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Saturday, March 18, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

PROSPECTS FOR WAR....THE NEED FOR PEACE

TWO EVENTS!

Monaca: Sat., April 22 1:00 pm

Community College of Beaver County, 1 Campus Dr.,
Health Science Center, Poplar Ave., Room 6010

Pittsburgh: Fri., April 21, 7:00 pm

at the University of Pittsburgh Law School (Barco Building),
3900 Forbes Ave., Room 109

Click here to RSVP and Get Free Tickets from Evenbrite

Monday, February 27, 2017

Donald Trump to Propose $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending



By Nick Timiraos and Michael C. Bender 
 Wall Street Journal 

Feb. 27, 2017 - President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal will seek a nearly 10% boost in military spending, with offsetting cuts from nondefense agencies, administration officials said Monday. 

The budget will call for a $54 billion increase in defense funding with offsetting funding cuts for nondefense agencies, officials said. Those cuts could be spread across nondefense agencies and are likely to hit foreign-aid funding, officials said, reflecting Mr. Trump’s call for U.S. allies to pick up a greater share in global peacekeeping efforts. “This budget will be a public-safety and national-security budget,” Mr. Trump said. “It will include a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it.” 

He added, “This is a landmark event, a message to the world in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve.” The White House will send federal agencies their proposed 2018 budget allocations at noon Monday, an official said. 


The outline, due next month, will include only targets for discretionary spending programs, which represent around one-third of total federal spending. The blueprint won’t include proposed changes on tax policy or mandatory spending. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Steve Bannon: 'We're Going to War in the South China Sea ... No Doubt'


China builds airstrip on small island it claims.
By Benjamin Haas
The Guardian  
Feb 2, 2017 - Only months ago Donald Trump’s chief strategist predicted military involvement in east Asia and the Middle East in Breitbart radio shows. 

The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East. 

Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House. 

In the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Bannon has emerged as a central figure. He was appointed to the “principals committee” of the National Security Council in a highly unusual move and was influential in the recent travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, overruling Department of Homeland Security officials who felt the order did not apply to green card holders.

While many in Trump’s team are outspoken critics of China, in radio shows Bannon hosted for Breitbart he makes plain the two largest threats to America: China and Islam.
“We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years,” he said in March 2016.

 “There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.” 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Terrorism and Trump: New Challenges for Social Justice Organizations

The progressive movement must grapple with Trump and terrorism simultaneously.

By Bob Wing and Max Elbaum

Foreign Policy in Focus
Originally published in Znet.
 
Dec 23, 2016 - The wake-up call is right there in the front page headline of the Dec. 11 New York Times: “Poll Has Trump Gaining Ground on Terror Fear.”

Prior to the tragic burst of terrorist murders in Egypt, Beirut, Paris and then San Bernardino, California, significant aspects of U.S. politics were beginning to move in a positive direction. Pressure from #BlackLivesMatter and Raise the Wage campaigns was forcing issues of racism and economic inequality to the forefront of public debate. Climate change denialism was increasingly on the defensive. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was giving voice to a broad anti-corporate agenda. And the Republicans seemed to be lurching so far to the right that they might self-isolate or split.

But in the wake of newly revived public fears about terrorism, and the right’s orgy of war mongering, Islamophobia and racist demagogy, “A plurality of the public views the threat of terrorism as the top issue facing the country,” according to a Dec. 10, 2015 NY Times/CBS poll. “Americans are more fearful about the likelihood of another terrorist attack than at any other time since the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001.”

Given the misery and strife of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and the powerful influence of ISIS (Daesh in Arabic), repeated Daesh-inspired or Daesh-organized terrorist attacks in the U.S. seem likely. Though limited in scale compared to terrorism in other parts of the world, such attacks do what they are intended to do: attract outsized attention and alarm the public. And, in light of its timing, the San Bernardino attack was not only deadly, but also exposed a potential path to the presidency and control of all three branches of the federal government by the nakedly xenophobic, racist and militarist tendency now utterly dominating the Republican Party. Even a victory by one of the so-called mainstream Republican conservatives would be a calamity with Congress, especially the House, in the hands of far right.

The attacks are also increasing the militarist and law-and-order tendencies of Hillary Clinton and other mainstream Democrats, tendencies that once led them to endorse George W. Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq.

This essays calls attention to two crucial developments.

First, over the past six months or so the far right has taken dangerous steps even further to the right. They have legitimized the public expression of blatant racism and authoritarian policies toward Muslims and immigrants. The climate they have created has contributed to the recent shootings targeting Planned Parenthood and BlackLivesMatter protesters and led their supporters to brag about beating up opponents at campaign rallies. Their extremist policies and rhetoric have alarmed even many mainstream commentators, with some pundits even using the term “fascism.” Yet they are dominating the Republican Party to a greater degree than before and, in significant part due to playing the foreign terrorism card, are also garnering broader public support, threatening to shift the entire political spectrum another notch to the right.

And second, that first development urgently underscores, not for the first time, how crucial it is for social justice organizations to develop a strategy that integrates a sophisticated understanding of the intimate interconnections of war, terrorism, racism and inequality, and between peace and justice at home and abroad, if we are to mature as a major political force.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

W PA Iraq Vet: Why I Answered the Call for Veterans to Go to Standing Rock



By Kevin Basl
Otherwoeds.org
 
Dec 30, 2016 - I lay among friends, huddled and cold in our sleeping bags. We listened to the lashing wind and the drums and prayer chants coming from the sacred fire, and we reflected on why we, four Iraq War veterans, were here. 

Police floodlights shone from the drill site of the Dakota Access Pipeline, scheduled to cross under the Missouri River, the water source for millions of people. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux, concerned not only about polluted water but also the desecration of sacred sites, began resisting the pipeline in 2014. In mid-2016, finally, these water protectors gained major support. Over 200 tribal nations pledged solidarity. Thousands of non-natives traveled to North Dakota to stand on the front lines. 

Then, as images of police violence against protectors got increasingly disturbing, some 4,000 veterans — including me — joined the resistance in early December.
Why had so many veterans taken up the cause of the Native Americans and environmentalists at Standing Rock? 

My own reasons are rooted in western Pennsylvania’s coal country, where I grew up. There, I rode my bicycle on trails crossing abandoned strip mines. Bulldozers had left precarious shale formations and streams ran orange with iron runoff. When a sanitation corporation threatened to open a landfill at a reclaimed mine near homes in our community, residents finally resisted. At age 15, I joined the fight to stop the dump, gaining a deeper appreciation for the wildlife — and water — of my region. 

Good jobs are scarce in my hometown, so military service is something nearly every boy — and now girl — considers. My grandfathers both served, along with several uncles. Back home, the military is sacrosanct. But I wasn’t especially proud of my five years in the Army, two of which were spent in Iraq. My job as a radar operator, like so many military specializations, got privatized, so I found myself tasked out for other duties. I guarded poor Iraqis while they filled thousands of sandbags for the contractor Kellogg, Brown, and Root, only to see those sandbags rot in the sun as they sat unused. 

I also loaded caskets onto cargo planes — an image often hidden from the American public. And I escorted high-ranking officers on unnecessary trouble-provoking missions (how else could one earn the Combat Infantry Badge?). Like many post-9/11 veterans, I left the military seeking redemption. Perhaps that’s why, after I saw those images of police violence against water protectors, I went to Standing Rock. 

There, instead of helping military contractors make money, I felt like I was finally serving the people. While we were there, on December 4, the Army Corps of Engineers finally denied the pipeline company its permit to drill under the river. Police pulled back, and the water protectors celebrated. 

The indigenous community had worked months for this ruling. They sacrificed the most. But I like to think the result was also influenced by the prospect of police tear-gassing and firing rubber bullets at unarmed veterans.

A ceremony followed where Wesley Clark Jr., key organizer of the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock campaign, offered an apology to Native Americans on behalf of the military, citing decades of broken treaties and violence. 

Five hundred of us went to our knees. I hope to participate in a forgiveness ceremony one day in Iraq, in the spirit of Standing Rock. 

Kevin Basl is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He’s also an instructor for Combat Paper NJ and Warrior Writers, two veteran-focused arts organizations.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Coming War on China




 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way.


By John Pilger
Telesur

Dec 6, 2016 - When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, “disappeared”, a political embarrassment.

I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency. The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.


The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is buried and distorted: a drumbeat of mainstream fake news that echoes the psychopathic fear embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.


Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an “existential threat” to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.


To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a “pivot to Asia”, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020. Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, “the perfect noose.”


A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled, War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the cold war when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn -- “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war against the Soviet Union.


Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the United States: the militarists and neo-conservatives in the executive, the Pentagon, the intelligence and “national security” establishment and Congress.


The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says U.S. policy is to confront those “who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us.”