Blogs

Feb
12

Why won’t march to unite all movements include peace?

Tag: Peace and War
Will you stand for peace? Petition to the organizers of the April 29 People’s Climate March

Your website at PeoplesClimate.org proposes a march on Washington on April 29, 2017, to “unite all our movements” for “communities,” “climate,” “safety,” “health,” “the rights of people of color, workers, indigenous people, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, young people, and more,” “jobs and livelihoods,” “civil rights and liberties,” “everything and everyone we love,” “families,” “air,” “water,” “land,” “clean energy jobs and climate justice,” to “reduce greenhouse gas and toxic pollution,” for “a transition to an equitable and sustainable New Energy and Economic Future,” “that every job pays a wage of at least $15 an hour, protects workers, and provides a good standard of living, pathways out of poverty, and a right to organize,” “massive investments in infrastructure systems from water, transportation, and solid waste to the electrical grid and safe, green building and increasing energy efficiency that will also create millions of jobs in the public and private sector,” . . . but not peace.

We wish to make you aware that approximately half of federal discretionary spending is going into wars and war preparation, and that this institution constitutes our single biggest destroyer of the environment. More on that here.

Will you please add “peace” to the list of things you are marching for?

If you will, it will become a list of things that WE are marching for, as we will join you.

Add your name to the above petition here.

Feb
11

Chasing a Northern Confederate Out of the South

Tag: Civil Rights, Culture and Society, Media, Peace and War

The Washington Post proclaims: "Protesters mob provocative Va. governor candidate as he defends Confederate statue." Six seconds of video of the incident involved is likely to show up eventually here or here.

I was there on Saturday shouting down the "provocative" celebrator of racism and war, together with my kids and some friends. The only hostility I saw came from supporters of keeping the giant statue of Robert E. Lee in the park here in Charlottesville.

Feb
09

Good Riddance to Robert E. Lee

Tag: Civil Rights, Peace and War

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the city of Charlottesville, Va., city council has voted to remove an imposing statue of Robert E. Lee (and the horse he never rode in on) from Lee Park, and to rename and redesign the park.

The statue of this non-Charlottesvillian had been put up in a whites-only park during the 1920s at the whim of an extremely wealthy and racist individual. So, for a representative government to vote, following a very public deliberative process with voluminous and diverse input from city residents is -- if nothing else -- a step toward democracy.

I think it's much more as well. There are two issues at stake here, neither of them dead issues from the past. One is race. The other is war.

Feb
09

Should California Secede? An Interview with David Swanson

Tag: Political Ideas

On November 21st, California secessionists calling themselves “Yes California” filed papers with the California Secretary of State proposing a November 2018 ballot measure that would ask registered voters whether California should secede from the US and become its own nation. If passed, the measure would strike language from California’s constitution that says the state is “an inseparable part of the United States of America, and the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land.” It would also require a special election in March 2019 for the sole purpose of asking voters whether they’re really sure they want to secede. The measure has been dubbed Calexit after Brexit, which is shorthand for Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union. Its author answers a long list of questions about how California’s institutions might adapt on their website yescalifornia.org. I spoke to David Swanson, Executive Director of World Beyond War and one of the first writer-activists to come out in favor of Calexit.

Ann Garrison: David, you saw the Calexit coming back on March 17th when you wrote the essay “Secession, Trump[, and the Avoidability of Civil War” after California Governor Jerry Brown joked about building a wall around California if Trump were elected. Similar movements emerged, most visibly in California and Vermont, after George Bush’s second election, but both quickly faded from media attention. Do you think this is a historical moment in which they might have more staying power?

Feb
08

Mapping the War Machine

Tag: Peace and War

Republished from a multipage article at http://worldbeyondwar.org/mapwar

When it comes to understanding wars, for some people, a picture of the dead or of the injured or of the traumatized or of those made refugees can be worth ten million words. And, for at least some of us, a picture of where war is in the world can be worth at least a thousand.

What follows are two dozen pictures mapping war and militarism and the struggle for peace overlaid on a global image of nations. These are drawn from — and you can create your own with — an online tool for mapping militarism published by World Beyond War at bit.ly/mappingmilitarism. This tool has just been updated with new data. On many of the maps at that link, unlike with the static images that follow, you can scroll back in time to see changes over recent years.

By laying some important facts about war on the map, we’re able to recognize some ideas that rarely make it into prose. Here are a few examples:

The war in Afghanistan and the foreign occupation of Afghanistan have officially ended, but a map of the nations with troops still occupying Afghanistan still looks like NATO colonialism. The list of locations of severe wars changes from year to year but sticks to a certain region of the world — a region in which none of the major producers of the weapons of war and few of the big spenders on war can be found — but from which the bulk of refugees flee and in which the biggest concentration of that violence labeled “terrorism” germinates, these being two of war’s many tragic consequences. The United States dominates the war business, the sale of weapons to other nations, the sale of weapons to poor nations, the sale of weapons to the Middle East, the deployment of troops abroad, spending on its own military, and the number of wars engaged in. Only Russia is anywhere close to the U.S. in weapons dealing, and this pair of countries nearly splits the vast majority of the nuclear weapons possessed on earth. Efforts toward peace and disarmament are widespread and coming largely from the less-armed, less bellicose parts of the world, but not entirely. And those governments that are otherwise doing well by the world tend to be those not engaged in warfare (“humanitarian” warfare or otherwise).

The presentation that follows can also be found as a “prezi” (a variation on what’s more commonly called a powerpoint and used to be called a slide show). You can grab the prezi for your own use at the World Beyond War events resources page.

WHICH NATIONS HAVE TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN?

As noted in a petition to end the war in Afghanistan, which you are welcome to sign, the U.S. military now has approximately 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, plus 6,000 other NATO troops, 1,000 mercenaries, and another 26,000 contractors (of whom about 8,000 are from the United States). That’s 41,000 people engaged in a foreign occupation of a country, 15 years after the accomplishment of their stated mission to overthrow the Taliban government.

The sources for all the data in all the maps are noted on the map tool at bit.ly/mappingmilitarism. In this case, the source in NATO, which claims 6,941 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The slightly higher 8,000 figure comes from the U.S. commander in December expressing a hope to reduce the troop number to 8,400 by January 20.

Take a look at where the troops occupying Afghanistan all come from. It’s NATO plus the U.S.’s kangaroo sidekick down under plus 120 Mongolians. It’s the world’s self-appointed but generally resented policemen and a few hired security guards. Here’s an argument that they are doing more harm than good.

Feb
07

Talk Nation Radio: John Burroughs on Using Law Against Climate and Nuclear Dangers

Tag: Peace and War, Public Policy, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-burroughs-on-using-law-against-climate-and-nuclear-dangers

John Burroughs is Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (www.lcnp.org), based in New York City. He represents LCNP in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review proceedings, the United Nations, and other international forums. He was a member of the Marshall Islands international legal team in its nuclear disarmament cases in the International Court of Justice. He's the author of numerous publications related to nuclear weapons including contributing to a report called The Climate-Nuclear Nexus, which we discuss.

Burrough's publications include: contributor, Unspeakable suffering - the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (2013) (available here); contributor, Assuring Destruction Forever: Nuclear Weapon Modernization Around the World (2012) (available here); author, The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (1998). He has also published articles and op-eds in journals and newspapers including Fordham International Law Journal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Today, the World Policy Journal, and Newsday. He has taught international law as an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School, Newark.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Feb
07

Nancy Pelosi Backs Bombings But Views Impeachment as Inhumane

Tag: Impeachment

The last time Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the proverbial table was 10 years ago. At that time, I reported on an unusual incident:

Stage set: a dining room at left, an office at right

A woman enters the office where the phone is ringing. She answers it.

NP: Hello? Why do you ask? Yes, I'm sure. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Impeachment is off the table. Now let me tell you about some new legislative proposals that I think you're really going to like. I'll give you what we're going to pass in the first hundred seconds and in the first hundred months. Which one do you want first? Let's start with…

The woman's voice lowers but continues as lights go up in the dining room, where we see a cat jump off the table and wander into the office where the woman is hanging up the phone.

Feb
06

Against Simplicity: A Complexity Manifesto

Tag: Philosophy, Political Ideas

In academia there is a general understanding that the sort of rules applied in (certain specific and limited) physical sciences don't always work in the "human sciences" due to the complexity involved. Among the general public (and plenty of academia too), there is nonetheless a widespread tendency to impose radically over-simplistic rules on the observation of human behavior.

To my mind, once the earth's temperature has been observed to set a new heat record year after year, and extremely likely causes have been identified, one can predict the trend continuing as long as the causes do. Most of the U.S. public, needless to say, would not agree.

The same simplicity cannot be found useful in predicting Atlanta Falcons scoring or Hillary Clinton polling, because the brains and behavior of homo sapiens are involved, regardless of how relatively ignorant you may hold many of those homo sapiens and their brains to be.

Feb
05

The United States Is Innocent and Has Never Killed Anyone

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

It was bound to be the case that if a U.S. president ever admitted that the United States murdered people and did so on a scale at least as significant as other countries, he would be defending the practice, not denouncing it.

It is not a secret in much of the world that the United States is (as that Putin stooge Martin Luther King Jr. put it) the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. The United States is the top weapons dealer, the top weapons buyer, the biggest military spender, the most widespread imperial presence, the most frequent war maker, the most prolific overthrower of governments, and from 1945 to 2017 the killer of the most people through war.

During this past U.S. election, a debate moderator asked if a candidate would be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of basic presidential duties. One can find many faults in Russia and other countries, but in none could one find such an occurrence.

I ask people at public events where I speak to name eight countries bombed under president Barack Obama, and most cannot come close. Nowhere else on earth can people not keep track of their wars.

During this last presidency, the United States developed a new policy of murdering people with missiles from drones. Other nations do not yet have anything to match it.

Hillary Clinton told Goldman Sachs bankers that a no-fly zone in Syria would require killing lots of Syrians, but told the public that a no-fly zone should be created.

For all its evils at home and abroad, Russia -- over the years -- has proposed complete nuclear disarmament, significant overall disarmament, a ban on weapons in space, and a peace settlement in Syria. The United States has broken promises, laws, and morality to expand NATO and its troops to Russia's border.

The reality of U.S. foreign relations is generally treated as "fake news." So, when someone like Donald Trump, who pushes lies and disasters like they're going out of style, blurts out some truth, Democratic partisans are eager to denounce it.

But their blind partisan patriotism just reinforces the truth of what Trump said. As he pursues policies of "stealing oil" and "killing families" he is adding nothing new to the United States' record. Killing has been the primary investment of federal discretionary spending since long before the days of the Bowling Green Massacre.

Feb
04

A Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact Is An Even Better Idea Than Its Author Thinks

Tag: Peace and War

A Georgetown Law professor named David Koplow has drafted what he calls a Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact. In an article proposing it, Koplow does something all too rare, he recognizes some of the merits of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But he misses others of those merits, as I described them in my 2011 book When The World Outlawed War.

Koplow acknowledges the cultural shift that the pact was central to, that shifted common understanding of war from something that just happens like the weather to something that can be controlled, should be abolished, and would henceforth be illegal. He acknowledges the role of the pact in motivating trials (albeit one-sided trials) for the crime of war following World War II.

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