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Peace Ecology

11:11 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

With serendipitous timing, as a big march for the climate, and various related events, are planned on and around the International Day of Peace, Randall Amster has just published an important book called Peace Ecology.

This book bridges divides that very much need to be bridged between peace activism and peace academia, and between peace advocacy and environmentalism.  This is, in fact, a peace book for deep environmentalists and an environmental book for deep peace advocates.

Typically, I think, peace activists appear to the peace academic as a bit uninformed, ahistorical, reactive, and negative in the sense of being “against something rather than for something.”

Peace academics, I’m afraid, often appear to the peace activist as uninterested in ending wars, uncurious about the evils of wars, unimpressed by the military industrial complex as a cause of wars, and altogether too concerned with the personal virtues of people who are in no way responsible for the scourge of war. It is the rare political studies academic who occasionally can be spotted opposing war or documenting the superiority of nonviolent struggle, whereas the peace studies scholars are essentially advocates of environmentalism and democracy who — unlike other environmentalists and democrats — happen to recognize the ginormous roadblock that militarism presents for their agenda. Or so it appears to the activist, who searches in vain for any large academic contingent giving war and war propaganda the full critique they so richly deserve.

The environmentalist, meanwhile, as represented by the larger environmentalist groups and their spokespeople, appears to the peace activist as a dupe or a war-monger, someone who wants to save the earth while cheering on the institution that constitutes its single biggest destroyer.

The peace activist, when spotted by the otherwise occupied environmentalist, must appear something of a fool, a traitor, or a Vladimir-Putin-lover.

Amster is an academic for peace and the environment with a strong inclination toward activism. Parts of his book could have been written by an environmentalist enamored with war, but most of it could not have been. What Amster is after is a worldview within which we avert the dangers of both war and environmental destruction, including by recognizing their interaction.

War advocates would tell those developing organic communal gardens and gift economies and natural sanctuaries, and other projects that Amster writes about, that “our brave troops” are providing the safe space in which to pursue such luxuries.  Amster would, I think, tell the war advocates that their project is in fact rapidly reducing that space, that these “luxury” efforts are in fact necessary for survival, and that understanding them requires a state of mind that also condemns war as an unmitigated disaster.

“This may seem idealistic,” Amster writes of the prospect of a society dedicated to peace, “but consider that it is no more so than continuing on our present course and hoping for a happy ending.” Read the rest of this entry →

A New Calendar of Holidays

7:07 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Close Up of a Monthly Calendar, January 1 2014

A new calendar offers peace throughout the year.

A new calendar of peace holidays has just been published. And none too soon, if you’ve noticed the epidemic of military holidays around us.

I can understand that Catholics have a saint for every day of the year. And I’m not shocked that various ancient religions have holidays for a high proportion of the year’s days. But what to make of the United States, which now has a military holiday for at least 66 separate days, including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and lesser known days like the just-passed Marine Corps Reserve Birthday?

In the coming weeks we have V-J Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day / Patriot Day, the U.S. Air Force Birthday, National POW / MIA Recognition Day, and Gold Star Mother’s Day. There are, in addition, six week-long military holidays and three month-long ones. May, for example, is National Military Appreciation Month.

The military memorializes past war lies (Remember the Maine Day), cultural depravity normalized by eternal war (Month of the Military Child), and past crimes like attacking Cuba and killing a mule (Mantanzas Mule Day). This website even — wonderfully and accidentally — includes the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which is a day dedicated to opposing militarism. The same website — disgustingly and inappropriately — includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday as a military holiday.

Still, the general pattern is this: in the United States there are holidays to celebrate militarism just about every week, and increasingly one hears about them on the radio, at public events, and in corporate advertising that apparently believes militarism sells.

What would a calendar of peace holidays look like? At WorldBeyondWar we believe it would look something like this.

We’re making it available for free as a PDF that you can print out and make use of: PDF, Word.

We’re also displaying on the front page of WorldBeyondWar.org the holiday, if any, to be marked or celebrated on whatever day it happens to be at the time. So you can always just check there.

We think that part of developing a peace culture is marking great peace moments from the past. Knowing what peace holiday any given day is, or what holidays are coming up soon, can be very useful in creating and promoting events, writing op-eds, and interesting the corporate media in something that is otherwise too important and news worthy to be touched.

World peace holidays can build unity among activists. They can be used for education (celebrating the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 on May 18th could cause someone to want to know what that conference was). And they can be used for encouragement and inspiration (on a gloomy March 20th it might be nice to know that “on this day in 1983, 150,000 peace rallies were held in Australia”).

In this initial draft of the World Beyond War Calendar we’ve included 154 holidays, all of them days — no weeks or months. We could have included a significant peace event for 365 days a year but chose to be selective. It’s a tightly held secret, of course, but there has been a lot more peace than war in the world.

Some of the days are also military days re-purposed. For example:

  • September 11. On this day in 1973 the United States backed a coup that overthrew the government of Chile. Also on this day in 2001 terrorists attacked in the United States using hijacked airplanes. This is a good day to oppose violence and nationalism and revenge.

Others are military days the military doesn’t celebrate. For example:

Read the rest of this entry →

If We Dislike War Like We Dislike Cancer

6:46 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Cupcakes with pink breast cancer ribbons

What if ending war was became as important as ending cancer?

War and cancer are among our leading causes of human death around the world. They can’t be strictly separated and compared since war is a major cause of cancer, as is war preparation. (And a small fraction of the U.S. budget for war preparations could fund cancer research well beyond all the money raised by public and private funding and by all the 5-K races for a cure and other activities we’ve become familiar with.) War and cancer, by their nature, also can’t be addressed with the same sort of responses.

Cancer prevention, including possibly radical changes in industrial and energy policies, is fairly off-limits, whereas cancer treatment and the search for a cure is almost certainly our most widespread and publicly visible form of altruistic charity and advocacy  When you see athletes or celebrities marked with bright pink, or a public event packed with pink shirts or ribbons, or — alongside a road — a giant pink inflatable anything, you are now less likely to think “WTF is that?” than “We need to help cure breast cancer.”

War prevention, including radical redirection of our resources and economy away from war, re-education away from the propaganda of beneficial violence, support for nonviolent conflict resolution, and promotion of international law and the prosecution of war makers, is likewise fairly off-limits. But war treatment and the search for a cure for war once begun, seems significantly less useful than the search for a cure for cancer. War is indisputably and entirely human-made. Most of its fatal victims die immediately. Halting a war once begun is immensely more difficult than refraining from starting it, as no one party can control a war’s path, and support-the-troops propaganda convinces people that ending a war is more evil than continuing it. Once a war ends, undoing the resentment and hatred and habits of violence, and the environmental destruction (and the cancer epidemics), and the destruction to liberties and democracy, all adds up to an immense — if not impossible — task compared to that of avoiding wars before they’re started.

So, when we compare a public demand to abolish cancer with one to abolish war, the latter seems to require halting our biggest public program, whereas the former allows us to go on driving our SUVs to Wal-Mart as long as we stick a pink ribbon on the back to indicate that doctors and scientists should continue the great march of progress. And of course they should. We should be investing vastly more in curing cancer, not to mention Alzheimer’s which is as big a killer as cancer but opposed by far less funding (and not a particular threat to that favorite of all body parts: the breast).

But abolishing war may be the more pressing demand. Nuclear weapons could be used intentionally or accidentally and destroy us all. The resources dumped into war are badly needed for the work of averting environmental catastrophe (not to mention curing cancer). What if a campaign to abolish war were to learn a few tricks from the campaign to abolish breast cancer?

Following the lead of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Campaign Nonviolence, World Beyond War, and other peace groups are encouraging everyone to use sky blue scarves and bracelets as symbols of peace and support for ending all wars. What if sky blue symbols became as widespread as pink ones? What would that look like?

Read the rest of this entry →

Planning for a Day of Peace

9:33 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

 

A few years back, prior to the International Day of Peace on September 21st, a school board member here in Virginia said that he would back a resolution marking that day as long as everyone understood that in doing so he was not opposing any wars.

Wars for peace, like sex for virginity, appear contradictory to some. But what about militarism for peace? What about war preparations and peace? A so-called “defense” department that arms the world; can that be compatible with peace?

We need our governments to begin planning for a day of peace. Instead of investing everything in planning for war, preparing for war, and proliferating enough weapons to fuel plenty of wars, governments could invest in alternatives to war, nonviolent means of conflict resolution, moves toward justice that reduce conflict, international standards of law that make negotiations and diplomacy effective.

One of the tools that we can use to move our cultures and our governments toward planning for a day of peace is to ourselves plan for a day celebrating peace — peace understood precisely as the elimination of war.  September 21st, the International Day of Peace, is one such day. WorldBeyondWar.org is organizing events here. And here is a list of events in the U.S. arranged on a map by Campaign Nonviolence.

Groups and individuals interested in planning events this September can work with Campaign Nonviolence and Global Movement for the Culture of Peace and Peace One Day and A Year Without War. Advocates of peace and environmental sanity who grasp the connections between the two may want to participate in a People’s Climate March in New York City, September 20-21, and bring this flyer: PDF.

Some resources that can be used to create events of various types are here:

At some events already planned for September 21, 2014, people will begin marking 100 years since the Christmas Truces of World War I. You can find great information on World War I at 100 on NoGlory.org

You may want to screen Joyeux Noel: a film about the 1914 Christmas truce. Or use this script for reenactment of a Christmas Truce: PDF. Here’s more Christmas Truce information and videos. And if you’re in the Northeast U.S. or the U.K. you might be able to attend or even set up a production of The Great War Theatre Project: Messengers of a Bitter Truth: Info in PDF.

Peace deserves more than empty platitudes compatible with the preservation of war as our largest public project. Sometimes bringing truth back from propaganda is so jarring as to be humorous. “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work,” said Woody Allen. “I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.” We should not want peace only in our hearts or in the press releases of the Pentagon; we should want peace through the ending of war and the abolition of the institutions that continue to plan and create more wars even while they pretend to a sight degree of outrage that each new war has been successfully created.

The Genius of Erasmus

7:11 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Erasmus wrote The Complaint of Peace, in which Peace, speaking in the first-person, complains about how humanity treats her.

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, who lived from October 27, 1466, to July 12, 1536, faced censorship in his day, and has never been as popular among the rich and powerful as has his contemporary Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. But at a distance of half a millennium, we ought to be able to judge work on its merit — and we ought to have regular celebrations of Erasmus around the world.  Some of his ideas are catching on.  His name is familiar in Europe as that of the EU’s student exchange program, named in his honor.  We ought perhaps to wonder what oddball ideas these days might catch on in the 2500s — if humanity is around then.

In 1517, Erasmus wrote The Complaint of Peace, in which Peace, speaking in the first-person, complains about how humanity treats her. She claims to offer “the source of all human blessings” and to be scorned by people who “go in quest of evils infinite in number.”

The Complaint is not a contemporary twenty-first century piece of thinking; its outdatedness in any number of areas is immediately obvious. But that’s to be expected in an essay written 500 years ago in Latin for a readership made up of what we would call creationists, astrologers, monarchists, and Eurocentric bigots.

What ought to amaze us is the extent to which the Complaint does address the same troubles we face today and the same bad arguments used today in defense of wars.  The Complaint offers rebuttals to such arguments that have never been surpassed.  Its text could serve as the basis for dozens of important sermons were some preacher inclined to favor peace on earth.

Peace, in her complaint to us, begins by imagining that humans must be insane to pursue war instead of her.  She does not complain out of indignation, but weeps over people who actively bring so much harm on themselves and are incapable of even realizing it.  The first step, Erasmus/Peace says, is recognizing that you have a problem.  Or rather, “It is one great step to convalescence to know the extent and inveteracy of a disease.”

War was deemed to be the supreme international crime at Nuremberg following World War II, because it includes all other evils within it.  Erasmus defined war in that manner a good four-and-a-half centuries earlier, calling war an ocean “of all the united plagues and pestilences in nature.”

Erasmus (in the voice of Peace) notes that many other types of animals do not wage war on their own species.  And he notes the universal presence of love and cooperation among humans, animals born unarmed and obliged to find safety in numbers.

Erasmus proposes that we think of ourselves as humans, and thereby become unwilling to make war on any of our brother and sister humans anywhere.  Admittedly, 500 years may be a little rushed for some people to catch on to that idea.

On a search for peacefulness, Peace hunts in vain among seemingly polite and amicable princes, among academics whom she finds as corrupted by war as we find ours today, among religious leaders whom she denounces as the hypocrites we’ve come to know so well, and even among secluded monks. Peace looks into family life and into the internal mental life of an individual and finds no devotion to peace.

Erasmus points Christian readers toward the words supporting peace in the New Testament. One might accuse him of hand-picking his quotes and avoiding those that don’t support his goal, except that Erasmus quite openly says that that’s what he’s doing and advises others to do the same.  The vengeful God of the Old Testament should be ignored in favor of the peaceful God of Jesus, Erasmus writes.  And those who can’t so ignore Him, writes Erasmus, should re-interpret him as peaceful.  Let “God of vengeance” mean vengeance “on those sins which rob us of repose.”

Solomon the peace-maker was more worthy than David the war-maker, Peace says, despite David’s war-making being at the bidding of God. So, imagine, Peace argues, if David’s divinely commanded wars rendered him unholy, “what will be the effect of wars of ambition, wars of revenge, and wars of furious anger” — i.e. the wars of Erasmus’ day and our own.

The cause of wars, Erasmus finds, is kings and their war-hungry chickenhawk advisors.  The term in Latin is not exactly “chickenhawk” but the meaning comes through.  Erasmus advises addressing the causes of war in greed and the pursuit of power, glory, and revenge.  And he credits Jesus with having done the same, with having taught love and forgiveness as the basis for peace.

Kings, writes Erasmus, start wars to seize territory when they would be better off improving the territory they have now.  Or they start wars out of a personal grudge.  Or they start wars to disrupt popular opposition to themselves at home.  Such kings, Erasmus writes, should be exiled for life to the remotest islands.  And not just the kings but their privileged advisors.  Ordinary people don’t create wars, says Peace, those in power impose wars on them.

Powerful people calling themselves Christian have created such a climate, says Peace, that speaking up for Christian forgiveness is taken to be treasonous and evil, while promoting war is understood to be good and loyal and directed at a nation’s happiness. Erasmus has little tolerance for Orwellian propaganda about “supporting the troops” and proposes that clergy refuse to bury in consecrated ground anyone slain in battle:

“The unfeeling mercenary soldier, hired by a few pieces of paltry coin, to do the work of man-butcher, carries before him the standard of the cross; and that very figure becomes the symbol of war, which alone ought to teach every one that looks at it, that war ought to be utterly abolished.  What hast thou to do with the cross of Christ on thy banners, thou blood-stained soldier? With such a disposition as thine; with deeds like thine, of robbery and murder, thy proper standard would be a dragon, a tiger, or wolf!”

” . . . If you detest robbery and pillage, remember these are among the duties of war; and that, to learn how to commit them adroitly, is a part of military discipline.  Do you shudder at the idea of murder? You cannot require to be told, that to commit it with dispatch, and by wholesale, constitutes the celebrated art of war.”

Peace proposes in her complaint that kings submit their grievances to wise and impartial arbiters, and points out that even if the arbiters are unjust neither side will suffer to remotely the extent that they would from war.  Perhaps peace must be purchased — but compare the price to the cost of a war!  For the price of destroying a town you could have built one, Peace says.

For arbitration to replace war, Peace says, we will need better kings and better courtiers.  You can’t get any more timely and relevant than that. Read the rest of this entry →

Peace Philosophy and Public Life

9:26 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

The following is the foreword by David Swanson to a new book called Peace Philosophy and Public Life: Commitments, Crises, and Concepts for Engaged Thinking edited by Greg Moses and Gail Presbey, available from the publisher or amazon or your local bookstore.

This book makes a compelling case that if we are to rid the world of war, we will want to employ not only the usual tools—organization, education, activism, lobbying, nonviolent resistance, art, entertainment, and the creation of alternative structures that lead away from war—but we will also want to employ a healthy dose of philosophizing. By that I do not mean attempting to arrive at extra-human, divine, pure, or objective viewpoints on anything, but rather, attempting to bring into focus how much of our view of things is optional, and to propose preferable options.
Peace-peace-PHOTOS-OLGA-LEDNICHENKO-PEACE-WORLD-IMAGES
In these pages, you will likely grasp the utility, not just the curiosity, of reconsidering any number of ways in which we speak and think, including what we mean by “we” when discussing foreign affairs, what we mean by “nationalism,” by “terrorism,” or by “humanitarianism.” Why do we assume that forgiveness has no place in public policy while overlooking those cases in which we unwittingly demand and expect it? We reject arguments from authority as consumers and voters but not—this book suggests—when we listen to law enforcement. Why?

Any number of contradictions in our labeling of practices should be examined. Can the prison and war industries really be described as creating jobs? Can we have a corrections institution that corrects nothing, or a counter-terrorism policy that increases terrorism? Are there other approaches to our public life that we haven’t properly considered? Or, rather, given the endless variety of alternative approaches that we have not considered, what provocative proposals can we bring ourselves to invent for consideration?

This is why we need philosophers and books like this one.

A couple of years ago, science writer John Horgan made a lengthy argument for the possibility of eliminating war from the world. He debunked the claim that war is in our genes, the claim that war is driven by population changes, the claim that a handful of sociopaths inevitably leads a nation to war, the claim that resource scarcity or inequality or stockpiles of weaponry make war unavoidable. After mountains of research, Horgan concluded that war exists only in those societies that accept or celebrate the idea of war. Therefore, we are free to choose to reject the idea of war and with it the practice, as others have done before.

Jean Paul Sartre, of course, arrived at this same conclusion without a speck of research. I actually think it is important that we arrive at the conclusion that we can end war without the research. We should not get into the habit of imagining that we must wait for authorities to prove to us that something has been done before, before we attempt to do it. Nothing could be more limiting. If we cannot have a world government until someone has demonstrated that world governments have existed before, we will never have one, and the idea of having one will strike us as absurd. Maybe it is absurd. Maybe it’s a horrible idea. But we should not write it off as such simply because it has not yet been tried.

This is not, of course, to suggest that empirical research is of no value. We could hardly survive or thrive without it. We could not speak intelligently about the world we want to change without it. It is hardly a condemnation of facts and data to deny them the role of limiting our imagination. No research to prove that slavery could be abolished existed prior to its abolition. Yet there was willingness by some to accept what is, after all, obvious: slavery would end if people chose to stop utilizing slavery, if they envisioned and constructed a society that lacked it.

People invest great effort in creating wars. They could choose not to do so. Transforming those glaringly obvious observations into a scientific study of whether enough people have rejected war in the past to reject it in the future is both helpful and harmful to the cause. It helps those who need to see that what they want to do has been done before. It hurts the habit we need to develop of imagining innovations.

This book in your hands is full of facts, but it is not fact driven. It is imagination driven. In these pages, you will be led to imagine various conceptions of nationalism and countryism. Is there a benevolent variation on the theme? Is there one with enough good in it to outweigh the harm? Here you will find that material to ponder.

Can we imagine nations with anti-terrorism policies? To do so, we will have to stop assuming we already have them. During the Cold War, the “balance of terror” was perfectly respectable. “Shock and awe” is a terrorist argument. Drone aircraft buzzing over villages are unmanned terrorists. What would a non-terrorist anti-terrorist policy look like? Read the rest of this entry →

Are We Done With War Now?

6:14 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

War may be becoming acceptable only as what its advocates have long claimed it was: a last resort.

Polls showed a large percentage of us in this country supporting the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and even — though somewhat reduced — the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But not long after, and ever since, a majority of us have said those were mistakes.

We’ve opposed attacking Iran whenever that idea has entered the news. We opposed bombing Libya in 2011 and were ignored, as was Congress. And, by the way, advocates of that happy little war are rather quiet about the chaos it created.

But last September, the word on our televisions was that missiles must be sent to strike Syria. President Barack Obama and the leaders of both big political parties said they favored it. Wall Street believed it would happen, judging by Raytheon’s stock. When U.S. intelligence agencies declined to make the president’s case, he released a “government” assessment without them.

Remarkably, we didn’t accept that choice. A majority of us favored humanitarian aid, but no missiles, and no arming of one side in the war. We had the benefit of many people within the government and the military agreeing with us. And when Congress was pressured to demand approval power, Obama granted it.

It helped more that members of Congress were in their districts with people getting in their faces. It was with Congress indicating its refusal to support a war that Obama and Kerry accepted the pre-existing Russian offer to negotiate. In fact, the day before they made that decision, the State Department had stressed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would never ever give up his chemical weapons, and Kerry’s remarks on that solution had been “rhetorical.”

The war in Syria goes on. Washington sent guns, but refrained from air strikes. Major humanitarian aid would cost far less than missiles and guns, but hasn’t materialized. The children we were supposed to care about enough to bomb their country are still suffering, and most of us still care.

But a U.S. war was prevented.

We’re seeing the same thing play out in Washington right now on the question of whether to impose yet more sanctions on Iran, shred a negotiated agreement with Iran, and commit the United States to joining in any war between Israel and Iran.

In January, a bill to do all of that looked likely to pass through the Senate. Public pressure has been one factor in, thus far, slowing it down.

Are we moving away from war?

The ongoing war in Afghanistan, and White House efforts to extend it beyond this year, might suggest otherwise. The military budget that still eats up, across various departments, roughly half of federal discretionary spending, and which is roughly the size of all other countries’ military spending combined, might suggest otherwise. The failure to repeal the authorizations for war from 2001 and 2003, and the establishment of permanent practices of surveillance and detention and secrecy justified by a permanent state of war, might suggest otherwise. As might the ongoing missile strikes from drones over a number of nations.

But you’ll notice that they don’t ask us before launching drone strikes, and that their assurances that no innocent people are harmed have proven highly misleading.

War may be becoming acceptable only as what its advocates have long claimed it was: a last resort. Of course if we can really make that true, we’ll never have a war again.

DAVID SWANSON will be speaking at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. Read the rest of this entry →

The Video Is Mightier Than the Missile

9:58 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

 

Can a video help change the world? It’s one of a great many tools we’re developing at http://worldbeyondwar.org and yes we hope it can.

You can find it at the link above or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDiY8p8AAoU

Here are more ways to help move us from war culture to peace culture:

http://worldbeyondwar.org/ResourceCenter

Building a Global Movement to End All War

9:16 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

I’ve been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I’ve seen. When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you’ve announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning — and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to help build as a movement.

In this case I’m talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:

I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.

This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org — and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There’s a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we’ll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also — as part of these actions — the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how “the next war” will be fought.

So, we’ve set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial.  Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

We’ve also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.

This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth’s natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria — which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.

Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we’ve seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies.

But we’ve only just begun to work out our plans, and we’d like everyone’s input. If you go to http://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own.  You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities.  You can also enter a brief statement of your own.  Here are a few of the many entered already:

Read the rest of this entry →

Peace in the Pentagon

10:22 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Peace Baby!!!

Peace

I’m a huge fan of peace studies as an academic discipline that should be spread into every corner of what we call, with sometimes unclear justification, our education system.  But often peace studies, like other disciplines, manages to study only those far from home, and to study them with a certain bias.

I recently read a book promoting the sophisticated skills of trained negotiators and suggesting that if such people, conversant in the ways of emotional understanding, would take over the Palestine “peace process” from the aging politicians, then … well, basically, then Palestinians would agree to surrender their land and rights without so much fuss.  Great truths about negotiation skills only go so far if the goal of the negotiation is injustice based on misunderstanding of the facts on the ground.

I recently read another book discussing nonviolent resistance to injustice and brutality. It focused on a handful of stories of how peace was brought to various poor tribes and nations, usually through careful, respectful, and personal approaches, that appeased some tyrant’s ego while moving him toward empathy.  These books are valuable, and it is good that they are proliferating.  But they always leave me wondering whether the biggest war-maker on earth is left out because war isn’t war when Westerners do it, or is it, rather, because the military industrial complex requires a different approach.  How many decades has it been since a U.S. president sat down and listened to opponents of militarism?  Does the impossibility of such a thing remove it from our professors’ consideration?

Here in Virginia’s Fifth District, a bunch of us met with our then-Congressman Tom Perriello a few years back and sought respectfully and persuasively to bring him to oppose and stop funding the war on Afghanistan.  Perriello was and is, in some quarters, considered some sort of “progressive” hero. I’ve never understood why.  He did not listen.  Why?  We had majority opinion with us.  Was it because we lacked the skills?  Was it because of his sincere belief in so-called humanitarian wars?  Or was it something else?  The New York Times on Friday reported on the corruption of the organization where Perriello was hired immediately upon his electoral defeat.  The Center for American Progress takes funding from weapons companies and supports greater public funding of weapons companies.  The Democratic National Committee gave Perriello’s reelection campaign a bunch of money just after one of his votes for a bill containing war money and a bank bailout (he seemed to oppose the latter).  White House officials and cabinet secretaries did public events with Perriello in his district just after his vote.

I know another member of Congress who wants to end wars and cut military spending, but when I ask this member’s staff to stop talking about social safety net cuts as if they only hurt veterans rather than all people I can’t even make my concern — that of glorifying veterans as more valuable — understood.  It’s like talking to a brick military base.

My friend David Hartsough was one, among others, who spoke with President John Kennedy when he was President, urged him toward peace and believed he listened.  That didn’t work out well for President Kennedy, or for peace.  When Gorbachev was ready to move the Soviet Union toward peace, President Ronald Reagan wasn’t.  Was that because of sincere, well-meaning, if misguided notions of security?  Or was it senility, stupidity, and stubbornness?  Or was it something else?  Was it a system that wouldn’t allow it?  Was something more than personal persuasion on the substance of the matter needed?  Was a new way of funding elections and communicating campaign slogans required first?  Would peace studies have to revise its approach if it noticed the existence of the Pentagon?

Of course, I think the answer is some of each.  I think reducing military spending a little will allow us to be heard a little more clearly, which will allow us to reduce military spending a little further, and so on.  And part of the reason why I think it’s both and not purely “structural” is the opposition to war that brews up within the U.S. military — as it did on missile strikes for Syria this past summer.  Sometimes members of the military oppose, protest, or even resist wars.
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