Human Rights

Wisdom in Restraint on Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of a poster of his father, Hafez al-Assad.

The neocons are still beating the drums for U.S. military intervention in Syria, now supposedly for humanitarian reasons. But – as horrific as the Syrian violence is – it’s clear that President Obama’s restraint last summer averted making the mess even worse, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

What Mandela Did and Didn’t Do

President Obama Speaks at a Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela on Dec. 10, 2013. (White House photo)

While an inspiring tale of resilience and reconciliation, Nelson Mandela’s saga also marked a failure of black South Africans to transform their hard-won political power into economic equality, as domestic and foreign whites retained the reins of money, as Danny Schechter writes.

The Real Existential Threat

The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

Most people on Earth – everyone born after World War II – have lived their entire lives under the threat of nuclear annihilation. But just because an existential threat has always been there doesn’t mean it won’t be activated, as Ira Helfand and Robert F. Dodge reflect.

The 2nd Amendment and Killing Kids

President James Madison, a principal author of the Bill of Rights..

From the Archive: The comedy team Key and Peele cut through the Right’s Second Amendment madness best in a bit in which Peele travels back in time with Uzis to confront its authors over their careless wording. But there is nothing funny about piles of dead kids, victims of bad history, as Robert Parry wrote…

The NRA’s War on America

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

From the Archive: One year ago, 20 first-graders went off to school in Newtown, Connecticut, some surely thinking about the upcoming Christmas holidays. But they never came home, becoming – along with six of their educators – collateral damage in the NRA’s big-dollar war to boost gun sales, as Beverly Bandler noted last March.

Israel and the Bedouins

Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, a British intelligence officer who recruited Bedouin tribesmen during World War I.

Israel’s Right suddenly finds itself in a strange new world where it can’t do whatever it wants to Arabs under its control without encountering international resistance, like the recent plan to forcibly relocate Bedouins in the Negev, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

Fresh Doubts about Syria’s Sarin Guilt

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Exclusive: A new analysis, buried in a UN report, reveals that one of the two missiles at the center of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, which nearly led to a U.S. military attack, showed no evidence of Sarin, further undermining Official Washington’s certainty that the Syrian government was to blame, reports Robert Parry.

Obama’s Syria Strategy at a Crossroads

President Barack Obama speaks by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan. 12, 2012. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: The Islamic Front’s capture of a U.S.-stocked supply depot in northern Syria prompted a suspension of those shipments to “moderate” Syrian rebels. The incident also drove home how Islamists are gaining ground — and why President Obama may shift U.S. strategy, writes Robert Parry.

The Bigger Risk: Private v. Public Spying

nationalsecurityagency

The fear of NSA’s metadata collection is as much in the potential for Big Brother government as in the present – or as Edward Snowden says a “turnkey tyranny” all ready to go – but private-sector abuses are another worry, ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes.

Racism Through Rose-Colored Glasses

President Theodore Roosevelt

Many Americans tend to whitewash their country’s ugly history of racism – all the better to feel good about “exceptionalism” – but even sophisticated writers can ignore this grim reality when praising their favored presidents, as William Loren Katz explains.