Banishing Our Diplomats

By John Frederick Kaufman The newest foreign policy news today is that Russia has retaliated for the expelling of Russian diplomats (some of whom are said to be spies) by both European nations and the United States. Russian diplomats were banished from our shores by President Trump (in a rather quiet, un-Trumpian manner) in response to the…

PEN America Issues Detailed, Disturbing Report on China’s Internet Censorship

By John Frederick Kaufman The notion that the internet would prove an unmitigated boon for the spread of democracy and human rights neglected the Achilles' heel of digital communication: online speed, reach and access can be centrally controlled, either by a few big corporations who make (and profit from) the means to transmit the stuff…

Did Trump Dump Sec. of State Tillerson to Make Diplomacy and Human Rights Even Weaker Again?

(Much to say today in a small way, which reminds me of the poems I am not writing, a sacrifice I make in the interests of public service. Time to come to the aid of the country, etc.) President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today via Twitter; if the Russians ever hack into…

President Trump Agrees, for the Moment, to Meet with North Korean Leader About Nuclear Weapons

So North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited President Trump to meet with him to discuss, reports state, possibly doing away with the North's nuclear weapons. This meeting will supposedly take place somewhere within two months. Much can happen in two months for much seems to happen every day, every hour in the Trump White…

South Korea (Not U.S.) Makes Progress on Peace with Help from the North

We can thank South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his negotiators for achieving what the Trump administration has not: an agreement by North Korea to discuss ending its nuclear weapons program. It was the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un , who actually made the first gesture toward peaceable discussion when he offered to send a…

Where’s the Diplomacy? V.P. Mike Pence Stands on Border of North Korea and Talks Tough

Vice President Mike Pence walked right up to the "demarcation line" between North and South Korea, looked around, and then went back to Seoul to issue this stirring invitation to diplomacy and peace: "Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria…

Journalists, Democrats Rally Round the Flag of War (and a Flagging President)

American journalists may be the "enemies of the American people," according to President Trump, but that didn't stop a whole lot of them from supporting Trump's order launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at one air base in Syria. The U.S. missile attack was said to be in retaliation for the Syrian army's use of chemical weapons.…

Let’s Stop Saying “Nuclear Option”

Must politicians and journalists succumb to the language of war? Or the flip side: Must we put words like "peace" on weapons of war? I'm thinking of the U.S. nuclear missiles called "peacekeepers." The "war" on this or that, we say, or the dropping of "bombs" to mean big news; the use of "killer" as an adjective synonymous with…

Bad News: Under Trump, U.S. War Escalates in Middle East & Africa

Good reporting from the NY Times today on the increasing activity of the United States' armed forces in wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Civilian casualties are on the rise and evidence suggests we are at least partly to blame. Here is a succinct summation of events in the Middle East by NY Times' reporters Ben…

It’s a Really Good Time for an Anti-War Movement

First published February 17, 2017 in The Capital Times If there is any consolation to be found in the election of President Trump, it is the opportunity to make anti-war protest great again. Most liberals/progressives were willing to overlook Hillary Clinton’s militaristic sympathies during the Democratic primary and in the national election. I certainly did,…

Why it’s Realistic to Ban Nuclear Weapons and Why U.S. Should Lead

Talks are underway this week at the United Nations in New York on a possible global treaty to officially ban all nuclear weapons. More than 120 nations are participating, but not surprisingly the nuclear nations (those that own nuclear weapons), including the United States, and various allies of them are not eager to outlaw what they…

“War is the Health of the State”–But Not People

  How's this for a grand generalization? The United States is not great at providing health care and really good at waging war. And by "good" I do not mean effectively. We wage war a lot because we can afford to and very few Americans ever personally feel its considerable terrible effects. And we don't do health care very effectively…

In Guns We Trust, Again and Again

Surely it's time to refute the great American myth our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. so believe in: an armed citizenry and war abroad will protect us from criminal and terrorist violence.  There is a sort of mass mental incongruity going on, a splitting of the political brain in which the epidemic of "mass shootings" is deplored and denounced but ignored while generally…

Let’s just build a wall around Wisconsin

Since the building of really big walls for the good of the nation is now a popular idea among some Americans, especially Republican presidential candidates and a former Republican presidential candidate,  Wisconsin Republicans now governing the state should consider building a wall around the state's borders. Such a wall would keep the wrong people out and…

“Killing Blindly in the Endless War” by Kathy Kelly

"These are people who had been working hard for months, non-stop for the past week. They had not gone home, they had not seen their families, they had just been working in the hospital to help people... and now they are dead. These people are friends, close friends. I have no words to express this.…

U.S. considering use of ground troops in Syria & Iraq. Iraq says, “No, Thanks.”

The Obama administration is apparently considering an increased role for U.S. ground troops in Syria and Iraq to combat ISIS. Here's the Washington Post: "The changes would represent a significant escalation of the American role in Iraq and Syria. They still require formal approval from Obama, who could make a decision as soon as this…

Folly of war: Intentionally bombing hospitals

What do the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia have in common? All three nations have, based on credible reports, intentionally dropped bombs on working medical facilities in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, respectively. The Associated Press reports that U.S. special forces operating in Kunduz ordered airstrikes on a known Doctors Without Borders hospital, perhaps in…