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Is War Ever “Just”?

We need a different measure of strength

Is there such a thing as a ‘just war’? The problem with that question is that when we answer ‘yes’, we end up in a world where there is ‘just war’–just war as an ultimate solution to every problem, whether it be terrorists, international diplomacy, drugs in our streets or bugs in our gardens. War becomes the default setting for all of our responses. War becomes the measure of manhood and the definer of strength. War constrains our imaginations and limits our intelligence.

A chemical farmer sees a bug in his field, and declares war. Out come the poisons and the sprays, the herbicides and the neurotoxins, dangerous and costly.. Kill the enemy! The result–poison on the vegetables, beneficial insects die, some pests always survive, making the problem worse.

An organic farmer sees a pest, and says, “Hmmn, here’s an interesting piece of information. Something in the system is out of balance. Perhaps some mineral is lacking in the soil, that’s weakening the plants. What can I do to shift the balance, to create conditions that will favor the beneficial bugs that will keep the pests in check?” Result–increased fertility, clean and nutritious vegetables, bright flowers growing among the fields, reduced damage to crops and increased health for farmworkers and consumers.

Our policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan, for decades, has been that of the chemical farmer–kill the enemy, and anything else that might happen to be in the vicinity, including civilians and potential allies, and when resistance develops, apply more of the same, regardless of cost. Then call it a ‘just war’.

Imagine what our policy might be if, instead, we were guided by the maxim of the clever politician Harry Seldon from Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction novel, Foundation. “Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.”

We might develop a policy more like that of the organic farmer–looking for the underlying forces that create the imbalance, that favor the development of terrorism and anti-U.S. sentiments. We might look for ways to support and favor the elements within Afghani or Iraqi or Iranian society that make for health, resilience, and liberty instead of employing the force that creates a perfect habitat for resentment, hatred, repression and terror. We might have supported and protected our Kurdish and Shiite allies after the first Gulf War instead of abandoning and betraying them. We might support the women’s organizations in Afghanistan who, even under the Taliban, struggled heroically for women’s rights. We might look at the model of Otpor, a student group who successfully overthrew the dictator Miloscevic using nonviolent resistance–with some strategic help and funding from outside. We might support the nonviolent resistance among the Palestinians, pressure the Israelis to lift the stranglehold siege on Gaza, to restrain their use of disproportionate force and to recognize that their true security can only be gained when Palestinians also have peace, security, and a just recognition of their human rights.

I’m deeply disappointed in Obama, because he is intelligent enough to forge such a policy. However, he operates in a country still controlled by a deep assumption–that strength equals force and violence, that a man who is reluctant to use force is less than a man, that a nation who refrains from wholesale slaughter is ‘weak’. I can’t help but think that his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan has less to do with the ‘justness’ of the conflict and more to do with the politics back home–an attempt to placate his right wing detractors and to look strong in their eyes.

In my futuristic novel, “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” my character Maya says, “For five thousand years, men have been goading each other into acts of brutality and stupidity by calling each other cowards.”

Until we confront that assumption, until we challenge our ‘real men’ and real women to embody a different sort of strength–the strength that nurtures, that heals, that uses intelligence and thoughtfulness and diplomacy to solve problems instead of brute force, until the thought of violence becomes abhorrent to us all, we will have no clear yardstick by which to measure any sort of justice.

Starhawk

Something to ponder on a snowy day.

h/t Hecate

cross posted at The Wild Wild Left

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this weeks Health and Fitness.

First cancer genome sequences reveal how mutations lead to disease

The pattern of mutations in cancer could eventually be used to tailor treatments to particular patients

Scientists have reconstructed the biological history of two types of cancer in a genetic tour de force that promises to transform medical treatment of the disease.

The feat, a world first, lays bare every genetic mutation the patients have acquired over their lifetimes that eventually caused healthy cells in their bodies to turn into tumours.

The procedure gives doctors a profound insight into the biological causes of a patient’s cancer and marks a major milestone in progress towards personalised anticancer therapies and strategies to prevent the disease.

“This is a really fundamental moment in the history of cancer research. We have never seen cancer revealed in this way before,” said Mike Stratton, a co-leader of the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge.

This is a stunning breakthrough in understanding how cancer mutates, treating it and, perhaps one day, cure it.

Turkana, in his essay at the Left Coaster, provides more information and further discussion in understanding the importance of this monumental break through.

Huge Medical Breakthrough: Cancer Genome Sequenced

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time and in January it will be coming to you from Paris, Fr. for awhile. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.

Kill This Bill

This bill just gets worse. Sen. Ben Nelson turned down a compromise to his draconian proposal on abortion and now says he has “other” concerns about the bill.

compromise Holdout senator rejects abortion compromise

WASHINGTON – A moderate Democrat whose vote could be crucial said Thursday an attempted Senate compromise on abortion is unsatisfactory, raising doubts about whether the chamber can pass President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul by Christmas.

“As it is, without modifications, the language concerning abortion is not sufficient,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a key holdout on the health care bill, said in a statement after first making his concerns known to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Nelson said there were positive improvements dealing with teen pregnancy and adoption, and that he was open to further negotiations. But in a radio interview earlier in the day with KLIN in Lincoln, Nebraska, Nelson also said that abortion wasn’t his only concern and he didn’t see how the Christmas deadline was achievable.

 

Who’s Zooming Who?

From Salon

Why is Obama still protecting Lieberman?

I am beginning to see the inevitable healthcare “compromise” as the product of a political song and dance conducted by Democrats and Republicans solely to appease various constituencies within their parties — and nothing else. Remarkably, The Onion accurately assessed the situation several months ago with the satirical essay “Congress Deadlocked Over How To Not Provide Health Care.” The Onion “quotes” Nancy Pelosi in a very smart passage:

 

Both parties understand that the current system is broken,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday. “But what we can’t seem to agree upon is how to best keep it broken, while still ensuring that no elected official takes any political risk whatsoever. It’s a very complicated issue

Throwing It All Away

From TPM

Hoyer: House Will Accept Public Option-Free Bill

House Democrats can’t always get what they want, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters today. But if they spin it right, he said, they just might find they got what they need.

Faced with a likely public option-free health care reform bill from the Senate, Hoyer said House Democrats will vote to move the reform process forward without government-run insurance included.

Much as his colleagues in the Senate Democratic leadership did last night, Hoyer said the political reality in the Senate means Democrats have to look past things like the public option to the “guts” of the bill itself.

“[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid does not have the votes for a public option, obviously,” Hoyer said. “In a world of alternatives, you have to take what you can get.”

Throwing It All Away

From TPM

Hoyer: House Will Accept Public Option-Free Bill

House Democrats can’t always get what they want, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters today. But if they spin it right, he said, they just might find they got what they need.

Faced with a likely public option-free health care reform bill from the Senate, Hoyer said House Democrats will vote to move the reform process forward without government-run insurance included.

Much as his colleagues in the Senate Democratic leadership did last night, Hoyer said the political reality in the Senate means Democrats have to look past things like the public option to the “guts” of the bill itself.

“[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid does not have the votes for a public option, obviously,” Hoyer said. “In a world of alternatives, you have to take what you can get.”

Lieberman Lies Again

Apparently, Sen, Joseph Lieberman can’t keep his lies straight. Once again reneging on not just campaign promises he made in 2000 and when he ran as an Independent for his Senate seat. Just 3 short months ago he discussed the Medicare buy in with the “Connecticut Post”, a complete contradiction of his now adamant opposition to the latest “compromise” in the Senate version of HCR bill.

This Week in Health and Fitness

Welcome to this weeks Health and Fitness.

Lessons From the War Zone

One morning as a medical student on the surgery service, I learned about a patient who had been hemorrhaging on the operating table the night before. The intern who had assisted during the operation took great pains to describe every detail of the failed efforts of several senior surgeons and the final, ultimately lifesaving, maneuvers of the department chairman. “He came in and just got control of the bleeding,” the intern concluded, waving his hands as if the chairman’s work had involved magic.

Skip to next paragraph

“How did he manage that?” one of my classmates asked.

“He’s one of the best,” the intern answered matter-of-factly. “He was a surgeon in Vietnam.”

One of the results of the 80’s and 90’s violent carnage in NYC, ER Doctors, ER Staff, Surgeons and Paramedics got to be very good at what they do best, saving lives. The Wheel Turns.

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time and in January it will be coming to you from Paris, Fr. for awhile. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.

This is an Open Thread

Santa Have You Seen My Soldier


Grilling ala Rachel Maddow

Go get’em, Rachel. She rocks in this take down of Richard Cohen and his homophobic “research” that is being used to support an death penalty law in Uganda

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

h/t Glen Greenwald

The Week in Health and Fitness

Welcome to this weeks Health and Fitness.

An ancient disease that has ravaged the world continues into the 21st century, taking its toll in lives. Tuberculosis is once again making headlines killing 1.8 million people as the world’s 7th most deadly disease. The disease is still epidemic in many parts of the world and is common opportunistic disease in HIV and AIDS patients.

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time and in January it will be coming to you from Paris, Fr. for awhile. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.

This is an open thread.

More funds needed for TB tests, drugs, vaccines

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) – Health experts on Thursday called for more research funding to develop better diagnostic tests, vaccines and drugs for tuberculosis, which killed 1.8 million people around the world last year.

While diseases like AIDS and malaria can be diagnosed in minutes by applying a drop of blood to a rapid test kit, confirming active tuberculosis, or TB, is a laborious procedure.

It requires a patient to cough up sputum, which is smeared on a slide, stained and examined under a microscope.

And the 100-year-old test misses up to 70 percent of otherwise positive cases in some places, experts say.

In Africa, where the scourge of TB is most keenly felt, many people delay follow-up testing because of cost.

“A lot of people die before a TB diagnosis is even made,” Dr Jeremiah Chakaya of the Kenya Medical Research Institute told reporters at an international conference on lung health in Cancun, Mexico.

Everybody’s Stoned

Pres. Obama, tell me again, what are we fighting for?

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