Megan Rice, an 84-year-old nun, was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium, a demonstration that exposed serious security flaws at the Tennessee plant. Two other peace activists (Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed) who broke into the facility with were sentenced to more than five years in prison, in part because they had much longer histories of non-violent civil disobedience. The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee holds the nation's primary supply of bomb-grade uranium and was known as the "Fort Knox of uranium." In her closing statement, Rice asked the judge to sentence her to life in prison, even though sentencing guidelines called for about six years. "Please have no leniency with me," she said. "To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me." She said the U.S. government was spending too much money on weapons and the military, and she told the judge about the many letters of support she had received, including one from youth in Afghanistan. "This is the next generation and it is for these people that we're willing to give our lives," she said.
- In a new piece called Myth: China is a Military Threat Retired Royal Navy Commander Robert D. Green from New Zealand writes that "The Chinese correctly see that the greatest US weakness is the Pentagon’s stranglehold on US foreign and domestic policy. With military industry interests in every political constituency, over-powerful lobbyists rebuff any major Pentagon budget cuts. This is slowly but surely bringing the US economy to its knees, and destroying the morale and health, let alone lives, of young Americans."
- The Los Angeles Times reports:
The Obama administration is making contingency plans to use air bases in Central Asia to conduct drone missile attacks in northwest Pakistan in case the White House is forced to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan at the end of this year, according to U.S. officials. The CIA and the military used an air base in Uzbekistan to conduct drone flights until the U.S. was evicted in 2005, said Brian Glyn Williams, a University of Massachusetts professor and author of the book "Predators: The CIA's Drone War on Al Qaeda." The military also has used a base in Kyrgyzstan to conduct air operations, including moving troops and supplies into Afghanistan. The Pentagon said last fall that it would shift those operations to Romania this summer. Last month, Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of U.S. special operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, visited Tajikistan, which abuts Afghanistan's northern border, for talks on "issues of bilateral security cooperation" and "continued military cooperation," according to a U.S. Embassy statement in Dushanbe, the capital.
In the late 1980s, the leaders of the west promised Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev that they would not expand eastward if the Soviet Union pulled out of Eastern Europe and ended the Cold War. That promise was not kept. A triumphal West stuck it to the Soviet Union’s greatly weakened Russian successor, by incorporating the former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO and the EU. But that was not enough to sate the lust of the neo-liberal triumphalists in search of a new imperium. Their next move tried to incorporate the Caucasus country of Georgia — a country more a part of Central Asia than of Europe — into the West’s sphere of influence. That turned out to be a bridge too far; the Russians intervened militarily to put a stop to the lunacy. But events in the Ukraine suggest that stop may have been viewed as a temporary speed bump on the pathway to rolling back Russia’s geography to the years of Ivan the Terrible.