The Pope will speak to Congress on Thursday. No other institution on earth does more to destroy the habitability of the planet for future generations. Will the Pope raise his concerns with them or only when he's thousands of miles away?
No other institution sells and gives as many weapons to the world, participates in as many wars, or invests remotely as much in planning, provoking, and pursuing war after war. Will the Pope speak up for abolishing war in the U.S. Capitol or only when he's nowhere near the leading maker of war on earth?
As Nicolas Davies documents in a forthcoming article, when the U.S. has reduced military spending, the world has followed. When it has increased, the world has followed. The Pope wants nuclear weapons eliminated. Will he mention that to the leading investor in nuclear weapons?
Occasionally a particular variety of horror serves to catch people's attention. The boy in the photo at right has been sentenced to be crucified. His crime was participation in a pro-democracy rally. Now he will have done to him what the Pope's religion says was done to Jesus Christ. He won't be smiling blissfully like a Christ on a crucifix either. He will suffer immense pain and torment, and then die.
Who would do this? Why, Saudi Arabia, of course. And who is Saudi Arabia's chief ally, weapons provider, and oil customer? Why, the United States Congress.
Is it possible that this particular murder can arouse action among all of those moral leaders in the United States so desirous of being followers that they're focusing all attention on the Pope?
And if this murder can attract attention, what about all the others? During the course of a brutal civil war in Syria in which all sides have slaughtered numerous innocents with all variety of weaponry, we've been advised at certain points to be indignant over the use of chemical weapons or beheadings. But we don't seem to have managed to carry that over to the full range of murder going on.
Saudi Arabia is dropping bombs, including U.S.-made cluster bombs, on Yemen, slaughtering children by the hundreds. Saudi Arabia is brutalizing the people of Bahrain, not to mention the people of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabians are funding ISIS and other murderers in the region. Are all of these murders acceptable even if the crucifixion isn't? Or can we seize this opportunity to build opposition to all murder? Or might we if the Pope mentions it to Congress?
On Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee brought in David Petraeus to testify yet again on how to escalate more wars. Petraeus recently proposed arming al Qaeda. Senator John McCain gave Petraeus credit on Tuesday for extending the Iraq war from 2007 to 2011. Petraeus noted that the whole region is in horrible turmoil. Nobody made any connection between the U.S. wars on Iraq and Libya that have created that turmoil and the results. Nobody questioned the wisdom of using more war to try to repair the damage of war.
Well, a few of us did. The wonderful CodePink was there as always. I was there with a sign that said "Arm al Qaeda? Reagan tried that."
The mad men who run the U.S. government have reached the point of re-arming the enemies of enemies whose blowback first drove them to radically escalate the global murder of innocent people in the name of opposing terrorism while increasing it.
The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance had an answer to this on Tuesday, taking a protest of endless war and environmental destruction to the gate of the White House.
The Secret Service arrested the people in the photo below rather than accept a letter from them articulating their opposition to policies of massive cruelty to the earth and its inhabitants.
The Pope has the opportunity to speak that same message to Congress and to the U.S. corporate media. Will he use it?
Editor Note: In modern times, the Catholic Church has made excuses for unjustifiable wars even as it has made abortion a cardinal sin, a hypocrisy that will be tested as Pope Francis visits the United States, a country immersed in all the immorality that comes from warfare, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
Pope Francis could use his visit to the U.S. this week to make unmistakably clear that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the “sanctity of life” applies to more than just the first nine months of gestation.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
As the world celebrates the International Day of Peace and marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign strongly condemn the forceful passage in the Diet of security legislation that breaches Japan’s peace constitution and allows its Self-Defense Forces to use force overseas.
Article 9 is the famous peace clause by which the Japanese people aspires to an international peace based on justice and order, renounces war and prohibits the use of force as means of settling international disputes. Adopted following WWII, Article 9 is a pledge to Japan itself and to the world, particularly to neighboring countries that suffered under Japanese invasions and colonial rule, to never repeat its mistakes. Since then, Article 9 has been widely recognized as a regional and international peace mechanism that has contributed to maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia and served as a legal framework to promote peace, disarmament and sustainability.
The adoption of new security legislation is the latest of a long series of initiatives that challenge Japan’s longstanding peace policies. Such measures include re-interpreting Article 9, increasing the country’s military budget and relaxing the long-held arms export ban. Indeed, the bills codifies the Cabinet’s contentious decision to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and expand Japan’s security role around the world, under Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s pet-doctrine of “pro-active pacifism”. It also puts the newly revised guidelines on Japan-U.S. defense cooperation into effect, granting the U.S. increased Japanese support in its military strategy not only in Asia but also in other parts of the world.
In Japan, the bills face broad opposition in the Diet and amongst the public, as shown by successive opinion polls and massive public protests, many of which organized by students and youth throughout Japan. Most of Japan’s constitutional scholars (including former Prime Ministers, high-rank Cabinet officials and Supreme Court judges) deem the bills unconstitutional and the way they have been pushed through a worrisome deviation from the rule of law. At the regional level, the legislation has been met with anxiety from Japan’s neighbors that consider the move a threat to regional peace and security in Asia.
On this International Day of Peace, Peace Boat and the Global Article 9 Campaign
- Condemn in strongest terms the adoption of the security bills that fundamentally violate the principles and letter of war-renouncing Article 9;
- Decry the way by which the legislation was passed, in disregard for Japan’s legal procedure and democratic process;
- Express utmost concerns at the possible repercussions the legislation will have on the region, and ask Japan and other countries in the region to refrain from any actions that would accelerate arms race and destabilize peace and stability in Northeast Asia;
- Support Japan’s civil society efforts to prevent the legislation from being implemented and Article 9 to be further eroded;
- And call on people around the world to support Japan’s vibrant mobilization towards the revocation of the bills, the preservation of Japan’s democracy and pacific values, and the safeguard of Article 9 as a regional and global peace mechanism.
Download the full statement at goo.gl/zFqZgO
** Please sign our petition "Save Japan Peace Constitution"
Global Article 9 Campaign
When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons.
But the NPT—which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970—has two kinds of provisions. The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability. The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons. Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Khury Petersen-Smith is an activist who lives in Boston. He traveled to Gaza in 2009 as part of the Viva Palestina medical relief delegation. He also traveled to Iraq on a peace delegation in 2004. His organizing and writing focus particularly on Black liberation, Palestine solidarity, and U.S. empire. He was an organizer of a new statement of black solidarity with Palestine: www.blackforpalestine.com
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DRONES KILL CHILDREN -- DRONES FLY, CHILDREN DIE
The United Nations General Assembly has declared today, September 21, 2015, an International World Day of Peace. As we stand here at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, its “hunter/killer” MQ9 Reaper drone arrogantly patrols Afghan skies 24/7 -- killing innocent children there and likely elsewhere.
We U.S. citizens and taxpayers look on with horror at the millions of refugees fleeing airborne terror and are shamed by our unconsented complicity. Too many drone victims are precious and beloved children. We bring their images and their silenced voices to Hancock today.
By Kathy Kelly
#Enough! Fatima needs food and proper medical care, not war!
Kabul—Some days ago, at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center, I met Jamila, the mother of a little girl, Fatima, who comes to the Street Kids School, a program designed to help children working on the streets go to school. Jamila, a young mother of seven, smiles and laughs easily, even though she faces dire circumstances here in Kabul.
Nine years ago, at age 19, she fled escalating conflict in Pul e Khumri, located in the northern province of Baghlan, and moved to Kabul. Jamila had already been married for 12 years.
Her family, desperate for income, had sold her in marriage to an older man when she was seven years old. As a child, she lived in servitude to the family of her future husband, earning a small income for them through sewing and embroidering.
At age 13, She gave birth to her oldest daughter . With her when we met were two of her middle daughters, Fatima and Nozuko. Her oldest daughter is no longer with her, as, at age 12, she was given away, six years ago now, in marriage. Jamila is determined not to give her remaining daughters away in marriage while they are still children.
One and a half years ago, Fatima, then aged 9, developed a fever which lasted for about a month. All four of her limbs became paralyzed. In a hospital at Wazir Akbar Khan, doctors said she was 10 minutes away from death. They treated her for typhoid meningitis and hospitalized her. After a month, the doctors said she was not ready for discharge, but Jamila had other children to take care of and had already incurred huge debt. The doctors made her sign a form saying they were not responsible if Fatima died. They said Jamila must continue with twice-a-day injections of strong antibiotics.
After being discharged from the hospital, Fatima continued receiving the injections for a year and a half until, one day, about three months ago, Jamila abruptly stopped giving Fatima the injections. When Fatima developed a fever, Jamila became panicky again.
Fatima finally ended up in a private hospital whose initial tests cost 3,000 Afghanis (about $50 U.S. dollars). Jamila begged loans from her sister, her uncle and her cousins to pay for the lab tests.
Doctors told Jamila that Fatima needed the injections because the typhoid bacteria were in her blood.
At this point, Jamila, facing a debt of 140,000 Afghanis (about $2333 U.S. dollars ), finds it hard to sleep, worrying for Fatima and her other children. How will she pay her debts? How can she buy flour to make bread so that the children have something to eat?
Her only means of income is through washing clothes. The people she washes clothes for say times are hard, and they don’t have any income themselves. They have only paid her twice over the past two months, once in the form of some meat and rice.
Fatima in her mud house compound, with Ali,
an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment
Jamila met the Afghan Peace Volunteers when Hadisa and Abdulhai visited her home in April this year as part of a survey designed to identify children who could participate in the Street Kids School. When Ali, a volunteer teacher at the Street Kids School, learned about Fatima’s illness, he introduced Jamila to Hakim, the mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Hakim is a medical doctor from Singapore. Since 2004, when he first began working in Afghanistan, Hakim has recognized that the country’s health care system is riddled by pervasively corrupt practices. Appalled by the massive doses of antibiotics prescribed for Fatima, Hakim recommended a stool sample analysis which could be done through the lab of a local hospital. The lab report showed that Fatima no longer needed the antibiotics, that her medical condition was normal.
The medical system in Afghanistan failed to help Jamila and Fatima. Lack of oversight allowed corrupt doctors and pharmacists to over-prescribe antibiotics, and Jamila had nowhere to turn for a second opinion or for any assistance. Greedy predators, purportedly delivering health care, have steadily taken money from desperate people, like Jamila, in payment for useless or even murderous treatments.
Jamila and Fatima clearly trust Hakim. They both looked relieved as he emphatically encouraged the mother and daughter to overcome fears about Fatima’s health. He told Fatima that she can become strong and stay healthy by drinking clean water and having a healthy diet, including her favorite dishes of beans and chick peas. But Jamila faces another tragic health problem - she can’t even afford flour for bread, let alone nutritious but costly beans for her children.
The World Food Programme recently reported an alarming rise in food insecurity, across Afghanistan.
The U.S. pours billions of dollars into surveying Afghanistan, flying Predator drones over cities, towns and roadways, claiming to better understand “patterns of life” in Afghanistan. But the war system establishes tragic patterns of death, of poverty, misinformation, desperate insecurity, and continued despair. If she could flee her circumstances, Jamila surely would seek refuge elsewhere in the world. But she has nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide from Predators near and far.
Young people gathering at the Afghan Peace Volunteer’s Borderfree Center long to embrace innumerable people afflicted by war who share Jamila’s seemingly insoluble problems. Thoughtfully, carefully, they’ve designed a campaign that they call #Enough! – a simple yet compelling call to abolish wars and instead work to meet human needs. We asked Jamila if she thought her problems were connected to war. “Yes,| she said. “War leads to poverty and because of that poverty I have had so many problems. I hope the war will end so that I can find enough food.”
photo credit: Dr. Hakim
By Dr Hakim
Hadisa, a bright 18 year old Afghan girl, ranks as the top student in her 12th grade class. “The question is,” she wondered, “are human beings capable of abolishing war?”
Like Hadisa, I had my doubts about whether human nature could have the capacity to abolish war. For years, I had presumed that war is sometimes necessary to control ‘terrorists’, and based on that presumption, it didn’t make sense to abolish it. Yet my heart went out to Hadisa when I imagined her in a future riddled with intractable violence.
Hadisa tilted her head slightly in deep thought. She listened attentively to different opinions voiced by fellow Afghan Peace Volunteers. She struggles to find answers.
But when Hadisa turns up at the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids School every Friday to teach the child breadwinners, now numbering 100 in morning and afternoon classes, she lays aside her doubts.
I can see her apply her inner compassion which rises way above the war that is still raging in Afghanistan.
Hadisa, like 99% of human beings, and the more than 60 million refugees fleeing from military and economic wars, usually chooses peaceful, constructive action rather than violence.
“Dear students,“ Hadisa says, “In this school, we wish to build a world without war for you.”
Her street kid students enjoy Hadisa’s teaching. What’s more, away from the rough and unpredictable streets of Kabul, they find the space at the school affirming, safe and different.
Fatima, one of Hadisa’s students, participated in the very first street kids’ demonstration in Kabul demanding a school for 100 street kids. In subsequent actions, she helped plant trees and bury toy weapons. In another two days, on the 21st of September, the International day of Peace, she will be one of 100 street kids who will serve a lunch meal to 100 Afghan labourers.
“In place of war,” Fatima learnt, “we will do acts of kindness.”
This action will launch #Enough!, a long-term campaign and movement initiated by the Afghan Peace Volunteers to abolish war.
Wow! What practical learning!
If the street kids were taught erroneous ways, and became ‘terrorists’, would the solution be to eventually ‘target and kill’ them?
I couldn’t bear to think of it, and am more and more convinced, like Hadisa and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, that killing those labelled ‘terrorists’ by waging war against them doesn’t work.
War and weapons don’t heal the root causes of ‘terrorism’. If our brother or sister was violent, we wouldn’t think of killing them to reform them.
I was in the class when the question was first posed to the street kids: “To whom would you wish to serve a meal?” Hands went up like love and hope blooming for the new Afghan generation, and Habib, an older street kid who was Hadisa’s student last year, echoed along with many others, “The labourers!”
I felt immensely moved, having seen a definite glimmer of our human capacity to care for others, rather than exercise hate, discrimination, indifference or apathy.
Yesterday, Habib helped his volunteer teacher, Ali, to invite labourers to the meal on the 21st. As I filmed and photographed Habib taking down the names of Afghan men much older than him, I felt renewed faith in our human ability to do good, and a warm, tender feeling overwhelmed me.
With people like Hadisa, Fatima, Habib and the many wonderful young Afghans I’ve met, I know that we can abolish war.
For their sake and the sake of human kind, we should work together with much patience, and all of our love.
In 1955, after two world wars and the loss of at least 96 million people, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein wrote a Manifesto, saying, “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”
After finishing the invitations, as we were walking along the very streets where Habib used to take the weight of pedestrians to earn some income for his family, I asked him, “Why do you want to end war?’
He replied, “Ten persons killed here, ten persons killed there. What’s the point? Soon, there’s a massacre, and gradually a world war.”
Dr Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.
SOWING THE SEEDS OF HOPE: FROM CONGRESS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Join us at an event organized by the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Part of a week of actions with Campaign Nonviolence.
Meet in cafeteria in Longworth House Office Building at 9:00 am.
Together we will go to Paul Ryan's office at about 10:00 am.
Bring packets of seeds and photos or news articles of issues you would like to address i.e. war, climate crisis, poverty, institutionalized violence etc.
Leave Ryan's office around 11:00 or 11:15.
Take public transportation to Edward R. Murrow Park – 1800 block of Pennsylvania Ave. NW
12:00 Noon RALLY AT THE PARK
We will proceed together from the park to the White House.
We'll hear speakers at the White House, read a letter sent to Obama, and some will protest even at risk of arrest but others need not do so.
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1681885392045454/
Today, every day, we wake up, and we want to live differently, because the status quo stinks! :) Join the Afghan Peace Volunteers and street kids, Zarghuna, Muheb, Barath, Mursal, Inam, Deeba and Zahra, to say #Enough!
100 Afghan street kids, including Muqadisa in the photo, will cook and serve a meal for 100 Afghan labourers to launch #Enough! on 21st Sept, the International Day of Peace. Beautiful! Why do the elite know only ugly violence and ugly war? #Enough!
We want to abolish war, and we need you! So, we hope that you and your friends can:
- Sign ‘The People’s Agreement to Abolish War’ at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com. You’ll be generating the critical mass of friends needed to build a world without war.
- Get together with one or more friends to serve a vulnerable person/persons in your vicinity. Energies and resources invested in wars will instead be redirected toward meeting human needs. Register your local solidarity action at http://enough.ourjourneytosmile.com/wordpress/solidarity-actions
- Give one another hope and be in solidarity by writing a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a selfie, a photo of friends with ‘#Enough!’ written on the palms of your hands, or a captioned photo of your solidarity action.
Love and thanks,
Hakim with the Afghan Peace Volunteers
We were both experiencing the Sixties, Captain Kirk and I. Admittedly, I was still in the 1960s and the captain was somewhere in the 2260s.
Bombast, insults, shallow courtesy, authentic unkindness, corporate donations, lavish spending, rancorous debates: When observing presidential candidates, do you feel you're witnessing the best democracy has to offer? Ideal human qualities? Or just the opposite?
In the United States it's hard to imagine admiring an attorney general. The words call to mind people like Eric Holder, Michael Mukasey, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Janet Reno, and Edwin Meese. There were those who fantasized that Barack Obama would not prevent an attorney general from prosecuting top officials for torture, but the idea of a U.S. attorney general prosecuting a U.S. president for war/genocide doesn't even enter the realm of fantasy (in part, because Americans don't even think of what the U.S. military does in the Middle East in those terms).
For a lesson in daring to imagine equality before the law, we can turn our eyes toward Guatemala. Here's a country suffering under the Monroe Doctrine since the dawn of time, a place where the United States engaged in human experimentation giving syphilis to unwitting victims during the time that U.S. lawyers were prosecuting Nazis in Nuremberg. Guatemala had a relatively decent government in 1954 when the CIA overthrew it. U.S. destruction has been unremitting in Guatemala, with the U.S. government backing dictators, killers, and torturers, including during the 1980s and 1990s, a period from which Guatemala is still trying to recover.
A new film called Burden of Peace tells the story of Claudia Paz y Paz, Attorney General of Guatemala from December 9, 2010 to May 17, 2014. Paz y Paz had a poster of Robert Kennedy on her wall during her time as attorney general, herself finding something admirable in a U.S. holder of that same office. Kennedy's actual record was quite mixed, of course. Paz y Paz became attorney general following a long period of unaccountable crime, understood impunity, and rampant corruption.
"Where there were massacres there are now power plants," says one voice in the film. "Where there were massacres there are now mines." People had been killed in large numbers for money, and those responsible would be protected from prosecution as well.
A 1996 peace agreement did not end violence in Guatemala. The government remained corrupt, with killers still holding positions of power.
It's interesting to imagine what would happen if a true reformer were made president or attorney general in the United States, while their staff and colleagues and Congress and the courts and the system of bribery and lobbying remained unchanged. It will be fun to watch Jeremy Corbyn try to take on the British Parliament. We have an example of how this works from Guatemala.
In Burden of Peace we see Claudia Paz y Paz meeting with an office of attorneys in a northen province that had solved zero murder cases and prosecuted almost no one. She insists on change. And she gets it. For over three years she achieves big increases in prosecutions and convictions, including of gang members, including of police officers.
This law-and-order heroism should appeal to Americans if they can overlook the fact that the United States helped cause the problem. I have a mixed reaction. I can't be totally thrilled watching a SWAT team arrest gang members. This is not truth and reconciliation, but force and degradation. And yet I recognize that in a state of lawless violence it will be difficult to address other problems and solutions unless the violence is addressed first. Paz y Paz, in fact, reduced crime rates as solved murdered cases increased from 5% to 30%.
She had previously worked on the first big investigation of crimes committed during the civil war in Guatemala, which accused top military and political leaders, inlcuding the head of state, of genocide. Bishop Juan José Gerardi presented the report to the public and was murdered the next day. You see a big crowd taking part in his funeral in footage included in the film.
In her second year as AG, Paz y Paz reopened the investigation of war crimes. Soon she would issue warrants for the arrest of Oscar Mejia Victores, former Secretary of "Defense," for genocide. But because of his age and health, he was not tried.
Paz y Paz continued to increase law enforcement, as Otto Perez Molina, a former military official, was elected president. Business elites wanted Paz y Paz not to prosecute military members. In fact they wanted her removed from office. But she held a four-year term and refused to leave early.
During the dictatorship of Rios Montt, Mayans had been murdered in large numbers. He was not held accountable. He enjoyed immunity as president of Congress until 2012. Then Paz y Paz prosecuted him for genocide. In Burden of Peace we see the trial, including survivors recounting the horrors of soldiers killing and raping, as the accused sits and listens.
His lawyers declare the trial illegal and rise and leave, leaving him sitting there alone. The trial is suspended, then reconvened with new lawyers. The elderly Montt is convicted and sentenced to decades in prison. We see the people of Guatemala celebrating.
And then a higher court overturns the sentence, and people protest to no avail. But Montt spends only one day in prison, and the rightwingers acquire a taste for blood. They pursue Paz y Paz. Seeking to block her from completing her fourth year in office, they charge her with abuse of power (although they publicly focus on accusing her of being a Marxist). The same court that overturned the sentence for Montt removes Paz y Paz from office.
She appeals, and we see a crowd cheering her at the appeal. She tries to run for reelection, and a court denies her that right. It's over. She is out of office, and we see her staff as well as the public cheer for her, tearfully, as she departs, fleeing the country with her husband and son because she will no longer have security guards.
This is a true story that ends in May of 2014, crying out for a sequel. But earlier this month, Molina was forced to resign as president, after prosecutors accused him of running a scheme to defraud the customs service of millions of dollars, and Congress stripped him of immunity from prosecution. This was a first in Central America, as was much of what Claudia Paz y Paz did. It begins to appear that she was part of a change in the culture of Guatemalan governance, that the idea of holding the powerful to account has actually caught on.
Perhaps she will return to Guatemala one day. Perhaps peace will return to Guatemala one day.
Imagine if the United States were to leave Guatemala alone and try following its example in the U.S. Justice Department.
Analysis: The Russian involvement in Syria could work in favor of U.S. national interests by fighting Islamic terrorists and restoring stability, a prerequisite for a political settlement - Consortiumnews
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
In the United States it is considered fashionable to maintain a steadfast ignorance of rejected peace offers, and to believe that all the wars launched by the U.S. government are matters of "last resort." Our schools still don't teach that Spain wanted the matter of the Maine to go to international arbitration, that Japan wanted peace before Hiroshima, that the Soviet Union proposed peace negotiations before the Korean War, or that the U.S. sabotaged peace proposals for Vietnam from the Vietnamese, the Soviets, and the French. When a Spanish newspaper reported that Saddam Hussein had offered to leave Iraq before the 2003 invasion, U.S. media took little interest. When British media reported that the Taliban was willing to have Osama bin Laden put on trial before the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. journalists yawned. Iran's 2003 offer to negotiate ending its nuclear energy program wasn't mentioned much during this year's debate over an agreement with Iran -- which was itself nearly rejected as an impediment to war.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that the former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, who had been involved in negotiations in 2012, said that in 2012 Russia had proposed a process of peace settlement between the Syrian government and its opponents that would have included President Bashar al-Assad stepping down. But, according to Ahtisaari, the United States was so confident that Assad would soon be violently overthrown that it rejected the proposal.
The catastrophic Syrian civil war since 2012 has followed U.S. adherence to actual U.S. policy in which peaceful compromise is usually the last resort. Does the U.S. government believe violence tends to produce better results? The record shows otherwise. More likely it believes that violence will lead to greater U.S.-control, while satisfying the war industry. The record on the first part of that is mixed at best.
Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000 Wesley Clark claims that in 2001, Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld put out a memo proposing to take over seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. The basic outline of this plan was confirmed by none other than former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in 2010 pinned it on former Vice President Dick Cheney:
"Cheney wanted forcible 'regime change' in all Middle Eastern countries that he considered hostile to U.S. interests, according to Blair. 'He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it — Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.,' Blair wrote. 'In other words, he [Cheney] thought the world had to be made anew, and that after 11 September, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.'"
U.S. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks trace U.S. efforts in Syria to undermine the government back to at least 2006. In 2013, the White House went public with plans to lob some unspecified number of missiles into Syria, which was in the midst of a horrible civil war already fueled in part by U.S. arms and training camps, as well as by wealthy U.S. allies in the region and fighters emerging from other U.S.-created disasters in the region.
The excuse for the missiles was an alleged killing of civilians, including children, with chemical weapons -- a crime that President Barack Obama claimed to have certain proof had been committed by the Syrian government. Watch the videos of the dead children, the President said, and support that horror or support my missile strikes. Those were the only choices, supposedly. It wasn't a soft sell, but it wasn't a powerful or successful one either.
The "proof" of responsibility for that use of chemical weapons fell apart, and public opposition to what we later learned would have been a massive bombing campaign succeeded. Public opposition succeeded without knowing about the rejected proposal for peace of 2012. But it succeeded without follow-through. No new effort was made for peace, and the U.S. went right ahead inching its way into the war with trainers and weapons and drones.
In January 2015, a scholarly study found that the U.S. public believes that whenever the U.S. government proposes a war, it has already exhausted all other possibilities. When a sample group was asked if they supported a particular war, and a second group was asked if they supported that particular war after being told that all alternatives were no good, and a third group was asked if they supported that war even though there were good alternatives, the first two groups registered the same level of support, while support for war dropped off significantly in the third group. This led the researchers to the conclusion that if alternatives are not mentioned, people don't assume they exist — rather, people assume they've already been tried. So, if you mention that there is a serious alternative, the game is up. You'll have to get your war on later.
Based on the record of past wars, engaged in and avoided, as it dribbles out in the years that follow, the general assumption should always be that peace has been carefully avoided at every turn.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Editor Note: Torture defenders are back on the offensive publishing a book by ex-CIA leaders rebutting a Senate report that denounced the brutal tactics as illegal, inhumane and ineffective. Now, in a memo to President Obama, other U.S. intelligence veterans are siding with the Senate findings and repudiating the torture apologists.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Veteran Intelligence Professionals Challenge CIA’s “Rebuttal” on Torture
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: This morning we have a special offer for you. TomDispatch regular David Vine will send any of you willing to donate $100 (or more) to this website a signed, personalized copy of his groundbreaking new book, <
There is much being written about the refugee crisis in Europe at the moment but none of what I have read explains why the problem is occurring and what will need to be done for the problem to be addressed.
On Monday, September 21st, millions of people around the world will honor and celebrate the International Day of Peace, established in 1981 by the United Nations. At the same time streams of refugees are fleeing areas of conflict around the world, especially from the wars in the Middle East. People honor peace, people see the need for peace, but wars rage on.
For Peace Day this year, we will learn about and honor efforts by some champions of peace who work to bridge the divides of enmity that fuel conflicts and wars. We will also hold a “Be the Peace” meditation in concert with thousands of similar meditations around the world. We will do all this in the Social Hall at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist, 117 Rugby Road in Charlottesville. Our program will follow this schedule:
- 6:00 gather in the Social Hall
- 6:15 begin the “Be the Peace” meditation
- 6:45 close the meditation with a musical interlude provided by Heena Reiter
- 7:00 begin a panel conversation on Bridging the Divides of Enmity
- 8:30 conclude the event
Our panel will include:
Roy Hange who serves as co-pastor of the Charlottesville Mennonite Church and has worked with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Roy has spent many years in the Middle East and has extensive knowledge of the conflicts in that region.
Mary Reed who has worked to help AIDs victims in Rwanda, currently co-leads a program to help rebuild rural education in Cambodia, and resides most of the time at Thosamling, a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in northern India.
Carroll Houle who, as a priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers of the Catholic Church, served in Tanzania for 21 years, in Kenya for 17 years, and at the United Nations in New York for 5 years.
Our panelists will share insights from their experiences. Everyone attending can do the same, all in hope of strengthening our vision of a more just and peaceful world. This event is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Cooperation Circle of Central Virginia and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn't favor "only the smart wars" or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism. He was over here in Washington recently trying to get a Brit freed from Guantanamo. He chairs the Stop the War Coalition, one of the biggest peace organizations in Britain. He meets with foreign peace activists, like me, who can't even enter the same worldview, much less the same room, with any U.S. leaders.
When Corbyn and I both spoke at a peace event in London four years ago, he was introduced by Andrew Murray as working in Parliament with "a pack of war lords." Corbyn agreed: Parliament is made up of war lords and war criminals, he remarked.
Corbyn at that point credited the Stop the War Coalition with having helped to prevent an attack on Iran in recent years, just as I believed the US peace movement deserved credit, and does so again this year.
Corbyn called the idea that more time was needed to finish a job in Afghanistan a "load of tosh." He also pointed out that the two sides fighting in Libya could exchange parts for their rifles, because they both had rifles provided by Britain.
Corbyn doesn't just call war criminals "war criminals." He intends to see them prosecuted, including Tony Blair, whom Corbyn wants to see face charges for the 2003 attack on Iraq, which Corbyn of course opposed.
Corbyn doesn't just oppose militarism rhetorically. He wants to shut it down. He opposes the Trident nuclear boondoggle and intends to withdraw the UK from NATO. What other NATO members might follow the UK's lead?
Corbyn doesn't just express nice sentiments about a distant future without nuclear weapons. He advocates unilateral disarmament by the UK, in compliance with the non-proliferation treaty.
Corbyn doesn't just muse about non-military solutions in Syria but seeks to find them and to prevent military action that makes crises worse. He plans to halt British airstrikes from planes or drones in Syria. He also mentions the uncomfortable topic of "some of our supposed allies in the region" providing weapons and funding to ISIS -- and proposes to cut that off rather than fueling the fire with more weapons and attacks.
Corbyn is even opposed to the steady buildup of hostility toward Russia, and faults NATO for expanding and the West for creating the crisis in Ukraine. He doesn't excuse actual misdeeds by Russia, but faults U.S. and European aggression and hypocrisy.
And, though this may be difficult for Americans to imagine, Corbyn opposes the mass slaughter of Palestinians by Israel.
Hours after being elected leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn spoke on Saturday at a huge pro-refugee rally in Parliament Square, and blamed the refugee crisis on its cause, declaring that he would not support the past policy of rushing about the world launching wars.
Americans have come to believe that politicians who support, promote, tolerate, or fund wars can be "war critics" by proposing various tweaks to the war machine.
Bernie Sanders focuses on money issues, taxing the rich, spending on the poor, but has thus far been permitted to engage in the general practice of speaking only about the 46% of federal discretionary spending that it not military. Nobody has asked him about the 54% that by the calculation of National Priorities Project is military. Nobody has asked him if Eisenhower was right that military spending produces wars. Here are 25,000 people who want to know whether and how much Sanders would want to cut military spending.
Sanders is silent on the public support for two, not one, great sources of revenue: taxing the rich (which he's all over) and cutting the military (which he avoids). When he is asked about wars and says Saudi Arabia should pay for and lead them, nobody has followed up by asking whether the wars are themselves good or not or how the theocratic murderous regime in Saudi Arabia which openly seeks to overthrow other governments and is dropping US cluster bombs on Yemen will transform the wars into forces for good. Since when is THAT "socialism"?
If you go to Bernie's website and click on ISSUES and search for foreign policy it's just not there. In the United States, candidates for high office are permitted to just be silent on how much they'd cut the military, even within a range of $100 billion. Does Sanders, or do any of the other candidates, favor $45 billion in more free weapons for Israel paid for by the U.S. public whom Sanders usually wants to spare lesser expenses than that? Who knows.
Jeremy Corbyn just won leadership of the Labour Party by promoting socialism at home and abroad. What are we yanks afraid of?
Apartheid law enforcement in the US: Standing While Black in New York Can Get You Attacked by NYPD Thugs
By Dave Lindorff
If tennis great James Blake had done the obvious thing and resisted being tackled by an apparent thug on a New York sidewalk who didn’t identify himself as a cop before attacking him, he would probably be dead today like Eric Garner, or at least seriously injured or tased.
By Tom H. Hastings
Everyone knows that diplomacy is the weakest way to deal with insurgencies and civil wars, tough sanctions are next, and if you really want to end a civil war, sorry, you need the military.
Well, everyone thinks that.
OK, not everyone.
Turns out, that order of effectiveness is precisely backward. Three political scientists conducted a historical metastudy of all the movements for self-determination that looked like or actually became civil wars between 1960-2005 that resulted in resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.
The outcomes were clear. Using the UN troops had almost no effect on stopping civil war. Sanctions were better, but diplomatic initiatives succeeded far more often than either of the other approaches.
Is this always true? Of course not, but if you want to go with your best bet to prevent wars, trot out the Ban Ki-Moonies and his coterie of helpers. We in the US generally ignore or chuckle at a Kofi Annan, or a Boutrus Boutrus-Ghali. Ineffectual wimps! Send in the Marines.
Another myth bites the dust.
Think about the cost/benefit matrix. What if we would have sent then-US Secretary of State James Baker or perhaps then-UN Secretary General Javier Pèrez de Cuèllar to deal with Saddam Hussein in August of 1990 instead of instantly mobilizing to go to war? That was a made-for-diplomacy moment that could have avoided 383 US dead, 467 US wounded, $102 billion in US expenses and the lowest estimates are about 20,000 Iraqis killed, half of them civilians. Instead, George Bush the Elder first suckerpunched Saddam by the April Glaspie bumble, giving Saddam a US green light to invade Kuwait and then instantly declaiming “This will not stand,” beginning the buildup and then attacking. All very likely completely avoidable.
This is one of the least costly US wars, in blood and treasure. What if diplomacy could have prevented even one war? Isn’t that worth a very serious effort indeed? Are human lives and the massive energy/money/resource costs worth some serious effort by diplomats, by mediators, by professional interlocutors? In my field of Conflict Transformation we always believe that, and the research is increasingly proving our methods are vastly superior (unless you are a war profiteer, an elite class of people who help shape the media message that we don’t have a clue, that talk is weak, and that only bombing and invading works).
Am I dissenting from US war policy? Yes, I’d say so, and that makes me a traitor and a lawful target for a drone attack, according to a West Point law professor. Should I warn my housemates? Wait—he only says legal scholars who dissent are legitimate targets. I’m a peace and nonviolence scholar, so my dissent isn’t yet qualified as targetable, apparently, or perhaps he simply assumes that activist scholars like me have been lawful targets all along.
I should probably inquire to see if I can get a little help from the UN on this one. My chances would be improved, at least according to the science.
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.