Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seduced By War: Remembering Where Our Legacy Resides

(913 words)
By Andrew Murray
I am concerned about a culture that has been seduced by war. I am concerned about a culture that salivates over the raw power of military hardware but shows little sustained interest in the military virtues of courage, loyalty, honor, fidelity and justice. I am concerned that our civilian leaders on both sides of the aisle seem to have forgotten what many of our great generals and admirals including George Washington, Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower always knew: that it is not America's military power that makes us great. It is our greatness that makes us powerful.

What makes us a great country is not that we can go anywhere in the world and kill anyone we want. Well, anyone we can find. What makes us great is that we work hard; we tolerate differences; we have room for faith and science. We are great because in the end we know that a healthy, prosperous and happy society not only endures, but needs, diverse opinions, cultures, life styles, fashions and beliefs. No amount of terrorism can take this away from us. We can only take it away from ourselves.

What was supposed to be the elixir that would cure the national malaise following the turmoil of the '60s and restore our faith in American power has turned out to be, perhaps, an even more difficult circumstance to reconcile. Iraq was a broken and depleted country in 2003, having already lost one war to the US, having been subject to crippling sanctions from the UN and having fought to a draw with Iran after a devastating war that lasted ten years. At the same time the US stood alone as the most preponderant military power.

...(to see full unpublished text email:

Andrew Murray is professor of peace studies and director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

Burma and the Press

(681 words)

As of this writing (Thursday, September 27) a nonviolent movement is reaching its crisis in Burma. In 1988 over 3,000 students were killed — massacred would not be too strong a word — when they protested the military takeover of their country. Their courageous, charismatic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, though she had faced down rifle squads in at least one critical confrontation (superbly dramatized in Beyond Rangoon, with Patricia Arquette), and won an overwhelming electoral victory to boot, was not able to prevail over the regime, which has kept her under house arrest and basically pillaged the country for these nineteen years.

Commentators are noting, correctly, several features of the uprising today: it is a massive, disciplined outpouring — the photographs of tens of thousands of red-robed monks and nuns filling avenues for as far as the eye can see are nothing short of inspiring. It relies on the immense prestige of religious orders in that predominantly Buddhist country. And — among other differences between now and 1988 — the world is watching.

But how closely? We who follow nonviolence have to point out what the mainstream media are missing in this “saffron revolution,” as they have missed in most episodes of nonviolence that have been accumulating with increasing frequency in this post-Gandhian world. 1) They mis-characterize this movement as ‘spontaneous,’ while in reality it has been well-planned for months. More to the point, it has not, like Athena, ‘sprung from the head of Zeus’. ...

...(for the full unpublished text, email

Michael N. Nagler is Emeritus, English, UC-Berkeley. He has written several books on nonviolence and taught Gandhian nonviolence for many years.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nonviolent Action -- A More Ethical and Effective Alternative to War

(593 words)
by Randy Schutt

War is hell -- both for the soldiers who fight it and the civilians who live where it is fought. The Iraq war is a perfect example of the mess that military force can make of a country: directly killing thousands of innocent civilians, injuring tens of thousands more, and displacing and traumatizing millions, while destroying critical infrastructure -- such as roads, bridges, and electricity generation, water purification, and sewage treatment plants -- that makes a civilized life possible. Creating a civilized, democratic society out of the chaotic disaster that Iraq has become will be extremely difficult and take a very long time, even under the best circumstances.

But what is the alternative? In the last three decades, nonviolent action has demonstrated that it is very effective in overthrowing horribly repressive regimes. For example, nonviolent action toppled the apartheid regime in South Africa, deposed the dictatorships of Slobodan Milosevich in Yugoslavia, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and brought down the former Soviet Union and its communist satellite states (including Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania). Overthrowing those regimes incurred relatively few casualties and wrought relatively little destruction. The nonviolent overthrow of these vicious regimes has mostly left these countries stronger, more civilized, and much more free and democratic.

### (for exclusive consideration of this unpublished piece, contact
Randy Schutt is Vice-President of Cleveland Peace Action, a member
of the Cleveland Nonviolence Network, and the author of Inciting
Democracy: A Practical Proposal for Creating a Good Society.

Two Democrats Take Nuclear Attack Threat Off the Table — For a Minute

(600 words)
By John LaForge

Two leading democratic presidential hopefuls have recently said they’d take the threat of nuclear attack “off the table,” hinting at their deep psychological discomfort with the idea of deliberate mass destruction. Call it the Hiroshima Syndrome.

Both New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — albeit before she announced her run — and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, dismissed the long-standing U.S. threat to keep “all options open,” regarding the government’s willing readiness to wage nuclear war anywhere in the world.

On August 2, Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press, “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,” pausing before he added, “involving civilians.” Although Obama quickly retracted the statement saying, “Let me scratch that,” his message needs repeating: H-bombs cannot be used without the grossly indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Senator Clinton publicly chastised Obama for temporarily ruling out the threat to push the button, but she has also said that she would not use nuclear weapons.

In April 2006, nine months before she announced her Oval Office bid, Clinton was asked in a TV interview about her position toward Iran. She said, “... no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. This [Bush] administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven’t seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think that’s a terrible mistake.”

... (for exclusive consideration of the full text of this unpublished piece, contact

LaForge works on the staff of Nukewatch -- an environmental action group -- and edits its quarterly newsletter. His articles on nuclear weapons and reactors and militarism have appeared in Z magazine, the Progressive, Earth Island Journal, the New Internationalist and on the opinion pages of the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis StarTribune and the Madison Capital Times.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9-11 Forgotten

by Johnny Barber

(700 words)

The sixth anniversary of Sept 11th has come and gone, and Americans have forgotten the lessons of that fateful day. As the U.S. continues to lash out blindly in the Middle East, causing death and destruction everywhere it turns, we at home continue to wave our little flags, put metallic ribbons on our cars and call for support of the troops. That Americans are now responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths of innocent peoples- exponentially higher numbers than those killed in the towers- is a fact. Few people here recognize the level of carnage unleashed on the civilian populations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Few people seem concerned with the anguish of others as they try to survive the US military occupation of their countries. Few people recognize in the anguished eyes of the Iraqi people the very same fear, desperation, determination and heroism of the people who suffered on September 11th at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a flight over Pennsylvania.

In the days after September 11th we as Americans stood together, and reached out to each other. Much of the world reached out to us as well. In our grief and disbelief there was a moment to recognize community- not just the community of New York City, or even the community of our nation, but the community of humankind.

For a moment, however brief, ...

(to see full text of this unpublished piece, email

Johnny Barber ( has travelled to Iraq, Israel, Occupied Palestine and Lebanon to bear witness and document the suffering of people who are affected by war. Barber is a member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as well as the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He lives in Deerfield Beach Fl

Congress Shortchanges U. S. Citizens

(721 words)
by Clark Field

With the seriousness of these times – issues from U. S. government occupying Iraq, and Afghanistan, supporting the genocide in Palestine to the tune of billions of dollars annually, torture in Guantanamo, and God knows where else, to the horrific scandal of, mistreatment and mismanagement in, New Orleans, and the lack of health care for approximately 48 million citizens -- how long will we allow Congress to play tricks on us? How long will we, The People, allow Congress to swindle tax revenues from us?

For here's a game played by Congress which we voters fall for. It's called "Other Side of the Aisle." In their public addresses, news conferences, on the floor of Congress, etc., elected representatives in both houses routinely refer to their counterparts in the other major party as being "on the other side of the aisle." Why is that?

(...for the full text, contact

Clark Gabriel Field -- member of the Indiana Peace & Justice Network, associate member of Veterans for Peace, National Call for Non-Violent Resistance, former member: National Committee of War Resisters League
Evansville, IN

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Beyond the Rhetoric of Withdrawal: Our Unknown Air War Over Iraq

by Ed Kinane
(1,450 words)

A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower.


The American air war inside Iraq is perhaps the most significant – and underreported – aspect of the fight against the insurgency.

Seymour M. Hersh, “Up in the Air,” Nov. 29, 2005, New Yorker

There’s an air war over Iraq. It’s invisible (here). It’s deadly (there).

The Iraq air war may be the longest such war in history. In one way or another it has been undermining Iraq’s sovereignty, destroying its infrastructure, and killing and maiming Iraqis for some 16 years.

Despite global pressure to withdraw, Bush Inc. – and indeed the broader US power structure – has no intention of giving up Iraq. The potential oil bonanza is too huge. And Iran – with its oil bonanza – is next door.

That air war is intensifying. The US dropped five times as many bombs in Iraq during the first six months of 2007 as it did in the first half of 2006.

... (to examine unpublished full text for possible publication contact

Ed worked in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness before, during and after “Shock and Awe.” Reach him at

Above the fray: Congress ignores victims

(600 words)

by Tom H Hastings

Visit Washington DC sometime; lobby your elected officials. It is a lesson is how our elite manage to avoid being touched by our problems, by the problems of those who are hurt by their policies, and by reality as experienced by regular folks.

Oh, they sound like regular folks. They cultivate that persona and get elected on the basis of it.

But most of them are above it all.

Few of them have prostheses from service in war; the wars are permitted by these chickenhawks.

...(for the full text, please contact


Tom H Hastings is director of PeaceVoice and a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Health care and the passing of the pig

by Lynn Porter

431 words

A while back a member of the Oregon state legislature said that legislators have been passing out business tax credits “like candy,” as an indirect way of rewarding their supporters. The tax burden has been shifted from business to individual taxpayers, who are no longer willing to carry it, and will reflexively vote against any tax increase that they have to pay.

State services, including health care, are falling apart for lack of revenue. More money will have to come from somewhere, and the only possible source is business.

Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson has said, “In 1973 the largest corporations doing business in Oregon paid 18 per cent of the state income tax, the other 82 per cent was paid by wage earners and small business. This year, 2005, the largest corporations — those with 75 shareholders or more — are paying five per cent.”

...(to access the full text to consider for publication request it from

Lynn Porter is an activist in Eugene, Oregon, working on peace, health care and environmental issues. His blog is at