GEORGE LAKEY – As the new ‘Rustin’ biopic shows, the great organizer of the 1963 March on Washington was always working to join more people together in the struggle for greater justice and peace.
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.
DANIEL ELLSBERG – Can we simply ignore the reality of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert — amid escalation of a new cold war with heightened nuclear dangers? We ignore this impending disaster and its impassioned opponent, Daniel Ellsberg, at our own peril.Indeed, the U.S. just enacted its biggest military budget in history, with unprecedented investment in weapons of mass destruction and their deployment.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Hate only feeds more hate, more destruction, more violence, more useless continuation of wreckage. Unless some people simply stop, however unilaterally that might be, the hate will never vanish. It may go under some rock when social norms force it there, but it is like a peat bog fire just waiting under the surface, for years sometimes, before conditions allow it to erupt into a raging wildfire. How? How to drop the hate?
RAY MCGOVERN – There must be accountability for Afghanistan. The more so since generals and admirals, active duty and retired, are going off half-cocked. Some of them, like Admiral Charles Richards, head of US Strategic Command, are saying nuclear war is possible. Earlier this year Richards wrote that the US must shift from a principal assumption that nuclear weaponsâ€™ use is nearly impossible to “nuclear employment is a very real possibility.” And retired Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO, is already talking about war with China “perhaps ten years from now.” Accountability and effective civilian control of such general officers can prevent the next March of Folly.
NICK MOTTERN – On July 2, fleeing questions from reporters about U.S. plans in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden sought refuge behind the July 4th Independence Day holiday, yet obliquely acknowledged that the U.S. will use some level of â€œover the horizonâ€ air attacks to prevent the Taliban from taking power, attacks that will include drones and manned aircraft, possibly even B-52s.
ROBERT LEVERING – Without the friendships he forged in the antiwar movement, Daniel Ellsberg might not have found the courage and support he needed to help end the Vietnam War.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The best way to not become disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place. And the best way to win economic and social justice is to keep organizing and keep pushing. What can happen during the Biden presidency is up for grabs.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The evident defeat of Donald Trump would not have been possible without the grassroots activism and hard work of countless progressives. Now, on vital issues — climate, healthcare, income inequality, militarism, the prison-industrial complex, corporate power and so much more — itâ€™s time to engage with the battle that must happen inside the Democratic Party.
FRIDA BERRIGAN – Forty years ago, the Plowshares Eight sparked a movement of nuclear disarmers that continues to take responsibility for weapons of mass destruction.
ANDREW BACEVICH – The nationâ€™s current preoccupation with race, as honorable and necessary as it may be, falls well short of adequately responding to the situation confronting Americans as they enter the third decade of the twenty-first century. Racism is a massive problem, but hardly our only one. Indeed, as Martin Luther King sought to remind us many years ago, there are at least two others of comparable magnitude.
ANDREW BACEVICH – Deferred for far too long, Judgment Day may at long last have arrived for the national security state.
WILLIAM J. ASTORE – Ever since 2007, when I first started writing for TomDispatch, Iâ€™ve been arguing against Americaâ€™s forever wars, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, itâ€™s no surprise that, despite my more than 60 articles, American blood is still being spilled in war after war across the Greater Middle East and Africa, even as foreign peoples pay a far higher price in lives lost and cities ruined. And I keep asking myself: Why, in this century, is the distinctive feature of Americaâ€™s wars that they never end? Why do our leaders persist in such repetitive folly and the seemingly eternal disasters that go with it?
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?
HARVEY WASSERMAN – The Democratic Party has nowhere to go but left. The faux mantra from bloviating experts, petulant pundits, and high-priced consultants has been droning on since the coming of Ronald Reagan: the Democrats must forever tack right to attract â€œswingâ€ conservatives in the â€œmainstream middleâ€ between the two parties. But in the Age of Trump, such voters are all but extinct. The middle ground has cratered. The swing constituency (if it ever existed) has disappeared into the abyss. What matters now is excitement, commitment, clarity, and REAL CHANGE … none of which can come with a corporate/compromised agenda.
MEAGAN DAY – Right-wing populism is advancing across the world. Bernie Sanders wants to fight back.
ARUN GUPTA – Thwarting Donald Trumpâ€™s war on immigrants and dismantling the vast deportation machine is possible. It wonâ€™t be easy, but it has to be done.
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.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Thereâ€™s a bigger problem embedded in the social order than our lack of effective gun laws, and I hope the movement that emerges out of the Parkland massacre makes the leap beyond anger and single-issue politics. The nationâ€™s weak gun laws â€” the easy availability of AR-15 assault rifles â€” are, in fact, a symptom of the general cheapening of human life in American society, which is reflected in the nationâ€™s ever-expanding obsession with war and a military budget the size of Godzilla. War always has a way of coming home.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Movie critics are already hailing â€œThe Post,â€ directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Millions of people will see the film in early winter. But the real-life political story of Graham and her newspaper is not a narrative thatâ€™s headed to the multiplexes.
WINSLOW MYERS – It is long past time for us to recognize that the greater enemy is not someone in another country shouting threats, but the weapons themselves. On the basis of this shared truth, new relationships among adversaries can flourish that will allow reciprocal reduction and elimination. Nature within her inmost self divides, and science has unleashed this process on earth as the mighty power of fission, setting before us life or death choices. It is not too late to restrain the rise of the machines we ourselves have created, and choose life.
COLIN BEAVAN – Some years ago, the communications psychologist John Marshall Roberts said at a talk I attended that there are three ways of converting people to a cause: by threat of force, by intellectual argument, and by inspiration. The most effective of these methods, Roberts said, is aligning communication about your cause with the most deeply-held values and aspirations of your friends, relatives, neighbors, and fellow citizens. To get peopleâ€™s total, lasting, and unwavering support, in other words, we should try neither to cajole them judgmentally nor convince them forcefully. We should inspire them toward a vision that theyâ€”not weâ€”can really care about.
MEL GURTOV – North Korea is on a military tear. How and when any of the weapons the North claims to have might actually be operational is open to speculation. What does seem clear is that Kim Jong-un is pressing his weapons specialists to produce a reliable deterrent that will force the issue of direct talks with the U.S.
ANDREW J. BACEVICH – Policy intellectualsâ€Šâ€”â€Šeggheads presuming to instruct the mere mortals who actually run for officeâ€Šâ€”â€Šare a blight on the republic. Like some invasive species, they infest present-day Washington, where their presence strangles common sense and has brought to the verge of extinction the simple ability to perceive reality. A benign appearanceâ€Šâ€”â€Šwell-dressed types testifying before Congress, pontificating in print and on TV, or even filling key positions in the executive branchâ€Šâ€”â€Šbelies a malign impact. They are like Asian carp let loose in the Great Lakes.
TOM ENGELHARDT – The United States has been at warâ€”major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, airstrikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts and covert actionsâ€”nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. Thatâ€™s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions. Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that canâ€™t be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.
DAVID HARTSOUGH – I recently returned from three weeks in Korea and Vietnam, countries which have in the past and are still suffering from the ravages of war.
JOHN LAFORGE – After so much blood and destruction in Afghanistan, a lot of people dream of Secretary of State John Kerry reviving his monumental 1971 question, â€œHow do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?â€
DAVID SWANSON – Jody Williams’ new book is called My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, and it’s a remarkable story by a remarkable person. It’s also a very well-told autobiography, including in the early childhood chapters in which there are few hints of the activism to come. One could read this book and come away thinking “Anyone really could win the Nobel Peace Prize.”