William J. Astore’s Thoughts on a Saturday Afternoon

Weekends are a good time to sit back, reflect, and think. Here are a few ideas I’ve been thinking about:

1. Remember 9/11/2001? Of course you do. Almost everyone back then seemed to compare it to Pearl Harbor, another date that would live in infamy – and that was a big mistake. In 1941, the USA was attacked by another sovereign nation. In 2001, we were attacked by a small group of terrorists. But international terrorism was nothing new, and indeed the U.S. was already actively combating Al Qaeda. The only new thing was the shock and awe of the 9/11 attacks – especially the images of the Twin Towers collapsing.

By adopting the Pearl Harbor image, our response was predetermined, i.e. the deployment of the US military to wage war. Even that wasn’t necessarily a fatal mistake, if we’d stopped with Afghanistan and overthrowing the Taliban. But, as Henry Kissinger said, Afghanistan wasn’t enough. Someone else had to pay, in this case the unlucky Iraqis. And then the US military was stuck with two occupations that it was fated to lose. And millions of Afghan and Iraqi people suffered for our leaders’ mistakes.

Continue reading “William J. Astore’s Thoughts on a Saturday Afternoon”

Rep. Ro Khanna Says Fellow Democrats Should Support Diplomacy With North Korea

On Monday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), joined by 14 fellow Democratic United States House of Representatives members, sent a letter to President Donald Trump supporting Trump pursuing diplomacy and “incremental progress” with North Korea. The letter also expresses concern about efforts toward peace being hindered by people – both Republican and Democrat, and both inside and outside the Trump administration – seeking “to scuttle progress by attempting to limit the parameters of the talks, including by insisting on full and immediate denuclearization or other unrealistic commitments by North Korea at an early date.”

The Khanna letter contrasts with a letter seven US Senate Democrats sent Trump last week that argues several major North Korean concessions should be required in any deal. The signers of that earlier letter include two top Democratic leaders in the Senate – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) – as well as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Continue reading “Rep. Ro Khanna Says Fellow Democrats Should Support Diplomacy With North Korea”

Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?

Emmy nominations are ongoing. Veterans For Peace recently announced it will place this full-page ad in Variety urging an Emmy not be awarded to the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary, The Vietnam War. The Hollywood Reporter has refused to run the ad. Here, Vietnam veteran, Doug Rawlings, adds his voice to why the filmmakers should not get a Best Documentary award.

By the time I reached Episode Four in this ten-episode film, I concluded it should not be touted as an Emmy Award winning documentary.

Episode Four "Resolve," is the story of 1966, a year that the producers of this film have designated as the time when doubt began to worm its way into American troops. This doubt sows the breeding ground for what we now call "moral injury."

The American soldier in Viet Nam begins to realize that his job of killing others, or supporting those who are carrying out the killing, is not divinely ordained. He is not in a just war. In fact, he is being used by others who have much more pedestrian motives – rank, saving face, gaining political favor, selling weapons.

Continue reading “Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?”

Veterans Applaud Progress for Peace in Korea

Veterans For Peace is absolutely delighted that peace is breaking out on the Korean Peninsula. We congratulate the Korean people, who cried out for peace and unity, and we applaud their leaders, who listened and acted courageously.

The joint statement from the historic summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un is a hopeful departure from hostile relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Just months ago, the two leaders were threatening nuclear war. The world can breathe much easier today.

Continue reading “Veterans Applaud Progress for Peace in Korea”

The US-Backed Assault on Yemeni Port Has Started

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

ABC News reports on the start of the Saudi coalition’s attack on the port of Hodeidah:

As many as 22 million people – three-quarters of Yemen’s population – could be at risk of losing access to necessary food and medicines they receive through the port, amid a worsening humanitarian crisis on the verge of famine that the U.N. has described as the world’s most dire.

“Any attack on or significant, long-term disruption of operations of the port will have catastrophic consequences for the people of Yemen,” Frank McManus, the International Rescue Committee’s country director in Yemen, told ABC News.

Continue reading “The US-Backed Assault on Yemeni Port Has Started”