United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

COMMENTARY: 'Israel has never wanted peace' (Gideon Levy)

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Gideon Levy, the famous 60-year-old Israeli-born journalist many consider a heroic figure, wrote in the columns of Haaretz on Jul. 4 that "Israel does not want peace. . . . Not only is there no peace:  In recent years, Israel has moved away from even the aspiration to make peace.  It has despaired utterly of it."[1]  --  BACKGROUND: In the 1970s, Gideon Levy worked as a radio reporter for the Israeli Defense Forces.  --  From 1978 to 1982, he was one of Shimon Peres's aides, then began to write for Haartez.  --  He has become an important critic of what he calls the "moral blindness" behind Israel's settlement policy.  --  "My modest mission is to prevent a situation in which many Israelis will be able to say 'We didn't know,'" he has said....

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NEWS: Islamic State's demand for conversion driving last Christians from Mosul

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Christians lived in Mosul for 1,600 years, but the Islamic State is driving out the few that are still there, telling them that they have only four options, "convert, pay a tax, leave, or face imminent execution," Al Jazeera reported Monday.[1]  --  "Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, has condemned the persecution of Iraqi Christians by Islamic State (IS) fighters, saying it may constitute a crime against humanity."  --  "[M]essages broadcast by mosques on Friday sparked an exodus."  --  Reuters noted that "The Nineveh decree [issued on July 17 in the northern province of Nineveh] echoes one that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the former name for the Islamic State, issued in the Syrian city of Raqqa in February, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection."[2]  --  Dominic Evans and Isra' al-Rube'i added that this practice was common in medieval times but that it was "largely abolished during the Ottoman reforms of the mid-19th century."  --  "Mosul, once home to diverse faiths, had a Christian population of around 100,000 a decade ago.  --  The resident of Mosul who saw the Islamic State announcement estimated the city's Christian population before last month's militant takeover at around 5,000.  --  The vast bulk of those have since fled, leaving perhaps only 200 in the city, he said." ...

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TRANSLATIONS: 'Massacre in Shujaya' -- AFP

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The death toll of Operation Protective Edge spiked on Sunday when the Israeli army attacked the Chajaya (or Shajaiya, or Shujaya) neighborhood to the east of Gaza City, Le Figaro (Paris) reported late in the day.[1]  --  Residential housing was bombarded, and 13 Israeli soldiers of the Golani regiment were killed.  --  "The total makes this operation the most lethal for Tzahal [i.e. IDF] since the 2006 war in Lebanon," Cyrille Louis said.  --  AFP called the Israeli action in Shajaiya a "massacre," a term that seems to have been scrubbed from English-language reports; allegations of Israeli war crimes also seem to be minimized in English-language reports.[2] ...

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SPECULATION: 'Only Ukraine had means, motive, & window of opportunity to bring down MH17'

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Here's all you need to know about MH17.  --  It was a Russian missile, and Vladimir Putin is to blame.  --  At least, that's what U.S. mainstream media would like you to think.  --  Are we going to beef up our aid to those valiant if pesky Ukrainian patriots yearning for freedom, or what?  --  Never mind that "our guy" violently overthrew a legitimately elected democratic leader, or that his regime amounts to the replacement of one set of oligarchs with another, or that this is all really about the economics of energy and Russia's historic and geopolitical desire and, given its history, need, based on geography, not to have adversaries on its border.  --  But according to Pepe Escobar, writing on Friday with his usual flair for Asia Times Online, there are many reasons to suspect Ukraine, the party that, after all, has the most to gain from the catastrophe.  --  Only Ukraine, in fact, had "the means, the motive, and the window of opportunity to pull it off."[1]  --  According to Escobar, we should now brace for dueling narratives.  --  On the one hand, Russian intelligence has "been surveying/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7" and will be "poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking" to determine "which type of missile was launched, where from"; they should even be able to "produce communications from the battery that launched it."  --  And also, "they will have access to forensic evidence."  --  "Unlike Washington -- who already knows everything, with no evidence whatsoever (remember 9/11?) -- Moscow will take its time to know the basic journalistic facts of what, where, and who, and engage on proving the truth and/or disproving Washington's spin."  --  "If this was a terrible mistake by the Novorossiya rebels, Moscow will have to reluctantly admit it.  --  If Kiev did it, the revelation will be instantaneous.  --  Anyway we already know the hysterical Western response, no matter what; Russia is to blame." ...

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NEWS: US official says success of ISIS has 'energized recruting efforts for all militant groups'

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A U.S. counterterrorism official speaking "on condition of anonymity" has said that "[a]s many as 10,00 foreign fighters -- a third more than in February -- have joined the militants seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Islamic State fighters who have swept across northern Iraq," Sunday's Los Angeles Times reported.[1]  --  "As many as 3,000 of them hold European or other Western passports and thus can travel easily across most borders," Brian Bennett and Richard Serrano said.  --  "Several dozen, perhaps as many as 100, hold U.S. passports, and officials say that number is growing."  --  "[T]he stunning battlefield success of the Islamic State fighters, and its calls for an Islamic caliphate, have energized recruiting efforts for all the militant groups."  --  The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, "is so innovative and is growing so quickly that one U.S. national security official called it the 'Silicon Valley' of militant organizations."  --  Bennett and Serrano described the cases of Americans from Florida, Texas, and Colorado becoming jihadists....

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NEWS: Israeli leaders shedding pretense of support for Palestinian statehood

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On Jul. 11, 2014, at a press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that "There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan."  --  In a piece posted on Huffington Post, Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal noted that "if Israel doesn't relinquish security control, Palestinians cannot establish a state."[1]  --  They also quoted Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, who said:  "That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state."  --  Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economic Minister Naftali Bennett have even more extreme views....

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 July 2014 23:45 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: In Gaza, 'this is anything but a total war'

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On Friday Le Figaro called the Israeli ground operation in Gaza an "incursion" rather than an "invasion."[1]  --  Renaud Giraud said that the conflict "remains a war of low- or medium-intensity, on a territory inhabited today by 1.8 million Palestinians, the grandchildren of the refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.  --  In this asymmetric conflict that is anything but a total war, politics and diplomacy remain in the foreground." ...

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TRANSLATION: Israeli ground operation in Gaza risks heavy losses (Le Figaro)

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Le Figaro (Paris) reported Thursday that the decision to undertake a limited ground operation in Gaza was a partial concession by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to hawks in his majority and also to tens of thousands of mobilized reservists who are chafing at the bit on Gaza's borders.[1]  --  The operation's objective is the "tunnels allowing commandos to carry out attacks and take civilian or military hostages" whose "openings are very well camouflaged inside houses, which makes them practically impossible to locate.  --  Only a ground operation can make systematic digs possible."  --  "But Benyamin Netanyahu is taking a serious risk," said Marc Henry.  --  "Hamas is dug in, waiting for the Israeli army.  --  The Islamist movement warned Thursday night that the Jewish State was going to 'pay a high price' for this new escalation.  --  Military experts emphasize that an incursion into the Gaza Strip risks causing heavy losses among Israeli soldiers.  --  The back streets of the refugee camps, the roads, the 'suspect' houses, some of which are booby-trapped, constitute an ideal ground for guerrilla warfare against a regular army." ...

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NEWS: Malaysian Airlines 777 down in eastern Ukraine, 298 dead

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Since parts of MH17 are scattered miles apart, it is clear that the Boeing 777 "broke apart at altitude and its parts descended on the currents of the wind until they impacted the earth," the editor-in-chief of Flying magazine wrote Thursday on the Time website.[1]  --  "We can conclude that MH17 came apart at a very high altitude," said Robert Goyer.  --  "And it came apart very violently."  --  Newsweek reported that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko "has invited Dutch investigators to determine exactly what happened."[2]  --  But "[s]eparatist forces on the scene have taken control of the black box recorder that will hold the key to what happened."  --  Nicholas Wapshott offered eight possible causes for the disaster, and suggested that the most probable was that "Pro-Russian separatists shot down the plane on purpose."  --  Time reported that Oleg Tsarev, one of the leaders of the Donetsk People's Republic, denied that they had weapons that can shoot down a plane at 33,000 feet, where the flight was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam with 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board.[3]  --  Time's Simon Shuster said the denial "rang hollow." ...

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 06:48 Read more...
 

NEWS & BACKGROUND: Fighting in eastern Ukraine accompanied by warring narratives

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The West is blaming "fighters crossing into Ukraine from Russia with heavy military equipment" for the intensification of fighting in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reported Wednesday.[1]  --  Western news sources are largely following this line, describing a crafty but aggressive Russian president as the main instigator of events and supporting the premise underlying new sanctions imposed Wednesday by the United States.[2]  --  Russian sources and sources on the left are telling a very different story of Western aggression followed by a brutal military campaign that has been accompanied by atrocities against Russian-speaking Ukrainians carried out by extreme-right Ukrainian-nationalist militants with neo-Nazi sympathies.[3] ...

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 08:03 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: Jean-Claude Juncker 'cannot escape his political identity' (J.-L. Mélenchon)

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On July 11, Parti de Gauche co-founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon commented at length (about 4,800 words) on France's place in the European Union, on the new president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and on the alienation toward the political system that the Parti Socialiste is causing in France by pursuing pro-business policies.  --  His remarks are translated below in their entirety.[1] ...

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PHILOSOPHY: Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco

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A few years ago, Valtin (a Californian psychologist who has been involved in treating torture victims and who writes under a pseudonym) offered a commentary of one of Rousseau's favorites lines from Virgil's Aeneid.[1] ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 05:53 Read more...
 

COMMENTARY: 'An emerging police state' where 'hostility to truth-telling is an article of faith'

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"As advanced societies are de-politicized, the changes are both subtle and spectacular," said John Pilger on Saturday, marveling at the neo-Orwellianism of contemporary life.  --  The celebrated radical Australian journalist was especially aggrieved at the fact that "In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith."[1]  --  The U.S. is usually the aggressor or on the side of the aggressor in contemporary international crises, but the mainstream media affects to believe that the adversary is to blame:  Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Syria, Hamas, etc.  --  Historically, it has been the role of the modern artist to pierce such façades.  --  But no longer.  --  "No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism.  William Morris, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today.  --  Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice."  --  BACKGROUND:  To better understand Pilger's bleak conclusions, see a piece of his written in September 2013.  --  There, he explained that he sees the United States and other Western countries as having succumbed to a soft form of fascism.  --  "With not a single tank on the White House lawn," Pilger said, "a military coup has taken place in Washington.  --  In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush:  its wars and war crimes.    --  As the Constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, piled up the rubble in Afghanistan, and reduced Libya to a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the U.S. administration."[2] ...

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 00:17 Read more...
 

NEWS: Nuclear materials fall into hands of The Islamic State

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"Terrorist groups" have seized about 40kg of uranium that was being kept at the University of Mosul, Baghdad told the IAEA in a letter dated Jul. 8, 2014, the New York Times reported.[1]  --  Iraq's ambassador to the U.N. "said the Islamic State group also took control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where remnants of 2,500 degraded chemical rockets filled decades ago with the deadly nerve agent sarin are stored along with other chemical warfare agents," the Associated Press said.[2]  --  Both the U.S. and the IAEA played down the risk the material represents, but "Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich . . . said:  'The sheer fact that the terrorists . . . show unmistakeable interest in nuclear and chemical materials is, of course, very alarming,'" Reuters reported.[3]  --  A former IAEA inspector said that "there should be no enriched uranium in Mosul," Fredrik Dahl said.  --  Fox News was able to locate an expert who said that "There is theoretically the potential for a dirty bomb," however.[4]  --  BACKGROUND: As Adam Curtis pointed out in his three-hour 2004 documentary, "The Power of Nightmares," the "dark fantasy" of terrorists with nuclear weapons has become the principal legitimation of the power of the national security state....

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 15:52 Read more...
 

NEWS: Donetsk prepares for siege as Ukrainian forces encircle city

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As calls from outside Ukraine for a cease-fire and a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the east fall on deaf ears in Kiev, "Donetsk is steeling itself for a siege," Bloomberg reported.[1]  --  The siege has not begun yet, but Ukrainian troops are encircling the city, the largest in the Russian-speaking region of Ukraine, and residents fearing the worst are fleeing in droves, Denis Hazansky, Daryna Krasnolutska, and Daria Marchak said....

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NEWS & BACKGROUND: Netanyahu deliberately 'made an utterly avoidable nightmare inevitable'

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Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip were Israel's justification for unleashing lethal "airstrikes against more than 150 sites in Gaza," the Washington Post reported Tuesday.[1]  --  "Ashraf al-Qidrah, a spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry, said early Wednesday that 24 Palestinians had been killed in the Israeli attacks and 152 wounded," William Booth and  Ruth Eglash said.  --  Israel has mobilized more than 40,000 reservists and is "mobilizing two infantry brigades, artillery, combat bulldozers, and tanks along the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion."  --  "Israel said it had undertaken more than 273 airstrikes against the strip on Tuesday," Al Jazeera reported early Wednesday.[2]  --  BACKGROUND: At the origin of this latest round of bloodletting was the abduction and killing of three Israeli youths.  --  On Tuesday, Max Blumenthal, who recently spoke in Tacoma, made the startling charge that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s military-intelligence apparatus are responsible for what is happening, because "[t]hrough a toxic blend of propaganda, subterfuge, and incitement, they inflamed a precarious situation, manipulating Israelis into supporting their agenda until they made an utterly avoidable nightmare inevitable."[3]  --  Rather than tell the truth, Blumenthal said in his Electronic Intifada piece, "Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency imposed a gag order on the national media, barring news outlets from reporting that the teens had almost certainly been killed, and forbidding them from revealing the identities of their suspected killers.  --  The Shin Bet even lied to the parents of the kidnapped teens, deceiving them into believing their sons were alive.  --  Instead of mounting a limited action to capture the suspected perpetrators and retrieve the teens’ bodies, Netanyahu staged an aggressive international public relations campaign, demanding sympathy and outrage from world leaders, who were also given the impression that the missing teens were still alive.  --  Meanwhile, Israel’s armed forces rampaged throughout the occupied West Bank and bombarded the Gaza Strip in a campaign of collective punishment deceptively marketed to Israelis and the world as a rescue mission."  --  Netanyahu's motive, according to Blumenthal, was that he was "still smarting" from U.S. recognition of a Palestinian unity government and "resolved to milk the kidnapping for maximum propaganda value" to undermine the Palestinian cause.  --  The claim that the leadership of Hamas is responsible for the murders is false, Blumenthal said....

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TRANSLATION / ANALYSIS: Why Iraq imploded

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Le Monde diplomatique has devoted much of its July 2014 issue to Iraq.  --  Prominent among the articles the number contains is a probing analysis by Peter Harling, translated below.  --  Harling is an analyst at the International Crisis Group, an establishment NGO with many prestigious names associated with it.  --  He explains why he mostly blames Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the catastrophe, but also looks more deeply into the reasons Maliki acted as he did.  --  In the Middle East today, he concludes, increasingly "[t]he art of governing that is spreading consists in abandoning any ambition to govern at the level of the nation-state.  --  Regimes no longer even try to overcome the splits that divide their societies, whether these be of ideology, development, or repression.  --  Instead, they attack along these fault lines, make them worse, and seek conflict.  --  By radicalizing one part of society, they consolidate their position in another, and spare themselves the trouble of any constructive program:  the fear of what might replace them suffices to keep them in power.  --  They also tend to weaken the national character of their institutions by depriving them of their autonomy, in order to make themselves indispensable.  --  Then they sell themselves abroad in the name of the 'war on terrorism' on the strength of a 'democratic' election that reflects the hysterical vote of one swath of society and the fatal boycott of another."[1] ...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 05:54 Read more...
 

NEWS & ANALYSIS: Poroshenko to 'continue operation' as Ukraine rebels vow 'fight to end'

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On Sunday the New York Times quoted approvingly a Ukrainian "director of military programs" at a "policy research organization" (don't bother asking how they find these people) who said that in the renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine the government forces had "overcome that psychological barrier in which the military were afraid to shoot living people . . . not simply to shoot living people, but their own people," thus permitting their "recent success."[1]  --  But, said David Herszenhorn, "The biggest test is just ahead.  --  After fleeing south from Slovyansk, large numbers of rebels appeared Sunday to be regrouping in Donetsk, a city of one million, where any push to contain them will involve dangerous urban warfare.  --  Signaling resilience, insurgents on Sunday seized a building belonging to the state penitentiary service. . . . [T]he rebels, after suffering losses, appeared to be searching for weapons."  --  AP reported that the self-described governor of the Donetsk People's Republic declared at a rally attended by thousands that rebels would "begin a real partisan war around the whole perimeter of Donetsk."[2]  -- "[T]he mood was dire Sunday at a rebel checkpoint on the outskirts of Donetsk," Yuras Karmanau said.  --  "'We will fight to the end because we have nowhere left to retreat,' said one of the masked fighters."  --  Residents fear that Donetsk "will be left in ruins like Slovyansk," an inhabitant said.  --  They have reason to fear, as this weekend's promised diplomacy never got off the ground.  --  Reuters, in an analytical piece, said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko may be ignoring both European and Russian views in pursuing his military offensive, and instead "show[ing] an ear acutely tuned to Ukrainian domestic politics,"[3] which is virulently nationalistic, even fascistic.  --  "After the success of the offensive in taking Slovyansk, Poroshenko shows no sign of negotiating another truce," said Thomas Grove and Richard Balmforth.  --  "He took triumphantly to Twitter on Sunday:  'My order is now in effect -- tighten the ring around the terrorists,' he wrote.  'Continue the operation to liberate Donetsk and Luhansk regions.'" ...

Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 06:56 Read more...
 

NEWS: 'No doubt' Israel headed for fighting with Hamas, former army intel chief says

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Another round of bloodletting has begun in Israel-Palestine.  --  As Monday approached there were riots in Israeli Arab towns, stone-throwing in Jerusalem's Old City, and both rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli Air Force strikes in response.  --  According to Haaretz updates, former army intel chief Amos Yadlin stated that there is no doubt Israel is headed for another round of fighting with Hamas.[1]   --  On Sunday afternoon Palestinian Attorney General Muhammad Abd al-Ghani Uweili said that Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old Palestinian whose body was found in a Jerusalem forest last Wednesday, was burned alive."  --  Hamas is said to be seeking a cease-fire without conditions, but "the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades said in a press conference in Gaza that the Palestinian factions will not accept a ceasefire that does not include a removal of the blockade on the Gaza Strip and a resumption of normal daily lives in the West Bank and Jerusalem."  --  The chairman of a religious Zionist party (Habayit Hayehudi) complained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "quiet will be met with quiet" policy "harms Israeli deterrence and allows Hamas to build up from round to round."  --  On Sunday evening Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Benny Gantz was meeting with infantry and tank commanders deployed in the northern Gaza Strip, saying that Hamas is responsible for rocket fire from the Strip and "that the security establishment will respond with force if calm is not restored to the south." ...

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 July 2014 21:57 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: PNB's fine was 'imposed by the North American empire' (J.-L. Mélenchon)

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In his latest statement, published Wednesday and translated in its entirety below, Parti de Gauche founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon analyzed the historic record fine levied by the U.S. Department of Justice on the French bank BNP Paribas, and discussed the midterm budget votes in France's National Assembly....

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COMMENTARY: 'Economist' calls for 'tougher measures' against Russia

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As the Economist saw it on Saturday, "Russia has, in effect, already invaded eastern Ukraine," and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is "under intense pressure not to extend the temporary ceasefire that Mr. Putin persistently and disingenuously calls for."[1]  --  "The question for Mr. Putin is how far he is willing to go if Ukrainian forces seem to be gaining the upper hand over the rebels. In a pure military contest Kiev is likely to prevail, given enough time.  --  'Even just standing still will require Russia to put in more resources,' says Mark Galeotti of New York University.  --  Mr. Putin may not be able to avoid this.  --  Igor Korotchenko, a military analyst and editor who is close to the defense ministry, argues that Russia should step up its support to anti-Kiev forces following the precedent of America’s support to Syria’s rebels."  --  The Economist, for its part, it seems, would like to see more violence.  --  "The question for the West is how much of an appetite it has for tougher measures.  The recent cycle of threats of more sanctions, followed by meek postponements, does not bode well."  --  COMMENT:  The neoliberal Economist, which may be considered to be the voice of Western capital, blames the fighting on Russia.  --  On the left, it is easy to find narratives according to which all the aggression is on the Ukrainian/Western side and Russia acting defensively.  --  The existence of such diametrically opposed narratives enable both sides easily to justify escalation as defensive, make it harder for either side to back down, and greatly increase the dangerousness of this situation....

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Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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