Joseph Gerson's posts

Out of the Marathon Bombings – A Conversation of Boston Area Peace Activists

A group of Boston area peace activists met on Tuesday to share what we know about Monday's bombings and to discern how best to respond to the deadly attack against our community and against people from across the nation and around the world who came to Boston to participate and enjoy the Marathon. Several of us had loved ones or close friends who would have been among the attack’s victims, had they not left the finish line area shortly before the bombings or who had yet to arrive there. First and foremost our thoughts and sympathy go out to family and friends of those killed yesterday, to those who injured and maimed, their families and friends.

Above: Vigil Tuesday night at Boston Common

With much still to be learned about who was responsible for this crime, we were clear that it is premature to be issuing statements and initiating actions. In a spirit of compassion and solidarity, those of us who can will be joining the official interfaith ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End, and other events that bring the community together in grief and the process of healing. We celebrated the courage and model of our friend Carlos Arredondo, the Gold Star father who has long been active in the peace movement, who was present at the bombing site and moved immediately and instinctively to save the lives of others.

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NATO in Crisis and Agendas for Chicago

(Published by the International Network of Engineers and Scientists, April, 2012)

Joseph GersonDespite its recent dubious military triumph in Libya, NATO is an alliance in crisis. With the rise of China and other BRIC nations and the Western economic crisis, U.S. economic power – and thus its ability to maintain historic levels of military spending and mobilization – is in relative, if not absolute, decline. NATO’s “new strategic concept”, formally adopted last year in Lisbon, was designed to compensate for this loss by increasing both the influence and burden-sharing of Washington’s European allies. In exchange for assuming greater financial and war-fighting burdens, privileged European partners are to have a greater say in the alliance’s policies and a larger share of the booty. With Europe’s economic crisis threatening to pitch the world – as IMF Managing Director Christine Legard warned – into a 1930s-like Great Depression, Europeans are understandably in no rush to financially reinforce the alliance.

The alliance faces a second major challenge: the loss of perceived legitimacy. Cold War tensions provided rationales for the alliance, but since the implosion of the Soviet Union U.S. national security managers have reiterated that Russia poses no threat of invasion. In fact, despite very real tensions over U.S./NATO missile defense deployments, Iran and Syria, the Russian and Western European economies are increasingly integrated and interdependent, with oil and natural gas as lubricants. Rather than giving priority to preparations for war with Russia, the alliance has been transformed and now focuses on “out of area” operations that could extend as far as the South China Seas. As a result, good faith arguments that the alliance exists to defend Europe from Russia are increasingly difficult to come by. Add to this NATO’s subversion of the U.N. Charter with its regime change war against Serbia; the decade old war in Afghanistan, described by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan as illegal (with the U.S. now seeking to negotiate a Karzai-Taliban coalition government;) and the violation of the U.N. mandate in Libya resulting in the replacement of the Qaddafi dictatorship with militia fueled chaos, and you have a delegitimized NATO.[1]

Thus it is hardly surprising that NATO’s agenda for its Chicago summit this May focuses on these fault lines.

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Reinforcing Washington's Asia-Pacific Hegemony

September 13, 2012 - Foreign Policy in Focus

Joseph GersonA year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled a major transformation in U.S. foreign policy in an article titled “America’s Pacific Century,” which announced the U.S. “pivot” toward Asia, the Pacific, and the strategically important Indian Ocean. “One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade,” she wrote, will be “to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise— in the Asia-Pacific region.” The increased engagement, she wrote, would be underwritten in part by “forging a broad-based military presence.”

Shortly thereafter, the Pentagon published its new “strategic guidance” paper, which, signaling at a shift away from Iraq and Central Asia, named the Asia-Pacific region and the Persian Gulf as the nation’s two geostrategic priorities. To emphasize the new commitments, Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and President Barack Obama made high-profile visits to allied Asian and Pacific nations. Republicans, in Mitt Romney’s foreign policy white paper, upped the ante, insisting that the United States “expand its naval presence in the Western Pacific” and pressure its allies to “maintain appropriate military capabilities.”

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