Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How Would JFK Advise the Next American President?

By Robert H. Girling and Tom DiGrazia
540 words

This year marks forty-eight years since the election of JFK and the beginning of the New Frontier. Kennedy’s election came at the end of a period of war and social decay and was marked by the persecution of thousands of Americans by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Affairs Committee. Kennedy’s hard fought campaign against Vice President, Richard Nixon resulted in a narrow victory; the country was deeply divided.

Kennedy inherited a nation nearly bankrupted by a decade of negligence—recession in the economy, a ballooning balance of payments deficit, as well as deficiencies in the nation’s education, housing and health care not to mention trouble in Asia, Africa and Latin America. His inaugural address was eloquent. “Life in 1961 will not be easy. Wishing it, predicting it, even asking for it, will not make it so. There will be further setbacks before the tide is turned. Turn it we must. The hopes of all mankind rest upon us.”

What advice might Kennedy give to the next president? Given what we know of Kennedy...[be the first to examine the full text by mail:peacevoicedirector@gmail.com]

Robert Girling is a professor in the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University and a Fulbright Senior Scholar. Tom DiGrazia, an attorney and peacemaker, is a former Robert F. Kennedy Fellow.

contact: Prof. Robert Girling, 707 664 2228 email girling@sonoma.edu


880 words
By Robert Girling
Professor, School of Business and Economics
Sonoma State University

Now that we are in the midst of a financial crisis, is a time to act boldly.

It is a moment that the Chinese would describe as weiji, a “dangerous

While much of the press has focused on the danger, there little said about
the opportunities. There is a vast opportunity if only Congress would act
on it.

Now is the time for Congress to take action and authorize funding for a
$200 billion annual public works military conversion program based in
public transportation and energy conservation. Tax credits for
alternative energy and “green” conversion of residential and commercial
buildings will allow our economy to side-step a recession and put it on a
path for long term growth well into the twenty first century....[be the first to examine the full text by contacting PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com and you'll have the opportunity to publish this piece first].

Robert Girling is Professor of Business Strategy at Sonoma State
University. He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and is a Fulbright
Senior Scholar.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Militaristic McCain

by Tom H. Hastings

500 words

We live in a war system. The inputs into any system help to generate the outcomes and war is an outcome of our system, a war system by any measure. We spend more on the military than anyone—indeed, about the same as all other countries combined. We have more foreign bases than any nation in human history. We export more arms than anyone.

We live in a war culture, with all the ham-handed subtleties that implies. Recruitment billboards with Marines in front of massive rippling U.S. flags litter our view along the highways, upon which some drive the ultimate militaristic fantasy vehicle—the Hummer. No political speech can fail to mention how fabulous our warriors are, and how they represent the best in U.S. values and commitment.

As in any ecological system, all subsystems affect each other—either amplifying the next subsystem or mitigating it.

...(to examine the full text and for the opportunity to be the first to publish this peace commentary, contact PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com)

Tom H. Hastings (pcwtom@gmail.com) teaches in the MA/MS Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obsession Smells

by Tom H. Hastings

570 words

Today, everyone who subscribed to or purchased their Sunday Oregonian received, unbidden, a copy of Wayne Kopping’s Obsession: Radical Islam’s war against the West, a packaged DVD that purports to show us the threat of worldwide radical Islam. It is disturbing and contains enough fact and truth to spur a logical and correct rejection of the ghastly beliefs and conduct of radical Islamicists.

Obsession is also connected to both the Israeli intelligence service and Christian evangelicals via Middle East Media Research Institute, according to SourceWatch.org.

Naturally, then, it is an hour of pure propaganda funded in part by the rightwing Olin Foundation for a continued and greater Global War on Terror, the current justification for a military budget that—including all military expenditures, many of which are improperly not counted as military—tops $1 trillion in 2009. With the election coming in a month, can the timing of distribution in the Oregonian be coincidence?

...[to be the first to examine the full text, contact PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com and you'll have the opportunity to publish this commentary first if you wish]

Tom H. Hastings (pcwtom@gmail.com) teaches in the MA/MS Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Five Threatening Character Flaws of John McCain

by Tom H. Hastings

600 words

There seems to be some confusion amongst the pundits about who ‘won’ the first presidential debate on September 26. Winning a debate was once about demonstrating intellectual command over the facts and logic surrounding an issue. Americans are trained to look past the depth of arguments, however, to the shallow ad hominem jabs, and the talking heads reinforced that once again. So, all right. In an attempt to look toward actual, predictable effects of a McCain victory, we key off the debate to five notches in the key of catastrophe being cut and buffed by McCain.

One: McCain is ossified. Almost before he finished his second sentence, John McCain was saying, ‘Again…,’ as though he had no fresh thoughts beyond his rote response.

Two: McCain is reckless. He tut-tutted Obama about the latter’s measured if militaristic statement that if he were president and received actionable intelligence about bin Laden operating at a specific location in the tribal areas of Northwest Pakistan, he would attack al-Qa’ida. “You don’t say that out loud,” said McCain, as though he would do the same thing, but just make it a surprise to Pakistanis. Obama explained and then noted that it was odd to hear such criticism from someone who sang songs about bombing Iran and discussed the “extinction” of North Korea.… (for your exclusive consideration of the original full text, be the first to contact us: PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com)

Tom H. Hastings (pcwtom@gmail.com) teaches in the MA/MS Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Anatomy of the Current Conflict over Iran’s Nuclear Program

(843 words)

By Joseph Gerson

Iran’s nuclear program has a complex history. It began in the 1950s with President Eisenhower’s offer of training and technologies as part of his Atoms for Peace program, when it was widely believed that nuclear power could produce electricity “too cheap to meter.” In 1974, the Shah of Iran stated his belief that Iran’s oil reserves would eventually be depleted, and with German help initiated plans for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

Building on the Nixon Doctrine, in which Iran became an enforcer of U.S. interests in the Middle East, in 1974 President Ford offered to build a nuclear reprocessing plant capable of producing plutonium at Bushehr. At the time, Dick Cheney was President Ford’s Chief of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense. Following Iran’s “Islamic Revolution”, the U.S. and several European nations ceased nuclear cooperation with Iran, and Ayatollah Khomeini’s government suspended the nuclear program as an unnecessary continuation of the Shah’s policies.

Today, Iran’s nuclear program includes ...[for the full text, contact PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com]

Dr. Joseph Gerson is Director of Programs of the American Friends Service Committee in New England.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democrats Need the Voice of the Dissenters to Confront the Surge Myth

by Marc Pilisuk (578 words)

The Democratic convention in Denver rolls on as if this country were not in the midst of two unpopular wars. The voices calling for traditional democratic goals,-- education and health care reforms, and clean energy play well but will have anemic returns without the promise of redirecting the ungainly military budget. And the Democrats falure to take n the surge will give the republicans a big boost

Important voices from our two wars are missing from the speeches. The soldiers and civilians who have already died were not spoken for. The civilians who have been picked up on streets, “renditioned” by redesigned aircraft to black sites around the world, where they were tortured in a policy sanctioned by the US government were not mentioned. The soldiers and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war who courageously took part in the winter soldier hearings and told of the actual acts of brutality that they witnessed and were told to perform, the women soldiers and contractors who were drugged and raped and then ordered to keep quiet were not heard at the convention. Missing also were the vast number of American leaders and scholars who were correct in trying to prevent an aggressive attack against a country that had not attacked the US and who are continuing to tell us that nobody wins an occupation. We did not hear from the millions in Jordan who have been forced to flee Iraq. or that the women of Iraq have been forced back to the humiliations of Shia law or from those many Shia, Sunnis and Kurds who believe that those who cooperate with an occupying foreign army are traitors... (be the first to examine the full text of this commentary by contacting PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com)

Marc Pilisuk (mpilisuk@saybrook.edu), Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus, The University of California, and Professor, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, Berkeley, and is author, with Jennifer Achord Rountree, of Who Benefits From Global Violence and War: Uncovering a Destructive System (Greenwood/Praeger, 2008).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What Have We Become?

By Michael True

(675 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

The U.S. Constitution is a promise to the American people that we will enjoy freedom of speech and other basic human rights. For over two centuries, that promise has generally been kept, though threatened by forces within and without.

Under the Bush administration, that promise has been broken, in a manner that undermines the welfare of the American as well as the world’s people. “Shock and awe,” torture, and the Patriot Act have been approved and funded by congress and upheld by the courts. Although Americans worry about threats from abroad, we seem less concerned about threats to the Constitution and “the $3 trillion war” on Iraq, originating with neo-conservatives and their think-tanks....

....Americans reveal who we are not by our intentions, but by our relationships and our performance. Rightfully concerned about threats to our country from without, we often forget that how we treat others eventually affects how we define ourselves. To prevent our drifting toward cruelty, we must refuse to tolerate the slighting of any human being....

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Michael True, author of People Power: Fifty Peacemakers and Their Communities, lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Racism Embedded in the Political Conversation about Sexism

By Jacqueline Haessly, Ph. D.

(677 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

The national conversation this past week, stimulated by morning and evening news shows, radio and TV talk shows, and local and national newspapers, has centered on the role of sexism during this current primary election season, and its role in diminishing the possibility of nominating and ultimately electing the first woman to the position of President of the United States.

There is ample evidence -- backed up by both media and academic research -- that sexist practices abound during this campaign season. I deplore the focus on the attire of one candidate over two others; the use of language that demeans and denigrates; the inability of investigative and news reporters and commentators to hold candidates to a single standard when it comes to the manner in which candidates express their positions on security threats and war. I further deplore the failure of candidates themselves to speak out against such practices...

...The women who challenge the sexism that permeates this primary season do important work. Now, they need to look deeper into their own language and images and begin to examine and challenge their own assumptions about who decides the needs of all women, and to make certain that their vision goes beyond the needs of only white working-class women, because otherwise their concerns about sexism only serve to cover the underlying racial dimensions and even racial prejudice that continues to surface during this primary race.

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Jacqueline Haessly, President of Peacemaking Associates, Peace Education Specialist, Consultant and Coach. Contact her at jacpeace@earthlink.net

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Time for Honest Debate

By Wim Laven
(559 Words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

Balancing majority rule against minority rights may be the single most important feature of the American democratic process. In order to find, and keep a just balance we encourage lively debate, thoughtful compromise, and tolerance. For this it seems understanding one another would be fundamental. Yet, how many times have you been given the advice, “whatever you do – don’t talk about politics?” My guess: too many times to count. It’s the kind of advice that reflects the way people think, and what they value. This thinking suggests voters do not want to debate the issues, and our politicians have taken this message to heart.

I want to know when people are going to seriously talk about working toward lasting peace. It is easy to point fingers at the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and it seems people are quick to pick a reason, “we shouldn’t have been there to begin with” or “it was a bunch of lies… we were after the oil” but when it comes to the difficult part – “what’s next;” people tend to quiet down...

...It seems people sitting on couches need to be able to do more than just “agree to disagree," because there are real consequences and we should be thinking about them...

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Wim Laven is a mediator and masters candidate in conflict resolution at Portland State University. He worked on Conflict Sensitive Reconstruction with the Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Afghanistan Falls Apart

By Jesse Laird
(1,061 words)

The Bush Administration keeps telling Americans the war in Afghanistan is a success. But while the world was focused on Iraq, the conflict in Afghanistan entered a new phase of violence and decay. As we put more Americans troops into Afghanistan, let us pause to get our facts straight.

Americans Killed, Wounded
Despite the assurances of the Bush Administration, the fact is that more and more Americans are dying in Afghanistan. The military reports more than 495 US troops have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom, and more than 1,200 have been seriously wounded. Then there are dead American contractors (number unknown), and irreparable damage to our soldiers who do make it home.

A combination of factors has made mental illness the new signature wound. Navy Surgeon General Donald Arthur reported to Congress nearly 1 in 3 US soldiers are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe mental health problems, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and symptoms related to traumatic head injury. Arthur is Chair of the Defense Department Task Force on Mental Health, and in 2007 he issued a grim assessment, saying, “The system of care for psychological health …is not sufficient to meet the needs of today’s forces and their beneficiaries, and will not be sufficient to meet the needs in the future.” Arthur estimates 300,000 soldiers suffer from these disorders.

Troops and Violence Rise, Afghans Suffer
Despite the fatalities, injuries and mental health crisis, US troop levels are on the rise: The Pentagon has announced they plan to increase combat forces in Afghanistan by as many as 7,500 above the current level –already 31,000, a record high. In fact, every year that the US puts more troops into Afghanistan the conflict gets worse.

Violence in Afghanistan is now at the highest level since the 2001 US invasion. The Guardian Newspaper (March, 2008) reported that shootings ambushes, kidnappings, suicide attacks and roadside bombings are more common than ever. In 2006, there were 123 such attacks and, in 2007, that number rose more than 25 percent, to 160 attacks. Security for Afghans gets worse every year the US is there: in 2005, there were an estimated 1,000 casualties and, in 2006, that number surged to 4,000. The United Nations has reported that 2007 is the worst on record: civilian casualties in Afghanistan soared above 8,000, with at least 1,500 innocent men, women and children killed in acts of violence....

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Jesse Laird is a research analyst on US-Afghan Conflict for the American Friends Service Committee, and a Masters candidate in Conflict Resolution at Portland State University. Contact him at peacevoicepdx@gmail.com.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


By Larry Gara
(850 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

If the United States continues on its path toward the militarization of society, sooner or later there will be serious calls to reactivate the draft. Indeed, the law now requires all young men to register with Selective Service at age 18, and draft boards wait on a standby basis. The military is stretched to the limit, the country is in a state of nearly permanent war, and reactivating the draft offers a tempting solution. It would be a tragic mistake...

....The Supreme Court has rejected arguments that the draft is unconstitutional, even though the 13th Amendment specifically outlaws “involuntary servitude.” Despite the fact that dictatorships inevitably impose conscription, some still insist that Selective Service is inherently democratic. Some also argue that a draft makes peace more likely because, when every family is affected, everyone resists the idea of going to war. History and experience do not support this idea. The draft certainly did not keep us out of war in Korea or Vietnam, for example. Indeed, having a reliable and renewable supply of manpower is more likely to encourage elements in any government that support military adventures. Instead, we need an imaginative foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy and strengthens international agreements...

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Larry Gara, Emeritus Professor of History at Wilmington College, is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly articles.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


By Fred Struckmeyer
(434 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

Jimmy Carter has just gone to Damascus to talk to the Hamas leadership—the very people whom the current Israeli government has refused to talk to. Or, when it does talk, it is always from a top-dog standpoint. Someone may point out that the Palestinians have been a bottom-dog position pretty much since 1948, but their situation has very much worsened in recent months. A fuel cut-off from Israel is the latest sign of this.

Former President Carter was vilified, several years ago, when the published a book entitled
Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. The title alone was enough to outrage many in Israel and, especially, in the United States. Comparing the situation of the Palestinians to that of pre-1990 blacks in South Africa was beyond the pale, they alleged. Israel is the only genuine democracy in the Middle East. It has necessarily had to take somewhat drastic measures to protect itself against Palestinian and other Arab enemies. And these days it has a major worry in the form of a bellicose Iran, who may be on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons.

The real objection to Carter’s book seems to be its even-handedness...

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Fred Struckmeyer is Chair of the Philosophy Department at West Chester University.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Our Money is Off to War

By Randy Schutt
(687 words)

A longer version of this article, with detailed references and four graphs (also available), is posted on Daily Kos

Massive federal deficits, not enough money for social programs. Where have all our tax dollars gone?

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, $549 billion --or 52.7% of discretionary federal funds --went to the military. Discretionary funds exclude expenditures for Social Security, Medicare, and federal highways since these programs are paid from dedicated taxes maintained in separate trust funds, as well as interest paid on the national debt which is not "discretionary." Discretionary funds are derived from our income taxes, corporation taxes, excise taxes, and estate taxes.

In the current year (FY2008), military spending is estimated to be $604 billion -- an unprecedented expenditure. This represents an average of about $5,300 from each household. Military spending in inflation-adjusted dollars is now 58% greater than in FY2000, greater than at any time during the Cold War, and even greater than during the peak spending years of the Vietnam War and the Korean War.

(to examine the full text for possible publication, contact us).

Randy Schutt is Vice-President of Cleveland Peace Action and author of Inciting Democracy: A Practical Proposal for Creating a Good Society.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Earth Day and War

By Tom H. Hastings
(600 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

It was still dark on Earth Day, 1996, and we were out in the northern boreal forest of Wisconsin at a military facility, committing felonies. Indeed, by the end of the day we were charged with two felonies each, and facing 15 years in prison each. Sabotage (10 years) and Destruction of Property (5 years). All in a day’s work for peace and the Earth...

...This is a system that defiled democracy and caused cancer. We proved the anti-democracy aspect by our political activism in Wisconsin and Michigan—scarcely a politician from either state could be found who supported the two-state system. We proved the ecological and health problems by a successful 1984 federal lawsuit (State of Wisconsin and Marquette County, Michigan versus the U.S. Navy and “honorable” Casper Weinberger).

But the U.S. Navy did then what it continues to do today—when threatened with environmental laws it and all branches of the military claim national security and a cloak wraps their actions...

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Tom H. Hastings is author of Ecology of War and Peace: Counting Costs of Conflict, and several other books. He is core faculty in the Portland State University Conflict Resolution Masters degree program and may be reached at hastings@pdx.edu.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


By Ed Kinane
(1,100 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

People keep going to war. They go for many reasons. The only defensible reason, however, is self-defense – of one’s family, one’s community, one’s country.

Years ago, a group of anti-war activists here in Syracuse brainstormed reasons to oppose the imminent US attack on Iraq. Not much tweaking would be needed for that long list to apply equally to a US invasion of Iran. That tweaking would be no academic exercise. Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush, having despoiled two Islamic nations, are poised to despoil a third.

What follows draws on our brainstorm of years ago. As we did then, we begin here with why people of conscience must oppose war in general...

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Kinane spent two weeks in Iran in 2007 with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and five months in Iraq in 2003 with Voices in the Wilderness. Reach him at edkinane@verizon.net.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Harry Targ
(1,660 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

In the Beginning
After suffering the greatest economic depression in United States history, this country participated in a war-time coalition with Great Britain and the former Soviet Union to defeat fascism in Europe and Japanese imperialism in Asia. As a result of the economic mobilization for war, the United States economy grew to become the most powerful one by war’s end. By 1945, Americans were responsible for three-fourths of the world’s invested capital and controlled two-thirds of its industrial capacity. Near the end of World War II, General Motors CEO Charles Wilson recommended that the U.S. continue the wartime partnership between the government, the corporate sector, and the military to maintain what he called a “permanent war economy.”

To justify a permanent war economy-ever increasing military expenditures, bases all around the world, periodic military interventions, and the maintenance of a large land army, navy, and air force-an external threat was needed. In 1947 President Truman told the American people that there was such a threat, “international communism.”

Many liberals and conservatives remained skeptical about high military expenditures. But, just before the Korean War started, permanent war economy advocates threw their support behind recommendations made in a long- time classified document, National Security Council Document 68, which recommended a dramatic increase in military spending. NSC-68 also recommended that military spending from that point on should be the number one priority of the national government...

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Harry Targ teaches U.S. foreign policy and international relations and is a member of the National Executive Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


By Ed Kinane
(700 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

We keep hearing certain words – such as “democracy” and “terrorism” -- that are seldom defined. The pretense is that we all know what these words mean. Yet that’s hardly the case.

Here’s how the U.S. State Department defines terrorism: the use of violence or the threat of violence to harm or intimidate civilians for political purposes.

Given all the commentary on terrorism, you’d think this pithy definition might often be invoked. It seldom is. Why? Because applying that definition evenhandedly – to assess each violent episode or campaign, regardless of who perpetrates it -- would boomerang. It would expose terrorists who usually aren’t thought of as terrorists.

Retail terrorism – like abduction or suicide bombing – is a tactic of the hardware have-nots. It gets all the attention. Wholesale terrorism – invasion and aerial warfare, for example – is the strategy of the haves...

(to examine the full text for possible publication, contact us).

In 2003, Ed Kinane worked with Voices in the Wilderness, in Baghdad. Contact him at edkinane@verizon.net.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Badge of Honor

By Dee Aker, Emiko Noma and Laura Taylor
(750 words)

This commentary is unpublished.

Around the world, one in three women is physically, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries. Most often, the perpetrator is someone she knows. She is not safe in her home, or in the public sphere.

Men must stand up and be equal partners to end violence against women. “I call on men around the world to lead by example: to make clear that violence against women is an act perpetrated by a coward, and that speaking up against it is a badge of honor,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proclaimed as he launched UNITE, the new U.N. campaign to end this scourge on society. “No country, no culture, no woman young or old is immune,” he said.

The last 15 years have witnessed the increase of statistical research on the subject, and while new protection laws and public awareness campaigns are also on the rise...

(to examine the full text for possible publication, contact us).

The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) at the University of San Diego sent a delegation to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. This article was written by IPJ staff Dee Aker, Emiko Noma and Laura Taylor.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Terror at Home: Gun Violence in Our Schools

By Thomas J. Humphrey
(940 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

On 14 February 2008, while most people planned their Valentine Day’s celebration, a former student of Northern Illinois University dressed in black, walked into the university’s Cole Hall, stepped onto a stage, and fired into a lecture hall filled with students getting ready to leave class. Inside the classroom, panic struck hard at the students as the students scrambled for safety, some crawling up the aisles while others hid beneath their chairs. Others waited to run until the gunman stopped shooting. He was reloading. Outside the classroom, faculty, students, and visitors walked by Cole Hall, heard the popping of gunfire, and recoiled as students burst through the doors of the building, some of whom were spattered with blood. Some helped wounded students, others helped student find cover, and many called police. The entire incident erupted and ended in just a few minutes. Six students were murdered that day before the killer took his own life. Eighteen others were wounded.

The shooting at NIU was horrific but, sadly, hardly unique...

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Thomas J. Humphrey is an Associate Professor of American History at Cleveland State University, and received his Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University.


By John LaForge
(1310 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

Like earlier Pentagon denials of the dangers of the Vietnam Era defoliant Agent Orange, the U.S. military now claims publicly that its uranium munitions -- made from waste uranium-238 and sometimes called depleted uranium (DU) -- are not known to cause health problems. Yet the strongest evidence to the contrary comes from its own reports.

According to a June 1995 report to Congress by the U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute (USAEPI), "Depleted uranium is a radioactive waste and, as such, should be deposited in a licensed repository." To put the issue frankly, the U.S. has been shooting this radioactive waste at people all over the world: At testing ranges in the U.S., So. Korea and on Vieques Island; at civilian populations in Iraq (380 tons in 1991; 170 tons in 2003), Afghanistan in 2001 (amounts unknown), Kosovo in 1999 (10 tons) and Bosnia in 1994-95 (5 tons).

On August 16, 1993, the U.S. department of the Army's Office of the Surgeon General issued its "Depleted Uranium (DU) Safety Training" manual. The document plainly says the expected effects of DU exposure include possible increase of cancer (lung and bone) and kidney damage. It recommends "…that you convene a working group to define competing risks of combat with DU weapons, to identify countermeasures against DU exposure …"

(to examine the full text for possible publication, contact us).

-- LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch and edits its quarterly newsletter. A draft version of these remarks was presented Feb. 14 to the Standing Committee on Defense of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

By Jesse Laird
(610 Words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

There is an old American myth, the myth of redemptive violence, which is so often repeated (often so subtly) that it has become almost invisible.

It is the myth of classic B-movie Westerns, with the villains in black hats and the hero in white. At the end of the movie, there is the violent confrontation –the shootout for Good against Evil –that sets the world right and makes everything safe for women and children (usually white women and children). It is the myth that ends justify means: that murdering the murderers will reestablish order.

The myth of redemptive violence plays a role in American thinking on critical issues –from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, on the one hand, to prisoner execution and torture, on the other. It is one movie-camera lens we use to see the world –which would be fine if it were not so damaging to ordinary people (like ordinary Iraqis, Afghans and American soldiers).

The main problem with the myth of redemptive violence is it does not work in the real world –and we Americans are learning this the hard way in our War on Terror...

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Jesse Laird is a masters candidate in Conflict Resolution at Portland State University and works as an agent for PeaceVoice –the Portland (Oregon)-based nonprofit dedicated to peace inspired commentary.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

South Carolina Changed History

By Harry Targ
(1000 words)

I confess. I was a supporter of the presidential candidacy of John Edwards (particularly since Dennis Kucinich was made to disappear). I think his clear populist stance, his anti-corporate agenda, and his critique of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council represented an advance over the ambiguous and limited centrist politics of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, both of which have begun to change since South Carolina....

....Having admitted my political "biases," I now see the political significance and transformative character of the Democratic Party primary election held in late January in South Carolina. First, the campaign tactic of the Clintons, posturing that they were crusaders against racism in American life, was finally unveiled for the deception that it was. President Clinton did everything he could to remind voters that Barak Obama was after all an African American and that this election was occurring in South Carolina. In a totally irrelevant response to a reporter's question after the results were announced, President Clinton reminded the reporter and the audience that Jesse Jackson carried South Carolina in the 1980s; i.e. the outcome would not count and it would not count because Obama, like Jackson, is an African American.

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Harry Targ teaches political science at Purdue University. His most recent book is entitled Challenging Late Capitalism, Neo-liberal Globalization, and Militarism: Building a Progressive Majority, Changemaker Publications, 2006.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Can We Stop School Shootings?

By Michael N. Nagler
(672 words)

In terms of human suffering, killings in schools is one of the most anguishing forms of contemporary violence. So far, there has been virtually no discussion of the underlying causes of these suicidal outbursts. Virtually all discussion, be it in the media, in academic settings or private conversations, begins and end with the particulars of each individual case: was the killer a loner? Did he just break up with his girlfriend? Were they bullied? And recently, in one op-ed online about the most recent shooting at NIU, were the school buildings run-down and depressing?

No doubt all these things are true; but as a Greek philosopher once said, the first step in the ignorance of any subject is to fail to see the principles for the particulars.

Even if we were to ask ourselves why this tragic phenomenon has hit schools in general it would not quite get us to the underlying reason. The underlying reason is, we have allowed ourselves to drift into a culture of violence. School violence is a symptom; so is gang violence; so are domestic violence, workplace violence, and, yes, “shock and awe” violence – our policy for devastating foreign countries. All of these without exception arise from and feed back into a violent culture, and it is only by addressing that culture — a challenging but doable job — that we will reduce and some day eliminate avoidable and ‘meaningless’ violence from our lives...

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Michael Nagler is the author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future. His UC, Berkeley course on nonviolence can be reached through www.mettacenter.org. He recently received the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.

Consequences of the Changing Global Political Economy

By Harry Targ
(1728 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

The economic crisis that is growing in rich and poor countries alike in 2008 directly rersults from years of unbridled, unplanned capitalist expansion on the world stage. We can plot the transformation of the global political economy, that is the parallel and combined development of economic and political institutions, since World War II to understand how and why the crisis of today emerged. And, after reflecting on that history, we can begin to see what needs to be done to overcome the crises that befall us.

World War II ended with death and destruction rampant across the Eurasian land mass. Some 60 million people died, 27 million alone in the former Soviet Union. The United States experienced an economic boom resulting from war production. Industrial productivity rose by a factor of three. Trade increased fourfold. At the war's end, the U.S. controlled 2/3 to ¾ of the world's industrial plant and productivity. With this power, the United States played a fundamental role in reestablishing the economic and political institutions that would govern the world over the next 60 years. During the period from 1945 and 1968, the so-called "golden age" of the U.S. economy, multinational corporations and banks spread across the globe as domestic consumption soared....

....In the twentieth century we saw various political movements and ideologies offering a vision of "positive government," that is a vision that says that political (and economic) institutions can and should be created by and for the vast majority of people. While many experiments in positive government failed, for a variety of reasons, the global movements of our own day are saying that we can establish new institutions that represent us all, and not just the rich and powerful. That is the continuing challenge of the 21st century.

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Harry Targ teaches United States foreign policy and international political economy at Purdue University.

Reflections on the Cuban Revolution Today

By Harry Targ
(730 Words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

President Bush now travels through the African continent trumpeting the United States as a model for the peoples of the Global South. At the same time Fidel Castro steps down as Cuba's chief of state stimulating reflections on the role of the Cuban revolution at home and abroad. Which country has had a more progressive impact on the historical development of the world?

....In the words of C. Wright Mills, reflecting on the Cuban revolution at its outset, Cuba remains part of the "hungry bloc," not in the sense of poverty and scarcity as he meant it -Cuba is part of the developed world in these terms- but in the sense of still struggling to achieve its right and capacity to define its own destiny. In fact, it could be argued that Cuba's "hunger" for self-determination, its spirit of nationalism, is what drove the revolution in the nineteenth century, in the 1930s, in 1959 and still drives the revolution today....

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Harry Targ teaches U.S. foreign policy and political economy at Purdue University. His book on Cuba is called Cuba and the USA: A New World Order?, International Publishers, 1992.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama: Experienced, Intelligent and Competent

By Laura White
(330 words)
This Commentary is Unpublished

I'd like to put another perspective on the "Obama-lacks-experience" conversation. As a multicultural educator, mediator and diversity consultant, I was impressed when I read his autobiography several years ago. I thought "this man is both emotionally intelligent and inter-culturally competent"! These capabilities come from a depth of life experience and a maturity of psychological development that we rarely see in US politicians. Both are vital in a multicultural America and for rebuilding international relations...

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Laura White, MA, is a diversity and conflict resolution trainer and a longtime mediator; she is currently the multicultural training specialist in the Office of Human Resources at Montgomery College in Maryland.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Come Clean on Water Boarding

By William Loren Katz
(420 words)
This Commentary is Unpublished

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, this country's chief legal officer, discussed the torture known as water boarding Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chair Patrick Leahy insisted that water boarding "has been recognized as torture for the last 500 years." Though it has been practiced since the Spanish Inquisition in the 1400s, Mukasey told Senators he is not sure it is really torture.

Taking a more direct approach, Senator Ted Kennedy asked Mukasey, "Would water boarding be torture if it was done to you?" ....

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William Loren Katz is the author of forty U.S. history books and has been affiliated with New York University since 1973. His website is WILLIAMLKATZ.COM

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Open Letter from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq

By Peggy Gish, Anita David, Michele Naar-Obed, and Cliff Kindy
(550 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

An open letter to the United States Administration, United States Department of State and United States Defense Department:

As members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) presently living and working in the Kurdish north of Iraq, we have closely watched the news reports that detail the Turkish military invasions and bombings of Kurdish territory over the last five months, purportedly against PKK resistance. We note that the United States has provided intelligence or those attacks and has chosen to open Iraqi air space for those incursions.

We have had regular contact with the United Nations, the ICRC and
local Kurdish NGOs that have helped the casualties from those attacks. Those attacks killed at least three civilians and injured at least six. CPT has visited two of the families who had a member killed or injured. Additionally, reports indicate those bombings have damaged or destroyed homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals.

CPT visited mayors of communities to which some of the 600-800 displaced families, approximately 3000 individuals, fled for refuge.Those mayors shared photos and videos of the damages....

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For over twenty years, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has been an international organization of peace workers living in conflict areas around the world –from Colombia, Iraq, and the West Bank to the US–Mexico border. Peggy Gish, Anita David, Michele Naar-Obed, and Cliff Kindy are longstanding resident members of CPT in Iraq.

CPT http://www.cpt.org/

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Back of the Line

(411 words)
by Anne Winkler-Morey
This Commentary is Unpublished

To hear some Presidential candidates tell it, Americans' problems will be solved if we just send the lowest paid workers in this country home and make them, "get to the back of the line." Yes, to those who clean our nations toilets, break their backs in our fields, stand in a frozen puddle of blood processing our nation's meat, change the diapers of our nation's children: we not only refuse you citizenship, we not only call you names, but we act as though you are criminals, we arrest you and deport you and tell you to get in the back of the line.

Lets call this what it is: scapegoating. It happens every time things get worse for the majority of us in the vast and diverse middle. We look for someone to blame.

And things are definitely getting worse for those of us living on $20,000-100,000. Some of us must sell that second home, some of us are cutting back on everything else to pay that mortgage, some of us are facing foreclosure and some of us are looking for a place to rent that we can afford. We all feel the squeeze of rising healthcare, rent, mortgage, food and gas prices. We are seeing our real wages decline....

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Anne Winkler-Morey has three college degrees, works four jobs, makes $20,000 and would have no health insurance if not for the husband's union job. She is trying to figure out how to pay her daughter's college tuition.


By Larry Gara and Lenna Mae Gara
(649 words)
This Commentary is Unpublished

In the modern world of nation states, treason has replaced the medieval world's heresy as the highest crime. American colonists, having committed treason against the British government, were careful, in writing a new constitution, to define treason in specific terms that made conviction difficult. To criticize the President, for example, or to speak out against a particular war, is not treason.

Article III, Section 3, paragraph one of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as follows: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court."

Because of its narrow definition there have been few treason trials in our history and even fewer convictions. In 1794 farmers in western Pennsylvania protested a tax on distilled whiskey by threatening to attack Pittsburgh. When President Washington called out 12,900 troops...

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Larry Gara, Emeritus Professor of History at Wilmington College, is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly articles. Lenna Mae Gara is a homemaker, writer and editor. They have lived in Wilmington since 1962.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thinking Globally

By Michael N. Nagler

(800 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

I often think back to Neil Postman's 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death when I watch the mainstream media spin their stories on critical events like the recent assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. In that book, subtitled Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Postman describes how technologies of communication, beginning with the telegraph in the 1840's, brought about the end of serious journalism because now people out on the Nebraska prairie, for example, were suddenly reading about faraway issues that did not concern them. That began a steady shift from news and democratic participation to 'entertainment' — and political manipulation — as the function of mainstream journalism.

We now live in the world of instant messaging and the internet, when distant events that do vitally concern us, like the death of Prime Minister Bhutto, are presented to us in a cloud of trivialization that the real nature of our connection to them ....

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Michael Nagler is the author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future. His UC, Berkeley course on nonviolence can be reached through www.mettacenter.org. He recently received the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.

Friday, January 11, 2008

WWJN?---- What Would Janelle Need?

(926 words)
By Anne Winkler-Morey
This Commentary is Unpublished

Janelle (not her real name) is a bright African American teenager, two years behind in school and currently failing in her course work. She is clearly a child not performing at her academic potential. What if we made policy as if the needs of Janelle, a public school student I tutor, were our primary concern?

What Would Janelle Need to succeed?

Janelle would need a warm safe home that is securely hers. She and her mother and siblings have been shuffling from one shelter to another for at least two years. Whenever she moves she misses school for days, even weeks. Sometimes when I meet with her issues of security, lack of sleep and fear are too great to focus on reading.

Janelle and her family would need comprehensive health care like all families do so they proceed with the rest of their lives without fear of illness or disability. In Janelle’s young life she has dealt with more than her share of death and disease, exacerbated by lack of access to health care....

....It’s an election year. Demand that the candidates and the media spinners dig deeper. Tell them to ask WWJN?---- What Would Janelle Need? And when they come back with “How do we pay for it?” Tell them to begin by STWS---- Stopping The War ……Sweetie !

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Anne Winkler-Morey, Ph .D teaches history at colleges and Universities in the Twin Cities area and is a reading tutor for “Janelle” and others in the Minneapolis Public school District.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Little Gauze, Gas in Gaza as Israel Tightens Closure on Palestinians

(770 words)
by Joseph E. Mulligan

In the Gaza Strip, Palestine, the conflict between Israel, which controls the borders and since June has been closing them, and the Palestinians, who inhabit the small strip of land along the Mediterranean, is affecting the civilian population in a way that clearly violates international law.
For instance, Dr. Ahmed Abou Nekira, director of the public Al Najar Hospital in Rafah on the Egyptian border, told me last week that his hospital needs a 19,000-liter reserve supply of gasoline, especially with the frequent fuel and electricity cutoffs, but the current stock is only 1,500 liters. The hospital cannot provide milk for its child patients; parents bring it if they can find and afford it in the Gaza market.
As I was leaving the hospital, a woman approached me who clearly needed something; but since I don't understand Arabic it was only on a later visit to her home with my translator that I learned she could not find the needed medications for her asthmatic and epileptic twelve-year-old son. ... (to examine the full text for possible publication, contact us).
The author, a Jesuit priest from Detroit who lives in Nicaragua, is working for six weeks as a member of the Lansing-based Michigan Peace Team in Palestine.