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Juan Gonzalez on America's role in Latin America
Adam Hochschild on how World War I began
Manning Marable, 1950 - 2011, dies days before publication of his biography of Malcolm X
Edward Herman and David Peterson on Julian Assange and Luis Posada Carriles
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
American scholar Chalmers Johnson, 1931 - 2010
Susan Reverby has won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for Examining Tuskegee
Fractal Mathmematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot, 1924 – 2010
Mohammed Arkoun, Islamic scholar who explored Enlightenment ideals, 1928-2010
Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize
Tariq Ali on "The Obama Syndrome"
Historian and public intellectual Tony Judt, 1948 - 2010
Former U.S. Senator James Abourezk on Leaders in Hiding
David Kirby on something else we feed chickens
Andrew J. Bacevich on How to Dismantle the American Empire
Stacy Malkan on Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry
Joy Gordon on the Invisble War, the United States and Iraq Sanctions
Tom Engelhardt on the American Way of War
Writer, critic and activist Carlos Monsiváis, 1938 - 2010
He is totally unreproducible — he was sui generis — Martin Gardner, 1914 - 2010
Joe Meadors: I seem to have all the bad luck in the world when it comes to the Israelis.
Historian Bruce Cumings on the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula
How the hell did it happen? - Daniel Okrent on how Prohibition democratized drinking and made the income tax possible
"We have more than an oil slick out of control, we also have these big corporations out of control." - Marine toxicologist Rikki Ott on the BP and Exxon Valdez oil spills.
"This is too important. We cannot leave this to governments": Cormac Cullinan on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights
Anarchist, poet, publisher and chess-player, John Rety, 1930 - 2010
"Literature was another victim of the war": Miguel Delibes, 1920 - 2010
The beautiful brain of Sherman Alexie: War Dances wins 2010 Pen/Faulkner Award
It's terrible to be possessed by brittle things: Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version wins the Best Translated Book Award for Poetry
Translator, critic and BBC script editor, Barbara Bray, 1924 - 2010
Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award to D. A. Powell
The banks have had nine months to creatively increase the real cost of borrowing: Robert Manning on Credit Card Nation
Robert McChesney and John Nichols the history and necessity of government subsides for US journalism
Of course, I’d forgotten she’d died: An extract from A Scattering by Christopher Reid, the 2009 Costa Book of the Year
Tributes to People's Historian Howard Zinn, 1922 - 2010
Johann Hari on P. W. Singer's Wired For War
Jamin Raskin on the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling which removes limits on corporate campaign spending
"Haitians have been punished ever since for claiming their freedom", Tracy Kidder and Peter Hallward on Haiti
At 42, she was one of the best poets of her generation, Rachel Wetzsteon, 1967 - 2009
You have to decide which side you are on: there is always a side. Commitment does not exist in an abstraction; it exists in action: Dennis Brutus, 1924 - 2009
The wedding guests look upon the cracked, pink lips of Rosie's bridegroom - an extract from Petina Gappah's An Elegy for Easterly, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award winning book
David Cortright on Obama's shallow understanding of the priciples of Just War Theory
Obama's rejection of Landmine Treaty lacks vision, compassion, and basic common sense
Those who saw him hushed: Let the Great World Spin, the National Book Award winner by Colum McCann
Robert Jensen: Of Turkeys and Holocausts
Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1908 - 2009, his works as a practical anti-racist manifesto
Power exercised by man over his fellow man is always a usurpation, Francisco Ayala, 1906 - 2009
If you think you'll to be rich someday, why resent million-dollar bonuses: Barbara Ehrenreich on Positive Thinking
Four Canadians tortured in the name of fighting Terror, Kerry Pither wins Ottawa Book Award for Dark Days
The Potato that Became a Tomato, Playgiarist Raymond Federman, 1928 - 2009
on Obama's shallow understanding of the priciples of Just War Theory
"I found the Nobel speech disappointing,"
wrote to Chritopher Hayes,
Washington, DC editor. "To use the Nobel dais to justify the use of military force is unseemly. The president's characterization of the historic role of US military power was distorted, and his interpretation of just war theory was incomplete." David Cortright has had a long history of public advocacy for disarmament and the prevention of war begining with the time he served in Vietnam and organized his comrades against the war. Currently the Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, David Cortright has also been the executive director of The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy and co-director of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. In 2002 he helped to found the Win Without War coalition in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. His full text to Chritopher Hayes:
The president asserted that US military policy has helped to "underwrite global security." More accurate would be an admission that many of our adventures have created global insecurity. Vietnam, the wars in Central America in the 1980s, the invasion of Iraq, countless interventions by the CIA--these and other actions have sown suffering and insecurity. The US has supported democracy in some settings but very often we have subverted democracy and overthrown legitimately elected democratic regimes, in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), etc.
The president invoked just war principles but showed a shallow understanding of the criteria. The most important principle of just war theory is a presumption against the use of force, a belief that war is almost always unjust and can be justified only under the most dire circumstances and only if strict ethical criteria are satisfied. He mentioned a few of the criteria, without probing them in depth, but did mention the standard of 'probability of success.' Under that criterion, the war in Afghanistan cannot be judged just, since there is very little probability that the war can be pursued to achieve military victory, however that is defined.
The president's assertions about Afghanistan did not acknowledge the fact that war is an inappropriate means of combating terrorism. The Rand Corporation study of 2008 on how terrorist groups end found that military force was responsible for ending terrorist groups in only 7 per cent of the cases. Political bargaining (43 per cent) and effective law enforcement (40 per cent) were the primary factors accounting for the end of terrorist groups. The military's own counterinsurgency doctrine calls for a campaign that is 80 per cent nonmilitary. The US effort in Afghanistan is the reverse, more than 80 per cent military.
Peace demands responsibility and sacrifice, yes, but it is built primarily through nonmilitary means. The president mentioned some of these, but he failed to mention that US foreign policy systematically undervalues these approaches. In Afghanistan the US is spending far more on military approaches than on development and humanitarian assistance.
-- David Cortright quoted by Christopher Hayes in
A Practical Peace Advocate on Obama's Nobel Speech
More on Just War Theory and Reassessing U.S. engagement in Afghanistan by David Cortright:
The initial United States military operation in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was widely considered a just war, a classic case of self-defense. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral message in November 2001 acknowledging the “right and duty of a nation and the international community to use military force if necessary to defend the common good by protecting the innocent against mass terrorism.” Today’s mission is more complex and uncertain, however, and demands a new ethical assessment. Its fundamental goals are the same, defeating Al Qaeda and preventing global terrorist attacks, and are certainly just. The related objective is also just: helping to build capable governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan that can meet the needs of their people and protect against violent extremism. The question about both objectives is not whether they are just, but whether they can be achieved through the application of military force. It is a question of means rather than ends. U.S. military involvement in the region is based on three fundamental strategic assumptions: first, war is a necessary and appropriate means of defeating Al Qaeda and preventing global terrorist strikes; second, the Taliban is equivalent to Al Qaeda and thus a legitimate target of military attack; and third, NATO must fight and win a counterinsurgency war against the Taliban and related jihadist groups. The first two assumptions determined policy decisions in the weeks after 9/11, and they have remained at the heart of U.S./NATO strategy ever since. The third assumption evolved over time and drives the current long-term military commitment. In recent years a fourth strategic dimension has entered the equation—the extension of military operations to Pakistan. Each of these assumptions is highly questionable strategically and poses serious ethical dilemmas.
-- from the opening paragraphs of
No Easy Way Out Reassessing U.S. engagement in Afghanistan
by David Cortright.
Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas
Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War
The Price of Peace
Gandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism
Smart Sanctions: Targeting Economic Statecraft