Nathan Paulsen situates the NSA revelations in the long and sordid history of U.S. government surveillance and likewise puts the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act in context, closing with the challenge this poses to those who abhor injustice.
When Edward Snowden took responsibility for media leaks that revealed National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, I was viscerally moved. A rare moment of pride in my U.S. citizenship tingled down my spine. In exercising his freedom of speech to blow the whistle on government spying, Snowden acted in the best of our democratic traditions. Awed by the courage of a man willing to impoverish himself and risk years in prison for the common good, I felt challenged by his example.
Not that I have half the daring of Mr. Snowden.
But I do experience, I think, a similar disgust.
It is not the sort of disgust one might encounter when tasting a particularly unpleasant food. Or, say, coming across a maggot-filled squirrel on the side of the road. It's not a distaste for small discomforts, but a repugnance reserved for the great injustice in our world.
Carlos Martinez cuts through the fog of rhetoric about Washington defense of freedom across the globe and explains why famed Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano's message to the U.S. is "Please don't save me!"
At a recent reading of his new book, Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano berated Washington for disguising its imperial ambitions with the idealistic language of humanitarianism. Galeano poignantly exclaimed that everything the U.S. claims it wants to save, it inevitably destroys. With his usual biting wit, he announced," I would really please beg them, 'Please, don't save me. I don't want to saved.' "
A survey of Washington's latest interventions in Latin America, the Middle East, and beyond indicates that our government's penchant for saving countries by destroying them remains as present as ever. Indeed, today's Obama administration has artfully adopted and evolved this tradition of imperialism with a smiley face. Big wars with large-scale deployment of U.S. troops are at least temporarily off the agenda, much to the relief of millions across the globe. But other forms of destruction and killing in the name of saving people show little sign of abating. Drone killings continue in the name of fighting terrorism. Washington still plays the leading role as global weapons supplier and dealer in the name of securing peace. And new chapters are being written in the old book of intervention in the affairs of Latin American countries.
Washington's Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #96 • April, 2013
In a month filled with the killing of innocents from Boston to West, Texas and from Baghdad to Yemen, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Sarah Lazare calls attention to what we all have to learn from the Palestinian people's resistance to brutality and dispossession.
April was such a cruel month this year. I grieve for those killed and maimed in the Boston Marathon bombing, for those who died in West, Texas and Bangladesh due to corporations placing profits over safety. I ache for those facing U.S. drone attacks in Yemen; deadly bombings and clashes in Iraq, blasts in Afghanistan. I am appalled as the 'sequester' cuts start to take a human toll while billions continue to flow to the U.S. military.
To my dear comrades,
Though using the gender-biased terminology of 1624, John Donne's Meditation 17 seems to me as if it could have been written in the first hour after Monday's carnage in Boston:
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
For those of us who have crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, those last few blocks on Boylston Street are unforgettable, emotionally as well as physically. To see the pictures and videos of maimed instead of merely exhausted bodies there is an especially searing experience. Saying that the bombing instantaneously turned a moment of large-scale human triumph into horror has already become a cliché. But it is true nonetheless. Reading about the lives of the dead and wounded is heartbreaking. Seeing the heroism of so many people who immediately ran toward instead of away from the explosions – including Boston Athletic Association volunteers and peace activists – is an inspiring reminder of human beings' capacity to put the needs of others before their own.
Washington's Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #95 • March 31, 2013
Michael Reagan connects the war in Iraq, elite impunity, the police murder of Kimani Gray, the Steubenville rape case, and the "sequester" assault on the poor, to the "madness from the top" that structures U.S. society.
It's March and despite what you read on the sports pages the real madness in the country isn't on the basketball court. It's on the streets of New York where police murder another Black teenager. It's in Steubenville, Ohio, where a teenage girl is raped by high school athletes and a culture of misogyny blames the victim. It's in the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, which passed without a single perpetrator of that lie-based bloodletting facing any consequences whatsoever. And it's in “sequestration,” a special kind of “structural violence” that targets the most vulnerable among us. This kind of madness, madness from the top, rooted in the violence and self-interest of the powerful, is enough to drive many of the rest of us mad in a different sense. We're mad with the kind of anger and outrage that leads to resistance.
With all eyes on North Korea since its third nuclear test, remarkably little has been said about how we arrived at this crisis point. Inadequately contextualized as North Korea’s response to fortified UN sanctions, the latest nuclear test bespeaks the failure of U.S. diplomacy toward its historic enemy.
The commonplace U.S. media framing of North Korea as the region’s foremost security threat obscures the disingenuous nature of U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy in the region, specifically the identity between what his advisers dub “strategic patience,” on the one hand, and his forward-deployed military posture and alliance with regional hawks on the other. Examining Obama’s aggressive North Korea policy and its consequences is crucial to understanding why demonstrations of military might—of politics by other means, to borrow from Carl von Clausewitz—are the only avenues of communication North Korea appears to have with the United States at this juncture.
Washington's Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #94/February 28, 2013
Rebecca Tumposky cuts through this month's hypocrisy in Washington concerning drones, Afghanistan, the Israel Lobby and Chuck Hagel allegedly being a threat to U.S. "national security." She also suggests that peace advocates can learn a lot from the Forward on Climate# #NoKXL actions that brought tens of thousands into the streets February 17.
Even counting the Oscar ceremony there was more posturing and acting in Washington than in Hollywood this month.As March 1 "sequestration" cuts that will impose hardship on millions loomed, Congress members preened for the cameras and gave priority to the partisan blame game over mention of poor people. In hearings considering Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary, Republican hawks acted as if Hagel’s saying the Iraq War was a mistake or that he was a senator from Nebraska rather than Israel made the man a friend of terrorism. President Obama spoke of a withdrawal from Afghanistan that isn't really a withdrawal and urged action on climate while acting as if the Keystone XL pipeline was not a grave threat to the planet. And the leaked memos on "justified’ targeted killing" meant that even Academy Award level costume design couldn't hide the "war is peace," "murder is self-defense" logic of Washington's drone warfare policy.
Sasha Wright lays bare the underlying dynamics of the U.S.-supported French intervention in Mali, spotlighting the role of AFRICOM and Western-imposed "structural adjustment" policies. She follows up by assessing the results of Israel's "let's debate-everything-except-settlements-and-occupation" elections.
This month in his inauguration speech President Obama declared that “a decade of war is now ending,” and “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” But the only wars Obama is ending (and even those not 100%) are the big ones, involving large-scale deployment of ground troops, substantial U.S. casualties, and direct naked occupations.
Elvis Méndez examines the connections between this country's toxic allegiance to militarism, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and the frenzy surrounding the fiscal cliff.
Another month, another spectacle: this month’s political theater is The Fiscal Cliff. The authors are the same Washington "wise men" who were responsible for the Super Committee, the "Gang of Six" and a litany of other proposals for imposing austerity measures on the U.S. public under the guise of deficit reduction and pragmatic fiscal policy. As of this writing the precise final script is still being negotiated behind closed doors. But no version has a happy ending for the 99%.
The specifics pushed by different factions of the U.S political class vary. But one thread remains constant: blind allegiance to war spending. The U.S. is - and has been for over 30 years - guided by a policy of military Keynesianism. Children abroad in occupied territories or regions under drone assault, and children at home (including - but not only - those murdered in Newtown) suffer the consequences of a system that prioritizes weapons manufacturing and remote killing machines over the physical and mental well-being of the next generation.
Analyzing Israel's latest assault on Gaza against the background of a rapidly changing region, Clare Bayard highlights the parallels between the Israeli and U.S. national narratives which give the racist "clash of civilizations" framework so much resonance in U.S. political discourse.
In the heart of the rapidly changing and unstable Middle East, Israel launched the biggest offensive against Gaza since 2008's Operation Cast Lead this month. The assault killed hundreds and alienated millions, and the global backlash led to more countries than ever defying Israeli and U.S. pressure in the U.N. vote to make Palestine a "non-member state" November 29.
What happens in Palestine/Israel affects the world:
"The Middle East lies on the world's largest "shatterbelt"... the region of contact between the world's great sea and land powers... shatterbelts are not just flashpoints for great power conflict. Critically, and unlike in other areas, small states located inside them can significantly affect the course of conflict simply by changing sides, shifting the balance of power across a tipping point. " -Roxane Farmanfarmaian in Redrawing the Middle East Map