To use a golf analogy, Obama is stuck in a sand trap. His military and diplomatic advisers are not useful caddies, because they are handing him the wrong clubs, military ones, for a struggle, which he says has no military solution. On Syria, the first question is whether the peace movement should push hard for a Congressional authorization. I don't think there's any choice, although this time Congress may be more hawkish than Obama. If so, that's that. We take names and visit their district offices.
The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.
James Foley, beheaded in Syria last week, was a decent, committed humanitarian, according to the famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who interviewed Foley on the streets of Chicago while filming there in 2012. Wexler, who did a documentary on Vietnam with Jane Fonda and myself in 1974, said that Foley told him the Syrian conflict could never be settled by bullets. The interview reveals an intelligence, sincerity and humanism about Foley that will be terribly missed.
Foley touched many lives. The headmaster of our son's school, Walter Landberg, was a one of a small circle of his close friends from New Hampshire. They enjoyed many reunions while their lives unfolded into their forties. Still in shock, the circle spent the last week on the phone with each other. Landberg says Foley never lived only behind the camera, but loved people, checking in with old friends and new, doing small favors wherever he went. Coming from a military family, he was drawn to crisis zones - embedding in Iraq and Afghanistan - but carried only a camera. He was a peaceful man. Just before leaving for Syria, Foley was delighted for Landberg's appointment and the two agreed that Foley would come out to speak to the Santa Monica students. Foley had decided that he was "done" - not going back after one last trip - before he was captured a final time.
For more on James Foley, see "Dumbest Policy Ever: We Don't Negoiate With Terrorists"
This is the policy of officials who are simply wound too tight. It's not even true, it justifies high-risk daredevil raids, and leaves hostages like James Foley dead. At least 50 foreign hostages were released in the past five years in exchange for ransom. Just recently ISIS handed over eleven ransomed hostages to Turkey. It turns out that ISIS offered to release Foley for money, but was secretly rejected by the US.
Governor Jerry Brown will play a pivotal role in the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23 as he encourages the growth of a virtual Green Bloc of regions committed to serious fossil fuel reductions during global climate talks in the coming year. Brown's unorthodox strategy becomes critical as the Obama administration deals with a hostile Congress beholden to fossil fuel lobbyists, climate deniers and religious fundamentalists. The Brown strategy uses the UN timetable to assemble a powerful bloc of states committed to building low carbon clean energy economies. The policy goal of this de facto Green Bloc is to progress towards the goal of 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions below 1990 levels by 2050, a reduction considered essential to avoid a catastrophic overheating of the planet.
Suddenly the American peace movement is back to the status of a prophetic minority. That's putting the best cast on the fact that 54 percent of the American public supports air strikes against ISIS, according to polls done before last week's beheading of James Foley. Since 2006, when a majority first decided in a Gallup Poll that the Iraq War was a "mistake", peace sentiment has been a powerful factor in the 2006 congressional elections and the two elections of President Barack Obama.
Whatever will the United States say and do about the expulsion of New York Times' reporter Matthew Rosenberg from Afghanistan? Would Rosenberg be prosecuted by the Justice Department as a "leaker" if he refused to reveal his Afghan sources on a story about an American coup plot? The Times' James Risen, for example, is facing prison time for refusing to divulge his sources in a story about the CIA and an Iran nuclear controversy.
As President Barack Obama prepares an executive order supporting immigrant rights, the attacks on his presidential authority mounts from the Republicans, the Tea Party, right-wing talk show hosts, and some voices among Democrats and the Left. To the extent these attacks succeed, there may be no progressive policies implemented between now and 2017.
Since the February 26, 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, the repeated pattern of police killings of unarmed young African-American men is generating a tide of angry resistance and unanswered questions. The underlying law enforcement doctrine known as "broken windows policing" has come under its greatest challenge in two decades.
On May 12, President Obama held a confidential conversation in the White House with Uruguay's president, Jose Mujica, the former Tupamaro guerrilla leader. The meeting was a fateful one. Did they discuss Uruguay's becoming the first Marijuana Republic? Perhaps. Did they discuss the US-Cuba diplomatic impasse of 55 years? Most certainly, because three weeks later at an Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Uruguay the delegates reaffirmed a decision to officially invite Cuba to a summit in Panama next May.