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William Hartung, Armed Hypocrisy

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There really isn’t a word for it. Bonanza hardly does the trick. Stroke of luck? Not appropriate, given the subject. Hit the jackpot? Well, it wouldn’t be inaccurate, that’s for sure.

Not in recent memory has there been a U.S. arms transfer to another country quite like the latest one designated for Ukraine.  As last week ended, Congress put its stamp of approval on a $40 billion package of aid, $7 billion more than even President Biden had asked for. About 60% of it will be for “security assistance” — that is, weaponry of just about every imaginable kind, ranging from anti-tank missiles and drones to long-range howitzers.  Such numbers instantly left countries the U.S. gave military assistance to in 2021 in the dust and will make Ukraine the largest recipient of American military aid in decades.  As the Washington Post put it recently, in these last months Ukraine has become “the world’s single largest recipient of U.S. security assistance, receiving more in 2022 than the United States ever provided to Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel in a single year.”

And count on one more thing: this may just be the beginning in a conflict all too near the heart of Europe that shows no sign of ending any time soon. So, whatever you think of that war, why not raise a glass to its instant winners? And no, I don’t mean either Russia, its military in ever more disastrous shape, or Ukraine, a staggering percentage of its population no longer even living in their own homes and its economy decimated.  I was actually thinking of the only obvious jackpot winners in that ongoing disaster, the military-industrial-congressional complex and especially, as TomDispatch regular and Pentagon expert William Hartung makes strikingly clear today, our largest weapons-making corporations.  They are on a tear, a run for our money that he puts all too sadly in context on a planet that hardly needed one more war. Tom

Arsenal of Autocracy?

The Major Weapons Makers Cash in Worldwide, Not Just in Ukraine

These are good times to be an arms maker.  Not only are tens of billions of dollars in new military spending headed for the coffers of this country's largest weapons contractors, but they're being praised as defenders of freedom and democracy, thanks to their role in arming Ukraine to fight the Russians. The last time the industry gained such a sterling reputation was during World War II when it was lauded as the “arsenal of democracy” for fueling the fight against fascism. 

Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes recently underscored this point in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. While discussing how he should respond to criticism of his company benefiting from a rise in sales right now, he said:

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Michael Klare, Saying Goodbye to Planet Earth?

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The signs are everywhere.  If you happen to live in the United States, parts of the Southwest and West are broiling in a megadrought the likes of which hasn’t been experienced in at least 1,200 years; water is increasingly scarce; and fires are flaring months early and in a staggering fashion, with acres burned already significantly above the normal yearly average. Consider it nothing short of historic in the grimmest imaginable sense. If you live on the East coast, on the other hand, it’s just possible that your house may float away as some are already beginning to do on North Carolina’s Outer Banks; while, in case you hadn’t noticed, losses of global wetlands are indeed significantly on the rise across the planet.

Should you happen to live in Iraq, however, it’s probably the repeated disastrous dust storms that are on your mind. After all, there used to be only a couple a year. Now, there are 20 or so annually.  In India and Pakistan, on the other hand, unprecedented spring temperatures, rising repeatedly to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in both countries (and the electricity shortages accompanying them) undoubtedly caught your attention.  Meanwhile, in Russian Siberia, the permafrost is thawing more rapidly, releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere at an ever increasing rate. In Australia, on the other hand, marine heat waves have caused widespread mass bleachings of coral reefs, with the fourth of them in the last seven years taking place this spring. In South Africa, it’s extreme rainfall and the resulting record spring flooding, now twice as likely to occur as in the past, that’s devastating.

Okay, I’ll stop there for now. Sadly, all of this (and so much more) is just the beginning on a planet that’s overheating all too quickly. Worse yet, as TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, author of All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, makes clear today, the war in Ukraine is the last thing on Earth (so to speak) that we need right now. For reasons he explains vividly, it seems to ensure the worst when it comes to climate change on a planet where humanity is already at war with nature and it’s starting to strike back in a big way. Tom

The Ukraine War’s Collateral Damage

The Health of an Overheating World Is at Stake

The war in Ukraine has already caused massive death and destruction, with more undoubtedly to come as the fighting intensifies in the country’s east and south. Many thousands of soldiers and civilians have already been killed or wounded, some 13 million Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, and an estimated one-third of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed. Worse yet, that war’s brutal consequences have in no way been limited to Ukraine and Russia: hunger and food insecurity are increasing across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East as grain deliveries from two of the world’s leading wheat producers have been severed. People are also suffering globally from another harsh consequence of that war: soaring fuel prices. And yet even those manifestations of the war's “collateral damage” don't come close to encompassing what could be the greatest casualty of all: planet Earth itself.

Any major war will, of course, inflict immense harm on the environment and Ukraine's no exception. Although far from over, the fighting there has already resulted in widespread habitat and farmland destruction, while attacks on fuel-storage facilities (crucial targets for both sides) and the wartime consumption of fossil fuels have already released colossal amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. But however detrimental they may be, those should be thought of as relatively minor injuries when compared to the long-term catastrophic damage sure to be caused by the collapse of global efforts to slow the pace of global warming.

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Robert Lipsyte, Abortion — Not for Women Only

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It’s easy to forget just how long we’ve been waiting for Samuel Alito’s “opinion,” signaling that Roe v. Wade is going down the tubes. Back in 2019, I already took it for granted that the Supreme Court would indeed put an end to Roe and wrote then that, as I did, I couldn’t help but think “of my own involvement with abortion as a man.” My wife and I had indeed decided to abort a fetus because of a medical anomaly, even though we both wanted a child then. That was 10 years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. Now, I feel nothing but horror and sadness for couples like us who will indeed face such crises in an increasingly Trumpian America.

And honestly, I also remember the years of my youth before Roe became the law of the land in 1973. In fact, there was a moment then when, filled with horror, I ventured into the back-alley world of illegal abortions to help someone I cared deeply about who was, I thought, pregnant.  We were lucky.  She proved not to be, but I’ve never forgotten the fear (and, strangely enough, the fascination) of that abortion journey into what was then an everyday American underworld and undoubtedly will be again.  More than a half-century has passed since then and I still haven’t forgotten that moment, which makes me truly sad for all the young people today who are going to face a similar hell on Earth thanks to Donald Trump, Samuel Alito, and crew.

They have no hesitation, I know, about sending the rest of us into the flames of hell.  Looking back, the failed coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, may not have been the worst of Donald Trump. His seizure (with the help of Mitch McConnell) of the Supreme Court will, I fear, leave that riot in the dustbin of history when it comes to changing this country.

And they have a nerve.  Truly they do.  Which is why, today, I turn this site over to Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times columnist, TomDispatch regular, and author most recently of SportsWorld: An American Dreamland. Let him remind us all of what it was like, not just for women but for men, too, in the pre-Roe years and why it’s up to us not to let this stand. Tom

Where Are the Men?

No More Bystander Boys in the Post-Roe Era

For 50 years now, people have told desperate, heart-breaking stories about what it was like to search for an abortion in the days before Roe v. Wade. These were invariably narratives of women in crisis. They sometimes involved brief discussions about economic inequality, police-state intrigue, and unwanted children, but for the most part men were invisible in them, missing in action. Where were they? And where are they now that a wall of fundamental rights seems to be crumbling away not just for women, but for all of us? This is another example of what I used to call the Bystander Boys.

As a sportswriter, my work over these decades often brought me into a universe of male entitlement and the sort of posturing I thought of as faux masculinity. Even in that chest-beating environment, I was struck by the absence in abortion stories of what in another time would have been called manliness. What happened to that mostly storybook ideal of the brave, modest, responsible, big-hearted protector? I figured out early on not to waste time searching for him among football quarterbacks or baseball coaches, or even cops and Army officers. Much, much later, I found more people with the right stuff -- that "manly" ideal -- among single mothers and feminist lawyers.

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