Last week, Jonathan Williams was interviewed by Antiwar.com Radio’s Angela Keaton. They discussed SPAN’s counter-recruitment work, the military’s recruitment efforts, and the use of video games in recruiting. Check it out at AntiWar.com here!
On Wednesday, historian and PA advisory board member Howard Zinn passed away. In his memory, we urge you to check out this great tribute to Zinn from the Nation.
“Zinn’s brand of history put common citizens at the center of the story and inspired generations of young activists and academics to remember that change is possible. As he wrote in his autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994), “From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.”
Senior Fellow Raed Jarrar talks to RT about recent conflicts occurring in Iraq around the upcoming elections.
Two related issues were in the news today, the President’s call for a spending freeze on federal programs, except for the national security state of course, and senior UN envoy in Afghanistan Kai Eide’s call for negotiations with the Taliban.
On the former, Jo Comerford of the National Priorities Project http://nationalpriorities.org said today: “President Obama’s plan to freeze ‘non-security’ discretionary spending could spell disaster for a broad range of federal
programs. … The proposed ‘freeze’ is actually a cut. The proposal caps non-security spending at $447 billion for each of the next three fiscal years. During that time, inflation will erode the purchasing power of that total, requiring additional cuts in services in each successive year. While meaningless in reducing the deficit, these cuts could be
devastating to non-security discretionary programs such as nutrition, education, energy and transportation. These types of programs account for only 17 percent of total federal spending, yet they will absorb all of the proposed cuts. … Military spending, which in the current fiscal year represents roughly 55 percent of discretionary spending, will be
spared the budget knife. And all indications are that military spending will go up next year. In fact, based on the Office of Management and Budget’s projections as part of the FY 2010 budget request released last year, we will spend an additional $522 billion on the military over the next decade.”
We’ve seen this movie before – Republicans run up the deficit through huge increases in military spending and tax cuts for corporations, the rich and middle class. Then the Democrats come in and voila, there are huge deficits to reduce, and they want to be responsible, not “tax and spend liberals”, so social programs “have to be cut” while the war machine devours more and more of our federal budget.
Peace Action West has a good action alert on this issue, encouraging support for freezing military spending instead, on the website change.org at http://www.change.org/ideas/view/cut_wasteful_war_spending_to_fund_human_needs_like_health_care_education_and_jobs , and of course we will need to fight this budget battle in Congress.
On Afghanistan, Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy posted this message today:
UN: Time for Direct Talks with Afghan Taliban Leaders
The top United Nations official for Afghanistan has called for direct
talks with senior Taliban leaders. Is anyone in Washington listening?
The New York Times reported Sunday that Kai Eide, the United Nations
special representative for Afghanistan, “called on Afghan officials to
seek the removal of at least some senior Taliban leaders from the
United Nations’ list of terrorists, as a first step toward opening
direct negotiations with the insurgent group.”
Eide also called on the U.S. to speed its review of the roughly 750
detainees in its military prisons in Afghanistan – another principal
grievance of Taliban leaders.
Eide said he hoped that the two steps would open the way for
face-to-face talks between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders.
“If you want relevant results, then you have to talk to the relevant
person in authority,” Mr. Eide said. “I think the time has come to do
Amen; talk talk talk is better than war war war.
Check out this recent article by Peace Action historian Larry Wittner at the History News Network.
The outpouring of humanitarian aid from numerous nations for the suffering people of Haiti is truly extraordinary — particularly when set against the shabby record of the past…
After all, in previous centuries the French government invaded Haiti, enslaved its people and, when the Haitians arose and drove out the French, subsequently crippled its economy by foisting a huge reparations burden upon the nation. The American government was not much more generous, for it refused to establish diplomatic relations with Haiti for nearly six decades, imposed a trade embargo upon it, occupied it militarily from 1915 to 1934, backed ruthless dictators, and helped oust democratically-elected governments. Other nations have unclean hands, as well.
The Obama administration planned to submit its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to Congress February 1, but has delayed the review’s release until March 1. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Obama stated: “We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons.”
There is, however, a Nuclear Priesthood that has other ideas. The nuclear weapons laboratories, contractors and the nuclear bureaucracies in the Pentagon and Energy Department – where the $60 billion in funding for nuclear weapons resides – all have a vested interest in keeping the nuclear weapons policy status-quo. Moreover, they would like to expand the nuclear weapons production complex. Their multi-billion dollar plan would increase US production capacity from 20 nuclear warheads a year to 80.
In December, all the Senate Republicans and one independent (Sen. Lieberman) sent a letter to the President. The message was clear – fund Bombplex or face a major defeat on the eve of a Global Nuclear Security Summit President Obama will host in April and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review at the United Nations in May.
The delay in the release of the NPR gives us time to effect the President’s decision. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) have written to the president to encourage him to adopt forward-leaning policies in the NPR including taking US nuclear weapons off high-alert status as a safety measure, and adopting a No First Use policy for our nuclear arsenal. So, President Obama is faced with two clear choices. The US will either take a step forward on the difficult path to the abolition of nuclear weapons, or call out to the world its intention to sustain our nuclear weapons arsenal indefinitely.
President Obama has made some impressive speeches in favor of nuclear weapons disarmament, but of course the international community will not take seriously the President’s vision of a Nuclear Weapons-Free world if it is based solely on speeches.
Contact your Senators and Representatives today and request that they write to the President recommending an NPR that reflects Obama’s vision of a nuclear weapon-free future by taking concrete steps to dismantle our stockpile and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national and global security policy. Future generations may well look back on these few months as a critical moment when the United States committed itself to the bold pledge of its Nobel Laureate President to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
There is some good commentary from knowledgeable sources about how neo-liberal and economic globalization policies have exacerbated the suffering from the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, mostly how the destruction of the subsistence farming economy drove people to Port-au-Prince, where families are forced to live in rather flimsy housing, in search of manufacturing jobs (which of course has happened in other parts of the Americas due to “free trade” policies, I saw it myself last September in the huge shantytowns outside Mexico City).
But of course right now the priority is to get relief aid into a devastated country. Our friends at the American Friends Service Committee and TransAfrica have links for online donations, please give generously.