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Abolition


Ending All War

Imagine There're No Countries

oneworld

A serious case has been made repeatedly by unknown scholars and globally celebrated geniuses for well over a century that a likely step toward abolishing war would be instituting some form of global government. Yet the peace movement barely mentions the idea, and its advocates as often as not appear rather naive about Western imperialism; certainly they are not central to or well integrated into the peace movement or even, as far as I can tell, into peace studies academia. (Here's a link to one of the main advocacy groups for world government promoting a U.S. war on ISIS.)

All too often the case for world government is even made in this way: Global government would guarantee peace, while its absence guarantees war. The silliness of such assertions, I suspect, damages what may be an absolutely critical cause. Nobody knows what global government guarantees, because it's never been tried. And if national and local governments and every other large human institution are any guide, global government could bring a million different things depending on how it's done. The serious question should be whether there's a way to do it that would make peace more likely, without serious risk of backfiring, and whether pursuing such a course is a more likely path to peace than others.

Does the absence of world government guarantee war? I haven't seen any proof. Of 200 nations, 199 invest far less in war than the United States. Some have eliminated their militaries entirely. Costa Rica is not attacked because it lacks a military. The United States is attacked because of what its military does. Some nations go centuries without war, while others seemingly can't go more than half an election cycle.  In their book One World Democracy, Jerry Tetalman and Byron Belitsos write that nations do not go to war because they are armed or inclined toward violence but because "they are hopelessly frustrated by the fact that they have no legislative or judicial forum in which their grievances can be heard and adjudicated."

Can you, dear reader, recall a time when the U.S. public had a grievance with a foreign country, lamented the absence of a global court to adjudicate it, and demanded that Congress declare and the Pentagon wage a war?  How many pro-war marches have you been on, you lover of justice? When the Taliban offered to let a third country put Bin Laden on trial, was it the U.S. public that replied, "No way, we want a war," or was it the President? When the U.S. Vice President met with oil company executives to plan the occupation of Iraq, do you think any of them mentioned their frustration at the weakness of international law and arbitration? When the U.S. President in 2013 could not get Congress or the public to accept a new war on Syria and finally agreed to negotiate the removal of chemical weapons without war, why was war the first choice rather than the second? When advocates of world government claim that democracies don't wage war, or heavily armed nations are not more likely to wage war, or nations with cultures that celebrate war are not more likely to wage war, I think they hurt their cause.

When you start up a campaign to abolish the institution of war, you hear from all kinds of people who have the solution for you. And almost all of them have great ideas, but almost all of them think every other idea but their own is useless. So the solution is world government and nothing else, or a culture of peace and nothing else, or disarmament and nothing else, or ending racism and nothing else, or destroying capitalism and nothing else, or counter-recruitment and nothing else, or media reform and nothing else, or election campaign funding reform and nothing else, or creating peace in our hearts and radiating it outward and nothing else, etc. So those of us who find value in all of the above, have to encourage people to pick their favorite and get busy on it. But we also have to try to prioritize. So, again, the serious question is whether world government should be pursued and whether it should be a top priority or something that waits at the bottom of the list.

There are, of course, serious arguments that world government would make everything worse, that large government is inevitably dysfunctional and an absolutely large government would be dysfunctional absolutely.  Serious, if vague, arguments have been made in favor of making our goal "anarcracy" rather than world democracy. These arguments are overwhelmed in volume by paranoid pronouncements like the ones in this typical email I received:

"War is a crime, yes agreed totally, but Man-made Global Warming is a complete scam.  I know this to be a fact.  Aurelio Peccei, co-founder of the Club of Rome, offered me a job as one of his PAs (my uncle, Sir Harry, later Lord Pilkington went to the first ever Bilderberg Conference in 1954, a year before he came a Director of the Bank of England and was a loyal member of the global corporate elite) and he told me that this was all a scheme to help frighten the world into accepting global governance on their terms. Be very careful, you are unwittingly playing their game.
Best wishes
Justin"

One of the huge advantages of global government would seem to be that it might globally address global warming. Yet the horror of global government is so great that people believe the droughts and tornados destroying the earth all around them are somehow a secret plot to trick us into setting up a world government. 

A half-century ago the idea of world government was acceptable and popular.  Now, when we hear about those days it's often in sinister tones focused on the worst motivations of the worst players at the time. Less common are accounts reminding us of a hopeful, well-meant, but unfinished project.

I think advocates for a world federation and global rule of law are onto an important idea that ought to be pursued immediately. Global warming leaves us little time for taking on other projects, but this is a project critical to addressing that crisis. And it's a project that I think can coexist with moving more power to provinces, localities, and individuals.

The bigger the Leviathan, claims Ian Morris, the less war there will be, as long as the Leviathan is the United States and it never stops waging wars. Advocates of world government tend to agree with the first part of that, and I think they're partially right.  The rule of law helps to regulate behavior.  But so do other factors. I think Scotland could leave the UK or Catalonia leave Spain, Quebec leave Canada, Vermont leave the United States without the chance of war increasing. On the contrary, I think some of these new countries would be advocates for peace. Were Texas to secede, that might be a different story. That is to say, habits of peace and cultures of peace necessary to allow a world federation might render such a federation less necessary -- still perhaps necessary, but less so. If the U.S. public demanded peace and cooperation and participation in the International Criminal Court, it would be ready to demand participation in a world federation, but peace might already have -- at least in great measure -- arrived.

Extreme national exceptionalism, which is not required by nationalism, is clearly a driver of war, hostility, and exploitation. President Obama recently said that he only wakes up in the morning because the United States is the one indispensible nation (don't ask what that makes the others). The theme of his speech was the need to start another war. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was once booed at a primary debate, not for opposing war, but for suggesting that the golden rule be applied to relations with foreign countries. Clearly we need to become world citizens in our minds as well as in written law.

Rudolf Gelsey recently sent me his book, Mending Our Broken World: A Path to Perpetual Peace, which led me on to Tetalman and Belitsos's book. I think these authors would benefit from the wisdom of the 1920s Outlawry movement, but I think they do an excellent job of recognizing the successes and failures of the United Nations, and proposing reforms or replacement.  Should we be scared of an international rule of law? Tetalman and Belitsos reply:  

"In truth, living under a system of war and anarchy with WMDs readily available for use on the field of battle -- that is the really frightening choice when it is compared with tyranny."

This is the key, I think. Continuing with the war system and with environmental destruction threaten the world. Far better to try a world with a government than to lose the world. Far better a system that tries to punish individual war makers than one that bombs entire nations.

How do we get there? Tetalman and Belitsos recommend abolishing the veto at the United Nations, expanding Security Council membership, creating a tax base for a U.N. that currently receives about 0.5 percent what the world invests in war, and giving up war powers in favor of U.N. policing. They also propose kicking out of the United Nations any nations not holding free elections, or violating international laws. Clearly that would have to be a requirement going forward and not enforced retroactively or you'd lose too many big members and spoil the whole plan.

The authors envision some transition period in which the U.N. uses war to prevent war, before arriving at the golden age of using only police. I'm inclined to believe that imagined step would have to be leapt over for this to work. The U.S./NATO/U.N. have been using war to rid the world of war for three-quarters of a century with a dismal record of failure. I suspect the authors are also wrong to propose expansion of the European Union as one way to get to a global federation. The European Union is the second greatest purveyor of violence on earth right now. Perhaps the BRICS or other non-aligned nations could begin this process better, which after all is going to require the United States either rising or sinking to humility unimaginable today.

Perhaps a federation can be established only on the question of war, or only on the question of nuclear disarmament, or climate preservation. The trouble, of course, is that the willingness of the dominant bullies to engage in one is as unlikely as, and intimately connected to, each of the others. What would make all of this more likely would be if we began talking about it, thinking about it, planning for it, dreaming it, or even just hearing the words when we sing John Lennon songs. The U.S. peace movement is currently drenched in nationalism, uses "we" to mean the U.S. military, and thinks of "global citizen" as a bit of silly childishness. That needs to change. And fast.

The Futility of Asking Congress to Block the Next Gate

By Judy Bello

There are those who want to support emerging bills in Congress that would limit the administration's ability to put 'boots on the ground' and give  Obama an authorization for the current air war with an expiration date.   I very much disagree with this strategy and believe that even promoting it is counter productive.   Sometimes, instead of supporting a new law that does not do the whole job, and which will cause the current 'status' to become 'quo' and to be taken for granted, we should encourage people to stand up and say 'no' 'no' 'no' to the whole initiative.  We should be protesting in the streets about the current bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq, and talking to our Congressional  representatives about that rather than giving them an opportunity to kick the can down the road.  What negative authorization has ever been retired at the appointed hour?   It's just a way of buying time.  

What I am talking about is the usefulness of taking a 'moderate' position at time where only drastic measures will make any difference - it isn't useful.    What I mean is that the way politicos implicitly frame the problem when they talk about Congressional positions backing Obama and related political logistics is buying and perpetuating a misleading story line.     The entire perception of reality that this bombing campaign (dare I say 'War') is based on is a lie.  The United States has been, either deliberately or through incompetence, supporting ISIS along with al Nusra (al Qaeda) and Ahrar al Sham and the Farooq Brigade (regressive, native Syrian extremists) for at least a couple of years.   The weapons from Libya transported through Turkey and the money to pay the fighters coming from wealthy Saudi, Qatari, Emirati  and Kuwaiti patrons have been combined with US training that does not (most likely cannot) discriminate between 'moderate rebel' and 'extremist jihadi'.   And now Congress just voted to do more of it, despite the fact that our Air Force is aggressively attacking these same guys, and despite the massive media campaign in support of the military expedition, even the mainstream media has had to admit that there is no longer a 'moderate' opposition in Syria, if there ever was one.

It can't have been a big surprise when the ISIS rolled into Mosul and soon left with a very long caravan of shiny new unopened US weapons intended for the Iraqi military.   It must have taken many hours for them to traverse the five or six hundred miles  from Mosul to Raqqa.    If we were going to bomb, the long and slow moving caravan with tanks and car carriers traveling through open desert from Iraq to Syria would have made a clean target.   But instead,  we are bombing the infrastructure of Syria, a country - not a regime and not Assad.   We are bombing  the resources of a community while we say our opponent is a group of fighters who, by happenstance, don't care a whit about the welfare of the people or the infrastructure and have the capability to disappear into the background when there is an attack.   It is crazy!  Those fanatical Saudi Clerics who lead the call to Jihad must be laughing their butts off!    Those dumb Americans terrorizing the people from the air, destroying the infrastructure of the country so it will be impossible for anyone to govern and provide services, and then, soon enough, they'll tire of it - their authorization will expire - and the rubble will be left to . . . guess who?  ISIS and al Nusra.     

The United States has other resources for defeating ISIS and their Ilk besides bombing.  The mighty USA ought to  have the capability (through economic and social carrots and sticks) to deter our allies in the Middle East from arming ISIS and paying militants to fight the governments ISIS is attacking.    We ought to have the capability to shut down ISIS' oil business.   We did a pretty good job of wrecking Iran's economy.   Why not target an upstate like ISIS?  Yes, today or yesterday we bombed Syrian Oil Refineries.   But you can bet we won't bomb the ones in Iraq and Kurdistan.    What we need to do is get Turkey and our good friends the Kurds to stop selling ISIS' oil on the black market.   I bet that if we promised the Kurds customers for their own oil in return for boycotting ISIS, things would change pretty quickly.    Turkey is a different problem because there are a lot of ISIS fighters bunked there.   But, they just might be ready for some assistance in clearing up that problem.      The US war on Syria and Iraq will, if even temporarily successful, push an increasing number of ISIS fighters back into Turkey, which is surely  a problem for Turkey.  

We can use sanctions to make certain that ISIS can't get parts to maintain their oil wells and refineries and engineering support which they surely need to produce the oil.   The wells started to function in 2013 after the EU lifted their sanctions on the Syrian oil wells.  Instead of bombing refineries which are valuable to the people of Syria, we should be sanctioning ISIS oil business.   So, we are not without resources for fighting ISIS if we forgo the bombing campaign.   And it is time to do so before another country is completely laid to waste.

Look carefully at what we accomplished when we saved Libya from, from, well from law and order and fresh drinking water, from free medical care and free education.  Boy are they free!  And then there is Afghanistan - have we really helped the Afghan people over the last 13 years of war?   Are they secure and rich and living in freedom in a secular democracy?   Are they rid of the Taliban and the Warlords (still on our payroll)?  Afghanistan had a secular socialist government that was modernizing the country and beginning to provide services when somebody (oh, that was us!) decided they were too chummy with our arch enemy the USSR,  and trained death squads to 'provide the Soviet Union with their very own Vietnam'.    And look where we are now.
 
So lets not to encourage people to buy into the big lie by trying to modify our response within it, but rather to shine a light on the truth.    The truth is, the US  bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria needs to end now, because in any ordered world, it is crazy and contradictory and destructive.    People, including Congress, and I talk to my rep and her aides about this regularly, need to see past the lie so they can know what the right thing to do is, and so they can understand why it is the right, and the  only thing to do that will make a difference.   And by the way, I don't take full credit, but I (along with other activists) have been talking to our congressional rep about arming the militants for about a year - and she voted against the bill.    We need to start driving towards the truth and not just setting up a fence in the distance.  

I know many of us want to intercede with Congress where they are at, but sometimes you have to get outside the box; not just think outside the box, but operate outside the box, to see real change.     And we very much need real change right now.    Whoever is driving this initiative is setting up a third world war, and I don't even want to think about what that would mean.    Talk about a 'race to the bottom', they are betting on "which will come first: economic collapse or global war?"    And our guys choose global war!   We need to start resisting the paradigm advanced by the powers that be and the lies in the mainstream media because these wars can have no good outcome for the people. . . and the people are us.

When We're All Musteites

We won't necessarily know what a Musteite is, but I'm inclined to think it would help if we did. I'm using the word to mean "having a certain affinity for the politics of A.J. Muste."

I had people tell me I was a Musteite when I had at best the vaguest notion of who A.J. Muste had been. I could tell it was a compliment, and from the context I took it to mean that I was someone who wanted to end war. I guess I sort of brushed that off as not much of a compliment. Why should it be considered either particularly praiseworthy or outlandishly radical to want to end war? When someone wants to utterly and completely end rape or child abuse or slavery or some other evil, we don't call them extremist radicals or praise them as saints. Why is war different?

The possibility that war might not be different, that it might be wholly abolished, could very well be a thought that I picked up third-hand from A.J. Muste, as so many of us have picked up so much from him, whether we know it or not. His influence is all over our notions of labor and organizing and civil rights and peace activism. His new biography, American Gandhi: A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century by Leilah Danielson is well worth reading, and has given me a new affection for Muste despite the book's own rather affection-free approach.

Martin Luther King Jr. told an earlier Muste biographer, Nat Hentoff, "The current emphasis on nonviolent direct action in the race relations field is due more to A.J. than to anyone else in the country." It is also widely acknowledged that without Muste there would not have been formed such a broad coalition against the war on Vietnam. Activists in India have called him "the American Gandhi."

The American Gandhi was born in 1885 and immigrated with his family at age 6 from Holland to Michigan. He studied in Holland, Michigan, the same town that we read about in the first few pages of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and at a college later heavily funded by the Prince Family, from which Blackwater sprang. The stories of both Muste and Prince begin with Dutch Calvinism and end up as wildly apart as imaginable. At the risk of offending Christian admirers of either man, I think neither story -- and neither life -- would have suffered had the religion been left out.

Muste would have disagreed with me, of course, as some form of religion was central to his thinking during much of his life. By the time of World War I he was a preacher and a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). He opposed war in 1916 when opposing war was acceptable.  And when most of the rest of the country fell in line behind Woodrow Wilson and obediently loved war in 1917, Muste didn't change. He opposed war and conscription. He supported the struggle for civil liberties, always under attack during wars. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was formed by Muste's FOR colleagues in 1917 to treat symptoms of war, just as it does today. Muste refused to preach in support of war and was obliged to resigned from his church, stating in his resignation letter that the church should be focused on creating "the spiritual conditions that should stop the war and render all wars unthinkable." Muste became a volunteer with the ACLU advocating for conscientious objectors and others persecuted for war opposition in New England. He also became a Quaker.

In 1919 Muste found himself the leader of a strike of 30,000 textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, learning on the job -- and on the picket line, where he was arrested and assaulted by police, but returned immediately to the line. By the time the struggle was won, Muste was general secretary of the newly formed Amalgamated Textile Workers of America. Two years later, he was directing Brookwood Labor College outside of Katonah, New York. By the mid-1920s, as Brookwood succeeded, Muste had become a leader of the progressive labor movement nationwide. At the same time, he served on the executive committee of the national FOR from 1926-1929 as well as on the national committee of the ACLU. Brookwood struggled to bridge many divides until the American Federation of Labor destroyed it with attacks from the right, aided a bit with attacks from the left by the Communists. Muste labored on for labor, forming the Conference for Progressive Labor Action, and organizing in the South, but "if we are to have morale in the labor movement," he said, "we must have a degree of unity, and, if we are to have that, it follows, for one thing, that we cannot spend all our time in controversy and fighting with each other -- maybe 99 per cent of the time, but not quite 100 per cent."

Muste's biographer follows that same 99 percent formula for a number of chapters, covering the infighting of the activists, the organizing of the unemployed, the forming of the American Workers Party in 1933, and in 1934 the Auto-Lite strike in Toledo, Ohio, that led to the formation of the United Auto Workers. The unemployed, joining in the strike on behalf of the workers, were critical to success, and their commitment to do so may have helped the workers decide to strike in the first place.  Muste was central to all of this and to progressive opposition to fascism during these years. The sit-down strike at Goodyear in Akron was led by former students of Muste.

Muste sought to prioritize the struggle for racial justice and to apply Gandhian techniques, insisting on changes in culture, not just government. "If we are to have a new world," he said, "we must have new men; if you want a revolution, you must be revolutionized." In 1940, Muste became national secretary of FOR and launched a Gandhian campaign against segregation, bringing on new staff including James Farmer and Bayard Rustin, and helping to found the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The nonviolent actions that many associate with the 1950s and 1960s began in the 1940s. A Journey of Reconciliation predated the Freedom Rides by 14 years.

Muste predicted the rise of the Military Industrial Complex and the militarized adventurism of the post-World War II United States in 1941. Somewhere beyond the comprehension of most Americans, and even his biographer, Muste found the wisdom to continue opposing war during a second world war, advocating instead for nonviolent defense and a peaceful, cooperative, and generous foreign policy, defending the rights of Japanese Americans, and once again opposing a widespread assault on civil liberties.  "If I can't love Hitler, I can't love at all," said Muste, articulating the widespread commonsense that one should love one's enemies, but doing so in the primary case in which virtually everyone else, to this day, advocates for the goodness of all-out vicious violence and hatred.

Of course, those who had opposed World War I and the horrible settlement that concluded it, and the fueling of fascism for years -- and who could see what the end of World War II would bring, and who saw the potential in Gandhian techniques -- must have had a harder time than most in accepting that war was inevitable and World War II justified.

Muste, I am sure, took no satisfaction in watching the U.S. government create a cold war and a global empire in line with his own prediction. Muste continued to push back against the entire institution of war, remarking that, "the very means nations use to provide themselves with apparent or temporary 'defense' and 'security' constitute the greatest obstacle to the attainment of genuine or permanent collective security. They want international machinery so that the atomic armaments race may cease; but the atomic armaments race has to stop or the goal of the world order recedes beyond human reach."

It was in this period, 1948-1951 that MLK Jr. was attending Crozer Theological Seminary, attending speeches by, and reading books by, Muste, who would later advise him in his own work, and who would play a key role in urging civil rights leaders to oppose the war on Vietnam. Muste worked with the American Friends Service Committee, and many other organizations, including the Committee to Stop the H-Bomb Tests, which would become the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE); and the World Peace Brigade.

Muste warned against a U.S. war on Vietnam in 1954. He led opposition to it in 1964. He struggled with great success to broaden the anti-war coalition in 1965. At the same time, he struggled against the strategy of watering down war opposition in an attempt to find broader appeal. He believed that "polarization" brought "contradictions and differences" to the surface and allowed for the possibility of greater success. Muste chaired the November 8 Mobilization Committee (MOBE) in 1966, planning a massive action in April 1967. But upon returning from a trip to Vietnam in February, giving talks about the trip, and staying up all night drafting the announcement of the April demonstration, he began to complain of back pain and did not live much longer.

He did not see King's speech at Riverside Church on April 4. He did not see the mass mobilization or the numerous funerals and memorials to himself. He did not see the war ended. He did not see the war machine and war planning continue as if little had been learned. He did not see the retreat from economic fairness and progressive activism during the decades to come. But A.J. Muste had been there before. He'd seen the upsurges of the 1920s and 1930s and lived to help bring about the peace movement of the 1960s. When, in 2013, public pressure helped stop a missile attack on Syria, but nothing positive took its place, and a missile attack was launched a year later against the opposite side in the Syrian war, Muste would not have been shocked. His cause was not the prevention of a particular war but the elimination of the institution of war, the cause also of the new campaign in 2014 World Beyond War.

What can we learn from someone like Muste who persevered long enough to see some, but not all, of his radical ideas go mainstream? He didn't bother with elections or even voting. He prioritized nonviolent direct action. He sought to form the broadest possible coalition, including with people who disagreed with him and with each other on fundamental questions but who agreed on the important matter at hand. Yet he sought to keep those coalitions uncompromising on matters of the greatest importance. He sought to advance their goals as a moral cause and to win over opponents by intellect and emotion, not force. He worked to change world views. He worked to build global movements, not just local or national. And, of course, he sought to end war, not just to replace one war with a different one. That meant struggling against a particular war, but doing so in the manner best aimed at reducing or abolishing the machinery behind it.

I'm not, after all, a very good Musteite. I agree with much, but not all. I reject his religious motivations. And of course I'm not much like A.J. Muste, lacking his skills, interests, abilities, and accomplishments. But I do feel close to him and appreciate more than ever being called a Musteite.  And I appreciate that A.J. Muste and millions of people who appreciated his work in one way or another passed it on to me. Muste's influence on people everyone knows, like Martin Luther King, Jr., and people who influenced people everyone knows, like Bayard Rustin, was significant. He worked with people still active in the peace movement like David McReynolds and Tom Hayden. He worked with James Rorty, father of one of my college professors, Richard Rorty. He spent time at Union Theological Seminary, where my parents studied. He lived on the same block, if not building, where I lived for a while at 103rd Street and West End Avenue in New York, and Muste was apparently married to a wonderful woman named Anne who went by Anna, as am I. So, I like the guy. But what gives me hope is the extent to which Musteism exists in our culture as a whole, and the possibility that someday we will all be Musteites.

We Have Lost the Great Fred Branfman

And here is one of many great things he created: http://warisacrime.org/lesssafe

A National Call: Save Civilian Education

SaveCivilianEducation.org

Signers listed at bottom

The militarization of our schoolsOver the last several decades, the Pentagon,conservative forces, and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities. The combined impact of the military, conservative think tanks and foundations,  and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education.   It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.

The signers of this statement believe it is urgent for all advocates of social justice, peace and the environment to recognize the dangerous nature of this problem and confront it with deliberate action.

THE THREAT TO CIVILIAN EDUCATION

The most aggressive outside effort to use the school system to teach an ideology with ominous long-term implications for society comes from the military establishment. Over the last two decades, with relatively little media coverage or public outcry, the Pentagon’s involvement in schools and students’ lives has grown exponentially. Now, for example:

  • Every school day, at least half a million high school students attend Junior ROTC classes to receive instruction from retired officers who are handpicked by the Pentagon to teach its own version of history and civics. These students are assigned “ranks” and conditioned to believe that military and civilian values are similar, with the implication that unquestioning obedience to authority is therefore a feature of good citizenship.
  • Armed forces academies are being established in some public schools (Chicago now has eight), where all students are given a heavy dose of military culture and values.
  • A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools. Examples are the Young Marines and Starbase programs, and military programs that sneak into schools under the cloak of Science / Technology / Engineering / Math (STEM) education.
  • Military recruiters are trained to pursue “school ownership” as their goal (see: Army School Recruiting Program Handbook). Their frequent presence in classrooms, lunch areas and at assemblies has the effect of popularizing military values, soldiering and, ultimately, war.
  • Since 2001, federal law has overridden civilian school autonomy and family privacy when it comes to releasing student contact information to the military. Additionally, each year thousands of schools allow the military to administer its entrance exam — the ASVAB — to 10th-12th graders, allowing recruiters to bypass laws protecting parental rights and the privacy of minors and gain access to personal information on hundreds of thousands of students.

THE THREAT TO PUBLIC EDUCATION

Efforts by groups outside the school system to inject conservatism and corporate values into the learning process have been going on for a number of years. In a recent example of right-wing educational intervention, The New York Times reported that tea party groups, using lesson plans and coloring books, have been pushing schools to “teach a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, where the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.” (See:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/us/constitution-has-its-day-amid-a-struggle-for-its-spirit.html )

Corporations have been projecting their influence in schools with devices like Channel One, a closed-circuit TV program that broadcasts commercial content daily to captive student audiences in 8,000 schools. Some companies have succeeded in convincing schools to sign exclusive contracts for pizza, soft drinks and other products, with the goal of teaching early brand loyalty to children. A National Education Policy Center report issued in November 2011 documents the various ways in which business/school partnerships are harming children educationally by channeling student thinking “into a corporate-friendly track” and stunting their ability to think critically. (See: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/schoolhouse-commercialism-2011 )

The development of this corporate-friendly track dovetails with a radical corporate agenda to dismantle America’s public education system. States across the country are slashing educational spending, outsourcing public teacher jobs, curbing collective-bargaining rights, and marginalizing teachers’ unions. There is a proliferation of charter and “cyber” schools that promote private sector involvement and a push toward for-profit schools where the compensation paid to private management companies is tied directly to student performance on standardized assessments.  The cumulative effect is the creation of institutions that cultivate a simplistic ideology that merges consumerism with subservience. (See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/michigan-privatize-public-education )

The corporatization of education via charter schools and the administration sector growth at universities is another troubling trend for public education.  Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error ( http://www.npr.org/2013/09/27/225748846/diane-ravitch-rebukes-education-activists-reign-of-error ) and Henry A. Giroux’s newest book, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education,  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22548-henry-giroux-beyond-neoliberal-miseducation ) give pointers to the doubtful role of corporate values in public education. 

Why is this happening?  Giroux notes that “Chris Hedges, the former New York Times correspondent, appeared on Democracy Now! in 2012 and told host Amy Goodman the federal government spends some $600 billion a year on education—“and the corporations want it.”

There are also some organizations supporting efforts to introduce history and civics lessons from a progressive perspective, such as the Howard Zinn Education Project (https://zinnedproject.org ) and Rethinking Schools ( http://www.rethinkingschools.org ). And a small movement is working against Channel One and the commercialization of the school environment (e.g., http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education and ( http://www.obligation.org ).

STOPPING THESE THREATS

There is reason to be hopeful about reversing this trend if we look, for example, at some of the successes in grassroots efforts to curb militarism in schools. In 2009, a coalition of high school students, parents and teachers in the very conservative, military-dominated city of San Diego succeeded in getting their elected school board to shut down JROTC firing ranges at eleven high schools. Two years later, the same coalition got the school board to pass a policy significantly limiting military recruiting in all of its schools. Though such initiatives are relatively few in number, similar victories have been won in other school districts and on the state level in Hawaii and Maryland.

There are also some organizations supporting efforts to introduce history and civics lessons from a progressive perspective, such as the Zinn Education Project (www.zinnedproject.org) and Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org). And a small movement is working against Channel One and the commercialization of the school environment (e.g., http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education/ and http://www.obligation.org/ ).

As promising and effective as these efforts are, they pale in comparison to the massive scale of what groups on the other side of the political spectrum are proactively doing in the educational environment to preserve the influence of conservatism, militarism and corporate power.

It is time for progressive organizations, foundations and media to confront this and become equally involved in the educational system. It is especially important that more organizations unite to oppose the growing intrusion of the Pentagon in K-12 schools and universities. Restoring the primacy of critical thinking and democratic values in our culture cannot be done without stopping the militarization and corporate takeover of public education.

Michael Albert
Z Magazine

Pat Alviso
Southern California
Military Families Speak Out (MFSO)

Marc Becker
Co-chair,
Historians Against the War

Bill Bigelow
Curriculum Editor,
Rethinking Schools

Peter Bohmer
Faculty in political economy,
Evergreen State College

Bill Branson
VVAW National Office

Noam Chomsky
Professor, Retired, MIT

Michelle Cohen
Project Great Futures,
Los Angeles, CA

Tom Cordaro
Pax Christi USA Ambassador
of Peace, Naperville, IL

Pat Elder
National Coalition to
Protect Student Privacy

Margaret Flowers
Co-director,
It’s Our Economy 

Libby Frank
Northwest Suburban Peace
& Education Project,
Arlington Hts., IL

Hannah Frisch
Civilian Soldier
Alliance

Kathy Gilberd
National Lawyers Guild
Military Law Task Force

Henry Armand Giroux
Professor, McMaster
University

Frank Goetz
Director, West Surburban
Faith Based Peace Coalition,
Wheaton, Il

Tom Hayden
Activist, Author,
Teacher

Arlene Inouye
Treasurer, United Teachers
of Los Angeles

Iraq Veterans Against
the War (IVAW)
National Office,
New York City

Rick Jahnkow
Project on Youth and
Non-Military Opportunities,
Encinitas, CA

Jerry Lembcke
Emeritus Professor,
Holy Cross College

Jorge Mariscal
Professor, Univ. of
California San Diego

Patrick McCann
National VFP President,
Montgomery County (MD)
Education Association
Board Member

Stephen McNeil
American Friends
Service Committee
San Francisco

Carlos Muñoz
Professor Emeritus
UC Berkeley Ethnic
Studies Dept.

Michael Nagler
President, Metta Center
for Nonviolence

Jim O’Brien
Co-chair, Historians
Against the War

Isidro Ortiz
Professor, San Diego
State University

Jesus Palafox
American Friends Service
Committee, Chicago

Pablo Paredes
AFSC 67 Sueños

Michael Parenti, Ph.D.
Author & lecturer

Bill Scheurer
Executive Director
of On Earth Peace,
Stop Recruiting Kids
Campaign

Cindy Sheehan
Peace and Social
Justice Activist

Joanne Sheehan
New England Regional
War Resisters League

Mary Shesgreen
Chair, Fox Valley Citizens
for Peace & Justice,
Elgin, IL

Sam Smith
Fellowship of
Reconciliation,
Chicago

Kristin Stoneking
Executive Director
Fellowship of
Reconciliation USA

David Swanson
World Beyond War

Chris Venn
San Pedro Neighbors for
Peace & Justice,
San Pedro, CA

Veterans for Peace
National Office,
St. Louis, MO

Veterans for Peace
Chicago Chapter

Vietnam Veterans
Against the War
National Office,
Champaign, IL

Amy Wagner
YA-YA Network
(Youth Activists-Youth
Allies), New York City

Harvey Wasserman
Activist

West Suburban
Faith-based
PEACE Coalition
Wheaton, IL

Colonel Ann Wright,
Retired U.S. Army/
Army Reserves

Mickey Z.
Author of Occupy
this Book: Mickey Z.
on Activism

Kevin Zeese
Co-director,
It’s Our Economy

Open invitation to
additional
Endorsements

Time to get off the Merry go 'round.

By Joshua Denniss from Darwin, Australia.

On Tuesday the U.S began bombing ISIS targets inside Syria, in concert with its five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan. It began doing so without the approval of the U.S. Congress nor the United Nations, making the war in Syria unconstitutional and illegal. As it is, empires are rarely held accountable for their actions, including switching sides i.e. who they fight and who they support in the Middle East.

It was just over a year ago that officials from the U.S were insisting that bombing and attacking Bashar al-Assad (president of Syria) was a moral and strategic imperative. To combat Al-Assad, the U.S government armed and trained Syrian rebels that opposed President Al-Assad's regime. These men, once rebels turned into trained soldiers, went on to join ISIS. This was due to the fact that both groups are opposed to President Al-Assad and the ISIS success in fighting the Iraqi government. The ISIS existence, its growing number of members and its resources are mostly the result of U.S. interference.

Now that U.S interests have changed they've turned and switched sides, declaring war on the very people that they have armed and trained. If, when I broadly blanket the entire reason for the ongoing war in the Middle East to be the United States and its allies' fault, you sit there and say "Well, it's easy to just say something like that without providing proper reason of how or why." Let me tell you why I believe it is. The U.S. and its allies constantly provide arms and resources to both sides of a conflict under the pretense that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

In reality, they are just creating more enemies; strengthening them and then having to fight them in some future conflict. Weapons do not rain from the sky in the Middle East like some of you may think. Seventy nine percent of them are shipped there by the U.S, with the rest mostly by its five allies mentioned above. When loyalties and alliances change as with ISIS, the only answer they have is to bomb the ISIS stronghold which, in actuality, kills more innocents than terrorists, destroying civilians' homes.

These actions create more anti-American sentiment in the area, resulting to a soar in ISIS recruits. The increasing number of people wanting to join ISIS is understandable -- why not join the group who defends you from the people bombing your home and your people? This exact situation has been created and emulated time and time again just pertaining to different groups. This same reason is the cause for the ongoing conflict.

Do we, as the people of this world, honestly not see how this works by now? Do we, as global citizens, honestly believe going to war AGAIN is the right answer? Do we want our fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters dying on both sides in another futile and frivolous war? Stop following your government blindly into war because this is not the answer!

We, as a people, need to begin prompting our governments and leaders to form peaceful and solution-based efforts, not more wars. I, for one, feel that a large portion of the world is also sick and tired of the hatred and violence being perpetuated by these groups, sick of people believing borders drawn on a map define who we are, sick of people thinking these men, women and children are any different from us! Some of them may be angry and misguided, but so are a great number of us. It's time we think of each other as ONE people because that's what we are.

43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes

By David Swanson

War, our leaders tell us, is needed to make the world a better place.

Well, maybe not so much for the 43 million people who've been driven out of their homes and remain in a precarious state as internally displaced persons (24 million), refugees (12 million), and those struggling to return to their homes.

The U.N.'s figures for the end of 2013 (found here) list Syria as the origin of 9 million such exiles. The cost of escalating the war in Syria is often treated as a financial cost or -- in rare cases -- as a human cost in injury and death. There is also the human cost of ruining homes, neighborhoods, villages, and cities as places in which to live.

Just ask Colombia which comes in second place following years of war -- a place where peace talks are underway and desperately needed with -- among other catastrophes -- nearly 6 million people deprived of their homes.

The war on drugs is rivaled by the war on Africa, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo coming in third after years of the U.S.-backed deadliest war since World War II, but only because the war on "terror" has slipped. Afghanistan is in fourth place with 3.6 million desperate, suffering, dying, and in many cases understandably angry and resentful at losing a place to live.  (Remember that over 90% of Afghans not only didn't participate in the events of 9-11 involving Saudis flying planes into buildings, but have never even heard of those events.) Post-liberation Iraq is at 1.5 million displaced and refugees. Other nations graced by regular U.S. missile strikes that make the top of the list include Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen -- and, of course, with Israeli help: Palestine.

Humanitarian wars have a homelessness problem.

Part of that problem finds its way to Western borders where the people involved should be greeted with restitution rather than resentment. Honduran children aren't bringing Ebola-infected Korans. They're fleeing a U.S.-backed coup and Fort Benning-trained torturers.  The "immigration problem" and "immigrants rights" debate should be replaced with a serious discussion of refugee rights, human rights, and the-right-to-peace.

Start here.

refugees

Responding to Ebola: Cuba Sees a Crisis, and Sends Docs; The US Sees an Opportunity and Sends Troops

By Dave Lindorff

 

How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:

 

Cuba Sends Doctors to Ebola Areas

 

US to Deploy 3000 Troops as Ebola Crisis Worsens

 

After New York: Rally for Peace and Climate in DC

An interactive townhall discussion of how we get to peace

Speakers: Andy Shallal, Barbara Wien, David Swanson, and YOU

When: Monday, September 22, 11:30-1:30

Where: SIS Founders Room, American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Food and drink provided!



War, Whistleblowing, and Independent Journalism
 
Join us for the powerful documentary Body of War (co-produced and co-directed by Phil Donahue), followed by a discussion with whistleblowers and journalists.
 
When: Monday, September 22
 
6:30 pm: Body of War film screening

8 pm: Q&A with Phil Donahue

8:15 pm: Panel
*  William Binney, NSA whistleblower
*  Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, EPA whistleblower
*  Phil Donahue, journalist
*  Thomas Drake, NSA whistleblower
*  Peter Kuznick, professor of history
*  Jesselyn Radack, DOJ whistleblower
*  Kirk Wiebe, NSA whistleblower
Moderator: Norman Solomon
 
Where: American University -- Butler Board Room (located on the 6th floor above the Bender arena sports complex)

Optional: You can sign up on FaceBook here.

This event is sponsored by RootsAction.org and the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, and co-sponsored by ExposeFacts.org.

For more information on the speakers, click here
.
 
 

Nonviolent civil resistance for peace and climate at the White House

When: Tuesday, September 23, 10 a.m.

Where: Pennsylvania Ave. in front of White House.

More information.

There Is No Future in War: Youth Rise Up, a Manifesto

Statement written by Ben Norton, Tyra Walker, Anastasia Taylor, Alli McCracken, Colleen Moore, Jes Grobman, Ashley Lopez

Once again, US politicians and pundits are beating the drums of war, trying to get our nation involved in yet another conflict. A few years ago it was Iran, with “all options on the table.” Last year it was a red line that threatened to drag us into the conflict in Syria. This time it’s Iraq.

We, the youth of America, have grown up in war, war war. War has become the new norm for our generation. But these conflicts—declared by older people but fought and paid for by young people—are robbing us of our future and we’re tired of it.

There is no future in war.

We, the youth of America, are taking a stand against war and reclaiming our future.

War does not work. Period.

War does not work from an economic perspective

In 2003 US politicians orchestrated the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq based on blatant lies—lies that have cost the American people over $3 trillion.

Imagine what we could have done with this money:

  • With $3 trillion dollars, we could have guaranteed free higher education for all interested Americans. Instead, we are wallowing in over $1 trillion in outstanding college loan debt.
  • With $3 trillion, we could have created a system of universal health care. Instead, affordable health care is still out of reach for many Americans and we have no idea if there will even be a Medicare system when we are old enough to retire.
  • With $3 trillion we could have renovated our decrepit public schools and crumbling public infrastructure, giving us the kind of foundation we need for a thriving nation in the decades to come.
  • With $3 trillion we could have created a national energy grid based not upon environmentally destructive fossil fuels, but upon renewable energy sources--something that our generation cares passionately about.

Our true foes—those endlessly gunning for war—have been waging an economic war against us. Our foes are the ones who say we must increase Pentagon spending while we cut food stamps, unemployment assistance, public transportation, and low-income housing. They are the ones who want to destroy the social safety net that past generations have worked so hard to build. They are the ones who underfund our public schools - which are more segregated today than they were under Jim Crow - and then privatize them. They are the ones who throw hundreds of thousands of young people in prison, thanks to the racist and classist war on drugs, and then privatize the prisons to exploit and profit off of incarcerated citizens who make close-to-zero wages.

Throwing money at war does nothing to address the real issues we face. We, the youth of our country, are the ones who will feel this pain. The cost of war is sucking us dry; it is burdening us with debts we will never be able to pay back.

And war doesn’t even work to create jobs. Politicians say they can’t cut the Pentagon budget because the weapons manufacturers create much-needed jobs. Yes, our generation need jobs. But if members of Congress really wants to use federal spending to help us find employment, the military is the worst investment. A $1 billion investment in military spending nets 11,600 jobs. The same investment in education reaps 29,100 jobs. Whether it’s education, healthcare or clean energy, investments in those sectors create many more job opportunities than the military. The military-industrial complex does a great job lining the pockets of politicians; it does a lousy job creating an economy that works for all.

War does not work from a national security and defense perspective

The war apologists claim war makes our future “safer” and “freer.” But since the tragic 9/11 attack, the US military response has made the world a more dangerous place. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the NATO bombing of Libya, the use of predator drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and countless other examples of military operations have only increased violence and hatred. Iraqis and Afghans are certainly no safer and freer; we are certainly no safer and freer.

We refuse to let our brothers and sisters, both here and abroad, die for access to cheap Persian Gulf oil. The Iraqis, the Afghans, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Somalis, and the people of any other country our military circles like vultures, are not our enemies. They oppose terrorism more than we do; they are the ones who must bear its brunt. We must oppose US intervention not because we don’t care about them, but because we do.

War does not work from an environmental perspective.

War is not environmentally friendly. It never has been, and it never will be. Bombing destroys the environment. It damages forests and agricultural land. It ravages ecosystems, endangering species, even forcing some into extinction.

Bombing contaminates water and soil, often leaving it unsafe to use for centuries, even millennia. This is especially true with nuclear and chemical weapons, such as those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the missiles containing depleted uranium the US used in Iraq. And because of weapons like these, infant mortality, genetic mutation, and cancer rates are exponentially higher in the civilian areas targeted. Children in Fallujah, Iraq, a city hit hard by these weapons, are born without limbs and missing organs.

The environmental costs of war are clearly not limited to isolated moments; they persist for many lifetimes. Heavy military vehicles, in conjunction with deforestation and climate change, lead to the emission of toxic dust from the ground. Even if their homes and livelihoods haven’t been destroyed by bombs, citizens who inhale these toxins are much more susceptible to a wide variety of diseases and health problems.

The US Department of Defense has long been the country’s largest consumer of fossil fuels. Military vehicles consume obscene quantities of oil for even small tasks. If we truly care about reversing, or at least mitigating, anthropogenic climate change—what many scientists recognize as a literal threat to the future of the human species—eliminating war would be an incredibly effective first step.

War does not work from a human rights perspective

The world isn’t any safer and freer for the million Iraqi civilians who died. How is freedom supposed to come at the tip of a bomb?

The debate rages back and forth; “specialists” fill the TV airwaves, repackaging the same tired excuses we’ve heard for years. Most of these “experts” are old white males. The people actually affected by our bombs and our guns--mostly young people of color--are nowhere to be seen. Their voices are silenced, their voices shouted over by the corporate media, by hawkish politicians, and by the profit-hungry military contractors. <

War does not work from a historical perspective

War has never been about freedom and liberation; war has always been about profit and empire. American historian Howard Zinn once said “Wars are fundamentally internal policies. Wars are fought in order to control the population at home.”

Military intervention gives US corporations free reign in the countries we destroy. We bomb the country, targeting public infrastructure, and our corporations build it back up again. Fat cat CEOs make millions, even billions; the country, the people of the country, are left with mountains of debt. Our corporations own their infrastructure, their industrial capital, their natural resources. War is always a lose-lose for the people. Economic and political elite in both countries will make a fortune; the people of both countries will be the ones who have to pay for this fortune.

Defenders and purveyors of war have always done empty lip service to ideals like “freedom” and “democracy”; they have always repeated tired, vacuous tropes about “assisting,” or even “liberating” peoples.

How can we trust a country that says its brutal military invasion and occupation is “humanitarian,” when, at the same moment, it is supporting repressive dictators around the world? Saddam Hussein was on the CIA payroll since the 1960s. While we were invading Iraq to “overthrow tyranny” and “free” the Iraqi people, we were supporting the King Fahd’s theocratic tyranny in Saudi Arabia, the brutally repressive Khalifa family in Bahrain, and Mubarak’s violent regime in Egypt, among countless other unsavory dictators.

When we invaded Afghanistan to “free” the Afghan people from the Taliban, the corporate media failed to mention that Ronald Reagan had supported the Mujahideen, who later became the Taliban, and the Contras throughout the 1980s. He called the latter “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers,” while they were disemboweling civilians in a campaign of terror.

These historical events are absolutely pertinent to contemporary discussions of war. We must learn from them, as to not repeat them in the future, as to not fall for the same past political tricks.

Our naysayers say we are against the troops. We are not against the troops. US troops are disproportionately from less-privileged backgrounds. Military recruiters target impoverished communities of color, and there are many recorded instances of them using deceptive tactics to get young citizens to sign long binding contracts. These are the troops that die in US military operations. They are not our enemies. We refuse to let our brothers and sisters be cannon fodder. The real people against the troops are the ones who send our country’s poor to die in rich people’s wars.

How many times do we have to be lied to, how many times do we have to be tricked, how many times do we have to be exploited until we say enough is enough? We are tired of war! War accomplishes nothing. War only fattens the wallets of economic and political elites, leaving millions dead in its wake. War only leads to more war, destroying the planet and emptying the national treasury in the process.

We, the youth of the United States of America, oppose war.
We oppose war not because we don’t care about the rest of the world; we oppose war precisely because we do.
We oppose war not because we don’t care about our security; we oppose war precisely because we do.
We oppose war not because we don’t care about our troops; we oppose war precisely because we do.
We oppose war not because we aren’t concerned with our future; we oppose war precisely because we do.

There is no future in war.

CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities.

Military Intervention is Not the Solution!


Late Wednesday night, President Obama announced the expansion of ongoing U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and the start of airstrikes in Syria for the first time with the aim to "degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS, also known as IS.

In recent months IS has spread a wave of oppression and violence that goes well beyond the headline-catching executions and massacres to affecting millions of Iraqis and Syrians through fear, exploitation and gender-based violence. Now 12 years into the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, we witness how militarism expands violence and destroys hope rather than create lasting solutions to ongoing crisis.

War Resisters League condemns the violence of both U.S. military intervention, and the reactionary forces - led by IS - that it claims to be intervening. Further, it is the sectarian lens through which U.S. administrations have viewed Iraq, and increasingly Syria, that contributes to the suppression of emancipatory social movements while establishing the conditions for the rise of reactionary groups. By playing a major role in institutionalizing sectarianism in Iraq, and continuing to arm some the most repressive and sectarian regimes in the region - such as Saudi Arabia – the U.S. is deeply implicated in the dynamics at play.

The U.S. however is far from the only player on the scene, with global powers such as Iran, Russia and China backing Bashar al-Assad's campaign of mass death and repression. Beyond competing regimes, there are an Iraqi
and Syrian people, and it is their movements – striving for resilience, to survive and thrive – which War Resisters League lends our support:

Grassroots organizing by Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, building shelters in a context of ISIS attacks against women.

Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq writing and organizing against the basic assumptions of global and local oppressors 'Sectarianism is the product of a political conflict, not the reverse'.

Mohja Kafh
of Syrian Nonviolence Movement explaining: “People didn't rush to Syria's side and bring with them the people power to mobilize a new kind of horizontal help on the ground, this new kind of power that is not about states and super-states but the technologies and geniuses of a new rising generation”.

Against cynicism and despair that can only offer more destructive violence, these projects and their daily work build hope for a future beyond militarism and empire.

War Resisters League – National Office


(Image by Maysaloun Faraj, "Ahlam: Kites and Shattered Dreams" (2011). Courtesy of Ava Gallery, copyright Maysaloun Faraj)

A cultural essay: Going to War with a Vengeance

By John Grant


To do nothing is to send a message to the wrongdoer, and the general public, that the victim has no self-worth and will not marshal the internal resources necessary to reclaim his or her honor. Shattered dignity is not beyond repair, but no elevating and equalizing of dignity can occur without the personal satisfaction of revenge.
        -Thane Rosenbaum, Payback: The Case For Revenge

ISIL, the US, and curing our addiction to violence

By Erin Niemela and Tom H. Hastings

President Obama’s Wednesday night address on the Islamic State (ISIL) reintroduced a war weary nation to more violent intervention in Iraq, another war weary nation. The Obama administration claims that airstrikes, military advisors and a Muslim states-American military coalition are the most effective counterterrorism tactics, but that is demonstrably false for two major reasons.

One, the history of US military action in Iraq is a repeatedly failed strategy featuring extremely high costs and poor outcomes.

Two, scholarship in both terrorism and conflict transformation indicates this mix of strategies is a statistical loser.

The people in ISIL are not a "cancer," as President Obama claims. The massive and multifaceted global public health problem is violence, which shares characteristics with many diseases, such as cancer, meth addiction, the Black Death and Ebola. Violence is the disease, not the cure.

This metaphor applies to the violence committed by ISIL and the US alike. Both claim to be using violence to eliminate injustice. Both ISIL and the US dehumanize entire swaths of people in order to justify that violence. Much like drug addicts, both armed groups alienate and indiscriminately harm others while claiming it’s in everyone’s best interest.

The disease of addiction isn’t eradicated when police raid the addict’s family home, accidentally gun down his brother and then shoot him in the head. An addiction--in this case, violence by militarists on all sides--is vanquished with an entirely different approach that scholars in counterterrorism and conflict transformation have found and recommended for years--continually ignored by successive US administrations despite the growing evidence. Here are eight scientifically supported treatments for the ISIL threat that both realists and idealists can and should advocate.

One, stop making more terrorists. Abandon all violent repression tactics. Violent repression, whether by airstrikes, torture or mass arrests, will only backfire. “Despite the conventional confidence in deterrence approaches, repressive actions have never led to decreases in terrorism and have sometimes led to increases in terrorism,” Erica Chenoweth and Laura Dugan stated in their 2012 study in American Sociological Review on 20 years of Israeli counterterrorism strategies. The authors found that indiscriminate repressive counterterrorism efforts – violence used against the entire population from which the terrorist cells operate, such as airstrikes, destruction of property, mass arrests, etc., were associated with increases in terror acts.

Two, stop transferring military arms and equipment to the region. Stop buying and selling the stuff, profitable to a few dealers and harmful to everyone else. We already know that U.S. military weapons sent to Syria, Libya and Iraq, among other Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) states, have been seized or purchased and used by ISIL against civilians.

Three, start generating real sympathy in the population that terrorists claim to "defend." The 2012 Chenoweth and Dugan counterterrorism study also found that indiscriminate conciliatory counterterrorism efforts – positive rewards that benefit the entire identity group from which terrorists draw their support – were the most effective in reducing terror acts over time, particularly when those efforts were sustained over the long-term. Examples of these efforts include signaling negotiation intentions, withdrawing troops, earnestly investigating claims of abuses and admitting mistakes, among others.

Four, stop creating more terrorism targets. Anyone the US purports to protect with violence becomes a target. The Responsibility to Protect does not require violence, and a better policy would be to consult with and support unarmed nonviolent forces that have already succeeded in hot conflict zones. For example, Muslim Peacemaker Teams, located in Najaf, Iraq works with civil society organizations and international and local nongovernmental organizations in Iraq to decrease hostilities and serve civilian survivors. Another group is Nonviolent Peaceforce, a by-request unarmed peacekeeping team with successful fieldwork in South Sudan, Sri Lanka and other armed conflict arenas.

Five, ISIL's violence is an addiction best treated with a humanitarian intervention by caring but firm stakeholders. A humanitarian intervention targets behavior, not the existence of the addict, and mandates collaboration with all on-the-ground stakeholders, including Sunni, Shi'a, Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, businesses, educators, healthcare providers, local politicians, and religious leaders to intervene on the destructive practices of the group. ISIL is entirely made up of ex-civilians – family members, friends and children of civil society; any true humanitarian intervention must include the work and support of the community – not foreign armed forces.

Six, look at the ISIL issue as a community policing problem, not a military problem. No one likes warplanes flying over their home or tanks rolling into their neighborhood, whether in Ferguson, Mo. or Mosul, Iraq. Terrorist activities in a region are best prevented or mitigated by community-based solutions that are culturally sensitive and subject to legitimate laws.

Seven, accept world law enforcement, not US global policing. It is time to strengthen the sovereignty of civil society of all humanity, not arrogate the power to those with war jets and missiles.

Eight, stop pretending to be a leader in MENA. Accept that the borders there will be redrawn by those who live there. This is their region and they resent a full millennium of the combination of crusades followed by colonialism capped off by imperial powers drawing their boundaries and extracting their resources. Stop feeding that long history of violent intervention and give the region a chance to heal. It will not be pretty but our ugly repeated adventures into Iraq have unleashed too much death and destruction too many times. Repeating those disastrous treatments and expecting different outcomes is a symptom of our affliction.

The addiction to violence is curable, but not by more violence. Starving any disease works better than feeding it and more violence produces the obvious--more violence. The Obama administration, and every US administration preceding it, should know better by now.

 

Erin Niemela (@erinniemela), PeaceVoice Editor and PeaceVoiceTV Channel Manager, is a Master’s Candidate in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University, specializing in media framing of violent and nonviolent conflict. Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

World Beyond War’s David Hartsough Featured in Street Spirit

Iraq War Protest      David Hartsough is featured in a long article and interview in Street Spirit. The article begins:

A Quaker’s Ceaseless Quest for a World Without War

After a lifetime of civil rights sit-ins, blockades at nuclear plants, and acts of anti-war resistance, David Hartsough remains a utopian believer in peace and justice. His latest campaign is perhaps the most quixotic of all. It dreams the impossible dream of a world that has abolished war.

By Terry Messman

      During a long lifetime spent working for peace and social justice, David Hartsough has shown an uncanny instinct for being in the right place at the right time. One can almost trace the modern history of nonviolent movements in America by following the trail of his acts of resistance over the past 60 years.

READ MORE.

*****

The Street Spirit Interview with David Hartsough, Part I

People would spit at us in the face. They put lit cigarettes down our shirts, and punched us in the stomach so hard we would fall on the floor, and then they kicked us. The American Nazi Party came, yelling white supremacist nonsense and telling us to go back to Russia.

Interview by Terry Messman

Steet Spirit: Looking back at a lifetime of nonviolent activism, can you remember the first person who helped set your life on this path?

David Hartsough: Gandhi. My parents gave me Gandhi’s book, All Men Are Brothers, on my 14th or 15th birthday. And Martin Luther King who I met when I was 15.

Spirit: Why was Gandhi’s All Men Are Brothers such an inspiration?

READ MORE.

*****

 

 

The Street Spirit Interview with David Hartsough, Part II

 Governments have the power to throw us in jail and shoot at us and intimidate us, but they don’t have the power to kill our spirits. They certainly didn’t kill Brian’s spirit. Nuremberg Actions show what people can do to stop our government from fighting wars and causing misery around the world.

Interview by Terry Messman

Spirit: David, when were you hired as staff organizer for the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco?

Hartsough: I was hired in 1973 to be part of the Simple Living Program. My wife Jan and I shared the staff position. Then I began the AFSC Nonviolent Movement Building Program in 1982.

Spirit: As an AFSC staff, how did you become involved in the massive protests at the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

READ MORE.

*****

 

 

Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist

by David Hartsough

Published by PM Press, November 2014, 272 pages

Available on Amazon.com

* * * * * * *

Book Readings by David Hartsough

Sunday, November 2, 1 p.m

San Francisco Friends Center, 65 Ninth Street, San Francisco

Sunday, November 9, 7 p.m.

Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1924 Cedar (at Bonita), Berkeley

Come meet author and activist David Hartsough. David will read from his new book Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist, and discuss his adventures in peacemaking.

The New Realpolitik

By Erin Niemela

The re-emergence of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his latest book, “World Order,” has prompted accolades and resentments from across the political spectrum. “World Order” is realism re-emerging in a time of American idealistic, “moral” foreign policy. Kissinger campaigns once again for the Westphalian model of world peace in which nation-states draw borders, balance power, demonstrate mutual respect for sovereignty and work to manage conflict, and peace, accordingly.

Kissinger’s realism and humility, as Time Magazine’s Walter Isaacson emphasizes in his Sept. 6 overview of the book, are probably in order for a nation constantly intruding violently in a multitude of conflicts under the guise of democracy, human rights and policing morality. But while a dose of realism is certainly needed in the U.S., Kissinger’s realism is missing the slap-in-the-face reality that strategies and borders drawn by elites with the intention of creating world order and peace are fundamentally irrelevant in the face of massive determined civil resistance.

For a guy who claims to be a realist, Kissinger sure doesn’t seem to recognize the real conditions nation-states are currently facing.  Recent revolutions and movements for change around the world – in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, Asia, the Americas – have brought collective injustices, identity and agency to the forefront of affairs of state, foreign and domestic. We see over and over again that the modern nation-state is no longer nearly as empowered by its monopoly on violence. The existence and security of a nation-state depends now on serving and satisfying citizen needs more than overweening violence or crafting cunning foreign policies. Even discussing world peace and order without including popular demonstrations and civil society is, well, unrealistic. If we want stability, we’re going to have to face real collective injustices on the ground first. That’s where the real power lies, less latent and more real every time it flexes and increases self-awareness.

In his Sept. 6 National Public Radio interview, Kissinger states that the threat of Iran lies with its opportunity to “reconstruct the ancient Persian Empire … in the rebuilding of the Middle East that will inevitably have to take place when the new international borders [are] drawn. Because the borders of the settlement of 1919-’20 are essentially collapsing.” ISIS, however, “is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can become a strategic, permanent reality.” That’s Kissinger’s realism – power comes with permanence and territorial conquest, and this stable control is determined by elite border-drawers with strategic interests.

What new realists know is that territorial control and monopolized violence are outdated forms of power. Motivated, disciplined people with a collective grievance are the most genuine threat to nation-state stability and security.  Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan’s 2011 book, “Why Civil Resistance Works,” demonstrated this threat when their study of 323 maximal goal campaigns (overthrowing dictatorships or authoritarian regimes) found that nonviolent people power movements were twice as likely to succeed as violent insurgencies.

With this kind of knowledge, Iran is less threatening because it’s not just a permanent territory full of “mad mullahs” who can tell people where and when to fight and with which weapons. Iran is full of, well, Iranians. Real people who value education, use gadgets, share photoshopped memes and wear jeans; people who have collective efficacy and, realistically, more capacity to rein in any disruptive behavior (especially when it comes to the mutually assured destruction of even one 'tiny' nuclear war) as any Westphalian-inspired model. ISIS is full of empowered people too, but its overreaching violence will inevitably be its downfallwhen Syrian and Iraqi people take control (if the U.S. would stop bombing them, of course.)

Kissinger should, but fails to, realize the irony that borders – whether those of a regional or geographic nature or those along identity or political lines – are collapsing in the MENA region for one major reason: the people who live within those borders know they had no part in drawing them and are continually recognizing that they can now take part. This makes the Westphalian world order model of elite border drawing even more unrealistic. When will Western-European elites learn that people aren’t going to continue to just follow orders, to build the walls and live within them that the elites desire?

Advocating international governance and respect for law is fine if we take consensus, cultural sensitivity and civil society needs into consideration. But if world leaders want real peace and order, borders and sovereignty, they need to recognize their real dependence on civil society and that they cannot achieve either order or peace without our full and valued consent. That’s the new realpolitik.

Erin Niemela is a Master’s Candidate in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University and Editor for PeaceVoice.

Moving Beyond Militarism

An excellent report (click for PDF):

Laura Lynch's photo.

War by stealth and by mini-armies: US Invades Iraq...Again, and Secretly

By Dave Lindorff


Flash! The US has re-invaded Iraq!

U.S. Bombs, Which Helped Spawn ISIS, Can’t Crush It

By John Horgan

Once again, U.S. leaders are beating the war drums–or rather, beating them harder, because when in recent memory have the drums fallen silent? Aspiring President Hillary Clinton and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are all urging President Obama to take stronger military measures against ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria. So are the Washington Post and other influential publications. The U.S. is already attacking ISIS directly—with U.S. bombs and special forces–and indirectly, by arming its alleged opponents, but Clinton et al want Obama to escalate U.S. force.

READ THE REST.

A New Calendar of Holidays

calendarcoverA new calendar of peace holidays has just been published. And none too soon, if you’ve noticed the epidemic of military holidays around us.

I can understand that Catholics have a saint for every day of the year. And I’m not shocked that various ancient religions have holidays for a high proportion of the year’s days. But what to make of the United States, which now has a military holiday for at least 66 separate days, including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and lesser known days like the just passed Marine Corps Reserve Birthday?

In the coming weeks we have V-J Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day / Patriot Day, the U.S. Air Force Birthday, National POW / MIA Recognition Day, and Gold Star Mother’s Day. There are, in addition, six week-long military holidays and three month-long ones. May, for example, is National Military Appreciation Month.

The military memorializes past war lies (Remember the Maine Day), cultural depravity normalized by eternal war (Month of the Military Child), and past crimes like attacking Cuba and killing a mule (Mantanzas Mule Day). This website even — wonderfully and accidentally — includes the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which is a day dedicated to opposing militarism. The same website — disgustingly and inappropriately — includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday as a military holiday.

Still, the general pattern is this: in the United States there are holidays to celebrate militarism just about every week, and increasingly one hears about them on the radio, at public events, and in corporate advertising that apparently believes militarism sells.

What would a calendar of peace holidays look like? At WorldBeyondWar we believe it would look something like this.

We’re making it available for free as a PDF that you can print out and make use of: PDF, Word.

We’re also displaying on the front page of WorldBeyondWar.org the holiday, if any, to be marked or celebrated on whatever day it happens to be at the time. So you can always just check there.

We think that part of developing a peace culture is marking great peace moments from the past. Knowing what peace holiday any given day is, or what holidays are coming up soon, can be very useful in creating and promoting events, writing op-eds, and interesting the corporate media in something that is otherwise too important and news worthy to be touched.

World peace holidays can build unity among activists. They can be used for education (celebrating the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 on May 18th could cause someone to want to know what that conference was). And they can be used for encouragement and inspiration (on a gloomy March 20th it might be nice to know that “on this day in 1983, 150,000 peace rallies were held in Australia”).

In this initial draft of the World Beyond War Calendar we’ve included 154 holidays, all of them days — no weeks or months. We could have included a significant peace event for 365 days a year but chose to be selective. It’s a tightly held secret, of course, but there has been a lot more peace than war in the world.

Some of the days are also military days re-purposed. For example:

September 11. On this day in 1973 the United States backed a coup that overthrew the government of Chile. Also on this day in 2001 terrorists attacked in the United States using hijacked airplanes. This is a good day to oppose violence and nationalism and revenge.

Others are military days the military doesn’t celebrate. For example:

January 11. On this day in 2002 the United States opened its notorious prison in Guantanamo. This is a good day to oppose all imprisonment without trial.

August 6. On this day in 1945 the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing some 140,000 men, women, and children. President Truman went on the radio to justify this as revenge and lie that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city. This is a very good day to oppose nuclear weapons.

Others are well-known days reclaimed for peace. For example:

January 15. On this day in 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. was born. The holiday, however, is celebrated on the third Monday of January. These are good opportunities to recall King’s work against militarism, extreme materialism, and racism.

Mothers Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. In many places it is the second Sunday in May. This is a good day to read the Mother’s Day Proclamation and rededicate the day to peace.

December 25. This is Christmas, traditionally a holiday of peace for Christians. On this day in 1776, George Washington led a surprise night crossing of the Delaware River and pre-dawn raid on unarmed hung-over-from-Christmas troops still in their underwear — a founding act of violence for the new nation. Also on this day in 1875 Jessie Wallace Hughan, founder of the War Resisters League, was born. Also on this day in 1914, soldiers on both sides of the trenches of World War I took part in a Christmas Truce. This is a good day to work for peace on earth.

Other days are new to most people. For example:

August 27. This is Kellogg-Briand Day. On this day in 1928, in what was the biggest news story of the year, the major nations of the world gathered in Paris, France, to sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning all war. The treaty remains on the books today. The day is increasingly being recognized and celebrated as a holiday.

November 5. On this day in 1855 Eugene V. Debs was born. Also on this day in 1968 Richard Nixon was elected U.S. president after secretly and treasonously sending Anna Chennault to sabotage Vietnam peace talks, campaigning on a nonexistent secret plan for peace, and actually planning to continue the war, as he did once elected. This is a good day to think about who our real leaders are.

November 6. This is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

Here’s the web version.

Here’s the PDF.

Here’s the Word.

The calendar is a first of what we expect to be many editions. In fact, it will be constantly updated. So please send additions and corrections to info@worldbeyondwar.org.

Dave Lindorff and David Swanson Try to Count the Current Wars

Host Dave Lindorff interviews David Swanson, labor and peace activist, author of the book “War No More: The Case for Abolition” and the website warisacrime.org, about the rapidly expanding crises that the US has been promoting in RUSSIA-HISTORY-WWII-PARADE-REHEARSALUkraine, Syria, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and the many countries where the US is using attack drones. Swanson argues that the US has been working hard to make Russia into an enemy again, that after portraying Syrian leader Bushar al Assad as a “Hitler” and arming and training his islamic rebel enemies, now a year later, Washington sees Assad as the “good guy” and is gearing up to bomb and kill the rebels, both in Syria and in Iraq, where they have expanded their rebellion. At least two of the crises, in Ukraine and the Persian Gulf, where a Coast Guard vessel has fired at an Iranian vessel, there is a real risk of war, either against Russia or Iran, Swanson warns.

From THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING

86th Anniversary of Kellogg-Briand Pact Marked by Vets For Peace in Twin Cities

Stephen McKeown reports:

We had a good turnout at the Bridge Peace Vigil today to commemorate the the 86th anniv. of the KBP.  About 70 people with 30 VFP members held signs and VFP flags.  VFp rang Armistice bells 11 times on all 4 corners of the bridge...bells that we made ourselves.  Fourteen people then walked the 6 miles to the Science Center on Kellogg Boulevard and claimed the Blvd for Peace again.  We rang the bells again. There were not a lot of spring chickens in the walk.  It was a good day...Steve

Learn what it's all about at http://davidswanson.org/outlawry

Break the Vengeance Cycle: Why We Should Not Go To War Over James Foley

By John Grant


Back in June 2011, James Foley gave an hour-long interview to an auditorium of students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he had graduated three years earlier with a Master’s degree in journalism. It was 15 days after he had been released from 45 rough days of captivity in Libya. He was a handsome young hero returning to his alma-mater.

When Catholics Become a Peace Church

In October, Pax Christi will buy a full-page ad in the National Catholic Reporter prior to the annual meeting of the U.S. bishops. The ad will advocate abandoning the idea of a "just war," something the Catholic church, including in recent statements by the current Pope, shows signs of possibly being willing to do. James Rauner's article below reports how the Catholic church outside of the United States has opposed past wars, and suggests how little it would take to move the church in the U.S. to the same position. But opposing particular wars as "unjust," and suggesting that there might be just ones, leaves the war industry in place, making new wars inevitable. Pax Christi is to be applauded for urging the church to drop that outdated way of thinking, as the current Pope's statements suggest he already has. —DCNS

When Catholics Become a Peace Church
By Deacon James Rauner, Pax Christi Michigan         

From Just War to Just Peace: The Time Is Now!

The Ides of War, March, 2003 …

In 2003, weeks before the attack, Pope John Paul II warned President Bush that his “preemptive war” on Iraq would throw the Middle East into chaos, that this war would be a “defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified.”

On March 5, 2003, Pope John Paul II sent the Italian Cardinal, Pio Laghi, to intervene with President George W. Bush and ask him not to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, but the US leader rejected the appeal claiming he was “convinced it was God’s will”.  

The pope had already referred to this planned military intervention as an “adventure” and had warned that war would have serious consequences for both nations and the world. The pope had chosen Laghi for this delicate mission, because he was a friend of the Bush family and might have stood a better chance of being listened to.

The day before the scheduled meeting with the President, the cardinal was asked to meet with officials from the US State Department, as the President wanted to know the agenda of the meeting in advance.   Cardinal Laghi was “interrogated” by the National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice.

When the Cardinal arrived at the meeting with the President the next day, he handed Pope John Paul II’s letter to the President, “who
immediately put it on a side table without opening or reading it.”

The President then launched into an argument for war,. He told the cardinal that he, the president, “was convinced it was God’s will”, and sought to convince the papal envoy that it was the right thing to do.

“After a few minutes of what the Cardinal termed ‘a sermon’”,  Laghi interrupted President Bush and said, “Mr. President, I came here in order to speak to you and to give you a message from the Holy Father and I would like you to listen to me.”

Cardinal Laghi told Bush that three things would happen if the United States went to war.  First, it would cause many deaths and injuries on both sides. Secondly, it would result in civil war. And, thirdly, the United States might know how to get into a war, but it would have great difficulty getting out of one.

Cardinal Laghi realized from this exchange that the President had already made up his mind. This was confirmed shortly afterwards by General Pace, as he accompanied the Cardinal to his car. He shook hands with the Cardinal and told him, “Your Eminence, don’t be afraid. We’ll do it quickly and we will do it in the best way.”

Laghi knew his mission had failed, but he also realized that the Bush administration was very naïve about the consequences of war.

The press corps was waiting outside the White House after the meeting to interview the cardinal, but administration officials did not allow him to speak to them at the White House.

In the weeks and months before the U.S. attacked Iraq, not only the Holy Father, but also many in the Vatican spoke out against a “preemptive” or “preventative” strike. They declared that the just war theory could not justify such a war.

The Vatican also spoke out against war in Iraq. Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, a former U.N. envoy and current prefect of the Council for Justice and Peace, told reporters that war against Iraq was a preventive war and constituted a "war of aggression", and thus did not constitute a just war. The foreign minister, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, said that such a war of aggression is a crime against peace.

On September 13, 2002, US Catholic bishops had signed a letter to President Bush stating that any "preemptive, unilateral use of military force to overthrow the government of Iraq" could not be justified at the time. They came to this position by evaluating whether an attack against Iraq would satisfy the criteria for a just war as defined by Catholic  theology.

War against Iraq is
Unjust
Illegal
Immoral
John Paul  II

So what happened

On 15 February 2003, a month before the invasion, there were worldwide protests against the Iraq War, including  a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally. According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between 3 January and 12 April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war.

Americans, and of course American Catholics, were largely unaware of the depth and importance of the opposition of Church leaders everywhere to an attack on Iraq, since for the most part the mainstream American media did not carry these stories. In the same way, many Americans were unaware that Pope John Paul II had spoken out against the first Gulf War at least 56 times. Media in the United States, controlled by corporate, government biased owners, omitted this from news commentaries on these wars.

We go to war ...

The invasion was preceded by an air strike on the Presidential Palace in Baghdad on 19 March 2003. The following day, coalition forces launched an incursion into Basra Province from their massing point close to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border.

While the Special Forces launched an amphibious assault from the Persian Gulf to secure Basra and the surrounding petroleum fields, the main invasion army moved into southern Iraq, occupying the region and engaging in the Battle of Nasiriyah on 23 March. Massive air strikes across the country and against Iraqi command and control threw the defending army into chaos and prevented an effective resistance. On 26 March, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was airdropped near the northern city of Kirkuk, where they joined forces with Kurdish rebels and fought several actions against the Iraqi army to secure the northern part of the country.

As the Bombs fell, …  American Opposition became Silent…

“Son of man, Can these Bones Come to Life ?” Ezekiel 37:1-14

But, what if…

Following the solitary example of Bishop John Michael Botean, who had, on March 7th, just twelve days before the Iraq invasion,   issued a Pastoral Letter to his U.S. diocese morally denouncing the War on Iraq as gravely evil,… 

….  Bishop Wilton Gregory, President of the USCCB, decides to call an emergency meeting of the entire American Catholic Hierarchy.

He had been powerfully moved by the strong words of Bishop Botean’s Pastoral Letter:

“When a moral conflict arises between Church teaching and secular morality, when contradictory moral demands are made upon a Catholic’s conscience, he or she, ‘must obey God rather than man’ (Acts 5:29).”

“A moment of moral crisis has arisen for us, I must now speak to you as your bishop… with the authority and responsibility I, though a sinner, have been given as a successor to the apostles on your behalf…. It is a moral imperative that I not allow you, by my silence, to fall into grave evil.”

“I must declare to you my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and the Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the catholic just war theory.”

Noticing that Botean was the first and only Bishop to yet speak out against the war, in support of the Pope’s urgent message, Bishop Gregory, as president, began calling all American bishops to a special session of the USCCB, to start the evening of Sunday, March 16th .

In doing so, Bishop Gregory believes it is necessary for the American Catholic church to reinforce the message sent to President Bush by Pope John Paul II….

When he consults with Bishop Skylstad, vice-president of the USCCB, Skylstad becomes very alarmed at the possibility of confronting the government. He tells Gregory that he has too much on his plate, that he has just had some real success with issuing “The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in his efforts to gain control of the scandal of the Roman Catholic sex abuse cases. Now wasn’t the time to anger both the public and the government.

Bishop Gregory knew there was great danger, and he saw that he had two obstacles to overcome. First, the conference itself would have to unite the bishops in support of the papal initiative, and in giving up their usual strategy of always proving Catholics were faithful and patriotic citizens no matter what. But then that would create the second difficulty. They would have to explain to American Catholics why there had been no teaching preparing them for something like this beforehand.

Gregory thought of the passage he had read recently from Richard Rohr:

"We are saddled and bridled with a religion that is not sure if it wants to become church.  It’s adherent’s expectations are very set. … It is a comfortable and very materialistic religion, which tests it’s people’s commitment on the level of doctrine but is afraid to test that commitment on issues of lifestyle or mature conscience.” —Near Occasions of Grace, page 52.

Tensions and grumbling mounts within the church as its bishops prepare to travel to the emergency  meeting.  The Archbishop of the Military Vicarate,  Edwin O’Brien, starts objecting loudly to the possibility of confronting his Commander-in-Chief.

 … Speculation abounds…..

Some are estimating that if the church were to confront the government over this war, as many as 20% of Catholics might leave the church, and certainly the church, in  parishes, dioceses, and organizations, would lose at least half of its income from collections and rich donors. One smart-alec suggested that it might solve the priest shortage,… if not too many of them left !

On Sunday evening, March 16th …  the USCCB gathered in closed session.  The question being put before the bishops was this:  Should we, the Catholic Hierarchy of the United States, support the teaching of Pope John Paul II that a preventative war against Iraq is immoral, illegal and unjust, and should we teach our Catholic people to resist this war and refuse to serve in it?  Or, should we simply be silent and do nothing, as we have always done during wartime? While the meeting is ‘completely closeted’, word does leak out in dribbles here and there. There seems to be a terrible argument going on, back and forth. Some want to be faithful to the pope, many are reluctant.  Some are angry, many are scared.

Bishop Botean had said: “the Gospels reveal our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ to be nonviolent.  In them, Jesus teaches a Way of life that his disciples are to follow, a Way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies”…. “All well and good, but it’s not practical!”...  “All the recent popes have said the same thing!” … “But It doesn’t work. We’ll lose everything.”

“It’s our sacred and patriotic duty to sacrifice our children to defend our American life styles.”

“Any killing associated with this war is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in  abortion”……”We have a moral obligation to overthrow the vicious and evil regime of Saddam,  the tyrant”…Time passes,… Monday …and then …Tuesday, … the arguments go back and forth until finally on Wednesday morning, the feeling is they can’t move any further …

It’s time to take a vote:… 79 % of the bishops vote in support of the Papal teaching, …14 % of the bishops dissociate themselves from the USCCB and walk out in protest…  The holy Spirit has spoken through the majority,… we Catholics are now a church of Peace, and will try to dissuade President Bush from going to war. 

Efforts are made all day long to get through to President Bush in the White House, but he is taking no calls from the American bishops, as he took no heed of the Pope himself.

By now, it’s the evening of March 19, 2003, President Bush is in the White House enjoying the evening with Rev Billy Graham, who prays that our American bombs may find their targets and destroy our enemies.

Before the USCCB meeting ends…

Special Peace and Justice committees are set up to determine what steps to take to implement the decision taken. It will be a multiple step process. It is a difficult time for the church in the United States.  They begin listing what steps are needed and what organizing will be useful.

*****

This is a good place to PAUSE….

The story so far sets up the possibility of the Catholic Bishops actually showing some GUTS, like the early church martyrs.  What happens next will depend on your own vision and imagination,  please follow the inspiration of the Spirit, as you are given.

The remaining paragraphs are just the “vision” of Jim Rauner. Now it’s your turn…

Please RESUME your story.

Efforts are made to reach out to Justice and Peace organizations within the church for help, … representatives of Pax Christi , Pace e Bene, Kroc Institutes, etc., and even the Knights of Columbus, our best organized and financed lay organization, were called in… if only the 4th degree would lay down their swords, and severe their Supreme Knight’s ties with the Republican Party.

(1) A committee of reconciliation sets to work with the 14% of bishops who walked out.

(2) A committee is set up to review and update the  Pastoral letter on War: 1983 -“The Challenge of Peace”  originally planned to be ambiguous, and now outdated by advances in catholic  thinking  and Papal teaching about war since that time.

(3) The Gospel teaching of nonviolence, and how “just war” theories are like “just abortion” theories will be taught in all parishes and pulpits in the country.

(4) Conscientious Objector counseling is set up in all dioceses and support offered for all Catholics confronted with situations of legal jeopardy due to their need to be C.O.s to this war.

(5) State Catholic Conferences  begin lobbying Senators and Representatives explaining  why the church will no longer support war…  We begin to feel a chill in Church-State relationships!

(6) Homilists are beginning to explain to our congregations what it was like during the primitive church’s ‘communities of resistance’ to the Roman Empire, and how this is now similar to our Catholic parishes within the American Empire.

(7) We begin prayer and study groups in parishes to teach contemplation and help live in intimate union with Jesus, and follow his teachings to love one another, friends and enemies, learning forgiveness as we have been forgiven.

(8) Our efforts to support justice for immigrants and refugees is radicalized, we begin offering sanctuary for them and other minority group- victims in our society, opening our churches and communities across the country.

(9) Our jail/prison ministries protest inhumane conditions and practices, demand closing of ICE prisons, and release of millions of people, especially racial minorities, held for minor drug and non-violent crimes

(10) Most catholic parishes stop flying American flags as a counter cultural practice. Jesus is our commander-in-chief, not the president.

(11) 4th degree Knights of Columbus  decide to no longer use their swords during church services, and hide them away in closets. A big revue and reorganization is going on with the 4th degree political/ patriotic level.

(12) Bishops' meetings begin discussing the ways of “critical collaboration” in working with the government – supporting efforts that benefit the common good, opposing legislation that harms the common good.

(13) Training in techniques of nonviolent Protest, Resistance, and Alternative  Structures are offered in all dioceses, and these actions are used to enforce critical collaboration, and to offer a new means of nonviolent national defense.

(14) Movements are supported by the church, working with other religious, and non-religious groups, with Occupy citizen groups, and even international organizations to bring about the Kingdom of God, “on earth as it is in heaven”: Justice and Peace for all.

(15) Movements that would:

A. Create a just foreign policy. Cessation of all foreign military aid, outlaw all arms trade. Increase foreign peaceful aid and sharing by 10% each following year.. Strengthen the United Nations, and the World Court.

B. Dismantle the military-industrial complex, converting our industry to alternative energy and peaceful purposes.  Start reducing our “Defense” spending by 20% for each following year. Invest this money in the Department of Peace. Close down the CIA, and department of Homeland Security

C. Take all private money out of the political election system,  let all primary elections be open to everyone. Redraw all one party districts.

D. Corporations are not people – take away all rights of free speech or religious liberty. Severely limit corporations’ size and  power, make them subject to the cost of their use of public commons and their damage to the environment.

E. Diocesan and parish action committees begin supporting citizen organizing to protest economic injustice, class warfare by the rich against workers, and to promote labor unions for everyone, and public banks.

F. These committees encourage the creation of a New Economic Bill of Rights.

a.  Set Taxation of the rich back to the 1950’s. No one needs more than ‘enough’ to live well. Confiscatory inheritance tax of all but modest amount – a year’s average wage.

b.  Free education for all capable students through college  and professional universities / with social responsibilities afterwards.

c.   Free and complete, single payer, Health Care for every person in the country, even visitors.

d.  Minimum wages of $15 / hour indexed for inflation.

e.  Guaranteed Job for every person able to work.

f.   Guaranteed Income for every person unable to work.

(16) The church throws itself into supporting the Franciscan efforts to protect God’s creation, to save the environment and prevent catastrophic climate change.

... Well, you can see how easily I can go on, and on … I’d like to stop now …..And turn it over to you……   Why don’t you play with these ideas for awhile, and see what good things the Spirit leads you to….. Please let me know what you do come up with…. thank you,

Today, back in October, of the year 2014,

We members of Pax Christi are calling on  “the US Catholic church to embrace nonviolence as the only stance consistent with Christian discipleship and to reject the just war tradition, as expressed, among other places, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2309). The just war theory is unChristian and obsolete… We urge our Church  to return to its roots, as a power for peace, before it allied itself with the power of empire in the time of Constantine….”

“Clearly,  it is time to embrace and reaffirm our primary tradition of just peace. Our Catholic Church, with 1.2 billion adherents worldwide and 22% of the US population, is ideally positioned to support peacebuilding, and avert what Pope Francis calls ‘the suicide of humanity.’”

“Do we expect it to be easy? No indeed. But we are a people of hope. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’  We invite our Church to lend its prophetic voice to the abolition of war and the promotion of the way of just peace.”

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Deacon James Rauner,

Pax Christi Michigan, state council

jimrauner@gmail.com

www.PeaceIStheWay.US

Text of Forthcoming Advertisement from Pax Christi

 From Just War to Just Peace: The Time Is Now
“Those who use the sword are sooner or later destroyed by it.” - Matthew 27:52

“If we cannot know from the New Testament that Christ totally rejects violence, then we can know nothing of His person or message. It is the clearest of teachings.” - Rev. John L. McKenzie, Biblical Scholar

“War is the suicide of humanity because it kills the heart and kills love." - Pope Francis, June 2, 2013

Global Problems Call for Global Solutions

Sometimes, amid the heated political debate about what should done by the U.S. government in world affairs, a proposal cuts through the TV babble of the supposed experts with a clear, useful suggestion.

That proposal came on August 17, when Pope Francis told journalists how he thought the world should cope with the challenge posed by ISIS, the Islamic militant group engaged in murderous behavior in Syria and Iraq.  “One nation alone cannot judge how you stop this,” he said, in an apparent reference to U.S. action against ISIS crimes.  Instead, the United Nations is the proper forum to “discuss `Is there an unjust aggression’” and “`How should we stop it?’  Just this.  Nothing more.”

War in the Hundred Acre Woods

In the 1920s and 1930s, anybody who was anybody tried to figure out how to rid the world of war. Collectively, I'd say they got three-quarters of the way to an answer. But from 1945 to 2014, they've been ignored when possible (which is most of the time), laughed at when necessary, and on the very rare occasions that require it: attacked.

What a flock of idiots the leading thinkers of a generation all must have been. World War II happened. Therefore, war is eternal.  Everyone knows that.

But slavery abolitionists pushed on despite slavery happening another year, and another year.  Women sought the right to vote in the next election cycle following each one they were barred from.  Undoubtedly war is trickier to get rid off, because governments claim that all the other governments (and any other war makers) must go first or do it simultaneously. The possibility of someone else launching a war, combined with the false notion that war is the best way to defend against war, creates a seemingly permanent maze from which the world cannot emerge.

But difficult is far too easily distorted into impossible.  War will have to be abolished through a careful and gradual practice; it will require cleaning up the corruption of government by war profiteers; it will result in a very different world in just about every way: economically, culturally, morally.  But war will not be abolished at all if the meditations of the abolitionists are buried and not read.

Imagine if children, when they'd just gotten a bit too old for Winnie the Pooh and we're becoming old enough to read serious arguments, were told that A.A. Milne also wrote a book in 1933-1934 called Peace With Honour. Who wouldn't want to know what the creator of Winnie the Pooh thought of war and peace? And who wouldn't be thrilled to discover his wit and humor applied in all seriousness to the case for ending the most horrific enterprise to remain perfectly acceptable in polite society?

Now, Milne had served as a war propagandist and soldier in World War I, his 1934 view of Germany as not really wanting war looks (at least at first glance) ludicrous in retrospect, and Milne himself abandoned his opposition to war in order to cheer for World War II.  So we can reject his wisdom as hypocrisy, naiveté, and as having been rejected by the author.  But we'd be depriving ourselves of insight because the author was imperfect, and we'd be prioritizing the ravings of a drunk over statements made during a period of sobriety.  Even the ideal diagnostician of war fever can sound like a different man once he's contracted the disease himself.

In Peace With Honour, Milne shows that he has listened to the rhetoric of the war promoters and found that the "honor" they fight for is essentially prestige (or what is more recently called in the United States, "credibility").  As Milne puts it:

"When a nation talks of its honour, it means its prestige. National prestige is a reputation for the will to war. A nation's honour, then, is measured by a nation's willingness to use force to maintain its reputation as a user of force. If one could imagine the game of tiddleywinks assuming a supreme importance in the eyes of statesmen, and if some innocent savage were to ask why tiddleywinks was so important to Europeans, the answer would be that only by skill at tiddleywinks could a country preserve its reputation as a country skilful at tiddleywinks. Which answer might cause the savage some amusement."

Milne debates popular arguments for war and comes back again and again to ridiculing it as a foolish cultural choice dressed up as necessary or inevitable. Why, he asks, do Christian churches sanction mass murder by bombing of men, women, and children? Would they sanction mass conversion to Islam if it were required to protect their country? No. Would they sanction widespread adultery if population growth were the only path to defense of their country? No. So why do they sanction mass murder?

Milne tries a thought experiment to demonstrate that wars are optional and chosen by individuals who could choose otherwise.  Let us suppose, he says, that an outbreak of war would mean the certain and immediate death of Mussolini, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Sir John Simon, one unnamed cabinet minister chosen by lot on the day war is declared, the ministers responsible for the military, Winston Churchill, two unnamed Generals, two unnamed Admirals, two unnamed directors of armaments firms chosen by lot, Lords Beaverbrook and Rothermere, the editors of The Times and The Morning Post, and corresponding representatives of France. Would there, in this situation, ever be a war?  Milne says definitely not. And therefore was is not "natural" or "inevitable" at all.

Milne makes a similar case around wartime conventions and rules:

"As soon as we begin making rules for war, as soon as we say that this is legitimate warfare and that the other is not, we are admitting that war is merely an agreed way of settling an argument."

But, Milne writes -- accurately depicting the 1945 to 2014 history of a U.N. and NATO-run world -- you cannot make a rule against aggressive war and keep defensive war.  It won't work.  It's self-defeating.  War will roll on under such circumstances, Milne predicts -- and we know he was right.  "To renounce aggression is not enough," writes Milne. "We must also renounce defence."

What do we replace it with? Milne depicts a world of nonviolent dispute resolution, arbitration, and a changed conception of honor or prestige that finds war shameful rather than honorable.  And not just shameful, but mad. He quotes a war supporter remarking, "At the present moment, which may prove to be the eve of another Armageddon, we are not ready." Asks Milne: "Which of these two facts [Armageddon or unpreparedness] is of the more importance to civilization?"

Campaign Launches to End War Everywhere

by Blair Sandler, Positive News

A global movement is growing to stop war—that is, all war on Earth. And now a crowdfunding project at Indiegogo.com offers individuals and organizations the opportunity to contribute to an advertising campaign aimed at making “millions of people … aware of exactly how popular and mainstream the idea of war abolition has become.”

World Beyond War, the organization behind the global billboard and ad campaign, is dedicated to ending the institution of war everywhere. Its organizers provide resources and coordinate peace-promoting activities and events. For example,  you can sign a pledge on its website  to “engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.” Already, people from 58 countries have signed the pledge.

Militarism has been profitable for armaments manufacturers and the politicians who support them, but it has ever been unpopular among those who are drafted to fight. It was the Vietnamese people who defeated first the French and later the U.S. occupations of their country, but the peace movement of that era in the States helped bring the war to a close. More recently, popular resistance within the U.S. may have prevented American missile attacks against Syria.

The costs of war are well known. The World Beyond War petition states that, “wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities.”

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.
– U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953.
………………………………………………………………………………………….

Now awareness is growing that war is not only harmful but also unnecessary. Evidence shows that nonviolent resistance is often more successful than violence in overthrowing tyranny and creating space for democracy and peace.

Sociologist Jane Addams, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, observed that “peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life.” Every year, the world spends about two trillion dollars on war and war preparation—half from the U.S. alone.

The good news is that we can redirect those resources to   sustainable energy, agricultural, economic, health and educational systems. This would not only end war, but nurture life and make possible the social justice necessary to sustain lasting peace on earth.


More Information:
………………………
worldbeyondwar.org

Peacenvironmentalism

Remarks at North Carolina Peace Action Event in Raleigh, N.C., August 23, 2014.

Thank you for inviting me, and thank you to North Carolina Peace Action, and to John Heuer whom I consider a tireless selfless and inspired peacemaker himself.  Can we thank John?

It's an honor for me to have a role in honoring the 2014 Student Peacemaker, iMatter Youth North Carolina. I've followed what iMatter has been doing around the country for years, I've sat in on a court case they brought in Washington, D.C., I've shared a stage with them at a public event, I've organized an online petition with them at RootsAction.org, I've written about them and watched them inspire writers like Jeremy Brecher whom I recommend reading.  Here is an organization acting in the interests of all future generations of all species and being led -- and led well -- by human kids.  Can we give them some applause?

But, perhaps revealing the short-sightedness and self-centeredness of myself as a member of a species that didn't evolve to manage a whole planet, I'm especially happy to be recognizing iMatter Youth North Carolina because my own niece Hallie Turner and my nephew Travis Turner are part of it.  They deserve LOTS of applause.

And the full iMatter planning team, I'm told, is represented tonight as well by Zack Kingery, Nora White, and Ari Nicholson. They should have even more applause.

I take complete credit for Hallie and Travis's work, because although I didn't really teach them anything, I did, before they were born, tell my sister she should go to our high school reunion, at which she met the man who became my brother in law.  Without that, no Hallie and no Travis.

However, it was my parents -- who I suppose by the same logic (although in this case I of course reject it) get complete credit for anything I do -- it was they who took Hallie to her first rally, at the White House protesting a tar sands pipeline.  I'm told that Hallie didn't know what it was all about at first or why the good people were being arrested, instead of the people committing the offenses against our loved ones and our earth being arrested. But by the end of the rally Hallie was right in the thick of it, wouldn't leave until the last person had gone off to jail for justice, and she pronounced the occasion the most important day of her life thus far, or words to that effect.

Perhaps, as it turns out, that was an important day, not just for Hallie but also for iMatter Youth North Carolina, and, who knows, just maybe -- like the day Gandhi was thrown off a train, or the day Bayard Rustin talked Martin Luther King Jr. into giving up his guns, or the day a teacher assigned Thomas Clarkson to write an essay on whether slavery was acceptable -- it will eventually turn out to have been an important day for more of us.

I'm a bit ashamed of two things though, despite all my pride. 

One is that we adults leave kids to discover moral action and serious political engagement by accident rather than teaching it to them systematically and universally, as if we don't really think they want meaningful lives, as if we imagine comfortable lives is the complete human ideal.  We are asking kids to lead the way on the environment, because we -- I'm speaking collectively of everyone over 30, the people Bob Dylan said not to trust until he was over 30 -- we are not doing it, and the kids are taking us to court, and our government is allowing its fellow leading destroyers of the environment to become voluntary co-defendants (can you imagine volunteering to be sued along with someone else who's facing a law suit? No, wait, sue me too!), and the voluntary co-defendants, including the National Association of Manufacturers, are providing teams of lawyers that probably cost more than the schools Hallie and Travis attend, and the courts are ruling that it is an individual right of non-human entities called corporations to destroy the inhabitability of the planet for everyone, despite the evident logic that says the corporations will cease to exist as well. 

Should our kids do as we say or as we do?  Neither!  They should run in the opposite direction from anything we've touched.  There are exceptions, of course. Some of us try a little.  But it is an uphill effort to undo the cultural indoctrination that has us saying phrases like "throw this away" as if there really were an away, or labeling the destruction of a forest "economic growth," or worrying about so-called peak oil and how we'll live when the oil runs out, even though we've already found five times what we can safely burn and still be able to live on this beautiful rock. 

But kids are different.  The need to protect the earth and use clean energy even if it means a few inconveniences or even some serious personal risk, is no more unusual or strange to a kid than half the other stuff they are presented with for the first time, like algebra, or swim meets, or uncles.  They haven't spent as many years being told that renewable energy doesn't work.  They haven't developed the fine-tuned sense of patriotism that allows us to keep believing renewable energy cannot work even as we hear about it working in other countries. (That's German physics!)

Our young leaders have fewer years of indoctrination into what Martin Luther King Jr. called extreme materialism, militarism, and racism.  Adults block the way in the courts, so kids take to the streets, they organize and agitate and educate.  And so they must, but they are up against an educational system and an employment system and an entertainment system that often tells them they are powerless, that serious change is impossible, and that the most important thing you can do is vote. 

Now, adults telling each other that the most important thing they can do is vote is bad enough, but saying that to kids who aren't old enough to vote is like telling them to do nothing.  We need a few percent of our population doing the opposite of nothing, living and breathing dedicated activism.  We need creative nonviolent resistance, re-education, redirection of our resources, boycotts, divestments, the creation of sustainable practices as models for others, and the impeding of an established order that is politely and smilingly steering us over a cliff.  Rallies organized by iMatter Youth North Carolina look like moves in the right direction to me.  So, let's thank them again.

The second thing I'm a little ashamed of is that it is not at all uncommon for a peace organization to arrive at an environmental activist when choosing someone to honor, whereas I have never once heard of the reverse. Hallie and Travis have an uncle who works largely on peace, but they live in a culture where the activism that receives funding and attention and mainstream acceptance, to the limited extent that any does and of course trailing far behind 5Ks against breast cancer and the sort of activism that lacks real opponents, is activism for the environment.  But I think there's a problem with what I've just done and what we usually tend to do, that is, with categorizing people as peace activists or environmental activists or clean elections activists or media reform activists or anti-racism activists.  As we came to realize a few years back, we all add up to 99% of the population, but those who are really active are divided, in reality as well as in people's perceptions.

Peace and environmentalism should, I think, be combined into the single word peacenvironmentalism, because neither movement is likely to succeed without the other.  iMatter wants to live as if our future matters.  You can't do that with militarism, with the resources it takes, with the destruction it causes, with the risk that grows greater with each passing day that nuclear weapons will be intentionally or accidentally detonated.  If you could really figure out how to nuke another nation while shooting its missiles out of the sky, which of course nobody has figured out, the impact on the atmosphere and climate would severely impact your own nation as well.  But that's a fantasy.  In a real world scenario, a nuclear weapon is launched on purpose or by mistake, and many more are quickly launched in every direction.  This has in fact nearly happened numerous times, and the fact that we pay almost no attention to it anymore makes it more rather than less likely.  I imagine you know what happened 50 miles southeast of here on January 24, 1961?  That's right, the U.S. military accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs and got very lucky they didn't explode.  Nothing to worry about, says comedy news anchor John Oliver, that's why we have TWO Carolinas.

iMatter advocates for an economic shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and for sustainable jobs.  If only there were a couple of trillion dollars a year being wasted on something useless or destructive!  And of course there is, worldwide, that unfathomable sum is being spent on preparations for war, half of it by the United States, three quarters of it by the United States and its allies -- and much of that last bit on U.S. weapons.  For a fraction of it, starvation and disease could be seriously dealt with, and so could climate change.  War kills primarily through taking spending away from where it's needed.  For a small fraction of war preparations spending, college could be free here and provided free in some other parts of the world too.  Imagine how many more environmental activists we could have if college graduates didn't owe tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for the human right of an education!  How do you pay that back without going to work for the destroyers of the earth?

79% of weapons in the Middle East come from the United States, not counting those belonging to the U.S. military.  U.S. weapons were on both sides in Libya three years ago and are on both sides in Syria and Iraq.  Weapons making is an unsustainable job if ever I saw one.  It drains the economy.  The same dollars spent on clean energy or infrastructure or education or even tax cuts for non-billionaires produces more jobs than military spending.  Militarism fuels more violence, rather than protecting us.  The weapons have to be used up, destroyed, or given to local police who will begin to see local people as enemies, so that new weapons can be made. And this process is, by some measures, the biggest destroyer of the environment we have.

The U.S. military burned through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day, as measured in 2006. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption. If you removed the Pentagon from the total oil consumption by the United States, then the United States would still rank first with nobody else anywhere close. But you would have spared the atmosphere the burning of more oil than most countries consume, and would have spared the planet all the mischief the U.S. military manages to fuel with it. No other institution in the United States consumes remotely as much oil as the military.

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spends $622 million trying to figure out how to produce power without oil, while the military spends hundreds of billions of dollars burning oil in wars fought and on bases maintained to control the oil supplies. The million dollars spent to keep each soldier in a foreign occupation for a year could create 20 green energy jobs at $50,000 each.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War "rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality," according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.  Leaning divides war's environmental impact into four areas: "production and testing of nuclear weapons, aerial and naval bombardment of terrain, dispersal and persistence of land mines and buried ordnance, and use or storage of military despoliants, toxins, and waste."  A 1993 U.S. State Department report called land mines "the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind." Millions of hectares in Europe, North Africa, and Asia are under interdiction. One-third of the land in Libya conceals land mines and unexploded World War II munitions.

The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.

You may not care about politics, the saying goes, but politics cares about you.  That goes for war.  John Wayne avoided going off to World War II by making movies to glorify other people going.  And do you know what happened to him? He made a movie in Utah near a nuclear testing area.  Of the 220 people who worked on the film, 91, rather than the 30 that would have been the norm, developed cancer including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell.

We need a different direction.  In Connecticut, Peace Action and many other groups have been involved in successfully persuading the state government to set up a commission to work on converting from weapons to peaceful industries.  Labor unions and management support it.  Environmental and peace groups are part of it.  It's very much a work in progress.  It was likely stimulated by false stories that the military was being slashed.  But whether we can make that a reality or not, the environmental need to shift our resources to green energy is going to grow, and there is no reason North Carolina shouldn't be the second state in the country to do this.  You have moral Mondays here. Why not have moral every days of the year?

Major changes look larger before they happen than after.  Environmentalism has come on very quickly.  The U.S. already had nuclear submarines back when whales were still being used as a source of raw materials, lubricants, and fuels, including in nuclear submarines.  Now whales are, almost suddenly, seen as marvelous intelligent creatures to be protected, and the nuclear submarines have begun to look a bit archaic, and the deadly sound pollution that the Navy imposes on the world's oceans looks a bit barbaric.

iMatter's lawsuits seek to protect the public trust for future generations.  The ability to care about future generations is, in terms of the imagination required, almost identical to the ability to care about foreign people at a distance in space rather than time.  If we can think of our community as including those not yet born, who of course we hope far outnumber the rest of us, we can probably think of it as including the 95% of those alive today who don't happen to be in the United States of America, and vice versa.

But even if environmentalism and peace activism were not a single movement, we'd have to join them and several others together in order to have the sort of Occupy 2.0 coalition we need to effect change.  A big chance to do that is coming up around September 21st which is the International Day of Peace and the time when a rally and all sorts of events for the climate will be happening in New York City.

At WorldBeyondWar.org you'll find all sorts of resources for holding your own event for peace and the environment.  You'll also find a short two-sentence statement in favor of ending all war, a statement that has been signed in the past few months by people in 81 nations and rising.  You can sign it on paper here this evening.  We need your help, young and old.  But we should be especially glad that time and numbers are on the side of the young around the world, to whom I say along with Shelley:

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few
.

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