Made love got war

Ominous History In Real Time: Where We Are Now In The USA

“In the real world, financial power is political power. A system that runs on money is adept at running over people without it.”

By Norman Solomon, RootsAction

This article is adapted from the new edition of Norman Solomon’s book “Made Love, Got War,” just published as a free e-book.

The final big legislative achievement of 2021 was a bill authorizing $768 billion in military spending for the next fiscal year. President Biden signed it two days after the Christmas holiday glorifying the Prince of Peace.

Dollar figures can look abstract on a screen, but they indicate the extent of the mania. Biden had asked for “only” $12 billion more than President Trump’s bloated military budget of the previous year — but that wasn’t enough for the bipartisan hawkery in the House and Senate, which provided a boost of $37 billion instead.

Overall, military spending accounts for about half of the federal government’s total discretionary spending — while programs for helping instead of killing are on short rations at many local, state, and national government agencies. It’s a nonstop trend of reinforcing the warfare state in sync with warped neoliberal priorities. While outsized profits keep benefiting the upper class and enriching the already obscenely rich, the cascading effects of extreme income inequality are drowning the hopes of the many.

Corporate power constrains just about everything, whether healthcare or education or housing or jobs or measures for responding to the climate emergency. What prevails is the political structure of the economy.

Made love got war

Class war in the United States has established what amounts to oligarchy. A zero-sum economic system, aka corporate capitalism, is constantly exercising its power to reward and deprive. The dominant forces of class warfare — disproportionately afflicting people of color while also steadily harming many millions of whites — continue to undermine basic human rights including equal justice and economic security. In the real world, financial power is political power. A system that runs on money is adept at running over people without it.

The words “I can’t breathe,” repeated nearly a dozen times by Eric Garner in a deadly police chokehold, resonated for countless people whose names we’ll never know. The intersections of racial injustice and predatory capitalism are especially virulent zones, where many lives gradually or suddenly lose what is essential for life. Discussions of terms like “racism” and “poverty” too easily become facile, abstracted from human consequences, while unknown lives suffocate at the hands of routine injustice, systematic cruelties, the way things predictably are.

An all-out war on democracy is now underway in the United States. More than ever, the Republican Party is the electoral arm of unabashed white supremacy as well as such toxicities as xenophobia, nativism, anti-gay bigotry, patriarchy, and misogyny. The party’s rigid climate denial is nothing short of deranged. Its approach to the Covid pandemic has amounted to an embrace of death in the name of rancid individualism. With its Supreme Court justices in place, the “Grand Old Party” has methodically slashed voting rights and abortion rights. Overall, on domestic matters, the partisan matchup is between neoliberalism and neofascism. While the abhorrent roles of the Democratic leadership are extensive, to put it mildly, the two parties now represent hugely different constituencies and agendas at home. Not so on matters of war and peace.

Both parties continue to champion what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism.” When King described the profligate spending for a distant war as “some demonic, destructive suction tube,” he was condemning dynamics that endure with a vengeance. Today, the madness and the denial are no less entrenched. A militaristic core serves as a sacred touchstone for faith in America as the world’s one and only indispensable nation. Gargantuan Pentagon budgets are taken for granted, as is the assumed prerogative to bomb other countries at will.

Every budget has continued to include massive outlays for nuclear weapons, including gigantic expenditures for so-called “modernization” of the nuclear arsenal. A fact that this book cited when it was first published — that the United States had ten thousand nuclear warheads and Russia had a comparable number — is no longer true; most estimates say those stockpiles are now about half as large. But the current situation is actually much more dangerous. In 2007, the Doomsday Clock maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists pegged the world’s proximity to annihilation at five minutes to apocalyptic Midnight. As 2022 began, the symbolic hands were at one hundred seconds to Midnight. Such is the momentum of the nuclear arms race, fueled by profit-driven military contractors. Lofty rhetoric about seeking peace is never a real brake on the nationalistic thrust of militarism.

With the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the third decade of this century is shaping up to unfold new wrinkles in American hegemonic conceits. Along the way, Joe Biden has echoed a central precept of doublethink in George Orwell’s most famous novel, 1984: “War is Peace.” Speaking at the United Nations as the autumn of 2021 began, Biden proclaimed: “I stand here today, for the first time in twenty years, with the United States not at war. We’ve turned the page.” But the turned page was bound into a volume of killing with no foreseeable end. The United States remained at war, bombing in the Middle East and elsewhere, with much information withheld from the public. And increases in U.S. belligerence toward both Russia and China escalated the risks of a military confrontation that could lead to nuclear war.

A rosy view of the USA’s future is only possible when ignoring history in real time. After four years of the poisonous Trump presidency, the Biden strain of corporate liberalism offers a mix of antidotes and ongoing toxins. The Republican Party, now neofascist, is in a strong position to gain control of the U.S. government by mid-decade. Preventing such a cataclysm seems beyond the grasp of the same Democratic Party elites that paved the way for Donald Trump to become president in the first place. Realism about the current situation — clarity about how we got here and where we are now — is necessary to mitigate impending disasters and help create a better future. Vital truths must be told. And acted upon.

Norman Solomon is the national director of and the author of a dozen books including Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State, published in a new edition as a free e-book in January 2022. His other books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Martin Luther King Jr

On MLK Day, Focus On “Giant Triplets” Of Racism, Materialism and Militarism

The recent chaos caused by Covid-19 has highlighted the failures of our society’s priorities: racism, materialism, and militarism. It is time to seek new solutions and a revolution of values.

By Austin C. McCoy, Truthout

In the early weeks of the pandemic, novelist and activist Arundhati Roy brilliantly laid out the stakes of one of the coronavirus’s reverberating impacts. According to Roy, COVID-19 profoundly disrupted everyone’s modes of living under global capitalism. “It has mocked immigration controls, biometrics, digital surveillance and every other kind of data analytics, and struck hardest — thus far — in the richest, most powerful nations of the world, bringing the engine of capitalism to a halt,” she wrote. Roy then powerfully asserted that the pandemic was — among other things — “a portal,” or a moment for us to “temporarily, perhaps … make an assessment and decide whether we want to help fix it [capitalism] or look for a better engine.”

Martin Luther King Jr
Photo by Cees de Boer

The rebellions against state violence the following summer, prompted by the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and others, also contributed to the sense that we were on the precipice of a reckoning. Millions of people around the world took to the streets to protest against structural racism in a multitude of ways — marching, direct action, property destruction, and the tearing down of monuments to racism and colonialism.

Austin McCoy is an activist and assistant professor of history at Auburn University. He is also a contributor for Black Perspectives. Follow him on Twitter: @AustinMcCoy3.

Read More

Mikhail Gorbachev

Betrayal Of Gorbachev Regarding NATO Explained In Detail

Top leaders of the “Free World” all agreed that the United States would never enlarge NATO to reassure Gorbachev that the new Russia had nothing to fear from NATO.

By Sharon Tennison, Center for Citizen Initiatives

At last … 30 years plus, the truth comes out. There are numerous accounts by the top leaders of the Free World that they all agreed that the United States would never enlarge NATO to reassure Mikhail Gorbachev that the new Russia had no worry from NATO, definitely there would be no enlargement beyond the borders of the reunited Germany.

Below note how many of the VIP’s assured Gorbachev that he need have no fear … they were adamant that NATO would never move closer to the struggling-to-survive new Russia in the 1990s.

These facts below have been ignored, blurred and buried as Bill Clinton mercilessly began admitting one piece of the  former USSR into NATO. Today NATO surrounds Russia with the latest NATO missiles and troops aimed at Russia.

This is what Putin’s defiant resistance and threat to NATO in Ukraine is all about. He demands to have assurances that NATO will back off … or else. Russia is now strong enough militarily to make such demands. All of us could be caught in the crossfires if this situation isn’t resolved.

Mikhail Gorbachev
Photo by Yuryi Abramochkin

Read the article below to let it sink in how unfair, how two-faced our policies have been since Clinton began taking in former Soviet countries, several of which had fought with Hitler against the USSR in WWII. This is why today the world is facing nuclear annihilation unless Biden, et al, are ready to backtrack and be responsible and responsive toward Russia … as was intended in good faith in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”[1] The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”

President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (“I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests; but neither Bush nor Gorbachev at that point (or for that matter, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl) expected so soon the collapse of East Germany or the speed of German unification.[2]

The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990, when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’” The Bonn cable also noted Genscher’s proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO.[3]

This latter idea of special status for the GDR territory was codified in the final German unification treaty signed on September 12, 1990, by the Two-Plus-Four foreign ministers (see Document 25). The former idea about “closer to the Soviet borders” is written down not in treaties but in multiple memoranda of conversation between the Soviets and the highest-level Western interlocutors (Genscher, Kohl, Baker, Gates, Bush, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Major, Woerner, and others) offering assurances throughout 1990 and into 1991 about protecting Soviet security interests and including the USSR in new European security structures. The two issues were related but not the same. Subsequent analysis sometimes conflated the two and argued that the discussion did not involve all of Europe. The documents published below show clearly that it did.

The “Tutzing formula” immediately became the center of a flurry of important diplomatic discussions over the next 10 days in 1990, leading to the crucial February 10, 1990, meeting in Moscow between Kohl and Gorbachev when the West German leader achieved Soviet assent in principle to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east. The Soviets would need much more time to work with their domestic opinion (and financial aid from the West Germans) before formally signing the deal in September 1990.

The conversations before Kohl’s assurance involved explicit discussion of NATO expansion, the Central and East European countries, and how to convince the Soviets to accept unification. For example, on February 6, 1990, when Genscher met with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, the British record showed Genscher saying, “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.” (See Document 2)

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.

Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.” (See Document 6)

Afterwards, Baker wrote to Helmut Kohl who would meet with the Soviet leader on the next day, with much of the very same language. Baker reported: “And then I put the following question to him [Gorbachev]. Would you prefer to see a united Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no U.S. forces or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position? He answered that the Soviet leadership was giving real thought to all such options [….] He then added, ‘Certainly any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.’” Baker added in parentheses, for Kohl’s benefit, “By implication, NATO in its current zone might be acceptable.” (See Document 8)

Well-briefed by the American secretary of state, the West German chancellor understood a key Soviet bottom line, and assured Gorbachev on February 10, 1990: “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.” (See Document 9) After this meeting, Kohl could hardly contain his excitement at Gorbachev’s agreement in principle for German unification and, as part of the Helsinki formula that states choose their own alliances, so Germany could choose NATO. Kohl described in his memoirs walking all night around Moscow – but still understanding there was a price still to pay.

All the Western foreign ministers were on board with Genscher, Kohl, and Baker. Next came the British foreign minister, Douglas Hurd, on April 11, 1990. At this point, the East Germans had voted overwhelmingly for the deutschmark and for rapid unification, in the March 18 elections in which Kohl had surprised almost all observers with a real victory. Kohl’s analyses (first explained to Bush on December 3, 1989) that the GDR’s collapse would open all possibilities, that he had to run to get to the head of the train, that he needed U.S. backing, that unification could happen faster than anyone thought possible – all turned out to be correct. Monetary union would proceed as early as July and the assurances about security kept coming. Hurd reinforced the Baker-Genscher-Kohl message in his meeting with Gorbachev in Moscow, April 11, 1990, saying that Britain clearly “recognized the importance of doing nothing to prejudice Soviet interests and dignity.” (See Document 15)

The Baker conversation with Shevardnadze on May 4, 1990, as Baker described it in his own report to President Bush, most eloquently described what Western leaders were telling Gorbachev exactly at the moment: “I used your speech and our recognition of the need to adapt NATO, politically and militarily, and to develop CSCE to reassure Shevardnadze that the process would not yield winners and losers. Instead, it would produce a new legitimate European structure – one that would be inclusive, not exclusive.” (See Document 17)

Baker said it again, directly to Gorbachev on May 18, 1990 in Moscow, giving Gorbachev his “nine points,” which included the transformation of NATO, strengthening European structures, keeping Germany non-nuclear, and taking Soviet security interests into account. Baker started off his remarks, “Before saying a few words about the German issue, I wanted to emphasize that our policies are not aimed at separating Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. We had that policy before. But today we are interested in building a stable Europe, and doing it together with you.” (See Document 18)

The French leader Francois Mitterrand was not in a mind-meld with the Americans, quite the contrary, as evidenced by his telling Gorbachev in Moscow on May 25, 1990, that he was “personally in favor of gradually dismantling the military blocs”; but Mitterrand continued the cascade of assurances by saying the West must “create security conditions for you, as well as European security as a whole.” (See Document 19) Mitterrand immediately wrote Bush in a “cher George” letter about his conversation with the Soviet leader, that “we would certainly not refuse to detail the guarantees that he would have a right to expect for his country’s security.” (See Document 20)

At the Washington summit on May 31, 1990, Bush went out of his way to assure Gorbachev that Germany in NATO would never be directed at the USSR: “Believe me, we are not pushing Germany towards unification, and it is not us who determines the pace of this process. And of course, we have no intention, even in our thoughts, to harm the Soviet Union in any fashion. That is why we are speaking in favor of German unification in NATO without ignoring the wider context of the CSCE, taking the traditional economic ties between the two German states into consideration. Such a model, in our view, corresponds to the Soviet interests as well.” (See Document 21)

The “Iron Lady” also pitched in, after the Washington summit, in her meeting with Gorbachev in London on June 8, 1990. Thatcher anticipated the moves the Americans (with her support) would take in the early July NATO conference to support Gorbachev with descriptions of the transformation of NATO towards a more political, less militarily threatening, alliance. She said to Gorbachev: “We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured…. CSCE could be an umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.” (See Document 22)

The NATO London Declaration on July 5, 1990 had quite a positive effect on deliberations in Moscow, according to most accounts, giving Gorbachev significant ammunition to counter his hardliners at the Party Congress which was taking place at that moment. Some versions of this history assert that an advance copy was provided to Shevardnadze’s aides, while others describe just an alert that allowed those aides to take the wire service copy and produce a Soviet positive assessment before the military or hardliners could call it propaganda.

As Kohl said to Gorbachev in Moscow on July 15, 1990, as they worked out the final deal on German unification: “We know what awaits NATO in the future, and I think you are now in the know as well,” referring to the NATO London Declaration. (See Document 23)

In his phone call to Gorbachev on July 17, Bush meant to reinforce the success of the Kohl-Gorbachev talks and the message of the London Declaration. Bush explained: “So what we tried to do was to take account of your concerns expressed to me and others, and we did it in the following ways: by our joint declaration on non-aggression; in our invitation to you to come to NATO; in our agreement to open NATO to regular diplomatic contact with your government and those of the Eastern European countries; and our offer on assurances on the future size of the armed forces of a united Germany – an issue I know you discussed with Helmut Kohl. We also fundamentally changed our military approach on conventional and nuclear forces. We conveyed the idea of an expanded, stronger CSCE with new institutions in which the USSR can share and be part of the new Europe.” (See Document 24)

The documents show that Gorbachev agreed to German unification in NATO as the result of this cascade of assurances, and on the basis of his own analysis that the future of the Soviet Union depended on its integration into Europe, for which Germany would be the decisive actor. He and most of his allies believed that some version of the common European home was still possible and would develop alongside the transformation of NATO to lead to a more inclusive and integrated European space, that the post-Cold War settlement would take account of the Soviet security interests. The alliance with Germany would not only overcome the Cold War but also turn on its head the legacy of the Great Patriotic War.

But inside the U.S. government, a different discussion continued, a debate about relations between NATO and Eastern Europe. Opinions differed, but the suggestion from the Defense Department as of October 25, 1990 was to leave “the door ajar” for East European membership in NATO. (See Document 27) The view of the State Department was that NATO expansion was not on the agenda, because it was not in the interest of the U.S. to organize “an anti-Soviet coalition” that extended to the Soviet borders, not least because it might reverse the positive trends in the Soviet Union. (See Document 26) The Bush administration took the latter view. And that’s what the Soviets heard.

As late as March 1991, according to the diary of the British ambassador to Moscow, British Prime Minister John Major personally assured Gorbachev, “We are not talking about the strengthening of NATO.” Subsequently, when Soviet defense minister Marshal Dmitri Yazov asked Major about East European leaders’ interest in NATO membership, the British leader responded, “Nothing of the sort will happen.” (See Document 28)

When Russian Supreme Soviet deputies came to Brussels to see NATO and meet with NATO secretary-general Manfred Woerner in July 1991, Woerner told the Russians that “We should not allow […] the isolation of the USSR from the European community.” According to the Russian memorandum of conversation, “Woerner stressed that the NATO Council and he are against the expansion of NATO (13 of 16 NATO members support this point of view).” (See Document 30)

Thus, Gorbachev went to the end of the Soviet Union assured that the West was not threatening his security and was not expanding NATO. Instead, the dissolution of the USSR was brought about by Russians (Boris Yeltsin and his leading advisory Gennady Burbulis) in concert with the former party bosses of the Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, in December 1991. The Cold War was long over by then. The Americans had tried to keep the Soviet Union together (see the Bush “Chicken Kiev” speech on August 1, 1991). NATO’s expansion was years in the future, when these disputes would erupt again, and more assurances would come to Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.

The Archive compiled these declassified documents for a panel discussion on November 10, 2017 at the annual conference of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Chicago under the title “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?” The panel included:

* Mark Kramer from the Davis Center at Harvard, editor of the Journal of Cold War Studies, whose 2009 Washington Quarterly article argued that the “no-NATO-enlargement pledge” was a “myth”;[4]

* Joshua R. Itkowitz Shifrinson from the Bush School at Texas A&M, whose 2016 International Security article argued the U.S. was playing a double game in 1990, leading Gorbachev to believe NATO would be subsumed in a new European security structure, while working to ensure hegemony in Europe and the maintenance of NATO;[5]

* James Goldgeier from American University, who wrote the authoritative book on the Clinton decision on NATO expansion, Not Whether But When, and described the misleading U.S. assurances to Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in a 2016 WarOnTheRocks article;[6]

* Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton from the National Security Archive, whose most recent book, The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: Conversations That Ended the Cold War (CEU Press, 2016) analyzes and publishes the declassified transcripts and related documents from all of Gorbachev’s summits with U.S. presidents, including dozens of assurances about protecting the USSR’s security interests.[7]

[Today’s posting is the first of two on the subject. The second part will cover the Yeltsin discussions with Western leaders about NATO.]

National Security Archive
March 16, 2018
NATO Expansion: What Yeltsin Heard
Russian president led to believe Partnership for Peace was alternative to expanded NATO
Documents show early Russian opposition to “neo-containment;” more U.S. assurances to Russia: “inclusion not exclusion” in new European security structures
Text with documents:

Washington, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Declassified documents from U.S. and Russian archives show that U.S. officials led Russian President Boris Yeltsin to believe in 1993 that the Partnership for Peace was the alternative to NATO expansion, rather than a precursor to it, while simultaneously planning for expansion after Yeltsin’s re-election bid in 1996 and telling the Russians repeatedly that the future European security system would include, not exclude, Russia.

The declassified U.S. account of one key conversation on October 22, 1993, (Document 8) shows Secretary of State Warren Christopher assuring Yeltsin in Moscow that the Partnership for Peace was about including Russia together with all European countries, not creating a new membership list of just some European countries for NATO; and Yeltsin responding, “this is genius!”

Christopher later claimed in his memoir that Yeltsin misunderstood – perhaps from being drunk – the real message that the Partnership for Peace would in fact “lead to gradual expansion of NATO”;[1] but the actual American-written cable reporting the conversation supports subsequent Russian complaints about being misled.[2]

Christopher wondered afterwards (according to his memoir, pp. 280-281) whether the Russian foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, had deliberately failed to alert Yeltsin about the inevitability of NATO expansion, or whether Yeltsin was just relieved that NATO expansion would not be immediate – or whether Yeltsin was just having “a bad day.” But Christopher had told Kozyrev himself earlier that day, according to the U.S. declassified cable (Document 7), that there would be “no predetermined new members” in NATO, and “we’re emphasizing the Partnership for Peace” is “open to all.”

The Strobe Talbott account of the October 22nd meeting with Yeltsin is more detailed and nuanced than Christopher’s, but also leaves the impression that Yeltsin heard only what he wanted to hear, somehow not letting the Americans explain that the real message was “PFP today, enlargement tomorrow.”[3] “Yeltsin welcomed us looking like a stunned bull” and delivered a “long, barely coherent boast” before interrupting Christopher’s presentation on NATO and PFP (“Without letting Chris finish…”). Christopher’s actual words to Yeltsin, at the end of the meeting, were that the U.S. would be “looking at the question of membership as a longer term eventuality.”

Documents from the Russian side show opposition to NATO expansion across the political spectrum, dating back to a Yeltsin supporters’ meeting with NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner in the summer of 1991 (he assured them expansion would not happen), and forward to the large majority of Duma deputies from every political party joining the anti-NATO caucus in 1996. As the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Moscow, James Collins, warned Secretary of State Christopher just before his trip to meet Yeltsin in October 1993 (Document 6), the NATO issue “is neuralgic to the Russians. They expect to end up on the wrong side of a new division of Europe if any decision is made quickly. No matter how nuanced, if NATO adopts a policy which envisions expansion into Central and Eastern Europe without holding the door open to Russia, it would be universally interpreted in Moscow as directed against Russia and Russian alone – or ‘neo-containment’….”

Yeltsin himself had set off wide discussion of possible NATO expansion with his public remarks in Warsaw in August 1993, where he acknowledged the Helsinki Final Act right of countries to choose their alliances, and “seemed to give a ‘green light’ to NATO expansion.” (See Document 5, Tab C “NATO Expansion: Eastern and Allied Views”)

The U.S. “green light” document notes that almost immediately, however, Moscow got “busy ‘refining’ its position.” Yeltsin’s letter to Clinton on September 15, 1993, (Document 4) expressed “uneasiness” over the discussion of “quantitative expansion” and strongly advocated “a pan-European security system” instead of NATO. Yeltsin warned, “Not only the opposition, but moderate circles as well [in Russia], would no doubt perceive this as a sort of neo-isolation of our country in diametric opposition to its natural admission into Euro-Atlantic space.” Yeltsin also argued “the spirit” of the German unification treaty “precludes the option of expanding the NATO zone into the East” (citing the provisions preventing non-German NATO troops from being stationed on the former East German territory). This paragraph was the only one in the Yeltsin letter highlighted for Strobe Talbott by a staff expert on Russia/Ukraine, Steve Pifer.

The declassified U.S. record includes new evidence on internal American thinking, such as a specific calendar for expansion in one early September 1993 document from the State Department (see Document 2), up to and including the ultimate admission of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia to NATO in 2005, after the Central and Eastern Europeans and the Baltics. But Yeltsin’s September 15 letter contributed to intense debates on the American side, including the Defense Department rejection of the State Department’s calendar, leading to the Partnership for Peace idea rather than explicit NATO expansion in the fall of 1993. One October 5, 1993, document (Document 5) summarized the debate as between the “State approach to NATO expansion” or the Office of the Secretary of Defense approach, “partnership for peace with general link to membership,” and the latter became Christopher’s presentation to Yeltsin on October 22: partnership for all, not membership for some.

In January 1994, President Clinton told Yeltsin in Moscow that the Partnership for Peace was “the real thing now.” On the way to Moscow, Clinton delivered the famous “not whether but when” speech in Prague, which would be seized on by NATO expansion proponents in the Clinton administration to win the internal debate.[4] The declassified memcons of Clinton’s Prague meetings with the leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia show the American president arguing for the Partnership for Peace as a “track that will lead to NATO membership” and that “does not draw another line dividing Europe a few hundred miles to the east.” (See Document 11) Clinton candidly admitted to Vaclav Havel “there is no consensus now among NATO allies to extend formal security guarantees” because of uncertainty about which countries could contribute, and because “the reaction in Russia could be the reverse of what we want.”

Polish President Lech Walesa told Clinton (Document 12): “Russia had signed many agreements, but its word was not always good: one hand held a pen; the other a grenade. Yeltsin told the Poles in Warsaw last summer that Russia had no objection to Poland’s membership in NATO; he, Walesa, had a paper with Yeltsin’s signature to prove it. But Yeltsin had changed his mind. The Visegrad countries here represented, Walesa continued, kept their word; they had a Western culture. Russia did not.” Czech President Vaclav Havel immediately responded, “it was neither possible nor desirable to isolate Russia.”

The Americans kept trying to reassure Yeltsin. Quotations from President Clinton’s face-to-face conversations with Yeltsin in 1994, particularly September 27, 1994, at the White House, show Clinton “emphasizing inclusion, not exclusion …. NATO expansion is not anti-Russian; it’s not intended to be exclusive of Russia, and there is no imminent timetable…. the broader, higher goal [is] European security, unity and integration – a goal I know you share.”[5]

But the Russians were hearing in the fall of 1994 that new Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Richard Holbrooke was speeding up NATO expansion discussions, even initiating a NATO study in November of the “how and why” of new members. Yeltsin protested with a letter to Clinton on November 29, 1994, (Document 13) that emphasized Russia’s hopes for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) as a “full-fledged all-European organization” and complained, “one completely fails to understand the reasons behind a new revitalizing of the discussion on speeding up the broadening of NATO.”

On December 1, Foreign Minister Kozyrev unexpectedly refused to sign up for the Partnership of Peace; and on December 5, Yeltsin lashed out about NATO at the Budapest summit of the CSCE, in front of a surprised Clinton: “Why are you sowing the seeds of mistrust? … Europe is in danger of plunging into a cold peace …. History demonstrates that it is a dangerous illusion to suppose that the destinies of continents and of the world community in general can somehow be managed from one single capital.”[6]

The dismayed Americans began to understand that Russia had concluded the U.S. was “subordinating, if not abandoning, integration [of Russia] to NATO expansion.” (See Document 17) Washington dispatched Vice President Al Gore to Moscow to patch things up, using the existing Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission’s scheduled meetings as the venue. Gore’s talking points for his meeting with Yeltsin (in the latter’s hospital room) (Document 16) and the Russian record of Gore’s meeting with Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin on December 14, 1994, (Document 14) show the Americans emphasizing there would be no rapid NATO expansion, only a gradual, deliberate process with no surprises, moving in tandem with the “closest possible understanding” between the U.S. and Russia, and no new NATO members in 1995, a year of Russian parliamentary elections.

Gore later told the Belgian prime minister that “Yeltsin was prepared to acquiesce to the basic truth that NATO would expand.” A March 1995 U.S. cable reports, “In a conversation with Yeltsin in his hospital room, the Vice President explained that the NATO-Russia relationship was analogous to the docking of the space shuttle with the Mir space station, which had to match orbits and speeds to come together. Yeltsin had agreed, but noted that in such delicate maneuvers, sudden motions could be dangerous.”[7]

Yeltsin showed only limited acquiescence when Clinton came to Moscow in May 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of victory over Hitler in World War II. The U.S. memcon of the one-on-one meeting at the Kremlin (Document 19) features repeated Yeltsin objections: “I see nothing but humiliation for Russia if you proceed …. Why do you want to do this? We need a new structure for Pan-European security, not old ones! …. But for me to agree to the borders of NATO expanding towards those of Russia – that would constitute a betrayal on my part of the Russian people.” For his part, Clinton insisted that “gradual, steady, measured” NATO expansion would happen: “You can say you don’t want it speeded up – I’ve told you we’re not going to do that – but don’t ask us to slow down either, or we’ll just have to keep saying no.” Clinton also assured Yeltsin, “I won’t support any change that undermines Russia’s security or redivides Europe,” and urged Yeltsin to join the Partnership for Peace. At the end, the two leaders agreed that any NATO expansion would be delayed until after the 1996 Presidential elections (in both countries).

At the Clinton-Yeltsin meeting in June 1995 at Halifax, Nova Scotia (Document 20), Clinton applauded the Russian agreement finally to join PFP, and recommended more military-to-military cooperation and more Russia-NATO dialogue. The Russian leader had kind words for the American president: “I myself and the Russian leadership have no doubt about our partnership. We’ll build the partnership on the basis of our friendship, yours and mine, and we’ll do so for the sake of world peace.” Then Yeltsin reiterated, “we must stick to our position, which is that there should be no rapid expansion of NATO;” and he went on to argue, “it’s important that the OSCE be the principal mechanism for developing a new security order in Europe. NATO is a factor, too, of course, but NATO should evolve into a political organization.”

The Russian declassified documents from closed Duma hearings (Document 18) and internal memos in the 1990s (Document 25) detail the Russian objections that NATO expansion would (1) threaten Russian security, (2) undermine the idea of inclusive European security that Gorbachev and Yeltsin both sought, and (3) draw a new line across Europe. The record of early and vehement Russian objections, including Yeltsin’s multiple remonstrances to Clinton, tends to support Collins’ analysis from October 1993 and to undercut a claim in recent scholarly literature that Russian complaints about NATO expansion are more a function of today’s “memory politics” than “what really happened in 1990 and beyond.”[8]

Today’s posting includes, in translation, one of the earliest Russian compilations of Western assurances against NATO expansion during and after the German unification discussions of 1990, put together by new Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in January 1996, described in his subsequent memoir in 2006, and published in some detail in his 2015 book. (Document 22) Also published in English for the first time is Primakov’s summary for the head of the Duma in early 1997 about the threat of NATO expansion to Russian security interests, just prior to the NATO summit that would announce the invitations to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to join NATO. The Primakov documents speak to the fundamental Moscow understanding of the end-of-the-Cold-War arrangements, that Germany would unify in NATO in 1990 only with the inclusion of the USSR (and then Russia) in subsequent European security structures.[9]

The Primakov compilation of Western assurances to Gorbachev may have provided the catalyst for a forceful State Department rebuttal sent to all European posts in February 1996 (Document 23), after then-Ambassador Collins reported that a “senior Kremlin official” was complaining that NATO expansion would violate the “spirit” of the German unification treaty (just as Yeltsin had argued in his September 15, 1993, letter to Clinton). The February 23rd cable transmitted a memo written by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe John Kornblum, together with John Herbst, then at State’s office on the Newly Independent States (NIS) and a future ambassador to Ukraine, characterizing the Russian claims as “specious” and “unfounded.” This memo seems to have provided some basis for State and NATO talking points ever since in addressing Russian complaints about NATO expansion.[10]

The Kornblum-Herbst memo focused on the Two-Plus-Four negotiations that developed the German unification treaty, arguing that the treaty only applied to the territory of the former East Germany, and provided no precedent for limits on any new NATO members. The memo inaccurately described one comment by Hans-Dietrich Genscher as “unilateral” and only applying to the former GDR, when in fact State Department and British diplomatic cables at the time (February 1990) showed Genscher specifically and repeatedly referred both to the former GDR and to Poland and Hungary as countries that might want to join NATO. But otherwise, the memo did not address the high-level assurances about Soviet security (such as “not one inch eastward”) provided to Gorbachev by a wide range of Western leaders (James Baker, Helmut Kohl, Douglas Hurd, John Major, and George H.W. Bush, among others).[11]

The Kornblum-Herbst memo contained one confusing reference, supposedly citing the “senior Kremlin official,” to “legally binding declarations by Eastern European leaders” at the time. Neither State’s intelligence bureau nor its historian’s office could find such declarations, perhaps because the Russians were actually referring to Western leader assurances, or even to the famous Vaclav Havel speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in February 1990 calling for dissolution of both blocs (he soon changed his mind).[12]

Today’s posting does not address the undeniable benefits to the Central and Eastern European countries of integration into NATO – although some of these were articulated by their leaders in the memcons with President Clinton in January 1994 that are published here. Nor does the posting provide any net assessment of the gains and losses to American and European security from NATO expansion. Rather, the focus of this collection of documents is simply on what Russian President Boris Yeltsin heard from the Clinton administration about NATO expansion in the first half of the 1990s, and on the repeated Russian objections that were just as repeatedly discounted by Clinton administration officials.

Today’s posting is the second of two on the subject. The first part covered the Gorbachev discussions with Western leaders about NATO and the future of Europe.

National Security Archive
November 24, 2021
NATO Expansion – The Budapest Blow Up 1994
What Yeltsin Heard: From Cold War to “Cold Peace”
Clinton’s Two Tracks Collide – NATO Enlargement and Russia Engagement
Text with documents:

Washington, D.C., November 24, 2021 – The biggest train wreck on the track to NATO expansion in the 1990s – Boris Yeltsin’s “cold peace” blow up at Bill Clinton in Budapest in December 1994 – was the result of “combustible” domestic politics in both the U.S. and Russia, and contradictions in the Clinton attempt to have his cake both ways, expanding NATO and partnering with Russia at the same time, according to newly declassified U.S. documents published today by the National Security Archive.

The Yeltsin eruption on December 5, 1994, made the top of the front page of the New York Times the next day, with the Russian president’s accusation (in front of Clinton and other heads of state gathered for a summit of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, CSCE) that the “domineering” U.S. was “trying to split [the] continent again” through NATO expansion. The angry tone of Yeltsin’s speech echoed years later in his successor Vladimir Putin’s famous 2007 speech at the Munich security conference, though by then the list of Russian grievances went well beyond NATO expansion to such unilateral U.S. actions as withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the invasion of Iraq.

The new documents, the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the National Security Archive, include a series of revelatory “Bill-Boris” letters in the summer and fall of 1994, and the previously secret memcon of the presidents’ one-on-one at the Washington summit in September 1994. Clinton kept assuring Yeltsin any NATO enlargement would be slow, with no surprises, building a Europe that was inclusive not exclusive, and in “partnership” with Russia. In a phone call on July 5, 1994, Clinton told Yeltsin “I would like us to focus on the Partnership for Peace program” not NATO. At the same time, however, “policy entrepreneurs” in Washington were revving up the bureaucratic process for more rapid NATO enlargement than expected either by Moscow or the Pentagon,[1] which was committed to the Partnership for Peace as the main venue for security integration of Europe, not least because it could include Russia and Ukraine.[2]

The new documents include insightful cables from U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Thomas Pickering, explaining Yeltsin’s new hard line at Budapest as the result of multiple factors. Not least, Pickering pointed to “strong domestic opposition across the [Russian] political spectrum to early NATO expansion,” criticism of Yeltsin and his foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, as too “compliant to the West,” and the growing conviction in Moscow that U.S. domestic politics – the pro-expansion Republicans’ sweep of the Congressional mid-term elections in November 1994 – would tilt U.S. policy away from taking Russia’s concerns into account.

Pickering was perhaps too diplomatic because there was plenty of blame to go around on the U.S. side. Clinton wrote in his memoir, “Budapest was embarrassing, a rare moment when people on both sides dropped the ball….”[3] Actually, the drops were almost all in Washington. White House schedulers led by chief of staff Leon Panetta tried to prevent Clinton from even going to Budapest by constraining his window there to eight hours, which meant no time for a one-on-one with Yeltsin. Clinton himself thought he was doing Yeltsin a big favor by even coming and expected good press from the substantial reduction in nuclear arsenals that would result from the signing of the Budapest memorandum on security assurances for Ukraine (violated by Russia in 2014). National Security Adviser Tony Lake gave Clinton a prepared text that “was all yin and no yang – sure to please the Central Europeans and enthusiasts for enlargement, but equally sure to drive the Russians nuts….” The author of that phrase, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, wasn’t even in Budapest, paying attention to the Haiti crisis instead (“never again” he later wrote, would he miss a Yeltsin meeting).[4]

The new documents include a previously secret National Security Council memo from Senior Director for Russia Nicholas Burns to Talbott, so sensitive that Burns had it delivered by courier, describing Clinton’s reaction to Budapest as “really pissed off” and reporting “the President did not want to be used any more as a prop by Yeltsin.” At the same time, Burns stressed, “we need to separate our understandable anger on the tone of the debate with [sic] Russia’s substantive concerns which we must take seriously.” Similarly, the Pickering cables recommended using Vice President Al Gore’s previously scheduled December trip to Moscow for meetings with Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin to also meet with Yeltsin, calm down the discussion, and get back on a “workable track.”

Mending fences would include Gore’s description to Yeltsin of the parallel NATO and U.S.-Russia tracks as spaceships docking simultaneously and very carefully,[5] and Gore and then Clinton assuring the Russians (but not in writing, as Kozyrev kept asking for) that no NATO action on new members would happen before the 1995 Duma elections or the 1996 presidential elections in Russia.

The final assurance was Clinton’s agreement (despite Russia’s brutal Chechen war and multiple domestic pressures) to come to Moscow in May 1995 for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the victory over Hitler. In Moscow, Yeltsin berated Clinton about NATO expansion, seeing “nothing but humiliation” for Russia: “For me to agree to the borders of NATO expanding towards those of Russia – that would constitute a betrayal on my part of the Russian people.” But Yeltsin also saw Clinton would do whatever he could to ensure Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996, and that mattered the most to him. Only after that Moscow summit would Yeltsin order Kozyrev to sign Russia up for the Partnership for Peace.

The new documents only reached the public domain as the result of a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the National Security Archive against the State Department, seeking the retired files of Strobe Talbott. Thanks to excellent representation by noted FOIA attorney David Sobel, State set up a schedule of regular releases to the Archive over the past three years. The full corpus of thousands of pages covering the entire 1990s will appear next year in the award-winning series published by ProQuest, the Digital National Security Archive, which won Choice Magazine’s designation as an “Outstanding Academic Title 2018.” The Archive also benefited from State’s assignment of veteran reviewer Geoffrey Chapman to the task of assessing the Talbott documents for declassification. Chapman ranks among the most thorough, expert, and professional declassifiers in the U.S. government.

From the russian perspective

Why Russia Is Crazy

With alarm bells ringing in the U.S. press, let’s take a closer look at the actual Russian list of demands. The truth might shock you.

By David Swanson

The full extent of Russia’s lunacy is hidden from us by a considerate Western press careful of our delicate sensibilities.

The demands that Russia made back in December are described by numerous news articles, but the list of demands itself is found in very few places. When you see it, you quickly understand why. The horror of it could shock you right off your sofa. We’re told by our newspapers how aggressive and vicious the list is, how it would start a new Cold War, and so on, yet articles much longer than the list itself choose not to tell us what exactly it is, clearly for fear that we couldn’t handle it.

You’ve been warned. Here is the list:

From the russian perspective
Photo by Andrew Butko

Article 1: the parties should not strengthen their security at the expense of Russia’s security;

This is the central substantive stupidity, right at the top — a classic Shock and Awe strategy from the Evil Dr. Putin. The United States and NATO have gone to great lengths to strengthen their security. They’ve added nations to NATO, marching ever eastward. They’ve torn up treaties including the Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty. They’ve built missile bases in Romania and Poland. They’ve staged major war rehearsals near Russia’s border. They’ve shipped weapons to Ukraine despite honestly not caring for the Nazi elements in the government there. You can imagine if Russia had done all of this in Ontario how important that would be to Russia’s security, and how irrelevant and offensive it would be to suggest that it really mattered if it was at the expense of someone else’s security. Insanity!

Article 2: the parties will use multilateral consultations and the NATO-Russia Council to address points of conflict;

This is a purely gratuitous atrocity. Imagine suggesting that everybody sit down and talk. Truly, Moscow should be bombed just for this alone.

Article 3: the parties reaffirm that they do not consider each other as adversaries and maintain a dialogue;

Holy !%@^#$&^! Can you imagine the impact just on NATO’s demand that European nations all spend more on weapons? Not consider Russia an adversary?! This has been the top moneymaker since 1917 (WWII notwithstanding). Putin wants to toss it out, just like that. The audacity! An indictment for the crime of aggression ought to be introduced at the International Criminal Court immediately.

Article 4: the parties shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other states in Europe in addition to any forces that were deployed as of May 27, 1997;

Now we get into truly certifiable territory. To begin with there is the level of disrespect for the fine job NATO has done in Afghanistan or Libya for example — surely this does not originate in a sane mind. Then there’s the loss in weapons sales that’s simply unfathomable. Consider the economic impact: thousands of people would have to get better-paying, more-sustainable jobs they could feel better about. Incredible. The fact that Putin’s minions allow this stuff to make it into print simply shows the extent of the power he wields over them.

Article 5: the parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles adjacent to the other parties; 

Off the deep end! I live in the United States and want nothing more than missiles in Mexico and Canada. I’m not old enough to remember it, but there was a time when the United States famously welcomed missiles in Cuba. Let’s be rational about this. Russia is playing one doll short of a Matryoshka.

Article 6: all member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States;

Should we be offended or understanding of the addled brain that produces such insults? The expansion of NATO has proven incredibly effective. For 30 straight years the Warsaw Pact has not only been contained but actually shown no signs of existing. And you want to mess with that success?

Article 7: the parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in the Eastern Europe, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia; and

Need I say more? This would be like asking Russia not to stage war rehearsals in British Columbia. Who doesn’t want that? Ridiculous! Think of the tourism benefits!

Article 8: the agreement shall not be interpreted as affecting the primary responsibility of the Security Council of the United Nations for maintaining international peace and security.

The final note. Classic. They’re practically openly admitting to sending helicopters full of globalist aliens to take our guns and turn us homosexual. Why are straightjackets for all Russkies not the proper solution?

usa, ukraine, and russia flags in front of skirmish in ukraine

Urgent: Global Civil Society Must Work To Prevent War In Ukraine

A war in Ukraine won’t just be a disaster for Ukrainian civilians; it could lead to a global escalation of armed conflict and increased military spending.

By Yurii Sheliazhenko, World Beyond War

The escalation toward major war in Ukraine is unnecessary, and both West and East share equal responsibility to avoid it. If global leaders fail to negotiate sustainable peace in good faith instead of blame game and violent settlement of their power dispute on the local battlefield in Ukraine, they will be held accountable via nonviolent means by the people of Earth.

Dubious claims of legitimacy of the 2014 violent power grabs in Kyiv, Crimea and Donbass are not acceptable. In all these situations both U.S./NATO and Russia aggressively intervened, pursuing dangerous and delusional great power policies.

usa, ukraine, and russia flags in front of skirmish in ukraine

Today the major geopolitical players continue to undermine independence, democracy, human rights and security of people in Ukraine, breaching international peace contrary to the UN Charter.

Global leaders recklessly exchange threats to use military force and to wage economic war against each other if their claims, or so-called red lines, will not be respected. Both “great powers” wish to own Ukraine and claim their “right” to concentrate their deadly weapons, troops and bases wherever they wish, as near to each other as they wish. Such claims not only contradict each other but blatantly cross red lines of common sense: nobody has a right to hold a gun or nuke to another’s head.

Global civil society condemns escalatory behavior of all sides of the new cold war before and during their current peace and security talks.

Saber-rattling in and over Ukraine should be stopped, Russian and U.S./NATO military forces should be withdrawn. International moratorium should be introduced on arms supply to Ukraine and Russian-controlled Donbass and Crimea. Ukrainian government should stop total mobilization of population to war and abolish conscription or, at least, guarantee the right to conscientious objection to military service in full compliance with current international human rights standards (in future, conscription should be prohibited by the international law). Peaceful settlement of current conflict should be achieved on the basis of strict compliance with ceasefire previously agreed in Normandy and Minsk formats, in further inclusive and comprehensive peace talks between all state and non-state actors.

Europe should reject NATO’s demand for greater military spending, demand that the U.S. get its nuclear weapons out of Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and Turkey, insist on restoration of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to take U.S. missiles out of Romania and Poland, refuse the U.S.-led push for antagonism toward Russia and China, recognize the desire for peace on the part of the people of the region, and demand that the United States take the first major steps to deescalate the crisis. This will require recognizing international violence, not diplomacy, as a threat to credibility. Ideally, all nuclear powers should condemn the doctrine of mutually assured destruction and support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

All stakeholders should bear in mind red lines of people of the world: (1) no militarization and arms race by the cost of welfare, human rights, and environmental harmony; (2) nationalism and imperialism should step aside for development of inclusive, diverse, and fair democracy; (3) all conflicts should be settled peacefully, any buildup of structural violence is intolerable, especially talking about war, preparation to war, or threats of war.

There is no “just war” or “right side”; militarists and right-wingers on all sides provoke escalation of violence in desperate attempt to “divide and rule” and preserve their outdated war machine when it becomes more and more obsolete after universal commitment to sustainable development, peace culture, nonviolent global governance, economic and social cohesion of all people at the planet.

We need to spend on social and environmental justice, on diplomacy more than we spend on war machine. Our strategic goal should be to trash all weapons, turn all soldiers into happy civilians and reduce to zero military spending. To build the nonviolent global security system, we should demilitarize security, manage conflicts without violence, and continue to build all-encompassing peace culture.

Peace on Earth should come first before political ambitions.

Voter suppression

Black Voters Matter And Others To Boycott Biden Speech

“We don’t need even more photo ops,” says the co-founder of Black Voters Matter. “We need action.” protesters determined to Boycott to Biden’s speech

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

Several prominent Georgia-based advocacy groups are planning to boycott President Joe Biden’s voting rights speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, criticizing the event as yet another symbolic gesture in the face of concrete threats to the franchise nationwide.

“We don’t need even more photo ops,” Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told reporters during a press conference on Monday. “We need action, and that action is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights [Advancement] Act as well as the Freedom to Vote Act, and we need that immediately.”

LaTosha Brown, another co-founder of the group, echoed that message, saying: “We’re beyond speeches.”

Black Voters Matter is part of a civil rights coalition that is urging Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to stay out of Georgia until they have a substantive plan to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster rule and push voting rights legislation through Congress.

Voter suppression
Photo by Michael Fleshman

When asked during a Monday media briefing whether the White House has a strategy to ensure that voting rights bills don’t languish in the narrowly Democratic Senate, Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded that Biden’s “plan is to sign voting rights legislation into law.”

“That requires a majority of senators to support it, even if there are changes to the Senate rules, which is something the president has expressed an openness to,” Psaki added.

That answer is unlikely to satisfy activists who have been pushing Biden for months to take a firm stand in favor of eliminating or weakening the filibuster, which Senate Republicans have used to block debate on three separate Democratic voting rights measures.

In a joint statement Monday evening, Black Voters Matter, the GALEO Impact Fund, the New Georgia Project Action Fund, the Asian American Advocacy Fund, the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council, and Georgia NAACP president James Woodall announced that they won’t be in attendance for Biden and Harris’ remarks in Atlanta.

“Instead of giving a speech tomorrow, the U.S. Senate should be voting tomorrow,” said the coalition, which helped get out the vote for Democrats in 2020, propelling Biden to victory in Georgia and securing two key Senate seats for the party.

“What we need now, rather than a visit from the president, vice president, and legislators is for the White House and Senate to remain in D.C. and act immediately to pass federal legislation to protect our freedom to vote,” the groups added.

Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to push ahead with Senate rule changes no later than January 17 if Republicans continue to filibuster legislation aimed at combating the massive wave of Republican-led voter suppression efforts in states across the U.S.

Eliminating or reforming the filibuster can be done with 51 votes in the Senate, but Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have refused to support any changes to the 60-vote rule.

The Washington Post reported late Monday that Sinema “reiterated her opposition in a virtual lunch last week with other Democratic senators.”

Lacking unified support for filibuster reform within his own caucus, Schumer on Monday made an offer to his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): If the GOP agrees to suspend the filibuster rule and hold votes on Democratic voting rights bills at a simple-majority threshold, Democrats will allow votes on Republican priorities at that same threshold.

“The Republican leader seems to want to place a bunch of gotcha bills on the legislative calendar that he thinks would be tough votes for Democrats to take as some kind of payback for pursuing legislation to protect the sacred right to vote,” Schumer said in a floor speech on Monday. “Well, we Democrats aren’t afraid of these votes.”

McConnell rejected Schumer’s proposal.

“We need a functioning Senate,” Brett Edkins, managing director of policy and political affairs at Stand Up America, tweeted in response. “We need a majority vote on voting rights now!”

Biden’s high-profile speech in Atlanta on Tuesday will come at what advocates see as a make-or-break moment for voting rights heading into the pivotal 2022 midterms, in which Republicans are poised to gerrymander their way back to a House majority.

Ari Berman of Mother Jones noted Monday that “policies in the Freedom to Vote Act such as same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and two weeks of early voting could still be implemented in 2022—and the number of states that quickly expanded voting options during the pandemic provides a model for how it could be done.”

“Of course, all of these changes are theoretical if Democrats cannot overcome the fundamental asymmetry that has marked the fight over voting rights for the past year,” Berman added. “Republicans at the state level have passed a slew of anti-democracy measures through simple majority, party-line votes, but by stubbornly supporting the filibuster Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have allowed 41 GOP senators representing just 21% of the country to block any effort to protect voting rights.”

In a statement ahead of Biden’s address, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups including Stand Up America, Indivisible, People for the American Way, and the Sierra Club said that “the American people need their president to ramp up the pressure” on Senate Democrats to reform the filibuster and safeguard voting rights from intensifying GOP attacks.

A senior administration official told the New York Times that Biden will use his speech to make the case for a voting rights carve-out for the filibuster, rather than complete elimination of the rule.

“With the midterm elections drawing near and no Senate action yet on voting rights legislation—one of the president and vice president’s keystone campaign promises—they know the stakes are higher than ever,” the progressive organizations said. “President Biden and Vice President Harris must do more than deliver broad platitudes to longtime civil rights leaders.”

“We look forward to hearing their specific plan to pass voting rights legislation this month,” they added, “and to seeing the administration do everything in its power to get it done.”

Disinformation on facebook before the insurrection

Facebook's Involvement In The Jan. 6 Insurrection Is Beyond Doubt

An analysis of posts, internal company documents and interviews, makes it clear. Facebook’s involvement in the Jan. 6 uprising was massive.

By Craig Silverman, Jeff Kao, ProPublica, and Craig Timberg, Jeremy B. Merrill, The Washington Post

Facebook groups swelled with at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence, an investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post has found.

The barrage — averaging at least 10,000 posts a day, a scale not reported previously — turned the groups into incubators for the baseless claims supporters of then-President Donald Trump voiced as they stormed the Capitol, demanding he get a second term. Many posts portrayed Biden’s election as the result of widespread fraud that required extraordinary action — including the use of force — to prevent the nation from falling into the hands of traitors.

Disinformation on facebook before the insurrection


Another post, made 10 days after the election, bore the avatar of a smiling woman with her arms raised in apparent triumph and read, “WE ARE AMERICANS!!! WE FOUGHT AND DIED TO START OUR COUNTRY! WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT…FIGHT LIKE HELL. WE WILL SAVE HER❤ THEN WERE GOING TO SHOOT THE TRAITORS!!!!!!!!!!!”

One post showed a Civil War-era picture of a gallows with more than two dozen nooses and hooded figures waiting to be hanged. Other posts called for arrests and executions of specific public figures — both Democrats and Republicans — depicted as betraying the nation by denying Trump a second term.

“BILL BARR WE WILL BE COMING FOR YOU,” wrote a group member after Barr announced the Justice Department had found little evidence to support Trump’s claims of widespread vote rigging. “WE WILL HAVE CIVIL WAR IN THE STREETS BEFORE BIDEN WILL BE PRES.”

Facebook executives have downplayed the company’s role in the Jan. 6 attack and have resisted calls, including from its own Oversight Board, for a comprehensive internal investigation. The company also has yet to turn over all the information requested by the congressional committee studying the Jan. 6 attack. Facebook said it is continuing to negotiate with the committee.

The ProPublica/Post investigation, which analyzed millions of posts between Election Day and Jan. 6 and drew on internal company documents and interviews with former employees, provides the clearest evidence yet that Facebook played a critical role in the spread of false narratives that fomented the violence of Jan. 6.

Read More

covid shot and money

Why Isn't The World Vaccinated Against Covid? Blame Rich Countries

Wealthy countries need to do much more to enable all countries to be vaccinated against Covid. Instead they are protecting the profits of pharmaceutical corporations.

By Natalie Shure, The New Republic

As the world braces itself for the spread of Covid-19’s highly transmissible omicron variant, more than a few questions remain unanswered. To what extent will waning immunity from vaccines leave people vulnerable to severe disease? Could these things grow worse in the future, with other yet-to-emerge variants?

What omicron demands as far as mitigation strategies, as well as the threat posed to vaccinated people, is up for debate. Here’s what isn’t: No matter how you slice the data, it is overwhelmingly safer to be vaccinated than it is not to be, and it’s preferable to live in communities with as much immunity as possible. But billions of people around the world are facing the most contagious variant yet without the protection conferred by a vaccine. While in many rich nations, a largely politicized vaccine hesitancy has appeared to impose a ceiling on vaccination rates, vaccination campaigns in poorer ones have been encumbered much more naggingly by an ongoing lack of access—reflecting a persistent failure on the part of the United States and peer nations to take necessary action to get shots in arms around the world. It’s absolutely urgent that we do so.

covid shot and money

Around 57 percent of the population of Planet Earth has now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but those doses have been distributed shamefully unequally: While the U.S., Canada, China, Western Europe, and many countries in Asia have vaccination rates well over 70 percent, poorer countries have only immunized around 6 percent of their populations on average. In the fall, over 50 countries fell short of a World Health Organization goal for every state to vaccinate at least 10 percent of its residents; now several dozen aren’t on track to clear a 40-percent threshold by the end of this year.

While there are many reasons for these disparities—including, in some instances, the same vaccine hesitancy that bedevils wealthier nations—the shortfall essentially boils down to an outsize deference to pharmaceutical profits. Private companies retain both the intellectual property, or IP, rights that spawned the vaccines and the technological know-how to produce them in mass quantities, rendering it impossible to simply manufacture enough doses to get them to everyone who needs them. Widespread demands to bust patents on the vaccines—which would require a rules waiver from the World Trade Organization—were ultimately taken up by President Joe Biden back in May. But between Angela Merkel’s fervent opposition and Biden’s failure to subsequently respond to this impasse with forceful arguments, momentum along those lines appears to have stalled.

There’s a certain type of smug pundit that repeatedly throws shade on activists’ focus on loosening IP protections, arguing that the real limitation is manufacturing capacitynot patents. While breaking patents certainly won’t magically create vaccine equity on its own, the assertion that insufficient manufacturing capacity is what’s causing drag on the global vaccination effort—rather than not having an open-source vaccine recipe reliably at hand—is disingenuous at best. In a recent investigation, The New York Times identified 10 major facilities that could conceivably be used to churn out doses in droves, and which almost certainly could have been doing so for months had the necessary tech secrets been disseminated in alignment with public health needs rather than endless buckraking.

Surely the richest governments on Earth—the ones which largely financed both the development of the vaccines and placed massive orders that made these shots the most profitable pharmaceutical products in history—could have parlayed their power and resources into expanding manufacturing capacity to ramp-up availability as quickly as possible, earning the goodwill of the world along the way. Curiously, they did not! Instead, they essentially tried to navigate their way out of the increasingly unsavory optics of vaccine apartheid through wan charity efforts: donating doses through the United Nations Covax program on a relatively disjointed, ad hoc basis.

But Covax has been a colossal failure, getting fewer than a billion shots out to low-income countriesless than 50 percent of its goal. And not having consistent, scaled-up supply at the ready seriously hampers vaccine efforts: Donated doses are tougher to move and only really end up in needful hands on those rare occasions where a sudden flare-up of benevolence unexpectedly breaks out. This makes it nearly impossible for the nations that need the vaccines the most to execute a plan to disseminate them, which in turn drives considerable waste. Just this week, Europe sent Nigeria a million doses of AstraZeneca that were so close to their expiration date that they ended up being unusable. What’s the point of a vaccine program that does little more than force developing nations to be the middleman between mammoth pharmaceutical companies and the garbage can?

Rich countries have conspired to protect business interests by insisting that the best way to get vaccines to residents of poor countries isn’t to suspend IP protection and bolster manufacturing capacity, but for rich countries to simply hand off their castoffs—a laughably inadequate plan whose benchmarks they failed to even meet halfway. Meanwhile, well over the amount of time that even Big Pharma’s estimates suggested manufacturing facilities would need to get their vaccine operations running has passed since they declared it unfeasible. And the wealthy countries that sided with the industry keep ordering more and more shipments of booster shots for healthy people, further diverting the supply they never should have constrained to begin with.

To preempt the smug op-ed writers preparing follow-ups to their “Overriding intellectual property law won’t fix vaccine inequality”–takes from earlier this year: It’s true that no single measure will instantaneously move shots around the world. But what is required is a massive international commitment to the task, backed with billions of dollars and the necessary policy changes to seed manufacturing capabilities throughout the global south so they can produce enough vaccines to protect against the current pandemic and guard against future variants—and perhaps even future diseases. Two years into this pandemic, we’ve established beyond a shadow of doubt that public health emergencies demand a robust public sector response. Only governments can pour billions into research, implement mitigation policies, mobilize resources for support and survival, and coordinate institutional responses. Too often, they’re terrible at doing so because they can’t bring themselves to go against the interests of private companies. When it comes to vaccines, they ought to. And for so much else, too.

COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto To: Policy Makers

Petition Text

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the urgency of changing global structures of inequity and violence. We, people around the world, will seize this historical moment. We are building solidarity at every level: local, national, global. Despite the need to physically distance, we are building mutual aid groups, community networks, and social movements. We declare this manifesto today to offer a vision of the world we are building, the world we are demanding, the world we will achieve.

1. We demand strong, universal health care systems and health care as a basic right for all humans.

2. We demand an immediate global ceasefire in all conflicts and an end to the disease of war. We demand that every nation move at least half its military spending to provide health care, housing, childcare, nutrition, education, Internet access, and other social needs so we can truly protect people’s physical, psychological, and economic security, including through the closure of foreign military bases, the cessation of military exercises, and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

3. We demand that unsustainable capitalist economies, based on the fantasy of endless growth, be replaced with cooperatively based economies of care, where human life, biodiversity, and our natural resources are conserved and a universal basic income is guaranteed so that governments can work together to combat the existential threat of climate change.

4. We demand an immediate lifting of all sanctions targeting entire nations, which are impoverishing vulnerable populations and killing people by blocking access to medicines and medical supplies.

5. We demand that all workers be protected against COVID-19 and have their long-term occupational health, economic, and labor rights guaranteed.

6. We demand the full protection of all people, especially the most vulnerable, including women and other victims of intimate partner violence and child abuse, the elderly, the impoverished, prisoners and detainees, refugees and other displaced peoples, migrants regardless of immigration status, the homeless, LGBTQIA+ individuals, racial/ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, and those disability or ability challenged, among others.

7. We demand that wealthy nations live up to their responsibility to provide medical aid (including through the World Health Organization) and debt relief to save lives in countries without strong public health systems because of long histories of colonialism, neocolonialism, and other exploitation, foreign and domestic.

8. We demand that governments and corporations respect privacy and not exploit the pandemic to expand repressive measures such as surveillance, detention without trial, and restrictions on basic human rights to assembly, free expression, self-determination, and the vote.

9. We demand that when governments implement economic stimulus programs and re-open their economies they prioritize the needs of people over the interests of corporate, financial, and political elites.

In a world where the gap between rich and poor is obscene, with the world’s richest 1% having more than twice the wealth of 6.9 billion people, a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power globally and within nations is imperative. Every human being must have the opportunity to live a healthy, creative, and fulfilling life, free of the ravages of poverty, exploitation, and domination.

Why is this important?

A group of around 50 people from more than 12 countries drafted the Manifesto in recent weeks. Many prominent people are supporting it. People in general are more awake to the absurdity of a planet in which the richest 8 people have more wealth than the poorest 3.8 billion than ever before as this pandemic spreads. We are circulating this widely in multiple languages to help frame the debate and actions moving forward, raising global demands that address the inequity resulting from decades of neoliberal economic policies and rampant and unbridled militarism.

January 6 insurrection

Jan. 6 Insurrectionists Cannot Be Allowed To Run For Office

“We are urging election officials to make clear that insurrectionists such as President Trump and his congressional allies are barred from ever again holding public office, as is required under the 14th Amendment.”

By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

On the eve of the first anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, progressives are ramping up their campaign to block January 6 insurrectionists—including Trump and hundreds of Republican elected officials—from ever running for public office again. Free Speech for People and Our Revolution—the political organizing group born from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential run—announced Wednesday that they are teaming up as part of the 14point3 campaign, an effort to urge secretaries of state to ban elected officials who encouraged or participated in the January 6 insurrection from appearing on any electoral ballot.

“Initially enacted in the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from public office any individual who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or gives aid or comfort to those who have,” Free Speech for People explains. “By inciting a violent attack on Congress in an effort to prevent the certification of his own electoral defeat, Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and violated his oath of office.”

January 6 insurrection
Photo by Jessica Griffin

Free Speech for People campaign director Alexandra Flores-Quilty said in a statement that “secretaries of state have a duty to ensure that candidates who seek to appear on their state ballots meet the constitutional qualifications for serving in public office,” and that “those who violated their oath of office by engaging in the violent January 6 insurrection do not meet these terms.”

“Thus,” she added, “we are urging election officials to make clear that insurrectionists such as President Trump and his congressional allies are barred from ever again holding public office, as is required under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

According to the Insurrection Index by Public Wise—another advocacy group seeking to hold individuals and organizations accountable for their roles on January 6—more than 1,000 public figures, including 213 elected officials, acted as accomplices to Trump’s attempted coup. These include Trump, the 147 members of Congress who tried to block certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, and scores of state and local officials.

“These are folks who silenced the voices of American voters, who took a validly held election and created fraudulent information to try to silence voters,” Public Wise executive director Christina Baal-Owens told The Guardian. “They have no business being near legislation or being able to affect the lives of American people.”

The 14point3 campaign comes amid a spate of dire warnings regarding the precarious state of U.S. democracy. On Tuesday, Common Dreams reported that violent conflict scholar Thomas Homer-Dixon called Trump “just a warm-up act” on the path to a full-blown fascist dictatorship in the United States by the end of the decade.

“By 2025,” he wrote, “American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.” U.S. attorney Marc Elias, who along with colleagues won 64 of the 65 lawsuits challenging Biden’s 2020 victory, told The Guardian that “we are one, maybe two, elections away from a constitutional crisis over election subversion.”

“If we don’t recognize who was behind the attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, then next time we will be less prepared and it may succeed,” he said. Paco Fabián, director of campaigns at Our Revolution, said that “on many levels, our democracy is under threat, and grassroots activists are ready to stand up to defend it.”

“We need to demand that our election officers follow the rule of law and ensure that current and former elected officials who participated in the January 6 insurrection are barred from appearing on any future ballot,” he asserted. “Disqualify everyone involved in the January 6 insurrection from seeking public office.”

Insurrection at the US Capitol Building

Tracking Domestic Extremists After The Jan. 6 Insurrection

The insurrection at the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 has set a precedent in extremist movements that now redirect their strategies

By Jared Holt, Atlantic Council

This report offers analysis of the ways that domestic extremist movements evolved and adapted during the year following the now-infamous insurrection at the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. On that day, supporters of then-President Donald Trump and likeminded members of extremist movements participated in an assault on democracy itself, violently breaking into the US Capitol as Congress attempted to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Though none of the last-minute plot twists that drew expectant crowds to Washington came to bear, the attack resulted in several deaths, hundreds of arrests, and a nation shaken by what transpired that afternoon.

Insurrection at the US Capitol Building
Photo by Blink O'fanaye

Since the attack, US public officials and federal law enforcement have repeatedly identified the need for renewed vigilance in confronting domestic extremism as a leading threat to national security. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated in March 2021 that domestic extremist threats posed increased risks, citing the Capitol attack and conspiracy theories as potential motivations for violence. The Biden administration spent its first year in office crafting a policy plan for addressing such threats, including the establishment of the country’s first National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. Meanwhile in Congress, the House established the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

This report focuses on right-wing extremist movements and groups due to their central role in the January 6 attack and their ongoing affront to democratic values, and because public safety, security, and law-enforcement officials agree that they present the most immediate, violent threat to public safety in the United States. Groups identified as far-right and extremist in this report are those that seek to advance agenda items that are based in hate and conspiracy theories, seek to undermine democratic norms and equality, and have records of supporters engaging in violence in pursuit of those ends.

Read More