Sunday, April 27, 2008


By Larry Gara
(850 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

If the United States continues on its path toward the militarization of society, sooner or later there will be serious calls to reactivate the draft. Indeed, the law now requires all young men to register with Selective Service at age 18, and draft boards wait on a standby basis. The military is stretched to the limit, the country is in a state of nearly permanent war, and reactivating the draft offers a tempting solution. It would be a tragic mistake...

....The Supreme Court has rejected arguments that the draft is unconstitutional, even though the 13th Amendment specifically outlaws “involuntary servitude.” Despite the fact that dictatorships inevitably impose conscription, some still insist that Selective Service is inherently democratic. Some also argue that a draft makes peace more likely because, when every family is affected, everyone resists the idea of going to war. History and experience do not support this idea. The draft certainly did not keep us out of war in Korea or Vietnam, for example. Indeed, having a reliable and renewable supply of manpower is more likely to encourage elements in any government that support military adventures. Instead, we need an imaginative foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy and strengthens international agreements...

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Larry Gara, Emeritus Professor of History at Wilmington College, is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly articles.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


By Fred Struckmeyer
(434 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

Jimmy Carter has just gone to Damascus to talk to the Hamas leadership—the very people whom the current Israeli government has refused to talk to. Or, when it does talk, it is always from a top-dog standpoint. Someone may point out that the Palestinians have been a bottom-dog position pretty much since 1948, but their situation has very much worsened in recent months. A fuel cut-off from Israel is the latest sign of this.

Former President Carter was vilified, several years ago, when the published a book entitled
Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. The title alone was enough to outrage many in Israel and, especially, in the United States. Comparing the situation of the Palestinians to that of pre-1990 blacks in South Africa was beyond the pale, they alleged. Israel is the only genuine democracy in the Middle East. It has necessarily had to take somewhat drastic measures to protect itself against Palestinian and other Arab enemies. And these days it has a major worry in the form of a bellicose Iran, who may be on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons.

The real objection to Carter’s book seems to be its even-handedness...

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Fred Struckmeyer is Chair of the Philosophy Department at West Chester University.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Our Money is Off to War

By Randy Schutt
(687 words)

A longer version of this article, with detailed references and four graphs (also available), is posted on Daily Kos

Massive federal deficits, not enough money for social programs. Where have all our tax dollars gone?

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, $549 billion --or 52.7% of discretionary federal funds --went to the military. Discretionary funds exclude expenditures for Social Security, Medicare, and federal highways since these programs are paid from dedicated taxes maintained in separate trust funds, as well as interest paid on the national debt which is not "discretionary." Discretionary funds are derived from our income taxes, corporation taxes, excise taxes, and estate taxes.

In the current year (FY2008), military spending is estimated to be $604 billion -- an unprecedented expenditure. This represents an average of about $5,300 from each household. Military spending in inflation-adjusted dollars is now 58% greater than in FY2000, greater than at any time during the Cold War, and even greater than during the peak spending years of the Vietnam War and the Korean War.

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Randy Schutt is Vice-President of Cleveland Peace Action and author of Inciting Democracy: A Practical Proposal for Creating a Good Society.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Earth Day and War

By Tom H. Hastings
(600 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

It was still dark on Earth Day, 1996, and we were out in the northern boreal forest of Wisconsin at a military facility, committing felonies. Indeed, by the end of the day we were charged with two felonies each, and facing 15 years in prison each. Sabotage (10 years) and Destruction of Property (5 years). All in a day’s work for peace and the Earth...

...This is a system that defiled democracy and caused cancer. We proved the anti-democracy aspect by our political activism in Wisconsin and Michigan—scarcely a politician from either state could be found who supported the two-state system. We proved the ecological and health problems by a successful 1984 federal lawsuit (State of Wisconsin and Marquette County, Michigan versus the U.S. Navy and “honorable” Casper Weinberger).

But the U.S. Navy did then what it continues to do today—when threatened with environmental laws it and all branches of the military claim national security and a cloak wraps their actions...

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Tom H. Hastings is author of Ecology of War and Peace: Counting Costs of Conflict, and several other books. He is core faculty in the Portland State University Conflict Resolution Masters degree program and may be reached at