Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Humanitarian Hawks: A Peek Behind the Curtains

Samantha Power Goes to War

Photo: Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power


By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising via the Nation

March 30, 2011 - Barack Obama’s war in Libya bears the intellectual imprint of Samantha Power, the Dublin-born human rights author who has risen to visible prominence in the White House hierarchy.

Power, who received a Pulitzer Prize for her 2003 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, came of age as a freelance reporter during the Bosnian wars, when she was in her early twenties. From there she attended Yale and Harvard Law School, becoming executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. She is married to Obama appointee Cass Sunstein.

Power has made a remarkable career recovery since calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 presidential primaries. She resigned from the Obama campaign after that comment, but has returned to become a special assistant to the president and member of his National Security Council.

Over a long conversation with Power in December 2003, I was struck by the generational factor in her thinking. If she had experienced Vietnam in her early twenties, I felt, she would have joined the radical left, suspicious always of American power. But as an Irish internationalist witnessing death and destruction in the former Yugoslavia, she wondered how the United States could be neutral. She strongly favored the American intervention and air war that followed. I asked whether she would have favored the Clinton administration sending combat troops to battle the Serbs, a scenario which was in the works when Russia pulled its support from Belgrade, effectively ending that war. I didn’t get an answer, only the promise of “a long conversation” in the future.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Afghan War Unraveling the GOP

A Reagan Republican Makes A Case

Against The War -- And His Own Party

By Dan Froomkin
Beaver County Peace Links via Huffington Post

March 8, 2011 - When Paul Craig Roberts watches the U.S. reaction to what's been happening in the Middle East, he is haunted by America's own recent history in the region.

"Here we are, we're all concerned about humanitarian concerns in Libya, after we've wrecked two countries ourselves?" Roberts asked in a telephone interview.

Roberts, 70, is one of the original Reagan Republicans. From his perch at the Treasury Department, he was a chief architect of Reaganomics. He edited and wrote for the Wall Street Journal editorial page and was a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Now a syndicated columnist living in the Florida Panhandle, he's still a devoted supply-sider.

But Roberts is profoundly alienated from the modern GOP, particularly when it comes to civil liberties -- and wars.

"In Iraq, there were huge numbers of people dead and dispossessed, with no place to go," he said. "But none of that bothered us. When we're doing it, it's quite all right."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sacrificing Students and Schools to the Gods of War

Books, Not Bombs:

Robert Gates' Epiphany and

the Fate of Public Education

By Michael Klonsky
Beaver County Peace Links via Huffington Post

"In the ensuing decades, a large, permanent military establishment emerged as a result of the Cold War -- an establishment that forged deep ties to the Congress and industry."-- Robert Gates in 2008

Secretary Gates, successor to Donald Rumsfeld, has led our ever-expanding military-industrial complex through both Bush and Obama regimes, the "surge" in Iraq and the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Prior to that, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush as Director of Central Intelligence.

Neither of these two regimes have much to show for all that except mounting body counts, loss of American prestige and credibility around the world, and deepening financial crisis and collapsing infrastructure here at home. Perpetual war has helped make the U.S. a superpower in decline, in large part because militarization has replaced real productive growth and wealth within our national economic structure. The result has been a continuing decline in the real wages and living standards of American workers.

The expected toll upon the U.S. working class and the majority of society also includes abandoning many of the basic rights previously taken for granted -- like the right to unionize and bargain collectively. Another big toll is being extracted from our system of public education in the form of massive school closings and teacher firings amid a strategically aimed media and cultural assault on teachers and and their unions. It's this economic collapse which has precipitated the steady erosion of public space as well as the crisis in public education -- not the other way around, as claimed by the corporate reformers and power philanthropists who blame our economic decline upon "failing schools," "bad teachers," and their unions.

The cost for fighting two major land wars at the same time comes to about $120 billion annually. To put that in perspective, if that money was put into an investment fund, the interest alone could finance public education in New York City, the nation's largest school system, without closing schools or firing thousands of teachers and without even touching the principle.

As he nears retirement and makes his farewell tour of the military academies, Gates reflects on what he has learned from all that experience:

"In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined.'"

Amen, Secretary Gates! But much too little and much too late.

[This Blogger's Books from Amazon: Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society (Positions: Education, Politics, and Culture) Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society (Positions: Education, Politics, and Culture) by Michael Klonsky, Susan Klonsky]

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

War Timetables: Leading or Speculating?

Afghan Withdrawal Resolution

Passes Democratic National

Committee Without Dissent

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation

March 1, 2011 - The Democratic National Committee—whose leader, after all, is President Barack Obama—passed a resolution at last weekend’s Washington, DC, conference calling for an acceleration of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan more rapidly than the president’s current 2014 timeline. The policy resolution demands a “swift withdrawal” of troops and contractors starting with a “significant and sizeable reduction [of troops] no later than July 2011.”

The resolution may not be a game-changer, but certainly a changes the shape of the months ahead, when war funding and exit strategies are debated in Congress and Obama announces how many troops he will “begin” withdrawing this July.

The goal of Democrats like Rep. Barbara Lee is to “change the president’s political calculus” and encourage his running on a 2012 platform promise of ending two wars – instead of the specter of trillion-dollar quagmires. Gen. Petraeus and national security hawks like John Nagl are lobbying for Obama to keep American combat troops in Afghanistan through 2014 or beyond. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has staked out a position supporting the generals.