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.
Ivan Eland: Although Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano’s stance that “the system” worked buckled under withering ridicule, she was right—but only if the non-governmental aspects of that system are included. The government’s performance and after-incident measures are ridiculous and even ill-advised.
Pardon me if I can’t join in the fawning praise for President Obama’s Nobel address. “It was, as ever, a bravura performance,” one newspaper said editorially. That it was, but I can’t agree with those, including some people with whom I’m usually in agreement, that it was a “good” speech. It wasn’t good at all. [...]
Only a few commentators, including the president, seemed to sheepishly realize the irony of his receiving the prize shortly after escalating one war and while continuing to fight another. You would have thought that the escalation alone would have been enough to satisfy all of the warheads at home; but to stanch the domestic fallout from being associated with too much peace, Obama, when accepting the peace award, gave a speech defending war.
Old habits die hard, especially imperialist ones. Imperial imperatives, whether economic, geopolitical, or ideological, persist because the ruling elites are dependent on them. In order to conceal imperialist objectives, presidents and other leaders of the US political class rely on the rhetoric of national security and America’s supposed benevolent global purpose. And, so, with President [...]
Ike believed that nuclear weapons were the only thing that could destroy the United States. His open skies and test ban initiatives were to put brakes on the arms race and pave the way toward nuclear disarmament. President Obama is now the leader facing the nuclear menace. He can wisely build upon Ike’s effforts in seeking to control the nuclear threat that looms over the world.
After the long-suffering civilian population of Iraq, whose “crime” was having oil — a country that has been rendered virtually unlivable—the big losers are the American taxpayers who are bleeding income, jobs, and quality of life, not just sacrificing family members, on behalf of a runaway war machine.
Jay Bybee wrote another memo that nobody has noticed, one purporting to authorize crimes far worse than torture, the same crimes the torture was itself intended to create false justifications for. On October 23, 2002, Assistant Attorney General Bybee signed a 48-page memo to the “counsel to the president” (Alberto Gonzales) titled “Authority of the [...]
Many opponents of the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq have always argued that this conflict is an irrelevant and even counterproductive sideshow to the real “war on terrorism” in Afghanistan. In fact, Barack Obama led the parade to initiate a troop surge in Afghanistan after having opposed it in Iraq.
Although polls show that two-thirds of the American public think that the war in Iraq is a mistake, Congress is having trouble stopping it. In fact, it continues to fund the war. Congress recently voted to appropriate $162 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the bill, the Democrats included domestic benefits [...]