Archive for December, 2008

War?

December 30, 2008

Chris Hedges writes in Truthdig:

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, said Israel is engaged in a “war to the bitter end” against Hamas in Gaza. A war? Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums, to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command and control, no army, and calls it a war. It is not a war. It is murder.  Read the rest here:
gaza.jpg

AP photo/Fadi Adwan

The illegal US regime endorses the Israeli government position.  I would like to be able to support both the US and Israel.  I cannot do that in this matter and I join with all those calling on Israel to stop their aggression immediately, to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and to allow UN representatives and the media free access.

Barbara sends this from  Peace Action with steps we can take:

“Peace Action is a proud member of United for Peace and Justice along with The U.S. Campaign to End the Israel Occupation.  They have issued an action alert with these suggestions — we urge you to take action today!

  1. Contact the White House to protest the attacks and demand an immediate cease-fire. Call 202-456-1111 or send an email to comments@whitehouse.gov.
  2. Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575.
  3. Contact your Representative and Senators in Congress at 202-224-3121.
  4. Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor. Find their contact information here.
  5. Organize a local protest or vigil and tell us about it by clicking here.

“Background Information

“Below are three articles you may want to read for background information and reports on the Gaza crisis.

“‘If Gaza Falls…’, Sara Roy, Professor at Harvard’s Center For Middle Eastern Studies and author of ‘Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict’.   Read it here.
“‘Gaza Massacres Must Spur Us To Action’, Ali Abunimah, Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of ‘One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse’ (Metropolitan Books, 2006).  Read it here.
“‘Report on Gaza’, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Update December 22, 2008. Read it here.

End of a Disastrous Year

December 30, 2008

As I write, the death and torture by US personnel go on unabated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and in Guantanamo and the US black sites.  Israel, with US support, is slaughtering the poor people in Gaza whom they have been depriving of food, fuel, medicine, and other essentials.  The US blames the victims once again.  And this does not begin to look at the despair of many in Africa who suffer from US corporatism.

For me, the year has brought a slight increase in income, so I will be paying more in taxes.  It is horrible to me that I, just barely living above poverty level, will be paying the debt service on the “bailout” that is paying bonuses to those whose fraudulent activities have plunged the country and the world into economic chaos, as well as paying for the debt service on the torture and the wars.  I am not opposed to paying taxes, only to paying for crimes against humanity and fraud with tax money. 

NYSE.jpg
New  York Stock Exchange, the real center of the illegal US government

What this country badly needs is a tax revolt.  I have not the time nor the calling to lead that, but someone should.  Think what groups of us locally could do in the way of providing services and local income to our own if we did not pay taxes to our illegal and immoral regime.  Since this country has become a repressive state willing to wage war against its own citizens, this would not be something one would undertake lightly, but it might be well worth it.

In a recent article from Truthdig Chris Hedges quotes Orwell at length:

“Large sections of the middle class are being gradually proletarianized; but the important point is that they do not, at any rate not in the first generation, adopt a proletarian outlook,” Orwell wrote in 1937 during the last economic depression. “Here I am, for instance, with a bourgeois upbringing and a working-class income. Which class do I belong to? Economically I belong to the working class, but it is almost impossible for me to think of myself as anything but a member of the bourgeoisie. And supposing I had to take sides, whom should I side with, the upper class which is trying to squeeze me out of existence, or the working class whose manners are not my manners? It is probable that I, personally, in any important issue, would side with the working class. But what about the tens or hundreds of thousands of others who are in approximately the same position? And what about that far larger class, running into millions this time-the office-workers and black-coated employees of all kinds-whose traditions are less definite middle class but who would certainly not thank you if you called them proletarians? All of these people have the same interests and the same enemies as the working class. All are being robbed and bullied by the same system. Yet how many of them realize it? When the pinch came nearly all of them would side with their oppressors and against those who ought to be their allies. It is quite easy to imagine a working class crushed down to the worst depths of poverty and still remaining bitterly anti-working-class in sentiment; this being, of course, a ready-made Fascist party.”   Read the rest of the article here.

I also saw a report of the work of a Russian university professor who predicts that the US will experience a civil war triggered by economic and moral collapse and break up into sections that will be gobbled up by stronger countries like China and Russia.  I won’t link that article, for it seems very extreme, though not so much as it would have been even a short while ago.

For myself, I will continue to work for peace and justice and to look for alternatives to the current abysmal political options here.

What Is Peace and How Do We Achieve It?

December 8, 2008

Below is a statement from Cindy Sheehan, whose courageous actions, along with those of Ann Wright, in establishing Camp Casey at Bush’s back door led to my participating in that action for peace and to this blog.

cindy_white.jpg

Cindy and Ann both continue their activities to achieve peace.  This came to me in an email on December 7.

Peace is not an absence of war: it’s an absence of preparing for war or an absence of using violence or threats of violence to solve problems.
Cindy Sheehan

Today is the 67th anniversary of the “day that will live in infamy.” Likely, if you were alive 67 years ago, you were a very young person. I know a few people who can still remember when the Japanese attacked a US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, but I remember the stories that my parents told me about that day.

My mom was sitting at the kitchen table eating biscuits when she heard the news on the radio: she was 10 years old. My dad lived in Oklahoma, but my mom lived in Hawthorne, California so her family was terrified that California would be struck soon. I can imagine that in years to come, my children will be telling their children about what they were doing when they heard that the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked on 9-11-01.

There was already a terrible world war raging on December 7th, 1941, but that was the symbolic day that the US entered WWII. The event led to Congress formally declaring war against Japan four days after the attack. Even though the US has been embroiled in many wars, police actions and covert wars since then, this was the last time that a war was constitutionally declared. Not that it makes violence correct, but the “manual” was followed. Millions of people perished in World War II and weapons of mass destruction were unleashed by the US on innocent civilians.

The US and the USSR emerged from WWII as the world’s “Super-Powers.” The “Super” powers of the US appear to be violent intimidation and gross militarism. The USSR Empire has already crumbled under the weight of its military machine and it looks like the US won’t be far behind, especially with President-Elect Obama wanting to foolishly increase the mistake in Afghanistan. Will someone please tell him that Afghanistan has been the burial ground of many Empires—-or don’t tell him, it is time for the US military Empire to crumble, too.

If the USA had a national Peace Movement, Obama would not be our President-Elect right now. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh) would have been the nominee for the Democrats and Ron Paul (R-Tx) would have been nominated from the GOP and Cynthia McKinney (G) and Ralph Nader (I) would have had seats at debates. What we have here in the US is an “anti-war” movement that is selective in its opposition to war. It seems that for many of the national organizations, Democratic Wars are okay, while Republican Wars are bad. That’s why we need a movement with integrity and vision that doesn’t exist to shill for the Democrats, but exists to be the clarion call that ALL violence is wrong and solving problems using violence or the threat of violence is a crime against humanity and always criminally prosecutable—whether George Bush or Barack Obama is the one making these threats or promising escalation of violence. The use of violence is inherently wrong in an individual and millions of times worse coming from a state.

Last year, on the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I called for a mass mobilization in Washington, DC, but the leaders of some national organizations did not want to “embarrass the Democrats.” What is going to happen now that we will have a Democrat as President in 2009, on the 6th anniversary of the invasion? Obama is a President who is clearly not only not a “Peace President” (is there such a thing?) or even “anti-war.” He never promised an immediate and complete withdrawal from Iraq and has promised to escalate the violence in Afghanistan. These were his campaign promises, folks. Obama has betrayed the base that got him elected by exploiting this mis-perception of himself to win and then appointing people to his Cabinet that are causing the neocon hawks to swoon with joy.

The tiny Peace Movement that we do have in the US has always said that the US invasions and occupations of BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan are illegal and immoral and our troops should be brought home immediately and the US Empire should be reduced to a size that can be drowned in a bath tub. The “anti-war” movement was always very careful to make a distinction between Iraq (bad) and Afghanistan (justified) which to me was always a failure and bad reasoning that would eventually harm the integrity of the movement.

You know the US Peace Movement.You have seen it at work. The members ride their bikes or take public transportation to protests, or drive ancient vehicles seemingly held together by bumper stickers. They are the ones that stand outside of prisons holding candles protesting the state-sanctioned murder of even one individual. They are the ones that kneel in front of the White House in orange jumpsuits protesting torture. They are the ones that gather in the thousands every year to demand the closing of the School of the Americas (WINSEC). The Peace Movement knows that violence is self-perpetuating and creates more violence. The Peace Movement does the hard work of confronting Empire and does it in a peaceful, yet righteously strident, way.

The Anti-Republican-War movement are the ones that hold marches on the weekends where the status-quo won’t be inconvenienced, pat themselves on the back, and then go to their national meetings to plan how more Democrats can be elected.

Working for Peace is not monetarily rewarding, but the lined faces of the people I know who have worked for Peace for decades glow with the satisfaction of the work and are faces that can be looked at in a mirror without shame.

The Anti-Republican-War Movement will stand down during the Obama regime and “give him a chance.” The Peace movement is still working and will continue to work no matter whom is President.

Peace is not for cowards. Peace takes a lot of work, resources and energy. Most people do not have the will or stamina for peace.

The Peace Movement demanded from Bush and will demand from Obama a complete and immediate withdrawal of US Forces and independent contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan and a declared end to the USA’s War of Terror.

We demand that ALLl torture prisons, in Guantanamo Cuba and around the world be closed and that the humans incarcerated in those prisons be released, or tried with full protection of commonly held law (that used to exist in the US) and that the Military Commission’s Act be repealed.

We demand that the US take a more balanced approach to Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people and work with the international community to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

We demand that the USA PATRIOT ACT be repealed. (Obama voted to renew it).

We demand that the FISA Modernization Act be repealed. (Obama voted to take away our 4th amendment rights).

We demand that most of the 800+ US bases around the world be closed and our troops brought back to their home bases and attrition be used to reduce the size of our “standing Army” that is un-Constitutional, anyway.

We demand that the US military be reduced to a size that can be used for defensive purposes, natural disasters and international emergencies only—not be built up with another 100,000 troops. (Another Obama campaign promise).

We demand that the budget for the Pentagon be reduced dramatically and the money be used for education, jobs and health care here in the US. If everyone (not just the wealthy) had easy access to these basic human rights, then why would there become a part of the US military Empire?

We demand that the Posse Comitatus Act be fully restored so US forces and weapons CANNOT be used against we citizens.

Not only do we demand these things, but if you look carefully, you will see us out in the streets working for these things. Working for Peace puts one at odds against a corrupt two party system that always works for war.

I can’t imagine a better place to be or a better thing to be doing.

The Obama administration will definitely separate the “wheat from the chaff” and we will see who really want true peace and those who will accept Democratic violence.

Peaceful Activists Placed on Terrorist List

December 7, 2008

Here is a link to an LA Times article that Barbara sent which reveals the details of one known serious breach of the rights of US citizens to protest peacefully against illegal invasion and occupation of other countries and other matters of aggression and injustice. The report says in part:

“Maryland officials now concede that, based on information gathered by ‘Lucy’ and others, state police wrongly listed at least 53 Americans as terrorists in a criminal intelligence database — and shared some information about them with half a dozen state and federal agencies, including the National Security Agency.”

To read the full article click here.

MD_list.jpg

One of the peaceful activists who was on the list.

When one realizes that now that the Military Commissions Act has been passed in this country, anyone declared an enemy has no legal rights and can be disappeared, tortured in the numerous black sites that the US operates around the world, and killed.  No one would even know what happened to them.

I do not hear Obama call for rescinding that act.  What can we do to change this?