January 14, 2012  

Issue 68     

The Peace Exchange Bulletin

Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.

The Long Wars
Preventing the Coming War with Iran
Who Will Draw a Red Line Against Military Intervention?


The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
During the past decade, this writer has remained skeptical about prospects of a US-supported war against Iran. The potential costs outweighed the benefits. Now, as the 2012 election year unfolds, I am not certain. The political and geo-political dynamics underscore the growing threat of war. 

It's not that Barack Obama wants an airstrike against Iran, whether by the Israelis, the Americans, or the Israelis with covert US support. My respected friends Juan Cole and Mark Weisbrot are not so sure. They think Obama is laying the groundwork, and may be right. Obama hardly needs another war with unknown costs and consequences. But presidents are not all-powerful, and Obama can be forced to acquiesce unless there is a sharp increase in serious public opposition. As Trita Parsi, director of the National Iranian American Council, told DemocracyNow on January 12:

"We may very well end up in a situation in which, rather than the governments controlling the dynamic, the dynamics will control the government...this could escalate into a full-scale war."   

Continue reading... 

The End of the "Long War" Doctrine

Obama Takes Stand Against Neo-Cons and the Pentagon  

This article appeared at  The Nation on January 13, 2012.


With this week's issuance of the Pentagon's new defense strategy, President Obama is ending the "Long War" envisioned by many neo-conservatives, counterinsurgency advocates and Pentagon hawks.


While there is much for progressives to criticize in the report-beefing up a cold war in Asia, increased cyberwarfare and secret operations-the striking new departure is the squelching of the Long War concept, projected by theorists like David Kilcullen to last another fifty years following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of trillions in tax dollars and thousands of lives.


The Long War has been opposed by some circles of the peace movement for several years, and I have written about it in The Nation and in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. However, virtually no attention was paid to the debate in the rest of the mainstream media, public debate or even in much of the alternative media. Instead, the Long War doctrine was advocated in obscure defense think tanks and among intellectual hawks in forums like the Long War Journal, a project of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which claims to receive 12,000 views per day.


Continue reading...
Next Steps in Afghanistan-Pakistan
Peace Pressure Builds Entering Election Year


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Casualties of the Long War. (Click to increase size)
The Obama administration is withdrawing the first 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan, with another 23,000 scheduled to withdraw by September 2012 during the height of the national political campaigns. It is understood by many that the Obama administration would like to accelerate the pullout, and transfer the lead combat role to Afghan troops, before the coming election. 

In response, many US military and diplomatic leaders, as well as all Republican candidates except Ron Paul, and even Afghan president Hamid Kharzai, are calling loudly for Obama to delay the troop withdraw until some sort of "victory" is secured over the Taliban. The politics of blame is very much in the air.


Obama is setting 2014 as the deadline for a massive US troop withdrawal, and a shift to an Afghan lead in combat, while the actual figures remain subject to fierce ongoing contention. The cost of Afghanistan to taxpayers thus far is $450 billion in direct funding, with total direct and indirect projected to be one trillion. In FY 2011 it has cost no less than $118.6 billion, more than double the FY 2008 bill. One thousand eight hundred sixty-two Americans have been killed in Afghanistan and another 15,000 wounded. According to the Department of Labor's latest numbers, US civilian contractor battlefield casualties include 1,115 killed and 14,297 wounded.


Continue reading...  

In This Issue
Preventing the Coming War with Iran
The End of the "Long War" Doctrine
Next Steps in Afghanistan-Pakistan
Celebrating Participatory Democracy
Judge Real Removed from Alex Sanchez Case
Obama to Order Contribution Disclosures?
American Gulag
Adam Jung on Occupy London
CIA Chutzpah: "No Surprise" We Spy at Home
Pepper Spray Safe?
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The Next Step
Port Huron at Fifty

Celebrating Participatory Democracy 


The first principle of solidarity declared by Occupy Wall Street on September 17, 2011 called for "direct and transparent participatory democracy," recalling the central aim of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society, issued fifty years earlier. All across the world this year, millions of people have demanded direct participation in the decisions affecting their lives.


The continuing importance of participatory democracy, its global appearance this year, and its enhanced prospects in the Facebook era, will be the focus of many talks, writings and meetings during this fiftieth anniversary year of the Port Huron Statement.

Continue reading... 
PJRC Exclusive
Judge Real Removed from Alex Sanchez Case


Judge Manuel Real.

Judge Manuel Real was removed as presiding judge in the gang conspiracy case involving Alex Sanchez and 17 others by an order of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday.


A new judge as well as new attorneys are being assigned to the case, which may be delayed. After being arrested in June 2009, Sanchez was freed on bail by a Ninth Circuit order in January 2010, and has been free while some 17 other defendants remain in custody.


The removal of Judge Real is widely and privately applauded by many defense attorneys in Los Angeles because of his reputation for irrationality in the courtroom. His decisions have been reversed on appeal more than any judge now on the federal bench. At one point in October 2009, the judge chastised this writer in the courtroom for publishing an article in The Nation describing Real as "surreal" and suggesting that a fair trial for Sanchez was impossible.


Continue reading... 

The Road to 2012
A Progressive Push
Obama to Order Contribution Disclosures?

President Obama may order the disclosure of $541 billion in campaign contributions by corporations with federal contracts, as a response to secret Super-Pacs and the Citizens United ruling. Such a move would infuriate defense contractors and big corporations and draw a sharp line for the 2012 elections debate.


Over 60 House members, led by Rep. Anna Eshoo, have been pushing Obama for months to issue the order. It would be an incendiary step, but would be strongly backed by citizens groups and the mainstream media. The order would be the only initiative exposing the role of money in politics during the election year.


In July 2011, Eshoo sent a letter, signed by 62 House Democrats, urging President Obama to issue the executive order. Now, according to Public Citizen, the pressure is picking up. 

American Gulag
Massive Detention


The Peace Exchange Bulletin
The federal prison in Florence, CO, has long held terrorists. The justice system has absorbed a surge of terrorism cases since 2001 without the international criticism that Guant´┐Żnamo Bay has attracted. (Photo: Chris McLean / Pueblo Chieftain)

As Congress moves to authorize the US military to intervene against dissidents at home, it is well to remember the scale of the gulag already bulging with incarcerated terrorism suspects, mostly Muslim, already on permanent lockdown. (New York Times, December 11, 2011)


Despite the surreal world of politics, it would appear that the calls for military tribunals and denunciations of civilian courts are wildly inflated for partisan ends. But few if any candidates want to risk being called "soft on terrorism."


Continue reading... 

Occupy Wall Street & Beyond
Building Relationships
Adam Jung on Occupy London


Adam Jung is an organizer for Occupy London.

Things are progressing here amazingly. We have had a much larger impact on British society and policy then I think we fully realize. In reality it has been nearly as much luck as organizing.

Ending up occupying on the steps of St. Paul's cathedral after being shoved back from the Stock Exchange created a situation that brought the Church of England to it's knees, prompting massive soul-searching and creating a sense that Occupy London was the new moral voice of the nation. The Church has now fully backed us and I meet with bishops and staff weekly to coordinate the launch of nationwide General Assemblies this March.  


I have a lot of hope for what these democratic forums can spur on, and with the backing of the unions, I think we may be able to put the government in a defensive position, and perhaps, eventually, push for the dissolution of the coalition government. A lot of the work we are doing at this time we don't do under the Occupy name. 


Continue reading... 

CIA Chutzpah
"No Surprise" We Spy at Home

That the CIA works with local American police departments "should not be a surprise to anyone," says Marie Hart, a public relations staffer with the Agency. 


The CIA, which admits to working closely with the New York police department, has opened an internal investigation into allegations of domestic spying "to make sure we are doing the right thing," according to CIA Director David Petraeus. The CIA has embedded a clandestine officer within the NYPD, and the NYPD's intelligence chief, David Cohen, is a former CIA officer.


For more, please see the New York Times, September 14, 2011.

Pepper Spray Safe?

We Still Don't Know


Police pepper spray students at a UC Davis demonstration on Friday, November 18, 2011.
The pepper spraying of

11 peaceful protesters at the University of California, Davis, provides an opportunity to reopen questions long ignored. Is oleoresin capsicum, the key ingredient of pepper spray, known to be safe? And if so, why have the authorities never performed the health risk assessments that were required by law when the weapon was introduced in 1992? Are they afraid of anything?


I was a state senator who worked on the issue when the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment was charged with conducting health studies during a three-year period in the 1990s. When the incident last month at UC Davis became a shocking global image, I checked with officials at OEHHA to see if the state has ever done a risk assessment.


The straight answer from acting director George Alexeeff last week was no. Not his agency, not the state's Department of Pesticide Regulations, either.


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