On 1 October 2014, human rights defender and Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) Maryam Al-Khawaja will appear before the High Criminal Court on trumped up charges relating to an alleged assault on a lieutenant and policewoman at the Bahrain International Airport. Read Maryam Al-Khawaja’s testimony below.
Al-Khawaja travelled to Bahrain on 30 August 2014 to visit her father, leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was on hunger strike for a month in the infamous Jaw prison. Maryam Al-Khawaja was stopped and held at the airport as soon as she got off the plane.
Al-Khawaja describes how she was taken into a room in the airport after the lieutenant lied to her guaranteeing that she would not be mistreated. She says that ‘Within seconds Lieutenant Hayat jammed her knee above my right hip and grabbed my right arm.... [and] she started screaming at the three others [policewomen] to attack me and take my phone ... [including the policewoman] who later filed an assault case against me.’
Despite the fact that Maryam Al-Khawaja did not respond to this use of force the four police women attacked and assaulted her, she tells how ‘Lieutenant Hayat Yanked my right arm several times very roughly which I later on found out caused a tear in my shoulder muscle. When it was over, I was pretty roughed up and in pain all over; I had severe pain in my injured knee, right shoulder, neck, above my left hip and right leg where I had skid marks from their shoes.’
After the assault Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained until 18 September 2014, when she was released from prison pending her trial and a travel ban was imposed on her. For further information please see GCHR appeal dated 18 September 2014 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/750).
Maryam Al-Khawaja is a non-violent human rights defender who is known for courageously promoting human rights through the use of peaceful means. The GCHR believes that the charge of assaulting a police officer is totally fabricated and is solely linked to her human rights activities in defence of people's rights in Bahrain. Al-Khawaja’s lawyer informed the GCHR that due to the unprecedented move of changing Maryam Al-Khawaja’s case from Lower Court to Higher Court, she now faces a sentence between three to seven years in prison.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters;” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights
I arrived at Bahrain airport on Turkish airlines from Istanbul to Bahrain on the 30th of August 2014 and the time was approximately 1am in the morning. As soon as I got off the flight there were two police women in uniform and two men, one of them in a police uniform the other one in a white uniform, who I later found out was a passport control officer, right at the exit of the plane.
I walked past them. I heard them say "excuse me" but I kept walking. When they said Maryam Al- Khawaja I answered yes and it was the man in the white suit who was speaking to me. As soon as I had gotten off the plane and as soon as our conversation started there was another man in civilian clothing who was videotaping everything that was being said; I later came to know that his name is Salman Mohammed Mahmood. The passport control officer told me that my Bahraini citizenship had been revoked and that I was no longer welcome in Bahrain.
I asked him on what basis had my citizenship been revoked to which he responded that he was informing me that it has been revoked and that was all that mattered.
I told him that I could not take his word for it and that I want to see an official paper or document that said that my citizenship has been revoked. They asked me to turn around and get back on the flight and I refused and said I am starting a hunger strike as of right now until you allow me into the country as I am here to see my father, to visit my family and because I have a right to enter the country as I am a Bahraini citizen.
After that they escorted me to the security area for transit flights. As I sat there they were talking to me, there were different security people coming and going. The officer in the white uniform again told me that my citizenship has been revoked and I told him that I know the Bahraini law and I know that if my citizenship was revoked then there would have to be a royal decree announcing it as well as having the decision published in the local newspaper and none of that had happened and thus there was no way that my citizenship had been revoked.
He told me he was telling me verbally now that my citizenship had been revoked and I told him that won’t cut it, that I want an official document saying that my citizenship has been revoked.
Around that time, two women arrived who were in civilian clothing. Later on I found out that they were First Lieutenant Hayat AlHassan, or Hayat AlSalmabadi, and the other was Dana who appeared to be taking orders from the Lieutenant. There were other female police who were in uniform, as well as several male officers, and their captain. He was in a blue suit different from the other police officers, so you could tell that he was higher ranking.
The entire time the guy with the video camera kept recording everything that was happening. I was making phone calls and I notified my family and colleagues that I had started a hunger strike and I spoke to my lawyer and asked him to come to the airport and to inform the Danish embassy and that I had been stopped. I also informed my mother and the police that I already had injuries, one in my right knee which was bandaged and difficult to move; and another in the palm of my left hand which was also bandaged and painful. Both wounds were the result of an accident I had prior to my trip to Bahrain, and both had been infected causing a delay in the healing.
The police threatened to take me back on board the flight to Istanbul by force and I informed them that given my knowledge of the rules of the IAA I know that the flight is unable to take off if I inform the pilot that I refuse to be on board the flight and if I make a fuss about it. After I said that they seemed to have backed off the decision of using force to put me back on the flight. At that point Lieutenant Hayat was on the phone speaking to what appeared to be someone who was her superior given that she kept saying ‘Sidi’; a title used to address superior officers. At one point I heard her say on the phone "what if she uses force on us, what if she attacks us?"
When she got off the phone I told her that I am telling you now and there’s a camera as well as other people listening that even if you use force against me I will not raise a hand. She said no why would we use force against you, we would never use force. I responded "I’m glad to hear that but I am telling you that even if you do I will not use force in response."
I received a call from my lawyer when the police captain as well as the uniformed and civilian clothed police came and stood around me. They waited for me to finish my phone call and then they told me to hand over my phone. I asked them if I was under arrest to which they said no. I told them there is no legal basis for me to hand over my phone and why would they want my phone. They continued to ask me to hand it over and I said no. I told them "if you want me to switch it off and not use it I am fine with that but I will not give you my phone". So they asked me to switch it off and put it in my pocked, and I asked to make one last call to inform my family. The man in civilian clothing who I later came to know was Fawaz AlSameem kept saying no phone call sounding angry, while the police captain insisted I be allowed, and that he will bear the consequences. I called my mother and informed her that I will be switching off my phone, which I then did and placed it in my pocket.
After which they asked me to go into the waiting room in the same security area and I cooperated. They escorted me to the room where there were three other women but as soon as I entered the room the three other women were escorted out of the room and so I followed them. When I walked into the room for the first time I noticed that the three women did had access to their mobile phones contrary to what they were telling me that it was regulations to not allow people in the waiting area to have their mobile phones on them.
Lieutenant Hayat told me you have to go inside and you have to wait there, and I said well why are you escorting the other women out? Adding: "it makes me concerned about what you might do to me if there are no witnesses". She responded saying no of course we won’t do anything to you, there is nothing to worry about and I said well I don’t trust you, I know what the authorities in Bahrain are capable of. She tried to convince me that it was for my own comfort that the other women were taken out of the room. I said I am completely fine with having them in the room with me. That was when the police captain's attitude changed and he threatened me saying that so far he had been treating me well and I would not want that to change.
Lieutenant Hayat then told me that she personally guarantees that my phone will not be taken from me, that they will not use force against me if I go back in the room and that they will allow the three women to stay with me in the room. She also told me that I would be allowed a phone call to my family when I make the request, that I would be allowed to see my lawyer when he comes to the airport and that I would also be allowed to see a representative from the embassy if they come as well.
I told her that I am only agreeing to go to the room because you made all those guarantees not for any other reason and she said yes I personally guarantee it. I walked into the room and sat down, she sat to my right and I noticed that as soon as I sat down the three women were escorted out and the policeman with the video camera immediately switched it off.
Within seconds Lieutenant Hayat jammed her knee above my right hip and grabbed my right arm (I was holding my phone in my right hand). As soon as she grabbed my right arm she started screaming at the three others, Dana, Budour and a police woman they were calling "Manoor" to attack me and take my phone. Budour and "Manoor" were the same two police women in uniform who were waiting outside the airplane when I arrived. When the four of them started assaulted me, I immediately stretched my left hand away in an attempt to keep them from hitting my wound. Lieutenant Hayat yanked my right arm several times very roughly which I later on found out caused a tear in my shoulder muscle. They opened my hand and took the phone. When it was over, I was roughed up and in pain all over; I had severe pain in my injured knee, right shoulder, neck, above my right hip and in my left leg where I had skid marks from their shoes.
After they assaulted me, I told Lieutenant Hayat “You promised that you would not use force but you just did”. She told me to thank god that they did not do worse. She took my travel bag and started throwing everything out from it on the floor. She and Dana then left the room but the two police women in uniform who were involved in the assault remained with me in the room. I was not allowed to leave the room. The room was extremely cold, I was wearing a jumper that I had brought with me from Copenhagen and I was still freezing. They offered me food and water but I told them that I was on hunger strike, which they were already aware of, so they brought me water.
I talked to some of the policewomen. One of them, Budour, was holding her finger so I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she had a scratch on it. Then they sat and they talked to me for some time and I found out that Budour went to the same high school as me. She told me about her family, about her life and the other one told me she was from Hamad Town and told me about the high school she had been to. So basically, we sat there and chatted, and I also asked them a couple of questions like “how can you assault someone that you can talk to normally” and “how are you capable of doing something like that”, and they told me that they do things based on orders because as they put it, they are “slaves to orders”. They have to do what they are told.
I stayed there for several hours, every time I requested to go to the bathroom I was not allowed until they received an order allowing me to go. At one point when it was prayer time in the morning I asked to pray and they told me I was not allowed to pray unless they receive an order to allow me to do so. They delayed my praying for approximately two hours until the order was given and I was finally allowed to pray.
At one point the room started getting a lot colder and I wore my jacket on top of my jumper and I was still freezing and I kept telling them that it was really cold but they told me there was nothing they could do about it. It got so cold that the policewomen were actually sitting outside the room rather than inside.
At around 5:30 am the policewomen were sitting busy talking to each, so I got up and walked outside. As soon as I walked outside they came to me. It was the security area where people were passing through for transit. I was standing on the side and someone who said she was in charge of airport security came to me as well as the uniformed police woman “Manoor” as they called her. They came to me and asked me to go back inside the room. I refused and said “I have been asking for a phone call since I arrived here to let my family know that I’m okay and I’ve been asking for a phone call to my lawyer to see if he has come or not because I want to see him and I’m asking for a phone call to the Danish embassy. I have not been allowed any of those things even though you promised me you would allow it. You also promised me you would not use force and you did and thus there is no reason for me to cooperate anymore.” They kept insisting. The police woman “Manoor” told me “No. Your lawyer didn’t show up. You should cooperate, why are you doing this? You’ll just make it worse for yourself” Then I told her “Everything you promised me you would do, you didn’t. And everything you promised you wouldn’t do, you did, so why should I cooperate?” So she said: “What did we promise we wouldn’t do?” and I said: “You promised you wouldn’t use force with me and then you did. You assaulted me.” She said “No. No. You assaulted us.” So I said: “How did I assault you?” She responded: “You kicked one of the police women in the stomach with your knee.” So I looked at her and said: “You know that one of my knees is injured and I can’t use it. So which knee was it that I hit her with?”
She stopped for a minute and said: “I don’t remember” So I said: “At least you would remember which side of me she was standing on. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember”. So she said: “No, no, no I don’t remember anymore”. So I told her: “You know that what you’re saying is not true and that you’re making it up” and she told me that she did not want to talk about it anymore. I asked them if I was under arrest, and they said no.
Since my arrival, every policewoman or airport security that I interacted with when I asked them what their name was, they told me that there were superior orders not to tell me their names. The police women and security either did not have name badges on, or had them turned around so that their names were hidden.
After that, the woman who told me she was in charge of airport security promised that if I go back in the room they will allow me a phone call at 7:00 AM. So I told her I will wait will 7 am for that phone call where I was. She kept insisting, saying she was not like “those who had assaulted me” and that she was “from a different department”. I waited in the security area until almost 7:30 or 8:00 AM and I realized that they were not going to give me that phone call. I kept asking over and over again, and they kept telling me to wait for the orders to come in. So I walked towards the people passing through the transit security area and I started saying: “My name is Maryam Al Khawaja. I am a Bahraini Danish citizen. I am being held here against my will. Can someone please call the Danish embassy?” and I kept repeating that sentence over and over again. As soon as I did that there were a number of police officers who came as well as people who looked like they were police but were in civilian clothing. They started gathering in the area where I was. I saw that a few people who were coming through security tried to take pictures but anyone who tried to interact with me were stopped and were asked for their passports by the police. Anyone who so much as looked at me was shouted at and asked to move on. I heard the police talking on the phone about removing me by force so I lied down on the ground and put my hands in my pockets and I told the police woman: “Look. My hands are in my pockets. Even if you use force against me, I will not.” And I kept repeating the previous sentence over and over again. Two policewomen came and picked me up, handcuffed me behind my back and took me to the waiting room again.
I was left handcuffed for a while. I kept falling asleep and waking back up due to the discomfort of the handcuffs and the pain in my shoulder which got worse with my arms being behind my back. I lost track of time, but at one point a policewoman came in and told me “I will take the handcuffs off, but if you try to leave the room I’ll put them back on”. I stayed there for several hours. Again the room was freezing cold to an unbearable degree. Right outside the door from the waiting room where I was they put a police tape blocking the door, and they placed two chairs for policewomen to sit down on. I heard the police outside my room discussing how they had removed the phones from the other women who had been waiting and who had been moved to another area. And one of them was saying, “We always give them their phones. We always allow them to keep their phones, how are we supposed to get someone to book tickets for them if we don’t give them their phones?” The other policeman said: “ Don’t ask these questions right now. We were just told that we should take the phones away from them. These are the orders. After we finish with this case, you’ll give them their phone back.”
During this time two policewomen came into my room, went through my things and took pictures of everything, including personal pictures of my family and bank cards. I informed them that I do not consent to any of what they were doing. They then took both my bags away. I asked them that my things must stay with me, they responded that these were the orders.
At approximately 3:30pm I was finally escorted to an office near the arrival hall. I was escorted by several police officers. One of them was Dana. In the room upstairs I saw the man who was carrying the video camera, Salman Mohamad Mahmoud, and he told me that I was being charged with assaulting two female police and that he wanted to take my testimony. At first I had no idea what he was talking about and I asked him to repeat what he was saying which he did. I told him that I have a right to speak with my lawyer first to which he responded that it was not possible, so I told him I won’t speak then. I waited there for a while, after which they brought Lieutenant Hayat, Dana was there, and there were two or three other police women. Fawaz AlSameem was also there. At that point I asked Lieutenant Hayat for her name, but she refused to tell me. Fawaz AlSameem then informed me that there were two cases of electronic crimes against me and that I was being taken to the Criminal Investigation Department for interrogation.
Again they searched my bags while a different another man with a video camera recorded everything. I was handcuffed, and taken outside the airport from a side door and I was asked to get into a civilian car. I told them I did not trust them and I didn’t want to get into a civilian car, I wouldn’t mind going into a police car but I wouldn’t want to go or trust going into a civilian car. Dana and another policewoman in civilian clothing forced me into the civilian car. There were two male police with us, and one of them videotaped me the entire way.
I sat at the CID for several hours. During the period at the CID, I was not allowed to use the bathroom unless one of the policewomen stands inside the bathroom stall with me and I was not allowed to close the stall door. So I refused to go to the toilet under these conditions.
At around 7:30 or 8:00 PM I was taken to the public prosecution in a MOI minibus with several female police escorting me. When I was taken to the interrogation room, my lawyer Mohammed AlJishi was sitting behind me and I was sitting facing the prosecutor. At the beginning of the session Mohammed AlJishi asked that he speak to me alone as it is my right according to Bahrain law. The prosecutor refused his request. Then Al Jishi asked if he could at least advise me of my rights under the Bahraini law given that I live outside of Bahrain and I might not be completely aware of them, and the prosecutor again said refused the request. The interrogation started with the prosecutor telling me about the accusation of assault that has been brought against me by the two policewomen Lieutenant Hayat and the policewoman Budoor AlOnaizi (this was when I found out what their names are). And then he said there was a scratch on one of her fingers, that I had kicked Lieutenant Hayat in the stomach and hit one of them on the head. He then commenced the interrogation to which I responded to every single question with: “I refuse to respond given that I have not been allowed access to my lawyer beforehand.” At the end of the interrogation, I also refused to sign the papers from the prosecution again stating the reason being that I was not allowed access to my lawyer before the interrogation took place. After that I was taken to the waiting room again where I was allowed to speak to my lawyer for a short period when I informed him that I was going to stop the hunger strike.
I was then informed at around midnight that I was given seven days pending investigation by the public prosecution and I was taken to the Muharraq Airport police station. I was booked into the system and then I was transported to Isa Town women detention centre. By the time I arrived to the detention centre, it was about 3:00 AM.
After I was held in prison (I will not speak of the details of the prison right now, I will discuss these details at a later time but the coming points I found important to mention) I was taken to the public prosecution’s medical examiner. First, the means of transportation used to transport me during my entire stay at the detention center was different from the other women being held with me. I was always transported in a mini bus with at least two or three policewomen and one male police, usually Salman Mohammed Mahmoud whose treatment towards me was good, and one police driver. There was one riot police jeep in front of us and another behind us (sometimes two behind us). Sometimes they even put the sirens on and would not stop at any of the red lights and drove at a very high speed putting themselves and myself at risk. I was taken to a medical examiner who asked me if I had any medical problems related to the incident that had happened to the airport and I told him that I had pain in my stomach as well as pain in my shoulder and neck. He looked at my shoulder from afar and did not examine it. He then commenced to ask questions about my other injuries that I had in my knee and my hand. I told him that I wanted to speak to my lawyer to see if what I would say could have influence on the case. He refused my request so I refused to answer any of his questions. He wanted to take pictures of me which I also refused. He asked me to write down that I refuse which I did, but I refused to sign it. He responded “well we have it in your handwriting so it doesn’t matter if you sign it or not”.
Another issue that is important to mention is that I was taken to the Special Investigation Unit at the Public Prosecution where I was supposed to make a complaint about the assault that I was subjected to by the police. Mohammed Hazza was the person who took my testimony. He gave me very leading questions. While I was telling him my testimony he did not write anything, he just listened, and then he resaid everything that I had said to the person writing down the testimony in his own words. At one point he asked me if I had been assaulted in Arabic and I got a little confused given the terminology because I was translating it to English. So I asked him “What do you mean by “إعتداء”?
Do you mean beating like kicking and punching? Because that did not happen. But if you mean assault then yes I was assaulted.” So he wrote in the paper work that I was not assaulted. The way he framed what I had said was that the police had merely used the necessary force to take my phone from me because I was refusing to give it to them. So I told him that was not what I had said and I wanted him to write what I had said instead of what he was changing my words to sound like. He refused. It took three or four time of my lawyer and I leaving his office to a waiting area and then coming back in order for him to change a few things in the testimony. Despite that he refused to change the main misquotations that would basically not indict the police women and would serve as a testimony against myself, framing me as uncooperative and the policewomen as just doing their job. The lawyer and I told him several times that he should write what I actually said since it was my testimony but he refused. At one point he got angry and told the lawyer that he should not speak. To which the lawyer responded that as per Bahraini law he has the right to advise me during the testimony session. The whole debacle ended with me refusing to sign the papers of the testimony given the misquotations. What’s interesting is that although I am a Human Rights Defender who knows the law and the rules, I was treated this way by the Special Investigation Unit who are supposed to be impartial. It was obvious that he was trying to frame my testimony in a way that would not only acquit the policewomen from my complaint of assault, but also would serve as evidence against me.
Another important note is that during the period of my imprisonment both my lawyer and embassy requested visits. Both visits did not happen. During the first visit with my family, I was the only prisoner in that prison who was taken to a room with a large marble table which prevented any kind of physical contact with them or hug them. It was only after I complained told the prison administration that this act was personal targeting because of my human rights work that they changed my visiting to the regular visitation room that all other regular prisoners or detainees are taken to.
By John Grant
Ain’t no time to wonder why.
Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.
- Country Joe MacDonald
Originally posted at AcronymTV
Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, sits down with Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV on the eve of the largest Climate march in history to discuss the climate justice. “”If you care about the planet, you care about people, workers, immigrants, and you care about whether we are destroying the planet whether by polluting or by polluting through war, says Benjamin, who went on to describe the founding of Code Pink as a climate Justice group. “We started as a group of women who came together around the environment. We were called Unreasonable Women for the planet.”
Brad Friedman is the investigative blogger, journalist, broadcaster, trouble-maker and muckraker from BradBlog.com. He is a regular contributor to Salon.com and elsewhere; host of KPFK/Pacifica Radio's BradCast and the nationally-syndicated Green News Report with co-host Desi Doyen. We discuss war and peace, the environment and its destruction, and voting and everything done to prevent it. As Michael Moore says: It's a comedy!
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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Originally posted at AcronymTV.com
Howie Hawkins, Green Party Candidate for N.Y. Governor, sits down with Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV on the eve of the largest Climate march in history to discuss his campaign.
The richest 1% own the two major parties. It's time working people had one of our own.
That's why I'm running for Governor. My name is Howie Hawkins. I'm a working Teamster and my running mate, Brian Jones, is a teacher and union member.
Jack Gilroy, 79, member of the Upstate Drone Coalition, will be sentenced by Judge Robert Jokl on Wednesday, October 1st at 4:30 PM at the DeWitt Court House, 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY 13057-8509.
Gilroy was convicted of trespass and obstructing government administration. The maximum penalty is one year and 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary.
Gilroy’s trial was based on participation in a solemn funeral procession and die-in to illustrate the death and destruction of innocent people by drone missiles and bombs fired out of MQ9 Reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Force Base near Syracuse, NY.
Hancock is one of many drone bases around the United States doing assassinations of Muslim suspects in foreign nations. Gilroy had an opportunity to plead guilty without penalty but noted that “the guilty are not those who carry the message to stop the killing.”
Gilroy and the scores of others arrested at the gates of the 174th Attack Wing all take oaths of non- violence. The Gandhian Wave of nonviolent resisters to drone warfare by the 174th Air National Guard has been ongoing for the past four years.
On Sunday, Oct. 5 at 1 pm, the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will be hosting a permitted street theatre including bicyclists against drone warfare, artists, teachers, medical people, union activists and all others against drone warfare will be protesting at Hancock Airbase as part of the world wide protests of the Global Days of Action.
Read an interview of Gilroy here.
A serious case has been made repeatedly by unknown scholars and globally celebrated geniuses for well over a century that a likely step toward abolishing war would be instituting some form of global government. Yet the peace movement barely mentions the idea, and its advocates as often as not appear rather naive about Western imperialism; certainly they are not central to or well integrated into the peace movement or even, as far as I can tell, into peace studies academia. (Here's a link to one of the main advocacy groups for world government promoting a U.S. war on ISIS.)
All too often the case for world government is even made in this way: Global government would guarantee peace, while its absence guarantees war. The silliness of such assertions, I suspect, damages what may be an absolutely critical cause. Nobody knows what global government guarantees, because it's never been tried. And if national and local governments and every other large human institution are any guide, global government could bring a million different things depending on how it's done. The serious question should be whether there's a way to do it that would make peace more likely, without serious risk of backfiring, and whether pursuing such a course is a more likely path to peace than others.
Does the absence of world government guarantee war? I haven't seen any proof. Of 200 nations, 199 invest far less in war than the United States. Some have eliminated their militaries entirely. Costa Rica is not attacked because it lacks a military. The United States is attacked because of what its military does. Some nations go centuries without war, while others seemingly can't go more than half an election cycle. In their book One World Democracy, Jerry Tetalman and Byron Belitsos write that nations do not go to war because they are armed or inclined toward violence but because "they are hopelessly frustrated by the fact that they have no legislative or judicial forum in which their grievances can be heard and adjudicated."
Can you, dear reader, recall a time when the U.S. public had a grievance with a foreign country, lamented the absence of a global court to adjudicate it, and demanded that Congress declare and the Pentagon wage a war? How many pro-war marches have you been on, you lover of justice? When the Taliban offered to let a third country put Bin Laden on trial, was it the U.S. public that replied, "No way, we want a war," or was it the President? When the U.S. Vice President met with oil company executives to plan the occupation of Iraq, do you think any of them mentioned their frustration at the weakness of international law and arbitration? When the U.S. President in 2013 could not get Congress or the public to accept a new war on Syria and finally agreed to negotiate the removal of chemical weapons without war, why was war the first choice rather than the second? When advocates of world government claim that democracies don't wage war, or heavily armed nations are not more likely to wage war, or nations with cultures that celebrate war are not more likely to wage war, I think they hurt their cause.
When you start up a campaign to abolish the institution of war, you hear from all kinds of people who have the solution for you. And almost all of them have great ideas, but almost all of them think every other idea but their own is useless. So the solution is world government and nothing else, or a culture of peace and nothing else, or disarmament and nothing else, or ending racism and nothing else, or destroying capitalism and nothing else, or counter-recruitment and nothing else, or media reform and nothing else, or election campaign funding reform and nothing else, or creating peace in our hearts and radiating it outward and nothing else, etc. So those of us who find value in all of the above, have to encourage people to pick their favorite and get busy on it. But we also have to try to prioritize. So, again, the serious question is whether world government should be pursued and whether it should be a top priority or something that waits at the bottom of the list.
There are, of course, serious arguments that world government would make everything worse, that large government is inevitably dysfunctional and an absolutely large government would be dysfunctional absolutely. Serious, if vague, arguments have been made in favor of making our goal "anarcracy" rather than world democracy. These arguments are overwhelmed in volume by paranoid pronouncements like the ones in this typical email I received:
"War is a crime, yes agreed totally, but Man-made Global Warming is a complete scam. I know this to be a fact. Aurelio Peccei, co-founder of the Club of Rome, offered me a job as one of his PAs (my uncle, Sir Harry, later Lord Pilkington went to the first ever Bilderberg Conference in 1954, a year before he came a Director of the Bank of England and was a loyal member of the global corporate elite) and he told me that this was all a scheme to help frighten the world into accepting global governance on their terms. Be very careful, you are unwittingly playing their game.
One of the huge advantages of global government would seem to be that it might globally address global warming. Yet the horror of global government is so great that people believe the droughts and tornados destroying the earth all around them are somehow a secret plot to trick us into setting up a world government.
A half-century ago the idea of world government was acceptable and popular. Now, when we hear about those days it's often in sinister tones focused on the worst motivations of the worst players at the time. Less common are accounts reminding us of a hopeful, well-meant, but unfinished project.
I think advocates for a world federation and global rule of law are onto an important idea that ought to be pursued immediately. Global warming leaves us little time for taking on other projects, but this is a project critical to addressing that crisis. And it's a project that I think can coexist with moving more power to provinces, localities, and individuals.
The bigger the Leviathan, claims Ian Morris, the less war there will be, as long as the Leviathan is the United States and it never stops waging wars. Advocates of world government tend to agree with the first part of that, and I think they're partially right. The rule of law helps to regulate behavior. But so do other factors. I think Scotland could leave the UK or Catalonia leave Spain, Quebec leave Canada, Vermont leave the United States without the chance of war increasing. On the contrary, I think some of these new countries would be advocates for peace. Were Texas to secede, that might be a different story. That is to say, habits of peace and cultures of peace necessary to allow a world federation might render such a federation less necessary -- still perhaps necessary, but less so. If the U.S. public demanded peace and cooperation and participation in the International Criminal Court, it would be ready to demand participation in a world federation, but peace might already have -- at least in great measure -- arrived.
Extreme national exceptionalism, which is not required by nationalism, is clearly a driver of war, hostility, and exploitation. President Obama recently said that he only wakes up in the morning because the United States is the one indispensible nation (don't ask what that makes the others). The theme of his speech was the need to start another war. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was once booed at a primary debate, not for opposing war, but for suggesting that the golden rule be applied to relations with foreign countries. Clearly we need to become world citizens in our minds as well as in written law.
Rudolf Gelsey recently sent me his book, Mending Our Broken World: A Path to Perpetual Peace, which led me on to Tetalman and Belitsos's book. I think these authors would benefit from the wisdom of the 1920s Outlawry movement, but I think they do an excellent job of recognizing the successes and failures of the United Nations, and proposing reforms or replacement. Should we be scared of an international rule of law? Tetalman and Belitsos reply:
"In truth, living under a system of war and anarchy with WMDs readily available for use on the field of battle -- that is the really frightening choice when it is compared with tyranny."
This is the key, I think. Continuing with the war system and with environmental destruction threaten the world. Far better to try a world with a government than to lose the world. Far better a system that tries to punish individual war makers than one that bombs entire nations.
How do we get there? Tetalman and Belitsos recommend abolishing the veto at the United Nations, expanding Security Council membership, creating a tax base for a U.N. that currently receives about 0.5 percent what the world invests in war, and giving up war powers in favor of U.N. policing. They also propose kicking out of the United Nations any nations not holding free elections, or violating international laws. Clearly that would have to be a requirement going forward and not enforced retroactively or you'd lose too many big members and spoil the whole plan.
The authors envision some transition period in which the U.N. uses war to prevent war, before arriving at the golden age of using only police. I'm inclined to believe that imagined step would have to be leapt over for this to work. The U.S./NATO/U.N. have been using war to rid the world of war for three-quarters of a century with a dismal record of failure. I suspect the authors are also wrong to propose expansion of the European Union as one way to get to a global federation. The European Union is the second greatest purveyor of violence on earth right now. Perhaps the BRICS or other non-aligned nations could begin this process better, which after all is going to require the United States either rising or sinking to humility unimaginable today.
Perhaps a federation can be established only on the question of war, or only on the question of nuclear disarmament, or climate preservation. The trouble, of course, is that the willingness of the dominant bullies to engage in one is as unlikely as, and intimately connected to, each of the others. What would make all of this more likely would be if we began talking about it, thinking about it, planning for it, dreaming it, or even just hearing the words when we sing John Lennon songs. The U.S. peace movement is currently drenched in nationalism, uses "we" to mean the U.S. military, and thinks of "global citizen" as a bit of silly childishness. That needs to change. And fast.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
Originally posted at AcronymTV
A day before the People’s Climate March drove 400,000 people into the streets of New York City, Jill Stein sat down with Dennis Trainor, Jr of Acronym TV and outlined what she sees as the coming green revolution.
“The U.N. has sold us out,” says Stein “The UN has become the apologists for false solutions (like) nuclear power, fracking, and so-called clean coal,” says Stein. “The U.N. has sold us out, and it is really important that we take a new direction, with a very clear goal (…) one which puts people, planet and peace over profit.”
By Erin Niemela
U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeting the Islamic State (ISIL) have opened the floodgates of war journalism reporting by corporate mainstream media – to the detriment of American democracy and peace. This has been recently evident in a traditionally democratic tool used by American press: public opinion polls. These war polls, as they should be called during wartime, are an affront to both respectable journalism and an informed civil society. They’re byproducts of rally-round-the-flag war journalism and without constant scrutiny, war polls results make public opinion look a lot more pro-war than it actually is.
Public polling is meant to signify and reinforce the role of media in a democracy as reflecting or representing mass opinion. Corporate mainstream media are considered credible in providing this reflection based on assumptions of objectivity and balance, and politicians have been known to consider polls in their policy decisions. In some cases, polls may be useful in engaging the feedback loop between political elites, media and the public.
The trouble comes when public polling meets war journalism; internal newsroom goals of fairness and balance may transform temporarily into advocacy and persuasion – intentional or not – in favor of war and violence.
War journalism, first identified in the 1970s by peace and conflict scholar Johan Galtung, is characterized by several core components, all of which tend to privilege elite voices and interests. But one of its hallmarks is a pro-violence bias. War journalism presupposes that violence is the only reasonable conflict management option. Engagement is necessary, violence is engagement, anything else is inaction and, for the most part, inaction is wrong.
Peace journalism, in contrast, takes a pro-peace approach, and assumes that there are an infinite number of nonviolent conflict management options. The standard definition of peace journalismis “when editors and reporters make choices – about what to report, and how to report it – that create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value non-violent responses to conflict.” Journalists taking a pro-violence stance also make choices about what to report and how to report it, but instead of emphasizing (or even including) nonviolent options, they often move straight to “last resort” treatment recommendations and stay put until told otherwise. Like a guard dog.
Public opinion war polls reflect war journalism’s pro-violence bias in the way questions are worded and the number and type of options provided as answers. "Do you support or oppose U.S. air strikes against the Sunni insurgents in Iraq?" "Do you support or oppose expanding U.S. air strikes against the Sunni insurgents into Syria?" Both questions come from a Washington Post war poll in early September 2014in response to President Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIL. The first question showed 71 percent in support. The second showed 65 percent in support.
The use of “Sunni insurgents” should be discussed another time, but one problem with these either/or war poll questions is that they assume that violence and inaction are the only available options – airstrikes or nothing, support or oppose. No question in the Washington Post’s war poll asked if Americans might support pressuring Saudi Arabia to stop arming and funding ISILor halting our own arms transfers into the Middle East. And yet, these nonviolent options, among many, many others, do exist.
Another example is the widely cited Wall Street Journal/NBC News war poll from mid-September 2014 in which 60 percent of participants agreed that military action against ISIL is in the national interest of the US. But that war poll failed to ask whether Americans agreed that peacebuilding action in response to ISIL is in our national interest.
Since war journalism already assumes there’s only one kind of action – military action – the WSJ/NBC war poll options narrowed: Should military action be limited to airstrikes or include combat? Violent option A or violent option B? If you’re unsure or unwilling to choose, war journalism says you simply “have no opinion.”
War poll results are published, circulated and repeated as fact until the other 30-35 percent, those of us unwilling to choose between violent options A and B or informed about alternative, empirically supported peace building options, have been pushed aside. “Americans want bombs and boots, see, and majority rules,” they’ll say. But, war polls don’t really reflect or measure public opinion. They encourage and cement opinion in favor of one thing: war.
Peace journalism recognizes and spotlights the many nonviolent options often neglected by war journalists and political hawks. A peace journalism “peace poll” would give citizens the opportunity to question and contextualize the use of violence in response to conflict and consider and value nonviolent options by asking questions like, “how concerned are you that bombing parts of Syria and Iraq will promote cohesion among anti-Western terrorist groups?” Or, “do you support the U.S. following international law in its response to the Islamic State’s actions?” Or maybe, “How strongly would you support a multilateral arms embargo in the region where the Islamic State operates?” When will a poll ask, “Do you believe military attacks will tend to aid recruitment of new terrorists?” What would these poll results look like?
The credibility of journalists, political elites and unelected opinion leaders should be called into question with any use of war polling or war poll results where the efficacy or morality of violence is assumed. Opponents of violence should not humor the use of war poll results in debate and should actively ask for the results of polls about peacebuilding alternatives, instead. If the one structure meant to keep us informed as a democratic society ignores or silences the vast majority of possible response options beyond violence, we cannot make truly informed decisions as democratic citizens. We need more peace journalism – journalists, editors, commentators and certainly polls – to offer more than violence A and B. If we’re going to make good decisions about conflict, we need nonviolence A through Z.
Erin Niemela is a Master’s Candidate in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University and Editor for PeaceVoice.
What I've seen of public events, demonstrations, and protests of the latest U.S. war -- just like the larger and more immediately effective public resistance 12 months ago -- has been aimed, remarkably enough, at ending the war and opposing the policies of those engaging in it, and first among them the U.S. President.
What I've seen of inside-the-Beltway-style peace lobby groups' strategy has been aimed, predictably enough, at setting a good end date for the new war and barring the use of U.S. ground troops.
Both approaches are represented by voluminous discussions on listserves, so I feel like I know a good sample of each far more intimately than I might ideally wish. They parallel rejection and support of lesser-evil voting, and are largely made by those who reject and accept the importance of lesser-evil voting. However, many who accept lesser-evilism in the polling booth do not accept it here. And I think they have a point.
If you vote for a decent candidate and he or she loses, an argument can be made that you've "wasted" your vote. But if you advocate for an immediate end to a war, and a Congress that is hearing from the President that the war should last three years, bans continuation of the war beyond a year-and-a-half, then an argument can be made that you helped frame the compromise. In any case, it would be difficult to make a persuasive case that your activism was wasted. If, on the other hand, you found out that some Congress members were interested in a 1-year limit, and you lobbied for just that, and then Congress enacted a 2-year limit, what could you be said to have accomplished?
Here's my basic contention: Congress knows how to compromise. We don't have to pre-compromise for them. (How'd that work out on healthcare?) (How'd that ever work out?) And when we do pre-compromise for them (such as the time AFSCME banned "single-payer" signs from "public option" rallies, so as to simulate public demand for what "progressive" Congress members were pretending to already want) we give significant support and respectability to some serious outrages (such as privatized for-profit health insurance, but also such as bombing Iraq yet again and bombing the opposite side in Syria that was to be bombed a year ago and while arming that same side, which -- if we're honest about it -- is madness.
How many years of madness will be best, is an insane question. It's not a question around which to organize protests, demonstrations, nonviolent actions, lobbying, education, communication, or any other sort of movement building.
But isn't 2 years of war better than 3? And how are you going to get Congress members to limit it to 2 years if you've called them lunatics?
Of course 2 years is better than 3. But less than 2 is even better, and Congress is going to compromise as far as it dares, and knows perfectly well how to do so without help from us. Is there really evidence to imagine that Senators and Congress members shape their policies around who's most polite to them? Certainly they determine who's invited to meetings on Capitol Hill on that basis, but is being in those meetings our top priority? Does it do the most for us? And can't we still get some people into those meetings by calling mass murder "mass murder" while keeping open every opportunity for the funders and sanctioners of mass murder to oppose and stop it?
We need sit-ins in Congressional offices and protests on Capitol Hill. To a much lesser extent, we need discussions with Congress members and staffers. To the extent that different people must pursue those two tactics, the question will always remain whether mass public organizing should be guided by people who think like the former group or like the latter.
My position comes from the expectation that "support the troops" propaganda and the inevitably worsened situation after a year or two will make the struggle to then end a previously time-limited war harder, rather than easier -- easier only if the public has come to its sense in the meantime. My position comes from the fact that there are already U.S. troops in Iraq and the belief that we're going to get them home sooner if we don't play along with the pretense that they aren't there or aren't there for combat. My concern is for human life, and when you prioritize an air war over a ground war -- and when the "anti-war" movement does that -- you risk creating a great, rather than a smaller, number of deaths, albeit non-U.S. deaths.
Now, the lobbyists' need to be polite to Congress can be a helpful guide to all protesters. While moral condemnation and humorous mockery can be useful tools, so can Gandhian respect for those who must be won over. But the demand of a peace movement must be for peace and alternatives to war. When the missile strikes were stopped a year ago, the arming of ISIS-and-friends proceeded anyway, and no useful policy was pursued instead of the missiles. The U.S. had decided to do nothing, as if that were the only other option. Effectively we'd put an end date on the U.S. staying out, as doing nothing was guaranteed not to resolve the problem.
A good end-date for this war is today. A good date to begin useful aid and diplomacy and arms embargoes and reparations is tomorrow. We have to change the conversation to those topics, instead of focusing on the question of how much mass-murdering madness is the appropriate amount. Not because we want it to continue for eternity if it can't be ended now, but because it will end sooner and be less likely to be repeated if we confront it for what it is.
We've been so strategic over the past decade that everybody in the United States knows the war on Iraq cost U.S. lives and money, but most have only the vaguest idea of how it destroyed Iraq and how many people it killed. As a direct result, nobody knows where ISIS came from, and not enough people are fully aware of the high probability that the bombing will strengthen ISIS -- which may be why ISIS openly asks for it in its 1-hour film.
How much insanity should we demand on our posters and signs and online petitions and letters to editors: not another drop.
By Judy Bello
There are those who want to support emerging bills in Congress that would limit the administration's ability to put 'boots on the ground' and give Obama an authorization for the current air war with an expiration date. I very much disagree with this strategy and believe that even promoting it is counter productive. Sometimes, instead of supporting a new law that does not do the whole job, and which will cause the current 'status' to become 'quo' and to be taken for granted, we should encourage people to stand up and say 'no' 'no' 'no' to the whole initiative. We should be protesting in the streets about the current bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq, and talking to our Congressional representatives about that rather than giving them an opportunity to kick the can down the road. What negative authorization has ever been retired at the appointed hour? It's just a way of buying time.
What I am talking about is the usefulness of taking a 'moderate' position at time where only drastic measures will make any difference - it isn't useful. What I mean is that the way politicos implicitly frame the problem when they talk about Congressional positions backing Obama and related political logistics is buying and perpetuating a misleading story line. The entire perception of reality that this bombing campaign (dare I say 'War') is based on is a lie. The United States has been, either deliberately or through incompetence, supporting ISIS along with al Nusra (al Qaeda) and Ahrar al Sham and the Farooq Brigade (regressive, native Syrian extremists) for at least a couple of years. The weapons from Libya transported through Turkey and the money to pay the fighters coming from wealthy Saudi, Qatari, Emirati and Kuwaiti patrons have been combined with US training that does not (most likely cannot) discriminate between 'moderate rebel' and 'extremist jihadi'. And now Congress just voted to do more of it, despite the fact that our Air Force is aggressively attacking these same guys, and despite the massive media campaign in support of the military expedition, even the mainstream media has had to admit that there is no longer a 'moderate' opposition in Syria, if there ever was one.
It can't have been a big surprise when the ISIS rolled into Mosul and soon left with a very long caravan of shiny new unopened US weapons intended for the Iraqi military. It must have taken many hours for them to traverse the five or six hundred miles from Mosul to Raqqa. If we were going to bomb, the long and slow moving caravan with tanks and car carriers traveling through open desert from Iraq to Syria would have made a clean target. But instead, we are bombing the infrastructure of Syria, a country - not a regime and not Assad. We are bombing the resources of a community while we say our opponent is a group of fighters who, by happenstance, don't care a whit about the welfare of the people or the infrastructure and have the capability to disappear into the background when there is an attack. It is crazy! Those fanatical Saudi Clerics who lead the call to Jihad must be laughing their butts off! Those dumb Americans terrorizing the people from the air, destroying the infrastructure of the country so it will be impossible for anyone to govern and provide services, and then, soon enough, they'll tire of it - their authorization will expire - and the rubble will be left to . . . guess who? ISIS and al Nusra.
The United States has other resources for defeating ISIS and their Ilk besides bombing. The mighty USA ought to have the capability (through economic and social carrots and sticks) to deter our allies in the Middle East from arming ISIS and paying militants to fight the governments ISIS is attacking. We ought to have the capability to shut down ISIS' oil business. We did a pretty good job of wrecking Iran's economy. Why not target an upstate like ISIS? Yes, today or yesterday we bombed Syrian Oil Refineries. But you can bet we won't bomb the ones in Iraq and Kurdistan. What we need to do is get Turkey and our good friends the Kurds to stop selling ISIS' oil on the black market. I bet that if we promised the Kurds customers for their own oil in return for boycotting ISIS, things would change pretty quickly. Turkey is a different problem because there are a lot of ISIS fighters bunked there. But, they just might be ready for some assistance in clearing up that problem. The US war on Syria and Iraq will, if even temporarily successful, push an increasing number of ISIS fighters back into Turkey, which is surely a problem for Turkey.
We can use sanctions to make certain that ISIS can't get parts to maintain their oil wells and refineries and engineering support which they surely need to produce the oil. The wells started to function in 2013 after the EU lifted their sanctions on the Syrian oil wells. Instead of bombing refineries which are valuable to the people of Syria, we should be sanctioning ISIS oil business. So, we are not without resources for fighting ISIS if we forgo the bombing campaign. And it is time to do so before another country is completely laid to waste.
Look carefully at what we accomplished when we saved Libya from, from, well from law and order and fresh drinking water, from free medical care and free education. Boy are they free! And then there is Afghanistan - have we really helped the Afghan people over the last 13 years of war? Are they secure and rich and living in freedom in a secular democracy? Are they rid of the Taliban and the Warlords (still on our payroll)? Afghanistan had a secular socialist government that was modernizing the country and beginning to provide services when somebody (oh, that was us!) decided they were too chummy with our arch enemy the USSR, and trained death squads to 'provide the Soviet Union with their very own Vietnam'. And look where we are now.
So lets not to encourage people to buy into the big lie by trying to modify our response within it, but rather to shine a light on the truth. The truth is, the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria needs to end now, because in any ordered world, it is crazy and contradictory and destructive. People, including Congress, and I talk to my rep and her aides about this regularly, need to see past the lie so they can know what the right thing to do is, and so they can understand why it is the right, and the only thing to do that will make a difference. And by the way, I don't take full credit, but I (along with other activists) have been talking to our congressional rep about arming the militants for about a year - and she voted against the bill. We need to start driving towards the truth and not just setting up a fence in the distance.
I know many of us want to intercede with Congress where they are at, but sometimes you have to get outside the box; not just think outside the box, but operate outside the box, to see real change. And we very much need real change right now. Whoever is driving this initiative is setting up a third world war, and I don't even want to think about what that would mean. Talk about a 'race to the bottom', they are betting on "which will come first: economic collapse or global war?" And our guys choose global war! We need to start resisting the paradigm advanced by the powers that be and the lies in the mainstream media because these wars can have no good outcome for the people. . . and the people are us.
Freedom’s just another word: US Launches Wars and Backs Coups in the Name of Democracy, but Won’t Back Real Democracy Activists
By Dave Lindorff
The US claims to be supporting democracy from Ukraine to Cuba, and from Somalia to Iraq, often by bombing the alleged opposition, or by supporting proxy wars and subversion. But one place where real democracy activists are battling against the forces of repression they are curiously getting no backing from the United States: Hong Kong.
We won't necessarily know what a Musteite is, but I'm inclined to think it would help if we did. I'm using the word to mean "having a certain affinity for the politics of A.J. Muste."
I had people tell me I was a Musteite when I had at best the vaguest notion of who A.J. Muste had been. I could tell it was a compliment, and from the context I took it to mean that I was someone who wanted to end war. I guess I sort of brushed that off as not much of a compliment. Why should it be considered either particularly praiseworthy or outlandishly radical to want to end war? When someone wants to utterly and completely end rape or child abuse or slavery or some other evil, we don't call them extremist radicals or praise them as saints. Why is war different?
The possibility that war might not be different, that it might be wholly abolished, could very well be a thought that I picked up third-hand from A.J. Muste, as so many of us have picked up so much from him, whether we know it or not. His influence is all over our notions of labor and organizing and civil rights and peace activism. His new biography, American Gandhi: A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century by Leilah Danielson is well worth reading, and has given me a new affection for Muste despite the book's own rather affection-free approach.
Martin Luther King Jr. told an earlier Muste biographer, Nat Hentoff, "The current emphasis on nonviolent direct action in the race relations field is due more to A.J. than to anyone else in the country." It is also widely acknowledged that without Muste there would not have been formed such a broad coalition against the war on Vietnam. Activists in India have called him "the American Gandhi."
The American Gandhi was born in 1885 and immigrated with his family at age 6 from Holland to Michigan. He studied in Holland, Michigan, the same town that we read about in the first few pages of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and at a college later heavily funded by the Prince Family, from which Blackwater sprang. The stories of both Muste and Prince begin with Dutch Calvinism and end up as wildly apart as imaginable. At the risk of offending Christian admirers of either man, I think neither story -- and neither life -- would have suffered had the religion been left out.
Muste would have disagreed with me, of course, as some form of religion was central to his thinking during much of his life. By the time of World War I he was a preacher and a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). He opposed war in 1916 when opposing war was acceptable. And when most of the rest of the country fell in line behind Woodrow Wilson and obediently loved war in 1917, Muste didn't change. He opposed war and conscription. He supported the struggle for civil liberties, always under attack during wars. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was formed by Muste's FOR colleagues in 1917 to treat symptoms of war, just as it does today. Muste refused to preach in support of war and was obliged to resigned from his church, stating in his resignation letter that the church should be focused on creating "the spiritual conditions that should stop the war and render all wars unthinkable." Muste became a volunteer with the ACLU advocating for conscientious objectors and others persecuted for war opposition in New England. He also became a Quaker.
In 1919 Muste found himself the leader of a strike of 30,000 textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, learning on the job -- and on the picket line, where he was arrested and assaulted by police, but returned immediately to the line. By the time the struggle was won, Muste was general secretary of the newly formed Amalgamated Textile Workers of America. Two years later, he was directing Brookwood Labor College outside of Katonah, New York. By the mid-1920s, as Brookwood succeeded, Muste had become a leader of the progressive labor movement nationwide. At the same time, he served on the executive committee of the national FOR from 1926-1929 as well as on the national committee of the ACLU. Brookwood struggled to bridge many divides until the American Federation of Labor destroyed it with attacks from the right, aided a bit with attacks from the left by the Communists. Muste labored on for labor, forming the Conference for Progressive Labor Action, and organizing in the South, but "if we are to have morale in the labor movement," he said, "we must have a degree of unity, and, if we are to have that, it follows, for one thing, that we cannot spend all our time in controversy and fighting with each other -- maybe 99 per cent of the time, but not quite 100 per cent."
Muste's biographer follows that same 99 percent formula for a number of chapters, covering the infighting of the activists, the organizing of the unemployed, the forming of the American Workers Party in 1933, and in 1934 the Auto-Lite strike in Toledo, Ohio, that led to the formation of the United Auto Workers. The unemployed, joining in the strike on behalf of the workers, were critical to success, and their commitment to do so may have helped the workers decide to strike in the first place. Muste was central to all of this and to progressive opposition to fascism during these years. The sit-down strike at Goodyear in Akron was led by former students of Muste.
Muste sought to prioritize the struggle for racial justice and to apply Gandhian techniques, insisting on changes in culture, not just government. "If we are to have a new world," he said, "we must have new men; if you want a revolution, you must be revolutionized." In 1940, Muste became national secretary of FOR and launched a Gandhian campaign against segregation, bringing on new staff including James Farmer and Bayard Rustin, and helping to found the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The nonviolent actions that many associate with the 1950s and 1960s began in the 1940s. A Journey of Reconciliation predated the Freedom Rides by 14 years.
Muste predicted the rise of the Military Industrial Complex and the militarized adventurism of the post-World War II United States in 1941. Somewhere beyond the comprehension of most Americans, and even his biographer, Muste found the wisdom to continue opposing war during a second world war, advocating instead for nonviolent defense and a peaceful, cooperative, and generous foreign policy, defending the rights of Japanese Americans, and once again opposing a widespread assault on civil liberties. "If I can't love Hitler, I can't love at all," said Muste, articulating the widespread commonsense that one should love one's enemies, but doing so in the primary case in which virtually everyone else, to this day, advocates for the goodness of all-out vicious violence and hatred.
Of course, those who had opposed World War I and the horrible settlement that concluded it, and the fueling of fascism for years -- and who could see what the end of World War II would bring, and who saw the potential in Gandhian techniques -- must have had a harder time than most in accepting that war was inevitable and World War II justified.
Muste, I am sure, took no satisfaction in watching the U.S. government create a cold war and a global empire in line with his own prediction. Muste continued to push back against the entire institution of war, remarking that, "the very means nations use to provide themselves with apparent or temporary 'defense' and 'security' constitute the greatest obstacle to the attainment of genuine or permanent collective security. They want international machinery so that the atomic armaments race may cease; but the atomic armaments race has to stop or the goal of the world order recedes beyond human reach."
It was in this period, 1948-1951 that MLK Jr. was attending Crozer Theological Seminary, attending speeches by, and reading books by, Muste, who would later advise him in his own work, and who would play a key role in urging civil rights leaders to oppose the war on Vietnam. Muste worked with the American Friends Service Committee, and many other organizations, including the Committee to Stop the H-Bomb Tests, which would become the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE); and the World Peace Brigade.
Muste warned against a U.S. war on Vietnam in 1954. He led opposition to it in 1964. He struggled with great success to broaden the anti-war coalition in 1965. At the same time, he struggled against the strategy of watering down war opposition in an attempt to find broader appeal. He believed that "polarization" brought "contradictions and differences" to the surface and allowed for the possibility of greater success. Muste chaired the November 8 Mobilization Committee (MOBE) in 1966, planning a massive action in April 1967. But upon returning from a trip to Vietnam in February, giving talks about the trip, and staying up all night drafting the announcement of the April demonstration, he began to complain of back pain and did not live much longer.
He did not see King's speech at Riverside Church on April 4. He did not see the mass mobilization or the numerous funerals and memorials to himself. He did not see the war ended. He did not see the war machine and war planning continue as if little had been learned. He did not see the retreat from economic fairness and progressive activism during the decades to come. But A.J. Muste had been there before. He'd seen the upsurges of the 1920s and 1930s and lived to help bring about the peace movement of the 1960s. When, in 2013, public pressure helped stop a missile attack on Syria, but nothing positive took its place, and a missile attack was launched a year later against the opposite side in the Syrian war, Muste would not have been shocked. His cause was not the prevention of a particular war but the elimination of the institution of war, the cause also of the new campaign in 2014 World Beyond War.
What can we learn from someone like Muste who persevered long enough to see some, but not all, of his radical ideas go mainstream? He didn't bother with elections or even voting. He prioritized nonviolent direct action. He sought to form the broadest possible coalition, including with people who disagreed with him and with each other on fundamental questions but who agreed on the important matter at hand. Yet he sought to keep those coalitions uncompromising on matters of the greatest importance. He sought to advance their goals as a moral cause and to win over opponents by intellect and emotion, not force. He worked to change world views. He worked to build global movements, not just local or national. And, of course, he sought to end war, not just to replace one war with a different one. That meant struggling against a particular war, but doing so in the manner best aimed at reducing or abolishing the machinery behind it.
I'm not, after all, a very good Musteite. I agree with much, but not all. I reject his religious motivations. And of course I'm not much like A.J. Muste, lacking his skills, interests, abilities, and accomplishments. But I do feel close to him and appreciate more than ever being called a Musteite. And I appreciate that A.J. Muste and millions of people who appreciated his work in one way or another passed it on to me. Muste's influence on people everyone knows, like Martin Luther King, Jr., and people who influenced people everyone knows, like Bayard Rustin, was significant. He worked with people still active in the peace movement like David McReynolds and Tom Hayden. He worked with James Rorty, father of one of my college professors, Richard Rorty. He spent time at Union Theological Seminary, where my parents studied. He lived on the same block, if not building, where I lived for a while at 103rd Street and West End Avenue in New York, and Muste was apparently married to a wonderful woman named Anne who went by Anna, as am I. So, I like the guy. But what gives me hope is the extent to which Musteism exists in our culture as a whole, and the possibility that someday we will all be Musteites.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
And here is one of many great things he created: http://warisacrime.org/lesssafe
If you like to ask or beg your oppressor to go easy on you, then you do not need to read this article. And if you like to do what makes you feel good at the time, irrespective of its strategic impact, then this article is not for you either. My interest in tackling violence, in whatever form it takes, has always been to take action myself that leaves the perpetrator powerless (but, hopefully, a convert too). I also like to be strategic so that the impact of my action is long-lasting (in fact, preferably permanent) and structurally reduces the violence in our world. Here’s how I work.
Congress has fled town to avoid voting for or against a new war. Many of the big donors to Congressional campaigns would want Yes votes. Many voters would want No votes, if not immediately, then as soon as the panic induced by the beheading videos wears off, which could be within the next month. Better to just avoid displeasing anyone -- other than people who notice you running away.
The standard for legal-ish cosmopolitan respectability in the U.S. now has become getting five kings and dictators to say their on your side as you start bombing a new country.
But the British Parliament is still at the level of believing an actual vote by a legislature is appropriate. Do Americans remember that their beloved founding fathers put war powers in the hands of the legislature because of the ugly history of royal wars in Britain? Times have changed.
But if we want to actually comply with the law, we have to admit that neither Parliament nor Congress has the power to legalize attacking Syria. This is because both the U.S. and the U.K. are parties to the United Nations Charter, which bans war with very narrow exceptions -- exceptions that have not been in any way met.
And if you want to get really serious about laws, the Kellogg-Briand Pact has never been repealed, the U.S. and U.K. are parties to it, and it bans all war without exception.
Now, you can interpret the Kellogg-Briand Pact to allow self-defense because the right to military self-defense, even when it's unlikely to actually work, is just so obvious to your way of thinking. And the U.N. Charter explicitly allows military self-defense. But here's the problem: There's nothing defensive about attacking Syria, and President Obama himself described it as "offense" in an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC.
Another word for "offense" is aggression, which the Nuremberg tribunal called "essentially an evil thing . . . the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Asked about Congress's responsibilities on Tuesday, Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) claimed that presidents could fight defensive wars without Congress but needed Congressional authorizations for offensive ones. In fact, offensive wars are not legal by any common understanding. Asked, then, about international law, at an event at the Center for American Progress, Kaine reportedly said that bombing Syria, as distinct from Iraq, was "complicated" and that he was not sure "how they would do that, perhaps using principles of self-defense or defending Iraq against other threats. I think we'll find out more about what the administration says about that after the UN General Assembly," he said.
Only in America. Only the White House gets to invent legal rationale for blatant crimes, with the law makers and enforcers prepared to accept the rationale before they hear it.
Prior to the U.N. meeting, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power wrote to the U.N. arguing that it is legal for the United States to attack Syria because it is legal for Iraq to defend itself. By this logic, if Canada experienced a violent rebellion, it would be legal for China to attack the United States.
It's fun to pretend that the rule of law doesn't matter to you because you have all the weapons. It's fun to take two-month vacations from Washington. Just don't count on everyone voting you back next year.
Erdoğan to discuss Turkish involvement in IS strikes with cabinet, official says it is “unlikely that Turkey, its airspace, or the Incirlik Air Base would be used by coalition forces” - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
By Dave Lindorff
Eric Holder has announced that he is leaving his post of Attorney General, which he has sullied and degraded for six years.
St. Pete for Peace
St. Petersburg, FL – Activists from the Tampa Bay area will protest the new US war in Syria this Saturday, September 27 from 2:00-4:00pm at the corners of Dale Mabry Highway and Gandy Blvd in Tampa. The protest location was chosen due to its proximity to MacDill Air Force Base, which acts as Central Command for the war in Syria.
US airstrikes in Syria have already killed innocent civilians. In its first day of launching bombs, the US killed 8 civilians, including children in Aleppo province, and 5 more civilians were killed on Wednesday.
"ISIS, which formed in response to the US invasion of Iraq, exists because of US military interventions. For the US to say it is trying to solve the problem it created is duplicitous," said Dwight Lawton of Veterans for Peace.
"The US attack is happening without the approval of the Syrian government which is a violation of Syria's sovereignty and is against international law," according to Marianne Huber of St. Pete for Peace. "There is no doubt that the Assad government in Syria will ultimately be a target of US airstrikes in the near future."
"For over 20 years the US has relentlessly bombed Iraq and now it is bombing Syria -- two countries that have never attacked the United States," said Jared Hamil of Students for a Democratic Society at USF. "The US has used money, guns, bombings, occupations, economic sanctions and puppet-governments to control the peoples of the world. None of these things have resulted in peace or have brought humanitarian aid to anyone - only violence and instability."
The protest is sponsored by St. Pete for Peace, Students for a Democratic Society at USF, Friends of Human Rights, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Florida State Progressive Democrats of America, NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Justice, The Refuge, Students for a Democratic Society St Pete, Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, and the Revolutionary Caucus of Tampa Bay.
Attached (PDF) is the shadow report of Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture through the US Human Rights Network.
We are gathering organization and individual signatures of support for the shadow report. If you are interested in signing on, please contact Deborah Popowski (email@example.com) of the Harvard Human Rights Clinic before Monday, September 29, 2014.
Please pass this message on.
Benjamin G. Davis
Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions
By Elliott Adams
On the surface, The Nuremberg Tribunals were a court assembled by the victors which prosecuted the losers. It is also true Axis war criminals were tried though Allied war criminals were not. But there was a greater concern at the time about stopping wars of aggression than prosecuting individual war criminals, since no one thought the world could survive one more world war. The intent was not retribution but to find a new way forward. The Tribunal in its Judgment said “Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced."
Nuremberg was starkly different from the typical case of victor's justice of the time. With Nuremberg the victors turned away from the accepted vindictive punishment of the vanquished. The motivation to punish those who started a war which killed seventy two million, including sixty one million on the victor's side, was immense. Justice Robert Jackson, US Supreme Court Justice and the main architect of the Nuremberg Tribunals, said in the opening statement of the Tribunals "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated." Stalin proposed a suitable deterrent would be executing the top 50,000 living German leaders. Given the wanton killing on the Eastern Front experienced by the Russians, it is easy to understand how he considered this to be appropriate. Churchill countered that executing the top 5,000 would be enough blood to assure it would not happen again.
The victorious powers instead set a new path, one of criminal trials, the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals. Justice Jackson declared "That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason."
Acknowledged as imperfect, Nuremberg was an effort to establish the rule of law to deal with sociopathic and despotic leaders and their followers who would start wars of aggression. "This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of seventeen more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times - aggressive war." said Jackson. The experiment provided that each defendant be indicted, have the right to a defense before a court, similar to a civilian court. And there seems to have been some level of justice since some were found completely innocent, some were only found guilty of some charges and most were not executed. Whether this was just a victor's court dressed up in fancy trappings of justice or the first faulting steps of a new way forward would depend on what happened in the years after, even what happens now. Some of what is accepted as normal today comes to us from Nuremberg like the terms war crimes, crimes against humanity
Jackson said "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well." They knew they were only writing the first part of the story of Nuremberg and that others would write the ending. We can answer this question about victor's justice by looking just at 1946. Or we can take a broader perspective and answer it in terms of today and of the future, in terms of the long term results from Nuremberg.
Whether it was justice only for the benefit of the victors is our challenge. Will we let international law be a tool only for the powerful? Or will we use Nuremberg as a tool for "Reason over Power"? If we let the Nuremberg Principles be used only against the enemies of the powerful it will have been victor's justice and we will be "putting the poisoned chalice to our own lips." If instead we, we the people, work, demand and, succeed in holding our own high criminals and government up to these same laws it will not have been a victor's court. Justice Jackson's words are an important guide today, "The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils."
Going back to the original question - Were the Nuremberg Tribunals only victor's justice? - that depends on us - that depends on you. Will we prosecute our own high war criminals? Will we respect and use the obligations of Nuremberg to oppose our government's crimes against humanity and crimes against peace?
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Elliott Adams was a solider, a politician, a businessman; now he works for peace. His interest in international law grew out of his experience in war, in places of conflict like Gaza, and being on trial for peace activism.
Signers listed at bottom
Over the last several decades, the Pentagon,conservative forces, and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities. The combined impact of the military, conservative think tanks and foundations, and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education. It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.
The signers of this statement believe it is urgent for all advocates of social justice, peace and the environment to recognize the dangerous nature of this problem and confront it with deliberate action.
THE THREAT TO CIVILIAN EDUCATION
The most aggressive outside effort to use the school system to teach an ideology with ominous long-term implications for society comes from the military establishment. Over the last two decades, with relatively little media coverage or public outcry, the Pentagon’s involvement in schools and students’ lives has grown exponentially. Now, for example:
- Every school day, at least half a million high school students attend Junior ROTC classes to receive instruction from retired officers who are handpicked by the Pentagon to teach its own version of history and civics. These students are assigned “ranks” and conditioned to believe that military and civilian values are similar, with the implication that unquestioning obedience to authority is therefore a feature of good citizenship.
- Armed forces academies are being established in some public schools (Chicago now has eight), where all students are given a heavy dose of military culture and values.
- A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools. Examples are the Young Marines and Starbase programs, and military programs that sneak into schools under the cloak of Science / Technology / Engineering / Math (STEM) education.
- Military recruiters are trained to pursue “school ownership” as their goal (see: “Army School Recruiting Program Handbook”). Their frequent presence in classrooms, lunch areas and at assemblies has the effect of popularizing military values, soldiering and, ultimately, war.
- Since 2001, federal law has overridden civilian school autonomy and family privacy when it comes to releasing student contact information to the military. Additionally, each year thousands of schools allow the military to administer its entrance exam — the ASVAB — to 10th-12th graders, allowing recruiters to bypass laws protecting parental rights and the privacy of minors and gain access to personal information on hundreds of thousands of students.
THE THREAT TO PUBLIC EDUCATION
Efforts by groups outside the school system to inject conservatism and corporate values into the learning process have been going on for a number of years. In a recent example of right-wing educational intervention, The New York Times reported that tea party groups, using lesson plans and coloring books, have been pushing schools to “teach a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, where the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.” (See:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/us/constitution-has-its-day-amid-a-struggle-for-its-spirit.html )
Corporations have been projecting their influence in schools with devices like Channel One, a closed-circuit TV program that broadcasts commercial content daily to captive student audiences in 8,000 schools. Some companies have succeeded in convincing schools to sign exclusive contracts for pizza, soft drinks and other products, with the goal of teaching early brand loyalty to children. A National Education Policy Center report issued in November 2011 documents the various ways in which business/school partnerships are harming children educationally by channeling student thinking “into a corporate-friendly track” and stunting their ability to think critically. (See: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/schoolhouse-commercialism-2011 )
The development of this corporate-friendly track dovetails with a radical corporate agenda to dismantle America’s public education system. States across the country are slashing educational spending, outsourcing public teacher jobs, curbing collective-bargaining rights, and marginalizing teachers’ unions. There is a proliferation of charter and “cyber” schools that promote private sector involvement and a push toward for-profit schools where the compensation paid to private management companies is tied directly to student performance on standardized assessments. The cumulative effect is the creation of institutions that cultivate a simplistic ideology that merges consumerism with subservience. (See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/michigan-privatize-public-education )
The corporatization of education via charter schools and the administration sector growth at universities is another troubling trend for public education. Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error ( http://www.npr.org/2013/09/27/225748846/diane-ravitch-rebukes-education-activists-reign-of-error ) and Henry A. Giroux’s newest book, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education, ( http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22548-henry-giroux-beyond-neoliberal-miseducation ) give pointers to the doubtful role of corporate values in public education.
Why is this happening? Giroux notes that “Chris Hedges, the former New York Times correspondent, appeared on Democracy Now! in 2012 and told host Amy Goodman the federal government spends some $600 billion a year on education—“and the corporations want it.”
There are also some organizations supporting efforts to introduce history and civics lessons from a progressive perspective, such as the Howard Zinn Education Project (https://zinnedproject.org ) and Rethinking Schools ( http://www.rethinkingschools.org ). And a small movement is working against Channel One and the commercialization of the school environment (e.g., http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education and ( http://www.obligation.org ).
STOPPING THESE THREATS
There is reason to be hopeful about reversing this trend if we look, for example, at some of the successes in grassroots efforts to curb militarism in schools. In 2009, a coalition of high school students, parents and teachers in the very conservative, military-dominated city of San Diego succeeded in getting their elected school board to shut down JROTC firing ranges at eleven high schools. Two years later, the same coalition got the school board to pass a policy significantly limiting military recruiting in all of its schools. Though such initiatives are relatively few in number, similar victories have been won in other school districts and on the state level in Hawaii and Maryland.
There are also some organizations supporting efforts to introduce history and civics lessons from a progressive perspective, such as the Zinn Education Project (www.zinnedproject.org) and Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org). And a small movement is working against Channel One and the commercialization of the school environment (e.g., http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education/ and http://www.obligation.org/ ).
As promising and effective as these efforts are, they pale in comparison to the massive scale of what groups on the other side of the political spectrum are proactively doing in the educational environment to preserve the influence of conservatism, militarism and corporate power.
It is time for progressive organizations, foundations and media to confront this and become equally involved in the educational system. It is especially important that more organizations unite to oppose the growing intrusion of the Pentagon in K-12 schools and universities. Restoring the primacy of critical thinking and democratic values in our culture cannot be done without stopping the militarization and corporate takeover of public education.
Military Families Speak Out (MFSO)
Historians Against the War
Faculty in political economy,
Evergreen State College
VVAW National Office
Professor, Retired, MIT
Project Great Futures,
Los Angeles, CA
Pax Christi USA Ambassador
of Peace, Naperville, IL
National Coalition to
Protect Student Privacy
It’s Our Economy
Northwest Suburban Peace
& Education Project,
Arlington Hts., IL
National Lawyers Guild
Military Law Task Force
Henry Armand Giroux
Director, West Surburban
Faith Based Peace Coalition,
Treasurer, United Teachers
of Los Angeles
Iraq Veterans Against
the War (IVAW)
New York City
Project on Youth and
Holy Cross College
Professor, Univ. of
California San Diego
National VFP President,
Montgomery County (MD)
UC Berkeley Ethnic
President, Metta Center
Against the War
Professor, San Diego
American Friends Service
AFSC 67 Sueños
Michael Parenti, Ph.D.
Author & lecturer
of On Earth Peace,
Stop Recruiting Kids
Peace and Social
New England Regional
War Resisters League
Chair, Fox Valley Citizens
for Peace & Justice,
World Beyond War
San Pedro Neighbors for
Peace & Justice,
San Pedro, CA
Veterans for Peace
St. Louis, MO
Veterans for Peace
Against the War
Allies), New York City
Colonel Ann Wright,
Retired U.S. Army/
Author of Occupy
this Book: Mickey Z.
It’s Our Economy