Thursday, March 31, 2011

THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE


We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicines but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our neighbor.

We built more computers to hold more copies than ever, but have less real communication.

We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods but slow digestion; tall men but short characters; steep profits but shallow relationships.

It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.

-          His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back of Veterans for Peace shirt

When VFP member Ray McGovern was tackled and arrested in February for standing with his back to Hillary Clinton as she spoke on freedom of expression, he was wearing his VFP t-shirt.  His act of conscience honored our t-shirt.  Now we are returning the favor by offering a limited edition VFP tee with words of inspiration from Ray on the back.  This VFP shirt is issued in honor of Ray McGovern,  commemorating his arrest for standing silently with his back to Hillary Clinton — while she spoke in defense of freedom of expression on February 15, 2011. They are requesting $50 for each shirt.  You can place your order at the VFP Online Store or by calling the office, 314-725-6005.  
 
Orders must be received by Monday, April 11.

Children of War trailer

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From David Swanson, author of WAR IS A LIE

War is a crime.

Joining an ongoing war is a crime.

Joining on the side of a friendly lunatic dictator is an immoral tragedy.

Joining on the side of violent rebels who capture and expel British troops there to "help" is an immoral comedy.

Joining on the side of our own nation would be opposed by both of the existing sides plus our own nation.

Limited warfare is limited murder.

Limited warfare almost always traverses the limits.

The military is the worst organization to provide humanitarian relief.

The military is not needed to protect anyone, and would endanger many.

We disguise military defeats by pretending to have stumbled into civil wars.

Actually stumbling into a civil war would add to our military and moral defeats.

Pouring all of our money into our military is what makes imperial warfare possible.

Pouring all of our money into our military is what makes financial crises blamed on teachers and cops possible.

Our military uses as much oil as it will get out of Libya.

Libya will almost certainly sell us its oil without, and only without, US military involvement.

If we don't stop burning so much oil, we'll kill ourselves that way before blowback and weapons proliferation can do the job.

No matter how many troops Obama sends anywhere, his electoral challenger will favor more.

By embracing militarism unwanted by the people of North Africa, while staying far away from Madison, Wisconsin, Obama will dissuade all but the fiercest of lesser-evilests from voting for him.

The aid that U.S. nonviolent-activism scholars and trainers provided to Egyptians disproves the claim that our choices are warfare or nothing.

We don't need more weapons.

We don't need more propaganda.

We don't need more "military aid".

We don't need more training of local militaries to "stand up".

We need more training of nonviolent activists.

Violence by Libyans alone will not bring peace and justice.

Violence breeds violence.

There is no war for peace.

There is no way to peace.

Peace is the way.

U.S. influence in Libya is poisoned by its actual agenda.

Were it not, it would be poisoned by the ongoing US warmaking in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and dozens of other countries.

The way to bring the troops home does not involve calculations of "stability."

It involves only calculations of how many soldiers will fit on each airplane.


Monday, March 28, 2011

An open letter to people of conscience in the West

This came via a UFPJ email:

********************

I wish you Egypt!

I wish you empowerment to resist; to fight for social and economic justice; to win your real freedom and equal rights.

I wish you the will and skill to break out of your carefully concealed prison walls. See, in our part of the world, prison walls and thick inviolable doors are all too overt, obvious, over-bearing, choking; this is why we remain restive, rebellious, agitated, and always in preparation for our day of freedom, of light, when we gather a critical mass of people power enough to cross all the hitherto categorical red lines. We can then smash the thick, cold ugly, rusty chains that have incarcerated our minds and bodies for all our lives like the overpowering stench of a rotting corpse in our claustrophobic prison cell.

Your prison cells, however, are quite different. The walls are well hidden lest they evoke your will to resist. There is no door to your prison cell -- you may roam about "freely," never recognizing the much larger prison you are still confined to.

I wish you Egypt so you can decolonize your minds, for only then can you envision real liberty, real justice, real equality, and real dignity.

I wish you Egypt so you can tear apart the sheet with the multiple-choice question, "what do you want?", for all the answers you are given are dead wrong. Your only choice there seems to be between evil and a lesser one.

I wish you Egypt so you can, like the Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Libyans, the Bahrainis, the Yemenis, and certainly the Palestinians, shout "No! We do not want to select the least wrong answer. We want another choice altogether that is not on your damned list." Given the choice between slavery and death, we unequivocally opt for freedom and dignified life -- no slavery, and no death.

I wish you Egypt so you can collectively, democratically, and responsibly re-build your societies; to reset the rules so as to serve the people, not savage capital and its banking arm; to end racism and all sorts of discrimination; to look after and be in harmony with the environment; to cut wars and war crimes, not jobs, benefits and public services; to invest in education and healthcare, not in fossil fuel and weapons research; to overthrow the repressive, tyrannical rule of multinationals; and to get the hell out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and everywhere else where under the guise of "spreading democracy" your self-righteous crusades have spread social and cultural disintegration, abject poverty and utter hopelessness.

I wish you Egypt so you can fulfill your countries' legal and moral obligations to help rebuild the ravished, de-developed economies and societies of your former -- or current -- colonies, so that their young men can find their own homelands viable, livable and lovable again, instead of risking death -- or worse -- on the high seas to reach your mirage-washed shores, giving up loved ones and a place they once called home. You see, they're "here" because you were there... and we all know what you did there!

I wish you Egypt so you can rekindle the spirit of the South African anti-apartheid struggle by holding Israel accountable to international law and universal principles of human rights, by adopting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), called for by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society. There is no more effective, non-violent way to end Israel's occupation, racial discrimination and decades-old denial of the UN-sanctioned right of Palestinian refugees to return.

Our oppression and yours are deeply interrelated and intertwined -- it is never a zero-sum game! Our joint struggle for universal rights and freedoms is not merely a self gratifying slogan that we raise; rather, it is a fight for true emancipation and self determination, an idea whose time has vociferously arrived.

After Egypt, it is our time. It is time for Palestinian freedom and justice. It is time for all the people of this world, particularly the most exploited and downtrodden, to reassert our common humanity and reclaim control over our common destiny.

I wish you Egypt!

**********************

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist, former resident of Egypt, and author of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS): The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Haymarket: 2011)


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya and wars - letter to Rep. Shuler's office

I believe that revolutions will only be successful if they are done by the native populations of the countries where they are protesting.  Outside interference diminishes the changes of success.  It will also discourage other people of other countries when the US gets involved violently, but does nothing when our "allies" use violence and we remain silent.  That is what is happening in Bahrain right now - the revolution has been silenced by violence from the Bahrain government and from Saudi Arabia sending in troops and tanks.

Also, the changes of success are doubled if the revolutions stay non-violent, as per this report.

Of course, Libya did not stay non-violent.  They showed up early with serious weapons, like machine guns.  Some of Gaddafi's military defected to the rebels, and brought their weapons with them.

While it is very hard to watch people shouting "Peaceful, Peaceful" get fired on with live bullets - it is even harder for me to watch little children climbing on tanks in Libya that have been bombed by the US.  In both cases, people will die.  In the live fire, it will be adults who are killed and it will not further kill people long into the future.  In the second, it is the children who will get cancer and die years later, and the incidence of birth defects and cancer will go on for decades, due to the exposure to depleted uranium. The death toll will go long into the future, and hurt the babies and children the most.

This is what happened in Fallujah.

Now, the really interesting thing in Libya is that we are helping the rebels, at least some of whom are aligned with al Qaeda.  The people in these area have sent sons to Iraq to be suicide bombers and to fight.  This is who the US are bombing for, and this is the group who we are talking about arming, training, and funding in the near future.

Here is some information on the rebels.

Here is some more info on the rebels from a few years back.

I think even the right wing nuts would be against having a war to help al Qaeda, although they do seem to be strongly in favor of war in most cases.  Senator McCain went on and on about how we should be having war with Gaddafi - and he seems to forget that a couple of years ago he visited Gaddafi and urged the US to sell him weapons.  (I am sick of selling weapons around the world to every dictator or tyrant who wants them.  I think the sale of all weapons outside of the USA should
be outlawed.)

Make no mistake:  those rebels do have legitimate complaints against Gaddafi.  He is responsible for making the area so poor that they are willing to become suicide bombers in Iraq or try to kill Gaddafi or use violence to over throw him.  The slogan "Jobs, not Wars" comes to mind.  But I feel we should NOT be supporting these rebels in a violent manner at all, and particularly NOT give them weapons or funding.  And we need jobs here at home, so I do not favor a jobs program in Libya at this time (if ever).

And it appears the rebels are just as vicious as Gaddafi.  They are using the same prisons and tactics.

And the chances of having a successful outcome are very slim (I would have thought that this lesson would have been learned from the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascoes!  But, I guess not.)

What does social science tell us about the US intervention in Libya?

"According to Downes, because deposing an existing regime and bringing new leaders to power "disrupts state power and foments grievances and resentments." To make matter worse, the probability of civil war in the aftermath of foreign imposed regime change increases even more when it is accompanied by defeat in inter-state war, and when it occurs in poor and ethnically heterogeneous countries." This isn't reassuring either, given that Libya's is still a poor society (because the Qaddafi family monopolizes the oil revenues) and it remains divided into potentially fractious tribes."

Finally, here is a cable about extremism in eastern Libya in 2008.

I really think that the US involvement with Libya will cause a civil war there, and massive human suffering.  It will cause more damage to our reputation in the world and to our financial position.  As Bob Herbert said, we have lost our way.

From Bob Herbert:  "When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Last Weekend in DC - Sunday - Protest at Quantico

 I agree with this banner completely.  I think both Bush and Obama need to be impeached or arrested.  They have both committed war crimes.

 Scenes of the rally.
  One of the best speakers was David House, friend of Bradley Manning.  Zach Choate was also good - he ripped off his ribbons from his shirt.  He was quite emotional.  More on both these guys in the video below.



 Veterans for Peace were the organizers for this rally and protest.

 The start of the short march to the road to Quantico military base.



 And what is a non-violent protest without the SWAT team?  There were quite a lot of them for 400 protesters, the majority of whom were not going to risk arrest.  These guys were carrying machine guns.  They had funny things on their legs too, as you can see in the picture below.


 
Zach Choate recording what was happening on the ground.  I was not close enough to see (or photograph) what was happening, but STOP THESE WARS gives this report, which I believe is accurrate:
The demonstrators, including many U.S. military veterans, wanted to put flowers on a replica of the Iwo Jima memorial that sits outside the entrance to the base, but the base authorities closed access to the statue, which is normally open to the public. A deal had been negotiated to allow six of the demonstrators, accompanied by a videographer and a photographer, to lay flowers on the memorial, but they weren’t even allowed to go up to the statue, instead having to throw the flowers over a barrier about 10 feet away. The rest of the demonstrators were enclosed in a pen across the road from the site. After the flowers were left, three of the six–Dan Ellsberg, Elaine Brower, and Ret. Col. Ann Wright–sat in the middle of Route 1 and were soon joined by other demonstrators, who broke out of the barricades.

The Virginia State Police handled some of the protesters quite roughly, including pulling people to their feet by their heads and necks and pushing standing protesters on top of those sitting next to them.
Some nine different police agencies were on hand to deal with the nonviolent protest, including military police, Prince County Mounted Police, Quantico town police, and Washington, D.C., Metropolitan police.

There were over 30 arrested.  Here is a video of the protest, march and civil disobedience, and the shameful behavior of the police:



Last Weekend in DC - Sunday - Undercover cops

Today, we got on three buses and headed down to Quantico VA to protest how Bradley Manning is being treated.  First, here are two photos of reported undercover cops at the protest.  They left around 4:15 PM without causing any trouble.  This was just before the buses left at 4:30 PM.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Last Weekend in DC - Saturday

Saturday was the day of the anti-war rally, sponsored by Veterans for Peace.  There were speakers and singers, then we had a short march around Lafayette Park, and then over one hundred people stood at the White House fence and were arrested.  Here are some of my photos.

 I brought this banner - EVERY WAR IS A WAR AGAINST CHILDREN.

Some representation of the Libyan protesters.


 Very cool sign - I liked it.

 Daniel Ellsberg speaking at the stage.

 Jason and Rochelle - they told me they are going to hike the Appalachian Trial from start to finish soon.

 Chris Hedges speaking at the Vets for Peace rally.  I accidentally erased the photos from the Code Pink rally that was just before the Vets for Peace rally.


 Gotta have SWAT team for the non-violent, unarmed protesters!

 David Swanson at the White House fence.

 This guy chained himself to the White House fence.

Here is a report from ANSWER on the rally and protest in DC on 3-19-11.
Over 1,500 people participated in a veterans-led civil resistance action initiated by Veterans for Peace that led to the arrest of 113 people at the White House. The ANSWER Coalition, March Forward! and many other organizations supported the event.
At the rally in Lafayette Park, Brian Becker, the national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, said: “The U.S. government never tells the people that ‘we’ are going to invade or bomb another country in order to control and exploit its natural resources—especially oil and natural gas—or the labor of the occupied people. That is, of course, the truth. But no mother or father would allow their child to go to war for the crass function of exploitation. The U.S. government always states that each Pentagon invasion or bombing attack is for humanitarian rather than imperial objectives.
“Today, on the eight anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq, the United States, Britain and France are poised to begin a massive bombing of Libya--again, they say, for noble, humanitarian reasons. That is a lie that we must expose. Libya is the largest producer of oil on the African continent and the imperialists want to re-conquer the country and its resources. We, in the ANSWER Coalition, stand against any military action against Libya. The Libyan people, and they alone, must be the masters of their own destiny.”
Caneisha Mills, an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, also addressed Libya in her talk, saying: “The U.S. government claims it will bring democracy and freedom to Libya; these are the same terms used to invade Iraq! After the massive and ongoing slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan we know that is not true!”
Ryan Endicott, a member of March Forward! and an Iraq war veteran who served in Ramadi, told the crowd: “We know firsthand that our enemy is not the people of Iraq, who for eight years have been struggling to survive a brutal occupation. It is not the people of Afghanistan who for over a decade have been struggling to survive a brutal occupation. The biggest threat to the people of the United States is not thousands of miles away, but hundreds of yards away, right here in the White House, in the Pentagon, on Wall Street. It’s the bankers that take our homes, the CEOs that lay off from our jobs only to take million dollar bonuses.”

A unidentified protester lifts his legs as he is arrested by U.S. Park Police near the White House while protesting against war on the 8th anniversary of the Iraq invasion in Washington, on Saturday, March 19, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The veteran in the photo is Zach Choate. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pictures from Friday 3-18-11

 The above photo is of Daniel Ellsberg and Dr. Margaret Flowers, and another musician whose name I did not catch.  Dr. Flowers has been arrested repeatedly in her efforts to get single payer health care passed.  She is very active in anti-war and pro-human rights efforts also.  Daniel Ellsberg is very involved with issues around WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning.

 Ralph Nader was one of the speakers on Friday evening also.

Raed Jarrar talked about Iraq and ending the US occupation of Iraq.  A video of his speech is below.

Last Weekend in DC - Friday evening

On Friday evening, I went to Busboys & Poets to hear several great speakers, including Raed Jarrar, in the video below.  I had hoped to order dinner there, but the place as packed and there were not enough wait people to get food to us, and no tables available to eat on.  I wish I had had a chance to talk with Raed, but could not catch up with him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Comparison

Afghan New Years



Before the Afghan winters…
Children like Abdulai collect fuel
9 Kunar fuel-collecting children were killed by NATO helicopters
Peace was vandalized
We’re committed to peace & will rewrite peace 100 times over
Ali, what is Aziz Jan writing?
Aziz Jan is writing, ‘Why not love?
Ali Agha, what does’ Why not love’ mean?
It means…‘Why not be friends?’
The wishes of the People are not fulfilled by the Powers
Dear youth, to bring peace, let’s not just talk like the elders
Just come and walk the path of peace
Why not bring peace?
Why not love?
We grieve for those killed in war.
We will walk and work for peace.
‘I wish to live without wars’
Day of the People’s Peace
Afghan News Year’s Day
21st of March 2011


U.S. Nuremberg Prosecutor: “My Government Today Prepared to Do Something for Which We Hanged Germans”

Reprint

U.S. Nuremberg Prosecutor:  “My Government Today Prepared to Do Something for Which We Hanged Germans”
By Ben Ferencz

After listening to that great introduction, you must have expected someone to come in here ten feet tall. Well, I used to be ten feet tall, but the problems of the world wore me down.  You've heard from two courageous young authors, Sandy Davies and David Swanson.  Everybody's young compared to me - I'm going to start my 92nd year in a couple of weeks.  They have the courage to speak out and call the government liars and then list the specifics about it.  In my introduction to Sandy’s book, Blood On Our Hands, I asked:  "Whose blood?  On whose hands?"  It's your blood, young people.  And whose hands?  Well, those who are responsible.

What can I tell you that may be useful to you?  I will try to give you my personal impression of how it is that we get ourselves into this predicament.  I witnessed the horrors of World War Two.  I was honorably discharged as a Sergeant of Infantry, and the War Department awarded me five battle stars for not having been killed or wounded.  I had seen horrors which are really indescribable - the inhumanity of human beings to other human beings.

The first thing to understand is the mentality of those who made the war and the atrocities possible.  The crimes of war are not limited to one particular country or one type of person.  And I thought I'll talk to you about someone you've probably never heard of and a trial you've probably never heard of before.  I was the Chief Prosecutor in a murder trial that convicted, 22 defendants convicted of murdering in cold blood over a million people, including hundreds of thousands of children, shot one at a time.  What kind of people can commit such abominable crimes and for what reasons?

The lead defendant was a gentleman was SS General Otto Ohlendorf, Doctor Otto Ohlendorf, father of five children.  He was polite and I'm sure he was kind to his cats and dogs.  He sent his top secret reports to SS Headquarters in Berlin, saying how many Jews, Gypsies and others his men had killed in which town as the Wehrmnacht advanced into Poland and the Soviet Union.  Unfortunately for them, we found the complete daily top- secret reports of the massacres.

The quadripartite trial by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg in 1946 was followed by a dozen lesser-known subsequent proceedings designed to reveal the involvement of broad segments of German society in the commission of Nazi crimes.  The man in charge of these subsequent trials, which followed the IMT trial where Robert Jackson was the Chief Prosecutor, was a distinguished lawyer, General Telford Taylor.  We discovered this set of reports from these killing squads called Einsatzgruppen (literally Action Groups), which was a name deliberately designed to disguise their mission.  They were composed of four units totaling about 3000 men assigned to follow the German troops into Poland and Russia and annihilate all the Jews, as well a Gypsies and some others.  I was in charge of the US army office in Berlin assigned to collect evidence for the additional Nuremberg trials.  I presented the newly discovered evidence to General Taylor and urged that we start a separate trial against the Einsatzgruppen mass murderers.  Taylor recognized the significance of the evidence but was hesitant.  "We haven't prepared it.  The Pentagon hasn't approved it.  We don't have staff.  We can't do it."  I replied, "You can't let these murderers escape."

I had won a scholarship at Harvard Law School on my exam in criminal law.  I had always been interested only in crime prevention as a career.  Taylor asked: "Can you do it in addition to your other work?"  And I said, "Sure!"  So I was appointed Chief Prosecutor, I rested my case in two days.  We gave the defendants copies of every piece of evidence we intended to produce.  Their arguments in rebuttal took about five months.  Their alibis didn't stand up.

The lead defendant, Dr. General Otto Ohlendorf, explained why it was that he reported that 90,000 Jews had been eliminated, they never used the word "murder" - He calmly declared that it was necessary in self-defense.  "What do you mean, 'self defense'? Germany attacked Poland, Norway, Holland, Sweden, and France, etc.  Nobody attacked Germany.  Where's the self-defense?"   "Well," he said, "we knew the Soviets were planning to attack us, so we had to attack them in self-defense."  "Well, why did you kill all the Jews?"  "Well, everybody knows the Jews were in favor of the Bolsheviks, so you have to kill all the Jews too."  "Why the little children?  Why did you kill all the little children?"  "Well, if they grow up and they become enemies of Germany when they find out what happened to their parents that would be dangerous a threat to our long-range security, so we'd better get rid of them too."  He was saying to me, "Don't you see the logic of it all?"  And so he explained that.  I said, "Didn't you have any qualms about killing all these people, little children and all that?"  "No," he said, "because we relied on the head of state, Hitler.  He had more information than I had, and he told us that the Soviets planned to attack, so it was necessary in presumed self-defense."

In our military jargon, we call such assaults a "preemptive first strike".  The US military policy today does not preclude first strike by the United States in order to prevent a presumed attack from another side.  That Ohlendorf argument was considered by three American judges at Nuremberg, and they sentenced him and twelve others to death by hanging.  So it's very disappointing to find that my government today is prepared to do something for which we hanged Germans as war criminals.  After long deliberation, I concluded that the best and perhaps the only way to prevent mass atrocities was to stop war-making itself.  Stop war-making?  Well, how do you stop war-making?  Is it possible?

I began to study that subject in great detail.  My conclusions are laid bare in my books, articles and lectures.  They are available free on my web site.   I learned that, if you want to have a peaceful society, any society, whether it is in Boca, or in the United States or in the world, you need three components. You need laws, to define what's permissible and what's not permissible; you need courts, in order to determine whether the laws have been violated and to serve as a forum for settlements and you need a system of effective enforcement.

To the extent that you have all three of those components, you have relative tranquility. To the extent that they're absent, you have disorder.  Now, in Boca for example, you prohibit murder but some murders still take place.  But how many more murders would you have if you said, "Well, murder is a crime, but it's not punishable - there's no court to punish you?"  Would you have more or less murders? Of course you'd have more murders.  You don't have to be a criminologist to realize that if you want to deter a crime, you must persuade potential criminals that, if they commit crimes they will be hauled into court and be held accountable.  It is the policy of the United States to do just the opposite as far as the crime of aggression is concerned.  Our government has gone to great pains to be sure that no American will be tried by any international criminal court for the supreme crime of illegal war-making.  In condemning others for that crime we also proclaimed that the law must apply equally to everyone.  It is carved on the entrance to our Supreme Court that promises "Equal Justice Under Law."  Why dos the US foul its own nest by failure to uphold the principles of Nuremberg which inspired the world?

We must view contemporary problems in historical perspective. In the international sphere, international law is just beginning.  Over half a century ago, I first began to suggest that we should have an international court to follow up after Nuremberg.  The need was particularly obvious regarding the crime of aggression, since no nation or leader could be expected to indict himself.  Powerful states are very reluctant to give up what they regard as sovereign rights to go to war whenever they think it serves their national interest.  They do not yet recognize that sovereignty belongs to the people - as was proclaimed in the French and American revolutions.

Yet, we have failed to build the institutions which are absolutely essential for a peaceful world order.  We are beginning to move in that direction.  So don't be discouraged.  I recall the names of people whom I knew, like Rene Cassin who won a Nobel Prize for his Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Rafael Lemkin, who coined the word Genocide.  One individual, one brave person, can make a difference.  We have two brave ones here, Sandy Davies and David Swanson, who've written good books.  Give them to your friends.  Give them to your enemies.

Progress is never made in a straight line.  At the end of May 2010, I was invited by the German government to come to Berlin to be awarded the Iron Cross, which is their highest Medal of Honor.  I had some hesitation in accepting it.  On reflection, I decided that it would be unfair to rebuff the young generation for crimes committed by the Nazis 70 years ago.  I was proud to accept the honor as a sign of recognition by Germany that the Nuremberg trials were fair and a contribution to world peace and human rights.

From Berlin I flew to Kampala, Uganda, to attend a two-week conference to review the Statute of the International Criminal Court.  The United States had always been strongly opposed to including the crime of aggression within the jurisdiction of the ICC.  They didn't want it listed as a crime at all.  They did not succeed, at least not completely.  In 1998, the Rome Statute listed aggression as an international crime but did not give the court authority to try aggressors until certain onerous conditions were met;  including a new definition and added guarantees that Security Council rights would be respected.  Despite concessions, the US voted against acceptance of the Rome Treaty when it was adopted overwhelmingly by 120 in favor with only 7 against, including the US and several that we had denounced as "Rogue States."

As planned, the issue of aggression that had been deferred in Rome 1998 came up again in Kampala in 2010.  It was sadly ironic that Germany, in awarding me their Iron Cross was, in effect, saying that the Nuremberg trials were right!"  And what did the Americans say in Kampala?  "Nuremberg?  Forget it. That was then.  Now is now.  We don't want aggression in.  We want it out."  Now that scares a lot of people in the world because we are a very powerful nation.  When the United States says "No" those who are recipients of economic and military aid from the United States, are not inclined to say "Yes".  The issue of aggression was postponed again, this time to 2017 at the earliest.  As matters now stand, the ICC has no authority to try anyone for the supreme crime.

Why is US taking a position which to many may seem hypocritical, arrogant and frightening?  Harold Koh, the State Department Legal Counsel is a very fine fellow and a good lawyer.  He served as spokesman for the US delegation of about 15 people.  I had already written to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.  I noted that I heard a speech of his saying that he would rather deter a war than fight one.  I agreed but pointed out that you can't deter a war at the same time that you tell the criminals that if they commit aggression there is no court competent to try them.  A month passed before I received a reply.  The Chairman praised me for my services to my country but noted that there were legal problems involved.  He passed the buck to the State Department Legal Advisor.

The legal objections voiced by he United States are not persuasive.  The ICC Statute says specifically that no one can be tried for aggression if his country has not ratified the Statute.  Two-thirds of the US Senate has not agreed to reify the ICC Statute.  If any nation is able and willing to try its own national for any crime listed in the ICC Statute, the ICC must give priority jurisdiction to that state.  The ICC must also stop if the Security Council puts a hold on the proceedings.  If the US is really worried about prejudiced ICC judges or unclear formulations all that is necessary is for Congress to add a sentence to our Federal Criminal Code, which says, "Any crime listed in the Statute of the International Criminal Court is punishable in the courts of the United States."  US courts would have primary jurisdiction and the ICC would be cut out.  Any competent lawyer can find fault and quibble about the language of any law.  What is the US really worried about?

Conservatives like ex-Ambassador John Bolton and the late Senator Jesse Helms have said explicitly, "We're against the International Criminal Court.  Who do they think they are to try us Americans? We are noble. We don't need or want foreign interference."  They don't believe there is such a thing as international law and they don't want the rule of law to restrict their use of force to attain their particular goals. Politically, the US is a centrist country.  To get two thirds to affirm a treaty is very difficult.  I consider myself an American patriot. I came to America as an infant child, escaping from persecution and poverty. I'm eternally grateful to the United States.  Tom Paine, who was buried near my home in New Rochelle made it clear that the duty of a patriot is not to say, "My country right or wrong," but, "I will support my country when it's right, but when it's wrong I will try to make it right."  And that's what these two authors, Davies and Swanson have done

I've just about giving up on trying to persuade diplomats.  I've given them a lot of pep talks.  And they say, "Great! Great speech."  I did it again at a Gala dinner before the opening at Kampala.  I reminded them that over 50 million people had died in World War Two which prompted the world to create the UN and the Nuremberg Principles for a more humane rule of law.  I asked by what right do we now throw that way and by what right do we betray the hopes of the young people that they won't have to go through the same thing?"  Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan was there as well as the current S.G. Ban Ki Moon and many ambassadors.  Many came up and slapped me on the back for a great speech.  In the end, they followed the lead of the United States.  Like the mice in Aesop's fables, no one was ready to bell the cat.  And so once more they postponed any further consideration of the crime of aggression until 2017 at the earliest.  Once again Power has triumphed over Reason.

So there we are.  We have a difficult world, and really it's up to the young people to do something about it.  Do what your heart tells you is the right thing - stop glorifying war.  Do it as best you can.  We are spending $2 billion every day on the military.  We have a stronger military than every nation in the world combined.  What for?  No one wants the US to be the self-appointed policeman of the world.  The country is on the verge of bankruptcy.  We are denying people the elements of health and education by
wasting our money on weapons of mass destruction that we cannot use.  If you cannot reach and persuade politicians to reverse this disastrous policy, you may have to take to the streets.  What else can we do?  America is a great democracy, and in every democracy it's normal, and it should be that way, that people have differences of opinion.  But a democracy can only work if its people are being told the truth.  You cannot run a country as Hitler did, feeding the public a pack of lies to frighten them that they are being threatened so it's justified to kill people you don't even know.  You cannot do that.  It's not logical, it's not decent, it's not moral and it's not helpful.  When an unmanned bomber from a secret American airfield fires rockets into a little Pakistan or Afghan village and thereby kills or maims unknown numbers of innocent people, what is the effect of that?

Every victim will hate Americans forever and will be willing to die killing as many Americans as possible.  Where there is no court of justice wild vengeance is the alternative.

I'm a law-man.  I believe in the rule of law.  I see that we are provoking what we condemn as dangerous terrorism.  The country is terrified.  The freedom from fear that President Roosevelt talked about doesn't exist in America today, Armies of airport guards check the shoes of old ladies to see if they've got a bomb hidden there.  What have we come to?  It's not my world any more.  My future is behind me.  But, for your sake, and for those who have grand-children, make up your mind.  Speak up when you can. Talk to your Congressman.  Talk to your friends.  Talk to your enemies.  It's up to the lawyers to lay down the rules and create the courts.  We're doing that, slowly and with difficulty.  We need help from the public.  You are the public.  Good luck to you.  Thank you.

>From Ben Ferencz <http://www.benferencz.org/index.php?id=4&article=104>

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nation of Tears

What the US government has done to Iraq from March 19, 2003 until today is massively, hideously, and monstrously EVIL.  I am disgusted that the American people allowed this EVIL to happen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fallujah song by David Rovics

I don't agree with the violence he is advocating, but I do agree with his sentiments and for calling out the US government and military on their immoral actions.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A quote

Nothing in all the world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Memory of Rachel Corrie

[trying another video - first one no longer available]

May her dream come true one day soon.....


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Lives in the Balance" by Jackson Browne

This is in honor of the eighth anniversary of the war of aggression on Iraq.


Monday, March 14, 2011

"No fly zone in Libya"???

The idea that the United States government should interfere in another country where the local government is “killing its own people” is beyond preposterous.  The United States had killed off hundreds of thousands of innocents in the last decade alone.  They did this through wars of aggression, occupations, and Special Forces actions.  Furthermore, the government of the United States showed its total contempt for human rights by kidnapping people, torturing them, abusing and degrading them and holding them without trial or charges in concentration camps.  Some of those unarmed detainees died horrible deaths by torture in those camps.

And thought it all, the US government has refused to be held accountable by anyone, including the ICC and the UN.   So, it is very clear that they do not need to get involved in any “humanitarian” intervention and clearly lack the qualifications needed if they were to do so.  To even suggest otherwise is just rank hypocrisy.

I would like to see a no fly zone over Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days


This was a very moving story of how Sophie Scholl was caught in Germany, and then her trial and execution…. along with her brother’s execution and their friend’s execution.

At her trial, Sophie said that what Germany wants is God, conscience and empathy. Her father burst into the court room and said as he was being taken out: There is a higher justice. Sophie also said that one day, those judging her would one day be on trial themselves.

The entire time I was watching this movie, I was thinking of Bradley Manning. Sophie was trying to get the truth out to the German people and to shorten the war and expose the war crimes. Bradley Manning is alleged to have done the same thing. The WikiLeaks video and papers did not tell anything new to the Iraqi people – they had lived that nightmare. And most of the rest of the world knew what was going on also. It is the American people who did not know what our troops were being required to do while in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I also watched the movie In The Valley of Elah recently. That tells what happens to US troops returning from the battlefield – and it is an ugly tale to tell.

Photo is of white roses, taken by me last November.  It is in honor of the White Rose Society.

Women in Black by Digla

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Comment made on 11/7/07 on Iraq Today

[I made this comment while I was still posting on Iraq Today.  I am no longer doing that.  I did modify the comment some to bring it up to date in 2011.]

Whenever we put these posts together, we do read a lot.

And a great deal of it is confusing.  I have read that America invented al Qaeda, al Qaeda is the true Iraqi resistance, and al Qaeda is run and funded by Saudi Arabia.

I read that the Kurds causing trouble for the Turks are actually Turkish Kurds.  I read the US is really running the PKK.  I read about tribes in Iraq turning on al Qaeda - but it seems to me that they are fighting US troops LESS not because they turned on al Qaeda, but because the US is paying them off (I am all for that, by the way, although it does have it's problems).

I remember the US military saying their policy was to "villainize Zarqawi, leverage xenophobic response"-- which just makes me sick to think they have a policy of making ordinary people afraid. 

But of course, that was the whole point behind "shock and awe" wasn't it?  So, would they invent al Qaeda?  Is Sy Hersch correct in claiming that the bush administration is arming and funding Sunni extremist groups in parts of the Middle East?  I think so.

But there are a few things that are true - I know they are true - in this post.  First, is the picture of the ordinary man calling his family to reassure them.  That is (or was) 95% of Iraqi people.

And a couple more true things are in the articles under COMMENTARY.  Americans are willfully ignorant. [Still true in 2011]

And, we are also a nation of people deep in denial - we have a new candidate for Attorney General who cannot figure out if torture is torture - or if it is illegal.  And that is because about 40% of our willfully ignorant nation supports torture.  They stupidly believe that it will give us good information, and excuse it on that ground.  And then there is a small minority who are just sick sadistic fucks.

And lately, we have the myth being pushed by our politicians that the occupation of Iraq was a noble endeavor, with great sacrifice and bravery by our US troops, which was just mismanaged AND/OR ruined by the ingrate Iraqis.  In short, our intentions are good and our actions are benign (or we try our best to be benign).

THIS IS A FUCKING LIE.

I recently came across articles from Rep. Waxman asking if was worth it to have US troops die for Mylaki's corruption..... with no mention of the corruption and plunder done by US citizens and troops in Iraq, which is vastly worse.

I often here or read about US Democratic candidates talking about how our "brave" and "unselfish" troops are just being asked to do too much, and do it under incompetent leadership (meaning Bush - they never see their own part in it - they too are willfully ignorant).  They never seem to notice the Iraqi people and how many of them are suffering from the presence of US troops in their country.

And I wonder if American society can ever be stopped from all this militarism and war-mongering and human rights abuses -  in short, from all this EVIL.

I really wonder.

…..In most wars, nations that send their men and women off to fight in distant lands don't want to learn too much about the violence being committed in their name. Facing up to this would cause too much shame, would deal too great a blow to national self-esteem. If people were to become too aware of the butchery wars entail, they would become much less willing to fight them. And so the illusion must be maintained that war is a noble enterprise, that the soldiers who wage it are full of valor and heroism, that in the end their intentions are good and their actions benign.

The ongoing horror in Iraq


A woman looks at her wounded son at a hospital, who was injured in a car bomb attack in Kirkuk.  This happened on March 11, 2011. A parked car bomb wounded 20 people when it went off in a market in Rahim Mawa, a mainly Kurdish area, police and hospital sources said. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

*********************
It always seems that it is the children and the women who suffer the most from war, while it is men who start and continue the wars.  This child was not even born when the US government decided to wage an illegal war of aggression on Iraq, then occupy Iraq, and then destroyed Iraq.  I hope this child recovers and I hope he has a decent country to grow up in.  But I think I hope in vain.

Missing......


Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is seen in this undated photograph received in London on March 10, 2011. Britain's Guardian newspaper said on Thursday it was making urgent attempts to trace one of its correspondents who has gone missing in Libya where he has been covering the recent unrest. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi national, who had been reporting from western Libya for the last two weeks, had not been in contact with the paper since Sunday, the Guardian said on its website. REUTERS/Martin Argles/Guardian/Handout

*************************
I have been following the work of Ghaith since 2003.  He is an excellent journalist and photo-journalist.  Some of his photographs in the book UNEMBEDDED show a harrowing event in Baghdad in September 2004 where the US troops in gunships shot and killed an al Arabiya report while he was live on air.  Twenty one other civilians were killed, and many more injured in this incident.  

I have a bad feeling about this report that he is missing.  He left Iraq and moved to Britain, but he kept going back to war zones again and again.  He did a lot to promote truth in the world.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

War

The Hounds of War are gathered round
To forge the battle plan,
They pat each other on the back,
And grasp their fellow's hand.
To battle stations they disperse
To carry on the fray,
These warriors of the word sublime
That makes us weep or pray.
They swing behind the keyboard now
That spits out their deceit;
Their goal, the end they desire,
That makes their life complete.
These victors suffer no regrets
As they pen brilliant epithets,
And so they ply their lonely craft,
And carve another's epitaph. 
~ Willima Cook

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

GO, WISCONSIN, GO!!! NOW ON TO THE RECALLS!!!




Information on the song:
The music is "Wander My Friends" by Bear McCreary.
Some have inquired as to the translation:

"Wander my friends, wander with me
Like the mist on the green mountain, moving eternally
Despite our weariness, we'll follow the road
Over hills and valleys, to the end of the journey
Come on my friends and sing with me
Fill the night with joy and sport
Here's a health to the friends who have gone from us
Like the mist of the green mountain, gone forever"

THE HOLLOW MEN

Photo of a tree in east Asheville, taken in the fall of 2010.

THE HOLLOW MEN
A poem by T.S. Eliot

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without color,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

[There is more to this poem.]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"I wish to live without wars"

This came from an email from the Afghan Peace workers:

Dear friends of all People,
‘I wish to live without wars’
Day of the People’s Peace
Afghan News Year’s Day on 21st of March 2011

Abdulai, 15 year old Afghan student and farmer, says to watch this video.


I see the unchanging System of the Rich and Powerful
in which my world is Violently collapsing,
and human hope for a decent life leaves my heart.
So, in solidarity with the People of Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Gaza,
the Middle East, North & South America, Europe, Africa and Asia,
& with the People of the world,
I will walk for peace
I will light my candles
& I will plant my trees

We need your solidarity as we struggle to organize for the Day of the People’s Peace on the Afghan New Year’s Day, the 21st of March 2011.

19th of March : Walk of peace and tree-planting in Kabul by multi-ethnic Afghan youth
20th of March : Global Day of Listening - Skype-athon with youth in Iraq, Gaza, Egypt, Yemen etc about the People’s wish to live without wars.
21st of March : Candle Vigil for all the youth and People of Afghanistan and the world who have been killed in conflict and in wars.
9th of April : United National AntiWar Committee  solidarity action with peace-loving People in the USA and in Canada.

I returned to the Afghan mountains today.
I returned to the Afghan mountains today.
I saw heavy-spirited paths trodden out from muddy snow ;
I thought of the shaking mother or child
needing help home after losing loved ones,
like the 60 plus at Kunar*.
It may be true that mountains cannot reach mountains
that only Man can reach Man,
but we understand each other so meagerly
that Man deliberately hurts Man,
like Life rejecting Life, us rejecting every mother’s prayer.
I smiled at 60 year old Nazuko welcoming me in peace
and put my hand on my heart to greet in return…
Relearning why we need to walk this path of the People,
I entered my village hut already cleaned and waiting, and cried.

*An investigating Afghan government group has concluded that 64 Afghan civilians were killed by NATO forces in Kunar province

The Afghan youth and I had an uplifting week speaking with my Egyptian teacher-friend Shereef about the ‘miracle’ erupting before him and his family of a widowed mother, wife & 2 daughters.  He couldn’t believe that the ‘system of absolute power had begun to change in his lifetime’.  He couldn’t believe that Egyptians had gathered voice and action against unequal money and power.  Shereef had always felt ‘trapped’, like the ‘thousand-year mummified animals’ of the Egyptian museum.  So Shereef took to the streets, to join the People he described as are ‘so peaceful, non-violent and beautiful.’

We ask you to do something different to change our world by becoming involved with Abdulai’s ‘wish to live without wars’. This wish is the prayer of every Afghan mother’s heart.  We are part of the human family, so we refuse the insult of a world which complies with domination by a few rich and militarized Powers, whether ‘Talibanic’ or ‘democratic’.  We reject the imposed ‘norms’ that we the People are ‘bad’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘shallow’, and must suffer.  It is the Powers, all Powers,  that need to be re-directed away from their selfish and collapsing lust.

Yes, we accept that this struggle may not bear fruit in a world where People are just now waking up from watching a childish play of ‘elected’ powers ‘electing’ themselves to eventually ‘shoot’ the
People, where we won’t stop to grieve for others until we’re the ones being shot at.  But if we fail in our struggle for Love, what would we lose?

Our lives?

We wish so badly to live without wars.
We wish so badly to have equally decent livelihoods.
We wish so badly to walk freely, for spring is here!
Love,
Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog
http://www.livewithoutwars.org/
http://www.thepeoplesjourney.org/

Below are the actions we request you to participate in, to walk
freely with us!

To support Abdulai and the People of Afghanistan :

1. Facebook ‘I wish to live without wars’ rally support through all means, person by person.

2. Twitter @livewithoutwars

3. Sign our Petition ‘I wish to live without wars’

4. Help organize support for ‘I wish to live without wars’ by emailing  LiveWithoutWars@gmail.com.

5. Arrange for a Skype conversation for the Global Day of Listening to ‘I wish to live without wars’ on the 20th of March 2011 with Abdulai and his friends from Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, Egypt and others by emailing GlobalDayofListening@gmail.com.

6. Follow or subscribe to our News Feed at http://www.livewithoutwars.org/ , which will include regular You Tube videos of the campaign.

Monday, March 07, 2011

This news made me so happy today!

These protesters are going after Bank of America!  I unfortunately had a mortgage with Bank of America - they never sold it to anyone else, because they knew I was an excellent credit risk.... and when I went to pay down the mortgage early, they seriously messed up my account, did not deduct what they were supposed to deduct, and then they started applying my payments to someone else's mortgage.

IT TOOK FIVE MONTHS OF REPEATED PHONE CALLS TO STRAIGHTEN IT OUT.  IT WAS EXHAUSTING.

But, thanks to my tenacity, I did straighten it out.  A year after I paid off my mortgage, they sent me a card saying that I would be welcome to get another mortgage.  I wrote back that I would rather die than have another mortgage with Bank of America.  Nobody makes that many mistakes, and takes so damn long to fix them, without having a criminal agenda.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the people who have a mortgage with Bank of America and actually hit hard times and fall behind on their payments.  They are forced to deal with an evil system run by evil people.  God help them.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

THE FUTURE by Leonard Cohen



Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it's lonely here,
there's no one left to torture

Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby,
that's an order!

Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
and stuff it up the hole
in your culture

Give me back the Berlin Wall
give me Stalin and St Paul
I've seen the future, brother:
it is murder.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul

When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
[When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant]

You don't know me from the wind
you never will, you never did
I'm the little Jew
who wrote the Bible
I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
but love's the only engine of survival

[Your servant here, he has been told
to say it clear, to say it cold:
It's over, it ain't going
any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
you feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future:
it is murder]

Things are going to slide ...

There'll be the breaking of the ancient
western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms
There'll be fires on the road
and the white man dancing

You'll see your woman
hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson
and the white man dancin'

[Give me back the Berlin Wall
Give me Stalin and St Paul
Give me Christ
or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby:
it is murder]

Things are going to slide ...

When they said REPENT REPENT

Saturday, March 05, 2011

War and Peace here in the old USA

Photo:  File photo shows a US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport. The new Pentagon budget includes $113 billion for a range of drone aircraft, a new long-range bomber, helicopters, warships, submarines, anti-missile weaponry and other arms, while boosting pay and benefits for a force stretched by years of combat. (AFP/File/Massoud Hossaini)


•       In March 2010 Secretary of "Defense" Robert Gates complained that "the general [European] public and the political class" are so opposed to war they are an "impediment" to peace.


•       "Since both the US and France lost in Vietnam, then the 'fight for our freedom' must have been unsuccessful, and we must be under the occupation of the North Vietnamese Army. Next time you're out on the street and you see a passing NVA patrol, please wave and tell them Tim says hello." – Tim Moriarty


•       The American Museum of History, on the Mall in Washington, DC: One of the popular exhibitions in recent years was "The Price of Freedom:  Americans at War". This included a tribute to the "exceptional Americans [who] saved a million lives" in Vietnam, where they were "determined to stop communist expansion". In Iraq, other true hearts "employed air strikes of unprecedented precision".


The tyranny empire imposes on others it finally imposes on itself. The predatory forces unleashed by empire consume the host. – Chris Hedges

********************
How long before we have drones flying over our country shooting at people?

Truth

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it...always. "

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained."

"Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth."
~Mohandas Gandhi

"All great truths begin as blasphemies."
~George Bernard Shaw

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
~George Orwell