Remarks in Chicago on the 87th anniversary of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, August 27, 2015.
Thank you very much for inviting me here and thank you to Kathy Kelly for everything she does and thank you to Frank Goetz and everyone involved in creating this essay contest and keeping it going. This contest is far and away the best thing that has come out of my book When the World Outlawed War.
I proposed making August 27th a holiday everywhere, and that hasn't yet happened, but it's begun. The city of St. Paul, Minnesota, has done it. Frank Kellogg, for whom the Kellogg-Briand Pact is named, was from there. A group in Albuquerque is holding an event today, as are groups in other cities today and in recent years. A Congress member has recognized the occasion in the Congressional Record.
But the responses offered to some of the essays from various readers and included in the booklet are typical, and their failings should not reflect poorly on the essays. Virtually everyone has no idea that there is a law on the books banning all war. And when a person finds out, he or she typically takes no more than a few minutes to dismiss the fact as meaningless. Read the responses to the essays. None of the responders who were dismissive considered the essays carefully or read additional sources; clearly none of them read a word of my book.
By Joy First
Voices for Creative Nonviolence engaged with a number of Wisconsin peace groups to organize an 8-day 90-mile walk across southwest Wisconsin from August 18-25. The purpose of the walk was to call attention and make connections between the militarized police violence at home and the military using violence abroad through drone warfare and by other means. In both cases the victims are people of color, which forces us to reflect on the systemic racism of our society.
The walk began at the City/County/Jail complex in Madison on August 18. Dane County has one of the highest rates of racial disparity of any county in the country on many issues, including when it comes to incarceration - hence starting the walk at the jail. In fact, in order to make the prison population match the general population in Dane County, we would need to release 350 Black people. This is horrific, especially when we understand that so many people of color are in jail for nonviolent crimes and crimes of poverty that could better be solved by more positive interventions. It is up to all of us to stand up with our brothers and sisters and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter!”
By Dave Lindorff
It’s entertaining to watch and to read reports in the corporate media about the current stock market decline, which over the course of the last six business days erased $2.1 trillion in the market value of stocks of publicly-traded US corporations (and in a lot of ordinary Americans’ retirement savings).
I was invited to come to Jeju City today to appear on live radio show for 20 minutes at 6:00 pm. As we were preparing to leave Gangjeong village we looked into the sky as a formation of Navy Blue Angel war plans came screaming over the village. For the next 15 or so minutes they went back and forth directly over Gangjeong doing various stunts. One of the stunts brought the planes very low in an ear splitting maneuver.
The Navy was sending a message to Gangjeong village. The message was loud and clear. "We own you now. Your village will become a war base. There is nothing you can do. We will project power against China from Jeju Island. You'd better get used to the idea." This is the way the US military empire thinks and the way they treat people who stand in their way.
Just before we went on the air for the radio interview we learned that the Navy was demanding that Gangjeong villagers pay $20 million (USD) in fines for disruption of construction operations on the base now nearing completion. Some activists believe that the Ministry of Defense in Seoul is actually controlled by the Samsung corporation which is the lead contractor for the Navy base construction operation. Just as in the US, where Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics control our government, the Park administration inside the Blue House in Seoul is actually the pawn of corporate interests.
By demanding this outrageous amount of funds from a small fishing and farming community the South Korean puppet government is saying that democracy does not actually exist anymore. In a true democratic nation people who protest oppressive government policies are not fined and driven into poverty - especially an entire village. What was the crime of Gangjeong? They wanted to protect the environment, sacred Gureombi rock, the offshore endangered soft coral forests, the water, the sea life and more. The villagers wanted to protect their way of life - their 500-year old culture.
I've learned that only South Korea and Japan have this kind of punishing policy that obviously smacks of fascism. The government of South Korea is controlled by corporations and Washington. How can they claim in Seoul to be a democracy and then turn around and treat citizens this way? How can the government claim they need a Navy base to defend the people and then attack the people who use non-violent protest to challenge the destruction of their village?
This will have to go to court but the courts are ultimately under the control the the same corrupt corporate state. When the Navy demands that the village must pay $20 million in fines that means every man, woman and child owes that debt. It means they would be naked without any land after the court would take all they owned. This is nothing more than an illegal and immoral attempt to finish off Gangjeong village. Every living and breathing human being on this planet should be outraged at this crime against the human rights of the people in Gangjeong village.
After the US directed April 3 massacre on Jeju Island soon after WW II was over a new program was put into place called the 'Involvement System'. This meant that anyone who was labeled a communist by the US run puppet government could get no job and would have no future. It also meant that any family member would suffer the same fate. This demand for $20 million by the Navy is an attempt to reinstate this 'Involvement System' once again. The only way out for a person is to commit suicide.
I am told that the South Korean regime is using this same punitive program to go after striking auto workers on the mainland and other activists around the nation. The decision has been made to kill democracy in South Korea. We are seeing the same method of operation in Japan today as the right-wing government kills their peaceful constitution against popular will. We see the same system in Okinawa as the people demand US bases there be closed. We see the same system underway inside Ukraine where Washington has installed a puppet government.
For those out there sitting on the fence this is the time to wake up and see the writing on the wall. Democracy is being drowned globally by corporate capitalism.
Open Letter to the War-Politicians of the World – by Juergen Todenhoefer, a German journalist, former media manager and politician
Juergen Todenhoefer is a German journalist, former media manager and politician. From 1972 to 1990 he was a member of parliament for the Christian Democrats (CDU). He was one of Germany's most ardous supporters of the US-sponsored Mujahideen and their guerrilla war against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Several times he traveled to combat zones with Afghan Mujahideen groups. From 1987 to 2008 he served on the board of the media group Burda. After 2001 Todenhöfer becames a outspoken critic of the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has published several books about visits he made to war zones. In recent years he did two interviews with Syria's President Assad and in 2015 he was the first german journalist to visit the 'Islamic State'.
Here his latest post on his Facebook page, a post that during the last two days alone has been liked by 22.000 people and shared on Facebook by 15.000 people.
Juergen Todenhoefers Facebook Page is the most visited political page on Facebook with 443,135 Likes
"Dear Presidents and Heads of Governments!
Through decades of a policy of war and exploitation you have pushed millions people in the Middle East and Africa into misery. Because of your policies refugees have to flee all over the world. One out every three refugees in Germany comes from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. From Africa comes one out of five refugees.
Your wars are also the cause of global terrorism. Instead some 100 international terrorists like 15 years ago, we now are faced with more than 100,000 terrorists. Your cynical ruthlessness now strikes back at us like a boomerang.
As usual, you do not even consider, to really change your policy. You cure only the symptoms. The security situation gets more dangerous and chaotic by the day. More and more wars, waves of terror and refugee crises will determine the future of our planet.
Even in Europe, the war will one day knock again at Europe's door. Any businessman that would act like you would be fired or be in prison by now. You are total failures.
The peoples of the Middle East and Africa, whose countries you have destroyed and plundered her and the people of Europe, who now accommodate the countless desperate refugees have to pay a high price for your policies. But wash your hands of responsibility. You should stand trial in front of the International Criminal Court. And each of your political followers should actually take care of at least 100 refugee families.
Basically, the people of the world should raise and resist you as the warmongers and exploiters. As once Gandhi did it - in nonviolence, in 'civil disobedience'. We should create new movements and parties. Movements for justice and humanity. Make wars in other countries just as punishable as murder and manslaughter one's own country. And you who are responsible for war and exploitation, you should go to hell forever. It is enough! Get lost! The world would be much nicer without you. Jürgen Todenhöfer "
Dear friends, I know you should never write letters in anger. But life is way too short to always beat about the bush. Is your anger not so great that you want to cry about so much irresponsibility? About the infinite suffering that has been caused by these politicians? About the millions of dead people? Did the warmongering politicians really believe they could go on for decades with impunity beating up other peoples making a killing at the same time? We should no longer accept this! In the name of humanity, I call upon to: Defend yourselves!
Why sail food from Maine to Boston, and what do salt and the British colonies in North America have in common with Gandhi's India?
Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She tours nationally speaking and educating in nonviolent civil resistance. Her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. See http://riverasun.com
Marada Cook is a food entrepreneur who can be found at Crown O'Maine Organic Cooperative, Northern Girl, and Fiddler's Green Farm.
Read Rivera Sun's article "Maine Sail Freight Revives: A Salty History of Revolution, Independence."
Find the Maine Sail Freight at http://thegreenhorns.net
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By Kathy Kelly
"This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Imagine children lustily singing the above lines which eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlightens us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, #Enough! They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.
This past summer, collaborating with Wisconsin activists, we decided to feature this refrain on signs and announcements for a 90-mile walk campaigning to end targeted drone assassinations abroad, and the similarly racist impunity granted to an increasingly militarized police force when they kill brown and black people within the U.S.
If someone has had the good fortune not to encounter the world of U.S. police and prisons, and the misfortune to learn about the world from U.S. schools, entertainment, and "news" media, a great place to start understanding one of the worst self-inflicted tragedies of our era would be with James Kilgore's short new book, Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time, followed up by Radley Balko's longer Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces.
Both books tell a story of gradual change over the past half-century that has resulted in the police going to war against people they were supposed to serve (call it a war on crime, a war on drugs, a war on terror, it's always in fact a war on people). And what do you do with people captured alive during a war? You lock them away as prisoners of war until the war ends. And if the war never ends? Well, then you bring back the death penalty, create life sentences for lots of crimes including for kids, impose mandatory minimums and three-strikes, and transform parole and probation from rehabilitation to reincarceration services.
The story of this gradual change is one of legal changes (court rulings and legislation), behavior, and popular belief -- with each of these influencing the other two in a vicious cycle. You can't quadruple a prison population in 40 years without instituting a different belief system. You can't ship black prisoners to be guarded by rural whites employed by for-profit companies, or lock up immigrants indefinitely while they await hearings, and not alter the belief system further. You can't run several successive election campaigns as contests in meanness and not see changes in policy and behavior. You can't give police military weapons and not expect them to adopt military attitudes, or give them military training and expect them not to want military weapons. You can't give crime 10 times the coverage on the "news" and not expect people to imagine crime is increasing. You can't start smashing in doors without alienating the police and the people from each other.
Kilgore reminds us that the popular movements of the 1960s had an impact on popular thought. Opposition to the death penalty peaked in 1965 and was over 50% from 1957 to 1972, dropping to 20% in 1990. In 1977 only 37% of people polled rated police officers' ethics as high, a number that rose to 78% in 2001 for no apparent substantive reason. As late as 1981 most Americans thought unemployment was the main cause of crime. We've since learned of course that crime is caused by evil demonic forces that possess the bad people of the earth.
The creation of the world's largest ever collection of permanent prisoners of war -- a trend that would translate perfectly to the war "on terror" abroad -- developed through cycles, including partisan cycles. That is to say, Nixon had a horrible impact, Carter briefly slowed the mad rush to prisonville, and Reagan and Bush built on Nixon's policies. The war on drugs was created as a means to militarize the police and involve the federal government in more local law enforcement, not the other war around. Reagan's attorney general announced early on that, "the Justice Department is not a domestic agency. It is the internal arm of the national defense." The end of the Cold War saw the military looking for new excuses to exist, and one of them would be the war on drugs.
When Clinton came along it again made a difference to have a Democrat in the White House, only this time for the worse. Bill Clinton and his would-be president wife and allies such as would-be president Joe Biden accelerated the march to suburban Siberia rather than slowing it. Under Clinton it became possible to throw people out of public housing for a single drug offense of any kind by anyone in the house. And yet Clinton was never evicted from his public housing despite the near certainty that someone in the White House used some kind of drug. Clinton brought us huge increases in incarceration, war weapons for police, and the shredding of social supports.
When the War on Terra began in 2001 whole new pathways to profit and police militarization opened up, including the beloved Fatherland's Department of Homeland Security, which has handed out tens of billions of dollars in "terror grants" that fund the terrorizing of the U.S. public. In 2006 the Buffalo, NY, police staged a series of drug raids they called "Operation Shock and Awe." Adding truly military grade incompetence to meanness, the New York Police Department raided an elderly couple's home over 50 times between 2002 and 2010 because their address had randomly been used as a placeholder in a computer system and remained in any report that had failed to include an address.
The arrival of Captain Peace Prize at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue continued the trends and added an escalation of the war on immigrants, as well as of the war weapons for the police programs.
But the partisan cycles are more subtle as well. As Balko recounts, Congress members and others opposed police militarization when the president was of the other party and supported it when he was from theirs, or opposed it when the discussion focused on drugs but supported it in matters of gun-control (or vice versa). Yet, each acceptance was two steps forward and each resistance one step back, so that what was outrageous one decade became the norm in the next.
National partisan tides and vicious cycles of ever increasing militarization interacted over the years with local advances. Los Angeles, and the leadership of Darryl Gates, brought SWAT teams to U.S. policing. The name originally stood for Special Weapons Attack Teams and the tactics were literally a bringing of the war on Vietnam home as Gates consulted with the military to learn what was supposedly working in Vietnam.
Let me close with the question with which Balko begins his book: Are police constitutional? The police, prisons, parole, and probation did not exist when the U.S. Constitution was created any more than did drones or the internet. The first thing in the United States like police was the slave patrol. The first modern police force in the United States was begun in New York City in 1845. I've argued at length elsewhere that drones are incompatible with the Bill of Rights. What about police?
The Third Amendment grew out of resistance to allowing soldiers to engage in any of the abuses that constitute the work of police. Need we accept those abuses? I think we can at the very least radically reduce them. To do so we will have to declare an end to the wars abroad and the wars at home. Balko quotes former Maryland police officer Neill Franklin on what changing police attitudes will require:
"Number one, you've signed on to a dangerous job. That means that you've agreed to a certain amount of risk. You don't get to start stepping on others' rights to minimize that risk you agreed to take on. And number two, your first priority is not to protect yourself, it's to protect those you've sworn to protect." But that would mean not being at war with people.
Cable Provider Has Strong Links to Military Industry, Including Snowden Employer and Drone Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton
CLOVIS, NM – An international cable provider with links to the war industry is refusing to air television commercials produced by U.S. military veterans that are critical of the U.S. drone program, according to vets involved in the production of the spots.
While the controversial commercials – which urge U.S. military personnel to "Refuse to Fly" military drones – have run elsewhere in the U.S. without incident, Suddenlink Cable refused to air them. They were pulled after just a few days of being on the air.
Suddenlink is linked to a financial backer, The Carlyle Group, a major international arms investor which owns drone contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's former employer, according to KnowDrones.com, sponsor of the anti-drone commercials.
Booz Allen Hamilton is now contracting with the U.S. Air Force to do drone targeting analysis, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Suddenlink, the nation's seventh largest cable provider with 1.4 million customers in 17 states, pulled the spots within days of when they began airing in early July in Clovis, NM, seven miles from Cannon AFB. The base is home to the 3rd and 33rd Special Operations Squadrons that are reported to control MQ-9 Reaper drones in the skies over Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen and possibly elsewhere.
Suddenlink, despite repeated requests, refused to give any reason for cancelling the anti-drone commercials.
The anti-drone commercials have run on FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and other networks on Comcast, Cox and Time Warner throughout the country since early 2015, including near drone operation centers near Las Vegas, Sacramento, New York and Florida. The spots can be seen here.
Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, said Suddenlink's decision to censor the ads may be because Suddenlink is controlled by Altice, owned by Patrick Drahi, described by the newspaper Haaretz as a "Franco-Israeli telecoms billionaire." Drahi is connected to the war industry through his association with the Carlyle and Cinven private equity firms; both are invested in the arms industry, and both are invested in Altice, which bought 70 percent of Suddenlink in May, 2015 for $9.1 billion.
"Suddenlink's decision to kill our ads raises the extremely disturbing possibility of censorship at the behest of Mr. Drahi, Carlyle, Booz Allen and the U.S. military. Through the images of children killed in drone attacks the American people can see the illegality and immorality of the U.S. policy of systematically killing people without due process. Suddenlink's decision to censor the spots shows how powerful the commercials are, and it reveals connections that give power to people who profit from war to literally remove the truth from the public airwaves so that Americans only see the sanitized version of how their tax dollars are killing and mutilating people around the world," said Mottern.
The “Refuse to Fly” message in the ad is reinforced by a letter from about 50 veterans to drone operators urging “drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/assassination missions.”
This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
Stabenow Yes takes potential No list down to 14. But Blumenthal is still undecided, so it's 15.
This is an update to "Which U.S. Senators Want War on Iran." But Blumenthal is still undecided, so it's 15.
I've found there isn't really any way to touch on this topic without misunderstanding, but here's a try. Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program or threatened to launch a war against the U.S. or Israel. Many opponents of the Iran deal in the U.S. Congress and nearly every, if not every single, proponent of the agreement in the U.S. Congress has proposed war as the alternative. Some examples are here. The White House is even telling Congress that the agreement will make a future war easier -- as a selling point in favor of the deal.
Of course, war is NOT the only alternative to the agreement. The threat of war comes from the U.S. An alternative to that would be to simply stop threatening it. No deal is actually needed. The purpose it serves is to slow down a U.S. push for war.
Of course, many ordinary supporters and opponents of the agreement do not want a war. But with Washington offering two courses of action toward Iran: a deal that imposes tougher inspections than anyone else has to deal with, or bombs, one has to choose the inspections.
That is, a moral person does. The "I want a better deal" argument is cynically put forward by people who want no deal at all, even if supported by well-meaning people who have the misfortune to own televisions or read newspapers.
Of course, the Iranian government can be criticized in many areas, none of which are subject to improvement by bombing.
Here are people who have said they oppose the agreement or can't make up their mind about it yet:
Every Republican in the U.S. Senate plus these Democrats (the first two have said No, the rest Undecided):
This is a much shorter list than what it was when I previously wrote on this topic. In fact, it's at 15, which is almost down to the 13 needed to kill the agreement. Get it down to 12 and the agreement survives. That means two more Democratic senators can come around to the Yes position on the Iran deal and the deal still die. Almost certainly at least those two will. Whether a third does, or more do, is the real question.
When measures voted on are popular with funders but unpopular with the public, they very often pass with no more than exactly the votes needed. Sometimes word leaks out about the deals that have been cut. Senators and House members take their turns giving the unpopular votes demanded by funders and "leadership." The trick here is that the "leadership" is split between Obama's and Biden's YES and (would be Senate leader) Schumer's NO.
The fifteen people named above have had PLENTY of time to conclude that many of their colleagues want to risk a war and to understand that the agreement is preferable to that. It's time for us to let them know we will not stand for them getting this wrong and will never forget it if they do. Here's what I'm asking about my senator, Mark Warner:
Here's what World Beyond War is doing to try to correct the myth that Iran is the origin of the threat of war in this affair:
We must uphold the Iran agreement, but upholding it while pretending that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, or is threatening anyone, will not create a stable and lasting foundation for peace. Upholding an agreement with both proponents and opponents threatening war as an alternative is perilous as well as immoral, illegal, and — given the outcome of similar recent wars based on similar recent propaganda — insane.
More events all over the world, and tools for creating your own are here.
Outside the U.S., people can contact the nearest U.S. Embassy.
Jeremy Deaton seems to be a fine writer on the subject of climate change right up until he stumbles across the propaganda of the U.S. military. I highlight this as the latest example of something that is so typical as to be nearly universal. This is a pattern across major environmental groups, environmental books, and environmentalists by the thousands. In fact, it's in no way limited to environmentalists, it's just that in the case of environmentalism, blindness to the damage done by the U.S. military is particularly dramatic in its impact.
U.S. Bows Out After Plowshares Conviction is Vacated: Appeals Court Ill-Informed on Nuclear Overkill
By John LaForge
The 2012 Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear action made the “Fort Knox” of weapons-grade uranium look like “F Troop.” Three senior peace activists got through four chain-link fences and past multiple “lethal force” zones before stringing banners, spray-painting slogans and pouring blood on the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – all without being noticed by guards.
The guard that finally spotted the three activists – Sr. Megan Rice, 85, of New York City, Greg Boertje-Obed, 60, of Duluth, and Michael Walli, 66, of Washington, D.C. – testified that he knew a peace protest when he saw one. He had watched a lot of them while on duty at Rocky Flats, the former plutonium warhead factory near Denver, Colorado. That’s why he shrugged off official protocol and didn’t draw his gun on Greg, Megan and Michael that night.
By Blase Bonpane
A holocaust began on this day in 1945 and has continued to the present. Some 30 million people have been sacrificed. It was then Korea, Indo-China, Central and South America, Panama and Grenada. And for the past 24 years the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and much of Africa.
And now all of the military hubris, waste, murder, torture and rape must be put aside and channeled into saving our common home . . . this tiny grain of sand called planet Earth.
Never has there been a greater danger of nuclear holocaust than today. The United States and Israel are certainly the most apt to use these biocidal weapons. There is not now nor has there ever been any value in what was called deterrence. There is only crisis.
The United States does not obey the nuclear non-proliferation treaty Israel is not even a member and both point the finger at a nation which is open to inspection and is a member and yet has no nuclear weapons . . . Iran.
The exchange of fire across the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is rapidly spiraling out of control and could escalate into a full-scale war. Women peacemakers who crossed the DMZ in May urgently call leaders of South Korea, North Korea and the United States to exercise restraint and return to the long-abandoned table for dialogue.
The tit-for-tat began on August 4th when a landmine exploded on the southern border of the DMZ and shattered the legs of two South Korean soldiers. In response, South Korean President Park Geun-hye erected massive speakers to blast anti North Korean propaganda across the DMZ. North Korea retaliated by launching a rocket at a loudspeaker, and South Korea fired back 36 artillery shells. Pyongyang has ordered North Korean troops along the front line and has set a 5 pm Korea Standard Time deadline for South Korea to turn off its speakers. Meanwhile, the U.S.-R.O.K. temporarily halted military exercises in what some fear is to prepare for retaliation.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Three cheers for Reuters pointing out that the Pentagon can't explain what it did with $8.5 trillion that taxpayers gave it between 1996 and 2013.
Three trillion cheers for a blogger who is pointing out that this fact renders many other concerns ludicrous, and recommending that people bring it up at every opportunity:
"What's that? Body cameras for all cops will be too expensive? How about we find 1/10,000th of the money we sent to the Pentagon."
"Oh really? There's 500 million in provable food stamp fraud going to poor people how about the $8.5 TRILLION the pentagon can't account for?"
"Oh really? You think Obamacare is going to cost us almost a trillion dollars over 15 years? How about the 8.5 Trillion that just disappeared into the ether at the Pentagon? What's your take on that?"
"Oh really, you're concerned about deficit spending and the debt? Fully 1/3 of the national debt is money we sent the Pentagon and they can't tell us where it went. It's just gone."
"College for everyone will cost too much? You must be really pissed at the 8.5 Trillion, with a 't', dollars the pentagon's spent and can't tell us where it went."
This is all very good as far as it goes, whether you like the body cameras or corporate health insurance or other items or not. We could add an unlimited number of items including some expressing our concern for the other 96% of humanity:
"You can end starvation and unclean water for tens of billions of dollars; what about that $8.5 trillion?"
But here's my real concern. The $8.5 trillion is just the bit that the Pentagon can't account for. That's far from all the money it was given. U.S. military spending, spread across several departments with the biggest chunk of it to the Department of so-called Defense, is upwards of $1 trillion every year. Over 17 years at the current rate, which rose sharply after 2001, that's upwards of $17 trillion.
Imagine that the Pentagon accounted for every dime of that missing $8.5 trillion, named every profiteer, documented the life history of every man, woman, and child killed, and passed the strictest audit by an independent team of 1,000 accountants reporting to 35 Nobel Laureates -- if that happened, I ask you, exactly what difference would it make?
Why is the $8.5 trillion that went to unknown purposes worse than the other trillions that went to known and named weapons and dictators and militants and recruitment campaigns? The documented and accounted for spending all went to evil purposes. Presumably the unaccounted for "waste" did the same. What's the difference between the two?
As World Beyond War points out, war has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what's thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government's discretionary budget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.
Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twice as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures. The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked.
It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.
Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved -- thus concentrating wealth.
While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained.
Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.
World Beyond War Supports Japan Protesters
Calls for Preservation of Peace Constitution
Thursday, August 20, 2015
World Beyond War endorses the efforts of peace groups throughout Japan to protect Japan’s “peace constitution,” and to oppose pending legislation currently being promoted by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would re-militarize Japan. Peace groups will mobilize throughout Japan (at last count, 32 locations) on Sunday, August 23, and other days in the coming week.
Article 9 of Japan’s constitution states:
“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
World Beyond War Director David Swanson said on Thursday: “World Beyond War advocates for abolishing war, including through constitutional and legal means. We point to the post-WWII Japanese constitution, in particular its Article 9, as a model of legislation to outlaw war.”
“It is a little known fact,” Swanson added, “that nearly identical language to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is in a treaty to which most nations of the world are party but which some of them routinely violate: the Kellogg-Briand Pact of August 27, 1928. Rather than following the path of militarism, Japan should be leading the rest of us toward compliance with the law.”
Added World Beyond War Executive Committee Member Joe Scarry, “World Beyond War colleagues in Japan tell us that the protests which are taking place across Japan oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security bills. The Japanese people believe the bills are unconstitutional, and are afraid that if these bills pass, the Japanese government and Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) will join American wars, which have killed many innocent people.”
Scarry also said, “The bills pending in Japan are particularly undesirable because of the threat they pose to the peace work of Japanese non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Japanese NGOs have worked for decades to assist and provide humanitarian aid in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places. Japanese NGOs have been able to conduct their work in relative safety, in part because local people have known that Japan js a pacifist country and Japanese workers don’t carry guns. Japanese NGOs formed trust and cooperation in the areas they served, and that trust and cooperation encouraged locals and NGOs to work together. There is great concern that once Prime Minister Abe’s security bills pass, this trust will be jeopardized.”
For details of protests in Japan against re-militarization, see http://togetter.com/li/857949
World Beyond War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.
This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
No, I’m not referring to the U.S. election. I’m referring to “Bycatch.” The name refers not to fish accidentally caught and killed while trying to catch and kill other fish, but to humans murdered in a game in which the player hopes to murder certain other humans but knows that he or she stands a good chance of murdering some bycatch.
The Nazis never reached this height of banality in the general German public, but had they done so it would be a sinister feature of tens of thousands of Hollywood movies. If Russians sat around playing a board game that involved blowing up Ukrainian children, the Washington Post would have already published several front-page articles.
This is a game that puts you in the shoes of one particular human being, thus far, but imagines several engaging in the same activity in competition. In Bycatch you become Barack Obama going through his Tuesday murder list. But Bycatch imagines as many nations as people playing the game, each engaging in a drone murder spree against the others. Here’s an excerpt from the rules:
“How to strike
“Suspects hiding in other nations can be eliminated by means of a strike. You choose the opponent you wish to target and go through these steps:
“Discard two identical citizens who are not suspects from your hand.
“Remove three consecutive citizens from your chosen opponent’s hand.
“Show these cards to the other players.
“Place them face down in front of you.
“Failed Strike: If none of the eliminated citizens are suspects, they are all collateral damage.
“Successful Strike: If at least one eliminated citizen is a suspect, do the following:
- Place the current intelligence card face down on top of the eliminated citizens.
- Reveal a new intelligence card.
“The remaining citizens are collateral damage.”
“Add 100 points for each suspect eliminated by a strike. Use the intelligence cards to identify eliminated suspects.
“Collateral Damage: Detract 10 points for each citizen in a strike who was not a suspect.”
So, if you casually murder three “wrong” people, you lose 30 points. But if you only murder two “wrong” people and murder one “right” person, you gain 80 points. I wonder what people will do?
This is a game to be played by well-off people who can afford to purchase such crap and to sit around playing with it. And it’s being marketed to them with a wink by people who know better. The game’s would-be profiteers have this to say about it:
“Appealing artwork helps you empathize with your citizens and the horrors of drone strikes and collateral damage.”
Right. Because tossing lives around on playing cards and making more points the more you murder is a well-established path to empathy.
I thought I couldn’t grow any more disgusted with the human race. I was wrong.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
By Mel Gurtov
Throughout the Cold War, and doubtless right down to the present, professional people with skills relevant to “national security” have been secretly recruited to work for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense. Universities are among those particularly targeted. Scholars and campus research centers have received CIA and DoD funding for conferences and publications, for collecting intelligence while abroad, and even for spying, all under cloak of secrecy.
Among the more notorious examples is the 1985 scandal at Harvard, in which the head of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies Center was found to have a financial contract with the CIA for research and conferences. He was forced to resign. Yale has had unusually close ties with the CIA dating back many years, contributing student recruits and directors.
By Kathy Kelly
“A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them—make them things. Therefore they will exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. What I am saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, 'America, you must be born again!'” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speaking on behalf of indigenous people in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, earlier this summer, Pope Francis apologized for the role the Catholic Church played in oppressing Latin America’s indigenous people. He called for a worldwide grass roots movement that would shatter global corporate abuses of “the new colonialism.” Political elites in the U.S. should follow his lead and apologize for the genocidal destruction U.S. people waged against indigenous peoples. They should look toward indigenous people for guidance about ways to make reparations.
By Kent Shifferd
In World War II, good American boys who wouldn’t have kicked a cat flew bombers that set cities filled with innocent German children on fire. German boys, who were raised to be kind and decent, participated in the atrocities of the Holocaust. How is it that normally decent people who are raised to be kind and respectful of others can commit acts of horrible violence during wars? How do they put aside their normal reluctance to hurt others and make the decision to shoot or bomb not only enemy combatants but civilians including women and children?
Some years ago, the psychologist Albert Bandura listed eight mental tricks people play to disengage their consciences so they can perform the acts of violence they would normally abhor.
- Moral Justification: one is persuaded, for example, that killing the enemy serves a higher moral purpose such as protecting one’s country or serving God’s plan, etc.
- Euphemistic Labeling: people mask the true nature of behavior they know is unethical, such as labeling “enhanced interrogation” for torture, “servicing the target” for shooting the enemy, and “disinformation” for lying.
- Advantageous Comparison: as in “What I am doing is not as bad as what they are doing.”
- Displacement of Responsibility: Uncritically following orders, as in the Nazi concentration camp workers or SS execution squads.
- Diffusion of Responsibility: when a whole group decides on the unethical action or when the action is divided into many subparts, for example, the building of nuclear weapons. (“All I do is assemble this little electronic part.” Or, “I’m just driving a truck bring supplies—I don’t shoot anybody.”)
- Disregard or Distortion of Consequences: for example, when harm is inflicted at a distance (as in officers in Montana who guide drones that make “bug splats” in Afghanistan) or dropping bombs from a plane on “targets” even though women and children and old men are being killed below.
- Dehumanization: labeling the victims of one’s violence as non- or subhuman, as in calling Vietnamese people “slants” and “gooks” during that war, or Germans “Huns” in WWI, or Arabs “towel heads” and “sand niggers” in the First Gulf War.
- Attribution of Blame: or blaming the victim who is seen as deserving the mistreatment or seen as having brought it on themselves. For example, “These German civilians we are killing below should not have voted for Hitler; therefore they are to blame for our bombings.
Generally speaking, in the run-up to a war and during it, most or all of these powerful psychological techniques are employed by governments and their militaries on both sides.
Such propaganda is often based on lies made up by governments, as in the myth propagated in World War I by the British propaganda office that German lancers had speared babies, thus arousing rage against the Germans.
And I would add one other explanation—not a trick, but an existential situation. Once a war has started and soldiers are caught up in it, it becomes a self-perpetuating “me or them” situation. If I don’t kill them, they will kill me and vice-versa. And if I refuse out of conscience to shoot at the “enemy,” my own military command will carry out a summary court martial and could execute me.
To avoid the "me or them" situation, we have to learn critical thinking so we can see through the propaganda and lies that tell us harming others is tolerable under the conditions of war. Violence is not something that should ever be tolerated. The fact that we have to trick ourselves into making violence acceptable clarifies just how truly unacceptable it really is.
Kent Shifferd, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of From War To Peace: a Guide To the Next Hundred Years and former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Institute For Peace and Conflict Studies.