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newthinking

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Member since: Tue Feb 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
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Endless War, Undeclared and Undebated

Endless War, Undeclared and Undebated

The Obama administration is waging war all over the world — without congressional authorization.

Foreign Policy in Focus

http://fpif.org/endless-war-undeclared-undebated/

The death of six US soldiers in Afghanistan on December 21 at the hands of a Taliban suicide bomber brings to 21 the number of US combat deaths there in 2015. Once again we must confront the question of national purpose in waging war without debate or declaration. Like all other battlefield deaths in the Middle East, the Obama administration rationalizes these latest as being part of “training, advising, and assisting,” not combat. But those are merely code words for direct interventions that Congress has not authorized since 2002, in clear violation of restrictions the War Powers Resolution of 1973 places on presidential power.

There will be plenty more casualties in the Middle East for years to come, and not just because of the seemingly permanent US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consider two recent news items. According to a plan not yet formally approved, the Pentagon wants to create a worldwide string of “hubs” as staging areas for Special Operations forces to strike quickly against terrorists. Second, most members of Congress are unwilling to introduce and debate a bill authorizing the Obama administration’s use of force in the Middle East and beyond. Thus, there is no end in sight to the US at war, both because the Pentagon has found the perfect enemy and because no one in Congress is willing to stand up to it.

The Pentagon’s plan is to have a forward presence that, in the words of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, “will enable unilateral crisis response, counterterror operations, or strikes on high-value targets.” Not long ago the Pentagon’s mantra was “places, not bases,” so as to avoid all the political problems, as well as the monetary costs, associated with a permanent military presence on foreign soil. Now “places” evidently have been modified to “hubs” and “spokes,” Pentagon-speak for small-scale leased bases of the sort already in place all over Africa. Northern Iraq and southern Europe are being considered as additional hub sites.

Beltway Resistance

Not everyone is reportedly on board with the Pentagon’s plan. The State Department correctly sees it as a power grab that may actually harm US foreign policy. The plan works at cross-purposes with diplomacy, substituting the deployment and use of force for potential opportunities to engage governments and rival groups. More US military facilities, no matter their size, invite criticism in the host countries, may become targets of terror groups, and feed the hostile propaganda of militants. In our terrorism era, however, State has no chance to win this battle.


Continued:
http://fpif.org/endless-war-undeclared-undebated/

Ukraine: When the Right Sector Runs the Courtroom

Ukraine: When the Right Sector Runs the Courtroom

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/ukraine-when-the-right-sector-runs-the-courtroom/

[center]

[font size=3]In Ukraine there is almost daily right-wing violence against the police and judiciary.[/font][/center]


[font size=2]On November 30, 100 members of the Right Sector stormed the Malinowski Court in Odessa. Security officers were simply pushed aside. Masked men and muscular women stood threateningly before the three judges. The judges had approved a ruling to release on bail five people detained since the violent events of May 2, 2014 in the city.

The judges were threatened by masked vigilantes if they didn’t sign letters of resignation. A video report captures the confrontation. It shows the anxious looks on the judges’ faces. They signed the resignation letters and exited the courtroom.

A short time later, the ruling to release the five anti-Maidan protesters was reversed, due, it was said, to “the failure to take account of certain facts”. Their detentions were extended for two months.

Jurisprudence in Odessa is experiencing black days in the month of December. Only five weeks ago, a committee of experts of the Council of Europe issued a lengthy report sharply criticizing the Ukrainian justice system because of the protracted investigation of the events of May 2, 2014 in Odessa. On that day 18 months ago in the city, six people were shot dead by unidentified men on both sides of a street battle between Maidan and anti-Maidan forces. Shortly after on the same day, 42 people died in an arson attack on the Trades Union House in the center of the city where government critics (anti-Maidan) had fled. Not one of the arsonists is in custody. It is not known what stage the investigation into the arson attack has reached. [The full, 91-page report of the Council of Europe is here. News reports are here in English and here in German.][/font]

Right sector threatens judges with grenades

In recent weeks, attacks by the Right Sector against judges and high government officials are piling up all over Ukraine.


Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/ukraine-when-the-right-sector-runs-the-courtroom/

American Nightmare: the Depravity of Neoliberalism

American Nightmare: the Depravity of Neoliberalism

by Michael Welton

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/



Deciphering the meaning of Neo-liberalism as a historical force and societal form requires the energies and know-how of a sagacious sleuth like Hercule Poirot. Wendy Brown, a philosophy professor at UCLA (Berkeley) and author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, has a Poirot intellectual sensibility and acuity that sees what most of us cannot.

Those of us who have written on neo-conservative politics and neo-liberalism as an economic form have illuminated many dimensions of “something new” that has emerged out of the collapse of welfare state liberal democracy in the West over the last five decades.

But putting all the pieces of this intricate puzzle together and detecting not only particular patterns but also the logic underlying neo-liberalism is a complex task.

What is the connection between the US Empire’s contempt for law and truth-telling and neo-liberalism?

And how is it that citizens can be so passive in the face of evident government prevarication, endless spinning of false narratives, the evisceration of democratic morality and countless corporate and government scandals?

Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/

Phony Generosity: the Self-Serving Charity of Mark Zuckerberg

Phony Generosity: the Self-Serving Charity of Mark Zuckerberg

by Ted Rall

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/03/phony-generosity-the-self-serving-charity-of-mark-zuckerberg/

CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises to give 99% of his Facebook shares to charity — eventually.

Exact phrasing: the stock, currently worth $45 billion, will be donated “during [he and his wife’s] lives.” He’s 31 and she’s 30, so actuarial tables being what they are, by approximately the year 2065.

If Facebook or the Internet or the earth still exist.

Whoop de doo.

I would be far more impressed if Facebook would put some money into the American economy. How? By hiring more workers — a lot more workers. Facebook’s market cap is $300 billion — almost ten times more than GM. GM has 216,000 employees. I’m not sure Facebook could find work for 2 million workers — but 12,000 is pathetic. They might start by hiring a few thousand 24-7 customer service reps so they could respond quickly when some antisocial pig posts your nude photo.

Point two: this is all about control.

A donation to an independent, classic 501(c) charity can come with strings attached — the money is only for a children’s wing of the hospital, no adults — but it’s ultimately spent by the charity based on its directors’ decisions. Under the LLC structure Zuckerberg will maintain nearly dictatorial control over the funds he’s “donating” to “charity.”

It’s the difference between you giving a hundred bucks to the United Way, and taking a hundred bucks out of your wallet and dropping into a coffee can in your kitchen. Maybe the C-spot in the coffee can will go to the poor. Maybe not. It certainly isn’t accurate to claim you gave it to charity.



Full article:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/03/phony-generosity-the-self-serving-charity-of-mark-zuckerberg/
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