Histrionics Over the Mosque: Symbolism Crowds Out Reality

Mosque

Ivan Eland: The American media, and to a lesser extent the world media, focus on symbolism at the expense of underlying reality. And sometimes they can’t even make sense of the symbolism. The artificially generated controversy over a proposed mosque within about two blocks of the site of the 9/11 attacks is illustrative of this ignorance.

Watch “Deficit Hawks” Rush to Defend Pentagon Bloat

robert gates

Randy Shaw: The Republican Party and Democratic so-called “deficit hawks” attack any proposed defense cuts as “job killers.” Yet this alliance refused to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, and have backed tax and spending policies that have cost the nation millions of jobs in recent years.

What to Do About the Wars

afghanistan can of worms

Ivan Eland: Most analysts believe that the U.S. government will renegotiate the status of forces agreement with any new Iraqi government—making the heroic assumption that there is a new Iraqi government by next year—to leave some forces permanently in that country.

Parade Rest

usmc

Mike Price: I’m an old guy with a bad leg, a mine-shattered spine, and a damn hose in my nose. I have no choice. The case of emphysema I won for smoking several million cigarettes has moved into its final stage. All life may be terminal, but emphysema writes its own last act.

Elisabeth Bumiller: Wrong on the Tonkin Gulf Incident

tonkin

Joseph Palermo: If Bumiller really believes that her peers in the establishment press in February/March 1968 were expressing “widespread skepticism” about the facts concerning the Gulf of Tonkin Incident then shouldn’t she have been a little more “skeptical” herself when her good friend Condi Rice (along with Rummy and Cheney and the rest of the gang) were launching their own pretext for invading Iraq?

Look at Our Yellow Ribbons

time square kiss

Tina Dupuy: What strikes me about the photo is that they really knew how to end wars back then. For example: they used to end wars…back then. There was a global conflict followed by a resolution. Beginning. Middle. End. Done. Birthrate skyrockets.

The Presidents and the McGenerals

obama mcchrystal

Kenneth Weisbode: Gen. McChrystal is far from the first general to scoff at the White House. His fate echoes that of Generals MacArthur and McClellan but the comparison ends there, says historian Kenneth Weisbrode, because today there’s a greater reliance on the military in foreign relations.

Coveting Riches on the Great Rare Earth Highway

copper mine

Carl Bloice: The military propagandists needed to come up with something to distract attention from the reality that things are going badly in Afghanistan, very badly. Public opinion in the U.S. has soured toward the war. Every other country that has troops on the battlefields is under tremendous popular pressure to withdraw them.

From Great Man to Great Screwup: Behind the McChrystal Uproar

mcchrystal

Norman Solomon: For months, the McChrystal star had been slipping. A few days before the Rolling Stone piece caused a sudden plunge from war-making grace, Time Magazine’s conventional-wisdom weathervane Joe Klein was notably down on McChrystal’s results: “Six months after Barack Obama announced his new Afghan strategy in a speech at West Point, the policy seems stymied.”

What’s Next for the Nuclear Disarmament Movement?

Lawrence Wittner: Reflecting on the contrast between the Obama administration’s nuclear abolition rhetoric and its record, Kevin Martin, executive director of America’s largest peace organization, Peace Action, concluded that supporters of a nuclear-free world needed to wake up to the reality that the administration’s nuclear disarmament activities were going to be quite limited without very substantial movement pressure.

Fight Them Over There, Not Here?

times square bomber

Ron Wolff: All of our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, now spanning about eight years (twice the time it took to win World War II), have not resulted in an ability to keep would-be terrorists outside our borders or foil their plots in advance (no doubt with some exceptions).

Intelligence Reform Fails

Dennis Blair

Ivan Eland: The sacking of Dennis Blair, the third director of national intelligence in the position’s short five-year history, is one important indicator that the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 has failed. That act was effective neither in achieving real reform of the sprawling intelligence bureaucracies nor in preventing terrorist attacks.

Defending Everything is Defending Nothing

Madeleine Albright

Ivan Eland: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently led a panel of experts in coming up with a report, “NATO 2020,” which will be used to draft a replacement for NATO’s current strategic concept, adopted in 1999. The report essentially advocates a continuation and expansion of NATO’s quest to be all things to all people. Unfortunately, this effort resembles the “expand or die” mantra that was applied to NATO as its primary mission—countering the Soviet Union—was tossed into the dustbin of history. Instead of expanding in territory and mission after the Cold War ended, NATO probably should have died back then and may die—or be severely crippled—by its likely loss in Afghanistan.

A Day to Honor All Who Fight to Protect Our Nation

florence nightingale

Tom Hall: This Memorial Day, the head of the Republican Party has called the 13th Amendment a perversion of our Constitution. The Republican members of the Texas School Book Commission have voted to teach that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was the real hero of the Civil War, and that those Union soldiers died in vain. In Tennessee and here in California, Tea Party candidates are campaigning on a platform plank that the 14th Amendment should not apply to brown children whose parents are immigrants.

Defense Secretary Wants Defense Spending Cuts–Really

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Tina Dupuy: Going largely underreported, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at the Eisenhower Library (name for the president who coined the term “military-industrial complex”), last week calling for cuts in the Pentagon’s budget. Gates asked, “Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? “

How Wars Are Born: China vs. the U.S.

China

Shamus Cooke: Behind the military jockeying for power are economic interests. Controlling the U.S. economy are powerful corporations, who rely on the U.S. military to ensure them super profits overseas, including domination over whole regions — the Middle East, Latin America, the Pacific — that are viewed as the “exclusive economic zones” of U.S. corporations. The fact that China is now declaring itself master of its own zones is intolerable for U.S. corporations, which will stop at nothing — including war — to maintain U.S. military dominance over the globe.

Obama’s Nuclear Achievements Are Less Than Meets the Eye

Ivan Eland: Despite all the hoopla about President Barack Obama’s summit on nuclear security and a new arms control deal, the eventual results of his laudable efforts will probably be modest and will likely be dwarfed by the damage to nuclear security done by George W. Bush’s prior administration. . . . but at least Obama has refocused world attention on what is still the only existential threat in U.S. history—nuclear war—and the improbable, but potentially disastrous, threat of nuclear terrorism. In its pursuit of nation-building and military social work in overseas quagmires, the Bush administration had neglected both.

High Time to Rethink the Cost of Wars

soldier

Tracy Emblem: Why have we so readily forgotten that Americans were told there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq as the reason for our military invasion when this turned out to be false. Like Iraq, there is absolutely no guarantee our troops will be withdrawn by 2012. From the Russian-Afghanistan experience, we should readily expect it will take much longer than the six years we previously spent in Iraq.

Let’s Get Our Own Foreign Policy House in Order Before Criticizing Others

Putin as Priest

Ivan Eland: On March 31, 2010, the New York Times wrote an editorial that briefly expressed horror in response to the Moscow subway terror bombings, then warned that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin might yet again use terrorist attacks to further consolidate his power, and finally lectured Russia that the only way to defeat such extremism was to deal with the underlying causes. Such a sermonizing editorial by any Russian publication after the 9/11 attacks would have engendered outrage in America

Costs of War to Climb as Congress Votes to Continue Military Occupation

Tracy Emblem: There has been no real plan explained to the American public for an exit strategy in Afghanistan as mounting injuries and deaths occur and we continue to put our loved ones in harm’s way. In fact, we have no guarantee our troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan anytime soon. Some experts say it could take even longer than the six years we spent in Iraq.

We Must Heal the Human Toll of War

Veteran

Tracy Emblem: As civilians, we have a moral obligation to stand up and ask how we can help heal the wounded hearts and souls of our own people as well as the wounded people and children of occupied countries because war takes its toll upon humanity. As a nation, we must acknowledge that it is our first and foremost duty to help negotiate peace around the world.

A Hundred Years of War

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Joseph Palermo: The invasion of Iraq was the greatest terrorist recruitment program ever. It destabilized one of the most important big cities in the Arab world. It fueled pan-Arab nationalism as well as jihad against the West. It caused a sectarian bloodbath because of the jolt given to power relations by external military force.