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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.
Friday, July 8, 2016(1 comments)
Brexit and Spain: Europe On The Edge
A majority of Britain said "enough," and while the Spanish right scared voters into backing away from a major course change, those voters will soon discover that what is in store for them is yet more austerity. The European Union is now officially a house divided. It is not clear how long it can endure."
Saturday, June 25, 2016 The Brexit: A Very British Affair
The Brexit vote was a British affair (and promises to be a messy one). The Spanish election is a continental affair that will have reverberations worldwide. A recent manifesto by more than 200 leading Spanish economists charges that the austerity policies of the EU have created an "economic crisis" that "has had devastating consequences for our country, as well as the euro zone as a whole."
Friday, June 10, 2016(2 comments)
Spanish Elections: EU Watershed?
There are some wild cards in the upcoming election. Both the PP and PSOE have been tarred with the corruption bush, and two former Socialist governors of Andalusia have just been charged with illegal payments to supporters. Turnout will likely be lower than in the December election, but the left's effective grassroots organizations may offset that.
Thursday, June 2, 2016(2 comments)
A Very Brazilian Coup
Brazil has long been a country with sharp divisions between wealth and poverty, and its elites have a history of using violence and intimidation. The new government is already pushing legislation that would roll back laws protecting the environment and indigenous people, and has appointed ministers with terrible track records in both areas.
Saturday, May 21, 2016(1 comments)
European Union: A House Divided
Left parties in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland are critical of the EU, but most do not advocate withdrawing. What they are demanding is a say over their economic decisions and relief from the rigid rules that favor economies like Germany, and bar many others from ever becoming debt free.
Monday, May 2, 2016(5 comments)
Baiting The Bear: NATO and Russia
From Moscow's point of view, the U.S. is continuing to spread its network of anti-missile systems in Europe and Asia, which the Russians see as a threat to their nuclear force (as does China). And as far as "reneging" goes, it was the U.S. that dumped the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, not Russia.
Monday, March 28, 2016 Terrorism: Then and Now
Terrorism? There are certainly easy "solutions" out there: occupy Muslim communities and torture suspects we arrest. Unleash yet more drones, carpet bomb the bastards, and, if necessary, send in the Marines. But that is exactly what we have doing for the past three decades, and is there anyone who would seriously argue that things are better now than they were in 1981?
Monday, March 21, 2016 A Terrible Beauty: Ireland's Easter Rebellion
Everything is for sale, even revolution. In some ways, 1916 was about Ireland and its long, strange history. But 1916 is also about the willingness of human beings to resist, sometimes against almost hopeless odds. There is nothing special or uniquely Irish about that.
Thursday, March 3, 2016(1 comments)
Irish Shillelagh Austerity
About Ireland, voters turned their own political structure upside down. The two parties that have dominated Ireland since the end of the 1922-23 civil war can now claim the allegiance of slightly less than 50 percent of the electorate. This election, as Sinn Fein's Adams argues, represents "a fundamental realignment of Irish politics."
Thursday, February 18, 2016 Irish Elections and Austerity
Ireland is still reeling from years of European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed austerity that doubled the rate of childhood poverty and saddled working people with onerous taxes, painful rate hikes and high unemployment. Wages have fallen 15 percent. Since 2008, almost 500,000 Irish -- the majority of them young and educated -- have emigrated from the country in search of jobs.
Friday, February 12, 2016(2 comments)
Europe's Left: Triumph or Trap?
Following the policies of the Troika sentences countries to permanent debt, rising poverty rates, and a growing wealth gap. Portugal has one of the highest inequality rates in Europe, and Spain's national unemployment rate is 21 percent, and double that among the young. Greece's figures are far higher.
Monday, February 1, 2016(7 comments)
Hillary and the Urn of Ashes
Clinton's view of America's role in the world is that it is old fashioned imperial behavior wrapped in the humanitarian rationale of R2P and thus more acceptable than the "make the sands glow" atavism of most the Republicans. In the end, however, R2P is just death and destruction in a different packaging. Aeschylus got that: "For War's a banker, flesh his gold."
Monday, January 4, 2016 Dispatches 2015 News Awards
The First Amendment Award to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for issuing a new Law Of War manual that defines reporters as "unprivileged belligerents" who will lose their "privileged" status by "the relaying of information" which "could constitute taking a direct part in hostilities." Translation? If you report you are in the same class as members of al-Qaeda.
Monday, December 14, 2015 An End To Right's Reign In Spain?
The mass media -- dominated by Spain's elites -- have been relentless in their attacks, and Podemos, the most resource-poor of the four major parties, has struggled it get its message out. But the party is a grassroots organization, and it knows how to get out the vote.
Friday, December 11, 2015 Why Did Turkey Shoot Down That Russian Plane?
At a time when Europe needs a solution to the refugee crisis, and wants to focus its firepower on the organization the killed 130 people in Paris, NATO cannot be happy that the Turks are dragging them into a confrontation with the Russians, and making the whole situation a lot more dangerous than it was before the Nov. 24 incident.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015(2 comments)
Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom Stumbles
The House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, illusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.
Thursday, November 5, 2015 Portugal and Europe's Democracy Crisis
Within a week, Europe will face one of the most serious challenges to democracy it has seen in many decades. On Nov. 10 Portugal's minority rightwing government will likely lose a vote of confidence, initiating a series of events that will determine whether voters in the European Union (EU) still have the right to a government of their own choosing.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015(3 comments)
The Price Of Turkey's Election
The finally tally is almost everything Erdogan wanted, although he fell short of his dream of a super majority that would let him change the nature of the Turkish political system from a parliamentary government to one ruled by a powerful and centralized executive -- himself. The AKP won almost five million more votes than it did last June.
Monday, October 19, 2015 Turkey's Election Turmoil
Today, Turkey is engaged in an unpopular war in Syria, its economy is troubled, its people are polarized, its relationships with Egypt and Israel are hostile, the Kurdish peace is shattered, and democracy is under siege. It has alienated Russia, Iraq and Iran, and even failed to get re-elected to the UN Security Council.
Thursday, October 8, 2015(1 comments)
Portugal: European Left Batting 1,000
The surprise in the election was that the Left Bloc more than doubled its representation in spite of the fact that there were three Left parties vying for voters.
The Right ran endless images of poor Greek pensioners lining up at banks, and warned voters that voting for the Left could result in the kinds draconian measures the EU took out on Greece, but the scare tactics didn't work.
Thursday, September 10, 2015(4 comments)
Europe's Elections: A Coming Storm?
The Left in the world cannot expect small countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland to take on the power of international capital by themselves. Not since the rise of Nazism has there been such a pressing need for international solidarity. In a very real way, we are all Greeks, Spanish, Portuguese and Irish.
Saturday, August 29, 2015(2 comments)
Europe's New Barbarians
Between now and next April, four countries, all suffering under the painful stewardship of the Troika, will hold national elections: Portugal, Greece, Spain and Ireland. The outcomes of those campaigns will go a long way toward determining whether democracy or autocracy is the future of the continent.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015(3 comments)
The U.S./Turkey Deal-Disaster in the Making
There are no "moderate" forces in the Syrian civil war. The Free Syrian Army is, at best, a marginal player. The major antagonists of the Assad regime are Islamic extremists, the al-Qaeda associated Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Islamic State. Why is the White House going along with this madness?
Tuesday, July 28, 2015(5 comments)
Just Listen to What Western Officials Are Saying About Russia
Why are we now in a dangerous standoff with a country that is not a serious threat to our European allies or ourselves, but does have the capacity to incinerate a sizable portion of the planet? At least part of the problem is that U.S. foreign policy requires enemies so that it can deploy the one thing we know best how to do: blow things up.
Thursday, July 9, 2015(1 comments)
Hillary's Emails: Missing the Story
The Congressional harrying of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over emails concerning the 2012 death of an American Ambassador and three staff members in Benghazi, Libya, has become a sort of running joke, with Republicans claiming "cover-up" and Democrats dismissing the whole matter as nothing more than election year politics
Monday, June 22, 2015(2 comments)
Toward A New Foreign Policy
"The American Century" Has Plunged the World Into Crisis. What Happens Now? U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out of sync with real global challenges. Is continuous war inevitable, or can we change course?
Thursday, June 11, 2015(2 comments)
Turkey's Election Earthquake
Turkey is not talking with Egypt, has an icy relationship with Iran, is alienated from Iraq, at war with Syria, and not on the best of terms with Russia and China. In fact its only real allies in the Middle East are the Gulf Monarchies, although in an indirect way it is teaming up with Israel to overthrow the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015 Middle East Plots
Why is the Israeli military talking about a war with Lebanon? The border is quiet. There have been a few incidents, but nothing major. Hezbollah has made it clear that it has no intention of starting a war, though it warns Tel Aviv that it's quite capable of fighting one. The most likely answer is that the Israelis are coordinating their actions with Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015(1 comments)
Yemen Re-Draws Middle East Alliances
The U.S. has played an important, if somewhat uncomfortable, role in the Yemen War. It is feeding Saudi Arabia intelligence and targeting information and re-fueling Saudi warplanes in mid-air. It also intercepted an Iranian flotilla headed for Yemen that Washington claimed was carrying arms for the Houthis. Iran denies it and there is little hard evidence that Teheran is providing arms to the insurgents.
Monday, April 20, 2015 Kenya's Sorrow: The U.S. Connection
For organizations like the Shabab and Al-Qaeda, drones have proved to be the 21st century's most effective recruiting sergeants. Military occupation sows the seeds of its own destruction, and, while using drones and proxies may keep the American death count down, that strategy ultimately creates more enemies than it eliminates. In short, talking beats bombing and works better.
Friday, April 10, 2015(1 comments)
Yemen And The Congress of Reaction
Besides stirring up more religious sectarianism, the Yemen war will aid the Saudis and the GCC in their efforts to derail the tentative nuclear agreement with Iran. If that agreement fails, a major chance for stability in the region will be lost. Yemen needs an influx of aid, not bombs, drones, and hellfire missiles.
Monday, March 23, 2015(23 comments)
Greece: Fascists At The Gate
Courts are political entities and respond to popular movements. Anti-fascists are calling on the Greeks and the international community to stay in the streets and demand that New Dawn be brought to justice. Germans missed that opportunity with the Nazi Party and paid a terrible price for it.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Greece: Memory and Debt
It is not hard to see why many Greeks see a certain relationship between what the Germans did to Greece during the occupation and what is being done to it today. There are no massacres -- although suicide rates are through the ceiling -- and no mass starvation, but 44 percent of the Greek people are now below the poverty line, the economy shattered, and Greeks feel they no longer control their country.
Saturday, March 7, 2015 Greece: Whispers Of Battles Past
Greece had a gun to its head: a Feb. 28 deadline, after which its banks would have lost support from the European Central Bank (ECB), one of the "Troika" members that include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission. Without ECB support, Greek banks might have gone under, forcing Athens to default on the debt and force it to exit from the Eurozone.
Friday, February 27, 2015(1 comments)
Europe's Debt: Lies and Myths
President Obama has already called for easing the austerity policies -- through its domination of the IMF. By itself Washington can outvote Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland, and could exert pressure on the two other Troika members to compromise. Will it? Hard to say, but the Americans are certainly a lot more nervous about Greece exiting the Eurozone than Germany.
Friday, February 13, 2015(1 comments)
Europe: Shaking The Temple
While Greece will certainly not go back to the failed formula of selling off state-owned enterprises, huge budget cuts, layoffs and onerous taxes, neither is it eager to exit the Eurozone. The latter is composed of 18 out of the 28 EU members that use a common currency, the euro.
Thursday, January 29, 2015 The Greek Earthquake
One should have no illusions that Syriza will easily sweep the policies of austerity aside, but there is a palpable feeling on the continent that a tide is turning. It did not start with the Greek elections, but with last May's European Parliament elections, where anti-austerity parties made solid gains. If Syriza is to survive, however, it must deliver, and that will be a tall order given the power of its opponents.
Thursday, January 1, 2015(1 comments)
Dispatch Awards 2014
And the awards go to...Over a period of 12 years, the U.S. detonated some 67 nuclear warheads with an aggregate explosive power of 42.2 megatons in the Marshalls. The Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons. The Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal found the U.S. liable for $2 billion in damages, but so far Washington has only paid out $150 million.
Monday, December 22, 2014 Syria: Turkey In The Fray
The Erdogan government is not the only player in the Middle East that would like to see the Syrian civil war continue. Israel has been aiding rebel forces in Southern Syria and has bombed suspected government weapons depots on several occasions.
Thursday, November 13, 2014 The Big Chill: Tensions in the Arctic
you don't have to be next to the ice to want to be a player. China may be a thousand miles from the nearest ice floe, but as the second largest economy in the world, it has no intention of being left out in the cold. This past summer the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon made the Northern Sea Passage run, and Beijing has elbowed its way into being a Permanent Observer on the Arctic Council.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014(1 comments)
Book Review -- The Syrian Labyrinth
Once again, the U.S. is at war. Once again, the U.S. is ignoring international law and choosing to use military force over diplomacy. Erlich's "Inside Syria" should be widely read, because we are once again at war without the slightest idea of where it leads or what its ultimate goals are.
Friday, October 10, 2014(5 comments)
BRICS and the SCO: Let A Thousand Poles Bloom
These independent poles are only starting to develop and it is hardly clear what their ultimate impact on international politics will be. But the days when the IMF, World Bank, and U.S. Treasury could essentially dictate international finances and intimidate or crush opponents with an avalanche of sanctions are drawing to a close.
Sunday, October 5, 2014(1 comments)
Free Speech Movement: The Musical
FSM is not just nostalgia or, in the end, a play about a specific historical event. It is about how people come to commit themselves to something, despite the pressures of everyday life. It is not about activists, but how people become activists. That particular message is bound by neither time nor geography.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 Foreign Policy, Lord Palmerston And Appendectomies
One strong current at work these days is the neo-conservatives, whose goals are not to just break Ukraine away from Russia, but go for regime change in Moscow. They also lobby for overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria, and for war with Iran. They are overwhelmingly Republicans, but include Democrats.
Sunday, August 24, 2014(1 comments)
Sanctions and the U.S. Dollar -- A Fall From Grace?
There is growing opposition to the widespread use of sanctions, as well as to the ability to isolate countries from international finance by excluding them from things like SWIFT. Coupled with this is a suspicion that the U.S. uses its currency to support its economy at the expense of others.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Parsing the East Asian Powder Keg
While China's forceful behavior in the East China Sea is somewhat understandable, throwing its weight around in the South China Sea has given the U.S. an opportunity to exploit the situation. Because of tensions between China and the Philippines, the U.S. military was invited back into the islands. All sides need to take a step back.
Thursday, July 24, 2014 Clintonians Flock With Vultures Over Argentina
In the world, vultures are estimable creatures. There is a "yuck" factor, but at least they wait until their prey are dead before making a meal of them, and they do clean up after themselves. The vultures of Wall Street prey on the living and leave behind an unspeakable mess.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014 Iraq: War and Remembrance
Military intervention by the U.S. and its allies will accelerate the divisions in the Middle East. If the White House is serious about stemming the chaos, it should stop fueling the Syrian civil war, lean on the Gulf Monarchies to end their sectarian jihad against Shiites, pressure the Israelis to settle with the Palestinians, and end the campaign to isolate Iran.
Friday, June 6, 2014(2 comments)
Europe: The Sky's Not Falling
No, Britain is not about to toss its immigrant population into the sea. No, France's Marine Le Pen is not about to march on the Elysee Palace. And, as repulsive as the thugs of Hungary's Jobbik Party and Greece's New Dawn are, it was the continent's left to whom the laurels went in last month's poll.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 Marching On Moscow
In the end the solution is diplomatic. It has to take into account Russia's legitimate security interests and recognize that Ukraine is neither Russian nor Western European, but a country divided, dependent on both. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to oppose such a power arrangement when its own system is based on the same formula (as are many other countries in Europe, including Germany).
Monday, April 21, 2014(1 comments)
Carl Bloice: 1939-2014. Good Night Sweet Poet
He was one of those people who could not bear the humiliation of silence in the face of injustice and that simple--if occasionally difficult--philosophy was at the center of who he was. Civil rights, free speech, the war in Southeast Asia (and later Central America, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq), women's rights, homophobia, and the environmental crisis: wherever the dispossessed were voiceless, Carl Bloice spoke for them.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 Continental Drift: Europe's Breakaways
The European continent is once again adrift, pulling apart along fault lines both ancient and modern. How nations like Spain and Britain, and organizations like the EU, react to this process will determine if it will be civilized or painful. But trying to stop it will most certainly cause pain.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014(1 comments)
WikiLeaks, Ukraine And NATO
It is unlikely that the USS Truxtun will go looking for trouble or that the F-15s and F-16s will play chicken with Russian MIGs and Sukhois, but mistakes happen, particularly when tensions are high. It is exactly the current situation that Gorbachev was trying to avoid back in 1990, and why NATO's relentless march east puts more than the Ukraine in harm's way.
Sunday, March 2, 2014(1 comments)
Ukraine Revolt's Dark Side
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(2 comments)
Book Review: Empire’s Ally: The U.S. and Canada
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(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(2 comments)
"Are You Serious?" Awards 2013
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.