Rubio spokesperson Alex Conant tweeted that the senator dominated the debate by other measures, including as the most-searched candidate online while on stage. His campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, tweeted that Rubio raised three times as much money during this debate as he did during any other.
“What Gov. Christie was trying to do was to knock Marco out, to kill him dead,” Rubio strategist Todd Harris told reporters in the spin room following the debate. “He took his best shot, and he failed.”
But Christie’s campaign operatives pushed an alternate interpretation: that the debate altered the course of the race in New Hampshire. “The rush to coronate Marco Rubio as the nominee is off,” Senior Strategist Mike DuHaime told reporters afterward. “I think people are hitting pause on that and are taking a second look at Christie, especially, and will probably take a second look at the whole field.”
Whether Rubio will be able to maintain his strong standing in New Hampshire is an existential question for Christie, Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, all of whom are betting their candidacies on placing in the first-in-the-nation primary.
Meanwhile, the current New Hampshire frontrunner escaped the harsh scrutiny Saturday faced by Rubio. Donald Trump has held a commanding lead in the polls for months here. And although Rubio’s stumbles could help the cause of the three governors running against him, each hoping to untangle himself from the others and emerge as a clear choice in the so-called establishment lane, they did little to blunt Trump’s standing.
Where the hell was that Marco Rubio during the last debate before the New Hampshire primary?
Rubio had a terrible, terrible night. Chris Christie, of all people, managed to land an attack on him — that he simply robotically repeats his talking points — that has the potential to haunt his campaign, or at least focus the attacks against him. And Rubio's response was...to robotically repeat his talking points.
This is a bad time for Rubio to stumble. He's a few days out from an Iowa caucus where he and his campaign managed to spin a third-place finish as a win because they outperformed expectations. He's a few days ahead of a New Hampshire primary where he and his campaign have set the expectation that they're going to come in second (which is consistent with the polls). And he's only a few weeks away from a South Carolina primary where his campaign needs to come in first.
Do voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina care about Rubio's terrible debate performance? Who knows. But the political establishment and media do. And those are constituencies Rubio can't afford to lose.
The American Slave Coast is a big book, both physically (over 700 pages including citations) and conceptually. From the colonial period to the postbellum, the authors Ned and Constance Sublette cast slavery, and the slave-breeding industry, as the center of American history. It’s a provocative and nightmarish thesis, so distant from conventional ideas about America’s history that it feels like a dispatch from an entirely different time and place. If America had lost the Cold War, maybe this is how kids would be learning the nation’s story.
There’s an important fundamental difference between the history of slavery in the United States and a “history of the slave-breeding industry,” as The American Coast is subtitled. Slavery, in simplest terms, was unpaid labor. Slaves were shipped from Africa to the American South, where they cultivated tobacco and picked cotton and served owners but didn’t get paid and couldn’t leave. Slowly, reformers and abolitionists chipped away at the institution, first banning the Transatlantic trade, then fighting a civil war to eliminate human bondage. Freeing the slaves destroyed the South’s pseudo-feudal economy, ending the region’s economic dominance. That’s the story.
But to think about American slaves merely as coerced and unpaid laborers is to misunderstand the institution. Slaves weren’t just workers, the Sublettes remind the reader—they were human capital. The very idea that people could be property is so offensive that we tend retroactively to elide the designation, projecting onto history the less-noxious idea of the enslaved worker, rather than the slave as commodity. Mapping 20th-century labor models onto slavery spares us from reckoning with the full consequences of organized dehumanization, which lets us off too easy: To turn people into products means more than not paying them for their work.
One of the central misconceptions the Sublettes seek to debunk is the subordination of American slavery to the transatlantic trade. Conceptually locating the center of the slave trade offshore is good for America’s self-image, and it’s an old line. The Sublettes quote Southern slavers who blamed English firms for forcing the barbaric mode of transportation on America. In schools, the 1808 ban on capturing and shipping slaves is taught as part of the end of slavery, but the Sublettes re-frame it as simple protectionism: Domestic producers wanted to lock out foreign competition.
I loved your history of the Powell Memorandum, which feels like the clarion call in many ways that started billionaires and big business thinking seriously about how to use their money to influence the political process. Lewis Powell had been a lawyer for the tobacco industry, and would become a justice on the Supreme Court, but in the early 1970s he sounded the alarm to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That’s almost the starting line for the decades-long process of building think tanks and foundations and conservative media — but you dug out new information on what Powell was up to. How influential was he, and what did he help create?
I think it was the Rosetta Stone in some ways. It was 1971 and Lewis Powell had been a lawyer for the tobacco industry. He had felt firsthand the sting of the modern-regulatory state as the government began to crack down on tobacco for health reasons and he was trying to defend it. What I found that was new and interesting came when I got ahold of Richard Mellon Scaife’s unpublished memoir. It tells this story of how he’s in this little tiny club with Lewis Powell; they call it “The Committee to Save Carthage.” And what they want to do is be an elite that will get together and save America by really sacking American politics. They want to have basically a surprise attack on American politics — and they plan it. Richard Mellon Scaife’s got the money and Powell’s got the ideas. And what they build very deliberately is a counter-intelligentsia. What’s so interesting about Powell is that what he sees as the enemy is not the hippies, or the yippies, or even the anti-war movement necessarily, which was sort of still going in 1971.
He identified the enemy as the universities and the educated elite.
Right, the enemy for big business in America was the intelligentsia. The educated elite, the media, the scientists specifically, judges were very key. They wanted to change the whole judiciary and influence opinion-makers. And so they set out to build this counter-intelligentsia and Scaife describes in his memoir how he put — what he reckons by modern dollars — $1 billion into this project, which is a stupendous amount of money. It comes from the Gulf Oil fortune that he inherited and he’s working with Powell. Powell then gets on the Supreme Court, but they build the early foundations, literally, that created, and they use private philanthropy, which gives these families huge tax deductions to essentially propagate theories that serve their personal interests, their personal financial interests.
Let alone the specific regulatory interests they have in front of Congress.
Right — it’s almost like a lobbying operation disguised as a charity. They build up the think tanks that we all know, the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute — which already existed but they pour more money into it — the Cato Institute becomes the special think tank of the Koch family, and several others. And these counter-intellectual centers start waging a war of ideas. Then they very deliberately move on into the universities too.
What’s so impressive to me is the ruthless efficiency of the right’s strategy. They had a plan in 1971. Year after year, they have stuck to and refined the script. They keep executing on all of these fronts — whether it is pouring money into judicial races, funding free-enterprise professors at business schools, supporting the conservative media. Over 40 years, all of these projects have taken shape and paid dividends.
Exactly. And I think one of the things that’s most important that the Kochs have done is to subsidize programs in universities and colleges all over the country. It’s hard to count because they’re not transparent particularly, but there’s somewhere between 220 and maybe 300 universities and colleges now that have Koch-funded programs.
What they would say, of course, is, well, the universities are left-leaning and liberal — but the thing is what they’re doing is subsidizing one point of view, whereas the others have grown organically because it’s academic freedom, and that happens to be what the scholars are teaching and believing. They instead are waging a war of ideas, but one in which they push their own point of view by paying for it, and paying universities to push it. And it’s growing at a very fast clip at this point.
One of the things in the final chapter of the book, there is a tape of them talking about all of this, at one of the secret meetings the Kochs hold, with the donor group that they’ve assembled. And their operatives are saying, “We’ve created something that the other side (meaning the liberals) can’t compete with, it’s unrivaled.” And they say, “What it is is a pipeline, a talent pipeline.” And they describe it: You take the most promising students that you can convert to your point of view and you move them on through the other institutions that they’ve got, which are political think tanks, advocacy groups, turning them into people who work in their campaigns, authors, media personalities.
They talk about this in such an amazing way and openly, because they’re talking in front of their own group, that they’ve created an integrated network. And it is an integrated network.
Did you ever step back and just marvel at both the audacity and the success of what they imagined and what they pulled off?
It’s kind of astounding when you look at the thing all together. You understand when you look at it, that of course it’s been designed by engineers.
And what’s interesting is — it’s not what people often write about, in the daily press they talk about it as something that’s just about winning elections. They are aiming at elections, and they’ve won many and they’ve lost some. But it’s much more comprehensive than that, it’s much more ambitious than that. It’s aiming at shaping the whole conversation of the country. They want to be the gatekeepers for policy, what’s decided, how it’s talked about.
“Thank you so much. It’s so great to be here in Iowa. We’re here just thawing out. Todd and I and a couple of our friends here from Alaska, lending our support for the next president of our great United States of America, Donald J. Trump.
“Mr. Trump, you’re right, look back there in the press box. Heads are spinning, media heads are spinning. This is going to be so much fun.
“Are you ready to make America great again? We all have a part in this. We all have a responsibility. Looking around at all of you, you hardworking Iowa families. You farm families, and teachers, and teamsters, and cops, and cooks. You rockin’ rollers. And holy rollers! All of you who work so hard. You full-time moms. You with the hands that rock the cradle. You all make the world go round, and now our cause is one.
“When asked why I would jump into a primary — kind of stirring it up a little bit maybe — and choose one over some friends who are running and I’ve endorsed a couple others in their races before they decided to run for president, I was told left and right, “You are going to get so clobbered in the press. You are just going to get beat up, and chewed up, and spit out.” You know, I’m thinking, And? You know, like you guys haven’t tried to do that every day since that night in ‘08, when I was on stage nominated for VP, and I got to say, “yeah, I’ll go, send me, you betcha. I’ll serve.” And, like you all, I’m still standing. So those of us who’ve kind of gone through the wringer as Mr. Trump has, makes me respect you even more. That you’re here, and you’re putting your efforts, you’re putting reputations, you’re putting relationships on the line to do the right thing for this country. Because you are ready to make America great again.
“Well, I am here because like you I know that it is now or never. I’m in it to win it because we believe in America, and we love our freedom. And if you love your freedom, thank a vet. Thank a vet, and know that the United States military deserves a commander-in-chief that our country passionately, and will never apologize for this country. A new commander-in-chief who will never leave our men behind. A new commander-in-chief, one who will never lie to the families of the fallen. I’m in it, because just last week, we’re watching our sailors suffer and be humiliated on a world stage at the hands of Iranian captors in violation of international law, because a weak-kneed, capitulator-in-chief has decided America will lead from behind. And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, “No, America would apologize as part of the deal,” as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, “Thank you, enemy.” We are ready for a change. We are ready and our troops deserve the best. A new commander-in-chief whose track record of success has proven he is the master at the art of the deal. He is one who would know to negotiate.
“Only one candidate’s record of success proves he is the master of the art of the deal. He is beholden to no one but we the people, how refreshing. He is perfectly positioned to let you make America great again. Are you ready for that, Iowa?
“No more pussy footin’ around! Our troops deserve the best, you deserve the best!
“He is from the private sector, not a politician, can I get a “Hallelujah!” Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge. So troops, hang in there, because help’s on the way because he, better than anyone, isn’t he known for being able to command, fire! Are you ready for a commander-in-chief, you ready for a commander-in-chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass? Ready for someone who will secure our borders, to secure our jobs, and to secure our homes? Ready to make America great again, are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.
“Now, eight years ago, I warned that Obama’s promised fundamental transformation of America. That is was going to take more from you, and leave America weaker on the world stage. And that we would soon be unrecognizable. Well, it’s the one promise that Obama kept. But he didn’t do it alone, and this is important to remember, especially those of you, like me, a member of the GOP, this is what we have to remember, in this very contested, competitive, great primary race.
“Trump’s candidacy, it has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, okay? Well, Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well. He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system. The way that the system really works, and please hear me on this, I want you guys to understand more and more how the system, the establishment, works, and has gotten us into the troubles that we are in in America. The permanent political class has been doing the bidding of their campaign donor class, and that’s why you see that the borders are kept open. For them, for their cheap labor that they want to come in. That’s why they’ve been bloating budgets. It’s for crony capitalists to be able suck off of them. It’s why we see these lousy trade deals that gut our industry for special interests elsewhere. We need someone new, who has the power, and is in the position to bust up that establishment to make things great again. It’s part of the problem.
“His candidacy, which is a movement, it’s a force, it’s a strategy. It proves, as long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles, and their perks, and their media ratings, they don’t really care who wins elections. Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own frontrunner. Now would the Left ever, would the DNC ever come after their frontrunner and her supporters? No because they don’t eat their own, they don’t self-destruct. But for the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump’s supporters even, with accusations that are so false. They are so busted, the way that this thing works.
“We, you, a diverse, dynamic, needed support base that they would attack. And now, some of them even whispering, they’re ready to throw in for Hillary over Trump because they can’t afford to see the status quo go, otherwise, they won’t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all these years. They don’t want that to end.
“Well, and then, funny, ha ha, not funny, but now, what they’re doing is wailing, “well, Trump and his, uh, uh, uh, Trumpeters, they’re not conservative enough.” Oh my goodness gracious. What the heck would the establishment know about conservatism? Tell me, is this conservative? GOP majorities handing over a blank check to fund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood and illegal immigration that competes for your jobs, and turning safety nets into hammocks, and all these new Democrat voters that are going to be coming on over border as we keep the borders open, and bequeathing our children millions in new debt, and refusing to fight back for our solvency, and our sovereignty, even though that’s why we elected them and sent them as a majority to DC. No! If they’re not willing to do that, then how are they to tell us that we’re not conservative enough in order to be able to make these changes in America that we know need to be…Now they’re concerned about this ideological purity? Give me a break! Who are they to say that? Oh tell somebody like, Phyllis Schlafly, she is the Republican, conservative movement icon and hero and a Trump supporter. Tell her she’s not conservative. How ‘bout the rest of us? Right wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution. Tell us that we’re not red enough? Yeah, coming from the establishment. Right.
“Well, he being the only one who’s been willing, he’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve, where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn’t want to talk about these issue until he brought ‘em up. In fact, they’ve been wearing a, this, political correctness kind of like a suicide vest. And enough is enough. These issues that Donald Trump talks about had to be debated. And he brought them to the forefront. And that’s why we are where we are today with good discussion. A good, heated, and very competitive primary is where we are. And now though, to be lectured that, “Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry,” is what we’re hearing from the establishment. Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes! You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. They need to get used to it.
“This election is more than just your basic ABCs, anybody but Clinton. It’s more than that this go-around. When we’re talking about a nation without borders. When we’re talking about bankruptcies in our federal government. Debt that our children and our grandchildren, they’ll never be able to pay off. When we’re talking about no more Reaganesque power that comes from strength. Power through strength. Well, then, we’re talking about our very existence, so no, we’re not going to chill. In fact it’s time to drill, baby, drill down, and hold these folks accountable. And we need to stop the self-sabotage and elect new, and independent, a candidate who represents that and represents America first, finally. Pro-Constitution, common-sense solutions, that he brings to the table. Yes the status quo has got to go. Otherwise we’re just going to get more of the same, and with their failed agenda, it can’t be salvaged. It must be savaged. And Donald Trump is the right one to do that.
“Are you ready for new? And are you ready for the leader who will let you make America great again? It’s gonna take a whole team. It’s gonna take a whole team. Fighters, all of us, in the private sector. Fighters in the House and the Senate. So, our friends, who are fighters in the House and the Senate today, they need to stay there and help out. They can help our new leader in the positions that they are in.
“Let me say something really positive about one of those individuals: Rand Paul. I’m going to tell you about that libertarian streak in him that is healthy, because he knows, you only go to war if you’re determined to win the war! And you quit footin’ the bill for these nations who are oil-rich, we’re paying for some of their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries. Where they’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ “Allah Akbar” calling Jihad on each other’s heads for ever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out. We’ll fight for American interests, and as Donald Trump has said, other nations where we have been footin’ the bill, but we haven’t prioritized our own domestic budgets well enough to be able to afford what we’re doing overseas. Things are gonna change under President Trump.
“So it can be an unbeatable team with fighters there in the House and the Senate. Yeah, our leader is a little bit different. He’s a multi-billionaire. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, it’s amazing, he is not elitist at all. Oh, I just hope you guys get to know him more and more as a person, and a family man. What he’s been able to accomplish, with his um, it’s kind of this quiet generosity. Yeah, maybe his largess kind of, I don’t know, some would say gets in the way of that quiet generosity, and, uh, his compassion, but if you know him as a person and you’ll get to know him more and more, you’ll have even more respect. Not just for his record of success, and the good intentions for America, but who he is as a person. He’s not an elitist. And yes, as a multi-billionaire, we still root him on, because he roots us on. And he has, he’s spent his life with the workin’ man. And he tells us Joe six packs, he said, “You know, I’ve worked very, very hard. And I’ve succeeded. Hugely I’ve succeeded,” he says. And he says, “I want you to succeed too.” And that is refreshing, because he, as he builds things, he builds big things, things that touch the sky, big infrastructure that puts other people to work. He has spent his life looking up and respecting the hard-hats and the steel-toed boots and the work ethic that you all have within you. He, being an optimist, passionate about equal-opportunity to work. The self-made success of his, you know that he doesn’t get his power, his high, off of OPM, other people’s money, like a lot of dopes in Washington do. They’re addicted to OPM, where they take other people’s money, and then their high is getting to redistribute it, right? And then they get to be really popular people when they get to give out your hard money. Well, he doesn’t do that. His power, his passion, is the fabric of America. And it’s woven by work ethic and dreams and drive and faith in the Almighty, what a combination.
“Are you ready to share in that again, Iowa? Because that’s what’s going to let you make America great again. He’s going to be able to empower you to look out for one-another again instead of relying on bankrupt government to supposedly be looking out for you. No, and I think you’re ready for that. And Iowa, I believe too that you’re ready to see that our vets are treated better than illegal immigrants are treated in this country. And you’re ready for the tax reform he talks about to open up main street again. And you’re ready to stop the race-baiting and the division based on color and zip code, to unify around the right issues. The issues important to me, or I wouldn’t be endorsing him. Pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, strict constitutionality. Those things that are unifying values and their time-tested truths involved. These are unifying values from big cities to tiny towns, from big mountain states and the Big Apple, to the big, beautiful heartland that’s in between.
“Now, finally friends, I want you to try to picture this, it’s a nice thing to picture. Exactly one year from tomorrow, former President Barack Obama. He packs up the teleprompters and the selfie-sticks, and the Greek columns, and all that hopey, changey stuff and he heads on back to Chicago, where I’m sure he can find some community there to organize again. There, he can finally look up, President Obama will be able to look up, and there, over his head, he’ll be able to see that shining, towering, Trump tower. Yes, Barack, he built that, and that says a lot. Iowa, you say a lot, being here tonight, supporting the right man who will allow you to make America great again. God bless you! God bless the United States of America and our next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!”
The flurry of attacks around the Middle East and other parts of the world in recent months by militants related to the “Islamic State” (ISIS) has sharpened the urgency of figuring out how to defeat ISIS and rid the world of this terror. The continued expansion of Al-Qaeda in parallel with ISIS’ robustness heightens the urgency of implementing a strategy that could minimize the immediate threats from such militant groups, while also allowing the dozens of countries — mostly in Asia and Africa — that are the breeding ground for such fanatical groups to look forward to more normal and peaceful national development.
The recent news from leading Western states is not encouraging in this respect, as the United States, France, the United Kingdom and some of their allies among the world’s industrialized democracies continue to focus heavily on a military response to the ISIS threat. A major global meeting of these countries fighting ISIS is taking place in Paris this week, while a few weeks ago the New York Times revealed that the United States is considering a Pentagon proposal to build up a string of military bases in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East that could be used, “for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes” against ISIS’ many affiliates across those regions. The bases would serve as hubs for Special Operations troops and intelligence operatives who would conduct counterterrorism missions, creating what the Times quoted Pentagon officials as calling an “enduring” American military presence in these volatile regions.
Say what? An enduring American military presence across the Middle East? And this is supposed to promote stability, peace and security? Please think again, guys, and get some Middle Eastern scholars, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and, especially, historians in the room with you to give you a more accurate analysis of what happens when foreign militaries park themselves long-term in local societies across the global South.
Military force should be used on occasions when it is the most appropriate response to an immediate threat or aggression, such as liberating Kuwait from Iraq’s occupation in 1990. But in this situation of seeking a policy to reduce and ultimately eliminate the threats from ISIS and similar groups, long-term military action anchored in a permanent foreign presence in our region is probably the most nonsensical and counterproductive approach that could be adopted — especially if it does not include a serious mechanism to reform the autocratic, corrupt, unjust, and mostly inefficient security-based governance systems in our region.
We have almost half a century of experience in foreign powers using military means across the Arab-Asian region to ensure their and their local allies’ well-being. Any rational analysis of the actual consequences of such a military-heavy approach to the legitimate triple goals of defeating ISIS, protecting one’s allies, and enhancing one’s own national interests suggests that this policy does not work, as the Al-Qaeda and ISIS experience alone should show.
The main problem is that foreign military actions tend to achieve exactly the opposite of the intended goals. Military assaults against terror groups, resistance movements, and just plain old civilian demonstrators or non-violent rebels — whether carried out by local governments or foreign powers, or both — tend to harden and expand the resolve of those who challenge the states in question. Militarism as the main response to citizen grievances only heightens the sense of humiliation and degradation that sparked citizen protests in the first place; it also tends to widen the circle of aggrieved citizens who join the ranks of those who oppose their militaristic states. Egypt and Bahrain today are ongoing examples of this.
Amnesty International says new evidence confirms that Saudi Arabia has used US-manufactured cluster munitions in a recent airstrike on the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
On Friday, the London-based rights group said Riyadh dropped the internationally banned cluster munitions on Sana’a in an air attack on January 6, which killed a 16-year-old boy and injured at least six other civilians.
The organization also said the attack scattered submunitions in at least four different residential neighborhoods.
Amnesty also urged the Persian Gulf kingdom to immediately stop using the weapons.
This comes as Saudi Arabia admitted on January 12 that its military had used cluster bombs in the aggression against Yemen.
The spokesman for the Saudi military, Ahmad al-Asiri, claimed that Riyadh had used cluster bombs just once in an airstrike on the northwestern province of Hajjah to attack cars belonging to Yemeni fighters nearly nine months ago.
Earlier this month, the UN human rights office said it had received reports that Saudi forces had used cluster bombs in Hajjah, adding that a UN team found remnants of 29 cluster submunitions in the village of al-Odair. Local sources in Hajjah also confirmed the repeated use of the bombs in attacks against villages, saying the airstrikes had caused significant loss of life among the civilians.
On January 8, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern over Saudi Arabia’s intensifying airstrikes against civilians. He said, if proved, Riyadh’s use of cluster bombs in the capital, Sana’a, may amount to a “war crime.”
The West continues its strong political and military support to one of its longstanding allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia –- despite withering criticism of the kingdom’s battlefield excesses in the ongoing war in neighbouring Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition has been accused of using banned cluster bombs, bombing civilian targets and destroying hospitals – either by accident or by design—using weapons provided primarily by the US, UK and France.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said last week the armed conflict in Yemen continues to take a terrible toll on civilians, with at least 81 civilians reportedly killed and 109 injured in December.
As a result, the toll of civilian casualties, recorded between 26 March and 31 December 2015, are estimated at more than 8,000 people, including nearly 2,800 killed and more than 5,300 wounded.
But Western powers — which are quick to condemn and impose sanctions on countries accused of civilian killings– have refused to take any drastic action against Saudi Arabia or its coalition partners, including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
The Saudi stranglehold is increasingly linked to a thriving multi-billion dollar arms market — with British, French and mostly American military suppliers providing sophisticated weapons, including state-of-the-art fighter planes, helicopters, missiles, battle tanks and electronic warfare systems.
The arms supplying countries, for obvious reasons, are unwilling to jeopardize their markets, specifically Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi arsenal alone includes Boeing F-15 fighter planes (US supplied), Tornado strike aircraft (UK), Aerospatiale Puma and Dauphin attack helicopters (French), Bell, Apache and Sikorsky helicopters (US), Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning Control System (US), Sidewinder, Sparrow and Stinger missiles (US) and Abrams and M60 battle tanks (US).
Dr. Natalie J. Goldring, a Senior Research Fellow with the Security Studies Programme in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, told IPS that for years, the US government has documented Saudi human rights abuses in its own reports, including the State Department.
“Yet the United States continues to provide a largely open-ended weapons supply line to the Saudi government. It’s time for the US government to act in accordance with the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and with its own laws and suspend arms transfers to Saudi Arabia,” she said.
She argued US weapons manufacturers’ profit motives for continuing massive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia should not drive US military and foreign policy.
“The US Defense Department may benefit in the short term by keeping some weapons supply lines open with foreign orders. But the risks to US military personnel and US interests should be given far greater weight in decision making,” said Goldring who also represents the Acronym Institute on conventional weapons and arms transfer issues, at the United Nations.
From the beginning of capitalism, workers have struggled against the imposition of fixed working hours, and the demand for shorter hours was a key component of the early labor movement. Initial battles saw high levels of resistance in the form of individual absenteeism, numerous holidays and irregular work habits. This resistance to normal working hours continues today in widespread slacking off, with workers often surfing the internet rather than doing their job. At every step of the way, then, workers have struggled to escape normal working hours, and many of the labor movement’s earliest successes had to do with reducing work time. The two-day weekend, for example, emerged spontaneously from workers’ predilection for drinking and spending an extra day recovering rather than working. The weekend’s eventual consolidation as a recognized and bounded period of time off was the product of sustained political struggles (a process that was not completed in the Western world until the 1970s). Likewise, workers achieved significant success in reducing the working week from sixty hours in 1900 to just below thirty-five hours during the Great Depression. Such was the speed of success that, over a period of five years in the 1930s, the working week declined by eighteen hours. During the earlier years of the Depression, the idea of a shorter working week enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States, and legislation for a thirty-hour working week was thought to be imminent. Simultaneously, intellectuals prophesied even further reductions in work time—imagining worlds where work was reduced to a bare minimum. In a classic statement, Paul Lafargue argued for limiting work to just three hours a day. Keynes famously argued for the same outcome, calculating that by 2030 we would all be working fifteen-hour working weeks—though it is less well known that he was simply verbalizing what were the broadly held beliefs of the time. And Marx made the shortening of the working week central to his entire postcapitalist vision, arguing that it represented a "basic prerequisite" to reaching "the realm of freedom."
But such visions of a three-hour work day have disappeared. The near century-long push for shorter working hours ended abruptly during the Great Depression, when business opinion and government policy decided to use make-work programmes in response to unemployment. Soon after World War II, the working week stabilized at forty hours across much of the Western world, and there has since been little serious consideration of changing this. Instead there has been a general expansion of work in the ensuing decades. First, there has been an increase in time spent at jobs throughout society. As women entered the workforce, the working week remained the same, and the overall amount of time devoted to jobs therefore increased. Secondly, there has been a progressive elimination of the work–life distinction, with work coming to permeate every aspect of our waking lives. Many of us are now tied to work all the time, with emails, phone calls, texts and job anxieties impinging upon us constantly. Salaried workers are often compelled to work unrecognized overtime, while many workers feel the social pressure to be seen working long hours. These demands mean that the average full-time US worker in fact logs closer to forty-seven hours a week. On top of this, a vast amount of work is unpaid and therefore uncounted in official data (there is also an ongoing gender divide within this unpaid labor force). While waged work remains difficult for many to find, unpaid work is proliferating—an entire sphere of "shadow work" is emerging with automation at the point of sale, with work being delegated to users (think self-checkouts and ATMs). Moreover, there is the hidden labor required to retain a job: financial management, job searching if unemployed, constant skills training, commuting time, and the all-important (gendered) sphere of the labor involved in caring for children, family members, and other dependents.
If work has extended itself into so many areas of our lives, a return to a shorter working week would bring with it a number of benefits. Beyond the most obvious—that it increases free time—it would bring with it a series of more subtle benefits. In the first place, reducing the working week constitutes a key response to rising automation. In fact, the role of this policy in previous periods of automation is often forgotten. Many commentators have rightly pointed to the history of technological change to show that it need not lead to mass unemployment. However, the primary periods of automation coincided with significant reductions in the working week; employment was often sustained by redistributing the work. A second benefit of this policy is its various environmental advantages. For instance, reductions in the working week would lead to significant reductions in energy consumption and our overall carbon footprint. Increased free time would also mean a reduction in all the convenience goods bought to fit into our hectic work schedules. More broadly, using productivity improvements for less work, rather than more output, would mean that energy efficiency improvements would go towards reducing environmental impacts. A reduction in working hours is therefore an essential plank in any response to climate change. Other research suggests that a shorter working week would bring a general reduction in the stress, anxiety and mental health problems fostered by neoliberalism. But one of the most important reasons for reducing work time is that it is a demand that both consolidates and generates class power. In the first place, reducing work time can be deployed as a temporary tactic in political struggle—working to contract, strikes, and other ways of removing labor time are means to exert pressure on capitalists. But secondly—and most importantly—the reduction of the working week also makes the labor movement stronger. By withdrawing labor hours from the market, the total supply of labor goes down and worker power increases.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama administration had spied on the Israeli government and, in the process, roped in communications the Netanyahu administration had with members of the U.S. Congress.
This news sparked a denunciation by Florida senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. “Obviously people read this report, they have a right to be concerned this morning about it,” said Rubio on Fox News Wednesday morning. “They have a right to be concerned about the fact that while some leaders around the world are no longer being targeted, one of our strongest allies in the Middle East — Israel — is. I actually think it might be worse than what some people might think, but this is an issue that we’ll keep a close eye on, and the role that I have in the intelligence committee.”
Rubio’s newfound objection to surveillance appears to be limited to spying on the Israeli government. The senator has been a long-time defender of the NSA’s mass surveillance. “There is no evidence that these programs have been systematically abused,” he said in 2014, decrying what he described as “paranoia” around surveillance programs.
The previous year, he defended spying on foreign government officials, saying that “everybody spies on everybody, it’s just a fact.” In the most recent presidential debate, he accused rivals, like Ted Cruz, of endangering U.S. security by supporting modest reforms to the surveillance regime.
One reason Rubio may be carving out a special objection to spying on the Israeli government is that he is competing in the so-called Adelson primary — a contest for the financial backing of the pro-Israel casino magnate who spent $150 million during the 2012 election.