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Peace and War
To: Keifer Sutherland and Kathryn Bigelow
Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."
Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.
None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three seem to grasp that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was necessary for the creation of ISIS, all three seem to understand that fighting ISIS is counterproductive, and yet all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate. The question is not whether to make the disaster worse, but exactly how to do it.
What, after all, makes the region a global tinderbox? Israel's nukes? Certainly not, those are not supposed to be mentioned or even thought about. Well then, all the other weapons? But over 80% of those are supplied by the United States, so that can't be it. Perhaps the violent overthrows and devastation of so many governments and countries? But it was the U.S. and friends who destroyed Iraq and made Libya what it is and who have done what they're still doing to Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that has ruined Yemen. It is the U.S. that arms and supports Israel's wars. It is the U.S. that props up the terrorist states in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt. Surely what makes the region a tinderbox (rather than a region rich in oil about which greedy earth-destroying interests might be concerned) is something unthinkable or nonsensical or inscrutable, something ethnic or religious or unworthy of consideration.
Because otherwise we might have to consider cease fires and arms embargoes and diplomacy and humanitarian aid as possible alternatives to the usual choices of (1) do nothing, or (2) make it all worse with more of what caused much of the problem in the first place. We might have to consider that it isn't ISIS that's posing the greatest threat in the form of "the effort to eradicate the group."
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to hear that Congress members will skip Netanyahu's speech no matter what reason they offer. Here are some of them:
It's too close to Netanyahu's election. (That doesn't persuade me. If we had fair, open, publicly funded, un-gerrymandered, verifiably counted elections, then "politics" wouldn't be a dirty word and we would want politicians to show themselves doing things to try to please us before, during, and after elections. I want them acting that way now, even with our broken system. I don't want the U.S. interfering in Israeli elections, but allowing a speech is hardly the same as backing coups in Ukraine and Venezuela or giving Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons every year.)
The Speaker didn't ask the President. (This is likely the big reason that Democrats are promising to skip the speech. I'm actually amazed more of them haven't made that promise. Netanyahu seemed to me to miss the extent to which the United States has become a term-limited monarchy. Congress typically wants to pass the buck on wars to the President. The President typically controls one of the two parties quite tightly. But do I actually care that Congress didn't consult the President? Hell no! Imagine if, during the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, Congress had offered a joint-session microphone to El Baradei or Sarkozy or Putin or, indeed, Hussein to denounce all the bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq? Would you have been outraged by the impoliteness toward President Bush or delighted that a million people might not get killed for no damn reason?)
These kinds of reasons do have a practical weakness: they lead to calls for postponing the speech, rather than canceling it. Some other reasons have more serious flaws.
The speech damages bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. (Really? A slim minority of the President's party skips the speech for a laundry list of lame excuses and suddenly the United States is going to stop providing all the free weapons and vetoing every attempt at legal accountability for the crimes of the Israeli government? And that would be a bad thing if it actually happened?)
The speech hurts the critical effort of negotiations to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. (This is the worst of the bad reasons. It pushes the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. It plays right into Netanyahu's fantasies of poor helpless nuclear Israel the victim of Iranian aggression. In reality, Iran has not attacked another nation in modern history. If only Israel or the United States could say as much!)
As I said, I'm glad anyone's skipping the speech for any reason. But I find it deeply disturbing that an enormously important and deeply moral reason to skip the speech is obvious and known to every member of Congress, and while most are acting against it, those acting in accordance with it refuse to articulate it. The reason is this: Netanyahu is coming to spread war propaganda. He told Congress lies about Iraq in 2002 and pushed for a U.S. war. He has been lying, according to leaks this week of his own spies' information and according to the understanding of the U.S. "intelligence" services, about Iran. It is illegal to spread war propaganda under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. Congress is struggling to keep up with the wars President Obama is continuing, launching, and risking. Here's one war Obama seems not to want, and Congress is bringing in a foreign leader with a record of war lies to give them their marching orders. Meanwhile, an agency of that same foreign government, AIPAC, is holding its big lobby meeting in Washington.
Now, it is true that nuclear energy facilities create dangerous targets. Those drones flying around French nuclear plants scare the hell out of me. And it is true that nuclear energy places its possessor a short step away from nuclear weaponry. Which is why the U.S. should stop spreading nuclear energy to countries that have no need of it, and why the U.S. should never have given nuclear bomb plans to Iran or sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to prison for allegedly revealing that act. But you can't accomplish good by using horrific mass murder to avoid horrific mass murder -- and that's what Israeli-U.S. aggression toward Iran means. Stirring up a new cold war with Russia in Syria and Ukraine is dangerous enough without throwing Iran into the mix. But even a war that confined itself to Iran would be horrifying.
Imagine if we had one Congress member who would say, "I'm skipping the speech because I'm opposed to killing Iranians." I know we have lots of constituents who like to think that their progressive Congress member secretly thinks that. But I'll believe it when I hear it said.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee ignores the testament of Nobel. They claim that the “champions of peace” Nobel described in his will no longer exist. To end this charade we have seen no alternative to lifting the curtain of secrecy they hide their waywardness behind.
The Nobel Committee has pursued its own ideas and failed to see how the expressions Nobel used and the promise he gave to Bertha von Suttner to “do something big for the movement” (italics added) leave no room for doubt what “champions of peace” Nobel intended to support. Expressed in modern language:
When Nobel wished to support the “champions of peace,” he meant the movement and the persons who work for a demilitarized world, for law to replace power in international politics, and for all nations to commit to cooperating on the elimination of all weapons instead of competing for military superiority.
This is the content of the prize and as the legally binding scope of all selections it was presented to the Nobel Committee 7 years ago. The committee has never contested this description of the purpose of Nobel, just used their power to ignore it. We think the peace idea of Nobel is of imperative urgency in the world today, and that everyone should know these ideas and be able to see and discuss them. That is why we have decided to publish the following list of qualified candidates.
Below is the list of those we know who are nominated AND qualified, under a wide understanding of the purpose of Nobel, either
1) by direct work for the global disarmament plan Nobel had in mind, or
2) by peace work with high utility and relevance to realizing the Nobel “uniting of disarmed nations,” particularly the work to abolish nuclear weapons, and to promote non-violence, conflict resolution and prevention, develop international law and institutions, etc.
3) by contributing new ideas and research, develop new methods for civilized, non-violent interrelation between peoples that enables a demilitarization of international relations.
The list is not final. We welcome information of nominations we are not aware of or of candidates that we – based on the Nobel purpose – should have included in our list. If you miss certain “champions of peace” in the list this year, please take steps to have them included among the nominations for 2016 – deadline: Feb 1, 2016. The Nobel Peace Prize is happy to give advice and guidance in the hope of realizing Nobel´s true purpose and idea. Contact us
LIST – VALID CANDIDATES FOR THE TRUE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015
Abolition 2000, Global network organization
Article 9, Japan
Falk, Richard, USA
International Assosiation of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, IALANA, (NY, Geneva, Colombo)
Juristen und Juristinnen gegen atomare, biologische und chemische Waffen , Germany
Krieger, David , USA
Lindner, Evelin, main basis Norway
Snowden, Edward, USA
Swanson, David, USA
Mr. Taniguchi, Sumiteru, Japan
Ware, Alyn, New Zealand
Weiss, Peter, USA
Women´s international League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF (Geneva)
Waiting list - Insufficient information
The following appear to be nominated, but we have not been able to get
the actual nomination. The list of valid candidates will be supplemented
as soon as we get additional valid nominations.
The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear arms, ICAN
Manning, Chelsea, USA
Sharp, Gene, USA
Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."
Here's what they asked for:
Establishing a Two Year Moratorium on Drones in Berkeley
From: Peace and Justice Commission
Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution adopting a two year moratorium on drones in Berkeley.
Financial Implications: Unknown
And what they got:
Action: 11 speakers. M/S/C (Bates/Maio) to: 1) adopt a one-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft systems, or “drones” by the Berkeley Police Department, 2) ask the Council to develop a policy for police use of drones, and 3) to authorize the use of drones by the Berkeley Fire Department for disaster response purposes. Vote: Ayes – Maio, Moore, Anderson, Arreguin, Capitelli, Wengraf, Bates; Noes – Droste; Abstain – Worthington.
"They adopted a ONE year moratorium on POLICE use of drones. The police have not been interested in getting a drone, according to the last official word from the chief. But they AUTHORIZED use by the Fire Department, who also has not asked to have a drone. And if they get one, will it ONLY be used by the Fire Dept. for disaster response purposes??--Maybe. And they say they will develop a policy for Police USE of drones. How nice of them. We have asked for NO DRONES, NO POLICE USE OF DRONES, and their moratorium entails coming up with a policy for POLICE USE OF DRONES while they still haven't tackled the issues around a comprehensive drone policy for Berkeley. I spoke. Others spoke. The ACLU spoke. The Mayor is slick. He started out saying two years and ended up with one. They had a whole list of exceptions that got exchanged for this crappy policy.
"So, if no one is paying attention to the details, the propaganda sounds good: BERKELEY PASSES ONE YEAR MORATORIUM ON DRONES Wow! Groovy! Better maybe not to have done anything! Kriss Worthington abstained because this doesn't sound better than doing nothing once you read the details of what they actually passed.
"They ignored all the good stuff in our recommendation re not using info obtained by a drone in state and federal criminal investigations without a valid warrant based on probable cause. They ignored asking the state to establish a two year moratorium.
"My time would be better spent organizing for Nonviolent Anarchist Revolution, don't you think? Instead I am asking for them to make a law! And this is the result! HELP!
"No faith n the system, not even in Berkeley.
"LONG LIVE ANARCHY!"
Hey, Berkeley, your people sure seem to love you. I've received several emails today from random people in Berkeley on the theme of how useless your Police Review Commission is. And I live nowhere near Berkeley and hadn't inquired.
Wouldn't keeping killer spy robots out of the skies have been an easy way to do something positive?
U.S. drone "pilots" refer to people they burn to death in places like Pakistan as "bug splat" because they look like bugs being squished to death on the pilots' video monitors and because it's easier to murder bugs than humans.
Hence the need for the brilliant artwork made visible to a drone (http://notabugsplat.com):
The human brain is a funny thing. Numerous human brains know that every human is a human, yet insist that various types of humans must be "humanized" before they can be recognized as humans. That is, even though you know someone must have a name and loved ones and favorite games and certain weaknesses and a couple of quirks that friends find endearing -- because each and every Homo sapiens does have such things -- you insist on being told what the details are, and only then readily admit that in fact this particular human is a human (and millions of others remain in doubt).
A drone killer must know that children have eyes and noses and mouths, hair and fingers. But this artwork presents it to the troubled brain of the humanization dependent observer.
And what if you want to know more about the humans inhabiting Pakistan? More than just a face in a photograph?
I recommend reading The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria. Rafia grew up in Pakistan and moved to the United States. She can tell you intimate details about life in Pakistan from a perspective you recognize.
Central to her story of migration and cultural change and political transformation is the life of her aunt whose husband chose to marry a second wife and move his first wife to the upstairs of the house. The status of women and of religion is put into sharp relief by this sorrowful account of deep personal injury and humiliation.
Yes, this is another case of religion serving to worsen people's lives in ways that possibly used to make sense but have been dragged forward into the present only by the resistance of religion to rational change.
No, this is not a revelation that Pakistanis hate Americans because their religion tells them to. People who hate the U.S. government tend to object to the destruction and killing of the U.S. military.
And no, your religion, whatever it is, is not better than someone else's. The problem is not the flavor of the religion, but the utilization of magical rules in guiding people's lives -- that is to say, adherence to rules that on their merits would be abandoned but that are maintained because the great Whatchamacallit decreed so in the Holy Days of Whichamawhoochee.
At least that's one of many impressions I take away from the book. You may have others. It's not a sad or contemptuous story but an enjoyable and educational one. And it's complex enough to render useless any generalization about what "the Pakistanis" do or think at all. The people of Pakistan have many backgrounds and all sorts of unique outlooks and circumstances. They are, in fact, a lot like you, me, your neighbor, your uncle, and the woman who works in the grocery store -- just with a smaller military than ours killing people in their names.
No Weapons to Ukraine
An Open Letter to the U.S. Senate
Reject S. 452, "A bill to provide lethal weapons to the Government of Ukraine."
Why is this important?
The United States is the leading provider of weapons to the world, and the practice of providing weapons to countries in crisis has proven disastrous, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Expanding NATO to Russia's border and arming Russia's neighbors threatens something worse than disaster. The United States is toying with nuclear war.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt played significant roles in orchestrating the political crisis that led to a violent coup overthrowing Ukraine's elected President. Nuland not only exclaimed "Fuck the EU!" on that recorded phone call, but she also seemed to decide on the new prime minister: "Yats is the guy."
The Maidan protests were violently escalated by neo-Nazis and by snipers who opened fire on police. When Poland, Germany, and France negotiated a deal for the Maidan demands and an early election, neo-Nazis instead attacked the government and took over. The U.S. State Department immediately recognized the coup government, and Yatsenyuk was indeed installed as Prime Minister.
The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede, and that -- rather than the coup -- has been labeled "aggression." Ethnic Russians have been massacred by constant shelling from Kiev's U.S.-NATO backed Army, while Russia has been denounced for "aggression" in the form of various unsubstantiated accusations, including the downing of Flight 17.
It's important to recognize Western interests at work here other than peace and generosity. GMO outfits want the excellent farming soil in Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO want a "missile defense" base in Ukraine. Oil corporations want to drill for fracked gas in Ukraine. The U.S. and EU want to get their hands on Russia's "largest supply of natural gas" on the planet.
We routinely recognize the financial corruption of the U.S. government in domestic policy making. We shouldn't blind ourselves to it in matters of foreign policy. There may be a flag waving, but there is nuclear war looming, and that's a bit more important.
Initial signers (organizations for identification):
David Swanson, World Beyond War.
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
Nick Mottern, KnowDrones.com.
Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace.
Carolyn McCrady, Peace and Justice Can Win.
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink.
Malachy Kilbride, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.
Buzz Davis, WI Impeachment/Bring Our Troops Home Coalition.
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Doug Rawlings, Veterans For Peace.
Diane Turco, Cape Codders for Peace and Justice.
Rich Greve, Peace Action Staten Island.
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance.
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance.
Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin.
Ellen Barfield, Veterans For Peace and War Resisters League.
Herbert Hoffman, Veterans For Peace.
Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery.
Bob Cushing, Pax Christi.
Bill Gilson, Veterans For Peace.
Michael Brenner, University of Pittsburgh.
Cindy Sheehan: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.
Jodie Evans, Code Pink.
Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin, UNAC co-coordinators.
David Hartsough, World Beyond War.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate, Co founder peace people.
Koohan Paik, International Forum on Globalization.
Ellen Judd, University of Manitoba.
Rosalie Tyler Paul, PeaceWorks, Brunswick Maine.
"Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession" is the title of a new paper by Leonard Wong and Stephen Gerras of the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute. Its thesis: the U.S. Army is full of liars who habitually lie as part of a lying culture that has internalized and normalized lying to the point of unrecognizability.
Finally a claim from the Army I'm prepared to take seriously!
But the authors aren't interested in the Army's lying press releases or lying Congressional testimony or lying sound bytes promoting each new war, predicting imminent success, and identifying each dead adult or child as an evildoer. In fact, it seems pretty clear that the authors are in fact lying to themselves about the nature of the Army's lying.
To hear them tell it, the Army's lying problem could be the same as in any other institution. They don't compare the Army to any other institutions, except to say that their analysis applies to the whole U.S. military, and the implication is that other institutions do not have it so bad. But the root of the problem, as they see it, is impossible demands placed on members of the military. To meet the impossible demands, people lie. And this -- not the mission of mass murder -- makes them "ethically numb."
Members of the Army, we're told, engage in "ethical fading," using euphemisms and obscure phrases to disguise the immorality of what they are doing -- namely overstating the supplies shipped or understating their own weight or some other "ethical" matter, not burning families to death in their homes with million-dollar missiles.
All of this unethicalness, the authors maintain, can create hypocritical leaders who hide billions in the "Overseas Contingency Operations" slush fund or cover up sex scandals. Really? Immorality enters an institution of mass murder that routinely deceives the public and much of the government from the bottom up? Excessive demands on troops creates a culture of lying than infects the good generals at the top? Are you kidding me? No, of course you aren't. You're lying to yourselves.
Soldiers realize pretty quickly that they're not benefitting the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or whatever country they're terrorizing. They understand that the entire mission is a lie. They learn to lie about their own actions, to plant "drop weapons," to invent justifications, to provide support for their commanders' efforts to believe their own lies.
Matthew Hoh, a State Department whistleblower, said today: "The culture of lying that is endemic and systemic in the Army, as found by researchers with the Army War College, finds its expression in America's pointless wars, a one trillion dollar-a-year, pork-filled and inauditable national security budget, chronic veteran suicides, an expanded and more globally robust international terrorist movement, and untold suffering of millions of people and political chaos throughout the Greater Middle East perpetuated by our war policies.
"However, listening to our military leaders, and the politicians who adore and deify them rather than oversee them, America's wars and its military have been a great patriotic success. This report is not a surprise for those of us who have worn the uniform, nor should it be surprising to those who have watched and paid attention with a modicum of critical and independent thought to our wars these past thirteen plus years. The wars are failures, but careers must prosper, budgets must increase and popular narratives and myths of American military success must endure, so the culture of lying becomes a necessity for our Army at a great physical, mental and moral cost to our Nation."
In other words, War Is A Lie.