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Partners Across The Globe: NATO Consolidates Worldwide Military Force

The Emergence of a Truly Worldwide Military Alliance

By Rick Rozoff

partners1The military leaders of 50 nations, more than a quarter of those in the world, opened a two-day conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 25 to discuss, as the Pentagon’s website described it, “the present and future of the effort in Afghanistan” and other topics.

Afghanistan being the main subject of discussion, the military chiefs of NATO’s 28 member states, collectively the Military Committee, presumably met with the chiefs of defense staff of the 22 non-NATO nations supplying the alliance with troops for the war in Afghanistan.

In January top military leaders of 67 countries, over a third of those in the world, met at NATO Headquarters to discuss operations in Afghanistan in what is the largest-ever meeting of chiefs of defense staff in history.

The recently concluded expanded meeting of the NATO Military Committee was the last before next month’s summit in Chicago and was largely focused on that impending event.

partners2Participants in the conference included General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; General John R. Allen (in teleconference), commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, in charge of the largest foreign military force ever to be stationed in that nation; NATO’s two top military commanders, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Stéphane Abrial; U.S. military chief Dempsey’s equivalents from 49 nations in Europe, North America, Central America, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Northeast Asia, South East Asia and the South Pacific supplying troops for NATO’s Afghan War. (Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Tonga, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.)

In short, NATO’s 21st century global expeditionary force and its top commanders. An international military coalition never authorized by the United Nations or discussed at any conference or other fora except at NATO Headquarters and at the bloc’s summits.

On the second day of the Military Committee conference in Brussels, NATO’s Allied Command Operations reported on a training course underway at the Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands where staff officers from NATO’s Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative military partnerships are being instructed to “work as augmentees in a Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJF HQ) environment.

NATO added, “DJF HQ serves as an example of a Joint HQ for non-NATO nations to contribute to the Alliance’s missions.”

READ THE REST AT BOILING FROGS.

UK: HOW YOU CAN HELP MAKE THE WORLD A SAFER PLACE

STOP THE WAR COALITION	 
Newsletter No.1242   
23 April 2012	
Email office@stopwar.org.uk   
Tel: 0207 561 9311   
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk   
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk   
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:   
1) HOW YOU CAN HELP MAKE THE WORLD A SAFER PLACE   
2) MESSAGE FROM JEREMY CORBYN MP & LINDSEY GERMAN   
3) NO TO NATO PROTEST US EMBASSY 19 MAY   
4) DON'T IRAQ IRAN CULTURAL EVENT 25 MAY

*************************************	
1) HOW YOU CAN HELP MAKE THE WORLD A SAFER PLACE   
The astonishing comments by two UK army majors serving in   

See the World! Be All You Can Be! And You Don't Have to Kill Anybody in the Process!

The Peace Caravan will take place this summer, between July 1st and September 13th, and will be an amazing opportunity to organise peace education actions and spread a message of peace! It will travel across Europe, from Finland to Catalunya, across 13 countries (Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, Austria, Hungary, UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain).
 
Four teams will travel three weeks each (after an intial training and team-building seminar), mostly by train, and will organise peace education in cooperation with the branches. Some of them have been trained in the ‘Preparaing for peace’ seminar, taking place in Scotland in March. However, even if you have not taken part to this seminar, you can apply if you have peace education experience.
 
1st route: 30/06/2012 – 22/07/2012- Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia
2nd route: 18/7/2012- 9/8/2012- Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, Austria
3rd route: 5/8/2012- 27/8/2012- Austria, Hungary, UK, Belgium, Germany
4th route: 23/8/2012- 14/9/2012- Germany, italy, Spain
 
Travel will take place in sometimes challenging circumstances. Therefore participants will need to be flexible and ready to adapt to unexpected circumstances, and to travel sometimes long hours by train.
 
How to apply?
 
Like for any work camp! You can contact your branch but you can also do it yourself online, going to
 
topic 3 (‘Peace and disarmament’), workcamp number: 3.72
 
If you are a member of one of the branches visited by the Peace Caravan, you can also welcome the Peace Caravan and join its activities. Contact your branch for more information on how to participate!
 
If you have any question- contact us!
 

How Dare Russia

"Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier -- than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court.  You are merely planting cynicism in their souls." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The United States Congress is outraged.  Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower.  In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you.  And not just I.  NPR will tell you.  This calls for action.  There's a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House.  The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. 

Who wouldn't support the rule of law and accountability?

Well, let me think.

Oh, I know. The United States Congress. 

Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture.  Bush's torture program tortured numerous people to death.  And what has Congress wrought?

No impeachments.

No enforcement of subpoenas.

No defunding of operations.

No criminalizing of secrecy.

No protection of whistleblowers.

No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.

In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.

But keep hope alive.

Change is on the way.

Look!

Up in the sky!

It's Captain Peace Prize!

Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else -- certainly above the rule of law or accountability.

Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of "State Secrets" beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability.  Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time.  Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes.  Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role.  But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power. 

The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won't stand for it.  Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia.  It's a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home.  Why not apply it abroad?

Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder.  The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones. 

The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it. 

But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes.  Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law.  And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action.  U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.

Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.

Jack Straw Faces Legal Action for Playing Bit Part in U.S. Torture Program, the Architects of Which Have Books to Sell You

From BBC:

A Libyan military commander is taking legal action against Jack Straw, to find out if the ex-foreign secretary signed papers allowing his rendition.

Abdel Hakim Belhadj claims CIA agents took him from Thailand to Gaddafi-led Libya, via UK-controlled Diego Garcia.

His lawyers have served papers on Mr Straw after the Sunday Times reported claims that he allowed this to happen.

UK ministers have denied any complicity in rendition or torture and Mr Straw did not comment further.

He said he could not do so because of the ongoing police investigation into the UK's alleged role in illegal rendition.

Earlier this month, the BBC revealed that the UK government had approved the rendition of Mr Belhadj and his wife - Fatima Bouchar - to Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime, though it was unclear at what level.

On 15 April, the Sunday Times published an article, which quoted sources as alleging Mr Straw had personally authorised Mr Belhadj's rendition to Libya.

On Tuesday, Mr Belhadj's lawyers - Leigh Day & Co - served papers on Mr Straw, referencing the article and seeking his response to allegations that he was complicit in torture and misfeasance in public office.

The civil action is against Mr Straw personally - Mr Belhadj's lawyers believe it is the first time legal action of this kind has been taken against a former foreign secretary.

Mr Belhadj and his wife allege Mr Straw was complicit in the "torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, batteries and assaults" which they say were perpetrated on them by Thai and US agents, as well as the Libyan authorities.

They are seeking damages from Mr Straw for the trauma involved.

MAKE YOUR MP WORK TO STOP IRAN WAR

STOP THE WAR COALITION
Newsletter No.1241
13 April 2012
Email office@stopwar.org.uk
Tel: 0207 561 9311
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition

1) MAKE YOUR MP WORK TO STOP IRAN WAR  
2) REPLY TO CALL FOR NATO INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
3) PROTEST NO TO NATO: US EMBASSY 19 MAY
4) DON'T IRAQ IRAN - A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
5) THREE VIDEOS RECOMMENDED BY STOP THE WAR

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1) MAKE YOUR MP WORK TO STOP IRAN WAR  

We are asking all our supporters to lobby MPs to help stop another war. Today

Heard the One About the Peace Activist on the Titanic?

As we mark the 100-year anniversary of the unsinkable Titanic sinking, we should recall both the good and bad of that long-forgotten world of 1912.  Were an unbelievably expensive means of luxury travel between the United States and Europe invented today, there would be no reason to expect peace activists to be found among the passengers.  But it is not at all surprising that among the first-class passengers on the world's largest ship in 1912 was a well-known advocate of peace.  This is what Wikipedia has to say about him:

"William Thomas Stead (5 July 1849 – 15 April 1912) was an English journalist and editor who, as one of the early pioneers of investigative journalism, became one of the most controversial figures of the Victorian era. . . .

NATO: The Military Enforcement Wing Of The West’s 1%

By Rick Rozoff

On April 7 Fox News Chicago reported on Occupy Chicago’s march through the city’s downtown, the Loop, recording that hundreds of protesters chanted “End the war, tax the rich” during part of the group’s Chicago Spring actions throughout the city “as the movement prepares for NATO.”

"To forbid the use of military bases on our territory"

U.S. Military Bases in Germany and a Brief History of Protests Against Them
By Elsa Rassbach

On September 25, 2009, U.S. and NATO commanders emblematically chose Ramstein Air Base
in Germany to announce the request of General Stanley McChrystal for 40,000 or more
additional U.S. troops for Afghanistan -- even before they presented this request to lawmakers in Washington. Roughly halfway between Washington and General McChrystal’s headquarters in Kabul, Ramstein is the largest U.S. overseas military airbase and also a NATO installation. The war in Afghanistan is partly a NATO war, but if NATO partners such as Germany were to oppose escalation, the U.S. could still use Ramstein and other bases in Europe for waging a functionally unilateral war , not unlike the Iraq war.

FINALLY Someone's Prosecuted (and not in absentia) for U.S. Torture -- And It's Poland That Comes Through

Poland Charges Ex-Spy Chief over Involvement in Bush Torture Program
From ALL GOV .COM

Poland Charges Ex-Spy Chief over Involvement in Bush Torture Program
Zbigniew Siemiatkowski (photo: Tomasz Urbanek, East News)
Unlike President Barack Obama, who has refused to prosecute American intelligence agents involved in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects, leaders in Poland have charged their former top spymaster for helping the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) imprison detainees in their country.
 
Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, the former head of Poland’s intelligence service, faces charges of violating international law by “unlawfully depriving prisoners of their liberty” while allowing the CIA to hold and interrogate detainees at a secret base near Szymany Airport, north of Warsaw. Siemiatkowski was the intelligence chief from 2002 to 2004, the period when the CIA prison in Poland was in operation.
 
The New York Times reported that all three of the CIA prisoners who are known to have been waterboarded spent time in Poland, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the September 11, 2001, attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is charged in the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole; and Abu Zubaydah, who ran a terrorist camp and facilitated militants’ travel.
 
The Polish media reported that former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who served in office last decade while the extraordinary renditions took place, may, at the least, be called to testify. Poland’s president at the time, Aleksander Kwasniewski, has said that he didn’t know about the CIA prison until U.S. President George W. Bush thanked him during a visit to Poland in June 2003. Bush’s thanks were “so profuse” that Kwasniewski knew “something was not right” considering that Polish support for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq had been relatively limited.
 
“We try to treat our Constitution seriously and try not to forget the fact that there was a manifest violation of the Polish Constitution within the country’s borders,” Adam Bodnar, vice president of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, based in Warsaw, told The New York Times. He added, “I remember the lessons of constitutionality given by the Americans in the early ’90s, always saying to us, you have to create a new constitution and every action by state authorities must have limits. Poland has just learned this lesson well.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
 
To Lean More:
Polish Ex-Official Charged With Aiding C.I.A. (by Joanna Berendt and Nicholas Kulish, New York Times)

Obama Justice Dept. Refuses to Help Polish Torture Probe (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

UK DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST NATO

STOP THE WAR COALITION
Newsletter No.1240
3 April 2012
Email office@stopwar.org.uk
Tel: 0207 561 9311
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition


1) DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST NATO
2) CONGRATULATIONS TO GEORGE GALLOWAY MP
3) IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS
4) DON'T IRAQ IRAN MERCHANDISE

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1) DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST NATO

Saturday May 19th 
Troops out of Afghanistan, Don't Attack Iran, no intervention in the Middle
East

The occupation of Afghanistan has passed crisis point. Afghan soldiers are

483 Arrested at NATO Headquarters; Sadly, None Work for NATO

 

PHOTOS.

Report:

1 April 2012. Around 2am 800 peace activists from more than ten European countries gathered near NATO headquarters in Evere, Brussels. 500 people tried nonviolently to enter the NATO compound. About 20 activists succeeded to enter the military site, 483 people were arrested. At the main entrance of the NATO headquarters 300 supporters cheered the intervention teams.

When peace is at stake, nonviolent intervention is necessary. NATO is a select club of countries that globally wages war, deploys nuclear weapons and is prepared to use them in a first strike. This military alliance is a danger for world peace. On May 20th and 21st, the heads of government of NATO member states will gather in Chicago. Today’s nonviolent intervention sends them a clear message: NATO creates more problems than it solves.

NATO Game Over – international action of civil disobedience
NATO GAME OVER is an action of civil disobedience. Nonviolent intervention teams tried to enter the NATO area in order to prevent a more serious crime, the preparation of war crimes.
Delegations from Germany, the Netherlands, France, UK, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, Italy, Portugal and Spain participated in the action alongside Belgian activists.
They all have a clear message for the government leaders who are meeting in Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20th and 21st: “We do not want a missile defence shield, We do not want NATO soldiers in Libya or Afghanistan, We do not want dangerous, useless and illegal nuclear weapons”.

Remove nuclear weapons
NATO's deterrence and defense strategy will prove to be a difficult issue. Since the last NATO summit in November 2010, the alliance has been looking for “the appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defense forces”, under the NATO Deterrence and Defence Posture Review. NATO member states will need to agree on the future role of the approximately 200 American tactical nuclear weapons that are still deployed in five European countries. NATO bureaucracy is keen on maintaining the status quo.
However, nuclear weapons cannot be used without violating international humanitarian law and their deployment is a preparation of war crimes. These weapons do not serve any military purpose, and a majority of European citizens want them removed. NATO must overcome Cold War thinking, re-adjust its nuclear policy and withdraw these nuclear weapons. A failure to do so will be an obstacle for further nuclear disarmament.

Stop military intervention
In Chicago, NATO-secretary general Rasmussen wants to decide on the priorities for the further expansion of NATO’s military intervention apparatus. The war in Afghanistan proves the failure of military intervention. Under the pretext of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, NATO attacked Libya to force a profitable regime change. The war left Libya a fragmented country, where armed militias struggle for power.

Press contact: Hans Lammerant, +32 479 682 443

Peace activists in failed bid to swarm NATO HQ

(AFP)  BRUSSELS — Hundreds of peace activists on Sunday tried in vain to break into the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels, with 483 of them arrested by police.

The demonstration, organised by the Belgian association Action for Peace two months before a NATO summit in Chicago, was called to protest the alliance's intervention in Afghanistan and Libya, and nuclear arming.

"No demonstrator was able to enter NATO headquarters," spokesman for Brussels police, Christian De Coninck, told AFP. "We detained 483 people for questioning and all of them should be free in the evening."

De Coninck said no one was hurt and no damage was reported.

The Russia-NATO summit cancelled

From Itar-Tass:

A Russia-NATO summit, which was scheduled in May, is cancelled. According to the official version, the summit was cancelled over “an intensive domestic political calendar in Russia.” However, the experts believe that this step is caused by disagreements of the parties concerned over the European missile defence system.

DON'T IRAQ IRAN, TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN

STOP THE WAR COALITION
Newsletter No.1239 
Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition


1) DAY OF PROTEST, SAT 24TH MARCH 
2) ONLINE PETITION
3) NEW MATERIALS
 
***************

1) DAY OF PROTEST, SAT 24TH MARCH:
DON'T IRAQ IRAN, TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN

The unravelling of the war in Afghanistan has been apparent in recent weeks.
The shooting of 16 Afghans, mostly women and children, by a US soldier, surely
marked a turning point in the war as Afghans reacted with anger to the latest
in a long line of outrages by demanding the soldier was put on trial in their
country. The Americans responded by flying him to Kansas. This week both their
ally President Karzai and their enemy the Taliban have underlined just how 
much the western powers are losing the war. Karzai demanded that ISAF troops
should be confined to barracks while the Taliban broke off talks.
 
You would hardly know this from the summit in Washington last week which saw
Cameron and Obama feting each other in the White House. Instead they said the
war was on course and would continue till 2014 (although they are privately
bringing the dates forward as they know it is unlikely to hold for that long).
 
Even worse they made clear their determination to attack Iran. The recent 
visit by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu to the US piled on the pressure to
back an attack. This week the Israeli deputy prime minister is visiting London
to drum up support for an attack on Iran and is clearly confident of winning
the backing of the US and British governments.
 
We have held successful protests and meetings over both issues in recent weeks,
particularly attracting young people. This Saturday we have a national day of
protest based around 'Don't Iraq Iran' - see http://bit.ly/x67PUk. On the 9th
anniversary of the attack on Iraq, and the first anniversary of the bombing of
Libya, the interest in anti war activity is being heightened. Protests can
bring in these issues, plus the threats to Syria. This is the chance to get out
on the streets and build a campaign against the next main threat.

See http://bit.ly/x67PUk for more details on the day of protest. 

***************
 
2) ONLINE PETITION
 
Our letter to the Guardian against an attack on Iran, which was signed by a
number of celebrities, will go live in the next few days as an online 
petition. We want as many signatories on it as possible. Check the website and
add your name. 

***************
 
3) NEW MATERIALS
 
We have a range of new materials available now or soon, to spread the message
about the don't attack Iran campaign: '10 reasons' leaflets, 'don't Iraq Iran'
badges, special tote bags, 'Who's threatening who' maps of the region and
posters. 

Contact 0207 561 9311 or office@stowpar.org.uk to order or for more
information. 

PROTEST AGAINST THE KILLINGS IN AFHGANISTAN - BRING THE TROOPS HOME

STOP THE WAR COALITION
Urgent Stop the War Bulletin 
http://stopwar.org.uk

Vigil 6-7 pm, Monday 12 March,
Trafalgar Square,
London SW1

Called by Afghans for Peace, supported by Stop the War.

The cold blooded killing of fifteen Afghan civilians, including young 
children, by a US soldier in Kandahar Province earlier today is an outrage 
that encapsulates the brutality of the occupation of Afghanistan. It comes 
at a time of widespread anger against NATO forces, and growing calls for 
the occupation to end.

The Stop the War Coalition is supporting a vigil called tomorrow night, 
Monday 12th, by Afghans for Peace in Trafalgar Square at 6pm.

We are urging anyone who can to attend the event to protest at today's 
atrocity and to demand all NATO troops are withdrawn from the country 
immediately. 

Perriellian Wars

Virginia's Fifth Congressional District had been long disgraced by the racist buffoon Democrat turned Republican Virgil Goode when Tom Perriello was elected as a non-racist buffoon Democrat in 2008.  For partisans, just getting elected and doing what President Obama told him was all Perriello needed to do.  For national "progressives" he was a star, which was usually explained to me in terms of how awful his district was relative to how limitedly awful he was. 

Not one more death in Afghanistan

Web: http://stopwar.org.uk

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) Not one more death in Afghanistan
2) 'Don't Iraq Iran' day of protest Saturday March 24
3) Report from Stop the War's national conference
4) Students pledge mass protests

***************

1) NOT ONE MORE DEATH IN AFGHANISTAN - BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW

The death of six British soldiers in an explosion in Helmand was a tragedy that
never should have happened. That over 400 British troops have now died there
underlines the fact that the occupation has been a disaster bringing nothing
but misery and destruction to the Afghan people. But it is also now widely
recognised as a failed operation, and it is a scandal that troops are still
being asked to kill and be killed there.

Local groups are organising vigils, namings of the dead and protests this
weekend to mark the death of the 400th soldier. Please go to

What's the Matter With Norway?

The beautiful thing about the internet is that whenever you write an essay on a topic you imagine is new, some wonderful person contacts you within about an hour who's written a whole book about it.  This is different from writing a book about something new (or old) like the Kellogg-Briand Pact (everybody still thinks it must be a breakfast cereal).

Fredrik Heffermehl's book "The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted," is a wonderful thing to discover.  I understand if you just can't stomach discovering that Norway and the committee that hands out the peace prizes have become as corrupted as a Congressman.  But if awardees like George Marshall, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, and Barack Obama already had you scratching your head a little bit, you may appreciate learning the details of where the prize bestowers ran off the rails and how they might manage to climb back aboard the peace train.

Alfred Nobel left behind a legally binding will that required giving a prize to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  Like the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, the Nobel Committee has largely abandoned its original mission.  Carnegie and Nobel are dead and none the wiser, but those of us who like the idea of a well-funded peace movement are painfully aware.

The Nobel prize for peace was not designed as merely an honor, but as a significant source of funding for "work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  Yet, with each annual prize, as with each year's operation of the Carnegie Endowment, the peace movement is none the better funded.  Warmongers take the funding, or admirable and heroic humanitarians take the funding, but these are not people working toward or even believing in the desirability of the aims for which the prize was created and legally established in Nobel's will.

Heffermehl examines the language of the will in the original Swedish, the thinking and influences that went into it, the reasons why Nobel chose the Norwegian parliament to appoint the committee for the administration of the prize, and the activities and the worldviews of what Nobel termed in the will "champions of peace."  Legally, Heffermehl argues, it is the will that counts, not each and every opinion Nobel might have held at some point in his life.  While peace congresses are still held, work is still done to abolish standing armies, and many working on these projects also work for what Heffermehl translates as confraternity among nations, much of this work is little known in the media and unknown to the prize committee, which has lost touch with its mission.

Heffermehl argues persuasively that no Nobel prize for peace has been awarded with appropriate justification since 2001.  In fact, in his analysis, 50 of the 120 prizes given between 1901 and 2009 were not justified.  Heffermehl bases that judgment primarily on the case made for each laureate by the committee awarding the prize.  Were he to examine the laureates and those passed over, the number of unjustified prizes might increase. 

Heffermehl also looks at the justification for the prizes awarded under each of the 12 committee chairs and six committee secretaries that have ever held those posts.  The two chairs who have served since 2003 receive far and away the worst scores, while the two who served up through 1941 score dramatically better than the others.  Similarly, the two secretaries who held that position up through 1945 receive high marks, while the one, Geir Lundestad, who has been Secretary since 1990 has, in Heffermehl's scoring, performed miserably. 

World War II shifted thinking in Norway and elsewhere toward militarism and the notion of the inevitability of war.  While France and Germany have ceased attacking each other, there hasn't been a war between wealthy powers in 70 years, and the only wars we have now are against poor countries, somehow common wisdom holds that the abolition of war is a silly idea.  But is legally complying with a dead man's will a silly idea too? 

After World War II it wasn't just thinking that changed, but procedure as well.  No longer does the Norwegian parliament choose the most qualified peace leaders to serve on the committee.  Instead, each political party picks committee members in proportion to the party's strength in the parliament, even if the party is pro-war.

Yet it was not until 1990 that the real corruption began to eat away at Nobel's legacy.  Lundestad has created more pompous ceremonies, an annual concert, and a permanent Nobel Peace Center in Oslo filled with cutting edge technology.  While the five-member committee in Norway used to have no need for funding, the prizes simply being awarded directly to the laureates, now funding became critical, and much of that funding became corporate.  Are images of the fancy new DC building belonging to the "United States Institute of Peace (unless there's a war)" flashing through your mind?  Lundestad is a professional fundraiser now who finds time for Bilderberg conferences but not peace congresses. 

Heffermehl made his case in Norwegian pre-Obama, and was oh-so-predictably-and-depressingly hopeful when the committee absurdly bestowed its prize on the new U.S. President in 2009.  It was Obama's pro-war acceptance speech that led Heffermehl to unhesitatingly add him to the list of undeserving laureates.  But there were other reasons.  Heffermehl claims to have a source who knows that promotion of Oslo as a tourist destination weighed in the selection of Obama.  Alfred Nobel had, of course, not mentioned that motivation in his will at all. 

Heffermehl proposes that Nobel's will be followed, that the commercial activities of the Nobel Foundation be dropped, and that the combination of the roles of committee secretary and commercial director be ended.  I think he has a point.

Here's a video of Lundestad disingenuously defending the selection of Barack Obama.

Lundestad is scheduled to speak on Saturday, March 3rd, in Minnesota, where Coleen Rowley will be asking him pertinent questions about faithfulness to Nobel's will.  If you can't make it to Minnesota, you can sign this petition Rowley has set up.

If this thing gets turned around and Nobel peace prizes are awarded for a number of years to real champions of peace, then it should almost go without saying that Fredrik Heffermehl, who has created a formal investigation of the matter in Sweden, will have earned himself the prize as well.

Stop That Train! Fermare Quel Treno!

The Italian Coalition Stop That Train celebrates the news that the City Council of Naples, Italy has approved a motion condemning Pizzarotti for its involvement in a project in blatant violation of international law, the Israeli high-speed train cutting through the occupied Palestinian territories. The decision of the Naples City Council, which follows that of Rho (Milan) on November 30, 2011, is a strong sign for responsible action by local authorities, in this case one of Italy’s largest cities.

Stop That Train congratulates the Committee "For a Pizzarotti-Free Naples!" for the work done to mobilize citizens in support of the Campaign and in establishing dialog with the local administration in order to encourage it to take a stand on the issue.

Hose streets? Our streets! Belgian firefighters soak police in protest

Firefighters hose down the prime minister's office Link to this video

Several hundred Belgian firefighters have broken through police lines in Brussels and hosed down the prime minister's office in protest at the government's tougher retirement plans.

The firefighters want to keep their early retirement age at 58, arguing their arduous job does not allow them to work into their 60s.

Belgian firefighters Belgian police get wet as they guard the entrance to the cabinet office from protesting firefighters. Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features

Such demands run counter to government plans to have the overwhelming majority of people work two years beyond 65 so it can afford an ever-increasing pension bill as Belgium's population ages.

Belgian riot police Firefighters aim a hose at the feet of Belgian riot police. Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features

The deputy prime minister, Didier Reynders, said caving in to the firefighters' demands would "send the wrong signal" to everyone. Belgium has 17,000 firefighters.

Garzon Speaks at His Trial

From the New York Times:

Baltasar Garzón, a high-profile Spanish judge, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that his decision to investigate killings committed during the Spanish Civil War had been motivated by “the helplessness of the victims.” With arguments finished, the Supreme Court would normally be expected to rule within about 20 days, although no deadline has been set. If found guilty, Mr. Garzón, 56, could be suspended as a judge for as long as 20 years, a sanction that would effectively end his career. His 2008 attempt to investigate killings from the Spanish Civil War was brought to a swift end because of the political controversy that it set off. But right-wing groups started legal action against him, charging that he had overreached his authority and knowingly contravened a 1977 general amnesty that covers crimes perpetrated during the war.

Garzon has also tried to investigate US crimes and been blocked, though not as swiftly or entirely, by Obama-Pressure. Perhaps the United States should return the favor and look into the crimes of the Spanish Civil War.  Sadly, the U.S. reputation is such that the favor would be laughed at.

Rights Group Submits Declaration Detailing Torture to Spanish Court after Judge Issues Order to Proceed with Guantánamo Torture Investigation

Document Highlights Treatment of Acknowledged Torture Victim

Mohammed al Qahtani, Helps Set Stage for Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials

February 8, 2012, New York and Madrid – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a declaration to a Spanish court detailing the torture of Mohammed al Qahtani, who has been detained without charge or trial at Guantánamo since 2002. The submission follows Spanish Investigating Judge Pablo Ruz Gutierrez’s recent order to proceed with the probe into the U.S. torture program.

Mr. al Qahtani was the victim of the “First Special Interrogation Plan,” a regime of aggressive interrogation techniques amounting to torture personally authorized by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Mr. al Qahtani is the only prisoner held at Guantánamo Bay the U.S. has officially admitted to torturing. Mr. al Qahtani’s treatment, much of which is described in detail in the declaration through his own words, includes 48 days of sleep deprivation, 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions, and prolonged sensory overstimulation. In addition, the document details the effects of the interrogation, which included Mr. al Qahtani’s severe emotional distress, inability to control his bladder, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Time Magazine obtained and published a detailed log of his interrogations in 2005.

Katherine Gallagher, a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitution Rights, said, “This declaration details the severe psychological and physical trauma suffered by Mr. al Qahtani as a result of the brutal treatment he was subjected to at Guantánamo through techniques that are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture. That the high-level U.S. officials alleged to be responsible for this criminal conduct, including Donald Rumsfeld and Geoffrey Miller, continue to enjoy impunity domestically is a stain on the U.S. system of justice.  We hope that this declaration will provide valuable evidence for use in holding these officials accountable in Spain, a venue that is willing to investigate torture.”

The declaration, compiled from Mr. al Qahtani’s own accounts by his attorney at CCR, provides a thorough description of his treatment in response to Judge Ruz’s request for more information about the program. Former CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez conducted client interviews with Mr. al Qahtani during 27 trips to Guantánamo between December 2005 and November 2009.  The declaration identifies Major General Geoffrey Miller as responsible for both authorizing and implementing the interrogation techniques used on Mr. al Qahtani that led to his torture.  Miller was the commander of Guantánamo and was later implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal after being appointed Deputy Commanding General of Detention Operations in Iraq.

Wolfgang Kaleck, Secretary General of the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which joined CCR in providing a dossier outlining Geoffrey Miller’s liability for torture to Judge Ruz last year, said  “The way the United States has dealt with established torture claims has been appalling. Those claims are now in the hands of the Spanish judiciary. Today’s submission before Judge Ruz greatly adds to the evidence previously presented against Geoffrey Miller and we hope the judge will act on it.”  

The case, which Judge Ruz inherited from Judge Baltasar Garzón, has been ongoing since April 2009, when Garzón opened a preliminary investigation into what he termed “an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee…” The investigation stemmed from a previous court case in which four former Guantánamo detainees at the center of the case were found to have been tortured. That investigation concluded that facts of the case related to violations under the Spanish Penal Code, the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Organic Law of the Judicial Power (article 23.4.) Judge Ruz’s recent order was precipitated, in part, by a decision to proceed with the investigation after the U.S. and U.K. governments failed to respond to letters rogatory issued by the Spanish court that requested information about any domestic investigations in those countries.

Details about the ongoing case in Spain and the full declaration are available here and here, respectively. Information about on-going litigation in U.S. courts related to Mr. al Qahtani is available here: http://www.ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/al-qahtani-v.-bush%2C-al-qahtani-v.-gates.

CCR filed cases against Donald Rumsfeld in Germany and France, and released a Bush Torture Indictment, under the Convention Against Torture, ready to be tailored to the specific laws of any of the 147 signatory countries to the Convention Against Torture where he may travel.  CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo in the U.S. for the last 10 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.

The Betrayal of the Nobel Peace Prize

Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  

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May 30 NYC here and here and here

August 27, Chicago

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