Monday, November 26, 2007

Making it Real

by David Hazen
(519 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

The cascading crises of global warming, peak oil and suicidal terrorism are making it obvious that we are all on one lifeboat together. In the midst of this crisis, we cast about for pieces of floatation, and there are many within reach when we look beneath the surface chaos.

How we think about, how we frame, what we are doing is so much more important than what we are doing. The issue before us is not personal survival, it is how we think about our survival, our strategies of survival, and the real meaning of our survival. Global warming is not just inconvenient weather patterns, it's a mass extinction event, and our interdependence has marked homo sapiens as an endangered species....

....When we reframe global warming or peak oil as our opportunity to cooperate in expanding our access to resources that have been until now unavailable to us, we open a vision of new possibilities, and so it is with building the peace. Terrorism is our opportunity to access communication skills that have been previously unused. Real strength, real self-esteem, comes from relating to people instead of dominating them....

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David Hazen is Oregon State Coordinator of the Peace Alliance Campaign for a Department of Peace.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hiroshima’s Consecrated Legends

by Russell Vandenbroucke
(696 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

The recent death (Nov. 1) of Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, who dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima has prompted another round of comments on American decisions near the end of World War II. Despite the passage of 62 years, heated opinions are repeated as fact and myths become immortalized as truths. Beyond distorting the historical record, wishful thinking about it leads us to repeat past mistakes in new ways against new enemies.

Among the inaccuracies are these:

1) Japan was ready to fight to the end.
Facts: In an intercepted cable of July 12, 1945, Emperor Hirohito revealed his decision to intervene to end the war. In Truman’s journal he characterized the message as “telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.” Tokyo was prepared to surrender unconditionally if the monarchy would be retained, the very position the Allies accepted after Hiroshima...

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Russell Vandenbroucke, Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts at the University of Louisville, is the author of Atomic Bombers, a play broadcast on public radio to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Iraq and the Fall of Communism

by Steve Lane
(912 words)

The war in Iraq is comparable in many ways to the war in Vietnam, the one we thought we had learned our lesson from. Both were or are unwinnable fights against men and women who were not our enemy until we willed it so, and which caused endless suffering both to America and to the country that we invaded. There's a wider comparison, however.

The Vietnam war was part of the Cold War, where Communism was the enemy. The Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism, where this month radical Islam is the enemy. In both cases the US was or is fighting real soldiers in the service of an ideology. It's too early to see how the Iraq war will play out, but there is a lot to learn about Iraq from the Vietnam War. We won the war against Communism, no question about that. Our success ought to make us look at how we won, to see if we can do it again, this time against radical Islam.

There were about 25 Communist nations at the end of the Cold War. All but four of them imploded - their rulers decided for one reason or another to give it up, to abandon Communism. Most of my friends are unable to name the four current Communist nations when asked, so I'll do so now. They are Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba and China. What do they have in common, other than lip service to Marx and Lenin?

The US invaded Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba to end Communism there...

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