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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tim Gatto: When I watch television news I wonder where the critics were when news content began to become so hollow. When the Supreme Court decided recently that corporations, unions, and special interest groups could give as much as they wished to political campaigns; where were the watchdogs? The reason I ask is because this decision will change the face of government while it effectively removes the people from our political system.
Tim Gatto: The U.S. has brought back the 5th Fleet that will patrol Latin America and the Caribbean. The U.S. has also leased seven military bases in Colombia (Venezuela’s next door neighbor) for a 10-year period. These bases are being promoted as a way of interdicting the supply of cocaine that reaches America. According to the L.A. Times, back in 2003 the U.S. and Columbian governments were successfully eradicating coca plants. We can all see how well that has worked out. Personally, I am very skeptical about America’s resolve in wiping out the coca crop. I am also skeptical about Columbia’s commitment to stopping the flow of cocaine into the United States.
Ivan Eland: The Cold War is long over, and the concomitant rationale (dubious even then) for using an interventionist U.S. foreign policy to attempt to run the world is now obsolete and even dangerous in an era of blowback terrorism. Many empires throughout history have collapsed or withered away because their aspirations were too big for their wallets; the U.S. is in that perilous position now. Therefore, the United States should dramatically retract its defense perimeter, thus cutting the U.S. security budget by half and saving more than $500 billion a year.
Norman Solomon: As new sequences of political horrors unfold, maybe it’s a bit too easy for writers and readers of the progressive blogosphere to remain within the politics of online denunciation. Cogent analysis and articulated outrage are necessary but insufficient. The unmet challenge is to organize widely, consistently and effectively — against the warfare state — on behalf of humanistic priorities. In the process, let’s be clear. This is not a defense budget. This is a death budget.
Sherwood Ross: Although much of Latin America is in the vanguard of the “anti-corporate and anti-militarist global democracy movement,” Grandin writes, the Obama administration is “disappointing potential regional allies by continuing to promote a volatile mix of militarism and free-trade orthodoxy in a corridor running from Mexico to Colombia.” Grandin’s article in The Nation’sFebruary 8th issue is titled, “Muscling Latin America.”
Lawrence Wittner: So why should humanitarian aid be extraordinary? Why not make it routine? Long before the earthquake, Haitians were the poorest people in the hemisphere, suffering from widespread hunger, disease, and illiteracy. Could not the United States — the richest nation in the world with a public whose major anxieties (to judge from the vast attention given to weight loss) seem to result from over-eating — manage to share a bit of its affluence by regularly providing food aid to starving Haitians?
Ivan Eland: So far, Iraq has been quiet enough that many in the media and public have redirected their attention to the wars du jour of Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The relative peace (punctuated by an occasional violent attack) in Iraq may be about to evaporate and cause yet another crisis for the president.
Sherwood Ross: Panetta also failed to tell readers that, if not for such CIA actions as the violent overthrow of the government of Iran in 1953 to get that country’s oil, and the 2003 U.S. aggression against Iraq to get that country’s oil, the Middle East might not be quite so violent today. Those aren’t Boy Scout camps President Obama is reinforcing in Afghanistan.
David Love: If we are to have a perpetual war, it must be a war against injustice and deprivation at home and abroad. We need to get our own house in order, rather than demolish and rebuild other nations that did not invite us there. And as far as the so-called terrorism problem is concerned, maybe we should stay out of other folks’ backyards and it will go away.
Kenneth Weisbrode: America now faces a situation to which neither benign neglect nor grandstanding will suffice to distract it from its central task of underwriting a peaceful international system. For all that the “new world order” took on a slanderous meaning in certain quarters during the 1990s, it still seems to be what much of the globe wants.
Emily Spence: Wars are big business, most notably for investors and employees in the aerospace and defense industries. The related purposes, like the ones guiding most corporations, are hardly humanistic. Instead new sources of revenue, cheap resources from conquered lands, and new markets for products and services are the sine qua non.