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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.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 14, 2012 Iran Sanctions: War by Other Means
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.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 18, 2013 Israel and Syria: Behind the Bombs
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.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 25, 2012 Japan Vs. China: Smoke or Fire?
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.
SHARE 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).
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 6, 2013 Iran: Rumors Of War
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.
(5 comments) SHARE Thursday, February 23, 2012 Iran, Israel and the U.S.: The Slide To War
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.
SHARE Thursday, January 23, 2020 2019 News Awards
Each year Dispatches From The Edge gives awards to individuals, companies and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure.
(5 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 28, 2015 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.
SHARE Friday, November 22, 2019 Nuclear Lies and Broken Promises
Nuclear explosions have a unique footprint. When the weapon detonates, it sends out an initial pulse of light, but as the fireball expands, it cools down for a few milliseconds, then spikes again.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 11, 2014 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 24, 2014 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, April 10, 2015 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.
SHARE 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.
(23 comments) SHARE Monday, March 23, 2015 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, February 27, 2015 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 4, 2015 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?
SHARE 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 5, 2019 Climate Catastrophe Comes for Europe
Climate change is upon us. What that future will be is up to the current generation to figure out, and while there is no question that concerted action can make a difference, the clock is ticking. When next the bell tolls, it tolls for us all.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, January 31, 2014 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 12, 2015 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 28, 2014 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.
SHARE Thursday, December 21, 2017 A Looming Crisis for Turkey's President
Erdogan has enormous power and has out muscled and out maneuvered his opponents for the past 20 years. But Turks are growing weary of his rule and, if the economy stumbles, he may be vulnerable. That's why he is running scared.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, April 30, 2012 Latin America Delivers A Swift Kick
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.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 9, 2020 Turkey's Failed Gamble in Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's latest gamble in Syria's civil war appears to have come up snake eyes. Instead of halting the Damascus government's siege of the last rebel-held province, Idlib, Turkey has backed off, and Ankara's Syrian adventure is fueling growing domestic resistance to the powerful autocrat.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 2, 2014 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.
SHARE Tuesday, November 5, 2019 A New Middle East Is Coming
The Yemen War might finally end. Iran may, at least partly, break out of the political and economic blockade that Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel has imposed on it. Syria's civil war will recede. And the Americans, who have dominated the Middle East since 1945, will become simply one of several international players in the region, along with China, Russia, India and the European Union.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, October 10, 2014 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, August 25, 2017 Spain: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
The European Union is in a crisis of its own making. By blocking its members from pursuing different strategies for confronting economic trouble and, instead, insisting on one-size-fits-all strictures, the trade group has set loose centrifugal forces that now threaten to tear the organization apart.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, June 17, 2020 Tipping the Nuclear Dominos
If the Trump administration follows through on its threat to re-start nuclear tests, it will complete the unraveling of more than 50 years of arms control agreements, taking the world back to the days when school children practiced "duck and cover," and people built backyard bomb shelters.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(6 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 1, 2019 Rivers of Dust: Water and the Middle East
The Middle East may be drying up, but so is California, much of the American Southwest, southern Africa, parts of Latin America, and virtually all of southern Europe. Since the crisis is global "beggar thy neighbor" strategies will eventually impoverish all of humanity. The solution lies with the only international organization on the planet, the United Nations.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, July 29, 2013 Turkey: Unrest's Currents Run Deep
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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 1, 2015 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.
SHARE 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Monday, May 2, 2016 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.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 22, 2017 The Tortured Politics Behind the Persian Gulf Crisis
Erdogan is the Middle East leader who most resembles Donald Trump: He shoots from the hip and holds grudges. The difference is that he's far smarter and better informed than the U.S. president and knows when to cut his losses. The Russians have been carefully neutral, consulted with Turkey and Iran, and have called on all parties to peacefully resolve their differences.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 5, 2017 Rolling Snakes Eyes in the Indo-Pacific
Asia looks like a pretty scary place these days. A right-wing Hindu fundamentalist government in India and a revanchist Japanese Prime Minister are allied with an increasingly unstable administration in Washington to surround and contain the second largest economy in the world.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 18, 2012 Japan's Right: Going Nuke?
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.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, June 22, 2015 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?
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 28, 2017 How Trump Could Blunder Into War with China
Washington charges that the Chinese are playing the bully with small countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, and there is some truth to that charge. China has been throwing its weight around with several nations in Southeast Asia. But it also true that the Chinese have a lot of evidence that the Americans are gunning for them.
(5 comments) SHARE Monday, April 16, 2012 The U.S. and The Afghan Train Wreck
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.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 25, 2013 The White House's Flawed Korea Policies
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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 13, 2017 The Long Term Threat to Europe Isn't Le Pen. It's Capitalism.
Macron's new centrist party, En Marche, did win big in France's recent legislative elections -- but mostly due to the anti-Le Pen vote. His program of austerity, restraints on unions, and corporate tax cuts is not embraced by most French people.
SHARE Friday, March 27, 2020 How Austerity and Anti-Immigrant Politics Left Italy Exposed
As the viral blitzkrieg rolls across one European border after another, it seems to have a particular enmity for Italy. The country's death toll has passed China's, and scenes from its hospitals look like something out of Dante's imagination.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 19, 2013 "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.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 1, 2013 2012 "Are You Serious?" Awards
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.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 19, 2018 The Great Game Comes to Syria
The appointment of National Security Adviser John Bolton, who openly calls for regime change in Iran, has to have sent a chill down the spines of the Iranians. What Tehran needs most of all is allies who will shield it from the enmity of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, Turkey and Russia could be helpful.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 13, 2020 Military Spending and the Pandemic
There is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia and the US, and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, June 6, 2014 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.
SHARE Wednesday, January 24, 2018 Nuclear War: A Thousand Buttons
The very nature of nuclear weapons requires that the power to use them is decentralized and dispersed. And while it is sobering to think of leaders like Kim and Trump with their finger on the trigger, a nuclear war is far more likely to be started by some anonymous captain in an Ohio-class submarine patrolling the Pacific or a Pakistani colonel on the Indian border.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 12, 2018 Big Power Competition: A Dangerous Turn
Higher defense spending -- coupled with the recent tax cut bill -- will rule out funding many of the programs the Democrats hold dear. Of course, for the Republicans that dilemma is a major side benefit: cut taxes, increase defense spending, then dismantle social services, Social Security and Medicare in order to service the deficit.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, November 18, 2016 Spiraling Into Permanent War
Enhanced interrogation was torture. The International Committee of the Red Cross found the techniques "amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." How anyone could conclude anything else is hard to fathom. Besides the water boarding -- for which several WWII Japanese soldiers were executed for using on allied prisoners -- interrogators used sleep depravation, extreme confinement and "walling."
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 1, 2012 Four More Years: Central and South Asia
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.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, October 7, 2016 U.S. Diplomacy: A Dangerous Proposal
Power is proposing something different than humanitarian intervention. She is suggesting that the United States elevate "Responsibility to Protect," or R2P to the level of national security, which sounds uncomfortably like an argument for U.S. intervention in any place that doesn't emulate the American system.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 29, 2015 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 4, 2014 Turkish Plots
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.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 6, 2013 Obama and Europe's Meltdown
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.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 11, 2019 The World Needs a Water Treaty
There is a growing crisis in South Asia, where water-stressed mega-cities and intensive agriculture are quite literally drying the subcontinent up. By 2030, according to a recent report, half the population of India 700 million people will lack adequate drinking water. Currently, 25 percent of India's population is suffering from drought.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 9, 2015 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
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 25, 2019 A Wounded Erdogan Could Be Dangerous
AKP used Istanbul's budget as a piggy bank for programs that benefited members of Erdogan's family or generated kickbacks for the Party from construction firms and private contractors. Erdogan has already warned his opponents that they "won't even be able to pay the salaries of their employees." The man may be down but he is hardly beaten. There are turbulent times ahead for Turkey.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, July 8, 2016 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."
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, November 9, 2018 Unwrapping Armageddon: The Erosion of Nuclear Arms Control
The INF Treaty came about because of strong opposition and huge demonstrations in Europe and the United States. That kind of pressure, coupled with a pledge by countries not to deploy such weapons, will be required again, lest the entire tapestry of agreements that kept the horror of nuclear war at bay vanish.
(28 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 21, 2017 Europe's Elections and The Barbarians
There were some lessons from the Dutch elections, though not the simplistic one that the "populist" barbarians lost to the "reasonable" center. What it mainly demonstrated is that voters are unhappy with the current situation, they are looking for answers, and parties on the left and center left should think carefully about joining governments that think it "reasonable" to impoverish their own people.
SHARE Thursday, November 2, 2017 Brexit and A Brave New World
With Labour on the ascendency, May is reliant on an extremist party to stay in power, and countries like France are licking their chops at poaching the financial institutions that currently work out of London, EU members are in no rush to settle things. May is playing a weak hand and Brussels knows it.
SHARE 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."
SHARE Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Of Trump, Vipers, and Foreign Policy
How much of the White House tweets are provocation and grandiose rhetoric is not clear. The President and the people around him are lens lice who constantly romance the spotlight. They have, however, succeeded in alarming a lot of people. As the old saying goes, "Boys throw rocks at frogs in fun. The frogs dodge them in earnest."
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Why Europe's Center-Left Keeps Losing Elections
If the center-left is to make a comeback, it will have to re-discover its roots and lure voters away from xenophobia and narrow nationalism with a program that improves peoples' lives and begins the difficult task of facing up to what capitalism has wrought on the planet.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, April 1, 2013 Syria: A Multi-Sided Chess game
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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, February 13, 2015 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 12, 2017 Leprechauns, Nazis and Truncheons
The Irish economy is growing again, but the country is still burdened by a massive debt, whose repayment drains capital from much needed investments in housing, education and infrastructure. But "debt" can be a deceptive word. It is not the result of a spending spree, but the fallout from a huge real estate bubble pumped up by German, Dutch and French banks in cahoots with local speculators and politicians.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, December 26, 2012 Four More Years: The Asia Pivot
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.
SHARE Friday, July 13, 2018 Trump and the Big, Bad Bugs
Animals jammed into rarely cleaned cages and pens are the perfect Petri dish for generating drug resistant germs. According to the Environmental Working Group, nearly 80 percent of U.S. supermarket meat is infected with antibiotic resistant germs. Studies of meats in the U.S. show that up to 70 percent are laced with germs immune to antibiotics.
(5 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 4, 2013 Boiling a Frog
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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE Tuesday, January 17, 2017 The European Union and the Left
The barbarians at the EU's gate did not just appear out of Europe's dark forests like the Goths and Vandals of old. They were raised up by the profoundly flawed way that the Union was established in the first place, flaws that did not reveal themselves until an economic crisis took center stage.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 14, 2013 Hugo Chavez: Lest We Forget
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."
SHARE Saturday, June 16, 2018 The Spanish Labyrinth
Newly minted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez must recognize that the Catalan issue is political, not legal, and that force is not an option. As Napoleon Bonaparte's Foreign Minister Talleyrand once remarked, "You can do anything you like with bayonets, except sit on them," summing up the truism that repression does not work in the long run.
SHARE Saturday, November 3, 2018 Afghanistan: Peace at hand?
The news that the Americans recently held face-to-face talks with the Taliban suggests that longest war in US history may have reached a turning point, although the road to such a peace is long, rocky and plagued with as many improvised explosive devices as the highway from Kandahar to Kabul.
SHARE Tuesday, April 14, 2020 India And the Corona Virus: Independent Press Fights Back
Climate change is producing conditions that favor the growth of diseases like the corona virus and vector-driven pathogens like dengue and malaria. The next pandemic is just around the corner, and unless there is a concentrated effort to make health care a human right, it is only a matter of time before the next mega-killer strikes.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 10, 2015 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.
SHARE 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?
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, February 1, 2016 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."
SHARE Wednesday, March 27, 2019 European Union Elections: A Crossroad
Global migration is on the rise as climate change drowns coastlines and river deltas and drought drives people out of arid climates in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Latin America. By 2060, as many as 3 billion people could be affected. The Left and center-left has a responsibility to see immigrants for what they are: potential allies and the future.
SHARE Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Iran And Sanctions: A Prelude To War?
Several developments have come together to suggest that the rationale for using sanctions to force a re-negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is cover for an eventual military assault by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia aimed at regime change in Teheran. What a war will almost certainly do is re-ignite Iran's push to build a nuclear weapon.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 3, 2015 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.
SHARE Monday, October 31, 2016 U.S. Threat to Irish Neutrality
Ireland is not alone in putting itself in harm's way. The US has more than 800 bases worldwide, bases that might well be targeted in a nuclear war with China or Russia. Local populations have little say over the construction of these bases, but they would be the first casualties in a conflict.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE Thursday, December 8, 2016 India and Pakistan:Thinking the Unthinkable
What the world cannot afford is for the current tensions to spiral down into a military confrontation that could easily get out of hand. The U.S., through its aid to Pakistan -- $860 million this year -- has some leverage, but it cannot play a role if its ultimate goal is an alliance to contain China, a close ally of Pakistan.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, July 5, 2013 Poison Gas and Arabian Tales
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.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, April 21, 2014 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 11, 2015 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 11, 2015 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 25, 2019 Turkey: Revenge of the Kurds
After 18 years of unchallenged power and success, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suddenly finds himself in the middle of several domestic and foreign crises with no obvious way out. It is unfamiliar ground for a master politician who has moved nimbly from the margins of power to the undisputed leader of the largest economy in the Middle East.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 5, 2014 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, July 27, 2018 NATO: Time to Re-Examine an Alliance
While Moscow is depicted as an aggressive adversary, NATO surrounds Russia on three sides, has deployed anti-missile systems in Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the Black Sea, and has a 12 to 1 advantage in military spending. With opposing forces now toe-to-toe, it would not take much to set off a chain reaction that could end in a nuclear exchange.
SHARE Thursday, February 22, 2018 Italian Elections and Immigration
Italian elections are always complex affairs, but the upcoming Mar. 4 vote is one of the most bewildering in several decades: the right is resurgent, the left embattled, and the issue drawing the greatest fire and fury has little to do with the economic malaise that has gripped the country since the great economic crash of 2008.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 2, 2016 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 29, 2013 Afghanistan: The End Game?
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.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, June 10, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 3, 2019 Are You Serious ? Awards for 2018
Each year Dispatches From The Edge gives awards to individuals, companies and governments that makes reading the news a daily adventure.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE Friday, September 2, 2016 Turkey's Coup: Winners and Losers
The most obvious winner to emerge from the abortive military putsch is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogen and his campaign to transform Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to a powerful, centralized executive with himself in charge. The most obvious losers are Erdogan's internal opposition and the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
SHARE 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, February 12, 2016 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.
SHARE Thursday, December 20, 2018 Spanish Elections a Lesson for the Left
In what seems a replay of recent German and Italian elections, an openly authoritarian and racist party made major electoral gains in Spain's most populous province, Andalusia, helping to dethrone the Socialist Party that had dominated the southern region for 36 years. It's as if the old Spanish dictator Francisco Franco had arisen from his tomb in the "Valley of the Fallen" and was again marching on Madrid.
SHARE Monday, March 11, 2019 Nuclear Powers Need to Disarm Before it's Too Late
Over the years the Americans and the Russians have reduced the number of warheads in their arsenals, they -- along with China -- are currently in the midst of a major modernization of their weapon systems. Instead of a world without nuclear weapons, it is a world of nuclear apartheid, with the great powers making no move to downsize their conventional forces.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 11, 2019 Diego Garcia: "Unsinkable Carrier" Springs a Leak
Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: no journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the US Congress.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 21, 2016 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.
SHARE Tuesday, May 15, 2018 Turkey's President: Short Term Victory, Long Term Trouble
There is an outside chance that Erdogan could win the presidency but lose his majority in Parliament. If the opposition does win, it has pledged to dump the new presidential system and return power to parliament. The election will be held essentially under martial law, and Erdogan has loaded all the dice, marked every card, and rigged every roulette wheel.
SHARE Saturday, February 6, 2021 China's Sea of Conflict
President Joseph Biden's administration faces a host of difficult problems, but in foreign policy its thornist will be its relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC).
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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?
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 8, 2015 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.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 3, 2016 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."
SHARE 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.