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  • February 24, 2014

    Common Dreams

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    Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, also told Common Dreams that the budget—on the one hand—reflects the "pragmatic recognition" that our military costs are unsustainable, particularly in the midst of huge economic downturn. And, "on the other hand, is a highly ideologically-driven decision rooted in transformation of the nature of war. Wars are not ending [but they] are being transformed from large-scale invasions and occupations—Iraq and Afghanistan—to much smaller scale Special Ops- dominated wars."

    According to Bennis, "Any cut back to the military spending and size should be celebrated. But we should celebrate it in the context of reaffirming our commitment to continuing to struggle against all forms of war, whether large-scale ground ops or special forces."

    "As practiced by the U.S. they are all illegal, immoral, and do not make us or people in countries safer," she concluded.

  • May 15, 2013

    CCTV News

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    PHYLLIS BENNIS: I think inside Syria [the video] is going to be one of the most antagonizing, provocative things one can imagine . . . But I think it also . . . is going to make it even harder for those in the U.S. . . . who are pressuring the Obama administration to take a more direct military role in this war . . . to say "there's a good opposition, yeah we know there's bad guys in the opposition, but there's a good opposition." Because apparently, from what we know, if it is true, the person who did this is from the Free Syrian Army, not from the Al-Nusra Front, not from the Al-Qaeda side. 

    . . . HOST: Is it too late for peace talks that start when, not just talking about the Syrian opposition, which as you've already pointed out, is all over the place, and the government -- but you're also talking about a region that's exploding.

    PHYLLIS BENNIS: Absolutely. It's never too late. 

    When there's a war going on, what you need is to de-escalate; and you need negotiations, you need diplomacy. There's not going to be a military solution here. All there will be from the military is more dead Syrians.

    So there needs to be negotiations, and this move between the US and Russia is a good first step. It will only have merit, it will only work if it is matched by an agreement by both sides, which means the US and Russia, yes, but also Qatar and Iran, for instance, the major backers militarily of each side; if they agree to stop sending additional weapons, then we may see some possibility for this new diplomacy. If the weapons continue to flow into both sides, and if the war continues, then the diplomacy won't matter.   

  • May 13, 2013

    The Real News Network

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    BENNIS: The difference here is that this civil war in Syria has already spilled over, and threatens to do so on a much larger scale throughout the region, because there are in fact at least five separate wars being fought in Syria right now in the context of the Syrian civil war, and only one of those five is the war between the Syrian regime and its armed opponents on the ground. You have a regional power struggle being fought in Syria between, largely, Saudi Arabia and Iran; you have a Sunni-Shia sectarian struggle; you have a global struggle between the U.S. and Russia in terms of naval bases and that sort of thing; and you have the ongoing fight between the U.S. and Israel on the one hand and Iran on the other hand over nuclear issues and other issues; all being fought to the last Syrian. So the notion that we can just sort of let this go, let them fight it out, and it won't have any impact, it's already having a huge impact.

  • May 9, 2013

    The Real News Network

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    BENNIS: But there is no question that the pain of the boycott will be felt by individual Israelis. And the theory is--and this is, again, where it comes very close to the models that we saw during the South African era anti-apartheid movement--when South African, ordinary South African whites were affected by the sports boycott, they began to finally reconsider the cost to them of apartheid. In the Israeli instance, it means that Israelis who see Israeli culture and science and technology, the great accomplishments of Israeli society and what they're most proud of, perhaps, in their society, that when that starts to be affected by this global boycott, when you have instances of people like Stephen Hawking saying, I will not participate in an official institutional Israeli [incompr.] because there is a boycott designed to force Israel to stop its violations of international law and human rights, that's a huge reality.

  • May 2, 2013

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    Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, says that a growing push for war in Syria should remind U.S. citizens of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was was largely fueled by an uncritical press and a barrage of false information by some of the same power brokers now pushing for intervention in Syria.

    "Now, we don't know that there is any fake information going on [in Syria]," Bennis said in an interview with Al-Jazeera. "But we certainly know that there is no valid information yet. So I think it is way premature to be talking about whether this should result in a 'game changing' scenario -- whether it be boots on the ground, or helping the rebels with more weapons."

  • April 26, 2013

    BBC Mundo

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    "Phyllis Bennis, experta en Medio Oriente y la relación de EE.UU. con esa región del Instituto de Estudios Políticos en Washington (IPS, por sus siglas en inglés), explicó a BBC Mundo que, en un ambiente de guerra civil, es muy difícil saber con certidumbre qué pasó y quién es responsable.

    "'Ha habido acusaciones mutuas tanto del régimen como de los rebeldes sobre el uso de químicos. También hay que tener en cuenta la lógica de las fuentes que se utilizan para obtener la evidencia,' declaró la experta.

    "'Reino Unido y Francia están exhortando a una mayor intervención y esto podría apoyar su causa. Lo mismo podría decirse de Qatar, Arabia Saudita y Turquía. Todos tienen sus razones para que Estados Unidos se involucre militarmente.'

    "Para Bennis una intervención militar sería ilegal pues la autorización de una guerra sólo puede estar sustentada en una amenaza contra la seguridad nacional."

    The original article was written in Spanish. Here, Bennis's comments are translated back into English.

    "Phyllis Bennis, an expert on U.S.-Middle East relations at IPS, explained to BBC Mundo that amid a civil war, it's very hard to know with any certainty what happened and who is to blame.

    "'There have been mutual accusations from the regime and the rebels regarding the use of chemical weapons. You also have to consider the sources that are bing used to obtain this evidence,' the expert said.

    "'The UK and France are demanding more intervention and this strengthen their case. The same could be said of Qatar, Saudi Arabia,and Turkey. They all have their reasons for wanting the U.S. to get militarily involved.'

    "For Bennis, military intervention would be illegal since teh authorization of a war can only be supported in the case of a threat against national security."

  • April 26, 2013

    The Wall Street Journal

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    "'The government, the military and the police are very much on edge,' said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. 'They're anticipating violence and there's the possiblity that they could go looking for it.'"

  • April 26, 2013

    AlterNet features article “Challenging Einstein: Kerry's 'New' Diplomacy in the Middle East”

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  • April 25, 2013

    Al Jazeera English features article “Challenging Einstein: Kerry's 'New' Diplomacy in the Middle East”

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    So there is talk once again of a “new” US initiative in Israel-Palestine diplomacy. We have got a new secretary of state. John Kerry is shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Hopes are supposed to be rising again. 

    Really? We are supposed to cheer the possibility that 21 years of failed US diplomacy might - just might - become 22? 

    . . . But - if anyone inside is now peering outside the official Washington bubble to acknowledge the need for a different approach to Israel-Palestine diplomacy, that is all good. If anyone in the White House or State Department . . . begins to realise that doing the same thing over and over again, making the same failed claims that “the two sides have to sit together, both sides have to make compromises, only direct talks between the two parties can bring about peace” as if this were a negotiation between equals . . . rather than between a powerful, wealthy, nuclear-armed Occupying Power and an disempowered occupied people, that could mean the beginning of a new approach. 

  • March 27, 2013

    The Real News Network

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    "[I]t proves once again that [Obama's] got a Cracker Jack speech writing team. His speech in Jerusalem and even some of the stuff he said to the Palestinians was pretty great. You know, the man can talk. And the speech talked about justice . . . But the problem was he said all that wonderful stuff but made very clear, quite explicit, that if Israel simply said no, there would be no consequences. 

    . . . But it was also important . . . that when the U.S. wants to pressure Israel for something they want, which in this case was a reconciliation between its two crucial allies in the region, Israel and Turkey, the U.S. gets what it wants . . . And that's one of the important lessons. The U.S. has the capacity to pressure Israel.

    It doesn't use that capacity on behalf of the Palestinians. It will use it when necessary to gain something vis-a-vis Turkey. But so far we have not seen a commitment to the lovely words that President Obama spoke to justice, to an end of occupation, to equality. We're not seeing that."

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