Commander-in-Chief Bonespur waddles into a new controversy: Prez Dishonors Troops but Correctly Labels 2 Major Wars Unjustified or ‘Stupid’

By Dave Lindorff

Let’s be honest about America’s wars and the men and women who have fought them.

Most of the wars that the US has launched or fought in, dating back to at least the War of 1812, were not just or necessary, could have been avoided, and wasted precious lives and national wealth, often while slaughtering the people of weaker nations.

In the latest scandal precipitated by Commander in Chief Donald Trump — a man who notoriously got a doctor to lie read more

Speaking Truth to Empire

Gar Alperovitz on “Speaking Truth to Empire” on KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno, California.

Dan Yaseen interviews Gar Alperovitz, a historian, political economist, activist, writer, and a government official. He served as Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and is a former Fellow read more

Reversal

August 6, 2020

With survival at stake, can weapon makers change course?

Today, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima, should be a day for quiet introspection. I recall a summer morning following the U.S. 2003 “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq when the segment of the Chicago River flowing past the headquarters of the world’s second largest defense contractor, Boeing, turned the rich, red color of blood.At the water’s edge, Chicago activists, long accustomed to the read more

China and the United States Could Avoid an Unnecessary War

Although few Americans seem to have noticed, China and the United States are currently on a collision course—one that could easily lead to war.

Their dispute, which has reached the level of military confrontation, concerns control of the South China Sea.  For many years, China has claimed sovereignty over 90 percent of this vast, island-studded region—a major maritime trade route rich in oil, natural gas, and lucrative fishing areas.  But competing claims for portions of the South China Sea have been made for decades by other nations that adjoin it, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  Starting in 2013, China began to assert its control more forcefully by island-building in the Paracel and Spratly Islands—expanding island size or creating new islands while constructing ports, airstrips, and military installations on them.

Other countries, however, protested Chinese behavior.  In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, acting on a complaint by the Philippines that Chinese action violated the freedom of navigation guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, decided in favor of the Philippines, although it did not rule on the ownership of the islands.  In response, the government of China, a party to the UN treaty, refused to accept the court’s jurisdiction.  Meanwhile, the U.S. government, which was not a party to the treaty, insisted on the treaty’s guarantee of free navigation and proceeded to challenge China by sailing its warships through waters claimed by the Chinese government.

Actually, the positions of the Chinese and U.S. governments both have some merit.  The Chinese, after all, conducted a variety of operations in this maritime region for millennia.  Also, some of the islands are currently controlled by other claimants (such as Vietnam), and China has been working for years with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a Code of Conduct that might finally resolve the regional dispute.  Nevertheless, the U.S. government can point to China’s provocative militarization of the islands, the rejection of China’s stance by most other nations in Southeast Asia, and the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

But the bottom line is that the issue of legitimate control remains unclear and, meanwhile, both the Chinese and U.S. governments are engaging in reckless behavior that could lead to disaster.

The U.S. military buildup in the South China Sea is quite striking.  As defense analyst Michael Klare wrote recently:  “Every Pacific-based US submarine is now deployed in the area . . . the Air Force has sent B-1 bombers overhead; and the Army is practicing to seize Chinese-claimed islands.”  Furthermore, in the past few months, the U.S. Navy has repeatedly sent missile-armed destroyers on provocative “freedom of navigation operations” into the waters just off the Chinese-occupied islands.  In July alone, the U.S. government deployed two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan) to the South China Sea, accompanied by squadrons of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.  This powerful U.S. armada was reinforced by two supersonic bombers and a nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress.

In response, China’s government has vigorous reasserted China’s claims in the South China Sea.  To demonstrate its determination, it has frequently deployed ships and planes of its own to shadow or harass American warships, sometimes escorting them out of the area.  At the same time, it has stepped up Chinese naval operations in the East and South China Seas.  In April, China’s first operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, moved into the region.  “China has several times experienced the threats posed by the U.S. in the [South China] Sea,” a retired Chinese naval officer announced on government media.  But “China’s resolve to safeguard its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and maritime interests will not waver [after] the latest threat posed by the U.S.  The Chinese military is prepared and will deal with the threat.”

This growing military confrontation has been accompanied by an escalating war of words.  Although previous U.S. policy called for a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute between China and its neighbors, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced a much harder line.  In an official statement on July 13, he declared that “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”  The United States “stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights.”  On July 23, Pompeo issued an inflammatory, across-the-board denunciation of China’s foreign and domestic policies, proclaiming that “the free world will triumph over this new tyranny.”

Responding to Pompeo, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that China was working with all parties to the South China Sea dispute to settle it through negotiations.  By contrast, he said, U.S. military operations in the area were designed to create tensions in the region.  Furthermore, it was the U.S. government that violated international law and withdrew from international organizations and treaties.

Clearly, despite their professed concern for international law, the governments of the United States and China are engaged in a 21st century-style gunboat diplomacy—one that, either intentionally or unintentionally, could escalate into war, even nuclear war.

If these two nuclear-armed governments are serious about settling the dispute over control of the South China Sea, they should call a halt to their provocative military operations and leave the job of sorting things out to the United Nations.  After all, resolving international conflicts is why the United States, China, and other countries created the world organization in the first place.  No single nation, however powerful its military forces, has the respect and credibility in the world community that the United Nations enjoys.  Nor does it have the legitimacy.  It’s time the governments of these two nations recognized these facts and ceased their threatening and dangerous military behavior.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner (https://www.lawrenceswittner.com/ ) is Professor of History Emeritus at SUNY/Albany and the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).

Yemen: A Torrent of Suffering in a Time of Siege – Kathy Kelly

July 28, 2020

“When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.”

—  Bertolt Brecht

In war-torn Yemen, the crimes pile up. Children who bear no responsibility for governance or warfare endure the punishment. In 2018, UNICEF said the war made Yemen a living read more

Speaking Truth to Empire

 “Speaking Truth to Empire” on KFCF 88.1 independently owned and locally operated since 1975 in Fresno, Dan Yaseen interviews Shireen Al-Adeimi, she is an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, my alma mater. She received her PhD from Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Having lived through two civil wars in her country of birth, Yemen, she has played an active role in raising awareness about the U.S.-supported, Saudi-led war on Yemen since 2015. Through her work, she aims to encourage political action among fellow Americans to bring about an end to U.S. intervention in Yemen. The topics of discussion include “War, Militarism and the Police State”.

Cops using everything from rubber bullets to grenades Interactive Map Shows Police Using Violence Against Peaceful Protesters in 125 Cities and 40 States

Dave Lindorff

It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks for the supposed “Land of the Free” these days, though a lot of brave protesters across the country have continued to stand up to a lot of cowardly militarized police and American soldiers who have been using weaponized military helicopters, M-16 automatic assault rifles and other military gear to threaten and intimidate them, as well as grotesque crowd-control weapons from flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets read more

Speaking Truth to Empire

“Speaking Truth to Empire” on KFCF 88.1 independently owned and locally operated since 1975 in Fresno, Dan Yaseen interviews Miko Peled an Israeli-American peace activist and author. He grew up in a Zionist family, his grandfather was a signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence and his father was a general in the Israeli Army. He blogs at: www.mikopeled.com.

The topics of discussion include the global protests after the murder of George Floyd by 4 police officers in Minneapolis and the militarization of police in the United States.

Epidemic Epistle IX: Put to the (COVID-19) Test by the National Guard in Pennsylvania

 

By Dave Lindorff

My wife Joyce and I visited the front in the war zone yesterday.

I’m talking about the “war” on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

We registered for COVID-19 testing on Tuesday when Joyce, usually highly energetic,  started feeling physically drained for no reason and began running a low-grade elevated temperature of 98.9 all day. We decided that our both getting tested was a wise idea, particularly read more