In the wake of 9/11, on Saturday, September 22, 2001, eleven years ago today, my friend Martin Baumgold decided to stand at the Seventh Street Park in Hudson, New York to demonstrate for peace. The world needed to find peace, and he saw that. He’s been at it since. Every week. Every Saturday. People have come to stand with him, and they have gone away. New ones have come and they too have gone away. Usually, there are 3 or 4 or even 5 people standing at the South side of the Seventh Park on Warren Street. Martin is undeterred, he stands anyway. He’s not the leader of a movement; he just hopes that others will stand with him. But even if they don’t, obviously he’s in it for the long haul.
Green Party* candidate Jill Stein, who ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2010, has taken the lead for her party’s nomination to run for president against dictator Barry Obama and whoever his Republican counterpart is this November.
According to Ballot Access News and other sources, Stein has won enough of the vote in various state primaries to qualify for matching funds. She is competing for the Green Party nomination with Kent Mesplay and Roseanne Barr, the latter of whom she did a Skype session with to Greens across the country.
Stein has blasted Obama for his many betrayals. She criticized his signing of the FAA Re-authorization bill, which further erodes unions, his overtures of war against Iran, his decision to support portions of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would cause further destruction to the environment and jeopardize human health and safety, his assaults on civil liberties including the “Defense” Authorization that allows American citizens to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial, his taking of single-payer and a public option off the table in favor of an insurance-industry-authored mandate to buy private coverage or face stiff tax penalties, and other far right policies embraced by the incumbent.
Stein’s alternatives to all these things and more reads like a leftist’s dream: a Green New Deal to create environment-friendly jobs, an energy policy dedicated to 100% conversion to clean, renewable sources, expanding Medicare to every American and generous funding of public education (including the forgiveness of student loan debt), protecting America’s Safety Net, and ending America’s imperial wars.
Stein does not appear to be on record so far as to prosecuting America’s war criminals, including Obama, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the thugs in their respective regimes guilty of war crimes, but I can’t imagine she would let them off the hook, since it would only reinforce the notion of total immunity for high-ranking lawbreakers – a travesty of justice. (I’ll keep you apprised of this as I learn more.)
With many progressives determined to sit out this election, Stein’s candidacy appears to be offering a welcome alternative.
By Brian Terrell
On January 25, the host committee for the G8/NATO summit in Chicago in May unveiled a new slogan for the event, “The Global Crossroads.” The mood of the organizers is upbeat and positive. This is a grand opportunity to market Chicago with an eye for the tourist dollar and the city is ready, the committee assures us, to deal with any “potential problems.”
One of the potential problems that the committee is confident that it can overcome, according to a report by WLS-TV in Chicago, is “the prospect of large-scale protests stealing the stage as the world watches.” The new slogan stresses the international character of the event and the prestige and economic benefit that hosting world economic and political leaders is expected to bring to Chicago. “We’re a world class city with world class potential,” declares Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “If you want to be a global city, you’ve got to act like a global city and do what global cities do,” says Lori Healey who heads the host committee and who previously led the city’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
All indications, unfortunately, are that Chicago is preparing to “act like a global city and do what global cities do” and it appears to want to follow the lead of other “global cities” in dealing with mass demonstrations threatening to “steal the stage;” think Tehran, Beijing, Cairo, Moscow and Seattle, to name a few.
One of the chilling developments the hosting committee announced was that the Illinois State Crime Commission is “urgently seeking Iraq-Afghanistan combat veterans to work security positions for the G8 summit.” The commission’s chairman clarifies that is for “private security” and not to work with the Chicago police. As in other “global cities,” these veterans will be used as private mercenaries without the legal protections and benefits of public employees.
The Veterans Administration reports treating about 16% of the 1.3 million of veterans of these two wars for post-traumatic stress disorder and many more do not seek help. In answer to a potentially volatile situation in the streets of Chicago, the commission is not seeking workers trained in conflict resolution, but it has an urgent need for ex-soldiers trained in the violent chaos of Iraq and Afghanistan. These veterans urgently need treatment and meaningful employment, but at the “global crossroads,” they are offered only temp jobs as rent-a-cops protecting the interests of their exploiters.
Beyond touting the overblown promise of money that the summit is expected to bring (“To penetrate international markets takes time and money,” said Don Welsh, Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau) the city and its welcoming committee do not encourage education or reflection on what NATO and the G8 are and what they do. Despite its claims, NATO was never a defensive alliance. It is structured to wage “out of area” wars in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as to “contain” China. NATO’s creed is aggressive, expansionist, militarist and undemocratic. The G8 represents the economic interests of its member states. It is not a legal international entity established by treaty but acts outside the law, with NATO as its enforcer.
by Kathy Kelly
December 23, 2011
Beneath our flat, here in Kabul, wedding guests crowded into a restaurant and celebrated throughout the night. Guests sounded joyful and the music, mostly disco, thumped loudly. When the regular call to prayer sounded out at 5:20 a.m., the sounds seemed to collide in an odd cacophony, making all music indistinguishable. I smiled, remembering the prayer call’s durable exhortation to live in peace, heard worldwide for centuries, and went back to sleep.
Through most of my life, I’ve found it easy to resonate with the ringing and beautiful Christmas narrative found in the Gospel of Luke, but less so with that jangling discord with which westerners are so familiar-the annual collision between (on the one hand) the orgy of gift-purchasing and gift-consumption surrounding the holiday and the the sweeter, simpler proclamations of peace on earth heralded by the newborn’s arrival. I’ve found myself quite surprisingly happy to spend many Christmases either in U.S. jails or among Muslims living in places like Bosnia, Iraq, Jordan and now Afghanistan. My hosts and friends in these places have been people who are enduring wars or fleeing wars, including, as in the case of U.S. jails, a war against the poor in the United States.
The Christmas narrative that imagines living beings coming together across divides, the houseless family with no room at the inn, the shepherds and the foreign royals arriving, all awakening to unimagined possibilities of peace, comes alive quite beautifully in the community with which I’m graced to find myself here in Kabul.
Five of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers are spending winter months in the apartment here which accommodates their group as well as visiting guests such as our small Voices delegation. In recent months, the place has evolved into a resource center for learning languages and exchanging ideas about nonviolent movements for social change. I am filled with fond and deep admiration for these young people as I watch them studying each other’s languages and preparing their own delegation to visit other provinces of this land on the brink of civil war, meeting with other young people wherever they can.
I’ve often described Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers as having bridged considerable ethnic gaps in their steadfast aspiration to someday live without wars. It’s quite impressive, during this trip, to learn from them about how close several of them came to becoming armed fighters.
One young friend recalls having spent three weeks, at age 12, as part of a Taliban group. He had no choice but to go with the Taliban as a conscript. He was given a rifle, as well as adequate food, and assigned to be a sentry. “I loaded the weapon and I fired warning shots,” said our young friend, who is now 21 years of age, “but I didn’t feel good about it.” A village elder intervened, saying the new recruits were too young, and the Taliban released my friend and the other young teens.
We watched a film together in which another youngster, about seven years previously, had acted the role of the leader of a group of children imitating Talib fighters. Carrying sticks, the young actors had harassed a little girl over her determination that she would learn to read. Now we asked the young man, himself a Hazara, how he felt about playing a Taliban child. He acknowledged having grown up believing that anyone who was part of an ethnic group that had persecuted his people could never be trusted.
The father of another youngster had been killed by the Taliban. Still another describes how he watched in horror as Hazara fighters killed his brother.
Last week, the AYPVs welcomed a new friend who lives in a neighboring province and speaks a different language to join them and help them learn his language. Asked about NATO/ISAF night raids and other attacks that have occurred in his area, the new friend said that families who have suffered attacks feel intense anger, but even more so people say they want peace. “However, international forces have made people feel less secure,” he added. “It’s unfortunate that internationals hear stories about Afghans being wild people and think that more civilized outsiders are trying to build the country. People here are suffering because of destruction caused by outsiders.”
The air, the ground, the mountainsides, the water, and even the essential bonds of familial living have been ravaged by three decades of warfare here in Afghanistan. People living here have suffered the loss of an estimated two million people killed in the wars. 850 children die every day because of disease and hunger.
Amid excruciating sorrow and pain, it’s good to see people still find ways to gather for celebrations, even when the sounds seem curious and the dances seem, to some, forbiddingly exotic. Differences between insiders and outsiders become less relevant as people meet one another to celebrate.
Peace can surprise us when it comes, and that alone is abundantly sufficient cause for celebration in this season, wherever we are. Dr. King wrote that “the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice,” and we should not be surprised as new and growing movements around us reveal an unquenchable and ineradicable longing for simple justice. The killing fields that scar our earth and sear the memories of survivors beckon us to look and listen for new ways of living together. Massacres of innocents call to us to reject the easy and familiar and go home by an other way.
The desires to live more simply, to share resources more radically, and to prefer service to dominance are not unique to any place, season, or religion. Such desires may yet herald unions previously unimagined and a better world for every newborn, each one bringing an astonishing potential – as we do if we strive to fulfill it – for peace.
Kathy Kelly (kathyvcnv [dot] org), twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She and two companions are part of a Voices delegation visiting the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers in Kabul
“When I first took a stand against the war in Vietnam, the critics took me on and they had their say in the most negative and sometimes most vicious way. One day a newsman came to me and said, ‘Dr. King, don’t you think you’re going to have to stop, now, opposing the war and move more in line with the administration’s policy? As I understand it, it has hurt the budget of your organization, and people who once respected you have lost respect for you. Don’t you feel that you’ve really got to change your position?’ I looked at him and I had to say, ‘…I’m not a consensus leader. I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference…’ Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus… There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right. I believe today that there is a need for all people of goodwill to come with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “We ain’t goin’ study war no more.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – From “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution ” (Sermon) March 31, 1968
Another reason to end these wars.
When Jon Tumilson, a member of a Navy Seal team, was killed in Afghanistan, his loyal dog, Hawkeye, lay near his coffin at the funeral.
cross-posted from Main Street Insider
We gave you a sneak preview of this episode on Thursday. This week we examine the details of the no-fly zone over Libya established on March 17th. Though there has been wide speculation about what is not allowed under this resolution, the truth is that the only thing expressly forbidden is an occupation. After that, any action that the Security Council deems necessary to protect civilians or benefit the Libyan people could be approved.
I have watched the violence and the revolt in Egypt with a heavy heart. On one hand, I am overjoyed to see a people long held in shackles struggling to attain freedom. I hope this sentiment will someday encircle the world, so that, as it is written, the wolf and the lamb will live together. As a pacifist, however, it causes me much distress to see police out in the street, blazes set alight, and the familiar signs of overheated passion. In observing everything from a distance of thousands of miles, I am forced to confront my own beliefs. It may be that physical force alone can bring needed reform and change. But, as others far wiser than I have noted, war and warlike impulses are easy, but peaceful solutions are difficult.
In the past few weeks a series of reforms have been passed which some are saying justify President Obama’s, the Democratic Party’s, and American liberals’ extreme moderation and corporatism (or, in some cases, a mere subservience to, if not an outright embrace of, this horribly corrupt form of capitalism).
However, I would advise you to consider these words which Malcolm X uttered in another terribly corrupt and unequal world which, as the US continues its decline as an empire and omnipotent economic presence, even many liberals and radicals are starting to get nostalgic for:
You don’t stick a knife into a man’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and call it progress.
That is, if you ignore the context in which these mild reforms are taking place, you are ignoring the fundamental problems which need to be solved. This is particularly apparent in the case of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Back on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 I posted this VVAW Anniversary-Dec 26th 1971-Statue of Liberty, Liberation on my first blog, still in my infancy of blog posting but I had gotten better, like embedding links etc.. This action took place only months after I returned from Vietnam, my last year of my four, and getting discharged back into civilian life. I wasn’t with these brothers but I had already started down the path of activism against Wars of Choice and those that create them for profit and power. That post is below slightly refined and updated, had to find a link and embedded a document pdf player.
Over the past couple of months I have also moved my **IN HONOR TO THE FALLEN in Iraq and Afghanistan** posts from that original site to a stand alone site, this is a page listing each post on that site.