Sunday, November 29, 2009

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Jerusalem must join Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Amidst a constant stream of news stories about the IAEA's calls to Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, this morning I inadvertently ran across a recent (9/18/09) Reuters piece about the IAEA calling on Israel to join Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow it to monitor its facilities. The Reuters piece was posted in Ynet News, an Israeli news source. This speaks well of the Israeli people, many of whom are peace-loving. See the story at: http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3778884,00.html. Kudos also to the IAEA for its even-handed treatment of Israel. This example of objectivity is something that U.S. officials, including our Nobel Peace-prize winning president, might well learn from, and finally bring a stop to America's apparent lack of objectivity in failing to hold Israel to the same standards it insists on with Iran and other nations.

The Reuters article states: "Israel is one of only three countries worldwide along with India and Pakistan outside the nuclear NPT and is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, though it has never confirmed or denied it." Indeed if one does some research, it's easy to conclude from a number of sources that Israel has a formidable nuclear arsenal. For all the Israeli and U.S. complaining about Iran's nuclear plants, it seems to me that Israel's own thinly-veiled nuclear arsenal makes it, and not Iran, the greatest threat to peace and stability in the middle east.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

U.S. ranked #83 out of 144 in study seeking to rank the most peaceful nations

A study of the world's most peaceful countries released earlier this year puts the U.S. as number 83. The top five most peaceful countries are said to be, respectively: New Zealand (#1), Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Austria.

Israel is ranked as fourth to last (141) among the 144 countries ranked. To put this into perspective, Pakistan is ranked at #137. See http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/results/rankings.php for the list.

According to the site, the rankings were arrived at by: "Twenty-three indicators of the existence or absence of peace were chosen by the panel of experts, which are divided into three broad categories: measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization." For more details, see: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/about-gpi/methodology.php

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov. 17, 2009 - thought-provoking and informative "Rethink Afghanistan" documentary

Brave New Foundation's documentary, "Rethink Afghanistan" showing:
7:00PM Tuesday, November 17th at Memorial High School's Little Theater in Eau Claire!
Ending the American military occupation of Afghanistan starts with Americans everywhere getting together with friends, neighbors and family members and discussing the costs --human and financial-- of this misguided use of America's military.

Rethink Afghanistan is a ground-breaking, full-length documentary focusing on the key issues surrounding this war. Through the film, Brave New Foundation hopes "to raise critical questions regarding Afghanistan that Congress must address in oversight hearings, which inform the public and challenge policymakers."

The segments that make up this dvd are all posted online (http://rethinkafghanistan.com/videos.php). I've watched, I think, 5 or 6 of the 7 total segments on the dvd, and am very impressed with the good work that went into this dvd.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

U.S. and Israeli hypocrisy in the matter of Iran's nuclear plants?

I am struggling to understand what all the alarm about Iran's nuclear facilities is about. Particularly the sense of alarm emanating from the U.S. and Israeli governments. It's very difficult for me not to see dangerous hypocrisy in the U.S. and Israel in this. Iran claims that even its most recently revealed nuclear plant is for peaceful purposes. But even if it were not, what gives the U.S. or Israel the right to voice opposition to Iran because of this (which is what I gather from recent news reports)? I have even detected veiled threats in the news of either the U.S. or Israel taking military action against Iran on account of its nuclear plants. Does not the U.S. and Israel both possess nuclear weapons? Has not the U.S. used nuclear weapons against civilian populations, with no guarantees it will not use them again? If the U.S. is serious about a nuclear-weapons free world - particularly in the middle east-- it and Israel should have taken the lead years ago in disarming, under a internationally-agreed upon inspections apparatus. I hope it is not yet too late.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"The Awful Sound of Silence" by Steve Carlson

When I read Steve Carlson's recent post to commondreams.org, it seems to me that he compellingly reveals how we not only have an economic crisis in America, but a crisis of conscience as well. Check it out at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/23-3

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What our federal tax dollars COULD go to instead of funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

According to the National Priorities Project (NPP), as of 4/28/09, taxpayers in Wisconsin have paid $13.2 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the NPP, this could have paid for other things, such as health care for 8,536,735 people for one year, or 230,972 Elementary School teachers for one year, or 1,968,551 scholarships for university students for one year. Find out what taxpayers in YOUR state have spent on these wars, and what else your state could have gotten with the same amount of money, at: http://www.nationalpriorities.org/tradeoffs

Sunday, March 29, 2009

President Obama's strategy for defeating al-Qaida is not likely to succeed

A 3/27/09 Associated Press article, posted by Yahoo (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090327/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_afghanistan), reported the following quotes from President Obama's announcement about US military strategy for defeating al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan:
" 'So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future,' the president said.
'That is the goal that must be achieved,' Obama added. 'That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you.' "

In contrast: according to a 2008 study produced by the RAND Corporation, military offensives such as those launched by President George W. Bush and continued by President Obama, rarely succeed in defeating terrorist groups. The report is called: "How Terrorist Groups End - Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida".

Here are some excerpts:

"All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? Answers to
this question have enormous implications for counterterrorism efforts.
The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because
(1) they joined the political process or (2) local police and intelligence
agencies arrested or killed key members. Military force has rarely been
the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups...."

"The good news about countering al Qa’ida is that its probability of
success in actually overthrowing any governments is close to zero. Al
Qa’ida’s objectives are virtually unachievable, and it has succeeded in
alienating most governments in Asia, Europe, North America, South
America, the Middle East, and Africa. Nor does it have a firm base of
support, as do such groups with welfare services, such as Hizballah and
Hamas. As al Qa’ida expert Peter Bergen concluded, 'Making a world
of enemies is never a winning strategy.'

"But the bad news is that U.S. efforts against al Qa’ida have not
been successful. Despite some successes against al Qa’ida, the United
States has not significantly undermined its capabilities. Al Qa’ida has
been involved in more attacks in a wider geographical area since September
11, 2001, including in such European capitals as London, than it
was before that date. Its organizational structure has also evolved. This
means that the U.S. strategy in dealing with al Qa’ida must change. A
strategy based predominantly on military force has not been effective.
Considering al Qa’ida’s organizational structure and modus operandi,
only a strategy based primarily on careful police and intelligence work
is likely to be effective."

You can download the entire report at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How do we know if/when we have a healthy, effective peace movement?

How do we know if and when we have a healthy, effective peace movement? There are, arguably, many, many peace and justice organizations in this state (this includes Voices For Peace Institute) and in the country, small and large, with and without paid staff...many of them are trying to either stop certain wars the U.S. is involved in and/or to prevent the U.S. from getting involved in future wars. And yet...congressional election cycle after congressional election cycle comes and goes, and presidential election cycle after presidential election cycle comes and goes, and, it seems to this observer that the U.S. remains firmly entrenched in militaristic thinking and behavior...using its military (or by proxy, the militaries of other nations) to get its way abroad.

How can you and I know when and if American peace groups have even begun to change the way voters think and vote, and the way the federal government behaves, when it comes to the military-industrial-congressional-corporate-complex? What does this kind of a political milieu look like?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Saturday, Jan. 24 All-American Peace Inaugural Ball

Wow! I feel blessed to have been able to attend the All-American Peace Inaugural Ball yesterday evening, at the nearby Seymour Town Hall. This event had been planned and organized, in large part, by Mark Ruddy and Mark Helpsmeet. Many kudos to each of them for the hard work and many hours they put into making last night's event an inspiriing reality. I can today testify that their hard work PAID OFF. I feel happy that Voices For Peace Institute had the opportunity to be one of the sponsors of this inspiring event. Women in Black, Iraq Moratorium, the Friends Meeting, and other groups had information tables, plus, Mark Ruddy made available much helpful information from the Friends National Committee on Legislation (http://www.fcnl.org/index.htm).

Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (http://www.wisdc.org/) was the keynote speaker. He talked about how grass-roots movements that change the way governments behave (state or national) are started and continued by individuals like you and me simply taking the time to (and in some cases being brave enough to) TALK to family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. about what we have learned to be true about political problems facing us and the possible solutions to those problems. He told an inspiring story of how Wisconsinites way back in the mid-1850s got the ball rolling that led to many positive changes in our state...and they did it by talking WITH each other and TO politicians.

Then, too, the Peace Ball last night was honored to have Bruce O'Brien lead people in a Group Sing of Peace and Justice songs, and the Ball also was graced with the music of the peerless Sue Orfield Band providing (incredible music to dance by)!

Thank you again, Mark Ruddy and Mark Helpsmeet, once again, for having the vision and tenacity to make last night's event a reality! May we now all roll up our sleeves and look for ways to talk with each other and talk TO our government representatives about the changes we want to see in America!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jan. 22, 2009 - President Obama issues order to close Gitmo

Finally! THANK YOU President Obama! The order involved not only closing Gitmo down but all overseas CIA secret prisons. In the AP story, the following excerpt appeared, at the beginning of the piece:

"WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

With his action, Obama started changing how the United States prosecutes and questions al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to Americans — and overhauling America's image abroad, battered by accusations of the use of torture and the indefinite detention of suspects at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

"The message that we are sending the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism and we are going to do so vigilantly and we are going to do so effectively and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals," the president said."

I read the full story at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090122/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_suspected_terrorists (accessed today - 1/22/09).

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