There isn’t any congressional authorization, much less a declaration of war. Is there even a good reason for the United States to be involved?
There is no better time to ask this question than now, as much of the world (me included) is disgusted by the Islamic State’s beheadings of two kidnapped Japanese nationals, the second one an acclaimed journalist and humanist who lost his life trying to rescue the first.
It is easy to forget that for Americans, going to war was until recently an act undertaken only after every other alternative had been thoroughly explored and completely exhausted, that the bar for casus belli was high, and that war wasn’t the standard response to outrage or international crisis, but quite unusual, a deviation from the normal order of business.… Seguir leyendo »
President Barack Obama has made it clear since taking office that no one will be punished for torture.
As I have repeatedly written before, that’s reprehensible. But what about compensating torture victims?
According to the recent report issued by the U.S. Senate Intelligence committee, torture under the Bush administration was more brutal and widespread than previously understood.
According to CIA torturers themselves, many of the victims were as innocent as innocence gets. For example, mistranslations of Arabic names led to the torture of people wrongly identified as anti-American militants.
A former State Department official under George W. Bush, Lawrence Wilkerson, admitted that the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention base was never filled with evil America-haters: “It became apparent to me as early as August 2002, and probably earlier to other State Department personnel who were focused on these issues, that many of the prisoners detained at Guantanamo had been taken into custody without regard to whether they were truly enemy combatants, or in fact whether many of them were enemies at all.… Seguir leyendo »
I am tolerant. I have Republican friends. When racists speak in my presence, I don’t smash them in the jaw. I try to change their minds. Many of my close friends and relatives believe in God, which is wrong and therefore stupid, yet I don’t consider them stupid — just mistaken. America, I believe, must create and maintain the space where a multitude of points of view can thrive.
But there are limits. Not every opinion should be tolerated. If you think torture is OK — under any circumstance, for any reason — you are dangerous. If you believe that “they” had torture coming because “they” attacked “us” on 9/11, or because “they” chop off “our” heads, you are psychotic and sociopathic and should not be free to walk the streets, much less sit on juries or vote or drive a car or hold a job that a perfectly sane unemployed person needs.… Seguir leyendo »
They can’t help themselves. Whatever the situation, the reaction of U.S. policymakers is more war.
Weak economy? War will get things going. Strong economy? Military spending will cool it off.
Two wars in the Middle East (Afghanistan and Iraq) finally winding down (because we’ve lost and people are sick of them)? Time to ramp up secret arms sales to a pair of pipsqueak insurgencies (Libya and Syria).
Other superpowers love militarism. But only the United States would send troops, rather than aid workers, to people devastated by natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes … even within the U.S.
As Joel Andreas put it in his seminal graphic novel-format comic, American politicians are addicted to war.… Seguir leyendo »
Mainstream news outlets in the United States, whose politics are closely aligned with those of the U.S. government, frequently criticize mainstream media outlets in Russia, whose politics are closely aligned to those of the Russian government. Current example: recent events in Ukraine.
“Russian officials have been doing everything they can to make it clear that they don’t recognize the legitimacy of this current parliament or its right to form an interim government,” NPR’s Corey Flintoff reported Feb. 26. “The impression that ordinary Russians would get from [their] news coverage is really that the Ukrainian Revolution is very much a thing to be feared.”
Flintoff made fun of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who called the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “essentially the result of an armed mutiny.” Russian Interior Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was “an attempt at a coup d’état and to seize power by force.”
Yet American media insist on the R-word: revolution.… Seguir leyendo »
Two years ago, when I was in the Occupy movement, my comrades and I argued about revolution. Was revolution necessary? What is it? The split that destroyed our movement — as it did the Left during the 1960s — pitted revolutionaries against reformists. The most frustrating part of the debate, however, wasn’t ideological. It was linguistic.
Even on the Left, few Americans know what revolution is: the violent overthrow of the ruling classes. In a revolution, everything — beginning with the power structure — changes.
The Tahrir Square encampments that led to the ouster of Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak were a huge influence on Occupy.… Seguir leyendo »
I’m not much for sports analogies, but any athlete knows about the home field advantage. It’s easier to win if you play your game, not your opponent’s.
This is even more true in politics. Playing by your enemy’s rules is a mug’s game.
For whatever reason, conservatives and right-wing activists — the latter distinguishable from the former because they want to push past stodgy establishmentarianism into radical reactionism (such as fascism and its close relatives) — understand that he who makes the rules usually wins the fight. Whether it’s the aggressive redistricting of Texas voting districts engineered by Karl Rove on behalf of Republicans, or the brutalist media activism of Fox News and other Murdoch properties like The Wall Street Journal, or hiring goons to beat up election officials during the 2000 Florida recount, right-wingers get that politics is war, no Queensbury rules.… Seguir leyendo »
Beginning in the mid-1990s under the regime of President Boris Yeltsin and continuing into the early part of the 2000s under Vladimir Putin, Russia fought a so-called “dirty war” against Chechen separatists in a region of the world that military strategists have long considered among the most indomitable. Even in Afghanistan, where many Chechen fighters went to train in Taliban-run training camps, they had a reputation for ferocity that frightened many war-hardened Afghans.
As the younger brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is the surviving suspect in the Boston marathon bombings six days ago remained silent and in serious condition in a Boston hospital, and apparently did not issue any public statement about motives, it is impossible to say why — if indeed it was him and his brother — they did it.… Seguir leyendo »