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31.10.2018 Mundo sin Guerras y sin Violencia

This post is also available in: Spanish

Launch of the 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence at the 2nd World Forum of Peace Cities in Madrid.

On 7 November from 18h. to 20h. in the Auditorium of the Casa del Reloj of the  Cultural Centre Matadero the 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence will be launched. This action will take place between October 2, 2019 International Day of Nonviolence and March 8, 2020 International Women’s Day,

It will be 10 years since the realization of the 1ªWM that travelled 97 countries of the 5 continents. In this new version, Madrid will be the beginning and end circumnavigating the planet for 159 days. It will depart to the south of Spain, continuing through Africa, America, Oceania, Asia and Europe, estimating to pass through more than 100 countries.

In the event the invited speakers will give the basic profiles of this 2ªWM on the central themes that will be developed in their journey:

– International launch of the Campaign “Cities support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons -TPAN”. Beatrice Fihn ICAN Nobel Peace Prize 2017.

– Refoundation of the United Nations. Federico Mayor Zaragoza. Culture of Peace Foundation.

– 100 years of pacifist feminism. Carmen Magallón. President of WILPF Spain.

– The role of armies in the 21st century. Int. Conf. Costa Rica. Julio Rodríguez, ExJEMAD.

– International Network of Parliamentarians in Support of the TPAN. Deputy Pedro Arrojo.

– The culture of nonviolence: Alberto Amman. Actor

– Municipalism and Peace. Antonio Zurita. Global Citizenship.

– TPAN and the World March. Carlos Umaña. Latin America Coordinator ICAN

– Mediterranean Sea of Peace. Tiziana Volta. Mondo senza Guerre

– Processes of pacification. David Nassar. Colombia

– Twinning of the children. Sabina Colona-Preti and Isabel Bueno. Pequeñas Huellas and C.P: Nuñez de Arenas.

– The term “nonviolence”. Montserrat Prieto. World without Wars and Violence

– Routes and confluences 2WM. Martine Sicard. Coor. Int. WWW&V.

– Base Team 2WM. Luis Silva. Councilman.

– Marches from Central and South America. Sonia Venegas. Ecuador

– Human Symbols. Jesús Arguedas and Charo Lominchar. E.P. of Madrid 2ªWM

– The 2nd World March, new attempt. Rafael de la Rubia. Coordination 2ªWM

The Mayoress of Madrid, Manuela Carmena and the Mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, are invited to the event.

One of the objectives that is gaining more and more strength in this 2nd WM is to ensure that at its completion there are conditions for the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that is being promoted by 122 countries in the United Nations.

For conditions of the organization to attend you must register on the web: http://www.ciudadesdepaz.com/

Comunicado Mundo sin Guerras y sin Violencia Ciudades de Paz en Madrid (World Without Wars and Violence, Cities of Peace Madrid)

30.10.2018 World beyond War

Regulating Apocalypse

By David Swanson

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!”
“Don’t be such a purist!”
“Be strategic!”
“Do what’s possible!”
“You can’t deny reality / human nature / religious text.”

The phrases used to oppose proposals for major change haven’t changed much for centuries, in both meanings of that phrase. No doubt these sayings sound better in certain circumstances than others, depending on the details. But in general, I find that they sound worse since the status quo locked in the climate collapse, and since the risk of nuclear catastrophe reached it’s current record high and rapidly climbing position.

I’ve just read a new book called War, Law, and Humanity by James Crossland that looks at efforts to regulate or end war from the 1850s up through the beginning of the 1900s. One strain of thought was that war needed to be eliminated and replaced with nonviolent arbitration. Another was that war needed to be regulated, doctors and nurses admitted onto battlefields, standards upheld for the treatment of prisoners, particular weapons banned, etc. The peace advocates were mocked as dreamers. The humanizers were the “realists.”

One must now write history from a nonexistent future. History cannot actually judge anything or anyone because it will not exist any longer in the brains of any living homo sapiens. But we can, pre-extinction, imagine our way forward and look back. If we end in nuclear holocaust, will those who tried to end war still have been silly dreamers? Or will world government or mandatory arbitration or disarmament sound slightly less goofy if the alternative that peace advocates identified for many decades as apocalypse turns out to be apocalypse?

Crossland does a good job of telling the story of the transition from wars in which the wounded were left to moan in agony on the battlefield for days before dying to wars in which great steps were taken to save the wounded and if possible get them ready to head out for more killing and possibly dying. The Crimean War brought with it war journalism, which brought with it public concern for the discarding of wounded soldiers as so much rubbish. Very quickly so-called unnecessary suffering was distinguished from supposedly necessary suffering. Much of the suffering was from diseases like cholera that still kill the primary victims of war — now civilians, but back then soldiers.

The Northern side of the U.S. Civil War borrowed many ideas from the humanizers of the Crimean War, because the U.S. public cared about soldiers, and because the military came to see healthy soldiers as more useful than sick or dead ones.

The U.S. in turn inspired Europeans to push the regulation of proper mass-murder extravaganzas further, resulting in the first Geneva Convention and the Red Cross. This inspiration was in the area of health and medicine, but also in the area of law. Francis Lieber’s Lieber Code laid out the limitations on proper civilized warfare and stipulated that any and all limitations could be waived in the name of “military necessity” or — in other words — whatever horror General Sherman felt like committing. Thus, both humanitarians and eager mass-killers were equally pleased.

During the U.S. Civil War, Britain helped the Confederacy build ships. The U.S. after the war wanted reparations. The two countries went to arbitration in 1871 with representatives of Italy, Switzerland, and Brazil. Peace was made, and a model was made available for any countries that were willing, in certain cases, to settle for peace rather than their own desired wars.

In Europe, the peacemakers tried to win over humanizer conferences, while the humanizers sabotaged efforts directed at peace. Perhaps if both groups had fully united for one cause or the other, that cause would have had a better chance.

When the Czar of Russia backed efforts for peace, one leading peace advocate wrote to another that now, finally, “the world will not shriek Utopia!” I don’t know about the world, but the governments of the war-making nations certainly shrieked it, including at the Hague conference of 1899.

Many learned to shriek utopia a lot less after the Great War, which ended one century ago this November 11th. And then all but about 8 people and a couple of dogs learned to shriek it at top volume in chorus following the sequel and the war on Korea and the establishment of permawar. Millions of people are now such well-trained utopia shriekers that all one need do is mention war abolition or fossil fuel abolition or an end to meat industries or to incarceration or the banning of guns. In fact, all one need do in the United States is propose levels of destruction or standards of socialism at a European level to produce ear piercing shrieks of utopia from people who don’t for a minute imagine Europe to be utopian.

In acceptable, respectable non-utopia, climate collapse creates war. It does so all by itself. No humans are involved. Why should they be? Humans exerting their will to change things is utopian. In real, serious, shriekfree progressland, one cannot stop driving off a cliff, but one can devote tremendous energies to replacing the windshield wipers. If that’s the best that can be done, then it ought to be where all our energy goes. But nobody has ever identified any actual evidence that it’s the best that can be done, or any reason we should have any respect for ourselves if we don’t try to do better.

29.10.2018 Pressenza New York

On the killings in Pittsburgh
(Image by David Andersson)

By Peter Geffen

I know I speak for all of you when I express our profound sorrow for the unspeakable violence that invaded the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this Shabbat morning. Two of our alumni, Noah Schoen and Suzy Weiss grew up in that community and are certain to have know some of the victims. Our hearts go out to them and to the members of their immediate and extended families.

When events like this strike so close to home the rupture to the normal routine of life is immediate and often long-lasting. We lose the sense of security that our neighborhoods and our homes must provide.

What shall we do with this dislocation? I think we all know the cliché that tell us to end the conditions that make such acts conceivable. But wishful thinking is simply not enough. We live in a time when madmen and women not only can acquire guns of overwhelmingly destructive power – we live in times in which the leadership of whole countries across the world is returning to a set of values that degrade our common humanity. In 1823, Heinrich Heine said: “Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned.” I would paraphrase his prescient warning: “in the place where human rights and ethical norms are violated…ultimately…everything will burn.”

An event like today can become a wake-up call unlike any other. We all need to review our commitment to the demand for peace and justice at home and around the globe. KIVUNIM’s mission states our goal very clearly: “…to expand (the Jewish people’s national) ideology from its current inwardness to a greater outer-directedness actively seeking improvement of the world’s tolerance, mutual respect, commitment to human rights and human dignity, in a more just and more peaceful world. Giving life to the words of the Hebrew Prophets in modern times.” The words are beautiful, but meaningless unless put into action: In our personal lives, in our local communities, on our college campuses, in our professional and business communities and on the international stage. Loss of life like this can never be set right. But it can be given dignity by our response, by our actions.


Founder and President, Peter Geffen is also Founder of The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in NYC, former Director of the Israel Experience Program for the CRB Foundation and one of the most respected Israel education specialists in the world. He has been a social activist since serving as a civil rights worker for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965-66 and has been deeply involved in Arab-Jewish co-existence work since the early 1960’s.

26.10.2018 – US, United States David Swanson

Why I Can’t Read the Washington Post

Someone recklessly left a copy of a Washington Post lying around in this coffee shop, and I succumbed to morbid curiosity long enough to notice an article that begins:

“Major U.S. defense manufacturers say they will stand by the Trump administration regarding whether American-made weapons systems should be sold to the Saudi government, despite a global political backlash over the killing of a Saudi journalist and an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the hands of a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.”

How does one manufacture defense? What does selling weapons to Saudi Arabia have to do with defense or “U.S. defense” other than its role in generating hatred of the United States and causing people to believe they are in need of defense?

Who gives a flying fornication whether the people getting rich off the killing of tens of thousands of innocent kids and adults “stand by” their profiteering? I imagine that the manufacturers of guns for sale within the United States “stand by” every policy that allows their sale, too, but how is that news? Do pipe bomb builders “stand by” somebody mailing them around the country? Shoud I care? Have they been elected to anything? Do they have any legal right to allow or disallow their own barbarity?

Which major weapons manufacturer manufactured the bone saw or whatever was used to muder He-Whose-Murder-We-Should-Uniquely-Care-About? I’m guessing none of them. Rather, the contention is, as always, that one should have certain minor qualms about giving or selling someone the tools with which to blow up villages if and only if that someone also kills someone who matters and does so without using any bombs. I don’t buy it. Why aren’t we hearing whether the major bone saw manufacturers “stand by Trump” or not?

The Washington Post continues:

“U.S. defense contractors have shied away from publicly discussing the disappearance and killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist who sharply criticized the Saudi state for limiting free expression. But when pressed by investment analysts this week on how the political situation might affect their business, executives from Massachusetts-based Raytheon and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said they would keep selling advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia as long as the U.S.-Saudi military partnership continues.”

Sorry. Actually they will continue their shameless selling of weaponry to anyone they can until they are forbidden by law to do so — a question that is not up to them.

“‘We continue to be aligned with the administration’s policies, and we intend to honor our commitments,’ Toby O’Brien, Raytheon’s chief financial officer, told investors Thursday. Both companies emphasized that their international arms deals are ultimately coordinated by the government in concert with foreign allies. For U.S. defense contractors to sell weapons systems abroad, they have to first go through a complicated government process that involves the Defense Department, State Department and Congress, which vet each deal’s geopolitical, security and human rights implications.”

Nope. Sorry. The U.S. government has a demonstrated, longstanding, and virtually complete inability to judge the geopolitical results of arming countries and groups. Any actual vetting for “security” that related in any way to, you know, making the U.S. public secure, would inevitably find that pouring weapons into the Middle East has done the exact opposite consistently for decades. And there is no possible way to use bombs that respects human rights. The majority of the victims are always civilians, and the entirety always human. The bombs and other weapons are also being used to enforce starvation and disease epidemics, means of killing that are not typically counted as humanitarian when not facilitated by bombings.

“‘Most of these agreements that we have are government-to-government purchases, so anything that we do has to follow strictly the regulations of the U.S. government,’ Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson said Tuesday. ‘Beyond that, we’ll just work with the U.S. government as they’re continuing their relationship with Saudi.’”

Has anyone suggested that the U.S. government was not up to its eyeballs in this? Why do we have to be repeatedly told that the U.S. government is in on weapons sales? It is the world’s largest weapons sales marketing firm. How does that excuse anything? Doesn’t it, rather, indicate what is needed?

“The Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group, said it will continue to ‘support U.S. national security and foreign policy goals, and our companies will continue to look to the government for direction on how best to support those goals.’”

Again. So what?

“Saudi Arabia is a favored business partner of U.S. defense contractors because it is among the world’s largest military spenders. The kingdom spends billions of dollars every year on American-made weapons systems, and it has few of the bureaucratic checks and balances that delay big military purchases in the United States. Raytheon executives said Thursday that about 5 percent of the company’s annual sales come from the kingdom, though they emphasized it is not dependent on any one foreign buyer. They expect those sales to remain roughly flat into next year, as the company receives at least two large contracts for ‘offensive and defensive weapons systems’ and military training.”

No. Sorry. They don’t get to decide whether they keep on selling weapons. The government does. But we certainly should start calling them a Major Offense Manufacturer after that last remark.

“Lockheed executives said Tuesday that they have ‘about less than $500 million’ in Saudi sales planned for 2019 and about $900 into 2020. The company expects to receive an additional $450 million contract for combat ships and is awaiting an additional deal on its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, which is expected to be operational in Saudi Arabia by 2023.”

Again, no. They don’t get to announce future mass murder operations when the question at hand is whether to allow them.

“Lockheed has made selling to foreign governments a key target for growth. Earlier this year, Hewson said her company’s international sales had jumped from 17 percent of total sales in 2013 to 30 percent in 2017. Saudi Arabia played a key role in that growth, she said, and made it clear that the relationship would continue. ‘Saudia Arabia has expressed its intent to procure integrated air and missile defense systems, combat ships, helicopters, surveillance systems and tactical aircraft in coming years,’ she said.”

Oh, well, as long as it’s growth.

“That relationship is now complicated by a global political backlash over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in the weeks since Khashoggi’s killing, an issue that has also brought renewed visibility to a long-running humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The United Nations has counted thousands of civilian deaths, including ‘possible war crimes,’ in a Saudi-led war in Yemen that is bolstered by U.S. arms and training. ”

In fact, the war is a crime, which makes every part of it a “war crime,” and the war involves the U.S. military picking targets, refuelling bombers mid-air, and “boots on the ground.”

“The Associated Press reported Thursday that 21 people, including some children, were killed by a Saudi airstrike at a fruit and vegetable market near Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeida. ‘Civilians are paying a shocking price because of this conflict,’ U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande told the AP. There has so far been little decisive action to curb arms sales, however. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the country would suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, telling reporters that, ‘arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances.’ And the European Union passed a resolution Thursday urging a ban on weapons sales in response to Khashoggi’s killing.”

So, after all that blather from the dealers of death, we discover that governments matter and that one has already acted.

“The resolution was nonbinding, however, and it was unclear what if any effect it would have. Britain, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest source for military hardware behind the United States, has yet to take a firm stance on the issue. And President Trump said on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ last Sunday that he wants U.S. arms sales to continue to protect jobs at Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon. ‘I don’t want to lose an order like that,’ he said.”

The facts that military spending reduces jobs, and that a society converted to peace could have many more jobs, and that Saudi Arabia’s weapons contracts are not actually big enough to constitute a threat to the U.S. economy are not the sort of facts the Washington Post will decide we need to be informed about.

“Numerous U.S. politicians have pledged to place limits on Saudi arms sales in light of Khashoggi’s killing even though it will be hard for them to overcome a White House veto. On Wednesday a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would stop most U.S. arms sales to the kingdom, specifically referencing ‘the murder of journalist and United States permanent resident Jamal Khashoggi.’”

So, now we discover that Congress could act if it saw fit.

“Raytheon faces political headwinds over a proposed sale of precision-guided bomb kits, complex navigation systems that steer bombs to their targets, presumably making them more effective against military targets and less dangerous for civilians. Raytheon wants to sell bomb kits to the United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi portion of that deal is being held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) over human rights concerns.”

And now we learn that a senator has done something.

“Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, recently told reporters that he wouldn’t support any new weapons deals to the kingdom. ‘The mood of the Congress is this outrageous act can’t be followed by a business as usual arms deal,’ he said, according to published reports. Still, defense analysts believe U.S. defense contractors are unlikely to take much of a financial hit over the Saudi situation, even if arms sales are curbed significantly. With the U.S. defense budget growing again under a Republican-controlled Congress and White House, companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are more optimistic about future sales in the United States. ‘We are a global company providing technology and security solutions for over 80 countries and we have numerous global franchises,’ Raytheon chief executive Thomas Kennedy said. ‘So I’m pretty confident that we will weather this complexity.’”

Now we discover that the dealers would do fine without the Saudi deals, but we don’t go back and question Trump’s motivations. Nor is the “human rights” problem mentionable in the context of the massive weapons purchases by the U.S. government, despite the U.S. government’s record of bombings that have killed millions and destroyed whole societies.

“Lockheed took in more than $50 billion from U.S. government contracts last year, dwarfing its expected $500 million in Saudi sales for 2019. ‘So not a huge amount of dependency on the [Saudi] activity, even though the opportunities we’ve described are much larger than that obviously,’ Lockheed chief financial officer Bruce Tanner said Tuesday. Defense analysts see it as unlikely that any campaign to limit arms sales will succeed unless President Trump leaves the White House in 2020. Even then, U.S. defense contractors would have the support of a sophisticated and well-funded lobbying operation in Washington: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon spent more than $50 million combined in 2017, according to opensecrets.org. Boeing, which has a substantial commercial airline business, led the way with $16.7 million, with Lockheed and Northrop at $14.5 million each. ‘We have supported the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in securing defense for more than 50 years,’ Kennedy said. ‘And through that course of time, we have seen issues that have occurred at different periods of uncertainty. And we’ve always resolved it through the end and by doing this one thing: It’s actually following the direction and position of the U.S. administration, which we were right behind in making sure that we understand where they are going and that we’re locked in step behind them.’”

Yes, again, we are enlightened by the report that the weapons dealers will deal any weapons they are allowed to. But we’re never informed of the Washington Post’s owner’s CIA and military contracts.

26.10.2018 – US, United States David Swanson

Why I Can’t Read the Washington Post

Someone recklessly left a copy of a Washington Post lying around in this coffee shop, and I succumbed to morbid curiosity long enough to notice an article that begins:

“Major U.S. defense manufacturers say they will stand by the Trump administration regarding whether American-made weapons systems should be sold to the Saudi government, despite a global political backlash over the killing of a Saudi journalist and an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the hands of a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.”

How does one manufacture defense? What does selling weapons to Saudi Arabia have to do with defense or “U.S. defense” other than its role in generating hatred of the United States and causing people to believe they are in need of defense?

Who gives a flying fornication whether the people getting rich off the killing of tens of thousands of innocent kids and adults “stand by” their profiteering? I imagine that the manufacturers of guns for sale within the United States “stand by” every policy that allows their sale, too, but how is that news? Do pipe bomb builders “stand by” somebody mailing them around the country? Shoud I care? Have they been elected to anything? Do they have any legal right to allow or disallow their own barbarity?

Which major weapons manufacturer manufactured the bone saw or whatever was used to muder He-Whose-Murder-We-Should-Uniquely-Care-About? I’m guessing none of them. Rather, the contention is, as always, that one should have certain minor qualms about giving or selling someone the tools with which to blow up villages if and only if that someone also kills someone who matters and does so without using any bombs. I don’t buy it. Why aren’t we hearing whether the major bone saw manufacturers “stand by Trump” or not?

The Washington Post continues:

“U.S. defense contractors have shied away from publicly discussing the disappearance and killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist who sharply criticized the Saudi state for limiting free expression. But when pressed by investment analysts this week on how the political situation might affect their business, executives from Massachusetts-based Raytheon and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said they would keep selling advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia as long as the U.S.-Saudi military partnership continues.”

Sorry. Actually they will continue their shameless selling of weaponry to anyone they can until they are forbidden by law to do so — a question that is not up to them.

“‘We continue to be aligned with the administration’s policies, and we intend to honor our commitments,’ Toby O’Brien, Raytheon’s chief financial officer, told investors Thursday. Both companies emphasized that their international arms deals are ultimately coordinated by the government in concert with foreign allies. For U.S. defense contractors to sell weapons systems abroad, they have to first go through a complicated government process that involves the Defense Department, State Department and Congress, which vet each deal’s geopolitical, security and human rights implications.”

Nope. Sorry. The U.S. government has a demonstrated, longstanding, and virtually complete inability to judge the geopolitical results of arming countries and groups. Any actual vetting for “security” that related in any way to, you know, making the U.S. public secure, would inevitably find that pouring weapons into the Middle East has done the exact opposite consistently for decades. And there is no possible way to use bombs that respects human rights. The majority of the victims are always civilians, and the entirety always human. The bombs and other weapons are also being used to enforce starvation and disease epidemics, means of killing that are not typically counted as humanitarian when not facilitated by bombings.

“‘Most of these agreements that we have are government-to-government purchases, so anything that we do has to follow strictly the regulations of the U.S. government,’ Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson said Tuesday. ‘Beyond that, we’ll just work with the U.S. government as they’re continuing their relationship with Saudi.’”

Has anyone suggested that the U.S. government was not up to its eyeballs in this? Why do we have to be repeatedly told that the U.S. government is in on weapons sales? It is the world’s largest weapons sales marketing firm. How does that excuse anything? Doesn’t it, rather, indicate what is needed?

“The Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group, said it will continue to ‘support U.S. national security and foreign policy goals, and our companies will continue to look to the government for direction on how best to support those goals.’”

Again. So what?

“Saudi Arabia is a favored business partner of U.S. defense contractors because it is among the world’s largest military spenders. The kingdom spends billions of dollars every year on American-made weapons systems, and it has few of the bureaucratic checks and balances that delay big military purchases in the United States. Raytheon executives said Thursday that about 5 percent of the company’s annual sales come from the kingdom, though they emphasized it is not dependent on any one foreign buyer. They expect those sales to remain roughly flat into next year, as the company receives at least two large contracts for ‘offensive and defensive weapons systems’ and military training.”

No. Sorry. They don’t get to decide whether they keep on selling weapons. The government does. But we certainly should start calling them a Major Offense Manufacturer after that last remark.

“Lockheed executives said Tuesday that they have ‘about less than $500 million’ in Saudi sales planned for 2019 and about $900 into 2020. The company expects to receive an additional $450 million contract for combat ships and is awaiting an additional deal on its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, which is expected to be operational in Saudi Arabia by 2023.”

Again, no. They don’t get to announce future mass murder operations when the question at hand is whether to allow them.

“Lockheed has made selling to foreign governments a key target for growth. Earlier this year, Hewson said her company’s international sales had jumped from 17 percent of total sales in 2013 to 30 percent in 2017. Saudi Arabia played a key role in that growth, she said, and made it clear that the relationship would continue. ‘Saudia Arabia has expressed its intent to procure integrated air and missile defense systems, combat ships, helicopters, surveillance systems and tactical aircraft in coming years,’ she said.”

Oh, well, as long as it’s growth.

“That relationship is now complicated by a global political backlash over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in the weeks since Khashoggi’s killing, an issue that has also brought renewed visibility to a long-running humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The United Nations has counted thousands of civilian deaths, including ‘possible war crimes,’ in a Saudi-led war in Yemen that is bolstered by U.S. arms and training. ”

In fact, the war is a crime, which makes every part of it a “war crime,” and the war involves the U.S. military picking targets, refuelling bombers mid-air, and “boots on the ground.”

“The Associated Press reported Thursday that 21 people, including some children, were killed by a Saudi airstrike at a fruit and vegetable market near Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeida. ‘Civilians are paying a shocking price because of this conflict,’ U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande told the AP. There has so far been little decisive action to curb arms sales, however. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the country would suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, telling reporters that, ‘arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances.’ And the European Union passed a resolution Thursday urging a ban on weapons sales in response to Khashoggi’s killing.”

So, after all that blather from the dealers of death, we discover that governments matter and that one has already acted.

“The resolution was nonbinding, however, and it was unclear what if any effect it would have. Britain, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest source for military hardware behind the United States, has yet to take a firm stance on the issue. And President Trump said on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ last Sunday that he wants U.S. arms sales to continue to protect jobs at Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon. ‘I don’t want to lose an order like that,’ he said.”

The facts that military spending reduces jobs, and that a society converted to peace could have many more jobs, and that Saudi Arabia’s weapons contracts are not actually big enough to constitute a threat to the U.S. economy are not the sort of facts the Washington Post will decide we need to be informed about.

“Numerous U.S. politicians have pledged to place limits on Saudi arms sales in light of Khashoggi’s killing even though it will be hard for them to overcome a White House veto. On Wednesday a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would stop most U.S. arms sales to the kingdom, specifically referencing ‘the murder of journalist and United States permanent resident Jamal Khashoggi.’”

So, now we discover that Congress could act if it saw fit.

“Raytheon faces political headwinds over a proposed sale of precision-guided bomb kits, complex navigation systems that steer bombs to their targets, presumably making them more effective against military targets and less dangerous for civilians. Raytheon wants to sell bomb kits to the United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi portion of that deal is being held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) over human rights concerns.”

And now we learn that a senator has done something.

“Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, recently told reporters that he wouldn’t support any new weapons deals to the kingdom. ‘The mood of the Congress is this outrageous act can’t be followed by a business as usual arms deal,’ he said, according to published reports. Still, defense analysts believe U.S. defense contractors are unlikely to take much of a financial hit over the Saudi situation, even if arms sales are curbed significantly. With the U.S. defense budget growing again under a Republican-controlled Congress and White House, companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are more optimistic about future sales in the United States. ‘We are a global company providing technology and security solutions for over 80 countries and we have numerous global franchises,’ Raytheon chief executive Thomas Kennedy said. ‘So I’m pretty confident that we will weather this complexity.’”

Now we discover that the dealers would do fine without the Saudi deals, but we don’t go back and question Trump’s motivations. Nor is the “human rights” problem mentionable in the context of the massive weapons purchases by the U.S. government, despite the U.S. government’s record of bombings that have killed millions and destroyed whole societies.

“Lockheed took in more than $50 billion from U.S. government contracts last year, dwarfing its expected $500 million in Saudi sales for 2019. ‘So not a huge amount of dependency on the [Saudi] activity, even though the opportunities we’ve described are much larger than that obviously,’ Lockheed chief financial officer Bruce Tanner said Tuesday. Defense analysts see it as unlikely that any campaign to limit arms sales will succeed unless President Trump leaves the White House in 2020. Even then, U.S. defense contractors would have the support of a sophisticated and well-funded lobbying operation in Washington: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon spent more than $50 million combined in 2017, according to opensecrets.org. Boeing, which has a substantial commercial airline business, led the way with $16.7 million, with Lockheed and Northrop at $14.5 million each. ‘We have supported the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in securing defense for more than 50 years,’ Kennedy said. ‘And through that course of time, we have seen issues that have occurred at different periods of uncertainty. And we’ve always resolved it through the end and by doing this one thing: It’s actually following the direction and position of the U.S. administration, which we were right behind in making sure that we understand where they are going and that we’re locked in step behind them.’”

Yes, again, we are enlightened by the report that the weapons dealers will deal any weapons they are allowed to. But we’re never informed of the Washington Post’s owner’s CIA and military contracts.

26.10.2018 – US, United States Countercurrents

“I Am a Nationalist”: Donald Trump Apes Mussolini in Drive to Destroy America

By Juan Cole

Trump proudly says he is a “nationalist.”

He is, of course, saying this to shore up support among white nationalists. The Nazi sites on the web were all having wet dreams in the aftermath.

From the 1990s, polling has found that about 10% of Americans support far right militias. These are the white nationalists. Trump came to power by mobilizing that 10% and combining it with Republicans and independents

It is not an accident that Benito Mussolini called his party “Nationalist Fascism.” The two go together. Trump performs the “fascist” part of this two-part term every time he does a rally, so he doesn’t have to say “I am a Nationalist Fascist,” i.e. a Mussolini-ist. But that is what he is.

Somehow Benito Mussolini is not often brought up in contemporary American political debates. His armies slaughtered 330,000 Allied troops during World War II, including large numbers of Americans. Two of my uncles fought in World War II in the European theater, and I’m not willing to let Mussolini skate. Of 45,000 Italian Jews, 8,000 were delivered to Nazi death camps and a similar number were forced to flee abroad. Some $1 billion was stolen from them as a community. I’m not sure how Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon, gets away with praising this mass murderer and then being invited to major cultural and political gatherings in the West.

Erminio Fonzo in a 2016 article (1) explains that the big industrialists in Italy formed the “Nationalist Association” in 1910. Their policies and actions in the subsequent decade helped undermine the liberal Italian state. Fonzo writes that they were “anti-liberal, protectionist, clerical, opposed to any improvement for the lower social classes and favoured expansionism at any cost.” Most American industrialists today cannot be characterized this way, but a fraction of the business class here holds these very values, and Trump is their exemplar. The only difference is that they are not monarchists, and they tend to support Evangelicals rather than Catholic priests.

Mussolini forged links with elements of the Nationalist Association during WW I, when he broke with the Socialists over their insistence on neutrality and lurched to the far right of militarism. His new, fascist party received a good deal of money from the Ansaldo arms manufacturing company, just as Trump’s increase for military spending is intended to attract campaign monies from US armaments firms.

When he turned against socialism, which upheld the welfare of the working class, Mussolini substituted nationalism. He said, “the nation is a history of sentiments, traditions, language, culture, and race.” Concerns of welfare for the workers and the poor, he thought, only arise among “a people that has not integrated itself into its proper linguistic and racial confines.”

Race, language, national identity, exalting an imagined people and its glorious history, contrasting it with hated others– this was the heady brew Mussolini substituted for attempts of workers to unionize or limit their work hours or abolish child labor. It was of course, a cruel illusion that the nation was undifferentiated and unified by “race.” By the early 1930s Mussolini was casting Italy’s workers into profound poverty, favoring his backers, the business classes.

So when he came to power Mussolini declared the Nationalist Fascist Party to be his vehicle, as a way of co-opting the illiberal business classes.

Mussolini became dictator. He had been a journalist at some points, and manipulated the press to shine a bright political light on him and on his doings.

Part of what he meant by Nationalism was an exaltation of the Roman Empire and an aspiration to revive it as a vehicle of modern Italian power. Nationalist renewal was central to his vision–making Italy great again. He considered Arabs and Africans inferior races (an early 20th century way of talking about what Trump calls “shithole countries.”) He dreamed of expanding Italian hegemony into the Arab world, and turned Italy, which Italy had aggressively conquered in 1911, into one big concentration camp. This is sort of like what Trump is trying to help the Israelis do to the Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank under Israeli colonization.

Trump didn’t mean he is a patriot. He used the word nationalist deliberately, and admitted that it was a word held in bad odor. He wants to bury the people who object to the word, which is intended to strengthen white nationalism.

It is important that everyone understand how dangerous what Trump said is. He intends to destroy the United States as it has existed in modern history, as a country of the rule of law, a country of laws and not of men, a country with a free press. He intends to mobilize his supporters in the far rightwing gangs, in the police and the armed forces as Black Shirts if he can, to break heads. He intends to move the country to Fascism. That is what he means when he says, “I am a nationalist.”


(1) Erminio Fonzo (2016) A path towards Fascism: nationalism and large- scale industry in Italy (1910–1923), Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 21:4, 545-564

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

25.10.2018 David Swanson

Classical Conditioning for Peace

According to the analysis of police-murder-instigator Dave Grossman, the reason that only a minority of soldiers attempted to kill in World War II and earlier wars was a general aversion to committing murder. And the reason that the vast majority of U.S. soldiers (marines, sailors, etc.) have attempted to kill in recent decades is “classical conditioning.” A fireman rushes into a fire without thinking, if he or she has been conditioned through drill repetition to do so. Soldiers kill without thinking, if they have been trained to do so through the repetition of the realistic simulation of killing.

Of course, afterwards, you can hardly stop people from thinking about what they’ve done. The top cause of death in the U.S. military is suicide, and the top indicator of a risk of suicide is combat guilt.

I’m wondering what would happen if a government were to invest heavily in advertising and recruitment, and then pay hundreds of thousands of young people good salaries to be conditioned for peace. I strongly suspect that one thing that would not happen would be regret and guilt leading to suicide. But what would such conditioning even look like, and what side-effects might it have?

I’ve never thought of this before, primarily, I think, because I don’t want to trick anybody into being peaceful, and don’t believe it’s necessary. When I talk with people who believe that war can be justified, and who are open to talking about it, more often than not I persuade them through straightforward respectful discussion that in fact war can never be justified. If I just had 7.6 billion hours with which to spend an hour with each person, I tell myself, I could talk most of them out of belief in war, and some of them into taking action to undo governmental preparations for war.

However, I just watched a Netflix show in which an attempt is made to condition someone for peace. At least that’s one way of looking at this show. It’s called Sacrifice by Derren Brown. I’m about to spoil any surprises in it for you.

Stop reading here to avoid spoilers.

It should be noted that The GuardianMetro, and Decider didn’t much like this show, and generally objected to the ethical decision to manipulate the man who is the subject of the show’s experiment. To believe the show’s producer, however, the man was quite pleased with having been so experimented on. In any event, one would be very hard pressed to get a corporate publication to object to the manipulation of children through video games and war movies, and to the manipulation of military recruits to kill and to believe that they are likely to survive unharmed. If manipulating someone is objectionable — and I can certainly see why it would be — should we reserve those objections for the manipulation of someone for a good cause?

In fairness, similar publications have had somewhat similar objections when Derren Brown, in another Netflix show, manipulated people into doing what they believed was committing murder. But it was individual murder, not mass murder, and not with any uniforms or bombs or national anthems or any of the accouterments that make it OK.

If you watch the preview for Sacrifice, the conclusion won’t surprise you. It’s just the in-between parts you won’t be sure about. A show that attempts to get a man to put himself between a gun and a stranger wouldn’t be aired unless, in the end, the man did it. But how is he brought to the point of doing it?

What makes the show more interesting and valuable, is that the man, Phil, is a U.S. citizen highly prejudiced against “immigrants,” and Brown intends to get Phil to take a bullet to protect a Latino immigrant from a racist white American. So, there are two things that Brown claims to do to Phil: make him brave, and make him care about people he hasn’t cared about.

The make-him-brave part is done with Phil’s consent. The manipulative part is that Brown tells Phil he’s installing a “chip” in his body that will help to make him brave, which is of course not actually true. The rest of the bravery conditioning is done with Phil’s participation. He listens to audio recordings and thinks brave thoughts. He’s conditioned to associate a certain musical jingle and hand motion with finding great courage. Ethical complaints with this seem weaker than practical ones, specifically the likelihood that it wouldn’t work on everyone.

The caring part of the conditioning is in some ways more dishonest, but also less like conditioning. (Brown calls this “empathy,” rather than caring, but it’s not clear that it relates to the strict sense of empathy, meaning experiencing the world from someone else’s point of view.) Phil is shown DNA ancestry results that find him to have ancestors in Palestine and Mexico. He’s nudged in the direction of reconsidering his prejudices. He’s not told that that’s what’s happening. He’s not agreed to it. But he’s told what are presumably accurate facts. If the DNA results were fabricated, or would have to be fabricated in the case of many other people, that presents a certain weakness. But there’s no repetitive conditioning involved here.

There is another element in the preparation to care, however. Phil and a Latino-looking man are asked to sit and stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Phil becomes emotional and asks to give the man a hug. Hardly a word is said. This is not rational persuasion. But there’s also nothing dishonest about it. I can’t imagine what harm would be done by employing this technique on a mass scale.

The most dishonest and manipulative part of the experiment is the use of numerous actors to create a staged incident in which Phil is led to make a choice to get out of a truck and stand in front of a man being threated with a gun. The world cannot hire a hundred people to manipulate every one person into acting heroically. The math doesn’t work. The paranoia of everyone afraid they were in a show would be damaging, even if it might have some positive results as well. And one heroic act isn’t enough.

But why couldn’t “empathy exercises,” DNA results, bravery practice (with or without placebos, but always respectful and consensual), be combined with rational, fact-based education about alternatives to war, nonviolent dispute resolution, the rule of law, restorative justice, anthropology, the actual history of wars and war propaganda, the environmental damage of militarism, the counterproductive results of bellicosity, and the need for courageous concerned actions to reform corrupt systems, to reverse destructive policies, and to mitigate the oncoming disaster of climate chaos?

What would be wrong with conditioning ourselves to work for peace?

23.10.2018 – Manila, Philippines Karina Lagdameo Santillan

This post is also available in: Spanish, German

China Experience: Night Cruise on the Yangtze River, Chongqing

Chongqing, China served as the host city for the recently concluded Video Media Forum 2018, with the Chongqing High-Tech Zone being a co-host of this event. One of the first 27 high-tech zones in China, it is a base for the national software, national bio, and hi-tech services industries as well as for science and technology commerce innovation.

Situated on the edge of the Yungui Plateau, and surrounded by small green-capped mountains, Chongqing sits on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River where it connects with one of its major tributaries, the Jialing. Chongqing has always been an important port city, making it a major center for manufacturing and shipping. It is China’s fourth municipality after Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, and has seen rapid economic development while preserving its natural environment, for which it is known as the Mountain City.

After a full day of talks and discussions during the Video Media Forum, participants were treated to a relaxing evening on a river cruise along the Yangtze River.

The cruise took off from the junction where the two rivers meet, slowly sailing down, giving us spectacular night views of the city all lit up in bright colors. Rows and rows of skyscrapers in bright neon colors, the Chongqing Grand Theater, the Yangtze River Bridge, the hanging houses, all passed slowly by, giving the forum participants a panoramic view of Chongqing by night.

   

  

While inside the boat, a show gave us a taste of local culture. A traditional Chinese dancer entranced the crowd with the art of changing masks. A calligraphy master demonstrated this ancient art, inviting some participants to try out their hand, for a chance to bring home a painting. A tea master showed his skills in pouring tea from a long spout.

  

 

  

 

The cruise was an entrancing introduction to the largest municipality in southwest China, today a bustling, modern metropolis, home to almost 30 million people who live and work in a bustling mega-city. (photos courtesy of Reto Thumiger and Ricardo Arias)

22.10.2018 Pressenza London

British people want final say on Brexit, 700,000 say so

Photoreportage

The March called to demand a final say on the Brexit deal, now descending into chaos has given people some hope that the thoroughly incapable Tory Government dominated more and more by the right wing of the party and others further right, may still be rescued if Parliament rejects the proposals and either call for a new referendum or creates itself a new proposal.

Here are some pictures of Saturday’s Day of Action

22.10.2018 Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)

PMPI Statement on World Food Day 2018

Our Actions are our Future. This year’s theme of the World Food Day Celebration couldn’t articulate more the significance and urgency of the need to address the increasing magnitude of poverty and hunger worldwide.

We, from the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.,  a network of civil society organizations, rights groups, peace and faith-based institutions hope that the 2018 World Food Day celebration manifest the very essence of it, particularly to effect change to the lives of Filipino people living in extreme poverty and hunger.

Our country is an agricultural country and as ironic as it gets, the people who are providing us food, our farmers and fisherfolks are among the poorest of the poor according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). PSA records show that these sectors have the highest poverty incidence in 2015 at 34.3 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

The survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) from September 15-23, 2018 revealed that 13.3% or an estimated 3.1 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months. While 821 million people or one in nine of the world’s population faced food shortage in 2017 according to a UN report.

These numbers are alarming and warrant urgent and strategic actions. However, our government either puts aside the issue or addresses it in a depraved way.

In the Philippines, farmers have been struggling to keep their livelihoods afloat because of debts they cannot repay for seeds and chemical inputs owned by business companies. This is on top of the concerns on the impact of climate change to agriculture, the emergence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) that threatens the very ecosystem, the lack of new farmer practitioners and thus further threatening food security. Likewise, the enactment of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) exacerbates the condition of the lives of people especially those who are living in below poverty line.

Living a dignified life means having access to food, including the other basic needs like shelter and clothing. Unfortunately, not all people enjoy this opportunity thus, some poor people struggle more just to survive by collecting and eating leftover food. The food waste produced globally is so staggering that each year, 1.6 billion tons of food worth about $1.2 trillion are lost or go to waste, one-third of the total amount of food produced globally.

During the celebration of World Food Day, we highlight our grave concern about the emergence of GMOs. PMPI strongly opposes the looming field trials of golden rice in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and San Mateo, Isabela. Golden rice variety poses a threat to the environment, public health, and farmers’ livelihood. It is just another scheme by the agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs) to control the sector of food and agriculture, which would later on making the farmers dependent on their patented genetically modified seeds and expensive chemical inputs.

We also want to highlight the threat on food security brought by large-scale, destructive mining. Below are some of the experiences of PMPI’s Sites-Of-Struggle (SOS)* Communities, incidentally, are also food producing areas, namely:

1. Boac River used to be a source of livelihood and recreation for many Marinduquenos, fell victim to Marcopper Mining Corporation’s misdeed when its mine tailings pond – formerly an open-pit mine with tunnels to bring in water was used as tailings pond – slowly gave way to the pressure of poisonous mine leakages, then Marcopper mine spill into the river that caused fish kills and biological death of the river on March 24, 1996. Meanwhile, the affected communities led by Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC), have yet to receive justice, and reparations for environmental and health damages by caused the spillage.

2. In October of 2005, the mining project Lafeyatte Philippines Inc. in Rapu-rapu Island, Albay caused two incidents of cyanide spill that killed massive amounts fish around the coastal areas of Sorsogon and Albay, affecting the livelihood of small-scale artisanal fisherfolks. Until today, the Island has yet to impress signs of rehabilitation as the open-pit mine lay bare. The mining project was the first mining operation allowed under the Mining Act of 1995 and envisioned as a would-be model of sustainable and responsible mining (Rappler, March 2018).

3. Indigenous Peoples of Kibungan, Benguet – engaged in vegetable farming and a major vegetable supplier of Metro Manila faced threats in the past from mining as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of DENR allowed a mining exploration project in area without proper FPIC considering that Kibungan is an Ancestral Domain with a Certificate of Domain Title (CADT).

4. Potentially, among the world’s largest gold-copper open pit mines, the Tampakan Mining Project has a mine site covering about 10,000 hectares and will affect the Marbel Watershed – a water source for agricultural lands of Koronadal City and Tantangan for South Cotabato, but also to the farming communities of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and North Cotabato, and fishing for Lake Buluan, Rio Grande de Mindanao up to the Moro Gulf. Furthermore, the mining permit (called FTAA/Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement) largely covers the ancestral domain of the B’laans whose lives are threatened, and culture destroyed. Its projected environmental impact according to BankTrack will affect 935 hectares including old growth Rainforest, and produce waste rock of 2.6 Billion tons of 300 meters high and area coverage of 500 hectares.

If we hope to end the global crisis of starvation and aim for #zerohunger by 2030, government action to protect the ecosystem that is providing us with food and support to farmers to sustain production is urgently warranted. People are also called for a drastic change of lifestyle so that World Food Day is really worth celebrating.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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