Focal Points Blog

Would Sanders Be the Arms Control President We Thought We Were Getting in Obama?

President Obama may not have given away the $1.2 million award from the Nobel committee, but that doesn’t mean he should have abandoned his anti-nuclear mission, as well.

President Obama may not have given away the $1.2 million award from the Nobel committee, but that doesn’t mean he should have abandoned his anti-nuclear mission, as well. (Photo: The Official White House Photostream / Flickr)

President Obama may not have given away the $1.2 million award from the Nobel committee, but that doesn’t mean he should have abandoned his anti-nuclear mission, as well.

In an article at Breaking Defense, Mark Cancian, a former top defense budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama, presents a “thought experiment.”

What if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders becomes president? What would a Sanders defense program look like?

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Judgment Day for Austerity in Irish Election

Part of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition’s problem is that it claimed it had no choice but to enforce the savage austerity regime of the European Central Bank, but is trying to take credit for recent improvement in the economy. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Part of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition’s problem is that it claimed it had no choice but to enforce the savage austerity regime of the European Central Bank, but is trying to take credit for recent improvement in the economy. (Photo: Wikipedia)

What looked like a smooth path to electoral victory for the Irish government has suddenly turned rocky, and the Fine Gael-Labour coalition is scrambling to keep its majority in the 166-seat Dáil. A series of missteps by Fine Gael’s Taoiseach [prime minister] Enda Kenney, and a sharply critical report of the 2008 Irish “bailout,” has introduced an element of volatility into the Feb. 26 vote that may end in a victory by an interesting, if fragile, coalition of leftists and independents.

The center-right Fine Gael and center-left Labour Party currently hold 99 seats, but few observers see them maintaining their majority. Fine Gael has dropped from 30 percent several months ago to 26 percent today, and Labour is only polling at 9 percent. That will not translate into enough seats to control the Dáil, and putting together a ruling coalition will be tricky, particularly when polls indicate that the independent bloc that has picked up 3 percent and is now the number one vote getter. In general, the independents are left or left-leaning.
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Women High on List of Victims of Hillary Clinton’s Hawkish Foreign Policy

A line can be traced between the vote for the Iraq War and the enslavement of women, such as Yazidis pictured, by the Islamic State. (Photo: European Parliament / Flickr)

A line can be traced between the vote for the Iraq War and the enslavement of women, such as Yazidis pictured, by the Islamic State. (Photo: European Parliament / Flickr)

Yesterday Foreign Policy in Focus posted an article by Stephen Zunes on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. It’s of sufficient eloquence and importance to spur us to enter the echo chamber and emphasize some of its key points. Professor Zunes points out that “several things about Clinton’s record would make her an unusual standard bearer for” the cause of women. For instance:

Historically, it’s uncommon for women voters — who statistically tend to be more dovish on foreign policy matters than men — to support the most hawkish candidate in the Democratic primaries.

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Nuclear Ban Treaty Seeks to Make an End Run Around Nuclear Powers

Once nuclear weapons are declared illegal, momentum may build toward their abolition. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)

Once nuclear weapons are declared illegal, momentum may build toward their abolition. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)

It might be news to you, but a treaty banning nuclear weapons is being negotiated. Wait — are nuclear-weapons states signing on? Of course not. Then what’s the point?

As the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), at the forefront of the movement, states in its presentation Ban Nuclear Weapons Now:

The prohibition of weapons typically precedes and stimulates their elimination, not the other way around.

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Hillary Clinton Puts Space Between Her and Neocons With Whom She’s Identified

Clinton boasts of foreign-policy experience without owning up to how rich in failures and disastrous wars U.S. foreign policy has been in recent years. (Photo: Zimbio)

Clinton boasts of foreign-policy experience without owning up to how rich in failures and disastrous wars U.S. foreign policy has been in recent years. (Photo: Zimbio)

Sanders called it a “low blow.” Clinton has suddenly laid claim to the Obama legacy and chastised Bernie because he sometimes has taken issue with the President.

Aside from the injustice to Bernie, who has supported Obama while exercising the right to voice disagreements, Hillary has turned matters upside down. It is no secret that the former Secretary of State has been hawkish on foreign and military policy, that she along with the neocons has regarded Obama as “weak.” That’s why the current chief neocon advocate, Robert Kagan, who bitterly opposes any Obama/Kerry effort to try diplomacy instead of greater military force, can say of Clinton:  “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy.” (Kagan’s wife is Victoria Nuland, Hillary Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs, who famously said “Fuck the EU” in her eagerness to manipulate “regime change” in the Ukraine.)
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Russian Bombing in Syria May Ensure Decades More Rule by Assad

If Russia prevails in shoring up Assad, Putin will leverage that success elsewhere.  (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

If Russia prevails in shoring up Assad, Putin will leverage that success elsewhere.
(Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

With regards to the ceasefire talks that never got off the ground in Geneva last week, AlJazeera’s Luke Coffey writes that “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was never serious about a ceasefire, and neither was his partner in crime Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.”

… the recapture of Aleppo would make it highly unlikely that Assad and his cronies would return to the negotiating table. In Putin’s eyes the world is a zero-sum game and in Syria he is winning … not negotiating.

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Jeffrey Sachs Blames Hillary Clinton for Our National Security Woes

 

Yes, neocons are still around and may have an inside track to the White House once again. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Yes, neocons are still around and may have an inside track to the White House once again. (Photo: Wikimedia)

It’s almost unfathomable how much money Hillary and Bill Clinton have made from giving speeches, mostly to financial companies. While that $153 million (according to CNN) was earned since Bill Clinton’s second presidential term ended, it now almost makes more sense to view Hillary Clinton in the class of tycoons who become politicians, such as Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg.

But it’s not just Hillary Clinton’s speeches to and affiliations with Wall Street that have become a rising crescendo of alarm. At Huffington Post, Jeffrey Sachs, authority on economic development and world poverty, continues to tack left.
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You Too Can Have a Future in Nuclear Destruction

The nuclear-weapons establishment has never flagged when it comes to fanning the flames of deterrence theory. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)

The nuclear-weapons establishment has never flagged when it comes to fanning the flames of deterrence theory. (Photo: Steve Jurveston / Wikimedia Commons)

Recent years have seen a string of scandals among those who command and man nuclear missiles silos. Among them have been cheating on tests and drug use. They are considered symptoms of low morale among those working in a branch of military that is seen as having little to actually do and with no future. Of course, for the rest of us, that’s a plus because it means they are not lighting off their ICBMs (the intercontinental ballistic missiles housed in the silos).
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U.S. Needs to Think Twice Before Reprising the Cold War

Spurred by tensions over Ukraine, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe. (Photo: Public domain)

Spurred by tensions over Ukraine, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe. (Photo: Public domain)

Not long after World War II, newspaper maps began showing Eastern Europe entirely colored in red, and political cartoons showed the red spreading across western Europe. Those who remembered those days were bound to have flashbacks last week. On February 2, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe, more than quadrupling the $789 million currently budgeted for Europe. According to the New York Times, the West will eventually spend a whopping $40 billion on building up Ukraine’s defenses against  possible threats from Russia.

Administration officials said the decision reflects “a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor.” That situation apparently consists of Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago, and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Both regions had longstanding ties to Russia, including a common language. There is no evidence that Russia intends to invade others of its neighbors, yet the same fear mongering that once prompted warnings of the Soviet Union’s intent to take over all of Europe has returned. Ukraine is seemingly the first line of defense.
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Latest Round of Syrian Peace Talks Stumbles Out of the Blocks

Thanks to Russia, Assad isn’t going anywhere. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

Thanks to Russia, Assad isn’t going anywhere. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons )

Yet again the Syrian conflict has taken the front pages of the western media outlet with the announcement that another UN-sponsored Syrian peace talk is underway in Geneva. The latest round, which began last Friday in Geneva, is an attempt to bring a number of groups to the negotiating table that have nothing in common. The so called the Syrian opposition group, which is supported by the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and other regressive regimes in the region, have indicated that they intend to boycott this round of discussion as well unless their demands are met prior to negotiation despite US’s insistence that they should participate with no condition. Mike Whitney, in his latest piece in Counterpunch, used the situation in eastern Oregon to assess the rationality of these demands under the current circumstance. He explained:

To appreciate how ridiculous these demands are, one would have to imagine a similar scenario taking place in the United States. Let’s say, for example, that Ammon Bundy, the crackpot leader of the armed militia that seized the federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, demanded that the FBI and all other federal agents vamoose while the UN convened negotiations between his representatives and the Obama administration for the establishment of a transitional government that would remove Obama from power after 18 months while rewriting the constitution so it better reflected the far-right political and religious convictions of Bundy and his gaggle of ne’er-do-well followers.

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