leroymoore

Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Nobel winner says goal is to make nukes unacceptable

In Democracy, Environment, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, Public Health, War on October 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm

Associated Press, OCTOBER 09, 2017 , UNITED NATIONS
The head of the anti-nuclear campaign that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize said Monday its goal is to make nuclear weapons unacceptable in the minds of people in every country — and have all nuclear-armed nations listen to their citizens and give up their arsenals.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons known as ICAN, told a news conference that for a long time nuclear weapons have been seen as “an issue of the past” that isn’t relevant.

But she said a potential nuclear arms race with nuclear nations modernizing their weapons and threats by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to use nuclear weapons “makes this an urgent issue again.”

“I think that this Nobel Peace Prize can really bring about a much bigger movement against nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “This gives us an enormous opportunity to reach out to new audiences, and to mobilize people once again.”

ICAN, currently a coalition of 468 organizations in 101 countries, is expecting to expand.

Ray Acheson, an ICAN steering committee member from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, told reporters that since the Nobel prize announcement on Friday the campaign has received “a lot of new partnership requests.”

The Nobel committee cited Geneva-based ICAN for its work that led to the first-ever Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was agreed to by 122 countries at the United Nations in July. It opened for signature on Sept. 20 and already 53 countries have signed and three have ratified.

Fihn said ICAN’s “ambitious goal” is to get the 50 ratifications needed for the treaty to enter into force before the end of 2018.

The United States, which boycotted negotiations along with other nuclear powers, reacted to ICAN’s award saying the treaty “will not make the world more peaceful, will not result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon, and will not enhance any state’s security.”

Fihn said the U.S. reaction was “quite expected,” but it shows the treaty is having “an impact on them.”

She stressed, however, that the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t going to make Trump give up nuclear weapons.

“But I don’t think that’s really what we’re doing here,” she said. “What we’re trying to do here is to make nuclear weapons unacceptable in the minds of the people, and that’s where civil society has the power. That’s really what is changing things. And in the end, governments have to do what their people say.”

As for North Korea, Fihn said, North Korea won’t disarm as long as it thinks nuclear weapons are acceptable, legitimate and justified.

The nuclear weapon states and those countries under their nuclear umbrella currently maintain they are necessary for security, she said.

“I think that is what this treaty is about — stop allowing them to justify having weapons of mass destruction that are only meant to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians,” Fihn said.

She said it’s been during previous times of big crises that “the most progress” has been made toward nuclear disarmament.

Five years after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the Treaty of Tlatelolco was signed prohibiting nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, and later the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, she said. And during heightened Cold War tensions talks in Reykjavik, Iceland between then U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 resulted in the treaty to eliminate intermediate and shorter-range nuclear and conventional missiles the following year.

Fihn said these crises, and the current escalating U.S.-North Korean tensions, “also bring about public mobilization.”

“I think that that’s where this peace prize is extremely timely, and very urgently needed attention on this issue,” she said.

 

Advertisements

Text of Nobel Peace Prize award to anti-nuclear campaign ICAN

In Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on October 7, 2017 at 11:13 pm

> The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
>
> The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.
>
> We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.
>
> Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth. Through binding international agreements, the international community has previously adopted prohibitions against land mines, cluster munitions and biological and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition.
>
> Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap. An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that a nuclear war will cause. ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe.
>
> The coalition has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.
>
> Furthermore, ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavor to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law. On 7 July 2017, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
>
> As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.
>
> The Norwegian Nobel Committee is aware that an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty.
>
> The Committee wishes to emphasize that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states. This year’s Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world.
>
> Five of the states that currently have nuclear weapons – the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – have already committed to this objective through their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970.
>
> The Non-Proliferation Treaty will remain the primary international legal instrument for promoting nuclear disarmament and preventing the further spread of such weapons.
>
> It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly, in its very first resolution, advocated the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world. With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to pay tribute to ICAN for giving new momentum to the efforts to achieve this goal.
>
> The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will.
>
>
> The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses. ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament.
>
> ICAN and a majority of UN member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. And through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.
>
> It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor.
>
> Reporting By Alister Doyle

2017 Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN is wake up call to humanity

In Environment, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on October 6, 2017 at 11:19 pm

by IPPNW, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, October 6, 2017
Breaking news
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Announcement and explanation of award at nobelpeaceprize.org

In honoring the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) as this year’s Nobel Peace Laureate, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has reaffirmed that prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons is the most urgent security priority of our time.

ICAN was launched in 2007 by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate, and now comprises 468 civil society organizations and thousands of campaigners in 101 countries.

ICAN mounted an extraordinarily effective and diverse global campaign that helped secure the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by 122 UN member states on July 7, 2017. The landmark agreement declares nuclear weapons illegal because of their catastrophic consequences and based on the principles of international humanitarian law. The Treaty was achieved through the collective effort of civil society, international organizations, and non-nuclear-weapon states.

“The Hibakusha, who have borne constant witness to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons since the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, played a pivotal role in ICAN’s work to support the negotiations for the Ban Treaty,” noted IPPNW co-president and ICAN’s founding co-chair Tilman Ruff. “Their voices—and those of the victims of nuclear testing—can be heard clearly in the Treaty’s preamble, which cites ‘the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons.’”

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize does more than recognize the Ban Treaty as a major step forward in nuclear disarmament,” said IPPNW co-president Ira Helfand. “It reminds us that we remain hostage to what can only be considered suicide bombs. Now that nuclear weapons have been stigmatized and prohibited, it’s up to all of us to increase the legal, moral and political pressure on the nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states. Our task will not be finished until the last nuclear weapon has been eliminated from the last arsenal on Earth.”

Trump Enters Quagmire

In Democracy, Peace, Politics, War on October 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese

https://zcomm.org/zmagazine/trump-enters-quagmire/

 

A quagmire is defined as a complex or unpleasant position that is difficult to escape. President Trump’s recently announced war plans in Afghanistan maintain that quagmire. They come at a time when U.S. Empire is failing and its leadership in the world is weakening. The U.S. will learn what other empires have learned, “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires.” During the presidential campaign, some became convinced that Trump would not be an interventionist president. His tweets about Afghanistan were one of the reasons. In January 2013, he tweeted, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.” Now, we see a president who carries on the interventionist tradition of U.S. Empire.

While Afghanistan has been a never-ending active war since 9-11, making the 16-year war the longest in U.S. history, the truth is the United States became directly involved with Afghanistan some 38 years ago, on July 3, 1979. As William Rivers Pitts writes, “On that day, at the behest of National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter signed the first directive in an operation meant to destabilize the Soviet-controlled government of Afghanistan.” In fact, when the U.S. dropped the MOAB bomb, Trump was bombing tunnels built with the assistance of the CIA in the 1980s for the mujaheddin and Bin Laden.

Trump’s Afghan policy is inaccurately described as a new approach but has only one element that is new—secrecy, as Trump will not tell us how many soldiers he will send to this war. His so-called new strategy is really a continuation of the permanent war quagmire in Afghanistan, which may be an intentional never-ending war for the empire’s geopolitical goals. Ralph Nader reviewed 16 years of headlines about Afghanistan, and called it a “cruel boomeranging quagmire of human violence and misery…with no end in sight.”

Another Afghan Review Leads To Same Conclusion: More War

During his campaign for president, Trump called for the U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan. Early in his administration, President Trump announced a review of the Afghanistan war. When he announced the escalation of the war, Trump noted this was his instinct. Unfortunately, the president did not trust his previous instincts and missed an opportunity to end the war.

We have seen how President Trump refuses to admit mistakes, so it is highly unlikely he will change course from this mistaken path. His rationale is so many U.S. soldiers have given their lives that we must stay until the United States wins. This is the quandary—the U.S. must continue the war until we win because soldiers have died but continuing the war means more will die and the U.S. must stay committed to war because more have died.

After we read President Trump’s Afghanistan war speech, we went back and re-read President Obama’s Afghanistan war speech given in March 2009. It is remarkable how similar the two speeches are. When Russian president Putin was interviewed by filmmaker Oliver Stone—as well as when he was interviewed by Megyn Kelly—he made a point proven by U.S. policy in Afghanistan: “Presidents come and go, and even the parties in power change, but the main political direction does not change.”

Both presidents conducted a lengthy review early in their administration and both talked with generals and diplomats who convinced them to escalate rather than end the war. Both presidents put forward what they claimed was a new strategy but, in reality, was just doing the same thing over again: more troops, building up Afghanistan’s military by working closely with them, using economic and diplomatic power and putting pressure on Pakistan not to be a safe haven for the Taliban and those fighting against the United States.

To ensure a quagmire, both presidents said that decisions would not be based on a timeline but on conditions on the ground. Both promised victory, without clearly defining what it would mean; both raised fears of the Taliban and other anti-U.S.militants using Afghanistan to attack the United States again. Trump had the advantage of knowing that President Obama’s approach had failed despite repeated bombings in Pakistan and working with Afghan troops, but that didn’t alter his course.

According to Mike Ludwig, since President Obama approved a troop surge in 2009, the war in Afghanistan has claimed at least 26,512 civilian lives and injured nearly 48,931 more. In July, the United Nations reported that at least 5,243 civilians have been killed or injured in 2017, including higher numbers of woman and children than in previous years. Trump seems less concerned than previous presidents with killings of civilians.

Trump noted that the Afghanistan-Pakistan region was now the densest part of the world when it comes to anti-U.S. militants, saying there were 20 terrorist groups in the area. President Obama added tens of thousands of troops to the Afghanistan war, dropped massive numbers of bombs and the result was more terrorism. The U.S. was killing terrorists but the impact was creating more anti-American militants. Trump failed to connect these dots and understand that more U.S. attacks create more hatred against the United States.

After Obama failed to “win” the war by adding tens of thousands of troops, with more than 100,000 fighting in Afghanistan at its peak, Trump should have asked his generals how adding thousands more (reports are between 4,000 and 8,000 soldiers) would change failure to success. Wasn’t there anyone in the room who would tell Trump there is nothing new in the Trump strategy that Obama and Bush had not already tried.

The policy of working more closely with the Afghan military in order to build them up ended in disaster in the Obama era. The New Yorker wrote in 2012: “We can’t win the war in Afghanistan, so what do we do? We’ll train the Afghans to do it for us, then claim victory and head for the exits.” But, the U.S. discovered that it could not train the Afghans in the “American way of war.” In 2012, the Obama administration ended the program of fighting alongside Afghan soldiers to train them because those soldiers were killing U.S. soldiers. How many U.S. soldiers will die because Trump was ignorant of this lesson?

Trump also took the wrong lesson from the Iraq war and occupation. He inaccurately described the so-called withdrawal from Iraq as hasty. He points to the rise of ISIS as created by the vacuum in Iraq when the U.S. reduced its numbers of troops. Trump said the U.S. “cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.”

In fact, ISIS rose up because the killing of hundreds of thousands—some reports say more than a million—of Iraqis, displacement of more than a million more, the destruction of a functioning government as well as war crimes like the Abu Gharib torture scandal made it easy to recruit fighters. Furthermore, the training and supply of weapons to Sunnis during the Awakening created armed soldiers looking for their next job.

It was war and occupation that created ISIS. The seeds had been planted, fertilized and were rapidly growing before the U.S. reduced its military footprint. Trump is repeating the mistake of more militarism, and in the end ISIS or some other form of anti-U.S. militancy will thrive.

The U.S. does not want to face an important reality—the government of the United States is hated in the region for very good reasons. Bush lied to us about 9-11 when he claimed they hate us for our freedoms. No, they hate the U.S. because U.S. militarism kills hundreds of thousands of people in the region, destroys functioning governments and creates chaos.

Victory Means Something Different to an Empire

In trying to understand why the U.S. is fighting a war—a war that has been unwinnable for 16 years—it helps to look at a map and consider the resources of an area.

Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former adviser, predicts the U.S. will be in Afghanistan for the next 50 years. Indeed, that may be the “victory” the empire seeks. Afghanistan is of geopolitical importance. It is a place where the U.S. can impact China’s “One Belt One Road” to Europe, where China can take the place of Russia and the United States in providing wealthy Europeans with key commodities like oil and gas. Just as the United States has stayed in Germany, Italy, other European states and Japan after WW II, and in Korea after the Korean war, the empire sees a need to be in Afghanistan to be well positioned for the future of the empire. Terrorism is not the issue, economic competition with China, which is quickly becoming the leading global economic power, is the real issue.

And competition with Russia and China is at the top of the list of the bi-partisan war party in Washington. Pepe Escobar points out that, “Russia-China strategic partnership wants an Afghan solution hatched by Afghans and supervised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (of which Afghanistan is an observer and future full member). So from the point of view of neocon/neoliberalcon elements of the War Party in Washington, Afghanistan only makes sense as a forward base to harass/stall/thwart China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”

Afghanistan is next to China, India and Pakistan, three nuclear powers that could pose military risks to the United States. Having multiple bases in Afghanistan, to allegedly fight terrorists, will provide the forward deployment needed to combat each of those nations if military action is needed.

Afghanistan also borders on Iran, which could be a near-future war zone for the United States. Positioning the U.S. military along the Afghanistan-Iran border creates a strategic advantage with Iran as well as with the Persian Gulf where approximately 18.2 million barrels of oil per day transit through the Strait of Hormuz in tankers.

Afghanistan’s land also contains $3 trillion in rare earth minerals needed for computers and modern technology including rich deposits of gold, silver, platinum, iron ore and copper. The U.S. has spent $700 billion in fighting a failed war and President Trump and empire strategists are looking to make sure U.S. corporations get access to those minerals. Since the U.S. Geological Survey discovered these minerals a decade ago, some see Afghanistan as the future “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a raw material used in phone and electric car batteries. U.S. officials have told Reuters that Trump argued at a White House meeting with advisers in July that the United States should demand a share of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.

Jeffrey St. Clair reminds us not to forget the lucrative opium trade. Afghanistan is the largest source for heroin in the world. He writes: “Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, opium production has swelled, now accounting for more than one-third of the wrecked Afghan economy. In the last two years alone, opium poppy yields have doubled, a narcotic blowback now hitting the streets of American cities from Amarillo to Pensacola. With every drone strike in the Helmond Province, a thousand more poppies bloom.” The firing of Steve Bannon just before the meeting that decided Afghanistan’s future was not coincidence as he was the opponent of escalation. Glenn Greenwald writes in the Intercept that this permanent power structure has been working since his election to take control of foreign policy. He also points to the appointment of Marine General John Kelly as chief of staff and how National Security Adviser, General McMaster, has successfully fired several national security officials aligned with Steve Bannon and the nationalistic, purportedly non-interventionist foreign policy. The deep state of the permanent national security complex has taken over and the Afghan war decision demonstrates this reality.

With these geopolitical realities, staying in Afghanistan may be the victory the Pentagon seeks—winning just by being there. The Intercept reported that the Taliban offered to negotiate peace, but peace on the terms of the Taliban may not be what the U.S. is seeking.

Call for an End to War for Empire

It would be a terrible error for people to blame Trump for the Afghanistan war, which began with intervention by Jimmy Carter, became a hot war after 9-11 under George Bush, escalated under Obama and now continues the same polices under Trump. The bi-partisan war hawks in Congress have supported these policies for nearly 40 years. Afghanistan is evidence of the never-ending policy of full spectrum dominance sought by the U.S. empire

Throughout recent decades the United States has failed to show what Kathy Kelly called the courage we need for peace and continues the cowardice of war. In fact, many ask why are we still at war in Afghanistan: Osama bin Laden is dead, other alleged 9-11 attack attackers are caught or killed. This shows that calling Afghanistan the longest running Fake War in U.S. history—is right—fake because it was never about terrorism but about business. If terrorism were the issue, Saudi Arabia would be the prime U.S. enemy, but Saudi Arabia is also about business.

We share the conclusion of human rights activist and Green vice presidential candidate in 2016 Ajamu Baraka who wrote for the Black Alliance for Peace that: “In an obscene testament to U.S. vanity and the psychopathological commitment to global white supremacy, billions have already been wasted, almost three thousand U.S. lives lost and over 100,000 dead. It is time to admit defeat in Afghanistan and bring the war to an end. Justice and common sense demand that the bloodletting stop.”

 

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese are political activists and participants in the Popular Resistance organization and co-directors of Our Economy.

Bernie’s foreign policy looking better everyday

In Democracy, Environment, Peace, Politics, War on October 6, 2017 at 3:52 am

By Dave Anderson

October 5, 2017, Boulder Weekly

 

Filmmaker Michael Moore says Trump “will take us to war.” He’s afraid
that centrist liberals and the mainstream media will support him like
they did when Bush invaded Iraq. “Liberals and Democrats,” he regrets,
“often are afraid of being accused of being wimps or weak,
weak-willed, not strong, not pro-America. And so they’re so eager to
just hop on, so nobody questions their patriotism.”

If Moore is right, we are in trouble because there isn’t much of a
peace movement anymore. The military industrial complex is stronger
than ever. We are involved in several wars right now. The sprawling
U.S. empire has more than 800 military bases in over 70 nations. U.S.
Special Operations are being deployed in more than a hundred
countries. The military is America’s most trusted public institution
today.

Paradoxically, anti-war feelings are also quite strong and the
American people are receptive to a diplomatic and demilitarized
foreign policy. When Obama negotiated the Iran nuclear deal and
started to establish normal relations with Cuba, he was popular.

The military has become much more clever about framing its story and
filtering information. Bombings in America’s many wars are secret.
Wars are funded by credit card. Americans don’t like soldiers to be
killed so drones and private mercenaries are used.

Daniel May argues in The Nation that the peace movement has a great
deal of difficulty organizing people when there isn’t a big noticeable
intervention like the Iraq War to oppose:

“A D.C.-based network loosely gathered under the ‘peace and security’
label advances a diplomacy-first approach. The anti-war base organizes
against intervention. Talented organizers and very smart thinkers lead
a variety of crucial institutions, but the constituency usually
emerges as a political power only in opposition to large-scale
interventions. There were and remain important exceptions to this
trend: the anti-nuke movement and opposition to military involvement
in Central America in the 1980s, and organizing against the Israeli
occupation today. But over the past several decades, popular
opposition to militarism has generally been confined to those moments
that look like what we expect war to look like.”

May wants a peace movement that emphasizes the economic, social and
political costs to Americans of the gigantic military machine. He
says, “we need a movement that can speak to the anger that so many
Americans feel toward the corporate powers that dominate our politics.
Such a movement would expose how militarism is not immune to that
influence but is particularly beholden to it.”

May says that younger activists in the new growing movements such as
the Movement for Black Lives, for immigrant rights and against
Islamophobia see their struggles as intertwined with a fight against
militarism and empire.

What kind of a foreign policy should progressives advocate? Sen.Bernie
Sanders recently offered his views in a speech at Westminster College
in Fulton, Missouri.

“In my view, the United States must seek partnerships not just between
governments, but between peoples,” he said. “A sensible and effective
foreign policy recognizes that our safety and welfare is bound up with
the safety and welfare of others around the world.”

Sanders said, “Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous
income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own
country. … There is no moral or economic justification for the six
wealthiest people in the world having as much wealth as the bottom
half of the world’s population — 3.7 billion people. There is no
justification for the incredible power and dominance that Wall Street,
giant multi-national corporations and international financial
institutions have over the affairs of sovereign countries throughout
the world.”

Sanders denounced America’s war on terror, calling it a “disaster for
the American people and for American leadership.”

“In addition to draining our resources and distorting our vision, the
war on terror has caused us to undermine our own moral standards
regarding torture, indefinite detention and the use of force around
the world,” Sanders said, “using drone strikes and other airstrikes
that often result in high civilian casualties.”

Sanders said he disagreed with those in Washington “who continue to
argue that ‘benevolent global hegemony’ should be the goal of our
foreign policy, that the U.S., by virtue of its extraordinary military
power, should stand astride the world and reshape it to its liking. I
would argue that the events of the past two decades — particularly the
disastrous Iraq War and the instability and destruction it has brought
to the region — have utterly discredited that vision.

“The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world,” he
said. “Nor, on the other hand, is our goal to withdraw from the
international community and shirk our responsibilities under the
banner of ‘America First.’ Our goal should be global engagement based
on partnership, rather than dominance.”

However, he warned that “Far too often, American intervention and the
use of American military power has produced unintended consequences
which have caused incalculable harm.” He cited the CIA coups in Iran
(1953) and Chile (1973) against democratically elected governments,
which led to enormous suffering. He asked, “What would Iran look like
today if their democratic government had not been overthrown? What
impact did that American-led coup have on the entire region? What
consequences are we still living with today?”

He proposed American intervention in the global South similar to the
Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II. He praised the
Iran nuclear deal and said the U.S. should work with the U.N.

Bernie’s ideas are so sensible that they might catch on. After all, he
played a big role in shifting our domestic politics to the left.
Perhaps he can do that with foreign policy as well.

The enormous cost of more nuclear weapons

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on October 6, 2017 at 12:51 am

Is the expansion of our nuclear arsenal in America’s best interest, or is it just Trump’s latest boastful display?

GUY T. SAPERSTEIN, KELSEY ABKIN
10.05.2017• Salon
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

An analysis by the Arms Control Association of U.S. government budget data projects the total cost over the next 30 years of the proposed nuclear modernization and maintenance at between $1.25 trillion and $1.46 trillion. This expenditure is not included in our defense budget of $700 billion, which leads the world in military spending and represents more than the spending of the next seven countries combined – three times what China spends and seven times what Russia spends on defense.
To put this into perspective, this number exceeds the combined total federal spending for education; training, employment, and social services; agriculture; natural resources and the environment; general science, space, and technology; community and regional development (including disaster relief); law enforcement; and energy production and regulation.
With climate change deemed by the Pentagon as an immediate national security threat, healthcare costs rising, and an increasing number of natural disasters, one might think nuclear weapons would lose their place as the top recipient of federal spending. But this is far from the case and there is a reason why.
As long as other countries continue to harbor nuclear weapons, we will do the same. And vise versa. As Donald Trump said at the start of his campaign, “If countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”
This sentiment followed him into his presidency. The Trump administration just last week considered proposing additional, smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons that would cause less damage than traditional thermonuclear bombs. However, these mini-nukes are not some new, profound proposal. We have had nuclear weapons capable of being dialed down to the power of “mini nukes” since the 80’s. The 15-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima would now be classified as a “mini-nuke” yet its destruction was monumental. Adding more, smaller nukes is an unnecessary, potentially dangerous addition. Proponents of the proposal claim these “mini-nukes” would give military commanders more options; critics, however, contend that it will also make the use of atomic arms more likely. Christine Parthemore, International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says, “Our investments should be careful lowering our threshold of use.” Further, the proposed addition will only add trouble to the already fraught international conversation opposing nuclear weapons.

Report Ad
As former Secretary of State George Shultz so eloquently put it, “proliferation begets proliferation.” One state’s nuclear acquisitions only drive its adversaries to follow suit. The reality is adding to our nuclear arsenal will only force our international opponents to defensively order a mad dash for the bomb.
In today’s political arena, as Russia remains volatile and North Korea’s threat grows, is funding the expansion of our nuclear arsenal in the country’s best interest or just Trump’s latest boastful display of American power?
Having a nuclear arsenal is supposed to ensure the raw principle behind nuclear deterrence: You won’t destroy us because we can destroy you. As Andrew Weber, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense & former Director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, says, “The sole purpose of having a nuclear arsenal is to deter an attack on the United States of America.”
This cold war era mindset relies on the relationship between acting and reacting. With the recognition that retaliation is likely, if not guaranteed, nuclear weapons are supposed to restrain the possibility of action on behalf of nuclear leaders. They are supposed to make them cautious, regardless of which states we are talking about or how many weapons they might possess.
According to a 2017 report by the Arms Control Association, The United States currently maintains an arsenal of about 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), and Strategic Bombers and some 180 tactical nuclear weapons at bomber bases in five European countries.

The Killing of History

In Politics, War on September 29, 2017 at 2:18 am

Posted By John Pilger, Counterpunch, September 22, 2017

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”. Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans — it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

In the series’ press release in Britain — the BBC will show it — there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans. “We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying. How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the twentieth century: from The Green Berets and The Deer Hunter to Rambo and, in so doing, has legitimised subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy”. Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites”.

In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek ). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones”. Mass homicide. This was not news.

To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam”, the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse.

The “meaning” of the Vietnam war is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.

Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said, “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on 19 September – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual.

His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Returning to the US, I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist”, but almost none at Trump the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism.

Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe?

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased”. The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against “repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War … All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.”

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders’ “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signalled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11.

What is known in the US as “the left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

“How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother.

I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America.

The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again.

He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, the Great Obliterator might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Russians who died in Hitler’s invasion.

“Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!”

There was a silence.

NO ONE CAN STOP TRUMP FROM WAGING NUCLEAR WAR WITH NORTH KOREA, NOT EVEN HIS GENERALS

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on September 29, 2017 at 1:05 am

BY JEFF STEIN, Newsweek,  9/27/17 AT 3:36 PM

One nightmare scenario goes like this: Donald Trump emerges from his White House bedroom in the middle of the night, cellphone in hand, enraged by the latest taunt from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. He spots the military aide sitting in the corridor with a black valise in his lap. It’s called the nuclear football.

“I’m gonna take care of this son of a bitch once and for all,” Trump growls. “Big-time. Gimme the codes.”

The aide cracks open the valise and hands the president a loose-leaf binder with a colorful menu of Armageddon options. They range from all-out, total annihilation plans for Russia and China down to a variety of strikes tailored just for North Korea.

Keep Up With This Story And More By Subscribing Now

“I’ll take that one,” Trump says. The aide hands him an envelope with a set of numbers and letters, the ones that verify it’s really him when he calls Defense Secretary James Mattis. It’s the same code that will go down to theater commanders, B-1 bombers, Wyoming missile silos and submarines lurking off North Korea.

“Do it,” he tells Mattis. “Wipe him the hell out.”

Related: What war with North Korea looks like

What was once just a nervous joke among Washington policymakers and military experts when Trump ran for the presidency has suddenly crept closer to a horrendous range of possibilities, judging from a Newsweek survey of former Pentagon officials and experts.

And no one knows where the confrontation is headed after weeks of increasingly personal insults and military provocations from both sides.

On Tuesday, four days after the Pentagon sent a flight of B-1 bombers and fighter escorts off North Korea in a display of military force, Pyongyang “moved a small number of fighter jets, external fuel tanks and air-to-air missiles to a base on its eastern coast,” according to multiple reports. Trump threatened Pyongyang once again, saying “we are totally prepared for” a military “option,” which would be “devastating.”

Analysts with long experience in the region say they fear an accident—a collision of jets, ships, a wayward artillery shell—could quickly cause the situation to spiral, especially with Trump and North Korean officials exchanging insults. In his United Nations speech on September 19, Trump called Kim “Rocket Man,” followed by “Little Rocket Man.” Kim responded by calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” a word long out of use that sent millions scurrying for their dictionaries. (It means someone decrepit and senile.) Trump then vowed that Kim and his foreign minister “won’t be around much longer.”

“I think this tit-for-tat Trump has ginned up is not only dangerous and unnecessary, but creating an escalation spiral that is increasing the odds of miscalculation,” says Robert A. Manning, a former senior U.S. intelligence expert on Korea and strategic weapons in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. “It’s not just a war of words,” he tells Newsweek. “We keep flying B-1s up their kazoo.” That, along with Trump calling Kim names, says Manning, now a senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, “inflates” his ego. It’s “mind-bogglingly stupid.”

As if to make the point, on September 25, North Korea’s foreign minister buffed Trump’s crude threats into a formal declaration of war. “That’s absurd,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. The regime also vowed to “take countermeasures, including the right to shoot down bombers.”

But so far, there have been no signs that North Korea is preparing to attack Seoul, U.S. bases in the region or U.S. ally Japan, even as it threatens to explode a hydrogen bomb somewhere over the Pacific. With the acrimony deepening, however, an increasing number of Washington veterans now fear something less lethal but profoundly dangerous: a constitutional crisis, provoked by an impulsive Trump order in the middle of the night for a pre-emptive strike.

“Someone in the chain would say no,” declares a former senior Pentagon official, sharing his views with Newsweek on condition of anonymity due to the issue’s sensitivity. “That’s what I believe, having worked with these guys”—meaning military leaders from Mattis on down to the U.S. forces commander in South Korea, General Vincent Brooks.

“It would be really hard for Trump to be capricious about a spur-of-the-moment attack,” the former official continues. “He’d have to make it a major strategy thing that’s been long planned, in consultation with Mattis and Dunford.” General Joseph Dunford is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The former official adds that Brooks, especially, who has won a wide circle of admirers for his forthright yet nuanced views on the intersection of domestic politics and military strategy, would not follow such a midnight order. “My personal opinion is that if Brooks truly felt Trump was just saying, ‘Fuck it, I want to attack today’—that if there was not a truly imminent threat to U.S. forces and the homeland, he might refuse the order.” Brooks could not immediately be reached for comment.

It’s not likely a Trump order would get that far, analysts say. People who know Mattis tell Newsweek he would resign rather than carry out an impulsive order from Trump to attack North Korea, with nuclear weapons or not. Trump could fire Mattis, but the media and Congress would likely hear about it in a nanosecond, setting off “a political firestorm and even a constitutional crisis that could prevent prompt execution of the order,” says Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C.

All of which is prompting longtime Washingtonians to recall the crisis that President Richard Nixon sparked by ordering his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire the special counsel overseeing investigations into the crimes that became known as Watergate. Richardson refused and resigned, as did his deputy. Nixon finally found somebody to carry out that deed, but the move backfired, inflaming the impeachment drive and forcing him from office 10 months later.

Even more relevant to Trump, says a growing chorus of commentators, is another incident from Nixon’s final days, when, according to various accounts, his chief of staff Alexander Haig, an army general, asked military commanders to check back if they received any unusual directives from the deeply depressed, heavily drinking president.

Chris Whipple, author of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, tells Newsweek that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, “needs to take a page from that…and just be sure that he’s in the loop when it comes to the nuclear football.”

There’s no rule stopping Trump from firing Mattis and continuing down the chain of command until he finds someone to attack North Korea, analysts say. Any defense secretary, notes Kathleen Hicks, a former principal deputy undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon, is merely “a check in the system against overenthusiasm” on the president’s part for letting loose the nukes. Under the rules of the National Command Authority, the only weapon Mattis has to stop Trump’s launch order is persuasion. If he blocks it, “then the President may in his sole discretion fire” him, it says, and tap the next person in the chain of command to carry it out. If he wants, he can reach right down to a general heading a regional command. The Uniform Code of Military Justice requires sworn officers to carry out a bad but lawful order, setting up the kind of dilemma dramatized in the hit 1992 court martial drama A Few Good Men.

“To say that the Secretary of Defense and his subordinates have a legal duty to comply with presidential orders is not to say that they should do so,” Jack Goldsmith, who held high positions in the Justice and Defense departments, wrote recently. But “they have to be prepared to accept the consequences of defiance,” which include “resigning…resisting until fired, informing congressional leaders (in or out of public), or quietly coordinating with the Vice President and others for presidential removal under the 25th Amendment.”

“All of this uncharted territory,” says Reif.

Compounding the legal, military and political complexities of the situation, some analysts envision Kim hitting first with a limited strike, such as a barrage of rocket and artillery fire on Seoul, which would kill tens of thousands of people, prompting U.S. and South Korean counterfire. But then, Kim could sit back and let Trump make the next big move. “President Trump would then be faced with an unimaginable decision: continue the attack and see potentially millions more die, or give in to Kim’s demands and stop,” wrote retired Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis (who served under White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster in Iraq). Given North Korea’s hardened defenses, massive rocket supplies and nuclear weaponry, “the interests of the United States would be gravely harmed no matter what choice Trump makes at that point,” Davis says.

Judging by the erratic leadership he’s demonstrated so far, Trump doesn’t look prepared for that. No president really is, Whipple says. “Every White House chief of staff can probably tell you in chilling detail about the day the chairman of the joint chiefs came in and explained to the president and his chief the operation of the nuclear codes. It’s a gut-check moment for every chief and obviously, one would hope, every president.”

Even some of Trump’s most accomplished, sophisticated fans had little idea of the license a president has to unleash a civilization-ending nuclear war, Whipple tells Newsweek. On a trip with former George W. Bush chief of staff Andrew Card to give a talk, they encountered a corporate CEO who said he planned to vote for Trump. “And I said, ‘You know you’re giving this guy the nuclear codes, and there’s nothing to prevent him from using them?’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m not too worried about that.’”

Whipple turned to Card. “Andy, tell him,” he said. Card then told the CEO, “in chilling detail,” about the guidance Bush got on the eve of his 2001 inauguration, and how nobody had any authority to stop him from activating the football. “And Andy said to this guy, ‘There’s nothing—nothing—to prevent the president from doing this on his own.” Card did not respond to a request for comment.

California Representative Ted Lieu and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, both Democrats, want to take the freelance nuclear option out of Trump’s hands. In January, they introduced a bill that would prohibit a president from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. It’s not going anywhere in the Republican-controlled Congress.

“I would certainly not do first strike,” Trump declared a year ago during one of his presidential debates with Hillary Clinton. But moments later, he circled back with a contradictory response: “At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.” Since then, with every North Korean provocation, he’s increasingly tilted more toward the “fire and fury” he pledged to rain down on Pyongyang if it endangers U.S. interests.

Nobody knows how he’ll feel when he wakes up to find Kim that has tested another H-bomb, flung a missile over Japan or needled him with another insult. All we know is that when he wanders out in his bathrobe and opens the nuclear football, he’s got the keys to Armageddon in his hands.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s New Bill is a Necessary Next Step in Addressing the Climate Change Crisis

In Climate change, Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Peace, Politics, War on September 27, 2017 at 12:35 am

MARK SCHLOSBERG, Sep 25 2017

The OFF Act takes aggressive action on climate and energy legislation.

This is an opinion piece by Mark Schlosberg, Organizing Co-Director, Food & Water Watch

Almost three weeks ago, as the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey still inundated Texas and Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida, EPA chief Scott Pruitt commented that it was “insensitive” to talk about the relationship between climate change and the storms. But just two weeks later, as Hurricane Maria forges a path of destruction across Puerto Rico and beyond, as we continue to see the impacts from massive floods in Asia and Africa, and as wildfires in our own Western states burn nearly year-round, the real insensitivity is not talking about climate change. It is more critical than ever that we talk about it and do something to address it, before increased climate chaos dooms us all. Thankfully, a solution exists.

Recently Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act), the strongest, most aggressive climate change legislation we’ve got. But it’s up to us to build the pressure to help make the OFF Act a reality. And we must.

Representative Gabbard’s OFF Act responds to the urgency of our climate crisis with a clear roadmap of where we need to go to rapidly move off fossil fuels and onto 100 percent clean, renewable energy on a timeline that will give us a fighting chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate catastrophe. The bill requires a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, but also compels immediate reductions in a major way, requiring 80 percent renewable in the next ten years. It transitions the auto industry to zero-emissions by 2035, halts new fossil fuel projects, bans the profit-driven export of oil and gas overseas, ends foolish subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, promotes environmental justice, and provides a just transition for displaced oil and gas workers.

Introduced just a few weeks ago, the OFF Act already has the support of more than 350 organizations, including Progressive Democrats of America, National Nurses United, Friends of the Earth, Climate Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network and the American Sustainable Business Council. This early support represents the vanguard of a growing consensus that we must act immediately and decisively.

Now we need our elected representatives to understand our demand for action and feel the urgency behind it.

This week, members of Congress are at home in their districts. Now is the time for them to hear from us with meeting requests, letter deliveries, phone calls, letters in local papers, calls to radio stations and more. The message is simple and clear: The future of our planet is at stake. We must move off dangerous, destructive fossil fuels now. Rep. Gabbard’s OFF Act is the best way to do it.

We know that with the current conservative makeup of Congress, the OFF Act won’t pass tomorrow. But just as we’ve seen with the significant recent progress made in the single-payer health care movement, building strong support for the OFF Act now will put us in a position to make this critical legislation the law sooner rather than later.

We need to act now. Let’s get to work.

@
Eric Weltman
Senior Organizer
Food & Water Watch
347-778-2743
eweltman@fwwatch.org
147 Prince Street, 4th Fl., No. 7
Brooklyn, NY 11201
http://www.FoodandWaterWatch.org

US rejects North Korea war allegations as ‘absurd’

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on September 27, 2017 at 12:13 am

As war of words heats up, regional leaders warn that war on Korean Peninsula will have ‘catastrophic consequences’.

The US has dismissed North Korea’s accusation that President Donald Trump has declared war against the country, calling it “absurd”.

The comments come as South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that Pyongyang had moved to bolster its coastal defences by relocating its warplanes along the east coast.

Regional leaders on Tuesday warned that war on the Korean Peninsula would result in “catastrophic consequences”.

The warnings came after Pyongyang said on Monday that it was ready to defend itself by shooting down American bombers, and accusing Trump of declaring war on the country.

Speaking to reporters outside his New York hotel, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho responded to Trump tweeting at the weekend that North Korea’s leadership “won’t be around much longer” if it keeps up its threats.

Ri, who attended this year’s UN General Assembly session, said the international community had hoped that a “war of words” would “not turn into real actions”.

“However, last weekend, Trump claimed our leadership would not be around much longer,” Ri said. “He declared a war on our country.”

Later on Monday, the White House rejected Ri’s interpretation of Trump’s tweets.

“We have not declared war against North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Alarm over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes dominated this year’s gathering of world leaders at the UN, amid fears the heated rhetoric could accidentally trigger a war.

Those fears were sharpened after US bombers flew off the coast of North Korea on Saturday – going the furthest north of the demilitarised zone that any US aircraft has flown this century.

“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to take counter-measures including the right to shoot down US strategic bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country,” Ri said.

“The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”

A Pentagon spokesman stressed on Monday that the bombers flew in international airspace and had every right to do so.

As the rhetoric heated up, South Korea appealed for an easing of tensions, with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha saying that further provocations can be expected from Pyongyang but must not be allowed to get out of control.

“It is imperative that we, Korea and the US together, manage the situation … in order to prevent further escalation of tensions or any kind of accidental military clashes which can quickly go out of control,” Kang said in Washington.

South Korea has reacted with unease to Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea as its densely-populated capital Seoul is located just 56 kilometres from the demilitarised zone dividing the Korean Peninsula.

In his UN address last week, Trump delivered the blunt threat, deriding leader Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” and declaring he was “on a suicide mission”.

Kim hit back with a personal attack on Trump, branding him “mentally deranged” and a “dotard” and warning he would “pay dearly” for his threat.

There have been repeated appeals for calm from the United Nations, Russia and China.

On Tuesday, China said that war on the Korean Peninsula will have no winner.

Lu Kang, the spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Beijing hopes that US and North Korean politicians can realise that resorting to military means would never be a viable way out.

Russia’s foreign ministry also said on Tuesday that a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula would lead to “catastrophic consequences”.

It added that it would work behind-the-scenes to find a political solution to the rising tensions with North Korea, and that the US approach is a “dead in”.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test. In recent months, Pyongyang also test-fired intercontinental missiles – saying it needs to defend itself against the threat of a US invasion.

Asked about the North Korean minister’s latest remarks, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “When you have the rise of tension, the rise of rhetoric, so does the risk of miscalculation.”

In his UN address, Ri warned that Trump’s threat to destroy North Korea made “our rockets’ visit to the entire US mainland all the more inevitable”.

The rhetoric comes as international alarm mounts over Pyongyang’s weapons ambitions – including a suggestion by Ri last week that the country is considering detonating an H-bomb over the Pacific.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has said such a move would be a “shocking display of irresponsibility.”