Intersection of Mistakes With Misdeeds

On a pleasant spring day in December it's nice to drive past the endlessly under-construction intersection of Route 250 and McIntire Road in Charlottesville, Va., and realize that the darn thing must nearly be completed. It looks sturdy and attractive. There's a nice new bicycle path heading north from it. All must be right with the world.

This intersection has its own official website stating that it won't really be done until next summer -- a website that is otherwise about as helpful as healthcare.gov.

Here are my concerns.

This intersection was only required by the construction of a 2-mile-long unnecessary road leading out of it, a road aimed at taking traffic off other roads that will certainly fail in that quixotic mission. Construction of new houses along those other roads has outpaced the construction of the new road that will produce the traffic needed to fill it, as they always do.

The intersection is supposed to cost $33 million, and together with the 2-mile-long road a total of $67 million.

The increased traffic is predictably driving discussion of additional new intersections to receive it. Price tags for improving four intersections on nearby Route 29 have been discussed as ranging from $250 million to $350 million. An intersection many miles up Route 29 in Gainesville is under construction for a cost of $216 million. A ridiculous proposal for a whole new road to the west of Charlottesville has been stopped by public pressure but left $200 million lying around for people to find something to spend it on. The Virginia Department of Transportation has a six-year plan to spend $13 billion on transportation projects.

To put this madness into perspective, the World Food Program needs $413 million for Syrian refugees for the next six months and doesn't have it. That's the cost of a couple of pointless and counterproductive intersections.

About $11 billion per year would provide clean drinking water to every part of the world that lacks it. That's less than a certain collection of road construction projects in just one U.S. state.

About $30 billion per year would end starvation and hunger around the world. In the United States alone we spend about $80 billion per month on highway and road construction projects.

The problem is not just that we're paving the planet rather than saving lives. And it's not just that paving one's way out of traffic predictably generates more traffic. It's also that we're destroying the planet's climate in the process.

Oh, and we're also creating a motivation for endless wars over oil.

Speaking of wars, no intersection would be complete without a war memorial. As part of the construction of the $33 million intersection in Charlottesville, big improvements are being made to the Dogwood Veterans Memorial, a monument to the war on Vietnam that was built during that war in 1966.

That war killed some 4 million Vietnamese, and the people whose government killed them have absolutely no shame. In fact, they don't even know about it. Ask a German or a Japanese about their nations' greatest sins, and they'll cite you chapter and verse with grave remorse. Ask a U.S.-American how many people died in Vietnam and you'll get at best a blank stare.

So, as you speed through the new intersection admiring the blacktop and the war monument -- I'm sure there's something similar in your part of the country too --  give some thought to the general priorities they represent.

We're Not Exceptional, We're Isolated

This weekend I participated in an interesting exercise. A group of activists staged a debate in which some of us argued that peace and environmental and economic justice are possible, while another group argued against us.

The latter group professed to not believe its own statements, to be dirtying itself with bad arguments for the sake of the exercise — in order to help us refine our arguments. But the case they made for the impossibility of peace or justice was one I hear often from people who at least partially believe it.

A core of the U.S. argument for the inevitability of war and injustice is a mysterious substance called “human nature.” I take belief in this substance to be an example of how thoroughly U.S. exceptionalism pervades the thinking of even those who oppose it. And I take exceptionalism to mean not superiority over but ignorance of everybody else.

Let me explain. In the United States we have 5 percent of humanity living in a society dedicated to war in an unprecedented manner, putting over $1 trillion every year into war and preparations for war. Going to the other extreme you have a country like Costa Rica that abolished its military and thus spends $0 on war. Most nations of the world are much closer to Costa Rica than to the United States. Most nations of the world spend a small fraction of what the United States spends on militarism (in real numbers or per capita). If the United States were to reduce its military spending to the global average or mean of all other countries, suddenly it would become difficult for people in the United States to talk about war as “human nature,” and going that last little bit to complete abolition wouldn’t look so hard.

But isn’t the other 95 percent of humanity human now?

In the United States we live a lifestyle that destroys the environment at a far greater pace than do most human beings. We flinch at the idea of radically reducing our destruction of the earth’s climate — or, in other words, living like Europeans. But we don’t think of it as living like Europeans. We don’t think of it as living like South Americans or Africans. We don’t think about the other 95 percent. We propagandize them through Hollywood and promote our destructive lifestyle through our financial institutions, but we don’t think about people who aren’t imitating us as humans.

In the United States we have a society with greater inequality of wealth and greater poverty than in any other wealthy nation. And activists who oppose this injustice can sit in a room and describe particular aspects of it as part of human nature. I’ve heard many do this who were not faking their beliefs.

But imagine if the people of Iceland or some other corner of the earth got together and discussed the pros and cons of their society as “human nature” while ignoring the rest of the world. We’d laugh at them, of course. We might also envy them if we listened long enough to catch on to what they supposed “human nature” to be.

Torture "Architect" Mistaken in Claim Nobody's Punished for Drone Murders

A psychologist who played a key role in a U.S. torture program said on a video yesterday that torture was excusable because blowing up families with a drone is worse (and nobody's punished for that). Well, of course the existence of something worse is no excuse for torture. And he's wrong that no one is punished for drone murders. The protesters are. Latest example:

"Missouri judge convicts and sentences two peace activists for protesting drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base.

"Jefferson City, MO—On December 10, a federal magistrate found Georgia Walker, of  Kansas  City, MO and Chicagoan Kathy Kelly guilty of criminal trespass to a military installation  as a result of their June 1 effort to deliver a loaf of bread and a citizens’ indictment of drone warfare to authorities at Whiteman AFB.   Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced Kelly to three months in prison and Walker to one year of supervised probation. 

"In testimony, Kelly, who recently returned from Afghanistan, recounted her conversation with an Afghan mother whose son, a recent police academy graduate, was killed by a drone as he sat with colleagues in a garden.  “I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by U.S. warfare,” said Kelly. 'The U.S. prison system also traps and impoverishes people.  In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why.'

"During sentencing, prosecution attorneys asked that Walker be sentenced to five years of probation and banned from going within 500 feet of any military base.  Judge Whitworth imposed a sentence of one year probation with a condition that Walker refrain from approaching any military base for one year. Walker coordinates an organization that provides re-entry services to newly released prisoners throughout Missouri.  Noting that the condition to stay away from military bases will affect her ability to travel in the region, Walker expressed concern that this condition will limit her work among former prisoners.    

"Kelly’s work as a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence places her alongside people in a working class neighborhood of Kabul.  She said that the day’s proceedings offered a valuable opportunity to shed light on experiences of Afghan families whose grievances are seldom heard. At the conclusion of the sentencing, Kelly said that every branch of U.S. government, including the judicial branch, shares responsibility for suffering caused when drones target and kill civilians."

On December 3, Mark Colville, a protester of drone murders at Hancock Air Base in New York, was sentenced to a one year conditional release, $1000 fine, $255 court costs, and to give a DNA sample to NY State. "This sentence was a great departure from what Judge Jokl threatened to give Mark," said Ellen Grady. "We are relieved that the judge did not give him the maximum and we in the courtroom were very moved by Mark's powerful statement to the court. May the resistance continue!"

This was Colville's statement in court:

"Judge Jokl:

"I am standing here before you tonight because I tried to intervene on behalf of a family in Afghanistan whose members have experienced the unspeakable trauma of witnessing loved ones being blown to pieces, murdered by hellfire missiles fired from remote control aircraft like those flown from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Airbase. I stand here, under judgement in this court, because a member of that family, Raz Mohammad, wrote an urgent plea to the courts of the United States, to our government and military, to stop these unprovoked attacks on his people, and I made a conscientious decision to carry Mr. Mohammad’s plea to the gates of Hancock. Make no mistake: I am proud of that decision. As a husband and father myself, and as a child of God, I do not hesitate to affirm that the actions for which I stand subject to punishment in this court tonight were responsible, loving and nonviolent. As such, no sentence that you pronounce here can either condemn me or deligitimize what I’ve done, nor will it have any impact on the truth of similar actions undertaken by dozens of others who are still awaiting trial in this court.

"The drone base within your jurisdiction is part of a military/intelligence undertaking that is not only founded upon criminality, but is also, by any sober analysis, allowed to operate beyond the reach of law. Extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations, acts of state terrorism, the deliberate targeting of civilians- all of these crimes form the essence of the weaponized drone program that the United States government claims to be legal in its prosecution of the so called “war on terror”. Recent studies have shown that for every targeted person killed in a drone strike, twenty eight people of undetermined identity have also been slaughtered. The military admits to employing a mode of operation called “double-tapping”, in which a weaponized drone is directed back to strike a target a second time, after first responders have arrived to help the wounded. Yet never has any of this been subject to congressional approval or, more importantly, to the scrutiny of U.S. courts. In this case, you had the opportunity, from where you sit, to change that. You’ve heard the testimony of several trials similar to mine; you know what the reality is. You also heard the desperate plea of Raz Mohammad, which was read in open court during this trial. What you chose was to further legitimize these crimes by ignoring them. The faces of dead children, murdered by our nation’s hand, had no place in this court. They were excluded. Objected to. Irrelevant. Until that changes, this court continues to take an active, crucial role in condemning the innocent to death. In so doing, this court condemns itself.

"And I think it's fitting to end with the words of Raz that were sent to me this afternoon on behalf of his sister, widowed after a drone attack killed her young husband:

"'My sister says that for the sake of her 7 year old son, she doesn’t want to bear any grudges or take revenge against the U.S./NATO forces for the drone attack that killed his father. But, she asks that the U.S./NATO forces end their drone attacks in Afghanistan, and that they give an open account of deaths cause by drone attacks in this country.'"

Plans are being made for big national protests at Shaw Air Base in South Carolina (dates to be determined) and at Creech Air Base in Nevada (that one March 1-4).

Actions at Hancock Air Base in New York are ongoing, as at Beale in CA and Battle Creek, MI.

Want to get involved in opposing drone murder?

Sign BanWeaponizedDrones.org

Organize with KnowDrones

Support Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

Get anti-drone shirts, stickers, hats, etc.

Brian Terrell, who has spent 6 months behind bars already for opposing murder by drone, offers some useful insights in an article called Redefining “Imminent”.

So does a victim's child in My father was killed by a computer, says 7 year old Afghan child.

As does drone murder protester Joy First in  What Happens When You Talk With Americans About Drone Murders.

Find more articles here.

Elizabeth Warren Could Use Some Elizabeth Peacen

Why people want to become fans of a senator rather than pushing senators to serve the public is beyond me.

Why people want to distract and drain away two years of activism, with the planet in such peril, fantasizing about electing a messiah is beyond me.

And when people who've chosen as their messiah someone who isn't even running for the office they're obsessed with, respond to criticism with "Well, who else is there?" -- that makes zero sense. They've made the list and could make it differently.

But here's what's really crazy about talking to Elizabeth-Warren-For-Presidenters. If you complain that she hasn't noticed the military budget yet, they tell you that doing so would cost her the election. And when you reject that contention, they tell you that wars are just one little issue among a great many.

Now, when Congress was cooking up a Grand Bargain to solve the debt "crisis," people who were polled almost universally rejected any of the acceptable solutions under consideration, such as smashing Social Security. Instead, they said they wanted the rich taxed and the military cut. When pollsters at the University of Maryland show people the federal budget, a strong majority wants big cuts to the military. This is nothing new. People favor cutting war spending. People who elected Obama believed (falsely) that he intended to cut the military.

A different and more substantiated argument would be that turning against military spending would cost Warren the support of wealthy funders and the tolerance of media gatekeepers. But that does not seem to be the argument that Warren-For-Presidenters make.

It's the "just one issue among many" thing that's truly nuts. Look at this:

One little item makes up over half the discretionary budget, the things a Senator votes to spend money on or not spend money on. Does Warren think this massive investment in war preparation is too much, too little, or just the right amount? Who the hell knows? Can anyone even be found who cares?

The cost of one weapons system that doesn't work could provide every homeless person with a large house.

A tiny fraction of military spending could end starvation at home and abroad.

The Great Student Loan Struggle takes place in the shadow of military spending unseen in countries that simply make college free, countries that don't tax more than the United States, countries that just don't do wars the way the U.S. does. You can find lots of other little differences between those countries and the U.S. but none of them on the unfathomable scale of military spending or even remotely close to it.

Financially, war is what the U.S. government does. Everything else is a side show.

In the typical U.S. Congressional election, the military budget is never mentioned by any candidate or commentator. But surely it's fair to ask Senator Warren, with her great interest in financial questions and economic justice, whether she knows the military budget exists and what she thinks of it.

As far as I know, nobody has asked her. When asked about Israel bombing families, she literally ran away. When asked again, she gave her support to the mass killing.

When a candidate is never asked about a subject, most people simply imagine the candidate shares their own view. This is why it's important to ask.

Of course, many people actually think that war is only one little issue among many others and that, for example, funding schools is totally unrelated to dumping over half the budget into a criminal enterprise. To them I say, please look carefully at the graphic above.

Plutocrats for Peace: The Nobel-Carnegie Model

“Dear Fredrik, Last Friday I went to an event organized by the Carnegie Corporation on the anniversary of the end of WWI. I was struck by how similar Andrew Carnegie’s ideas, as well as his philanthropy, were to Alfred Nobel’s. Do you know whether they were ever in contact? All best, Peter [Weiss].

“These are Peter’s questions: Why the similarities? Were Carnegie and Nobel ever in contact? And this is mine: Why is the connection so interesting – and consequential? –Fredrik S. Heffermehl.”

The above was the announcement of a contest at NobelWill.org that I just won with the following:

We do not know of, but also cannot exclude, a meeting face to face, or an exchange of letters, between Alfred Nobel and Andrew Carnegie that can explain how strikingly “similar Andrew Carnegie’s ideas, as well as his philanthropy, were to Alfred Nobel’s.” But the similarity is partially explained by the culture of the day. They were not the only tycoons to fund war abolition, just the wealthiest. It may be further explained by the fact that a primary influence on both of them in their peace philanthropy was the same person, a woman who met them both in person and was in fact very close friends with Nobel — Bertha von Suttner. Further, Nobel’s philanthropy came first and was itself an influence on Carnegie’s. Both offer fine examples for today’s super-rich — far richer, of course, than even Carnegie, but none of whom have put a dime into funding the elimination of war. They also offer excellent examples for the legally mandated operation of their own institutions which have strayed so far off course.

alfred-nobel-sijoy-thomas4Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) and Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) lived in an era with fewer super-wealthy individuals than today; and even Carnegie’s wealth did not match that of today’s wealthiest. But they gave away a higher percentage of their wealth than today’s wealthy have done. Carnegie gave away a higher amount, adjusted for inflation, than all but three living Americans (Gates, Buffett, and Soros) have thus far given.*

No one in the Forbes list of top 50 current philanthropists has funded an effort to abolish war. Nobel and Carnegie funded that project heavily while they lived, and engaged in promoting it apart from their financial contributions. Before they died, they arranged to leave behind them a legacy that would continue funding efforts to reduce and eliminate war from the world. Those legacies have done a great deal of good and have the potential to do a great deal more, and to succeed. But both have survived into an era that largely disbelieves in the possibility of peace, and both organizations have strayed far from their intended work, changing their missions to match the times, rather than resisting a militarization of culture by sticking to their legal and moral mandates.

What is interesting and consequential about the similarities between Nobel and Carnegie is the extent to which their philanthropy for peace was a product of their time. Both became engaged in peace activism, but both favored the abolition of war before becoming so engaged. That opinion was more common in their age than now. Philanthropy for peace was also more common, though usually not with the same scale and consequence that Nobel and Carnegie managed.

What is most interesting is that the consequences of what Nobel and Carnegie did remain to be determined, by the actions living people take to fulfill the promise of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as by the actions we take to pursue the peace agenda outside of those institutions, and perhaps by current philanthropists who might find ways to emulate these past examples. In 2010, Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates encouraged billionaires to donate half their wealth (not up to the Nobel-Carnegie standard, but still significant). Buffett described the first 81 billionaires’ signatures on their pledge as “81 Gospels of Wealth,” in tribute to “The Gospel of Wealth,” an article and book by Carnegie.

It would be hard to prove that Carnegie and Nobel never corresponded. We are dealing here with two prolific letter writers in an age of letter-writing, and two men whose letters we know have vanished from history in huge numbers. But I have read a number of biographical works of the two of them and of friends they had in common. Some of these books refer to both men in such a way that if the author knew them ever to have met or corresponded it certainly would have been mentioned. But this question may be a red herring. If Nobel and Carnegie came into contact with each other, it was clearly not extensive and certainly not what made them similar in attitudes toward peace and philanthropy. Nobel was a model for Carnegie, as his peace philanthropy preceded Carnegie’s in time. Both men were urged on by some of the same peace advocates, most importantly Bertha von Suttner. Both men were exceptional, but both lived in an era in which funding progress toward the elimination of warfare was something that was done, unlike today when it is something that just isn’t done — not even by the Nobel Committee or the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

One could list a hundred similarities and dissimilarities between Nobel and Carnegie. Some of the similarities that might have a slight bearing here include these. Both men had immigrated in their youth, Nobel from Sweden to Russia at age 9, Carnegie from Scotland to the United States at age 12. Both were sickly. Both had little formal schooling (not as rare back then). Both were longtime bachelors, Nobel for life, and Carnegie into his 50s. Both were lifelong travelers, cosmopolitans, and (particularly Nobel) loners. Carnegie wrote travel books. Both were writers of numerous genres with a wide array of interests and knowledge. Nobel wrote poetry. Carnegie did journalism, and even happened to remark of the power of news reporting that “Dynamite is child’s play compared to the press.” Dynamite was of course one of Nobel’s inventions, and also a product someone once used to try to blow up Carnegie’s house (something one historian I asked pointed to as the closest connection between the two men). Both were in part but not primarily war profiteers. Both were complex, contradictory, and certainly to some extent guilt ridden. Nobel tried to rationalize his manufacture of weapons with the thought that extreme enough weapons would persuade people to abandon war (a somewhat common idea up through the age of nuclear nations waging and losing numerous wars). Carnegie used armed force to suppress workers’ rights, had got his break running telegraphs for the U.S. government during the U.S. Civil War, and profited from World War I.

Andrew-Carnegie-facts-news-photosThe argument that those who grow rich will know best what to do with their hoarded wealth is actually supported by the examples of Nobel and Carnegie, although they are in this regard — of course — exceptional cases rather than the rule. It is very hard to argue with the general thrust of what they did with their money, and the assignment that Carnegie left behind for his Endowment for Peace is something of a model of morality that puts any professor of ethics to shame. Carnegie’s money was to be spent on eliminating war, as the most evil institution in existence. But once war has been eliminated, the Endowment is to determine what the next most evil institution is, and begin working to eliminate that or to create the new institution that would do the most good. (Isn’t this what any ethical human being should be engaged in, whether paid for it or not?) Here’s the relevant passage:

“When civilized nations enter into such treaties as named or war is discarded as disgraceful to civilized men, as personal war (dueling) and man selling and buying (slavery) have been discarded within the wide boundaries of our English-speaking race, the trustees will please then consider what is the next most degrading remaining evil or evils, whose banishment — or what new elevating element or elements if introduced or fostered, or both combined — would most advance the progress, elevation and happiness of man, and so on from century to century without end, my trustees of each age shall determine how they can best aid man in the upward march to higher and higher stages of developments unceasingly, for now we know that as a law of his being man was created with the desire and capacity for improvement to which, perchance, there may be no limit short of perfection even here in this life upon earth.”

Here’s the key passage from the will of Alfred Nobel, which created five prizes including:

“one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Both Nobel and Carnegie found their way to opposing war through the general culture around them. Nobel was a fan of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Carnegie’s notion quoted above of progress in overcoming slavery, dueling, and other evils — with war to be added to the list — could be found in early U.S. abolitionists (of slavery and war) like Charles Sumner. Carnegie was a 1898 anti-imperialist. Nobel first raised the idea of ending war to Bertha von Suttner, not the other way around. But it was the relentless advocacy of von Suttner and others that moved the two men to engage as they did in what was a very top-down, respectable, not to say aristocratic peace movement that advanced through the recruitment of VIPs and the holding of conferences with high-level government officials, as opposed to marches, demonstrations, or protests by anonymous masses. Bertha von Suttner persuaded first Nobel and then Carnegie to fund her, her allies, and the movement as a whole.

Both Nobel and Carnegie viewed themselves as a bit heroic and viewed the world through that lens. Nobel established a prize for an individual leader, though it has not always been administered as intended (sometimes going to more than one person or to an organization). Carnegie similarly created a Hero Fund to fund, and to make the world aware of, heroes of peace, not war.

Both men, as cited above, left formal instructions for the continued use of their money for peace. Both intended to leave a legacy to the world, not just to their personal families, of which Nobel didn’t have any. In both cases the instructions have been grossly disregarded. The Nobel Peace Prize, as well detailed in the writings of Fredrik Heffermehl, has been awarded to many who have not fit the requirements, including some who have even favored war. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has openly rejected its mission of eliminating war, moved on to numerous other projects, and re-categorized itself as a think tank.

Of numerous individuals who reasonably might have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize but have not been — a list that usually begins with Mohandas Gandhi — one nominee in 1913 was Andrew Carnegie, and the laureate in 1912 was Carnegie’s associate Elihu Root. Of course, mutual friend of Nobel and Carnegie, Bertha von Suttner received the prize in 1905 as did her associated Alfred Fried in 1911. Nicholas Murray Butler received the prize in 1931 for his work at the Carnegie Endowment, which included lobbying for the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928. Frank Kellogg got the prize in 1929, and Aristide Briand already had in 1926. When U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt received the prize in 1906 it was Andrew Carnegie who persuaded him to make the trip to Norway to accept it. There are numerous connections of this sort that all came after Nobel’s death.

Bertha_von_Suttner_portraitBertha von Suttner, mother of the war abolition movement, became a major international figure with the publication of her novel Lay Down Your Arms in 1889. I don’t think it was false modesty but accurate assessment when she attributed the success of her book to a sentiment already spreading. “I think that when a book with a purpose is successful, this success does not depend on the effect it has on the spirit of the times but the other way around,” she said. In fact, both are certainly the case. Her book tapped into a growing sentiment and dramatically expanded it. The same can be said for the philanthropy (truly loving of people) of Nobel and Carnegie that she encouraged.

But the best laid plans can fail. Bertha von Suttner opposed one of the first nominees for the peace prize, Henri Dunant as a “war alleviator,” and when he received it, she promoted the view that he’d been honored for supporting the abolition of war rather than for his work with the Red Cross. In 1905 1906, as noted, the prize went to warmonger Teddy Roosevelt, and the year after to Louis Renault, causing von Suttner to remark that “even war could get the prize.” Eventually people like Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama would make the list of laureates. A prize meant to fund demilitarization work was awarded in 2012 to the European Union, which could fund demilitarization most easily by spending less money on weaponry.

It did not take long for Carnegie’s legacy to slip off track as well. In 1917 the Endowment for Peace backed U.S. involvement in World War I. After a second world war, the Endowment put leading warmonger John Foster Dulles on its board along with Dwight D. Eisenhower. The same institution that had backed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which bans all war, backed the UN Charter which legalizes wars that are either defensive or UN-authorized.

As the disregard of climate change in the 1970s and 1980s helped create today’s climate crisis, disregard of Nobel’s and Carnegie’s intentions and legal mandates in the early and mid-twentieth century helped create today’s world in which U.S. and NATO militarism are widely acceptable to those in power.

Jessica T. Mathews, current President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes: “The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States. Founded by Andrew Carnegie with a gift of $10 million, its charter was to ‘hasten the abolition of war, the foulest blot upon our civilization.’ While that goal was always unattainable, the Carnegie Endowment has remained faithful to the mission of promoting peaceful engagement.”

That is, while denouncing without argument my required mission as impossible, I have remained faithful to that mission.

No. It doesn’t work that way. Here’s Peter van den Dungen:

“The peace movement was especially productive in the two decades preceding World War I when its agenda reached the highest levels of government as manifested, for instance, in the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. A direct result of these unprecedented conferences – which followed an appeal (1898) by Tsar Nicholas II to halt the arms race, and to substitute war by peaceful arbitration – was the construction of the Peace Palace which opened its doors in 1913, and which celebrated its centenary in August 2013. Since 1946, it is of course the seat of the International Court of Justice of the UN. The world owes the Peace Palace to the munificence of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American steel tycoon who became a pioneer of modern philanthropy and who was also an ardent opponent of war. Like no one else, he liberally endowed institutions devoted to the pursuit of world peace, most of which still exist today.

“Whereas the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, guards its high mission to replace war by justice, Carnegie’s most generous legacy for peace, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), has explicitly turned away from its founder’s belief in the abolition of war, thereby depriving the peace movement of much-needed resources. This could partly explain why that movement has not grown into a mass movement which can exert effective pressure on governments. I believe it is important to reflect on this for a moment. In 1910 Carnegie, who was America’s most famous peace activist, and the world’s richest man, endowed his peace foundation with $10 million. In today’s money, this is the equivalent of $3.5 billion. Imagine what the peace movement – that is, the movement for the abolition of war – could do today if it had access to that kind of money, or even a fraction of it. Unfortunately, while Carnegie favoured advocacy and activism, the trustees of his Peace Endowment favoured research. As early as 1916, in the middle of the First World War, one of the trustees even suggested that the name of the institution should be changed to Carnegie Endowment for International Justice.”

I’m not sure any two economists calculate the value of inflation the same way. Whether $3.5 billion is the right number or not, it is orders of magnitude larger than anything funding peace today. And $10 million was only a fraction of what Carnegie put into peace through the funding of trusts, the building of buildings in DC and Costa Rica as well as the Hague, and the funding of individual activists and organizations for years and years. Imagining peace is difficult for some people, perhaps for all of us. Maybe imagining someone wealthy investing in peace would be a step in the right direction. Maybe it will help our thinking to know that it’s been done before.

*By some calculations some of the early robber barons were, in fact, wealthier than some of our current ones.

Talk Nation Radio: Lia Tarachansky on How Israel Was Really Created in 1948

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-lia-tarachansky-on-how-israel-was-really-created-in-1948

Lia Tarachansky discusses her new film On the Side of the Road which looks at the creation of Israel and the erasure of what was there before. Learn more at: http://naretivproductions.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Lay Down Your Arms

The Lay Down your Arms Association was incorporated and registered in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2014. A main project to start with is The Nobel Peace Prize Watch.

Purpose – Lay Down Your Arms Association

Peace is a common wish for all humanity, it must become our common demand. Peace is a binding legal obligation for all nations, it must become their common practice.

Experience tells us that if we prepare for war we get war. To achieve peace we must prepare for peace. Yet all nations continue to spend astronomic sums and incur extreme risks on a flawed concept of peace by military means. What the world most urgently needs is a common, co-operative security system to replace weapons and endless preparations for violence and war.

For centuries peace activists have claimed that peace through disarmament is necessary and, indeed, the only road to real security. Alfred Nobel decided to promote and support this idea when, in his will of 1895, he included “the prize for the champions of peace” and entrusted the Norwegian Parliament with a key role in the promotion and realization of his purpose. The Norwegians proudly undertook the assignment, further described in the will by language on “creating the brotherhood of nations, ”disarmament,” and “peace congresses.”

Nobel´s plan for preventing future wars thus was that nations must cooperate on disarmament and commit to solving all differences through negotiation or compulsory adjudication, a culture of peace that would free the world from its current addiction to violence and war. With today´s military technologies it is a matter of imperative urgency for the world to seriously consider committing to the idea of Alfred Nobel and Bertha von Suttner.

Suttner was the leading champion of peace at the time and it was her entreaties that led Nobel to establish the prize in support of the peace ideas that need a fresh restart. Taking its name from Suttner´s bestselling novel, “Lay down your arms – Die Waffen Nieder” a first goal for the network is to reclaim the Nobel prize for the “champions of peace” and the specific road to peace that Nobel had in mind and intended to support.  

Actions, Activities

- Nobel Peace Prize Watch

A. What is our special role?

All peace movement efforts for reduction or abolition of armaments depend on arguments in a democratic mobilization of public opinion. So also does The Nobel Peace Prize Watch. Our special advantage is that we not only argue that humanity must, for the sake of the survival of life on the planet, find a way to eliminate weapons, warriors and wars. In addition we make a legal argument – Nobel wanted to support a specific approach to peace – certain people have a legal entitlement by his will. Today the prize is in the hands of its political opponents. We wish to use legal means to get back the money that once was given to the cause of peace by demilitarization of international relations.

B. What are our plans?

The association shall seek to induce political decision-makers to address the imperative urgency of a new international system. To this end we will disseminate information and seek to increase public awareness of how all the nations of the world continue to be locked in power games and a never ending race for superiority in military forces and technology. This approach consumes astronomic sums of money, wastes resources that could serve human needs, and the idea that it gives security is an illusion. Modern weapons represent an imminent threat to the survival of life on the planet. We live in a constant emergency.
The answer must lie in a deep change of attitudes and an international system where international law and institutions lay the ground for trust and co-operation in a demilitarized world.
We distribute information by articles, books and lectures or public debates, we introduce proposals and requests in appropriate fora, including submitting issues to adjudication in administrative agencies or courts of law.
The Nobel Peace Prize Watch builds on research into the actual intention of Nobel published in books by Norwegian lawyer and author Fredrik S. Heffermehl. The project welcomes members, co-operation with like-minded organizations, and financial support.

Board

The Association was incorporated and registered in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2014. Founding members and board in intitial phase are Tomas Magnusson (Sweden) and Fredrik S. Heffermehl (Norway).

Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Oslo, Norway, lawyer and author
Former member of the IPB, International Peace Bureau, Steering Committee, 1985 to 2000. Vice president of IALANA, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. Former president of the Norwegian Peace Council 1985 to 2000. Published Peace is Possible (English IPB, 2000 – with 16 translations). In 2008 published first known legal analysis of the content of the Nobel peace prize. In a new book two years later, The Nobel Peace Prize. What Nobel Really Wanted included a study of Norwegian politics and the repression of his views (Praeger, 2010. Exists in 4 translations, Chinese, Finnish, Spanish, Swedish).
Phone: +47 917 44 783, e-mail, website: http://www.nobelwill.org

Tomas Magnusson, Gothenburg, Sweden,
After 20 years on the IPB, International Peace Bureau, Steering committee, was President from 2006 to 2013. Earlier President of SPAS, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society. A journalist by education, he has spent most of his life by working voluntarily and professionally with peace, development and migration issues.
Phone: +46 708 293197

 

International Advisory Board

Richard Falk, USA, Professor (em.) of International law and organization, Princeton University

Bruce Kent, United Kingdom, President MAW, Movement for Abolition of War, ex President IPB

Dennis Kucinich, USA, Member of Congress, campaigns for US President

Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland, Nobel laureate (1976)

Norman Solomon, USA, Journalist, anti-war activist

Davis Swanson, USA, Director, World Beyond War

 

Scandinavian Advisory Board

Nils Christie, Norway, professor, University of Oslo

Erik Dammann, Norway, founder “Future in our hands,” Oslo

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Norway, professor, University of Oslo

Ståle Eskeland, Norway, professor of criminal law, University of Oslo

Erni Friholt, Sweden, Peace movement of Orust

Ola Friholt, Sweden, Peace movement of Orust

Lars-Gunnar Liljestrand, Sweden, Chair of the Association of FiB lawyers

Torild Skard, Norway, Ex President of Parliament, Second chamber (Lagtinget)

Sören Sommelius, Sweden, author and culture journalist

Maj-Britt Theorin, Sweden, ex President, International Peace Bureau

Gunnar Westberg, Sweden, Professor, ex Co-President IPPNW (Nobel peace prize 1985)

Jan Öberg, TFF, Sweden, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.

Rand Paul Declares a Non-War War

Senator Rand Paul wants Congress to Declare war on ISIS. Some, like Bruce Fein, are willing to ignore the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact, and write as if a war would be legal if Congress would just declare it. And, of course, Fein is right that in theory a Congress that was in any way held accountable by the public would be preferable to lawless presidents waging war where they like.

But Paul's war declaration doesn't just declare a war that is already underway. It declares a war limited to this action exclusively:

"protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats 
posed thereto by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State."

See, it's sort of a pretense of defensive war. We'll fight you thousands of miles away in your country, in defense. But this pretense depends on the United States, and its corporate oil overlords, deciding to maintain people and facilities in Iraq and Syria.

What facilities does the U.S. government have in Iraq and Syria? Military facilities! (Including the world's largest "embassy," which is certainly a military facility.)

So we'll have a war with the sole purpose of defending soldiers and weaponry kept there just in case we need to have a war. If you're unable to see the logical problem here, ask a child to help.

Let me give you the low-budget, small guv'mnt version of this war: Bring the Goddam People and Facilities Home.

Done. Mission accomplished.

Of course, this is all an act. The war is underway illegally and unconstitutionally. ISIS recruitment is soaring as a result of the war it asked for. Weapons companies' profits are soaring as a result of the war they are happy to assist in. Nobody is threatened with impeachment for this unconstitutional war. That sacred sanction is saved as punishment for humane treatment of foreigners or fellatio.

So the war may get declared or not declared, limited or not limited. It will roll on, just like all the illegal drone wars underway, if the president and the weapons makers and the television propagandists choose.

Unless people actually wake up and stop this madness, as they did just over a year ago.

If we decide to do that, our demand should not be a war declaration.

Our demand should not even be an end to this one war, while continuing to dump a trillion dollars a year into preparing for wars that somehow end up happening.

Our demand should be an end to war-handouts. If the universe wants to have wars, let the wars pay for themselves. Let the wars become self-sufficient. It's tough love, I know, but socialism has failed. It's time we closed a whole department, and that department should be the deceptively renamed Department of War.

Get involved.

Silver Linings in Rolling Stone Rape Fiasco

Rolling Stone alleged a gang rape at UVA and now doubts its own report. I have no knowledge of the matter. Maybe the victim was completely honest. Maybe she was largely honest but too drunk, or just too traumatized, to remember which fraternity house she was in. Maybe she made it all up. I have no idea and hope a competent police department, rather than an incompetent magazine, tries to find out if possible.

Predictably enough, the internet is now being flooded with articles pointing out that even if one alleged rape victim is lying, many others are not.

The thing is, I believe a lot of people know that, and more might know it now, rather than fewer.

But it's possible they'll know it with a little more seriousness.

It's all too common to assert, absurdly, outrageously, and immorally that all alleged victims must be believed as a matter of principle. It's all too common to assume they are all lying. Neither position is a principle. Either is a preposterous bit of stupidity.

I think the more the matter is discussed, examined, and considered, the fewer people will hold either idiotic position.

So here are some possible silver linings:

Awareness that people lie about rape.

Awareness that people also tell the truth about rape, and that doing so is in some cases so notoriously difficult that a well-meaning journalist may bend over backwards to help.

Awareness that journalism can make a difference, and that it would make a bigger difference if done better. What if that were applied to military and corporate funding of universities, or the poor manner in which history is taught in our colleges, or the lives of UVA staff who work extra jobs and still need public support?

Awareness that inactive, tv-viewing, partying students can get active about something and make a difference. What if they were to notice climate change or mass incarceration or the fact that college is free in some countries that fight fewer wars?

Awareness that one incident is not a trend, and that treating it as such is unfair to all involved.

Awareness that many rapes are never reported.

Awareness that men have spent many years in prison before being cleared of false rape charges.

Awareness that people claiming rape should be treated with kindness, consideration, understanding, and professional support, not because there is a certain high percentage chance they are telling the truth, but because they are people. Period.

Awareness that people accused of rape should be treated with kindness, consideration, understanding, and professional support, not because they could be innocent, but because they are people. Period.

Awareness that labeling people or institutions innocent or guilty, in combination with anger and vengeance, leads to blinding prejudices that make a mockery of the right to a trial and the wisdom meant to be instilled by a well-rounded education.

Awareness of all of the following:

Rape victims are victims of traumatic violence.

Someone making a false accusation may be a victim of an earlier, unreported assault, or of a traumatic or humiliating non-criminal experience, but is in any case troubled and in need of understanding.

Victims of false accusation can find the damage traumatic and lasting.

Someone accurately accused of rape is clearly a very troubled person in need of help he will not get from "correctional officers" or "inmates."

Collectively, UVA needs restorative justice, truth and reconciliation, open discussion of rapes real, fictional, and disputed.

Individually, victims and assailants need restorative justice. Those guilty need to be brought to understand and regret their victims' pain and suffering, and to work to make it up to them to the extent possible. Victims need to be brought to understand that they are not to blame, that their community supports them, and that those responsible are sorry for what they've done. None of that comes out of an ancient British system of adversarial justice, an unprecedented epidemic of U.S. mass incarceration, or journalism that doesn't bother to get more than one side of a story.