In Hiroshima's Shadow : The Iran Gamble World War III Billed As A Regional Conflict Plus Other Disturbing News Of The Day!
August 6, the anniversary of Hiroshima, should be a day of somber reflection, not only on the terrible events of that day in 1945, but also on what they revealed: that humans, in their dedicated quest to extend their capacities for destruction, had finally found a way to approach the ultimate limit.
This year‚ Aug. 6 memorials have special significance. They take place shortly before the 50th anniversary of, "the most dangerous moment in human history," in the words of the historian and John F. Kennedy adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., referring to the Cuban missile crisis.
Graham Allison writes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that Kennedy, "ordered actions that he knew would increase the risk not only of conventional war but also nuclear war," with a likelihood of perhaps 50 percent, he believed, an estimate that Allison regards as realistic.
Kennedy declared a high-level nuclear alert that authorized, "NATO aircraft with Turkish pilots ... (or others) ... to take off, fly to Moscow, and drop a bomb."
None were more shocked by the discovery of missiles in Cuba than the men in charge of the similar missiles that the U.S. had secretly deployed in Okinawa six months earlier, surely aimed at China, at a moment of elevated regional tensions.
Kennedy took Chairman Nikita Khrushchev, "right to the brink of nuclear war and he looked over the edge and had no stomach for it," according to Gen. David Burchinal, then a high-ranking official in the Pentagon planning staff. One can hardly count on such sanity forever.
Khrushchev accepted a formula that Kennedy devised, ending the crisis just short of war. The formula‚ boldest element, Allison writes, was, "a secret sweetener that promised the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey within six months after the crisis was resolved." These were obsolete missiles that were being replaced by far more lethal, and invulnerable, Polaris submarines.
In brief, even at high risk of war of unimaginable destruction, it was felt necessary to reinforce the principle that U.S. has the unilateral right to deploy nuclear missiles anywhere, some aimed at China or at the borders of Russia, which had previously placed no missiles outside the USSR. Justifications of course have been offered, but I do not think they withstand analysis.
An accompanying principle is that Cuba had no right to have missiles for defense against what appeared to be an imminent U.S. invasion. The plans for Kennedy‚ terrorist programs, Operation Mongoose, called for, "open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime," in October 1962, the month of the missile crisis, recognizing that, "final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention."
The terrorist operations against Cuba are commonly dismissed by U.S. commentators as insignificant CIA shenanigans. The victims, not surprisingly, see matters rather differently. We can at last hear their voices in Keith Bolender‚, "Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba."
The events of October 1962 are widely hailed as Kennedy‚ finest hour. Allison offers them as, "a guide for how to defuse conflicts, manage great-power relationships, and make sound decisions about foreign policy in general." In particular, today‚ conflicts with Iran and China.
Disaster was perilously close in 1962, and there has been no shortage of dangerous moments since. In 1973, in the last days of the Arab-Israeli war, Henry Kissinger called a high-level nuclear alert. India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war. There have been innumerable cases when human intervention aborted nuclear attack only moments before launch after false reports by automated systems. There is much to think about on Aug. 6.
Allison joins many others in regarding Iran‚ nuclear programs as the most severe current crisis, "an even more complex challenge for American policymakers than the Cuban missile crisis," because of the threat of Israeli bombing.
The war against Iran is already well underway, including assassination of scientists and economic pressures that have reached the level of, "undeclared war," in the judgment of the Iran specialist Gary Sick.
Great pride is taken in the sophisticated cyberwar directed against Iran. The Pentagon regards cyberwar as, "an act of war," that authorizes the target, "to respond using traditional military force," The Wall Street Journal reports. With the usual exception: not when the U.S. or an ally is the perpetrator.
The Iran threat has recently been outlined by Gen. Giora Eiland, one of Israel‚ top military planners, described as, "one of the most ingenious and prolific thinkers the (Israeli military) has ever produced."
Of the threats he outlines, the most credible is that, "any confrontation on our borders will take place under an Iranian nuclear umbrella." Israel might therefore be constrained in resorting to force. Eiland agrees with the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence, which also regard deterrence as the major threat that Iran poses.
The current escalation of the, "undeclared war," against Iran increases the threat of accidental large-scale war. Some of the dangers were illustrated last month when a U.S. naval vessel, part of the huge deployment in the Gulf, fired on a small fishing boat, killing one Indian crew member and wounding at least three others. It would not take much to set off a major war.
One sensible way to avoid such dread consequences is to pursue, "the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons," the wording of Security Council resolution 687 of April 1991, which the U.S. and U.K. invoked in their effort to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq 12 years later.
The goal has been an Arab-Iranian objective since 1974, regularly re-endorsed, and by now it has near-unanimous global support, at least formally. An international conference to consider ways to implement such a treaty may take place in December.
Progress is unlikely unless there is mass public support in the West. Failure to grasp the opportunity will, once again, lengthen the grim shadow that has darkened the world since that fateful Aug. 6.
August 1st, 2012 11:10 pm
If you’re the son or daughter of a billionaire, now is the time to act. Convince your parents to donate millions of dollars to one of the Super PAC’s trying to get Mitt Romney elected.
Here’s the sell: Mom, Dad, Mitt is going to give you millions in tax breaks over his four years in office, according to a new study by the non-partisan Brookings Institute. But don’t just think of yourself. Think of me. I could get billions! Mitt wants to completely eliminate the Estate Tax, which is only paid by one out of 1000 Americans. This would effectively make me as much of a billionaire as you are without me doing anything except being born to the best parents in the world.
Of course, the benefits Mitt is offering to his billionaire donors aren’t limited to billions in tax breaks to them and their kids. There’s also rampant deregulation, potential wars and possibly even a shoe contract.
Meet five of the thirty-two billionaires who are spending big to put Mitt in the White House and who accordingly want big things in return.
Mitt Romney wants to destroy public education in the US and get rid of the Department of Education.
I am not inventing this: you can read all about it in his education white paper entitled “A Chance for Every Child: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education” with a forward by Jeb Bush, no less. If you believe that destroying public education as we know it and turning our schools over to the private sector will solve its problems, then this plan is for you.
The central themes of the Romney plan are a rehash of Republican education ideas from the past thirty years. Here’s how Romney is planning to destroy public education:
1. Subsidizing parents who want to send their child to a private or religious school. Romney offers complete support for using taxpayer money to pay for private school vouchers, privately managed charters, for-profit online schools, and almost every other alternative to public schools.
2. Encouraging the private sector to operate schools. To cut costs, Romney encourages the proliferation of for-profit online universities. Romney’s plan says that no new money is needed because more spending on schools will not fix our problems. However, he proposes to dedicate more taxpayer money to the priorities that he favors, such as vouchers, charter schools, and online schools.
3. Putting commercial banks in charge of the federal student loan program. Romney claims that more federal aid leads to higher tuition, so he offers no new federal funding to help students crippled by debt. Instead, Romney would encourage involvement of the private sector by having commercial banks serve as the intermediary for federal student loans. Obama eliminated this approach in 2012 as too costly.
4. Holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ test scores. Romney also wants more federal money to reward states for “eliminating or reforming teacher tenure and establishing systems that focus on effectiveness in advancing student achievement.” In other words, Romney is willing to hand out money to states if they eliminate due process rights for teachers and if they pay more to teachers whose students get higher scores on standardized tests and get rid of teacher whose students do not.
5. Lowering entrance requirements for new teachers. Romney takes a strong stand against certification of teachers, the minimal state-level requirement that future teachers must pass either state or national tests to demonstrate their knowledge and skill, which he considers an unnecessary hurdle.
6. Eliminating the need to limit class size. Romney apparently believes that class size does not matter (although presumably it mattered to him when he chose a school with small classes for his own children).
7. Eliminating teachers’ rights. In the vision presented by Romney, public dollars would flow to schools that teach creationism. Anyone could teach, without passing any test of their knowledge and skills and without any professional preparation. Teachers could also be fired for any reason, without any protection of their freedom to teach.
This is all very, very scary for us public school teachers.
As if that were not enough, Diane Ravitch, writing in The New York Review of Books, notes:
Paradoxically, Romney’s campaign takes credit for the fact that Massachusetts leads the nation in reading and mathematics on the federal tests known as National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
But Romney was not responsible to the state’s academic success, which is owing to reforms that are entirely different from the ones he is now proposing for the country (my italics). Signed into law a full decade before Romney began his tenure as governor in 2003, the Massachusetts Education Reform Act involved a commitment by the state to double state funding of public education from $1.3 billion in 1993 to $2.6 billion by 2000; to provide a minimum foundation budget for every district to meet its needs, to develop strong curricula for subjects such as science, history, the arts, foreign languages, mathematics, and English; to put into effect a testing program based on the curriculum; to expand professional development for teachers; and to test would-be teachers. In the late 1990s – again, before Romney assumed office – the state added new funds for early childhood education.
Candidate Romney should explain how privatizing the way we school our children will further his goal of “restoring the promise of American education.”
Here’s what John Adams had to say about public education (with thanks again to Diane Ravitch):
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expenses of it.. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”
Message to candidate Romney from an experienced educator: Restoring American education means supporting public schools, not destroying them.
The Romney campaign may want senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom to stop talking. The man who gave the 2012 campaign “Etch-a-Sketch” strategy has now declared that issues that affect women are simply “shiny objects” that distract voters from more important topics.
Appearing on This Week With George Stephanopolus, Fehrnstrom said, “Mitt Romney is pro-life. He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”
That will be news not only to the women who have been fighting against abortion restrictions, but to Republicans themselves. Since gaining power in 2011, Republicans across the country have pushed a rash of draconian anti-choice restrictions, including attempting to ban sex-selective abortion restrictions in just the last week.
Romney himself repeatedly has hit on social themes in the election, blasting President Barack Obama for requiring employers to provide birth control as part of preventative coverage — despite having done the same as governor of Massachusetts.
Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter reacted with incredulity to the statement.
“If it’s not a social issue election then why did Mitt Romney just spend the last year campaigning on social issues?” Cutter asked. “These are his positions that he’s taken. Whether it’s giving bosses control over whether female employees can get contraception, being for the so-called personhood amendment that would ban all forms of abortion or telling the American people that he’ll get back to them on whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter, which is an economic issue and it should be a no-brainer, but the governor couldn’t even bring himself to be for that.”
Perhaps most galling is the idea that issues like abortion, fair pay and equal rights are just “shiny objects.” The girl turned away from an Oklahoma hospital after being raped was not a shiny object; she was a hurt, scared person who just wanted to get medical treatment. That care might have included emergency contraception, though, and thanks to so-called “conscience” laws, doctors who don’t believe in birth control don’t have to treat patients.
For the tens of millions of American women who have had abortions, and the hundreds of millions of American men and women who have used contraception, the right to access health services is not a distraction. It is a core right, one as basic as the right to free speech, or freedom of religion. Those aren’t distractions. They’re vital.
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