By Winslow Myers
If we had a nickel for everyone who has muttered some variation on “I worry about Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear button,” we could finance an anti-Trump Super-PAC.
Obviously the temperament of the leader of any nuclear nation matters deeply. But there will be moments when it matters not whether the leader is sober and restrained, because the action will be elsewhere, further down the chain of military command and control. Thousands of military personnel around the world have access to nuclear weapons. We are told that battlefield commanders of the Pakistani army deployed in Kashmir are free to unleash their tactical nukes without the command and control of their political leaders.
One of the lesser-known pivotal moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred on a Soviet submarine deep beneath the Atlantic. From an article in the Guardian, October 2012: “In late October, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the decision to sidestep WWIII was taken, not in the Kremlin or the White House, but in the control room of a Soviet submarine under attack by the US fleet. The submarine’s batteries were failing, air conditioning was crippled, communication with Moscow was impossible, and Savitsky, the captain of the ship, was convinced that WWIII had already broken out. He ordered the B-59's ten kiloton nuclear torpedo to be prepared for firing against the USS Randolf, the giant aircraft carrier leading the task force. The launch of the B-59's torpedo (2/3 the power of Hiroshima) required the consent of all three senior officers aboard. Vasili Arkhipov, one of the three, was alone in refusing permission. It is certain that Arkhipov's reputation was a key factor in the control room debate. The previous year the young officer, son of peasant farmers near Moscow, had exposed himself to severe radiation in order to save K-19, a submarine with an overheating reactor. That radiation dose eventually contributed to his death in 1998. What saved us was not only Arkhipov’s clear-headedness under great stress, but the established procedures of the Soviet navy, which were respected by the officers aboard the B-59.”
How bizarre, this barely acknowledged truth: we all owe our lives to one ethical Russian man, a man already sick unto death with nuclear radiation.
After Eight Years of Protest of Construction of Naval Base, Gangjeong Villagers Sued by South Korean Navy
The South Korean Navy filed a civil lawsuit against 116 individual anti-base protesters and 5 groups including the Gangjeong Village Association demanding $3 million in compensation for alleged construction delays caused by protests over the past 8 years.
In one of the longest, strongest protests against more military bases in our world, the villagers of Gangjeong, Jeju Island, South Korea have achieved international recognition of their spiritual and corporal resistance and persistence in trying to preserve unique natural features of their community, the Gureombi Rocks.
Samsung was the primary contractor for the $1 BILLION dollar project and who filed a lawsuit against the government for slow down of work caused by the protests!! Samsung's profit margin was impacted by the protests!
Villagers are very angry about the lawsuit that if upheld would bankrupt everyone named. To show its displeasure to the Navy, the village moved its City Hall to a tent on the main road across from the entrance to the base. The Vice-Mayor holds city meetings in the tent and sleeps there!
Lawyers for the activists wrote that the navy's lawsuit is "an unjustified declaration of war against the people. When the reckless development of the state and large construction companies threaten the right of citizens to a peaceful existence, the right of citizens to oppose this must be guaranteed as their natural and constitutional right since sovereignty rests with the people. To condemn this action as illegal is to delegitimize the foundation of democracy!!"
To buy off public support for the $1 BILLON dollar unnecessary naval base, the South Korean government built a huge sports complex for the use by the local community. The facilities are located on the upper part of the area condemned for the naval base. The area has a track and field sports stadium, a 50 meter indoor swimming pool, indoor gymnasium, library, computer center, two restaurants, a 7/11 convenience store and a hotel on the top floor.
Photo by Ann Wright
Villagers commented that major sports facilities were built in the nearby city of Segiwopo and have been used by them for years. They say that these facilities will not make up for the loss of the cultural and spiritual areas dynamited and concreted forever!
That's why the protests continue at Gangjeong Village!!!
100 Bows Morning Vigil
Every morning for the past 8 years, at 7am, rain, snow or good weather, Gangjeong Village activists reflect through 100 bows to the universe on their lives of activism for a peaceful world while confronting the war machine at one of its gates.
Photo by Ann Wright
The thoughts represented in 100 Bows span all religions and spiritual traditions. A few of
the thoughts include:
1. While holding in my heart that truth gives freedom to life I make my first bow.
7. As I hold in my heart that possessions create other possessions and wars only give birth to other wars and cannot solve problems I make my seventh bow.
12. As I hold in my heart that the way to life-peace is to accept the world's pain as my own pain I make my twelfth bow.
55. As I resolve to let go of chauvinistic nationalism which makes other countries insecure, I make my fifty fifth bow.
56. As I resolve to let go of the superiority of my religion which makes other faiths insecure, I make my fifty sixth bow.
Photo by Ann Wright
Human Chain Noon Vigil
One day I was at Gangjeong Village this week we endured a cold wind and rain for the noon time "Human Chain" at the entrance of the Naval Base at Gangjeong Village. The winds were fierce--the southern coast is known for its very strong winds and one of the reasons why many were perplexed that the naval base was proposed for an area of the island where high winds and high seas are most frequent around the island.
Photo by Ann Wright
Other days I've been here, the weather was nice for the singing and dancing in the roadway to remind the South Korean Navy that the opposition to the construction of the naval base has not ended, despite the construction being complete. The great spirit continues to challenge the navy base and militarism with the noon dance. For those who have visited Gangjeong, both events and the sounds remain with us--as we remember that each day dedicated activists in Gangjeong Village continue the struggle against militarism.
While I was in Gangjeong Village, the South Korean Navy had "Navy Week on Jeju Island." Navy weeks are designed as a public relations event to get favorable public opinion. Most activists would not have been allowed on the navy base even if they had wanted to go--which they did not want to do. I wanted to see where the massive amount of concrete poured into the area had gone--so I produced my passport and I and another recent arrival were passed onto the base. We saw Aegis missile destroyer ships, helicopters, landing craft and demonstrations of martial arts.
But the most important thing we saw was what we think is the only remaining part of Gureombi Rock. Behind the first building on the left side of the main road past the entrance gate, is a small lake with one side of what appears to be a very small piece of the Gureombi Rock!!! The other side of the lake is composed of rock fill, but the northern side seems to be original rock.
The coastline surrounding Gangjeong Village consisted of one contiguous volcanic rock called Gureombi which was a 1.2 kilometer-long rock formed by lava flowing into the sea and rocks rising from the seabed. The estuary informed in this area was Jeju Island’s only rocky wetland and acted as home to several endangered species and soft coral reefs.
Photo by Ann Wright
In 1991, the Jeju Provincial government designated the coastline surrounding Gangjeong Village an Absolute Conservation Area (ACA). In 2002, the area where the naval base construction is currently ongoing was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Conservation Area. In December 2009, Jeju Island Governor Kim Tae-hwan nullified the ACA designation to proceed with the naval base construction. The Jeju Branch of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movements have criticized the Navy’s Environmental Impact Assessment noting that several endangered species are absent from the report.
During its recent archeological excavation of the Gangjeong coastal area the Jeju Cultural Heritage Research Institute discovered artifacts dating back to 4-2 B.C.E. inside the naval base construction zone. According to the director of the Korean Cultural Heritage Policy Research Institute only 10 – 20% of the site was dug up during construction violating the cultural properties protection law.
At a talk that I gave two days later, many from the village discussed how to ensure that the tiny portion of Gureombi Rock remains in tact and continues its cultural and spiritual ties to Gangjeong Village.
I mentioned that in some military bases in the United States, there are plaques to remind us of those who lived there before the U.S. government took over their lands.
And even in the family housing area on the naval base, there are two murals that represent the indigenous peoples.
Photo by Ann Wright
We hope that some type of mural will be created on the naval base depicting the importance of Gureombi Rocks so that hopefully the remaining rocks will not be blown up or concreted over!
How do anti-war, peace activists in Gangjeong village support themselves?? Some work in the Peace Farm Cooperative! One rainy morning Joan of Ark took us to two peace cooperative farms. The first was in the protected, covered greenhouse where they grow corn and beans-I asked how big the greenhouse was and she said 800 pyeongs-apparently a word indicating how big a grave should be-the length of a person's body!--An interesting way of measuring!
Photo by Ann Wright
Then we went out of the village to their second farm in a ......cemetery--or actually next to a cemetery where they grow corn and peanuts. The grass in the cemetery is allowed to grow over the gravestones and once a year a family may come to clear out the area around the gravestone. After 30 years, the family may have the ashes removed to another place.
Currie, an activist from the US, mentioned that in the US, some people want to be buried in a natural area where grass and weeds are allowed to grow, not in a formal cemetery.
Customers buy produce online from the Peace Cooperative!!
St. Francis Peace Center
The St. Francis Peace Center in Gangjeong Village has a remarkable history. In the 1970s, Father Mun was jailed for his protests during the military dictatorship and 30 years later he was awarded compensation for wrongful arrest and years in jail. With the compensation money, he purchased land overlooking the pale where the naval base was to be constructed. The Bishop of Jeju Island decided to help build a peace center on the land--and now a wonderful place for those working for peace and social justice is in Gangjeong Village!! It is a beautiful building with a 4th floor viewing area so the eyes of the peace house can alert the community to what the war machine is doing!
About the Author: Ann Wright is a 29 veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the US government in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience."
By Linn Washington, Jr.
When Donald Trump announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in June 2015 he unleashed a tirade against illegal immigrants from Mexico, libeling most of those immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”
By Ann Wright,
Remarks at Women Against Military Violence Symposium, Naha, Okinawa
Even within what Dr. King called the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, there used to be one constituency you could count on to speak up for world peace: beauty contestants.
No more. And the switch has produced no scandal. Last year, when Miss Italy said she wished she could live during World War II, survivors of that worst ever horror that humanity has inflicted on itself, and other people of normal intelligence in Italy, were scandalized.
But when a soon-to-be Miss USA recently praised the U.S. military as a member of it, as a participant in it, despite the world's view that the U.S. military is the greatest threat to peace in the world, the U.S. media adored this new development.
This is a 180 degree reversal of the traditional stance of beauty contestants, who had endlessly said they favored world peace. But of course it's framed as something else entirely. With war totally and amorally normalized, a female (and African-American) member of the military, even a beauty contestant, is interpreted as a symbol of enlightened progress, along the lines of the current neoliberal push to force every young woman to register for the draft.
Miss USA joined the military at age 17, the Washington Post tells us in passing, something illegal under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty ratified by every single nation on earth except the United States.
For those interested in the draft question, I refer you to my handy guide on "How to Oppose the Draft for Women and Not Be Sexist."
You think this is all tongue-in-cheek and war's not been normalized? Go ahead and name the seven nations where the United States is at war right now, the seven that the current U.S. president has bragged about having bombed.
Can't do it? O.K., well, surely you can explain which of the seven wars are justified and legal and which are not?
No? Or perchance you were outraged and raised objections and organized protests when a presidential debate moderator asked a candidate if he would be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of his basic duties if elected?
What? You didn't? Well, maybe you grew concerned when announcers of a televised sporting event (any major U.S. sporting event) thanked U.S. troops for watching from 175 countries? Surely, you got out the list of 175 and asked someone to explain what U.S. troops were doing there.
No? You didn't? Did you read about kindergarten teachers pushing militarism? Did you know that Starbucks says choosing not to have a store at Guantanamo would constitute a political statement, while having one there is just normal? Did you know that the United Nations now says war is the norm rather than the exception? The United Nations!
The University of Virginia's magazine has an article in its summer 2016 issue praising and interviewing an alumnus named Robert Neller who is commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. The big focus? The super progressive step of recruiting women into greater participation in wars. But did UVA ask about any of the numerous disastrous wars the United States has been waging? About the troops now fighting on the ground in five nations?
Actually, toward the end of the interview, the interviewer Dianna Cahn (who, like the interviewee, also works for the U.S. military, at its propaganda magazine Stars and Stripes) asked something about the U.S. troops dying in Iraq and Afghanistan (nothing about the 95-plus percent of the deaths in those wars/genocides that are Iraqi and Afghan). She asked something (she doesn't print the questions) about the futility of fighting over and repeatedly winning and losing the same bits of ground in someone else's country. Neller said this in response:
"Somebody asked me that when I left Iraq nine years ago . . . 'What would you tell the families?' I was really tired. I got all emotional and I said. 'I'd tell them they did their duty.' I hated that answer because it sounded just so inadequate."
Inadequate? I was going to say fascistic. Never mind, Neller has a new answer:
"What I really wish I'd said was, 'Imagine we lived in a country where if people were called to go do something like this nobody would stand up. Imagine if there were not men and women who would pick up the challenge and go to a faraway land to help somebody live a better life. That would be terrible.'"
Terrible? Imagining and working to achieve such a thing is what keeps me going every day. And not just me. The majority of people in the United States have told pollsters that the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq should never have been started. (And of course they didn't help people "live a better life" and were not even ever marketed on that basis.) Well, here's one way we could have kept those wars from being started: everyone asked to go could have refused.
Of course, a majority of those who join the U.S. military say a major reason was the lack of other educational or career prospects. But the majority of those who like the idea of the United States being able to attack faraway people at will have no interest in actually being in the U.S. military themselves; yet they have their whole identity wrapped up in the fantasy of going to war from the comfort of their own couch. Watch this video from the National Rifle Association urging people to buy lots of guns and shoot lots of stuff while fantasizing about attacking Iran.
In a Gallup poll, 44 percent of people in the United States say they "would" fight in a war. What's stopping them? Fortunately, they do not mean it. Now, try imagining a country in which most people said "Hell no, I would never fight in a war." Or don't imagine it; look at that same poll: In Italy, where even beauty queens are held to a certain standard, 68 percent of Italians polled said they would NOT fight for their country. In Germany 62 percent said they would not. In the Czech Republic, 64 percent would not fight for their country. In the Netherlands, 64 percent would not. In Japan only 10 percent would fight in a war for their country.
Let's work toward emulating those nations.
And let's restore, in this season of lesser evils, inane speeches in bikinis about wishing for peace on earth.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
America’s party-line corporate media: The Democratic Primary Race Has Been Called Before 15% of the Country Votes
By Dave Lindorff
Reading the papers and listening to the radio about the Democratic primary race, which is reaching its climax tomorrow in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota, I’m having a powerful sense of deja vu harking back to my years living and working as a journalist in China in the 1990s.
By Bill Moyer
Hillary Clinton and her DNC status-quo flunkies ignore the reality that both the Donald Trump and the Bernie Sanders candidacies make clear. The United States is entering a thus-far nonviolent populist rebellion against a corrupt-to-the-core oligarchy. In this paradigmatic battle between the common good and the greedy corporate elite, it would be a catastrophic failure for Americans to allow the populist mantle of a Political Revolution to be carried and defined by the hateful demagogue Donald Trump. Currently, Sanders is the only figure in a position to carry that positive populist banner to victory.
Regardless of how much lipstick is slapped on an establishment pig, come November (and beyond) millions of people are going to choose change. Depending upon their options, they will either vote for a challenger to the status quo who best reflects there complaints and aspirations, or they will choose not to vote at all. So, despite Clinton’s recent shift in tone and her gradual, disingenuous and unbelievable makeover on the issues, her candidacy could never stand in for Sanders.
Indistinguishable from the oligarchy against which people are rebelling, Clinton is a doomed candidate. A Clinton candidacy actually increases the possibility of a Trump victory, which would merely strengthen the quasi-fascist oligarchy with a populist thuggery, reducing the rebellion to its most base reptilian cruelties (and I apologize to the reptiles). Even if elected, Clinton is doomed to be a divisive and impotent president in service to the oligarchy she represents. So, whether the current populist uprising entrenches or dismantles the oligarchy could be impacted by who U.S. voters get to choose from on the ballot this November. Our best hope requires that Bernie Sanders to be among the choices.
The existential crisis I hear journalists refer to in the Republican Party is at least as profound for the Democrats. The disillusionment and outrage of Sanders supporters due to a clearly far-from-democratic Democratic party is warranted and inevitable. The Democrats have been chronic whiners when it comes to progressive third party "spoilers," but when independent Bernie Sanders offers them the opportunity for redemption from within, the insiders, including the “superdelegates” squander it. In doing so, they secure their status as impediments to progress.
After so many years of abuse and betrayal, Democrat party requests for progressives to “fall in line” with “Anybody But
Bush Trump” make me want to vomit. The press celebrates and inflates the value of the meaningless party platform committee seats thrown as bones to Sanders’ people in order to placate them. This too is laughable to anyone who has played that game before. Progressive platform plank goose chases and Change We Can Believe In rhetoric may reflect our collective aspirations and hopes, but they are pure bait and manipulations. Those collective aspirations and core values have been consistently served up to a war-mongering, planet-poisoning transnational greed machine in exchange for gerrymandered power; payoffs to fund farcical campaigns in elections that resemble auctions; and revolving doors into the promised land of obscene wealth and privilege.
With prominent plutocrat Charles Koch considering a vote for Hillary Clinton, the damage has already been done. It was self-inflicted by the Clinton camp long ago, so they have no one to blame but themselves for being irrelevant to We the People so urgently calling for and engaging in a nonviolent Political Revolution. Yet another Clinton presidency would merely confirm the DNC’s irrelevance to progressives, the change they seek, and the broader uprising they are part of. A Hillary Clinton nomination would demand a strong progressive challenger who is convincingly presidential.
An independent Sanders run is then not only desirable, but necessary. Sanders is our only hope right now for executive leadership in the tearing down of the corporatist DNC/RNC duopoly. If not on the Democrat ticket, an Independent Bernie Sanders is one of very few options for preserving the positive populist uprising and the progressive aspirations of a Political Revolution. For only Bernie Sanders can deliver victory against both Hillary the Corporatist and Donald the Demagogue.
Islamophobia has become a significant factor driving politics in many western countries.
Islamophobia – fear of Muslims – is now highly visible among European populations concerned about terrorist responses from Islamic groups claiming Jihadi links. However, it is also evident among those same populations in relation to the refugee flow from the Middle East. In addition, Islamophobia is highly evident among sectors of the US population during the presidential race. It is a significant issue in Australia. Outside the West, even the (Muslim) Rohingya in Burma are feared by Buddhist monks and others.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
In the early 1980s almost nobody from the United States traveled to the Soviet Union or vice versa. The Soviets wouldn't let anybody out, and good Americans were disinclined to visit the Evil Empire. But a woman in California named Sharon Tennison took the threat of nuclear war with the seriousness it deserved and still deserves. She got a group of friends together and asked the Russian consulate for permission to visit Russia, make friends, and learn.
Russia said fine. The U.S. government, in the form of the FBI and USAID, told them not to go, warned that they would not be permitted to move freely once there, and generally communicated that they, the U.S. government employees, had internalized their own propaganda. Tennison and company went anyway, had a wonderful experience, and spoke at events with slide shows upon their return, thus attracting many more people for the next trip.
Now it was Tennison's turn to brief the flabbergasted and ignorant U.S. government staff who had virtually no actual knowledge of Russia beyond what she gave them. This was back in the day when President Ronald "Is this a film or reality?" Reagan said that 20 million dead Americans would be acceptable in a war. Yet the so-called intelligence so-called community didn't know its assets from its elbows. War as a "last resort" was being considered without having considered literally any other resorts. Someone had to step in, and Sharon Tennison decided she'd try.
Those first trips took courage, to defy the U.S. government, and to operate in a Soviet Union still monitored by a nasty KGB. But the Americans went with friendship, were generally permitted to go wherever they wanted, and encountered friendship in return. They also encountered knowledge of cultural differences, the influences of history, political and social habits both admirable and lamentable. They became, in fact, a bridge between two worlds, experts on each for the other.
They expanded their work as Gorbachev came to power and the USSR opened up. They hired staff and opened offices in both countries. They sponsored and facilitated all variety of exchanges from art schools to Rotary clubs to police officers to environmentalists. They began bringing Russians to the United States as well as the reverse. They spoke all over the United States, even -- in some examples Tennison gives in her book The Power of Impossible Ideas -- converting gung-ho members of the U.S. weapons industry into volunteers and staff (in one case a man lost his job at General Dynamics as penalty for associating with them, but this freed him to more closely associate).
Most Hillary Clinton supporters, including Hillary, mostly spend their time talking about Trump, not Clinton, not Sanders, not what should be done in the U.S. government. But they don't try to articulate a defense for this practice. A couple of obvious reasons (which they would not want to articulate) come to mind: (1) Hillary is incredibly unpopular, (2) Talking about Trump fuels the pretense that the primary is over.
Thomas "suck on this" Friedman, as FAIR points out, has blurted out his reasons for not talking about Hillary. It turns out that she lies. But we should ignore those lies because they're no big deal. Here's Suckon in his own words:
"Hillary’s fibs or lack of candor are all about bad judgments she made on issues that will not impact the future of either my family or my country. Private email servers? Cattle futures? Goldman Sachs lectures? All really stupid, but my kids will not be harmed by those poor calls. Debate where she came out on Iraq and Libya, if you will, but those were considered judgment calls, and if you disagree don't vote for her."
You heard him, kids. If you disagree with any of the Bush/Cheney lies that destroyed Iraq, killed a million people, created ISIS, and wasted trillions of dollars, then don't vote for her. To refresh any lagging memories, here is a video of Hillary parroting each of those lies as she proudly votes for the war. Oddly, although this crime has no impact on Suckon's family or country, Hillary claims in this video that it impacts the "security" of the United States. Indeed, it did just that, fueling anti-U.S. sentiment and violence ever since.
Remember 2006, when the U.S. public elected Democrats to end that war? The Democrats escalated it instead, with Rahm Emanuel explaining that this was so they could run "against" it again in 2008. But Hillary, who pushed for escalation before Bush did, lied that escalating the war was the way to end it. In fact, it was just a way to escalate the suffering. But Obama used the same lies about the Iraq surge to later triple the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, with Hillary pushing for even more.
Remember Hillary's push to overthrow Qadaffi in 2011? The lies about a planned massacre? The lies about Viagra-fueled mass rapes? The lie that a UN authorization to rescue unthreatened people also authorized an overthrow? The giggling lie that sodomizing and murdering Qadaffi with a knife was a delight? The lie that the CIA was not funneling weapons from Libya to terrorists in Syria? How's Suckon's family and country doing? Because many families have suffered and many more will, and the United States has made itself still more hated.
What about Hillary's lies about coups in Honduras and Ukraine? Her lies about Russian aggression? Her labeling of Putin as "Hitler"? What about the lies about who shot down an airplane in Ukraine? The lies about who used chemical weapons in Syria? The lies about a mountaintop rescue of people not wanting to be rescued? The lies about Iran's nonexistent nuclear weapons program (and accompanying threat to "obliterate" Iran)? What about Hillary's claim that Obama should have bombed Syria (and put ISIS in control?) in 2013? What about her plan for a "no fly" or "safe"(!) zone on the theory that someday ISIS might develop the airplane? What about her consistent support for every racist lie coming out of Netanyahu's mouth? Or how about her waiving restrictions at the State Department on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all states wise enough to donate to the Clinton Foundation, but in each case a waiver based on the lie that said nation was not abusing human rights?
Hillary has backed the lie that presidents can legally wage war without Congress since she was First Lady, if not earlier. Does Suckon really think putting such a person into the White House will do no damage to our families or countries? Of course not. He favors the damage. He believes destroying Iraq was a good thing to do. Don't believe me? Watch him say so.
"If you disagree don't vote for her."
By Jackie Smith and Alfredo Lopez
(The following article was co-written by Dr. Jackie Smith -- of the International Network of Scholar Activsts -- and TCBH member Alfredo Lopez. It is being published here and in other places.)
Thanks to Mark Binder, Programmer, “Yesterday’s Dead Today”, Mondays 7-9 p.m. Eastern, WSLR Sarasota Low-Power FM Community Radio 96.5, www.wslr.org
Learning From Egyptian Revolution
What if people in the United States came to understand "revolution" as something more than a campaign slogan in a presidential election campaign?
Ahmed Salah's new book, You Are Under Arrest for Master Minding the Egyptian Revolution (a Memoir), early on characterizes its own title as an exaggeration, but over the course of the book works to substantiate it. Salah was indeed as involved as anyone in building public momentum in Egypt over a period of years, culminating in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, though all of his accounts of in-fighting among various activist groups necessarily have other accounts from each individual involved.
Of course, master minding a revolution is not like master minding a construction project. It's much more of a gamble, working to prepare people to act effectively when and if a moment arises in which people are willing to act -- and then working to build on that action so that the next round is still more effective. Being able to create those moments is itself more like trying to control the weather, and I think must remain so until new democratic forms of media become truly mass media.
Salah starts his story of movement building with the enormous criminal action that for the first time in many years inspired people in Cairo to risk taking to the streets in protest: the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003. By protesting a U.S. crime, people could also protest their own corrupt government's complicity in it. They could inspire each other to believe something could be done about a government that had held Egyptians in fear and shame for decades.
In 2004, Egyptian activists, including Salah, created the Kefaya! (Enough!) movement. But they struggled to exercise the right to publicly demonstrate (without being beaten or imprisoned). Again, George W. Bush came to the rescue. His lies about Iraqi weapons had collapsed, and he'd begun spouting a bunch of nonsense about war bringing democracy to the Middle East. That rhetoric, and communications from the U.S. State Department, actually influenced the Egyptian government to exercise a bit of restraint in its oppressive brutality. Also riding to the rescue were new means of communicating, in particular satellite television channels like Al Jazeera, and blogs that could be read by foreign journalists.
Kefaya and another group called Youth for Change that Salah led used humor and theatrical performance to begin to make it acceptable to speak ill of Mubarak. They created fast, small, and unannounced public demonstrations in poor neighborhoods of Cairo, moving on before police could arrive. They did not betray their secret plans by announcing them on the internet, to which most Egyptians did not have access. Salah believes foreign reporters have overstated the importance of the internet for years because it was easier for them to access than street activism.
These activists stayed out of electoral politics in what they saw as a hopelessly corrupt system, though they studied the Otpor movement in Serbia that brought down Slobodan Milosevic. They organized despite serious risks, including government spies and infiltrators, and Salah, like many others, was in and out of prison, in one case using a hunger strike until he was released. "Although the general public tends to doubt," Salah writes, "that placard wielding activists can change anything, Egypt's security apparatus treated us like barbarian invaders. . . . State Security had over 100,000 employees devoted to monitoring and eradicating any group that challenged Mubarak's rule."
Momentum for greater public resistance ebbed and flowed over the the years. In 2007 it was given a boost by workers going on strike and people rioting over the lack of bread. The first independent labor union in Egypt was formed in 2009. Various groups worked to organize a public demonstration on April 6, 2008, during which work Salah recognized a new and important role played by Facebook. Still, struggling to notify the public of a general strike on April 6, activists got a boost from the government which announced in state media that nobody should participate in the planned general strike on April 6 -- thereby informing everyone of its existence and importance.
Salah describes many difficult decisions over the years, including choosing to work with the U.S. government and to travel to the United States to urge the U.S. government to put pressure on Egypt. This risked ruining or did ruin Salah's reputation with people who quite correctly doubted U.S. good intentions. But Salah notes important instances when phone calls from Washington may have allowed protests to happen.
At one point in late 2008 Salah speaks with a U.S. National Security Council official who tells him that the war on Iraq "tarnished the idea of 'democracy promotion'" so therefore Bush wasn't going to do much to promote democracy. At least two questions leap to mind: Should murderous bombing give a bad name to actual nonviolent democracy promotion? and When in the hell did Bush ever before do much for democracy promotion?
Salah and allies tried to convert huge lists of Facebook friends into real world activists without success. They fought with each other and grew frustrated. Then, in 2011, Tunisia happened. In less than a month, the people of Tunisia (with neither U.S. help nor U.S. resistance, one might note) overthrew their dictator. They inspired the Egyptians. This was the weather getting ready to blow a storm through Cairo if someone could figure out how to surf it.
The online call for a day of revolution on January 25th was posted by a former Egyptian police whistleblower living in Virginia (which is also, as I recall, where leaders of the Egyptian military were meeting at the Pentagon at the time -- so perhaps my home state was on both sides). Salah knew and spoke with the whistleblower. Salah was against such quick action, but believing it inevitable due to online promotion, he strategized how to make it as strong as possible.
Whether the action was inevitable or not is unclear, because Salah also went out and questioned people in the streets and couldn't find anyone who'd heard about the plans. He also discovered that people in poor neighborhoods were more likely to believe the government propaganda that came over the only news media they had access to, whereas the middle class was spitting mad at Mubarak. An incident in which police had murdered a middle class young man showed people that they were at risk.
Salah also found that most people who said they would take part in a protest said they would only do it if everyone else went first. They were afraid to be the first to step into a large public square. So, Salah and his allies went to work organizing numerous small groups to begin protests in unannounced locations in middle-class neighborhoods and small streets where the police would be afraid to come after them. The hope, which was realized, was that small marches would grow as they moved toward Tahrir Square, and that upon reaching the square they would collectively be large enough to take it over. Salah stresses that, despite the existence of Twitter and Facebook, it was word of mouth that did the job.
But how would one duplicate that sort of organizing in a place as large as the United States, with the middle class spread across the soul-numbing sprawl? And how would it compete against the highly skillful propaganda of U.S. media outlets? Salah may be right that activists in other countries who have heard about the "Facebook Revolution" and tried to duplicate it have failed because it wasn't real. But a form of communication that can drive a revolution remains greatly to be desired -- with hints at it, I think, visible, not so much in social media, as in independent reporting, or perhaps in the combination of the two.
Salah looks at how the Mubarak government hurt itself by cutting off phones and internet. He discusses the uses of violence within the generally nonviolent revolution, and the use of people's committees to maintain order when the police fled the city. He touches briefly on the incredible mistake of handing a people's revolution over to the military. He doesn't say much about the U.S. role in supporting the counter-revolution. Salah does note that in mid-March 2011 he and other activists met with Hillary Clinton who declined to help them.
Salah now lives in the United States. We should be inviting him to speak in every school and public square. Egypt is a work in progress, of course. The United States is a work not yet begun.
Sam Husseini is the Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, whom I have to thank for having found and promoted many of my previous guests on this show. Husseini wrote an article titled "Katharine Gun’s Risky Truth-telling" about a British official who crucially leaked evidence of NSA spying against UN officials during the buildup to the Iraq invasion. The Intercept has now published copies of the NSA's internal newsletter that fit into that story. See:
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By David Swanson
NBC's Dateline program aired pro-drone propaganda this week and has posted the video online. Their so-called report purports to be "balanced" and "even-handed." In fact it misleadingly promotes an extremely destructive government program that millions of people would protest if they knew the actual facts of the matter.
Dateline introduces us to drones with the claim that drones have saved lives by "hitting terrorist targets." Unlike any negative statement about drones made in the course of this Dateline video, such positive statements are never immediately countered by somebody authoritative saying the opposite in a different vocabulary (such as "murdering human beings never convicted or even indicted for any crime" rather than "hitting terrorist targets"). Much less is any positive statement countered with actual facts. At the very end of the program we'll hear that during this "war on terrorism" terrorism has increased, but the causal connection recognized by numerous experts is brushed over. In fact numerous top officials involved in the U.S. drone program blurt out, the moment they retire, that it is generating more enemies than it is killing. Numerous such statements are publicly available, and such voices could have been included in this program.
Next Dateline shows us a drone pilot in Nevada in his car and "on his way to fight ISIS." In fact, U.S. drone pilots (who dress up as pilots and sit at a desk) blow people up in numerous countries, have (like their commanders) no idea who most of the people are whom they blow up, and have seen ISIS recruitment soar since the U.S. began bombing that organization which its earlier bombings and occupations and prison camps and torture and weapons sales were absolutely central to creating.
Dateline shows us footage of drones, but none of what they do -- only fuzzy videos selected by the Air Force in which we see no humans, no bodies, no body parts, and are just told that the people murdered were ISIS, which is supposed to make it moral and legal. Endless footage exists and is available, including of course from the Air Force, of the people blown to pieces by drones. Plenty of reporting explains that this type of warfare kills more innocent people than even other horrific types of warfare. But Dateline will instead eventually get around to focusing on phony critiques like "Is this too much like playing a video game?"
Peace Fresno event in Fresno, CA
Video by Richard Iyall, board member of Peace Fresno, also with Community Alliance newspaper of Fresno at fresnoalliance.com and of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe
Poll: The frustrated public: Reservations about the two-party system and the fairness of the nominating process - June 1, 2016
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
By Kathy Kelly
Here in Kabul, I read a recent BBC op-ed by Ahmed Rashid, urging a “diplomatic offensive” to build or repair relationships with the varied groups representing armed extremism in Afghanistan. Rashid has insisted, for years, that severe mistrust makes it almost impossible for such groups to negotiate an end to Afghanistan’s nightmare of war.
Glancing upward at one of the six U.S. manufactured aerostat blimps performing constant surveillance over Kabul, I wonder if the expensively high-tech giant’s-eye view encourages a primitive notion that the best way to solve a problem here is to target a “bad guy” and then kill him. If the bad guys appear to be scurrying dots on the ground below, stomp them out.
Crushing only the right dots has proven very difficult for a U.S. drone warfare program documented to have killed many civilians. News sources speculate that the recent drone assassination of Taliban leader Akthar Mansour makes an end to this war far less likely. A commentator for the highly respected Afghan Analyst Network has written that “with the U.S. killing Akhtar Mansur, it is unlikely the Taleban will be set on anything but revenge for now, as can be understood from the movement’s political psychology… There is no reason to believe the fighting will de-escalate with the new leadership.”
Was that simple prediction available to the U.S.' giant's-eye view?
My young friends among the Afghan Peace Volunteers have shown me a vastly different approach toward problem solving. In a sense, they’ve been launching a diplomatic outreach, refining their approach through trial and error over the course of several years, taking careful steps toward building trust between different ethnic groups, and also relying on their own personal stories to help them understand the cares and concerns of others. Throughout their efforts they’ve tried to be guided by Gandhi’s advice about considering the poorest person’s needs before making a decision.
What has brought a non-violent future closer to Afghanistan – giant sized military and surveillance systems or the accomplishments of young volunteers working to develop inter-ethnic projects?
20 teams are working at the Borderfree Center organizing practical activities within communities coping with multiple economic woes, including food insecurity, unemployment, and inadequate income for meeting basic needs.
Young people travel to and from the Center along unpaved roads lined on both sides with sewage filled drainage ditches. Traffic is chaotic, and the air is so polluted that many wear protective face masks. Day laborers congregate at intersections waiting in desperation for the opportunity to perform hard labor for $2.00 a day or less.
Even those fortunate enough to receive an education will likely face extreme difficulty in finding a job. Unemployment is at an all-time high of 40% and many jobs are attained only through ‘connections.’
Throughout Kabul, refugees crowd into squalid, sprawling camps where people live without adequate protection from harsh weather. According to The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between Jan. 1 and April 30 this year, “117,976 people fled their homes due to conflict.” And, the U.N. says it has only received 16 percent of funds needed for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan this year.
Nisar, one of the students at the Borderfree Center’s Street Kids School, understands destitution all too well. He has been earning an income for his family since he was a small child, working as a shoeshine boy on Kabul streets and also in a butcher shop. Now, at age 17, he will soon graduate from three years of classes with the Street Kids School. In the past year, he has been a steady volunteer, taking on responsibilities with the duvet project and the organic gardening team. Nisar says that when he first came to the Center, three years ago, he felt astonished to see people from different ethnic backgrounds sitting together. Nisar’s family comes from the Wardak province, and relatives of his are among those who recently fled the Taleban. He clearly understands the terrible risks that armed struggle could bring, even here in “Ka-bubble” as Kabul is sometimes called because of the relative calm that still prevails here. In spite of tensions, Nisar feels sure that when people learn to overcome their fears and start talking with one another, they can set aside hatreds taught to them at young ages.
U.S. planners, heads lost in the sky, seemingly pay little heed to developing ways of building trust. Resources are gobbled up by gigantic multinational “defense” companies dedicated to the task of further, trampling warfare, while withholding anything like the quantity of resources needed for the task of repairing the wreckage they themselves have caused.
U.S. think tanks cleverly promote cartoonized versions of foreign policy wherein the mighty giant strikes a fist and eliminates the “bad guy” whom we are told has caused our problems. But I believe U.S. people would be better off if we could see the often-suffering communities that show admirable qualities as they try to survive. We could learn from their efforts to build mutual trust and solidarity, and their courage to reject war. We could insist that the massively well-endowed US and NATO powers finally acknowledge that the best hopes for a lasting peace come when communities experience a measure of stability and prosperity. The giant powers could help alleviate the desperate need faced by people enduring hunger, disease and homelessness.
U.S. people should earnestly ask how the U.S. could help build trust here in Afghanistan, and, as a first step, begin transferring funds from the coffers of weapon companies to the UN accounts trying to meet humanitarian needs. The “giant” could be seen stooping, humbly, to help plant seeds, hoping for a humane harvest.
By Joy First
It was with great apprehension that I left my home near Mount Horeb, WI and flew to Washington, DC on May 20, 2016. I would be standing in Judge Wendell Gardner’s courtroom on Monday May 23, being charged with Blocking, obstructing and incommoding, and Failure to obey a lawful order.
As we prepared for trial, we knew that Judge Gardner has jailed activists found guilty in the past, and so we knew we must be prepared for jail time. We also knew that the government prosecutor had not responded to our latest motions, and so we wondered if that was a sign that they were not ready to proceed with a trial. With this uncertainty in mind, for the first time ever I got a one-way ticket to DC, and it was with great sadness that I said goodbye to my family.
And what was my offense that brought me there? On the day of Obama’s last State of the Union address, January 12, 2016, I joined 12 others as we exercised our First Amendment rights attempting to deliver a petition to President Obama in an action organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We suspected that Obama would not tell us what was really going on, and so our petition outlined what we believed to be the real state of the union along with remedies to create a world we all would want to live in. The letter outlined our concerns regarding war, poverty, racism, and the climate crisis.
As about 40 concerned citizen activists walked toward the US Capitol on January 12, we saw the Capitol Police were already there and waiting for us. We told the officer in charge that we had a petition we wanted to deliver to the president. The officer told us we could not deliver a petition, but we could go demonstrate in another area. We tried to explain that we were not there to demonstrate, but were there to exercise our First Amendment rights by delivering a petition to Obama.
As the officer continued to refuse our request, 13 of us began to walk up the steps of the Capitol. We stopped short of a sign that read “Do not go beyond this point”. We unfurled a banner that read “Stop the War Machine: Export Peace” and joined the rest of our colleagues in singing “We Shall Not be Moved”.
There was no one else trying to get inside the Capitol building, but nonetheless, we allowed plenty of room on the steps for others to get around us if they wanted to, and so we were not blocking anyone. Though the police told us we could not deliver our petition, it is our First Amendment right to petition our government for a redress of grievances, so when the police told us to leave, no lawful order was given. Why then were 13 of us arrested? We were taken to the Capitol police station in handcuffs, charged, and released.
We were surprised when four members of the group, Martin Gugino from Buffalo, Phil Runkel from Wisconsin, Janice Sevre-Duszynska from Kentucky, and Trudy Silver from New York City, had their charges dismissed within a couple of weeks of the action. Why were there charges dropped when we all did the exact same thing? Later, the government offered to drop the charges against us for a $50 post and forfeit. Because of personal reasons four members of our group, Carol Gay from New Jersey, Linda LeTendre from New York, Alice Sutter from New York City, and Brian Terrell, Iowa, decided to accept that offer. It seems the government knew early on that this case could not be prosecuted.
Five of us went to trial on May 23, Max Obusewski, Baltimore, Malachy Kilbride, Maryland, Joan Nicholson, Pennsylvania, Eve Tetaz, DC, and me.
We were in front of the judge for less than five minutes. Max stood and introduced himself and asked if we could begin by talking about his motion for extended discovery. Judge Gardner said we would hear from the government first. The government prosecutor stood and said that the government was not ready to proceed. Max moved that his case be dismissed. Mark Goldstone, attorney advisor, moved that the case against Eve, Joan, Malachy, and me be dismissed. Gardner granted the motions and it was over.
The government should have had the common courtesy to let us know they were not prepared to go to trial when they obviously knew ahead of time the trial would not go forward. I would not have had to travel to DC, Joan would not have had to travel from Pennsylvania, and others more local would not have bothered to come to the court house. I believe they wanted to mete out whatever punishment they could, even without going to trial, and not allow our voices to be heard in court.
I have been arrested 40 times since 2003. Of those 40, 19 arrests have been in DC. In looking at my 19 arrests in DC, charges have been dismissed ten times and I have been acquitted four times. I have only been found guilty four times out of 19 arrests in DC. I think we are being falsely arrested to shut us down and get us out of the way, and not because we have committed a crime that we will likely be found guilty of.
What we were doing at the US Capitol on January 12 was an act of civil resistance. It is important to understand the difference between civil disobedience and civil resistance. In civil disobedience, a person knowingly breaks an unjust law in order to change it. An example would be the lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movements in the early 1960s. A law is broken and activists willingly face the consequences.
In civil resistance, we are not breaking the law; rather the government is breaking the law and we are acting in resistance to that law-breaking. We did not go to the Capitol on January 12 because we wanted to get arrested, as was stated in the police report. We went there because we had to call attention to the illegal and immoral actions of our government. As we stated in our petition:
We write to you as people committed to nonviolent social change with a deep concern for a variety of issues that are all interrelated. Please heed our petition—end our government’s continuing wars and military incursions around the world and use these tax dollars as a solution to end growing poverty which is a plague throughout this country in which vast wealth is controlled by a tiny percentage of its citizens. Establish a living wage for all workers. Condemn forcefully the policy of mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and the rampant police violence. Pledging to end the addiction to militarism will have a positive effect on our planet's climate and habitat.
We delivered the petition knowing that we could be risking arrest by doing so and knowing that we would face the consequences, but we also believed that we were not breaking the law by attempting to deliver the petition.
And of course it is utterly essential that as we do this work we keep in mind that it is not our minor inconvenience that should be at the forefront of our thoughts, but rather the suffering of those we are speaking up for. Those of us who took action on January 12 were 13 white middle-class citizens of the United States. We have the privilege of being able to stand up and speak out against our government without serious consequences. Even if we do end up going to jail, that is not the important part of the story.
Our focus always needs to be on our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering and dying because of our government’s policies and choices. We think of those in the Middle East and Africa where drones are flying overhead and dropping bombs that are traumatizing and killing thousands of innocent children, women, and men. We think of those in the United States who are living under the mantle of poverty, lacking such basic necessities as food, housing, and adequate medical care. We think of those whose lives have been shattered by police violence because of the color of their skin. We think of all of us who will perish if government leaders around the world don’t make drastic and immediate changes to deter climate chaos. We think of all those who are oppressed by the powerful.
It is critical that those of us who are able to, come together and speak up against these crimes by our government. The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) has been organizing actions of civil resistance since 2003. In the fall, September 23-25, we will be part of a conference organized by World Beyond War (http://worldbeyondwar.org/NoWar2016/ ) in Washington, DC. At the conference we will be talking about civil resistance and organizing future actions.
In January 2017, NCNR will be organizing an action on the day of the presidential inauguration. Whoever becomes president, we went to send a strong message that we must end all wars. We must provide liberty and justice for all.
We need many people to join us for future actions. Please look into your heart and make a conscious decision about whether you are able to join us and stand up in resistance to the United States government. The people have the power to bring about change and we must reclaim that power before it is too late.
For information on getting involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
Obama at Hiroshima: “We must change our mindset about war itself.”
President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima has been the subject of much commentary and debate. Peace activists, scientists and even the New York Times called on Obama to use the occasion to announce meaningful steps toward worldwide nuclear disarmament, as he famously promised before receiving his premature Nobel Peace Prize.
At Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Barack Obama delivered the kind of eloquent speech he is known for – some say his most eloquent yet. He called for an end to nuclear weapons. He said that the nuclear powers “…must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.” Incisively, Obama added“We must change our mindset about war itself.”
President Obama announced no new steps, however, to achieve nuclear disarmament. Disappointingly, he stated, “We may not realize this goal in my lifetime.”
Certainly not if Obama hands the next administration his initiative to “modernize” the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal. That is a 30-year program estimated to cost One Trillion Dollars, or $1,000,000,000,000. Smaller, more precise and “usable” nukes would be in the mix.
There are other bad signs. Standing next to Obama at Hiroshima was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is shredding Article 9 of the Japanese constitution,the “pacifist” clause that bars Japan from sending troops abroad or engaging in war. The alarmingly militaristic Abe has even hinted that Japan itself should become a nuclear power.
The Obama administration is encouraging Japan to have a more aggressive military posture, as part of a U.S. backed regional response to China’s assertion of primacy in the South China Sea. That is also the context for Obama’s announcement that he is lifting the U.S. embargo of weapons sales to Vietnam. The U.S. “normalizes” relations by selling weapons of war.
The so-called Asia Pivot, which would see 60% of U.S. military forces stationed in the Pacific, is only one current assertion of U.S. global hegemony. The U.S. is involved in multiple wars in the Middle East, it continues its longest war in Afghanistan, and it is pushing NATO, including Germany, to station significant military forces on Russia’s borders.
The U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed 200,000 civilians, were inexcusable and morally reprehensible, especially since, according to many U.S. military leaders, they were absolutely unnecessary,as the Japanese were already defeated and were looking for a way to surrender.
Veterans For Peace Apologizes to Japanese People and the World
U.S. presidents may never apologize for what our country did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we do. Veterans For Peace expresses our deepest condolences to all those who were killed and maimed, and to their families. We apologize to the Hibakusha,the survivorsof the nuclear bombings, and we thank them for their courageous, continuing witness.
We apologize to all the Japanese people and to all the people of the world. This hugely atrocious crime against humanity should never have happened. As military veterans who have come to see the tragic futility of war, we promise that we will continue working for peace and disarmament. We want to see nuclear disarmament in our lifetime.
It is a miracle that that there have been no nuclear wars since the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We now know that the world has been close to nuclear annihilation on several occasions. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty calls on the nuclear powers (nine nations and growing), to negotiate in good faith to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons. Nothing of the sort is taking place.
The aggressive U.S. military posture, including its development of new nuclear weapons, has prompted China and Russia to respond in kind. China will soon be launching nuclear-armed submarines to cruise the Pacific Ocean. Russia, threatened by the placement of “defensive” U.S. missile systems near its borders, is upgrading its nuclear capacities, and is touting new submarine-fired nuclear-armed cruise missiles. U.S. and Russian missiles remain on a hair-trigger alert. The U.S. reserves the right to a first strike.
Is Nuclear War Inevitable?
India and Pakistan continue to test nuclear weapons and to fight over the territory of Kashmir, constantly risking the possibility of a greater war in which nuclear weapons might be used.
North Korea, threatened by the presence of nuclear weapons on U.S. Navy ships, and by the refusal of the U.S. to negotiate an end to the Korean War, brandishes its own nuclear weapons.
Israel has as many as 200 nuclear weapons with which they intend to maintain their dominance in the Middle East.
The possession of nuclear weapons earned the former colonial powers Britain and France their seats at the UN Security Council.
Iran does not have nuclear weapons, was not even close to acquiring them, and they claim they do not want them. But one could certainly understand if they and other countries who feel threatened by nuclear powers might want to acquire the ultimate deterrent. If Saddam Hussein had actually had nuclear weapons, the U.S. would not have invaded Iraq.
There is a very real possibility that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, or just be inherited by governments that are more militarist than the last.
In short, the danger of nuclear war, or even multiple nuclear wars, has never been greater. Given the current trajectory, nuclear war actually appears inevitable.
Nuclear disarmament will likely occur only when the powers that be, beginning with the United States, are pressured by millions of peace-loving people into abandoning militarism and adopting a peaceful, cooperative foreign policy. President Obama is right when he says that “we must rethink war itself.”
Veterans For Peace is committed to opposing U.S. wars, both overt and covert. Our Mission Statement also calls on us to expose the true costs of war, to heal the wounds of war, and to push for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. We want to abolish war once and for all.
The Golden Rule Sails for a Nuclear-Free World
Last year Veterans For Peace (VFP) dramatically stepped up our efforts to educate people about the dangers of nuclear weapons when we relaunched the historic antinuclear sailboat, the Golden Rule. The 34-foot peace boat was the star of the VFP Convention in San Diego last August, and stopped in ports along the California coast for unique public events. Now the Golden Rule is beginning a 4-1/2 month voyage (June – October) throughout the waterways of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The Golden Rule will be sailing for a nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future.
We will make common cause with many people in the Pacific Northwest who are concerned about the devastation of climate change, and are organizing against dangerous coal, oil and natural gas infrastructure in their port towns. We will remind them that the risk of nuclear war is also a threat to the very existence of human civilization.
Veterans For Peace will encourage climate justice activists to work also for peace and nuclear disarmament. The peace movement, in turn, will grow as it embraces the movement for climate justice. We will build a profound international movement and work hopefully together for a peaceful, sustainable future for all.
President Obama went to Hiroshima, did not apologize, did not state the facts of the matter (that there was no justification for the bombings there and in Nagasaki), and did not announce any steps to reverse his pro-nuke policies (building more nukes, putting more nukes in Europe, defying the nonproliferation treaty, opposing a ban treaty, upholding a first-strike policy, spreading nuclear energy far and wide, demonizing Iran and North Korea, antagonizing Russia, etc.).
Where Obama is usually credited -- and the reason he's usually given a pass on his actual actions -- is in the area of rhetoric. But in Hiroshima, as in Prague, his rhetoric did more harm than good. He claimed to want to eliminate nukes, but he declared that such a thing could not happen for decades (probably not in his lifetime) and he announced that humanity has always waged war (before later quietly claiming that this need not continue).
"Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind," said Obama.
"We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves," he added, leaping from a false claim about the past to a necessity to continue dumping our resources into the weapons that produce rather than avoid more wars.
After much in this higly damaging vein, Obama added: "But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them. We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe." He even said: "We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story. ..." That's right, but the U.S. President had already told a really bad one.
If war were inevitable, as Obama has repeatedly suggested, including in the first ever pro-war Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, there would be little point in trying to end it. If war were inevitable, a moral case might be made for trying to lessen its damage while it continued. And numerous parochial cases could be made for being prepared to win inevitable wars for this side or that side. That's the case Obama makes, without seeming to realize that it applies to other countries too, including countries that feel threatened by the U.S. military.
War has only been around for the most recent fraction of the existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During this most recent 10,000 years, war has been sporadic. Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and then abandoned it. Just as some of us find it hard to imagine a world without war or murder, some human societies have found it hard to imagine a world with those things. A man in Malaysia, asked why he wouldn’t shoot an arrow at slave raiders, replied “Because it would kill them.” He was unable to comprehend that anyone could choose to kill. It’s easy to suspect him of lacking imagination, but how easy is it for us to imagine a culture in which virtually nobody would ever choose to kill and war would be unknown? Whether easy or hard to imagine, or to create, this is decidedly a matter of culture and not of DNA.
According to myth, war is “natural.” Yet a great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.
In some societies women have been virtually excluded from war making for centuries and then included. Clearly, this is a question of culture, not of genetic makeup. War is optional, not inevitable, for women and men alike.
Some nations invest much more heavily in militarism than most and take part in many more wars. Some nations, under coercion, play minor parts in the wars of others. Some nations have completely abandoned war. Some have not attacked another country for centuries. Some have put their military in a museum. And even in the United States, 44% of the people tell pollsters that they "would" participate if there were a war, yet with the U.S. currently in 7 wars, less than 1% of the people are in the military.
War long predates capitalism, and surely Switzerland is a type of capitalist nation just as the United States is. But there is a widespread belief that a culture of capitalism — or of a particular type and degree of greed and destruction and short-sightedness — necessitates war. One answer to this concern is the following: any feature of a society that necessitates war can be changed and is not itself inevitable. The military-industrial complex is not an eternal and invincible force. Environmental destructiveness and economic structures based on greed are not immutable.
There is a sense in which this is unimportant; namely, we need to halt environmental destruction and reform corrupt government just as we need to end war, regardless of whether any of these changes depends on the others to succeed. Moreover, by uniting such campaigns into a comprehensive movement for change, strength in numbers will make each more likely to succeed.
But there is another sense in which this is important; namely, we need to understand war as the cultural creation that it is and stop imagining it as something imposed on us by forces beyond our control. In that sense it is important to recognize that no law of physics or sociology requires us to have war because we have some other institution. In fact, war is not required by a particular lifestyle or standard of living because any lifestyle can be changed, because unsustainable practices must end by definition with or without war, and because war actually impoverishes societies that use it.
War in human history up to this point has not correlated with population density or resource scarcity. The idea that climate change and the resulting catastrophes will inevitably generate wars could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not a prediction based on facts.
The growing and looming climate crisis is a good reason for us to outgrow our culture of war, so that we are prepared to handle crises by other, less destructive means. And redirecting some or all of the vast sums of money and energy that go into war and war preparation to the urgent work of protecting the climate could make a significant difference, both by ending one of our mostenvironmentally destructive activities and by funding a transition to sustainable practices.
In contrast, the mistaken belief that wars must follow climate chaos will encourage investment in military preparedness, thus exacerbating the climate crisis and making more likely the compounding of one type of catastrophe with another.
Human societies have been known to abolish institutions that were widely considered permanent. These have included human sacrifice, blood feuds, duelling, slavery, the death penalty, and many others. In some societies some of these practices have been largely eradicated, but remain illicitly in the shadows and on the margins. Those exceptions don’t tend to convince most people that complete eradication is impossible, only that it hasn’t yet been achieved in that society. The idea of eliminating hunger from the globe was once considered ludicrous. Now it is widely understood that hunger could be abolished — and for a tiny fraction of what is spent on war. While nuclear weapons have not all been dismantled and eliminated, there exists a popular movement working to do just that.
Ending all war is an idea that has found great acceptance in various times and places. It was more popular in the United States, for example, in the 1920s and 1930s. In recent decades, the notion has been propogated that war is permanent. That notion is new, radical, and without basis in fact.
Polling is not often done on support for the abolition of war. Here’s one case when it was done.
And here's a movement to accomplish now what Obama discourages the world by claiming it can't be done anytime soon. Those who say that such things cannot be done have always had and still have the responsibility to get out of the way of the people doing them.
This video addresses the myth that humans are naturally violent: Book Discussion with Paul Chappell on The Art of Waging Peace.
This 1939 antiwar cartoon from MGM gives some indication of how mainstream opposition to war was at the time.
An example of humans’ inclination away from war: the 1914 Christmas truce.
Fry, Douglas P. & Souillac, Geneviéve (2013). The Relevance of Nomadic Forager Studies to Moral Foundations Theory: Moral Education and Global Ethics in the Twenty-First Century. Journal of Moral Education, (July) vol:xx-xx.
Henri Parens (2013) War Is Not Inevitable, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 25:2, 187-194.
Main arguments: Human civilization is at its best with universal education, affordable communication, and international travel as human connectors. War prevention is possible through support and fostering of human rights, securing of governments and institutions against abuses and exploitations by others, internationalization of children’s education, compulsory parenting education, and countering extremism of all kinds.
Brooks, Allan Laurence. “Must war be inevitable? A general semantics essay.” ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 63.1 (2006): 86+. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Dec. 2013.
Main arguments: Warns against two-valued positions: we are not either aggressive or non-aggressive. Points to the predominant mode of human cooperation throughout history. Arguments in line with many social and behavioral scientists who state that we have the potential to be aggressive and fight wars, but we also have the potential to be non-aggressive and peaceful.
Zur, Ofer. (1989). War Myths: Exploration of the Dominant Collective Beliefs about Warfare. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 29(3), 297-327. doi: 10.1177/0022167889293002.
Main arguments: Author critically examines three myths about war: (1) war is part of human nature; (2) decent people are peaceful and seek to avoid war; (3) war is a male institution. Good point made: Disqualifying myths scientifically does not reduce their importance to the people and cultures subscribing to them. “Exposing the erroneous nature of these beliefs can be the first step out of the vicious cycle of destructive, unconscious self-fulfilling prophecies”.
Zur, Ofer. (1987). The Psychohistory of Warfare: The Co-Evolution of Culture, Psyche and Enemy. Journal of Peace Research, 24(2), 125-134. doi: 10.1177/002234338702400203.
Main arguments: Humans have had the technical and physical ability to create and use weapons against each other for the last 200,000 years, but only created and used weapons against each other in the last 13,000 years. Wars have been waged only one percent of human evolutionary time.
The Seville Statement on Violence: PDF.
World’s leading behavior scientists refute the notion that organized human violence [e.g. war] is biologically determined. The statement was adopted by the UNESCO.
Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace by Doug Fry
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman
Peaceful Revolution by Paul K. Chappell
The End of War by John Horgan
A Future Without War: The Strategy of a Warfare Transition by Judith Hand
American Wars: Illusions and Realities by Paul Buchheit
The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley
Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild
Fry, Douglas. P. (2013). War, peace, and human nature : the convergence of evolutionary and cultural views. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kemp, Graham, & Fry, Douglas P. (2004). Keeping the peace : conflict resolution and peaceful societies around the world. New York: Routledge.
If there will be a debate between Trump and Sanders, I hope it will be conducted in a civil, respectful manner. Trump has been viciously attacked by the media, politicians and pundits calling him names such as fascist, racist, bigot, misogynist, etc. In truth Trump and Sanders are the best presidential candidates compared to their opponents which are the relics of a past of wars, economic recession, inequality, corruption. They both reflect a popular desire to clean up this mess. They both try to address the root societal problems but with different solutions. They may even find a common ground on some issues. A debate between them should highlights their differences without resorting to personal insults and disparaging remarks.
I am a Sanders supporter and I disagree with some Trump statements but I recognize the beneficial effects of his campaign. Trump defeated his opponents who were backed by powerful, moneyed interest groups and the Republican establishment and certainly this was not a small feat! He spelled out his thoughts frankly, clearly, in a non professional style. And he found an audience tired of old policies and lies by consummate politicians and looking for someone who 'tells it like it is'. Whoever become the next U.S. president, either Sanders or Trump, after the elections they will need each other’s supporters to enact their programs.
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Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th
14-3-705 Noborimachi, Naka ward, Hiroshima City
Telephone/Fax: 082-221-7631 Email: email@example.com
We oppose the planned visit of the US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on May 27th after Ise-Shima Summit.