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Why “Coercive Diplomacy” is a Dangerous Farce

Offering to talk while threatening military force hasn't worked in 30 years.

A North Korean soldier looks in through the window of the T2 building as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates tour the Demilitarized Zone in Korea on July 21, 2010.(U.S. Department of Defense photo.)
With his recent “my (nuclear) button is bigger than yours” taunt, Donald Trump’s rhetoric has fully descended into school yard braggadocio, with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as a convenient foil. But his administration’s overwhelming reliance on military and economic pressure rather than on negotiations to influence North Korea’s …

Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to

To Liberate Cambodia

A long-standing French protectorate briefly occupied by Japan during World War II, Cambodia became independent in 1953 as the French finally withdrew from Indochina. Under the leadership of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia remained officially neutral, including during the subsequent US war on Indochina. However, by the mid-1960s, parts of the eastern provinces of Cambodia were bases for North Vietnamese Army and National Liberation Front (NVA/NLF) forces operating against South Vietnam and this resulted in nearly a decade of bombing by the United States from 4 October 1965.

In 1970 Sihanouk was ousted in a US-supported coup led by General …

The Carillion Collapse: Corporate Sickness in May’s Britain

Britain is ill, and even as the opportunists and populists scramble before the hardened negotiators of the European Union over imminent exit, revising optimistic forecasts and notions of sovereign greatness has begun.  Within Theresa May’s decaying state comes yet another economic disaster, and one that has prompted a revival of government assistance before the vicissitudes of the market. This, from a Tory government extolling the divine nature of free market enterprise.

Carillion, the UK’s second biggest construction company, is in a mammoth pickle, one to the tune of £1.5 billion.  It has gone into liquidation after the weekend failure to reach …

Interview with Andre Vltchek for Farhikhtegan Newspaper in Iran

Mostafa Afzalzadeh: Why do you think the western countries are trying to use people against Iran and not use military force? What is the difference?

Andre Vltchek: It is because Iran is ‘not alone’. If the West were to dare use military force against Iran, directly, there would be an immediate response from many countries on Earth. I believe that Iran’s allies, like Russia, several Latin American countries, but also most likely China, would not sit idle. I am not saying that they would immediately send their armies and begin fighting the U.S. and European forces, but I am certain that …

The Punditry of Shithole Thinking

We are the enemy looking in the mirror ... no matter how many times we check out Twitter Trump

Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke’s elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes.

— Chris Hedges, “Corpses of Souls”

Here’s a thought experiment for social workers …

Monbiot Is a Hypocrite and a Bully

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has ever been possible before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his …

Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo

On Thursday, January 11, the sixteenth anniversary of the opening of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was marked by a coalition of 15 human rights organizations gathered in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in Washington, DC. An interfaith prayer service was followed by a rally featuring song and poetry and addresses by activists from the sponsoring organizations, including attorneys for some of those detained at Guantanamo, few of these charged with any crime and some cleared for release years ago. Despite his declaration that “In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and …

Dr. King and Ms. Baker

I woke up this morning thinking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And then I began thinking about Ella Baker, whose model of “group-centered leadership” I have recently been meditating on and writing about.

I heard Dr. King speak in person twice during the 60’s, once at Grinnell College in Iowa a few months before he was assassinated. When he was killed 50 years ago, on April 4th, 1968, I began what became 50 years of progressive activism by posting a petition to Congress on the wall of the student mail room that night. About half the students had signed it …

President Emmanuel Macron in China

Since coming to power, Emmanuel Macron has given the impression of forging ahead with new agendas and ideas crafted from a novel perspective.  This has been far from the case.  True, the man’s novelty has shone through in doing what seemed to be the undoable: establish a power base against traditional power-brokers and carve out a good slice of the electoral pie, all the time claiming to pursue an agenda shaped on radical reform.  But Macron remains a creature cut from the cloth of establishment thinking.

So, when he paraded before the Chinese leadership at the invitation of Chinese President Xi …

Textbook Example of the Theory of Conceptual-Commodity-Value-Management in Action

(Any Labor Theory of Value, Bourgeois or Marxist, is completely Obsolete and Outmoded in Explaining the Corporate-Capitalist Reaction to the Recent Minimum Wage Increase in Ontario, Canada)

Recently, the Ontario Liberal government raised the minimum wage for workers to 14 dollars, with a further increase set for next year to 15 dollars. The idea was that the increase in the minimum wage would alleviate the financial stress of the majority of the workforce and enable the workforce to pay-off debt and ease its financial burden of subsisting within contemporary bourgeois society. The raise was brought into effect January 1st, 2018. And right on cue, a litany of corporate-enterprises raised their commodity-prices, across the board, almost unanimously, on January 1st, 2018, arguing that all the price increases were …

Why So Little Empathy and Compassion Within American Culture?

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas; the class which is the ruling material force in society is at the same time the ruling intellectual force.
— Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Setting aside the 3-4 percent of the U.S. population that can be classified as psychopaths (‘snakes in suits’ at the highest levels of government, business and the military) what can we say about an entire society that displays an anaesthetized conscience towards the suffering of others and towards the ecological commons itself?

We know that many hear the “cry of the people” but the moral …

41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo

January 11, 2018 marked the 16th year that Guantanamo prison has exclusively imprisoned Muslim men, subjecting many of them to torture and arbitrary detention.
Witness Against Torture demonstrators marching to the White House (Credit: Justin Norman)
About thirty people gathered in Washington D.C., convened by Witness Against Torture, (WAT), for a week-long fast intended to close Guantanamo and abolish torture forever. Six days ago, Matt Daloisio arrived from New York City in a van carefully packed with twelve years’ worth of posters and banners, plus sleeping bags, winter …

Brexit, Corbyn and Trade Unions

Interview with Steve Hedley

RMT demonstration at King’s Cross Station in London (RMT Photo)
A broken-down consensus and a resurgence of socialist ideas – this is how Steve Hedley describes the current political landscape in the United Kingdom. Hedley is the Senior Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, the RMT. In this interview he guides us through the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the turmoil in the ruling Conservative government and the leftward steer of the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Shithole Countries of Donald Trump

As an American of Norwegian descent, I deeply resent President Trump’s recent statement, calling Haiti a “shithole country” and then in the same breath saying he wants more immigrants from Norway. That is not a compliment to Norwegians; it’s just a disgusting way to talk.

But let’s look at what he said. By “shithole” I assume he means that Haiti is economically poor, and that’s certainly true. Nevertheless, Haitians have an inspiring tradition of fighting for liberty, one that we can all envy. In 1804 they held history’s only successful slave rebellion, freeing themselves from the French plantation owners. Unfortunately, it’s …

On Being a Social Justice and Peace Activist

Browsing the Internet, one can find a deluge of entries on social justice and peace activists, but very little about their own introspections on how they see and feel themselves as activists.

Seeking to fill at least partially that void I aim to explore in this article what it is like to be an activist in America for social justice and peace. I will do this in four ways.

First, since this journal is read by activists with varying levels and types of activity I will ask them about their activism. How would you answer the following questions?

Your Activist Self Checklist

a) Type …

BBC Debate About Equal Pay Misses Bigger Point

One can be resolutely in favour of equal pay for men and women and still view the current debate about discriminatory salaries among senior BBC journalists as missing a much bigger point. That is neatly illustrated by the furore over comments by John Humphrys, who presents the BBC’s early morning current affairs programme Today on Radio 4.

In a leaked transcript of off-air comments, Humphrys tries to help out an old friend Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America editor – and one of those benefiting from the BBC’s higher-pay-for-men policy. In a pre-interview chat, he seeks to agree with Sopel how …

Transition Towns Offer Hope for the Future

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!
— Donald J. Trump

Reading tweets like this from President Trump incites a mixture of humour and sadness in me.  I can’t even tell which sentiment is stronger at this point.  Since his exiting the US from the Paris Agreement last year it is difficult to take this person seriously about any utterance he makes on the …

The Persecution of Julian Assange

We need a political intervention to make this situation end. He (Assange) is the only political prisoner in Western Europe.

Juan Branco

The persecution of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is now seven years old. Ecuador has protected Assange for the past half decade from being turned over to Washington by the corrupt Swedish and British for torture and prosecution as a spy by giving Assange political asylum inside the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. Ecuador has now given citizenship to Assange and attempted to provide his safe transit out of England by giving him diplomatic status, but the British …

The Responsibility to Protect the World from the United States

One of the most ingenious propaganda weapons ever developed is that the powerful nations of the West—led by the United States—have a moral responsibility to use military force to protect the rights of people being repressed by their governments. This “responsibility to protect” (R2P) always had a dubious legal standing, but its moral justification also required a psychological and historical disengagement from the bloody reality of the 500-hundred-year history of U.S. and European colonialism, slavery, genocide and torture that created the “West.”

This violent, lawless Pan-European colonial/capitalist project continues today under the hegemony of the U.S. empire. This then begs the …