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.
ROBERT DODGE – I attended this weekend’s Los Angeles opening of Christopher Nolan’s epic film, Oppenheimer. This must-see film provides a critical opening for an essential conversation about nuclear weapons and their role in our security and the fate of the planet.
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.
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!
GARY B. OSTROWER – A world organization with the ability to prevent war makes more sense than a narrow and nationalistic commitment to traditional sovereignty. In that case, the UN may begin to live up to its original promise.
ROGER PEACE – Continuation of the current system of big power competition and rival blocs bodes ill for the future. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has set its “doomsday clock” at 100 seconds to midnight, closer than it has ever been, based on nuclear and global warming threats, an indication of how close humanity is to “destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.” Moving toward mutual security and cooperation will set the clock back and allow humanity to move forward.
NEWS GHANA – Late Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was a good, well-meaning man who ended the Cold War and dramatically reduced superpower and global nuclear tensions, but he put too much trust into the unwritten assurances of American leaders, experts
KEVIN MARTIN and BRAD WOLF – We posit no sexy title for our strategy. Peace, and only peace. That’s it. We can split the atom and rocket to the stars. Surely we can resolve our disputes without incinerating each other. We need set our minds, money, and resources to it. Dominance is for tyrants. It must fall and humanity must prevail. Peace is everything.
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?
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?
JIM GARRISON – What would it take for NATO and Russia to embrace the obvious? The only way for the current crisis to be truly solved is to create a process in and through which all the former antagonists can come together around the creation of a common security and economic zone that brings Russia together with Ukraine as partners in a larger zone of peace. It is possible.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Desperately needed is a new European security framework, to demilitarize and defuse conflicts between Russia and U.S. allies. But the same approach that for three decades pushed to expand NATO to Russiaâ€™s borders is now gung-ho to keep upping the ante, no matter how much doing so increases the chances of a direct clash between the worldâ€™s two nuclear-weapons superpowers.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE – On the campaign trail and in strategy documents, President Biden committed to a new focus on arms control â€” and to a reconsideration of dangerous policies. News reports suggest his review of the U.S. nuclear posture will be disappointing. So, what can be done to alter this outcome, and who is working toward changing decision makers’ minds ?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL – Before America chose to lead any kind of â€œSummit for Democracy,â€ and before â€œAmerica is backâ€ to a new Cold War, the country urgently needs a more serious discussion about its real security prioritiesâ€”and the real challenges it faces.
DANNY SHAW – Vladimir Putin is considered a threat because he restored Russian sovereignty, erased the humiliation of the Boris Yeltsin era, and championed Russiaâ€™s national interests. But that is just what the U.S. elite could not tolerate.
JOHN MIKSAD – Veterans Day should be a resounding commitment to true national service, choosing peace, choosing our environment, choosing the best future for our grandkids.
ALEXEY GROMYKO – Next year we mark the 40th anniversary of the Report of the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues under the Chairmanship of Olof Palme. The Report introduced the concept of Common Security and contributed to the end of the Cold War. However, these days the ideas behind Common Security are almost forgotten in spite of the fact that we again live in extremely perilous times.
JAMES W. CARDEN – In his latest book, The Stupidity of War: American Foreign Policy and the Case for Complacency, American political scientist John Mueller demonstrates that since the end of World War II, American policymakers have developed a kind of addiction to threat inflation by â€œroutinely elevating the problematic to the direâ€¦ focused on problems, or monsters, that essentially didnâ€™t exist.â€ And with regard to the American foreign policy establishmentâ€™s current twin obsessions, Russia and China, Mueller, ever the iconoclast, counsels complacency.
ANDREW COCKBURN – Sometimes the naked pursuit of self-interest is unabashed, and certain policies or war is pursued, but even when the real object of the exercise is camouflaged as â€œforeign policyâ€ or â€œstrategy,â€ no observer should ever lose sight of the most important question: Cui bono? Who benefits?
ROBERT KOEHLER – We must free ourselves from the mindset of militarism, which is perpetuated not merely by politicians and generals but, inexcusably, by much of the media, which compliantly speaks their language. In militaryspeak, civilians may be bombed but theyâ€™re never murdered, at least not by us. If we canâ€™t avoid acknowledging their deaths, then they become collateral damage, necessary for â€œthe restoration of strategic stability.â€
JOE CIRINCIONE – The panel with no diversity of views was meant to reinforce a forgone conclusion: more money for more weapons.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Large numbers of people remain unready to take the step necessary to prevent the launching of a war that would turn the world into a charred, smoking, radioactive wasteland. Why?
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.
EILEEN FLANAGAN and GEORGE LAKEY – Two of the organizers who trained Americans to defend against a Trump-led coup explain how to minimize the threats to democracy going forward.
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.
ANDREW BACEVICH – Free of charge, Joe, here is an action plan that will get you from Election Night through your first two weeks in office. Follow this plan and by your 100th day in the White House observers will be comparing you to at least one President Roosevelt, if not both.
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?
ROBERT kOEHLER – In the linear world of geopolitics, militarism and mysteriously determined â€œnational interestâ€ rule and security means â€” though it is never put this way â€” playing games with Armageddon. This is called realism. And those who claim to be realists never â€” ever, ever â€” allow a word like â€œdisarmamentâ€ into the conversation, much less into the realm of political choice.
CENTER FOR CITIZEN INITIATIVES – The Covid-19 pandemic shows that governments that think of security in mostly military terms are simply wasting money, Mikhail Gorbachev has said. Defense spending must be cut globally to fund things that humanity actually needs.
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.
DMITRI TRENIN – Russian influence is coming to a region near you.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Veterans For Peace, an organization that speaks truth to war like nobody else, is attempting to reclaim Armistice Day, the Nov. 11 holiday that was flipped on its head 65 years ago when it was renamed Veterans Day â€” and became a celebration not of the end of war but of its perpetuity.
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).
E. MARTIN SCHOTZ, MD – Once the US and Russia see each other as partners in survival, they would be in a position to work together to help other nations join in the process. This is the way an international ban on nuclear weapons can eventually be achieved.
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.
WINSLOW MYERS – The United States is strong enough to lead the way into a new paradigm of self-interest, where dominance is replaced by a global network attuned directly to meeting human and ecosystem needs. Anything less threatens everyoneâ€™s survival. If we can offer help to our adversaries because we see it as self-interest, a different world is possible.
NORMAN SOLOMON – When Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell teamed up to invite NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress, they had every reason to expect the April 3 speech to be a big hit with U.S. media and political elites. The establishment is eager to affirm the sanctity of support for the transatlantic military alliance. But huge reverence for NATO is matched by how dangerous NATO has become. NATOâ€™s continual expansion â€” all the way to Russiaâ€™s borders â€” has significantly increased the chances that the worldâ€™s two nuclear superpowers will get into direct military conflict.
STEPHEN F. COHEN – Heedless of the consequences, or perhaps welcoming them, Americaâ€™s Cold Warriors and their media platforms have recently escalated their rhetoric against Russia, especially in March. Anyone who has lived through or studied the preceding 40-year Cold War will recognize the ominous echoes of its most dangerous periods, when actual war was on the horizon or a policy option. Here are only a few random but representative examples.
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 . . .
STEPHEN F. COHEN – War With Russia?, like the biography of a living person, is a book without an end. The title is a warningâ€”akin to what the late Gore Vidal termed â€œa journalistic alert-systemâ€â€”not a prediction. Hence the question mark. I cannot foresee the future. The bookâ€™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. Cohenâ€™s War With Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate, just published, in paperback and e-book, by Skyhorse Publishing.
GEORGE LAKEY – The midterm election brings activists both good news and bad news, but one thing is certain: Reactivity lost.
ROBERT ALVAREZ – Though the Cold War is long over, the Energy Departmentâ€™s antiquated, contractor-dominated management systemâ€”in which safety goal posts are easily moved behind closed doorsâ€”continues to endure and, in some cases, thrive. Without the meaningful oversight of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the nuclear weapons complex will predictably march back to a time, in the not-so-distant past, when public and worker safety was an afterthoughtâ€”with serious consequences.
STEPHEN F. COHEN – For nearly 100 years, Russia has been under US sanctions, often to the detriment of American national security.
CONN M. HALLINAN – It is finally time to re-think alliances. NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there is no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force. It is time NATO went the way of the Warsaw Pact and recognize that the old ways of thinking are not only outdated but also dangerous.
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.
SERGEI KARAGANOV – The problem between Russia and the West is really a problem among Westerners themselves. If there is a new cold war, it is only because established elites have not come to terms with reality: the balance of military, political, economic, and moral power has shifted too far away from the West to be reversed.
P.N. LOUKIANOFF – 2017 represented the centennial of the communist takeover of Russia, which indelibly marked the transition from Tsarist Empire to the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. was a menace not only to the free world, but also to its own people. Despite its collapse and Russiaâ€™s independence over 25 years ago, many in Washington still cannot allow themselves to imagine, let alone manifest, a productive relationship with Russia. This article provides useful historical context for events and actions affecting U.S.-Russia relations to this day and argues why there’s hope for the future with the new generation of Russians – the kind the Center for Citizen Initiatives will be bringing to the U.S. as part of CCI’s Russians Meet Middle America (RMMA) program.
LISA FULLER – Dear Baby Boomers: Your children and your grandchildren need you right now- their lives may depend on it. I know, because I am one of them.