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15.08.2017 – London UK Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Spanish

War is a marketing exercise for the Arms Trade: confirmed by declassified documents.
Example of a four-wheeled ballista -1552. (Image by Unknown artist, Library of Congress, public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

In 2006, I wrote in “From monkey sapiens to homo intentional, the Phenomenology of the nonviolent revolution” the following paragraph related to the reasons to invade Iraq: “…organise a marketing exercise in which new weapons could be displayed (in action) in order to support the lagging arms trade, affected by the end of the Cold War. The way images of the accuracy and precision with which a plane could destroy a bridge were shown, again and again, as well as minute details of the qualities of missiles, etc, strongly recalled TV shopping. We heard much later that they were not that precise and there had been plenty of civilian casualties (called “collateral damage“, to dehumanise them), but business is business.”

This week declassified secret documents reveal that at the time of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq the British government saw its participation in the war against Saddam precisely as a “unparalleled opportunity” to increase its weapons sales:

“In a letter marked “secret”, written on 19 August 1990, days after Saddam Hussein’s forces had invaded Kuwait, Clark [Alan Clark, then defence procurement minister, to the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher] wrote a private memo to Thatcher in which he described the expected response from the US and its allies as “unparalleled opportunity” for the Defence Export Services Organisation (now known as the DSO).

“Clark explained: “Whatever deployment policies we adopt I must emphasise that this is an unparalleled opportunity for DESO; a vast demonstration range with live ammunition and ‘real’ trials.”…” The government’s efforts reaped dividends. The war provided a significant fillip for arms sales to the region and helped nurture a strong relationship that continues to this day.”…” Over 10 years, the report ranks Britain as the second biggest arms dealer in the world behind the US.” The Guardian.

The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), euphemism for the Arms Fair, is coming to London as it has been doing every two years, from 12 to 15 September this year and no doubt the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya will provide again ”a vast demonstration range with live ammunition and ‘real’ trials” for potential buyers amongst whom it is usual to find representatives of oppressive regimes and those interested in what’s new on instruments of torture.

The destructive power of these death machines continue to increase beyond anything imaginable. We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s quote “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Those who think that war, including nuclear war, is an acceptable or even inevitable part of life cannot continue to be the people we elect to be in power, to have power over our lives. Only the will of people prepared to defy the Media in their criticism and slander of Peace and Nonviolence oriented candidates (e.g. Jeremy Corbyn) can change the direction of the war and arms trade. The politics of fear makes us create our own demise, our own incarceration in a contradictory life in which we allow our taxes to buy the weapons that kill people in our own and distant countries. We accept to live in this soul-destroying contradiction because the alternative voices are stifled and silenced, or simply ignored.

We are lucky, we have options, we just need to listen carefully and plan what actions are within our possibilities.

Active nonviolence does not demand sacrifices, only a joyful and meaningful commitment to life and compassion.

15.08.2017 – London UK Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Spanish

War is a marketing exercise for the Arms Trade: confirmed by declassified documents.
Example of a four-wheeled ballista -1552. (Image by Unknown artist, Library of Congress, public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

In 2006, I wrote in “From monkey sapiens to homo intentional, the Phenomenology of the nonviolent revolution” the following paragraph related to the reasons to invade Iraq: “…organise a marketing exercise in which new weapons could be displayed (in action) in order to support the lagging arms trade, affected by the end of the Cold War. The way images of the accuracy and precision with which a plane could destroy a bridge were shown, again and again, as well as minute details of the qualities of missiles, etc, strongly recalled TV shopping. We heard much later that they were not that precise and there had been plenty of civilian casualties (called “collateral damage“, to dehumanise them), but business is business.”

This week declassified secret documents reveal that at the time of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq the British government saw its participation in the war against Saddam precisely as a “unparalleled opportunity” to increase its weapons sales:

“In a letter marked “secret”, written on 19 August 1990, days after Saddam Hussein’s forces had invaded Kuwait, Clark [Alan Clark, then defence procurement minister, to the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher] wrote a private memo to Thatcher in which he described the expected response from the US and its allies as “unparalleled opportunity” for the Defence Export Services Organisation (now known as the DSO).

“Clark explained: “Whatever deployment policies we adopt I must emphasise that this is an unparalleled opportunity for DESO; a vast demonstration range with live ammunition and ‘real’ trials.”…” The government’s efforts reaped dividends. The war provided a significant fillip for arms sales to the region and helped nurture a strong relationship that continues to this day.”…” Over 10 years, the report ranks Britain as the second biggest arms dealer in the world behind the US.” The Guardian.

The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), euphemism for the Arms Fair, is coming to London as it has been doing every two years, from 12 to 15 September this year and no doubt the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya will provide again ”a vast demonstration range with live ammunition and ‘real’ trials” for potential buyers amongst whom it is usual to find representatives of oppressive regimes and those interested in what’s new on instruments of torture.

The destructive power of these death machines continue to increase beyond anything imaginable. We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s quote “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Those who think that war, including nuclear war, is an acceptable or even inevitable part of life cannot continue to be the people we elect to be in power, to have power over our lives. Only the will of people prepared to defy the Media in their criticism and slander of Peace and Nonviolence oriented candidates (e.g. Jeremy Corbyn) can change the direction of the war and arms trade. The politics of fear makes us create our own demise, our own incarceration in a contradictory life in which we allow our taxes to buy the weapons that kill people in our own and distant countries. We accept to live in this soul-destroying contradiction because the alternative voices are stifled and silenced, or simply ignored.

We are lucky, we have options, we just need to listen carefully and plan what actions are within our possibilities.

Active nonviolence does not demand sacrifices, only a joyful and meaningful commitment to life and compassion.

15.08.2017 Pressenza New York

John Kelly is no “moderate”
New White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at his confirmation hearing to head Homeland Security (Image by Wikimedia Commons)

There’s a new sheriff-wannabe in the White House. Danny Katch looks at his record.

SINCE TAKING over as the White House chief of staff two weeks ago, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly has won praise in the media for trying to implement utterly normal chief-of-staff procedures such as having final say over who gets to have meetings with the President.

By contrast, reported Bloomberg, “Trump resisted attempts by Kelly’s predecessor, Reince Priebus, to stop White House staffers from popping in unannounced to see the president…Trump, who’s known to be easily distracted, would wave in the visitors, even as his scheduled appointments sometimes backed up.”

Kelly’s promotion to chief of staff from head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also seemed to alter the power dynamics inside the endlessly scheming world of the Trump administration.

Jeff Sessions was assured that his job was safe despite Trump’s rambling tweets against his own Attorney General; Anthony Scaramucci was canned after 10 days as communications director; and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster was given the okay to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick–an ally of Trump’s chief strategist and in-house fascist Steve Bannon.

Now, as Kelly accompanies Trump on his New Jersey gold resort vacation, he is conducting a review of administration personnel and is reportedly questioning, according to Politico, why Bannon “has a large staff, including an outside public relations expert, but no specific duties.”

As a result, Kelly is being hailed for bringing “order to a chaotic and unruly White House” and even inspiring hopes that he might be a moderating influence against the far-right influence of advisers like Bannon, Steven Miller and their crackpot underlings who issue national security memos warning that the deep state is controlled by a cabal of globalists, “cultural Marxists” and the Muslim Brotherhood.

But don’t forget: We’ve been here before.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WHEN KELLY was nominated to run DHS, he was praised as a moderate and easily confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 88 to 11. As a recent article in Politico explained, “John Kelly’s sterling reputation as a Marine general with an appreciation for nuance led many Democrats to back his nomination as Homeland Security secretary in the hope that he would rein in President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration and security policies.”

Kelly had “earned” this faith by hinting at a bit of discomfort with some of Trump’s most right-wing campaign promises like a Muslim ban and ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

But just a brief look at his record as head of the Pentagon’s Southern Command under the Obama administration showed clearly that John Kelly’s politics were going to fit nicely in a Donald Trump White House.

Kelly’s post at Southern Command, which guards the U.S. empire in Central and South America, gave him a firsthand view of the epidemic of gang wars, rape and violence that has led to unprecedented numbers of refugees–many of them unaccompanied children–fleeing northward for the U.S.

Yet in the face of this humanitarian crisis, all Kelly could see was the “existential threat” these children supposed posed to the U.S, as Heather Digby Parton explained in Salon:

He warned that neglect of the border had created vulnerabilities that could be exploited by terrorist groups, describing a “crime-terror convergence” already seen in Lebanese Hezbollah’s alleged involvement in the region (a onetime assertion made in a congressional report a decade ago.) He said there exists an “incredibly efficient network” by which terrorists and weapons of mass destruction could travel into the United States…

In short, he has been a border-security fanatic for some time.

At Southern Command, Kelly was also in charge of the military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, where, as Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights explained on Democracy Now!, “he was in charge during…a mass hunger strike, in 2013, and…responded brutally, through mass force-feedings, solitary confinement, to punish detainees.”

Azny added that Kelly refused to call the protest a hunger strike, but instead gave it the Orwellian label “long-term, nonreligious fasting.”

That’s the kind of chilling enthusiasm for violent repression that will get you noticed by Trump. When Kelly was nominated to run DHS, he responded with a sound bite sure to please his new boss: “The American people voted in this election to stop terrorism, take back sovereignty at our borders, and put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security.”

The only reason John Kelly’s tenure at Southern Command gave him a reputation for “nuance” was that his xenophobic and anti-Muslim politics were at the time serving a Democratic rather than Republican administration–and that, unlike crackpots like Michael Flynn, Kelly was a smooth political operator who ran a tight ship.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

UNSURPRISINGLY, JOHN Kelly’s short tenure running Homeland Security was not known for its moderation or nuance.

Kelly defended the president’s attempts at an anti-Muslim travel ban and has been just as cruel to immigrants as the most bigoted Trump supporter could have hoped.

In March, Kelly announced that DHS was considering snatching children away from parents who are caught crossing the border. In May, he dismissed the uproar over the deportation of a mother with her five-year old son despite facing death threats in her native Honduras–by claiming to know that she has been trained by smugglers to lie in order to get asylum.

Even as he was shifting his agency’s focus to target a wide range of immigrants, Kelly adopted the seemingly tough but actually cowardly posture of the military bureaucrat who claims he’s only following orders.

“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,” he said in an April speech. “Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.”

This blunt soldier talk goes over great in the media. A typical fawning media profile of Kelly began, “The first thing you need to know about John Kelly? He’s a Marine.” As if he was plucked for the White House while he was in the middle of a commando crawl under some barbed wire.

In fact, Kelly has long been a Washington insider, having served as a legislative assistant for the Marine Corps commandant in the mid-2000s before becoming a liaison to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during the Obama years. In the year before Trump’s election, Kelly had retired from the military and was working for Dyncorp, a major player in the military-industrial complex.

So far, it looks like Kelly’s vows to whip the White House into tiptop military shape may be just as much hot air as a Scaramucci press conference. For certain, the tough-guy general has been no more successful than the hapless Priebus at restraining Trump from going on wild rants–and Reince can at least say that on his watch, the President never threatened the “fire and fury” of nuclear holocaust.

The moral of the story? No establishment figure is coming into the White House to save us from Donald Trump. He’s too far gone, and the “establishment” is far closer to him than many pundits wants to admit.

 

14.08.2017 – Charlottesville, Virginia David Swanson

Top 10 Misconceptions About Charlottesville

By David Swanson

1. Let’s start with the obvious. Charlottesville, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, are actually two completely different places in the world. The flood of concern and good wishes for those of us here in Charlottesville is wonderful and much appreciated. That people can watch TV news about Charlottesville, remember that I live in Charlottesville, and send me their kind greetings addressed to the people of Charlotte is an indication of how common the confusion is. It’s not badly taken; I have nothing against Charlotte. It’s just a different place, seventeen times the size. Charlottesville is a small town with the University of Virginia, a pedestrian downtown street, and very few monuments. The three located right downtown are for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Confederacy. Neither Lee nor Jackson had anything to do with Charlottesville, and their statues were put up in whites-only parks in the 1920s.

2. The racists who have begun coming to Charlottesville to campaign for governor, garner attention, threaten violence, engage in violence, and commit murder are almost all from outside Charlottesville, and extremely unwelcome here. Charlottesville is a slightly left-of-center, Democratic Party area. Most people don’t rally for good causes or against bad ones. Most people don’t want the Lee statue taken down. (Or at least they didn’t until it became a gathering point for neo-Confederates.) Most people want other memorials added to public space to diversify. And most people don’t want white supremacists coming to town with their hatred and their violence.

3. Armed attacks are not covered by the First Amendment. I can and have argued at length for the strategic — never mind legal — need to respect odious free speech, and — more importantly — to respect and build bridges of understanding to the troubled people preaching hatred. But the human right to free speech is not found in a gun or a torch or a can of pepper spray any more than in corporate advertising. When we hold peace rallies in U.S. cities we are sometimes forbidden to bring posters on wooden poles. We have to use hollow cardboard tubes to hold up our signs, because — you know — advocates of nonviolence can be so violent. Yet racist, nationalist, white supremacist agitators are allowed to bring an arsenal with which to attack the general public and counter-demonstrators! Whatever that is, it is not free speech. I’d be willing to say it’s closer to enabling terrorism. All media habits of “balance” and “even handedness” become lies when respect for rights, and blame for deaths and injuries, are based on the notion that premeditated violence and threats of violence and the carrying of weapons are not worth noticing.

4. Charlottesville’s mayor voted against taking down the Lee statue, even if he now sounds on NBC News as if it had been his idea. Seen from a certain angle, that’s progress. I want people to get on board with the idea of taking down all racist monuments and all war monuments, and this one is both. But it is a misconception to imagine that the decision to take down General Lee came from the top or that it came without extensive public input. It’s true that City Council member Kristin Szakos publicly proposed the dominance of our public space by Confederate statues as a problem, and that City Council member Wes Bellamy pushed for that. But it was the national movement of Black Lives Matter, and local activism, that created the demand in the first place, as well as making Bellamy a member of City Council. The City held very lengthy and public and extensive hearings and gathering of facts and views. A Blue Ribbon Commission produced a report. And when the City Council voted to take down Lee (but leave up Jackson) it did so because City Council Member Bob Fenwick joined Szakos and Bellamy in a 3-2 vote, in which Mayor Mike Signer was on the losing and cowardly side. Because that is typical of him, we should be wary of fale perceptions of him as a leader, until he really becomes one. It’s possible that had he shown the leadership of the Mayor of New Orleans in taking down statues and explaining why, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

5. The military and militarized police are not here to protect you. An armed force on the streets and in the air of Charlottesville crashed a helicopter, tragically killing two people. But what else did it accomplish? It heightened tensions. It reduced turnout by those opposed to violence and racism. Its aggression toward anti-racists following the KKK rally in July contributed to fears of what it would do this time. The Charlottesville police do not need the mine-resistant vehicle they keep in their garage, because we do not have land mines. We do not need our skies filled — including on the Friday before the rally — with military helicopters. We do not need tanks on our streets for godsake. We need to disarm those seeking to exercise their First Amendment Rights, not arm someone else. The helicopter never should have crashed because it never should have flown. And every individual who assaulted and threatened people with pepper spray, torches, sticks, fists, or an automobile, should have been welcomed to nonviolently, without guns or other weaponry, speak their mind — and to meet and converse with those opposing their views.

6. The events in Charlottesville, like foreign and domestic emoluments, additional forms of financial corruption, Muslim bans, illegal wars, threats to North Korea, voter intimidation, environmental destruction, and sexual assault, make up yet another article of impeachment for Donald Trump awaiting only the awakening of a House of Representatives. Incitement of acts of violence is a crime, and it is certainly a high-crime-and-misdemeanor, the Constitutional phrase refering to an abuse of power that may or may not be criminal. Donald Trump went out of his way to persuade racists that they were free to engage in their racism openly. Numerous racists, including some of those who have been active in Charlottesville, have openly communicated their understanding of that presidential permission. Those sitting silently by in this moment are condoning racism. So are those not advocating for impeachment and removal. Yes I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction. I’m further aware that the D.C. Democratic leadership makes Mayor Signer’s cynicism look like child’s play, and that Nancy Pelosi wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can “oppose” him. But I’m not asking you to believe he’s going to be impeached without your doing anything. I’m asking you to compel his impeachment.

7. The answer to racist violence is not anti-racist violence or passivism, and the idea that those are the only two choices is ridiculous. Charlottesville’s and the United States’ resistance to racism would be far stronger with disciplined nonviolence. The behavior of a few anti-racists in July allowed the corporate media to depict the KKK as victims. There is nothing the alt-right crowd longs for more in this moment than some act of violence against them that would permit pundits to start trumpeting the need for liberals to be more tolerant of racists, and to proclaim that the real problem is those reckless radicals who want to tear down statues. We need nonviolent activism, and we need a thousand times more of it. We need to initiate the next rally in Charlottesville ourselves.

8. Tearing down statues is not opposing history. Charlottesville has three Confederate war statues, two (pro) genocide of the Native Americans statues, one World War I statue, one Vietnam War memorial, one statue of Thomas Jefferson (whose words and deeds, I’m sorry to say, agreed almost entirely with the latest racists), and one statue of Homer (poet of war). And that’s it. We have no memorials, whether monumental statuary or otherwise, to a single educator, artist, musician, athlete, author, or activst, nothing for Native American history, slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, or ANYTHING ELSE. Almost all of our history is missing. Putting up a giant statue for racism and war is not a step for history. Taking it down is not a blow to history. It could be a step forward, in fact. Even the renaming of Lee Park as Emancipation Park is educational. Creating a memorial to emancipation, and one to civil rights, and one to school integration, and one to peace would be more so.

9. The Lee statue is still there, not because racists rally around it, but because legislators glorify war. While neither side has any interest in opposing or even particularly in promoting war, and while the national and local media have gone through endless contortions to avoid mentioning it, the court case holding up the removal of Robert E. Lee and the horse he never rode in on is about war glorification. A state law that may or may not apply to this statue forbids taking down war memorials in Virginia. For fair and balanced free-speech advocates I should note that no similar law forbids taking down peace monuments. Also there really aren’t any to take down if you wanted to. This is a symptom of a culture that has come to accept endless war and the militarization of local police, and to report on rallies of “white nationalists” without ever considering that there may be a problem with both of those words.

10. As I’ve written in recent months, many sympathizers with the racist cause are understandable. This is a quite different thing from being acceptable or praise worthy. To say that someone is understandable is to say that you can understand them. They’re not monsters acting on inexplicable subhuman impulses any more than do the people they hate or the people against whom the United States wages wars typically behave that way. These racists live in one of the most unequal societies ever known, and they don’t live at the top of it. They hear about endless efforts to alleviate injustice toward all sorts of wronged groups that don’t include them. They notice the cultural acceptability in comedy shows and elsewhere of mocking white people. They seek a group identity. They seek others to blame. They seek others to place beneath themselves. And they hear hardly a peep out of Washington D.C. about creating universal rights and supports for everyone, as in Scandinavia. Instead they hear that hatred and violence and racism come with the Presidential seal of approval.

12.08.2017 Countercurrents

Venezuela Under Threat Of Imperialist Military Intervention: Stand In Solidarity

By Farooque Chowdhury

The Empire’s unhappy mood with Venezuela is old news. It is now showing its teeth to the Latin American nation. It’s now talking in military terms.

The mainstream media including the AP, CNN and Miami Herald said in one of their latest dispatches:

Mr. Donald Trump, the US president, said August 12, 2017 that he wouldn’t rule out possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela in response to, in Empire speak, power grab by Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela. Trump declared that all options remain on the table including a potential military intervention. “We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option. A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue”, declared the US president. “This [Venezuela] is our neighbor,” he added. “We are all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away […] We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

Mr. Trump was speaking to reporters at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.

The White House later released a statement that said, “Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country.”

The US president’s comment marks an open threat to the sovereign Latin American country.

Mr. Mike Pence, the US vice president, is embarking on a six-day trip to the region later this week. His stops include Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama City.

The US has recently slapped a series of sanctions against more than 24 Venezuelan public officials and political leaders including Maduro in response to the Venezuelan people’s constitutional initiative – installing their Constituent Assembly – to restore peace in their country rocked by disturbances organized by the local bourgeoisie.

The constituent assembly plans to secure gains so far made by the people in Venezuela.

A dangerous sign

Confusion is one of the messages that the Empire now-a-days regularly conveys to the broader world. Venezuela is one of the latest examples.

General H R McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, owns a different opinion. Gen. McMaster cites resentment stirred in Latin America by the long US history of military interventions in the region, and he doesn’t like people blaming the “Yankees”. The general passed the comment on tactics in an interview that aired last Saturday on MSNBC. McMaster told military intervention from any outside source was not a possibility.

Ted Lieu, an outspoken Democratic congressman denounced Trump’s comments. “Military force must be the last option, not the first. Provocative statements by @realDonaldTrump on North Korea and Venezuela are reckless”, said Rep. Ted Lieu.

Leon Panetta, former CIA director of the CIA and secretary of defense under Obama, told “Considering the number of flash points we’re dealing with in a very dangerous world, the last thing we need is another flash point where we may possibly use military force,” Panetta said.

The US defense leader added interesting comment: “When you’re president of the United States, when you’re the commander and chief, this is not reality TV. This is a situation where you can’t just talk down to everybody in the world and expect them to do what you think is right. These are leaders in these countries. They worry about their countries. They worry about what’s going to happen. And they take the president of the United States literally. Words count. I just think that the president needs to understand, and the people around the president need to make clear, that when we are facing the kind of crisis we are facing now, this is not a time for loose talk.”

According to an AP report datelined Bedminster, N.J. Mr. Trump has said “he was not being serious when he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering a drastic reduction in the number of U.S. diplomatic employees and saving the U.S. significant cash.” However, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump “was being sarcastic” when he made the remarks.

The comments and suggestions cited above tell state of the Empire: Putting last option first, loose talk, rhetoric, sarcasm with important relations. It’s a dangerous situation for both friends and foes as it’s difficult to read lips and minds, and to take required measures.

News from the economic front is not encouraging for people. Defense stocks are rising – an indicator with dangerous signal. Declining oil prices are not only Venezuela’s headache. High stake holders other than Venezuela are there in the oil market also. Competition within imperialist camp has not slackened. Rather, it is increasing with each passing day.

News from war fronts is not also encouraging for the Empire.  It’s not an easy job to count the number of wars the Empire is currently waging. On only one, Ivan Eland writes in Newsweek on August 10, 2017:

“In a recent meeting, President Trump correctly told his generals that they were ‘losing’ the war in Afghanistan [….]

“President Trump has partially accomplished this first step by recognizing what has been obvious for years, but an even more enlightened conclusion would be that the war has been ‘lost’ […]” (“We Have Lost the War in Afghanistan. We Should Get Out Now”)

But, this is not the only conclusion.

Other players are there.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on August 10, 2017 unveiled his own strategy for the war-torn Afghanistan — a plan that provides US military commanders with broader authority to pursue militant forces.

McCain, chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, has urged the Trump administration for months to submit to Congress a new Afghanistan strategy due to the worsening security situation in that country. Internal debates among the president’s chief advisors have delayed a White House strategy, according to US officials. (Los Angeles Times, “McCain issues his own military strategy for Afghanistan war amid White House delay”)

Pulls from or pushes to different directions are evident in the incidents and pronouncements cited above.

Concerning Venezuela, the same situation prevails. A group of US politicians prefer punitive measures against Venezuela while a part of the US industry has a different opinion. A number of US oil companies don’t prefer ban on petroleum imports from Venezuela, the third-largest supplier to the US. They have written two letters to Trump. A number of influential US lawmakers are also voicing oil companies’ position as the ban would hurt US jobs and drive up gas costs. The oil companies have put billions of dollars in the refineries processing crude from Venezuela.

This ambiguous situation is dangerous for a system as big as an empire. Adventurism has the potential to rise up in this situation.

Moreover, the Empire needs war. Its economy pushes it to a state of perpetual war around the globe.

The Bolivarian project

The Empire is scared with the Bolivarian project in Venezuela. The newly elected Constituent Assembly is trying to consolidate people’s position on the map of Venezuelan politics within the existing reality. Its successful constitution through the recently concluded election is also haunting the Venezuelan bourgeoisie. The reactionary classes are being stalked by specter of Fidel. They are getting unnerved with their imagination: another Cuba in the Hemisphere. The reactionaries’ disparate political coalition has lost speed and appeal. Now, their only option is adventurism. Imperialist military intervention now appears the most lucrative business to them. This reality suggests taking Mr. Trump’s volitions expressed in the golf course – military option in Venezuela – seriously.

Solidarity

In this context the Secretariat of Social Movements Towards ALBA – Brazil and Secretariat of the International People’s Assembly has made an appeal on August 9, 2017 from Sao Paulo. The appeal, addressed to the Peoples’ Movements from Latin America and the World, calls for “Actions of Solidarity with Venezuela and against external interference”. The appeal said:

“We are all following the gravity of Venezuela’s social and political crisis. We are following the degree of violence adopted by the rightist forces that have already caused the deaths of many people. There was the audacity to attack a barracks, trying to cause more victims, by civilians trained in Miami and Colombia, by right-wing forces.

“Maduro’s government and the progressive forces of Venezuela sought in the Constituent Assembly a way to renegotiate the country’s social agreements, which showed broad support from the Venezuelan people […]

“Right-wing Deputies have publicly said that their tactic is to produce more violence, more chaos, with wide international media coverage, to provoke foreign intervention in the country. Regrettably, this tactic was also explained by the Spanish former president, Mr. Felipe Gonzalez.

“Trump’s government, without any moral or legitimacy, is trying to influence Venezuela’s course by enacting sanctions […]

“The Brazilian coupist Government hastily called for a Mercosur meeting to suspend Venezuela’s rights. Soon an illegitimate government and with support of only 3% of the Brazilian population, dares to sanction the Venezuelan government, for lack of democracy!

“In the face of all these consultations made in various movements in Brazil and Latin America, we call:

ALL PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS OF BRAZIL, LATIN AMERICA AND THE WORLD TO EXPRESS unrestricted solidarity to Venezuelan people, for the government and the process of the constituent assembly, as the sovereign and legitimate right of the Venezuelan people to define the course of their country.

ORGANIZE ‘COMMITTEES FOR PEACE IN VENEZUELA’ […] in as many cities and countries as possible. The character of the committees is that they are Broad and Unitarian, with popular and political organizations, activists, artists, intellectuals, etc. The Committee can organize various types of solidarity actions.

ORGANIZE PUBLIC MANIFESTATIONS AGAINST THE INTERVENSION OF THE US GOVERNMENT IN OTHER COUNTRIES: As denounced by Julian Assange, the Trump government wants to create a new Iraq in South America, we cannot shut up.

USE VARIOUS FORMS OF MANIFESTATIONS: Sending this message to US government and the people of the United States, through street actions, political acts, cultural acts and also communication actions in all possible vehicles.

WE PROPOSE TO OBSERVE ‘INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH VENEZUELA’ ON AUGUST 22: Which we’ll make simultaneous actions in cities of the world, directing us to the embassies, consulates and companies of the USA to deliver our letter and to express our indignation with the actions practiced against the government and the Venezuelan People.

PUBLIC LETTER FOR COLLECTION OF SIGNATURES: Letter to the government, parliamentarians and organizations of the United States. We count on the support of all to:

Disseminate in your print media and on the web / social networks

Sign and Collect new accessions of: Popular Movements, Political Organizations, Parliamentarians, intellectuals, artists

Send Complete Names, Organization / Profession and Country of the subscribers until August 20, 2017 to the email: secretaria@ asambleadelospueblos.org

“We count on the contribution of everyone in this endeavor that will require of us a lot of commitment and generosity to maximize the process of unitary construction centered on the defense of the Bolivarian Revolution, the Government of Nicolás Maduro and the new National Constituent Assembly installed in the country.”

The appeal has been issued by Joao Pedro Stédile from the Operative Secretariat of People’s Movements Towards ALBA – Brazil, Jaime amorim, MST – International Via Campesina and Paola Estrada from the Secretariat of the International People’s Assembly.

In a world system of tyranny and oppression by imperialism, defending the Venezuelan people’s sovereignty is a democratic task with wide implications. The solidarity-stand will come in assistance to peoples in other lands also. Expressing solidarity with the Venezuelan people is a task of the moment.

The situation gets reflected in Venezuelan defense minister general Vladimir Padrino’s observation: Trump’s talk of possible military action is a “crazy act”, “an act of supreme extremism”. Padrino was talking to Venezuela state-owned television network VTV. He added: “There is […] extremist elite in the US government, and I really don’t know what is happening and what will happen in the world, if humanity will end, if planet Earth will end!”

Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not authored/edited any book in English other than Micro Credit, Myth Manufactured (ed.), The Age of Crisis and What Next, The Great Financial Crisis (ed.), and he doesn’t operate any blog/web site.

 

Actions of Solidarity with Venezuela and against external interference

São Paulo, August 09 2017

From: Secretariat of Social Movements Towards ALBA – Brazil and Secretariat of the International People’s Assembly

To: Peoples’ Movements from Latin America and the World

Subject: Actions of Solidarity with Venezuela and against external interference.

Dear Comrades

We are all following the gravity of Venezuela’s social and political crisis. We are following the degree of violence adopted by the rightist forces that have already caused the deaths of many people. There was the audacity to attack a barracks, trying to cause more victims, by civilians trained in Miami and Colombia, by right-wing forces.

Maduro’s government and the progressive forces of Venezuela sought in the Constituent Assembly a way to renegotiate the country’s social agreements, which showed broad support from the Venezuelan people with the participation of more than 8 million voters in the election on July 30, despite of all difficulties.

Right-wing Deputies have publicly said that their tactic is to produce more violence, more chaos, with wide international media coverage, to provoke foreign intervention in the country. Regrettably, this tactic was also explained by the Spanish Former President, Mr. Felipe Gonzalez.

Trump’s government, without any moral or legitimacy, is trying to influence Venezuela’s course by enacting sanctions on eleven people from Maduro’s Government, including the President and several ministers, forbidding them from visiting the United States and blocking personal property if they have in dependencies of the United States (see news on the link).

The Brazilian coupist Government hastily called for a Mercosur meeting to suspend Venezuela’s rights. Soon an illegitimate government and with support of only 3% of the Brazilian population, dares to sanction the Venezuelan government, for lack of democracy!

In the face of all these consultations made in various movements in Brazil and Latin America, we call:

1) ALL PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS OF BRAZIL, LATIN AMERICA AND THE WORLD TO EXPRESS unrestricted solidarity to Venezuelan people, for the government and the process of the constituent assembly, as the sovereign and legitimate right of the Venezuelan people to define the course of their country.

2) ORGANIZE “COMMITTEES FOR PEACE IN VENEZUELA”: We suggest that you organize in as many cities and countries as possible. The character of the committees is that they are Broad and Unitarian, with popular and political organizations, activists, artists, intellectuals, etc. The Committee can organize various types of solidarity actions.

            3) ORGANIZE PUBLIC MANIFESTATIONS AGAINST THE INTROMISION OF THE US GOVERNMENT IN MATTERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES: As denounced by Julian Assange, the Trump government wants to create a new Iraq in South America, we cannot shut up.

4) USE THE MOST VARIOUS FORMS OF MANIFESTATIONS: Sending this message to US government and the people of the United States, through street actions, political acts, cultural acts and also communication actions in all possible vehicles.

5) WE PROPOSE ON AUGUST 22, “INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH VENEZUELA”: Which we’ll make simultaneous actions in several cities of the world, directing us to the embassies, consulates and companies of the USA to deliver our letter and to express our indignation with the actions practiced against the Government and the Venezuelan People.

6) PUBLIC LETTER FOR COLLECTION OF SIGNATURES: See the attached letter to the Government, Parliamentarians and Organizations of the United States. We count on the support of all to:

6.1. Disseminate in your print media and on the web / social networks

6.2. Sign and Collect new accessions of: Popular Movements, Political Organizations, Parliamentarians, intellectuals, artists

6.3. Send Complete Names, Organization / Profession and Country of the subscribers until August 20, 2017 to the email: secretaria@ asambleadelospueblos.org

We count on the contribution of everyone in this endeavor that will require of us a lot of commitment and generosity to maximize the process of unitary construction centered on the defense of the Bolivarian Revolution, the Government of Nicolás Maduro and the new National Constituent Assembly installed in the country.

We are available for any question.

Bolivarian Cheers!

Joao Pedro Stédile

By the Operative Secretariat of People’s Movements Towards ALBA – Brazil

Jaime amorim

MST – International Via Campesina

Paola Estrada

By the Secretariat of the International People’s Assembly

10.08.2017 – New York City David Andersson

This post is also available in: Spanish

Deconstructing and Recycling Violence

In one of my previous articles, called “How Long Did it Take to Take this Photo?”, I referred to a document written by Silvia Swinden titled “The Space of Representation”. Continued study of the document has produced more insight and has inspired today’s piece.

Silvia’s contribution identifies important moments in the process of human history to explain the concept of the Space of Representation. We could use the same study to understand how we came to our present level of violence. Violence is not “natural” but a human construction that keeps developing, its trajectory reaching a larger scale day by day.

In the measure that our current system goes developing, we see a corresponding growth in violence. We witness a growing fear and insecurity in people and nothing on the horizon seems to have any real chance of stopping it.

Let’s look at an allegory that might help illustrate our scenario. On my commute to work I ride an elevated train that crossed a large landscape of construction. New 50 story buildings arise on an almost daily basis. In the middle of this construction zone was a movie theater from an other epoch, a one story red brick structure standing among a sea of concrete and glass structures. One day a group of construction workers with yellow hats started to dismantle the edifice. They were taking the building down, brick by brick, and organizing a pile of good bricks and a pile of broken bricks, a pile of wood and a pile of metal, a pile of stones, and so on. Each pile was trucked away to be recycled on new constructions. It was like seeing a rewind Lego construction movie. Until one day there was nothing left — ready for a new something. Of course right now it is not clear what will happen with that space, if it will be home to a new office building, a park, a community center, a school or something else, but we can leave our imagination going until new construction start and give us signs.

Now, imagine this same process of deconstruction and recycling happening in our society, with each brick representing a piece of violence. We need first to accept that our movie theater is obsolete, our system is obsolete and can’t be maintained. Our theater has to go and we need that space for something new to give space to the future. One of Silo’s principles of valid action is “To go against the evolution of things is to go against yourself.” How long are we going to RESIST the evolution of human consciousness? How long before we remove all forms of violence from our space of representation?

Personally, I can’t keep giving 45% of my taxes to military expenses, I can’t keep seeing people jailed for unjust motives. We can’t have the risk of nuclear war growing every day. We can’t keep having the concentration of money, putting at risk our so called democracy and impoverishing most of humanity. We can’t keep ignoring our natural environment. We can’t keep having this ridicule discussion concerning abortion with so called “pro-lifers” who have no problem sending young adults to wars to kill themselves and others. No money or technology will resolve this violence. Only we, as Human Being can do it. Are we willing to understand and modify our space of representation?

09.08.2017 – Nagasaki, Japan Pressenza Budapest

Remembering Nagasaki 72 years after the atomic bomb

Nagasaki Peace Declaration

“No more Hibakusha”

These words express the heartfelt wish of the Hibakusha that in the future nobody in the world ever again has to experience the disastrous damage caused by nuclear weapons. This summer, the wish has moved many nations across the globe and resulted in the creation of a certain treaty.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which of course prohibits the use of nuclear weapons, and furthermore their possession or deployment, was adopted this July by 122 nations, a figure representing more than 60% of the United Nations’ member states. This was a moment when all the efforts of the Hibakusha over the years finally took shape.

I would like to call this treaty, which mentions the suffering and struggles of the Hibakusha, “The Hiroshima‐Nagasaki Treaty.” I would also like to express our profoundest gratitude to all of the nations that promote this treaty, the United Nations, NGOs and others who have acted with such vigorous determination and courage to rid the world of weapons that go against the spirit of humanity.

However, this is not our final goal. There are still around 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The international situation surrounding nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly tense. A strong sense of anxiety is spreading across the globe that in the not too distant future these weapons could actually be used again. Moreover, the nuclear-armed states are opposed to this treaty and there is no end in sight to the road towards “a world free of nuclear weapons,” the realization of which is our objective. The human race is now faced with the question of how this long awaited treaty can be utilized to make further progress.

I hereby make the following appeal to the nuclear-armed states and the nations under their nuclear umbrella. The nuclear threat will not end as long as nations continue to claim that nuclear weapons are essential for their national security. Please reconsider your policies of seeking to protect your nations through nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligates all its member states to achieve nuclear disarmament. Please fulfill this obligation. The whole world awaits your courageous decisions.

To the Japanese government I have this appeal to make. Despite the fact that the Japanese government has clearly stated that it will exercise leadership in aiming for a world free of nuclear weapons, and play a role as a bridge between the nuclear-armed states and the non-nuclear-armed states, its stance of not even participating in the diplomatic negotiations for the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty is quite incomprehensible to those of us living in the cities that suffered atomic bombings. As the only country in the world to have suffered wartime atomic bombings, I urge the Japanese government to reconsider the policy of relying on the nuclear umbrella and join the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty at the earliest possible opportunity. International society is awaiting the participation of Japan.

Furthermore, I ask the Japanese government to affirm to the world its commitment to the pacifist ethos of the Constitution of Japan, which firmly renounces war, and its strict observance of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. As a specific policy representing a step forward towards a world free of nuclear weapons, it should act now by examining the concept of a “Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.”

This, we will certainly never forget: the fact that at 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded in the air right above the hill where we are now assembled, killing and injuring 150,000 people. On that day, the furious blast and heat rays reduced the city of Nagasaki to a charred expanse of land. People whose skin hung down in strips staggered around the ruined city looking for their families. A dumbfounded mother stood beside her child who had been burnt black. Every corner of the city was like a landscape from hell. Unable to obtain adequate medical treatment many of these people fell dead, one by one. Even now, 72 years after that day, the damage resulting from radiation exposure continues to ravage the bodies of the surviving Hibakusha. Not only did the atomic bomb indiscriminately steal the lives of beloved family members and friends who had always been at each other’s side, it then went on to hideously devastate the subsequent lives of those who survived.

Leaders of all the nations of the world: please come and visit the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I want you to see what happened down here on the ground beneath the mushroom cloud, not from a perspective high above it; I want you all to see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, and feel with your own hearts just how cruelly the atomic bomb trampled on the dignity of human beings. I want you to imagine how you would feel if your own family had been in Nagasaki on that day.

When people have experienced something painful and distressing they tend to lock up that memory in their hearts and are reluctant to talk about it. This is because talking about it entails being reminded of it. The fact that the Hibakusha have continued to talk about their experiences while enduring physical and mental scars represents an act by individual members of humankind to protect our future by determining, to make the upmost efforts to spread their message.

I make this call to all the people of the world. The most frightening things are disinterest and the process of forgetting. Let us all pass on the baton of peace that we have received from the Hibakusha and those who have experienced war, so it is seamlessly carried on into the future.

The 9th General Conference of Mayors for Peace is currently being held here in Nagasaki. Many representatives of towns and cities that have painful memories of war and civil strife participate in this network of 7,400 municipalities. In solidarity with our friends in Mayors for Peace, we will send out from Nagasaki to the world the message that with united efforts and unwavering commitment, even calls of peace from small cities can provide a strong impetus for global progress, just as the Hibakusha have shown us.

“Nagasaki must be the last place to suffer an atomic bombing.” These are the words Hibakusha have continuously repeated until their voices have become hoarse. We will prove that their words are a common wish and ambition of all mankind.

The average age of the Hibakusha now exceeds 81 years. The “era in which the Hibakusha are still with us” is drawing to an end. I strongly request that the Japanese government improves the assistance given to Hibakusha, and provides relief to all those who experienced the atomic bombing.

Six years have elapsed since the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident. As a city that has experienced the threat of radiation, we stand with the victims in Fukushima Prefecture and offer them our support.

I hereby pay tribute to the memory of all those who lost their lives to the atomic bombing, and declare that we, the citizens of Nagasaki City, will join hands with all the people around the world who pray for a world free of nuclear weapons, and continue to tirelessly work towards the realization of the abolition of nuclear weapons and everlasting world peace.

Tomihisa Taue

Mayor of Nagasaki

August 9, 2017

08.08.2017 TRANSCEND Media Serv

What Is Peace Journalism?

Prof. Jake Lynch

Peace journalism is when editors and reporters make choices – about what to report, and how to report it – that create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value non-violent responses to conflict.

If readers and audiences are furnished with such opportunities, but still decide they prefer war to peace, there is nothing more journalism can do about it, while remaining journalism. On the other hand, there is no matching commitment to ensuring a fair hearing for violent responses, if only because they seldom struggle for a place on the news agenda.

How come? To report is to choose. ‘We just report the facts’, journalists say, but ‘the facts’ is a category of practically infinite size. Even in these days of media profusion, that category has to be shrunk to fit into the news. The journalist is a ‘gatekeeper’, allowing some aspects of reality through, to emerge, blinking, into the public eye; and keeping the rest in the dark.

Neither is this a random process. The bits left out are always, or usually, the same bits, or the same sorts of bits. News generally prefers official sources to anyone from the ‘grassroots’; event to process; and a two-sided battle for supremacy as the basic conflict model.

These preferences, or biases, hardened into industry conventions as journalism began to be sold as a mass-produced commodity in consumer societies, and faced pressure to present itself as all-things-to-all-people, capable of being marketed to potential readers, listeners and viewers of all political views and none.

Quoting officials – a category topped by the political leader of one’s own country – is a choice and a preference, but one with a built-in alibi. It was not our ‘fault’ that this person became head of government: s/he just ‘is’. ‘Indexing’, or the familiar journalistic habit of restricting the extent of debate to differences between government and official opposition – ‘elite discord’ – has the same effect, of camouflaging choices as facts.

What about event and process? News that dwells on, say, the details of death and destruction wrought by a bomb, avoids controversy. The device has, indisputably, gone off. There are well-attested casualty figures, from trustworthy sources such as hospitals and the police. What is automatically more controversial is to probe why the bombers did it, what was the process leading up to it, what were their grievances and motivations.

As to dualism, well, when I was a reporter at the BBC, we all realised that a successful career could be based on the following formula: ‘on the one hand… on the other hand… in the end, only time will tell’. To have ‘balance’, to ‘hear both sides’, is a reliable way to insulate oneself against complaints of one-sidedness, or bias.

War Journalism and Its Antidote

There are deep-seated reasons, then, why these are the dominant conventions in journalism, but, taken together, they mean that its framing of public debates over conflict issues is generally on the side of violent responses. It merits the description, ‘war journalism’.

How come? Take the dualism first. If you start to think about a conflict as a tug-of-war between two great adversaries, then any change in their relationship – any movement – can only take place along a single axis. Just as, in tug-of-war, one side gaining a metre means the other side losing a metre, so any new development, in a conflict thus conceived, immediately begs to be assessed in a zero-sum game. Anything that is not, unequivocally, winning, risks being reported as losing. It brings a readymade incentive to step up efforts for victory, or escalate. People involved in conflict ‘talk tough’ – and often ‘act tough’ – as they play to a gallery the media have created.

Remove acts of political violence from context and you leave only further violence as a possible response. This is why there is so little news about peace initiatives – if no underlying causes are visible, there is nothing to ‘fix’. Only in this form of reporting does it make any sense to view ‘terrorism’, for example, as something on which it is possible or sensible to wage ‘war’.

And if you wait, to report on either underlying causes or peace initiatives, until it suits political leaders to discuss or engage with them, you might wait a long time. Stirrings of peace almost invariably begin at lower levels. There is, furthermore, a lever in the hands of governments that no one else has – the ‘legitimate’ use of military force. For all these reasons, the primacy of official sources, coupled with the enduring national orientation of most media, is bound to skew the representation of conflicts in favour of a pronounced receptiveness to the advocacy of violence.

Hence, peace journalism, as a remedial strategy and an attempt to supplement the news conventions to give peace a chance.

Peace Journalism:

  • Explores the backgrounds and contexts of conflict formation, presenting causes and options on every side (not just ‘both sides’);
  • Gives voice to the views of all rival parties, from all levels;
  • Offers creative ideas for conflict resolution, development, peacemaking and peacekeeping;
  • Exposes lies, cover-up attempts and culprits on all sides, and reveals excesses committed by, and suffering inflicted on, peoples of all parties;
  • Pays attention to peace stories and post-war developments.

Reality and Representation

Peace journalism is more realistic, in the sense of fidelity to a reality that already exists, independently of our knowledge or representation of it. To report violence without background or context is to misrepresent it, since any conflict is, at root, a relationship, of parties setting and pursuing incompatible goals. To omit any discussion of them is a distortion.

At the same time, it acknowledges that there is no one correct version of this reality that everyone will agree upon. We understand the world around us by taking messages and images – including those served up by the news – and slotting them into codes we develop through our lives and carry in our heads. Meaning is not created solely at the point of production, or encoding; no act of representation is complete until it has been received, or decoded. Decoding is something we often do automatically, since so much of what we read, hear and see is familiar. This is what propaganda relies on – establish Saddam Hussein as a ‘bad man’, or ‘weapons of mass destruction’ as a ‘threat’, and it forms a prism, through which all the reality, both subsequent and previous, tends to be viewed.

Journalism is often easy prey for such efforts because it does not generally encourage us to reflect on the choices it is making, for reasons discussed above. The famous US ‘anchor-man’, Walter Cronkite, signed off CBS Evening News every night with the catchphrase, “that’s the way it is”. How it came to be that way would be an interesting conversation, but it is not one in which news is generally keen to engage.

Communications students will recognise the last few paragraphs as a potted version of reception theory. In writing this introduction, I’ve resisted academic sources, because, yes folks, the clichés are true, media scholars often do dress in black (which we won’t hold against them) and chew polysyllables for breakfast (which we might). However it’s worth quoting one famous aphorism coined by a clever and original researcher, Gaye Tuchman: “the acceptance of representational conventions as facticity makes reality vulnerable to manipulation”.

So peace journalism is in favour of truth, as any must be. Of course reporters should report, as truthfully as they can, the facts they encounter; only ask, as well, how they have come to meet these particular facts, and how the facts have come to meet them. If it’s always the same facts, or the same sorts of facts, adopt a policy of seeking out important stories, and important bits of stories, which would otherwise slip out of the news, and devise ways to put them back in. And try to let the rest of us in on the process. Peace journalism is that which abounds in cues and clues to prompt and equip us to ‘negotiate’ our own readings, to open up multiple meanings, to inspect propaganda and other self-serving representations on the outside.

Can journalists actually do this, and do they? Latterly, researchers have set out to gauge the amount of peace journalism that is going on. There is probably no one piece of reporting that exhibits all five of the characteristics listed above, whilst also avoiding demonizing language, labeling and so forth. But distinctions do exist, and they have been measured. Reporting in The Philippines, especially by the country’s main newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is interesting in providing an effective counter to attempts by the country’s government to import the ‘war on terrorism’ ideology and apply it to a long-running insurgency. The paper I used to work for, the Independent of London, does a lot of peace journalism.

Then of course there are proliferating independent media, now building, through web-based platforms, on traditions long nurtured by alternative newspapers and community radio stations. There is some peace journalism, so there could be more.

07.08.2017 – Lima, Perú Human Wrongs Watch

“I’ll Tell You a Story” – Violence Against Women in Peru
(Image by Milagros Salazar/IPS)

By Andrea Vale

Domestic violence is alarmingly prevalent in Peru. Not only is it statistically more common than in other, more progressive cultures, but Peruvian women tend to accept it as simply a ‘part of marriage.’

It was therefore both surprising and understandable that the domestic violence classes at a women’s center in the Cajamarca region, observed throughout the summer of 2016, were always crowded and bustling, teeming with adult women and teenage girls.

“A lot of women don’t speak out against domestic violence because they aren’t as educated, they don’t know about it as much,” one woman called out during class one afternoon. Her fellow classmates all nodded. “Their husbands will insult them and hit them, and the women believe that it’s their fault, that they deserve that kind of treatment.”

One of the class attendees, Cecilia, was reluctant to speak after initially offering to do so, instead staring down at her skirt while her friend sitting next to her, Yolanda, asked, “Are you ready to talk about it?” To which Cecilia quietly replied, “No.”

(Surnames have been omitted to ensure confidentiality.)

When asked if she or anyone she knew has had experience with domestic violence, Yolanda’s eyes immediately darted to Cecilia.

“Many of my friends have experience with it,” she said in Spanish.

When asked if she thinks that some women don’t object to being subjected to domestic violence because they think it’s simply a part of marriage, or a part of the larger culture, Yolanda whispered to Cecilia, “Come on, tell them, tell them.” Cecilia, however, did not answer.

“Whenever he sees her with someone, that’s when he starts to get angry. And that’s when he hits her.” –Cecilia

In many Peruvian families, men’s education takes priority over that of women. According to a report by the United Nations, only 56.3% of women in Peru have received at least some secondary education, as compared to 66.1% of men. According to UNESCO, only 6.3% of adult males in Peru are illiterate – as compared to 17.5% of females.

As with almost any aspect of society, education makes a huge difference, but especially so when it comes to domestic violence.

According to a study carried out by Princeton University, the less education you have, the higher your chances of being domestically abused are: 42.04% of women with no education at all, and 42.80% of those with primary school education had been abused – compared to 28.93% of those with tertiary, college or more.

“Mothers teach their boys to not do women’s work, that they don’t cook and clean and that’s the woman’s job,” another woman chimed in during class one afternoon, “If the women doesn’t cook and do women’s chores, then they’ll be abused. They won’t be able to get out of it because they don’t have any education, they don’t have any resources.”

All of the women in the class fell into one of two camps. Some wore jeans and tank tops. Others wore traditional long skirts, button down shirts and cardigans.

Some were timid – some were not. The ones who spoke openly, condemning Machismo Culture and lecturing the others on the importance of marrying your best friend, were wearing leggings. The ones with waist-length braids and farming boots stayed quiet.

Contributing to that Machismo Culture is the reality that Peru is a sometimes vision-bending fusion of the Old existing alongside the New.

While many in Peru drive cars, have cell phones and wear modern clothing, the simultaneous perseverance of a rural lifestyle that feels like going back in time offers fertile soil for that outdated, patriarchal society to take root in.

Consequently, domestic violence is more prevalent among rural women, as is their willingness to put up with it.

“It’s even worse in the rural areas. There, women are just expected to stay in their homes and that’s it,” Yolanda said.

“The women from out in the country are quiet. They don’t talk, they don’t say anything. They were raised in that home. Their father hits their mother, and when they get married they get hit. They see it as normal.”

According to the Pan American Health Organization, physical violence within domestic abuse – as opposed to emotional, sexual or verbal violence – is “used much more frequently on women with fewer economic resources” in Peru.

According to the World Health Organization, the lifetime prevalence of physical violence by an intimate partner is 50% in urban areas of the country, as opposed to 62% in rural areas. And there, more than other countries, domestic violence often becomes fatal.

According to the Peruvian publication La Republica, there have been 356 feminicidios, or ‘women-icides’ in the country within the last 4 years, with an additional 174 attempted feminicidios.

What’s more, judges have been markedly lenient in their punishments for perpetrators, with almost half receiving less than 15 years in prison, and two receiving less than seven – that is, if they end up being convicted, which only 84 were.

After staring over periodically at Yolanda while she spoke, and visibly reacting to one of Yolanda’s answers, Cecilia became willing to speak. When asked if she knew any stories of domestic violence, she stared down into her lap for a long silence, then nodded.

“Yes. I could tell you a story,” she said.

She proceeded to describe in detail the situation of a ‘relative’ who happened to be the same age as herself – twenty-nine.

“She got engaged to this man … He is always telling her that he loves her, and that he wants her, all the time right?” Cecilia said. “And always saying how much he loves her, and how he’s willing to give her everything, right? But in reality, I can see that it is not good.

“When he tells her that he needs her, she’ll go and be with him. But she is alone. He says that he loves her so much, and that’s why he doesn’t want her to work. He says she should only dedicate herself to her child. She has a daughter, and because of that she can’t work.

“Every instant the phone rings to call her, he asks, ‘Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?’ And he’ll find her.”

She finished, “He forces her to stay with him. She tries to leave, but he’s there always, always behind her, listening and waiting for her. Whenever he sees her with someone, that’s when he starts to get angry. And that’s when he hits her. She has tried to get out, but he’s forcing her. Because right now she lives more in fear, out of fear that he’s going to kill her if she were to have another partner.”

Cecilia’s hesitancy to speak – whether or not she actually was talking about a “relative” – says leagues about her situation, and that of all the women facing the Machismo Culture in Peru. It’s difficult to grapple with an issue that is in many ways tied into the larger economic, political and historical storylines that have resulted in the perseverance of a rural, anachronistic culture.

The education they are receiving at classes like the one taught at the women’s center is a necessary start – but only if paired with empowerment, so that women like Cecilia can know that they don’t have to be afraid to tell their stories.

06.08.2017 – Berlin, Germany Johanna Heuveling

This post is also available in: Spanish, German

Junior Nzita, ex child soldier: defeat the evil with the good

The foundation „die schwelle“ in Bremen, Germany, has declared Junior Nzita to one of its laureates of the Bremen Peace Price. Nzita is a former child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and today he is a honorary UN ambassador for the topic of child soldiers. He was proposed for the Peace Price by the german branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). The Price exists since 2003 and is endowed with 5000,- Euro.

Junior Nzita was kidnapped at the age of twelve together with other classmates from his school and was forced by rebel groups, to participate in the civil wars of his country as a child soldier. From these times he is still traumatized tremendously and suffers from severe sleeping disorders. “Despite the endless painful experiences, Junior succeeds to find strength to give hope to others and to stand up in such engaged and courageous way for this issue”, says Samya Korff of the directorate of the FOR. Under a mandate of a UN program, Junior was demobilised in 2006. In 2010 he founded the organisation „Paix pour l’enfance“ (Peace for Childhood) in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, in order to integrate children, who have become orphans because of the armed struggle, into new families and to offer them school education and a future perspective. Today he engages as a honorary ambassador of the United Nations for the worldwide abolition of the recruitment of children as soldiers. Because of these activities he had to leave his country in 2015 and apply for asylum.

On a lecture tour through Germany, Junior Nzita was invited to many schools and church communities. “It was fascinating to see how Junior got into conversation with young people and sensitised them for the impacts of arms export and wars”, says Samya Korff. “That’s why we are very happy about this award.”

Here is an interview, that we have done with Junior Nzita.

Pressenza: What does this award mean for you?

Junior Nzita: For me, this price means that the message that I try to transmit in the moment, is heard, about the atrocities against the child rights in general and especially the recruitment in the army and in armed groups. It is a great honor for me and the partners who support me. For the kind of work that I am doing, this price means also a great appreciation and it encourages me to go further and do even better. My childhood was stolen and I spent my whole youth to prevent that what had happened to me would happen to others, and that peace will prevail.

P.: You have been forced to be a soldier from the age of twelve to twenty two. What is it that remains in your soul from this time and how did you reconcile with what happened?

J.: I was kidnapped and forced at the age of twelve to join the army. I lived ten years through a martyrdom and what remains in my mind are the trauma of the evil treatment that I suffered. Very early they pulled me out of the hands of my teachers and family to teach me how to destroy the society. At the age of twelve I learned how to shoot, to rob and to kill, how to destroy wells and hospitals, schools, and nature…In order to reconcile in the face of all these atrocities, I had two possibilities. The first one: to continue living as a victim, which would have meant to take revenge with weapons, get caught by drugs or commit suicide, like many of my former comrades in the army have done. The second possibility was, despite all of these atrocities that I commited with the weapons they gave us, to forgive myself and understand that we were children who were forced by slaughterers, by adults. And to keep the hope for a better future in which we will talk about a world without child soldiers.

What is burned into my heart is the lesson that life has taught me: The human being is nothing more than an animal when he does not achieve his ambitious goals. Because of this inability he reaches a point when he does not regard the other as equal. One of the consequences is that he will abuse children as canon fodder in order to achieve his failed ambitions.

P.: You engage a lot in protecting other children to have the same destiny. What do you think could the UN or Germany or other stakeholders from outside do to prevent the abuse of children as soldiers? Or which effective measurements are done already?

J.: Our demobilisation was not easy. The intervention of the United Nations, the European Union, the civil society and the international community was needed for our governement to accept to demobilise us, to get us out of the army. Germany was one of the countries that financed the process of demobilisation and resocialisation. Currently the United Nations have launched an action plan in order to end the abuse of children as soldiers. Several countries have subscribed this plan but there remains a lot to do because the countries should not just ratify but also respect the agreements. That means to create a good diplomatic, economic and social atmosphere and to respect democracy, in order to prevent a coup d’etat or a rebellion. The United Nations and Germany must further support the formation and strengthening of democracy. They must develop mechanisms to prevent the sell of weapons to countries of the Third World where children are abused as canon fodder.

They can als contribute in preventing children to become victims of recruitment by putting pressure on political decision makers, industrialized countries and heads of certain multinational companies that are inflicted in one or the other way in financing wars – wars that in different ways facilitate the organised deprivation of ressources of underdeveloped countries. Especially I want to mention the following options: The prohibition of the purchase of metals from countries in war; pressure on political decision makers and civil society to build up a government system in which the population participates in important decisions like how to distribute the ressources in order to improve their well being; all authorities and persons who are involved in the recruitment of children in armed groups, should be brought to justice in front of the International Criminal Court.

P.: How is the situation today in DRC?

J.: There is a political crisis and the tensions are growing day after day because of lack of respect for the election procedure. In this situation several armed groups are formed. Unfortunately it is the children and women who are paying the price. The children because they become abducted and the women are raped.

The situation today in DRC is comparable to a man who plunges himself into the Nothing…like a train that goes into one direction and suddenly the ones who are responsible for the maintenance of the rails decide to remove  them for the rest of the track while the train is accelerating. Imagine the consequences!

P.: Where do you take your strength from?

J.: Until today I see before me the Junior of twelve years who was kidnapped, because there are still child soldiers. When I was abducted there was a comrade who, before he died, asked me to take care of his child. All this gave me strength and courage to build up the NGO “Paix pour l’enfance” where 140 children are given education and protection. My work and the support of the children is a possibility for me to show the love to the twelve year old Junior and to protect him from the war desasters that he lived through.

It is the „dictatorship“ of love that commands me to defeat the evil with the good and never become tired to plant the seeds of love into the hearts of my fellow human beings, who destiny is making to cross my way, for them to perceive the fruits of love in their inner self and bring them to others.

Translation of the interview french to german Caroline Schenck

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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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