Spring Rising: An antiwar intervention March 18-21, 2015

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EXTRA! U.S. Congress Notices Problem with Nuclear Weapons!

by Joe Scarry

. . . and this was just the subtle part of the NY Daily News front page

That a bunch of GOP senators are agitated about nuclear weapons is a good thing. (“Firestorm erupts over GOP letter challenging Obama’s power to approve Iran nuclear deal” – March 10, 2015 on Fox.)

Now we just need to re-direct their energy to where the real problem is.

So many exist, ready to be used . . . .
The world’s nuclear weapon
count (August, 2014): 16,400  
(Source: peaceandplanet.org)

Iran and all the other countries in the world are confounded by the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons in US and Russian hands. They have practically no way to change that situation.

The possibility that Iran (or any other country) might obtain a nuclear weapon is significant in several senses — but the MOST significant sense is its ability to wake us up. (Witness the now-wide-awake GOP members of Congress.)

The trick now is to get Congress to pivot to the REAL challenge: getting the US to eliminate its nuclear weapons. Or — and this is where it gets really hairy — getting the US nuclear weapons out of the hands of our thermonuclear monarch.

Yes, that’s right. The real threat is a single person with his hand on the switch — able at any time to release the thousands of nuclear weapons already standing on alert and ready to go.

You want to talk Presidential power?

Constitution?

Sovereignty of the People?

Well then . . . let’s see you take on the king . . . .

Related posts

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon – a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War – deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of “Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom” by Elaine Scarry )

The choices are: (a) take back the power currently held by our thermonuclear monarch; or (b) shut up and pray. Those are the only two choices, and everybody gets to choose where they stand. The people in Congress who won’t step up to either of them are a nothing but a bunch of putzes.

(See Congress is a Bunch of Putzes )

There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. And that is why the entire country is mobilizing for mass action for nuclear disarmament in 2015. Are we capable of making sure the messengers — Obama, Putin, the other agents of government — hear their instructions from us clearly?

(See NEEDED: Heroes to Bring About Nuclear Disarmament )

How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons?  How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position — will always be in the position — to say, “No” ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will nevergive up its nuclear weapons, becauseit has the power and the rest of the world doesn’t?

(See 360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States))

It may be counterintuitive, but House Majority Leader John Boehner has actually done a good thing by inviting Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

(See Bibi and Boehner’s Gift to the Nuclear Disarmament Movement )

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Reverend Gil Caldwell on Vincent Harding and the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress

From Alan Gilbert

Gil Caldwell, a wonderful, eloquent minister and civil rights activist partly from Park Hill in Denver, thinks below, with Vincent Harding, our friend, about what Netanyahu’s corrupt visit means.  Vincent’s words are with us…

***

He calls to mind the great Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who marched with Gil in Selma, and said “When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying.

***

He recalls traveling on a ship to a work camp in Denmark and being snubbed by Jewish “Whites.”

***

And of Netanyahu’s violation of protocol towards the President, he recalls: “if you are black, stay back…”

***

It is time to stop Israeli imperialism – its violence toward the Palestinians, its incredible warmongering and the vast US military aid to Israel.  It is time for the people of the world to force Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, to end the Occupation.

***

Even now, Barack – “my younger brother,” as Vincent sometimes wrote to him – is not moving strongly in this direction, though his goals against ISIS in the Middle East require some cooperation of/with Iran and Syria and he has stood up against the Netanyahu/Romney/Adelson war-mongering even in an election (the opposite of what ordinary American Presidents and Presidential candidates do; see my Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?, ch. 1).

***

As among blacks, passing for White, despite near extermination under Hitler, is for Jews a choice.  Though it is nearly a  vocation among the would-be “kings” in Israel, it is way murderous and self-destructive.

***

I choose to be non-White and act up to that thought, as do many Jews who stand up against the “color line”  as in the South Africa anti-apartheid movement (and by the way, many anti-racist, that is self-aware and human Northern and Southern Europeans…).

***

Black folks at Yorktown during the Revolution (see my Black Patriots and Loyalists), in the abolitionist movement and the civil war, in the multiracial struggles of farmers and working people in the South (the Southern Tenants Alliance, the early Populist Party) and in the North (the CIO), and in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s have been great leaders in shaping the cause and meaning of democracy for all of us, as they have shaped – spirituals and jazz – the greatness of American culture.

***

Netanyahu’s corrupt visit has fractured reactionary elite support of the worst in Israel (a cartoon in the Times suggests Netanyahu is planting an immoral settlement in Congress – seehere…).

***

The Israel Lobby, a real enough force, nonetheless does not command the allegiance of most American Jews, who were the second most enthusiastic group in voting for Obama after blacks, about 77%, and are 80% opposed to bombing Iran, that is, to Netanyahu’s and AIPAC’s theme song.

***

Furthermore, every helicopter the US provides for the Occupied Palestine is an Apache.  As Gil suggests, the basic cause of indigenous Americans and all people is a democratic one, opposed to settler colonialism and racism.

***

Rabbi Heschel rightly believed that King’s words on a mass, nonviolent poor people’s movement are the future of America.  That movement makes us all brothers and sisters in this vital, still young experiment in democracy, as Brother Vincent would say.

***

May we fight, with Black Lives Matter!, for a decent future here…

***

But despite the election of Obama, America has temporarily taken the opposite path, resulting in its decline as a decent place and threatening destruction of the world.  Israel is a nuclear power and Netanyahu and the corrupt bombing chorus in the US against Iran moves us and the Middle East closer to a wider regional war; a threatened Israel might use such bombs…

Radiation travels…. Continue reading

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There ARE Alternatives to War (A Personal Commitment to the World Beyond War Initiative)

by Joe Scarry

The present confrontation between “the West” (i.e. the US/NATO military alliance) and Russia over Ukraine is a case in point that illustrates what the thousands of people who have committed themselves to the World Beyond War movement are committed to.

WorldBeyondWar.org @WorldBeyondWar
THERE *ARE* ALTERNATIVES to #war:

“#Ukraine ceasefire deal agreed at Belarus talks”

There is no denying that there is conflict within Ukraine and there is no question that Russia is involved.

There is also no denying that Ukraine now sticks out like a sore thumb as a remaining contested space in a process of Western power creep that has been taking place in Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

NATO’s eastward expansion — 1990 vs. 2009

The news in the US is full of Russia and Ukraine and Putin and Crimea, and I recognize in myself a curiosity and thrill at learning about this new, exotic part of the world. Unfortunately, this is a movie I’ve seen a growing number of times in the last decade — the U.S. dazzles the public with “foreign-conflict-as-entertainment,” and the public loses sight of the big picture.

The big picture — the forest for the trees — is that we have to de-escalate conflict, not engage in one-upsmanship. This is particularly true in the US-Russia relationship, where job #1 is theelimination of the two countries respective nuclear arsenals.

The World Beyond War initiative is aimed at encouraging everyone to stay focused on the key point: there ARE alternatives to war, and when we are able to proceed with those alternatives, we CAN succeed in achieving peace.

Four people who discovered the truth of this statement are François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Petro Poroshenko, and Vladimir Putin. When they met in Minsk and talked, they were able to achieve a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Peace is not a one-shot deal. It involves a continuous process. A process of choosing the alternatives to war.

There are already an AMAZING number of people around the US and around the world who have committed themselves to choosing these alternatives — and they’re doing so in more ways than you can imagine.  Over the days and weeks ahead, World Beyond War will be lifting up these alternatives and the way people are pursuing them, and encouraging everyone to #choosepeace.

TAKE ACTION
Sign up at  worldbeyondwar.org and tell others.

Like World Beyond War on  Facebook and join the conversation.Follow @WorldBeyondWar on Twitter and #choosepeace

 

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Poem: The Nuclear Nine

They are The Nuclear Nine–the ones with the Bomb.
They can trigger The End
at any time.
A mad leader, a mistake, miscalculation
buttons are pushed, and well,
there it isn’t. Gone.

Fast death for some,
slow for others.
Those with money might go underground
or maybe New Zealand if the wind
hasn’t shifted. Hoping against hope.

Those in the cities have a few minutes to panic
and melt.
In the hinterlands long struggles
with a slower demise,
poisoned milk, nuclear winters
where crops will not grow.
oh what a deed these mushrooms will do.

Kids under desks won’t be saved
in their schools,
nor will they be saved by
fast running moms.

The Nuclear Nine find comfort from silos
loaded with missiles, not maize.
Great security for them
until, of course, the A Bombs strike them too.

Our species is headed there,
fools and madmen we are.
As the Nuclear Nine cling to their bombs
the spark to ignite them will come
sooner or later- unless we wiseup, riseup
And save ourselves.

Richard Greve (c) February, 2015


 

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IT’S A START: U.S. Ambassador: “The P-5 have a responsibility to do more”

by Joe Scarry

As more and more people grew aware that the confrontation between the US/NATO and Russia over Ukraine could grow to world-threatening proportions, representatives of the nuclear weapons states (the so-called P-5 – US, Russia, UK, France, China) met in London.

This led to a very interesting exchange on Twitter:

Robert Wood @USAmbCD *
London Conference demonstrated P-5 commitment to their Article VI
obligations. Good exchange between P-5 and NPDI reps.Joe Scarry @Scarry
.@USAmbCD – Thanks – that “demonstrated P-5 commitment to their
Article VI obligations”? Could we see more? @napf @Cirincione

Robert Wood @USAmbCD
@Scarry @napf @Cirincione The P-5 have a responsibility to do more.

*U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament and Special
Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons (BWC) Convention Issues.

U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament and Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons (BWC) Convention Issues says “The P-5 have a responsibility to do more [with respect to the P-5’s Article VI obligations]”?

This is significant because, as the most powerful nation in the P-5, the US has the ability to make the P-5 “do more” if it wants to.

And it’s also significant because the nations of the world meet in New York City at the UN starting in just over two months for the once-every-5-years review conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (the NPT). People around the world are clamoring for progress on the main pillar of the NPT — the total elimination of nuclear arsenals by those who already have them. This is the “Article VI” of the NPT that all signatories (most notably US, Russia, UK, France, China) have signed on to:

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” (emphasis added)(See “THE TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS( NPT ) (text of the treaty) on the UN website.)

The NPT is based on a quid pro quo: nuclear “have-nots” agree to not acquire nuclear weapons, and nuclear “haves” agree to disarm. (See A DEAL’S A DEAL! (What part of “nuclear disarmament” doesn’t the US understand?) )

The rest of the world is getting sick of waiting for the P-5 to honor their obligation.

Equally as important, AMERICANS are demanding action.

The clock is ticking . . . .

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The Lesson of Reykjavik: TALK About Nuclear Disarmament (You Never Know)

by Joe Scarry

On the day the nuclear weapons states are meeting in London, it seems like an appropriate time for a reality check.

Just such a reality check comes from reading Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold Warby Ken Adelman. Three hundred and forty-two pages of this book are a depressing depiction of lots ofapparatchiks (U.S. and Soviet) hovering around the two most powerful people in the world, trying to convince themselves (and us) that they are adding value, while the whole time it’s quite clear that that’s pretty hard to do when you don’t know what Ronald Reagan is gonna say next . . . .

The payoff comes on pp. 167-168, where Reagan and Gorbachev get down to brass tacks.  Gorbachev begins by chasing down some specific language about laboratory testing, which seems limiting, evoking this response:

Reagan: I’m ready to include all the nuclear weapons we can.

Then this:

Gorbachev: Then we should include the whole triad.
Reagan: Okay, let’s take out ‘strategic.’ Then all ballistic missiles would be eliminated.

Holy smokes!

“It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons,” was a bold move that then popped in Reagan’s mind. Saying this aloud may have even startled himself, as he then scribbled on a piece of paper, “George [Schultz, Secretary of State], am I right?” and passed it to his left. Schultz leaned over and whispered in the good left ear: “Absolutely, yes.”

So we have:

Reagan: It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons.
Gorbachev: We can do that. We can eliminate them.
Schultz: Let’s do it!
Reagan: If we can agree to eliminate all nuclear weapons, I think we can turn this over to our Geneva folks with that understanding, fro them to draft up an agreement. Then you can come to the U.S. and sign it.
Gorbachev:Well, all right. Here we have a chance for an agreement.

All of this proves one thing: you never know what might happen.

It can all happen very fast.

No one really knows ahead of time what will happen.

That’s why it’s so important for people to get together and talk.

*   *   *   *   *

A Reflection on You Never Know!

Philadelphia: 10 Strawberry Street, with U.S. Customs 
House visible in the background.

When I was in my 20s, I worked in an import-export company, doing business throughout China and other countries in Asia. This was in the 1980s, overlapping with the time that Reagan was in office.

I worked for a man named Howard, one of the smartest and most humane people I’ve ever known. The main thing that our work involved was going to faraway places and talking to people.

Given that it took a lot of time and effort to go halfway around the world and talk to people, Howard and I used to spend a lot of time researching and talking about upcoming meetings.

We would estimate and imagine and forecast possibilities, all in the hopes of working efficiently and not going off on wild goose chases.

But one problem with this was that we sometimes fooled ourselves into thinking we knew what to expect before we even talked to people. It was usually Howard who remembered these words of wisdom:

“You never know!”

And, in fact, there were so many times that “You never know!” proved to be acutely true, that I once proposed to Howard that we should make it the company motto. We came very close to having the words “You never know!” embroidered on a large banner and hung outside our building at 10 Strawberry Street in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia.

*   *   *   *   *
TIME magazine, October 20, 1986:
NO DEAL
Star Wars Sinks the Summit

The Lesson of Reykjavik

The conventional wisdom is that Reykjavik was a fiasco: Reagan refused to back down on the Strategic Defense Inititive (“Star Wars”), and as a result the deal on total disarmament wasn’t completed.

On the other hand, Reykjavich was the start of a spectacular process of arms reductions.

When Reagan came into office, U.S. nuclear warheads totaled over 25,000. By the end of the George H.W. Bush administration, that total had been cut in half. By the end of the two terms of the second Bush, the total had been halved again.

The infographic below illustrates this dramatic change:

The American Nuclear Stockpile
Click to view full size on The New York Times website.

There remain over 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, so the job is not yet done. And we certainly can’t tolerate a situation in which the world is subject to the whim of one or two people. But what Reykjavich does tell us is: Obama and Putin need to sit down together and talk total nuclear disarmament.

Will the very next conversation be the one that results in eliminating nuclear weapons?

You never know . . . .

Related posts

The nuclear “haves” are meeting in London today and tomorrow. Everyone in the world should be doing everything possible to drive them towards an agreement on nuclear disarmament. It’s more important than ISIS. More important than Iran, Bibi, or Boehner. And certainly more important than the top ten things trending on Twitter or coming up in your Facebook feed.

(See Job #1 Vis-a-vis Russia: NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT)

Call me a demanding citizen, but I think the President should get off his butt and go talk to the leader of Russia.  (Yes, Putin.)  It’s his job.

(See Obama: Go to Moscow!)

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon – a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War – deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of “Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom” by Elaine Scarry )

There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

Continue reading

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