By Eric Johnston in The Japan Times – As the Lower House passed controversial security bills Thursday designed to deepen Japan’s military ties with the United States, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga moved a step closer to halting work on a controversial new U.S. air base after an advisory panel found serious flaws in the approval process. In a long-expected report, the advisory panel to Onaga, who won election last November by campaigning against a Henoko replacement facility for the U.S. Marine Futenma Air Station, cited concerns about how former Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima approved a central government landfill permit for the project in December 2013. The report outlined a lack of environmental protection measures in the Henoko Bay area, and said the prefecture approved the landfill project without a sufficient explanation from the Okinawa Defense Bureau, part of the Defense Ministry.
By CJ Hinke in World Beyond War – There are as many reasons to desert military service as there are deserters. All countries’ militaries like to snatch young men when they are uneducated, inexperienced, and unemployed. It takes a soldier far greater courage to throw down his weapon than to kill a stranger. There are deserters in every country that has an armed forces. Armies demand blind obedience and human beings crave liberty. Why do men desert? Certainly not from cowardice. It takes far more courage to break from the pack and its reliance upon rabid nationalism. 36% of men facing battle for the first time were more afraid of being labeled a coward than of being wounded or killed. War-sick has been called by many names by psychologists. In the US Civil War, DaCosta’s disease or soldier’s heart; in World War I, shell-shock, conversion disorder or fugue state, flight response; in World War II, battle fatigue, battle exhaustion; in Vietnam, combat fatigue, combat exhaustion, combat stress reaction; to the oh-so-modern post-traumatic stress disorder shared by Gulf soldiers and drone pilots.
By Staff for Global Zero, Join Global Zero on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan as we cycle what would be the edge of a “small” nuclear blast in downtown D.C. and call on President Obama to keep his promise to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The event will be one of many corresponding events around the world, serving as a powerful reminder that nuclear weapons were designed to wipe cities like ours off the map. There are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. Many of these weapons are ready to launch at a moment’s notice. It’s time we call on President Obama and other world leaders to stand down these weapons of mass destruction and join the fight toward global zero – a world without nuclear weapons. Bike around the Bomb hashtag eliminate nukesJoin us on Sunday, August 9 for the 2nd annual “Bike Around the Bomb D.C.”
By Sarah Jaffee in Rolling Stone – Roz Brown, one of the activists who spoke at the protests, tells Rolling Stone that racism is “embedded in the infrastructures” of St. Louis, from business to education to the judicial system. She points to the way police lined up to protect business headquarters when the protesters arrived last week — the same police who, in Ferguson, stared down protesters behind armored vehicles and riot shields. Unequal systems reinforce each other, Brown says. Frankie Edwards says he’s troubled that these executives make a lot of money, but don’t put enough of it back into the community in ways that help people like him: young black men who are constantly harassed by police. To him, they have a responsibility to build a city that works for everyone.
By Dan Monte for World Beyond War – I view this as a necessary pilgrimage for me. I want to raise awareness that climate change, which threatens our civilization, is only intensified by war, and that there is no solution to climate change that does not include peace. But we are accustomed to viewing issues as independent of each other, war and the environment as not connected. And yet our Department of “Defense” has been telling us for many years now that climate change is a serious national security threat. Indeed it is a global security threat that is destabilizing our world. We must understand that military force forgoes the international cooperation needed for solving our climate problem. War reverses all of our progress on improving environmental standards. It is extremely carbon intensive. Our task is to stand firm against the evangelists of war and to reject their fear mongering. The rejection of militarism is necessary — it is the only course towards climate solutions.
By Max Blumenthal in Common Dreams – “A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” declared Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in February. His ominous comments came just days after an anti-tank missile fired by the Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah killed two soldiers in an Israeli army convoy. It, in turn, was a response to an Israeli air strike that resulted in the assassination of several high-ranking Hezbollah figures. Lieberman offered his prediction only four months after his government concluded Operation Protective Edge, the third war between Israel and the armed factions of the Gaza Strip, which had managed to reduce about 20% of besieged Gaza to an apocalyptic moonscape.
By David McNeill in Irish Times – Thousands of demonstrators have surrounded Japan’s parliament after the Lower House passed controversial security bills that critics say will dramatically change the country’s defence posture and hollow out its pacifist constitution. Most members of Japan’s opposition parties walked out of the chamber in protest before the vote Thursday afternoon. But the coalition government’s two-thirds majority meant they were easily approved. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants Japan’s armed forces to join in military activities abroad and defend allies under attack – principally the United States – a policy he has dubbed “proactive pacifism.” “The security environment surrounding Japan continues to get tougher,” Mr Abe said after the vote. “These bills are absolutely necessary to protect the lives of Japanese people and prevent wars.”
By Bernadette Ellorin for International Peoples’ Tribunal – In the first day of an International Peoples’ Tribunal in D.C. yesterday, victims and expert witnesses to torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations, and violations of international humanitarian law gave testimonies drawing strong connection between the U.S. and Philippine governments’ collaboration and culpability in perpetrating these abuses. Cynthia Jaramillo shared details on the torture and murder of her husband, a member of the New Peoples’ Army, along with 6 other combatants and 2 unarmed civilians in September 2014: “They were not killed during a legitimate running battle with the AFP. The state of their bodies when recovered clearly indicated the torture, willful killing, and desecration of the remains. Almost all of them suffered from non-encounter wounds according to the post-mortem reports and the review of evidence by forensic experts.”
By Ron Kampeas for Haaretz – With the influential pro-Israel lobby group pushing for Congress to reject the deal negotiated by the Obama administration, it’s all hands on deck. Lay leaders, too, are canceling their summer plans, and AIPAC activists already are calling lawmakers and hitting synagogue listservs with appeals to can the plan. The two months that Congress has to review the deal will feature a pitched battle pitting the Obama administration and backers of the agreement against opponents and the Israeli government. J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby, which has largely backed President Barack Obama in all his Middle East strategies, raised $2 million to stump for the deal even before it was announced and already has unveiled a TV ad. The group’s president, Jeremy Ben Ami, who routinely bristles when J Street is likened to AIPAC, insisting that they play different fields, on Wednesday embraced a fight with the older and larger lobby. Asked on MSNBC whether he was going “toe to toe” with AIPAC, he said, “Essentially we are.” AIPAC twice has pulled out all the stops in taking on a president – and lost both times.
By Reiji Yoshida and Mizuho Aoki in Japan Times – The ruling bloc rammed two security bills through a special committee of the Lower House on Wednesday — amid a chorus of yelling opposition lawmakers — clearing a critical step toward the enactment of legislation that would expand the scope of Self-Defense Forces’ missions overseas. During Wednesday’s session, opposition lawmakers mobbed committee chairman Yasukazu Hamada of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and tried to halt the voting procedure. But amid the clamor, ruling lawmakers stood up to show their support for the bills, and Hamada declared that the legislation was passed. The bills would lift a number of restrictions on the SDF’s operations, including a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or the right for a country to use force to aid an ally under attack even when not under attack itself. Article 9 of the pacifist postwar Constitution was long considered to prohibit exercising the right. The Abe administration amended the government’s official interpretation of the text, and then submitted the security bills to the Diet, but many experts have argued the reinterpretation is unconstitutional.
By Pepe Escobar in Asian Times – This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.” And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order. So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal. As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.
By Bruce K. Gagnon in Organizing Notes – Iran has reached an agreement to significantly limit its nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. The agreement is between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and the European Union. The deal would not have likely been possible without the active participation of the Russian Federation. Israel and Saudi Arabia will likely try to kill the deal as will the Republican led Congress in Washington. The US has long maintained that the Pentagon’s deployment of ‘missile defense’ (MD) systems into eastern Europe are not aimed at Russia but have been aimed at Iran’s nuclear potential. Of course this has always been nonsense but just for a moment let’s pretend it was true.
By maTT De Vlieger in Portside – From the adoption of the first United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1945, through the promulgation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, to the recent International Conferences on Human Consequences of Nuclear Weapons and the Humanitarian Pledge signed by over 100 nations this year, the vast majority of the world’s nations have demanded that the world’s nuclear weapons be eliminated. The International Court of Justice has issued an authoritative interpretation of NPT Article VI, unanimously concluding: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” Non-governmental organizations have developed a model nuclear weapons abolition treaty which has been circulated by the United Nations as an official document.
By Action Network – This is the final showdown to stop Congressional hawks from starting a war with Iran. The United States, Iran and five other world powers announced a historic deal to dramatically curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions on Iran. Republican hawks are trying to sabotage the deal, put us back on the path to confrontation with Iran and start a war – but they can’t do it unless Democrats help them. We need to build an impenetrable firewall in Congress to prevent Congressional hawks from passing any legislation to kill the deal and putting us back on the path to confrontation and war. Tell members of Congress to go on record in support of the deal.
By Robert Parry in Consortium News – As the Ukrainian army squares off against ultra-right and neo-Nazi militias in the west and violence against ethnic Russians continues in the east, the obvious folly of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy has come into focus even for many who tried to ignore the facts, or what you might call “the mess that Victoria Nuland made.” Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs “Toria” Nuland was the “mastermind” behind the Feb. 22, 2014 “regime change” in Ukraine, plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych while convincing the ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn’t really a coup but a victory for “democracy.” To sell this latest neocon-driven “regime change” to the American people, the ugliness of the coup-makers had to be systematically airbrushed, particularly the key role of neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists from the Right Sektor.