Who else ― Elizabeth Warren?
Not sure why exactly, unless she really is thinking of running for president, but, at Georgetown University on February 26, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA, as if you didn’t know) strayed from her usual domain of banking and consumer protections to deliver her first foreign-policy speech. With U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, she posed these questions for the future of the U.S. role abroad.
How do we best balance liberty and security? What role, if any, should nation-building play in our military strategy? When, if ever, should we engage in a so-called war of choice?
Then she said:
Today, I want to focus on a related question about how we advance our national interests – a question that is discussed less often than many of the others, but one that I think deserves our attention. How should we think about civilian casualties and their effect on our strategic decisions?
Major Indian publisher capitulates to right-wing Hindu group.
A few weeks ago, Penguin India decided to remove from circulation and destroy any remaining copies of a 2009 book, The Hindus: An Alternate Anthology, by Wendy Doniger, an eminent scholar of Hinduism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. The decision sparked widespread outrage and criticism within literary circles in India and abroad.
Penguin India’s decision came after a three-year court battle over a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Shiksha Bachao Andolan (Save Education Movement), a right-wing Hindu group. The suit claimed that the book hurt “the religious feelings of millions of Hindus” and violated Section 295a of the Indian Penal Code, which makes “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class of citizens” criminally punishable.
Some African economies would need to grow at the impossible rate of seven percent to meet the Millennium Development Goal for poverty eradication.
There are currently 7 billion people living on our planet. Some 80 percent, or 4.7 billion, of those people live on a meager $10 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population holds just 5 percent of global income, while the richest 20 percent holds 75 percent. The stark divide between the rich and the poor was addressed in a series of conferences and summits held by the United Nations that culminated in the United Nations Millennium Declaration in September 2000. From this summit the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were born.
The MDGs consist of eight broad goals that range from eradication of extreme poverty and achieving universal education to ensuring environmental stability and fighting diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. The goals, agreed to by all the world leaders that attended the summit, are laudable—after all, eradicating poverty is one of our most pressing global issues—however, they are not free from criticism.
Russia’s Olympic success and growth are meaningless if xenophobia continues to dominate its society.
Image Wikimedia Commons
The Sochi Olympics proved to be a big success — exactly what Russia wanted. Right from the opening ceremony itself, the entire event was a megalith in terms of popularity and success. If one wanted to catch a glimpse of Russia’s glorious past as well as its vibrant art, this year’s Winter Olympics were the thing to watch!
But the Olympics at Sochi were not without their share of controversy. Take, for example, the case of the Pussy Riot protest performance.
So success on one hand and chaos on the other. A mixed bag, probably?
However, Russia’s mixed bag had one key element missing.
The plight of the Muslims of Sochi.
Like the Pakistan military and ISI, Syrian President Assad may be aiding jihadists who operate on his own soil.
Image Wikimedia Commons
In an article at Foreign Policy titled The Disappeared, James Traub reports on journalists who have been kidnapped in Syria, either by Islamist extremist rebels or by forces for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. At one point he was introduced to (emphasis added):
… Hamza Ghadban, a Syrian journalist. … He was convinced, as many rebel sympathizers are, that the regime has subterranean connections with the foreign jihadists. He told me that the ISIS camp in Aleppo had been unscathed until the jihadists decamped, while the next-door headquarters of the Tawhid Brigade, affiliated with the FSA, had been leveled by government artillery. In Raqqa, too, the ISIS base had not been shelled. It’s also widely believed that in the summer of 2012, Assad released from prison some of the Sunni extremists who had fought American troops in Iraq, and who may then have joined with foreign fighters to form ISIS. Those fighters now seem at least as preoccupied with dislodging moderate rebels from key checkpoints and northern towns as they are with fighting the regime.
Once again, R2P — responsibility to protect — is being used as a pretext for attacking Syria.
Homs. Image Wikimedia Commons
On February 15 at FPIF Focal Points, Rob Prince wrote, “At a moment when the only viable path open to resolving the Syrian conflict lies in a negotiated settlement between the Assad government and the legitimate opposition, two colleagues at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies, Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel of the Center for Middle East Studies, have put forth an emotional and poorly conceived call for military intervention to resolve the escalating humanitarian crisis there” in a New York Times op-ed. Now Coleen Rowley, who you may remember for the service she performed for the nation as a post-9/11 FBI whistleblower, weighs in.
Cross-posted from the March newsletter of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27.
The propaganda that continues to flourish for war on Syria shows many Americans fail to understand the problems posed by “US Empire-building” believing it to be an altruistic force, toppling other governments and starting wars for the good of all mankind. Two recent articles in the New York Times (NYT): “Use Force To Save Starving Syrians” and “U.S. Scolds Russia as It Weighs Options on Syrian War” are typical of the concerted efforts underway to ramp up US military intervention despite overwhelming opposition voiced by Congress and the American public thwarting Obama’s plan to bomb Syria announced in late August last year.
The author had a ringside seat to how the surge in Afghanistan only increased Ahmed Wali Karzai’s leverage, thus increasing U.S. need for his support.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, assassinated in 2011
Most commentary about Secretary Gates’ Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War has focused on his pithy comments about members of the Bush and Obama Administrations, but I found the more important story in a message he may not have intended. At a Sept 3, 2010 meeting in Kandahar with Brigadier General Nick Carter, discussing the local power broker, Ahmed Wali Karzai (AWK), President Karzai’s half-brother, Carter said that
… for the foreseeable future, the choice facing us was between a theocracy run by the Taliban or a “thugocracy” run by the likes of AWK. He said that working with AWK offered the best way to show results quickly against the Taliban. [Gates] told Carter that ‘if working with AWK helped keep our troops alive and succeed in their mission, then that’s no contest.’
This heads-down focus on the immediate fight, devoid of political or social context, goes a long way towards explaining the failures of our longest war.
Was it a bid by the Transform Now Plowshares activist to become a martyr to disarmament?
The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Yesterday I posted that the Transform Now Plowshares Three were sentenced for their infiltration and protest at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012. CBS News reported Sister Megan Rice’s response to her three-year sentence.
The Transform Now Plowshares protesters who infiltrated the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex were sentenced yesterday.
Beating swords into plowshares
“Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”
The Transform Now Plowshares Three were sentenced for their infiltration and protest at Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012. I guess it could have been worse. CBS News reports (emphasis added):
Russia’s President Putin may have induced Ukraine’s President Yanukovych to crack down violently on protesters.
Ukraine President Yanukovych and Russian President Putin. Image Wikimedia Commons
Calling the scene in Independence Square, Kiev, “apocalyptic,” Andrew Higgins and Andrew Kramer of the New York Times reported on the demonstrations yesterday, during which 25 demonstrators were killed by the Ukrainian riot police, known as the Berkut. They write that what “began as a peaceful protest in late November against” Ukraine President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s “decision to spurn a trade deal with Europe and tilt toward Russia became on Tuesday a pyre of violent chaos.”