RICK STERLING – There are significant parallels between the international crises in Cuba in 1962 and Ukraine today. Both involved intense confrontations between the USA and the Soviet Union or Russia. Both involved third party countries on the doorstep of a major power. The Cuban Missile Crisis threatened to lead to WW3, just as the Ukraine crisis does today.
RALPH NADER – Other than being an adjunct booster of overseas Pentagon military operations and refortifying its vulnerable embassies, what does the U.S. State Department stand for and do anymore? Sometimes it’s hard to see much difference with the much larger Department of Defense (DOD). Its more belligerent statements or threats since Bill and Hillary Clinton’s days have made the DOD sound almost circumspect.
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?
NORMAN SOLOMON – A vital challenge for progressives is to not only block Republican agendas but also to effectively campaign for policy changes that go far beyond the talking points of current Democratic leaders offering to tinker with the status quo. Merely promising a kinder, gentler version of grim social realities just wonâ€™t be enough to counter the faux populism of a neofascist Republican Party.
MARK ENGLER and PAUL ENGLER – The importance of grassroots organizing is still being underestimated.
NICOLAI N. PETRO – The United States insists on seeing Ukraine through the prism of Russia, rather than through the complex realities of Ukraine.
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.
EZRA KLEIN – Democrates have two years to prove that the American political system can work. Two years to show Trumpism was an experiment that need not be repeated. Two years. This is the responsibility the Democratic majority must bear: If they fail or falter, they will open the door for Trumpism or something like it to return, and there is every reason to believe it will be far worse next time. To stop it, Democrats need to reimagine their role. They cannot merely defend the political system. They must rebuild it.
NORMAN SOLOMAN – After events of 2016, when facts emerged showing that the Democratic National Committee put anti-Sanders thumbs on the scales, many progressives have become acutely sensitive to shortages of fairness in party proceedings. The last thing we need are fresh examples of powerful politicians opting for self-serving actions over democratic principles.
ROBERT REICH – The Democratic establishment is viewing American politics through obsolete lenses of left versus right, with Bernie on the extreme left and Trump on the far right. This may have been the correct frame for politics decades ago when America still had a growing middle class, but itâ€™s obsolete today.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The billionaire class is worried. For the first time in memory, thereâ€™s a real chance that the next president could threaten the very existence of billionaires — or at least significantly reduce their unconscionable rate of wealth accumulation — in a country and on a planet with so much human misery due to extreme economic disparities.
MARK HANNAH and STEPHEN WERTHEIM – Democrats have a unique opportunity to close the traditional national-security gap with Republicans, but only if they choose a clear direction for foreign policy and not just against Trump. They should listen to the American people and offer them a genuinely pro-peace message â€” standing firmly against Trumpâ€™s bellicosity as well as decades of bipartisan military intervention.
ALLEGRA HARPOOTLIAN – What if thereâ€™s an antiwar movement growing right under our noses and we just havenâ€™t noticed? What if we donâ€™t see it, in part, because it doesnâ€™t look like any antiwar movement weâ€™ve even imagined?
NORMAN SOLOMON – Letâ€™s be blunt: As a supposed friend of American workers, Joe Biden is a phony. And now that heâ€™s running for president, Bidenâ€™s huge task is to hide his phoniness.
WILLIAM M. ARKIN – January 4 is my last day at NBC News and Iâ€™d like to say goodbye to my friends, hopefully not for good. This isnâ€™t the first time Iâ€™ve left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis. My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely out of synch with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus.
PAUL STREET – The case for Trumpâ€™s ouster grows stronger by the week. Beyond his possible obstruction of justice, criminal acceptance of foreign emoluments while in office and felonious campaign finance violationsâ€”any one of which could provide grounds for legal proceedings against himâ€”the president has routinely embraced authoritarian rulers around the world and engaged in obvious appeals to violence. He has, at every turn, revealed himself to be entirely unfit for office.
NORMAN SOLOMON – As candidates and in office, the last two Democratic presidents have been young, dynamic and often progressive-sounding, while largely serving the interests of Wall Street, big banks, military contractors and the like. Do we need to make it three in a row?
NORMAN SOLOMON – Twenty-five years ago — when I wrote a book titled â€œFalse Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Eraâ€ — I didnâ€™t expect that the Democratic Party would still be mired in Clintonism two and a half decades later. But such approaches to politics continue to haunt the party and the country.
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.
GEORGE LAKEY – Many assume that polarization is a barrier to making change. They observe more shouting and less listening, more drama and less reflection, and an escalation at the extremes. They note that mass media journalists have less time to cover the range of activist initiatives, which are therefore drowned out by the shouting. From coast to coast activists asked me: Does this condition leave us stuck? My answer included both good news and bad news. Most people wanted the latter first.
GEORGE LAKEY – Weâ€™ve had our first year of tweets and leaks from the White House, complete with reactions and outrage in the United States and abroad. The tsunami of words and feelings about Trump has dominated the media and is likely to continue. The question is: Will reactivity to Trump continue among activists, or are we ready to channel our passion into more focused movement-building for change?
JAMES CARDEN – Last week, the Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policyâ€”a bipartisan advocacy group calling for congressional oversight of Americaâ€™s lengthy list of military interventions abroadâ€”released the results of a survey that show broad public support for Congress to reclaim its constitutional prerogatives in the exercise of foreign policy (see Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution) and for fewer U.S. military interventions generally. Undertaken last November by J. Wallin Opinion Research, the new survey revealed â€œa national voter population that is largely skeptical of the practicality or benefits of military intervention overseas, including both the physical involvement of the U.S. military and also extending to military aid in the form of funds or equipment as well.
CHRIS HEDGES – The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of â€œfake news.â€
ROB BYERS – Earlier this spring, I was asked a question about my late father, who had been a coal miner in the 1970s and â€™80s. It had to do with a familiar romantic storyline: Did he feel at home underground? Was it a calling that tugged at him during the layoffs, a longing to get back to the job he loved? Short answer: No. Long answer: Hell, no.
BRUCE CUMINGS – Itâ€™s easy to dismiss Kim Jong-un as a madman. But thereâ€™s a long history of US aggression against the North, which we forget at our peril.
JOHN ATCHESON – Itâ€™s worth considering what we are not talking about as we watch the political pornography of the Trump Administration play out and also how the focus on Russia undercuts the Democratic Party. In other words, what if this is exactly what Trump intended when he fired Comey? Itâ€™s worth remembering Trumpâ€™s mentor was Roy Cohn, who was a master at controlling the narrative and one of his favorite techniques was to change the subject with an in-your-face outrage of one kind or another.
NORMAN SOLOMON – After Hillary Clintonâ€™s devastating loss nearly six months ago, her most powerful Democratic allies feared losing control of the party. Efforts to lip-synch economic populism while remaining closely tied to Wall Street had led to a catastrophic defeat. In the aftermath, the partyâ€™s progressive base — personified by Bernie Sanders — was in position to start flipping over the corporate game board. Aligned with Clinton, the elites of the Democratic Party needed to change the subject.
JOSHUA HOLLAND – An explosion of new activism offers a ray of hope in these dark political times.
DAVID SWANSON – The U.S. government has now generated numerous news stories and released multiple “reports” aimed at persuading us that Vladimir Putin is to blame for Donald Trump becoming president. U.S. media has dutifully informed us that the case has been made. But a closer analysis finds a different reality.
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.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Many big factors affect any presidential race, and the Russian government may have tried to be one of them for the 2016 electionâ€”though itâ€™s hardly the slam dunk that agencies like the CIA and U.S. mass media are now claiming. But in any event, this month it has become routine for a lot of progressive organizations and individuals to descend into a dangerous mode of partisan flackery — with troubling consequences.
JOHN LAFORGE – The Electoral College is based on state law, so when enough additional states pass the National Popular Vote bill — enough to add up to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House — then the â€œelectorsâ€ would be legally bound to vote for the popular vote winner and never again steal an election from the top vote getter.
NORMAN SOLOMON – We still donâ€™t have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting â€œThe Listâ€ — the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaperâ€™s fawning coverage on November 24. The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldnâ€™t have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post. In media and government, the journalists and officials who enable blacklisting are cravenly siding with conformity instead of democracy.
ROBERT PARRY – By inviting in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat hostile to â€œregime changeâ€ wars, President-elect Trump may be signaling a major break with Republican neocon orthodoxy and a big shake-up of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.
ALEXANDER MERCOURIS – One place where Donald Trumpâ€™s election victory has had an immediate effect is in the battlefield around Aleppo. Reports from the area of the battlefield speak of a total collapse of morale amongst the Al-Qaeda led Jihadi forces which have been attacking the city from the south west, as whatever lingering hopes there were of a Western military intervention following a victory by Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election have turned to dust.
RAMESH THAKUR – Are the increasingly frosty relations between the United States and Russia going to turn into all-out war? Former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Ramesh Thakur weighs the evidence.
DAVID SWANSON – David Swanson answers questions posed by an Italian journalist about how to achieve global opposition to the very institution of war.
SPUTNIK INTERNATIONAL – During testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services last week General Joseph Dunford rang the alarm over a policy shift that is gaining more traction within the halls of Washington following the collapse of the ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia in Syria saying that it could result in a major international war which he was not prepared to advocate on behalf of.
NICOLAS J S DAVIES – The world faces huge problems that must be addressed and resolved in the next few decades. The question facing us is this: will the allocation of increasingly scarce resources and the necessary transformations of the 21st century be directed by international cooperation for the benefit of all and the survival of human civilization? Or will our world be torn apart by a desperate scramble for dwindling supplies of precious resources as the most powerful countries use military force to try and grab what they can at the expense of everybody else? Our countryâ€™s current war policy offers only one answer to that question. We must find a different one – and an effective political strategy to impose it on our deluded leaders while there is still time.
RUSSIA INSIDER/THE SAKER – The latest developments in Syria are not, I believe, the result of some deliberate plan of the USA to help their â€œmoderate terroristâ€ allies on the ground, but they are the symptom of something even worse: the complete loss of control of the USA over the situation in Syria and, possibly, elsewhere.
NORMAN SOLOMON – While Bernie Sanders was doing a brilliant job of ripping into the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the livestreamed launch of the Our Revolution organization on Wednesday night, CNN was airing a phone interview with Hillary Clinton and MSNBC was interviewing Donald Trumpâ€™s campaign manager. That sums up the contrast between the enduring value of the Bernie campaign and the corporate mediaâ€™s fixation on the political establishment. Fortunately, Our Revolution wonâ€™t depend on mainline media. That said, the groupâ€™s debut foreshadowed not only great potential but also real pitfalls.
ANDREW MOSS – You don’t have to be a poet to breathe new possibilities into an old, familiar metaphor. Recently, for example, author and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman took a well-worn metaphor â€“ the “web” â€“ and reworked it in such a way as to recast the terms of the current presidential campaigns. His take is both provocative and wrong.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Like other Bernie Sanders delegates in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I kept hearing about the crucial need to close ranks behind Hillary Clinton. â€œUnityâ€ was the watchword. But Clinton has reaffirmed her unity with corporate America. Rhetoric aside, Clinton is showing her solidarity with the nemesis of the Sanders campaign — Wall Street. The trend continued last week with the announcement that Clinton has tapped former senator and Interior secretary Ken Salazar to chair her transition team.
JON QUEALLY – We’re under attack, says author and climate campaigner Bill McKibben, and the only way to defeat the enemy is to declare a global war against the destructive practices that threaten the world’s imperiled ecosystems and human civilization as we know it.
DAVID SWANSON – As the United States and NATO antagonize Russia, and pressure NATO members to buy more weapons, and showcase U.S. weapons in numerous wars, and use every carrot and stick in the State Department to market U.S. weapons, an “official” who happens to have been located at a giant weapons trade show predicts that of its own accord “demand” for weaponry is going to grow. Here’s Reuters’ first sentence: “International demand for U.S. weapons systems is expected to continue growing in coming years, a senior U.S. Air Force official said on Sunday, citing strong interest in unmanned systems, munitions and fighter jets.”
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Itâ€™s clear that democratic socialism has made a comeback in American life.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – The major argument for free public college and university education is the same as for free public education in general: like the free public elementary and high schools already existing in the United States, free public higher education provides educational opportunity for all and strengthens the American workforce.
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.
DAVID SWANSON – U.S. military recruiters are teaching in public school classrooms, making presentations at school career days, coordinating with JROTC units in high schools and middle schools, volunteering as sports coaches and tutors and lunch buddies in high, middle, and elementary schools, showing up in humvees with $9,000 stereos, bringing fifth-graders to military bases for hands-on science instruction, and generally pursuing what they call “total market penetration” and “school ownership.” But counter-recruiters all over the United States are making their own presentations in schools, distributing their own information, picketing recruiting stations, and working through courts and legislatures to reduce military access to students and to prevent military testing or the sharing of test results with the military without students’ permission. This struggle for hearts and minds has had major successes and could spread if more follow the counter-recruiters’ example.