Peace through Strength

By Eoghan Hartigan, reprinted with permission from Paddies and Politics

‘There never was a good war or a bad peace.’ – Benjamin Franklin

‘It should be our endeavour to cultivate the peace and friendship of every nation, even of that which has injured us most.’ – Thomas Jefferson

Peace through strength is a favourite maxim of the Neoconservative movement in the United States. They make the rather unusual claim that lots more guns and ammo will make the world a safer place. There is, however, one problem: this claim has all the purity of excrement.

How do I know this? Or rather, how does any sensible human being know this?

Firstly, US military spending has steadily grown since World War II. Their army has grown ever stronger. They spend more than everyone else and they always have the best weapons. Unfortunately, as their arsenal has grown, Americans have become ever less safe. The only way this whole peace through strength lark holds up, therefore, is if foreign folk have become even more mean and fightey. If this is true, America better get its act together and become even stronger. But it is not. Human beings all across the world have been consistent in their levels of barbarism.

On top of this, it’s only peace through strength if you follow this massive build-up of arms with restraint. Lately, America has been slow to oblige. President Reagan more than any other Commander-in-Chief liked this phrase- see his budget deficits for more information. But at the same time as spinning a good yarn about peace, he was arming contras in Nicaragua. Where was the peace? At the very best, this situation is evidence of a Neoconservative desire for America to feel peace, regardless of the cost for other nations. It is a similar motive which drives the US sympathy for Israel- they recognise a fellow peace through strength buddy.

Reagan on his dinosaur, Eugene. 

In reality, the principle behind peace through strength is a questionable one. It is very similar to the philosophy of the mafioso at the centre of the classic film ‘A Bronx Tale’. Robert DeNiro’s character explains to his son that the mafioso is not respected or liked, but feared. America seeks to strike fear into other nations. When Thomas Friedman told Charlie Rose that America needed to go to Iraq, so as to tell the Islamic world to ‘suck on this’, he was very close to the truth. And President Bush took the cake when he proclaimed that if nations were not with America, they were with the terrorists. The US has a my way or the highway approach to world affairs. Hence the need to scare people.

Accordingly, peace through strength would only hold water if people all over the world were spineless in the extreme. Human beings do not like being forced into anything. The Pax Americana, therefore, cannot but lead to violence. The saddest part of all this is that the US has forgotten the story of its own birth. Americans quite rightly founded their own state because they had had enough of being told how they should run their own country. Remembering this would be helpful.

Do they think so little of other peoples that they would not expect a similar reaction when they take on the role of oppressor?

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Why Air Shows Are a Very Effective Place to Protest Drone Killing and Drone Surveillance

By Joe Scarry, from Scarry Thoughts

Coming off our experience this past weekend once again protesting against drone killing, drone surveillance, and related acts of militarism at the Chicago Air and Water Show, I am more confirmed than ever in my view that air shows are a very effective place to get our message out to the public.

I should start by saying that the Chicago event is a free public event that takes place on public space along the Chicago lakefront, so it is especially suitable for public speech.  Understanding that other venues may not afford the all of the same characteristics of the Chicago event, I offer several observations:

Chicago Air and Water Show

(1) The perfect nexus

When the war planes are roaring overhead, it is very easy for people to understand why you are there talking about war and weapons of war.

This is very different than the situation we so often encounter trying to speak to people on a street corner, where people rush on by, eager to get on with their busy lives.

There’s nothing like an F-22 coming in low over the reviewing stand to focus people’s attention on the problem of war.

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What Will “Strategic” Mean in Our Children’s Lifetime?

“High-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles pre-pared and stored
by the 2d Battalion, 401st Army Field Support Brigade, stand ready at
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.” (Photo by Galen Putnam, 402d AFSB Public Affairs)
(From “Commanding an Army Field Support Battalion” by Lieutenant Colonel
Michael T. Wright, Army Sustainment, March-April 2012)

We are likely to wake up some day and realize that we have succeeded in evolving our economy away from fossil fuels — toward a zero carbon economy — and that means our “interests” in the Middle East will no longer be so strategic any more.

What will be strategic then?

Despite the temptation to name some other part of the world — to pivot to the idea that now China is where we need to be in control — perhaps the answer is: “strategic” will no longer have to do with how much stuff we can get, but with how successful we can be at spending less.

This leads me to wonder: will the next revolution lie in reining in the out-of-control network of U.S. military bases around the world?

U.S. Military Bases
Posted 24th October 2012 by Toni Nicolle

Just like a family that has extra rooms in its house which inevitably become filled with stuff, the U.S. has thousands of bases — here, there, and everywhere — that inevitably create the “need” to spend.

It’s a very Zen idea — that perhaps the most impactful thing we, as a nation, could “do” is to “do” less.

But perhaps it’s necessary to explore. Perhaps we have gotten caught up in the wrong argument, i.e. whether this or that military action is right or wrong, justified or misguided.  Perhaps we’re fiddling while Rome burns. Perhaps we have to simply cut the discussion off at the knees and say, “What would be good would be a massive paradigm shift in what constitutes desirable activity — economic and otherwise.”

How could we possibly make this happen in our lifetime?

 

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[Poem] Walking

Why doesn’t the

perspiring

Ferguson police chief

Michael

talk about how many

teens

have been shot

hands up

a block from home

walking

Brown

while white?

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The Neocon Plan for Iraq is Working Perfectly

–A Review of Errol Morris’ film The Unknown Known
By Michael Troncale

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”
–Ron Suskind, quoting from a conversation he had with a ‘senior advisor’ to President Bush

“War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible. But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous. When war is continuous there is no such thing as military necessity. Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded.”
–1984, George Orwell

Errol Morris’ latest documentary, The Unknown Known, is basically a two hour monologue from Donald Rumsfeld, often in narration played over Morris’ usual visual pyrotechnics. The film is broken occasionally with a question from the unseen Morris, but this is Rumsfeld’s show, and he relishes the chance to explain himself and engage in the linguistic obfuscation and near madness that were the hallmark of his time as Secretary of Defense.

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Reps. Fattah and Cartwright: Support the “Come Clean on Drones Killing” Bill!

By Joe Scarry, from No Drones Pennsylvania

People in Pennysylvania who oppose the U.S. program of drone killings in countries around the world have been vocal on calling on Congress — especially Pennsylvania progressive members of Congress Chaka Fattah and Matt Cartwright — to bring the Administration to heel.

Now a bill is pending in Congress — the The Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act (HR 4372) — also known as the “Come Clean on Drone Killing” Act. At this writing, quite a few of Rep. Fattah and Cartwrights’ fellow progressive caucus members have become co-sponsors for the bill. So where are Reps. Fattah and Cartwright?

Rep. Fattah’s constituents need to contact him and urge him to co-sponsor the bill today.

Rep. Cartwright’s constituents need to contact him and urge him to co-sponsor the bill today.

Additional resources to help:

Identify your member of Congress

Example letter to a member of Congress in support of HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act (the “come clean on drone killings” act)

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Rep. David Loebsack: Support the “Come Clean on Drones Killing” Bill!

 By Joe Scarry, from Scarry Thoughts

Rep. Loebsack at a Rock Island Arsenal Joint
Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC)
event.

Rep. David Loebsack, representing Iowa’s second congressional district, has strong progressive credentials.

He is reputed to have called for more scrutiny over military drones. (See “Congress examining non-military use of drones,” in The Gazette, March 20, 2013)

A bill is pending in Congress — the The Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act (HR 4372) — also known as the “Come Clean on Drone Killing” Act. At this writing, quite a few of Rep. Loebsack’s fellow progressive caucus members have become co-sponsors for the bill. So where is Rep. Loebsack?

Rep. Loebsack’s constituents need to contact him and urge him to co-sponsor the bill today.

Additional resources to help:

Identify your member of Congress

Example letter to a member of Congress in support of HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act (the “come clean on drone killings” act)

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