Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beyond Belief - Watch the Documentary Film for Free | Watch Free Documentaries Online | SnagFilms

A really well-done vid....well worth the 1.5 hours it takes to view it. Why? Because at least for me, it helped stimulate a vitally-needed thing in our world: empathy... something we must have more of -very soon- if we are to move towards living with each other in peace.

"Susan Retik and Patti Quigley were two ordinary soccer moms living in the affluent suburbs of Boston until the tragedy of September 11 struck. Rather than turn inward, grief compelled these women to focus on empowering widows in the country where the terrorists who took their husbands’ lives were trained: Afghanistan."

Beyond Belief - Watch the Documentary Film for Free | Watch Free Documentaries Online | SnagFilms

Friday, December 17, 2010

"The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention"

The Salon article, "The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention" at http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14/manning alleges (and it seems true to me) that Manning has been held in psychologically crippling solitary confinement and is denied even a sheet and pillow for his bed.

No civilized nation should treat its prisoners this way - whether proven guilty or not. America IS a civilized nation, but if our military is treating him in the way that the Salon piece alleges, we are not acting like a civilized nation.

I love America and want it to be a moral example to the world of justice for all.

See also the companion piece at: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/16/alleged_wikileaks_whistleblower_bradley_manning_imprisoned

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 Veterans Day Reflection

I know Veterans Day has passed. I posted the following on Facebook, and want to also post it here. I believe that what I'm expressing is pertinent all year 'round...

The purpose of a military is to defend one's nation from being invaded and/or occupied. It is good and right to recognize and honor every American veteran, past and present, who was willing put his or her life on the line because he or she believed their service was achieving exactly this purpose.

It seems to me though that if we just automatically accept it when our government sends our men and women in the military to kill and maim and be killed and maimed and to occupy other nations, when in fact there is either no connection or only the most far-fetched connections with defending our nation from being invaded and/or occupied, we make a mockery of the bravery and suffering and death of our soldiers.

Everyone must decide for him or herself when or if this is ever the case. For me, sadly, there is no doubt that in our military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, we are making a mockery of the bravery and suffering and death of our soldiers.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Million Minutes for Peace

I've "signed up" for doing this, and hope all people of faith who read this will also make this one-minute commitment. "People of different faiths from all over the world will stop at noon and pray for peace for one minute - each in their own way on September 21st - the U.N. International Day of Peace." Read more about this (and about how you can participate!) at: http://amillionminutesforpeace.org/
Peace to all,
Lou Recine

Thursday, July 29, 2010

As the war in Afghanistan enters its final chapter, Sean Smith's brutal, uncompromising film from the Helmand frontline shows the horrific chaos of a stalemate that is taking its toll in blood

WARNING: distressing images and audio. (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2010/jul/29/afghanistan-war-us-military - retrieved 7/29/10). When watching, keep in mind that according to our own govt, our leaders made a decision to let bin Laden escape from our grasp in late 2001 (see foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Tora_Bora_Report.pdf).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Global Peace Index, U.S. ranked #85 out of 149 in study seeking to rank the most peaceful nations

"The 2010 rankings are here! This year 149 nations of the world have been ranked by their peacefulness and the results have stimulated some very interesting analysis." (The work is named the "Global Peace Index" - http://www.visionofhumanity.org/).

I blogged about this last November, looking at stats for 2009. Last year the U.S. ranked #83 out of 144 countries. For 2010, the U.S. ranked #85 out of 149 countries. To see the factors that are taken into account when ranking, go to: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/about/, and in the left-hand side bar, click on "Peace Indicators"; also click on "Related Indicators". For the second year in a row, New Zealand is #1. Iraq is the least peaceful (#149), Afghanistan is at #147, and Israel is at #144.

Endorsers of the Global Peace Index effort can be seen at: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/info-center/endorsers/

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's deja vu all over again in Afghanistan

"After First Denying Involvement, US Forces Admit Killing Two Pregnant Afghan Women & Teenager"- http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/6/after_first_denying_involvement_us_forces

"Afghanistan's My Lai Massacre" - http://www.truthout.org/where-are-this-wars-hejavascript:void(0)roes-military-and-journalistic57406

Here are two SEPARATE stories of U.S. / U.S.-led actions in Afghanistan. Sadly they are only two stories out of many other, similar stories. Speaking personally, as a Christian, I believe God's heart is deeply, deeply, deeply grieved at what America is doing in Afghanistan.

But I don't think one needs to be a person of religious faith to have a reason to object to U.S. behavior in Afghanistan. If you are an American citizen who cares about what your government is doing in your name with your tax dollars, these sorts of reports will, I hope, cause you to question your government and contact your legislators in Washington.

My own research and reading makes me fear that these reports reveal just the tip of the iceberg. For me --a person old enough to remember the My Lai Massacre being reported on the news-- U.S. behavior in Afghanistan is chilling.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jason Hicks' May 5 presentation-"A road map of the political landscape of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict"

I just got back from Jason Hicks' "A road map of the political landscape of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" presentation at The Cabin, in Davies Center, UWEC Campus, 7pm-8pm tonight. What an informative talk! I came away from the talk with a better understanding of the "political landscape" there - what is the current stance --vis-a-vis the Palestinians-- of the current Israeli govt, and then, also, the current stances, vis-a-vis Israel, of the Palestinians as represented by: Fateh (West Bank) and Hamas (Gaza). I also came away with a better realization of how important peace there is to my security today as an American, and to the security of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And...I can report that The Cabin was FILLED. I estimate that there was a 100 people in there for the entire hour....from college-age, to high-school age, to old fogies like me! KUDOS and heartfelt thanks to my Voices For Peace Institute co-sponsors of this event-particularly Allison Kimble, UWEC College Democrats, Collin Hawkins, UWEC Society for Peace & Justice in Palestine, the UWEC Model UN Club and the Wisconsin Federation of College Republicans!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

U.S. and NATO actions in Afghanistan fuel the Afghan insurgency

Both quotes below are from a 3/26/10 New York times article, Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints (retrieved 4/4/10):

“We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ev'er proven to be a threat,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who becme the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent videoconference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties."

"Many of the detainees at the military prison at Bagram Air Base joined the insurgency after the shootings of people they knew, said the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

U.S. State Department offers hope for an end to resorting to force as U.S. policy

First--a brief background to my reflections....
Phyllis Bennis, fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and author, most recently, of "Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer" was interviewed in February by Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! Bennis stated that in order to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the U.S. anti-war movement needs to "mobilize in different ways with different allies", and recognize that the "costs of war are going to be key". She also said that people in the U.S. anti-war movement need to "work as much with people that are fighting for new green jobs as we do fighting against the travesty of civilian deaths in Afghanistan or Iraq."
(Source: Phyllis Bennis on Ending the US War in Afghanistan; http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/23/phyllis_bennis_on_ending_the_us )

My reaction to what Bennis says is "yes"....and, "no". "Yes" as a way to eventually help bring the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a stop. But "no" in that unless there's also a fundamental change in how America "does" foreign policy, reflexively resorting to force, we will only find ourselves in another "Afghanistan" in the not-too-distant future.

The American government itself has provided the answer, as expressed at the web site of the U.S. Department of State, which basically says that America totally buys into and is committed to, principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The protection of fundamental human rights was a foundation stone in the establishment of the United States over 200 years ago. Since then, a central goal of U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States understands that the existence of human rights helps secure the peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises."
(Source: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/, retrieved 3-13-10; also, see the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108544.htm)

I perused the text of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was immediately struck by how America has, in some glaring and tragic ways, not lived up to key values expressed there. But at least the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a standard that you and I could hold in common with the U.S. government. There are creative, intelligent groups of people of good will in our country who are offering guidance to Congress, to help our country live up to its stated values by implementing peace-building initiatives. One group amongst others is the Friends Committee on National Legislation and their "Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict" initiative. You can learn more about it at: http://www.fcnl.org/ppdc/.

There IS hope for an America that can be seen around the world as humanitarian super-power, not a military super-power.

Followers