Ruminations of an Afghan Girl Burning to Death in a Hospital Bed

Life is a very jumbled mixture. The pain of it, if you're awake and thinking, brings into your mind the happiest moments you can remember and transforms them into agony unless you resist bitterness with every drop of strength you have left, if not more. Physical pain makes clear-thinking and generous thinking more difficult, until death appears in front of you, and then the physical pain is as nothing.

I know that I'm not supposed to be bitter, and yet that somehow makes it harder not to be. When my father and sister and two cousins were blown into little pieces last year, it was the action of some distant office worker pushing a switch on a remote-controlled airplane. And I'm supposed to believe that they meant well. And this is supposed to make it better. But somehow it makes it worse.

The war that landed me in this hospital in Kunduz, along with all of the screaming men, women, and children around me whose voices have now faded into what I imagine the roar of the ocean must be, this war comes from a distant land that we are told means well. Yet it generates enemies through its horrors. It funds those enemies through its incompetence, corruption, and insistence on buying protection for its occupiers. It fights those enemies with such marvelous weaponry that it kills and kills and kills until many more enemies face it, and it goes on fighting from afar. I'm told the people in America believe the war ended, that it isn't even happening, that it isn't entering Year 15 in four days, while I will never enter Year 14.

I've only known war. I've only heard of peace. Now I will know only the peace of the dead. And I've been told that the dead go on with living somewhere else, but I'm told this by people whose other statements are nothing but lies, so I prefer to wait the endless moments of this hospital burning to the ground with me inside it, and then see for myself.

I understand that I am only an Afghan. I am not an American school student wrongly murdered. I am not an Israeli settler brutally blown up. I'm not a U.S. soldier or a Syrian or Ukrainian who was killed by the wrong side. But this is what makes my bitterness so hard to push back against. I'm an Afghan being bombed for women's rights that I will never ever have a chance to exercise, because I will never ever be a woman. So, I must focus on my gratitude to those who have been kind to me, including those who left this world ahead of me to guide the way.

When I focus on the good in my life intensely, I can shut out any echoes of the evil. I can almost even come back to the evil with a sense of forgiveness and the realization that really, truly, the people who do these things must not know what they are doing. I understand that no one could really begin to understand my experience who isn't me.

Syria/Russia News - Oct 4, 2015

Kremlin claims its strikes destroyed major Islamic State command post and bunker in its ‘capital' Raqqa - LA Times

Air Force decimating terrorist command centers, bunkers, camps, workshops: Russian Defense Ministry - RT


Russia warned U.S. ‘ahead of latest Syria strikes’ - Al Arabiya News

Russia says to step up air strikes in Syria, 'We will not only continue strikes... We will also increase their intensity' - Reuters

Russian Air Group in Syria Fully Deployed, Ready to Strike Targets - Sputnik

Russia Deploying Marines to Syria to Guard Airbase -

Inside the Russian airbase in Syria: RT checks out everyday life at Latakia airfield (VIDEOS, PHOTOS) - RT News

Russian Navy Positions Itself Off the Coast of Latakia -

Russian military assets in Syria -

US Media: Russia Is Using Old, Dumb Bombs, Making Syria Air War Even More Brutal - The Daily Beast

Russia Media: Despite Video Evidence, Pentagon Slams Moscow for Using 'Dumb Bombs’ - Sputnik

People in different areas in Northern Syria tell me: Russian planes are flying in pairs during bombing raids. Never a plane alone - Jenan Moussa on Twitter


Russian Warplanes Have Registered No ISIL Air Defense Activity in Syria - Sputnik

Russian jets kill eight members of Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib, including a media person with the group - Hassan Hassan on Twitter


Russians hit town Ihsem controlled by Jaish alFatah (Nusra, AlQaeda) + Ahrar + others who kicked out FSA Jamal Maruf last year - Jenan Moussa on Twitter

PHOTOS: Al Nusrah Front tweets photos of Russian airstrikes - The Long War Journal

Syria FM urges Russia to send troops to protect Assad from ISIS - NY Daily News



Obama says Putin wrong on Syria but no proxy war between the United States and Russia - AP

Allies demand Russia to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL, immediately cease its attacks on the 'Syrian opposition and civilians' - Reuters

Joint Declaration by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK and US on the Russian Military Actions in Syria -

Pentagon considering protections for U.S.-trained rebels in Syria if they come under fire by the Russians - CTV News

Clinton joins some Republicans in breaking with Obama on Syria no-fly zone - The Washington Post

Bernie Sanders sides with Obama and against Clinton on no-fly zone in Syria - The Washington Post

U.S.-backed Syrian rebels appeal for antiaircraft missiles - The Washington Post

Syrian opposition rejects UN plan on Syria -

U.S. Syrian Kurdish allies welcome Russian airstrikes in Syria - The Sacramento Bee

Iraqi Kurdish leader urges Russia, U.S. to coordinate in anti-IS fight - Reuters

Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel's relationship with Russia is good - Jerusalem Post

Egypt says Russia's intervention in Syria will counter terrorism - Yahoo News

Canada notably absent from coalition criticism of Russian Syria action - The Globe and Mail

Opinion: Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria? - Informed Comment

WikiLeaks Cables Portray Saudi Arabia As A Cash Machine For Terrorists - The Guardian

Opinion: Syria, the New York Times and the Mystery of the "Moderate Rebels” -

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Of scientists and charlatans: Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster

By Robert M. Nelson


Republican presidential aspirants Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum all describe themselves as devout Catholics and, like most Republican candidates, they argue that religion should play an expanded role in American politics and government. However, on matters related to global warming, Messrs. Bush and Rubio both agree with Mr. Santorum, stating that we should, “...leave science to the scientists.”


Gandhi Jayanti, Gandhi's Dream


On behalf of those of us who struggle to honor Gandhi's legacy to the world, I would like to wish Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi 'happy birthday!' Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 and had he defied both the assassin's bullet and the aging process, he would have been 146 years old this year.


In a letter to Secretary Carter, Secretary Kerry and CIA Director Brennan, the bipartisan group of Senators urge U.S. officials to cease unsuccessful program and seek alternative ways forward


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mike Lee (R-UT) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, U.S. Department of State Secretary John Kerry and Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan urging them to end the Syria Train and Equip Program – an unsuccessful effort to train and equip Syrian opposition fighters – which has endangered Americans and further escalated conflict in the region.


The Senators wrote in part: “The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat. On Friday, USCENTCOM confirmed that some of the fighters that we trained and equipped had turned over ammunition and trucks to al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Al Nusra Front. In exchange for safe passage, the fighters, trained by the U.S., gave up approximately 25% of their U.S.-issued equipment.”


Please read the full text of the Senators’ letter below or here.


Dear Secretary Carter, Secretary Kerry, and Director Brennan:


We write to express our deep concern about the Syria Train and Equip Program and to call for an end to this failed initiative. When Congress was considering the program last year, many of us expressed concerns about this program endangering Americans and further escalating the conflict. The evidence further supports our belief. It is time for the Department to find a new path forward.


Authorized at $500 million for Fiscal Year 2015, the program has struggled to graduate “vetted” opposition fighters. When General Lloyd Austin III, the commander of United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said that only "four or five" U.S.-trained opposition fighters were on the ground fighting in Syria. It has since been reported that another 75 United States-trained rebels have entered the fight, but this is still a far cry from the 5,000 fighters the program aimed to train each year.


The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat. On Friday, USCENTCOM confirmed that some of the fighters that we trained and equipped had turned over ammunition and trucks to al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Al Nusra Front. In exchange for safe passage, the fighters, trained by the U.S., gave up approximately 25% of their U.S.-issued equipment.


With over 200,000 persons killed, 4 million refugees, and 7.6 million internally displaced people, the situation in Syria is absolutely tragic, and we must ensure that any U.S. efforts do not cause additional harm. We ask that you cease the Syria Train and Equip Program and look for alternative ways forward.



Hillary Offers Syria a Libyan-Iraqi-Style Paradise

Americans may find Syria a bit confusing. David Petraeus, sainted hero, has proposed arming al Qaeda, organized devil. Vladimir Putin, reincarnated Hitler, is bombing either ISIS or al Qaeda or their friendly democratic allies, but he shouldn't be because he's against overthrowing the Syrian government, also run by Hitler living under the name Assad. Hillary Clinton, liberal socialist, wants to create a no-fly zone, but wouldn't that make it hard to bomb all the scary Muslims? Wait, are we against Assad or the scary Muslims or both? Aaaaaarrrrgghh! How does this make any sense?

Let's start over, shall we?

Some basic facts?

We'll start with the most uncomfortable fact, but one that helps begin to make sense of everything, OK?

The United States military wants to dominate the earth, has "special" forces active in 135 countries, and has troops stationed in some 180 countries. On a map of the world showing nations with no U.S. troops in them, Syria and Iran stand out like sore thumbs, as once-upon-a-time did Iraq and Libya. Syria not only has no U.S. troops; it has Russian troops, and it's friendly toward Iran, which has no U.S. troops. Overthrowing the Syrian government, like Iraq's and Libya's and Iran's, has been on the Pentagon's bucket list for the 21st century. As early as 2006, the U.S. government had people on the ground in Syria working to overthrow the government. With the 2011 Arab Spring, the U.S. thought it saw an opportunity, and helped turn the protests violent.

The Syrian government is awful and murderous. It used to torture people for the U.S. government. It, indeed, attacks "its own citizens" (which is always who governments attack that aren't escapading around the globe attacking other people's citizens, which in fact most governments never do). If every government that attacked its own citizens had to be overthrown, the list would be unending, and could begin with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and various other governments just in that region that the U.S. -- far from overthrowing -- props up, funds, and arms with the weaponry used to commit the attacks. Overthrowing foreign governments and launching wars are in fact illegal acts, and rightly so, regardless of the nature of the governments.

The criminal acts of overthrowing the horrible governments of Iraq and Libya resulted in millions of people being killed, injured, traumatized, and turned into refugees, and the creation of not only worse governments but deadly chaos in those nations and spilling out into the rest of the region. This cannot be a model for what to do to Syria.

Russia should not be arming Syria or bombing Syria. We're so well trained to think in terms of war, that when we hear that one side of a war is in the wrong, we imagine that must be an argument for backing the other side. "You don't want the United States bombing Syria? Then you must want Russia bombing Syria! You must want Assad using his deadly 'barrel bombs'!" In fact, nobody should be arming or bombing anyone in Syria. The United States and numerous allies that have been bombing Syria need to stop. Russia, which has just started, needs to stop. The U.S. media says Russia is bombing where there's no ISIS, although it said ISIS was there a week ago and seems to have forgotten. Russia shouldn't stop bombing because it's bombing the wrong people. There are no right people to bomb. The majority of people who die from bombs are civilians. The majority of people involved with any of the many opposition groups in Syria are opportunists and misguided desperate souls. Every single person in Syria is a person deserving better than a crude "barrel bomb" from a helicopter they hear coming or a far more deadly missile from a foreign jet or drone.

A no fly zone is not a zone in which nobody can fly. It's a zone in which the United States claims the exclusive right to fly and to shoot out of the sky anyone else who tries it, and to bomb out of existence any weaponry that could threaten U.S. planes, along with any people who happen to be anywhere near any suspected weaponry or near any locations accidentally hit in the process. The history of human catastrophes facilitated by humanitarian "no fly" zones includes Iraq and Libya. Hillary Clinton, motivated by interest in Libya's oil, wanted a no fly zone in Libya, urged that it be used to overthrow the government, laughed gleefully about killing Gadaffi, and would prefer that you now not look at Libya too closely. A no fly zone for Syria is a declaration of war on Syria.

Hillary Clinton, just to be clear, is not an office holder. She is a private citizen who ought to be shunned from all public discourse. As Secretary of State, she waived restrictions on shipping weapons to brutal governments if they made large "donations" to her foundation. For that, she should be in prison. Nothing worse will be found, no matter how many of her emails are read in a mad pursuit of more minor but colorful offenses.

In 2013, the Obama Administration demanded the right to send missiles into Syria. The plan, kept private, was a massive bombing campaign that would have leveled Syria and set it on a more rapid course toward utter chaos. Obama made claims about chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government that have never yet been documented, and alleged proof for which fell apart.

The U.S. public helped prevent that attack in 2013 and was, according to polls, even more strongly against arming and training Syrians. So, the CIA and the Pentagon went right ahead with arming and training Syrians. They have had a very hard time recruiting, and have seen their trained and armed troops desert and join other groups, including al Qaeda and ISIS. The U.S. dismissed out of hand a Russian proposal for peace, including Assad stepping down, in 2012, under the delusion that Assad would be quickly overthrown by violence in a manner less advantageous to Russia. That hasn't happened. U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia keep funding and arming ISIS and allied groups. The U.S. keeps arming supposedly "moderate" murderers who supposedly oppose both ISIS and Assad. The various opposition groups keep fighting Assad and each other. And Assad gets support from Russia, and has begun working with Russia, Iran, and Iraq against its opposition / ISIS.

The United States still dreams of overthrowing Assad on the cheap without a massive U.S. occupation, and without bombing quite the whole country. The U.S. keeps fueling the fires that sooner or later could escalate into the kind of war that could overthrow Assad, generate lots more hatred of the United States, empower ISIS, and kill millions.

Russia hopes to keep Assad or a Russia-friendly government in power without a massive Russian occupation, and without bombing quite the whole country. Russia keeps fueling the fires that sooner or later could escalate into the kind of war that could put an end to major opposition in the short term, generate hatred of Russia, empower ISIS, and kill millions.

The global threat is, of course, that this could escalate into a war between Russia and the United States.

What can be done? From the U.S. side that's not hard to answer, though it may be hard to accept.

1. Apologize to the people of Iraq and Libya, abandon the overthrow of Syria, apologize to the United Nations for promoting war at the General Assembly.

2. Cease all weapons shipments to the Middle East and pull all U.S. troops out of the Middle East.

3. Launch a massive campaign of no-strings-attached aid as restitution to the region, costing of course many times less than the ongoing militarism.

4. Work to negotiate an arms embargo and a weapons-of-mass-destruction free Middle East, including Israel.

5. Work to cut off the funding to armed groups.

6. Ask the United Nations to convene peace talks with all parties, including the Syrian opposition, including Iraq, including Iran, including Russia, including Turkey, including the Syrian government, but not including nations that are not even located in the region, such as the United States.

Syria/Russia News - Oct 2, 2015


Russian air strikes hit CIA-trained Free Syrian Army rebel faction, commander says - Yahoo Maktoob News

What Is The Free Syrian Army? Russia Targets CIA-Trained Rebels Opposed To Assad Regime -

Geolocated Evidence points to Russian airstrikes on TOW-operating FSA affiliate (VIDEO) - Syria Direct

Russia warplanes target in Syria the Army of Conquest, an alliance that includes Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and CIA-trained FSA factions - VOA

A look at the Army of Conquest, a rebel alliance in Syria - New York Times

Russia admits ISIS is not only target in Syria, says it supports the Syrian armed forces in the struggle with extremist groups - Fiscal Times

Russia does not consider Free Syrian Army a terrorist group, Lavrov says - Reuters

VIDEO: Lavrov speaks at a news conference at the United Nations about Russian airstrikes (Full) - Bloomberg Business

Kremlin officials accuse U.S. of 'war of disinformation' on Syria airstrikes - LA Times

Vladimir Putin signs decree drafting 150,000 conscripts into the Russian military - Daily Mail Online

MAPS: Mapping the Battle for Syria: Russian Airstrikes Hit Rebel Areas - The New York Times

Al Qaeda brigade claims attack on Russian forces in Syria - The Long War Journal

Assad allies, including Iranians, prepare ground attack in Syria: sources - Reuters

Iraq would welcome Russian strikes against Islamic State in Iraq: Iraqi prime minister Abadi - Reuters

VIDEO: Prime Minister Abadi: Iraq welcomes Russia in Islamic State fight - PBS

Syrian Kurdish fighters welcome Russian strikes, demand weapons for anti-IS fight - Middle East Eye

PYD leader: Russia will stop Turkey from intervening in Syria - Al-Monitor


Foreign ministers of Russia and China discuss fight against Islamic State, crisis in Syria - TASS



White House complains to Russians on their airstrikes as 'indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition' - ABC News

U.S. seen unlikely to defend Syrian rebels from Russian strikes - Reuters

Pentagon: US and Russia hold  'cordial and professional’ talks to clear up Syrian airspace, present proposals for minimizing risks - ABC

VIDEO: White House Briefing on Russian Airstrikes in Syria (Starts at 5:15 minute) -

VIDEO: Department Defense Briefing on Russian Airstrikes in Syria -

TRANSCRIPT: Department of Defense Press Briefing on Russian Airstrikes in Syria - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

VIDEO: Russian approach in Syria 'doomed to fail': Pentagon chief - YouTube

U.S. and Russia unlikely to share intelligence on Syria -

Pentagon Worried Iraq Will Share U.S. Intel with Russia -

Lack of targets, not Russians, seen affecting number of US airstrikes in Syria - Stripes

Members of Congress: Leave Syria’s Assad for later in face of Russian offensive, 'The key is to defeat ISIS' - The Washington Post

Republican-led Senate panel opens review of Syria intelligence - Business Insider

Syria conflict: Jabhat al-Nusra jihadists show off weapons allegedly seized from-US trained rebels -

Saudi Arabia demands Russia end Syria raids, criticises Iran -

Erdoğan: Turkey will not allow ’fait accompli situations’ next to its borders, in an apparent reference to Russian air strikes in Syria -


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Tomgram: Nomi Prins, How Trump Became Trump and What That Means for the Rest of Us

This article originally appeared at To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

The Record U.S. Military Budget

To listen to the Republican candidates' debate last week, one would think that President Obama had slashed the U.S. military budget and left our country defenseless.  Nothing could be farther off the mark.  There are real weaknesses in Obama's foreign policy, but a lack of funding for weapons and war is not one of them.  President Obama has in fact been responsible for the largest U.S. military budget since the Second World War, as is well documented in the U.S.


Campaigners aim to prosecute British state

On 1st October campaigners will begin a new and ambitious project to institute a citizen’s prosecution of the Government and specifically the Secretary of State for Defence for breaching international law by its active deployment of the Trident nuclear weapon system.

PICAT is co-ordinated by Trident Ploughshares and will involve groups across England and Wales in a series of steps which will hopefully lead to the Attorney General’s consent for the case to go before the courts.

Groups will begin by seeking an assurance from the Secretary of State for Defence that the UK’s nuclear weapons will not be used, or their use threatened, in such a way as to cause wholesale loss of civilian life and damage to the environment.

In the case of no response or an unsatisfactory one groups will then approach their local magistrates to lay a Criminal Information (1). If consent for the case is not forthcoming from the Attorney General the campaign will then consider approaching the International Criminal Court.

Veteran peace campaigner Angie Zelter (2), who has developed the project along with international lawyer Robbie Manson (3), said:

War Abolition Books Proliferate

When I wrote War Is A Lie in 2010 (second edition coming April 5th!) it was a condemnation of war, but not exactly a manifesto for abolishing it. I wrote that in War No More: The Case for Abolition in 2013. But John Horgan wrote The End of War in 2012. Douglas Fry wrote Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace in 2009. Russell Faure-Brac wrote Transition to Peace in 2012. Winslow Myers wrote Living Beyond War in 2009. Judith Hand wrote Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War in 2013. Colleagues of mine at and I wrote A Global Security System: An Alternative to War in 2015. And I’ve just picked up a copy of Roberto Vivo’s War: A Crime Against Humanity (2014). There are others out there, and others in the works. Some readers may point to Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature (2012), although it’s not so much a rallying cry to end war as a misleading claim that war is ending itself. There are other books as well that are more straightforwardly responses to the growth of war abolitionism, such as War: What Is It Good For? by Ian Morris in 2015, which, yes, argues that wars are good for us and shouldn’t be abolished.

There were a lot more war abolition books in the 1920s and 1930s, and of course there was a much bigger peace movement in the 1960s than now, but I think it can safely be argued that a new trend is emerging in opposition to the institution of war, a trend possibly brought on in part by the end of the Cold War and by the 8-year reign of a Republican U.S. President (or was it Vice President?) who engaged in aggressive war with unapologetic rhetoric and extremely careless propaganda. Certainly the end of the (Bill) Clinton years was not greeted by the publication of a pile of books seeking to rid the world of war. Some of the books above are quite explicitly reactions to the George W. Bush wars, some include misguided apologies for the Barack Obama wars, some claim weapons companies can coexist with peace, some suggest that women must end the male scourge of war, some condemn capitalism as a root problem, some are religious, some focus on scientific studies. No two agree with each other on every point. They all — certainly including mine — have flaws.

But the cumulative effect of these books is bound to be more persuasive than any one of them. They all or virtually all point to the current understanding of pre-history as a time free of war, slavery, major agriculture, cities, and other accouterments of “civilization,” although not, of course, free of violence or anger. All of these books recognize war and these other developments as relatively new in human existence and argue that if some can be ended (such as slavery, which few now dispute can be ended) then war can be ended too. All make the case that war since World War II has killed primarily civilians and cannot be morally defended. All make the case that war while nuclear weapons exist risks human annihilation. All argue that developments in peace studies and nonviolent action render war obsolete as a tool for political change. All point to examples of “primitive” and “civilized” cultures choosing to live without war for centuries on end. All point to examples of particular wars being prevented, and ask “If that war could be stopped, why not every war?” All strive to identify some of the factors facilitating war (cultural attitudes, profiteering, corruption, propaganda, etc.) and to propose courses of action that will move us toward abolition.

Roberto Vivo’s book is no exception. Its initial sections are among the best I’ve read on the evitability of war, the evil of war, and the unjustness of war. The whole book is full of intriguing nuggets for further exploration of other authors, ancient Chinese philosophers, and anecdotes from centuries gone by. The third of the four sections of Vivo’s book seemed rather irrelevant to me. We read about George Soros’ late-in-life discovery that self-identified “democracies” use propaganda; yet we read page after page about the development and politics of democracy — always credited ultimately to the ancient Greeks, never the Iroquois. And I think the short section in which Vivo claims that weapons industries can coexist with peace while generating economic benefits ought to address the serious arguments that the weapons industries are actually an economic drain, that restraining them is not easy, that they want their weapons tested and demonstrated, and that they want their weapons eliminated and replaced.

Vivo’s final chapter looks at slavery, torture, and racism as practices that are being ended — or at least we hope so, and I think the arguments used are good ones despite the significant comeback for torture in recent years. Vivo sees part of the solution to war as resting in criminalizing it. He’d like to transform the International Criminal Court into an independent and effective institution with the ability to prosecute what he calls “aggressive war” and what I would call “war.” Vivo accurately identifies the United States government as the major force working against such application of the rule of law. But he writes about the idea of criminalizing war as if it’s never been done, and claims that the effort to prosecute the crime of starting World War I failed because it has always been believed that no single individual could be held accountable for something so enormous.

But in fact roughly half the world is represented by governments that are parties to a treaty banning all war, and it was the existence of this treaty that allowed the United States to claim that war was a crime when it was committed by Germany and Japan (though, for some reason, not when it was committed by the victors of World War II). This treaty, which did not exist when World War I was launched, is called the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and I wrote about it in When the World Outlawed War. Vivo’s nation of Uruguay is not a party to the Pact, but its current president seems just the person to change that. Were Uruguay to send a letter to the U.S. State Department joining the Kellogg-Briand Pact, it would then be a party to it. That’s all that is required. Uruguay might then send a note the following week respectfully urging the United States to comply with the treaty.

Of course, bringing the nations of the world together to create something like the Kellogg-Briand Pact from scratch would work just as well, but no single country could do that alone, and no group of countries could do it in this day and age without some sort of magical powers. The victors of World War II, also known as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, think they have got a good thing going. Why would they choose to put themselves on an equal level with others and ban all war when they can maintain impunity and choose which wars are “defensive” and which are “authorized”?

The secret of Kellogg-Briand is that four of the big five are already on board with banning all war and just need to be reminded of it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Uruguay were to play that role?

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if war abolition literature were read, studied, discussed, refined, and acted on?

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Superpower as Victim

Three Exceptional Facts About America
It’s Safe to Be Paranoid in the U.S.
By Tom Engelhardt

The L.A. Times goes to Cuba: OMG! The Food’s So Proletarian, and Pets are Hard to Find

By Rip Rense


The L.A. Times sent one of its managing editors to Cuba a few months ago, to report on the status of the society, culture, etc. Good that they sent a big gun, instead of just a run-of-the-mill reporter. Here are two of the stunning findings from this report. Brace yourself!


Syria/Russia News - Sep 30, 2015

Pentagon readies talks with Russia on Syria military operations - Reuters

Pentagon: Russia 'ready' to launch airstrikes in Syria -

U.S. stops sending new Syria recruits to troubled rebel training program, says it is not suspended but just put on ‘pause’ - Yahoo News

VIDEO: Pentagon Press Briefing on Syria -

TRANSCRIPT: Pentagon Press Briefing on Syria -

Dem senator calls on US to suspend Syrian rebel training program - TheHill

Military official: Untrained commander led U.S backed Syrian rebels that gave up equipment to Nusra Front -

Top NATO general: Russians starting to build air defense bubble over Syria, aiming to aid embattled Syrian President Assad - The Washington Post

Pentagon's top Russia official Evelyn Farkas resigns, she has been known to take a hard line on Russia - POLITICO

Obama's Islamic State War Czar John Allen Stepping Down - Bloomberg View

Congressional report: U.S. has 'failed' to stop flow of foreign fighters to ISIS - CNN

REPORT: Text of the Report by the Congressional Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel -



Obama, Putin spar over Syria, clash over the central question of whether Syrian President Assad should retain power - Reuters

VIDEO: Obama UN General Assembly Full Speech - YouTube

TRANSCRIPT: President Obama Speech to the United Nations General Assembly -

VIDEO (and transcript): Putin full speech at UN General Assembly - President of Russia

VIDEO: Lavrov's interview highlights: ’We cannot allow the state of Syria fail, alternative is ISIS caliphate' - YouTube

Lavrov rules out joint command with U.S. in Syria, however stresses that military operations must be coordinated - La Prensa

Russia is trying to coax the US into sharing intel with Iraq, Iran, and Syria in Baghdad - Business Insider

Russian military experts arrive in Iraq -

Russia May Provide Reconnaissance Aircraft for Baghdad Info Center - Sputnik

Moscow hopes list of participants in the anti-ISIS coordination center in Baghdad to grow - TASS


Iraq defends intelligence sharing with Russia, Syria, Iran - AP

Russia establishes seaborne lifeline for Syrian allies - Reuters

VIDEO: Russian navy pours south through Bosphorus, possibly heading to Syria -

France opens war crimes inquiry against Assad regime: sources - Yahoo News

British PM Cameron: Putin Teaming Up with Assad to Defeat ISIS Is a 'Phony Solution’ (VIDEO) - Breitbart

Saudi Arabia says there is 'no future' for Assad in Syria, whether that exit is through politics or by force - The Guardian

Assad is root of Syria crisis, Qatar tells Putin -

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Keep Space for Peace Week International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space

Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing

No Missile Defense

No to NATO

End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy

Convert the Military Industrial Complex

Deal with climate change and global poverty

List in formation

  • Augusta, Maine (Oct 9) Augusta Women in Black vigil from 12:30 to 1:00 PM in front of Lithgow Library.
  • Bath Iron Works, Maine (Oct 3) Vigil across from administration building on Washington Street (Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with “missile defense” systems built at BIW) 11:30-12:30 am   Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm (207) 763-4062

·     Boryong, South Korea (Oct 4)   No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

·     Chongju, South Korea (Oct 7)   At Bus terminal.  No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

  • USAF Croughton, England (Oct 3) National March & Rally at U.S. satellite communication and intelligence base. (Space communications, drones, bomber guidance, missile defence and command & control functions.)  12.00 midday to 3:30 pm. Special guest Robb Johnson. Evening peace concert after rally at Friends Meeting House in Oxford at 7:00 pm.  Oxfordshire Peace Campaign,  

·     Daejeon, South Korea (Oct 6)   At Chungnam university, Mokwon Univ, Daejeon Univ.  No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

·     Hancock Air Base to Niagara Falls, New York(Oct 7-21) The Upstate Drone Action Coalition is planning a 165-mile Walk Against Killer Drones, from Hancock Air Base to the Niagara Falls Air Base with stops along the way in Rochester and Brockport. The goal of the Walk is to heighten public awareness of the mindless murder and relentless terror perpetrated in our names by the escalating use of killer drones.  Please let us know ASAP that you or others you know will be joining us for all or part of the Walk. Contact Peg Gefell at 585-313-6674 or at

  • Janakpurdham, Nepal (Oct 5) Introductory/ interaction meeting about Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and my experience of Okinawa, Kyoto and Hiroshima conferences. Social Development Path (SODEP)

·     Jeonju, South Korea (Oct 3)  At Jeonbuk University, Korean traditional village touring site.  No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest  only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK    

  • Kemijärvi, Finland (Oct 3) Peace defenders will hold a street protest against drone testing and war training area where NATO is feared to be preparing for war with Russia.
  • King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (Oct 10) Noon, Demonstration and kite flying in front of Lockheed Martin (L-M) at intersection of Mall & Goddard Boulevards.   L-M is making a killing in drone war and surveillance technology, building the remote-controlled unmanned planes and satellites that direct the drones and launch their deadly Hellfire missiles which L-M also builds. For more info Brandywine Peace Community, (610) 544-1818  or
  • Kolkata, India (Oct 11) Public Meeting at Kolkata organised by Mrs. Arundhoti Roy Chouddhury ( Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao to speak.
  • Kyoto, Japan (Oct 3) Kyoto Coalition against the U.S. ‘missile defense’ X-band Radar Base in Ukawa village will hold indoor Rally at 14:00 pm. The venue is Higashiyama Ikiiki Shimin Katsudo Center. And then, we will march on central Kyoto. The march will starts on 17:00
  • Largo, Florida (Oct 7) Demonstration from 4:30-5:30 PM at the Young-Rainey Star Center at the corner of Bryan Dairy and Belcher Roads in mid-Pinellas County, site of a Raytheon plant.  Raytheon was the fourth largest weapons contractor in the world in 2014, with sales of $10.2 billion, and is very active in drone production.
  • Maine Walk for Peace: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans (Oct 9-24) Join us in shedding light on the Militarization of the Seas as the US Navy (outfitted with missile defense and space-directed missiles) ramps up their global operations to encircle Russia & China. We will explore environment impacts of Navy on the oceans.  Walk from Ellsworth to Portsmouth, NH.  See flyer at
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota (Oct 14) Bridge vigil at Lake St & Marshall Ave.  Twin Cities Peace Campaign.
  • Montrose, California (Oct 9)  We will call to Keep Space For Peace at our weekly Montrose Peace Vigil, Fridays 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at Honolulu Ave. and Oceanview BLvd., in the Montrose Shopping Park.
  • Nagpur, India (Oct 3) Mass Rally at Motibalgh jointly by S.E.C. Rly Pensioners Assn and Pragatisjheel Railway Mahila Samaj. Coordinator J. Saraswati.

·     Nagpur, India(Oct 3) Program on the dangers of weaponization of space at 11 AM to be held at the Women's College.

·     Nagpur, India (Oct 3) Program on the dangers of weaponization of space at 2:00 with the students at the National Social Work College.

·     Nagpur, India(Oct 4) Bernie Mayer (American Gandhi) will address a women's rally at 4:00 pm on how the masses can be attracted to struggle against space weaponisation through Gandhian technique.

·     Nonsan, South Korea (Oct 5)   No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

·     Pyongtaek, South Korea (Oct 8) At Railroad station.  No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

·     Sacramento, California (Oct 7) No New Wars, No Killer Drones. Sac Veterans for Peace weekly vigil, 15th & L, Sacramento. 4 – 5 pm.  All welcome. FMI: 916-456-4595

·     Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado (Oct 7) Protest at Air Force Space Command’s Space Warfare Center and new joint interagency combined space operations center that will bring the civilian spooks from National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency together with military space agencies like Defense Information Systems Agency.

·     Seongnam, South Korea Oct 9   (At traditional market) No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system  protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

·     Seoul, South Korea (Oct 23) No to THAAD only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy protest rally when Security Meeting of US and S. Korea is being held. Organized by SPARK

·     Suwon, South Korea Oct 10   No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK

  • Tucson, Arizona (Oct 6)Vigil at Raytheon Missile Systems. Join the Raytheon Peacemakers as we demonstrate against war and those who profit from it.  Survival demands better ideas, not better weapons.  Hermans Road entrance. (3rd traffic light south of Valencia on Nogales Highway, the extension of South 6th Avenue). Park off Nogales Highway, between railroad tracks and highway.  Signs provided, or bring your own!  More info: 520-323-8697.

·     Vandenberg AFB, California (Oct 7) Vigil in solidarity with "Keep Space for Peace Week" at the main gate of space warfare base from 3:45pm to 4:45pm. For info, contact Dennis Apel at (805) 878-2614.

·     Washington DC (Oct 5) Pentagon will hold "Keep Space for Peace" and "No Weapons in Space" signs during Dorothy Day Catholic Worker weekly peace vigil. 7-8 AM

·     Washington DC (Oct 9) White House will hold "Keep Space for Peace" and "No Weapons in Space" signs during Dorothy Day Catholic Worker weekly peace vigil. Noon-1:00 PM

-        Keep Space for Peace Week is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom


·        Download our full-size space week poster at:

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502  (blog)

Three Cheers for Gridlock

That little smoke-filled room where our despair and paranoia incline us to imagine a small number of evil people run the world clearly forgot to keep an eye on the Republican Party.

A popular movement has struggled to stop such looming disasters as the NAFTA-on-steroids Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but the ouster of John Boehner as Speaker of the House puts stopping anything into play. While scholarly studies deem the U.S. government to be an oligarchy, based on whom it actually serves, petty partisan squabbling just might come riding to the rescue of democracy -- accidentally of course.

Boehner wasn't insufficiently right-wing for the other Republicans in the House of Representatives, he was just insufficiently obstinate and insufficiently anti-Obama. The new Speaker's mandate will be to oppose to the death anything Obama supports. Obama could publicly throw himself behind keeping Guantanamo open, and the place would be shut by Thursday.

See, from way out yonder beyond the Beltway we sometimes have to squint to see the difference between the two parties. But from their perspective, one party is on a holy mission while the other is evil incarnate. And the minority of Americans who still bother to vote tend to be disproportionately those who also manage to see a big difference between the two parties. So, candidates get elected with the rather stupid mission of first and foremost opposing anything the other party does.

The little-known-fact that usually makes this look like a silly charade but which, if it's taken far enough, could just be our salvation, is that the two parties agree on most of the big stuff. They both want major job-and-environment-destroying corporate trade agreements, for example. They'll scream at each other about abortion but ram those plutocratic deals right through, against any amount of public opposition. Unless, perhaps, they've sworn an oath on what passes for their honor to oppose anything the other party supports.

Now here's where this could get really really good. The majority of what Congress spends money on each year (some 54% of discretionary spending now) is a single item in multiple departments: the military. The global celebration if a U.S. military spending bill were ever blocked would top probably all past human festivals. But how to stop one? A speech by the Pope clearly won't do it. Protesters getting thrown out of committee hearings hasn't done it. Public opinion polls barely register. After 14 years of a particularly disastrous military campaign, Congress seems perfectly content to roll right along. Unless, perhaps, a partisan disagreement can be introduced into the debate. (I'm thinking a Democratic commitment to passing no military spending without full rights for trans-gender soldiers.)

Gridlock is generally lamented by the U.S. media, but when most of what's being done is damaging, we really ought to work to facilitate gridlock. Bailout a bank? No thanks. Subsidize a coal company? I'll pass. Cut taxes on a billionaire? Maybe later.

Of course, this gets us only so far. You can't fantasize about passing good and necessary legislation under gridlock. Congress won't be able to invest in a radical emergency project to save the earth's climate, for example. But if you think that was about to happen, you may want to roll over and stop snoring. Once in a blue moon some smaller piece of desirable legislation comes to a vote. Those would suffer under Congressional gridlock or shutdown. We'd have to work at the state, local, and global levels instead.

But wouldn't it be worth it to be rid of Congress? C-Span could then switch over to live video feeds of police brutality 24-7.

Talk Nation Radio: An Actually Great Candidate 

Mike Ferner is a candidate for mayor of Toledo, Ohio.


Mike Ferner grew up in rural Ohio, working on farms much of his youth.  After 12 years of Catholic education and a head full of John Wayne movies, he enlisted in the Navy right out of high school in 1969.

During three years as a hospital corpsman he nursed hundreds of wounded soldiers returning from Viet Nam, an experience that radicalized him for life starting with his discharge as a conscientious objector.  

Mike has been an independent member of Toledo City Council and a candidate for mayor of his city; an organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Communications Director for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy and has served as national president of Veterans For Peace.

Just prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he lived there for a month with a Voices in the Wilderness delegation, returning in 2004 for another two months as an independent journalist and wrote "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq" (Prager 2006).  His activism includes several arrests for “disturbing the war,” including disrupting a session of Congress. 

His current interest is learning how the Populists organized the largest democratic, mass movement in U.S. history and how to apply that to work he’s doing with Move to Amend.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy.

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Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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Time to stop bombing and make peace in Syria and Yemen

Explosion from Saudi airstrike on Sanaa, Yemen.

Letter to The Guardian signed by Mark Rylance, Charlotte Church, Len McCluskey, Caroline Lucas MP, Brian Eno, Mairead Maguire, Michael Rosen, Tariq Ali, Clive Lewis MP, many more.

We are gravely concerned at the possibility of a parliamentary decision to bomb Syria. David Cameron is planning such a vote in the House of Commons in the near future. He is doing so in the face of much evidence that such an action would exacerbate the situation it is supposed to solve. Already we have seen the killing of civilians and the exacerbation of a refugee crisis which is largely the product of wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.

The US and its allies have dropped 20,000 bombs on Iraq and Syria in the past year, with little effect. We fear that this latest extension of war will only worsen the threat of terrorism, as have the previous wars involving the British government. Cameron is cynically using the refugee crisis to urge more war. He should not be allowed to.

Mark Rylance
Charlotte Church
John Williams
Mairead Maguire Nobel peace laureate
Brian Eno
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union
Christine Shawcroft Labour NEC
Diane Abbott MP
Alice Mahon
Clive Lewis MP
Jenny Tonge
Caroline Lucas MP
Andrew Murray Chair, Stop the War Campaign
Lindsey German Convenor, STWC
Kate Hudson CND
Tariq Ali
John Pilger
Tim Lezard
David Edgar
Alan Gibbons
Andy de la Tour
Michael Rosen
Francesca Martinez
Eugene Skeef
Victoria Brittain
Anders Lustgarten
David Gentleman
David Swanson
Gerry Grehan Peace People Belfast

Split between Europe and the U.S. just got wider!: EU Court Advocate General Deals Severe Blow to NSA Surveillance

By Alfredo Lopez


A legal case, virtually unreported in the U.S., could very well unhinge a major component of this country's surveillance system. In any case, it certainly challenges it.

Mainstreaming the Preferential Option For the Poor: Pope Francis Drops a Bomb on Washington

By John Grant

A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.
                                                             -- Pope Francis speaking to the US Congress

Tomgram: Greg Grandin, Henry of Arabia

This article originally appeared at To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

The UN: Pretending to Oppose War for 70 Years

The United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals don't just ignore the fact that development isn't sustainable; they revel in it. One of the goals is spreading energy use. Another is economic growth. Another is preparation for climate chaos (not preventing it, but dealing with it). And how does the United Nations deal with problems? Generally through wars and sanctions.

This institution was set up 70 years ago to keep nations, rather than a global body, in charge, and to keep the victors of World War II in a permanent position of dominating the rest of the globe. The UN legalized "defensive" wars and any wars it "authorizes" for whatever reason. It now says drones have made war "the norm," but addressing that problem is not among the 17 goals now being considered. Ending war is not among the goals. Disarmament isn't mentioned. The Arms Trade Treaty put through last year still lacks the United States, China, and Russia, but that's not among the 17 concerns of "sustainable development."

Saudi Arabia's "responsibility to protect" Yemen by murdering its people with U.S. weapons isn't at issue. Saudi Arabia is busy crucifying children and heading up the UN's Human Rights Council. Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Foreign Minister of Turkey have declared that they will start addressing the full "lifecycle" of young people who become "terrorists." Of course, they'll do so without mentioning the U.S.-led wars that have traumatized the region or the by now long established record of the global war on terrorism producing terrorism.

I'm happy to have signed this letter, which you, too, can sign below:

To: U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon

The U.N. Charter was ratified on October 24, 1945. Its potential is still unfulfilled. It has been used to advance and misused to impede the cause of peace. We urge a rededication to its original goal of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

Whereas the Kellogg-Briand Pact forbids all war, the U.N. Charter opens up the possibility of a "legal war." While most wars do not meet the narrow qualifications of being defensive or U.N.-authorized, many wars are marketed as if they meet those qualifications, and many people are fooled. After 70 years isn't it time for the United Nations to cease authorizing wars and to make clear to the world that attacks on distant nations are not defensive?

The danger lurking in the "responsibility to protect" doctrine must be addressed. Acceptance of murder by armed drone as either non-war or legal war must be decisively rejected. To fulfill its promise, the United Nations must rededicate itself to these words from the U.N. Charter: "All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered."

To advance, the United Nations must be democratized so that all people of the world have an equal voice, and no single or small number of wealthy, war-oriented nations dominate the UN's decisions. We urge you to pursue this path.

World Beyond War has outlined specific reforms that would democratize the United Nations, and make nonviolent actions the primary activity engaged in. Please read them here.

David Swanson
Coleen Rowley
David Hartsough
Patrick Hiller
Alice Slater
Kevin Zeese
Heinrich Buecker
Norman Solomon
Sandra Osei Twumasi
Jeff Cohen
Leah Bolger

Add your name.

Syria/Russia News - Sep 28, 2015

Putin says seeking 'coordinated framework' to fight IS - Yahoo News

Putin: Overthrowing Assad will lead to failed state - Al Jazeera English

Putin: No Russian ground operations in Syria 'right now' - Yahoo News

Putin criticizes US support for Syrian rebels as not only illegal but counterproductive - US News

VIDEO (and transcript): 60 Minutes interviews Vladimir Putin - CBS News

Iraq Agrees to Share Intelligence on ISIS With Russia, Syria and Iran - The New York Times

Iran's Rouhani: Fighting radical militants like Islamic State in Syria is the top priority and if they are to be defeated then Assad government in Syria 'can't be weakened’  - Reuters

VIDEO: Iranian President Rouhani: Syria's al-Assad must remain to fight 'terrorists' -

Pro-Hezbollah daily says party in Syria pact with Russia - NOW

Chinese troops to join Russian marines in Syria soon, says report -

Abbas says agreement between Russia and US will help resolve Syria issue - TASS



US, Russia mull joint coordination against IS, Kerry says 'the critical thing is that all of the efforts need to be coordinated' -

Background Briefing on Secretary Kerry's Meeting With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov -

U.S.-Russia coordination on Syria needed to avoid ‘incidents': NATO - Reuters

Shifting Direction, Kerry Aims to Include Iran in Efforts to End the Conflict in Syria - The New York Times

Germany calls for Syria transitional government, Merkel says Bashar al-Assad must be involved in Syria talks - Yahoo News

Hollande says France ready to discuss Syria with all powers but a solution must center around Syrian President Assad stepping down during a political transition - WSJ

Cameron says Assad should face criminal trial, while keeping open the possibility the Syrian president could temporarily remain in power during a political transition - Bloomberg

Austrian minister says Assad should take part in talks on Syrian settlement - TASS

Australia set to abandon opposition to Assad as part of Syria settlement - The Guardian

Erdoğan denies change in Syria policy, says Assad not part of solution -

Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim warns of ‘disaster’ if Assad government falls - Kurdpress News Aganecy



UN ambassador Samantha Power defends arming Syrian rebels - TheHill

VIDEO: Interview with Samantha Power on Putin and Syria - ABC News

U.S.-trained fighters who defected to an al Qaeda affiliate shows just how confused Washington really is - The Daily Beast

US-backed rebels handed over equipment to al Qaeda in Syria, Pentagon Confirms - The Long War Journal

U.S. Central Command: Reports of New Syrian Force Equipment Being Provided to Al Nusra Front - CENTCOM

Thousands of Foreigners Enter Syria to Join ISIS Despite Global Efforts - The New York Times

France carries out its first air strikes against ISIS in Syria destroying an Islamic State camp - Daily Mail Online

Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain: planners to financiers, cadres to foot soldiers, ideologists to cheerleaders - The Independent

Turkey major conduit for Syrian 'blood antiquities' - Al-Monitor

The Syrian refugee crisis, explained in one map - Vox


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Disaster Capitalism: Outsourcing Violence and Exploitation


In his just-released book, Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe, Antony Loewenstein offers us a superb description of the diminishing power of national governments and international organisations to exercise power in the modern world as multinational corporations consolidate their control over the political and economic life of the planet.

Keeping Hope While Locked Out With No Voice

By Joy First

The voices of the people are not being heard as we are increasingly denied access to our government officials.  For many, we have wanted to believe that we live in some kind of representative democracy where we can express our views to those we elect and it will make a difference, but that is not the case.

A study published in the academic journal Perspectives on Politics found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy. 

Bernie Sanders Gets a Foreign Policy

After 25,000 people asked, Senator Bernie Sanders added a few words to his presidential campaign website about the 96% of humanity he'd been ignoring.

He did not, as his spoken comments heretofore might have suggested, make this statement entirely or at all about fraud and waste in the military. He did not even mention Saudi Arabia, much less declare that it should "take the lead" or "get its hands dirty" as he had been doing in interviews, even as Saudi Arabia bombs Yemeni families with U.S. cluster bombs. While he mentioned veterans and called them brave, he also did not turn the focus of his statement toward glorification of troops, as he very well might have.

All that to the good, the statement does lack some key ingredients. Should the United States be spending a trillion dollars a year and over half of discretionary spending on militarism? Should it cut that by 50%, increase it by 30%, trim it by 3%? We really can't tell from this statement insisting on the need for major military spending while admitting the harm it does:

"And while there is no question our military must be fully prepared and have the resources it needs to fight international terrorism, it is imperative that we take a hard look at the Pentagon's budget and the priorities it has established. The U.S. military must be equipped to fight today's battles, not those of the last war, much less the Cold War. Our defense budget must represent our national security interests and the needs of our military, not the reelection of members of Congress or the profits of defense contractors. The warning that President Dwight David Eisenhower gave us about the influence of the Military-Industrial Complex in 1961 is truer today than it was then."

That warning, of course, might be interpreted by some as suggesting that investing in preparation for "today's battles" is what produces today's battles.

And which of today's battles would Sanders like to end? Drones are not mentioned. Special forces are not mentioned. Foreign bases are not mentioned. The only hint he gives about future action in Iraq or Syria suggests that he would continue to use the military to make things worse while simultaneously trying other approaches to make things better:

"We live in a dangerous world full of serious threats, perhaps none more so than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. Senator Sanders is committed to keeping America safe, and pursuing those who would do Americans harm. But we cannot combat international terrorism alone. We must work with our allies to root out terrorist funding networks, provide logistical support in the region, disrupt online radicalization, provide humanitarian relief, and support and defend religious freedom. Moreover, we must begin to address the root causes of radicalization, instead of focusing solely on military responses to those who have already become radicalized."

Would he end the U.S. war on Afghanistan?

"Sen. Sanders called on both Presidents Bush and Obama to withdraw U.S. troops as soon as possible and for the people of Afghanistan to take full responsibility for their own security. After visiting Afghanistan, Sen. Sanders spoke-out against the rampant corruption he saw, particularly in regards to elections, security and the banking system."

From that, an American suffering under the delusion that the war had already been ended would be enlightened not at all, and one really can't tell whether Sanders would choose to take any sort of action to end it in reality. Of course, he is a U.S. Senator and is not attempting to cut off the funding.

Sanders' statement is a very mixed bag. He supports the Iran agreement while pushing false claims about "Iran developing nuclear weapons." He criticizes "both sides" in Palestine, but says not one word about cutting off free weaponry or international legal protection for Israel -- or for any other governments. The Pope's call to end the arms trade, which the United States leads, goes unmentioned. He mentions nuclear weapons, but only the nonexistent ones belonging to Iran, not those of the United States or Israel or any other nation. Disarmament is not an agenda item here. And how could it be when he declares, in violation of the U.N. Charter, in his first paragraph that "force must always be an option"?

Sanders offers no details on a shift away from serving as weapons supplier to the world, to serious investment in aid and diplomacy. But he does say this:

"However, after nearly fourteen years of ill-conceived and disastrous military engagements in the Middle East, it is time for a new approach. We must move away from policies that favor unilateral military action and preemptive war, and that make the United States the de facto policeman of the world. Senator Sanders believes that foreign policy is not just deciding how to react to conflict around the world, but also includes redefining America’s role in the increasingly global economy. Along with our allies throughout the world, we should be vigorous in attempting to prevent international conflict, not just responding to problems. For example, the international trade agreements we enter into, and our energy and climate change policies not only have enormous consequences for Americans here at home, but greatly affect our relations with countries around the world. Senator Sanders has the experience, the record and the vision not just to lead on these critically important issues, but to take our country in a very different direction."

Sanders claims, however, absurdly, that he has only supported wars that were a "last resort." He includes among those, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, despite neither having been remotely a last resort. Sanders admits as much, saying, "I supported the use of force to stop the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans." Set aside the fact that it increased the ethnic cleansing and that diplomacy was not really attempted, what he is claiming is a philanthropic mission, not a "last resort." Sanders also says, "And, in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, I supported the use of force in Afghanistan to hunt down the terrorists who attacked us." Set aside the Taliban's offer to transfer Osama bin Laden to a third country to be tried, what Sanders is describing is hunting and murdering people in a distant land, not a "last resort" -- and also not what he voted for, and Rep. Barbara Lee voted against, which was a blank check for endless war at presidential discretion.

All of this obviously leaves open the possibility of endless global war but suggests a desire not to eagerly seek it out. Also obviously it is far better than Hillary Clinton would say, less than Jill Stein would say ("Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament."), and a bit different from what Lincoln Chafee would say (the latter actually admits the U.S. wars created ISIS and are making us less safe, says he'd end drone strikes, etc.). And of course the whole lot of them are a distraction from the struggle to reduce and end militarism and prevent wars in 2015, a year with no election in it. Still, it's encouraging that a leading "socialist" candidate for U.S. president finally has a foreign policy, even if it hardly resembles Jeremy Corbyn's.

Pope Francis Statement on Nuclear Weapons

By Alice Slater

The stirring condemnation of nuclear weapons by Pope Francis today at the United Nations and his call for their prohibition and complete elimination in compliance with promises made in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed by the US in 1970, 45 years ago, should give new momentum to the current campaign to start negotiations on a ban treaty.  This initiative endorsed by 117  non-nuclear weapons states to sign the Humanitarian Pledge being circulated initially by Austria, to “fill the legal gap” for nuclear disarmament and ban the bomb just as the world has banned chemical and biological weapons would create a new legal norm, which was not established in the NPT which provided that the five nuclear weapons states (US, Russia, UK, France, China) would make “good faith” efforts for nuclear disarmament, but didn’t prohibit their possession, in return for a promise from all the other nations not to acquire nuclear weapons.   Every nation in the world signed the treaty except India, Pakistan, and Israel who went on to get nuclear weapons.   North Korea took advantage of the NPTs Faustian bargain to give “peaceful” nuclear power to nations who promised not to make bombs and walked out of the treaty using the keys it got to its own bomb factory to make weapons.

At the NPT five year review conference this spring, the US, Canada, and the UK refused to agree to a final document because they couldn’t deliver Israel’s agreement on a promise made in 1995 to hold a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone conference for the middleeast.  South Africa, condemned the nuclear apartheid enshrined in the double standard of the NPT which allowed the five signers to not only keep their nukes but to continue to modernize them with Obama pledging one trillion dollars over the next thirty years for two new bomb factories, delivery systems and new nuclear weapons.   Indeed, on the eve of the Pope’s UN talk, it was reported that the US is planning to upgrade its nuclear weapons stationed at a German NATO base, causing Russia to rattle a few nuclear sabers of its own.    The obvious bad faith of the nuclear weapons states is paving the way for even more non-nuclear weapons states to create the legal taboo for nuclear weapons just as the world has done for other weapons of mass destruction.   Inspired by the Pope’s talk, this may be a time to finally give peace a chance. 

Alice Slater is New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War

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