<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>

August 27

August 27th and the Strangest Dream

                                By David Swanson

      In a few places around the country groups are working to make August 27th a local or national holiday as a result of reading "When the World Outlawed War."  
       “Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before,” wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song.  “I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men.  And the paper they were signing said they’d never fight again.” ...
       That scene had happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books (and on the U.S. State Department’s website) to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land.”  Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar — so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the “Liberty ships” that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II.  Kellogg was dead at the time. So, many believed, were prospects for world peace. But following World War II, for the first time ever people were prosecuted for the brand new crime of making war – these charges explicitly justified by the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  And the wealthy nations have not gone to war with each other since.  War continues against and among poor nations only, much to our shame.  But the possibility of eliminating war entirely if we choose has been well established.
       The Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive.  This treaty gathered the adherence of the world’s nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand.  We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war – understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations – continues to develop. ...
       We might begin by remembering what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is and where it came from. ...Perhaps a national focus for Kellogg-Briand Day might be on an event in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C... where the inscription below the Kellogg Window gives Kellogg, who is buried there, credit for having “sought equity and peace among the nations of the world.”
       We would be celebrating a step toward peace, not its achievement.  We celebrate steps taken toward establishing civil rights, despite that remaining a work in progress.  By marking partial achievements we help build the momentum that will achieve more...The earliest laws making war into a crime, something it had not been before, are just as significant and will long be remembered if the movement for the Outlawry of war succeeds.  If it does not, and if the nuclear proliferation, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation that come with our wars continue, then before long there may be nobody remembering anything at all.
       Another way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it. ... If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  It is actually law.  And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support.  The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads in full,
            The High Contracting Parties solemly [sic] declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
            The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
       The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony,
            For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of  peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations.  Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. . . . [S]elfish and willful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right, and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty, has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy.  For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must incur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories.
       –––9.3.12


<adminpress@icrc.org

August 31

ICRC 
International Committee of the Red Cross

Syria: scrambling to respond to fast-growing needs

       Since mid-July, fighting in and around Damascus has been escalating almost without interruption.  The situation in many parts of Syria is currently edging towards irreversible deterioration.  Assisting the fast-growing number of needy people is a top priority.

       The ICRC is extremely concerned about the welfare of the civilian population.  People suffer every day.  Many have lost their jobs, others their breadwinner.  It is difficult to meet even basic food needs and to obtain other essentials.  Tens of thousands of people have been displaced over recent weeks, and most of them, often whole families, are completely dependent on humanitarian assistance provided by local communities, the ICRC, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and others.
       "People fear for their lives every minute of the day," said Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC delegation in Syria.  "Humanitarian needs have risen sharply as civilians face ever more difficulty obtaining basic necessities, either because the items are not available in some parts of the country, or because the violence prevents people from going to get them."
       Every day, dozens of people are killed in the fighting, and increasing numbers of people succumb to their wounds, unable to obtain medical care because of the fighting and the lack of medical supplies, or simply because medical care is not available in their areas.  Health-care facilities that are still functioning are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the numbers of injured patients.
        "In the wake of the fighting in Damascus in July, we decided to respond to fast-growing urgent needs by focusing our efforts on bringing aid to people affected by the fighting in the capital and in nearby areas," said Ms Gasser.  "Since then, it has been very difficult for our teams to operate in areas outside the city because of ongoing armed confrontations."
        In Aleppo, Homs, Idlib and other parts of Syria, humanitarian needs persist as armed confrontations continue.  At times, the ICRC has had to adjust its working procedures in order to ensure that its assistance reaches as many people as possible with the least delay.  Since mid-July, it has delivered humanitarian assistance to displaced people and others affected by the fighting together with or through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, or in cooperation with local communities in and around Damascus and in Aleppo, Homs, Idlib and elsewhere.

 ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent activities:

     *   Since mid-July, nearly 180,000 people have been given food and other essentials in and around Damascus and in Aleppo, Homs and elsewhere in the country.  Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has provided aid for over 800,000 people, most of them displaced.
     *   The ICRC has been making sure that tens of thousands of people taking shelter in schools or with host communities in Damascus and elsewhere have enough clean drinking water.  Since the beginning of the year, clean water has been provided by the ICRC for over one million people in Damascus, Rural Damascus and Homs.
     *   Medical items provided for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been distributed in Aleppo governorate and elsewhere in the country.  In addition, the Ministry of Health has been provided with enough medical supplies to treat between 2,500 and 7,500 people, depending on the seriousness of their injuries.  So far this year, the ICRC has equipped four Syrian Arab Red Crescent mobile units in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Homs and Idlib to provide primary health-care services in schools accommodating displaced people.  The ICRC has also equipped four emergency rooms and one operating theatre in Damascus run by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

       The United Nations is unable to solve the problem as are individual nations, not united under enforceable law.
       –––9.1.12

 

<fboyle@illinois.edu>
August 5

THE CRIMINALITY OF NUCLEAR DETERRENCE

                                                by Francis A. Boyle
 
       The human race stands on the verge of nuclear self-extinction as a species, and with it will die most, if not all, forms of intelligent life on the planet earth.  Any attempt to dispel the ideology of nuclearism and its attendant myth propounding the legality of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence must directly come to grips with the fact that the nuclear age was conceived in the original sins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.  The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined by the Nuremberg Charter of August 8, 1945...The start of any progress toward resolving humankind's nuclear predicament must come from the realization that nuclear weapons have never been legitimate instruments of state policy, but rather have always constituted illegitimate instrumentalities of internationally lawless and criminal behavior.
 
THE USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

       The use of nuclear weapons in combat was, and still is, absolutely prohibited under all circumstances by both conventional and customary international law:  e.g., the Nuremberg Principles, the Hague Regulations of 1907, the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocol I of 1977, etc. ...

THE THREAT TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS
        Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter of 1945 prohibits both the threat and the use of force except in cases of legitimate self-defense as recognized by article 51 thereof.  But although the requirement of legitimate self-defense is a necessary precondition for the legality of any threat or use of force, it is certainly not sufficient.  For the legality of any threat or use of force must also take into account the customary and conventional international laws of humanitarian armed conflict.
       Thereunder, the threat to use nuclear weapons (i.e., nuclear deterrence/terrorism) constitutes ongoing international criminal activity. ...
       The conclusion is inexorable that the design, research, testing, production, manufacture, fabrication, transportation, deployment, installation, maintenance, storing, stockpiling, sale, and purchase as well as the threat to use nuclear weapons together with all their essential accouterments are criminal under well-recognized principles of international law. ...
 
THE CRIMINALITY OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND NUCLEAR DETERRENCE
As can be determined in part from the preceding analysis, today's nuclear weapons establishments as well as the entire system of nuclear deterrence/terrorism currently practiced by all the nuclear weapon states are criminal -- not simply illegal, not simply immoral, but criminal under well established principles of international law. ...

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY OF NUCLEAR DETERRENCE/TERRORISM
        Humankind must abolish nuclear weapons before nuclear weapons abolish humankind. Nonetheless, a small number of governments in the world community continue to maintain nuclear weapons systems despite the rules of international criminal law to the contrary. ... Moreover, both the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Tokyo Tribunal made it quite clear that a conspiratorial band of criminal states likewise has no right to opt out of the international legal order by means of invoking their own criminal behavior as the least common denominator of international deportment. ... 
       To the contrary, the entire human race has been victimized by an international conspiracy of ongoing criminal activity carried out by the nuclear weapons states under the doctrine known as "nuclear deterrence," which is really a euphemism for "nuclear terrorism." ...
 
THE HUMAN RIGHT TO ANTI-NUCLEAR CIVIL RESISTANCE

       In light of the fact that nuclear weapons systems are prohibited, illegal, and criminal under all circumstances and for any reason, every person around the world possesses a basic human right to be free from this criminal practice of nuclear deterrence/terrorism and its concomitant specter of nuclear extinction.  Thus, all human beings possess the basic right under international law to engage in non-violent civil resistance activities for the purpose of preventing, impeding, or terminating the ongoing commission of these international crimes.  Every citizen of the world community has both the right and the duty to oppose the existence of nuclear weapons systems by whatever non-violent means are at his or her disposal.  Otherwise, the human race will suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs, and the planet earth will become a radioactive wasteland.  The time for preventive action is now!
       –––8.29.12
 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
August 26

Protest at Obama Event...
Go, Obama, Go! 

       ...
Accomplishment Highlights
       ...President Obama has enlarged the U.S. military three years in a row, deployed it to more nations, engaged it in more secret wars, and invented a new form of warfare using drones.  The drone wars are killing large numbers of people and creating vastly greater numbers of refugees.  Their illegality is not a concern, following Obama's war in Libya conducted despite the opposition of Congress, and the current U.S. role in a civil war in Syria unilaterally announced by the White House.  These are on top of a war in Afghanistan that Obama tripled in size and intends to continue for two-and-a-half more years before continuing at an unspecified smaller scale for 10 more years after that, despite 70 percent public opposition now.
       In fact, legality has been removed from all discussion, as President Obama has publicly instructed the Attorney General of the United States not to prosecute any members of the Central Intelligence Agency for torture.  President Obama, together with Congress, has "legalized" imprisonment without trial for Americans or non-Americans (something Obama's Justice Department is currently struggling to uphold in court), as well as rendition, and torture (now a policy choice rather than a crime). ...
       This unprecedented militarism was the inevitable result of our failure to hold Bush and Cheney responsible for their crimes.  It carries with it the inevitable trade-off on the domestic side.  Over half of federal discretionary spending (and rising) now goes to war preparation.  Obama's major complaint with the U.S. media is that, "He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security" (New York Times, Aug. 7, 2012). The concentration of wealth in the hands of the few has advanced faster under Obama than under Bush.  Corporate trade agreements have been created at a faster pace.  The destruction of the earth's atmosphere has continued at a faster pace.
 
The Horrible Romney Alternative
       OF COURSE you should not vote for Romney.  But civil rights were not gained by avoiding the responsibilities of citizenship in order to pretend that every day is election day.  Today is not election day...Women did not vote themselves the right to vote.  The labor movement was not built by the current strategy of funding a corporate political party with working people's hard-earned pay.  In that moment of voting, vote as you see fit.  But censoring your criticism of your government, cheering as a spectator for one half of a corrupt government, treating government of the people as a spectator sport is working against what has always done the good you are intending to do here.  We don't need well-meaning props in electoral commercials so much as we need activists, organizers, mobilizers, educators.  If we reject any cuts to our Social Security and Medicare, if we insist on an end to all the killing, we will move the culture of the country and with it all the politicians.  That's what's worked for centuries.  Avoiding ugly facts has never gotten us anywhere.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.  He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
       –––8.28.12


<sherwoodross10@gmail.com>
August 26

                   Godfather Obama
                     Institutionalized
                  Indefinite Detention

                                   By Sherwood Ross

      Rather than scrap it as un-American and authoritarian, Godfather Obama has institutionalized the practice of “unlawful indefinite detention” he inherited from his predecessor in the White House.
      That’s the view of Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the  American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the rule of law.  Romero says that instead of closing down the Guantanamo operation and resolving its legal cases in the Federal courts, Obama has done the opposite and, in fact, revived “the illegitimate Guantanamo military commissions.”  Romero doesn’t refer to Obama as “Godfather,” of course. ...
       Even some men cleared for transfer by the Bush and Obama regimes “remain in custody,” . ... despite Obama’s pledge to shut Guantanamo.  But there’s worse, much worse.
       “Murder” is the term for killing without legal proceedings or a state of war.  Protests stream in regularly from Pakistani officials over the U.S. killing of civilians by drone attacks...The protests make a sham of Obama’s claim the drone attacks are the outcome of some careful screening process.
       At minimum you would think a president would shut down any criminal cell he found operating out of the coils of the federal establishment.  Yet, after George W. Bush expanded the CIA into a veritable federalized Ku Klux Klan, Obama refuses to dismantle it or prosecute its officials.
       The Obama crime syndicate is operating on many fronts – it prosecutes whistle-blowers, it expands germ warfare, it threatens nuclear war against UN members, it lavishes billions on research into new ways of killing and disabling people, and, not least, it makes criminal wars. ...          
       (Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant for good causes who formerly worked for major dailies and wire services.
        –––8.27.12

<info@federalunion.org.uk>
August 25

Excerpts from

FEDERAL  UNION

The F-word:  a history of federalism (27 August 2012)
       The euro zone crisis boils along like a tea kettle left screaming on the stove.  But once this situation is resolved, the fundamental problem of the euro will remain;  it's a single currency serving 17 countries - with 17 different governments, operating on 17 different electoral timetables, setting 17 different tax policies.  Can 17 into 1 ever go?
        Presenter Michael Goldfarb looks at the history of federalism, the intellectual theories behind it and its successes and failures.
        From the Act of Union between England and Scotland, arguably the first act of federalism in history, to the debates surrounding the creation of the American Constitution, Michael interviews not just British and American historians, but also contemporary European politicians and policy makers.  How relevant is federalism in the euro-zone crisis?  And how could a federal United States of Europe work?
        To be broadcast on Monday 27 August 2012 at 8 pm on BBC Radio 4...
 
What the EU agreed at its summit, what it did not and what happens next

        Andrew Duff MEP writes:  At long last the European Council (28-29 June) has taken some very significant decisions on addressing the short term crisis.  There are two main elements:  to centralise the supervision of the eurozone’s banks under the European Central Bank, and to allow the EFSF/ESM to intervene directly to help ailing banks without the intervention of governments. ... 
 
To Secede or Not to Secede: The Case of Europe  

        According to one source, as many as ten new countries will be created in Europe over the course of the 21st century.  This prediction suggests that the argument linking globalization and secession — that borders no longer impede trade and so secession imposes little or no economic costs — has a special appeal.  But, asks Pankaj Ghemawat, does this proposition really hold up to scrutiny?..

Britain should stay in the European Union
        With the crisis continuing in the eurozone, recent polls suggest that the vast majority of the British electorate would be in favour of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.  In the current climate the voices of those in favour of the European project have been noticeable by their absence.  Today programme presenter Evan Davis chaired this debate on the motion “Britain should stay in the European Union.”
        Tony Blair's former EU adviser, and chair of the Federal Trust, Sir Stephen Wall defended the proposition against a panel that are opposed to Britain remaining in the EU in its current guise. ...

       Federal Union, 61 Leopold Road, London N2 8BG
       info@federalunion.org.uk   www.federalunion.org.uk
       –––8.25.12


<krista.strum@463.com>

New Research:  U.S. Education vs China, India, EU (others)
August 21

Excerpts follow:

       ...The Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American Progress released a research study that focuses on our country’s commitment to the next generation and what this means in terms of America’s ability to remain competitive in the global economy.

RELEASE: No Gold Medal Here:  U.S. is Lagging Behind Global Competitors in Commitment to Education, New Study Finds

       Washington, D.C. – In an era when the next generation will be expected to compete for jobs in a global economy, America’s commitment to education is waning while the growing economies of China and India are investing more than ever, according to a new report ...The report, “The Competition that Really Matters:  Comparing U.S. Chinese and Indian Investments in the Next Generation Workforce,” finds that while the United States won the medal count at the London Olympics, China, India, and several European countries are dramatically out-competing the United States when it comes to improving educational outcomes...
       The study, a joint initiative of The Center for the Next Generation and Center for American Progress underscores how America’s global competitiveness is being threatened by a lack of focus on preparing our next generation for what is an increasingly global market for jobs, industries, and economic sectors. ...
       CAP and The Center for the Next Generation recommend that U.S. policymakers:
       Set national goals and achieve them. ...
       ...a strong belief that the United States should be a world leader in education and that it is critical that the United States keep up with other countries.
       –––8.24.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>

August 22

Excerpts from

More Costs of War:  Suicides and Mental Trauma of Military Family Members

                                                                   By Ann Wright

       Seven months ago, in December, 2011, Brian Arredondo, age 24, hanged himself in a shed in his mother’s backyard.  Brian was the brother of US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.  For seven years Brian had had difficulties dealing with the death of his brother.
       Brian, like so many military brothers, sisters, spouses, children and parents, fell into the depths of depression following the death of his brother.
       These difficulties in coping with his brother’s death played out in Brian in his depression, dropping out of school, using alcohol and drugs, being in and out of drug rehab facilities, in continuing incidents with police for disorderly conduct and finally in suicide.
       After the death of their son Alex in Iraq, Brian’s father Carlos Arredondo and his stepmother Melida travelled the country reminding the public of those dying in America’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan-Americans, Iraqis and Afghans.  Brian had joined them at Veterans for Peace events and at Occupy Boston.  The Arredondos are now embarked on a mission to better understand the suicides that are occurring in military families.
       At the national Veterans for Peace (VFP) conference in Miami, Florida, on August 9, 2012, Carlos told VFP members that virtually each time they have spoken at public events about Brian’s suicide, after the program, a member of the audience will tell them that they have had someone in their family who has attempted suicide or committed suicide.  The Arredondos say that from their first speaking engagements following Brian’s suicide, that they have found an epidemic of suicides and mental trauma in military families.
       We know from statistics kept by the US military, Veterans Affairs and local law enforcement officials, that 18 veterans a day commit suicide.
       Brian’s death represents an unknown number of members of military families who have committed suicide and the United States military is not attempting to keep track of this aspect of the costs of war on families of military personnel. ...     
       
Presentations of Carlos and Melida Arredondo at the Veterans for Peace National Convention, August 8-12, 2012

Carlos Arredondo’s Presentation:
       Thank you for inviting us to speak to the national convention of Veterans for Peace.  As some might know, the South Florida chapter of Veterans for Peace is named after my eldest son, US Marine Lance Corporal Alexander Scott Arredondo who was killed in Iraq in 2004, seven and a half years ago.
       Today, I am going to talk to you about both of my sons, both of whom are dead because of war.
      Less than eight months ago, our youngest son, Brian Luis Arredondo, age 24, hanged himself in a shed in the backyard of his Mother’s property in Massachusetts.
       Our family is actively grieving Brian’s suicide and trying to comprehend how both of our boys are dead at a young age, both by such violent methods.
       Brian was never the same after the death of his elder brother Alexander.
       Nor was I. ...
       A short time after Alex’s death, Brian confessed to me that he walked the streets waiting for a bus or a truck so he could jump in front of it. That would be the first of several suicide attempts that Brian would make. ...
      In the years after Alex’s death, I travelled around the United States talking about the effects of war.  I found the work that I have done for peace and justice helped me cope with Alex’s death.  I have felt useful and have been inspired and supported by so many people who I have met and worked with – Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin. Bruce Macdonald, VFP’s Smedley Butler chapter in Boston and many other people in this room and more.
      I find it very important to meet with other Latinos and talk about my sons so that the Latino families are aware of the “side effects” to military service and how it impacts the whole family. ...
       When Brian died, the Massachusetts peace community came together and had a peace vigil to remember him the following day where several hundred people showed up.  Brian’s graveside service included many Vets with Veterans for Peace flags flying in the wind at Brian’s graveside.   Mel and I are very grateful to have the Vets for peace honor Brian in this way.
       Mel and I are focusing on suicide survivor and gold star family support groups. We have met many families who have experienced suicide with their families and military suicide. ...
       Thank you for your support and thank you to Veteran’s for Peace.

Melida Arredondo’s Presentation
       When a family member joins the military, the family is also drafted.
       In retrospect: I realize now that both our boys were targeted by military recruiters for being from low income, Latino and divorced families.
       Over the years, Carlos and I wonder how this all happened to our family.  Slowly, we came to realize that what affects us also impacts other families no matter race or color of skin – the connection between those families and ours is that we are low income.  So I’m speaking on behalf of all the other families who are unaware of how the economics of recruitment in this country works. ...
       Much of the work Carlos and I do is to aid and support military families.  Some of the efforts we have successfully worked on include speaking with the two Massachusetts Secretaries of Veterans Affairs to share the economic difficulties face by military families during deployments and if a loved one dies. ...
       Peace and justice work should be combined with support for military families.  These acts of kindness further the message of the peace and justice community. ...
      We must find venues to reach out to new people. ...
       We did not want Alex to join the Marine Corps.  Coming from Costa Rica where no army exists, we simply feared.  Alex joined, he died, Brian has died and Carlos and I are left.  The remainder of our families is in Costa Rica...
       Carlos and I appreciate all of the support that VFP has provided us over the years as well as the opportunities to work side-by-side for peace. ...
       I want to take this moment to honor our sons –
       Alexander Arredondo, Presente!
       Brian Arredondo – Presente!
       Peace to you all.  Muchas gracias.  Thank you. ...

       About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat for 16 years...She resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War.  She is a member of Veterans for Peace.
       –––8.23.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
August 4

Sanctions:  Diplomacy’s Weapon of Mass Murder

                                         By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

       In 1945, the United States of America dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagaski immediately killing 120,000 civilians.  The final death toll of the horrendous bombings has been conservatively estimated at well over 200,000 men, women, and children.  To this day, the world continues to be shocked and horrified by  the visual images that captured the death and destruction caused by the bombs.   The negative impact prompted America to devise a different weapon of mass murder – sanctions.
       Unlike the shock and horror which accompanied the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, there were no images of the 500,000 Iraqi children whose lives were cut short by sanctions to jolt the world into reality.  Not only has America taken pride in the mass killing of innocent children, but encouraged by silence and the surrender to its weapon of choice, it has turned diplomacy’s weapon of mass murder on another country – Iran.
       There has been little resistance to sanctions in the false belief that sanctions are a tool of diplomacy and preferable to war.  Enforcement of this belief has been a major victory for American public diplomacy.    The reality is otherwise.  Sanctions kill indiscriminately – they are far deadlier than “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” – the two atomic bombs that took the lives of over 200,000 people.  In the case of Iraq, the United Nations estimated 1,700,000 million Iraqi civilians died as a result of sanctions.  1.5 million more victims than the horrific atomic bombs dropped on Japan.   Diplomacy’s finest hour.
       Even though Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and many other top officials resigned from their posts in protest to the sanctions saying: "The policy of economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and as terrifying as that", the murders continued.  In 1999, seventy members of Congress appealed to President Clinton to lift the sanctions and end what they termed "infanticide masquerading as policy."  But America continued its lead with its diplomatic death dance.
       America, a morally bankrupt nation and the self-appointed global morality police, obeying the wishes of the pro-Israel lobby groups, has for years now pointed its deadly weapon of mass murder at Iran – sanctions disguised as diplomacy.   The misinformed and misguided global community indulges itself in the false belief that war has been avoided, without thought to suffering and death.
       In fact, the notion that economic sanctions are always morally preferable to the use of military force has been challenged by Albert C. Pierce, Ethics and National Security professor at the National Defense University.  His analysis showed that economic sanctions inflict great pain, suffering, and physical harm on the innocent civilians – so much so that  small-scale military operations were sometimes preferable (Ethics and International Affairs,1996).
       But America prefers not to engage in battle.  Not only would military confrontation bring global condemnation, but history has shown us that while America can win battles, it cannot win wars (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan…..). It therefore resorts to sanctions – a coward’s ruthless “diplomacy” tool in order to disguise its role as the enemy with the purpose of  depriving the target nation of self-defense against such horrendous aggression.  Sanctions, the warfare by an enemy unidentified by a military uniform is intended to eliminate resistance, to attack women and children, the weak and the old, to being about regime change, without fear of retaliation or censure by the ‘peace-loving’ community.
       In this election year, as in the past, appeasement of the pro-Israel lobbies takes precedent to humanity, to the well-being of Americans, and to the security of the global community.
       A 2005 report developed by economists Dean DeRosa and Gary Hufbauer demonstrates that if the United States lifted sanctions on Iran the world price of oil could fall by 10 percent translating into an annual savings of $38-76 billion for the United States alone. The current global recession would dwarf the figures cited.
       At war even with  itself to please the lobbies,  House passed  H.R. 1905 – Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act.  Putting aside the oxymoron of sanctions and human rights for now, America is demanding that the world community not only partake in deadly sanctions, but to do so in direct opposition to the national interests of each and every sovereign nation.  This is a sharp departure from the arguments presented by AIPAC in 1977 in response to the Arab league boycott.
       AIPAC successfully defined the Arab League boycott as "harassment and blackmailing of America, an interference with normal business activities ... that the boycott activities were contrary to the principles of free trade that the United States has espoused for many years … and the Arab interference in the business relations of American firms with other countries is in effect an interference with the sovereignty of the United States."
       However, the United States has successfully blackmailed other nations to be its accomplice in suffering and mass murder –  diplomacy’s weapon of choice.  To believe that Iran (or Syria) is the only target of these sanctions is as naïve as believing that sanctions are diplomacy put in place to avoid war.   The global  impact of the lethal weapon – sanctions – is simply cushioned in diplomacy;  A brilliantly and ruthlessly executed diplomatic coup.

       Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and blogger with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups.
       –––8.22.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
August 20

Peaceful Action Urged on Iran Crisis

       With the Non-Aligned Movement meeting this week in Tehran, Veterans For Peace is urging the organization of 120 nations not formally allied with any major power bloc to take steps to deter the Israeli-American threats of war against Iran over its nuclear enrichment program.

APPEAL TO NON-ALIGNED LEADERS MEETING IN TEHRAN

FROM:  Veterans For Peace

       This is an urgent appeal from Veterans For Peace.  We are an organization of U.S. veterans formed in 1985 to try to bring an end to war.  VFP is a non-profit organization recognized by the UN as an NGO.
       We are appealing to the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement to do everything in your power to head off a military attack on Iran in the coming weeks.  Israel’s leaders regard the period between now and the U.S. election on November 6 as the most opportune time to virtually guarantee U.S. support for such an attack.  And the continuing build-up of U.S. forces in the area of the Persian Gulf strengthens the impression of U.S. readiness to provide it.
       As you non-aligned leaders meet later this week in Tehran, it seems time for plain speaking — and warning.   Official statements by Israel and the U.S. assert, with cavalier nonchalance, that the “military option” against Iran is “on the table.”
       Thus, Israel and the U.S. are, de facto, in open violation of Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, which prohibits not only the use of force but also the threat to use force against a country from which there is no imminent danger.  Sadly, after such threats it can be a short step to the actual use of force, as we observed in the lead-up to the illegal attack on Iraq in March 2003.
       The U.S. corporate-owned media is highlighting the same kind of “fixed” intelligence and facts used exactly ten years ago to “justify” the attack on Iraq.  Even though in January both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, acknowledged that Iran is NOT working on a nuclear weapon, military action is still being blithely promoted as one option to deal with Iran’s “nuclear ambitions.”
       We Veterans For Peace know what war is like.  President Obama does not.  His political advisers also do not.  Besides, their attention is fixed almost exclusively on the upcoming presidential election.
       What is most dangerous is that the White House threat/mantra that all options, expressly including the “military option,” are on the table is seen by Israeli leaders as tantamount to a pledge that Obama will feel forced to honor, giving them carte blanche for attacking Iran, with the full expectation of U.S. military support.
       Veterans For Peace has been trying to warn about the mounting threat to Iran, but our warnings have been kept out of the U.S. corporate-owned media.  Six months ago we sent an official memorandum to President Obama warning him that he needed to “talk sense to [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu.”
       More recently, at the conclusion of our national conference on August 12th, we issued this statement:
       “We reaffirm our solidarity with the Iranian people and urge the United States to lift the economic sanctions that were imposed on Iran. These sanctions are an act of war and are hurting the people of Iran. We demand that our own government stop its threats of war and we implore President Obama to state publicly and very clearly to Israel that the United States will not support an attack on Iran.”
       Most Israelis and most Americans do not want war with Iran.  As for the harsh sanctions on Iran, it is only the rhetoric of the governments in Tel Aviv and Washington and the parroting corporate media that have misled so many into thinking that sanctions against Iran are needed and morally justified.
       Nonaligned countries are aware, better than most, of the suffering incurred by the imposition of such measures. Sanctions against Iran are no more justified than the ones imposed earlier on Iraq, which caused the deaths of at least 500,000 children under the age of five, according to the U.N.
       The U.S. Catholic Bishops denounced that death toll as “unconscionable” in a formal statement on November 14, 2001.  Madeleine Albright, in contrast, when she was U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., said she thought the toll was “worth it.”  Sadly, that kind of thinking still prevails in the Obama administration.
       The stringent economic sanctions imposed on Iran are equally unconscionable.  And a military attack on Iran would be a flagrant violation of international law.
       This is not a time to sit on the sidelines and watch events unfold.  Accordingly, we appeal to the leaders of non-aligned nations about to meet this week in Tehran to move swiftly to do what they can to head off any military attack on Iran and to take a strong position against the economic sanctions.
                     Leah Bolger, CDR, USN, (Ret)
                     President, Veterans For Peace
       –––8.21.12


 <dwfed@dwfed.org>

August 2

From:  Kevin Martin   <kmartin@peace-action.org>
Jul 30
Summer reading recommendation on peace and disarmament

       ... article by, and about, two of my favorite nuclear abolitionist co-conspirators, Larry Wittner and Tad Daley. 
       It’s a recent essay by Tad, author of APOCALYPSE NEVER: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon Free World, a book blurbed by me (and many of you!), and a book that sold well enough beyond our choir that Rutgers University Press re-released it in paperback earlier this year.
       Tad's piece appeared in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the editors billed it as “A Reflection On Confronting the Bomb:  A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, the 2009 book by Lawrence Wittner, professor emeritus of history at SUNY/Albany and longtime board member of our own Peace Action.
       Tad’s essay, and Larry’s book, remind us of an almost wholly forgotten but undeniable historical truth – that our abolitionist predecessors at the dawn of the nuclear age offered humanity a plausible future vision not just of a world without nuclear weapons, but of a world without war, and indeed, a world without standing military forces of any kind.
       That seems to me a history that ought to enthrall anyone involved in any kind of progressive political action or peace agitation today.
       –––8.20.12

 

<josutter@juno.com>
Uri Avnery: From Terrorism to World Government
August 3

       The great Israeli thinker, Uri Avnery, is a promoter of World Government.  World Federalists might well use the Olympics as an example of a global event in harmony with a democratic world federation.
                      John O. Sutter

Excerpts from Avnery's Column  

The Greatest Show on Earth 
04/08/12
TO SUM up the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in one word:  kitsch.

       HONEST DISCLOSURE: I am an Anglophile. ...
       AFTER THIS confession, another one: I am not a sports enthusiast.  Actually, I have no sense for sport at all. ...
       BUT BACK to the Olympics.  In the summer of their discontent, the British produced something unique: original, exciting, surprising, moving, humorous. ...But let us go beyond the pomp and circumstance.  Do the Olympic games have a deeper significance?  I think they do.
       Konrad Lorenz, the Austrian professor who researched the behavior of animals as a basis for understanding human behavior, asserted that sports are a substitute for war.
       Nature has equipped humans with aggressive instincts.  They were an instrument for survival...
       This aggressiveness is so deeply imbedded in our biological heritage that it is quite useless to try to eliminate it.  Instead, Lorenz thought, we must find harmless outlets for it.  Sport is one answer.
       And indeed, looking at the various manifestations of this human pastime, one cannot but notice the similarities with war.  National flags are carried around by victory-crazy crowds.  The defeated feel and behave like armies after a lost battle. ...
       In Europe, where national sovereignty is gradually losing its meaning, football has taken its place. ...
       The much-condemned English football hooligans...are not so far removed from the spirit of the game. Patriotism, war and violence all grow on the same tree. ...
       IN A WAY, sport is not only a substitute for war, but also for religion.
       There is a religious fervor to sports. ...
       Sport, as represented by the Olympic games, is now a world-wide cult, less harmful than most, without the mumbo jumbo of some, uniting rather than dividing.  Altogether a good thing.
       THE UNITING factor is, perhaps, the most outstanding characteristic of this event.
       Hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion human beings watched it around the globe, each represented by his (or her) national champions.
       That is more than a curiosity.  Hopefully, it is a picture of the future.
       Watching the entrance of the delegations was an uplifting experience.   Almost all the nations on earth were represented, following each other in quick succession, waving their colorful flags. During the following days they competed with each other, met each other, respecting each other, all in a spirit of comradeship.  Sportsmen and women from one nation admired the achievements of those from others, races mingled, prejudices evaporated.
       It is interesting to compare this international meeting with another place where all the nations meet:  the United Nations Organization.  In the match between the two, the Olympics win hands down.
       Can anyone imagine an Olympic meeting where some nations possess a formal veto and use it against another nation?  Can one compare the inbuilt inactivity of the UN with the hyperactivity of the games?
       For me, this is the main attraction of the event.  I am a strong believer in world governance.  I believe that it is an absolute necessity for the survival of the human race and the planet.  Climate change, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the global economy, world-wide communications – all make global cooperation both necessary and possible.
       I am fairly sure that by the end of the 21st century, some sort of global government, based on global democracy, will be in place. 
The Olympic Games are a good example for such a reality.  All the nations are represented, all have equal rights, and, most importantly - all abide by the same rules.  In principle, each champion has the same chance of winning a gold medal as anyone else;  belonging to this or that big or small nation does not matter.
       Wouldn’t it be great if the entire world were organized along the same lines?
       FOR AN Israeli, the procession was a sobering experience.
       We tend to see ourselves as the center of the world, a power well beyond our modest size.  Yet here our delegation was marching, one among many, one of the smaller ones, without the glamor some of the others possess, without a single champion that all mankind recognizes.
       A good reason for modesty – a virtue we cannot usually boast of.
       –––8.19.12


<info@progressiveavenues.org>
August 12

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

                           By Luke Hiken

       The world looks on in disbelief as the United States continues its inexorable slide into fascism.  Which country will we attack next: Syria, Iran, Venezuela?  Which continent will be the next target for our imperial assaults on “terrorists,” “drug dealers,” or whatever other pseudonyms the Pentagon prepares for Obama’s rubber stamp:  Africa, Asia, Latin America? 
       It is not surprising that the unrestrained power of the 1% manifests itself in permanent wars or ever-expanding prisons.  That is what one would expect from robber barons.  Building a domestic police apparatus that makes past Russian or German police states look weak in comparison is a necessary prerequisite for those who own our government and military-industrial complex.  That the rich would export jobs to 3rd world countries where they don’t have to pay minimum wages to their employees is a given.  And surely, the super rich would attempt to cut public benefits, welfare, Medicare, and other social services paid for and earned by the poor.  That is so predictable.  What other position would the greediest thieves in the history of the world take?
       Similarly, it should not surprise anyone that the billionaires would seek to deregulate every industry that they own and control.  How else could they assure maximum profits with minimum responsibility or obligation?  All of these make sense.
       What doesn’t make sense, is why virtually the entirety of the Republican Party goes along with these rightwing positions . ...  
       For example, why do the rightwingers vote against their self-interest by helping billionaires destroy public education?  Why are they universally opposed to reasonably affordable health care for all citizens?  Why do they rally around the fascist attempts to prosecute and silence whistleblowers who expose governmental cover-ups and atrocities?  Why are Tea Party Republicans so adamant about denying women the right to abortion?  Why do they feel that gun control is such an important right, given the fact that it is the poor and unemployed who are the greatest number of victims of firearm abuse?  Why do they rally around a religious fanaticism that abhors same-sex marriage or equality for gays and lesbians?  And, the most obvious question of all is why they rigidly oppose taxing the super rich billionaires who are rapidly destroying the natural resources of the earth and undermining every aspect of their quality of life?
      Given the behavior of the 1% during the last three decades, it is simply unimaginable that the majority of Tea Party followers really believe in the “trickle down” theory.   No rational human being alive could honestly believe that the rich would share their wealth and privilege with anyone but themselves, or that they actually would create jobs for the unemployed.  In reality, a “trickle up” theory is more likely to have traction than its opposite.  How could workers not understand that if enough poor people were paid a decent wage and have assured wealth, the entire society would benefit from their purchases.  These benefits outweigh anything the poor currently receive from the rich. ...
       The suicidal, racist, self-destructive conduct of the rightwing voters in this country appears perilously close to watching lemmings clamoring to their deaths in icy waters.  The masses of Republican voters are not being forced to take these irrational positions. ...  
       This nation’s rush to destroy everything in its path is seemingly without explanation.  Perhaps Mitt Romney’s tax accountants can explain and justify the behavior of the Republican voters.  After all, it is they along with the Wall Street corporate giants and their banks, who have made their candidate one of the richest men in the world.
 –
      Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law.
       –––8.17.12 
 

 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
August 15

Demilitarization Is Not a Dirty Word

HUMAN SECURITY FOR GLOBAL SECURITY:  Demilitarization is not a dirty word, nonviolence is not inaction, and building sustainable peace is not for the faint of heart

                            by Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1997)

       The political, social and economic changes we all face are serious.  Some might call the state of the world today chaos.  The ongoing, dramatic changes in technology and communications are other elements adding to uncertainty and the feelings of insecurity that people around the globe are confronting.   No one can predict the future but we can work hard to shape the outcomes.
       Clearly there are huge obstacles to creating a world of sustainable peace with justice, equality and an end to impunity.  A world free of militarism, armaments and the arms trade in which human and other resources are focused on meeting the needs of humanity rather than fueling conflicts and war.  A world of sustainable development that nurtures our planet instead of continuing to devastate the environment and threaten life on earth.  This will not happen over night.  But worrying about the future is not a strategy for shaping it.
       My own work, beginning with protests against the Vietnam War, has been against weapons, war and militarism.  It is based on an understanding that sustainable peace is not simply the absence of armed conflict.  The absence of armed conflict provides the bare minimum for the possibility of constructing sustainable peace based on socio-economic justice and equality.  And to accomplish that we must change the understanding of security.
       For centuries security has been defined as “national security” – which essentially has meant assuring the security of those in power and the apparatus of the state.  Defending the state requires military power based on nationalism and patriotism.  “Us” against “them.”  How else could armies be formed that send other people’s children off to fight battles for resources, territory and to project the power of the state?
       Now, with globalization where all aspects of life are increasingly and more rapidly interconnected around the world, it is time to move away from state-centric security to security based on the individual – “human security” not “national security.”  The human security framework understands “security” as directing policies and resources toward meeting the basic needs of the majority of people on the planet:  providing decent housing, education, access to medical care, employment with dignity, protection of civil and human rights and governments that respond to the needs of citizens.  It means creating a world where people live with freedom from want and freedom from fear.
       One part of being able to create that world is reclaiming and reasserting the meaning of “world peace.”  It isn’t meditation, a rainbow with a dove flying over it, or singing peace songs.  Nonviolence is not inaction and building sustainable peace must be understood as hard work every single day.  We must all be active participants in change for the good.  It doesn’t matter what issues people choose to work on – it could be global warming, an end to militarism, an end to poverty, or HIV/Aids for example.
       What matters is that we all work on issues we feel passionate about and that our actions are for the benefit of everyone.  By doing that our combined efforts enhance human security.  We also must talk about our work in the context of human security so that people become familiar with the concept and understand the various elements that contribute to promoting and protecting human security.
       Another aspect of creating a world based on human security not national security is to tackle demilitarization and the glorification of violence head on.  It is an abomination that with the current global economic shake-down, countries still managed to find billions of dollars for weapons and the military while at the same time they are cutting funds for education, health care, job training, social services – the elements of daily life that are the basis of human security.
       Demilitarization is not a dirty word.  Civil society and national nongovernmental organization should confront demilitarization in our own countries.  At the same time we must collectively press regional bodies such as the European Union, the African Union, the Organization of American States, and so on for global demilitarization.  We also have another means of collective action, which is Article 26 of the UN Charter – not that we have illusions about the ability of the UN to seriously work for demilitarization.  But every country that joins the UN commits to fulfilling the articles of the charter and Article 26 states:
       In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources, the Security Council shall be responsible for formulating…plans to be submitted to the members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.
       In the more than six decades since the establishment of the UN, the Security Council has done absolutely nothing to fulfill its Article 26 obligation.  But the member states of the UN have not done a thing to pressure the Security Council on Article 26 either.
       Collectively, global civil society should begin actions to force the Security Council to “formulate plans” under Article 26 as soon as possible.  Knowing that they will do everything in their formidable power to continue to ignore those obligations, global civil society should draw up its own plans and recommendations for demilitarization and how to use the resources resulting from demilitarization to enhance global human security.  We can develop strategies and tactics around our plans and recommendations to pressure governments nationally, regionally and internationally to begin the process of demilitarization.
       With demilitarization, the possibilities of positive change and human security in our world would be limitless. Humanity has the right to the real security of sustainable peace not the false “security” of militarism, armaments and war.
       World Peace News has long emphasized the importance of enforceable world law.
       –––8.16.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
August 1

Harry Truman and Memory of Mass Murder

                                          By David Swanson

       Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."
       Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German?  There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did.  Yet we debate, every August 6th or so, whether Truman was willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Japanese lives in order to scare Russians with his nuclear bombs.  He was willing; he was not willing; he was willing.  Left out of this debate is the obvious possibility that killing as many Japanese as possible was among Truman's goals.
       A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded the United States' naval forces in the South Pacific during World War II, thought of his mission as "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs," and had vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell.  War correspondent Edgar L. Jones wrote in the February 1946 Atlantic Monthly, "What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought anyway?  We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off  the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers."
       On August 6, 1945, President Truman announced:  "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base.  That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T.   It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British 'Grand Slam' which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare."  Hiroshima was, of course, a city full of people, not an Army base.  But those people were merely Japanese.  Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey had told the New York Times:  "Fighting Japs is not like fighting normal human beings.  The Jap is a little barbarian…. We are not dealing with humans as we know them.  We are dealing with something primitive.  Our troops have the right view of the Japs. They regard them as vermin."
       Some try to imagine that the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away.  And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war.  The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram.  Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace."  Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima.  Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.
       Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war."  Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in."  Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about."  Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th.  Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese.  During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons.  Then the Japanese surrendered.
       The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, "… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."  One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed:  "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.  The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."
       Whatever dropping the bombs might possibly have contributed to ending the war, it is curious that the approach of threatening to drop them, the approach used during a half-century of Cold War to follow, was never tried.  An explanation may perhaps be found in Truman's comments suggesting the motive of revenge:
       "Having found the bomb we have used it.  We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare."
       Truman doesn't say he used the bomb to shorten the war or save lives.   He says he used the bomb because he could.  "Having found the bomb we have used it."  And he provides as reasons for having used it three characteristics of the people murdered:  they (or their government) attacked U.S. troops, they (or their government) brutalized U.S. prisoners, and they (or their government) – and this is without any irony intended – oppose international law.
       Truman could not, incidentally, have chosen Tokyo as a target – not because it was a city, but because we (or our government) had already reduced it to rubble. 
        The nuclear catastrophes may have been, not the ending of a World War, but the theatrical opening of the Cold War, aimed at sending a message to the Soviets.  Many low and high ranking officials in the U.S. military, including commanders in chief, have been tempted to nuke more cities ever since, beginning with Truman threatening to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower's enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War.  Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs.  Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough.  "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes," Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam. ...
       ––8.6.12

 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
July 29

69 Nations Have More U.S. Troops Than Olympic Athletes

                                                           By David Swanson        

       ...U.S. troops deployed to various nations around the world:  PDF.  These are permanent deployments openly admitted to by the U.S. military.  When U.S. Special Forces drive off a bridge in Mali, as recently happened, we discover that U.S. troops are in Mali in greater numbers than we knew, but those troops aren't listed here or considered in the calculation below.  No secret forces are considered here, no allied forces funded or trained or armed by the United States, and of course no drones.
       ...the number of athletes participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics from countries around the world...
       Many nations have sent very small delegations.  Many nations have a very small U.S. troop presence.  In many nations the U.S. troop presence falls just short of or exactly equals the size of the Olympic team. 
       In 69 nations, there is a larger U.S. military presence than the nation's Olympic team.  This count excludes the oceans of the world, in which over 100,000 U.S. troops are stationed, but which of course don't have Olympic teams.  The count includes, however, Diego Garcia, which could have an Olympic team if we hadn't removed all the people to make room for the military base.  And it includes other nations that have been demoted to U.S. territories. It also includes South Korea, despite the U.S. military not releasing the numbers, because the U.S. military has many times the number of troops (and growing) there than South Korea has athletes on its Olympic team.
       The question arises, of course, why a nation that is trailing many poorer nations in education, health, security, sustainability, and infrastructure is paying to create such a global presence of representatives with guns rather than athletes with Chinese-made sports uniforms.
       Here are the 69 nations:
Afghanistan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belgium
Bolivia
Bosnia Herzegovina
Botswana
Burma
Cambodia
Chad
Congo
Cuba
Cyprus
Diego Garcia
Djibouti
Egypt
El Salvador
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Greenland
Guam
Guinea
Haiti
Honduras
Indonesia
Iraq
Italy
Japan
Jordan
Kuwait
Laos
Liberia
Macedonia
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Nepal
Netherlands
Nicaragua
Northern Mariana Islands
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Singapore
Somalia
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
St. Helena
Tanzania
Thailand
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Wake Island
Yemen
Zimbabwe

      David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.  He hosts Talk Nation Radio.  Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
       –––8.2.12


<sherwoodross10@gmail.com>
Annual August 6th Hiroshima Day CommemorationPoem based on John Hersey book “Hiroshima” from Sherwood Ross

July 30

        Hiroshima

                       © by Sherwood Ross

I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
A graduate of Emory College, Atlanta,
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.
Fearing for my wife and family
I ran back into the city
Where I saw hundreds and hundreds fleeing
Every one of them hurt in some way.
The eyebrows of some were burned off
Skin hung from their faces and hands
Some were vomiting as they walked
On some naked bodies the burns had made patterns
Of the shapes of flowers transferred
From their kimonos to human skin.
Almost all had their heads bowed
Looked straight ahead, were silent
And showed no expression whatever.
Under many houses I heard trapped people screaming
Crying for help but there were none to help
And the fire was coming.
I came to a young woman holding her dead baby
Who pleaded with me to find her husband
So he could see the baby one last time.
There was nothing I could do but humor her.
By accident I ran into my own wife
Both she and our child were alive and well.
For days I carried water and food to the wounded and the dying.
I apologized to them: “Forgive me,” I said, “for not sharing your burden.”
I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.

       (The above poem is based on the content of the book “Hiroshima” by John Hersey...) 
       –––7.31.12
 

<sherwoodross10@gmail.com>
July 30
Replace Pentagon Approach With Peace Corps;  this column initially sent in July, 2011;  resubmitted in view of worsening warming

U.S. NEEDS TO REPLACE
PENTAGON'S APPROACH
WITH PEACE CORPS

                By Sherwood Ross

      If the United States attempted to “conquer” by love rather than force of arms, it might be respected, not reviled, globally.
       If the White House took an altruistic approach in foreign affairs – that is, if it rejected greed, exploitation, and war in favor of fair play, charity, and humanitarian assistance – it might enjoy such prosperity as exists beyond the dreams of its misguided rulers.
       It is no naïve suggestion to urge the Congress to transpose the budgets and numbers of personnel of the Pentagon and the Peace Corps.  Naïve is how one would define the Pentagon's 10-year-long failure to conquer Afghanistan by force of arms.  Naïve is how the Pentagon can claim the U.S. has improved Iraq when that country far is worse off today than when the Pentagon first bombarded it eight years ago.
      The U.S. has invested 10 years and $3 trillion in attempting to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan and what does it have to show for it, apart from the increased hatred of peoples throughout the Middle East?  Congress has taken the Pentagon's road and what's been achieved apart from massive slaughter and despoliation of those nations and a bankrupt Treasury at home?  For President Obama to prosecute these criminal wars, based on a tissue of lies, and to initiate new wars is naïve as well as criminal.
       No, the goal of American foreign policy must be to serve, not to rule.  There is strength and dignity in serving others – in building infrastructure, in opening schools and educating, in ministering to the afflicted.  That's the way to win friends and influence people.
       What the military-industrial complex does not grasp is that time is running out for all of the creatures on this small blue planet.  Global warming, significantly induced by the greenhouse emissions of the U.S. and other great consumer/polluter nations, is gathering momentum.  Based on what we can already see happening elsewhere, as in Bangladesh, it appears that in the foreseeable future the streets of New York and Miami will be underwater and the nation's electric power grids overtaxed beyond blackout.  Trying to keep cool and find a drink of fresh water may yet be the greatest challenges of this century.
       For a preview of the future read Don Belt's excellent article in the May (2011) NationalGeographic titled “The Coming Storm” about the suffering (and, yes, resilience) of the 164 million people of Bangladesh.
       “They've watched sea levels rise, salinity infect their coastal aquifers, river flooding become more destructive, and cyclones batter their coast with increasing intensity – all changes associated with disruptions in the global climate,” Belt writes.
       “Thousands of people arrive in Dhaka (the capital) each day, fleeing river flooding in the north and cyclones in the south,” Belt continues.  “Many of them end up living in the densely populated slum of Korail.  And with hundreds of thousands of such migrants already, Dhaka is in no shape to take in new residents.  It's already struggling to provide the most basic services and infrastructure.”  By 2050, the country's population is predicted to reach 220 million “and a good chunk of its current landmass could be permanently underwater.”
       “By 2050 millions of displaced people will overwhelm not just our limited land and resources but our government, our institutions, and our borders,” Major General Muniruzzaman of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies told Belt.
       One farmer told Belt, “In previous times this land was juicy, all rice fields.  But now the weather has changed – summer is longer and hotter than it used to be, and the rains aren't coming when they should.  The rivers are saltier than before, and any water we get from the ground is too salty to grow rice.”
         Belt goes on to show the many ingenious ways Bangladesh's people are adapting to global warming, from making transportable shanties to developing new salt-resistant strains of rice to building floating schools, hospitals and libraries.  Belt quotes Mohammed Mabud, a professor of public health at Dhaka's North South University as saying that investing in educating Bangladeshis would help them train professionals to work inside the country and also to immigrate abroad where they can work and earn.
       This kind of challenge is just one of thousands of educational tasks around the world where America's Peace Corps could be of service and make friends for this country.  “During the global financial meltdown, trillions of dollars were mobilized to save the world's banks,” Abu Mostafa Kamal Uddin, a former manager with the government's Climate Change Cell, told Belt.  “What's wrong with helping the poor people of Bangladesh adapt to a situation we had nothing to do with creating?”  Belt repeatedly makes the point the world has a lot to learn from the ways Bangladeshis are responding on their own.  They might well have shown the Bush regime how to save New Orleans.
       So here, my friends, is the better path for America in our time:  to harness the same ingenuity that created for the world the electric light, the airplane, the telephone, and a thousand and one medical advances and to put it at the service of humanity.  Sending masses of Peace Corps volunteers around the world to educate, (that's just one example of one vital area), would be far better appreciated than our present investments in germ warfare, nuclear bombs, killer drone attack planes, “daisy cutters,” torture chamber prisons, and the like.  It would not only defuse the raging hostility against this country that is reducing foreign purchases of our goods and triggering anti-American riots and violence, it would forge bonds of friendship as it calls forth our best efforts.
       The Peace Corps has a budget of just $400 million and 8,700 employees, while the U.S. military budget comes to about a trillion dollars annually, counting all the intelligence agencies, and employs more than three million employees.  The U.S. spends more for war, for example, than, roughly the next dozen countries combined and the Pentagon is eating up about 52 cents of every tax dollar.  The budgets of the Pentagon and the Peace Corps need to be reversed, as well as their employee numbers.
       We have a clear choice between continuing to fight on the Pentagon's endless battlefields of war or working in the vineyards of peace.
       (Sherwood Ross, who formerly reported for national magazines and wire services, now directs the Anti-War News Service...)
       –––7.30.12

 

“ICRC Media Service” <adminpress@icrc.org>
July 28

                                                       ICRC 
 
An Arms Trade Treaty: as urgently needed as ever
 
       Geneva/New York (ICRC) – The United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, which ended on 27 July in New York, failed to reach agreement on a treaty that would regulate the global trade in arms.  The conference did, however, demonstrate that an overwhelming majority of States support a norm requiring States not to transfer conventional weapons to those who are likely to use them to commit war crimes or serious violations of international human rights law
       "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is disappointed that States were unable to adopt an Arms Trade Treaty as hoped," said Peter Herby, the head of the Arms Unit at the ICRC.  "In our view, the text of the final draft treaty presented by the President of the Diplomatic Conference, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritán, was a strong response to the humanitarian problem and a reasonable compromise."
       That text would have required States Parties to assess the risk that the conventional arms and ammunition they transfer would be used to commit serious violations of humanitarian law and human rights law – and to deny a transfer if an overriding risk exists.  This assessment criterion is one of the main provisions that the ICRC has been advocating.
       "An effective Arms Trade Treaty that protects civilians from the devastating consequences of inadequately regulated arms transfers remains as urgently needed as ever," Mr Herby stressed.  "Indeed, it remains a humanitarian imperative.  The ICRC is committed to continuing to work with States, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as with the United Nations and other organizations, to ensure that a robust Arms Trade Treaty is adopted in the near future."
       As long as arms transfers remain insufficiently regulated, people will continue to suffer the consequences, which are incalculable.  The ICRC calls on all States to implement, on a national and regional basis, the strict measures they were prepared to adopt in New York and to conclude negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty as a matter of urgency.
       The ICRC has been calling for strict controls on international arms transfers since 1999, following a study requested by States party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.  The study, which was based on the ICRC's field experience, demonstrated that unregulated availability of weapons could exacerbate existing tensions, facilitate the indiscriminate use of weapons and increase civilian casualties.  The absence of strict controls also makes it easier to commit violations of humanitarian law and threatens the provision of humanitarian assistance.
       Only a beginning to world peace but a first step.
       –––7.29.12
 


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
July 27

Guess What % of Americans Know Military Spending Is Increasing

                                                                       By David Swanson

       And keep guessing some more, because pollsters are unlikely to ask that question.
       A year and a half ago, a poll found that Americans drastically underestimate how high U.S. military spending is.
       This fits with consistent polling showing slim majority support for cutting military spending, but strong support for major military cuts when the people polled are told what the current budget it.
      Setting aside, however, the absolute size of the U.S. military budget, its size in comparison to the rest of the world's militaries, or its size in comparison to the rest of the federal budget, are people able to process the fact that it's been growing every year for the past 15 years – in the face of the steady news reports that it's shrinking?
       I doubt it.
       (The Office of Management and Budget can be expected again this week to claim that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP.  But the idea that we should spend more on war because we can is probably best left to psychiatrists to handle.)
       Meanwhile, three GOP senators are touring the country warning that mythical military cuts will endanger us and hurt our socialistic jobs program.
       Here are some basic facts missing from the discussion:
       Money invested in non-military programs or even in tax cuts for non-billionaires creates more jobs than does military spending, enough to justify the expense of a conversion program to retrain and retool.
       In much of the world, spending money on killing people in order to produce jobs is viewed as sociopathic.
       Candidate Obama promised to increase military spending and size and President Obama has done so.
       Military spending has increased dramatically in the past decade, in the Department of so-called "Defense" and in other departments, including "Homeland Security," Energy, State, etc., plus increased secret budgets and the militarization of the CIA, totaling well over a trillion dollars a year now.
       The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to limit next year's DOD spending to last year's level, with some loopholes.  Making use of the loopholes, the House increased spending by over $1 billion.
       Last year's Budget Control Act, and the failure of the Super Congress, requires minimal cuts to military spending, but Congress is proceeding in violation of its own law.
       When we're told that cuts have already happened, usually what has been cut is future dream budgets.  But cutting the Pentagon's wish list can still leave it with more than it had before.
       When we're told that big numbers will be cut, such as $500 billion "over 10 years," this means that cutting $50 billion out of the budget sounds bigger if you multiply it by 10.  That's all it means.
       The U.S. military costs roughly what all other nations spend on their militaries combined, and more than the rest of U.S. discretionary spending combined.  This, combined with tax cuts for billionaires and corporations, or either factor alone, explains why many poorer nations have better schools, parks, energy systems, and infrastructure.
The U.S. military has troops in more nations each year, and bases in more nations each year.  It continues to be more privatized and more profitable each year.  It has not been and refuses to be audited.
       Drone strikes in nations where no other type of war was underway or contemplated are an escalation of violence, not a reduction.
       For less than 10 percent of U.S. military spending, we could make state college tuition free.
       Americans with college educations are more likely to . . .
            1) have job options other than the military, and
            2) oppose obscene levels of military spending, and
            3) be able to grasp that often the truth is the opposite of what the television keeps saying.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.  He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
       –––7.28.12   


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>

July 26
 
                                 Statement of Veterans For Peace:
The Solution to the Nuclear "Crisis" with Iran is not Sanctions and War,
                     It is a Middle East Free of All Nuclear Weapons

 
       We are once again on the verge of another disastrous war in the Middle East.  The United States and its allies in Europe and the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are consciously pushing Syria toward a destructive civil war. The objective is to bring down the Assad regime, an ally of the Iranian government, as a stepping-stone toward further isolation of Iran and preparation of the ground for a military attack on that country.
       At the same time, the United States, European Union and Israel are using Iran's civilian nuclear program as an excuse to impose devastating economic sanctions against the people of Iran.  According to various sources, the sanctions have already wreaked havoc on the Iranian economy, leading to inflation rates of 50 to 100 percent, youth unemployment rate of over 22 percent, drastic reduction of Iran's domestic production to 40 percent of its capacity, massive closure of economic enterprises and widespread layoffs, and 40 percent drop in the Iranian oil exports during 2012, resulting in a loss of $32 billion in oil income since last year alone.  It is expected that the new round of expanded sanctions, which started on July 1st of this year, will further reduce the Iranian oil exports to a mere 1.5 million barrels a day, thus pushing Iran into a fatal economic crisis.
       This is nothing but a clear declaration of economic war on Iran.   These devastating sanctions are not an "alternative" to war; they are part and parcel of a war aimed at forcing a regime change in Iran as an integral part of the US plan for a "Greater Middle East."  Let us not forget the case of Iraq. There, too, a decade of devastating sanctions was used as a "softening period" that would weaken Iraq's economic infrastructure; make the population desperate enough to welcome any foreign intervention;  and reduce Iraq's military capability to resist an invasion — i.e., making Iraq an easy military target.  Now the same scenario is being repeated with Iran.
       All this is being done in the name of removing the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East.  But this is just a cover. Iran is already surrounded by the US and Israeli nuclear weapons.  The very forces that are threatening Iran over its civil nuclear program are themselves responsible for nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East.  A US/Israeli military attack on Iran will have disastrous, unpredictable consequences for the peoples of the Middle East region and the world, and will be a serious threat to peace and security of all nations.
       The real solution lies not in selective targeting of Iran with sanctions and threats of war, but in complete removal of all nuclear weapons from the Middle East region.  The Middle East, like Latin America and Africa, must be declared as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) calls for both the liquidation of nuclear weapons by states and the discouragement of non-nuclear states from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons;  and the UN General Assembly has repeatedly called for the establishment of a Nuclear-Free Zone in the Middle East.  As an urgent response to the nuclear crisis in the Middle East, the 2010 NPT Conference has called for the convening of a Conference in December 2012, in Helsinki, Finland, for the establishment of a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East. This initiative must be supported and its success must be guaranteed.
       Recognizing the critical nature of the present situation in the Middle East and the threat of an imminent war, Veterans For Peace,
            —  Calls for immediate lifting of all economic sanctions against Iran;
            —  Demands immediate cessation of US and Israeli military threats against Iran;
            —   Declares its solidarity with the Iranian people in their just struggle for freedom, justice and peace;
            —   Demands immediate cessation of all foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Syria, including an immediate end to the illegal arming of surrogate forces fighting the government;  establishment of an immediate ceasefire on all sides;  and allowing the peaceful people of Syria to decide their destiny democratically and independently;
            —  Calls for recognition of the Middle East as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone by all parties involved, including the US, Israel and Iran, and the removal of all nuclear weapons from the Middle East region;
            —  Urges all VFP Chapters and the broader peace movement to press the US government to support the Helsinki Conference and the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East as a concrete and logical solution to the present crisis in the region.

       Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
       –––7.27.12


<josutter@juno.com>
Alex Cockburn’s last published article on drones??

July 24

From:  mary moore ...
    To all:  No way to know if this was Alex's last published article but it certainly was one of the last.  As you know, CODE PINK has taken on this issue and just spoke about it at the recent CREATION of CARE event as well as last weekend's Progressive Festival.  We'd better start paying attention to this most recent evil that they want us to buy into so we won't be "losing our boys in war" anymore.  Alex was at it up to the end.  MM

No Need for Draft in the Drone Age
                   By Alexander Cockburn, The Week News  24 July 12...

       Gen McChrystal wants to bring back the draft - but we pay Lockheed and Co to fight our wars now.  TWO YEARS after he was sacked by President Obama as the top commander in Afghanistan for suggesting to Rolling Stone magazine that the real enemy were "the wimps in the White House", General Stanley A McChrystal has recycled a perennial chestnut: Bring back the draft - i.e. a conscripted army, not the volunteer army of today. These days McChrystal teaches at Yale with what must be a protection unique in the annals of academic freedom. Everything he tells his students is by contractual agreement off the record.
       But he made his proposal about the draft in a public venue. McChrystal claimed:  "One of the few good legacies of Vietnam is that after years of abuses we finally learned how to run the draft fairly.  A strictly impartial lottery, with no deferments, can ensure that the draft intake matches military needs.  Chance, not connections or clever manipulation, would determine who serves."  It's certainly true that the volunteer army is a mess.  Suicides are surging among the troops.  According to AP, the 154 suicides for active duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the US forces killed in Afghanistan.  The volunteer army also struggles with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence.
       Liberals like the idea of a draft army because they think it would curb any president's eagerness to go to war. There are indeed sound arguments for a draft.  They were put eloquently not so long ago by Bill Broyles, a Vietnam vet:  "In spite of the president's insistence that our very civilisation is at stake, the privileged aren't flocking to the flag."  The war, Broyles wrote, is being fought by Other People's Children.  If the children of the nation's elites were facing enemy fire without body armour, riding through gauntlets of bombs in unarmoured Humvies,  fighting desperately in an increasingly hostile environment because of arrogant and incompetent
leadership,  then those problems might well find faster solutions.

       The truth is that despite all these fine words, a draft is never going to happen. The military industrial complex needs the money - it's why they're cutting back troops right now.  When Obama introduced 'the new strategy' last year, he emphasised that the Pentagon will be getting more money not less.  In the past five years the US has spent $2.59 trillion on defence.  The new plans call for an allocation of $2.725 trillion between 2013 and 2017.  So much for any peace dividend when the troops come home from Afghanistan.
       As my brother Andrew Cockburn recently predicted, the budget will grow but the military will shrink.  There will be no more "nation building" with its long and expensive occupations.   Overall, troop levels will be cut by about 100,000 soldiers and marines.  Fewer new planes will be built.  America will no longer be equipped to fight two full-scale wars at the same time - an official requirement for decades.  Such was the military-cultural context for calls for the draft: huge ground forces stocked with draftees.  What we have now is precisely the opposite - robot/drone wars, with no need for suicidal soldiers or politically awkward draftee casualties.  The money all goes to Lockheed and the other big aerospace companies.  Remember there's a good reason why they abolished the conscript army.  It mutinied in Vietnam and thus was a prime factor in America's defeat.
       –––7.26.12


<martihiken@comcast.net>

July 23

PROXY WARS – They Don’t Exist
 
                             By Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken
 
       It is not possible to turn on a television set, read a newspaper or go on the internet without hearing about “proxy wars” taking place around the world.  A proxy war is a “conflict in which superpowers provide support to either groups or states that rival one another.”  Combined with this definition are two other points:  1) that proxy wars were very common during the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union and, 2) that inherent in proxy wars is that none of the superpowers want all-out war, because the specter of nuclear war is omni-present and must be averted at all costs.
       The Pentagon wants us to believe that these wars can take place among nations, regions, ethnic or clan constituencies – and that somehow they are not only legitimate, but also are lesser violent conflicts.  As a result, they permit the use of, and therefore hide, the extreme violence in suppressing supposed uprisings and protests.  They are made out to be an extension of diplomacy and merely occur when diplomacy itself become combative.
       The compliant media suggests that proxy wars usually occur in conditions of poverty, population pressure, environmentally fragile and resource scarcity. This allows warmongers the ability to gloss over the increasing escalation of violence of war as well as the increasing power struggles that develop.   It also ignores and enables the cover-up of the military and tactical moves in the short run and the alliances with semi-illegal violent groups. It ignores the flood of weapons into these war zones, the money that the war criminals make from their manufacture, and the reality that the wars create international violence and manipulative games at the drop of a hat.  In addition, they preclude the chance of nations and groupings inside these areas will work out the problems themselves.
       In fact, there are no “proxy wars” taking place anywhere in the world today.  Neither Russia nor China has the military or economic incentive to engage in the type of wholesale imperialist assaults that are the hallmark of today’s out-of-control Pentagon.  What we are really seeing in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., is the U.S. attacking sovereign nations and constituencies and turning them into one-sided attempts by this country to destabilize established governments.  The purpose is simply to create regime change everywhere that refuses to fold to U.S. domination and corporate control.  Recent disclosures concerning Chevron’s attempted oil grab in Iraq confirm the transparent lies about supposed human rights considerations regarding the Bush assault.  Our newest military bases in Africa and Southeast Asia are the most recent footholds in areas that will themselves soon to be subjected to our unsought interventions.
       In spite of the daily deluge from the media, there is no competing force in Syria, for example, that relies upon Russia, China, or any other superpower to defeat the “rebel” forces that are financed, armed and supported militarily by the U.S.  The supposed civil war in Syria is nothing short of a fabricated armed and violent “civil uprising” fostered and reinforced by our Pentagon to overthrow Bashar Assad’s government.  Similarly, throughout the world, it is the U.S. manipulating and controlling NATO or some other U.S. military or intelligence front group, and waging our own war against a weaker country that is receiving little, if any, military assistance from any other nation.  It is solely the U.S. that creates these uprisings, insurrections, and wars to fight our battles for us.  In other words, we hire mercenaries, disenchanted locals from other countries, or “concocted rebels” to do our dirty work internationally.
       By misrepresenting these war zones as “proxy wars” the Pentagon pretends that our illegal drive to overthrow governments on our “Don’t Like List” is somehow a two-sided struggle between superpowers. It is a carefully planned and manipulated charade.
       Superpowers fighting through proxy armies?  Nonsense!  The U.S. Congress just passed a $606 billion dollar military budget while at the same time it told the American people to live a more “austere” existence. Billionaire corporations, gangster banksters, and rapacious oil companies forage throughout the world to seize the wealth of other peoples and nations, all with the blessing and military support of the Pentagon, which is about as accountable to the American people as the Koch brothers.
       Not only are we confronted with the recent congressional hearings relating to CIA gun-running under the auspices of “Fast and Furious, but in the last two weeks, news of our latest imperial adventures in Africa has come to light under a new rubric.  Instead of using the T-word, “terrorism,” the U.S. is now “training friendly forces” to fight a “war on drugs.”  These words will of course, be much more palatable internationally and locally (especially to the American population) and excuse the inevitable violence and death that we are exporting to that region.  Yet, such American policies as “Fast and Furious” are in full gear in Mexico, throughout Central and South America, in Africa, and if not already, soon will be in Asia.  It is all about dominion over a region’s resources and wealth.
  The people of the world understand that American troops, as the saying goes, are coming to a theater near you.
 –
       Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues.  She is the former Associate Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force.
       Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law.
       –––7.24.12


davidcnswanson@gmail.com>

July 14

Excerpts from

Abolishing War: One Last Step

                                   By David Swanson

       Remarks delivered at Peacestock 2012

       I want to thank Bill Habedank for inviting me here and everyone who's been involved in setting up this wonderful event, which ought to be replicated all over this country.  Almost our entire population claims to favor peace.  At least three quarters of us favor getting the U.S. military out of Afghanistan and ending that particular war, which by the way isn't ending.  When carefully surveyed and shown what the federal budget is, a large majority of U.S. residents favors cutting huge amounts of money out of the military and putting it to better use.
       But those doing anything about peace as part of a peace movement are a tiny fraction of a percent of the country. ...
       Thank you also to Veterans For Peace for being the best peace organization I know of. ...
       There is a big gap, however, between those who oppose all wars, and those who oppose particular wars, be it for partisan or other reasons...The thing is, people who oppose particular wars don't usually put as much energy into it as people who oppose all war.  Perhaps they're hoping that a bad war will evolve into a good war, perhaps by escalating it, perhaps by electing a different president – or maybe they just have other priorities.
       The title for my remarks today is "Abolishing War: One Last Step."  I'm willing to bet that even we in the peace movement are fairly unaware of some of the previous steps.  In St. Paul, Minnesota, there's a house listed as a National Historic Landmark because Frank Kellogg lived there... There's also a Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul.  But Kellogg's grave is in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  Frank Kellogg had a long career, but there is one thing he did, and only one thing he did that made his house historic, named a boulevard for him, and put his ashes in the National Cathedral...In 1928, Kellogg worked night and day to do exactly what the pacifists told him to do.   He brought most of the powerful nations of the world together and created a treaty banning all use of war...
       World War II was the worst event that has occurred on planet earth, but trends away from war and violence observable in recent centuries continued.  New institutions and cultural habits reinforced this.  But legally, the U.N. Charter took a step back from Kellogg-Briand by sanctioning wars if they are defensive or U.N.-approved.  An example of a defensive war would be the 2003 attack on the impoverished unarmed nation of Iraq thousands of miles from our shores.  An example of a UN-approved war would be the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya and overthrow of its government.  The UN had authorized a cease-fire, and NATO decided that was the same thing as authorizing bombing of the capital until the president was killed.  In other words, the two loopholes opened up by the UN Charter have permitted unlimited warmaking and erased from our culture the idea that war is a crime.
       The Geneva Conventions played their part as well, by establishing the idea that wars could be legal if conducted in a particular manner. The Conventions of 1949 look absurd today, as they distinguish participants in war from civilians. Wars today are not fought on distant battlefields, but in inhabited towns. ... And if the Geneva Conventions weren't bad enough, we created the CIA and NATO. While the world has turned against war, the United States has created a war-based economy with huge permanent standing armies standing in our own and most other countries around the globe...
       Meanwhile, the U.S. military is bigger than ever, in more nations than ever, more privatized than ever, more profitable than ever, more secretive than ever, more at odds with more of the world than ever, and more recklessly than we've seen in decades antagonizing both Russia and China for no good reason whatsoever...
       We have a harder task today, I admit.  We're up against the military industrial complex, and we're up against the idea of humanitarian war.
       Humanitarian war makes as much sense as a benevolent hurricane or a charitable looting...
       In Afghanistan, the top killer of U.S. troops is suicide. Continuing a war so that our troops will not have been killing themselves in vain brings a new level of blindness to the question of what types of destructive madness are simply and unavoidably in vain...
       We don't need to abandon Afghans, or Libyans, or Syrians, or for that matter Bahrainis or Saudis.  But effective financial aid and reparations would support nonviolence and independence.  As Ralph Lopez has been pointing out, there are good examples of humanitarian programs in Afghanistan that could be built on. ...
       A massive urgent program, or what people unthinkingly like to call "a war," is needed right now to prevent catastrophic climate change.  Another is needed to rid the world of nuclear weapons and power.  Another is needed to pull government out of the hands of plutocracy.  And these aren't movements aimed at making life a little bit better.  Jeremy Brecher wrote recently of the need for a human preservation movement.  This is what we need, a survival movement, part of which will be the full abolition of war. ...
       We need to recognize that war is not in our genes.  It's a relatively new creation, sporadically present and absent in various societies, avoided when we choose and not otherwise.  It's not created by mystical forces of history or population or resource shortages or testosterone.  It's created by a culture's tolerance for it, or tolerance for an unrepresentative government that engages in it.  That's our situation.  War is a creation of the 1 percent that recruits members of the 99 percent to support it, as well as to do the dirty parts.  War and the weapons barons and the oil oligarchs and the Wall Street banksters and the corporate media and the big business lobbies and the crowd of court jesters and sycophants in Washington who claim to be our government: they look more powerful than they are. They're afraid of their own shadows.   Six years ago they were secretly telling each other to end the wars before we gained more strength. Instead we switched parties and went home, while they breathed a sigh of relief.  Yet, now, again they are scared of everything we do.  They're spying on every word, comprehending little.  What they understand is resistance.  Frank Kellogg never understood the Outlawry of War, but he didn't have to.  He just had to do what the people demanded.  There are more of us in any small town than there are of them in the whole country.  We need to realize our strength. ...

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie."  He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.  He hosts Talk Nation Radio.  Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook
       –––7.23.12.

 
<info@progressiveavenues.org>
July 14 
 
INTERNATIONAL LAW – REALITY or MYTH

                                  By Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken
 

       Whenever a lawyer or historian describes how a particular action “violates international law” many people stop listening or reading further.  It is a bit alienating to hear the words “this action constitutes a violation of international law” time and time again – and especially at the end of a debate when a speaker has no other arguments available.  The statement is inevitably followed by:  “…and it is a war crime and it denies people their human rights.”  A plethora of international law violations are perpetrated by every major power in the world each day, and thus, the empty invocation of international law does nothing but reinforce our own sense of impotence and helplessness in the face of international lawlessness.
       The United States, alone, and on a daily basis violates every principle of international law ever envisioned:  unprovoked wars of aggression;   unmanned drone attacks;  tortures and renditions;  assassinations of our alleged “enemies”;  sales of nuclear weapons;  destabilization of unfriendly governments; creating the largest prison population in the world – the list is virtually endless.
       Obviously one would wish that there existed a body of international law that could put an end to these abuses, but such laws exist in theory, not in practice.  Each time a legal scholar points out the particular treaties being ignored by the superpowers (and everyone else) the only appropriate response is “so what!” or “they always say that.”   If there is no enforcement mechanism to prevent the violations, and no military force with the power to intervene on behalf of those victimized by the violations, what possible good does it do to invoke principles of “truth and justice” that border on fantasy?
       The assumption is that by invoking human rights principles, legal scholars hope to reinforce the importance of and need for such a body of law.  Yet, in reality, the invocation means nothing at the present time, and goes nowhere. In the real world, it would be nice to focus on suggestions that are enforceable, and have some potential to prevent the atrocities taking place around the globe.  Scholars who invoke international law principles would do well to add to their analysis, some form of action or conduct at the present time that might prevent such violations from happening.  Alternatively, praying for rain sounds as effective and rational as citing international legal principles to a lawless President, and his ruthless military. 

       Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues.  She is the former Associate Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force.
Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law.
        –––7.15.12

<mandy.kibel@unwomen.org>
July 13

                             UN WOMEN

         UN Women condemns violence against Afghan women and calls for justice
                                      Statement from Michelle Bachelet,
                   Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women

       In recent weeks, the Afghan nation has witnessed cases of extreme abuse and appalling violence against women.  The torture and rape of a young woman, Lal Bibi, by Afghan Local Police (ALP) and the public execution of a young woman, Najiba, has sparked national and international outrage.  These cases have once again focused attention on the continuing and urgent need to protect women’s and girls’ rights as the world redefines its role in Afghanistan, and as the Government of Afghanistan moves forward in transition.
       Such brutality is intolerable and UN Women calls upon the Afghan government to act with urgency to respond to these crimes, bringing the perpetrators to justice, and to end a culture of impunity and create a culture of zero tolerance of violence and discrimination against women and girls.
       With increased cases of violence against women being reported by Afghanistan’s independent Human Rights Commission, and as the International Security Force draws down, it is vital that the important gains made for and with women over the past decade are advanced and sustained and women are fully engaged in charting the future of Afghanistan. 
       If Afghan women and girls continue to be ignored within the major decision-making processes affecting their country, the vision of a more secure, prosperous and stable Afghanistan cannot be realized. 
       Last Sunday the international community pledged $16 billion in funding for Afghanistan at the donor conference in Tokyo.  By devoting a significant portion of these funds to justice and full participation for Afghan girls and women, Afghanistan will stand a better chance of achieving peace and democracy.  It is essential that the Government of Afghanistan and international community stand by commitments made in Tokyo.  This includes commitments to improve access to justice for all, in particular women, by ensuring the Constitution and other fundamental laws are “enforced expeditiously, fairly and transparently” and to ensure the implementation of the Ending Violence against Women Law, including “through services to victims as well as law enforcement”.
       To ensure progress for Afghanistan, we must act in solidarity to prioritise women’s rights, equality and accountability, and in ending impunity for violence against women and girls.   UN Women remains committed to working with the Government and people of Afghanistan to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality.

       UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. ... 
       –––7.13.12
  

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
July 9

Veterans For Peace Supports U.N. Committee in Questioning U.S. Recruitment, Killing of Children
 
        Leah Bolger, President of Veterans For Peace, applauded a United Nations Committee this week for raising concerns about the recruitment of children into the U.S. military, the U.S. killing of children in Afghanistan, the U.S. detention and torture of children labeled "combatants," and the provision of weapons by the United States to other nations employing child soldiers.
       While the United States is one of only three countries, along with Somalia and South Sudan, not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has ratified and made part of its law the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which requires special protections for any military recruits under the age of 18.
       The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked for additional information related to the Second Periodic Report of the United States to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, (OPAC).  The United States has until November 16, 2012, to respond.
       The Committee cites concerns regarding the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs operating in U.S. schools, the recruiting provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a test administered to 660,000 children in 14,000 U.S. high schools each year. ... 
       "Our military," said Bolger, "spends billions of our dollars every year on advertising and recruitment...We invest so much in recruitment of every soldier, that we could have spent the money paying them to rebuild our country."
       "That we are doing this to children," Bolger added, "is beyond outrageous.  We object to cigarette companies targeting the young and vulnerable.  Should we not object as strongly to the war machine doing the same – particularly when we are legally committed to protecting our children from recruitment?"
       The U.N. Committee also requests information on Afghanistan and Iraq, writing, "In view of the large number of children who have died in the on going armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq . . . please inform the Committee of measures taken by [the United States] to ensure respect for the fundamental principles of proportionality and distinction between military objects and civilians and to establish accountability for violations of international humanitarian law. ... 
       "That the United Nations continues to raise these concerns is heartening," said Bolger.  "But the international community can hardly keep up with the changes in U.S. policies and attitudes.  President Obama has targeted and killed children, including U.S. citizens with drone strikes, as part of a program already objected to by another branch of the United Nations.  Have we no shame?  As we contemplate new wars justified in the name of human rights, have we, at long last, no remaining shame?"

       Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters... is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
–––

<josutter@juno.com>
Movement for a Constitutional Amendment:  A victory
July 5

From:  "Robert Weissman, Public Citizen"   <robert@citizen.org>

       Here’s good news.
       We just scored a major victory in the campaign to keep corporations from taking over our democracy.
       ... in the culmination of a massive organizing push led by Public Citizen — California became the sixth state to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
       And that’s not the only progress since my previous update on the campaign ...
       In the past two weeks, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina, joined more than 275 other cities and towns that have called for an amendment.  And last week, a resolution was introduced in Chicago, Illinois. 
       These victories, and the mounting nationwide momentum for an amendment, highlight the unwavering work of Public Citizen activists and supporters ...

PUBLICCITIZEN 

       “It’s a meaningless amount of money to him.”
       That’s how someone who knows Sheldon Adelson characterized the amount of money the billionaire casino magnate may spend manipulating this fall’s elections. ...
       This is why Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ridiculous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is so important.  Read on for an update on the latest progress and exciting next steps in our campaign for a constitutional amendment to preserve democracy for We the People.
       Here’s just some of the good work Public Citizen is getting done of late:
• Resolutions Week, the nationwide days of action we coordinated, saw events held from coast to coast. ...
• So far, at least 250 local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment have passed. ...
• More than 85 national organizations have joined the call for a constitutional amendment. ...
• Well over 100 members of Congress have backed a constitutional amendment, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.  President Barack Obama also has voiced support for a constitutional amendment.
• Public Citizen and our partners are gaining substantial ground in efforts to pass statewide resolutions. ...
• We’re gearing up to take our case to Congress.  Millions have spoken out in favor of an amendment, and lawmakers are listening.  We’ll be helping to organize rallies, meetings and other events where people can directly engage their members of Congress, as well as other lawmakers, to make sure our public officials know that saving democracy from a corporate takeover is job one. ...
• State lawmakers are getting the message — speaking out against the Citizens United ruling is something the public is expecting from local officials. ...
       But now the threat of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is mainstream news, and millions have joined the movement for a constitutional amendment – a movement that simply wouldn’t look the same without Public Citizen. ...
                Robert Weissman
                President, Public Citizen
       –––7.12.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 27

Excerpts from

SYRIA:  No to Intervention, No to Illusions

                                       By Phyllis Bennis

       Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war.  If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself.  As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, “'Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders."
      Like so many other times before, the human cost of this conflict is incalculably high.  It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!”   But exactly what any army or air force might do that would actually help the situation isn’t very clear.  U.S./NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria.
        The one crucial outside approach that could help resolve at least the immediate conflict – serious negotiations in which both sides are represented – for the moment remains out of reach.  Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the joint UN and Arab League envoy in Syria, has proposed at a new diplomatic initiative that would include the Syrian regime’s supporters, Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.-allied western countries and those Arab and regional governments backing the armed opposition.   So far the U.S. has rejected the proposal, at least regarding Iran, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that Tehran is part of the problem in Syria and thus can’t be part of the solution.  The current UN secretary-general, Ban ki-moon, who frequently reflects Washington’s interests, further undercut the potential of his own envoy’s proposal, saying that Assad has “lost all legitimacy” – diplomatic code for “we don’t have to talk to him.” 
       For those eager for analogies or counterparts, this isn’t Egypt or Libya, where opposition to the leader was overwhelming.  Despite his government’s history of brutal repression, Bashar al-Assad still enjoys significant support from parts of Syria’s business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shi’a, parts of the Druse and even some Kurds) whom the regime had cultivated for many years.   The opposition was divided from the beginning over whether massive reform or the end of the Assad regime was their goal.  It divided still further when part of the opposition took up arms, and began to call for international military intervention.  The non-violent opposition movement, which still rejects calls for military intervention, survives, but under extraordinary threat. ...
       Accountability, whether in national or international jurisdictions, is crucial – but stopping the current escalation of violence and avoiding all-out war must come first.

SECTARIANISM ON THE RISE
       Syria is erupting in a region still seething in the aftermath of the U.S. war in Iraq.  While most U.S. troops and mercenaries have left Iraq, the destruction and instability left behind have created a legacy that will last for generations.   One aspect of that legacy is the sectarian divide that the U.S. invasion and occupation imposed in Iraq – and as the expansion of that divide continues across the region, the threat of increasing sectarianism in Syria looms. ... 
       If the increasing sectarianism of the Syrian conflict extends beyond its borders, it could lead to regional conflagration involving even greater refugee flows and potentially battles in or around Syria’s neighbrs Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey or elsewhere. ...

THREATS OF U.S./WESTERN INTERVENTION
       Iran’s role is the single most important basis for U.S. and other western interest in Syria, making that emerging proxy war even more dangerous.  At this moment of continuing U.S. pressure, increasing U.S. and EU sanctions, and Israeli threats against Iran, Syria remains a tempting proxy target. ...  Damascus’s longstanding economic, political and military ties with Tehran mean that efforts to weaken or undermine Syria are widely understood to be at least partly aimed at undermining Iran, by destroying Tehran’s one reliable Arab ally.  This is perhaps the most influential factor pushing the U.S. towards greater action against Syria. ...
       ... at the moment it still appears unlikely the Obama administration would risk an attack on Syria without a UN Security Council endorsement.  And that endorsement is simply not going to happen in the near future.  China and Russia have both indicated they oppose any use of force against Syria, and so far they are both opposing additional sanctions as well. ...
       Certainly there are no guarantees.  Politics still trumps strategic interests.  The risk of a U.S./NATO attack on Syria remains, and the threat could be ratcheted up again in a moment. ... 
       The best – probably the only – useful thing outside powers can do, would be to move immediately towards serious new diplomacy, in which supporters of both the regime and the armed opposition participate, with the goal of imposing an immediate ceasefire.  Kofi Annan’s call for just such a diplomatic option could be the start, if Washington could be pressured to reverse its opposition.
       Such a diplomatic channel – bringing together Iran and Russia on one side, the U.S., EU, Turkey and pro-western Arab monarchies on the other, under UN auspices – would not solve all the problems that led to the Syrian crisis.  The United Nations, particularly the veto-bound Security Council, remains thoroughly undemocratic, with U.S. domination a longstanding challenge. ...
       The best the Annan plan could achieve would be to bring enough pressure to bear on the two sides (assuming the U.S./western/Arab monarchy side and the Russian/Iranian side could agree on a goal) to reverse the current military escalation and perhaps impose a lasting ceasefire, long enough to force real negotiations inside Syria between a re-empowered internal opposition and the regime on some kind of political transition.  Finding agreement between the diplomatic sponsors, let alone between the two sides inside Syria, will obviously not be easy.
       But only with an end to the war, will the original unarmed opposition forces have a chance to remobilize public support for the internal, non-violent protest movement for real change, reclaiming social movements for Syria’s own freedom and democracy, and reasserting Syria’s place in the Arab Spring.

       Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam and of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. Her books include Calling the Shots:  How Washington Dominates Today’s UN.
       –––7.6.12


<sherwoodross10@gmail.com>

June 29

FORMER HIGH U.S. DEFENSE OFFICIAL
WARNS AGAINST ATTACKING IRAN

                                                      By Sherwood Ross

       “A unilateral preventive attack” on Iran by the United States would be viewed by many countries “as a breach of international law,” a former high American Defense Department official has warned his country.
      “Given the high costs and inherent uncertainties of a strike, the United States should not rush to use force until all other options have been exhausted and the Iranian threat is not just growing but imminent,” writes Colin Kahl, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East during the 2009-11 period.
       Writing in the March/April issue of “Foreign Affairs,” Kahl points out the Iranians “have not taken” any of the steps “which would signal that (Iran) had decided to build a bomb.”
       Those steps would include expelling International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) inspectors, beginning the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium, or installing large numbers of advanced centrifuges, Kahl says.
       What’s more, “there is no hard evidence,” Kahl writes, “that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has yet made the final decision to develop them (nuclear weapons).”
       Additionally, Kahl writes, it’s the opinion of David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, Washington, D.C., that there is a “low probability” that the Iranians would actually develop a bomb over the next year even if they had the capability to do so.”
       So far, based on Kahl’s data, the buildup of military forces that typically precede an outbreak of hostilities appears to be heavily weighted on the American side. ...
       Kahl says that even if, in the event of war the U.S. Navy could keep the Strait of Hormuz open to shipping, “the mere threat of closure could send oil prices soaring, dealing a heavy blow to the fragile global economy.”
       Kahl writes that a U.S. attack on Iran could shift regional sympathies to Tehran’s favor and “resuscitate its status as the champion of the region’s anti-Western resistance.”
       The author warns of the volatility of the current situation, particularly as “the two countries share no direct and reliable channels for communication, and the inevitable confusion brought on by a crisis would make signaling difficult and miscalculation likely.”
       Kahl’s article is titled, “Not Time to Attack Iran.”   It was written in response to an article published in the previous January/February issue of “Foreign Affairs” titled “Time to Attack Iran” by Matthew Kroenig, an Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University... who wrote:
       “The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.”
       Another American authority attacking the idea of a preventive war against Iran as advanced by Kroenig, is Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Business.
       Walt writes on the website of Foreign Policy” magazine on June 21, 2012, that “if it would be that easy for a nuclear-armed Iran to coerce the United States into doing things it does not want to do, then why haven't other nuclear powers been able to do that to us in the past?”  
      “By Kroenig's logic, the Soviet Union should have had a field day pushing us around during the Cold War.  But that did not happen;  in fact, the Soviets never even tried to use their huge nuclear arsenal to coerce us.  The reason, of course, is that Soviet threats would not have been credible because any attempt to carry them out would have led to national suicide.  The same logic applies to Iran.  We know it, and so do they, which is why this familiar bogeyman should not be taken seriously.”

       (Sherwood Ross is a American who formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and wire services and was active in the civil rights movement.
       –––7.3.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 21

Oh Say, Maybe We Can't See:  Another 4th of July

                                                 By David Swanson

      It's just possible that the space of 236 years and a truckload of fireworks are obscuring our vision.
       It's hard for us to see what should be obvious.
       Many nations – including Canada as the nearest example – have gained their independence without wars.  We claim that a war was for independence, but if we could have had all the same advantages without the war, would that not have been better?
      Back in 1986, a book was published by now Virginia State Delegate and Minority Leader David Toscano, the great nonviolent strategist Gene Sharp, and others, called "Resistance, Politics, and the American Struggle for Independence, 1765-1775."
       Those dates are not a typo.  During those years, the people of the British colonies that would become the United States used boycotts, rallies, marches, theatrics, noncompliance, bans on imports and exports, parallel extra-legal governments, the lobbying of Parliament, the physical shutting down of courts and offices and ports, the destruction of tax stamps, endless educating and organizing, and the dumping of tea into a harbor – all to successfully achieve a large measure of independence, among other things, prior to the War for Independence.  Home-spinning clothes to resist the British empire was practiced in the future United States long before Gandhi tried it.
       The colonists didn't talk about their activities in Gandhian terms.  They didn't foreswear violence.  They sometimes threatened it and occasionally used it.  They also, disturbingly, talked of resisting "slavery" to England even while maintaining actual slavery.  And they spoke of their loyalty to the King even while denouncing his laws.
       Yet they largely rejected violence as counter-productive.  They repealed the Stamp Act after effectively nullifying it.  They repealed nearly all of the Townsend Acts.  The committees they organized to enforce boycotts of British goods also enforced public safety and developed a new national unity.
       And then they turned decisively to violence, a choice that need not be excused, much less glorified.  We've moved beyond many common practices of the eighteenth century.  Why not that one?
       While we imagine that the Iraq War has been our only war started with lies, we forget that the Boston Massacre was distorted beyond recognition, including in an engraving by Paul Revere that depicted the British as butchers.  We erase the fact that Benjamin Franklin produced a fake issue of the Boston Independent in which the British boasted of scalp hunting.  And we forget the elite nature of the opposition to Britain.  We drop down the memory hole the reality of those early days for ordinary nameless people.  Howard Zinn explains:
              "Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years.  They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire.  In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership."
       In fact, prior to the violent revolution, there had been 18 uprisings against colonial governments, six black rebellions, and 40 riots.  The political elites saw a possibility for redirecting anger toward England.  The poor who would not profit from the war or reap its political rewards had to be compelled by force to fight in it.  Many, including slaves, promised greater liberty by the British, deserted or switched sides.
       The Declaration of Independence was an indictment of King George III for various abuses of power that resembled what we happily permit U.S. presidents to engage in today, either as regards the people of the United States or the people of territories and nations that our military occupies in a manner uncomfortably resembling Britain's rule over the 13 colonies.
       Imagine if King George had kept a secret list of the individuals he would murder without due process.  I am confident that such an outrage would have topped the list of complaints in the Declaration of Independence.  But King George didn't do anything that outrageous.
       The war for independence was also a war to open up the west to expansion and wars against Native Americans.  King George, according to the Declaration of Independence, had "endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages."  But those were people fighting in defense of their lands and lives, rather like the people of Afghanistan today.
       Interestingly, when the British surrendered at Yorktown and departed, the Americans didn't cry out, "Please don't abandon us!"
       Do we really believe that Afghans have no love for independence?
       Are we completely unaware that we have become the redcoats?
       What exactly are we thinking when we celebrate the Fourth of July?

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
–––7.2.12

 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 29

From Missouri

Declaration of Independence from a War Economy

                              By Mark Haim, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks

       When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political and economic bands which have connected them with an industry and a bureaucracy that have held sway over their lives, and to assume an equal station among the peoples of the earth, living free from permanent war in an equal station to people of other nations as the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
       We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness living in a state of peace. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Humanity, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
       Prudence, indeed, will dictate that patterns of Governance long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;  and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.   But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under an intolerable War Economy, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such improper Governance, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
       Such has been the patient sufferance of the people of these United States during seven long decades under a Permanent War Economy;  and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Governance.  The history of recent decades is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of a highly militarized state functioning as a Tyranny over the citizens of these United States as well as to others in many nations around the world.  To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
       They have spent exorbitant sums on wars and munitions, undermining our security by leaving programs to care for our people and environment wanting. ...
       They have repeatedly flouted international law that requires that military force be used only defensively or when authorized by the United Nations Security Council. This law, established under a treaty signed by our President and ratified by our Senate, is, under our Constitution, the highest law of the land.
       They have repeatedly violated the Nuremberg Principles which hold that aggressive war-making is a Crime Against Peace, and, as such, is the highest form of war crime. ...
       They have caused the death, injury, poisoning and traumatization of millions of people in the nations where our government has intervened, doing harm to these people and creating enemies in the process, thus undermining our security. ...
       They have supported, armed and trained the militaries of, and generally aided numerous unpopular and repressive governments.  Our government and military have thus allied themselves with ruling elites and made our nation an enemy to the majority of the people of these countries in the process. ...
       They have used the geopolitical power generated through military intervention and force, combined with the economic leverage of the international banking and monetary system, to impose unfair trade regimes on the Global South.  In the process, they have hurt not only the people of the developing world, but also American workers millions of whom have lost jobs to outsourcing. ...
       They have illegally conducted drone warfare, repeatedly attacking, killing and maiming people, including non-combatants, in countries such as Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, without legal or moral authority to do so.
       They have created and maintained vast arsenals of weapons of mass destruction that threaten humanity’s survival.  They’ve even used nuclear weapons, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.  To this day, they refuse to abide by the provisions of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which require the mutual elimination of such weapons. ...
       They have, through the creation of a Permanent War Economy, moved our nation in a direction dramatically at odds with the intention of our founders.  More than two centuries ago, President George Washington warned us of the dangers of large standing armies and permanent military alliances.  Over the past seven decades, we have ignored this advice, and have paid dearly.
       The Permanent War Economy has enriched the few and impoverished the majority.  It has contributed to the skewing of income and lead to a dangerous concentration of wealth, power and political influence in the hands of a few.  We have seen not just war on other nations, but War on the Environment as well, with corporate powers plundering our seas, ravaging our coasts, destroying our environment and laying waste to the natural resources that belong to us all, and future generations. ...
       We, therefore, speaking for the peace loving people of our nation and appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name of the good People of this Nation, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent of the control and influence of the War Economy;  that we are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Military-Industrial Complex, and that all political connection between the people of this Nation and the perpetrators of the War Economy is and ought to be totally dissolved;  And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
      –––6.30.12

“Brian Dixon, Population Connection”    <president@popconnect.org>
The Fight’s Not Over!

June 28

POPULATION CONNECTION

       We are thrilled that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act this morning.  Expanding health insurance coverage promises many important benefits to Americans from coast to coast, including ensuring that nearly all American women have access to affordable contraceptives.
      But, just because the court battle is over, it doesn’t mean the fight over universal access has concluded.  The House GOP leadership has already promised to hold yet another vote to repeal the law in its entirety the week of July 9th.
      And the Catholic Bishops have no intention of giving up their political efforts to allow any employer to deny birth control coverage.  We must work equally hard to make sure they do not succeed.
        The Affordable Care Act and its contraceptive coverage rule represent a crucial step toward reducing the unintended pregnancy rate in the United States – currently the highest in the developed world.  It promises to significantly reduce the teen pregnancy rate – also the highest in the developed world.
       We need your help to fight off the ongoing attacks on access to birth control – please, consider a gift of $5.00 today.
       With your help, we can ensure that our hard-fought gains will not be lost.
       Thank you for all that you do.
                   Brian Dixon
                   Vice President for Media and Government Relations
       –––6.29.12


<david@davidswanson.org>

June 26

The End Is Near

            By David Swanson

      Apocalypse has been given a bad name.  The Seventh Day Adventists are still around.  The Nike sneaker cult failed to open Heaven's Gate.  The new millennium brought us George W. Bush, not Jesus H. Christ.  And everybody's terrified of "drinking the Kool-Aid."
       But our species is living beyond its means.  If we continue down this path, the planet, our food supplies, our climate, and life as we know it will collapse.  If we bring population growth, consumption, and pollution under control, the damage already set in motion will play out for centuries, but complete catastrophe will likely be averted.
      Nobody likes to be told that the end might be near.  Either it is or it isn't.  And the question is resolved by a personal lifestyle choice.  Do I wish to be a pessimist or an optimist?  Of course, optimist is far more popular.  Even most predictors of apocalypse have actually believed they were predicting a good thing.  The world was to be replaced with something better.  Even our best environmentalists who understand the radical changes needed for survival guarantee they will happen.  Harvey Wasserman says he simply believes in happy endings.
        Meanwhile, we can barely get half of us in the United States to "believe" that global warming is happening.  Of course, we step outside and there's a sauna, but that could just be "natural."  So what if the ocean is a few inches higher?  The people who've been predicting that for decades have been wrong until now, and now they're only a little right – if you even believe them.  The ocean looks about the same to me.  And if they predict exponential acceleration of such changes, meaning that once the changes have become visible it won't be long before they're enormous, well that just proves one thing: they've drunk the Kool-Aid.  They're pessimists.
       In 1992, governments finally got together in Rio and took some baby steps.  In 2012, they reconvened and collectively proclaimed, "To hell with all that.  This rock may be doomed, but that's our great-grandchildren's problem.  Screw them! This is Rio.  Roll down the windows.  Turn up the air conditioning.  Pass me a drink!"  Well, actually, a few scientists and diplomats stood off to the side and muttered, "What we need to save us is a really bad catastrophe."  And a 17-year-old girl stood up and blurted out the truth, which made everybody feel really important.  Imagine: you were at the meeting that could have chosen to save the planet; how cool is that?  Imagine how the judge feels who is sitting in Washington, D.C., deliberating on whether the atmosphere ought to be protected or destroyed.  The atmosphere!  Of the earth!  Now that's power, and the longer you deliberate the longer you can fantasize about possibly even using that power. 
       In 1972 a group of scientists published a book called Limits to Growth.  It passionately urged the changes needed before human growth and destruction exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet.  In 1992, the same authors published Beyond the Limits.  There were by then, they found, too many humans doing too much damage.  We were beyond sustainable limits and would need to change quickly.  In 2004, they published an update, arguing that we were already 20 percent above global carrying capacity, and that we had "largely squandered the past 30 years."  Their warnings grew sharper: "We do not have another 30 years to dither." 
       The updated book charts the course we've been on these past 30, now 40, years.  Population has exploded in less industrialized countries.  Many millions of poor people have been added to our species, while a shrinking percentage of the world's population has continued to hoard most of the wealth.  The planet has become less equitable through the repeated act of giving birth.  Then it has become less equitable still through economic growth that has been made to benefit most those least in need.  Meanwhile, nations with high population growth have been least able to invest in infrastructure, being obliged to take care of their people's immediate needs.  This has resulted in still greater poverty, triggering higher birth rates in families dependent on children to survive.  These vicious cycles can be broken, and have been broken, but not by wishing or hoping.  And time is running out.
       Sustainable agriculture is being practiced in some places and could feed us all if practiced everywhere and the food distributed to everyone.  The problem is not figuring out what to do so much as simply doing it.  But we can't do it individually, and we can't wait for those in power to do it on their own.
       Corporations will not learn to make more money by behaving responsibly, not to a sufficient extent to reverse current trends.  The logic of the market will not correct itself, except in the most brutal sense.  If we wait for Wall Street to decide that destroying the Earth is a bad idea, the basic systems of life on Earth will collapse in shortages, crises, and widespread suffering.  Instead, we have to enforce change as a society, and we have to do it now.  If we'd acted in 1982, write the authors of Limits to Growth, we might have avoided serious damage.  If we'd acted in 2002, we also still had a fighting chance.  By 2022, it will be too late to avoid decline.  We're halfway there.
       Limits to Growth offers the crisis of the ozone layer as evidence that humanity can face up to a global environmental disaster and correct it.  Of course, we can.  We have always had that option and always will.  Even beyond 2022, we will have the option of lessening the destruction to as great an extent possible.  But slowing the damage to the ozone layer required changes to a relatively small industrial cartel, nothing to compare to big oil.  The question is not, I think, whether the world can act collectively on behalf of the Earth.  The question is whether the world can act collectively against the organized strength of the fossil fuels industry, its closely aligned military forces in the United States and NATO, and governments far gone down the path of inverted totalitarianism. 
       For you optimists, I should point out that living sustainably need not mean suffering.  We could live better lives with less consumption and destruction.  Our culture can grow while our population declines.  Our society can advance while our production of waste products retreats.  Our mental horizons can broaden while our food sources narrow.  Millennia from now, people living sustainably on this planet could look back with wonder at the insanity of the notion that everything had to grow, and with gratitude toward those who gave their fellow passengers an awakening smack to the face.
       Here's one small place to start.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
––

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
Letter from Seven Peace Advocates
June 26

FROM:  David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Leah Bolger, Bruce Gagnon, Chris Hedges, George Martin and Kevin Zeese

Dear Friends in the Peace Movement,

       We can't afford to let this opportunity slip by. By taking action over the next five days the peace community has a chance to inject a compelling and courageous peace advocate into the 2012 presidential campaign, to have a voice in the national debate over war, militarism, and military spending.
       You know what is going to happen if we leave this election up to the two major party candidates.  President Obama will defend his troop surges, his excessive Pentagon budgets, his preparations for war with Iran,  his escalation of the drone wars, his crackdowns on whistleblowers, his indefinite detention policy, and his new role as manager of the White House assassination list.  Mitt Romney will not question these policies, but will promise to pursue them with even more enthusiasm.  In debates and interviews, the American people will have the Big Lie drilled into their consciousness:  that our nation must accept escalating military engagement and must visit worldwide violence against all who defy the U.S. government.
       Jill Stein stands ready to challenge the Big Lie.   Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts, who has been a national board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, has just won 29 state primaries to secure the presidential nomination of the Green Party.   She is putting some badly needed fundamentals for peace on the table: 
       Cut the Pentagon budget by 50%.  Halt the drone wars.  Pardon the whistleblowers.  Restore our civil liberties.  Make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.  She is driving home the point that the Obama/Romney fascination with war and violence is dangerous for our nation and the world.  We need to make sure she is heard.
       Jill Stein is closing in on federal matching funds that would double the value of donations to her campaign.  Because she doesn't receive big checks from Pentagon contractors and their lobbyists, public funding is essential to her campaign.  She needs to raise about $24,000 by midnight on June 30th so that she can apply for matching funds.
       That's not much money to ask of a national peace movement.  We can do it.  .
       So we urge you do two things.  First, go to Jill Stein's website:   http://www.jillstein.org/donate, and make a generous donation to her campaign.  Second, please forward this email to your friends and networks.  Forwarding this message is critically important.
       Thank you for helping us open up a dialogue for peace.
       Sincerely,
            David Swanson, author of War is a Lie and also of Daybreak:  Undoing the Imperial President and Forming a More Perfect Union
            Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK
            Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and senior fellow at the Nation Institute
            Leah Bolger, retired naval commander and current president of Veterans for Peace
            George Martin, three term national co-chair of United for Peace & Justice
            Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
            Kevin Zeese, executive director of Voters for Peace
                 * organizational affiliations listed for identification purposes only
       ––6.28.12

 

<adminpress@icfc.org>
June 25

International Committee of the Red Cross
 
Annual Report for 2011:  a year of complex and unforeseen crises
 
      Geneva (ICRC) – Major crises that erupted in 2011 in the Middle East and Africa, alongside existing armed conflicts and other violent situations all over the world, caused immense suffering among millions of people that lasted well into 2012 and made them heavily dependent on aid.  In addition, increasing food demand in several parts of the world continued to fuel unrest and conflict, as did the consequences of drought and floods.  The worldwide economic crisis further compounded the woes felt by many.
       "The speed and scale of the events of 2011, and the massive humanitarian needs that arose, set major challenges for an effective and timely response," said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Jakob Kellenberger as he unveiled the organization’s Annual Report at a press conference in Geneva.
       Attacks against medical personnel and facilities continued in many places, often resulting in a lack of safe access to health care, and proved to be an extremely serious, yet largely overlooked, humanitarian issue. ''The ICRC's efforts to provide medical and health care for the wounded and the sick – benefiting some 6.8 million people around the world, including in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Libya – were stepped up in 2011," said Mr Kellenberger.
       "Our wide-ranging activities in conflict areas and close proximity to people who need help enabled the ICRC to respond effectively to several unfolding crises, including a number of unforeseen conflicts, throughout 2011," said the ICRC president. "In Syria, even now, together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are still the only international organization working on the ground in connection with the fighting," he added. In many contexts, the organization stepped in to provide vital aid. Just as importantly, however, it gave people the tools to fend for themselves, without outside help.
       The ICRC's expenditures in 2011 amounted to more than 1 billion Swiss francs (approximately 1.2 billion US dollars, or 861 million euros). In Somalia, where food insecurity in conflict-affected areas worsened dramatically, the ICRC's initial budget for the country more than doubled as the situation deteriorated and needs soared, making it the largest operation in terms of expenditure, at more than 92 million Swiss francs (about 105 million US dollars, or 75 million euros). The ICRC's operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the occupied territories and Yemen – all protracted situations of violence – were also among its largest in 2011, along with those in Libya.
       "It was imperative that we mount a flexible, rapid and relevant response in a range of complex situations over the year. When the crisis erupted in Libya, we had staff on the spot within days," said Mr Kellenberger.  "In order to alleviate the suffering of men, women and children caught up in the fighting, it was essential to gain unhindered access to them and to engage with them," he added.  In a number of places, partnerships with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies helped to broaden the activities the ICRC was able to undertake.
       "Throughout 2011, the value of our impartial, neutral and independent approach was put to the test.  However, I remain convinced that the principled approach we have adopted and the relevance of our humanitarian activities are still indispensable elements in ensuring access to people most in need" said Mr Kellenberger.

 
Key facts and figures
       In 2011, the ICRC ran assistance programmes in 80 countries. The bulk of the work was carried out in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia and Yemen.   Overall, the ICRC distributed food to over 4.9 million people around the world during the year.  Some 3.8 million people benefited from livelihood support through sustainable food production programmes or micro-economic initiatives.   ICRC water, sanitation and construction activities helped some 22 million people, twice as many as in 2010, more than two thirds of whom were women or children.
       Medical and other health-related services were provided for over 6.8 million people – more than ever before – with women and children constituting the vast majority of those benefiting.
       The ICRC also visited more than 540,000 detainees in 2011, about 28,900 of whom were monitored individually, in 1,869 places of detention in 75 countries and 5 different international courts. The purpose of the visits is to ensure respect for the dignity of the detainees and to prevent torture or other ill-treatment or abuse.  The aim is also to ensure that conditions of detention are decent and that detainees have the possibility of exchanging news with their families, as required by international humanitarian law.
       The ICRC also helped restore contact between people separated by armed violence or disaster.  It established the whereabouts of more than 7,000 people for whom tracing requests had been filed by relatives and reunited around 1,500 people with their families.  It organized the repatriation or transfer of more than 6,000 people, including detainees after their release.
       In 2011, the ICRC's operation in Somalia was its largest in terms of expenditure, followed by Afghanistan and Iraq.
       The average number of ICRC staff in 2011 was 12,500.
      –––6.25.12
 
 

WHY is there no WORLD PEACE?

       Ignorance is to blame!
       Isn’t that because ignorance prevails worldwide in the exaggerated cost of all nations agreeing to outlaw war?
       Until the old toots that run nations rise to understand the immense cost of wars war will prevail.  It’s too hard to imagine the cost of another world war.
       Where’s the human peace hangup?
       Isn’t the answer there that the war/peace hangup is the difficulty of imagining acceptance of the reality that peace requires overall a just and acceptable plan for world government?

       ––6.14.12

 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 21

Philadelphia City Council Says Stop Funding the War Machine

                                                                  By Jane Dugdale

       Philadelphia City Council, by a vote of 15-2, passed today a resolution "calling on the U.S. Congress to bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, to take the funds saved by that action and by significantly cutting the Pentagon budget, and to use that money to fund education, public and private sector family-sustaining job creation, special protections for military sector workers, environmental and infrastructure restoration, care for veterans and their families, and human services that our cities and states so desperately need."
       Introduced  by Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sanchez on April 12 with six other co-sponsors , the resolution was drafted by the Delaware Valley New Priorities Network, comprised of dozens of labor, neighborhood, faith, and peace organizations.  The resolution details the human catastrophe in the City of Philadelphia:  a third of its children live in poverty, more than a third are hungry, more than 300 veterans are homeless on any given night;  schools and health clinics are closing; eachers, firefighters and police are losing their jobs.
       According to John Braxton, President of the Faculty and Staff Federation of the Community College of Philadelphia and representative of the Delaware Valley New Priorities Network, "This resolution asks you [members of Philadelphia City Council] to join the majority of Americans who favor cutting the military budget and rebuilding America.’’
       The City Council of Philadelphia is now on record as having done just that.
       The resolution contrasts the $2 billion shortfall of the City of Philadelphia over the next five years with the $5 billion spent on wars by Philadelphians since 2001.  The resolution notes the doubling of military spending in the last decade and that the U.S. military budget could be cut by 80% and still be the largest in the world.
       The Delaware Valley New Priorities Network is comprised of:  American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (District Council 47), and retirees of same;  Brandywine Peace Community, Center for the Celebration of Creation (Chestnut Hill United Church), Catholic Peace Fellowship,Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, Coalition of Labor Union Women, East Mt. Airy Neighbors, Fight for Philly, Journal of the Working Class Struggle, Living Water United Church of Christ, Main Line Peace Action, Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, Neighborhood Networks, Pennsylvania Progressive Democrats of America, Philadelphia Granny Peace Brigade, Philadelphia National Writers Union, Philadelphia United for Peace and Justice Delaware Valley Network Education Committee, Philadelphia Area Black Radical Congress, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Temple University Graduate Students Association, US Labor Against the War, Vets for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

<david@davidswanson.org>
June 21

How Small Nations Could End War

                                            By David Swanson

       An urgent plea to the nations that my nation likes to kick around.
       The U.S. State Department has a list of the treaties it believes are in force and the United States a party to.  On that list one finds this:

          RENUNCIATION OF WAR
       Treaty providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy.
       Signed at Paris August 27, 1928.
       Entered into force July 24, 1929.
       46 Stat. 2343; TS 796; 2 Bevans 732; 94 LNTS 57.
       Parties
       Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China , Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Yugoslavia. ...
       Treaties, under the U.S. Constitution, are the supreme law of the land.  Other nations are equally bound to abide by their treaties.  And this treaty bans war.  It was put in place in 1928 by the wealthy armed nations of the world.  They renounced war but not colonialism or racism.  They ended and avoided wars in the years that followed.  And only once more did they make war on each other – that occasion being, of course, the catastrophe known as World War II.  As the first war after the establishment of a treaty banning war, World War II was the first war that was followed by criminal prosecution of the crime of war.  The prosecutors got it wrong, however.  The Pact of 1928 banned all war, not aggressive war.  The prosecutions were one-sided victors' justice.  But they, and the horrors of the war, had their impact.  The rich nations – mine and the others – never made war on each other again.  Now they exclusively make war on you.
       You are the future.  Your populations are soaring while ours are not.  You live under the threat of economic pressure backed up by the threat of war.  I'm speaking to you small nations, but also some of the largest (China, this means you). Some of you are proposing that war be criminalized.  Here's such a proposal from Malaysia.  Why not take advantage of the fact that this has already been done?  Some of you have signed onto the Peace Pact of Paris, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and others could do so, including Malaysia.  You could then insist that all parties to the treaty comply with it.  You don't need anyone's permission to join this treaty.  It has built into it the requirement to accept all comers.  And it does not ban war of a particular description.  It bans ground wars, drone strikes, assassinations, and all non-peaceful means of foreign relations.  We couldn't dream up a better treaty.  We couldn't get the rich warmongering nations to join it if we did.  Thankfully, they've done it for us.  Now we need the non-war-making nations of the world to sign on and build pressure – in partnership with peace activists in the heart of the empire – for universal compliance.
       I wrote a book last year about how this treaty came to be.  Here's what this treaty says:
       ARTICLE I
       The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
       ARTICLE II
       The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
       ARTICLE III
       The present Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the Preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at Washington.
       This Treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at Washington and the Treaty shall immediately upon such deposit become effective as; between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto.
       It shall be the duty of the Government of the United States to furnish each Government named in the Preamble and every Government subsequently adhering to this Treaty with a certified copy of the Treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government of the United States telegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.
       IN FAITH WHEREOF the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty in the French and English languages both texts having equal force, and hereunto affix their seals.
       DONE at Paris, the twenty seventh day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
      –––6.23.12

 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 21 

Philadelphia City Council Says Stop Funding the War Machine

                                                                  By Jane Dugdale

       Philadelphia City Council, by a vote of 15-2, passed today a resolution "calling on the U.S. Congress to bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, to take the funds saved by that action and by significantly cutting the Pentagon budget, and to use that money to fund education, public and private sector family-sustaining job creation, special protections for military sector workers, environmental and infrastructure restoration, care for veterans and their families, and human services that our cities and states so desperately need."
       Introduced  by Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sanchez on April 12 with six other co-sponsors , the resolution was drafted by the Delaware Valley New Priorities Network, comprised of dozens of labor, neighborhood, faith, and peace organizations.  The resolution details the human catastrophe in the City of Philadelphia:  a third of its children live in poverty, more than a third are hungry, more than 300 veterans are homeless on any given night;  schools and health clinics are closing; eachers, firefighters and police are losing their jobs.
       According to John Braxton, President of the Faculty and Staff Federation of the Community College of Philadelphia and representative of the Delaware Valley New Priorities Network, "This resolution asks you [members of Philadelphia City Council] to join the majority of Americans who favor cutting the military budget and rebuilding America.’’
       The City Council of Philadelphia is now on record as having done just that.
       The resolution contrasts the $2 billion shortfall of the City of Philadelphia over the next five years with the $5 billion spent on wars by Philadelphians since 2001.  The resolution notes the doubling of military spending in the last decade and that the U.S. military budget could be cut by 80% and still be the largest in the world.
       The Delaware Valley New Priorities Network is comprised of:  American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (District Council 47), and retirees of same;  Brandywine Peace Community, Center for the Celebration of Creation (Chestnut Hill United Church), Catholic Peace Fellowship,Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, Coalition of Labor Union Women, East Mt. Airy Neighbors, Fight for Philly, Journal of the Working Class Struggle, Living Water United Church of Christ, Main Line Peace Action, Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, Neighborhood Networks, Pennsylvania Progressive Democrats of America, Philadelphia Granny Peace Brigade, Philadelphia National Writers Union, Philadelphia United for Peace and Justice Delaware Valley Network Education Committee, Philadelphia Area Black Radical Congress, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Temple University Graduate Students Association, US Labor Against the War, Vets for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Raj Shekhar Chandola    <rajchandola@gmail.com>
Climate Change effects in 2011-12

 


June 19

                          The Heat Is On
*     Intense rains threaten marine food chain in the Gulf of Maine  (June, 2012)
*     First half of 2012 breaks four major US heat records despite la nina (June, 2012)
*     Arctic meltdown triggers colder northern winters (June, 2012)
*     Warming is turning the tundra to forest   (June, 2012)
*     North Carolina legislators:  nature cannot interfere with development (May, 2012)
*     Global carbon emissions hit new high in 2011 (May. 2012)
*     Trees absorb less CO2 than IPCC calculated (May, 2012)
*     Warming is killing off Minnesota's moose population (May, 2012)
*     Extreme rainstorms in midwestern US have doubled since 1960 (May, 2012)
*     Australia's temperatures since 1950 are the hottest in 1,000 years (May, 2012)
*     Climate change will outpace mammals' race to new habitats (May, 2012)...
*     Conservative funders take aim at Obama's clean energy agenda (May. 2012)...
*     Defense Secretary Panetta stresses security threat of climate inaction (May, 2012)
*     Decline in ocean salinity intensifies weather extremes (April, 2012)
*     Warming ocean speeds Antarctic melt (April, 2012)
*     Climate changes exert biggest influence on corn prices (April, 2012)
*     Poll: public is beginning to link  weather extremes to warming  (April, 2012)
*     Britain struggles through its worst drought in 36 years  (April, 2012)
*     Midwestern US raked by 112 tornadoes in one day (April, 2012)
*     Record drought expands from southwestern US across the country   (April, 2012)
*     Enhanced CO2 forces early plant growth spurt, followed by inevitable decline  (April. 2012)
*     March, 2012: Warmest such month in US history (April, 2012)
*     Property insurers cut coverage in the face of intensifying weather extremes (April, 2012)
*     Arctic warming is changing global weather patterns (April, 2012)...
*     IPCC to World's Governments:  plan now for climate disasters (March, 2012)
*     Climate is approaching point of permanent shift – scientists   (March, 2012)
*     Mexico's long-term climate future:  thirsty  (March, 2012)
*     OECD:  Emissions to rise 50 percent by 2050 (March, 2012)
*     Warmer temperatures double number of tree-killing beetles (March, 2012)
*     US coastal cities unprepared for sea level rise (March, 2012)
*     Loss of Greenland ice may be irreversible (March, 2012)
*     Island nation of Kiribati plans to relocate to Fiji (March, 2012)
*     Warming will bring earlier tornadoes – study (March, 2012)
*     Oceans acidifying faster than at any time in the last 300 million years (March, 2012)
*     Warm US winter, Texas drought confuses migratory birds  (March, 2012)...
*     Alaska's ancient yellow cedars fall victim to warming (Feb, 2012)
*     New satellite data reveals "colossal" global meltdown  (Feb. 2012)
*     Sierra Club took $26 million in contributions from natural gas industry (Feb. 2012)
*     Tea Party:  sustainability is a United Nations plot (Feb. 2012)
*     Half the authors of Wall Street Journal climate slam are on the take from industry (Feb. 2012)
*     NASA ANIMATION:  131 years of planetary heating in 26 seconds (Jan. 2012)
*     IEA:  fossil fuel subsidies to exceed one-half trillion dollars a year by 2015 (Nov. 2010)
*     Freshwater pool in Arctic Ocean could chill Europe (Jan. 2012)
*     NOAA lists record 11 weather-related 2011 loss events in US exceeding $1 billion (Jan. 2012)
*     2011 weighs in as 11th warmest year on record (Jan. 2012)
*     Climate skepticism surfaces in several state curricula  (Jan. 2012)
*     Coal plants generate about three-quarters of US emissions (Jan. 2012)
*     News media coverage of climate plummeted in 2011:  study (Jan. 2012)
*     Huge plumes of methane found escaping from the Arctic Ocean (Dec. 2011)
*     Greenland shed  100 billion tons of ice in 2010 (Dec. 2011)
*     Traditional 2* C target now seen as "prescription for disaster"   (Dec. 2011)
*     Emissions rose 49 percent since 1990 (Dec. 2011)
*     Warming has created a "new normal" in the Arctic (Dec. 2011)
*     WMO: 2011 hottest year ever in a La Nina (cooling) phase (Nov. 2011)
*     Report: handful of multinationals block international action on climate (Nov. 2011)...
*     Kofi Annan: climate impacts are devastating world food supplies (Nov. 2011)
*     IEA:  five year countdown to catastrophe (Nov. 2011)
*     IPCC:  Expect more – and more frequent – extreme weather events   (Nov 2011)
*     World must prepare for large-scale refugee resettlement:  study (Oct. 2011)
*     Scientist accuses Texas officials of censoring references to "man-made" warming  (Oct. 2011)
*     Warming oceans are breeding more dangerous bacteria (Sept. 2011)
*     Global CO2 emissions up 45 percent a year over 1990 (Sept. 2011)
*     Deep oceans are masking earth's heat build-up (Sept. 2011)
*     Intense flooding leaves some 300,000 Pakistanis homeless (Sept. 2011)
*     Increase in weather extremes points to climate shift (Sept. 2011)
*     Survey:  Tea Party "least worried" about warming because they are "best informed"    (Sept. 2011)
*     Journal editor resigns over "flawed" paper by climate skeptic Roy Spenser (Sept. 2011)
*     Climate impacts seen driving mental illness: doctors (Aug. 2011)
*     Extra meltwater weight on ocean floors, land rebounding from melting glaciers can trigger earthquakes   (Sept. 2009)
*     Animals move northward faster to escape the heat (Aug. 2011)
*     Coal and oil burning drove half of recent Arctic sea ice loss (Aug. 2011)
*     Koch Brothers, Exxon pay lawmakers to gut state climate laws (July, 2011)
*     Insect destruction of US forests rises threefold in five years (July, 2011)
*     Methane releases could push climate past "tipping point" by 2030  (July, 2011)
*     Warming waters drive marine migrations not seen in 2 million years (June, 2011)
*     US Atlantic sea levels rising faster than any time in last 2,000 years (June, 2011)
*     IEA: 2010 emissions output virtually assures dangerous climate change   (May, 2011)
*     US slammed by a monthly record 292 tornadoes, 5,400 extreme events and 337 deaths (April, 2011)
*     Arctic plankton blooming 50 days earlier than 14 years ago (March, 2011)
*     2010 emerges as wettest year on record, ties for hottest year recorded (Jan. 2011)
       –––6.22.12

 

“Tikkun/NSP (the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives)”    <info@spiritualprogressives.org>
June 17

OBEYING A HIGHER LAW:  Making the Case Against Drone Warfare

Review by Lynn Feinerman of DRONE WARFARE:  Killing by Remote Control by Medea Benjamin

       I had already determined I wanted to review Medea Benjamin's new book DRONE WARFARE when I encountered three guys on a Bay Area waterfront test driving a remote controlled miniature drone toy. The drone was about two or three feet in wingspan, styled like an F16, and had an intrusive, loud, well.... dronelike buzz.  
       It had the rapt attention of everyone on the waterfront.  People walking their dogs stopped to marvel at the drone as it flew over the Bay, and returned to buzz around, about a hundred feet over my head.  
       Curious, eh?  I had just received Medea Benjamin's book in the post, and now a drone was buzzing right above me.  I got a creepy senseof what it might be like to be in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Somalia, Honduras or the Philippines in the wrong place at the wrong time, under drone surveillance or violence.  
       I imagined myself a denizen of Gaza, for example, feeling trapped, imprisoned, even tormented on a psychological level, by the constant buzzing presence of an Israeli drone, or the threat of a drone's arrival.  
       In DRONE WARFARE, there are many first-hand accounts from people who have been the targets of drones, or near the targets of drones.  One actually comes from a Palestinian father in Gaza:  
       "'It's continuous, watching us, especially at night,' said Nabil al-Amassi, a Gaza mechanic and father of eight.  'You can't sleep. You can't watch television.  It frightens the kids.  When they hear it they say, "It is going to hit us,"'"
       What a different response came from a little boy of about nine years old, ecstatic over that drone I saw on the waterfront.  Jumping up and down and shouting, he ran to beg his father to buy him one for his birthday.  "Oh please, Dad?  Oh my god, please?" 
       And as Medea Benjamin's thoroughly researched, hard-hitting book tells us, most of the United States is in the same euphoria over drones and drone warfare:
       "Asked if they approve the use of unmanned 'drone' aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas, eighty three percent said yes, including seventy seven percent who call themselves liberal Democrats.   Even more stunning is that seventy nine percent approved of using drones even if those suspected terrorists are American citizens living in other countries."  
       Contrast the anecdote of that little boy's excitement with the following account from the introduction to Benjamin's book:  
       "...Roya never had time for sports, or for school.  Born into a poor family living on the outskirts of Kabul, her father was a street vendor. Her mother raised five children and baked sweets for him to sell.  ...One day while her father was out selling candies, Roya and her two sisters were trudging home carrying buckets of water.  Suddenly 
they heard a terrifying whir and then there was an explosion:  something terrible had dropped from the sky, tearing their house apart and sending the body parts of their mother and two brothers flying through the air..."  
       Roya and her family were not terrorists.  Most of the people killed by drones, as Medea's book makes clear, are not terrorists.  
       The little boy on the waterfront who so longs for a drone toy, is not endangered by a drone.  So why should he worry about a little girl whose life was ruined by a drone?  A little girl who doesn't feel excitement at all, but profound, traumatic, long-lasting grief.  
       Indeed, that smug, oblivious sense of safety is a big selling point for drone warfare, touted as a way to save the lives of US soldiers. They can continue being boys sitting at their sophisticated Playstations, pushing buttons.  And they can push the horrifying results of their "play" into the recesses of their reptilian brains. 
        If by chance a thought might emerge about the innocent, unknowing victims of the latest military toy, if the public might begin to think of the pain and death we are causing far away...the corporate-industrial-military-government propaganda machine jolts into gear, to convince us the drone warfare is pinpoint accurate...it only kills
bad guys. 
       So why, as I write this review, are there thousands of Pakistanis protesting drone warfare, telling the world that over 500 innocent civilians were killed by drones in Pakistan already, 175 of them children?  Why are they determined to stop the use of drones in Pakistan? 
       DRONE WARFARE investigates all of the information about who has died or been wounded by unmanned aerial vehicles, UAV's, who is being surveilled, and where drones might be used in the future.  What emerges from her inquiry is the clear recognition that drones are no different from land mines or weapons fitted with depleted uranium:  They are extremely unsafe for civilians and they do not, in fact, differentiate between "noncombatants"
and "combatants".  
       And as Medea also makes very clear in her consideration of the legal issues in the use of drones, the United States and all other nations of the world are legally required to use weaponry and war tactics that make that differentiation...under penalty forwar crimes. ...  
       Illuminating the pivotal reason why her articulate book is so very timely, and so very much needed, she informs us that drones themselves are not silent like the press.  They are not voiceless. They have a vocal advocacy group in Congress:  The Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus.  Yes, these machines have their own Congressional caucus!   
       "It seems that, like corporations, robots are people too..." quips Medea Benjamin.  
       That quip cuts deeply, to the underlying reality of our nation:  Dwight D. Eisenhower cautioned us about it.  He warned us back in the '50's that the US was not disarming after World War II. ...
       The US is hooked on war.  Its so-called "economy" is so tied into the vicious cycle of ravaging the world for oil, feeding the war machine with that oil and our taxes, then going out to ravage again for oil, that the problems of any number of innocent civilians it harms don't really amount to a hill of beans in most media ...as Bogart said in CASABLANCA.
       Medea Benjamin is realistic in her understanding that drones are here to stay, in some capacity.  She enumerates some of the positive, helpful uses to which they've already been put:  for example as monitoring devices after floods in Australia and after the Fukushima disaster; and as patrolling devices used by environmental advocacy groups to detect illegal whaling and other covert abuses.  
       Her point is that what drives the explosion in drone technology is their potential military uses.  And that is what motors the explosive corporate competition to manufacture them.  Billions upon billions of dollars of profits.  So a small group fattens its pockets while the vast majority of us are vulnerable to the violent devices stoking their desires.        We have desperately lacked visionary leadership from the White House in the decades wherein drones have come of age. The informed, democratic discussion that is crucial to a healthy society, and the cri de coeur of conscience that maintains our spiritual health, must come from the courageous faith-based groups, human rights groups, veterans' and other military activist groups that have done whatever they could to force the US to wake up to its infatuation with military might.  
       Medea Benjamin's own activist organization, CODEPINK, has been at the vanguard of citizen movements against drone warfare in particular. Her book provides extensive information and stories about the activism that has so far moved drone issues closer to the media spotlight.
       One of those groups, the "Creech 14", entered the Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas Nevada in April of 2009 - to protest and stop teams of soldiers remotely operating the US killer drones abroad.  Being mostly priests and nuns, the protesters invited the staff on base to share a Good Friday meal with them.  They were arrested, jailed, and had a very high profile trial about a year later.  
       Medea gives a detailed account of that trial, in which the defendants created a debate about the use of drones, inviting distinguished witnesses and establishing that according to the post-World War II Nuremberg protocols, individuals are morally and legally bound to disobey orders and laws that  entail crimes against humanity.  
       One of the witnesses they called to testify was Bill Quigley, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.  Citing the historical duty of civilians to reign in the military, Quigley said of the "Creech 14" and other civilian dissidents:  "In the long run we honor them for obeying a higher law, for helping to bring us toward justice." 
       DRONE WARFARE strives for the same goal, attempting to reawaken our sleeping consciences, our compassion for others in the world.  Its core goal is, in the final analysis, to reach into that reptilian brain and communicate spirit, faith and the memory of our moral promises. ...  
       Medea Benjamin hints at the next developments in drone warfare -  the manufacture of drones as small as hummingbirds, and the trend to use drones here in the United States.  Plans for the domestic use of drones have awakened significant unease in the press - even in the most knee-jerk militaristic of the press.  
       Even Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano complained recently:  "When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it?...If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or 'military commander' for permission to conduct a search of the private property that intrigues them...What's next?  Prosecutions before military tribunals in the US?" 
       That from a commentator for Fox News.  Perhaps the US will not deeply consider the issues in drone warfare and surveillance until they come home to roost.  As Medea Benjamin warns in her book, "Watch out America.  What goes around comes around."
       ––6.21.12


Federal Union    <info@federalunion.org.uk>
June 1

FEDERAL UNION

Launch of the Manifesto for global democracy (27 June 2012)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012, 18:30 until 20:00

London School of Economics, Clement House 2.02...
 
       Daniele Archibugi, Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, David Held, Fernando Iglesias, Lucio Levi, Giacomo Marramao, George Monbiot, Heikki Patomäki, Mary Kaldor, Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennet, Vandana Shiva and Andy Strauss have written and signed a Manifesto for Global Democracy.
       The Manifesto will be launched in a series of international events that starts with a panel discussion at the LSE.   The panel marks also the launch of the Global Suffragettes, an LSE student society promoting discussion and activism on global redistribution of power.
       Speakers will include three of the world’s leading intellectuals on global democracy, who signed the manifesto:  Professor Daniele Archibugi of Birkbeck College, Argentinian writer and former MP Fernando Iglesias, and Professor Heikki Patomäki of University of Helsinki.
       The event is organised by DESTIN in collaboration with the Global Suffragettes.  The full text of the manifesto follows.
—–
 
MANIFESTO FOR A GLOBAL DEMOCRACY

       Politics lags behind the facts.  We live in an era of deep technological and economic change that has not been matched by a similar development of public institutions responsible for its regulation. The economy has been globalized but political institutions and democracy have not kept pace.  In spite of their many peculiarities, differences and limitations, the protests that are growing all over the world show an increasing discontent with the decision-making system, the existing forms of political representation and their lack of capacity for defending common goods.  They express a demand for more and better democracy.
       Global welfare and security are under threat.  The national and international order that emerged from the end of World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall has not been able to manage the great advances in technology and productive systems for the benefit of all humanity.  On the contrary, we are witnessing the emergence of regressive and destructive processes resulting from the economic and financial crisis, increased social inequalities, climate change and nuclear proliferation.  These phenomena have already affected negatively the lives of billions of human beings, and their continuity and mutual reinforcement menace the peace of the world and threaten the survival of human civilization.
       Global crises require global solutions.  Within a social universe determined by globalization, the democratic capabilities of nation-states and international institutions are increasingly restricted by the development of powerful global processes, organizations and systems whose nature is not democratic.  In recent years, the main national and international leaders of the world have been running behind global events.     Their repeated failures show that occasional summits, intergovernmental treaties, international cooperation, the multilateral system and all the existing forms of global governance are insufficient.  The globalization of finance, production chains and communication systems, and the planetary power reached by destructive technologies, require the globalization of the political institutions responsible for their regulation and control, and the global crises require coherent and effective global solutions.  That’s why we call for the urgent creation of new global agencies specialized in sustainable, fair and stable development, disarmament and environmental protection, and the rapid implementation of forms of democratic global governance on all the issues that current intergovernmental summits are evidently incapable of solving.
       We need to move forward to new, more extensive and deeper forms of democracy.  The current model of technological-economic globalization must give way to a new one which puts these processes at the service of a fairer, more peaceful and more humane world.  We need a new paradigm of development which has to be sustainable on a global basis and which benefits the poorest of humanity.  In order to avoid the deepening of global crises and to find viable solutions to the challenges posed by globalization we must move forward to more extensive and deeper forms of democracy.  The existing national-state organizations have to be part of a wider and much better coordinated structure, which involves democratic regional institutions on all the continents, the reform of the International Court of Justice, a fairer and more balanced International Criminal Court and a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly as the embryo of a future World Parliament.  Yet, this institutional change will not be successful if it only accrues from the actions of a self-appointed elite.  On the contrary, it must come from a socio-political process open to all human beings, with the goal of a creating a participative global democracy.
       Globalizing democracy is the only way to democratize globalization.  Beyond our differences about the contents and appropriate methods to move towards a fairer and more stable world order, we the signatories share a strong commitment to the development of a global democracy.  On behalf of Peace, Justice and Human Rights we do not want to be governed at the world level by those who have only been elected to do so at the national one, neither do we wish to be governed by international organizations which do not represent us adequately.  That is why we work for the development of supranational political spaces and for regional, international and global institutions that live up to the challenges of the twenty first Century; institutions that express the different viewpoints and defend the common interests of the seven billion people who shape humankind today.
       We ask every human being to participate in the constitution of a global democracy.  We share the appeal to “unite for global change” and for “real democracy” with the world social movements.  Both postulates express the growing rejection of being governed by political and economic powers on which we have no influence.  Autonomy and self-determination are not only valid at the local and national level.  That’s why we champion the principle of the right to participate in the making of fundamental global decisions that directly affect our lives.  We want to be citizens of the world and not its mere inhabitants.  Therefore we demand not just a local and national democracy, but also a global democracy, and we commit to work for its development and call on all the political, intellectual and civil-society leaders of the world, all the democratic organizations, parties and movements, and all persons of democratic persuasion on the planet to actively participate in its constitution.

       Federal Union, 61 Leopold Road, London N2 8BG
       info@federalunion.org.uk   www.federalunion.org.uk
       –––6.2O.12

 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 15

Atlas Drugged:  A Review

                  By David Swanson     

       The Florida Sun Sentinel has for many years been rather unique, as a corporate newspaper with a regular columnist who's actually good, and I don't mean just good for the context, but actually worth reading even if the masses of South Florida weren't reading along.  Happily, they are. 
        Stephen L. Goldstein has just published a book, also worth reading, called Atlas Drugged (Ayn Rand Be Damned!)  It's fiction, often hilarious fiction, aimed at debunking the notion that Ayn Randian "free-market" trickle-down crapitalism can coexist with basic human decency.  "This is a work of fiction," says the back cover.  "But any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely intentional.  The names have been changed but, hopefully, not enough to protect the guilty."
       In fact, while the book takes rightwingerism to an extreme, it blends in plenty of elements from reality.  Imagine the most outlandish carrying of so-called conservatism to its logical conclusion, and abandoning New Orleans to a hurricane, or watching a fire department stand by while a house burns (because the owner didn't pay the proper fees) fits right in. 
       The opening scene is basically a CPAC conference set in a world in which normal had become one of today's CPAC conferences.  The speeches of the fascists who populate this book ought to echo in the reader's head when he or she later hears the speeches of actual politicians, because the former are just slightly exaggerated versions of the latter.
       The heroes of the book are part Occupy Wall Street, part Anonymous.  People march by the millions.  They organize and inspire.  They shut down all the department stores owned by a particular plutocrat, simply by "shopping" en masse, without actually buying anything.  But other tactics, from stunts involving animal dung (you have to read it) to hacking into the sound system at important events, rely on a small, secretive band of super-heroes – too much so, I suspect.  A real revolution is more likely to come through a combination that relies more heavily on popular action and less on the secret heroics of beings who fuse together Julian Assange with the Yes Men and MacGyver.
       I also wish there weren't quite so much nationalism in what is after all a fantasy of an ideal future at war with a kleptocratic dystopia.  But if you're going to go all in for the founders and the red-white-and-blue, it would have been better to remember the one thing the founders got most right that we have most forgotten: you don't give a single individual power.  You can't solve tyranny through a presidential election, replacing a bad tyrant with a good one.  You have to divide and check power, reducing the president to an impotent executive.  In fact, one would hope that after a couple of centuries we would be able to at least fantasize about moving further toward direct democracy, and away from monarchy.
       Be that as it may, it's not as if "Atlas Drugged" is going to move people in the direction of pinning their hopes on presidential candidates more than they already do (a physical impossibility).  It is, however, going to deservedly and comically drag through the mud of its own making the disgustingly stupid idea that greed and selfishness are the smart way to be kind and generous.  The result, I hope and expect, will be a greater ability to spot the absurdity of the political philosophy being satirized.  If THIS is where free-market principles lead, if the catastrophe carved out by the job-creators in this book is what we're consciously attempting to arrive at, then we'd better reject as absolutely evil many of the assumptions and claims we encounter every day in the rhetoric and the policy coming from our politicians, including of course – this being reality after all – both of our leading candidates for president.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.  He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
––
      Most important is to work together to make an appropriately Governed World.
       ––6.19.12

       The nationalistic toodledeedee that the Clintons favor in decision-making makes us feel like crawling away from their work in shame.
       Our consideration of the world’s need for a blunt advocacy of an active world political unity makes us nervous, but so what? –
       If what’s needed is the creation of such world unity.
––

“John Seager, President of Population Connection”    <president@popconnect.org>
Asteroid
June 13

       Need more evidence that overpopulation is putting pressure on the Earth?   The journal Nature just published a new paper with an eye-opening hypothesis:  Human beings are causing planet-sized change to the place we all call home.  
       “Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds,” the authors write.  “The global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence.”
       Or, in the words of lead author Anthony Barnosky:  “The net effects of what we’re causing could actually be equivalent to an asteroid striking the Earth.”
       What’s causing this “planetary-scale critical transition”?  Our ever-growing population.  But we can take action to slow it down.
       Your $5.00 gift to Population Connection right now will help advocate for voluntary family planning programs and educate young people about our population crisis.  It’s time to take action for healthier people – and a healthier planet!
       Overpopulation.  Resource depletion.  Habitat destruction.  Energy consumption.  Climate change.   You and I know they all go hand in hand.
       The good news is – we can do something about it. We can make sure all women around the world have the ability to plan their families – and choose the trajectory of their own lives.  We can educate teachers – who go on to educate their students.  We can raise our voices on Capitol Hill and make sure that our lawmakers know we won’t take “no” for an answer.
       But we can’t do it alone.  We need your help.  Can you make a $5.00 gift to Population Connection right now?
       Making the necessary changes won’t be easy.  But with the very future of our planet hanging in the balance, there’s no time like now to continue the fight.  Thanks for standing with us.
                 John Seager
                 President
                 Population Connection
                2120 L St NW, Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20037
––

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 12

The State of the Anti-War Movement

                                                 By David Swanson

       A magazine asked me this morning for my thoughts on Iraq and the peace movement.  What did this war produce?  I replied:
          · Over a million human beings killed plus extensive structural and cultural damage amounting to sociocide, which we could have prevented and didn't, which we could regret and make reparations for but instead are largely uninformed about.
          · A lesson taught to other nations that nuclear weapons are needed to prevent a U.S. invasion, a lesson also taught by the assault on Libya.
          · A lesson taught to other nations that might makes right and aggressive killing and torture are to be used when one can get away with it.
          · Entrenchment of a fossil fuel / war industry, environmental damage, economic damage, damage to international relations, and a huge rollback in civil liberties and the right to assemble and protest.
          · Enormous enlargement of the war industry, privatization of the military, and a strengthened ability to legally bribe politicians and control them.
 
       In the peace movement, there's good and bad:
          · We exposed the lies on which the war was based and educated everyone else, but most still don't grasp that the lies are common to all wars; they think this one was unique.
          · We played a role in ending the war.  But it was a larger role than we are aware of, so people don't take enough encouragement from it. 
          · We built international relations among peace activists in numerous nations, building an anti-bases movement and an anti-NATO movement, and building relations with activists in the nations attacked by ours as well.
          · We exposed the financial cost and the cost in U.S. military lives.  But – again – few know about the far greater cost in Iraqi lives.  And very few understand that the base military budget dwarfs the war budget and is equally misspent.
          · Coming out of that, we have a nation strongly opposed to massive ground wars.  But we have a nation willing to accept air and drone wars.  And why not?  They don't hurt anybody!
          · We should have been much stronger.  And we should have pushed harder when the Democrats took power by pretending to listen to us.  Instead, 3/4 of the U.S. peace movement went to sleep.  So, we have to have Republicans in power to have a peace movement – a severe weakness.
 
       What, I was asked, should be done to mark the 10-year anniversary of the invasion next March?

          We should apologize, I said.  We should make reparations to Iraq and much of the region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen, etc., all of which our troops should immediately leave.  We should launch cultural and student exchange programs instead...We should move funding from the military to green energy.  We should shut down all foreign bases.  We should announce the dismantling of all nuclear weapons.  We should end NATO.  We should reaffirm the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  We should reform and democratize the UN and the ICC. ... 
          In the meantime, we should build on what was built in Chicago protesting NATO. ... We should learn from what worked in terms of coalition building and turnout, and what arguably could have been done better – such as a public commitment to nonviolence by the organizers. ... 
          We should be lobbying Congress for good bills and for better bills that don't exist yet.  There are bills to end the Authorization to Use Military Force, to ban the sale of weapons to abusive countries (does that include our own?), and to require diplomacy with Iran.  There should be bills to begin a process of conversion from a military to a civilian economy.  But primarily we should be educating, organizing, and building a movement to resist the bipartisan pro-war consensus.
          On Afghanistan, I think we need to insist that staying is not the best way of leaving.  We have three-quarters of the United States with us on wanting to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. ...We need to demand all troops home now, to expose the horror of the war, to amplify the voices of Afghans opposing the occupation, to encourage resistance in the military, to escalate our protests, and to build understanding of the numerous tradeoffs, financial and otherwise.
          We need to resist the cries for U.S. war in Syria.  There are remarkably few stories in our corporate media about the healthy state of democracy in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else the United States has built a nation by destroying one.  There is little outrage over killing and torture by U.S. allies in Bahrain.  Many supporters of war in Syria are open about their motivation of overthrowing a government that is friendlier to Iran than Israel.  But Tunisia and Egypt have brighter futures because of the tools of nonviolence.  Violence is not quick.  When the U.S. armed fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the damage was not easily contained.  Pouring gasoline on a fire in Syria could be worse.
          We need to expose the lies about Iran and to remind people constantly of the lies that they knew were lies about Iraq.  Possessing weapons is not grounds for war.  Iran is not working on any nuclear weapons. ... Part of what drives all of this madness is the money poured into it.  The military budget has grown every year...Obama is proposing to cut Iraq and Afghanistan war spending in the military budget from $88 billion to $44 billion.  Quite a halfway measure for wars he claims are over or ending.  And the budget control act requires, unless Congress undoes it, that $55 billion more be cut.  But it could be cut from veterans care, from non-military diplomacy, or from other non-military areas.  Even if it is cut from the military, we're talking about $55 billion out of a budget that is well over $1 trillion.  We ought to be insisting on much larger cuts and building a major coalition of groups that want the spending for useful purposes, want their civil liberties, want our natural environment, and want to stop killing people.

          David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.  He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
          –––6.18.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>

June 12

What Happens When You Talk to the Public About Drones

                                                      By Nick Mottern

       The purpose of the 2012 Know Drones Tour is to do sidewalk public education, working with other groups to help generate a citizens movement to stop US drone attacks and to stop further development and sale of killer drones and spy drones.
       The first phase of the tour was conducted between April 12 and May 27, when the tour team visited the home districts of five members of Congress who are on the Congressional Unmanned Systems (Drone) Caucus.
       Here are observations based on street corner conversations with hundreds of people over the last month and a half in Brooklyn, southern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore and northern Maryland as well as at a national convention of the Islamic Circle of North America held in Hartford last weekend.
       1. In spite of the increasing press coverage of drone warfare, and drones coming to US airspace, most people with whom we spoke did not know in any meaningful way what drones are or how they are being used.  Most were surprised to learn that the police can now use small drones, up to 25 pounds in weight, and that drones of any size will be permitted in US airspace by September, 2015.
       2. Most people were very appreciative of being provided with information.
       3. Most people absolutely object to the idea of police or the military using drones to monitor them, either by visual surveillance or through monitoring cell phone and text messaging.  It was through conversation about this that people came to more fully sense how people overseas are reacting to drones and drone attacks.  People do not want to be watched from the sky nor do they want flying robots carrying weapons.  Most people think that drones of any kind in US airspace threatens them as air passengers.
       4. All African-Americans with whom we spoke are opposed to US drone warfare and police use of drones in the United States. ...
       5. Most people are offended when they find out that their member of Congress is getting money from drone makers. ...
       6. Most people have no meaningful knowledge about the places and the wars in which the US is currently involved with drones – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – or why the US is involved.  Only a few had an awareness of the role of resources – oil, minerals, agricultural products, labor – in these conflicts.
       7. Peace/anti-war organizations have few active members and even fewer who are interested in drones internationally or domestically.  Most people who assisted with the tour are working on multiple tasks involving local survival, such as stop and frisk, police violence, fracking, coal-fired/gas-fired electric power generation and toxic pollution of water.  These are all national problems from which the federal government has fled. ...
––

 

<oisika.chakrabarti@unwomen.org>
June 14

                                UN
                      WOMEN

A world in balance requires gender equality, says UN Women

Michelle Bachelet outlines policy actions needed at Rio+20 Conference to bring transformational change.

       United Nations, New York, 14 June 2012 — Ahead of the UN Conference for Sustainable Development next week in Rio de Janeiro, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet has called upon world leaders for bold action and strong commitments to advance women’s equal rights, opportunity and participation.  The Conference, also known as Rio+20, will bring together heads of state and government, and representatives of civil society and the private sector to build a road map for a sustainable future, aiming to reduce poverty and advance equality and environmental protection.
       The Rio+20 Conference comes twenty years after the Rio Earth Summit, where there was unanimous agreement that sustainable development cannot be realized without gender equality.  However, 20 years later, women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence and to call for equality and justice.  Today women make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce in developing countries, yet they continue to be denied equal access to land, credit and other resources.  The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that providing women with the same access as men to fertilizers, seeds and tools, would raise national agricultural output by up to 4 per cent and reduce the number of hungry people by 100 to 150 million.
       Advancing equal rights and opportunities is critical for a sustainable future.  Addressing climate change and other challenges requires women’s full participation and the world’s collective wisdom and intelligence available today.  Women are key actors for sustainable development, and sustainable development solutions can greatly improve women’s lives by reducing poverty, freeing up women’s time and protecting them from violence and other adverse health and environmental impacts...
       Outlining the need for the Rio+20 Outcome Document to guarantee women’s full participation in sustainable development, Ms. Bachelet reaffirmed the vital role women play as contributors as well as benefactors of sustainable development.  “The world can no longer afford to leave women out.  Sustainable development cannot happen without half of the world’s population,” she said.  Women’s leadership and participation is an urgent necessity to achieve the transformational change needed for sustainable development.

UN Women’s key recommendations for Rio+20 include:
          • Fully integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women in any future international development framework...
          • Take urgent measures, including temporary special measures, to accelerate women’s full participation in governance, and to ensure that all policies, laws, budgets and investments for sustainable development are gender-responsive...
          • Eliminate discriminatory barriers faced by women, particularly marginalized women, and adopt concrete measures to address the factors that prevent women from accessing, owning and managing productive resources and assets, and from contributing to and benefiting from the opportunities provided in the green economy, including employment opportunities; and
          • Ensure the right to sexual and reproductive health as well as universal access to essential services such as safe drinking water and basic sanitation, energy, education, health, transportation, communication, security and social protection. ...

       UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. For more information, visit www.unwomen.org. ...
       –––6.16.12


       New York Times, June 15, A8.

“Senator Urges Bigger Cuts to Nuclear Arsenal

                                                           “By THOM SHANKER

       “WASHINGTON –The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee called on the Obama administration on Thursday to seek cuts in nuclear warheads far beyond the requirements of current treaties.
       “The chairman, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said the administration ‘should consider going far lower’ than the warhead caps set by the New Start agreement with Russia, to bring the nation’s arsenal in line with a diminished nuclear threat and tighter military budgets. ...
       “A grave concern today is that nuclear weapons or their fissile components may fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, Mr. Levin said.  ‘The more weapons that exist out there, the less secure we are, rather than the more secure we are,’ he added. ...
       “Mr. Levin said he supported, in broad terms, the analysis set forth in a recent study by Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former commander of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. That study suggested that effective deterrence could be maintained with an arsenal of 900 strategic warheads. ...”
       –––6.15.12

On the nuke arsenal

   “Nuclear Time Warp

       “The country need to reduce its arsenal, not indulge in cold war fantasies

       “...The United States and Russia each have more than 1,500 nuclear weapons deployed and many thousands more as backup or awaiting dismantlement.  Gen. James Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of nuclear forces, recently said that deterrence could be guaranteed with 900 warheads, with only half deployed at any time. ...
       “General Cartwright is only the latest heavy weight to endorse significant nuclear reductions.  Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Senator Chuck Hagel joined him in a report by Global Zero, a policy group urging major changes, including the 900 target.  Separately, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, George Shultz and Sam Nunn have endorsed the eventual goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  So has President Obama. ...

       “Did House Republicans somehow miss the end of the cold war?  At a time when, for the sake of both security and fiscal responsibility, the country should be reducing its nuclear arsenal, the House has approved a defense authorization bill for 2013 that threatens to freeze the number of weapons at current levels and, over time, waste billions of dollars on unnecessary purchases and programs.
      “Thankfully, the bill isn’t likely to become law.  But it is worth taking a closer look, both for what it says about Republicans’ misplaced strategic priorities – and about how far President Obama has already gone to appease them. ...
    
      “The president needs to leverage that support to argue the case for much deeper cuts and push back against members of Congress who – incredibly – still haven’t gotten beyond their cold war obsessions.”
       Lead editorial in the June 11 New York Times.
       –––6.13-14.12


<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 11

Israel Upside Down

                 By David Swanson

       Miko Peled has written a perfect book for people, including Israelis, who have always heard that the Israeli government can do no wrong.  The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine is partly an account of the author's father's life.  His father, Matti Peled, was an Israeli general, war hero, military governor of the Gaza strip, member of Parliament, professor, and columnist who turned against the occupation of Palestine. 
       Largely, however, the book is an account of Miko Peled's own life, and the evolution of his thinking about Israel. This autobiographical narrative, by a very likable and moral author, takes us step by step from unquestioning Zionism to condemnation of Israeli war crimes.  For those who would condemn the morality of this intellectual journey, there are two obvious responses.  First, read it. 
       Second, the false accusations of hating Israel that often result from any sensible proposal to protect Israel from its government cannot easily apply here, by the accusers' own logic, because the author dutifully performed his Israeli military service, and his father killed a huge number of people in the name of Israel.
       Such shallow prejudices have no place in this book, which respectfully and non-confrontationally persuades the reader gradually, through the course of a self-questioning life's story, that much of what is commonly assumed about Israel is in fact the reverse of reality.  The Peled family's military history is of less interest as superficial immunity from false accusations, than as a starting place for an argument that runs its course from the necessity of brutalizing Palestinians all the way through to the necessity of Israelis and Palestinians living together as friends and family.
       Miko Peled grew up in Jerusalem believing that Israel had always been a little David struggling honorably against an Arab Goliath.  His grandfather, Avraham Katznelson, had been an important figure in the founding of Israel.  His father, Matti Peled, had in 1948 fought in either the War of Independence or the Catastrophe, depending on which label one prefers.   Matti Peled was also a leader of the Six-Day War of 1967, when Miko – born in 1961 – was a child.
       But Matti Peled, in 1967, had believed he was leading troops into a limited war with Egypt, not a war to conquer territory.  At the first weekly meeting of the General Staff after the war, Matti Peled proposed that the Palestinians be given their own state.  He said that occupying the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights would endanger, rather than protect, an Israeli democracy, that it would in fact turn Israel into a brutal occupying power.  The other generals claimed that the Palestinians would never settle for the West Bank and Gaza.  So, Peled produced evidence that the vast majority of Palestinians would indeed accept that deal.  Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin told Peled to let it go. 
       Matti Peled began writing a column in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv in 1967.  He immediately rejected the popular propaganda which held that Israel had been viciously attacked.  On the contrary, he wrote, Israel had seen an opportunity to damage the Egyptian military and had seized it.  Peled proposed allowing the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to hold elections, and denounced the common pretense that Israel could not negotiate with the Palestinians because they had no representatives.  After all, Peled pointed out, Israel was forbidding them from electing representatives.
       Earlier this year, 2012, former U.S. representative and current buffoon Newt Gingrich claimed that Palestinians are "an invented people."  When Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir made this claim in 1973, Matti Peled wrote:
            "How do people in the world refer to the population that resides in the West Bank?  What were the refugees of 1948 called prior to exile?  Has she really not heard of the Palestinian people prior to 1967?  In discussions she must have had over the years in her capacity as ambassador and then as foreign minister, how did she refer to these people?  Yet she says she has not heard of the Palestinian people prior to 1967? Truly amazing!"
       Miko Peled and his brothers and sisters grew up with an understanding that was perhaps halfway against war, an understanding that they shared with their father.  There had been a time for war, and there was now a time for peace. (To every thing, turn turn turn, there is a season . . . .)  They would perhaps have advanced further, sooner, had their father told them more about what he knew and what he was trying to do about it. 
       In 1973, Matti Peled, Uri Avnery, and Yaakov Arnon, among others, founded the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.  On the tenth anniversary of the 1967 war, in a 1977 televised discussion with the entire general staff from 1967, Peled reminded everyone that the government had never authorized the military's seizure of the West Bank. 
       Peled began meeting with Palestinian leaders and discussing possible agreements.  He and Yasser Arafat's confidant Issam Sartawi discussed a two-state solution, while the Palestinian political party Fatah's position was to support only a single secular democratic state for Arabs and Jews together. 
       In 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon, Matti Peled spoke at an antiwar rally in Tel Aviv.  It was the first time Israelis had protested a war while it was underway.  Ariel Sharon's involvement in brutal massacres at Sabra and Shatila forced his resignation and kept him out of politics for 18 years.
       In 1984, Matti Peled helped found a joint Jewish-Arab political party called the Progressive List for Peace (PLP).  He urged the United States over and over again to support Israel by ceasing to give it money and sell it weapons, a corrupting influence that Peled argued Israel had done just fine without.  (Try telling that to the U.S. Congress even all these years later!)
       By 1997, the younger Peled, Miko, had left Israel to spend time in England, Japan, and the United States, settling in the area of San Diego, California.  Miko Peled still had family in Israel whom he visited often, including a 13-year-old niece named Smadar.  She was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997, and Peled flew to Jerusalem for the funeral.  The mayor, and future prime minister, Ehud Barak was among those attending.  Barak was, at the time, campaigning for prime minister.  Peled recalls:
            "Here he was sitting  among us, trying to convince people that in order to really make peace he had to run without making it look like he wanted peace so he wouldn't lose votes for being a peacemaker. I sat quietly wondering if anyone really believed such nonsense.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and said, 'Why not tell the truth?' The room became silent. 'Why not tell people that this and other similar tragedies are taking place because we are occupying another nation and that in order to save lives the right thing to do is to end the occupation and negotiate a just peace with our Palestinian partners?' . . .  I received a withering look from Barak, and when he prepared to leave and made the round of handshakes, all I got was a cold shoulder."
       In 2000, Miko Peled, back in San Diego, joined a group of Jews and Palestinians who were meeting to talk and broaden each other's horizons.  Peled's wife was concerned at first that he might be killed, and Miko himself was far from sure he wouldn't.  Such was the novelty for this Israeli in meeting with Palestinians, and such was the fear and misunderstanding.  But Peled thrived in these dialogue groups, made friends, and encountered surprising perspectives.
       A Palestinian friend mentioned during one meeting that back in 1948 the Palestinians had gone to battle with 10,000 fighters, while the Jews had had triple that number, or more.  Peled was outraged, as he had always believed the Jews to have been the smaller force, the underdogs, the Davids up against Goliaths.  But he held his tongue because he respected his friend's opinion.  He researched, and learned.  He discovered that the Jewish militias had in fact used superior strength to destroy Palestine and forcibly exile its people. 
       The distrust and misunderstanding went both ways.  A Palestinian man named Nader Elbanna, on first meeting Peled, assumed he must be working for Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.  But Nader and Peled became friends and began speaking together at Rotary clubs, as well as raising funds to provide both Palestinians and Israelis with wheel chairs. 
       The more Peled learned, the more he wanted to know.  He began traveling to Palestine.  He found the people, of whom he was initially frightened, wonderfully open and generous.  He found that they knew his father and called his father Abu Salam, meaning Father of Peace.  Peled himself had not been aware that his father had been given that name by Palestinians.  Peled met with nonviolent activists in Bil'in and elsewhere in Palestine.  He learned that, contrary to media depictions, the bulk of Palestinian resistance was and had always been nonviolent. 
       The Israeli occupation, on the other hand, was and had always been more brutal than Peled had known.  He learned from an Israeli naval special forces officer of tactics used in patrolling the coast of Gaza:
            "They would come upon Gazan fishing boats and from time to time they would single out a particular boat, order the fishermen to jump in the water and blow up the boat.  Then under gunpoint, they told the fishermen to count from one to a hundred and then when they were done to start over again.  They would make them count over and over again until one by one the fishermen could no longer tread water, and they drowned."
       A Palestinian friend named Bassam Aramin, two years after Peled met him, on January 16, 2007, lost his daughter.  His two daughters, aged 10 and 12 were walking home from school, holding hands, when an Israeli soldier took aim and shot the younger one in the head. 
       Peled increasingly dedicated himself to the Palestinian peace movement, in which he worked with those who had been imprisoned and tortured by Israel.  In doing so, he learned the history of Israel and Palestine, and the history of his own family.  He learned of an Israeli massacre of civilians in Gaza in 1967, and that his father had investigated it and that his father's views had likely been changed by it.  The elder Peled had not only been prophesying brutal occupation for the future in 1967 but also acknowledging its existence already in place.
       The younger Peled also came to abandon the idea of a two-state solution, as his father had favored.  Miko Peled has seen Israelis and Palestinians live together as the closest of friends.  His belief is that only a single state, a secular state, a democratic state, in which all are welcome and respected, will put the violence and suffering to rest. 
       The people of Israel and Palestine are highly educated.  They are perfectly capable of living in peace.  To do so, they will have to learn what Peled's book helps teach so well: Never, under any circumstance, no matter the context, no matter the poetic justice, no matter past histories of victimization, no matter the intention or desire, never ever ever is war an acceptable instrument of public policy.  In fact, we are lucky if the best of wars don't doom us to a century or more of ongoing bloodshed and resentment.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
       –––6.12.12


<info@progressiveavenues.org>

June 10 
 
Electoral Campaigns - Proceed at your own Risk

                                                 By Luke Hiken

       The election results are in from the latest pretense at democracy in the U.S.  The outcome was as predictable as the sun rising.  Nonetheless, it would be helpful to analyze the implications of this charade.
         1) There is no meaningful distinction to be found between the mainstream leaders of the Democratic Party, and the majority of Republicans. They are one and the same for all intents and purposes. Unlike the Republocrats, Tea Party fanatics, xenophobic patriots and racist zealots constitute the “theoretical” leadership of and the spokespeople for the rhetoric of the Republican Party. With the backing of corporate billionaires such as the Koch Brothers, these arch right-wing forces set the agenda for political debate in the country.  Progressive individuals, leftists and human rights activists have no significant voice whatsoever in the current electoral picture.
       As Ted Rall states in his new book:   "The Book of Obama: From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt":  “The election itself is largely inconsequential – regardless of who wins, Romney or Obama, the system will continue its inexorable move to the right in favor of corporate interests.”  He concludes:  “…the choice isn’t between Obama and Romney, but rather between ‘Obamney’ and taking to the streets to effect real change.”
        2) Right-wing forces control the money in the U.S., and with the help of the Citizens United decision issued by the Bush Supreme Court, they can win virtually any race that is important to them. In California, the   tobacco industry paid for a victory to prevent further taxation on its murderous product. The Scott Walker machine in Wisconsin defeated a nationwide campaign waged by what’s left of the union movement.  Jared Huffman, a mainline Democratic Party hack handily defeated Norman Solomon, a candidate with true progressive credentials. The list goes on and on.
       The sad reality is that a dumbed-down American public has lost the capacity to think critically.  A well-financed propaganda campaign on television could probably persuade the American citizenry to elect Adolph Hitler over F.D.R., and given the fact that Republicans and mainstream Democrats have the ability to outspend the poor at the ratio of 20 to 1, the election results are a foregone conclusion.  Although the majority of people in Wisconsin voted for Scott Walker, they voted more so against the union pension benefits, and salaries of unionized public employees. It was not a matter of disrespecting the police, firemen and teachers, who constituted the majority of public workers impacted by Walker’s actions, rather the voters felt that the cops, firemen, and teachers did not need the generous retirement packages they were receiving at a time when the rest of the workers in the state were struggling to get by. Obama and the Democratic Party itself opted out of the entire debate.
        3) The best of the progressive candidates are out of touch with their own constituency.  I am on the mailing list of several “progressive” candidates, some of whom have actually gone to the legislature.  I receive regular and consistent solicitations for money from each of them.  I never receive another word from them, though, until it is time for them to run for reelection.  In other words, the message is clear: the candidates and elected officials want to know what I can do for them, not what they can do for me.  They apparently feel that I should be aware of their votes, actions, and great deeds on my behalf.  Unfortunately, what I see is not their wonderful accomplishments, but rather, the complete deterioration of our electoral system, health care, educational institutions, protections for the old and the infirm, and the commensurate enrichment of corporate fascism and unregulated militarism, at home and abroad. Their isolated, principled voices somewhere in the halls of some government building go unheeded with barely an echo to accompany them.
         If Norman had won, if Walker had been defeated, if Barbara Lee were to quit office tomorrow, or Bill Monning were to win reelection yet another time, it would not change what Rall describes as “the inexorable move to the right.”  No amount of money raised by progressive forces will create a majority of those elected in any state in the country, and certainly won’t deter the likes of Obamney and their corporate handlers. The imbalance of wealth between the oligarchy and the people is so great that we will never, for the rest of our lives, be able to match their propaganda and political bribery – not until there is a revolution, and a redistribution of capital. The best we can hope for, if we are to rely on our own ability to raise funds for these elections, is a token number of victories – probably not even amounting to 5% of those elected.
       4) Given that economic reality facing Americans, is Rall correct that our only hope for success is “in the streets?”  That preposterous suggestion goes nowhere.  Change does not occur in a vacuum.  A social and economic revolution cannot occur without an organized resistance – one with a unified leadership and points of unity.  Attempts by anarchistic groups such as OWS or similar spontaneous militant uprisings cannot hope to overthrow the U.S. oligarchy and military/police apparatus.  Certainly such groups can create significant problems for the rich, but there can be no meaningful change in this country that does not share several essential points of unity:
       - unregulated corporate capitalism is the enemy;
       - run-away imperialism will impoverish the entire nation, and turn the world against us;
       - racism (imprisoning 1/3 of the African Americans throughout the country) and anti-immigrant hysteria are not solutions to social problems, but are the root cause of many of them; and,
        - allowing untaxed billionaire corporate oligarchs to determine the economic future of  the country is suicidal.
 Militant, unorganized resistance is a precursor to revolution, but it can never be a substitute. Without a political framework the current electorate is left with the Republocrats, or nothing.  In such a context, railing against the state is meaningless.  The progressive voters of Wisconsin are sitting in the same situation they were in before the election:  they have built nothing outside of the framework of the Republican/Democratic parties that can assure victory when Scott comes up for reelection. They will have to start over with the same deadbeat political apparatus that got them into trouble in the first place.
        It would be easy to believe that the American public is so stupid, vulnerable and apolitical that it doesn’t know where its own interest lies, and would vote for whatever self-destructive position the closest billionaire might demand.  Alternatively, the public is correct that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans represent their interest at all, and another vehicle for leadership must be found and/or created.  If we can’t decide who should lead us, we should at least be able to agree upon what goals we would like to accomplish. This will require significant changes, many of which cannot be effectuated in a voting booth.
 –
       Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law.
       –––6.11.12
 

<davidcnswanson@gmail.com>
June 8

Second Thoughts on Publicly Displaying 10 Commandments

                                                          By David Swanson

       Until now, I've always opposed the idea of posting the 10 Commandments on government buildings.
       I don't want a theocracy.  I don't want religion at all, even separated from government.  I'm embarrassed for my species that so many people imagine we haven't advanced at all in millennia.  Must we really turn to an ancient book that sanctions slavery and rape, stonings and genocide, to find not only guidance but unquestionable dictates?  I'm disgusted by the notion that we should behave decently merely because of an imaginary system of rewards and punishments.  Even mice only behave for real cheese and real shocks.  How pathetic are we, exactly?
       Well, truth be told, pretty damn pathetic.  And how far have we advanced over the millennia?  I'm beginning to wonder.  Take a look at the ten commandments.  Setting aside the preamble (worship this god, not that god, or you and your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will be visited with iniquity), the first thing we're commanded to do is to limit the work week to six days.
       A six-day work week would be a huge step forward for many workers in the United States, not to mention the vastly greater number of workers abroad who produce profits for U.S. owners, profiteers, "job creators."  That's right, we have lots of little "creators" now, and we are expected to worship them, but – among other defects – they tend to create seven-day-a-week jobs.  Remember, not only are you supposed to take a day off, but so are your son, daughter, manservant, maidservant, cattle, and strangers.  There's no "unless they're building your i-phones" clause.  It's for you to judge, I guess, whether foreigners rise to the status of cattle.
       Next we are to honor our fathers and mothers.  I'm no theologian, but stripping away pensions and threatening to slash Social Security doesn't seem like honoring to me.   Enriching health insurance profiteers rather than providing healthcare strikes me as the opposite of honoring.  If we honor our fathers and mothers, we're told, our days will be long on the land that god gave us.  Well, never mind for a minute where the land came from or whether one species owns it or whether owning it is a helpful concept at all, if the land is going to last long (for anyone to do anything on it) we're going to have to stop destroying it so disgracefully.  We're going to have to learn to treat something as sacred, as more valuable that our individual lives – much less the enrichment of our fossil fuel barons.
       Then comes a big one, the first in the list of forbidden actions,  the top crime – until now:  Thou shalt not kill.  The President of the United States kills and brags about it openly.  He kills adults.  He kills children.  He kills adults and children who were nearby the other adults and children.  He kills Americans and non-Americans.  He kills people whose names and stories he knows.  He kills people he cannot identify but whom he finds suspicious.  He kills completely unrelated people by mistake.  He kills with drones.  He kills with planes.  He kills with missiles.  He kills with soldiers, guns, and bullets.  He kills for no higher purpose found in the 10 commandments or elsewhere.  His killing fuels hatred, resentment, rage, and more killing, sparking a vicious cycle of crime.  He kills with sanctions and starvation.  He kills by commission and omission in great numbers through the choice President Eisenhower outlined when he said, "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 are not clothed."  The President does not kill alone.  He has the support of the Congress, the courts, the military, and ultimately the rest of us.  Our state governments kill too, in many cases, with "capital punishment."  Individuals kill too, in large numbers.  And our entertainment, as for the Romans, consists largely of killing – just take a look at a television or a movie theater.  Surely, Thou Shalt Not Kill should be posted on every wall of the White House, flashed in neon lights, and painted in blood.
       Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Now, there's a command that we enforce tightly on our presidents while flagrantly disregarding as the norm.  It's as if we've made a grand bargain.  Presidents get to kill.  We get to commit adultery.  But if we should step onto their territory and start killing, we will be killed or imprisoned.  If they should step into our area and begin fornicating, well then we will shame, denounce, and perhaps even impeach them, before handing them multi-million dollar rewards for all the killing they've done.  This needs to be re-thought.  Perhaps our priorities for presidents are skewed, and perhaps our expectations of ourselves – we who are not absolutely corrupted by absolute power – are too low.
       Thou shalt not steal.  Like treason, large instances of stealing have ceased to exist, for if they succeed then none dare call it stealing.  Our foreign policy is one of taking resources and labor.  Our domestic policy is one of rewarding and protecting the greatest thieves.
       Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  But if you do, go big with it.  Do it at the United Nations.  Prop a CIA director up behind you.  Do it with a straight face.  And thou shalt be rewarded with a major book contract.
       Thou shalt not covet.  Stop right there for a long moment:  Can you even imagine U.S. culture without coveting.  It's all about coveting and striving to provoke coveting by others.  Both pursuits are accepted, rewarded, and praised.  It's very difficult to picture an alternative.  Perhaps publicly displaying the ten commandments would shame us into trying.

       David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
       –––6.9-10.12


       From the lead story in the New York Times of June 8 –

    “Syrians Bar U.N. Monitors
       From a Massacre Inquiry


“Shots Were Fired at Unarmed Observers,
      Officials Say, as Conflict Escalates

                      “By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and RICK GLADSTONE

       “ANGAKYA, Turkey – The Syrian conflict escalated to a dangerous new level on Thursday when government troops and their civilian supporters blocked unarmed United Nations monitors from investigating a massacre of farm families, prompting sharp denunciations of Damascus from diplomats who have struggled vainly to find a workable, consensus solution to the crisis.
       “The monitors were thwarted from reaching the tiny hamlet of Qubeir, just west of Hama, to check on what activists say was the slaying of as many as 78 people, half of them women and children, who were shot, garroted and in some cases burned alive.  The monitors themselves were fired upon, United Nations officials said.
        “The standoff at a government checkpoint seemed to symbolize the international paralysis over how to stem the bloodshed.  It would be the fourth massacre in two weeks and suggested that the Syrian conflict was spiraling, seemingly daily, toward a sectarian civil war, pitting a government dominated by the Alawite sect against members of a Sunni Muslim majority feeling vulnerable to slaughter with no consequence.  The Qubeir victims were all thought to be Sunnis.
       “The massacre and the government’s attempt to prevent the monitors from investigating it came as Kofi Annan, the special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League, addressed both the GeneralAssembly and the Security Council in an effort to salvage his six-point peace plan from irrelevance. ...”
       Obviously, the nations must form a world government with enforceable powers to replace the clearly ineffective United Nations.
       –––6.8.12