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Nelson Mandela's story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life. Worse, we don't tell such stories in many of our novels.
A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs. He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation. He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory. He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable. He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away. But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.
Mandela was a rebel before he had a cause. He was a fighter and a boxer. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that South Africa benefited greatly from the fact that Mandela did not emerge from prison earlier: "Had he come out earlier, we would have had the angry, aggressive Madiba. As a result of the experience that he had there, he mellowed. ... Suffering either embitters you or, mercifully, ennobles you. And with Madiba, thankfully for us, the latter happened."
Mandela emerged able to propose reconciliation because he'd had the time to think it through, because he'd had the experience of overcoming the prisons' brutality, because he'd been safely locked up while others outside were killed or tortured, and also -- critically -- because he had the authority to be heard and respected by those distrustful of nonviolence.
The CIA had Mandela prosecuted in 1963. He might have been given the death penalty. Alan Paton testified in court that if Mandela and other defendants were killed the government would have no one to negotiate with (this at a time when both sides would have rather died than negotiate anything).
The U.S. government considered Mandela a terrorist until 2008, when he was a 90-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner (and most Nobel Peace Prize winners were not yet in the habit of engaging in terrorism).
But many here in the United States and around the world brought pressure to bear on the Apartheid government of South Africa in a manner similar to what is now being developed to pressure Israel. The times were changing. A door was just cracking open. And Mandela negotiated it right off its hinges, even as violence rolled on in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, and the Middle East. Mandela showed another way -- or, rather, the first and only way that involved actually accomplishing positive change.
Mandela had flaws, and traits that many would consider flaws. Either his sex life or his economic reform agenda (not that he stood by the latter) would have disqualified him from politics in the United States even had he not been on the list of terrorists. His second wife suffered in the movement outside the prisons, turning toward anger and hatred even as her husband turned toward empathy and forgiveness.
Mandela did not adopt an ideology or a religion that imposed nonviolence on him. Rather, he found his way to tools that would work effectively, and to the state of mind that would give him the strength to implement them. He found, not only empathy but great humility. He sought fair elections but not a candidacy. Urged to become a candidate he committed to serving only one term. As the election results came in, reports are that he stopped the counting before his lead could grow so large as to exclude minority parties from the government. He credited the movement with the victory and invited his former jailer to his inauguration.
Danny Schechter has produced a fantastic new book about Mandela, called Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela. It's based on the making of a documentary series that's based on the making of the new film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is in turn based primarily on Mandela's autobiography.
In the book, Schechter speculates on how the corporate media will cover Mandela's death. "Which Mandela will be memorialized? Will it be the leader who built a movement and a military organization to fight injustice? Or a man of inspiration with a great smile whom we admire because of the long years suffered behind bars?" It's a rhetorical question now and always was, but I wish the answer could have been something other than those two choices. I wish the answer were Mandela the man who negotiated a peaceful change, who forgave, who apologized, who sympathized, who showed a way for nations to live up to the standards of our children, whom we routinely urge to settle their problems with words rather than aggravating their problems with violence.
The United States needs that example when speaking with Iran. Colombia needs it as the possibility of peace glimmers in the distance there. Syrian builders of movements and military organizations that fight injustice need that example desperately.
When will we ever learn?
Cross-Posted from Frack the Media
By John Grant
All we are saying is give peace a chance
- John Lennon
Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.
By Dave Lindorff
Syrian civilians and children should count themselves lucky that mass opposition in the US, the UK and much of the rest of the world to the idea of a US bombing blitz aimed at punishing the Syrian government for allegedly using Sarin gas in an attack on a Damascus neighborhood forced the US to back off and accept a Russian deal to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons.
Berkeley, United States - President Barack Obama recently stated the United States was not taking sides as Egypt's crisis came to a head with the military overthrow of the democratically elected president.
But a review of dozens of US federal government documents shows Washington has quietly funded senior Egyptian opposition figures who called for toppling of the country's now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
Documents obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley show the US channeled funding through a State Department programme to promote democracy in the Middle East region. This programme vigorously supported activists and politicians who have fomented unrest in Egypt, after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011.
The State Department's programme, dubbed by US officials as a "democracy assistance" initiative, is part of a wider Obama administration effort to try to stop the retreat of pro-Washington secularists, and to win back influence in Arab Spring countries that saw the rise of Islamists, who largely oppose US interests in the Middle East.
His 'Crime' is Patriotism, not Betrayal Like Hale's Philip Nolan, Snowden has Become a 'Man Without a Country'
By Dave Lindorff
In Edward Everett Hale's short story "The Man Without a Country," US Army Lt. Philip Nolan, following a court-martial, is exiled from his country, his citizenship snatched away, leaving him doomed to sail the seven seas confined to a Navy vessel, unable to make any country his home. His crime: being seduced by a treacherous leader to betray the US of A, the country of his birth.
Target Syria: Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use
by Stephen Lendman
New allegations claim Syrian chemical weapons use. We've heard similar ones before. Obama calls using them a "game changer." He also said their use crosses a "red line."
Syrian officials are unequivocal. Weeks earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad spoke for others saying:
By Dave Lindorff
I ran the Boston Marathon back in 1968, and, my feet covered with blisters inside my Keds sneakers, dragged across the finish line to meet my waiting uncle at a time of about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was close enough to the time that the current bombing happened in this year’s race -- about four hours from the starting gun -- that had I been running it this year, I might still been near enough to the finish line to have heard the blasts.
By Dan DeWalt
‘If the President Does It, It Isn’t Illegal’
-- Richard M. Nixon
Ana Edwards is the host of Defenders Live on WRIR in Richmond, Va. Edwards tells us what we should know about Mali, the crisis there, the causes of it, what the Pentagon should stop doing, and what the people of Richmond are doing to help.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
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By Dave Lindorff
I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said:
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1) Intervention and growing instability in Mali
2) Confronting War Ten Years On - an international conference
1) Intervention in Mali
Once again western powers are using anti-Islamist rhetoric to justify colonial interventions. Two days of French air strikes have already killed many civilians and is only likely to inflame instability across the region already in chaos after the West's attack on Libya.
France's intervention in Mali is part of a growing scramble for Africa. France occupied Mali until 1960. It was at the centre of its historic colonial empire and now at the heart of its effort to control a mineral rich area including Senegal, Burkino Faso, the Ivory Coast - all former colonies in which the French once again have troops.
That Britain was the first to support the French adventure with two RAF planes only shows how keen the government is to participate in a new rush for influence on the African continent. The danger is too, as fighting intensifies, that Britain will get further drawn in to an intervention that has already been backed by the US government. Stop the War condemns this intervention that will only intensify the crisis in the region.
Speakers include Sessions include Book now to avoid disappointment Tickets cost £15 or £8 for concessions. Telephone 020 7561 9311 to pay by card or pay online at the conference web site www.tenyearson.org.uk Cheques made payable to Stop the War Coalition should be posted to Stop the War Coalition 1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
2) Confronting War Ten Years On - an international conference
International Conference: Confronting War Ten Years On
Book now to avoid disappointment
Tickets cost £15 or £8 for concessions.
Telephone 020 7561 9311 to pay by card or pay online at the conference web site www.tenyearson.org.uk Cheques made payable to Stop the War Coalition should be posted to Stop the War Coalition 1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ
US sending 3500 troops to Africa
On Christmas Day, 2012 – a time when few people were paying attention to the news – the Associated Press reported that the Obama administration had decided to send some 3,500 U.S. troops early in 2013 into as many as 35 of Africa's 54 countries, claiming it is part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle “extremists” and to “give the United States a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge.”
History of U.S. forces in Africa
It was a significant escalation of what has been a steadily increasing introduction of U.S. forces into the formerly colonized continent. Over the past few decades, the U.S. has devoted more and more attention to Africa, both because of its vast natural resources, consumer and government markets and historically cheap labor, and because of the U.S.' increasingly fierce competition with China both for these resources and for political influence with African countries.
Newly publicized U.S. plans to send troops into 35 African nationsshould result in red flags being raised from the U.S. public, the Congress, and active-duty members of the U.S. military. Though these plans call for small, short-term deployments to serve in an advisory and training capacity, Veterans For Peace is concerned that the creation of AFRICOM in general, and these deployments in particular, represent the proverbial nose of the camel under the tent.
Policy experts and scholars familiar with Africa have a single cautionary word for the planned military expansion that would see deployment of US soldiers and drones in as many as 35 nations dotted across the continent in the coming year: Don't.
The sharper focus on Africa by the U.S. comes against a backdrop of widespread insurgent violence across North Africa, and as the African Union and other nations discuss military intervention in northern Mali.
U.S. military planners have begun to help organize a multinational proxy force to intervene next year in Mali, the famine-stricken, coup-wracked African country that has become a magnet for Islamist extremists, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The international force would be led on the ground by several thousand Malian and West African troops but would receive extensive support from the Pentagon and the State Department, which would help train, equip and transport the troops, Obama administration officials said.
New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World
Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning? Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds? Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school? Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day? You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.
Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow? Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip? Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast? If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know. And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.
The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.
Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,
(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)
Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,
Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.
Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.
Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:
Advance Praise for Tube World:
“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley
“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis
“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie
About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper. You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com
By Dave Lindorff
There is a massive deception campaign in the US, and in its global propaganda, which seeks to portray the United States as a poor set-upon nation that would like world peace but just has to keep a military stationed around the globe to “police” all the world’s “trouble spots.”
By Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has begun a five-day, four-nation tour of North Africa and the Middle East to consolidate military ties with traditional allies against the backdrop of mounting Western pressure aimed at the governments of Syria and Iran.
His first two stops are to Tunisia and Egypt, long-standing American military client states and members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program. The next two are to Israel and Jordan, also Mediterranean Dialogue members, the first the main and the second one of the largest recipients of American military aid.
Africom Confirms Major U.S. Military Expansion into Another Continent Where It Will Cause Massive Suffering
Omar Suleiman has died, apparently in Cleveland, Ohio, while undergoing medical tests, with no cause of death reported.
Suleiman personally oversaw the torture of al Libi that successfully elicited the false claim that Iraq was tied to al Qaeda. Al Libi himself died under suspicious circumstances.
Is Suleiman on any of Obama's kill lists?
Do not let the body leave.
Get an autopsy at once.
No "Muslim sea burial."
By Dave Lindorff
Are weaponized drone aircraft more moral than the more traditional killing machines used in warfare? In an opinion published in Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s national security reporter, Scott Shane, argues that they are.
By Dave Lindorff
There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.
By Gary Lindorff
Let us bomb your neighborhood,
Let us target your neighbor
Out of our love and concern –
Not you, not your children.
Drones of love!
Won’t you love us
After the dust settles?
After the evil has been exploded?
After the crater in the market-place
Has been filled in and paved
We will explode our way into your hearts!
We might miss our intended target;
Hosni Mubarak's henchmen, including those in Washington and Arlington should be properly sentenced too, but Mubarak was given exactly the right sentence, one that demonstrates the power of nonviolence, the possibility of what could be imposed on tyrants like Bush and Obama if we were to all do our duty. This sentence will strengthen the peace and justice movement worldwide.