By David Hartsough
The US and Russian governments are pursuing dangerous policies of nuclear brinkmanship. Many people believe we are closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuba missile crisis in 1962.
Thirty-one thousand troops from the US and NATO countries are engaged in military maneuvers on the Russian border in Poland - together with tanks, military planes and missiles. The US has just activated an anti-ballistic missile site in Romania which the Russians see as part of an American first strike policy. Now the US can fire missiles with nuclear weapons at Russia, and then the anti-ballistic missiles could shoot down Russian missiles shot toward the west in response, the assumption being only the Russians would suffer from nuclear war.
A former NATO general has said he believes there will be nuclear war in Europe within a year. Russia is also threatening use of its missiles and nuclear weapons on Europe and the US if attacked.
When someone commits mass murder in the United States and is tied, however significantly, to a foreign terrorist group, there remains a section of the U.S. population willing to recognize and point out that no ideology, fit of hatred, or mental derangement can do the same damage without high-tech weaponry that it does with it. Why does this understanding vanish into the ether of ignorance and apathy at the water's edge?
ISIS videos display U.S. guns, U.S. Humvees, U.S. weaponry of all sorts. The profits and political corruption that bring those weapons into existence are the same as those that litter the United States with guns. Shouldn't we be bothered by both?
The same politicians who claim they'd like to restrict U.S. gun sales have flooded the world markets with the weaponry of mass slaughter. President Obama's administration has approved more weapons sales abroad than any other administration since World War II. Over 60 percent of those weapons have been sold to the Middle East. Add to that total huge quantities of U.S. weapons in the hands of the United States or its proxies in the Middle East -- or formerly in their hands but seized by ISIS.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waived restrictions at the State Department on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all states that had donated to the Clinton Foundation. Saudi Arabia had chipped in at least $10 million, and Boeing added another $900,000 as Secretary Clinton made it her mission to get Saudi Arabia the planes with which it would attack Yemen.
In the past five years, the United States has sold weapons to at least 96 countries. As of 2011 the United States accounted for 79% of the value of transfer agreements to ship weapons to governments in the Middle East, 79% also to poor nations around the world, and 77% of the value of total agreements to ship weapons to other countries, according to the Congressional Research Service. By 2014, those percentages had dropped a bit but remained over 50%.
In 2013, the big war profiteers spent $65 million lobbying Congress. There's a big headline when the National Rifle Association spends $3 million. We ask if black lives matter. In addition, do foreign lives matter?
Toddlers with guns kill more people in the United States than do foreign terrorists -- even adding in domestic terrorists somehow tied to foreign ideas. But we don't hate toddlers. We don't bomb toddlers and whoever's near them. We don't think of toddlers as inherently evil or backward or belonging to the wrong religion. We forgive them instantly, without struggle. It's not their fault the guns were left lying around.
But is it the fault of ISIS that Iraq was destroyed? That Libya was thrown into chaos? That the region was flooded with U.S.-made weapons? That future ISIS leaders were tortured in U.S. camps? That life was made into a nightmare? Maybe not, but it is their fault they murder people. They are adults. They know what they are doing.
True enough. But could they do it without the weapons?
On the domestic scene, we are able to recognize that other nations have conflict, hatred, and crime, but that -- in the absence of all the guns -- the crimes do less damage. Australia got rid of its guns following a killing less deadly than Orlando. Now a gun in Australia costs more than anyone would be likely to get out of an armed robbery. Now Australia has no mass killings, apart from its participation in U.S. wars.
On the foreign scene, can we recognize that regions armed to the teeth with U.S. weapons, wars with U.S. weapons on both sides, and CIA and Pentagon proxies fighting each other in Syria are not the inevitable result of backwardness in Arab culture, but rather the result of giving free rein to merchants of death?
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Cable TV network MSNBC has made headlines in recent days for apparently moving away from its "Lean Foward" progressive brand, catering instead to a more center-to-right-leaning crowd.
"People might start accusing us of leaning too far to the right," the station says in a new advertisement featuring MSNBC's conservative personalities — an array of Republican identities such as Michael Steele, Steve Schmidt and Ben Ginsberg.
By David Swanson
An atheist's sermon on Luke 7: 36-50 delivered at Saint Joan of Arc in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 12, 2016.
Forgiveness is a universal need, among those of us who are not religious and among believers in every religion on earth. We must forgive each other our differences, and we must forgive much more difficult occurrences.
Some things we can forgive easily -- by which, of course, I mean eliminating resentment from our hearts, not granting an eternal reward. If someone kissed my feet and poured oil on them and begged me to forgive her, frankly, I would have a harder time forgiving the kisses and oil than forgiving her a life of prostitution -- which is, after all, not an act of cruelty toward me but the violation of a taboo into which she was likely compelled by hardship.
But to forgive men who were torturing and killing me on a cross? That I would be very unlikely to succeed at, especially as my nearing end -- in the absence of a crowd to influence -- might convince me of the pointlessness of making my last thought a magnanimous one. As long as I live, however, I intend to work on forgiveness.
If our culture truly developed the habit of forgiveness, it would dramatically improve our personal lives. It would also make wars impossible, which would further dramatically improve our personal lives. I think we have to forgive both those who we think have wronged us personally, and those whom our government has told us to hate, both at home and abroad.
I suspect I could find well over 100 million Christians in the United States who do not hate the men who crucified Jesus, but who do hate and would be highly offended at the idea of forgiving Adolf Hitler.
When John Kerry says that Bashar al Assad is Hitler, does that help you feel forgiving toward Assad? When Hillary Clinton says that Vladimir Putin is Hitler, does that help you relate to Putin as a human being? When ISIS cuts a man's throat with a knife, does your culture expect of you forgiveness or vengeance?
Forgiveness is not the only approach one can take to curing war fever, and not the one I usually try.
Usually the case that's made for a war involves specific lies that can be exposed, such as lies about who used chemical weapons in Syria or who shot down an airplane in Ukraine.
Usually there is a great deal of hypocrisy one can point to. Was Assad already Hitler when he was torturing people for the CIA, or did he become Hitler by defying the U.S. government? Was Putin already Hitler before he refused to join in the 2003 attack on Iraq? If a particular ruler who has fallen out of favor is Hitler, what about all the brutal dictators whom the United States is arming and supporting? Are they all Hitler too?
Usually there is aggression by the United States that can be pointed to. The U.S. has aimed to overthrow the Syrian government for years and avoided negotiations for the nonviolent removal of Assad in favor of a violent overthrow believed to be imminent year after year. The U.S. has pulled out of arms reduction treaties with Russia, expanded NATO to its border, facilitated a coup in Ukraine, launched war games along the Russian border, put ships in the Black and Baltic Seas, moved more nukes into Europe, begun talking about smaller, more "usable" nukes, and set up missile bases in Romania and (under construction) in Poland. Imagine if Russia had done these things in North America.
Usually one can point out that no matter how evil a foreign ruler is, a war will kill large numbers of people unfortunate enough to be ruled by him -- people who are innocent of his crimes.
But what if we tried the approach of forgiveness? Can one forgive ISIS its horrors? And would doing so result in free reign for more such horrors, or in their reduction or elimination?
The first question is easy. Yes, you can forgive ISIS its horrors. At least some people can. I feel no hatred toward ISIS. There are people who lost loved ones on 9/11 who quickly began advocating against any vengeful war. There are people who've lost loved ones to small-scale murder and opposed cruel punishment of the guilty party, even coming to know and care for the murderer. There are cultures that treat injustice as something in need of reconciliation rather than retribution.
Of course, the fact that others can do it doesn't mean that you can or should do it. But it's worth recognizing how right were those family members of 9/11 victims who opposed war. Now several hundred times as many people have been killed, and the hatred toward the United States that contributed to 9/11 has been multiplied accordingly. A global war on terrorism has predictably and indisputably increased terrorism.
If we take a deep breath and think seriously, we can also recognize that the resentment that calls out for forgiveness is not rational. Toddlers with guns kill more people in the United States than do foreign terrorists. But we don't hate toddlers. We don't bomb toddlers and whoever's near them. We don't think of toddlers as inherently evil or backward or belonging to the wrong religion. We forgive them instantly, without struggle. It's not their fault the guns were left lying around.
But is it the fault of ISIS that Iraq was destroyed? That Libya was thrown into chaos? That the region was flooded with U.S.-made weapons? That future ISIS leaders were tortured in U.S. camps? That life was made into a nightmare? Maybe not, but it was their fault they murdered people. They are adults. They know what they are doing.
Do they? Remember, Jesus said they did not. He said, forgive them for they know not what they do. How could they possibly know what they are doing when they do things like what they have done?
When U.S. officials retire and quickly blurt out that U.S. efforts are creating more enemies than they are killing, it becomes clear that attacking ISIS is counterproductive. It also becomes clear that at least some people engaged in it know that. But they also know what advances their careers, what provides for their families, what pleases their associates, and what benefits a certain sector of the U.S. economy. And they can always hold out hope that perhaps the next war will be the one that finally works. Do they really know what they do? How could they?
When President Obama sent a missile from a drone to blow up an American boy from Colorado named Abdulrahman al Awlaki, one should not imagine that his head or the heads of those seated too close to him remained on their bodies. That this boy wasn't killed with a knife shouldn't make his killing any more or less forgivable. We should desire no revenge against Barack Obama or John Brennan. But we should not limit our outraged demand for truth, restorative justice, and the replacement of murderous with peaceful public policies.
A U.S. Air Force officer recently said that a tool that would allow dropping food accurately to starving people in Syria would not be used for such a purely humanitarian operation because it costs $60,000. Yet the U.S. military is blowing through tens of billions of dollars on killing people there, and hundreds of billions of dollars every year on maintaining the ability to do the same all over the world. We've got CIA-trained troops in Syria fighting Pentagon-trained troops in Syria, and -- as a matter of principle -- we can't spend money on preventing starvation.
Imagine living in Iraq or Syria and reading that. Imagine reading the comments of Congress members who support militarism because it supposedly provides jobs. Imagine living under a constantly buzzing drone in Yemen, no longer allowing your children to go to school or to go outside the house at all.
Now imagine forgiving the United States government. Imagine bringing yourself to see what looks like massive evil as in fact bureaucratic mishaps, systemic momentum, partisan blindness, and manufactured unawareness. Could you, as an Iraqi, forgive? I've seen Iraqis do it.
We in the United States can forgive the Pentagon. Can we forgive ISIS? And if not, why not? Can we forgive Saudis who look and sound like, and who support, ISIS, but who our televisions tell us are good loyal allies? If so, is it because we haven't seen Saudi victims of beheading or because of what those victims look like? If not, is it because of what Saudis look like?
If forgiveness came naturally to us, if we could do it immediately for ISIS, and therefore instantly for the neighbor who makes too much noise or votes for the wrong candidate, then marketing campaigns for wars would not work. Neither would campaigns to pack more Americans into prisons.
Forgiveness would not eliminate conflict, but it would render conflicts civil and nonviolent -- exactly what the peace movement of the 1920s had in mind when it moved Frank Kellogg of St. Paul, Minnesota, to create the treaty that bans all war.
This afternoon at 2 p.m. we are going to be dedicating a peace pole here on the grounds of this church. With permanent war ever present in our culture, we badly need such physical reminders of peace. We need peace in ourselves and in our families. But we need to be wary of the attitude taken by a school board member in Virginia who said he'd support a celebration of peace as long as everyone understood he wasn't opposing any wars. We need reminders that peace begins with the abolition of war. I hope you'll join us.
NEWS FLASH!: With 5 Million Votes Still Uncounted in the Democratic Primary, Sanders Could Still Win California!
By Dave Lindorff
FLASH! The Los Angeles Times, actually a Hillary Clinton backer, reports that not 3.6 million votes, as reported on election night, but 8 million votes were actually cast in the California Democratic primary -- a turnout of 47%. According to the Times article, the Secretary of State of California, Alex Padilla, concedes that 2.5 million of those votes, mostly mail-in ballots from young people and hispanic voters, both backers of Sanders, have been counted, and another 2 million have yet to be counted by local county officials.
The most likely way to die in a U.S. war, by far, is to live in the country that the United States is attacking. But the most likely way in which a U.S. participant in a war will die is by suicide.
There are a couple of widely observed top causes of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returning from recent wars deeply disturbed in their minds. One is having been near an explosion. Another, which has been around longer than explosions have, is having killed, having nearly died, having seen blood and gore and suffering, having imposed death and suffering on innocents, having seen comrades die in agony, exacerbated in many cases by having lost faith in the sales pitch that launched the war -- in other words, the horror of war making.
The first of those two causes might be called traumatic brain injury, the other mental anguish or moral injury. But, in fact, both are physical events in a brain. And, in fact, both impact thoughts and emotions. That scientists have a hard time observing moral injury in brains is a shortcoming of scientists that ought not to start us imagining that mental activity isn't physical or that physical brain activity isn't mental (and therefore that one is serious, while the other is sort of silly).
Here's a New York Times headline from Friday: "What if PTSD Is More Physical Than Psychological?" The article that follows the headline seems to mean by this question two things:
1) What if by focusing on troops having been near explosions we are able to distract attention away from the suffering induced by conditioning thinking human beings to mindlessly commit horrific acts?
2) What if having been near explosions impacts brains in a way that scientists happen to have figured out how to observe in a brain?
The answer to number 1 should be: We are not going to limit our brains to the New York Times as a source of information. Based on recent experience, including acts the Times has apologized for or retracted, that would be a sure way to create more modern warfare, thereby destroying more brains, risking a vicious cycle of war and destruction.
The answer to number 2 should be: Did you think the damage wasn't real because scientists hadn't found it in their microscopes yet? Did you think it was literally in soldiers' hearts? Did you think it was floating in the non-physical ether somewhere? Here's the New York Times:
"Perl's findings, published in the scientific journal The Lancet Neurology, may represent the key to a medical mystery first glimpsed a century ago in the trenches of World War I. It was first known as shell shock, then combat fatigue and finally PTSD, and in each case, it was almost universally understood as a psychic rather than a physical affliction. Only in the past decade or so did an elite group of neurologists, physicists and senior officers begin pushing back at a military leadership that had long told recruits with these wounds to 'deal with it,' fed them pills and sent them back into battle."
So, if the combination of afflictions that soldiers suffered from could not be observed by a neurologist, then they were all faking? They were suffering depression and panic attacks and nightmares in order to trick us? Or the wounds were real but necessarily minor, something to be "dealt with"? And -- importantly, there is a second implication here -- if the injury arose not from an explosion but from having stabbed to death a poor kid drafted into a different army, then it was not worthy of any concern important enough to outweigh the desirability of ignoring such matters.
Here's the New York Times in its own words: "Much of what has passed for emotional trauma may be reinterpreted, and many veterans may step forward to demand recognition of an injury that cannot be definitively diagnosed until after death. There will be calls for more research, for drug trials, for better helmets and for expanded veteran care. But these palliatives are unlikely to erase the crude message that lurks, unavoidable, behind Perl's discovery: Modern warfare destroys your brain."
Apparently the collective brain power of those of us who haven't joined the military suffers as well. Here we are faced with the understanding -- slanted and constrained though it may be -- that warfare destroys your brain; and yet we are meant to suppose that the only possible consequences of that realization are outcries for better medical care, better helmets, etc.
Allow me to suggest one other proposal: ending all warfare.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Though President Barack Obama and his State Department nixed the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in November, the Canadian pipeline company giant has continued the fight in a federal lawsuit in Houston, claiming the Obama Administration does not have the authority to deny a presidential pipeline permit on the basis claimed that he did.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Emails and documents obtained from Oklahoma State University (OSU) under the state's open records law depict an arrangement in which former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) donated his U.S. Senate papers to OSU, a public university, but still maintains full control of the papers and who gets permission to view them.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
If the recent past serves as prologue, then online leasing of oil and gas on U.S. federal lands may resemble the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, with one eBay-like company in particular standing to profiteer from the industry's proposed e-bidding scheme.
Image Credit: Willis Nowell | Flickr
By Joanne Landy
The world today is faced with crises on virtually every front, and any assessment of the foreign policy positions of the two major parties’ 2016 presidential candidates must be measured against how well they respond to these crises.
The Sanders campaign has been a breath of fresh air on the American political scene. Bernie has taken into the political arena the Occupy movement’s outrage at the domination of the United States by the one percent. Whether or not he wins the nomination, his astounding success is a sign of the real potential for a new kind of politics in the country—inspiring whether or not one shares his Democratic Party strategy.
Bernie has a strong domestic program—it calls for ending the domination of big money in politics, single-payer Medicare for All, free tuition at public colleges and universities, breaking up the big banks, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, support forworkers and their unions, confronting climate change, and questioning the government’s mass surveillance programs. Moreover, despite his stubborn tendency to sound at times (though less and less as the campaign goes on) like he believes that economic inequality takes precedence over social inequality, Sanders does have good positions in favor of abortion rights, reform of the criminal justice system, demilitarization of the police, and the need to oppose institutional racism.If his campaign doesn’t end up as a faction entrapped within the Democratic Party, these positions could be the basis for beginning to build a lasting independent political party that can offer an alternative to the status quo.
If that headline sounds a bit like "God Is Dead" to you, you just might be from the United States. Only what the people who live in this one country of the American hemisphere call "an American" carries that variety of flag passion. If, on the other hand, you find watching paint dry more engaging than the suspense of waiting for the next Flag Day, you just might be a candidate for citizen of the world.
In fact, I think Flag Day needs to be canceled. It's not a holiday that the government, much less the military, much less the rest of the United States, actually takes off work. It's rumored, in fact, that any socialistic interruption in work schedules would be offensive to the flag herself.
So we can indeed cancel Flag Day just by totally ignoring it, along with the overlapping Flag Week, the simultaneous U.S. Army's Birthday, the mythological tales about Betsy Ross, and the celebration of a war in 1812 that failed to take over Canada, got Washington D.C. burned, and pointlessly killed lots of human beings in a battle we celebrate with bad singing auditions before every sporting event because a colored piece of cloth survived it.
This Flag Day, instead of trying to add, if possible, yet more publicly displayed U.S. flags to those already flying, take down a flag instead. Don't burn it, though. There's no sense in giving flag worshipers martyrs. Instead, I recommend Betsy Rossing it. Cut and stitch that flag into clothing you can donate to those in need of clothing -- a significant section of the public in fact in this incredibly over-wealthy country in which the wealth is concentrated beyond medieval levels -- a situation from which we are distracted in part by all the darn flags.
Here in Charlottesville, Virginia, we have a lovely city with tons of natural beauty, history, landmarks, available imagery, talented artists, an engaged citizenry capable of civil debate, and yet no Charlottesville flag. We do have a huge debate over whether to remove from their prominent positions all the statues of Confederate fighters. Less controversial, costly, and time-consuming would be to add to the local scene a Charlottesville flag that did not celebrate slavery, racism, war, or environmental destruction.
What? Now I'm in favor of flags? Of course, I'm in favor of pretty pieces of cloth waving around when they're not icons of war and separation. In the United States, local and state flags don't create any sense of superiority or hostility toward the rest of humanity. But the flag of war, the flag that the U.S. military has now planted in 175 countries, does just that.
UVA alumnus Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Flag Day the year before pushing the United States into World War I, as part of that propaganda campaign. Congress joined in the year before the war in Korea. Five years later "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, an oath originally written by a fascist preacher, originally administered with the pledgers holding their right arms straight, outward and up. This was changed to the hand-over-heart routine during World War II because the Nazis had adopted the original salute as their own. Nowadays, visitors from abroad are often shocked to see U.S. children instructed to stand and robotically chant an oath of obedience to a piece of colored cloth.
To many "Americans" it comes naturally. The flag has always been here and always will be, just like the wars under which it is fought, for which lives are taken and risked, for which lives are even exchanged. Families that lose a loved one in war are presented with a flag instead. A majority of Americans supports freedom of speech in many outrageous instances, including the right of massive media corporations to present us with false justifications for wars. But a majority supports banning the burning of flags -- or rather, of the U.S. flag. You can burn the flags of 96% of humanity. You can burn your state or local flag. You can burn a world flag. But burning a U.S. flag would be a sacrilege. Sacrificing young lives to that flag in yet another war is, however, a sacrament.
But the U.S. military now has robotic drones it can send to war. Robots are also perfectly capable of swearing the pledge of allegiance, although they have no hearts to put their hands over.
Perhaps we should reserve our actual human hearts for things robots cannot do. Perhaps we should liberate our landscape from both Confederate statues and the ubiquitous flag of the still crusading union empire.
By Dave Lindorff
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).