PEACE NEWS & IDEAS
The Progressive Review
- EIGHT HOURS IN A BASEMENT FOR PEACE
- STUDY: NON VIOLENCE WORKS BETTER
- ROLE OF RESPECT IN PEACE
TIME FOR A WAR ABOLITION MOVEMENT
- BACKING OFF OF HATE
- OPPOSING AND CREATING: THE TWO JOBS OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT
- ESSAYS ON WAR, PEACE & IN BETWEEN
- ALL WAR ALL THE TIME: THE PENTAGON'S PLAN
- IS WAR INEVITABLE?
- THE ANTIWAR SPEECH C-SPAN DIDN'T LIKE
- DOCTORS & DESTROYERS
MIKE FLUGENNOCK POSTERS
- American Friends Service Committee
- Campus Antiwar Network
- Code Pink: Women for Peace
Friends Committee on National Legislation
- Iraq Veterans Against the War
- Troops Out Now Coalition
- Veterans for Peace
Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War by Richard E. Rubenstein: From the American Revolution to the end of World War II, the United States spent nineteen years at war against other nations. But since 1950, the total is twenty-two years and counting. On four occasions, U.S. presidents elected as "peace candidates" have gone on to lead the nation into armed conflicts. Repeatedly. In Reasons to Kill noted scholar Richard E. Rubenstein explores both the rhetoric that sells war to the public and the underlying cultural and social factors that make it so effective.
ON GANDHI'S PATH: BOB SWANN'S WORK FOR PEACE AND COMMUNITY ECONOMICS by Stephanie Mills. Robert Swann was a self-taught economist, a tireless champion of decentralism, and the father of the relocalization movement. A conscientious war resistor imprisoned for his beliefs, Bob Swann engaged in lifelong nonviolent direct action against war, racism, and economic inequity. His legacy is a vision of a life-affirming, alternative economy of peace founded on innovations in land and monetary reform.
OF THE NURENBERG TRIBUNAL
Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations
- The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.
- The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as head of state or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
- The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
Crimes against peace: Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned . . .
War crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity . . . is a crime under international law.
We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy. - Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson, U.S. Representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, August 12, 1945
ADS FOR CHANGE
War is the joint exercise of things we were trained not to do as children.
War is doing things overseas that we would go to prison for at home.
Anyone can start a war. Starting a peace is really hard. Therefore it is much harder to be a peace expert than a war expert.
The media treats war as just another professional sport.
War has rules, which means that we can change the rules.
Murder, rape and slavery still exist. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have banned them. The same is true of war.
Telling a country we won't negotiate with it until it does what you want is like saying you won't play a game unless you are allowed to win.
There is no evidence that supporting war, or telling presidents to do so, improves your testosterone level, so Ivy League professors are better advised to stick to tennis.
There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. The trick is to undermine the violence of the most bitter by dealing honestly with the problems and complaints of the most rational.
Of course, there can be peace with so-called terrorist organizations; it's just a matter of whether one waits the better part of a century, as the British did in Northern Ireland, or whether you start talking and negotiating now.
Three thousand people is, of course, far too many to die for any reason. But it is also far too weak an argument for the end of democracy.
Peace is a state of reciprocity, of trust, of empirically based confidence that no one is about to do you in. It exists not because of intrinsic goodness or rampant naivete but because of a common, implicit understanding that that it works for everyone.
Implicit in the "what about their violence?" argument is the idea that what we do wrong is excusable because it has been matched by the other side. Of course, the other side sees it the same way so you end up with a perfect stalemate of violence. When I raised a similar argument as a kid, my mother's response was, "If Johnny were to jump off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?" I never could come up with good answer to that and so eventually had to concede that somebody else's stupidity was not a good excuse for my own.
From the moment we commence a moral intervention we become a part of the story, and part of the good and evil. We are no longer the innocent bystander but a full participant whose acts will either help or make things worse. Our intentions become irrelevant; they are overwhelmed by the character of our response to them. The morality of the disease is supplanted by the morality of the cure. In fact, every moral act in the face of mental or physical injury carries twin responsibilities: to mend the injury and to avoid replacing it with another
One of the reasons America is in so much trouble is because it happily makes all sorts of compromises in order to get along with large dictatorships such as Russia and China, but thinks it can handle smaller operations like Hamas, North Korea, and Iran by simple obstinacy and belligerence. In other words, it is happy to talk with big terrorists, but not little ones. In fact, most of these small entities - and those who lead them - suffer from extreme inferiority complexes. By threatening war, imposing massive embargos and so forth, America merely feeds the sense of persecution and encourages the least rational reaction. A more sensible approach would be to constantly negotiate with these leaders and edge them towards reasonable participation in world affairs.
Imagine if we had told Israel and Palestine a few years ago that if they would just make nice we would give them enough money to equal Israel's GDP for one year and Palestine's for three. Take the time off, go to the Riviera or the Catskills, forget about productivity, and just party on thanks to the American taxpayer. Or if Israel and Palestine wanted to be really sensible, they could have invested in their countries' future instead. Think how much safer we would be today. . . But where would such a large sum of money come from? Well, all we would have had to have done was to cancel the invasion of Iraq and used the money as a carrot rather than as a bludgeon. For that is just what it has cost us so far. (2007)
The people who built castles and walled cities and moats are all dead now and their efforts at security seem puny and ultimately futile as we visit their unintended monuments to the vanity of human presumption. Like the castle-dwellers behind the moat, we are now spending huge sums to put ourselves inside a prison of our own making. It is unlikely to provide either security for our bodies nor solace for our souls, for we are simply attacking ourselves before others get a chance.
Empires and cultures are not permanent and while thinking about the possibility that ours is collapsing may seem a dismal exercise it is far less so than enduring the dangerous frustrations and failures involved in having one's contrary myth constantly butt up against reality - like a boozer who insists he is not drunk attempting to drive home. Instead of defending the non-existent, we could turn our energies instead towards devising a new and saner reality.
Places like Harvard and Oxford - and their after-school programs such as the Washington think tanks - teach the few how to control the many and it is impossible to do this without various forms of abuse ranging from sophism to corporate control systems to napalm. It is no accident that a large number of advocates of war - in government and the media - are the products of elite educations where they were taught both the inevitability of their hegemony and the tools with which to enforce it. It will, therefore, be some time before places such as Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations are seen for what they are: the White Citizens Councils of state violence.
Castro, in his early days, spoke at the UN. But the hotels of New York refused him space. The result: Malcolm X found him a hotel in Harlem and a key early step was taken in the alienation of a man who, with just a little respect and effort, might not have tormented every American president since by refusing to die or fade away. Respect is important because it is a door wide enough for peace to enter. We need to try it more often.
Mikhail Lyubansky, Op Ed News - From a social science perspective, evidence has been mounting over the last century that nonviolence may, in fact, be more effective than violence. Aldous Huxley made this argument as early as 1937 in his book Ends and Means. Gene Sharp and his associates amassed hundreds of historical examples of effective nonviolent action against authority and have, as noted previously, laid out a theoretical explanation for the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. For a more popular audience, Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall documented the history of Twentieth Century Nonviolence in a PBS series and accompanying book, entitled A Force More Powerful. Their subsequent DVD, Bringing Down a Dictator, tells the story of the overthrow of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, by a nonviolent campaign led by the group Otpor![i] many of whose leaders had been trained in Gene Sharps techniques.
Perhaps the most convincing study to date is that of Chenoweth and Stephan, who assembled a comprehensive data set of 323 violent and nonviolent campaigns between 1900 and 2006. They found that nonviolent campaigns were nearly twice as likely to achieve full or partial success as were violent campaigns and that the advantage for nonviolent campaigns held even when controlling for the authoritarianism of the regime. Nonviolent campaigns turned out to be more effective for both regime change and resistance to foreign occupation. The only purpose for which nonviolent campaigns were not more successful than violent ones was political secession (notably, the secession analysis included only four nonviolent campaigns).
David Swanson, Brunswick Times Record, ME - Polls showed a large percentage of us in this country supporting the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and even though somewhat reduced the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But not long after, and ever since, a majority of us have said those were mistakes.
Weve opposed attacking Iran whenever that idea has entered the news. We opposed bombing Libya in 2011 and were ignored, as was Congress. And, by the way, advocates of that happy little war are rather quiet about the chaos it created.
But last September, the word on our televisions was that missiles must be sent to strike Syria. President Barack Obama and the leaders of both big political parties said they favored it. Wall Street believed it would happen, judging by Raytheons stock. When U.S. intelligence agencies declined to make the presidents case, he released a government assessment without them.
Remarkably, we didnt accept that choice. A majority of us favored humanitarian aid, but no missiles, and no arming of one side in the war. We had the benefit of many people within the government and the military agreeing with us. And when Congress was pressured to demand approval power, Obama granted it.
It helped more that members of Congress were in their districts with people getting in their faces. It was with Congress indicating its refusal to support a war that Obama and Kerry accepted the pre-existing Russian offer to negotiate. In fact, the day before they made that decision, the State Department had stressed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would never ever give up his chemical weapons, and Kerrys remarks on that solution had been rhetorical.
The war in Syria goes on. Washington sent guns, but refrained from air strikes. Major humanitarian aid would cost far less than missiles and guns, but hasnt materialized. The children we were supposed to care about enough to bomb their country are still suffering, and most of us still care.
But a U.S. war was prevented.
Were seeing the same thing play out in Washington right now on the question of whether to impose yet more sanctions on Iran, shred a negotiated agreement with Iran, and commit the United States to joining in any war between Israel and Iran.
In January, a bill to do all of that looked likely to pass through the Senate. Public pressure has been one factor in, thus far, slowing it down.
Are we moving away from war?
War may be becoming acceptable only as what its advocates have long claimed it was: a last resort. Of course if we can really make that true, well never have a war again.
The United States ranks 85th in the International Peace Index, squished between Macdonia and Angola.
The Progressive - Nonviolent resistance is not only the morally superior choice. It is also twice as effective as the violent variety. That's the startling and reassuring discovery by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, who analyzed an astonishing 323 resistance campaigns from 1900 to 2006.
"Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns," the authors note in the journal International Security:
"First, a campaign's commitment to nonviolent methods enhances its domestic and international legitimacy and encourages more broad-based participation in the resistance, which translates into increased pressure being brought to bear on the target," they state. "Second, whereas governments easily justify violent counterattacks against armed insurgents, regime violence against nonviolent movements is more likely to backfire against the regime."
In an interesting aside that has relevance for our times, the authors also write that, "Our study does not explicitly compare terrorism to nonviolent resistance, but our argument sheds light on why terrorism has been so unsuccessful."
To their credit, the authors don't gloss over nonviolent campaigns that haven't been successes. They give a clear-eyed assessment of the failure so far of the nonviolent movement in Burma, one of the three detailed case studies in the piece, along with East Timor and the Philippines.
ALICE SLATER, COMMON DREAMS After World War II, the victorious allied powers, implementing a transition to democracy in Japan, required Japan to forego any future aggressive military action by including a provision in their new Constitution to renounce war and the threat or use of force. But by 1950, following the outbreak of the Korean War, when US General MacArthur ordered the establishment of a 75,000-strong Japanese National Police Reserve equipped with US Army surplus materials, numerous assaults have been made on the integrity of Article 9. By 1990, Japan was ranked third in military spending after the US and the Soviet Union, until 1996 when it was outspent by China and dropped to fourth place. . .
The citizen activists of Japan are resisting the US led assault on their beloved peace constitution. This May in Tokyo, at the launch of a Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War, organized by the Japanese NGO Peaceboat, 15,000 people showed up for the first day's plenary and over 3,000 people had to be turned away from the filled-to-capacity convention center, causing the organizers to set up an impromptu program outdoors for the overflow crowd . . . More than 40 countries were represented at the various plenaries and workshops with over 200 international visitors, which examined opportunities to reinforce and expand Article 9 in a new 21st century context. Article 9 was promoted not only as a disarmament measure for all the nations of the world, but as a means of redistributing the world's treasure, now wasted at the rate of over one trillion dollars per year to feed the murderous war machine, using those funds to restore the health of the planet and end poverty on earth. . .
Although cruel wars have been common throughout human history, there has been nothing like the enormous speed up of destructive war, fueled by science and technology, suffered in this last century, starting with 20 million deaths after World War I and ending with well over 100 million deaths by the end of the 20th Century -- the horrors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda -- only a few of the tragic catastrophes rendered by the instruments of war. . .
RECOVERED HISTORY: WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS?
Your editor was recently on a local Pacifica station program during which a participant suggested that public opposition to the Iraq war had been minimal. Longtime DC activist Jenefer Ellingston writes to note that "in February 2003 20 million people around the world demonstrated against Bush's plan to invade Iraq. . . probably the first protest before an invasion. It was the largest anti-war march in the history of anti-war demonstrations. Not just several million in America - In DC, NYC, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles . . . and smaller cities, but every capitol in Europe. Not thousands, millions.
"It's possible that one reason the peace movement is not visible in large numbers is: It's too expensive. That's why protests have been organized in cities across America - barely mentioned and rarely covered by the media. Our last demonstrations took place in 600 cities. Suppose there were 1,000 people in each of those 600 cities . . . that's a lot of people."
TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR OUR TIMES
1. Put an end to the capitalist system 2. Renounce wars 3. A world without imperialism or colonialism 4. The right to water 5. Development of clean energies 6. Respect Mother Earth 7. Treat basic services as human rights 8. Fight inequalities 9. Promote diversity of cultures and economies 10. Live well, not live better at the expense of others. - Evo Morales, President of Bolivia
WHY DO AMERICANS LOVE WAR SO MUCH?
DAVID MICHAEL GREEN, ALTERNET - Americans love to think that we're a peaceful people and that we fight wars only when we must. Unfortunately, you can count in nanoseconds how long those assertions hold up when exposed to such insidious commie dirty tricks as the application of logic or the examination of empirical history. . .
Pick your barometer -- any one will work -- and you'll quickly see who the militant folks on the planet really are. . . For example, suppose you wanted to measure comparative national warlike tendencies by simply counting wars. Since World War II, the United States has messed around, in ways big and small, in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Iraq, Panama, Colombia, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Afghanistan again, and Iraq again. . .
The United States not only outspends every other country in the world on military goodies, it outspends all other countries of the world. Combined. . .
HOW SOVIET AND AMERICAN FARMERS HELPED END THE COLD WAR
LEE WINNINGHAM, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - Despite the parade of books and papers during the years following the Cold War, historians continue to overlook a series of events that could add immensely to our understanding of the conflict. In the mid-1950's, ordinary American farmers and Soviet officials, out of a desire to share agricultural knowledge, attempted to break through the ideological barriers that separated them by participating in an agricultural exchange program. . .
According to the testament of many participants, the exchanges broke down stereotypes and ideological barriers. . . On many occasions these men placed a remarkable emphasis on the realization that though there were differences between Soviets and Americans, their similarities outweighed their differences. This, however, did not stop many, especially on the American side, from boasting and flaunting their way of life as superior.
One of the most important characteristics of the exchanges was the apparent disconnect between how officialdom viewed the Soviet visitors and how ordinary Americans received them. Despite the fact that President Eisenhower endorsed such exchanges, many officials in America attempted to throw every roadblock possible in the path of the exchange program, almost stopping it all together in the early summer of 1955. . .
The belief that both sides could live in peace gains credence when one sees groups of Soviet and American citizens using common denominators such as agriculture to coexist and travel within each other's borders. . .
ANTI-WAR VIDEO OF THE WEEK
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - Hollywood star Clint Eastwood said his acclaimed picture "Letters from Iwo Jima" aimed to show the futility of war, after its European premiere at the 57th Berlin Film Festival. The groundbreaking film, which is almost entirely in Japanese, depicts the pivotal wartime battle through the eyes of Japanese soldiers fighting American GIs. Another, earlier film, "Flags of our Fathers," tells the American side of the story. . . Eastwood told a news conference after a press screening that although the US-led war in Iraq had not directly inspired him to make the picture, it was a reflection of the horrors such battles always carry with them. . . He said "Letters" and "Flags of our Fathers" were a response to the war movies of his youth. "I grew up in the war pictures in the 1940s where everything was propagandized. (In) all the movies, we were the good guys and everybody else were bad guys," he said. "I just wanted to tell two different stories where there were good guys and bad guys everywhere and just tell something about the human condition."
THE FAULTY PRESUMPTIONS OF HAWKDOM
DANIEL KAHNEMAN, JONATHAN RENSHON, FOREIGN POLICY - When we constructed a list of the biases uncovered in 40 years of psychological research, we were startled by what we found: All the biases in our list favor hawks. These psychological impulses . . . incline national leaders to exaggerate the evil intentions of adversaries, to misjudge how adversaries perceive them, to be overly sanguine when hostilities start, and overly reluctant to make necessary concessions in negotiations. In short, these biases have the effect of making wars more likely to begin and more difficult to end.
None of this means that hawks are always wrong. One need only recall the debates between British hawks and doves before World War II to remember that doves can easily find themselves on the wrong side of history. More generally, there are some strong arguments for deliberately instituting a hawkish bias. It is perfectly reasonable, for example, to demand far more than a 50-50 chance of being right before we accept the promises of a dangerous adversary. The biases that we have examined, however, operate over and beyond such rules of prudence and are not the product of thoughtful consideration. Our conclusion is not that hawkish advisors are necessarily wrong, only that they are likely to be more persuasive than they deserve to be. . .A policymaker or diplomat involved in a tense exchange with a foreign government is likely to observe a great deal of hostile behavior by that country's representatives. Some of that behavior may indeed be the result of deep hostility. But some of it is simply a response to the current situation as it is perceived by the other side. What is ironic is that individuals who attribute others' behavior to deep hostility are quite likely to explain away their own behavior as a result of being "pushed into a corner" by an adversary. The tendency of both sides of a dispute to view themselves as reacting to the other's provocative behavior is a familiar feature of marital quarrels, and it is found as well in international conflicts. During the run-up to World War I, the leaders of every one of the nations that would soon be at war perceived themselves as significantly less hostile than their adversaries.
If people are often poorly equipped to explain the behavior of their adversaries, they are also bad at understanding how they appear to others. This bias can manifest itself at critical stages in international crises, when signals are rarely as clear as diplomats and generals believe them to be. . .
Excessive optimism is one of the most significant biases that psychologists have identified. Psychological research has shown that a large majority of people believe themselves to be smarter, more attractive, and more talented than average, and they commonly overestimate their future success. People are also prone to an "illusion of control": They consistently exaggerate the amount of control they have over outcomes that are important to them - even when the outcomes are in fact random or determined by other forces. It is not difficult to see that this error may have led American policymakers astray as they laid the groundwork for the ongoing war in Iraq. . .
From the History
of a Dangerous Idea
BOOKLIST - Kurlansky's particular point is the last of the lessons referred to in the subtitle: "the hard work of beginning a movement to end war has already been done." All the lessons he notes are important, but he is at his best when retelling popular stories of nonviolence practiced at various times and places over the course of several thousand years, though from a scholarly perspective his language is woefully imprecise. If he introduces readers to the deep, multicultural roots of nonviolence and prompts examination of the variety of governments that have found nonviolence threatening, the level of public discourse on violence may rise. If his blanket dismissal of pacifism as passive provokes nonviolent activists to respond, perhaps what may be learned about the lies behind all wars will lead to wiser decisions by more citizens. And if the casual reference to "the 58,000 people who were killed" in the Vietnam War prompts second thoughts about who should count among those caught up in the march of violence, all the better. - Steven Schroeder
WAYNE MONES, AMAZON - This is an important and subversive book in which the author crafts a compelling argument that most of history's wars have been unnecessary and pointless and that legitimate aims could have been more effectively achieved by nonviolent methods. He applies his arguments to a number of wars which most regard as "just," such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. The author demonstrates that nonviolence is extremely powerful, that war is always based on lies, and that it is possible to create a world that is not based on violence. It will offend those who cannot allow themselves to think of past wars as pointless. It will infuriate politicians, policy makers, and many religious leaders who need to glorify war and violence. I found it deeply moving and thoughtful. It should be assigned in every school.
LETTER FROM PAT TILLMAN'S BROTHER
KEVIN TILLMAN - It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice... until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few "bad apples" in the military.
Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It's interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that "somehow" was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat's birthday.
PENTAGON SPIED ON PEACE ACTIVISTS, CALLED RALLIES 'POTENTIAL TERRORIST ACTIVITY'
ERIC LICHTBLAU, NY TIMES - Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department's collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.
The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as "potential terrorist activity" events like a "Stop the War Now" rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005. . .
A department spokesman said Thursday that the "questionable data collection" had led to a tightening of military procedures to ensure that only information relevant to terrorism and other threats was collected. The spokesman, Maj. Patrick Ryder, said in response to the release of the documents that the department "views with great concern any potential violation" of the policy. . .
A document first disclosed last December by NBC News showed that the military had maintained a database, known as Talon, containing information about more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" around the country in 2004 and 2005. Dozens of alerts on antiwar meetings and peaceful protests appear to have remained in the database even after analysts had decided that they posed no threat to military bases or personnel. . .
WAR IS TERRORISM
HOWARD ZINN, PROGRESSIVE - The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations. Even though the United States dropped more bombs in the Vietnam War than in all of World War II, it was still forced to withdraw. The Soviet Union, trying for a decade to conquer Afghanistan, in a war that caused a million deaths, became bogged down and also finally withdrew.
Even the supposed triumphs of great military powers turn out to be elusive. After attacking and invading Afghanistan, President Bush boasted that the Taliban were defeated. But five years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country. Last May, there were riots in Kabul, after a runaway American military truck killed five Afghans. When U.S. soldiers fired into the crowd, four more people were killed.
After the brief, apparently victorious war against Iraq in 1991, George Bush Sr. declared (in a moment of rare eloquence): "The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula." Those sands are bloody once more.
The same George Bush presided over the military attack on Panama in 1989, which killed thousands and destroyed entire neighborhoods, justified by the "war on drugs." Another victory, but in a few years, the drug trade in Panama was thriving as before.
The nations of Eastern Europe, despite Soviet occupation, developed resistance movements that eventually compelled the Soviet military to leave. The United States, which had its way in Latin America for a hundred years, has been unable, despite a long history of military interventions, to control events in Cuba, or Venezuela, or Brazil, or Bolivia.
Overwhelming Israeli military power, while occupying the West Bank and Gaza, has not been able to stop the resistance movement of Palestinians. Israel has not made itself more secure by its continued use of massive force. The United States, despite two successive wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not more secure.
More important than the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time always results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. . .
NUMBER & VIOLENCE OF WARS HAS DROPPED
GUARDIAN, UK - According to a new survey almost three-quarters of Britons think the world is a more dangerous, war-like place than it was 50 years ago. . . Despite the daily headlines about violence and death in Iraq, Darfur and elsewhere, the statistics suggest that in many ways the world is a safer place now than in 1956. The number of conflicts around the globe has been dropping more or less steadily since the second world war.
According to the Human Security Report, an exhaustive round-up published by the Canadian-based Human Security Centre, even since 1992 the number of wars has dropped by more than 40%. Still more dramatically, the average number of battle-deaths per conflict per year - a measure of the deadliness of warfare - has plummeted from 38,000 in 1950 to just 600 in 2002. . .
HOWARD ZINN ON THE FUTILITY OF WAR
HOWARD ZINN, ALTERNET - There is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.
The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.
I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.
The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations -- the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan -- and were forced to withdraw. . .
The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence -- the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America. . .
WHY WE HAVE TO TALK TO THE BAD GUYS
[The writer is former deputy director of central intelligence].
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, WASHINGTON POST - Lesson No. 1 is that change occurs incrementally and almost imperceptibly in the Middle East, but when it reaches critical mass, the potential for surprise and disaster is enormous. . .
Lesson No. 2 is that the chances of detecting and heading off imminent disaster are enhanced when there is intense, unrelenting and daily attention by a senior and respected U.S. figure who wakes up every morning worrying about nothing else -- the role that Ambassador Dennis Ross played so effectively in the 1990s. . .
Lesson No. 3, related to all of this, is that process matters. . . Without . . . regular and near-continuous negotiation, there are few reference points that all the parties can accept when conflict breaks out. It may not even matter whether perceptible progress is occurring continuously. The important thing is that the table is always set, everyone has a chair and someone is in charge. That has not been the case for some time in the Middle East.
Lesson No. 4 is that even superpowers have to talk to bad guys. The absence of a diplomatic relationship with Iran and the deterioration of the one with Syria -- two countries that bear enormous responsibility for the current crisis -- leave the United States with fewer options and levers than might otherwise have been the case. . .
Lesson No. 5 is that there are no unilateral solutions to today's international problems, not even for superpowers. . .
THE 25 YEAR PROTEST:
LONGEST VIGIL ANYWHERE
WHY DOES THE U.S. HATE TALKING PEACE SO MUCH?
WILLIAM BLUM - With his recent letter to President Bush, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become part of a long tradition of Third-World leaders who, under imminent military or political threat from the United States, communicated with Washington officials in the hope of removing that threat. . .
Under the apparently hopeful belief that it was all a misunderstanding, that the United States was not really intent upon crushing them and their movements for social change, the Guatemalan foreign minister in 1954, President Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana in 1961, and Maurice Bishop, leader of Grenada, in 1983 all made their appeals to be left in peace. . . All were crushed anyhow. In 1961, Che Guevara offered a Kennedy aide several important Cuban concessions if Washington would call off the dogs of war. To no avail.
In 2002, before the coup in Venezuela that ousted Hugo Chavez, some of the plotters went to Washington to get a green light from the Bush administration. Chavez learned of this visit and was so distressed by it that he sent officials from his government to plead his own case in Washington. The success of this endeavor can be judged by the fact that the coup took place soon thereafter.
Shortly before the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, informed Washington, through a Lebanese-American businessman, that they wanted the United States to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts and "2000 FBI agents" to conduct a search. The Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. The Iraqis, moreover, pledged to hold UN-supervised free elections; surely free elections is something the United States believes in, the Iraqis reasoned, and will be moved by. They also offered full support for any US plan in the Arab-Israeli peace process. "If this is about oil," said the intelligence official, "we will talk about US oil concessions." These proposals were portrayed by the Iraqi officials as having the approval of President Saddam Hussein. The United States completely ignored these overtures.
The above incidents reflect Third World leaders apparent belief that the United States was open to negotiation, to discussion, to being reasonable. Undoubtedly, fear and desperation played a major role in producing this mental state, but also perhaps the mystique of America, which has captured the world's heart and imagination for two centuries. In 1945 and 1946, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh wrote at least eight letters to US President Harry Truman and the State Department asking for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French. He wrote that world peace was being endangered by French efforts to re-conquer Indochina and he requested that "the four powers" (US, Soviet Union, China, and Great Britain) intervene in order to mediate a fair settlement and bring the Indochinese issue before the United Nations. This was a remarkable repeat of history. In 1919, at the Versailles Peace Conference following the First World War, Ho Chi Minh had appealed to US Secretary of State Robert Lansing (uncle of Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles, whom Lansing appointed to the US delegation) for America's help in achieving basic civil liberties and an improvement in the living conditions for the colonial subjects of French Indochina. His plea was ignored. . .
PATCH ADAMS (r) gives Medea Benjamin a swirl at the Code Pink Mother's Day demonstration at the White House. Reports Jo Freeman, "Rain, which had been threatening all day, began to fall in large drops. Pink umbrellas were hastily opened, while the police only removed the roses from the fence. They told Code Pink that no paddy wagons would be available for several hours to take the protestors to jail. After some hasty consultations, it was decided that civil disobedience could wait for another day" [More protest photos by Jo Freeman]
WHERE YOUR TAXES GO
TALKING WITH TERRORISTS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE BAD
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE -Norway broke a near three-year deadlock in Sri Lanka's peace talks by clinching a deal with the warring parties to meet face-to-face in Geneva by mid-February. In Colombo, the beleaguered Sri Lankan government on Wednesday welcomed the development as a "major relief" and hoped that the latest wave of violence that has claimed at least 152 lives since December would come to an end. The talks would focus on strengthening their ceasefire which was on the brink of collapse after the surge in violence, envoy Erik Solheim told reporters in this rebel-held political capital.
PENINSULA - Philippine security forces have struck a truce with Muslim rebels on the southern island of Jolo, the heartland of Islamic militants, where US troops are due to hold an exercise next month, officials said yesterday. Brigadier-General Mohammad Ben Dolorfino, the most senior Marine commander in the southern Philippines, held a meeting on Friday with Muslim rebel leaders near the guerrillas' jungle hideout to deliver a letter from their jailed leader. "With the cooperation of the Moro National Liberation Front, we see only one problem left - the Abu Sayyaf," said Dolorfino, a Muslim convert, who favoured dialogue rather than bombs and bullets to end conflict in the troubled south.
Dolorfino's peace initiative was aimed at reducing tension on Jolo island, the scene of the worst fighting in the Philippines last year, weeks before US commandos go on non-combat missions in impoverished Muslim communities in the area.
WHY TRUCES AREN'T SO STRANGE
SAM SMITH - Since Scott McCellan says the same thing over and over again, I can perhaps be excused for reprinting something run here just a few days ago:
|||| Bush's history is as bad as his politics. Of course, there can be peace with so-called terrorist organizations; it's just a matter of whether one waits the better part of a century like the British in Northern Ireland or you start talking and negotiating now. The latter course would seem advisable in the Mid East given the prospects for the PA - even with the "democratic institutions" the American empire is "acting to establish" - a neat trick not unlike forced consensual sex. Besides terrorists are just people with weapons with whom America doesn't agree; the other ones are called allies and by definition there isn't all that much to negotiate with them about.
Further, one of the reasons America is in so much trouble is because it happily makes all sorts of compromises in order to get along with large dictatorships such as Russia and China, but thinks it can handle smaller operations like Hamas, North Korea, and Iran by simple obstinacy and belligerence. In other words, it is happy to talk with big terrorists, just not little ones. In fact, most of these small entities - and those who lead them - suffer from extreme inferiority complexes. By threatening war, imposing massive embargos and so forth, America merely feeds the sense of persecution and encourages the least rational reaction. A more sensible approach would be to constantly negotiate with these leaders and edge them towards reasonable participation in world affairs. ||||
AND NOW BIN LADEN has used the scariest word in the Washington lexicon: truce. The reaction from Bush was absolutely predictable: we don't have truces with terrorists. Well then, with whom does one have a truce? Karl Rove? In fact, outside the Bush White House, truces - some that work and some that don't - happen all the time. A few examples:
- BBC, 2003 - The hard line Palestinian Islamic organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction have declared a suspension of attacks against Israel.
- THERE WERE ALSO TRUCES IN the Middle East in 1948, 1956, and 2003. In 2001, an Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire was proposed by George Tenet and acted upon by the parties.
- AT LAST REPORT, truces in Sri Lanka and Indonesia were still holding, albeit barely.
- CBS, 2004 - By striking a tentative cease-fire in Najaf, the U.S.-led coalition appears to have cooled the hotspots that helped make April the bloodiest month of the war: the southern cities where a Shiite militia roamed and the besieged city of Fallujah. The U.S.-led coalition on Thursday agreed to suspend offensive operations in Najaf after Shiite leaders struck a deal with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to end the fighting there.
- GANG RESEARCH - Spokesmen for the [Chicago's] two largest youth gang organizations Wednesday announced a reaffirmation of a truce and safe-passage agreement. . . Sengali and Swift said leaders of the two gangs had met several times in the last three weeks to draw up truce terms. These provide that "members of each organization can now freely walk into the other's territory without fear of harm" and can wear their identifying clothing -- red berets for the Stones and black berets for the Disciples.
- TRUCE OF GOD, BISHOPRIC OF TEROUANNA, 1063 - Drogo, bishop of Terouanne, and count Baldwin [of Hainault] have established this peace with the cooperation of the clergy and people of the land. Dearest brothers in the Lord, these are the conditions which you must observe during the time of the peace which is commonly called the truce of God, and which begins with sunset on Wednesday and lasts until sunrise on Monday. . . During those four days and five nights no man or woman shall assault, wound, or slay another, or attack, seize, or destroy a castle, burg, or villa, by craft or by violence. . . If anyone violates this peace and disobeys these commands of ours, he shall be exiled for thirty years as a penance, and before he leaves the bishopric he shall make compensation for the injury which he committed. Otherwise he shall be excommunicated by the Lord God and excluded from all Christian fellowship. . . If any violator of the peace shall fall sick and die before he completes his penance, no Christian shall visit him or move his body from the place where it lay, or receive any of his possessions.
- THE KOREAN WAR WAS settled by an armistice.
- WIKIPEDIA - The armistice treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in woods near Compiègne on November 11, 1918, and marked the end of the First World War on the Western Front.
- WASHINGTON POST, 2005 - A recent wave of killings and assassinations in Iraq threatens a tenuous political truce between Arab Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims, the head of the country's most influential group of Sunni clerics said Saturday, 12 days before national parliamentary elections
JUST LIKE WARS, some ceasefires and truces work, others fail. Creating a good ceasefire is actually a lot harder than starting a bad war but that doesn't make it a less worthy goal. After all, truces and ceasefires are simply implicit admissions by world leaders that their bad wars haven't worked.
It would be nice if someone could explain to George Bush that truces and peace negotiations are often the efforts of those he would consider real men - like Dwight Eisenhower and Henry Kissinger - and that Viagra still works even when a ceasefire is underway. It would also be nice if someone could point out that, foul and desicable as Osama bin Laden may be, he doesn't hold a candle to the violence done by Kim Il-sung in Korea or the Germans in World War I, both eventually resolved by ceasefires.
Bush would have us believe that Osama bin Laden wants to eat our babies. In fact, the evidence suggests far more mundane goals. Early on these included ending the embargo against Iraq, getting Americans out of Saudi Arabia and granting Palestinian statehood, all debatable but hardly apocalyptic issues. In his latest statement, he hints at even more modest ambitions, as Al Jazeera reported:
||| The voice on the tape, which appeared to be aimed at the American public, also offered a truce: "We do not mind establishing a long-term truce between us and you." . . . "This message is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end those wars," it began. "It was not my intention to talk to you about this, because those wars are definitely going our way. But what triggered my desire to talk to you is the continuous deliberate misinformation given by your President [George] Bush, when it comes to polls made in your home country which reveal that the majority of your people are willing to withdraw US forces from Iraq. We know that the majority of your people want this war to end and opinion polls show the Americans do not want to fight the Muslims on Muslim land, nor do they want Muslims to fight them on their [US] land. . . We are a nation that Allah banned from lying and stabbing others in the back, hence both parties of the truce will enjoy stability and security to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by war."|||
In other words, what's at issue - at the risk of world safety and sanity - are two nations that together have less population than California and Texas. In fact, if you search the subtext of bin Laden's violent angst, you will find it comes down to the most classic of colonial complaints: occupation of one's land by foreigners.
Which brings to mind another real man, Winston Churchill, who said of his own nemesis, "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the vice regal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience"
"I am against this surrender to Gandhi. I am against these conversations and agreements between Lord Irwin and Mr. Gandhi. Gandhi stands for the expulsion of Britain from India. Gandhi stands for the permanent exclusion of British trade from India. Gandhi stands for the substitution of Brahmin domination for British rule in India. You will never be able to come to terms with Gandhi".
Bin Laden is obviously no Gandhi, and Bush is obviously no Churchill but it reminds us of the hollowness and futility of such words in the face of history's march.
One can reasonably wonder about the difference between a man who, for his own political ends, wantonly kills 3,000 Americans and destroys several of our iconic buildings and another man who, for his own political ends, kills almost as many Americans and destroys his own country's democracy and constitution. One may ask the relative worth of the life of a stock broker in the World Trade Center and that of a young marine from Iowa. But the magic of peace is that we can leave such questions to historians and not to generals and guerilla leaders.
The whole point of negotiations is that total victory, moral superiority and assurance of infallibility are replaced by reasonable settlement, uncomfortable compromise, and unsettled morality. In short, the world has been rescued from the pathologically self-righteous and returned to its natural and more tranquil state of constant uncertainty. All sides surrender their infallibility and become more human once more.
It is hard, terribly hard, but it is, in the end, the only thing that really works. If Bush wants to find out more about the alternative, he should talk to his father who once headed an organization dedicated to imposing America's infallible virtue on the world. Ask him about the Shah of Iran; dictators in Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Equator, and Brazil; Papa Doc Duvalier; General Suharto; Mobuto Sese Seko; General Pinochet; General Noriega; Sheik Abdul Rahman. . . And, oh yes, also Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
These were all terrorists Bush's father and his cohorts at the CIA were more than happy to not only talk with, but to fund, train, and arm. If you're going to spend time with a terrorist, it's far better to talk about peace.
[From an interview of journalist Robert Fisk by Justin Podur]
Podur: If war is the total failure of the human spirit, if it is not about victory and defeat but about suffering and death, why do so many people do it?
Fisk: Because they don't know what it's like. Most soldiers in the Iraq war haven't been to war before. They've been totally changed in their personalities by it. They weren't prepared for it at all, they just have Hollywood. I mean, Saving Private Ryan is pretty close to what I see, but it's only imaginatively that you can see it, you can't see it on TV, they won't show it to you, because to do so would be real, pornographic, obscene, you couldn't take that with breakfast, could you?
I have to take it with breakfast, lunch and tea, but not you, you're protected by these nice guys in London and New York and Washington, these editors. They don't want to dishonor the dead. It seems as if it is okay to kill Iraqis, just not to show them afterwards. . . We have so much compassion when they're dead that we can't show the picture. . .
Of course there are also conniving politicians who want to present war as a bloodless sandpit in which people, if they die - you know you can show a picture of a dead Iraqi soldier if he's been obliging enough to die in one piece against the horizon - "The price of war, a dead Iraqi soldier lies in the desert south of Basra." But you won't see the guy with his eyes blasted out or flies crawling over him.
There isn't a single member of the present Bush administration that has ever been in a war. [Colin] Powell was in Vietnam, but he isn't in the administration any more. There is not a single member of the Blair administration that has been to war. A few Labor Members of Parliament have been to Northern Ireland as soldiers but that's not the same. The politicians who run the countries have no experience of war.
Podur: If you believe, as you do, that war is a total failure of the human spirit, does that not make it harder to explain why it happens, which you also think reporters should do?
Fisk: Is there such a thing as a just war? . . . War is an immoral act. I open chapter 15 of my book with a quote from Tolstoy's War and Peace: " War began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and to human nature. Millions of men perpetrated against one another such innumerable crimes, frauds, treacheries, thefts, incendiarisms, and murders, as in whole centuries are not recorded in the annals of all the law courts of the world, but which those who committed them did not at the time regard as being crimes."
HOW TO GET ALONG IN THESE TIMES
HOWARD ZINN: You ask how I manage to stay involved and remain seemingly happy and adjusted to this awful world where the efforts of caring people pale in comparison to those who have power? It's easy.
FIRST, don't let "those who have power" intimidate you. No matter how much power they have they cannot prevent you from living your life, speaking your mind, thinking independently, having relationships with people as you like. . .
SECOND, find people to be with who have your values, your commitments, but who also have a sense of humor. That combination is a necessity!
THIRD . . . understand that the major media will not tell you of all the acts of resistance taking place every day in the society, the strikes, the protests, the individual acts of courage in the face of authority. Look around (and you will certainly find it) for the evidence of these unreported acts. And for the little you find, extrapolate from that and assume there must be a thousand times as much as what you've found.
FOURTH: Note that throughout history people have felt powerless before authority, but that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting, risking, persisting, have created enough power to change the world around them, even if a little. That is the history of the labor movement, of the women's movement, of the anti-Vietnam war movement, the disabled persons' movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the movement of Black people in the South.
FIFTH: Remember, that those who have power, and who seem invulnerable are in fact quite vulnerable, that their power depends on the obedience of others, and when those others begin withholding that obedience, begin defying authority, that power at the top turns out to be very fragile. Generals become powerless when their soldiers refuse to fight, industrialists become powerless when their workers leave their jobs or occupy the factories.
SIXTH: When we forget the fragility of that power in the top we become astounded when it crumbles in the face of rebellion. We have had many such surprises in our time, both in the United States and in other countries.
SEVENTH: Don't look for a moment of total triumph. See it as an ongoing struggle, with victories and defeats, but in the long run the consciousness of people growing. So you need patience, persistence, and need to understand that even when you don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that you have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile.
Okay, seven pieces of profound advice should be enough.
REV HAGLER (2ND FROM LEFT)
[Rev. Hagler is minister at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington and someone that folks outside of DC ought to know more about, a clear voice of sanity in an insane time]
COURTLAND MILLOY, WASHINGTON POST - The war against Iraq, as Graylan Scott Hagler sees it, has dropped a cluster of destructive messages on America: Do unto others before they do unto you. Might makes right. War is peace. Support the troops by keeping them in harm's way. . . "Suppose we all believed in the Bush administration's paranoid rationale for preemptive strikes," Hagler recently told a group of psychologists at the University of the District of Columbia. "There would be nothing but insanity: 'My neighbor gave me a funny look, now I gotta take him out.' In a culture that is struggling to find ways to reduce violence, we now have a government that has legitimized violence as a solution to everything.". . .
Along with giving antiwar speeches and sermons, Hagler is working with preachers throughout the Washington area to start what he calls a "pulpit campaign" that would spread the message of an old Negro spiritual, "Study War No More." He's pulling together antiwar groups with various memberships, such as Black Voices for Peace and Code Pink, a group organized largely by white women, to challenge not only the war but also what he sees as the draconian economic policies of the Bush administration.
"When I speak to racially mixed audiences, I tell the whites to become a little more black and the blacks to become a little more white," Hagler said in a recent interview. "For whites, I don't mean changing the way they sing or pray, just understanding that certain kinds of struggles may take years, if not generations, as any black person can tell you. For blacks, I urge them to take on a sense of empowerment that has enabled so many whites to protest with the confidence of knowing they will have an impact."
Hagler finds the wars of the last two years especially disturbing, in part because President Bush essentially launched them from the pulpit of Washington National Cathedral. With the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and other Christian warrior songs as accompaniment, Bush said in 2001, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that the United States must "rid the world of evil," and he went on to suggest that waging such a battle was God's will for America.
"God bless America," Bush has said after nearly ever speech since then. Hagler considers that blasphemous.
"Why would God only bless America?" he asked. "Does God bless geographical boundaries? When it comes to 'God bless America,' this is just an attempt to own God, to create God in our own image instead of the reverse. This is the god of civil religion, the same one that was evoked to justify white supremacy, slavery, the bashing of gays and lesbians and anything else people wanted to do just because there were enough of them to do it." And therein, Hagler believes, lies the most destructive message of all: that God exists to serve the empire that is the United States.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN SCHOOL TODAY
LAURA SESSIONS STEPP, WASHINGTON POST - For a decade, our children have been taught at school to use their words, not their fists, to settle a score with a classmate. And to do so politely, after listening to the other kid's side of the story. So it should come as no surprise that tens of thousands of young men and women have marched the streets of America to protest the war against Iraq. Or that early into the conflict, informal polls from Virginia to Washington state showed majorities of high school students opposing the war or supporting it reluctantly, often out of earshot of their antiwar classmates. As Melissa Miles, a senior at Lake Braddock High School in Burke, said last week in a peer mediation class, "Violence is not the answer to anything. And war is violence." Going by various monikers -- peer mediation, conflict resolution, anti-bullying education -- violence prevention programs are now in place in three-fourths of the nation's schools, according to one national survey funded by the Justice Department. . . Talking with even young supporters, one is struck by the lens through which they view the war: the way they examine arguments pro and con, assume that none of the players is irredeemable, and fault President Bush and his advisers for poor communication skills. . .
""I hear this all the time from my 19- and 20-year-old students," says James Garbarino, a professor of human development at Cornell University. "They say they've been told to use their words, seek compromise, walk away from provocation, work with those in authority for a peaceful solution." Even the argument in favor of deterring an imminent threat doesn't work for some students, he continues: "In school, if they thought a bully was about to attack them and they attacked first, they wouldn't get very far with the principal, particularly if they 'shocked and awed' him with a lead pipe."
"Today, Amal celebrated her thirteenth birthday on the fourth day of American air strikes on Baghdad with plumes of black smoke surrounding the city and darkening the sky, reportedly from oil set afire by Iraqi forces defending the capitol. " - Ramzi Kysia reflects on a very unusual birthday party in Baghdad.
SAM SMITH, PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - Iraq is not the only place that's going to need reconstruction after the war; America already needs it. Here are a couple of starter ideas:
The first comes from journalist Jon Rowe: we should recognize the role played by powerful individuals and corporations in making Saddam Hussein the man he became. Suggests Rowe: "No person or corporation who did business with Saddam Hussein, except regarding such items as food and medical supplies, should be able to cash in on the rebuilding of that country."
The second idea addresses the question of whether those of us who oppose the war support our soldiers. Your editor's response is sometimes, "Sure I support our soldiers, I just don't support their generals." But then I offer this proof:
Since we have been told repeatedly that Saddam Hussein is a reincarnation of Hitler and that September 11 was Pearl Harbor all over again, we should treat the veterans of Gulf War Two at least as well as we treated the veterans of World War II. My suggestion is that they not only receive the equivalent of the GI Bill for college education and the VA home loan programs, but that they become entitled to coverage under Medicare immediately upon leaving the military.
This flag-waving administration and Congress, even as this is written, are substantially cutting into veterans' benefits. This is nothing new. Veterans have done progressively worse after each war since WWII, despite the programs that were instituted following that conflict being among the most productive social policies ever created by an American government.
If people want to yammer about patriotism, let them put their money where their mouth is.
[Thanks to Wayne and Sandra Holland]
1. Cabal of oldsters who won't listen to outside advice? --Check.
2. No understanding of ethnicities of the many locals? --Check.
3. Imposing country boundaries drawn by Europeans, not by the
4. Unshakeable faith in our superior technology? --Check.
5. France secretly hoping we fall on our asses? --Check.
6. Russia secretly hoping we fall on our asses? --Check.
7. China secretly hoping we fall on our asses? --Check.
8. SecDef pushing a conflict the JCS never wanted? --Check.
9. Fear we'll look bad if we back down now? --Check.
10. Corrupt Texan in the White House? --Check.
11. Land war in Asia? --Check.
12. Right-wing unhappy with outcome of previous war? --Check.
13. Enemy easily moves in/out of neighboring countries? --Check.
14. Soldiers about to be dosed with "our own" chemicals? --Check.
15. Friendly-fire problem ignored instead of solved? --Check.
16. Anti-Americanism up sharply in Europe? --Check.
17. B-52 bombers? --Check.
18. Helicopters that clog up on the local dust? --Check.
19. In-fighting among the branches of the military? --Check.
20. Locals who cheer us by day, hate us by night? --Check.
21. Local experts ignored? --Check.
22. Local politicians ignored? --Check.
23. Locals accustomed to conflicts lasting longer than USA has been a
24. Against advice, Prez won't raise taxes to pay for war? --Check.
25. Blue-water navy ships operating in brown water? --Check.
26. Use of nukes hinted at if things don't go our way? --Check.
27. Unpopular war? --Check.
VIETNAM II: YOU ARE CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF!
ERIK BAARD, VILLAGE VOICE - In the first Spring-like Sunday of 2003, kids at the Astor Place Kmart were treated to an unusual sight: the Easter Bunny getting cuffed by New York City cops. Amy Hamilton-Thibert, a 28-year-old mother from Astoria, Queens, came to the "Big K" in a bunny outfit to protest the sale of military-themed Easter baskets she had read about in a Village Voice article. Kmart, among other national retailers, sells Easter baskets in which the traditional chocolate bunny has been replaced by toys including plastic soldiers armed with machine guns, rifles, grenades, and knives. . . She is charged with a trespassing, according to the district attorney's office.
SOME REASONS TO SUPPORT
CELEBRITIES IN OPPOSITION TO WAR
[From a list sent us by reader JG]
- Two weeks of basic training before filming "Saving Private Ryan" is more military experience than Condoleeza Rice, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney (5 deferments), Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert combined.
- Don Rumsfeld went to Iraq while Hussein used our chemical weapons on Iranian soldiers (and civilians along the border) and secured the additional shipments to the Iraqi dictator. Sean Penn visited Iraq, but has only used chemicals on himself.
- Martin Sheen has been arrested 70 times in his pursuit of peace and social justice. George W. Bush's three documented arrests: drunk driving, stealing a Christmas wreath and football hooliganism.
- Brit Hume, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are celebrities, not elected officials or diplomats (incidentally, all avoided service in Vietnam) who make their livelihood shilling for war. Garofalo, Damon et al risk their livelihoods by opposing it.
- There is no such thing as apolitical art.
- "Apocalypse Now!" took 5 years to complete and Martin Sheen saw it all the way through, disease, monsoons and all. George W. Bush skipped the last 17 months of his National Guard service in Texas.
- Are award shows asking pro-war celebrities to keep their remarks "neutral?"
- It's their First Amendment right.
Untold story of February 15 demonstration
NEW YORK USED CITY VEHICLES, EXTREME NOISE AS WEAPONS AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTESTERS
IS REALLY LIKE
W.H. AUDEN AND CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD, 1937 - Over by the. . . gate lay five civilian victims on stretchers, waiting for their coffins to arrive. They were terribly mutilated and very dirty, for the force of the explosion had tattooed their flesh with gravel and sand. Beside one corpse was a brand-new, undamaged straw hat. All the bodies looked very small, very poor, and very dead, but, as we stood beside one old woman, whose brains were soaking obscenely through a little towel, I saw the blood-caked mouth open and shut, and the hand beneath the sack-covering clench and unclench.
EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, a group of disgruntled television viewers calling themselves "Meet The People" disowned their television sets in front of NBC studios to protest the pro-war media bias prevalent in Sunday morning talk shows. They then proceeded to smash the sets. Timed for the taping of NBC's Sunday morning talk show "Meet the Press," Meet the People barricaded the Nebraska Avenue entrance to the network's DC studios with a motley collection of former television sets.
EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, a group of disgruntled television viewers calling themselves "Meet The People" disowned their television sets in front of NBC studios to protest the pro-war media bias prevalent in Sunday morning talk shows. They then proceeded to smash the sets. Timed for the taping of NBC's Sunday morning talk show "Meet the Press," Meet the People barricaded the Nebraska Avenue entrance to the network's DC studios with a motley collection of former television sets.
ROBERT FISK, INDEPENDENT - At a seminar at the University of North Carolina, I listened to a group of professors and senior lecturers and "activists" debating how to influence the "path to war." "What we've got to do is to reach out to mainstream press and bridge-build to other activists," a lady with long gray hair announced, reading a list of proposals; all couched in the language of academic discourse that ensures her message is incomprehensible outside academia; which she wished to discuss. . .
The people with whom these liberal academics should be building bridges are the truck-drivers and bell-hops and Amtrak crews, the poor blacks and the cops whose families provide the cannon fodder for America's overseas military adventures. But that, of course, would force intellectuals to emerge from the sheltered, tenured world of seminars and sit-ins and deal directly with those whose opinions they wish to change.
When I made this very point at Harvard and several other universities, I was told, rather patronizingly, that these people; the phrase was almost identical; had "so little information" or are "not very informed." This is, in fact, untrue. I have heard as much sense about the Middle East from a train crew en route from Washington to Georgia and from a waiter in a St Louis diner as I have from the good folks of North Carolina.
Black Americans, for example, are uninhibited in their sympathy for Palestinians under occupation. But when I told a lecturer in Austin that I had asked hotel staff and air crews to turn up to my lectures on the Middle East and America; and that all had come; I was treated with a kind of weird amazement, puzzlement that I should bother to ask such unpromising material to think about the Arab-Israel conflict mixed with faint pity that I should ever expect them to understand.
Sometimes I rather suspect that the anti-war left in America likes being in a permanent minority. I mean no disrespect to the Noam Chomskys and Daniel Ellsbergs and Dennis Bernsteins; they fight, amid abuse and threats, to make their voices heard. Yet I have an uneasy feeling that many on the intellectual left are fearful that America will lose its next war amid massive casualties; but are even more fearful that America may win with minimal casualties.
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ANARCTICA RESIDENTS JOIN THE PEACE MOVEMENT
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, NY PRESS - We're witnessing the largest outcry in history against an imminent war with the imminent aggressors - the U.S. and UK - so frightened of the outcry that they have been trying to curb the demonstrations in New York and London. . . There are demos around the world-more than 315 cities-on all continents! There's even a demonstration scheduled outside of the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. As for New York, the buzz is, this is going to be a major amount of people. Nobody is giving out numbers except to say it will build on the success of the Jan. 18 demonstration that the Washington Post called the largest antiwar demo since the Vietnam period. The London Daily Mirror several weeks ago forecast that there will be ten million turning out worldwide for all these protests. . .
After Sept. 11, there were pledges about ensuring better cooperation between federal authorities and the NYPD. That seems to be just what Bush and Bloomberg have had in mind. . . The Bush/Ashcroft operation sent federal prosecutors to the court hearing and the feds filed an amicus brief.
Another unsettling aspect is how the city has been using pens - metal enclosures - to chop up demonstrations, even relatively small ones. This tactic has made it very difficult to find friends, to feel that the assembled crowd has a collective presence. Rather, it often feels as though the police want to cage up people to demoralize and control. Here in the U.S., we are unlikely to wake up one morning to find a coup. Instead, we get the shredding of civil liberties in fits and starts, until one fine day we wake up to find it's all gone.
SARAH FERGUSON, VILLAGE VOICE - The Bloomberg Administration's refusal to let antiwar activists march in New York reflects a certain Orwellian logic: Because the turnout on Saturday is expected to be so large, marching past the United Nations, or indeed anywhere in New York City, has been deemed an "unacceptable risk to public safety." In other words, because so many people feel compelled to demonstrate against what they feel is a potentially catastrophic path to war in Iraq, peace activists have been labeled a security threat.
. . . Civil libertarians called Monday's court ruling unprecedented: the first time a court has ever upheld the denial of a permit for a protest march. "This is a watershed moment," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York City Civil Liberties Union, which filed an appeal of Judge Jones's decision on Monday.
. . . Ironically, by refusing to let people march, the city may well make the task of policing Saturday's demo more difficult. Faced with the prospect of being kept in pens on First Avenue, many groups are organizing feeder marches to the big rally. While most groups-such as the 5000-strong union march, led by members of 1199, DC-37 and the Transit Workers-have pledged to keep to the sidewalk, others like the festive Samba bloc, the "peace bike bloc," and the student/youth bloc, aren't making any promises.
GUARDIAN - Trade union leaders today warned that there could be "massive" strikes if and when an attack on Iraq was launched. Speaking at a Stop the War coalition meeting, the leaders of five of Britain's biggest unions warned the prime minister that the day the bombing began could see mass walkouts in workplaces across the country.
REUTERS - Just after dawn on Friday, roughly 30 women scurried into the heart of Central Park, splitting up into groups to avoid arousing police suspicion. Once they reached their destination, the Bethesda Fountain, they displayed their deep misgivings about war by disrobing amid a steady snowfall. Lying down in shivering temperatures, the group of women -- students, executives and artists among them -- used their stark naked bodies to spell out the words "No Bush."
"I have never done anything remotely like this before, but I think it's incredibly cool," said Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, a 40-year-old activist housewife. "We're totally vulnerable out here, yet we're making a wonderful statement."
It didn't take long for a flock of nude women to attract attention. Central Park workers scrambled to break up the gathering, but by the time they arrived, the women were fully clothed.
FOLLOW ME - An anti-war action is sweeping through the churches. It has worked before. It can work now. Everyone can do this: Place 1/2 c. uncooked rice in a small plastic bag (a snack-sized bag or sandwich bag works fine). Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap it in a piece of paper on which you have written: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. (Romans 12:20) Please send this rice to the people of Iraq; do not attack them."
Place the paper and bag of rice in an envelope (either a letter-sized or small padded mailing envelope - both are the same cost to mail) and address it to: President George Bush White House - 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500
AT THE 117TH ANNUAL MEETING of the American Historical Association, historians from more than forty colleges and universities agreed to form a new national network, "Historians Against the War." A committee was appointed to draft the a statement, which has been circulated for other historians to sign. LIST AND STATEMENT
NYC INDEPENDENT MEDIA - The NYC authorities are refusing march permits for Feb. 15. Under no circumstances, they say, will there be a march bigger than 10,000 people. Why? Because the police cannot contain it. The following are excerpts of notes from Co-chair Leslie Cagan of the United For Peace and Justice Coalition:
"The NYC Police Dept. informed our lawyers today that they will NOT issue a parade permit for the demonstration. On the call today we all agreed to challenge this decision in court. . .
"The police said they would grant us permission to have a rally, but for safety and security reasons they will not give us the permit to march. . .
Below is a complete list of the people presently confirmed to participate in the rally on 2/15. . .
Bishop Desmond Tutu, Julian Bond, chair of the board of the NAACP, Colleen Kelly representing Sept. 11th Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow. . . Martin Luther King III. . . two of the poets from Def Poetry Jam. . . playwright Tony Kushner, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Mos Def, Sarah Jones, Patti Smith, singer Betty, Rev. Al Sharpton, David Rovics (musician, singer)
PETTI FONG VANCOUVER SUN - A team of "weapons inspectors," headed by New Democratic Party MP Libby Davies, plans to go Washington, D.C., next month to look for stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the U.S. capital. The six-member "team" includes Davies, MP for Vancouver East, British Labor MP Alan Simpson, academics, and labor organizers. They want to make the point that the U.S. poses more of a threat to global security than . . . The "team" says it plans to inspect the military site in the Washington, D.C., area Feb. 22-23. The location has not yet been announced. Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said as an member of Parliament, Davies would be expected to go through the U.S. State Department to request access to defense areas.
LEIGH ANN HENION, MOUNTAIN TIMES, BOONE, NC - Monday, approximately twenty-five people braved the bitter cold to stand on a corner in downtown Boone to express their opposition to the threat of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Last week, the protest, slated to become a weekly event, hosted nearly fifty protesters, some of whom pulled their cars off the road to join those on the sidewalks. This week's protesters, swaddled in scarves and thick winter coats, held signs reading Honk for Peace, No Blood for Oil, and No War in Iraq. A woman moving through the intersection at the wheel of her large SUV turned to shout that such a protest 'should not be tolerated.' A large percentage of the traffic traveling through the intersection disagreed with the scolding remarks of the woman. As station wagons and sedans made their way home for the day, many honked in support. One driver held by a red light laid on her horn and, as others peppered the air with their vehicular voices, Boone was blanketed in a cacophony of protest. Anna Sagel, a member of High Country Citizens for Peace and Justice, gestured towards the protestors and said, 'This is what democracy looks like.'
CODE PINK - We call on women around the world to rise up and oppose the war in Iraq. . . Women have been the guardians of life-not because we are better or purer or more innately nurturing than men, but because the men have busied themselves making war. Because of our responsibility to the next generation, because of our own love for our families and communities and this country that we are a part of, we understand the love of a mother in Iraq for her children, and the driving desire of that child for life.