Month: August 2013

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’42’ and 44

President Barack Obama bending over so a boy visiting the Oval Office could feel that the President's hair was like his. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

From the Archive: American rightists and many Republicans continue to treat President Obama with a personal disrespect that reeks of racism: hoisting signs about his “Kenyan birth,” laughing at him as a rodeo clown, wishing for his impeachment hostility that recalls…

How Congress Overlooked NSA Spying

Edward Snowden, who revealed himself as the leaker of top-secret documents related to the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance. (Photo credit: the UK Guardian)

Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs might have been avoided if more members of Congress had done their duty to stay informed about these classified activities, rather than get distracted by the fluff of politics, says…

Who Benefits from the Various ‘Wars’?

President Barack Obama addresses issues of government surveillance at a press conference in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

P.R. experts are skilled at framing policy debates in favorable though misleading ways, like the “war on terror” or the “war on drugs.” What gets shielded by this packaging are the unstated goals, interests and outcomes that would draw popular opposition if…

The ‘Do-Something’ Myth in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Photo from official Website)

A common refrain in Official Washington is that President Obama should have intervened militarily in Syria’s civil war and that somehow that would have solved the problem. But there’s no reason to think that U.S. meddling would do much good,…

Struggling for Peace in Colombia

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos.

Exclusive: Normally, peace negotiators end a conflict first and then examine the war crimes later. But the long-running civil war in Colombia has such a secretive and brutal history that efforts to cease the fighting began with an investigation of the slaughter,  writes Andrés…

The Moral Imperative of Activism

St. Thomas Aquinas, a theologian of the Thirteenth Century.

Exclusive:  Today’s crises endless war, environmental catastrophe, desperate poverty and more can seem so daunting that they paralyze action rather than inspire activism. But the imperative to do something in the face of injustice defines one’s moral place in the…

No Reckoning over Agent Orange

A U.S. military helicopter spraying the defoliant Agent Orange over Vietnam during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Army photo)

Official Washington often lectures other countries on the need for accountability, especially when governments have engaged in war crimes. Yet, one of the clearest cases of a U.S. war crime the mass spraying of Vietnam with Agent Orange has escaped…

A Cold War Bias Toward Russia

President Barack Obama criticized Russian leaders for slipping back into Cold War thinking during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at the NBC Studios in Burbank, California., Aug. 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and the mainstream U.S. press are blaming Russian President Putin for the breakdown in bilateral relations, but this simplistic view ignores the many U.S. government actions over the past two decades that have offended Moscow, as ex-CIA analyst Melvin…

How US Hubris Baited Afghan Trap

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 1, 2011, watching developments in the Special Forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Neither played a particularly prominent role in the operation. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

From the Archive: Even today more than two decades after the Soviet Union disappeared the Washington press corps views U.S.-Russian disputes through a one-way Cold War lens, with Moscow always at fault. But the reality is more complicated, as Robert…

Scoring Points Over a Terror Threat

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Though it’s summer, Official Washington’s factionalism never takes a vacation. The neocons are in workaholic mode, claiming the precautionary closure of some U.S. embassies proves al-Qaeda remains a major threat, despite the fact that no terror attack has actually happened, as ex-CIA analyst Paul…