March 2012

The Pledge of Resistance Could Change the Game Against a War with Iran

If you sometimes find yourself at a bit of a loss of what to make of the on-again, off-again drumbeat for war with Iran, you should at least have the consolation that you're in good company. Close students of U.S. and Israeli policy who oppose war have expressed divergent views about how great the threat of war is, especially in the shorter run. (There is much less divergence about the long-term prospects: if there is no progress on the diplomatic front, the weight of expert opinion is that the long-term prognosis is very bad, from the point of view of avoiding war.)

The problem of accurately perceiving the danger is complicated by the multiple motivations of those currently being the war drums. Clearly, among other things, the war drums are a political gambit to attack President Obama and elect Romney. The war drums are also a channel-changer from the continued dispossession of the Palestinians and the political shifts in the Middle East brought about by the Arab Spring. At the same time, the war drums are part of a campaign to constrict political space for a diplomatic resolution with Iran, thereby making war with Iran more likely in the future.

The lack of urgency resulting from this murky picture presents a dilemma for anti-war activists. If people were convinced that there were a 90% chance of war in the next three months, if the White House were leading a crusade for war, many people would be in the streets.

But that is not the situation we are in. Our situation is more akin to what one analyst described as a "slow-motion Cuban missile crisis." We are on a path to war with Iran, but we are not on a quick path to war with Iran. We are on a slow path to war with Iran.

Senator Rand Paul Calls the Question on War with Iran

Before we have a war with Iran, shouldn't the Senate and the House have at least one debate and vote on it? Isn't that what the Constitution demands? Isn't that what is demanded by the War Powers Resolution (which, despite its name, is binding law)?

If you agree to the principle that Congress should debate and vote on a war with Iran before any such war takes place (which also happens to be the Constitution and the law), when do you think a good time would be for the Senate and the House to start taking up the question? Should we wait until after there is further escalation? Should we wait until after some real or invented Persian Gulf of Tonkin incident, when Members of Congress can be steamrolled by cable news and right-wing talk radio? Or should we start having the debate now, when rational argument still has a chance, so that Members of Congress will be forced to choose sides between American generals, who oppose war with Iran, and the Israeli Prime Minister, who wants war with Iran?

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul thinks we should have the debate right now.

On Tuesday, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to oppose unanimous consent of a new Iran sanctions bill so he could introduce an amendment that would ensure that nothing in the act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran or Syria, and affirm that any use of military force must be authorized by Congress.

For My Mother: Don't Let Larry Summers Lead the World Bank

Life has a way sometimes of throwing two superficially unrelated things across your path simultaneously in a way that forces you to contemplate their underlying connections.

Even at this late date, press reports suggest that President Obama is still considering nominating Larry Summers to be the next President of the World Bank.

Yesterday morning, my mother passed away.

So, as I'm contemplating the sweep of my mother's educational, professional, and personal accomplishments across the course of her life, I'm also contemplating reports that President Obama is still thinking about nominating the guy who suggested that women innately can't compete at the top of math and science to be the next President of the World Bank.

I can't offer my mother as a direct counterexample to Larry Summers' infamous suggestion that you can explain the relative absence of women in the top reaches of math and science on the basis of innate differences between men and women, at least in a narrow sense. As it happens, my mother did not especially excel in math and science.

But the arc of my mother's professional and intellectual life is evidence of a broader and more fundamental counterclaim, one that should by rights stand in the ranks of "obvious insights," but which political experience shows must be continuously nailed to the wall of public consciousness: the life choices that people make and the aptitude that they display in different arenas are massively and continuously shaped by their perceptions of social expectations.

JFP 3/20: Summers World Bank bid in trouble; US officials warn Israeli attack would hurt US

Just Foreign Policy News, March 20, 2012
Summers World Bank bid in trouble; US officials warn Israeli attack would hurt US


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Larry Summers World Bank bid in trouble, Mexico insists on open process
US Treasury had let it be known that it was going to call the shots and Europe was going to go along. But when Timothy Geithner's candidate turned out to be Larry Summers, Europe refused to go along. Meanwhile, Mexico welcome's Jeff Sachs' candidacy and renews its call for an open, merit-based process.
http://www.truth-out.org/larry-summers-world-bank-bid-trouble-mexico-insists-open-process/1332175203

Public Citizen: Forget Larry
Public Citizen has launched a campaign against the possible nomination of Larry Summers to be President of the World Bank. Their website has sections called "Math is Hard" (referring to the scandal over Summers' comments on women's intellectual ability) and "Let Them Eat Waste" (referring to the scandal over Summers' "Africa is underpolluted" memo.)
http://forgetlarry.org/

Robert Weissman: The Summers of Our Discontent

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With Larry Summers' World Bank Bid in Trouble, Mexico Insists on Open Process

Early last week the New York Times reported that despite all the previous fine rhetoric about the G20 and consultation and open process, the US Treasury Department had decided to rule by decree and impose its own candidate for the next president of the World Bank, the G20 be damned. U.S. officials informed G20 officials that the US intended to "retain control of the bank," as the Times put it. According to the Times, the G20 countries grumbled but showed no sign of being willing to fight Treasury. The U.S. candidate would be a "lock," the Times said, "since Europe will almost certainly support whomever Washington picks."

 

Since the International Monetary and the World Bank were created, the US and Europe - which control around half of the voting shares of these institutions - have colluded behind closed doors to determine the institutions' top leaders, with Europe selecting the head of the IMF with US support and the US selecting the head of the World Bank with European support. In recent years, developing countries have complained loudly about this practice - a practice which would be illegal if the World Bank were subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act - and under pressure the World Bank has adopted governance reforms that are supposed to guarantee an "open, merit-based process" in selecting the President. But Treasury was claiming that there wasn't going to be any open process, it was going to be Treasury diktat.

But over the course of the last few days, the world has changed.

JFP 3/16: Karzai demands US pullback; Taliban break off peace talks; Diplomacy Needs a Win

Just Foreign Policy News, March 16, 2012
Karzai demands US pullback; Taliban break off peace talks; Diplomacy Needs a Win


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The Hill: Mr. President: Nominate Jeffrey Sachs
The Hill publishes Conyers' letter to President Obama, with 27 signatures. No response from the White House yet.
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/216343-rep-john-conyers-jr-d-mich

Action: Support Barbara Lee's bill to end the war in Afghanistan
Tell your Representative to help end the war in Afghanistan by co-sponsoring H. 780, which would limit funding for the Afghan war to funds necessary for a safe withdrawal.
Call the Capitol Switchboard toll-free 877-429-0678.
Or send an email:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hr780

Nouriel Roubini: "I strongly support the candidacy of Jeffrey Sachs for the Presidency of the World Bank"

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JFP 3/14: Americans Oppose Israeli Strike; GOP dissent grows on Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News, March 14, 2012
Americans Oppose Israeli Strike; GOP dissent grows on Afghanistan


Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just. Help us press for an end to the war in Afghanistan and spread opposition to a new war with Iran,
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Action: Support Barbara Lee's bill to end the war in Afghanistan
Tell your Representative to help end the war in Afghanistan by co-sponsoring H. 780, which would limit funding for the Afghan war to funds necessary for a safe withdrawal.
Call the Capitol Switchboard toll-free 877-429-0678.
Or send an email:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hr780

Drone Summit in Washington, DC, April 28, 2012
Drone-strike victims, human rights advocates, robotics technology experts, journalists and activists gather for a summit on Saturday, April 28 to inform the public about the widespread and rapidly expanding deployment of both killer and surveillance drones. Cosponsored by CODEPINK, Reprieve, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
http://codepink.org/article.php?id=6065

Amnesty International Urges Sec. Clinton to Withhold Certification Required for Military Aid to Egypt

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Call-In to End the War in Afghanistan, Support H. 780

This week, peace groups around the country are calling Congress with the message: end the Afghanistan war now! Call your Representative at 877-429-0678 and tell him or her to support and co-sponsor H. 780, which would limit funding for the war to funds that are necessary for a safe and orderly withdrawal. Check the link to see whether your Rep is already a co-sponsor--if so, thank him or her for their support, and tell them to everything in their power to promote the bill and its mission.

When you're done with your call, report it below.

JFP 3/13: Reps. urge State to end Honduras aid; Rendell probed on MEK pay

Just Foreign Policy News, March 13, 2012
Reps. urge State to end Honduras aid; Rendell probed on MEK pay


Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just. Help us press for an end to the war in Afghanistan and spread opposition to a new war with Iran,
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

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Politico: Malou Innocent (CATO) and Robert Naiman (JFP): Afghanistan shooting shows U.S. should stop treading water
Recent events have highlighted the growing animosity between U.S. and Afghan forces - animosity likely to be fatal to current U.S. plans for a long-term U.S. presence. Accelerating the withdrawal of U.S. military forces would most likely save us from a costly strategic defeat in the future.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73892.html

Mark Weisbrot: Why Jeffrey Sachs would make a better World Bank president
Sachs understands how conditions imposed by the World Bank have harmed developing countries' economies. He'd reform that.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/mar/08/jeffrey-sachs-better-world-bank-president

Dean Baker: Larry Summers: The Wrong Person for World Bank President

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94 Reps. urge Clinton to suspend aid to Honduras; 7 Senators ask State for info on Honduran compliance

On March 12, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 93 fellow House members sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise the alarm over human rights violations in Honduras where human rights defenders, journalists, community leaders and opposition activists are subject to death threats, attacks and extrajudicial executions.

The letter asks the State Department “to suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police given the credible allegations of widespread, serious violations of human rights attributed to the security forces.” The letter also asks the State Department to continue efforts to pressure the Honduran government to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, investigate and prosecute abuses in the Bajo Aguán region and throughout the country, give an accounting of the specific status of cases, and hold accountable private security companies that have acted with impunity.

The Schakowsky letter is here.

On March 5, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and six other Senators sent a letter to  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, raising concerns over human rights violations in Honduras and requesting information from the State Department concerning whether Honduran authorities are adequately complying with provisions of the FY2012 Appropriations Act.

The Mikulski letter is here.