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Israel is trying to expel the population of a village for the crime of not being Jewish, the same crime for which Israel bombs the people of Gaza for a month or so every few years and blockades them in between these bursts of violence.
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee declares that making peace with Iran amounts to marching Israelis "to the door of the oven."
Guess which of the two stories will get more coverage!
A crime of over 70 years ago, part of a war that in my unscientific estimate forms the single most common theme of U.S. historical fiction -- whether print or film -- is more important news in the view of U.S. editors than is a crime of right now.
And that was true 60 years after World War II and 50 years after and 40 and 20 and even 3 years after World War II.
Eve Spangler has just published a wonderfully well documented book that should be the text for universal history classes, called Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict. Spangler, the U.S. child of two holocaust survivors, was a college professor before she had the slightest idea what had happened in Palestine during the twentieth century. When she found out, she went all-in and found out as much as could be known.
Spangler takes students to Israel/Palestine every year. When visiting the Arab market in Hebron, she learned that the heavy metal mesh screen overhead was hung there to protect shoppers from bricks and chairs thrown down from balconies by Israeli settlers. However, Spangler was struck with the contents of one of the objects settlers had learned could penetrate the screen: a plastic bag of human excrement. Israeli settlers behave like prisoners gone mad from confinement even as they steal the land and homes of non-Jewish people with impunity.
How can this be? What went wrong?
Well, at least a part of what went wrong went wrong from the start, from even before the 1948 Nakba in which Israelis-to-be ethnically cleansed the land without a people for the people without a land. The land without a people was more densely populated than the United States, but was seen as populated by subhuman non-people, not even Untermenschen.
"Clearly, the aspiration to creating a 'new man,'" Spangler writes, "defined by a hyper-masculine ethos of physical and military strength and by 'clean and pure blood' (and a 'new woman' defined by fecundity) had echoes of fascist ideology and profoundly racist implications. Consider, for example, the iconic photo of an Israeli soldier gazing reverently at the Western Wall on the day that the Israeli army conquered East Jerusalem in 1967. He is startlingly Aryan in appearance. Nor did the preference for blondes end in 1967. Recently social workers told an Israeli friend of mine who is waiting to adopt a baby, that her family could have a 'defective' baby immediately, but would have to wait about a year for a 'normal' baby or up to five years if they insisted on having a blond, blue-eyed child. 'Defective' children, this family discovered, were dark-skinned."
Two years after the liberation of the concentration camps in Europe, Jewish militias besieging the town of Beisan (Bet She'an), Spangler notes, "required some Arabs to don yellow armbands, and marked Arab stores with yellow decals, targeting them for looting." Spangler, whose book covers many subtopics other than the one I'm focusing on, is infinitely careful to stress the obvious, namely that similarities are not exact equivalencies. Her point in noting the similarities is, I think, clearly and legitimately enough to expose the imperfect yet startling mimicry and the motivation of misdirected revenge in the basic policies of the Israeli government from that day to this toward the people who lived in the "uninhabited" land.
Lillian Rosengarten's forthcoming Survival and Conscience: From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat to Gaza is an account by a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany for the United States as a little girl with her parents. "Nationalism revisited," she writes, "is now twisted into a parody of the Nazi credo, 'Deutschland über alles,' extolling Germany over all others with only pure Germans as inhabitants. Get rid of the undesirables who are beneath contempt. I must not make such a comparison, you say. Yet I must, for I fear a Jewish State that belongs only to Jews is a dangerous road. I must question the profound psychological impairment suffered and internalized by generations of Jews that follows the Nazi Holocaust. The cycle of paranoia and abuse is playing out its destructive course: this is how I understand Palestinians as the last victims of the Holocaust."
I would question only how Rosengarten can see into the future and find the last victims of the influence of Nazism. After World War II, the military of the United States -- which, of course, arms the Israeli military free of charge while whining about how it can't afford luxuries like schools, housing, and bridges that don't collapse -- hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler’s closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial. Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials. Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution. To observe and note the Nazification of the U.S. military is neither to absolve the U.S. military of its pre-WWII crimes nor to pass blame off to the Nazis instead of blaming U.S. officials of later generations for their own actions. Blame is not a limited quantity.
I don't think we can dismiss Huckabee's comments about ovens as simply a bid to be dumber than Donald Trump and win the pro-stupidity vote in the Republican primaries. Transforming Iran from devil to negotiation partner victimizes Israel precisely by stripping Israel of some of its victim-status. Without the status of eternally current victim of the fantasized reenactment of long-past crimes, Israel has to be viewed through a filter of actual facts. Were Jews victimized by Germany? Of course! Did Palestinians deserve to suffer for it? Of course not! Did Iran have anything to do with it? Of course not! Would I support pulling all the U.S. military bases out of Germany and turning all of their land over to Jewish settlers? Sure!
But only those who want to leave Palestine should leave it. Only those who want to stay in a nonviolent, pluralist, secular, democratic, state with equal rights for all and compensation for Palestinians harmed over the past many decades should remain.
Photo above is from MiddleEastMonitor.
Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia campaigned on green energy (and I hear some people may have believed him, though I haven't met one) and then immediately backed the proposed construction of a giant fracked-gas pipeline through the mountains and farms of Virginia to carry fossil fuels from West Virginia to North Carolina.
Dominion Virginia Power paid $1.3 million this year in legal bribes to candidates' election campaigns, more than anyone else in Virginia except the two Parties. Every single bill Dominion opposed in the legislature died. Dominion, according to the dictionary, is "the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority; rule; control; domination."
In Virginia it's easy to think of the evictions of the poor farmers 80 years ago to create Shenandoah National Park as something ancient that civilization has outgrown and would never do again. (And the old lyrics of the song Shenandoah, about giving the Native American chief liquor in order to steal his daughter, are not celebrated in this day and age.) But at least the injustice of the 1930s evictions created a park. At least there was some sort of public interest involved.
Now here comes the Virginia government as the bought-and-paid-for servants of their corporate masters at Dominion to claim a 40-yard-wide path of destruction and potential catastrophe right through the middle of numerous private properties and public properties for the sake of escalating the collapse of a livable climate on the planet, not to mention facilitating the destruction in West Virginia where the fracking frackers will do their fracking. What's the public interest to justify it? It's going to ruin parks and not create any.
A good short documentary on the growing resistance, called Won't Pipe Down, shows the owner of Silverback Distillery explaining that he supported the Keystone Pipeline but opposes this one because it impacts his own personal private property and his business. The correct response to that attitude is not "Serves you right," but "Glad you're now with us." Because NIMBYism keeps getting the proposed path of the pipeline moved, and if those who succeed in moving it stick with the struggle to keep it from getting built at all, perhaps it can be prevented entirely.
The pipeline is also proposed to cut right through a communal farm property, where an existing sense of community may aid the movement.
In fact the movement is doing well. Check out FriendsofNelson.com. There are big protests. Driving through Nelson County, or even through Charlottesville, one sees lots of "No Pipeline" signs. Some 69% of Nelson County landowners in the proposed path have refused to allow surveys on their land.
The film, Won't Pipe Down, uses a quote from local hero slave-owner, rapist, coward, sadist, and father of States Rights, Thomas Jefferson, to emphasize the supreme value of "private property." But the pipeline is not going through the private property of most of the people opposing it, or of most of the people who ought to be opposing it and who will have to start opposing it if it is to be stopped.
The U.S. government fights wars for oil and gas, for godsake. It bombs people's homes for this stuff. If we only protest when our own personal property is impacted disproportionately, we're going to see the climate severely impact each and every piece of private property on earth. This pipeline needs to be opposed by everyone in the area and everyone in the world. Help out, won't you? FriendsofNelson.com and AugustaCountyAlliance.org
Oh, and here's my idea for where to stick the thing if it can't be stopped. Governor McAuliffe is living in public housing in Richmond, Va., and I suspect that Thomas F. Farrell II is able with his personal $12 million per year from Virginians' utility bills, to afford some sort of residence in that area. McAuliffe must bow before the $2500 Farrell gave him for his campaign, even knowing that Farrell gave his opponent $5000. Why not build a pipeline from the sewer beneath each of these two gentlemen's houses, connecting them, and let the question of which produces more filth, the public or private realm, finally be answered when we see which house's plumbing backs up first?
Protest Song about proposed Dominion Gas Pipeline coming through
West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Robin and Linda Williams (copyright 2014)
Image above shows the results of building a leaking pipeline in another state, what Virginians can look forward to if the ACP is built.
By CJ Hinke
Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.
My father, Robert Hinke, was not political. Nor was he religious. Nevertheless, he was a complete pacifist.
When I was a very small boy, he took me to one of the many demonstrations opposing the death penalty for the accused atomic spies, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. He was passionate and outspoken his whole life against the death penalty, a mistake which could never be undone.
My father was of draft age when the US threw itself into World War II. If he knew about conscientious objectors, I never heard him say so. Nor did I ever see him vote.
He was a football player at Rutgers. When he was called for a draft physical, he goaded another player to break his nose by insulting his mother. When the draft authorities told him he was still able to fight, he goaded the same football player to bust him in the nose again. He failed the second physical—a deviated septum meant a soldier who could not wear a gas mask.
I come from the ‘duck and cover’ generation. We were taught in school that to hide under our desks and cover our heads would save us from the bomb!
I was not a particularly rebellious boy. Pledging allegiance to the flag is still the reason I determine right from left. But, on joining the Cub Scouts, appearing at assembly to take the pledge, I knew I could not wear a uniform and follow orders; I threw down my pin in disgust and stalked off the stage.
I was 13 in 1963, when the National Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy marched through my hometown of Nutley, New Jersey, led by pædiatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998). I read SANE’s leaflet about mutually-assured destruction.
Without a moment’s hesitation, I joined SANE’s march to the United Nations in support of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This was my first arrest for civil disobedience. In New York City’s Tombs, I met my first transsexuals and learned to play blackjack using tobacco for currency.
From this point, I read everything I could find about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nuclear weapons testing. I began to study Japanese language the next year in order to get closer to this issue and the terrible crime which America had perpetrated on the Japanese and the world.
Family friends introduced me to Friends’ silent meeting for worship and their peace testimony, seeing the Light in every person. Quakers are a traditional peace church but my attender friends were not religious, nor was I. It did not take a great deal of reflection by age 14 to decide I would not register for the Vietnam draft.
Simply put, conscription feeds the war machine. If you don’t believe in war, you must refuse the draft.
It was about this time I began to refuse to pay war taxes from my part-time job. These acts led logically to becoming a vegetarian: If I will not kill, why should I pay anyone to do my killing for me. I didn’t know any vegetarians; I actually had never heard of any but it was a question of making nonviolence work for me. I’m still a vegetarian today.
I began to devote all my free time to the pacifist groups at 5 Beekman Street in lower Manhattan. I started out in the Student Peace Union national office and was mentored by the dean of American pacifists, A.J. Muste. I put my efforts into the War Resisters League and the Committee for Nonviolent Action, often working on their newsletters and helping with mailings.
This period saw much draft card burning as political protest. Draft card burnings and returnings had taken place since the beginnings of the ‘peacetime’ SSA in 1948 but destruction of draft cards was not made illegal until a special act of Congress was passed in 1965. Among the first to burn, in 1965, was my friend, Catholic Worker David Miller, at New York’s Whitehall Street Induction Center. 30,000 draft refusals in July 1966 rose to 46,000 by October.
A small group of us, including Dr. Spock, was arrested that day for chaining shut the doors of the center. I was, however, determined I would never have a draft card to burn. I did, however, get to enjoy this singular act of rebellion when one of my draft counselees gifted me with his own! This action was followed by the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, chaired by Norma Becker, which I helped organize in March 26, 1966 with Sybil Claiborne of the Greenwich Village Peace Center.
We brainstormed into being a new group of draft-age young men, The Resistance. I worked full-time for The Resistance and was eventually chosen the liaison with the many disparate groups forming the Mobe in planning the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam on April 15, 1967.
That fall, our pacifist coalition marched across the border to Montréal where the 1967 world’s fair, Expo ’67, was being held in the capital of French Canada. The U.S. had commissioned a giant geodesic dome designed by futurist architect Buckminster Fuller for its national pavilion. We wore t-shirts painted with antiwar slogans under our street clothes into the fair and stepped off the escalators to climb into its structure. We were arrested by ladder and removed, and held the night before being released without charge from the 1908 Prison de Bordeaux. Of course, we made international news. Welcome to Canada!
The Resistance was the yeast that grew the Mobe; we raised the bread to make it happen. The Spring Mobe evolved into the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, chaired by Dave Dellinger, which spearheaded the 100,000-strong Confront the Warmakers march on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967.
682 of us were arrested at the Pentagon, the largest civil disobedience arrest in American history. (Yes, some people put flowers into the barrels of the rifles of the National Guardsmen keeping us at bay and some soldiers joined us—I saw it!)
The Mobe was composed of many traditional lefties but also much of the ’New Left’, like Students for a Democratic Society and other stakeholders against the war such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panthers, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Yippies.
As a movement representative, I attended the first national convention of the Wobblies and the first American Communist convention since McCarthy’s Red scare. I saw my job as holding the movement coalition to nonviolence. Violence was the self-defeating tactic of big government.
I was doing a great deal of counseling of draft-age young men for The Resistance. Many of my pacifist pals were going to prison, sentenced to three to five years under the Selective Service Act. I could honestly not expect less. My father was not happy about this probability but never tried to dissuade me, either. I started to draft counsel in Canada, so-called draft ‘dodgers’ and military deserters as well, and he was delighted when I fell for a Canadian Quaker girl while editing Daniel Finnerty and Charles Funnell’s Exiled: Handbook for the Draft-Age Emigrant for the Philadelphia Resistance in 1967.
On May 6, 1968, five days after my 18th birthday, we held a demonstration in front of the Federal Building in Newark, New Jersey, where physicals and inductions were scheduled. However, that day more than 1,500 people, entertained by the Bread and Puppet Theater and General Hershey Bar, (parodying Selective Service director, Gen. Lewis B. Hershey), showed up to celebrate my refusal to register. There were no inductions or physicals that day. The Feds were spooked and turned away all draftee appointments.
More than 2,000 of my supporters signed a statement declaring they had counseled, aided and abetted me to refuse the draft, an act carrying the same legal penalties of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. We turned ourselves in to the Federal Marshal in Newark who simply refused to arrest me. And I’d packed a toothbrush!
The word ‘evader’ has an ignoble ring to it, as if one were a coward. We need to change the perspective because the only thing resisters are evading is injustice. COs also get called, pejoratively, ’shirkers’ or ’slackers’. The only thing we shirk is shrugging off the chains of militarism.
I had already planned to move to Canada. However, I had a few more things to do to end the war.
My summer of 1968 was spent at the Polaris Action Farm of the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action, centered around a 1750 farmhouse in rural Voluntown, Connecticut. During this summer, a paramilitary right-wing group calling themselves the Minutemen were plotting to attack the CNVA farm and murder all the pacifists. The police knew about the plot but did not inform us because they thought (rightly) that we would warn the Minutemen.
The five right-wingers arrived in the dead of an August night and set up an automatic weapon on a tripod in the field. At that point, the Connecticut State Police ambushed the Minutemen into a firefight. One of the rounds blew a hole into the hip of one of our residents, Roberta Trask; she needed extensive surgery and rehabilitation. For some years, I wrote to one of the Minutemen in prison. New England CNVA lives on as the Voluntown Peace Trust.
My summer of 1969 was spent working with Arlo Tatum, George Willoughby, Bent Andressen and others at the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors in Philadelphia, counseling draft-age men and editing the 11th edition of CCCO’s Handbook for Conscientious Objectors. I was fortunate to live with veteran peace activists Wally and Juanita Nelson. I have never met more positive committed activists nor anyone more in love.; they celebrated life in every way possible.
New England CNVA chose me as their representative to the Japan Socialist Party’s annual Conference Against A and H Bombs in 1969 due to my research on the atomic bombings and Japanese language skills. I was one of eight international delegates and certainly the youngest.
Nothing could have prepared me for Hiroshima at 8:15 am on August 6th at the epicenter of “Little Boy”’s atomic blast; there is no greater call to peace. Working with the World Friendship Center founded in 1965 by Barbara Reynolds, I spent much of my time in both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospitals where people are still dying from nearly 70-year old radiation illnesses.
Outside the U.S. military base in Naha, Okinawa, I gave a speech in Japanese. Then I turned around the speakers to blast the giant U.S. base with instructions for deserters.
In September 1969, I found myself living in Canada. My gainful employment was working with the massive collection of archived papers of British pacifist vegetarian philosopher Bertrand Russell at McMaster University. Russell was of enormous support to conscientious objectors as were Henri Barbusse, Albert Einstein, and H.G. Wells.
I was greatly supported by Toronto Quaker pacifists, Jack and Nancy Pocock who opened their Yorkville home and hearts to many draft exiles, later Vietnamese boat people and again for Latin American refugees.
My experience as a draft counselor led me to work with Mark Satin of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme to edit and revise the fourth edition of his Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada, published in 1970. The book’s publisher, House of Anansi Press, began my association with the alternative education of Rochdale College in Toronto, where I became both resident and part of the administration.
My gainful employment at the time was for Toronto’s prestigious Addiction Research Foundation, walking distance from The Rock, from one drugstore to another! I ferried drug samples from Rochdale dealers to ARF’s doctors for testing, protecting the safety of the youth community. Eventually I migrated from ARF to the province’s Whitby Psychiatric Hospital where I hosted radical British psychiatrists, R.D. Laing and David Cooper. We disabled the electroshock machines there and took a lot of psychedelics.
It was during this period that I was most active in a sort of latter-day underground railroad which arranged transportation to Canada and Sweden for American military deserters and draft resisters already charged.
I have to mention that life in the supercharged peace movement was a hard act to follow. But nonviolent activism requires constant reinvention. Specific noncoöperation has an expiry date and then one must move on to new issues, new tactics. Unlike many of my activist contemporaries who remained in the U.S., moving to Canada was, for me, like Lowell Naeve in these pages, a refreshing reset which enabled me to remain true to my conscience and ethical values but still remain on the cutting edge of critical thinking and analysis.
It would be remiss of me not to credit wide use of LSD among young people for encouraging draft resistance. It’s pretty hard to be one with everything when harming anyone is just like killing yourself. I hope the spiritual self-exploration made possible by psychedelics comes back to us. We need it…
Over the intervening decades, I have honed and sharpened what nonviolent direct action means to me. My definition has broadened considerably. I now fully embrace the concept of economic sabotage and destruction of the machinery of evil. I no longer think an activist needs to do so openly and thus be sacrificed. Better to do so secretly and live to plant another monkeywrench where it will do the most good at stopping violence.
Draft “exile” may have altered my circumstances but not my life. In Canada, I never failed to inform the FBI of my changes of address. However, after I was indicted in 1970, they didn’t notify me. I was aware of my illegal status when traveling to the US but I was not burdened with it.
In the autumn of 1976, I rented a retreat cottage in the bucolic farmland of Point Roberts, Washington. Point Roberts is American solely because of its location below the 49th parallel. It can only be reached via American waters or by road…through Canada.
The American war had been over for more than a year. However, one dark December evening, a knock on the door announced, US Marshals, local police and sheriff’s deputies. When I told them I was Canadian and would simply get out of their car when we reached the border, they advised me to dress warmly.
Shackled and handcuffed, they rowed me in a tiny aluminum boat to a 70-foot Coast Guard cutter with a crew of 15 men. When these boys, all younger than I, asked what I had done, they were amazed; to a man, they thought the draft was over. It was thus I arrived at Whatcom County Jail. In order to confuse my supporters who were gathering around the jail, they moved me incommunicado to King County Jail in Seattle. I fasted until the new President was inaugurated.
I had just become the last American arrested for the Vietnam draft, and the first pardoned.
Jimmy Carter was elected President in November of 1976. The day after he took office, January 21, 1977, Carter’s first official act as President was Proclamation 4483 which pardoned unconditionally all those accused of draft law violations from 1964 to 1973. Including me—I walked! A huge celebration of supporters was held at the Capitol Hill Methodist Church.
Due to my central position in the American peace movement, I started these interviews in 1966 when I was 16 years old. I fully expected to go to prison for the draft and I wanted to be forearmed. I soon saw that these interviews would be of the same inspiration and encouragement to other draft resisters as they were to me.
Moreover, my friendship with these fearless activists convinced me that conscience led to commitment, commitment to defiance, defiance to refusal, and refusal to noncoöperation. Radical pacifists seasoned me from a principled teenager into a lifelong radical.
I decided to make this body of work into a book to share. Pacifist friend, poet Barbara Deming, was published by Richard Grossman in New York. With her introduction, Dick agreed to publish this book. Dick gave me a $3000 advance and let us live in his Lower East Side apartment for a month. However, I was in process of moving to Canada, the manuscript was lost, and I ran away with Grossman’s money. (Sorry, Dick!) My sister only recently rediscovered it in my boxes of family archives, after more than 40 years.
Sometimes I feel like the Forrest Gump of the modern pacifist movement. I met everybody, I demonstrated everywhere, I got arrested frequently. I have been privileged to have been made family to three generations of well-known refuseniks. Today I do my best to impart those teachings of conscience to my students.
I wanted to know if these writings were purely of historical interest or if they had relevance to today’s antiwar activists. In working again with these interviews, I find that these refusers sowed the seeds of my lifetime philosophy of anarchism, socialism, and pacifism, justice equality, civil liberties. They are no less moving now to me as an old man as they were when I was a teenager. These peace activists still teach us all the true meaning of courage.
I agonized over the title for this book in 1966. I used Thoreau’s quote and called the manuscript, “In Quiet Desperation…”. I think now, however, that title was a product of its time, when young men felt a little desperate about going to prison—jail was a last choice. I don’t believe that anymore. I think nonviolent civil disobedience in the 21st century should be our first choice…if we are committed to genuine and meaningful change. And CD needs to have a sense of humor! Better still, don’t get caught and live to act another day. That is revolutionary nonviolence…
Voting with my feet by no means dampened my personal activism. I was arrested with 1,500 others at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in 1983; Quakers were my “affinity group” (sheesh!); we locked arms and ran as fast and as far as we could get over the fence, making Wackenhut goons play whack-a-mole chasing us among the cacti with SUVs. When asked by state police, I gave my name as “Martin Luther King”.
I hand-built a cabin in Clayoquot Sound off the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1975. First Nations people have lived here for 10,000 years. They arrived with the cedars as the last ice age receded. From 1984 to 1987, I defended the 1,500-year old Pacific temperate rainforest, first at Meares Island, my front-yard view.
My strategy was taken from native loggers. I supported driving big spikes into the most valuable trees to make them worthless to an industry producing toilet paper and copy paper. In all, 12½ square miles of proposed logging were spiked on Meares Island, more than 23,000 old-growth trees. I followed this up with contributions on tree-spiking to the Earth First! book, Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by EF! co-founder Dave Foreman.
Sulphur Passage on the Clayoquot mainland of Vancouver Island was also threatened by old-growth clearcut logging. My daughter and I pitched a tiny puptent in the logging road to stop its progress. Who speaks for the trees, so far up the evolutionary ladder from ourselves? After being arrested by helicopter, I acted in my own defense in B.C. Supreme Court and served 37 days for civil contempt in provincial prisons.
The largest Antipodean corporado, controlling 20¢ of every New Zealand dollar, was behind the clearcutting on the westcoast. I traveled to New Zealand with a group of Clayoquot Sound natives to make our voice heard at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. We also managed to shut down the loggers’ company tower and send its robber baron to flight.
I was again arrested at Oakland, California for blocking munitions trains to the Concord Naval Weapons Station in 1987. A small group of us covered the tracks with tenting. Inside the tent, we’d brought heavy tools and were busy removing the rails.
Upon moving to Thailand, secret, extensive, irrational censorship was impacting my academic research and hobbling the ability of my students to produce internationally-competitive papers. I started Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) with a petition to the National Human Rights Commission. No one was publicly talking about Thai censorship where, to date, government has blocked more than a million webpages. FACT turned knowledgeable conversations about censorship from taboo to trendy. Censorship remains a hot-button issue here.
FACT posted leaked government blocklists as some of the first documents on WikiLeaks in 2006. Early in 2007, Julian Assange invited me to serve on WikiLeaks’ international advisory board, a position I still hold.
Currently, I am a founder of the Nonviolent Conflict Workshop in Bangkok. We hope to secure recognition for conscientious objection under Thailand’s military draft with the long-range goal of ending conscription entirely.
I wish especially to acknowledge with the deepest gratitude and fondness the pacifist luminaries who mentored me at 5 Beekman Street: A.J. Muste (1885-1967); Dave Dellinger (1915-2004) (Liberation); Karl Bissinger (1914-2008), Grace Paley (1922-2007), Igal Roodenko (1917-1991), Ralph DiGia (1914-2008), Jim Peck (1914-1993), David McReynolds (War Resisters League); Bradford Lyttle, Peter Kiger, Marty Jezer (1940-2005), Maris Cakars (1942-1992) & Susan Kent, Barbara Deming (1917-1984), Keith & Judy Lampe, Paul Johnson, Eric Weinberger (1932-2006), Allan Solomonow (Committee for Nonviolent Action, New York Workshop in Nonviolence and WIN Magazine); Joe Kearns (Student Peace Union). In our wider pacifist circle, Max & Maxine Hoffer (Montclair Friends Meeting); Marjorie & Bob Swann, Neil Haworth (New England Committee for Nonviolent Action); Wally (1909-2002) & Juanita Nelson, Ernest (1912-1997) & Marion (1912-1996) Bromley, (Peacemakers); Arlo Tatum, George Willoughby (1914-2010), Bent Andresen, Lawrence Scott (Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors). These brave pacifists remain my resistance family. They were gentle and forceful in making a better world for everyone. They gave me the best peace education a ‘Murrican boy could have. It’s lasted to this day.
It would be remiss of me not to include my wider peace movement influences and inspirations: Radical pro bono movement lawyers, (and often mine): Bill Kunstler (1919-1995), Gerry Lefcourt, Len Weinglass (1933-2011), and Lenny Boudin (1912-1989). They were often cited for contempt in our defense. Timothy Leary (1920-1996); Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997); A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896-1977) (Krishna Consciousness); Michael Francis Itkin (1936-1989) (Gay Bishop); Paul Krassner (The Realist); Stokely Carmichael (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee); Gary Rader (1944-1973) (Chicago Area Draft Resisters); Peace Pilgrim (1908-1981); Mario Savio (1942-1996); Jim Forest (Catholic Peace Fellowship); Aryeh Neier (New York Civil Liberties Union); Abie Nathan (1927-2008) (Voice of Peace); Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) (Yippie!); Bob Fass (WBAI); Dee Jacobsen (Students for a Democratic Society); and Walter Dorwin Teague III (U.S. Committee to Support the National Liberation Front of Vietnam). The antinuclear activists: Grey Nun Dr. Rosalie Bertell; Australian physician Dr. Helen Caldicott; Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, Gregory Boertje-Obed (Transform Now Plowshares); Catholic Worker Sisters Rosemary Lynch and Klaryta Antoszewska (Nevada Desert Experience). And our philosophers: Richard Gregg (1885-1974), Gene Keyes, George Lakey, Gene Sharp, Paul Goodman (1911-1972), Howard Zinn (1922-2010), Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982), Noam Chomsky.
Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs Memorial Service & Cold Case Justice Initiative Syracuse U College of Law writes:
A plane just left Mississippi carrying the body of Rexdale Henry. His family has asked for an independent autopsy by a Florida board certified pathologist. Mr. Henry was found dead in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in a Neshoba County jail cell on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 just two days after the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail. A lifelong community activist and member of the Choctaw tribe, Mr. Henry was arrested July 9 allegedly for failure to pay an old fine.
Despite initial fear and speculation about foreign support to AlSaud’s offensive aggression on Yemen, UK has now confirmed that it is providing precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia to use in airstrikes against targets in Yemen, according to The Times Newspaper (17th July). In a written response to a House of Lords question, the defence minister, Earl Howe, said: “We are providing technical support, precision-guided weapons and exchanging information with the Saudi Arabian armed forces through pre-existing arrangements.” He conceded that “In addition to the personnel who continue to provide support for equipment supplied, we have a small number of liaison personnel in Saudi and coalition air and maritime headquarters. This includes personnel in the Maritime Coalition Co-ordination Centre in the region, supporting the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen.” Defence News, an online magazine said that the weapons are understood to be Paveway IV precision -guided bombs originally destined for the RAF. This is the first official admission by a Western country of involvement in the Saudi aggression on Yemen’s people. Lord Howe’s admission has sent shock waves and added new dimensions to the illegitimate war. Saudi Arabia, like Britain, flies Typhoon and Tornado fast jets, which carry the 500lb munitions. The Saudis have been using the weapons for strike missions against ISIS targets in Syria and against Yemeni people, Defence News reported.
In the week between 13-19th July at least 29 native Bahrainis including six children were arrested by the Alkhalifa regime. More people were arrested in the past two days. Yesterday four people were detained from the Sanabis Town; Hussain Al Sami’e, Taha Hakim AlSheikh, Murtada Adwin and Mohammad Jassim Al Awainati. A female prisoner of conscience, Taiba Darwish, has been remanded in custody for two more weeks for taking part in anti-regime protests. The release of another female political detainee, Zahra Al Sheikh and her 15 months baby only happened after she had served her full sentence of one year in jail for being involved in anti-regime protests.
As the Revolutionary groups declared preparation to mark what they call “Bahraini Hostage Day” on 24th July, many inmates at Jaw Central Prison started hunger strike to protest the deteriorating conditions in the notorious torture centre. The situation there is described as “appallingly overcrowded and unfit for human habitation”.
It's the time of the year when high school students graduate and prepare to go to the universities of their choice. But for some students in Bahrain, specifically Shiites, activists and government opponents, the path that awaits them is not so bright. One of these ill-fated students is Mustafa Mohammed Ismael who is in jail instead of pursuing his dream of studying medicine. Mustafa graduated top of his class from high school with grades averaging 98.8 percent. On August 15, 2013, Mustafa, who is now 18, was walking out of his grandfather's house in Nuwaidrat when he was stopped by security patrol. He was charged with illegal gathering and initially sentenced to six months. The court of appeal later reduced the sentence to three months and released him on bail 24 days later. This year the regime has committed what is termed “scholarships massacre”, denying bright students of native origin the chance to pursue their studies while granting pro-regime loyalists grants and sc holarships. This is one of the most outrageous Apartheid policies of Bahrain’s dictator.
The ferocious and systematic attack on freedom of speech has outraged even the supporters of the regime. The arrest of Ibrahim Sharif has deprived the dictator of any praise for the release of Nabeel Rajab. There are strong demands that all charges against him, Mr Sharif, Sheikh Ali Salman and Bahrain 13, be dropped. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, criticized the Bahraini "government's crackdown on three opposition figures," referring to the arrest of Wa'ad leader "Ebrahim Sharif," prosecution of the Al-Wefaq figure Majeed Milad and retrial of the leader of the opposition in Bahrain, Sheikh Ali Salman. Index on Censorship calls on King Hamad to release all the political prisoners currently serving sentences on spurious charges,” Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said. UN experts have also called for releasing all political prisoners and dropping charges relating to freedom of expression levelled against most of them. In London 39 MPs have signed Petition 241 calling on the Government of Bahrain to allow free speech and stop persecution of people for speaking out, protesting or calling for their rights. It also calls on the UK Government to list Bahrain as a “0country of concern”.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
22 July 2015
By Dan Monte
I left from Marin County, just north of San Francisco, to LA on Memorial day, and then on June 15 headed east toward Washington D.C. I have ridden over 1,600 miles and climbed more than 40,000 feet of mountains. I will be traveling Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri the next few weeks and hope to arrive in DC mid to late September.
I view this as a necessary pilgrimage for me. I want to raise awareness that climate change, which threatens our civilization, is only intensified by war, and that there is no solution to climate change that does not include peace.
“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report 2013
This is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a demarcation notifying us that industrial warfare can end civilization. Clearly we the people of this earth are at a critical juncture, whether to work in peaceful cooperation to solve the consequences of climate change or whether out of fear we wreak havoc through war. Polls show we have collectively lost trust that our good intentions are the leading motives of our leaders’ actions. My hope lies in the faith that we can change this and that in other countries there are people such as us.
But we are accustomed to viewing issues as independent of each other, war and the environment as not connected. And yet our Department of "Defense" has been telling us for many years now that climate change is a serious national security threat. Indeed it is a global security threat that is destabilizing our world. We must understand that military force forgoes the international cooperation needed for solving our climate problem. War reverses all of our progress on improving environmental standards. It is extremely carbon intensive. Our task is to stand firm against the evangelists of war and to reject their fear mongering. The rejection of militarism is necessary -- it is the only course towards climate solutions.
The effects of climate change are not limited to melting Arctic ice sheets.
Climate change drought is causing civil strife and provoking war. A multi-year drought in Syria caused the migration of the rural population into the cities and threatened the stability of their imperfect government that has turned into ‘a major civil war with international involvement.’ Scientific studies report that in Sub-Saharan Africa there is a 30-year correlation of climate changes ‘with an increase in the likelihood of civil war.’ Additionally food shortages caused by climate change have been found to be a contributing factor in the Arab Spring uprisings. (Scientific American, March 2, 2015)
The world population is on course to increase 30% in the next few decades. Many countries are now incapable of producing enough food for their current population. Overdrawn aquifers and drought have depleted once abundant land. Additionally sea level rise will diminish many productive river deltas from food production.
Americans have a special role to play in world affairs.
The US accounts for nearly half of all military spending worldwide. Our leaders are correct in telling us that we are the strongest military power on earth. What they leave out is that this great force is limited to destruction and chaos as evidenced by its recent use in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq from Libya to Syria. We have given the whole of the 20th century to perpetual war. How much time can we give to peaceful solutions, to negotiated solutions?
It takes significant fear-mongering to turn people towards war. The images of the World Trade Towers falling and the beheadings of innocents are such propaganda. These are real events, horrifying, and they terrorize us. What we fail to see is that our interventionist policies and militaristic actions are part of the cause and are not the solution. It is our responsibility, if we are serious about reversing climate change, that we face our fears and question closely what alternatives there are for this violence.
What outcomes are forgone by following the path of war?
What are possible unintended consequences?
What can be gained by peaceful initiatives?
International cooperation, the hallmark of peace, is necessarily part of the solution. We cannot wage war or threaten to do so and at the same time expect to receive the assistance we need to reverse the level of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
We can chose leaders that have a track record for constructive action.
We have to demand of our leaders that they abandon acting like 19th-century imperialists, militarily dominating others for their resources. It doesn’t add to our security and in fact it puts us in greater jeopardy. And it is completely unnecessary in a global economy. We need to end war as it is the antithesis of the peaceful cooperation we need. Climate change is the real threat to our security. Environmentalists need to assert that there exists no military path to climate security.
I will be posting at: Bicyclingforpeace.blogspot.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
(Image: Anthony Freda. Used with permission)
It’s not news that climate change threatens the security of every person on planet Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists predicts 6-16 inches of sea level rise by the year 2050. The threat is apparent in the Marshall Islands, which just set its own ambitious goal for reducing carbon emissions in the wake of catastrophic storms and coastal flooding in the South Pacific. The threat is apparent in California, where prolonged drought has led to wildfires like the one that crossed a busy highway and caused several vehicles to explode in flames. The threat of weather extremes is apparent in Sydney, Australia, which saw snowfall this winter for the first time since 1836.
George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.
Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.
“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.
Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?
Well, no, not really.
By David Soleil
As thoughtful, caring parents, we would never want to teach our kids that violence is the answer to any or every problem. We want our children to learn to get along with others, share, be kind, say "excuse me," and try their best at an empathetic, "I'm sorry."
I thought I was attuned to the violence that surrounds us in American culture. However, a trip to our local department store with my kids yesterday was shocking. We stepped into the toy aisles. Here is a quick rundown of the toys and action figures, in order...
- Power Rangers
- Star Wars
- Elite Force - modern Army/military toys
- Professional Wrestling
- More Power Rangers
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Super Hero Smashers
- Marvel Comics Characters - Hulk, Avengers, Captain America, etc.
- Horror Series - Michael Meyers action figure from Halloween movies and Eric Draven from the Crow
- Game of Thrones
- Super Hero Adventures - these are tiny cute versions of Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman and Hulk for younger kids.
Notice a pattern here? Every toy, without exception, uses violence and weapons to cause pain and/or death as their solution to problems. Then, with the Horror Series, we are supposed to play Serial Killer? Seriously?
What message does this send our children? Violence is heroic. Violence is the solution to all problems. Violence is a super power.
We are aghast and outraged when we see ISIS beheading a person on the nightly news, yet our children play out the same gruesome scenarios with the toys we get them for their birthday, the movies we take them to see, the comic books we buy for them, the shows they watch on TV, and the video games we buy for them.
What is a solution for this? Do I want a Selma action figure series at Target? Perhaps a Gandhi bobble-head? (Yes, that one exists...)
While that would be nice, the solution that I seek is to empower parents to take a stand for your values. Take a stand for peace-making. Take a stand for selfless service to others, out of compassion and empathy. Your children are looking to you to define how to interact with the world. Talk with them about your values, especially at Target, and especially in the toy aisle. How do you solve problems? Connect it to your faith or your belief system. What does it mean to you to be a Christian? A Muslim? A Unitarian Universalist? A Humanitarian? Who are the super heroes in your life and why?
Suddenly, those plastic "super heroes" and weapons seem pretty silly and your family's connections, values and relationships have grown much deeper. Stand strong. Put peace into their hands. Leave the violence on the shelf.
David Soleil, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the former Chair of the Leadership Education group for the International Leadership Association, a founder and staff member at the K-12 Sudbury School of Atlanta.
Sailing for a Nuclear Free World
EUREKA, CALIFORNIA - The historic Golden Rule peace boat, restored by Veterans For Peace and many friends, sets sail from the Eureka marina at noontime on Thursday, July 23, on its way to San Diego.
The 30-foot ketch and its crew ignited an international movement to stop the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in 1958, when they attempted to sail into a nuclear bomb test zone in the Marshall Islands. The Golden Rule will now continue its mission to educate millions of people about the perils of nuclear weapons.
“Nuclear weapons are still with us and the threat of nuclear war is very real,” said the Golden Rule’s captain David Robson, a Veterans For Peace member from Baltimore, Maryland. “We are dismayed that the U.S. government plans to invest One Trillion Dollars into upgrading its nuclear arsenal, instead of reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, as called for in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.”
Joining David Robson on the sail to San Diego is first mate Jan Passion of Pleasant Hills, California, and crew members Michael Gonzales of Trinidad, California and Helen Jaccard of Seattle, Washington.
“The ongoing nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan reminds us of the dangers of radiation poisoning posed by nuclear power plants,” said Golden Rule crew member Helen Jaccard. “Nuclear power is the flip side of nuclear weapons, and we don’t need either of them,” said Jaccard.
The first voyage of the renewed Golden Rule sailboat will be from Eureka on California’s north coast to San Diego near the U.S./Mexico border. After an estimated 7-10 days, the Golden Rule will arrive in time for the national convention of Veterans For Peace, August 5-9. That week is also the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 200,000 people. The convention theme is “Peace and Reconciliation in the Pacific.”
In Eureka, there is a sense of shared pride and joy among those who have worked hard for the last five years to see this day.
“This little wooden boat is a honey,” said Leroy Zerlang, whose boatyard has been home to the Golden Rule during five years of restoration by volunteers. “We all want to live in a peaceful world. My family and staff were very happy to do our part,” said Zerlang.
The Golden Rule will return to Eureka in October, after visiting ports along the California coast as it works its way north from San Diego. Over the next ten years, the Golden Rule will carry its message of peace around the United States and possibly around the world.
Follow the progress of the Golden Rule on its website, www.vfpgoldenruleproject.org
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
By Robert C. Koehler
“. . . no real security, just powers of retaliation.”
This was Norman Mailer, four-plus decades ago, writing in Miami and the Siege of Chicago about the obsessive security measures – “helicopters riding overhead like roller coasters, state troopers with magnums on their hip and crash helmets, squad cars, motorcycles” – at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, which . . . uh, didn’t actually provide security, but sure allowed us to get even afterwards.
This is still the unnoticed insanity haunting the American news cycle, whether the story being reported is domestic or international. As a society, we’re armed and dangerous – and always at war, both collectively and individually. We’re endlessly declaring bad guys (officially and unofficially) and endlessly protecting ourselves from them, in the process guaranteeing that the violence continues. And the parallels between “them” and “us” are unnerving.
Jon Stewart interviewed President Obama for the last time and told jokes instead of asking questions.
If Stewart retires, where will we find someone willing to let Obama spew nonsense at such length unchallenged?
I discussed Obama's interview on RT on Wednesday, and someone asked me to post the Youtube, but RT has to do that, not me. So here's the gist of what I think.
Stewart said to Obama: you've tried bombing and overthrowing leaders and arming rebels and ... what's that new thing ... oh yeah, diplomacy.
Obama talked up the Iran deal.
Stewart should have asked Obama a question, such as, "If you prefer diplomacy in this case, why not in many other cases where you seem to prefer war?" He could have followed up by asking about each war.
By CJ Hinke
Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.
Incredibly, in the 21st-century, roughly half of the world’s nation-states practice military conscription. According to Wikipedia, the countries on this list may still be enforcing military conscription.
In all cases, registration is required but military service may not be; this practice would certainly yield a number of draft refusers. In some cases, other forms of national service are compulsory which also generate principled refusal.
Starred * countries list provisions for alternative service or conscientious objection which exemption would also result in absolutist refusers; in some cases, the right to conscientious objection is constitutional. Failure by governments to provision conscientious objection or alternative service contravenes United Nation conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18), to which almost all these nation-states are party.
I know you like the elephants and the acrobats, but we really do not have time for this.
The U.S. presidential election is very far away. There's a measurable rise in the ocean, the construction of numerous new military bases, a decision on peace or war with Iran, a push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, intense antagonization of Russia, and more than likely another month-long bombing of Gaza between now and then.
We should be engaged in intense, all-out, creative, nonviolent resistance. We should be reforming or revolutionizing the election process, among much else. Even when elections have not been financed and reported on primarily by a wealthy elite with debates run by two parties, they haven't tended to be the means by which important social change has come.
We need radical change, and the election process isn't even advertising it. One of the chief sources of U.S. election funding, Sheldon Adelson, dismisses the idea of democracy because it's not in the Bible. And of course Adelson is up-to-date compared with some of the people he funds. At least 32 Republicans are running, apparently with a collective IQ that hardly reaches three figures. For them I'd be willing to revive the Confederacy, give it lots of flags, and locate it in the portions of the Southeast expected to fall below the rising ocean (as long as Donald Trump is charged extra for beach properties!).
Of course Jill Stein has great positions, but let's face it, the Democrats are not up to the task. Hillary Clinton has replaced FDR's four freedoms with "the four fights." It turns out she's in favor of families, America, democracy, and economics (who knew?), or at least she wants to fight with them. Oh, and she also wants to fight with Iran, ISIS, China, and Russia -- each of which is apparently somehow harming our "values." Then there's Bernie Sanders who pretends that the 54% of federal discretionary spending that goes to militarism just doesn't exist. Military? What military? Martin O'Malley has the same approach. Lincoln Chafee claims very briefly and vaguely to oppose wars. Jim Webb adds a bit more to his claim to oppose wars, but makes clear that he wants to fund militarism while expecting doing so not to produce more wars. Chafee and Webb are the worst on non-war issues, unless you compare Clinton's and O'Malley's actual records to their stated desires. Sanders is the best on non-war issues but might do little to slow the rush toward bigger and more frequent wars.
A decent candidate with a basic grasp of the problem of war addiction would say something like this, and no Democrat or Republican is anywhere close to saying it:
Requiem for the Home Front
A Cheer for Irma the Caricaturist
By Tom Engelhardt
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong are the authors of Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated. We speak with both of them about the book and the current crisis in Ukraine.
A review of Ukraine by David Swanson is here: http://davidswanson.org/node/4799
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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"In any event, I had to get involved with the shipment as I was the only person who had any experience with the military's arcane procedures for packaging and shipment. We were approaching the first shipment date, so I called the supply sergeant, who I had carefully cultivated with lunches and beers so there wouldn't be any problems on that end. We'd had a problem, however, with a mandatory engineering change making the cost of getting new PCBs made and replaced in time to meet the schedule hugely expensive. And then Saddam invaded Kuwait. So I called the sergeant up and asked him (without too much desperation in my voice, I hoped) whether the outbreak of hostilities would impact our schedule. To my relief he replied that he did want to delay our shipments, that he'd been trying to get a chance to call me, he was insanely busy at the moment. I replied that yes, it must be quite a job to get ready for the invasion and keep our brave troops supplied after. (I was bicycling the 18 miles to work with a sign on the back of my bike that said, "Runs on US beer, not Middle East Oil, No War for Oil.") He said, 'Hell, no, that's not it. We've got warehouses full of stuff stored that we don't need or want. Now that hostilities have broken out, I've got to get it all shipped to the war zone so we can declare it destroyed in action and get it off our books.' I was pretty much speechless, muttered something about I wish he hadn't told me that."
It’s not a job, it’s an adventure, or
wearing your own clothes is the new camo
By CJ Hinke
Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.
There are as many reasons to desert military service as there are deserters. All countries’ militaries like to snatch young men when they are uneducated, inexperienced, and unemployed. It takes a soldier far greater courage to throw down his weapon than to kill a stranger.
There are deserters in every country that has an armed forces. Armies demand blind obedience and human beings crave liberty.
Why do men desert? Certainly not from cowardice. It takes far more courage to break from the pack and its reliance upon rabid nationalism. 36% of men facing battle for the first time were more afraid of being labeled a coward than of being wounded or killed.
I watched a man whipping an apple tree.
I held the door open to him.
I knew that when he got tired
he would turn around and see me
holding the door for him.
And maybe he would come inside and we could talk.
I could see that many of the trees in his orchard
bore the scars of the whippings
they had received over the years.
Some of the older trees were bent over and knotted
as if riddled with pain.
Finally he turned around.
Who are you? he asked.
I am your door-man, I said.
I never saw you before, or that door.
Has that ever helped, I asked?
Whipping your trees?
It helps quiet my demons, said he.
And then I saw that the grass was crawling
with a nasty host of creeping and flying
and buzzing creatures of hideous appearance.
Anyone might have thought they were insects.
Nothing will make them go away, he said,
See if you can spot the mistake in this activist email I received recently:
"In 2001, the Clinton Administration handed George Bush peace, prosperity, and record budget surpluses. Eight years later, Bush handed Barack Obama two disastrous wars and a global economic crash that destroyed over 8 million American jobs. Now that President Obama has finally brought those jobs back - in the face of vicious GOP opposition - Bush's brother Jeb is now blaming American workers for not working hard enough. If you're as outraged as we are, please click here to sign Hillary Clinton's petition telling Jeb Bush that Americans need a raise, not a lecture."
OK, it was a trick; there's more than one mistake. Let's list a few:
Here are things Bill Clinton is now apologizing for: mass incarceration, Wall Street deregulation, the drug war, and corporate trade agreements. Here are a few of the things he should also be apologizing for: destroying welfare, creating media monopolies, expanding NATO toward Russia, creating a precedent for illegal NATO wars without Congressional or UN authorizations, and 500,000 children killed by sanctions in Iraq.
Here are a few little-known facts about President Barack Obama: the war on Afghanistan is more his than Bush's by any measure, he had regularly voted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a senator, he broke his promised schedule for ending the war on Iraq and never fully ended it and soon revived it, he's supported coups in Honduras and Egypt and Ukraine, he's claimed the power to murder anyone anywhere by drone, he's expanded the military into numerous nations laying the groundwork for future hostilities, and his war on Libya followed the Clinton model of blatant illegality rather than the Bush Jr. approach of at least bothering to lie to Congress and the United Nations.
Another activist group sent me an email this week reading, in part: "The truth is, Republicans don't want diplomacy to work. They want another costly war like the one they started in Iraq in 2003." In reality, a Republican House and a Democratic Senate voted for the war on Iraq in 2002. The same parties hold the same branches now. There's a wise saying that goes something like this: those who convince themselves of a bullshit version of history may be condemned to repeat what actually happened.
Those who study what actually happened may be less shocked to discover how grotesquely corrupt Hillary Clinton is, how murderous, how fervently she promoted that war on Iraq, how very long she has been so disastrous, how she out-hawks almost any hawk, how awful she is for feminism, how brutal she can be, how close she is to Wall Street Republicans and oil barons and Henry Kissinger, how hard it would be to actually elect her, how she used the State Department to market weapons and fracking and pushed weapons on governments she called soft on terrorism while waiving restrictions on sales to brutal governments that donated to her foundation, how she backs mass surveillance, how she believes in representing banks, and how greedy she is.
So long sad times, go long bad times
We are rid of you at last
Howdy gay times, cloudy gray times
You are now a thing of the past
Clinton days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So lets sing a song of cheer again
Clinton days are here again
Former head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt. General Michael Flynn has joined the ranks of the many recently retired officials openly admitting that what the U.S. military does generates dangers rather than reducing them. (Flynn didn't explicitly apply this to every recent war and tactic, but did apply it to drone wars, proxy wars, the invasion of Iraq, the occupation of Iraq, and the new war on ISIS, which seems to cover most of the actions the Pentagon engages in. Other recently retired officials have said the same of every other recent U.S. war.)
Once you've admitted that the means of mass killing is not justified by some higher end, once you've called the wars "strategic mistakes," once you've accepted that the wars don't work on their own terms, well then there's no way left to claim that they are excusable in moral terms. Mass killing for some greater good is a tough argument to make, but possible. Mass killing for no damn good reason is totally indefensible and the equivalent of what we call it when it's done by a non-government: mass murder.
But if war is mass murder, then virtually everything that people from Donald Trump to Glenn Greenwald say about war is not quite right.
Here's Trump regarding John McCain: "He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." This is not just wrong because of your view of the good, bad, or indifference of being captured (or what you think McCain did while captured), but because there is no such thing as a war hero. That is the unavoidable consequence of recognizing war as mass murder. You cannot participate in mass murder and be a hero. You can be incredibly brave, loyal, self-sacrificing, and all kinds of other things, but not a hero, which requires that you be brave for a noble cause, that you serve as a model for others.
Not only did John McCain participate in a war that killed some 4 million Vietnamese men, women, and children for no damn good reason, but he has been among the leading advocates for numerous additional wars ever since, resulting in the additional deaths of millions of men, women, and children for, yet again, no damn good reason -- as part of wars that have mostly been defeats and always been failures even on their own terms. This senator, who sings "bomb, bomb Iran!" accuses Trump of firing up "the crazies." Kettle, meet pot.
Let's turn to what a couple of our best commentators are saying about the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn.: Dave Lindorff and Glenn Greenwald. First Lindorff:
"If it turns out that Abdulazeez was in any way linked to ISIS, then his action in attacking U.S. military personnel in the U.S. and killing them has to be seen not as terrorism but as a legitimate retributive act of war. . . . Abdulazeez, if he was a combatant, deserves credit really, at least for following the rules of war. He appears to have focused his killing remarkably well on actual military personnel. There were no civilian casualties in his attacks, no children killed or even wounded. Compare that to the U.S. record."
"Under the law of war, one cannot, for instance, legally hunt down soldiers while they're sleeping in their homes, or playing with their children, or buying groceries at a supermarket. Their mere status as 'soldiers' does not mean it is legally permissible to target and kill them wherever they are found. It is only permissible to do so on the battlefield, when they are engaged in combat. That argument has a solid footing in both law and morality. But it is extremely difficult to understand how anyone who supports the military actions of the U.S. and their allies under the 'War on Terror' rubric can possibly advance that view with a straight face."
These comments are off because there is no such thing as a "legitimate retributive act of war," or an act of mass murder for which someone "deserves credit," or a "solid" legal or moral "footing" for the permissibility of killing "on the battlefield." Lindorff thinks a high standard is to target only soldiers. Greenwald thinks targeting only soldiers while they are engaged in war is a higher standard. (One could make an argument that the soldiers in Chattanooga were in fact engaged in war.) Both are right to point out U.S. hypocrisy regardless. But mass murder is neither moral nor legal.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact bans all war. The U.N. Charter bans war with narrow exceptions, none of which is retribution, and none of which is any war that takes place on a "battlefield" or in which only those engaged in fighting are fought. A legal war or component of a war, under the U.N. Charter, must be either defensive or U.N.-authorized. One could fantasize a United Nations without its Western bias accepting an ISIS attack in the United States as somehow defensive against a U.S. attack in what used to be Iraq or Syria, but it wouldn't get you around the Kellogg-Briand Pact or the basic moral problem of mass murder and of the ineffectiveness of war as a defense.
Lindorff might also consider what "in any way linked to ISIS" means for the U.S. side of the war, in terms of whom the United States claims the right to target, from those guilty of "material support" for trying to promote nonviolence in Iraq, to those guilty of assisting FBI agents pretending to be part of ISIS, to members of groups with ties to ISIS -- which includes groups that the U.S. government itself arms and trains.
Lindorff ends his article discussing actions like the Chattanooga shooting in these terms: "As long as we diminish them by calling them acts of terrorism, nobody's going to demand a halt to the War on Terror. And that 'war' is the real act of terrorism, when you come right down to it." One might exactly as well say: that "act of terrorism" is the real war, when you come right down to it, or: that governmental mass-murder is the real non-governmental mass-murder.
When you come right down to it, we have too much vocabulary for our own good: war, terrorism, collateral damage, hate crime, surgical strike, shooting spree, capital punishment, mass murder, kinetic overseas contingency operation, targeted assassination -- these are all ways of distinguishing types of unjustifiable killing that aren't actually morally distinguishable from each other.
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