LAWRENCE WITTNER – Based on both international law and precedent, the UN Security Council has the authority to impose a settlement of the disastrous Ukraine War. What kinds of international action this would require would need to be determined by the world organization, just as the final terms of a peace agreement would ultimately need to be accepted by the contending parties. But, given the overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly for the withdrawal of Russian military forces from Ukraine and for a lasting peace agreement, such a peace settlement is likely to be a just one.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In recent decades, a growing similarity has developed between the Chinese and U.S. economic systems. Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s talk of “socialism,” the rapidly-expanding Chinese economy has become increasingly capitalist, with the private sector accounting for about two-thirds of China’s Gross Domestic Product in 2021. Not surprisingly, then, the two countries currently lead the rest of the world’s nations in their number of billionaires. This March, according to Forbes, the United States had 735 billionaires (worth a collective $4.5 trillion) and China had 562 (worth $2 trillion) out of a global total of 2,640.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – As the Partial Test Ban Treaty and its successors show us, arms control and disarmament treaties have helped to curb the nuclear arms race and prevent nuclear war. Similarly, the revived march toward nuclear catastrophe can be halted by finally banning nuclear weapons―if people will demand it.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Although, in recent decades, American conservatives have embraced what they call the “Right to Life,” they have certainly done a poor job of sustaining life in the United States. That’s the conclusion that can be drawn from a just-published scientific study, “U.S. state policy contexts and mortality of working-age adults.”
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – It’s been a long time since the atomic bombings of August 1945, when people around the planet first realized that world civilization stood on the brink of doom. This apocalyptic ending to the Second World War revealed to all that, with the advent of nuclear weapons, violent conflict among nations had finally reached the stage where it could terminate life on earth. Addressing a CBS radio audience in early 1946, Robert Hutchins, chancellor of the University of Chicago, summed up the new situation with a blunt warning: “War means atomic bombs. And atomic bombs mean suicide.”
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – The Ukraine war and the response to it are profoundly troubling. Russia’s military assault upon its neighbor clearly constitutes a major war of aggression that shares many features with such wars of the past. Neither the Russian peace movement nor the Western peace movement has been able to affect it—the former because of government repression and the latter because of divisions within is ranks. Consequently, the war has already been immensely destructive and might well become far more so. As in the past, this kind of tragic situation illustrates the necessity for an effective international security system. Although the United Nations is supposed to provide that system, it lacks authority to do so thanks to the crippling control the great powers have exercised over the world organization. Therefore, the Ukraine war highlights the need to strengthen the United Nations as a force for peace.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Although critics of the Biden administrationâ€™s Build Back Better plan to increase funding for U.S. education, healthcare, and action against climate catastrophe say the United StatesÂ canâ€™t afford it, there are no such qualms about ramping up funding for the U.S. military.
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?
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Although the U.S. mass media are awash with stories about Americaâ€™s â€œbooming economy,â€ the benefits are distributed very unequally, when they are distributed at all.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – When Donald Trump was running for the presidency, he promised that, if he was elected, â€œAmerican worker[s] will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.â€ Today, though, safely ensconced in the White House, President Trump is waging a fierce campaign against American workers.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weaponsâ€™ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945â€”at least not yet. But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties.
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.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – A fight now underway over newly-designed U.S. nuclear weapons highlights how far the Obama administration has strayed from its commitment to build a nuclear-free world. The fight, as a recent New York Times article indicates, concerns a variety of nuclear weapons that the U.S. military is currently in the process of developing or, as the administration likes to say, â€œmodernizing.â€
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Many Americans are becoming fed up with economic inequality. Of course, they might be distracted by xenophobia and fear-mongering, which have been promoted assiduously in recent months by pro-corporate politicians. Even so, there are growing indications that Americans favor democracy not only in their politics, but in their economy.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – The shock and disbelief with which many political pundits have responded to Bernie Sandersâ€™ description of himself as a â€œdemocratic socialistâ€â€”a supporter of democratic control of the economyâ€”provide a clear indication of how little they know about the popularity and influence of democratic socialism over the course of American history.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons. But the NPTâ€”which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970â€”has two kinds of provisions. The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability. The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons. Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: â€œEach of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.â€
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Academician Dr. Lawrence Wittner performed many literature reviews in his scholarly career; this essay is a mini-version of US citizen opinion on the questions surrounding our growing gap between rich and everyone else, as well as the decimation of the middle class. In this clear and objective logical survey of the wishes of the American people on serious questions, Wittner poses the unstated query: If we want it, why can’t we get it? The more times we ask this, the closer we come to saying it out loud and acting on it.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – The recent announcement of a nuclear deal between the governments of Iran and other major nations, including the United States, naturally draws our attention to the history of international nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements. What accounts for their advent on the world scene and what have they accomplished?
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iranâ€™s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But itâ€™s not.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Within a matter of months, the U.S. government seems likely to become the only nation in the world still rejecting the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Sometimes called â€œthe most ratified human rights treaty in history,â€ the Convention has been ratified by 195 nations, leaving the United States and South Sudan as the only holdouts. South Sudan is expected to move forward with ratification later this year. But there is no indication that the United States will approve this childrenâ€™s defense treaty.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – A quarter century after the end of the Cold War and decades after the signing of landmark nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements, are the U.S. and Russian governments once more engaged in a potentially disastrous nuclear arms race with one another? It certainly looks like it.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In the supposedly classless society of the United States, the wealthiest Americans are doing remarkably well. According to Forbes, a leading business magazine, the combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans has now reached the staggering total of $2.3 trillion. This gives them an average net worth of $5.7 billion–an increase of 14 percent over the previous year.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Ever since the horrors of submarine warfare became a key issue during World War I, submarines have had a sinister reputation. And the building of new, immensely costly, nuclear-armed submarines by the U.S. government and others may soon raise the level of earlier anxiety to a nuclear nightmare.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Is overwhelming national military power a reliable source of influence in world affairs? If so, the United States should certainly have plenty of influence today. For decades, it has been the worldâ€™s Number 1 military spender. And it continues in this role.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – Is the human race determined to snuff itself out through mass violence? There are many signs that it is.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – At this time of severe cutbacks in government funding for food stamps, early childhood education, and Meals on Wheels, some Maryland legislators are hard at work looking out for the welfare of one of the worldâ€™s wealthiest corporations. Under a bill rapidly advancing in the legislature of that state, the Lockheed Martin Corporation will have the taxes on its luxurious Montgomery County hotel and conference center reduced by approximately $450,000 a year and will also receive a $1.4 million refund for the period since 2010.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – The Republican Party has stood up with remarkable consistency for the post-9/11 U.S. government policies of widespread surveillance, indefinite detention without trial, torture, and extraordinary rendition. It has also supported government subsidies for religious institutions, government restrictions on immigration and free passage across international boundaries, government denial of collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, government attacks on public use of public space (for example, the violent police assaults on the Occupy movement), and government interference with womenâ€™s right to abortion and doctorsâ€™ right to perform it.
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.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: Currently, there is nothing more controversial in President Barack Obama’s health care reform proposal than the “public option.” Much of the controversy, of course, has been generated by private insurance companies, determined to safeguard their hefty profits, and by Republican politicians, eager to destroy anything that might redound to the benefit of the Democrats. Even so, a little clear thinking on the subject of public programs might illuminate their advantages and disadvantages.