We are looking for antiwar conservatives

by Angela Keaton

I would love to sign up a few new bloggers from the antiwar right. Please contact me at 323-512-7095.


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Why Michael Hayden, “The Case for drones” John Brennan and unfortunately, Obama and Clinton are guilty of war crimes

by Alan Gilbert

The letter to the Times from FAISAL BIN ALI JABER should break our hearts. His
brother-in law, an imam, who preached against hateful Al-Qaida was taken out by
a drone. This is a common experience he relates. It should have changed America, and yet he writes that the article by Michael Hayden, former head of national intelligence, published by the Times and representing Obama, is unbelievable.

“I have lived the reality of drone warfare. In 2012, drones attacked<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/world/middleeast/with-brennan-pick-a-light-on-drone-strikes-hazards.html> the wedding
celebration in Yemen of my eldest son.I survived; two of my relatives did
not. My brother-in-law Salem was an imam. Days before his death he preached
against Al Qaeda’s hateful ideology, as he had many times before. My nephew
Waleed was the village policeman, keeping our townspeople safe. Continue reading

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Does Society “Decide” to Engage in War?

by Joe Scarry

I think if you asked most people, they would say that (a) war is deeply ingrained in society; and (b) society over and over again decides to engage in war.

There is a growing discourse around point (a): people are starting to unpack the idea that “war is deeply ingrained in society,” and growing in understanding that this is not the same as saying “war is part of human nature.”

I worry that there is less insight around point (b). At least in the United States, I think people continue to believe that war is a societal choice. I think this is not true.

In theory our Constitution is all about the people — through Congress — maintaining control over the decision to go to war. As it stands now, as a practical matter, that’s not really what’s happening.

I invite people to study the graph of historical US military spending below. It shows that there was a time when military spending went up when the US began to engage in a specific war, and then went back down after that war. Later, that pattern changed.

US Defense Spending — FY 1800 to FY 2010
(More at usgovernmentspending.com)

It is very interesting to consider why this change occurred. (Perhaps that’s a topic for a later blog post or two.)

But I think the more fundamental point is: at some point US society stopped being the “decider” about war. The US began to engage in war, and more war, and more war . . . but US society was no longer really making that decision in any real way.

(Think about US military action during your lifetime. In what ways, if any, did society at large determine what happened?)

If we confront this reality, what might this cause us to do differently?

Related posts

More than anyone else, the beneficiaries of permawar are the politicians who thrive on the power to make and control wars. The number one prime beneficiary is the President, as well as presidential aspirants. But it doesn’t end there . . . .

(See J’ACCUSE: The Beneficiaries of Permawar )

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 )

Right now we’re “stuck” — the portion of the public that wants to cut military spending has hovered in the high 20%s since 2004; it just can’t seem to break the 30% barrier. (The percentage of people in favor of expansion is about the same.)

(See Cutting Defense: Are We STUCK? )

It’s essential that we demand our members of Congress get on the record now about the opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria that they are registering from their districts.

(See On Syria, It’s Time for Congress to Remember Who They Represent)


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An Antiwar Thought Experiment: Swing the Swing States?

by Joe Scarry

There’s no time like the present — i.e. as the US stares down the throat of a possible Trump presidency — to tee up an electoral thought experiment.

Now I understand antiwar people have totally lost faith in the electoral process. It’s okay! So has everyone else!!

But this post is directed at a time in the not-to-distant future when there is a national awakening. (Think: David Byrne singing “My God! What have I done?”) I’m thinking about a time when a lot of people actually start to think about how they can have an impact about what this country is and does.

So here’s the thing: we all know that elections ultimately come down to the small number of uncommitted voters, especially in swing states. Anyone who wants to succeed devotes a lot of attention to what it will take to win over those voters, in those places.

Swing States 2016
(Source: UVA Center for Politics)

Now, consider a possible situation: any candidate who wants to win over those voters, in those places, will have to contend with a bunch of people who have been thinking a lot about how not to have war. What would happen if the antiwar movement zeroed in on that as a goal?

In other words, put aside for the time being the goal of turning every person in the country into an antiwar activist. In fact, put aside for the moment all of our accepted ideas about what it means to be “antiwar.” (And for sure forget about the idea that “antiwar” people look the same everywhere!)

Instead, just focus on this question: if we made a concerted effort, over a reasonable period of time, in a few select places, and paid attention to local circumstances, could we influence a bunch of people in those places to think a lot about how not to have war?

What might be different if that happened?

Related posts

It will be the 2016 presidential election that will provide the main form of entertainment and distraction to the U.S. populace between now an the end of next year. An enormous amount of political fluff will fill our lives — pushing aside, I suppose, vast amounts of sports fluff and shopping fluff and celebrity fluff and — well, you get the point.

(See What Will Dominate Election 2016? (ANSWER: ISIS and #BlackLivesMatter) )

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 )

Yesterday, as all the other senators sat patiently through the obfuscation of Barack Obama’s Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey — Rand Paul gave ’em hell.
“Stand up for us and say you’re going to obey the Constitution and if we vote you down — which is unlikely, by the way — you would go with what the people say through their Congress and you wouldn’t go forward with a war that your Congress votes against.”

(See Obama’s Syria “Vote” in Congress: Democracy? or Theater? )

Posted in American Military Culture, The Left's Challenge, The New Peace Movement, The Right's Challange, World War III | Tagged | Leave a comment

In 2016, Walk the Talk: “Anti-Islamophobia.” (You can do it.)

by Joe Scarry

December 6, 2015 — This week, American Jews are participating
in a series of nationally coordinated actions against Islamophobia
and racism to mark the eight days of Chanukah with a rekindling
of their commitment to justice. (See jewssayno.org)

As a person working to put a stop to war, it is clear to me that the conflating of the ideas of “the threat of Islam” and “the global war on terrorism” are the biggest obstacles to peace today.

Simply stated: Islamophobia fosters war.

We live in a 24/7 entertainment and media culture, and it is a constant struggle to shift from being a passive participant in the dominant cultural narrative to being an active influence on the ideas circulating in our communities.

Numerous groups are leading an effort to replace Islamophobia with education and conversation. (See links below.)

In particular, as an active participant in several church congregations, I recognize the responsibility of people of faith to move from contemplation to action. (Apostles act.) I invite us members of Christian communities to ask ourselves:

What are we doing to bridge the gap between ourselves and Muslims?
(If we are not the ones to create the bridge, who is???)

Here are some of my recent blog posts on the subject of Islamophobia:

We all wish to be judged by our good intentions. But the way people know us is through our actions. So … what do people in the Muslim world know about us here in the United States?

(See They’ll Know Us By Our Actions)

The iPhobe is a humanoid robot that spouts anti-Islamic rhetoric and encourages fear and hatred in an unprecedented variety of ways.

(See Like your iPhone? You’ll LOVE the new iPhobe!)

If we are going to stave off a U.S. war against Iran, we are going to have to have some very difficult conversations with other Americans. Some people are extremely hostile. It’s confusing and a bit frightening, but we’re going to have to confront it.

(See Why Does Iran Arouse So Much Hostility?)

In 2013 America, we have been conditioned to feel anything associated with Middle Eastern and/or Muslim men should trigger feelings of suspicion, fear, and hatred. And when those cues are triggered, all of our objectivity and healthy skepticism goes out the window.

(See Orwell and the Uses of Hate)

Here’s something that would be courageous and valuable, in my opinion: zero in on the handful of people in the world who have their fingers on triggers of the massive nuclear arsenals that threaten us, and bring them to heel. That would be impressive.

(See The Wrong 3,000,000 Covers: Quel dommage! )

I wonder if the outrage that many Muslims seem to feel at the suffering of other Muslims doesn’t put us Christians to shame.

(See Fighting Back: It’s alright as long as you’re a Christian, right? )

The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )

“Yes, I tell everyone: I’m Sicilian — but,” she said, “that doesn’t mean I’m Mafia — and German — but that doesn’t mean I’m a Nazi.” And then she added: “And being Muslim doesn’t mean someone’s a terrorist! That’s what I tell people!”

(See Kairos: “Muslim” Doesn’t Mean “Terrorist”! )

I was back in New Jersey to visit with high school friends in July. It gave me the opportunity to visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial. Not surprisingly, what I saw made me spend days and weeks thinking about the memorial itself, and the larger issue of 9/11 in our national life. Out of all that I have seen and heard and read and thought about, several thoughts keep rising to the top.

(See 9/11 Memory: Grieving and Celebrating Valor, Leaving Vengeance Behind )

Useful links to anti-Islamophobia resources

10 Strategies to Counter Islamophobia – Presented by Imam Malik Mujahid at 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, January 27, 2016.

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Drones: We Need Debate, Not Sound Bites

by Joe Scarry

It’s an election year in the US. National security is becoming a top issue. Everyone’s talking about ISIS, and terrorism. The evolving US militarism is bubbling just below the surface.

Okay: let’s put the question on the table.

REAL debate is not the 3-ring circus that you see on TV during prime time,
full of personalities and ad hominem attacks, but rather a knowledge- and
research-based exchange of argument and counterargument directed at
focused analysis of a specific question. Passion and competition, yes,
but, more than anything else, debate is an exercise in critical thinking!

Let’s hear some real debate: Is military action the solution? Is violence the way to fight violence? Are we going to “drone” our way to a peaceful world?

Before we let some politician get away with a cheap sound bit, let’s subject the question to real scrutiny:

Does the use of drones really offer countries like the US the best solution for addressing violent threats?

Let’s see a real debate.

Related posts

Anyone who has had to write a speech knows that the hardest part is to land on the main idea. Once you’ve got that right, the rest practically writes itself.

(See “The way to respond to ISIS is not through violence.” on Scarry Thoughts.)

A virus is able to be so successful precisely because it (most of the time) doesn’t kill its host. I can’t help thinking that we simply are not being intelligent about how to respond to violence. How might recognizing the “viral” nature of violence help us to respond to it more intelligently?

(See Violence: Taking Over Like a Virus on Scarry Thoughts.)

We can now entrust all the dirty work — including war — to robots. (Or can we?)

(See A Modest Proposal: Debate the Drones on Scarry Thoughts.)

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#PeaceDay 2015 – Ten Thoughts on Peace

by Joe Scarry

Rainbow peace sign flag
(Image: @fieldsforever58)

Yesterday was the UN International Day of Peace.

The day nudged me to think about what — if anything — I feel I really know about peace and the movement for peace.

Here are 10 things that are true for me . . . .

(1) Nuclear abolition

The risk from nuclear weapons is so great, the only responsible course is total elimination now.

(See What’s YOUR “appetite for risk”? (Eliminate nuclear weapons NOW!) )

(2) Getting with the times

The means available to us today for eliminating war vary greatly from those available from those working to eliminate war in decades past.

(See Not Your Father’s Antiwar Movement )

(3) Social media power

One means that can be the source of enormous power is social media.

(See News Worth Spreading: “There IS An Alternative to War!” )

(4) Intersectionality

We face a whole lot of obstacles to peace and justice. To be a peace activist means committing to work on multiple fronts.

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )

(5) Grounding oneself

Where do people find the grounding to sustain their work for peace?

For many people, grounding is found in community and/or faith.

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry) )

(6) The centrality of nonviolence

Eventually, it becomes clear that “nonviolence” is not just an aspect of style, and somehow optional, but is, in fact, a central source of the essential power needed by anyone working for peace.

(See Chenoweth on Why Nonviolence Gets Results (The “Cliff’s Notes” Version) )

(7) A challenge to the Church

How much attention should Christians give to the work of actually opposing war?

To me it seems clear that Jesus’ “good news” is a subversive, anti-imperialist, anti-establishment, anti-status quo call to action.

(See How Shall We Live in the Face of Empire? (Reading Mitri Raheb) )

(8) Peace work

Peace is a system, and we should approach it as something to work at.

Peace work requires resources: hours, money, skills.

(See A Global Security System: An Alternative to War from World Beyond War.)

(9) Permawar

The main characteristic of war has become its persistence. Why?

(See J’ACCUSE: The Beneficiaries of Permawar)

(10) Go ahead, say “never”

One of the best things we could do is get out of the “little bit of war” habit. Saying “no” is the first step to finding alternatives to war.

(See Greenwald Was Right: “Humanitarian” War in Syria? It’s Just More War )

What’s true for you?

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