I recently recommended a great book about the now deceased Occupy Movement, long may it live. Just as important, I think, as contemplating the successes and missteps of such past actions is envisioning the next ones. Rivera Sun has done that in The Dandelion Insurrection. Imagining the game in such a book can inform our studying of the warm-ups we've seen or been part of.
The Dandelion Insurrection is an updated, more accurate, less fantastical Brave New World or 1984. But it's not a dystopian novel. It's a novel about overcoming abuses that now exist or easily might in the next few years. The author says that much of what she imagined has already happened in the time she's been writing the book.
The events of the book, however, -- the insurrection -- have not happened. I recommend experiencing them. It may give you chills or tears. There is not much suspension of disbelief required, quite the opposite. An ounce of belief that people can turn around a destructive course of events ought to open the door to this creative, strategic, and informed imagining of how we, ourselves, in the very near future might do so.
I don't like spoiling fiction, but I recommend reading this book in groups and then discussing it. I'd like to be part of such a discussion. There are ways in which I think a people's nonviolent insurrection are more likely than some of the details here. But I am not inclined to believe we'll be able to control all of the details. The essential ingredients, I think, are here accurately assembled. Two of them are in the book's subtitle: Love and Revolution.
Come gather round people wherever you roam. And admit that the bullshit around you has grown.
Students used to get out of tests and assignments by explaining to sympathetic professors that they had been busy protesting the war on Vietnam. The times they are a changin.
Today college professors lead teach-ins to protest the absence of an all-out U.S. war on Syria. Back then, the public and the government trailed behind the activists. Now the public has grown enlightened, and in a significant but limited way won over the government, blocking the missile strikes, but it's not just the U.S. President who looks mad enough to spit over the casus belli interruptus. Professors are pissed.
The University of Virginia's law school has another law school next door belonging to the U.S. Army. The University has built a research "park" next door to the Army's "Ground Intelligence Center." State funds are drying up, and the Pentagon's tap has been left all the way open. This Central Virginian military industrial academic complex is where Washington finally had to turn to find anyone willing to pretend the famous aluminum tubes in Iraq might be for scary, scary nukes. In defense of that record, this week is Iraq War Beautification Week at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, always a gung-ho proponent of militarism.
Much of this is expected and typical of U.S. academia these days. But the promotions of attacks on Syria have become slicker and more insidious. Here's an announcement of an event held on Thursday:
Teach-In on Syria & Fundraiser for Refugees
Thursday, Sept 26, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
University of Virginia: Nau 101
Moderator: Joshua M. White, History
Panelists: Ahmed H. al-Rahim, Religious Studies, "Islamist Ideologies in Syria"
Hanadi al-Samman, MESALC, "The Syrian Revolution and the Plight of Refugees Today"
Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Politics, "Civil War in Syria"
Elizabeth Thompson, History, "Religion and War since 1913"
David Waldner, Politics, "Syria, Before: Dictatorship and the Growth of Public Opposition to the Regime"
And a ﬁlm presentation on the refugee experience
Co-sponsored by the Arab Student Organization
This announcement doesn't advertise a pro-war event aimed at promoting the deaths of large numbers of people. Peace groups sent around this announcement. I sent it around. I attended. And here's what happened:
Thompson spoke well about World War I and sat silently as her colleagues promoted a new war as barbaric as what she described from a hundred years earlier.
Waldner described the early, non-violent Arab Spring in Syria, breaking into tears, and then sat silently as his colleagues pushed for greater violence, using his stories of early nonviolence to justify it. (Somehow the opposite never happens: we never have to justify nonviolent activism on the grounds that its participants once killed a lot of people.)
The other panelists demanded more weapons for Syrian rebels, more U.S. military involvement, more war, and the violent overthrow of the government.
Students sat there silently. Professors in the audience who say they oppose war sat there silently and told each other afterwards that their complaints about what just happened should remain confidential. It wouldn't be polite to speak up.
I spoke up at the event. I questioned the panelists' fantasies about the glory of violence, their willingness to see many more people die in order to overthrow a government that would not thereby be replaced with something better.
Schulhofer-Wohl said that U.S. weapons would overwhelm the government of Syria and its Russian backers. I pointed out that the Russians have more weapons too, but this professor clearly thinks this is another Cold War and that this time Russia will give in easily and cheaply, there will be no blowback, and the pawns in the game will all benefit.
Or, rather, the evil of one side of the war justifies the other side, and the consequences be damned.
Students sat there silently.
We can laugh at academia marginalizing itself. We can celebrate the greater wisdom of the masses. But these professors, speaking in a building where a former CIA "historian" now works, are having their way. The CIA is arming the war in Syria and escalating it, against the will of the U.S. public. Students are being subtly indoctrinated with acceptance of war and with contempt for democracy at one stroke.
UVA founder Thomas Jefferson would be outraged, unless someone told the old slavery profiteer how much money wars make for a certain little group of special people. Then he'd understand perfectly. When UVA's Dean of Arts and Sciences was promoting war on Libya, she held up Jefferson's own war on Libya as a model.
This is our heritage, boys and girls. And its days are numbered. People are not going to stand for it much longer. Academia is going to have to accept it that soon they'll be drenched to the bone.
Some of those silent sitting students have brains in their heads. Their professors forget that sometimes.
Dear David Swanson,
i am sincerely sorry that good intentions aren't visible in a bad event
your comments were quite good, but your ensuing silence just persuaded the students watching you that a smart person would find no reason to speak out against warmongering
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
Outside UN, US grandmothers take the protest to the streets
What: Photo Op – Drones Protest w/model Reaper drones coinciding with Pakistan UN Speech
When and Where: Friday Sept 27, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
(a) Fox News, 1211 6th Ave bet 47th & 48th St
(b) NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (49th St) between 5th & 6th Ave
(c) Times Square, 46th & 7th Avenue
Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his delegation will raise the issue of US drone strikes in its tribal regions at the UN Security Council debate on the Role of Small Arms in Conflict on Thursday, September 26, and in the speech of the Prime Minister to the General Assembly on Friday, September 27.
US peace and justice advocates will protest in midtown at the same time, displaying 1/5 scale models of Reaper drones to educate the US public and win support for Pakistani outrage against US drone killings.
"They won't let us get near the UN, but we will be out in the streets in other parts Manhattan to draw attention to the disgraceful conduct of the United States in Pakistan and other countries in the region," said Joan Pleune of the Granny Peace Brigade. "It is particularly important that we do this now, at this moment when the eyes of the world are on New York City during the UN General Assembly meeting and there is heightened attention to the Obama Administration's targeted killing by drone," she said.
The intensified focus by both the Pakistan government and US activists on US drone killings in Pakistan coincides with a growing controversy over the attempts by the US government to block the visit to the US of the leading legal advocate for victims of US drone strikes – Shahzad Akbar. "Representative Alan Grayson, D-FL 9th District, has invited the family of a 67-year-old female Pakistani drone victim to testify before Congress. However, the Department of State has blocked their lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, from appearing before a Congressional ad hoc hearing with the family. Without Mr. Akbar, Rafiq and his family will be unable to come to DC, and their story will never be heard," says filmmaker Robert Greenwald.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Granny Peace Brigade: http://www.grannypeacebrigade.
November 2013 Days of Action against Drones: http://nodronesnetwork. World Can’t Wait http://www.worldcantwait.net/
November 2013 Days of Action against Drones: http://nodronesnetwork.
World Can’t Wait http://www.worldcantwait.net/
September 2013 | stopwar.org.uk
1) Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester
2) Public rally: we stopped the bombing of Syria. 12 years on, end the War on Terror
3) Stop the War fundraising dinner with Guardian foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele
4) International Anti-War Conference
1) Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester
This Sunday 29 September tens of thousands will join the TUC march on the Tory Party conference in Manchester to defend the NHS and challenge austerity. Stop the War is organising an anti-war block with CND on the demonstration.
We will be in block J on the demo which assembles at 11am, Sunday 29 September Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP.
Look for the 'cut war not welfare' placards!
2) Public rally: we stopped the bombing of Syria. 12 years on, end the War on Terror
7 October is the twelfth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Stop the War is organising a London public rally on the day to discuss the disarray of the War on Terror.
Speakers include Tariq Ali, Sami Ramadani, Lindsey German, and Mitra Quayoom.
3) Stop the War fundraising dinner with Guardian foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele
A reminder about the celebratory fundraising dinner on Monday October 14th. Please come, we would love to see you at Ev Turkish restaurant near Southwark tube for 7pm.
Three delicious courses, a flash art auction, raffle prizes, plus after dinner speech by Jonathan Steele, foreign correspondent of the Guardian.
Tickets are going fast and we have a special price of £35 for members or £30 for Friends. If you can get a table of 8 or 10 together, it will be £35 for non members too.
- Book your ticket online or telephone 020 7561 4830
4) International Anti-War Conference
The killings in Nairobi - a product of Kenya's involvement of the western backed invasion of Somalia by Kenya and others - underline the way that the War on Terror continues to destabilise whole swathes of the world.
On the 30 November, Stop the War is hosting an international conference to discuss the state of the War on Terror and strategise for the global struggle against the West's wars.
Speakers include Jonathan Steele, Manik Mukherjee, Owen Jones, Kate Hudson, Tariq Ali, Lindsey German, Mitra Quayoom.
When the Pentagon ends an occupation, crawling home from Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan with its Tomahawk missile dragging between its legs, it declares victory every time. And, depending on how you define victory, it certainly leaves lasting effects. The cancer and birth defects and poisoned water supplies bear witness: there was an occupation here.
When the Occupy Movement lost its presence on television and therefore in real spaces that are never quite as real as television, it too left a lasting impact. But it was a positive lasting impact, difficult as yet to measure fully, but observable in many areas.
I've just read Nathan Schneider's new book, Thank You, Anarchy: Notes From the Occupy Apocalypse, with a foreword by Rebecca Solnit. I consider this book one of the lasting benefits of Occupy. We need a movement as badly as ever, but we now have great experimental lessons to draw on, and collective experience to benefit from.
Veterans of the Occupy encampments have added their strengths to the antiwar and environmental movements, and the growing movements against predatory home loans, foreclosures, student loan sharks, etc.
But primarily, Occupy has changed minds, some dramatically and some slightly -- the sum total impossible to discern. But there is no doubt that opposition against the war on Iraq, denounced as futile by many who took part in it, laid much of the groundwork for successful opposition to missile strikes on Syria. Occupy can be expected to bear similar fruit.
I recommend reading Schneider's story and considering yet further some of the strategic questions debated without end by General Assemblies -- those debates recounted in Schneider's book.
We're going to need to know how and why we are committed to nonviolence. We're going to need to consider how and whether we can build something national or international without the corporate media. We're going to need to develop further our ability to combine our disparate movements against the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism. We're going to have to be capable of engaging in big-picture political action while becoming service centers to the homeless or avoiding doing so. We're going to have to further refine our ability to have fun without becoming foolish. We're going to have to appreciate unpredictable chaos and learn to generate and steer it without ever knowing what it is. We're going to have to decide whether we grow by hating the police or by meeting their antagonism with our own jiu-jitsu. We're going to have to become more international, more non-national, and more local, all at once. We're going to have to create a movement that grows and grows and grows prior to winning and regardless of winning, while directing its energy toward the most likely winning path.
As I was writing this at Millers bar in Charlottesville, Va., the waiter saw my book, started talking to me about Occupy, and told me that Global Friend Bombs are the way to build connections and "organize the masses." I had never heard of global friend bombs, but I had had many previous experiences of the word "Occupy" opening up conversations about changing the world in place of "do you want fries with that?"
Newspapers are the first draft of an imperial eulogy. The first draft of history is our books. Read them. Debate them. Mic-check them. Expect the unexpected. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Main Street. Occupy Everything and Never Give It Back.
The beginning is near!
Laurel Krause is the cofounder and director of the Kent State Truth Tribunal. Her sister Allison Krause was killed at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, along with three other peacefully demonstrating students. Laurel and her colleagues are taking new evidence of state-ordered and orchestrated killing to the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Committee on October 17 & 18 in Geneva, Switzerland. See http://TruthTribunal.org
"What's the matter with peace? Flowers are better than bullets." -- Allison Krause on May 3, 1970.
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1. President Obama's opening lines at the U.N. on Tuesday looked down on people who would think to settle disputes with war. Obama was disingenuously avoiding the fact that earlier this month he sought to drop missiles into a country to "send a message" but was blocked by the U.S. Congress, the U.N., the nations of the world, and popular opposition -- after which Obama arrived at diplomacy as a last resort.
2. "It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking." Actually, it took one. The second resulted in a half-step backwards in "our thinking." The Kellogg-Briand Pact banned all war. The U.N. Charter re-legalized wars purporting to be either defensive or U.N.-authorized.
3. "[P]eople are being lifted out of poverty," Obama said, crediting actions by himself and others in response to the economic crash of five years ago. But downward global trends in poverty are steady and long pre-date Obama's entry into politics. And such a trend does not exist in the U.S.
4. "Together, we have also worked to end a decade of war," Obama said. In reality, Obama pushed Iraq hard to allow that occupation to continue, and was rejected just as Congress rejected his missiles-for-Syria proposal. Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. Obama expanded, after essentially creating, drone wars. Obama has increased global U.S. troop presence, global U.S. weapons sales, and the size of the world's largest military. He's put "special" forces into many countries, waged a war on Libya, and pushed for an attack on Syria. How does all of this "end a decade of war"? And how did his predecessor get a decade in office anyway?
5. "Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11." In reality, Bruce Riedel, who coordinated a review of Afghanistan policy for President Obama said, "The pressure we've put on [jihadist forces] in the past year has also drawn them together, meaning that the network of alliances is growing stronger not weaker." (New York Times, May 9, 2010.)
6. "We have limited the use of drones." Bush drone strikes in Pakistan: 51. Obama drone strikes in Pakistan: 323.
7. "... so they target only those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible." On June 7, 2013, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Now that Anwar al Awlaki could have been turned over and put on trial, but "they never asked us." In numerous other cases it is evident that drone strike victims could have been arrested if that avenue had ever been attempted. A memorable example was the November 2011 drone killing in Pakistan of 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, days after he'd attended an anti-drone meeting in the capital, where he might easily have been arrested -- had he been charged with some crime. This weeks drone victims, like all the others, had never been indicted or their arrest sought.
8. "... and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties." There are hundreds of confirmed civilian dead from U.S. drones, something the Obama administration seems inclined to keep as quiet as possible.
9. "And the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction casts a shadow over the pursuit of peace." In reality, President Obama is not pursuing peace or the control of such weapons or their reduction and elimination in all countries, only particular countries. And the United States remains the top possessor of weapons of mass destruction and the top supplier of weapons to the world.
10. "[In Syria, P]eaceful protests against an authoritarian regime were met with repression and slaughter. ... America and others have worked to bolster the moderate opposition." In fact, the United States has armed a violent opposition intent on waging war and heavily influenced if not dominated by foreign fighters and fanatics.
11. "[T]he regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children." Maybe, but where's the evidence? Even Colin Powell brought (faked) evidence.
12. "How should we respond to conflicts in the Middle East?" This suggests that the United States isn't causing conflicts in the Middle East or aggravating them prior to altering its position and "responding." In fact, arming and supporting brutal governments in Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Israel, etc., is behavior that could do a great deal of good simply by ceasing.
13. "How do we address the choice of standing callously by while children are subjected to nerve gas, or embroiling ourselves in someone else's civil war?" That isn't a complete list of choices, as Obama discovered when Russia called Kerry's bluff and diplomacy became a choice, just as disarmament and de-escalation and pressure for a ceasefire are choices. Telling Saudi Arabia "Stop arming the war in Syria or no more cluster bombs for you," is a choice.
14. "What is the role of force in resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct?" Force doesn't have a role in civilized conduct, the most basic standard of which is relations without the use of force.
15. "[T]he international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons." Except against Israel or the United States.
16. "... and Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands." This was good of Obama to recognize Iran's suffering, but it would have been better of him to recall where Iraq acquired some of its weapons of mass destruction.
17. "It is an insult to human reason -- and to the legitimacy of this institution -- to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack." Really? In the absence of evidence, skepticism isn't reasonable for this Colin-Powelled institution, the same U.N. that was told Libya would be a rescue and watched it become a war aimed at illegally overthrowing a government? Trust us?
18. "Now, there must be a strong Security Council Resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so." Meaning war? What about the U.N.'s commitment to oppose war? What about the United States' violation of its commitments to destroy the chemical weapons sitting in Kentucky and Colorado? "Consequences" for the U.S. too?
19. "I do not believe that military action -- by those within Syria, or by external powers -- can achieve a lasting peace." Yet, the U.S. government is shipping weapons into that action.
20. "Nor do I believe that America or any nation should determine who will lead Syria ... Nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country." The Syrians should decide their own fate as long as they decide it the way I tell them to.
21. "[N]or does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe-haven for terrorists." That's funny. Elsewhere, you've said that weakening Syria would weaken Iran.
22. "[W]e will be providing an additional $340 million [for aid]." And vastly more for weapons.
23. "We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil..." That first remarkably honest sentence is only honest if you don't think about what "free flow" means. The second sentence points to a real, if slow, trend but obscures the fact that only 40% of the oil the U.S. uses comes from the U.S., which doesn't count much of the oil the U.S. military uses while "ensuring the free flow." Nor is switching to small domestic supplies a long-term solution as switching to sustainable energy would be.
24. "But when it's necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks, we will take direct action." In Libya? Syria? Where does this make any sense, as U.S. actions generate rather than eliminate terrorism? Michael Boyle, part of Obama's counter-terrorism group during his 2008 election campaign, says the use of drones is having "adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists ... . The vast increase in the number of deaths of low-ranking operatives has deepened political resistance to the US programme in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries." (The Guardian, January 7, 2013.) Why is Canada not obliged to bomb the world to "defend against terrorist attacks"?
25. "Just as we consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to our own national security ..." We who? How? Congress just rejected this ludicrous claim. Ninety percent of this country laughed at it.
26. "[W]e reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global non-proliferation regime." By Israel which has done this, or by Iran which all evidence suggests has not?
27. "We deeply believe it is in our interest to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous," we just choose to work against that deep belief and to sell or give vast quantities of weapons to brutal dictatorships and monarchies.
28. "Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force." This could have been true had the U.S. attempted to impose democracy.
29. "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons." Iran's what?
30. "Arab-Israeli conflict." That's a misleading way of naming the conflict between the government of Israel and the people it ethnically cleanses, occupies, and abuses -- including with chemical weapons.
31. "[A]n Iranian government that has ... threatened our ally Israel with destruction." It hasn't. And piling up the lies about Iran will make Iran less eager to talk. Just watch.
32. "We are not seeking regime change." That's not what Kerry told Congress, in between telling Congress just the opposite. Also, see above in this same speech: "a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy...."
33. "We insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and UN Security Council resolutions." Among Iran, the U.S., and Israel, it's Iran that seems to be complying.
34. "We are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course." More moderate than what? Threatening to destroy Israel and creating nukes?
35. "[T]heir own sovereign state." There's nowhere left for Palestine to create such a separate state.
36. "Israel's security as a Jewish and democratic state." Both, huh?
37. "When peaceful transitions began in Tunisia and Egypt ... we chose to support those who called for change" ... the minute everyone else was dead, exiled, or imprisoned.
38. "[T]rue democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society. That remains our interest today." Just not in our own country and certainly not in places that buy some of the biggest piles of our weapons.
39. "But we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent," and if you don't believe me, ask the Occupy movement -- Happy Second Birthday, you guys! I SHUT YOU DOWN, bwa ha ha ha ha.
40. "This includes efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Syria and Bahrain." One liberated, one targeted, and one provided with support and weaponry and former U.S. police chiefs to lead the skull cracking.
41. "[A] vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill." All criminal outrages should have a vacuum of leadership. "Who would bomb countries if we don't do it?" is the wrong question.
42. "Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional -- in part because we have shown a willingness, through the sacrifice of blood and treasure, to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interests of all." When was that? The United States certainly comes in at far less than exceptional in terms of per-capita humanitarian aid. Its humanitarian bombing that Obama has in mind, but it's never benefitted humanity.
43. "And in Libya, when the Security Council provided a mandate to protect civilians, America joined a coalition that took action. Because of what we did there, countless lives were saved, and a tyrant could not kill his way back to power." The White House claimed that Gaddafi had threated to massacre the people of Benghazi with "no mercy," but the New York Times reported that Gaddafi's threat was directed at rebel fighters, not civilians, and that Gaddafi promised amnesty for those "who throw their weapons away." Gaddafi also offered to allow rebel fighters to escape to Egypt if they preferred not to fight to the death. Yet President Obama warned of imminent genocide. What Gaddafi really threatened fits with his past behavior. There were other opportunities for massacres had he wished to commit massacres, in Zawiya, Misurata, or Ajdabiya. He did not do so. After extensive fighting in Misurata, a report by Human Rights Watch made clear that Gaddafi had targeted fighters, not civilians. Of 400,000 people in Misurata, 257 died in two months of fighting. Out of 949 wounded, less than 3 percent were women. More likely than genocide was defeat for the rebels, the same rebels who warned Western media of the looming genocide, the same rebels who the New York Times said "feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda" and who were "making vastly inflated claims of [Gaddafi's] barbaric behavior." The result of NATO joining the war was probably more killing, not less. It certainly extended a war that looked likely to end soon with a victory for Gaddafi.
44. "Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed." No, the war was ending, and Libya IS engulfed in bloodshed. In March 2011, the African Union had a plan for peace in Libya but was prevented by NATO, through the creation of a "no fly" zone and the initiation of bombing, to travel to Libya to discuss it. In April, the African Union was able to discuss its plan with Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi, and he expressed his agreement. NATO, which had obtained a U.N. authorization to protect Libyans alleged to be in danger but no authorization to continue bombing the country or to overthrow the government, continued bombing the country and overthrowing the government.
45. [S]overeignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder." Says a man who reads through a list of potential murder victims on Tuesdays and ticks off the ones he wants murdered.
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
Today, President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations. Much of his talk concerned the current situation in Syria, but he also touched on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Yet even Mr. Obama’s pretty words and soaring oratory were unable to camouflage his extreme pro-Israel bias, as he spouted nonsense that he and his predecessors have all said before. A look at just a few of his statements is informative.
- “I’ve made it clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state.”
This apparently means that, unlike Syria, which isn’t allowed by the U.S. to use chemical weapons, the U.S.’s commitment to Israel is unconditional: Israel can commit the most shocking and brutal human rights violations, and the U.S. will still continue to give it billions of dollars every year.
Spectacle Actions Continue in Washington, DC to Expose Secret Trade Agreement; Fast Track Sought by Obama Administration
Washington, DC – A fourth day of action will take place today as energy builds to expose the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pressure Congress to vote “no” on granting Fast Track (Trade Promotion Authority) to the President. Fast Track would allow the President to negotiate and sign the TPP without Congressional hearings or amendments on the full content of the text and without full consideration of the impact the TPP will have on laws that protect consumers, workers and the environment.
Activists are also demanding that the text of the TPP be released to Congress, the media and the public. It is unprecedented that the text of a trade agreement is classified as secret and kept from the public. The TPP is the largest agreement since the World Trade Organization was created in the mid-1990s, and it has the potential, because of its docking agreement that allows more countries to join it, to grow larger. Leaked portions of the text raise concerns that the TPP is a rigged corporate trade deal that will undermine national sovereignty and place the public’s safety at risk.
As part of the Stop Fast Track Action Camp put together by the Flush the TPP campaign, actions started on Friday with a lively rally outside of the office of the US Trade Representative. On Sunday evening, the spectacle actions began when a light projection team shined messages on a government building saying “TPP Dismantles Democracy,” “Toxic for People and the Planet,” among others. See photos here: http://www.
Yesterday, eight activists scaled the office of the US Trade Representative and dropped four banners calling for democracy and transparency. See reports with photos and videos here: http://www.
Today, a lively, spectacle march will connect the institutions responsible for promoting trans-national corporate profits at the expense of real human suffering and death and destruction of the planet. Activists, with help from the Backbone Campaign, constructed a 32 foot “TPP Express” to illustrate the dangerous consequences of the TPP if it is passed in secrecy and without fully examining its impact on laws from the local to the national levels. The “Don’t Fast Track a Train Wreck” march will begin at Lafayette Park in front if the White House and end at the Capitol, among the stops along the route will be the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Trade Representative. A rally will be held at 11 ambefore departing in Lafayette Park. Activists will continue to pressure Congress and promise to escalate nonviolent direct action tactics as necessary to stop rigged corporate trade from continuing and succeed in gaining fair trade that puts the needs of people and the planet first.
Today, a lively, spectacle march will connect the institutions responsible for promoting trans-national corporate profits at the expense of real human suffering and death and destruction of the planet. Activists, with help from the Backbone Campaign, constructed a 32 foot “TPP Express” to illustrate the dangerous consequences of the TPP if it is passed in secrecy and without fully examining its impact on laws from the local to the national levels.
The “Don’t Fast Track a Train Wreck” march will begin at Lafayette Park in front if the White House and end at the Capitol, among the stops along the route will be the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Trade Representative. A rally will be held at 11 ambefore departing in Lafayette Park.
Activists will continue to pressure Congress and promise to escalate nonviolent direct action tactics as necessary to stop rigged corporate trade from continuing and succeed in gaining fair trade that puts the needs of people and the planet first.
By Norman Solomon
There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism -- and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.
Welcome to the Obama Justice Department.
While mouthing platitudes about respecting press freedom, the president has overseen methodical actions to undermine it. We should retire understated phrases like “chilling effect.” With the announcement from Obama’s Justice Department on Monday, the thermometer has dropped below freezing.
You could almost hear the slushy flow of public information turning to ice in the triumphant words of the U.S. attorney who led the investigation after being handpicked by Attorney General Eric Holder:
“This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information.”
Translation: This prosecution shows the depth of our contempt for civil liberties. Let this be a lesson to journalists and would-be leakers alike.
Audibly on the chopping block are provisions in the Bill of Rights such as “freedom … of the press” and “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Obama administration’s pernicious goal is to normalize circumstances where journalists can’t credibly promise confidentiality, and potential leakers don’t believe they can have it. The broader purpose is to destroy independent journalism -- which is to say, actual journalism -- which is to say, freedom of the press.
Impacts are crystal clear to just about any journalist who has done reporting that’s much more than stenographic services for official government and corporate sources. When unofficial sources are choked off, not much is left other than the Official Story.
The Official Story is routinely somewhere between very selective and mendacious. A case in point, ironically enough, is the Justice Department’s righteous announcement that the prison term for the leaker of information to The Associated Press reflected the Department’s “deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets.”
“Hold accountable anyone”? (Laugh, scream or cry; take your pick.)
Like others before it, the Obama administration has made a frequent practice of leaking classified “secrets” to media outlets -- when its calculus is that revealing those secrets will make the administration look good. Of course in those cases the Justice Department doesn’t bother to track down the leakers.
Such extreme hypocrisy in high places has become so normalized that major media outlets often seem completely inured to it.
Hours after the Justice Department’s announcement on Monday that its surveillance of AP phone records had resulted in a lengthy prison sentence, the PBS “NewsHour” did not devote a word to it. Perhaps the program could not find a few seconds to shave off the lengthy beach-ball interview that Judy Woodruff conducted with former President Clinton.
To the top echelons of quasi-journalistic enterprises that are bankrolled by corporate advertisers and underwriters, the disappearance of confidentiality -- along with routine violations of the First and Fourth Amendments -- might hardly matter. Official sources flood the media zone.
But the New York Times coverage should have given attentive readers indigestion over breakfast Tuesday: “A former F.B.I. agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year … Federal investigators said they were able to identify the man, Donald Sachtleben, a former bomb technician, as a suspect in the leak case only after secretly obtaining AP reporters’ phone logs, a move that set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress of both parties when it was disclosed in May.”
The Times added: “Sachtleben … has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak, the Justice Department said. His case is the eighth leak-related prosecution under the Obama administration. Only three such cases were prosecuted under all previous presidents.”
How did the Justice Department catch Sachtleben in the first place? By seizing records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period.
This is more than a chilling effect on the First Amendment; it’s an icy wind, threatening to put real freedom of the press into a deep freeze. Journalists -- and the rest of us -- should respond with outraged opposition.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
Secured inside a room you need a U.S. passport to enter is a modern arcade of war machines.
'It looks like a gamer’s paradise: A comfortable tan leather captain’s chair sits behind four computer monitors, an airplane joystick with a red “fire” button, a keyboard and throttle control.
The games here have great implications. Across the world, a $20 million Gray Eagle drone armed with four Hellfire missiles, ready to make a sortie into hostile territory is taking commands from a workstation like this one. A graduate from this room on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach could be in that other room in as little as six months with a master’s degree in drone warfare, his hand on the joystick, making $150,000 a year.
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
Which Aired Today, Monday, September 23rd, 7:00 AM at KPFK Archives:
It might take a few minutes to download. - KPFK 90.7 FM Radio - www.kpfk.org
Don't miss Marcy's incredibly right-on opening about the use of chemical
weapons by the United States over the decades.
Then hear Marcy interviewing David Swanson, author of "WAR IS A LIE" and
other books, talking about U.S. wars.
Marcy then talks with Dr. Michael Powelson, who is running for Congress
against Brad Sherman in the Valley as a member of the Green Party.
And finally Marcy talks with Jose Lara: www.votejoselara.com & Dr. Suzie
Abajian: www.suzieabajian.com - who are both running for local School
Marcy is so good she should have her own program on KPFK.
Addicted To War
In 2010 in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District, many people who prioritize peace over war probably voted for Democrat Tom Perriello over Republican Robert Hurt. I know many who did just that.
Here's what Congressman Hurt said on Tuesday about Syria:
"I have repeatedly stated ... that before the United States should commit any of its precious American lives or military resources to an attack on the Syrian regime, the President must articulate a compelling American national security interest that requires military action. I have attended classified briefings, and I have concluded that, at this time, the President has not demonstrated that a compelling national security interest is at stake. Because of this, I will not be able to support the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution should it come to a vote under current circumstances."
Meanwhile, former Congressman Perriello has advocated, with his colleagues at the Center for American Progress for the United States to "increase its assistance to the Syrian opposition with the goal of supporting an alternative opposition government that is better organized than at present." According to Perriello the U.S. has a "national security interest" in "preparing the groundwork for a political and economic transition to a new regime in Syria in the foreseeable future."
Perriello told The Atlantic: "Within that context, you have to look at a set of tactics. A lot of people seem to be dismissing the idea that there's any role for a surgical, strategic strike short of regime change. While I have advocated for a more aggressive posture that would potentially include regime transition, there is absolutely an argument for inflicting some cost to the regime for the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. ... And that I think you can do largely from the air without a lot of involvement on the ground. ... He knows if we intervene, his days are over, so part of what he’s doing, like a petulant child, is seeing how far he can push before we come in. Traditionally, the use of chemical and biological weapons, with very few exceptions, has been something you cannot do without invoking dramatic action. ... One of the reasons I came to the conclusion a year and a half ago that we needed to intervene is that both sides appear just strong enough not to lose." In the same interview Perriello refused to support the Constitutional requirement to take the question of war to Congress for its authorization.
Would Perriello resist a war if the president were a Republican? Would Hurt then support war? We can't know. But both have expressed their ideologies on war clearly and quite consistently thus far. Perriello voted for every war dollar that came before him while he was in Congress, including a 2009 "emergency" supplemental that included a bailout for bankers and barely passed. Perriello has written and spoken publicly hundreds of times of his support for war. Hurt has spoken and written a number of times now of his opposition.
I was part of groups of residents that met with Perriello to discuss his funding of war in Afghanistan. It was like talking to a brick wall. I was part of a group of residents who met with Hurt to discuss authorization for missile strikes or wider war in Syria. It was like talking to a human being.
Whoever the Democrats put up against Hurt in the next election might possibly be his superior on any number of issues. But check his or her position on war with a magnifying glass. Militarism swallows roughly half of federal discretionary spending every year, dwarfing any other expense. You can't be in favor of a trillion dollar military and in favor of schools or housing or anything else. The military is the main thing our government does. It matters whether we get it right, or whether we thoughtlessly get it backwards.
After decades US still has huge poison gas stash: Washington Demands Syria Destroy Chemical Weapons Lickety-Split
By Dave Lindorff
The US is demanding, in negotiations at the UN, that all Syrian chemical weapons, stocks and production facilities be eliminated by June 30 of next year. This has an element of hypocrisy, because the US itself has been incredibly slow about eliminating its own stocks of chemical weapons.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to Syria as having one of the largest chemical stockpiles in the world. But the US and Russia both still have stocks of chemicals many times as large. Syria’s neighbor Israel, which refuses to admit it has the weapons and has yet to ratify the treaty banning them, is suspected of also having a large arsenal.
In 2003 a 25 year old activist Malalai Joy stood up to the domination of warlords in her country Afghanistan. She began to work tirelessly on behalf Afghan women and ending the occupation of her country. In 2005, she became the youngest member of the Afghan parliament. She was suspended from Parliament in 2007 because she spoke out against warlords and war criminals. Meet Malalai October 4, 2013 @ 6:30pm Community Church of New York. 40 E. 35th St. NYC
by Debra Sweet The report from the United Nations seems to indicate a large amount of deadly gas was aimed at Syrian civilians on August 21. The U.S. has already concluded the gas came from the Assad government, and not the rebels. If that is true, by what authority does the U.S. claim the right to bomb Syrian civilians in the name of stopping chemical weapons? Or keep arming rebels in Syria or the military in Egypt?
Petraeus was the main keynoter at a gala fundraiser at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College on Tuesday evening, September 17th. The other keynote speaker was Fareed Zakaria, a foreign policy adviser to Obama who previously worked with Paul Wolfowitz to pave the way for war under Bush, demanding 400,000 troops for the invasion of Iraq.
Students, faculty and others protested outside.
See video at: http://youtu.be/UJcfNII6J5g
Remarks on September 21, 2013, at the Nashville Festival for Peace, Prosperity, and Planet.
Thank you to Elizabeth Barger and the Nashville Peace and Justice Center and to all of you, and happy International Day of Peace!
From a certain angle it doesn't look like a happy day of peace. The U.S. government is engaged in a major war in Afghanistan, dramatically escalated by the current U.S. president, who has been bizarrely given credit for ending it for so long now that a lot of people imagine it is ended. The same president goes through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays, picks which ones to have murdered, and has them murdered, often with missiles shot out of unmanned drones, drones that circle people's villages endlessly threatening immediate annihilation moment after moment for weeks on end, missiles that often miss their targets and often kill random people too close to their targets. The CIA with war powers. Secret military operations in dozens of nations. Expansion of U.S. troop presence in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Some 90 percent of the world's nations with U.S. troops in them. Prisoners force-fed in Guantanamo. Black sites. Iraq ruined without reparations. Libya thrown into anarchy without apology. Activists treated as enemies. Journalists treated as spies. Whistleblowers locked up in cages. Our Constitutional rights treated as dispensable. The United Nations used, abused, and circumvented. U.S. weapons provided to dictatorships and democracies around the globe. Tennessee's U.S. Senator Bob Corker going on television repeatedly for weeks to tell us that the United States is covertly aiding one side of a war in Syria. Does he not know what "covertly" means, or does he not know how television works?
But I believe that, despite all of that and much more, there is huge reason to celebrate a happy international day of peace. At most events where I speak there is a time for questions, and almost always there is someone whose question is really more of a speech to the effect that war opposition is delusional and hopeless; if the government wants a war, it gets a war -- so this person always tell us. Well, no more. From this day forward, that person's comments should be no match for the laughter that greets them, because we just prevented a war.
Congress members heard from many thousands of us, and what they heard was over 100-to-1 against attacking Syria. When it became clear that not even the Senate would authorize such an attack, talk shifted immediately from the inevitability of war to the desirability of avoiding war.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a war by handing over all the chemical weapons his government possessed. Russia quickly called that bluff and Syria agreed to it. Syria had tried in the past to negotiate a Middle East free of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, but the United States had been opposed, not wanting to stop arming Egypt and Israel.
Secretary Kerry, apparently panicked by the possible delay or prevention of missile strikes, put out a statement that he had only been making a "rhetorical argument," not a real proposal. But when the White House saw the writing on the wall in Congress, Kerry claimed to have meant his comment seriously after all. He was for his own idea after he'd been against it.
Of all the many ways in which John Kerry has tied himself in knots before, this is the first time he's had to do so because the people of this country and the world rejected a war. Remember when Kerry asked how you could ask someone to be the last man to die in the war on Vietnam? We have it in our power to reject the next war and the next war and the next war and make John Kerry the last man to have tried to sell us a dead idea.
War is a dead idea, an idea whose time has gone. The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. But the government isn't ready to announce that for us. That's why we need to celebrate this victory. And not just us at this festival. This was everybody. This was the people of Syria who spoke against an attack on their nation. This was the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who said don't do to others what you've already done to us. This was the people of the world and of Russia and of China who said you won't paint this crime as legal with our help. This was the people of Britain who moved their House of Commons to reject a prime minister's request for war for the first time since the surrender to the French and Americans at Yorktown. This was low and high ranking members of the U.S. military saying "We didn't sign up to fight for al Qaeda." This was government experts risking their careers and their freedom to say "If President Obama's excuse for a war happened, he's guessed it right, because the evidence doesn't establish it." This was the majority of the U.S. public telling pollsters, yes, we care about suffering children; send them food and medicine, don't make it worse by sending in missiles." This was the victory not of a moment but of a decade of cultural enlightenment. When you've got the Pope and Rush Limbaugh on your side you've built something very broad. Remember when they called resistance to war "The Vietnam Syndrome" as if it were a disease? What we've got now is the War on Terror Inoculation. This is health, not sickness. War is the health of the state, said a World War I resister. But war resistance is the health of the people. The people are the world's other super power.
So, yes, I say celebrate! Start seeing successes. Drone attacks are down dramatically. Environmental groups are beginning to oppose military base constructions. States are beginning to work on conversion of war industries to peaceful industries. Larry Summers has been denied a chance to do more economic damage.
Imagine the euphoria -- or don't imagine it, just remember it -- when this country elects a new president whose main redeeming feature is that he isn't the previous president. For personality fanatics that's big stuff. And there are big parties. For policy fanatics -- for those of us interested in seeing policies change rather than personalities -- that kind of moment is right now. The first step in overcoming an addiction, whether to war or alcohol, is recognizing that you have a problem. The second step is believing that you can shake it if you try. We've just taken the first two steps! The war addicts said Syria needed an intervention. We gave the war junkies an intervention instead. We pointed them toward the path of recovery and showed them a preview of what it will look like.
Now, if you don't want to celebrate because there's too much work to do, because Syria is in greater danger without its weapons (look what happened to Iraq and Libya), and because the pressure for war is still on, I can respect that. I'll be with you starting tomorrow. But it's hard to imagine we'll find the most effective strategy, much less motivate all the doom and gloomers to work their hardest, if we refuse to recognize when we've actually made progress, no matter how limited.
If you don't want to celebrate because you don't think public pressure made any impact and don't think it ever can, I've looked at enough of the recent history and distant history to say, with all due respect: I don't believe you. And if you believed yourself you wouldn't be here today.
Now, there is endless work to be done when we get back to it in the morning. Congressman Cooper was pretty noncommittal, I understand, as quite a few Congress members were. He kept an open mind. Maybe, just maybe, he must have thought, it makes sense to deescalate a war by escalating it, maybe these magic missiles with Raytheon pixie dust on them will kill only the people who really need killing while empowering fanatic heart-and-liver eaters who execute their prisoners to establish a secular democracy, and perhaps we really can uphold the norm against chemical weapons that our own nation violates with some regularity by blatantly violating the norm against attacking other countries with missiles, and maybe we'll enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention against a nation that never signed it by shredding the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact as long as we call ourselves "The International Community" and if we can't get France to help maybe Puerto Rico would count as a Coalition of the Willing, and perhaps, perhaps just maybe Assad really is out to get us and just might be a threat to Nashville, Tennessee, and if not isn't the only thing that really matters President Obama's manhood and the respect he can only maintain if he behaves like a sociopath? Some part of this must be roughly how undecided members of Congress looked at this thing. Senator Harry Reid said Syria was the return of the Nazis, and he himself looked just like Elmer Fudd warning of a dangerous wabbit, but maybe he was right, think our elected representatives. There is work to be done.
Republicans in Congress turned against war more than they might have with a Republican president. And some Democrats, including a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, cheered for war. The Black Caucus told its members to shut their mouths and not speak about Syria. But they didn't all listen. The leadership of the two parties pushed for war, and most members of both parties said No Way. That's something to build on. Anything that has happened is automatically acceptable and respectable, and in that category now is war rejection, regardless of who is president in the future.
Senator Corker thinks the United States has lost credibility. I think it's gained it. The United States claims to use war as a last resort. When an occasion finally arrives in which it doesn't use war as a first resort, that boosts the credibility of its claim. The U.S. justifies its wars with the word "democracy." When it listens to its people for once, it demonstrates democracy by example rather than by dropping cluster bombs or napalm or using those depleted uranium weapons giving the workers who make them cancer over in eastern Tennessee. The world was skeptical of the U.S. case for war because of past U.S. lies, not because of past U.S. failures to bomb people.
The threat to attack Syria is still on the table. If you listen to these people enough you really come to hate tables, by the way. The White House claims Syria has signed the Chemical Weapons Convention under threat of attack, even though any signing of any treaty under threat of attack is illegal and invalid. Meanwhile, if we wanted to find a stockpile of chemical weapons, there's 524 tons of poison gas at the Blue Grass Army Depot, just up the road toward Lexington, Kentucky, from here. The United States wants 10 more years to destroy that, although maybe it can go a little faster since John Kerry seems to think a week is more than enough time for Syria to destroy its stockpile. The Army spokesman in Kentucky says the delays there are a sign of democracy and public input. Our leading spreaders of democracy to the rest of the world, on the other hand, believe the most important consideration is that nothing ever be credited to diplomacy if it can be credited to violence. The U.S. has a stash five times the size of Kentucky's out in Colorado, where climate-induced floods and fires pose a danger of combining with the madness of militarism if we don't switch soon from preparing for wars to preparing for a sustainable existence -- If we don't start paying attention to Fukushima and global warming and keep laughing, as we have been, at the idea that Assad is going to kill us.
But, our government also has peculiar views about different types of weapons that I don't claim to understand. Chemical weapons are good, apparently, when the U.S. uses them on Iraqis, or Iraq uses them on Iranians, or Israel uses them on Palestinians, but they're bad if Iraq uses them on Iraqis or the Syrian government uses them on anyone -- although they aren't so bad if it is Syrian rebels using them. In cases of bad chemical weapons use, missiles could fix the problem. But with missiles you have to ask Congress. So, instead, you can fix the problem of people getting killed with chemicals by making sure that more of them get killed with guns. With guns, for some reason, you don't have to ask Congress. Senators can even chat on TV about what they're doing "covertly," and we're supposed to say "Oh, well that's OK then, as long as it's covertly."
Only . . . when people bleed and scream in agony and turn cold do they do it covertly? Because I think the entire operation needs to be done covertly, not just parts of it.
Maybe the problem is that we just don't think guns are weapons of mass destruction. Guns must be weapons of minimal destruction, I guess. Guns only kill 30,000 people in the United States each year, ten times the number of people killed on September 11, 2001. Imagine the size of the war we'd have started if someone had killed 30,000 people with airplanes. Would we have had to kill 10 million Iraqis instead of 1 million? But with guns, deaths are OK, and 60% of them don't really count because they're suicides.
Only . . . why are people desperate enough to kill themselves in the wealthiest nation on earth when we have a bigger military and more billionaires than any other society in the history of the world? Shouldn't that satisfy us? Anyone too dense to appreciate that great good fortune, well, at least we've made sure there's always a gun or two within easy reach.
I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not joking. We have a serious problem with acceptance of violence. This past Sunday night on "60 Minutes" John Miller of CBS News said, "I've spoken with intelligence analysts who have said an uncomfortable thing that has a ring of truth, which is: the longer this war in Syria goes on, in some sense the better off we are."
Now, why would that be uncomfortable, do you suppose? Could it be because encouraging huge numbers of violent deaths of human beings seems sociopathic?
The discomfort that Miller at least claims to feel is the gauge of our moral progress, I suppose, since June 23, 1941, when Harry Truman said, "If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."
On Monday, Time magazine's Aryn Baker published an articleunder the headline "Syria's Rebels Turn on One Another, and That's Not a Bad Thing." Baker's point wasn't that more would die this way, but that this would allow the U.S. to escalate the war (which of course would mean more dying).
Remember that President Obama's reasonfor wanting to attack Syria is to "confront actions that are violating our common humanity." How is it that support for mass killing rarely seems to violate our common humanity if it's that other 96 percent of humanity getting killed, and especially if it's this 4 percent doing it? Why is the excuse to kill more people always that people are being killed, while we never starve people to prevent them from starving or rape people to protect them from rape?
The uncomfortable "60 Minutes" interviewer addressed his remarks to a former CIA officer who replied by disagreeing. He claimed to want the war to end. But how would he end it? By arming and aiding one side, just enough and not too much -- which would supposedly result in peace negotiations, albeit with a risk of major escalation. While nobody ever extends peace in order to generate war, people are constantly investing in war in the name of peace.
As this man may be very well aware, arming one side in this war will encourage that side's viciousness and encourage the other side to arm itself further as well. But suppose it were actually true that you could deescalate a war by escalating a war. Why are the large number of people who would be killed in the process unworthy of consideration?
We've seen lawyers tell Congressional committees that killing people with drones is either murder or perfectly fine, depending on whether Obama's secret memos say the killings are part of a war. But why is killing people acceptable in a war? We've just watched public pressure deny Obama missile strikes on Syria. Those strikes were optional. Had they happened that would have been a choice, not an inevitability. What of the immorality involved?
The best news is that we're beginning to feel uncomfortable. We're even feeling uncomfortable enough to doubt the tales we're told about justifications for wars. The fact is that, were the White House telling the truth about the need for an attack on Syria, it would be a first in history. Every other case for war has always been dishonest.
The United States sought out war with Mexico, not the reverse. There was never any evidence that Spain sank the Maine. The Philippines didn't benefit from U.S. occupation. The Lusitania was known to be carrying troops and arms. The Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened. Iraq didn't take any babies out of incubators. The Taliban was willing to turn bin Laden over to be tried in a neutral court. Libya wasn't about to kill everyone in Benghazi. And so on.
Even wars that people like to imagine as justified, such as World War II, were nonetheless packaged in lies; FDR's tales about the Greer and the Kearney and supposed secret Nazi maps and plans were a step on the steady trajectory from Woodrow Wilson to Karl Rove.
The idea that Syria used chemical weapons is more plausible than the idea that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical, biological, and (in some versions) nuclear weapons and was working with al Qaeda. But the evidence offered in the case of Syria was no stronger than that for Iraq. It was harder to disprove merely because there was nothing to it: no documentation, no sources, and until the UN report came out, no science. Congress members who have seen the classified version of the White House case say it's no better than the declassified. Experts within the government and reporters in Syria who have seen more than that say they don't believe the White House's claims.
The assertions masquerading as a case come packaged in dishonest claims about the make-up of the rebels, and how quickly Syria gave access to inspectors. And the claims are written in a manner to suggest far greater knowledge and certainty than they actually assert on careful examination. The latest claims follow a series of failed claims over a period of months and stand to benefit a Syrian opposition that has been found repeatedly to be manufacturing false propaganda aimed at bringing the United States into the war. It seems, at this point, unlikely that the Assad government used chemical weapons (as opposed to the rebels or someone in the Syrian military defying Assad by using them), but it seems certain that if Assad did it, Obama and Kerry don't know that -- they've only guessed it at best. It also seems certain that escalating the war makes everyone worse off regardless of who used chemical weapons. Attacking Iraq would have been immoral, illegal, and catastrophic (and probably more so) if all the weapons stories had been true.
Then there are the depictions of Assad as a threat to the United States, at which moments President Obama has almost begun to sound like his predecessor. But, as he came on stage second, nobody believed him. Assad is guilty of horrible crimes, but he's not yet-another new Hitler. There's a cute story about Assad from 11 years ago this week that some of us may have forgotten. A Canadian man named Maher Arar had been born in Syria. U.S. officials nabbed him for the crime of switching planes in New York City. They interrogated him for weeks, denying him access to a lawyer or to the Canadian government. They asked Arar to go to Syria, and he refused. So they stuck him on a CIA plane, flew him to Jordan, beat him for 8 hours, and then delivered him to the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad. President Assad's government beat and whipped Arar for 18 hours a day for weeks, asking him similar questions to those the Americans had asked. For 10 months he was kept in a 3 by 6 by 7 foot underground cell, then released with no charges. Four years later, the Canadian government, which had done nothing, apologized to and compensated Arar. Former CIA case officer Bob Baer said, "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt."
The Syrian government is, like any government the United States wants to attack, a brutal government that the United States worked with until recently, situated in a region full of brutal governments the United States still supports. In this case, the brutal governments still armed and supported by the U.S. government include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Yemen. If the US. government wanted to reduce violence, it could end its 2001-begun war on Afghanistan, it could end its drone strikes, and it could stop supplying Saudi Arabia with cluster bombs and Egypt with tear gas and Bahrain with ex-police chiefs. Wars are not driven by generosity, despite what you'll often -- and increasingly -- hear.
Syria needs humanitarian aid, not weapons that threaten the good aid work being done by Americans among others. The Iraqi Student Project was bringing Iraqis to study in U.S. colleges. Its office was in Syria, where many Iraqi refugees had fled from the U.S. liberation. Now that office is closed, and Syria has its own refugee crisis to rival Iraq's. Our government should be urging both sides to stop providing arms, to agree to a ceasefire, and to open negotiations without preconditions. Syria has needed help for years, but our government tends to wait until missiles look like a proper solution to get serious about solving a problem.
Syria's crisis was brought on in part by climate induced drought and water shortage. The solution of sending in missiles (blocked for now) or of sending in guns (underway as we speak) misses that source of the problem and in fact exacerbates it. The U.S. military is our greatest consumer of petroleum, which it consumes in the course of fighting wars and occupying countries to control petroleum. The roughly $1 trillion spent by the United States and roughly $1 trillion spent by the rest of the world on militarism every year could coat the planet with sustainable green energy sources beyond the wildest imaginings of those sources' proponents.
As long as we continue to view war as an acceptable institution, serious reductions in the military will be impeded by the desire to win wars when they happen. Instead of reduced war making, we need war abolition. 180 million people died in wars in the 20th century. Enough is enough. War has not brought security. War endangers us rather than protecting us. War has failed as a tool for ending war. War is draining our economies, eroding our civil liberties, devastating our natural environment, and stealing resources away from critical human and environmental needs. Nonviolent tools have proven themselves more effective and less costly than war. War's unpredictability and existing weaponry including nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction threaten our very existence, while the reallocation of resources away from war promises a world whose advantages are beyond easy imagination. We could even stop paying farmers not to farm and start paying weapons makers not to make weapons while they convert their factories to begin making something useful. Cutting $40 billion from food stamps will kill more people than spending it for a few months of occupying Afghanistan will kill.
Anti-war sentiment, at least in some key parts of the world, is at a high point now, relative to other moments in recent decades. We need to direct that sentiment into a movement for abolition. Resisting each new war is not enough. We must be for peace and by peace we must mean, first and foremost, the elimination of the institution of war. We're all fond of saying that peace is more than just the absence of war. True enough. And freedom is more than just the absence of chains. But first you had to abolish slavery. Then new possibilities opened up. So, today I'm not going to say, "No Justice, No Peace." Today I say, "With No Peace, There Is No Justice." Stop the wars. End the slaughter. Dismantle the weapons. Abolish the military. Build a sustainable peaceful prosperous world. Make this point in time a turning point. Thank you for being here. Happy International Day of Peace!
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.
Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.
Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.
The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.
Why is this so serious?
We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse.
Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool.Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.
Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific. Fresh reports show that Tepco has just dumped another thousand tons of contaminated liquids into the sea ( http://www.alternet.org/
The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four.
More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.
Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.
Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children.
The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible.
Just prior to the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air.
Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.
Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.
According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged.
The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to 100% perfection.
Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us.
Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries.
Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”
Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers.
We have two months or less to act.
For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.
The clock is ticking. The hand of global nuclear disaster is painfully close to midnight.
Harvey Wasserman is Senior Editor of the Columbus Free Press and www.frepress.org, where this was originally published. He edits www.nukefree.org. where the petition for global intervention at Fukushima is linked.