Most Men Tacit 11/8/17

Mass Shooters and Men’s Will to Change – by Rob Okun

Before you can buy a gun in the USA, you first can beat your wife numerous times and point a gun at her and be charged with six counts of domestic violence. Then you can beat and kick her baby until you break his skull; then, after you’ve served a prison sentence for that violence, you can be court-martialed and removed from the military for “bad conduct…” Then and only then you can go out and legally buy the assault weapon of your choice. —Michael Moore

Rob Okun

Enough is enough! Not another obfuscating word from You Know Who that “it’s not time to talk about gun control.” No more deflections that “he was a twisted individual; it’s a mental health issue.” No more hemming and hawing from the Speaker of the House and his coterie of National Rifle Association lackeys. While 26 bodies—including an 18-month-old, a pregnant mother, and three of her five children—are prepared for burial in Sutherland Springs, Texas, there’s one common denominator in all of the shooters that we in the profeminist men’s movement are blue in the face from shouting from the rooftops for decades: They’re all men. And, many are domestic abusers.

No, we don’t hate men and no, we’re not brainwashed manginas. We care about men. We care about our sons and grandsons, our fathers and brothers—and our mothers and daughters, sisters and wives. That’s why we speak out. Over my decades supporting men and challenging men’s violence, I’ve learned how critical it is to transform our ideas about boyhood and manhood. Step one: acknowledge that how we train boys restricts the expression of their humanity. It’s time for Congress to fund the Centers for Disease Control to conduct a study of how boys are socialized, starting with preschoolers. I’ve proposed this to an aide to Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Please, Senator, introduce the legislation.

What else? The NRA considers most men tacit supporters, and unless they hear otherwise, they have us right where they want us—silent. If the politicians won’t wake up and the media keeps missing the story, men must step in, consciously using our privilege to change the narrative. In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings, I proposed a “Men’s Campaign to End Gun Violence.” Let’s launch it. Men must demand that gender becomes central to any national conversation that continues to center around mental illness and regulating guns. For days, the media has paraded expert talking heads before us; none has mentioned gender. This has to stop.

Men, let’s partner with former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions, urging they incorporate gender into their analysis, and that they share their insights with the other hardworking gun groups. Women launched “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense” the day after Newtown’s Adam Lanza murdered 26 people, including 20 six- and seven year-olds. The day after.

Research by Everytown for Gun Safety found that of all mass shootings in the U.S. between 2009 and 2015, 57 percent of victims were family members, the spouse, or the shooter’s ex. In other words, domestic violence was central in over half of the cases.

Profiles of nearly all of the (usually white) male shooters are similar—loners, disaffected, a limited support system. (Texas shooter Devin Kelley was court-martialed by the Air Force in 2012 on a domestic violence charge for assaulting his spouse and their child.) How did the Air Force not flag and report him as a danger?

In between the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings, Harvey Weinstein and other men were exposed for sexually assaulting women. What connects the shooters and the assaulters is men’s entitlement, their exerting power over others. It’s time to examine the connection between the shooters’ poisonous masculinity and the Weinstein crowd’s variety.

With these chilling behaviors in mind, men have an opportunity to look within, to be accountable for our own behavior. Congress and the media may not be ready to see gender as key to the gun debate, but thanks to brave women in the #MeToo campaign, they and others are waking up to the truth about powerful men and sexual assault. Mass shooters see guns as making them powerful men. In both cases, these are men wantonly wielding power. Men, we can do better. Let’s unite to redefine power as collaborating with others, not exerting it over them. For the sake of generations of boys to come—including my two week-old grandson—we must.

Rob Okun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor of Voice Male magazine. A new edition of his book, Voice Male – The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement was published in October.

Pariah Nation 11/8/17

The Madness of Deterrence by Winslow Myers

Winslow Myers

At some point in the near or semi-distant future, one way or another, Mr. Trump will have departed public office. For many reasons, perhaps most of all because we managed (if we do manage) to avoid nuclear war during his tenure, we will feel relief. But we may also feel a kind of letdown. Instead of having our anxieties focused upon the shallowness, impulsivity, and macho vengefulness of one particular leader, we will be forced to go back to worrying about the craziness of deterrence itself, irrespective of who is leading us.

A conference at Harvard on November 4 on “Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons,” examined whether the law should be changed and the choice to initiate nuclear war ought to be placed in the hands of congress rather than the president’s hands alone.

It may be of academic interest where launch authority should reside, but the question fails to address that moment of maximum awfulness when someone in the military reports to civilian authorities—accurately or not—that incoming missiles have appeared on a screen, requiring that someone decide how to respond, with millions of lives in the balance, in the space of a few inadequate minutes.

To have drifted into the creation of a system that culminates in such a moment, to put any one person or team of people in that position, is to have participated in a form of collective psychosis. We are all complicit, for example in the way both citizens and the press tolerated the bizarre reality that the topic was never brought up in any of the presidential debates.

It is not surprising that people find it challenging to think clearly, or to think at all, about the issue of nuclear war. Its utter destructiveness is so impossible to wrap our heads around that we take refuge in the fantasy that it can’t happen, it won’t happen, or if it does happen it will occur somewhere else. Mr. Trump’s ascendency has sharpened our apprehension, which may be a good thing if it helps us reexamine the bigger machine in which he is only an eccentric cog.

Many argue, speciously, that the potential destructiveness is the very thing that makes the system work to prevent war, forgetting the awful paradox of deterrence: that in order to never be used, the weapons must be kept absolutely ready for use. The complexity of the electronic systems intended to control them keeps on increasing as they are deployed in ever greater variety—on missiles from ships, on tactical battlefield launchers, from bombers and submarines, from aging silos in the Midwest. Error is inevitable, and close calls are legion.

The planet as a whole has pronounced clearly its judgment on deterrence, in the form of a treaty banning all nuclear weapons signed by 122 nations. The United States, citing the erratic and aggressive nuclear behavior of North Korea, boycotted the conference that led to this majority condemnation.

Sixteen years ago, Henry Kissinger joined William Perry, George Shultz and Sam Nunn to write a series of editorials in the Wall Street Journal arguing that deterrence is obsolete and abolition must be the ultimate policy goal, even if fiendishly difficult to achieve. On October 28, 2017, Kissinger was quoted in the New York Times saying:

“If they [North Korea] continue to have nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons must spread in the rest of Asia. It cannot be that North Korea is the only Korean country in the world that has nuclear weapons, without the South Koreans trying to match it. Nor can it be that Japan will sit there,” he added. “So therefore we’re talking about nuclear proliferation.”

No sane person wants nuclear proliferation. The only other choice, then, is the new treaty banning the most heinous class of WMD altogether.

The answer to the North Korean crisis is not further nuclear proliferation, nor, God forbid, is it all-out war on the Korean peninsula that would leave millions dead and make the United States, were we to participate with or even without nuclear weapons, a pariah nation. Instead we can start by reassuring North Korea in word and deed that we are not an existential threat to them, and wait patiently for internal changes in their governance that time will make inevitable.

Former Secretary of Defense Perry has argued we can afford to entirely eliminate the land-based leg of our land-sea-air nuclear triad with no loss of security. What would happen to planetary balances of power if our country unilaterally joined those 122 nations in a treaty that categorizes nuclear weapons, like chemical weapons, as beyond the pale, and we began to stand some of our weapons down in confidence-building gestures of good will? Would the Chinese or the Russians, or for that matter the North Koreans, really risk the omnicidal blowback of nuclear winter by launching unilateral attacks upon the U.S.? Isn’t the risk of that happening a good deal less than the risk of slipping into war with North Korea merely because leaders in both countries assumed that credible deterrence required the madness of mutually deliverable threats?

Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” serves on the Boards of Beyond War and the War Prevention Initiative.

Picket the White House 11/8/17

The Day I First Picketed the White House―and Why It Wasn’t a Bad Idea

by Lawrence Wittner

Lawrence Wittner

The reckless threats of nuclear war flung back and forth between the North Korean and U.S. governments remind me of an event in which I participated back in the fall of 1961, when I was a senior at Columbia College.

At the end of August 1961, the Soviet government had announced that it was withdrawing from the U.S.-Soviet-British moratorium on nuclear weapons testing that had halted such tests for the previous three years while the three governments tried to agree on a test ban treaty. The resumption of Soviet government’s nuclear weapons testing that followed was topped off that October by its explosion in the atmosphere of a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Meanwhile, the Kennedy administration, determined not to be outdone in a display of national “strength,” quickly resumed U.S. nuclear testing underground and began to discuss the U.S. resumption of nuclear testing in the atmosphere.

From the standpoint of many people in the two countries―indeed, in the world―this renewed plunge into the nuclear arms race was quite alarming. At Columbia, my college roommate, Mike Weinberg, and I considered the whole business quite crazy. Nuclear testing in the atmosphere sent huge clouds of radioactive nuclear debris (“fallout”) into the air, bringing with them cancer and birth defects for vast numbers of people around the world. In addition, these tests of hydrogen bombs―weapons that could be produced with a thousand times the destructive power of the atomic bomb that had annihilated Hiroshima―were in preparation for their use in nuclear war. This nuclear arms race seemed to be a race to disaster.

As a result, some time that fall, Mike and I―spotting a leaflet announcing a student bus trip to Washington, DC to oppose the resumption of U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests―decided that the time had come for us to get out in the streets and protest. People had already been taking part in antinuclear demonstrations. But we had not been among them. In fact, neither of us had ever taken part in any sort of political protest campaign.

On the morning of the student trip to Washington, we turned up wearing our suits (to impress any government officials who might see us) at a chartered bus, parked next to the Columbia campus, only to find ourselves in the midst of a rather bohemian assemblage. The young men sported sandals and beards, the women fishnet stockings and long braids. Despite the differences in style, though, we formed a friendly, congenial group as we hurtled down the highways from New York City to the nation’s capital for our confrontation with government power.

Arriving at the White House, I picked up what I considered a very clever sign (“Kennedy, Don’t Mimic the Russians!”) from the pile that someone had brought along and, together with other demonstrators (supplemented by a second busload of students, from a Quaker college in the Midwest), formed a small picket line that circled around a couple of trees outside the White House. Mike and I, as zealous new recruits, circled all day without taking a break for lunch or dinner.

For decades, I looked back on this venture as little more than the subject for an amusing anecdote. After all, we and other small bands of protesters couldn’t have had any impact on U.S. policy, could we? Then, in the mid-1990s, while doing research at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston about the history of the world nuclear disarmament movement, I stumbled on an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was explaining why Kennedy delayed resuming atmospheric nuclear tests until the end of April 1962, despite continued Soviet nuclear testing during the previous eight months. Kennedy personally wanted to resume these U.S. nuclear tests, Fisher recalled, “but he also recognized that there were a lot of people that were going to be deeply offended by the United States resuming atmospheric testing. We had people picketing the White House, and there was a lot of excitement about it―just because the Russians do it, why do we have to do it?” Fisher concluded: “And that’s the reason we didn’t resume atmospheric testing.” A little more than a year later, in August 1963, after intense public pressure, the U.S., Soviet, and British governments signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, banning nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere.

In the midst of today’s nuclear crisis, would America’s Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un be as sensitive to public protest? Perhaps so; perhaps not. But governments―even those headed by arrogant, mentally unstable individuals―are not impervious to public opinion. And who knows what will happen if enough people insist, loud and clear, that nuclear war is simply unacceptable?

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany and the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).

Consistent Collaboration 11/8/17

Are We in a “Post-American Era”?  by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

As Donald Trump makes his way to Beijing, we need to know that he will be dealing with a Chinese leadership that is much more self-assured about its international status than it was in Obama’s time.

The theme of the September 2017 issue of China-US Focus Digest, a publication of the China-US Exchange Foundation based in Hong Kong and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, is “‘Post-American Era’ Arrives.” Various Chinese writers, all part of the foreign policy establishment, argue that although the US is and will remain for some time the world’s most powerful country, China’s time has come. “G-2” is a common shorthand for this new era: the US and China, whether collaborating or competing, are now co-movers of the world. The late Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, may have been the first to use the phrase years ago, and now many Chinese seem to have bought into it. I’d say, however, that such an assessment is premature, and not necessarily welcome.

Chinese analysts often prefer to categorize international events in terms of eras. The era just passed is one of American exceptionalism and the American Century, and in their view we are now in the post-American era characterized by Trump’s America First and China’s emergence as a great power. China, the analysts say, is a leader on behalf of sovereign equality, use of nonmilitary power, model of economic development, and promoter of international cooperation. They point to China’s advances in energy conservation technology and support of the Paris accord, economic achievements under globalization, and numerous strategic partnerships as evidence of its international coming of age at a time when the Trump administration has turned its back on global compacts and environmental protection.

Clearly, a good part of the motivation behind these claims is Beijing’s upset over US trumpeting (you’ll excuse the expression) of America First and periodic talk of trying to leverage Chinese policy on North Korea using trade retaliation and arms sales to Taiwan.

But surely another part, perfectly understandable, is a pervasive Chinese sense that the American experiment is failing while China’s is succeeding. While China’s leadership has kept social problems from exploding and avoided serious reforms of the one-party state, Trump’s America is deeply divided and becoming more so by the month. Legislative dysfunction, racial tensions, official corruption, assaults on media, violence, an opioid crisis, governing by tweets—you name it, we’ve got it. The Trump administration has in fact become a laughingstock of governments nearly everywhere.

But the pervasiveness of America’s ills doesn’t necessarily translate into a world looking to China for new leadership. I and several other China watchers have written many times about its serious internal problems. Some authoritarian governments may overlook them as they eagerly accept Chinese aid and investments.

But the breadth and depth of China’s economic, social, and political weaknesses cannot be masked by rhetoric—and in fact, the best Chinese analysts acknowledge them. It’s not enough to quote Xi Jinping’s latest homily on the Chinese dream or assert that China upholds democracy and the rule of law—not when Xi’s “thought” is being enshrined, like Mao’s and Deng’s, in China’s party constitution and lawyers, academicians, and human-rights advocates are under constant pressure to conform, or be jailed.

On the international stage, moreover, claims of Chinese leadership are not convincing. Yes, Xi has embraced globalization, climate change, and all manner of regional trade arrangements while Trump has scoffed at the first, denied the second (a “Chinese hoax,” let’s recall), and withdrawn from the third (the Trans-Pacific Partnership). But on many other fronts, where is China’s leadership? Has China effectively come to grips with deforestation, desertification, water conservation, and air pollution? Does it set a positive example on internal migration, immigration, human rights (for women, ethnic minorities, religious freedom, and civil liberties), or respect for international law (in the South China Sea, for instance)? Will China’s much-touted “One Belt, One Road” Eurasia development project actually benefit people rather than economies? Has China contributed anything to the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, from Yemen to Syria? Even on North Korea, Chinese criticisms of Kim Jong-un’s military buildup have not extended to a serious diplomatic campaign to reduce tensions between North Korea and the US even though China’s security is very much at risk.

So call the current era G-2 if you wish. But an objective view would be that China’s rise does not yet put it aside the United States. (As Jia Qingguo, a well-known Chinese analyst, writes, “As China has two sets of national interests on many issues, it finds it impossible to pursue a coherent foreign policy.”) Perhaps more importantly, neither country deserves consideration as an international leader. China has all too infrequently avoided taking the lead on major international issues outside East Asia. Even there, China’s muscular behavior is regarded with fear as much as awe. In short, few governments around the world look to China to provide leadership.

The US position is complicated by an administration that simply doesn’t seem to care what the world, including allies, thinks of its behavior. Europeans have apparently reached the conclusion that they are on their own when it comes to environmental, commercial, and political challenges. Canada and Mexico are likely to turn to Pacific trading partners should Trump pull the US out of NAFTA. South Koreans worry about an unpredictable US president whose “fire and fury” rhetoric might lead to war with Pyongyang, while Japanese worry about US reliability in a showdown with North Korea. In both those countries, talk of having their own nuclear weapons is heard more frequently.

Other than in Tokyo and Tel Aviv, Washington’s preference for military over diplomatic approaches to problems (North Korea and Iran being the best examples) has few supporters. The US continues to be militarily overstretched, involved in numerous wars large and small at extraordinary cost to itself and to innocent civilians. America First is supposed to mean that the US will no longer play the role of maintaining world order, but in fact it continues to be global policeman—deploying “240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories,” as well as some 37,000 on secret missions, according to the New York Times.

Neither the United States nor China has shown interest in common security principles or practices, which would require consistent collaboration on the most urgent global problems: nuclear weapons, climate change, and poverty. Rather than focus on “the era,” these two great powers might better consider two fundamental issues: how to manage their differences so as to avoid confrontations, and how to cooperate in ways that truly benefit human security.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

 

What We Must Do 11/8/17

Harvard U Colloquium: Nuclear First Strike Is It Constitutional, Is It Lawful, Is It Just?

by Kary Love

Kary Love

Your correspondent attended the November 4 Harvard University colloquium on the topic: Is Nuclear First Strike Legal or Just? The intellectual firepower contained in the panels convened by Elaine Scarry and Jonathon King was impressive: William Perry, former US Secretary of War; Zia Mian, Princeton physicist and a leading expert on the nuclear conundrum of Pakistan and India; Bruce Blair former US Missile launch officer, Princeton Professor and co-founder of Global Zero among others.

The facts adduced justified the convening by the appropriately named Professor Scarry: if one was not scared witless within the first hour (the colloquium ran 9 to 5) then one was simply beyond scar(r)y.

After four hours of unremitting presentations on the horrors, the horrors, the horrors of extant policy and practice of nuclear Armageddon, a voice rang out from the audience: “What are we to do!?” Cutting through the cerebral and clinical, though tinged with desperation presentations, Sister Megan Rice challenged the colloquium: “What are we to do?” Talking and thinking and pontificating are needed, but doing something was the primal call emanating from the audience like fear sweat. Sister Rice, her history of doing, not simply talking, sent a clarion call to action.

Taking the stage about an hour later, Zia Mian, looking and sounding like he was channeling Gandhi, demanded a moral uprising: it is time he said for the peoples of the world to rise up and declare nuclear first strike to be a war crime, a crime against peace and a crime against humanity. Of course, we know it is. Now we must move forward to prove it in the new Peoples War Crime Tribunal, which will examine the US-NK threats to use nuclear weapons, before an august tribunal of citizens of the world, so that the judgment of the conscience of the community is clearly on record against Armageddon.

Every soldier, every airman, every missile officer, every President or Prime Minister or Supreme Leader shall be put on notice: participation in nuclear war makes you an enemy of all humankind, lay down your weapons of omnicide, refuse illegal orders to commit mass murder, or join the rogues’ gallery of pirates, tyrants and miscreants who gained power only to lose their souls.

As usual, I, Kary Love, am solely responsible for the foregoing. Peace. Love. Hope.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney who has defended nuclear resisters in court for decades.

Armistice Day Again 11/1/17

Bring Back Armistice Day and Honor the Real Heroes  – by Arnold Oliver

Arnold J. Oliver

How in heck did Armistice Day become Veterans Day? Established by Congress in 1926 to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations, (and later) a day dedicated to the cause of world peace,” Armistice Day was widely recognized for almost 30 years. As part of that, many churches rang their bells on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the hour in 1918 that the guns fell silent on the Western Front by which time 16 million had died in the horror of World War I.

To be blunt about it, in 1954 Armistice Day was hijacked by a militaristic US congress and re-named Veterans Day. Today few Americans understand the original purpose of Armistice Day, or even remember it. The message of peace seeking has been all but erased. Worst of all, Veterans Day has devolved into a hyper-nationalistic quasi-religious celebration of war and the putatively valiant warriors who wage it. We no longer have a national day to recognize or reflect upon international peace.

And the identification of warriors as heroes is pretty shaky too. If you are a veteran, and honest about it, you will admit that most of what goes on during wartime is decidedly unheroic, and actual heroes in war are very few and far between.

I have to tell you that when I was in Vietnam, I was no hero, and I did not witness a single act of heroism during the year I spent there, first as a U.S. Army private and then as a sergeant. Yes, there was heroism in the Vietnam War. On both sides of the conflict there were notable acts of self-sacrifice and bravery. Troops in my unit wondered how the North Vietnamese troops could persevere for years in the face of daunting U.S. firepower. U.S. medical corpsmen performed incredible acts of valor rescuing the wounded under fire.

But I also witnessed a considerable amount of bad behavior, some of it my own. Among US troops racism against any and all Vietnamese was endemic. There were countless incidents of disrespect and abuse of Vietnamese civilians, and a large number of truly awful war crimes. Most unheroic of all were the U.S. military and civilian leaders who planned, orchestrated, and profited greatly from that utterly avoidable war. I should have taken action to resist the war while still on active duty, but I did not.

The cold truth is that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Vietnam had nothing to do with protecting American peace and freedom. On the contrary, the Vietnam War was fought to forestall Vietnamese independence, not defend it; it bitterly divided the American people.

Unfortunately, Vietnam wasn’t an isolated example of an unjust conflict. Many American wars — including the 1846 Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War in 1898, and the Iraq War (this list is by no means exhaustive) — were waged under false pretexts against countries that didn’t threaten the United States. It’s hard to see how, if a war is unjust, it can be heroic to wage it.

But if the vast majority of wars are not fought for noble reasons, and few soldiers are heroic, have there been any actual heroes out there defending peace and freedom? And if so, who are they? Well, there are many, from Jesus down to the present. I’d put Gandhi, Tolstoy, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the list along with many Quakers and Mennonites. And don’t forget General Smedley Butler, who wrote that “War is a Racket”.

In Vietnam, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson stopped the My Lai massacre from being even worse.

Another candidate is former U.S. Army specialist Josh Stieber who sent this message to the people of Iraq: “Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.” We were honored to be able to host Josh in our home as he walked across the US on a mission of peace while giving away the money he had earned in the military as partial atonement for his role in a thoroughly unjust war.

And how about Chelsea Manning who spent seven years behind bars for exposing more truths about the Iraq war? The real heroes are those who resist war and militarism, often at great personal cost. And now the Harvard fellows include apologists and organizers of torture, but not a whistleblower for peace. Go figure.

Because militarism has been around for such a long time, at least since Gilgamesh came up with his protection racket in Sumeria going on 5,000 years ago, people argue that it will always be with us.

But many also thought that slavery and the subjugation of women would last forever, and they’re being proven wrong. We understand that while militarism will not disappear overnight, disappear it must if we are to avoid economic as well as moral bankruptcy – not to mention the extinction of our species.

As Civil War General W.T. Sherman said at West Point, “I confess without shame that I am tired and sick of war.” We’re with you, bro.

This year on November 11th, Veterans For Peace will bring back the original Armistice Day traditions. Join them and let those bells ring out.

Arnold “Skip” Oliver syndicated by PeaceVoice, and is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. A Vietnam veteran, he belongs to Veterans For Peace, and can be reached at soliver@heidelberg.edu.

He Didn’t Know 11/1/17

Trump’s Benghazi  – by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says he didn’t know. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and minority leader Chuck Schumer say they didn’t know either. Nor did several other US senators say they knew that the US has nearly 1,000 troops stationed in Niger, where four Green Berets were recently killed while on a counterterrorism mission. Other US congress members said they did know, but so what? None apparently raised an eyebrow at the growing US military presence in Africa—a presence that includes combat and has not been authorized, much less debated, by congress.

Actually, all congress members should have known, not necessarily because the Pentagon says it informed everyone, which may or may not be the truth, but because news of the widespread US military deployment in Africa has been around for some time. I wrote about it in June, relying on the reporting of others on the US “arm and assist” program that finds US soldiers based in 24 African countries and perhaps double that number of “outposts” and other facilities. Niger is just one place—Somalia, Cameroon, and Mali are others—where US forces are arming, training, and accompanying local soldiers on dangerous missions.

The US military has not, of course, publicized these missions, knowing full well that they would get unwanted attention. But they are there, and the US Africa Command has become a crucial component of the “war on terror.” As Nick Tulse wrote last April, the US now operates “a constellation of bases integral to expanding U.S. military operations on the African continent and in the Middle East.” I suspect that many members of congress chose not to take note of these operations for political reasons: to avoid being seen as questioning the pursuit of terrorists everywhere, regardless of cost.

Permit me to quote from the conclusion of my June 2017 commentary, which is suddenly quite germane to the dispute between the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four US soldiers killed, and President Trump:

If I were the parent of a service man or woman, I would be enraged that my son or daughter is being sent into missions impossible led, on paper only, by a commander-in-chief who is in fact AWOL. And if I were a citizen of Africa or the Middle East, I would be appalled by the Americans’, and their governments’, preference for guns over humanitarian assistance. Imagine what $24 billion in arms sales [to Middle East and African countries] since 2010 could have bought in public health and educational training, small business support, environmental protection, and other elements of human security.

Congress should get its act together and challenge not only the Niger mission but the legality and strategy of the many other missions in and beyond Africa that put young lives at stake. Let Republicans like Graham in particular investigate the Africa missions with the same zeal they displayed over Benghazi. What The New York Times calls “America’s Forever Wars” must end.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Everything We Thought 11/1/17

APB: What We Get Wrong About Donald Trump  – by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

The election of Donald Trump was a severe blow to rational thinking. We—and I include many traditional conservatives as well as liberals of all stripes—were so certain that the American people would not possibly elect so undignified, ill-informed, and prejudiced a person. When they did, we assumed Trump would be moderated, constrained, even reassembled by some of the same factors that affected previous strong-willed presidents: the professional bureaucracy, a politically attuned White House staff, pressures from Congress, the traditions of the office, the aspiration for reelection, the demands of the job. None of that has happened.

So now, in the roughly one year since Trump’s election, we wrongly persist in our optimism that any or all of the following developments signal the end of this nightmare:

· The polls, which consistently show Trump below 40 percent in popularity and below 50 percent in approval ratings.

· Trump’s “reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior” (Jeff Flake), which will lead to widespread defections from the Republican Party.

· Trump’s failure to deliver on his legislative agenda.

· The ongoing investigations of Trump and the Russians. (Yes, Paul Manafort and two others have been indicted, but Trump’s collusion and obstruction are a long way from being proven.)

· The rift within the Republican Party between the Bannon-led alt right and the traditional conservatives.

· Trump’s tweets maligning everyone from Gold Star parents to Republican leaders.

· Trump’s daily lies.

· Appointments to cabinet and agency positions of people who are not only incompetent and unqualified, but also determined to sabotage their mission.

· The blatant corruption of the Trump family, which reaps enormous financial benefits from his presidency and sneers at accusations of conflict of interest.

· The barrage of criticism from the mainstream media.

· Trump’s threatening language when dealing with sensitive overseas situations such as North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

· Local elections whose results might indicate an anti-Trump trend.

· The undemonstrated “moderating” influence on Trump of White House staff, starting with John Kelly, his chief of staff.

· The departure from the administration of high-profile personnel, starting with Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus.

· Trump’s failure to “drain the swamp” and instead to populate it.

· Trump’s failure to deliver on top campaign priorities such as repealing and replacing Obamacare, building the Mexico wall, and restricting immigration.

· The low esteem in which Trump is held by many foreign leaders, and his evident contempt for diplomacy.

To state the obvious, none of these weaknesses and defeats, which might ordinarily be disastrous for a president, has undermined Trump or diminished his support base. No matter what Trump says or does, or fails to do, his core supporters stay with him and his party’s representatives hold their noses while trying to save his legislative agenda. Criticism, no matter the source, only seems to embolden Trump to be Trump and feed the admiration of his supporters.

What experience should teach us is that everything we thought we knew about US politics has been consistently wrong in addressing the Trump phenomenon. He doesn’t fit the mold. We have no idea how to overcome him, no consensus on who might effectively challenge him in 2020. We rant and rave, and trust in “the process,” while Trump tweets on. We had better come up with some answers—not just more critiques but on-the-ground action, such as making sure people hurt by Trumpism vote and supporting progressive candidates at every level of government. Otherwise, rest assured Trumpism will become the new order of politics and society, and our democracy will become a thing of the past.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

 

Moronic Boycott 10/25/17

Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Abolitionists While US Conducts Nuclear War Games

by John LaForge

John LaForge

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its successful effort to establish a global treaty that bans nuclear weapons. Peace, disarmament, and civil society groups around the world celebrated the announcement and congratulated ICAN for its landmark treaty accomplishment.

In a statement, ICAN called the prize “a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.” By employing grassroots organizing and ordinary citizen diplomacy, ICAN, with 468 partner organizations from 100 countries, has permanently stigmatized nuclear weapons and their possessor governments, and helped to achieve their eventual elimination.

The new treaty was concluded on July 7 when 122 United Nations states voted in favor of its adoption. Since Sept. 20, 53 individual heads-of-state have signed the treaty, the first step in a government’s process of ratification which is decided by individual national parliaments. It will enter in force 90 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it.

The United States, the most powerful opponent of the Ban, called the treaty negotiations “unrealistic” and led a boycott, even though the talks are among the explicit mandates or binding “Articles” of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed and ratified by the United States in 1970.

The Ban Treaty prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons, transferring or receiving them from others, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, allowing any stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territories of signatories, and assisting, encouraging, or inducing any of these prohibited acts. The Treaty requires each signatory state to develop “legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress” the prohibited activities.

US Fearmongering and Nuclear War Games Distract

Diverting attention from the Ban Treaty and the Nobel Committee’s abolitionist Peace Prize, the United States has for months been issuing wildly exaggerated warnings about threats posed by North Korea — which may have 20 nuclear warheads but no provably workable rockets for them — and Iran — which has no nuclear weapons at all.

At least the rest of the world is aware that US nuclear weapons are superfluous, conventional weapons being “deterrent” enough and sufficient for the Pentagon takeover of Afghanistan and Iraq. Nuclear weapons are worse than useless in today’s seven US “anti-terror” wars since they embody and teach, but never deter, terrorism. Case in point: Between October 16 – 20, the United States and four NATO partners conducted what they called their “Steadfast Noon” nuclear strike exercises. The annual war game is a NATO practice of nuclear weapons use with bombers and the B61 H-bombs the US deploys in Europe.

The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 16 that one NATO official said the war game involves a “fictional scenario.” The Journal noted that the US keeps about 150 B61 nuclear weapons at six bases in five European countries. The US nuclear weapons practice took place at Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium and Büchel Air Base in Germany, both of which host about 20 of the US B61s. Belgian and German pilots train to use these H-bombs in the event of a Presidential order to go nuclear, i.e., insane.

Joseph Trevithick reported for TheDrive online, “The bombs are technically ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, though experts and advocates routinely debate the validity of this term and whether any nuclear weapon can be seen as a limited, tactical tool.” The B61 is an unguided gravity bomb that has an explosive force of 340 kilotons (27 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb that killed 170,000 people). The nonfiction use of just a single B61 could kill more than 3.7 million people, the vast majority “protected” (civilians).

The Peace Prize increases the stigmatization of nuclear weapons, NATO’s preparations for using them, and the nuclear-armed states’ self-contradictory rationalizations for retaining their arsenals. All three need to be universally publicized and appreciated before a malfunction, miscalculation or “moron” (as Secretary of State called President Trump) kills millions.

John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice, is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—and lives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

Cornerstone of Us 10/25/17

Democracy at Stake: Battle Lines over DACA and the Dream Act

by Andrew Moss

Andrew Moss

After ending President Obama’s DACA Program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in September, Donald Trump announced earlier this month that any legislation affecting the 800,000 young Dreamers covered by the program would have to be part of a deal that included, among other things, the building of his wall along the U.S. southern border, the hiring of 10,000 more immigration agents, and the imposition of harsher measures regarding refugees, including children crossing the border to flee violence and possible death. He also made it clear that he would oppose legislation offering Dreamers (young people brought across our borders as children) any pathway to citizenship.

Some critics called this negotiating stance a form of hostage-taking. There’s a truth to the allegation, but there are wider implications as well. For the conflict over DACA – indeed, over immigration itself – represents a frontline struggle between authoritarianism and democracy. Since assuming power this past January, the Trump administration vastly expanded the threat of deportation affecting undocumented people in the U.S., shifting the emphasis from deportations based on felonies or “significant misdemeanors” to the targeting of anyone without papers: in essence, criminalizing 11.1 million people living here without citizenship, green cards, or other forms of validating documentation.

The new policy has meant stepped-up raids by immigration agents as well as the retention of for-profit detention centers that had been slated for phasing out by the Obama administration. I have met members of my community in Los Angeles – students, workers, even clergy – who were swept up in raids and “detained” (incarcerated) in these centers for no other reason than that they were tagged, categorized, and criminalized as “illegal aliens.” Released after weeks or even months of confinement due to supportive efforts by immigration activists and attorneys, these individuals testified to the degrading, dehumanizing experiences of arrest and imprisonment. One of the for-profit facilities not far from where I live, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, has been the site of detainee hunger strikes as well as citations by members of Congress for substandard food, medical neglect, and other abuses.

It’s true that these fellow community members, former detainees of Adelanto and other facilities, are not U.S. citizens, but they are human beings, fully entitled by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protection from “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” This protection, along with all other unalienable rights due to every person living on this planet, is an essential cornerstone of a democratic society.

We are now at a crossroads, with one path leading ever more deeply into a realm of state-sponsored terror, another opening to the genuine possibility of a just and inclusive democracy. Neither path is an imaginary construct. The state-sponsored terror is visible today in the faces of undocumented people as they encounter the words of ICE Director Thomas D. Homan: “if you’re in this country illegally, and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder.”

Homan directed his message to all people without papers, but the discomfort he aroused unsettles those who are citizens as well: not the people taken in by Trump’s race-baiting and scapegoating, but the citizens who are genuinely ambivalent about the administration’s constant references to “illegal entry,” i.e. that if people entered the country without proper authorization, they have broken the law and must be subject to the consequences.

The problem with this formulation is that it ignores a long history in which powerful economic and political interests have determined the relative porousness or impermeability of our borders, particularly our southern border. Large agribusinesses in the southwest, for example, not only pressed to institute the Bracero, or imported contract labor, program that lasted from 1942 to 1964; they also simultaneously encouraged the inflow of illegal workers who could be paid even more cheaply than the braceros. Historian Mae Ngai has characterized these arrangements a form of “imported colonialism.”

Over the years, as more and more people entered and settled in the U.S. from Mexico, Central America, and other countries, seeking safety or a better economic future for themselves and their families, they entered a wide range of industries, not only in agriculture but in hospitality, construction, food processing, and other kinds of manufacturing. In the 1980’s, when their contributions to the country were still acknowledged at the policy level, a Democratically-controlled Congress was able to pass the last piece of legislation that authorized a pathway to legalization, i.e. citizenship (the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act).

Since that time, nativist think tanks and various conservative groups have gained the upper hand in variously constructing immigrants, undocumented and documented, as freeloaders or as threats to Americans’ safety and economic security. That is why passing the Dream Act, currently before Congress and offering Dreamers a pathway to permanent resident status, would be an important step in helping challenge these invidious constructions. But it’s only a step. The work of undoing racist myths cannot stop until there are pathways to full enfranchisement for all 11.1 million of our co-workers, employees, friends, and fellow community members. This work cannot stop as long as any form of tragic exclusion continues to blight our nation, forcing people into the shadows and denying them full participation in the co-creation of our collective destiny. We may be in a crisis, but the crisis offers us a unique opportunity to redeem the promise of American democracy – if only we can recognize the opportunity and seize it.

Andrew Moss, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is an emeritus professor at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught in Nonviolence Studies for 10 years.

Five Days Looking Good 10/25/17

I am a designated non survivor – by Kary Love

Kary Love

Ok, I am prejudiced, I admit it. Like you, I am a “Designated NonSurvivor” if the US and NK actually fulfil their threats to use nuclear weapons. Designated Survivors are individuals in the presidential line of succession, who are ordered to a secure and undisclosed location when the President and the country’s other top “leaders” are gathered at a single location. This is intended to guarantee continuity of government (COG) in the event of an occurrence that kills the President and many officials in the presidential line of succession.

I am not writing this to complain about being a Designated NonSurvivor. I will be in good company—practically everyone in the world! All the artists and builders, farmers and singers, the young and the old! Not a shabby group to belong to.

I much prefer that to hanging with those whom will emerge from the US or NK “continuation of government” bunkers. Those people are simply not my kind of folks. A world in which they emerge “on top,” such as the top will be then, is not for me. Good luck to them as they seek to “remake the world in their own image.” Sorry to break it to those folks, the world you emerge into will already have been remade in your image: death and destruction. Congratulations, you win.

Back to the point, let me tell you why I am prejudiced. Today I transplanted five white oak trees. One had grown to about 20 feet, its acorn somehow taking root at the base of a 40-foot-tall, healthy, white pine. I wanted to save both.

I dug out around the roots of the oak—it was 20 feet tall but less than an inch in diameter having been crowded out by the pine. The root was bent and twisted and turned down under the massive root bole of the pine. I could only follow it about 18 inches and it became unreachable.

I had an idea. I would run water into the opening, dig out more, as the ground softened. After about 3 hours of this, I had made a little progress but not much. As those who criticize people who protest against nuclear war say: “Resistance is futile!” Maybe it was futile.

Then I came up with another great idea! I tied a line to the oak which I attached to tensioning straps like you use for holding a kayak on top of your car. I put the oak under tension in the direction that seemed best to loosen its roots and possibly pull it out. I kept pumping water in, digging out with my hands reaching into the earth and freeing the roots. By dark I was beat. I soaked the root bole down—it now held about three feet of water, and headed for bed. I figured the oak was dead by morning.

I awoke, made coffee, and went out prepared to see the oak showing signs of demise. The oak looked fine. I continued the soaking and digging using my hands and tightening the pressure most of the day. By evening I had to act—I reached in as far as I could and cut the root as deep as possible. Then I transplanted the oak into a prepared hole after treating with root growth hormone. It may not make it, though five days in still looking good!

What does this have to do with my prejudice? I would like to one day show my grandkids that oak, standing tall at the top of a Lake Michigan sand dune, healthy and sending its roots deep to anchor the dune. That oak could live for 200 years, reach 100 feet, provide shade and wind break for generations. Not, however, if the US-NK threats turn to action.

Thus, I am prejudiced against nuclear war. I am prejudiced against Designated Survivors and their associates, their “superiors” in office, and their “subordinates” who must carry out those orders if issued. I am prejudiced against all those whose work or support the plans or preparations for nuclear war. Yes, I am a literal tree hugger. I have probably planted several thousand in my life. I believe every one of those trees may be a “Designated Survivor” in an honorable sense, not the dishonorable sense of COG and survival bunkers.

I am prejudiced, because for the reasons above, I simply do not know if I can tell my grandkids the story of the oak without lying. Sure, I can honestly tell them the oaks may survive, but what do I say about the future generations to shade, to behold the glory as the leaves change, the joy of jumping into a leaf pile?

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney.

Foundation of Mystery 10/18/17

Mystery  –  by Winslow Myers

“The Second Amendment, as applied in the last 30 years or so, has become so perverted, twisted and misused that you have to see it now as the second original sin in the founding of this country, after slavery.”
—Timothy Egan

Winslow Myers

Trillions of galaxies each contain billions of stars. A unified field of gravitational waves, black holes, and dark matter ties the vast enterprise together. Out of this furnace of process churning through billions of years of evolutionary time our earth emerged, then biological life, then self-conscious human life. This universe we inhabit is shot through with utter mystery.

We are also mysteries to each other. For the moment at least, the motivation of Stephen Paddock’s massacre in Las Vegas remains as mysterious as the workings of a black hole. So mysteriously meaningless was the slaughter that we had no recourse but to find a crutch of ersatz meaningfulness in the many acts of selfless heroism among the victims and first responders, as we reel helplessly toward the next incident of mass murder that inevitably lies ahead.

The motivation of Wayne LaPierre, the president of the National Rifle Association, is almost as mysterious as Stephen Paddock’s. Is it money? He is paid very well indeed, approximately a million dollars a year. Is it willingness to shamelessly serve the interests of the companies that manufacture guns and ammunition?

To demonstrate the sacred-cowness of LaPierre’s vaunted Second Amendment, one need only point out that out of 200 countries on earth, only three (the U.S., along with Mexico and Guatemala) constitutionally enshrine the right to bear arms. The idea of the deterrence of tyranny by constitutionally protected caches of privately stored weapons distracts from what truly inoculates against the bacillus of tyranny: not weaponry but more active civic participation, in the context of all we share beyond our illusory differences.

The motivations of our political leaders are also shrouded in mystery, from our narcissistic president on down to Mitch McConnell and friends, proud of the enormous political power they wield, and yet placidly content to remain the weak and willing pawns of Mr. LaPierre.

In fact I find the nation of which I am a citizen to be more than a little mysterious. Who are we? We often mouth platitudes about the exceptional breadth of our freedom and prosperity, where in reality our exceptionalism seems to cluster around our unique level of bellicosity, our absurd tolerance for mass violence both domestic and international, and our willingness to countenance spending trillions for newer and better nuclear weapons when the far greater threat is human-caused climate change.

We have recently been presented with an elaborate 18-hour retrospective of the Vietnam War, outlining the historical ignorance, corruption and treachery of our leaders, the lies that resulted in years of unnecessary death on all sides, while we seem to have learned nothing from this historical experience that might apply to our present endless and futile wars.

There is a further mystery that provides one possible antidote to the mystery of all that our country refuses to admit about itself— the redemptive mystery of black spirituality. Whole peoples were forcibly brought across from Africa in chains to our young nation, which then built upon their backs our prosperous economy, a history which truncated the possibilities of African American citizens at every turn right to the present day. The mystery of the indiscriminate use of weaponry that is endemic to our culture is an all-too-terrible part of their story as well.

By all precedent blacks in America should have long since risen up in a paroxysm of destructive rage equal to Mr. Paddock’s, and of course at acute moments some have. But, in a mystery complementary to the mystery of violence, this tyrannized people as a whole have not taken refuge in nonsense like the sacredness of an amendment written long ago by people who could not imagine our nation awash in automatic weapons, but instead in healthier particulars of our constitution that enshrined black rights to full inclusivity and to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course for whites Martin Luther King Jr. is the most renowned representative of this black non-violent spirituality, but there are ranks upon ranks of others, dead and alive, whose spiritual depths, born of undeserved suffering (including the actual worst mass murders in American history), we Americans can draw upon as we gradually shape ourselves into a less violent culture.

The late Vincent Harding comes to mind, a gentle, loving moral giant who helped administer the freedom schools that initiated voter registration campaigns in the South. Harding also helped write Martin Luther King’s great 1967 speech at Riverside Church taking on our country for its intertwined addictions to racism, militarism and materialism.

Or the very much alive social activist Ruby Sales, whose vision of American life acknowledges race but reaches beyond it to a healing vision that includes all in our country who are hurting—the unemployed coal miner in West Virginia as well as the education-deprived black child living in a high-risk precinct of Baltimore. Perhaps her instinctive inclusivity comes from the fact that a white seminarian died blocking a bullet meant for her.

Or the eloquent polemicist Ta Nehisi-Coates, heir to James Baldwin, whose challenging essays and books demand that whites look in the mirror to find the ultimate source of deep structural and institutional violence and prejudice in our country.

These leaders and teachers point us in a direction in which we really do have the potential to become an exceptional nation, less fearful, therefore less armed to the teeth at home and abroad, less bellicose, therefore more willing to choose diplomacy and humanitarian initiatives over war, more understanding of the “other,” and therefore more willing to reach out and see even our worst enemies as having a humanity equal to our own.

In spite of all that science allows us to understand, we live, move and have our being in a context of mystery, and it isn’t going away any time soon. We can approach it in isolated fear, or in collegial wonder, gratitude, and humility—humility in the spirit of Job the prophet of old, to whose laments of undeserved pain a mysterious God replied “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” serves on the Board of the War Prevention Initiative.

Calm Before…What? 10/18/17

The calm before the storm by Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler

Every time Donald Trump blurts or tweets a shocker — “maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” for instance — questions flood the media.

Is he serious? What did he mean? Yes, of course, but beyond these, larger questions hover half-asked, cutting into the soul of who we are. This is painful, but not necessarily a bad thing. For me, one question that keeps emerging is: What is the relationship between Trump and the military-political system he stepped into?

That is to say, is he furthering its covert agenda (creating the conditions for more war) or, contrarily, exposing it for what it is?

Or both?

Back in February, for instance, Trump the pugnacious 14-year-old told a Reuters reporter: “I am the first one that would like to see . . . nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

America, America! It’s at the top of the pack, man. Trump puts what’s really going on into the language of the playground, delighting his base (a third of the country) and convulsing pretty much everyone else. Of course, what’s really going on is more than just bully blather. With Trump at the helm, the United States of America, the planet’s premier superpower, is putting the planet, in the words of Republican Sen. Bob Corker, “on the path to World War Three.”

We were on that path anyway, just with more dignity and decorum. And more ambivalence. As the U.S. prepared for war it also negotiated peace: in particular, the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which Trump wants to decertify. Most security experts have hailed the agreement as a remarkable achievement, halting Iran’s nuclear weapons development, curtailing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, easing tensions with the U.S. and helping establish an international framework for creating peace.

The foreign policy establishment remains wary of Iran and considers the agreement flawed, but nonetheless crucial. Which Iran, former CIA analyst Paul Pillar asked recently, is most likely to act with destabilizing aggressiveness?

“Is it an Iran,” he wrote, “that is being reintegrated into the community of nations, that sees material benefit from negotiating restrictions on itself and then scrupulously observing those restrictions, and sees the opportunity for gaining more respectability and influence as long as it plays by the international community’s rules? Or is it an Iran that is kept isolated and punished, sees any significant agreement that it does negotiate get destroyed or reneged upon by other parties, that is the target of unending confrontation and hostility, and that is treated forever as a pariah? The answer should be obvious.”

Creating peace is a complex process — and this, unfortunately, is not always obvious. The point Pillar and others are making in support of the 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is that trying to punish and dominate our enemies tends to create results that are the opposite of what we want, or claim to want.

The idea that enemies are permanent, which is how a segment of the U.S. foreign policy establishment regards Iran, hardens our national commitment to militarism. Listening to countries with whom we are at odds — working with them, finding power in solidarity with them rather than threatening to annihilate them — calls militarism into question.

We live with and build national policy around the compromise between these two ways of being in the world. Thus, even in an agreement as mutually beneficial as the JCPOA, the U.S. maintains a state of assumed dominance: Iran has to stop its nuclear weapons development. But the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the agreement’s other signatories, which include China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom, are not under discussion. The unspoken assumption, it seems, is that some nukes are necessary, and some countries must remain in possession of them.

All of which brings Trump’s “top of the nuclear pack” comment back into the conversation. Dominating the world, especially by possessing the most weapons of mass destruction, is by far the simplest way to understand power, and there are enormous interests in the U.S. that revere — and most importantly, benefit from — the domination outlook. Trump both promotes this agenda and exposes it to the world.

Indeed: “. . . recently we hear (an) alarming announcement by a nuclear-weapon state that it intends to continuously strengthen and expand its nuclear arsenal to ensure its place ‘at the top of the pack.’”

The words are those of Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 26, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, who warned that the United States — which he referred to as “a certain nuclear-weapon state” — was not only modernizing its nuclear arsenal but developing low-yield, which means, my God, ‘usable’ nuclear weapons, and thus launching a new, global nuclear arms race.

This project, part of a trillion-dollar planned ‘upgrade’ of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, began during the Obama, not the Trump, administration.

But now the world has President Trump, commander-by-impulse and reckless reality-TV host with the power to launch war. He wants to decertify the Iran deal and declare it not to be in the country’s interests. Is he exposing the final phase of an international politics based on military dominance?

Here’s another question he forces us to ask: How is universal nuclear disarmament possible without a nuclear-armed, external force imposing it? This is not just a question to be pondered by the 122 nations that recently voted in favor of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Those who boycotted the vote hold the answer.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

 

Good Men 10/18/17

Men and Sexual Assault in the Age of Trump – by Rob Okun

“I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you? You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us?”

—Eve Ensler

Rob Okun

Forget Harvey Weinstein. And Bill Cosby, and Bill O’Reilly, and Roger Ailes. But do remember the women. Remember all the women, famous and unknown, who have survived everything from catcalls to rape for as far back as well, forever.

The playwright and activist Eve Ensler is right to be past feeling impatient, to be so “over the passivity of good men.” She’s honed in on the question men have to answer: “Where the hell are you?” As of now, we’ve mostly been absent.

For decades, men who have never battered or raped would offer excuses for not standing up for women who faced harassment—and worse—offering this lame rationale: “I don’t engage in these behaviors, I’m a good guy, these are women’s issues, not mine.”

Those days are over. Sexual assault is not a women’s issue; it’s a community issue, and men, ready or not, we have to break our silence.

A half-century ago, women began dragging domestic and sexual violence from society’s shadows to center stage in the national—and international—conversation about gender-based violence and gender equality. From the beginning there were always some men who stood with them as allies, but not enough.

It was women who created rape crisis centers and shelters for domestic violence survivors. When men asked how they could help, women replied immediately, “Talk to other men. Tell them to stop beating us, raping us, killing us.” Some men responded, working with women to create batterer intervention programs and began grappling with some uncomfortable truths about their lives, including how they benefited from then-unfamiliar terms such as “privilege” and “entitlement.” It was the late 1970s, the era when the profeminist men’s movement began, in part sparked by a comment by Gloria Steinem: “Women want a men’s movement; we are literally dying for it.”

Ironically, the fall of so many powerful men—all brought on by their sexually assaultive behaviors—occurred in the same timeframe as the election of one of their high-powered brothers: Donald Trump, described by some as predator-in-chief.

As more and more brave women step forward to tell painful stories of having been sexually assaulted, and as they stand with and by other women, there’s a jarring simultaneous truth we cannot ignore: Trump has not yet fallen. He has yet to pay a price for his sexual assaults. More than a dozen women came forward to accuse him, detailing his assaults. He pledged to sue them all after the election but never has.

Harvey Weinstein’s fall may spark renewed investigations into Trump’s alleged sex crimes. In the aftermath of a tainted election in which his female opponent received three million more votes than he did, poetic justice would be meted out if, more than collusion with Russia during the election, more than revelations about potential tax return criminality, it is a sea of pussy hat-wearing women who bring down the president.

When Academy-award winner Jane Fonda spoke about Weinstein, she said, “Let’s not think this is some unique, horrific [incident]. This goes on all the time. It’s this male entitlement in Hollywood—and everywhere. In offices and businesses all over the world; in bars, and restaurants and stores, women are assaulted, abused, harassed and seen for just being sexual objects—there for a man’s desire, instead of as whole human beings.”

Trump’s election, Fonda believes, has contributed to undermining efforts to combat sexual assault. That he is president has emboldened some men, she says, counteracting “a lot of the good that we’re doing, because a lot of men [can now] say, ‘Well, our president does it, and he got elected even after people discovered that he was an abuser, so I’m just going to go ahead and do what I want to do.’” She added, “We have to stand up to them.”

The “we” she is referring to, guys includes men, all of us.

Rob Okun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor of Voice Male. A new edition of his book, Voice Male – The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement will be published this month.

In 2011, Eve Ensler was awarded the Isabelle Stevenson Award at the 65th Tony Awards, which recognizes an individual from the theater community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations.

Forest in the Eye 10/18/17

The Mote in North Korea’s Eye, the Forest in the USA’s Eye – by Kary Love

Kary Love

Mass murder of 59 is the mote in the eye of that lone “Las Vegas” killer and we all condemn him.

Mass murder of all humanity is the forest in the eye of Donny Trump and we are called upon to salute him.

Trump has recently threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation. The USA has thousands of nukes, NK may have 20 and a limited, if any, capacity to deliver them.

Thus, the forest in the eye of Donny Trump and the mote in the eye of NK.

This is not to say NK should have nukes, it should not. However, the need for the USA to have thousands of nukes and a $1 Trillion program to “make more and more usable nukes” is also unacceptable. At least to the people of the world.

The recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was signed by 122 nations on July 7, 2017. The Treaty prohibits the use, threat of use, development, possession, testing, acquisition, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons and forever stigmatizes these weapons and the nations who maintain their nuclear stockpiles.

The US along with other “nuclear powers” refused to sign the Treaty. Refusal to sign the Treaty does not mean the refusing nations are “above the law of nations” or international law. Neither Hitler nor the Japanese governments signed the Treaty that allowed their henchmen to be hanged or jailed for war crimes, crimes against peace or crimes against humanity for crimes they committed in WWII. In fact, the accused war criminals complained everything they did was legal under Hitler’s “law” and they were “just following orders.” The USA hung them anyway because the law of nations superseded Hitler’s laws.

The US did sign the treaties supporting execution of the Nazi and Tokyo war criminals. Those principles now are part of the USA’s own laws governing war and war crimes. US military and civilian commanders, including the President, as commander in chief, are subject to prosecution as war criminals, should they engage in a war of aggression (“the supreme war crimes”) or use criminal weapons such as nuclear weapons in an otherwise legal war. Such crimes still carry the death penalty.

This legal conclusion is the result of one single truth: The enemy of all humankind is death.

Nothing else. Just death.

There are only two kinds of death:

a) natural. b) homicide. Courageous scientists, doctors and nurses are fighting the former–Thank you for your service! As to the latter it has been said: “He who kills one is a criminal. He who kills millions is a hero.”

When we embrace this thinking, we contribute to the spread of the infection of death by homicide. As Sartre opined: there is no way out. We are condemned to choose. Life or death?

Either we reject homicidal heroes or we reap individual killers. The celebration of death occurs not in a vacuum, the moral fabric of the universe is all one cloth. Cleave one strand, the rest unravel. The moral fabric is unravelling. The rest is vacuity, obfuscation and avoidance.

We fear our own deaths. We mourn the deaths of those we love. But, we are not human until we resist all death. Those who protest death, who are caged for committing trespass to avoid mass murder, who mourn the death of every human and work to avoid the death of any more, to them I say, “Thank you for your service!”

To those who go to work every day “maintaining” nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, I plead, take the day off. The week, the rest of your life.

To those who pay the taxes to fund nuclear weapons, I ask, “What do you say to your children when they ask you, ‘Daddy, did you pay for the war?'” It all comes down to one, simple decision: are you on the side of life, or death?

The cancerous poison of America’s commitment to weapons of mass destruction infects our culture: we have become death worshippers as a nation. The mote in the eye of the mass murderer in Las Vegas is a reflection of the forest in the eye of Presidents and the bureaucrats who daily plan, prepare for and threaten nuclear annihilation. To paraphrase Jesus of Nazareth: He who lives by mass murder shall perish by mass murder. Is it not time to pluck the forest from our eye and help others then to remove the mote from their own? For, if we continue to sow the seeds of death, what ought we expect to reap?

Kary Love, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Michigan attorney whose pro bono practice for decades is frequently the trial defense of nonviolent peace protesters.

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