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Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In
Focus, “A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He
holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the journalism program at the University of California at Santa Cruz for 23 years, and won the UCSC Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as UCSC’s Innovations in Teaching Award, and Excellence in Teaching Award. He was also a college provost at UCSC, and retired in 2004. He is a winner of a Project Censored “Real News Award,” and lives in Berkeley, California.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 Ukraine Revolt's Dark Side (1 comments)
The massive demonstrations over the past three months reflected widespread outrage at the corruption of the Yanukovych regime, but it has also unleashed a dark side of the Ukraine's history. That dark side was on display at last year's rally in Cherkasey. It is not the kind of history most would like to repeat.
Thursday, February 6, 2014 Sudan: Colonialism's Dead hand
Once again Sudan is at war, and current U.S. policies in Africa have not helped. For the past decade and a half, Washington has seemed more concerned with cornering resources than resolving problems and has been quick to choose military solutions over diplomatic ones. Oil plays no small role in this. Sudan has one of the largest petroleum reserves on the continent.
Friday, January 31, 2014 Book Review: Empire’s Ally: The U.S. and Canada (2 comments)
The book is divided into four major parts dealing with the history of the involvement, its political and economic underpinnings, and the actual Canadian experiences in Afghanistan, which had more to with condoning war crimes like torture than digging wells, educating people, and improving their health.
Saturday, January 4, 2014 Turkish Plots (2 comments)
From the U.S. point of view, Turkey is no longer a completely reliable ally. Rather than joining in the newly forged Saudi-Israeli-Egypt alliance against Iran, Turkey is feuding with all three countries and breaking bread with Shiia-dominated governments in Teheran and Damascus. In short, from Washington's point of view, Erdogan has gone off the reservation.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 "Are You Serious?" Awards 2013 (2 comments)
Every year Dispatches From The edge gives awards to news stories and newsmakers, both national and international, that fall under the category of "Are you serious?" Here are the awards for 2013.
Friday, December 6, 2013 Nelson Mandela: A Memory
In the end it is those who fill the plazas, who chain themselves to doors, who shrug aside tear gas and billy clubs -- who persevere in the face of prison, exile, even death -- to whom history's laurels go. We shall miss this dear man who loved freedom and humanity so much that, no matter what was done to him, would not break. He set the bar high. We honor him by clearing it.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 Iran and Enhancement
Adherence to the NPT is no obstacle to an agreement. The roadblocks will come from Israel -- which is not a party to the Treaty -- the Gulf monarchies, the Republicans (and some Democrats) in Congress, and the alliance between the neo-conservatives who successfully pushed for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Pandora and The Drones
Occupying someone else's lands is dangerous and expensive, hence the siren lure of drones as a risk-free and cheap way to intimidate the locals and get them to hand over their land or resources. Will the next targets be indigenous people resisting the exploitation of their lands by oil and gas companies, soybean growers, or logging interests?
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 Iran: Rumors Of War (3 comments)
A war with Iran would be catastrophic. Adding nuclear weapons to it would put the final nail into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Within a decade dozens of countries will have nuclear weapons. It is a scary world to contemplate.
Monday, October 28, 2013 Torpedoing The Iran Nuclear Talks
While the alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel seems an odd one, in fact both countries have similar strategic goals. Both support the overthrow of the Assad regime, both want to weaken Shiite-based Hezbollah in Lebanon, both want to see the minority Iraqi Sunnis back in charge, and both view Iran as a threat. Israel recently began war games built around long distance bombing raids, the kind required to attack Iran.
Thursday, October 17, 2013 Letter From Sofia: Old Tanks and Modern Mayhem
A good start toward turning things around would be to take up a call by Greece's Syriza Party for a European debt summit similar to the 1953 London Debt Agreement, That pact allowed Germany to recover from World War II by cutting its debt by 50 percent and spreading payments out over 30 years.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 The Kurds: Opportunity and Peril
Autonomy for the Kurds is out of the bag and not about to go back in, regardless of what the final outcome in Syria and Turkey are. Sooner or later, Iran will have to confront the same issue that governments in Damascus, Ankara and Baghdad now face: recognition and autonomy, or war and instability.
Sunday, August 4, 2013 Boiling a Frog (5 comments)
If you can control 15% of the national vote, you can elect presidents and the congress. That is exactly what has happened over the past several election cycles. Mitt Romney got swamped in the general election, but Republicans hold power in the House of Representatives and in a majority of state houses. There is nothing "fictional" about the 15% solution as an electoral strategy.
Monday, July 29, 2013 Turkey: Unrest's Currents Run Deep (1 comments)
The unrest gripping Turkey has less to do with headscarves and Islam than with politics and economics, fueled by a growing discomfort with the AKP's policies of privatization, its push to centralize authority in the hands of the country's executive branch, and its silencing of the media. The three are not unrelated.
Friday, July 5, 2013 Poison Gas and Arabian Tales (1 comments)
Sarin is a colorless and odorless liquid, and it is "volatile" -- that is, it quickly turns into a gas. Even in small concentrations, it is very deadly and can kill within minutes. It is absorbed through the skin or lungs and can contaminate clothing for up to 30 minutes.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 Syria and the Monarchs: A Perfect Storm
While the Syrian civil war started over the Assad regime's brutal response to demonstrators, it has morphed into a proxy war between Syria, Iran, Russia, and government of Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq on one side, and the US, France, Britain, Israel, Turkey and the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the other.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 Afghanistan: The End Game? (1 comments)
There is no need for a chaos-engulfed finale to the Afghan War. There is no reason to continue the bloodshed, which all the parties recognize will not alter the final outcome a whit. It is time for the White House to step up and do the right thing and end one of the bloodiest wars in recent history.
Thursday, April 25, 2013 The White House's Flawed Korea Policies (2 comments)
The North is well aware of the fate of the "axis of evil": Iraq was invaded and occupied, and Iran is suffocating under the weight of economic sanctions and facing a possible Israeli or U.S. attack. From North Korea's point of view, the only thing that Iraq and Iran have in common is that neither of them developed nuclear weapons.
Monday, April 1, 2013 Syria: A Multi-Sided Chess game (1 comments)
The effort to knock Syria off the board may succeed, although the butcher bill will be considerably higher than the current body count of 70,000. But establishing a pro-western government in Damascus and inflicting damage on Iran is mostly illusion. "Victory"--particularly a military one-- is more likely to end in chaos and instability, and a whole lot more dead chess pieces.
Monday, March 18, 2013 Egypt: A Coup In The Wings?
Are the statements by Egypt's opposition concerning the possibility of a military takeover simply a political maneuver aimed at forcing the Morsi government to be more inclusive, or are they laying a foundation for a coup? Loose talk about an Army takeover in Egypt is a little like hand-feeding a crocodile: a good way to lose a body part.
Thursday, March 14, 2013 Hugo Chavez: Lest We Forget (1 comments)
Comparing the man's accomplishments to his U.S. obits was like taking a trip through Alice's looking glass. Virtually none of the information about poverty and illiteracy was included, and when it was grudgingly admitted that he did have programs for the poor, it was "balanced" with claims of soaring debts, widespread shortages, rampant crime, economic chaos, and "authoritarianism."
Monday, February 18, 2013 Israel and Syria: Behind the Bombs (1 comments)
The bombing attack was certainly a slap in the face to Assad, but not the first, and seems less directed at the Damascus regime than adding yet another ingredient to the witch's brew of chaos that is rapidly engulfing Syria and the surrounding countries. And chaos and division in the region have always been Israel's allies. Divide and conquer is an old colonial tactic dating back to the Roman Empire.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 Obama and Europe's Meltdown (5 comments)
NATO is an artifact of the Cold War and long since past retirement. It is also dangerous: if you build an alliance you will eventually use it. The debacle of the Afghan War and the chaos that the Libyan war has unleashed on Africa is a warning that the use of military power is increasingly outdated. It also drains valuable resources better used to confront the economic and environmental challenges the world faces.
Friday, January 18, 2013 Mali and Chickens
French forces will face considerable logistical obstacles. And while Mali's geography may not match the Russian steppes in winter, its fierce desert is daunting terrain. So what do Mali and the French intervention have to do with chickens? They always come home to roost.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013 2012 "Are You Serious?" Awards (2 comments)
Pandora's Box Award goes to the U.S. and Israel for unleashing cyber war on the world by attacking Iran's nuclear industry. The Stuxnet virus -- designed by both countries -- successfully damaged Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, and the newly discovered Flame virus has apparently been siphoning data from Iranian computers for years.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 Four More Years: The Asia Pivot (1 comments)
Washington has shifted naval forces into the Pacific and is in the process of putting 2,500 Marines in northern Australia. While 2,500 Marines are hardly likely to tip the balance of power in Asia, it seems an unnecessary provocation. The U.S. is moving air power into the region as well, including B-1 bombers, B-52s, and F-22 stealth fighters.
Saturday, December 1, 2012 Four More Years: Central and South Asia (1 comments)
Recreating a version of the old Cold War alliance system in the region is hardly in the interests of Central and South Asians -- or Americans, for that matter. India and Pakistan do not need more planes, bombs and tanks. They need modernized transport systems, enhanced educational opportunities, and improved public health. The same can be said for Americans.
Monday, November 12, 2012 Middle East: The Next Four Years
Because US relies on the energy resources of the Persian Gulf countries, as well as strategic basing rights, it is unlikely that the Obama administration will challenge the foreign and domestic policies of its allies in the region. But then Washington should not pretend that its policies there have anything to do with promoting democracy.
Thursday, October 18, 2012 Japan's Right: Going Nuke? (1 comments)
All this nuclear talk comes at a time when Japan is at loggerheads with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyus, with South Korea over the Dokdo/Takeshimas, and with Russia over the southern Kurlies, although the situation for each island chain is different. Japan currently controls the Senkaku/Diaoyus, while South Korea and Russia occupy the other disputed island groups.
Saturday, September 29, 2012 Syria and the Dogs of War
Diplomacy, rather than war, is the only way to preserve what is left of Syria for its hard-pressed citizens. The alternative is death and destruction, floods of refugees, religious extremism, restive minorities, and a divided international community. Such ground makes rich hunting for the dogs of war. It is time to bring them to heel.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 Japan Vs. China: Smoke or Fire? (1 comments)
Provocations like China's bluster over Okinawa, Japan's purchase of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Washington sending 2,500 Marines to Australia, and general chest-beating via gunboats needs to stop. On one level it is unthinkable that Japan and China would actually come to blows, a conflict that could draw in the US though its mutual support treaty with Tokyo.
Saturday, July 14, 2012 Iran Sanctions: War by Other Means (3 comments)
Evidence about Iran's nuclear program is irrelevant when the enormous economic power of the United States and the EU can cow the rest of the world, and force a country to its knees without resorting to open hostilities. In short, war by other means.
Saturday, June 30, 2012 Syria & The Phantom
The Assad regime had no stake in a peaceful resolution, since it would mean its ouster in any case. And the opposition knew it need not respect a ceasefire, since everyone who supports them supports regime change. It was into this situation that Turkey flew an F-4 Phantom through Syrian airspace. Exactly what did Ankara think Syria would do? On the other hand, maybe it knew exactly what Syria would do.
Friday, June 15, 2012 Greed & the Pain in Spain
The 100 billion Euro ($125 billion) Spanish bailout will fail for the average Spaniard, as bailouts have already failed the Irish, Portuguese and Greeks, and it will lock Spain into generations of debt. The Euro Zone's economies are predicted to contract 0.1 percent for all of 2012, and the jobless rate for the 17-country bloc is 11 percent, higher than at anytime since the Euro was established in 1999.
Monday, April 30, 2012 Latin America Delivers A Swift Kick (1 comments)
Latin Americans no longer pay as much mind to the atmosphere in Washington as they used to. They are too busy confronting poverty and underdevelopment, forging a multi-polar world in which the U.S. is looking increasingly out of touch.
Monday, April 16, 2012 The U.S. and The Afghan Train Wreck (5 comments)
How the U.S. managed to get itself into this mess needs to be closely examined. The State Department under Hillary Clinton has become little more than an arm of the Pentagon, and the White House has shown an unsettling penchant for resorting to violence. In the meantime Afghanistan is headed for a terrible smashup.
Thursday, April 5, 2012 China: The Frog and the Scorpion
Over the past 30 years, China has gone from a poor, largely rural nation, to an economic juggernaut that has tripled urban income and increased life expectancy by six years. But trying to make a system like capitalism work for all is a little like playing whack-a-mole.
Sunday, March 4, 2012 Syria: A Way Out
After a year of fighting, Damascus has not succeeded in ending the rebellion. It short, it looks like a stalemate, in which case the current campaign to aid the rebels and force Syria's president out is exactly the wrong strategy and one guaranteed to prolong the bloodshed.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 Iran, Israel and the U.S.: The Slide To War (5 comments)
Iran is not a military threat to Israel, but it is a political problem, because Tel Aviv sees Teheran's fierce nationalism and independence from the U.S. and Europe as a wildcard. Iran is also allied to Israel's major regional enemy, Syria--with which it is still officially at war -- and the Shiite-based Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq.