Sunday, August 21, 2016
Thursday, June 2, 2016
How Many Trillion More Will the Pentagon Spend on Middle East Wars Before They Confront the Disaster They've Created?
By Andrew Bacevich
TomDispatch via Alternet
May 31, 2016 - We have it on highest authority: the recent killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan marks  “an important milestone.” So the president of the United States has declared, with that claim duly echoed and implicitly endorsed by media commentary—the New York Times reporting , for example, that Mansour’s death leaves the Taliban leadership “shocked” and “shaken.”
But a question remains: A milestone toward what exactly?
Toward victory? Peace? Reconciliation? At the very least, toward the prospect of the violence abating? Merely posing the question is to imply that U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world serve some larger purpose.
Yet for years now that has not been the case. The assassination of Mansour instead joins a long list of previous milestones, turning points, and landmarks briefly heralded as significant achievements only to prove much less than advertised.
One imagines that Obama himself understands this perfectly well. Just shy of five years ago, he was urging Americans to “take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding.” In Iraq and Afghanistan, the president insisted, “the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance.”
“These long wars,” he promised , were finally coming to a “responsible end.” We were, that is, finding a way out of Washington’s dead-end conflicts in the Greater Middle East.
Who can doubt Obama’s sincerity, or question his oft-expressed wish to turn away from war and focus instead on unattended needs here at home? But wishing is the easy part. Reality has remained defiant. Even today, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that George W. Bush bequeathed to Obama show no sign of ending.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
By Tom Hayden
April 21, 2016 - Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced a House Resolution (H.Res.695) recognizing the Vietnam anti-war movement as, “one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in recent generations and was critical to bringing an end to the war.” Rep. John Conyers became a co-sponsor as an effort begins to seek endorsements from other congressional representatives.
The Lee resolution is a direct result of last year’s May 1-2 commemoration of the movement at a conference in Washington DC.
The peace resolution will draw the ire of Republicans and reluctance of some Democrats. The Vietnam peace movement is the only Sixties movement that has been marginalized instead of memorialized. Yet it was a life-changing experience for many during the war, including thousands of soldiers and veterans, and the US government has tried to stamp out what they call “the Vietnam Syndrome.”
The Lee Resolution is an organizing tool for anyone wanting to respond to the Pentagon’s recent false narrative of history on its website. If grass-roots organizers visit, engage and petition their congressional offices, there is a strong chance for reinvigorating the continuing debate over Vietnam.
Next site of the debate: April 26-28th in Austin, Texas, the Vietnam War Summit presented by the LBJ Presidential Library, with a keynotes by Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, and panel with Tom Hayden, Marilyn Young, and David Maraniss titled, "The War At Home".
Also join me May 7 at Skylight Books in LA for my conversation with this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, author Viet Thanh Nguyen while we discuss his new book NOTHING EVER DIES: VIETNAM AND THE MEMORY OF WAR. (Text of Resolution Below)
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Powers great and small must contend with group’s demands as never before, writes Henri BarkeyBy Henri Barkey
Feb 25, 2016 - The Kurds have never been as influential in the Middle East as they are today. They hold the balance of power in Iraq and Syria, and are in the midst of an insurrection in Turkey. But this Kurdish awakening is different from previous ones — in Iraq in the 1970s or Turkey in the 1990s. Powers great and small have to contend with Kurdish demands as never before.
The US finds itself reluctantly drawn into this Kurdish denouement; it needs the Kurds as much as it needs the Turks in its efforts to defeat Isis, the jihadi group. Yet America’s primary ally in Syria, the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD), is being bombarded by its longstanding Nato ally, Turkey. The PYD has proven itself to be the most, if not the only, effective force against Isis; almost all the territory the jihadis have lost since conquering parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 has been to PYD militias working in tandem with the US air force. The Turks consider the PYD, which is intimately linked to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), as nothing more than a terrorist organisation.
While the US cannot satisfy all parties, the current conundrum also offers opportunities to Washington to push for a grand bargain between Turkey on the one hand and the Syrian and Turkish Kurds on the other that would benefit all sides involved in the region, as well as the US and its struggle against Isis.
There is also a sense of urgency as Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mired in his own controversial effort to transform the Turkish republic from a parliamentary system into a presidential one that would give him wide if not unlimited powers, engages in a dangerous game of brinkmanship.
He has raised the political ante not just by shelling PYD positions in Syria — shells are designed to hurt the PYD as much as disrupt the PYD-American relationship — but also attributing a recent terrorist attack in Ankara to the PYD, despite the latter’s denials and the rest of the world’s disbelief. Turkey does not want to differentiate between the PKK and the PYD, despite the efforts of PYD leader Salih Muslim to convince the Turks that the group has no design on Turkish territory and, on the contrary, seeks to co-operate with Ankara.
What worries Mr Erdogan is that in three of the countries with sizeable Kurdish minorities — Turkey, Iraq and Syria — the Kurds are on the move. Only in Iran has the regime been more or less successful in holding down overt manifestations of Kurdish nationalism, and then only through repression.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaking in 2013 at the Civil Rights Luncheon during AFGE's annual Legislative Conference. (Photo: AFGE/flickr/cc)
By Robert C Koehler
It’s the day after the big vote and I’m doing my best to dig Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders out from beneath the pile of Super Tuesday numbers and media declarations of winners and losers.
As a Boston Globe headline put it: “Clinton and Trump are now the presumptive nominees. Get used to it.”
But something besides winning and losing still matters, more than ever, in the 2016 presidential race. War and peace and a fundamental questioning of who we are as a nation are actually on the line in this race, or could be — for the first time since 1972, when George McGovern was the Democratic presidential nominee.
Embrace what matters deeply and there’s no such thing as losing.
Gabbard, an Iraq war vet, congresswoman from Hawaii and “rising star” in the Democratic establishment, stepped down as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Sanders — because he’s the only candidate who is not financially and psychologically tied to the military-industrial complex.
“As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know firsthand the cost of war,” she said, cracking the mainstream silence on U.S. militarism. “As a vice chair of the DNC, I am required to stay neutral in democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high.”
Because of Gabbard — only because of Gabbard — the multi-trillion-dollar monstrosity of U.S. militarism is getting a little mainstream media attention amid the reality-TV histrionics of this year’s presidential race, the Donald Trump phenomenon and the spectacle of Republican insult-flinging.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
By Lawrence S. Wittner
History News Network
Feb. 12, 2016 - On February 10, 2016, Peace Action—the largest peace organization in the United States—announced its endorsement of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for President.
Peace Action is the descendant of two other mass U.S. peace organizations: the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign (the Freeze). SANE was founded in 1957 with the goal of ending nuclear weapons testing. Soon, though, it broadened its agenda to include opposing the Vietnam War and other overseas military intervention, reducing military spending, and backing nuclear disarmament treaties, as well as supporting economic conversion from military to civilian production. Among SANE’s early supporters were Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Walter Reuther, and Dr. Benjamin Spock. The Freeze, initiated by Randy Forsberg, appeared in the late 1970s and reached a peak in the first half of the 1980s, when it led a widespread campaign to halt the Reagan administration’s dramatic nuclear weapons buildup and the dangerous slide toward nuclear war. With much in common, SANE and the Freeze merged in 1987 to form Peace Action. Like its predecessors, Peace Action devoted its efforts to building a more peaceful world.
Although the three peace organizations rarely endorsed Presidential candidates, they did so on occasion. Appalled by the Vietnam War, SANE backed the peace campaigns of Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. In 1984, challenging the Reagan administration’s bellicose approach to international affairs, SANE and the Freeze endorsed Walter Mondale. Then, in 1992, fed up with twelve years of Republican hawkishness, the newly-combined organization threw its support behind Bill Clinton.
In its statement endorsing Bernie Sanders, Peace Action praised his opposition to both Iraq wars, support of legislation to reduce spending on nuclear weapons, strong backing of the Iran agreement, votes to curb military spending, and championing of diplomacy over war. According to Kevin Martin, the executive director of the peace organization, Sanders “best represents the values that Peace Action and its 200,000 supporters have espoused.” And, in fact, before Peace Action’s board of directors voted overwhelmingly to have the organization’s Peace PAC back the Sanders campaign, an online poll of Peace Action’s members revealed support for endorsement by 85 percent of the respondents.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Is Hillary Clinton a Neoconservative Hawk? What Iraq and Libya Decisions Tell Us About Her Foreign Policy
By Paul Rosenberg
December 27, 2015
Two election cycles after losing the Democratic Party nomination because of her Iraq War vote, Hillary Clinton finally seems to have put it behind her. In fact, with the latest wave of ISIS hysteria, her hawkishness is seen by some as a plus. At the same time, striking a balance, a good case can be made that, though she did vote to authorize the Iraq War, she would never have started it herself if she had been president.
John Kerry made that very same argument back in 2004, in fact. AsKevin Drum described at the time , the media was echoing the Bush campaign spin, presenting Kerry’s position as confused and ludicrous at best, and as inconsistent flip-flopping at worst. But actually his position was a familiar one to them:
[T]hey know very well that there are lots and lots of liberal hawks and other former war supporters who have exactly the same position: pressuring Saddam was good, inspections were good, and eventually war might have been good too.You’ll note that there’s nothing new in the idea that invading Iraq benefited the Jihadi cause. Liberal hawks may have been mistaken, but not nearly as much as the neocons, whose trap they fell into. So has the liberal hawk position finally been fully vindicated? Is Hillary Clinton finally in the right place, at the right time?
But Bush blew it: he failed to rally world opinion, he failed to get the Arab world on our side, he failed to let the inspections process run its course, and he failed to plan properly for the postwar occupation. The result is a loss of American power and prestige, a diminished chance of Iraq becoming a pluralistic democracy, and an al-Qaeda that’s been given a second lease on life thanks to George Bush’s Queeg-like obsession with Saddam Hussein.
Electorally, perhaps. But in terms of actually having a working policy? That’s a whole different story. After all, Clinton herself pushed hard for a similarly flawed regime change strategy in Libya—Conor Friedersdorf even compared her role  in Libya to Cheney’s in Iraq. Hyperbolic? Yes. But he did have a point. As summarized by Joel Gillin at the New Republic, she did get carried away with questionable intelligence, over-focused on deposing a long-time U.S. bogeyman, and failed to give sufficient consideration to the depths of difficulties that would follow afterwards. All of which allowed the broader jihadi threat increased opportunity to spread.