place for tens of thousands of years.
WINSLOW MYERS: There is big money in polarization, as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other media kingpins understand all too well. But one of the many tragic by-products of our polarized political culture is the demonization of conservatives by progressives.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: The recent furor over an unsuccessful terrorist attempt to blow up an airliner is distracting us from considering the possibility of a vastly more destructive terrorist act: exploding a nuclear weapon in a heavily-populated area.
CRAIG CLINE: On January 4th, the Statesman Journal ran an Associated Press article entitled: â€œMost state budgets on path to even leaner times.â€ The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that state budgets are likely to fall $180 billion short for the new fiscal year. According to the Pew Center on the States, our own Oregon is ninth among the ten â€œworstâ€ states, and 30th among all states, with a 14.5 percent budget gap for 2009-10 (as of July 2009).
ROBERT C. KOEHLER: Thereâ€™s no armor, it turns out, for conscience. So our men and women are coming home from the killing fields wounded in their heads, used up, greeted only by the militaryâ€™s own meat grinder of inadequate health care and intolerance for â€œweakness.â€
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: Thus far, most of the supporters and opponents of escalating the U.S. war in Afghanistan have focused on whether or not it is possible to secure a military victory in that conflict. But they neglect to consider that, in war, even a winner can be a loser.
RANDALL AMSTER: What if they held a war and no one came? No one was out in the streets, no one paid the “big speech” much mind, no one asked for permission to protest, no one wrote an open letter to the President. No one enlisted for it, no one paid for it, and no one watched it on television.