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Peace and War
The White House is treating the Syrian government like a potential drone strike victim.
President Barack Obama's preferred method for dealing with targeted individuals is not to throw them into lawless prisons. But it's also not to indict and prosecute them.
On June 7th, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Now that Anwar al Awlaki could have been turned over and put on trial, but "they never asked us." In numerous other cases it is evident that drone strike victims could have been arrested if that avenue had ever been attempted.
Evidence of "weapons of mass destruction" is "no slam dunk," U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet.
Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it.
A majority in the United States, still very much aware of Iraq war deceptions, opposes arming the "rebel" force in Syria, so heavily dominated by foreign fighters and al Qaeda. And a majority opposes U.S. military action in Syria.
But that public opinion is only just beginning to get expressed as activism. With Republicans more willing to actively oppose a war this time, and some section of Democrats still opposed, there's actually potential to build a larger antiwar movement than that of 2003-2006.
Thus far, however, what's discouraging an attack on Syria is the public uproar that was created back then over the disastrous attack on Iraq.
The nation of Iraq was destroyed. Millions of refugees still can't safely return. As with every other humanitarian war thus far, humanity suffered, and the suffering will last for ages. While the damage done to the United States itself doesn't compare with the damage done to Iraq, it has been severe enough to make many a near-sighted potential war supporter cautious.
The problem with attacking Iraq was not that the vast stockpiles of weapons were fictional. Had every claim been true, the war would have remained illegal, immoral, and catastrophic.
Were it true that the Syrian government really chose the moment of the U.N. inspectors' arrival to use chemical weapons, launching a U.S. war on Syria would still hurt the people of Syria -- who are overwhelmingly opposed to it, regardless of their level of support for their government.
A regional or even global war could result. The U.S. military is planning for such scenarios, as if preparing for the apocalypse while igniting it makes the action less insane.
A war of supposed humanitarian philanthropy should consider the value to humanity of the rule of law. Launching a war in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the United Nations Charter, and the U.S. Constitution hurts the rule of law.
A war of beneficial generosity should consider other possible medicines that lack the deadly side-effects of war. For example, the United States could easily stop supporting and arming abusive dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt, not to mention the horrors inflicted on Palestine by Israel.
A so-called good and noble war against the evil of chemical weapons should probably be launched by a nation that doesn't itself use chemical weapons. Yet, the United States used white phosphorous and napalm as weapons in Iraq, not to mention such internationally sanctioned weapons as depleted uranium and cluster bombs -- weapons the United States also sells to other governments regardless of their human rights records (including a big shipment of cluster bombs now headed to Saudi Arabia).
A humanitarian and just war should perhaps show equal concern for those humans killed with any kind of weapon. Bombing Syria would inevitably kill significant numbers of people. Isn't that a problem even if they're killed with the "right" kind of weapons?
Both sides in the war in Syria have killed large numbers of people. We have heard as many serious accounts of the rebels using chemical weapons as the government. Should indisputable facts establish that both sides have used those forbidden weapons, surely the proper response will not be to bomb both sides.
By joining in this war, on the side of an armed opposition dominated by people with no concern for democracy or human rights, the United States will make itself more hated in the region than its previous military actions already have. While this war has nothing to do with defending the United States, it will in fact endanger it.
Here's what should be done instead: Pressure Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and Turkey to stop arming one side, while pressuring Russia and Iran to stop arming the other. Insist on a cease-fire. Support U.N. inspections of the evidence of crimes by both sides. Provide humanitarian aid to Syria, Syrian refugees (now fleeing in greater numbers as the U.S. threatens to attack), and others suffering in the region. Support nonviolent democracy movements.
And why stop there? End the occupation of Afghanistan, which we think of as "ending" but which is still twice as large as when President Obama was elected. Stop arming brutal dictatorships and calling the weapons "aid." Close Guantanamo and other lawless prison sites. Halt U.S. drone and other missile strikes worldwide. Bring U.S. troops home from 175 nations. Spend 10% of the U.S. military budget providing the world with clean drinking water, food, and assistance in sustainable agriculture and energy.
Our options are not to do nothing or to bomb Syria into the sort of disaster created in Iraq. There is an alternative that benefits Syrians, makes us safer, and costs less in money, lives, and morality.
Jean Bricmont is the author of Humanitarian Imperialism, and of a recent article on CounterPunch called "The Wishful Thinking Left." Bricmont is a member of the Division of Sciences of the Royal Academy for Sciences, Letters and Arts of Belgium.
You can say no to attacking Syria here: http://bit.ly/LWd85d
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"U.S. prepares for possible retaliatory strike against Syria," announces a Los Angeles Times headline, even though Syria has not attacked the United States or any of its occupied territories or imperial forces and has no intention to do so.
Quoth the article:
"the president made no decisions, but the high-level talks came as the Pentagon acknowledged it was moving U.S. forces into position in the region."
Forgive me, but who the SNAFU made that decision? Does the commander in chief have any say in this? Does he get to make speeches explaining how wrong it would be to attack Syria, meet with top military officials who leave the meeting to prepare for attacks on Syria, and go down in history as having been uninvolved in, if not opposed to, his own policies?
Threatening to attack Syria, and moving ships into position to do it, are significant, and illegal, and immoral actions. The president can claim not to have decided to push the button, but he can't pretend that all the preparations to do so just happen like the weather. Or he couldn't if newspapers reported news.
(Yes, illegal. Read the U.N. Charter:
"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.")
"The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies," said the so-called Defense Secretary, but do any of the contingencies involve defending the United States? Do any of them involve peace-making? If not, is it really accurate to talk about "all" contingencies?
In fact, Chuck Hagel only has that "responsibility" because Obama instructed him to provide, not all options, but all military options.
Syrian rebels understand that under all possible U.S. policies, faking chemical weapons attacks can get them guns, while shifting to nonviolent resistance can only get them as ignored as Bahrain. (Ba-who?)
"Obama also called British Prime Minister David Cameron," says the LA Times, "to talk over the developments in Syria. The two are 'united' in their opposition to the use of chemical weapons, the White House said in a statement issued after the call." Well, except for white phosphorus and napalm. Those are good chemical weapons, and the United States government is against bad chemical weapons, so really your newspaper isn't lying to you at all.
What did Obama say to CNN on Thursday?
"[T]he notion that the U.S. can somehow solve what is a sectarian, complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated"
CNN's Chris Cuomo (son of Mario) pushed for war:
"But delay can be deadly, right, Mr. President?"
Obama replied that he was still verifying the latest chemical weapons horseshit. Cuomo brushed that aside:
"There's strong proof they used them already, though, in the past."
Obama didn't reply to that lie, but spouted some vacuous rhetoric.
Cuomo, his thirst for dead Syrian flesh perhaps getting a bit frustrated, reached for the standard John McCainism. Senator McCain, Cuomo said, thinks U.S. "credibility" is lost if Syria is not attacked. (And if the U.S. government were to suddenly claim not to be an institution of mass-murder, and to act on that -- then how would its credibility be?)
Obama, undeterred, went right on preaching against what he was about to do. "Sometimes," Obama said, "what we've seen is that folks will call for immediate action, jumping into stuff, that does not turn out well, gets us mired in very difficult situations, can result in us being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region."
But you promised, whined Cuomo, that chemical weapons use would be the crossing of a Red Line!
Obama replied that international law should be complied with. (For the uninitiated, international law actually forbids attacking and overturning other nations' governments -- even Libya's.) And, Obama pointed out, there are options other than the military.
I've found that when Obama starts talking sense like this, he's actually moving rapidly in the opposite direction. The more he explains why it would be wrong and illegal and stupid and immoral to attack Syria, the more you can be sure he's about to do just that.
Here are my, previously published, top 10 reasons not to attack Syria, even if the latest chemical weapons lies were true:
1. War is not made legal by such an excuse. It can't be found in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the United Nations Charter, or the U.S. Constitution. It can, however, be found in U.S. war propaganda of the 2002 vintage. (Who says our government doesn't promote recycling?)
2. The United States itself possesses and uses internationally condemned weapons, including white phosphorus, napalm, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium. Whether you praise these actions, avoid thinking about them, or join me in condemning them, they are not a legal or moral justification for any foreign nation to bomb us, or to bomb some other nation where the U.S. military is operating. Killing people to prevent their being killed with the wrong kind of weapons is a policy that must come out of some sort of sickness. Call it Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3. An expanded war in Syria could become regional or global with uncontrollable consequences. Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, China, the United States, the Gulf states, the NATO states . . . does this sound like the sort of conflict we want? Does it sound like a conflict anyone will survive? Why in the world risk such a thing?
4. Just creating a "no fly zone" would involve bombing urban areas and unavoidably killing large numbers of people. This happened in Libya and we looked away. But it would happen on a much larger scale in Syria, given the locations of the sites to be bombed. Creating a "no fly zone" is not a matter of making an announcement, but of dropping bombs.
5. Both sides in Syria have used horrible weapons and committed horrible atrocities. Surely even those who imagine people should be killed to prevent their being killed with different weapons can see the insanity of arming both sides to protect each other side. Why is it not, then, just as insane to arm one side in a conflict that involves similar abuses by both?
6. With the United States on the side of the opposition in Syria, the United States will be blamed for the opposition's crimes. Most people in Western Asia hate al Qaeda and other terrorists. They are also coming to hate the United States and its drones, missiles, bases, night raids, lies, and hypocrisy. Imagine the levels of hatred that will be reached when al Qaeda and the United States team up to overthrow the government of Syria and create an Iraq-like hell in its place.
7. An unpopular rebellion put into power by outside force does not usually result in a stable government. In fact there is not yet on record a case of U.S. humanitarian war benefitting humanity or of nation-building actually building a nation. Why would Syria, which looks even less auspicious than most potential targets, be the exception to the rule?
8. This opposition is not interested in creating a democracy, or -- for that matter -- in taking instructions from the U.S. government. On the contrary, blowback from these allies is likely. Just as we should have learned the lesson of lies about weapons by now, our government should have learned the lesson of arming the enemy of the enemy long before this moment.
9. The precedent of another lawless act by the United States, whether arming proxies or engaging directly, sets a dangerous example to the world and to those in Washington for whom Iran is next on the list.
10. A strong majority of Americans, despite all the media's efforts thus far, opposes arming the rebels or engaging directly. Instead, a plurality supports providing humanitarian aid.
In sum, making the Syrian people worse off is not a way to help them.
But -- guess what? -- the evidence suggests strongly that the latest chemical weapons claims are as phony as all the previous ones.
Who would have ever predicted?
A 40-year reunion is being planned for the end of this month in Gainesville, Fla., of the Gainesville 8. Sadly, Richard Nixon won't be able to join them, although his presidential library has just released more audio recordings of his descent into madness -- or what we like to call today: standard government practice.
The Gainesville 8 were eight men, seven of them members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), who planned to nonviolently demonstrate at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami. They were wrongfully prosecuted for planning violence, and they were all acquitted by a jury on August 31, 1973, in a highly publicized trial.
Under the shadow of the chaos that surrounded the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, VVAW took extra steps to avoid violence at the '72 RNC, meeting with the Miami police and with right-wing groups in an effort to prevent conflicts. And yet, prior to the convention, President Nixon's FBI began preemptively arresting VVAW leaders, accusing them of plotting murder and mayhem, and attempting to prevent them from taking part in what they were really plotting: a nonviolent march to the convention, where they would request to meet with the president.
Many VVAW members managed to pull off the march, during the course of which they came upon an activist carrying weapons; they turned him in to the police. Three vets, including Ron Kovic, made it into the convention to pose some uncomfortable questions to some long-distance, stay-at-home war supporters.
Just prior to the arrests of the VVAW members in Florida, burglars working for Nixon had been arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate. When the Watergate burglars were captured, one of them, James McCord, explained that they were investigating a link between the Democrats and the VVAW which they believed was planning trouble at the upcoming Republican National Convention. McCord submitted an affidavit to the Gainesville 8 defense team restating this. The Gainesville 8 defense argued that their prosecution was aimed at strengthening Nixon's thugs' phony case for the Watergate break-in.
One of several infiltrators and would-be provocateurs who made up the fabricated case against the Gainesville 8 was Vincent Hanard. He said that Nixonian henchmen Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, and Frank Sturgis had asked him to infiltrate VVAW and cause trouble. Another hired trouble-maker, Alfred Baldwin, was employed both monitoring a bug at the Watergate and infiltrating VVAW with a goal of embarrassing Democrats if VVAW demonstrated at the RNC.
Another professional provocateur named Pablo Fernandez was summoned to a grand jury investigating Nixonian henchman Donald Segretti. Fernandez said he'd tried to sell the VVAW guns and been turned down (something the Miami police confirmed), and that he'd spied on the veterans using electronic devices. In fact, he'd tried to record a conversation with VVAW leader Scott Camil, but Fernandez' hidden microphone had failed.
Other of the government's many infiltrators in the VVAW included William Koehler, Karl Becker, Emerson Poe, and William Lemmer. Poe had become best friends with Camil (or so Camil thought). Poe sat in meetings with the defendants right up until he was called as a prosecution witness, thus blowing his cover -- about which the government had previously lied under oath. Lemmer was the star witness, however, alleging wild tales of violent plans. He was himself violent and unstable. Lemmer had already set up a 17 year old to vandalize a building in Arkansas and arranged to have the FBI waiting for him. Lemmer had helped bust six people for marijuana. His specialty was talking people into considering the use of violence. He just wasn't very convincing as a witness.
Scott Camil was the southeast regional coordinator of VVAW. His lawyer's office was broken into during these proceedings, and his file taken. Also, FBI agents with electronic gear were found hiding in a closet of the room that the defendants and lawyers were meeting in during the trial.
"It's not really 11 years till 1984," Camil said in his closing statement (PDF) in court. "It's a lot closer than that."
This sounds odd to us, living in 2013. Technology, if not morality, has made great leaps forward. There's no more need for bungling idiots with brief cases full of spy gear hiding in closets. The government can spy on us without making its presence known. But provocateurs are still employed to manufacture crimes, and much of what was considered illicit under Nixon is treated as acceptable established practice under Obama.
A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States today: the FBI. Peace groups today, including chapters of Veterans For Peace, have been redefined as "security threats" and "potential terrorists." The police have been militarized. Free speech cages are established at great distance from political conventions. Preemptive detentions before demonstrations don't always bother with charges or prosecutions at all. And the corporate-state media has internalized these practices as normal. In 1973, CBS sued for the right to cover the Gainesville 8 trial. Today I think it would be easier to find a media outlet willing to pay money to avoid having to cover something. Chelsea Manning's trial was covered by bloggers.
Camil represented himself in court, and included no apologies, as observers of Chelsea Manning's trial might have expected. Camil's opening statement should be read in full (PDF). He put the government and the war and President Nixon on trial. Here's an excerpt:
"The evidence will show that the seven of us who went to Vietnam spent a total of 111 months over there, received 57 medals and citations, and were all honorably discharged. The evidence will also show that we threw our medals away out of shame, because we knew that what they stood for was wrong. For myself, the throwing away of the medals I once cherished was the cutting of the umbilical cord between myself and the government lies, such as, 'We are helping the people of Vietnam,' 'Our purpose is honorable,' the covering up, such as, 'We are not bombing Cambodia,' 'We are not murdering unarmed civilians,' 'We are not bombing hospitals,' the immorality, such as 'free fire zones,' where all life was fair game, to show the American people back home that we were winning the war by giving them a tool of measurement to judge, and that tool of measurement was the use of dead human beings -- it was called 'body count.'"
On August 31st the jury quickly acquitted all of the defendants. VVAW said at the time:
"The government needed, first of all, to defuse the anti-war issue in the 1972 presidential campaign. What better way to do this was there than by portraying a leading anti-war group as a bunch of vicious killers? With the public outcry caused by the Watergate scandal, a secondary purpose for the trial can be found: an attempt to partially divert attention away from the Watergate affair by fabricating a phony 'threat to national security.' James McCord specifically named VVAW/WSO as the chief villain in this 'threat to national security' and as a justification for their actions."
The Gainesville 8 were John Briggs, Scott Camil, Alton Foss, John Kniffin, Peter Mahoney, Stanley Michelson, William Patterson, and Don Perdue. All but Briggs were Vietnam veterans. Kniffin and Patterson are now deceased.
Four of the eight are gathering for a reunion in Gainesville this month: Peter Mahoney, Don Perdue, Alton Foss, and Scott Camil. Joining them are three of the lawyers who worked on the defense: Larry Turner, Nancy Stearns (Center for Constitutional Rights), and Brady Coleman (Texas National Lawyers Guild). Also coming are jurors from the trial: Donna Ing, and the husband of Jury Foreperson Lois Hensel who is now deceased. Plus members of the defense committee: Nancy Miller Saunders, Nancy Burnap, and Carol Gordon. And John Chambers who spent 40 days in jail for refusing to answer questions from the grand jury. And Richard Hudgens who was subpoenaed to the grand jury. The Oral History Department at the University of Florida will be doing interviews.
I went ahead and did my own interview of Scott Camil. "We came home from Vietnam," he said, "and saw that the government was not telling the truth about the war. We exercised the Constitutional rights that we fought to protect and tried to educate the public to the truth. The government came after us with a vengeance, trampling on our rights in an effort to silence and intimidate us. We stood up to the government and prevailed."
And what has happened since?
"Things have gotten much worse since then -- the illegal activities that brought down President Nixon are now legal. Then the press accepted its role as the 4th estate. Today the press has become a propaganda arm of the National Security State. Today the National Security State wipes its boots on the Constitution. And the public, rather than standing up for the Constitution, cowers and hides its head in the sand.
"Today's whistleblowers trying to educate the public to what is being done in our name with our tax money are under attack as we once were. I hope that they are able to prevail as we once did."
Tim Shorrock, who writes for The Nation and blogs at TimShorrock.com, is recently returned from Korea where he participated in marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice and in the movement for demilitarization and peace. He disagrees with President Obama's assessment of the Korean War, and also with the approach that many activists in the United States have taken toward Korea. Shorrock is a Washington-based investigative journalist who grew up in Japan and South Korea. He is the author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence. His work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, Daily Beast, Mother Jones, The Progressive, Foreign Policy in Focus and Asia Times.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
Secession first he would put down
Wholly and forever,
And afterwards from Britain's crown
He Canada would sever.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!
I don't speak for the United States or harbor any affection for nationalism. I'd break this country into several manageable pieces if I could. But I think someone owes you an apology, Canada -- and, much as our political leaders are accused of making apologies (as if that were a bad thing) I don't expect any of them to get it remotely right any time soon. So, here goes.
As a Virginian, let me begin by apologizing for the fact that, six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and drive the French out of what they considered their continent (even if they failed). I'm sorry, also, that this idea never went away, that the Virginia-based U.S. military still thinks as the Jamestown settlers thought, centuries of cultural progress having passed it by.
I'm sorry that the colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again). I'm sorry that they got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again). I'm sorry that General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed). I'm sorry for the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans.
I'm sorry for the British and U.S. attacks of 1758 that took away your fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup. It wasn't your land any more than it was U.S. land, but I'm sorry for the aggression against you by the future-U.S. and by Britain. I'm sorry that in 1760 you were conquered by Britain. I'm more sorry for everything that came next.
I'm sorry that George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775, and that -- unlike his future desertion -- this action by Arnold was considered righteous and admirable. I'm sorry that these imbeciles talked of liberation and expected to be welcomed with gratitude. I'm sorry their descendants have suffered from the same delusions with regard to every new country invaded for centuries. I'm sorry that the 13 colonies sought to impose the status of "14th colony" on you by force. I'm sorry that an early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada's lack of interest in being included.
I'm sorry that Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand you over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783. I'm sorry that Britain, in fact, handed a large chunk of you over: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana. If it makes you feel any better, 60 years later Mexico would catch it even worse. I'm sorry to the Native American residents of the land handed over from Canada to the United States, as if land were ownable, and as if that land were uninhabited.
I'm sorry for the Louisiana Purchase. I'm sorry for the War of 1812, and for the idiots who've been celebrating its bicentennial. I'm sorry that Thomas Jefferson, whose house I see out my window, declared that you would be conquered purely by marching in and being welcomed. I'm sorry that when Tecumseh tricked a U.S. general into believing he had many more troops than he had, the U.S. "intelligence" "community" was effectively born. I'm sorry that, at the end of the war, the British agreed to betray you again, handing over territory. I'm sorry that the drive to annex more never vanished. I'm sorry that the U.S. got Oregon and Washington by the same means -- negotiating with Britain, not you.
I'm sorry that, by the 1840s, with the take-over of half of Mexico underway, the strategy for the take-over of Canada began to focus more on the imposition of "free" trade agreements. I'm sorry for the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. I'm sorry for the U.S. bribery of your politicians that put it through.
I'm sorry for the U.S. support for an Irish attack on you in 1866. I'm sorry for the 1867 U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia, which was aimed at reducing you and weakening you. I'm sorry that the U.S. Congress condemned your formation as a nation. I'm sorry that the drive to annex you continued. I'm sorry for the trade agreement of 1935, and the ever-growing push for "freer" trade agreements ever since, right up through the FTA, NAFTA, and the TPP. I'm sorry that despite its greater wealth, the United States keeps dragging your social standards downward.
I'm sorry for all the assaults on your nation by the U.S. military, U.S. industry, U.S. labor unions, and the CIA. I'm sorry that your military has been made a subsidiary of the U.S. military. I'm sorry for so much U.S. interference in your elections. I'm grateful for the refuge you've offered deserting U.S. soldiers. I'm sorry that when your prime minister ever so slightly questioned U.S. genocide in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson picked him up by the neck, screaming "You pissed on my rug," and that your prime minister then wrote to Johnson thanking him for speaking so frankly. I'm sorry you've progressed from there to greater subservience.
I applaud you for pushing through the land mine ban despite U.S. interference.
I know you always had your own major problems. I know the United States has given you good as well as bad. But you resisted destructive domination mightily for many years. Other nations curious about the U.S. and its spreading array of military bases should ask its nearest neighbors for references. Your successful resistance, for so long, is an example to the world, and to your current self. You overcame internal divisions to unite and survive. Perhaps the rest of the world can follow suit.
When I wrote When the World Outlawed War, I was struck by the significance of a forgotten day, a day matching the description in the 1950 folk song that begins "Last night I had the strangest dream . . . " On this day, August 27, 1928, the major nations of the world sent representatives to a room in Paris, France, in which they signed a treaty banning war and committing to the peaceful settlement of all disputes.
The treaty they signed, which is still on the books, has been used over the decades to prevent wars, end wars, and prosecute war makers. The Peace Pact is listed as in force on the U.S. State Department website (open the document, scroll to page 454). But, unlike a corporate trade agreement, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is, shall we say, less than strictly adhered to -- or even remembered.
Few people strolling down Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, Minnesota, have any idea that it's named for Frank Kellogg or who he was.
They're about to find out.
At 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, a resolution will be introduced and voted on by the St. Paul City Council. This resolution is being brought forward by Council member David Thune for the purpose of proclaiming August 27, 2013, to be "Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day" in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the signing.
Council member Dave Thune's ward includes Kellogg's former house. Thune will be introducing the proclamation at the request of St. Paul residents, including members of the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of Veterans For Peace. The Kellogg-Briand Pact "renounces war as an instrument of National Policy" which is the exact wording found in the (more recently created) Statement of Purpose of Veterans For Peace.
Here is the resolution that is being introduced:
Whereas Frank Billings Kellogg has rightly been honored around the world, including with a Nobel Peace Prize presented to him in 1930,
Whereas Frank Kellogg is honored in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where his ashes lie, and where the Kellogg window in the Kellogg Bay bears these words: "In grateful memory of Frank Billings Kellogg, LL.D., 1856-1937, Senator of the United States from Minnesota, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Secretary of State, a Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Joint Author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in Fidelity to American Ideals he served his nation with conspicuous ability and sought equity and peace among the nations of the world, his body rests in this cathedral,"
Whereas Frank Kellogg's family moved to Minnesota in 1865 and Kellogg moved to St. Paul in 1886, and Kellogg's home from 1899 to 1937 was the house at 633 Fairmont Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is now a National Historic Landmark,
Whereas Frank Kellogg's name is remembered in St. Paul as the name of Kellogg Boulevard, but memory of what Kellogg did to merit such honors is fading,
Whereas Frank Kellogg as U.S. Secretary of State heeded the passionate and almost universal desire of the people of this and other nations for peace, and in particular the proposal of the Outlawry Movement to legally ban war,
Whereas Frank Kellogg surprised his State Department staff and many others in 1927 by working carefully and diligently to bring many of the world's nations together to ban war,
Whereas war had not previously been a crime, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact made it one, resulting in a nearly complete end to the legal recognition of territorial gains made through war, and resulting in the prosecution following World War II of the new crime of making war,
Whereas the wealthy well-armed nations of the world have not gone to war with each other since those prosecutions -- the elimination of war upon and among the world's poorer nations remaining an important goal toward which greater recognition of the Kellogg-Briand Pact might contribute,
Whereas the Kellogg-Briand Pact is recognized as in force by the U.S. State Department with 84 nations currently parties to it, and the pact open to any other nations that choose to join,
Whereas 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 settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means,"
Whereas compliance with the law is more likely to occur if we remember what the law is,
Whereas then French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand remarked at the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 1928: "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 indur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories,"
Therefore, in hopes of encouraging awareness of the work of Frank Kellogg and of the peace movement of the 1920s that moved him to action, the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, proclaims August 27th to be Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day.
On August 27th a celebration is planned at the Kellogg house. Meanwhile, in Illinois, an award ceremony is planned for the winners of the first annual essay contest dedicated to the question "How Can We Obey the Law Against War?" But why shouldn't there be celebrations everywhere? Why not recognition for Salmon Oliver Levinson of Chicago, whose movement persuaded Kellogg to act? Why not remembrance of Kellogg in Washington, D.C., where he's buried? Why not celebration of the activists of the 1920s who made up the Outlawry Movement, and who were from every part of the United States and many other nations? Why not a day of celebrating peace and advancing the cause of the abolition of war, including by collectively urging new nations to sign onto the Peace Pact?
Here's a petition that can be signed, and the signatures from any town or state printed out to be used in local lobbying. St. Paul is leading the way, but it need not do so alone. The petition reads:
"We support local, state, national, and international legislation that would make August 27th a holiday in honor of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Peace Pact, that was signed on this date in 1928. The International Pact which renounced war as an instrument of national policy and committed nations to settling disputes exclusively by peaceful means was passed into U.S. law in 1929 with only one Senator in opposition. The co-authors were Republican Secretary of State Frank Kellogg from Minnesota and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. Kellogg won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Pact is still U.S. and International Law."
Wars exist because lies are told about past wars.
When President Obama escalated the war on Afghanistan, he revived virtually every known lie about the war on Iraq, from the initial WMD BS to the "surge." While Americans remain unfathomably ignorant about the destruction of Iraq, a majority says the war shouldn't have been fought. A majority says the same about the war on Afghanistan. This is, pretty wonderfully, impeding efforts toward a U.S. war on Syria or Iran.