In this essay, recently retired UW-Tacoma prof Rob Crawford analyzes the presidential campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  --  He concludes:  "Clinton is committed to the ideology of American exceptionalism; Trump is hoping to win over the nationalist, whatever-it-takes, xenophobic sector of the electorate; he wants to rip off this mask of justification which has been the ideological foundation of the national security state and put in its place the justification of 'what’s in it for us.'"  --  "[U]nlike Clinton, Trump’s entire candidacy is a call to war."  --  As for ISIS, "both candidates . . . have embraced the proposition that ISIS poses a grave and imminent threat to the U.S. and they have pledged to 'defeat and destroy' it. . . . This is the recipe for a 'forever war' with ISIS or with its next incarnation."[1]  --  Crawford's essay is adapted from a talk delivered to a meeting of the Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation on Sept. 18; it was posted by CounterPunch on Sept. 26....

On Aug. 18 56-year-old Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates of the U.S. Dept. of Justice issued a two-page memo instructing department officials "to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or 'substantially reduce' the contracts’ scope," the Washington Post reported.[1]  --  "They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security," Yates wrote.  --  The goal, in Yates's words:  "reducing -- and ultimately ending -- our use of privately operated prisons."  --  The memo presented the use of private prisons by the Dept. of Justice as the consequence of a rapid rise in the federal prison population that is now in decline, "from nearly 220,000 inmates in 2013 to fewer than 195,000 inmates today."  --  The director of the ACLU National Prison Project called the announcement "historic and groundbreaking.  --  For the last 35 years, the use of private prisons in this country has crept ever upward, and this is a startling and major reversal of that trend, and one that we hope will be followed by others."  --  But Matt Zapotosky and Chico Harlan noted that "While experts said the directive is significant, privately run federal prisons house only a fraction of the overall population of inmates.  --  The vast majority of the incarcerated in America are housed in state prisons -- rather than federal ones -- and Yates’ memo does not apply to any of those, even the ones that are privately run.   --  Nor does it apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service detainees, who are technically in the federal system but not under the purview of the federal Bureau of Prisons." ...

Only one thing emerges with clarity in the lengthy conversation of six experts on contemporary international relations published in the September issue of Harper's:  that international relations in the first quarter of the twenty-first century are in a state of utter confusion.[1]  --  Each of the participants has his or her own axe to grind, and nothing particularly of note emerges from the discussion.  --  All the participants are inclined to agree that the consequences of the invasion of Iraq have been "catastrophic," but no rewind button is available and there is little agreement about what follows from that premise.  --  Andrew Bacevich's spirited refutation of the notion that the United States has ever been "isolationist" comes at the end of the long colloquy and for this reader constituted its most notable portion....