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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Regime change in Chicago!: Cover-Up of a Police Murder Requires Resignation of Chicago Mayor Emanuel
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold yet belated move when he fired his embattled police superintendent in the wake of a national uproar surrounding the release of a chilling video that captured the police killing of a teen--a ward of the city of Chicago.
The world is wracked with shock, anger, and a deep sadness following the attacks in Paris last week. No one should go through that kind of horror and have their lives destroyed. We grieve with France over the loss of life and over the terror that has gripped the nation.
However, living with that kind of fear is the constant reality for many people in the Middle East with drones flying overhead and with soldiers and mercenaries occupying the land. I think about the mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, people living in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen whose lives are no more than “collateral damage” to the US government, people who are being murdered with total disregard for their humanity. We must also grieve for them and not let them be forgotten.
We have known for a long time that our government’s drone warfare program in the Middle East is both immoral and illegal, but the release of the Drone Papers several weeks ago confirms what we already knew. This was a ground-breaking months-long investigation using U.S. government intelligence documents leaked by an anonymous whistleblower from the intelligence community. The report provided chilling insight into the US drone program that is responsible for death and destruction. The report gives us details that support the dismantling of this program that is the best recruitment tool ever for Al-Queda and ISIS.
The Drone Papers provide documentation showing that, through the use of unreliable data using cell phones and other electronic devices to provide target location, nearly 90% of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended victims. However the Obama administration masks the true number of civilians killed in drone strikes by categorizing unidentified people killed in a strike as enemies, even if they were not the targets. The people who are being murdered by our government have names and people who love them and miss them, and almost all of them are peacefully living their lives when they are struck down by a missile from a drone.
How many innocent people must die in France, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in the US, and other places around the world before we learn that violence only creates more violence, before we realize that the US government’s “War on Terror” is failing miserably, before we understand that we are all in this together, and the only way we will survive is by working together to create peace?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was so clear when he declared:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Arming some groups and bombing others in the Middle East is doing nothing but creating more organizations that become radicalized and want to strike out against us because we are killing their people. We must call for an immediate stop to all U.S./NATO air attacks in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and stop all U.S./NATO support for Saudi air attacks in Yemen.
We must also call for an immediate stop to all U.S. "targeted killing" actions globally, including drone surveillance and drone assassinations.
We must provide entry and refuge for those fleeing the wars in the Middle East. The people who are fleeing the Middle East are mothers and fathers who want their children to have a chance at a good life. They are running away from the same people who organized the attacks in Paris. Governor Walker is so wrong in saying that he will not let refugees into the state. His comments are racist, hateful, prejudicial, and are not based in kind of reality.
Our voices must spring up across the world demanding an end to violence, hatred, and killing. We must call for new solutions, working together, providing support to those who need it, and creating a lasting peace to this world where we are all connected, where we are one human family.
Joy First, PhD, Mount Horeb, WI, is a long-time peace activist and a member of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. She engages in nonviolent civil resistance to call attention to and bring an end to the crimes of the government.
By John Grant
[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.
By Ann Wright
A 26 person delegation from the All Okinawa Council will be in Washington, DC November 19 and 20 to ask members of the U.S. Congress to use their power to stop the construction of runway for the U.S. Marine base at Henoko into the pristine waters of the South China Sea.
The delegation is concerned about the environmental impact of the new facilities, including a runway to be built into the coral areas and natural habitat of the marine mammal, the dugong and the continued militarization of their island. Over 90% of all U.S. military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa.
The Henoko construction plan faces substantial opposition from the people of Okinawa. Protests of 35,000 citizens, Including many senior citizens, against the construction of the base have rocked the island.
The issue of the Henoko relocation plan has taken a critical turn. On October 13th, 2015, Okinawa’s new Governor Takshi Onaga revoked the land reclamation approval for the Henoko base construction, which was granted by the previous governor in December 2013.
The All Okinawa Council is a civil society organization, consisting of members of civil society organizations/groups, local assemblies, local communities, and business establishments.
Members of the delegation will have meetings with several Congresspersons and staffers on November 19 and 20 and will hold a briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives in Rayburn building room 2226 at 3pm on Thursday, November 19. The briefing is open to the public.
At 6pm on Thursday, November 19, the delegation will host a showing of the documentary “Okinawa: The Afterburn” at the Brookland Busboys and Poets, 625 Monroe St., NE, Washington, DC 20017.
The film is a comprehensive picture of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the 70-year occupation of the island by the US military.
On Friday, November 20, the delegation will hold a rally at the White House at noon and asks for support from local organizations opposed to expansion of U.S. military bases around the world.
The Henoko base construction in Okinawa would be the second base in Asia and the Pacific to be used by US military that has faced enormous citizen outrage as both bases will destroy environmentally sensitive areas and increase the militarization of their countries. The construction of the South Korean naval base on Jeju Island that will homeport ships carrying the US Aegis missiles has caused massive citizen protests.
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She has travelled to both Okinawa and Jeju Island to speak on U.S. military bases and sexual assault by US military members on women in the local communities.
Laurence H. Shoup has taught U.S. history at the university level and has been a historical consultant on California history for over 30 years, authoring or co-authoring over 200 reports for a variety of clients. His new book which we discuss is Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014. Among his past books is Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy. Find Shoup at http://rulersandrebels.com
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By Linn Washington, Jr.
Protests against rampant police brutality occurred recently in the respective capitals of France and the United States – two nations that proclaim strict fidelity to the rule of law yet two professed democracy-loving nations where officials routinely condone rampant lawlessness by law enforcers.
By Alfredo Lopez
As expected, the European Union court has thrown out an agreement, forged in 2000, that allows virtually uninhibited data sharing and transfer between the United States and EU countries and is the legal basis for National Security Agency's on-line surveillance and data capture programs.
I know what you're thinking. There is no draft. There hasn't been a draft in decades. They'd let entire Central American nations immigrate, pay recruits six-figure salaries, and let robots fly the drones before they'd create a draft. Crackpot Congress members only bring up a draft as a supposed bank-shot maneuver for ending all the damn wars. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Your government has nonetheless decided that registering men for a possible draft (whether they like it or not, and even though nobody believes there will ever be a draft) is far more important than allowing them to register to vote.
And not just the U.S. government, but most of the 50 state governments have chosen this priority.
Don't take it from me, look at the numbers. If you're male and you get a driver's license in any of these places, you're signed up automatically with, or you're given the option to sign up automatically with, or -- in most cases -- you're required to sign up with the Selective Service System: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.
Also Maryland enacted driver's license legislation in 2002, but has not yet implemented it.
This is a work in progress. Some states have yet to climb on board. It's a bit of extra work for state and federal governments, but the technology is pretty simple, and they clearly consider it worth the effort to spread awareness that all men might have to kill on behalf of some war crazed president or Congress, and that -- as the SSS website says -- "It's What a Man's Got to Do. It's quick, it's easy, it's the Law."
Actually it's against any number of laws, including protections of conscientious objectors (you're not offered any choice of that when the process is automated), and including obviously the laws against war -- the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the U.N. Charter.
But what does this have to do with voting? Ruining Iraq or Libya or Afghanistan or Yemen in the name of "democracy" isn't exactly about voting in the United States, is it?
Well here's the deal. Two states -- two (2), count 'em, TWO -- have just made voter registration as easy as 39 states make draft registration. Those two states make it optional. If you don't want to register to vote when you get a driver's license, you can opt out. So, that's different. And it works for women as well as men. So, that's different, and simpler. And there's no need to interact with the federal government, so that, too, is different and easier. But otherwise it's the same deal. The state division of motor vehicles is identifying you for a driver's license or ID through a more rigorous process than is usually used to register voters. After doing that, it's hardly any extra work to simply consider you registered to vote as well.
Only two states have done this. If you'd like to see which two they are, or if you'd like to click a button to email your state legislators and governor about doing the same, click here.
Now, the federal government doesn't do driver's licenses, but it does do Social Security numbers, and it and many other institutions rely on Social Security numbers as a reliable means of identification. There is no reason that a person possessing a Social Security number cannot be considered eligible to vote. (Making sure that the 8 people who try to drive around voting in more than one state get caught would be identical to how that's done now.) The federal government chooses not to do this. Forty-eight state governments plus various occupied territories choose not to do this, even though it would be far easier than draft registration and even though its connection to actual democracy is much more straightforward.
At least half the country is pretty well disgusted with both of the two big political parties and all of their elected members. And most members of the U.S. House of Representatives are gerrymandered and sponsored into their seats more or less for life or until promotion to the lobbying league. But the general theory holds, nonetheless, that higher voter turnout is better for Democrats than Republicans. The two states that have acted so far have done so with Democratic legislatures and governors. But many Democratic states have not acted yet, and the benefits of acting would be very much to small-d democracy.
With more voters, candidates would have to appeal to more people, including more poor people. More candidates might gain traction. The range of debate would be widened. It would also become easier to place public initiatives on the ballot through the process of gathering the signatures of registered voters. Political polling would more accurately reflect public sentiments, because pollsters would have more registered voters to poll.
In addition, each state government would save the expense of the existing ridiculous system of "registering" people it already knows and has identified. This would free up time and energy and money for other things. "Let's get [people] on the rolls automatically and put all the resources and energy we've put into voter registration into voter education," says California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
It wouldn't be just state governments doing that. Every election season, thousands of volunteers for political parties and candidates across the country spend endless hours registering people to vote. They think of this as useful work. Many even think of it as "activism." Let's imagine that work were eliminated. What could those thousands of volunteers do instead? They could educate and organize around the issues and policies they care about. What a gift to democracy that would be! Better than any bloody foreign quagmire I can imagine!
I was part of a debate on Tuesday that involved a larger disagreement than any exhibited at the Democratic presidential candidates debate that evening. A group of peace activists met with the president, a board member, some vice presidents, and a senior fellow of the so-called U.S. Institute of Peace, a U.S. government institution that spends tens of millions of public dollars every year on things tangentially related to peace (including promoting wars) but has yet to oppose a single U.S. war in its 30-year history.
(Photo of David Swanson and Nancy Lindborg by Alli McCracken.)
Without CNN’s Anderson Cooper there to steer us away from the issues into name calling and triviality, we dove right into the substance. The gap between the culture of peace activists and that of the U.S. Institute of “Peace” (USIP) is immense.
We had created and took the occasion to deliver a petition which you should sign if you haven’t, urging USIP to remove from its board prominent war mongers and members of the boards of weapons companies. The petition also recommends numerous ideas for useful projects USIP could work on. I blogged about this earlier here and here.
We showed up Tuesday at USIP’s fancy new building next to the Lincoln Memorial. Carved in the marble are the names of USIP’s sponsors, from Lockheed Martin on down through many of the major weapons and oil corporations.
At the meeting from the peace movement were Medea Benjamin, Kevin Zeese, Michaela Anang, Alli McCracken, and me. Representing USIP were President Nancy Lindborg, Acting Vice President Middle East and Africa Center Manal Omar, Director of Peace Funders Collaborative Steve Riskin, Board Member Joseph Eldridge, and Senior Policy Fellow Maria Stephan. They took 90 minutes or so to talk with us but seemed to have no interest in meeting any of our requests.
They claimed the Board was no impediment to anything they wanted to do, so there was no point in changing board members. They claimed to have already done some of the projects we proposed (and we look forward to seeing those details), yet they were uninterested in pursuing any of them.
When we proposed that they advocate against U.S. militarism in any number of possible ways, they replied with a couple of main justifications for not doing so. First, they claimed that if they did anything that displeased Congress, their funding would dry up. That’s likely true. Second, they claimed they could not advocate for or against anything at all. But that isn’t true. They’ve advocated for a no-fly zone in Syria, regime change in Syria, arming and training killers in Iraq and Syria, and (more peacefully) for upholding the nuclear agreement with Iran. They testify before Congress and in the media all the time, advocating for things left and right. I don’t care if they call such activities something other than advocacy, I’d just like to see them do more of what they’ve done on Iran and less of what they’ve done on Syria. And by law they are perfectly free to advocate even on legislation as long as a member of Congress asks them to.
When I had first communicated about our petition with USIP they had expressed interest in possibly working on one or more of the projects we proposed, possibly including reports we suggest in the petition that they write. When I asked about those report ideas on Tuesday, the reply was that they just didn’t have the staff. They have hundreds of staff, they said, but they’re all busy. They’ve made thousands of grants, they said, but couldn’t make one for anything like that.
What may help explain the array of excuses we were offered is another factor I haven’t yet touched on. USIP seems to actually believe in war. The president of USIP Nancy Lindborg had an odd response when I suggested that inviting Senator Tom Cotton to come speak at USIP on the need for a longer war on Afghanistan was a problem. She said USIP had to please Congress. OK, fine. Then she added that she believed there was room to disagree about exactly how we were going to make peace in Afghanistan, that there was more than one possible path to peace. Of course I didn’t think “we” were going to make peace in Afghanistan, I wanted “us” to get out of there and allow Afghans to start working on that problem. But I asked Lindborg if one of her possible paths to peace was through war. She asked me to define war. I said that war was the use of the U.S. military to kill people. She said that “non-combat troops” could be the answer. (I note that for all their non-combatting, people still just burned to death in a hospital.)
Syria brought out a similar perspective. While Lindborg claimed that USIP’s promotion of war on Syria had all been the unofficial work of one staffer, she described the war in Syria in a completely one-sided manner and asked what could be done about a brutal dictator like Assad killing people with “barrel bombs,” lamenting the lack of “action.” She believed the hospital bombing in Afghanistan would make President Obama even more reluctant to use force. (If this is reluctance, I’d hate to see eagerness!)
So what does USIP do if it doesn’t do war opposition? If it won’t oppose military spending? If it won’t encourage transition to peaceful industries? If there’s nothing it will risk its funding for, what is the good work it is protecting? Lindborg said that USIP spent its first decade creating the field of peace studies by developing the curriculum for it. I’m pretty sure that’s a bit anachronistic and exaggerated, but it would help explain the lack of war opposition in peace studies programs.
Since then, USIP has worked on the sorts of things taught in peace studies programs by funding groups on the ground in troubled countries. Somehow the troubled countries that get the greatest attention tend to be those like Syria that the U.S. government wants to overthrow, rather than those like Bahrain that the U.S. government wants to prop up. Still, there is plenty of good work funded. It’s just work that doesn’t too directly oppose U.S. militarism. And because the U.S. is the top arms supplier to the world and the top investor in and user of war in the world, and because it’s impossible to build peace under U.S. bombs, this work is severely limited.
The constraints that USIP is under or believes it is under or doesn’t mind being under (and enthusiasts for creating a “Department of Peace” should pay attention) are those created by a corrupt and militaristic Congress and White House. USIP openly said in our meeting that the root problem is corrupt elections. But when some section of the government does something less militaristic than some other section, such as negotiating the agreement with Iran, USIP can play a role. So our role, perhaps, is to nudge them toward playing that role as much as possible, as well as away from such outrages as promoting war in Syria (which it sounds like they may leave largely to their board members now).
When we discussed USIP’s board members and got nowhere, we suggested an advisory board that could include peace activists. That went nowhere. So we suggested that they create a liaison to the peace movement. USIP liked that idea. So, be prepared to liaise with the Institute. Please start by signing the petition.
Dear Friends and Comrades in Peace,
As you are well aware, our world is at a critically dangerous juncture: the possibility of a military, potentially a nuclear, confrontation between NATO, led by the United States, and Russia. The militaries of the two nuclear superpowers are once again facing each other, this time in Eastern Europe, especially in Ukraine, and in Syria. And tensions are increasing each passing day.
In a sense, we can say that a world war is already taking place. Currently, the governments of 15 countries are bombing Syria. They include seven allied NATO countries: US, UK, France, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, and Netherlands. They also include non-NATO allies of the United States: Israel, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and Australia; and most recently, Russia.
On the western borders of Russia, another dangerous war is going on. NATO is expanding its forces into countries bordering Russia. All the borderland governments are now allowing NATO and US military forces on their territory, where threatening NATO military exercises are taking place only a few miles from major Russian cities. This is certainly causing a great deal of tension for the Russian government, as it would naturally do the same for the US government if Russian forces were stationed on the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders, carrying out military exercises a few miles from major American cities.
Either, or both, of these situations can easily lead to a direct confrontation between US and its NATO allies on the one hand, and Russia on the other; a confrontation that has the potential of escalating into a nuclear war with disastrous consequences.
It is in light of this dangerous situation that we are addressing our friends and comrades in the peace and anti-nuclear movement. It seems to us that many of our allies in the movement are paying scant attention to the dangers that threaten the whole existence of humanity on a global scale today, and are limiting their reactions to just protesting this or that action on the part of
this or that side. At best, they are saying to the US and Russia “a plague on both your houses,” criticizing both sides for equally increasing the tensions. This, in our view, is a passive, ahistorical, and more importantly ineffective, response that ignores the urgency of the existing threat. Moreover, by bestowing blame in equal measure, it masks its real causes.
But the roots of the current crisis are much deeper than the recent conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. It all goes back to the destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the desire of the US, as the sole remaining
superpower, to unilaterally dominate the whole world. This fact is very bluntly stated in the document published by the neo-cons in September 2000, titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century,” upon which the current US policy is based (forgive us for this lengthy reminder):
“At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible. There are, however, potentially powerful states dissatisfied with the current situation and eager to change it....”
“Today its [the military’s] task is to ... deter the rise of a new great-power competitor; defend key regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; and to preserve American preeminence.... Today, that same security can only be acquired at the “retail” level, by deterring or, when needed, by compelling regional foes to act in ways that protect American interests and principles....”
“It is now commonly understood that information and other new technologies ... are creating a dynamic that may threaten America’s ability to exercise its dominant military power. Potential rivals such as
China are anxious to exploit these transformational technologies broadly, while adversaries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are rushing to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent to American intervention in regions they seek to dominate.... If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence....”
“[T]he reality of the today’s world is that there is no magic wand with which to eliminate [nuclear] weapons ... and that deterring their use requires a reliable and dominant U.S. nuclear capability.... Nuclear weapons remain a critical component of American military power....
“It addition, there may be a need to develop a new family of nuclear weapons designed to address new sets of military requirements, such as would be required in targeting the very deep underground, hardened bunkers that are being built by many of our potential adversaries.... U.S. nuclear superiority is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it will be an essential element in preserving American leadership....”
“[M]aintaining or restoring a favorable order in vital regions in the world such as Europe, the Middle East and East Asia places a unique responsibility on U.S. armed forces....”
“For one, they demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations.... Nor can the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality; the preponderance of American power is so great and its global interests so wide that it cannot pretend to be indifferent to the political outcome in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf or even when it deploys forces in Africa.... American forces must remain deployed abroad, in large numbers.... Neglect or withdrawal from constabulary missions will ... encourage petty tyrants to defy American interests and ideals. And the failure to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges will ensure that the current Pax Americana comes to an early end....”
“[I]t is important that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in European security affairs....”
“Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would
still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region....”
“[T]he value of land power continues to appeal to a global superpower, whose security interests rest upon ... the ability to win wars. While maintaining its combat role, the U.S. Army has acquired new missions in the past decade – most immediately ... defending American interests in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. These new missions will require the continued stationing of U.S. Army units abroad.... [E]lements of U.S. Army Europe should be redeployed to Southeast Europe, while a permanent unit should be based in the Persian Gulf region....”
“When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent, regardless of the balance of conventional forces. That is why, according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – “already have or are developing ballistic missiles” that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad.... Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace. “The ability to control this emerging threat through traditional nonproliferation treaties is limited....”
“The current American peace will be short-lived if the United States becomes vulnerable to rogue powers with small, inexpensive arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership....”
And, most importantly, none of these can be achieved “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor....” (all emphases added)
And this document has been the guiding principle of US policy ever since, for both Bush and Obama administrations. Every aspect of US policy today is in line with the letter of this document, from the Middle East, to Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, bypassing the UN as global peacekeeper and replacing it with NATO’s military power as the global enforcer, as recommended in this document. Any leader or government that resists the planned US domination of the world must go, by use of military force if necessary!
The “catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor” that they needed was handed to them on a silver platter on September 11, 2001 and the whole plan was put into motion. A new “enemy,” Islamic Terrorism, took the place of the old “enemy,” Communism. The “global war on terrorism” thus began. First came Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Libya, and now Syria, with Iran waiting for its turn (all of them listed in the document as targets of regime change by force). Similarly, based on the same strategy, Russia, and later China, as “global rivals” and “deterrents” to the US global domination, must also be weakened and contained. Hence, also, the amassing of NATO forces on Russian borders and the dispatch of US Navy carriers and warships to East Asia to encircle China.
Unfortunately, it seems, this overall strategic picture is being missed by a significant part of our peace movement. Many forget that the demonization of foreign leaders, and slogans like “Saddam Hussein must go,” “Gadhafi must go,” “Assad must go,” “Chavez must go,” “Maduro must go,” “Yanukovych must go,” and now, “Putin must go,” (all clearly in violation of international law and the UN Charter)
are all part and parcel of the same global domination strategy that is threatening peace and security of the whole world, and even the very existence of humanity as a whole.
The question, here, is not about defending this or that leader or government, or disregarding their violation of their citizens’ rights. The issue is that we cannot look at each one of these cases in isolation
from the others and deal with them piecemeal without seeing the root cause of all of them, i.e., the US drive for global domination. We cannot hope to eliminate nuclear weapons when the two most powerful nuclear states are on the verge of a military confrontation. We cannot protect innocent civilians by funding and arming extremists, directly or through allies. We cannot expect peace and cooperation with Russia while amassing NATO forces and carrying out military exercises on its borders. We cannot have security if we do not respect the sovereignty and security of other nations and peoples.
Being fair and objective does not mean being even-handed between the aggressor and its victims. We need to stop aggression before we can deal with the victims’ responses to the aggression. We ought not
blame the victim of aggression instead of the actions of the aggressor. And looking at the whole picture, there should be no doubt about who the aggressors are.
It is in light of these facts that we believe we cannot avoid the impending catastrophe without joining forces, with the needed sense of urgency, to demand the following in both words and action:
NATO forces must be immediately withdrawn from the countries bordering Russia;
All foreign forces must leave Syria immediately, and Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity must be guaranteed.
Syrian conflict must be dealt with only through political processes and diplomatic negotiations. The US must withdraw its policy of “Assad must go” as a precondition, and stop blocking diplomatic talks.
Negotiations must include the government of Syria especially, as well as all regional and global parties that are affected by the conflict.
5. The future of the Syrian government must be decided by the Syrian people alone, free of all external interferences.
The US strategy for global domination must be abandoned in favor of peaceful coexistence of all countries and respect for every nation’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.
The process of dismantling NATO must begin immediately.
We call upon all of our friends and comrades in the peace and anti-nuclear movement to join hands with us in a democratic coalition to end all wars of aggression. We wholeheartedly welcome all cooperative responses by our friends and comrades in the movement.
U.S. Peace Council October 10, 2015
Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Most winners in recent years have either been people who did nice things that had nothing whatsoever to do with the relevant work (Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for promoting education, Liu Xiaobo for protesting in China, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for opposing climate change, Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for economic development, etc.) or people who actually engaged in militarism and would have opposed the abolition or reduction of standing armies if asked, and one of whom said so in his acceptance speech (the European Union, Barack Obama, etc.).
The prize goes disproportionately, not to the leaders of organizations or movements for peace and disarmament, but to U.S. and European elected officials. Rumors swirled, prior to Friday's announcement, that Angela Merkel or John Kerry might win the prize. Thankfully, that did not happen. Another rumor suggested the prize could go to defenders of Article Nine, the section of the Japanese Constitution that bans war and has kept Japan out of war for 70 years. Sadly, that did not happen.
The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday morning to "the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011." The Nobel Committee's statement goes on to actually cite Nobel's will, which Nobel Peace Prize Watch (NobelWill.org) and other advocates have been insisting be followed (and which I'm a plaintiff in a lawsuit demanding compliance with, along with Mairead Maguire and Jan Oberg):
"The broad-based national dialogue that the Quartet succeeded in establishing countered the spread of violence in Tunisia and its function is therefore comparable to that of the peace congresses to which Alfred Nobel refers in his will."
This was not an award to a single individual or for work in a single year, but those are differences from the will that no one has really objected to. This was also not an award to a leading war maker or arms dealer. This was not a peace prize for a NATO member or a Western president or foreign secretary who did something less awful than usual. This is encouraging as far as that goes.
The award did not directly challenge the arms industry that is led by the United States and Europe along with Russia and China. The award did not go to international work at all but to work within a nation. And the leading reason offered was the building of a pluralistic democracy. This verges on the watered-down Nobel conception of peace as anything good or Western. However, the effort to claim strict compliance with one element of the will is quite useful. Even a domestic peace congress that prevents civil war is a worthy effort to replace war with peace. A nonviolent revolution in Tunisia did not directly challenge Western militarized imperialism, but neither was it in line with it. And its relative success, compared with the nations that have received the most "assistance" from the Pentagon (Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc.) is worth highlighting. An honorable mention for Chelsea Manning for her role in inspiring the Arab Spring in Tunisia by releasing communications between the U.S. and Tunisian governments would not have been out of place.
So, I think the 2015 award could have been much worse. It could also have been much better. It could have gone to work opposing armaments and international warmongering. It could have gone to Article 9, or Abolition 2000, or the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, or the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, or the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Arms, or the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, all of which were nominated this year, or to any number of individuals nominated from around the world.
Nobel Peace Prize Watch is far from satisfied: "An encouragement to the Tunisian people is fine, but Nobel had a much greater perspective. Indisputable evidence shows that he intended his prize to support a visionary reorganization of international affairs. The language in his will is a clear confirmation of this," says Tomas Magnusson, Sweden, on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize Watch. "The committee continues reading the expressions of the testament as they like, instead of studying what type of 'champions of peace' and what peace ideas Nobel had in mind signing his will on Nov. 27, 1895. In February the Nobel Peace Prize Watch lifted the secrecy around the selection process when it published a list of 25 qualified candidates with the full nomination letters. By its choice for 2015, the committee has rejected the list and, again, is clearly outside the circle of recipients Nobel had in mind. In addition to not understanding the least bit of Nobel's idea the committee in Oslo has not understood the new situation in the committee's relation to its principals in Stockholm," continues Tomas Magnusson. "We must understand that the whole world today is under occupation, even our brains have become militarized to a degree where it is hard for people to imagine the alternative, demilitarized world that Nobel wished his prize to promote as a mandatory urgency. Nobel was a man of the world, able to transcend the national perspective and think of what would be best for the world as a whole. We have plenty for everyone's needs on this green planet if the nations of the world could only learn to co-operate and stop wasting precious resources on the military. The members of the Board of the Nobel Foundation risk personal liability if a prize amount is paid over to the winner in violation of the purpose. As late as three weeks ago seven members of the Foundation's Board were hit by initial steps in a lawsuit demanding that they repay to the Foundation the prize paid to the EU in December 2012. Among the plaintiffs are Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, a Nobel laureate; David Swanson, USA; Jan Oberg, Sweden, and the Nobel Peace Prize Watch (nobelwill.org). The lawsuit follows after a Norwegian attempt to regain the ultimate control of the peace prize was finally turned down by the Swedish Chamber Court in May 2014."
165-MILE WALK FROM SYRACUSE TO NIAGARA FALLS
Oct. 7th – 21st, 2015
Oct 7, 2015: Undrone Upstate is a pro-peace, anti-drone demonstration and walk to educate the public on drone operations in the Western New York region. The group will be walking about 165 miles from the Hancock Air National Guard Base, a national Reaper hub, to the Niagara Falls Air National Guard Base. Both bases are sites of drone operations, including training and remote piloting of drones over Afghanistan. The walk will include outreach programs at colleges and community centers along the way, including Rochester, Brockport, and Niagara Falls.
Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence will speak at a kickoff event Sept 6 at 7pm at All Saints’ Church, 1340 Lancaster Avenue, Syracuse and join the walkers for the first few days. Kathy has been to Afghanistan many times as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, joined other walks for peace and justice, and has been arrested protesting drone warfare outside of U.S. military bases.
Medea Benjamin of CodePink will join the walkers when they arrive for a rally at Niagara Falls Air Base. (Details on website below) Medea has written ‘Drone Warfare’, a book that clearly describes the disturbing issues that surround drone warfare. CodePink has facilitated anti-drone conferences in Washington DC and CodePink members are a regular force at drone protests at Creech Airforce Base in Nevada.
Targeted drone assassination is Obama’s favored weapon against "global terrorism." Outdoor markets, wedding parties, and village meetings have all been subjected to drone attacks, carried out on secret evidence and with little regard for human bystanders. The Department of Defense plans to increase its use of drones by 50 percent over the next four years.
The purpose of the walk is to heighten public awareness of the mindless murder and relentless terror perpetrated in our names by the criminal use of killer drones on terror suspects. Members of Upstate Drone action were among the first to investigate drone warfare and actively begin protesting this illegal and immoral campaign.
For details of events associated with the Undrone Upstate walk, go to upstatedroneaction.org/unup-itinerary.html, or go to the Undrone Upstate Facebook page.
A Press Release from the Nobel Peace Prize Watch
RE: Nobel Foundation - lawsuit against misappropriation of funds – violating intended antimilitarist purpose of the Nobel peace prize
The controversy over peace prizes disconnected from the specific peace vision of Alfred Nobel is now coming to a head in a lawsuit initiated by Mairead Maguire, a Nobel laureate; David Swanson, USA; Jan Oberg, Sweden; and the Nobel Peace Prize Watch. None of the members of the Board of the Nobel Foundation had responded when the time limit set in a notice of litigation expired on Tuesday. The plaintiffs have retained attorney Kenneth Lewis, Stockholm, to have the Stockholm City Court declare the prize to the EU an illegal use of the Foundation´s funds. In December 2012 the members of the Board of the Nobel Foundation did not heed protests from four Nobel laureates, Mairead Maguire, Perez Esquivel, Desmond Tutu, and the International Peace Bureau, who in a letter had warned that “The EU is clearly not 'the champion of peace' that Alfred Nobel had in mind when he wrote his will."
Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing
No Missile Defense
No to NATO
End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy
Convert the Military Industrial Complex
Deal with climate change and global poverty
List in formation
- Augusta, Maine (Oct 9) Augusta Women in Black vigil from 12:30 to 1:00 PM in front of Lithgow Library. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bath Iron Works, Maine (Oct 3) Vigil across from administration building on Washington Street (Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with “missile defense” systems built at BIW) 11:30-12:30 am Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm (207) 763-4062
· Boryong, South Korea (Oct 4) No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK email@example.com
· Chongju, South Korea (Oct 7) At Bus terminal. No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK firstname.lastname@example.org
- USAF Croughton, England (Oct 3) National March & Rally at U.S. satellite communication and intelligence base. (Space communications, drones, bomber guidance, missile defence and command & control functions.) 12.00 midday to 3:30 pm. Special guest Robb Johnson. Evening peace concert after rally at Friends Meeting House in Oxford at 7:00 pm. Oxfordshire Peace Campaign, email@example.com
· Daejeon, South Korea (Oct 6) At Chungnam university, Mokwon Univ, Daejeon Univ. No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK firstname.lastname@example.org
· Hancock Air Base to Niagara Falls, New York(Oct 7-21) The Upstate Drone Action Coalition is planning a 165-mile Walk Against Killer Drones, from Hancock Air Base to the Niagara Falls Air Base with stops along the way in Rochester and Brockport. The goal of the Walk is to heighten public awareness of the mindless murder and relentless terror perpetrated in our names by the escalating use of killer drones. Please let us know ASAP that you or others you know will be joining us for all or part of the Walk. Contact Peg Gefell at 585-313-6674 or at email@example.com
- Janakpurdham, Nepal (Oct 5) Introductory/ interaction meeting about Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and my experience of Okinawa, Kyoto and Hiroshima conferences. Social Development Path (SODEP) http://www.sodep.org.np/
· Jeonju, South Korea (Oct 3) At Jeonbuk University, Korean traditional village touring site. No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kemijärvi, Finland (Oct 3) Peace defenders will hold a street protest against drone testing and war training area where NATO is feared to be preparing for war with Russia. email@example.com
- King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (Oct 10) Noon, Demonstration and kite flying in front of Lockheed Martin (L-M) at intersection of Mall & Goddard Boulevards. L-M is making a killing in drone war and surveillance technology, building the remote-controlled unmanned planes and satellites that direct the drones and launch their deadly Hellfire missiles which L-M also builds. For more info Brandywine Peace Community, (610) 544-1818 firstname.lastname@example.org or www.brandywinepeace.com
- Kolkata, India (Oct 11) Public Meeting at Kolkata organised by Mrs. Arundhoti Roy Chouddhury (email@example.com). Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao to speak.
- Kyoto, Japan (Oct 3) Kyoto Coalition against the U.S. ‘missile defense’ X-band Radar Base in Ukawa village will hold indoor Rally at 14:00 pm. The venue is Higashiyama Ikiiki Shimin Katsudo Center. And then, we will march on central Kyoto. The march will starts on 17:00 pm. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Largo, Florida (Oct 7) Demonstration from 4:30-5:30 PM at the Young-Rainey Star Center at the corner of Bryan Dairy and Belcher Roads in mid-Pinellas County, site of a Raytheon plant. Raytheon was the fourth largest weapons contractor in the world in 2014, with sales of $10.2 billion, and is very active in drone production. email@example.com
- Maine Walk for Peace: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans (Oct 9-24) Join us in shedding light on the Militarization of the Seas as the US Navy (outfitted with missile defense and space-directed missiles) ramps up their global operations to encircle Russia & China. We will explore environment impacts of Navy on the oceans. Walk from Ellsworth to Portsmouth, NH. See flyer at www.vfpmaine.org
- Menwith Hill, England(Oct 6) Demonstration at U.S. NSA/NRO Spy Base in Yorkshire. 6-7:30 pm. Sponsored by CAAB firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Minneapolis, Minnesota (Oct 14) Bridge vigil at Lake St & Marshall Ave. Twin Cities Peace Campaign. Braun044@umn.edu
- Montrose, California (Oct 9) We will call to Keep Space For Peace at our weekly Montrose Peace Vigil, Fridays 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at Honolulu Ave. and Oceanview BLvd., in the Montrose Shopping Park. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nagpur, India (Oct 3) Mass Rally at Motibalgh jointly by S.E.C. Rly Pensioners Assn and Pragatisjheel Railway Mahila Samaj. Coordinator J. Saraswati. email@example.com
· Nagpur, India(Oct 3) Program on the dangers of weaponization of space at 11 AM to be held at the Women's College. firstname.lastname@example.org
· Nagpur, India (Oct 3) Program on the dangers of weaponization of space at 2:00 with the students at the National Social Work College. email@example.com
· Nagpur, India(Oct 4) Bernie Mayer (American Gandhi) will address a women's rally at 4:00 pm on how the masses can be attracted to struggle against space weaponisation through Gandhian technique. firstname.lastname@example.org
· Nonsan, South Korea (Oct 5) No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK email@example.com
· Pyongtaek, South Korea (Oct 8) At Railroad station. No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK firstname.lastname@example.org
· Sacramento, California (Oct 7) No New Wars, No Killer Drones. Sac Veterans for Peace weekly vigil, 15th & L, Sacramento. 4 – 5 pm. All welcome. FMI: 916-456-4595
· Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado (Oct 7) Protest at Air Force Space Command’s Space Warfare Center and new joint interagency combined space operations center that will bring the civilian spooks from National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency together with military space agencies like Defense Information Systems Agency. email@example.com
· Seongnam, South Korea Oct 9 (At traditional market) No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK firstname.lastname@example.org
· Seoul, South Korea (Oct 23) No to THAAD only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy protest rally when Security Meeting of US and S. Korea is being held. Organized by SPARK email@example.com
· Suwon, South Korea Oct 10 No to THAAD ‘missile defense’ system protest only for the sake of US and Japan destroying peace and economy. Organized by SPARK firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tucson, Arizona (Oct 6)Vigil at Raytheon Missile Systems. Join the Raytheon Peacemakers as we demonstrate against war and those who profit from it. Survival demands better ideas, not better weapons. Hermans Road entrance. (3rd traffic light south of Valencia on Nogales Highway, the extension of South 6th Avenue). Park off Nogales Highway, between railroad tracks and highway. Signs provided, or bring your own! More info: 520-323-8697.
· Vandenberg AFB, California (Oct 7) Vigil in solidarity with "Keep Space for Peace Week" at the main gate of space warfare base from 3:45pm to 4:45pm. For info, contact Dennis Apel at (805) 878-2614.
· Washington DC (Oct 5) Pentagon will hold "Keep Space for Peace" and "No Weapons in Space" signs during Dorothy Day Catholic Worker weekly peace vigil. 7-8 AM email@example.com
· Washington DC (Oct 9) White House will hold "Keep Space for Peace" and "No Weapons in Space" signs during Dorothy Day Catholic Worker weekly peace vigil. Noon-1:00 PM firstname.lastname@example.org
- Keep Space for Peace Week is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom
· Download our full-size space week poster at:
By Joy First
The voices of the people are not being heard as we are increasingly denied access to our government officials. For many, we have wanted to believe that we live in some kind of representative democracy where we can express our views to those we elect and it will make a difference, but that is not the case.
A study published in the academic journal Perspectives on Politics found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy.
SOWING THE SEEDS OF HOPE: FROM CONGRESS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Join us at an event organized by the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Part of a week of actions with Campaign Nonviolence.
Meet in cafeteria in Longworth House Office Building at 9:00 am.
Together we will go to Paul Ryan's office at about 10:00 am.
Bring packets of seeds and photos or news articles of issues you would like to address i.e. war, climate crisis, poverty, institutionalized violence etc.
Leave Ryan's office around 11:00 or 11:15.
Take public transportation to Edward R. Murrow Park – 1800 block of Pennsylvania Ave. NW
12:00 Noon RALLY AT THE PARK
We will proceed together from the park to the White House.
We'll hear speakers at the White House, read a letter sent to Obama, and some will protest even at risk of arrest but others need not do so.
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1681885392045454/
Bombast, insults, shallow courtesy, authentic unkindness, corporate donations, lavish spending, rancorous debates: When observing presidential candidates, do you feel you're witnessing the best democracy has to offer? Ideal human qualities? Or just the opposite?
On Monday, September 21st, millions of people around the world will honor and celebrate the International Day of Peace, established in 1981 by the United Nations. At the same time streams of refugees are fleeing areas of conflict around the world, especially from the wars in the Middle East. People honor peace, people see the need for peace, but wars rage on.
For Peace Day this year, we will learn about and honor efforts by some champions of peace who work to bridge the divides of enmity that fuel conflicts and wars. We will also hold a “Be the Peace” meditation in concert with thousands of similar meditations around the world. We will do all this in the Social Hall at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist, 117 Rugby Road in Charlottesville. Our program will follow this schedule:
- 6:00 gather in the Social Hall
- 6:15 begin the “Be the Peace” meditation
- 6:45 close the meditation with a musical interlude provided by Heena Reiter
- 7:00 begin a panel conversation on Bridging the Divides of Enmity
- 8:30 conclude the event
Our panel will include:
Roy Hange who serves as co-pastor of the Charlottesville Mennonite Church and has worked with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Roy has spent many years in the Middle East and has extensive knowledge of the conflicts in that region.
Mary Reed who has worked to help AIDs victims in Rwanda, currently co-leads a program to help rebuild rural education in Cambodia, and resides most of the time at Thosamling, a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in northern India.
Carroll Houle who, as a priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers of the Catholic Church, served in Tanzania for 21 years, in Kenya for 17 years, and at the United Nations in New York for 5 years.
Our panelists will share insights from their experiences. Everyone attending can do the same, all in hope of strengthening our vision of a more just and peaceful world. This event is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Cooperation Circle of Central Virginia and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE CAN INSPIRE US TO CONTINUE OUR WORK: Join Campaign Nonviolence week of actions September 20-27
By Joy First
As activists for peace and social justice, how do we keep ourselves going in a world where there is so much despair? What we are facing today is enormous when we consider the systemic violence that leads to wars on several fronts, climate chaos, lack of health care, housing, and food, decline of the economy, police violence against people of color, a government that is totally unresponsive to its citizens and the list goes on and on. We are living in a world that is unsustainable as things now stand.
Lampedusa (Italy) and Gangjeon Village, Jeju Island (S. Korea)
Geneva, August 24, 2015. The IPB is delighted to announce its decision to award the annual Sean MacBride Peace Prize to two island communities who, in different circumstances, show proof of a profound commitment to peace and social justice.
LAMPEDUSA is a small island in the Mediterranean and is the southernmost part of Italy. Being the closest part of the territory to the African coastline, it has been since the early 2000s a primary European entry point for migrants and refugees. The numbers of persons arriving has been rapidly increasing, with hundreds of thousands at risk while travelling, and over 1900 deaths in 2015 alone.
The people of the island of Lampedusa have given the world an extraordinary example of human solidarity, offering clothing, shelter and food to those who have arrived, in distress, on their shores. The response of the Lampedusans stands out in stark contrast to the behaviour and official policies of the European Union, apparently intent only on reinforcing their borders in the attempt to keep these migrants out. This 'Fortress Europe' policy is becoming more and more militarised.
Aware of its multi-layered culture, which epitomizes the evolution of the Mediterranean region where over the centuries different civilizations have blended and built on each others’ developments, with mutual enrichment, the island of Lampedusa also shows the world that a culture of hospitality and respect for human dignity are the most effective antidotes to nationalism and religious fundamentalism.
To give but one example of the heroic actions of the people of Lampedusa, let us recall the events of the night of 7-8 May 2011. A boat full of migrants crashed into a rocky outcrop, not far from the shore. Although it was in the middle of the night, the inhabitants of Lampedusa turned out in their hundreds to form a human chain between the shipwreck and the coast. That night alone more than 500 people, including many children, were carried to safety.
At the same time the people of the island are very clear that the problem is a European one, not theirs alone. In November 2012, Mayor Nicolini sent an urgent appeal to Europe’s leaders. She expressed her outrage that the European Union, which had just received the Nobel Peace Prize, was ignoring the tragedies occurring on its Mediterranean borders.
The IPB believes that the dramatic situation in the Mediterranean – constantly visible in the mass media - must be at the top of Europe's urgent priorities. Much of the problem springs from social injustices and inequalities resulting in conflicts in which the West has – over centuries -- played an aggressive role. We recognise that there are no easy solutions, but as a guiding principle, Europe should be honouring the ideals of human solidarity, over and above the cynical considerations of governments and profit/power/resource-seeking entities. When Europe contributes to the ruining of the livelihoods of people, as for instance in Iraq and Libya, Europe will have to find ways to help rebuild those livelihoods. It should be below the dignity of Europe to spend billions on military interventions, and yet not to have the resources available to meet the basic needs. The most vital question is how to develop cooperation between people of goodwill on both sides of the Mediterranean in a long-term, constructive, gender-sensitive and sustainable process.
GANGJEON VILLAGE is the site of the controversial 50-hectare Jeju Naval Base being constructed by the South Korean government on the southern coast of Jeju Island, at a projected cost of nearly $1 billion. The waters around the island are protected by international law as they are within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (in October 2010, nine geological sites on on the island were recognised as Global Geoparks by the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network). Even so, the construction of the base continues, although building work has been halted many times by mass protests of people concerned about the base's environmental impact. These people see the base as a US-driven project aimed at containing China, rather than enhancing South Korean security In July 2012, the South Korean Supreme Court upheld the base's construction. It is expected to host up to 24 US and allied military vessels, including 2 Aegis destroyers and 6 nuclear submarines, plus occasional civilian cruise ships on completion (now scheduled for 2016).
Jeju Island has been dedicated to peace ever since around 30,000 were massacred there from 1948-54, following a peasant uprising against US occupation. The South Korean government apologized for the massacre in 2006 and the late President Roh Moo Hyun officially named Jeju an “Island of World Peace”. This violent history helps to explain why the people of Gangjeon Village (population 2000) have been protesting non-violently for around 8 years against the naval base project. According to Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, "About 700 people have been arrested and charged with hefty fines that amount to over $400,000, fines that they cannot or will not pay. Many have spent days or weeks or months in jail, including a well-known film critic Yoon Mo Yong who spent 550 days in prison after committing multiple acts of civil disobedience." The energy and commitment shown by the villagers has attracted the support (and participation) of activists from around the world. We endorse the construction of a permanent Peace Center on the site which can act as a focus for activities reflecting alternative views to those represented by the militarists.
IPB makes the award in order to increase the visibility of this exemplary non-violent struggle at a crucial time. It takes great courage to physically oppose the government's growing aggressive and militaristic policies, especially as they are backed by, and at the service of, the Pentagon. It takes even more courage to maintain that struggle over a period of many years.
There is an important connection between the two situations. Not only do we recognise the common humanity of those who resist without weapons the forces of domination in their own island. We make the argument that public resources should not be spent on massive military installations that only increase the tension between nations in the region; rather they should be devoted to meeting human need. If we continue devoting the world’s resources to military rather than humanistic purposes, it is inevitable that we will continue to witness these inhuman situations with desperate people, refugees and migrants, at risk while crossing the seas and at the prey of unscrupulous gangs. Thus we repeat also in this context the basic message of IPB's Global Campaign on Military Spending: Move the Money!
About the MacBride Prize
The prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), founded in 1892. Previous winners include: the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, in recognition of the legal case submitted by the RMI to the International Court of Justice, against all 9 states with nuclear weapons, for failure to honour their disarmament commitments (2014); as well as Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) (2012), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride and is given to individuals or organisations for outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights. (details at: http://ipb.org/i/about-ipb/II-F-mac-bride-peace-prize.html)
The (non-monetary) Prize consists of a medal made in ‘Peace Bronze’, a material derived from recycled nuclear weapons components*. It will be formally awarded on October 23 in Padova, a ceremony that forms part of the annual Conference and Council meeting of the International Peace Bureau. See details at: www.ipb.org. A further bulletin will be issued closer to the time, with details of the ceremony and information relating to requests for media interviews.
About Sean MacBride (1904-88)
Sean MacBride was a distinguished Irish statesman who was IPB Chairman from 1968-74 and President from 1974-1985. MacBride began as a fighter against British colonial rule, studied law and rose to high office in the independent Irish Republic. He was a winner of the Lenin Peace Prize, and also the Nobel Peace Prize (1974), for his wide-ranging work. He was co-founder of Amnesty International, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists, and UN Commissioner for Namibia. While at IPB he launched the MacBride Appeal against Nuclear Weapons, which gathered the names of 11,000 top international lawyers. This Appeal paved the way for the World Court Project on nuclear weapons, in which IPB played a major role. This resulted in the historic 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Use and Threat of Nuclear Weapons.
The International Peace Bureau is dedicated to the vision of a World Without War. We are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910), and over the years 13 of our officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Our 300 member organisations in 70 countries, and individual members, form a global network which brings together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. Our main programme centres on Disarmament for Sustainable Development, whose central feature is the Global Campaign on Military Spending.
Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans
Ellsworth, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on our Mother Earth. Waging endless war consumes massive amounts of fossil fuels and lays waste to significant environmentally sensitive places on the planet – particularly the oceans.
The oceans are inhabited by a multitude of different life forms, from microorganisms to whales, many of whom are able to sense sound and use it to find food, navigate, communicate, and avoid predators. Navy sonar blasts wreak havoc on these creatures, disrupting their lives, leaving animals more susceptible to disease and lowered reproductive success, and sometimes injuring and killing them.
Because Navy sonars are extremely loud, depending on ocean conditions, that noise can travel at harmful levels for tens or even hundreds of miles, impacting huge numbers of animals. By the Navy’s own estimates, sonar noise can still be as high as 140 decibels 300 miles from the source, a level that is a hundred times more intense than the level known to result in behavioral changes in large whales.
Some of these exercises will even take place inside designated critical habitat for the already endangered right whale, frequenter of Maine waters. In fact, the Navy is now constructing a 500 square mile instrumented range off the coast of Georgia where it intends to conduct 470 sonar exercises annually - the Navy chose this site just offshore of the only known calving grounds of the right whale! In March 2015 Navy sonar testing near Guam led to the stranding of three beaked whales.
Shipyard Impacts in Maine
Pier-side testing of sonar occurs at Bath Iron Works (BIW) and at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery which results in significant fish kills. Navy off-shore weapons testing exercises puts toxic chemicals and hazardous materials and waste into Maine’s marine environment.
The Kennebec River that BIW fronts is often dredged in order to allow the deep hulled destroyers built there to get into the ocean. Dredging takes a heavy toll on aquatic life.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has caused serious pollution of the local environment. The shipyard is on an island that the Pentagon considers as one of their facilities most vulnerable to climate change, particularly their dry-dock facilities. Rising sea levels could affect shipyard toxic waste sites which are now mostly right on the shoreline and would seriously impact water quality and sea life.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 1800’s, fossil fuel-powered machines have driven an unprecedented burst of human industry and society. Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in ocean pH caused by human fossil fuel emissions. Oceans currently absorb approximately half of the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuel. An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide released by humans into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes.
Arctic Militarization Due to Climate Change
In early 2014 Maine’s Sen. Angus King went on a nuclear submarine ride under the Arctic Sea ice which is now melting due to climate change. Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations was on the sub and said, “In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean… We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.”
When Sen. King returned from the trip he told his constituents that there has been "a 40% reduction in ice as a result of global warming." He reported that "previously inaccessible" gas and oil reserves were now going to create "new opportunities". King concluded, "I am convinced we need to increase our capacity in the region, something I intend to press upon my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee as we work on our military priorities for the coming years."
Rather than drill for more fossil fuels in the Arctic, and create a new arms race in that environmentally sensitive region, the US should be working to convert our military industries to build offshore wind turbines, rail, solar and tidal power. According to studies done by the UMASS-Amherst Economics Departmentshipyards in Bath and Portsmouth could nearly double their number of jobs by building rail or wind turbines. The Gulf of Maine has more wind power generating potential than any other place in the US.
Help Save Our Seas
If the seas die so do humans on Earth and much of the wildlife. Now is the time to speak out for ending the massive military impacts on the world’s oceans and for conversion of our fossil fuel dependent military industrial complex to sustainable technologies. We will walk to bring attention to these crucial issues. Please help us carry this message to the public by joining with us.
Maine Walk for Peace is sponsored by: Maine Veterans for Peace; PeaceWorks; CodePink Maine; Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST); Peace Action Maine; Veterans for Peace Smedley Butler Brigade (Greater Boston); Seacoast Peace Response (Portsmouth); Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; (List in formation)
To view the walk flyer and daily walk schedule please click here http://vfpmaine.org/walk%
By David Swanson, teleSUR
The World may be shocked to learn United States government has an Institute of Peace; Orwell would not have been.
Gallup polling finds that much of the world believes the U.S. government to be the greatest threat to peace on earth. It comes as a surprise to many that the U.S. government maintains and funds something called the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) which operates out of a shiny new building near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., a building with a curved roof clearly meant to resemble a dove and yet somehow more closely resembling a giant brassiere.
George Orwell, had he lived to see USIP, might have been less surprised than most. In fact, USIP was created by a law signed by President Ronald Reagan in the year 1984, the year for which Orwell had named his dystopian novel back in 1948, when the U.S. Department of War had just been renamed the Department of Defense, and its mission of offensive war-making had been clearly announced to observers fluent in doublespeak. ”The Orwellian U.S. Institute for Peace is staffed and steered by some of our most committed proponents for war and mayhem, many of whom are in the revolving door between government and military contractors,” Alice Slater tells me. Slater is New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War.
“Instead of supporting efforts for diplomacy and peaceful settlement of disputes,” she continues, “the ill-named Peace Institute advises Congress and the press on how [the United States] can bomb and arm nations around the world. We need to replace the warmakers with peacemakers and have an Institute that really serves the cause of peace in the 21st century when war is so obviously unworkable.”
“...the Institute is designed to further U.S. empire and create a unipolar world where the United States dominates economically, militarily and politically.”
While the Institute of Peace was created in response to pressure from the peace movement, some peace advocates, in the end, opposed its creation, as they saw the writing on the wall. These included Noam Chomsky who, like Francis Boyle and others I very much respect, tell me that they view any effort to reform USIP as hopeless. Meanwhile, many peace activists, even in the United States, have no idea that USIP exists, as it has virtually no interaction with the peace movement. A movement in recent years to create a Department of Peace offers, to my knowledge, no evidence that the fate of such a Department wouldn't resemble that of the Institute.
And yet I believe that envisioning a radically reformed government in which a Department or Institute of Peace could actually work for peace is critical. And I believe there is hope for reforming USIP to the point where it does more good than harm. Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, tells me that “like the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other U.S. agencies, the Institute is designed to further U.S. empire and create a unipolar world where the United States dominates economically, militarily and politically. While people in the U.S. are trying to change this foreign policy, governments around the world should take steps to prevent these agencies from operating within their borders, as they will do all they can to foment dissent and create regime change to ensure governments cooperate fully with the United States and its trans-national corporations.”
Zeese's words are true, and yet USIP does do some work aimed at peace, including hosting speakers and producing publications aimed at peace, sending skilled mediators into conflict zones, making research grants, holding essay contests, and conducting conflict-resolution trainings whenever they do not overly conflict with the goals of U.S. imperialism. The trick is how to expand the good work done by USIP while exposing and opposing the bad.
Toward that end, a group of prominent peace activists has just launched a petition that it plans to deliver to USIP in late September. As the petition makes clear, while USIP claims that it is forbidden to oppose U.S. wars or to lobby against them or to promote peaceful alternatives to contemplated military actions, a careful reading of the 1984 law that created USIP reveals that this just isn't so. In fact, USIP regularly lobbies the rest of the U.S. government and the U.S. public in favor of wars, including the overthrow of the Syrian government -- and occasionally against wars, as in the case of USIP's support for the nuclear agreement with Iran.
“The agreement with Iran provides an excellent opening for USIP to promote the success of negotiations and diplomacy in achieving peace and international understanding,” says Elizabeth Murray, who served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government. “The U.S. Institute of Peace,” she explains, “could lead the way in resolving dangerous international crises by countering corporate media spin on Iran, Russia, Ukraine, and Syria, and by promoting peaceful alternatives to military 'solutions' that benefit few but the corporate-military industry. The world is awash in endless wars, floods of refugees and PTSD-afflicted military veterans. USIP can break this tragic cycle by working actively for peace.”
So it can, at least legally and logically and theoretically. And yet few believe that it will. Preventing USIP from extending the model of diplomacy rather than war to numerous nations other than Iran is, primarily, the inclination of those individuals who make up USIP, including USIP board member and chairman Stephen Hadley, who urges the bombing of Syria and the militarization of Ukraine, while encouraging European nations to double their military spending, and himself profiting from war as a board member of Raytheon. Then there's USIP board member Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary at the Pentagon, who promotes higher military spending, an attack on Iran, and deployment of nuclear weapons to nations on Russia's border. USIP board member Major General Frederick M. Padilla, USMC, is career military as well. The new petition calls for the replacement of these three board members with peace activists, of whom USIP has none on its board.
It will be very interesting to see how USIP engages with those urging it to live up to the straightforward, non-Orwellian meaning of its name.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
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