In this episode: China encourages peace in Africa, does business around the world, regulates care of “left-behind” children, and works toward the common prosperity goal through the construction of affordable housing.The post News on China | No. 82 first appeared on Dissident Voice.
For decades, Hollywood has produced a plethora of films extolling American military prowess in warfare. Aside from Oliver Stone films and a few others, e.g., Casualties of War, usually these Hollywood films depict the United States as a force for good defeating fascists and other evildoers. Never-ending US militarism has provided a cornucopia of potential war scripts for Hollywood. Currently designated bête noires have already featured in Hollywood war films. In 1984, Hollywood made Red Dawn about an invasion of the US by the Soviet Union. In 2012, Red Dawn was updated to the other source of US demonization, China. However, capitalism and the lust for profits caused a switcheroo. The Chinese market is very lucrative for Hollywood. Consequently, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) bogeyman was substituted in as invading the American homeland.
The Soviet Union and Russia have produced a number of war films, albeit to little fanfare in the West. In the western world, Hollywood has been ruling the movie roost. Recently, however, Chinese film production has grown by major leaps and bounds, and blockbusters have been among the film fare. China is now the world’s largest cinema market, and it is expected to continue to grow.
The major Chinese film of 2021 was a war epic, The Battle at Lake Changjin. It was produced at a cost of $200 million and grossed $905 million worldwide. It was commissioned by the Communist Party of China for its 100th anniversary in 2021.
The year previously, 2020, China honored the 70th anniversary of its People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) that made the sacrifice to fight the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. This war is encapsulated in The Battle at Lake Changjin.
A basic outline of what preceded China’s entry into the war on the Korean peninsula is that the DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south were engaged in a civil war, a war precipitated by the US splitting the country in two. The DPRK had advanced throughout the ROK except for a small southern pocket when the US decided to interpose itself into the war on the side of the ROK. The US would also manage to bring the United Nations on board, bringing other countries to its side. This massively tipped the scales, and the war pushed north over the 38th parallel. China had warned the US on numerous occasions to stay away from the Yalu River that delineates the Korean border with China. (For detailed and footnoted substantiation read A.B. Abrams’ Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power. Review.)
Near the beginning of the movie, viewers see US planes strafing the environs of the Yalu River. China was very reluctant to enter the war, having not so long ago emerged from its own civil war. At the time China was a poor country looking to get back on its feet. But as pointed out in the film, that generation had to fight to spare a future generation from having to fight the war.
Thus, the 9th Army of the PVA is sent across the Yalu River during the frigid winter of 1950. The PVA was ill equipped, and they were going up against the best equipped and most formidable army of that epoch. At Changjin Lake temperatures plunged to -30°C. The film depicts ferocious fighting, numerous casualties, gore, and deaths on both sides. The remnants of the fleeing UN army made it to the port in Hungnam and escaped on vessels. The UN-US military would retreat back over the 38th parallel.
China had won that battle, but jingoism is muted.
Despite warnings from the Chinese side, the US breached the Yalu River, and China responded. Nowadays, a scenario plays out in Europe where Russia has warned the US against further eastward expansion.
The US ought to have drawn some lessons from the debacle of losing to “Mao Zedong’s peasant army.” But history reveals the US was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan by peasants with AK-47s; to flee from peasant fighters in Viet Nam; told to leave from war-ravaged Iraq; and it is still mired in the abject embarrassment it helped cause in Syria, reduced to being a thief of oil and wheat.
The Battle at Lake Changjin also commits Hollywood-style theatrical excesses. However, there is no glorification of warring in the film. The sensitive viewer can only conclude that war as a means to settle differences or to impose oneself on another is barbaric and immoral. But when one side resorts to violence, the other is forced to fight back or to submit. As Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata put it: a choice of dying on one’s feet or living on one’s knees.
The film’s obvious message is that violence must be rejected by the peoples of all countries. But not only that: violence in all its forms must be rejected by humanity. The violence of oppression, brutality, inequality, poverty, racism, intolerance, etc all carry the seeds of greater violence that leads to all-out war.The post The Battle at Lake Changjin: China’s Anti-war Film first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Late January of this year will mark the first anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This momentous international agreement, the result of a lengthy struggle by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and by many non-nuclear nations, bans developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, and threatening to use nuclear weapons. Adopted by an overwhelming vote of the official representatives of the world’s nations at a UN conference in July 2017, the treaty was subsequently signed by 86 nations. It received the required 50 national ratifications by late October 2020, and, on January 22, 2021, became international law.
Right from the start, the world’s nine nuclear powers—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea—expressed their opposition to such a treaty. They pressed other nations to boycott the crucial 2017 UN conference and refused to attend it when it occurred. Indeed, three of them (the United States, Britain, and France) issued a statement declaring that they would never ratify the treaty. Not surprisingly, then, none of the nuclear powers has signed the agreement or indicated any sympathy for it.
Even so, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has acquired considerable momentum over the past year. During that time, an additional nine nations ratified it, thus becoming parties to the treaty. And dozens more, having signed it, are expected to ratify it in the near future. Furthermore, the governments of two NATO nations, Norway and Germany, have broken free from the U.S. government’s oppositional stance to the treaty and agreed to attend the first meeting of the countries that are parties to it.
In nations where public opinion on the treaty has been examined, the international agreement enjoys considerable support. YouGov opinion polls in five NATO countries in Europe show overwhelming backing and very little opposition, with the same true in Iceland, another NATO participant. Polling has also revealed large majorities in favor of the treaty in Japan, Canada, and Australia.
In the United States, where most of the mainstream communications media have not deigned to mention the treaty, it remains a well-kept secret. Even so, although a 2019 YouGov poll about it drew a large “Don’t Know” response, treaty support still outweighed opposition by 49 to 32 percent. Moreover, when the U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1,400 U.S. cities, met in August 2021, the gathering unanimously approved a resolution praising the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Meanwhile, a variety of institutions, recognizing that nuclear weapons are now illegal under international law, have begun to change their investment policies. In September 2021, Lansforsakringar, a Swedish insurance company with assets of over $46 billion, cited the treaty as a major reason to avoid investing in companies producing nuclear weapons. In December, the New York City Council adopted a resolution telling the city comptroller to remove investments from the city’s $250 billion pension fund from companies producing or maintaining these weapons of mass destruction. According to ICAN, 127 financial institutions stopped investing in nuclear weapons companies during 2021.
Despite this impressive display of respect for the landmark agreement, the nine nuclear powers have not only continued to oppose it, but have accelerated their nuclear arms race. Having cast off the constraints of most nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements of the past, they are all busy either developing or deploying new nuclear weapons systems or have announced their intention to do so.
In this process of nuclear “modernization,” as it is politely termed, they are building newly-designed nuclear weapons of increasing accuracy and efficiency. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel at five times the speed of sound and are better able than their predecessors to evade missile defenses. Reportedly, hypersonic missiles have already been developed by Russia and China. The United States is currently scrambling to build them, as well, with the usual corporate weapons contractors eager to oblige.
When it comes to “modernization” of its entire nuclear weapons complex, the U.S. government probably has the lead. During the Obama administration, it embarked on a massive project designed to refurbish U.S. nuclear production facilities, enhance existing nuclear weapons, and build new ones. This enormous nuclear venture accelerated during the Trump administration and continues today, with a total cost estimated to ultimately top $1.5 trillion.
Although there remain some gestures toward nuclear arms control—such as the agreement between U.S. president Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin to extend the New Start Treaty—the nuclear powers are now giving a much higher priority to the nuclear arms race.
The current build-up of their nuclear arsenals is particularly dangerous at this time of rising conflict among them. The U.S. and Russian governments almost certainly don’t want a nuclear war over Ukraine, but they could easily slip into one. The same is true in the case of the heightening confrontation between the Chinese and U.S. governments over Taiwan and the islands in the South China Sea. And what will happen when nuclear-armed India and nuclear-armed Pakistan fight yet another war, or when nuclear-armed national leaders like Kim Jong-un and a possibly re-elected Donald Trump start trading insults again about their countries’ nuclear might?
At present, this standoff between the nuclear nations, enamored with winning their global power struggles, and the non-nuclear nations, aghast at the terrible danger of nuclear war, seems likely to persist, resulting in the continuation of the world’s long nuclear nightmare.
In this context, the most promising course of action for people interested in human survival might well lie in a popular mobilization to compel the nuclear nations to accept the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and, more broadly, to accept a restrained role in a cooperatively-governed world.
The Doomsday Clock has been sitting the past year at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to civilization-ending apocalypse. The United States has done little to quell doomsday apprehensions by ratcheting up tensions with China over Taiwan and its warships in the South China Sea, as well as with Russia over Ukraine, further NATO expansion, and missile deployment in eastern Europe. Will the first-ever Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races help to put a damper on any potential conflagration?
An analysis of the statement seems called for.
Joint Statement: The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.
Analysis: This consideration is a delimited call for the avoidance of war; it is a call for “the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States.” It does not foreclose on the possibility of war with non-nuclear states. Since the US is the major warmonger on the planet, and since it fears getting militarily involved with a nuclear-weapon state, it only militarily engages non-nuclear states. Nonetheless, to be precise, the joint statement does not preclude the possibility of a war between nuclear states. The call is for “the avoidance of war,” not for the elimination of war. How much more hopeful the statement would have been if written: “the avoidance of war, especially between Nuclear-Weapon States.”
Yes, the danger of nuclear war should be a foremost responsibility, but shouldn’t the total elimination of war everywhere be stated as one of the “foremost responsibilities”?
Joint Statement: We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.
Analysis: Since the main nuclear powers acknowledge that there are no winners in a nuclear war and that such a war should never be fought, then why hold on to weapons that must never be used?
What logically flows from affirming “that nuclear weapons … should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war”? Two points stand out: (1) nukes should not be used offensively, and (2) nukes can be defensive and serve as deterrence.
That nuclear weapons have a deterrence capability has been well understood by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The DPRK having a nuclear weapon arsenal strongly hinders a military action being launched against it because a nuclear retaliation would cause considerable destruction to any attacker. Arguably, the DPRK’s nukes are preventing war. It must also be noted that the DPRK has a no-first-use policy regarding nukes. The DPRK saw what happened to Iraq and Libya after they disarmed and were devastated by western aggression. Others likely reached a similar conclusion. This knowledge causes consternation among Israeli and American militarists who fear Iran developing nuclear deterrence.
If the five nuclear powers “believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented,” then ask yourself why? One obvious answer is the fear of a rogue, a psychologically unhinged actor initiating a nuclear attack. C’est possible. But mentally aberrant individuals are not confined to non-nuclear states. Any among us could suffer psychological symptoms during our lifetime, and when we reach an advanced age we become prone to cognitive decline. However, a rational person would hope that there are plenty of safeguards in place to prevent any unilateral access to launching nukes by one individual or group of individuals. This is wishful given the 32 acknowledged broken arrows, six of which are lost and have never been retrieved.
The nightmarish possibility of a rogue actor is further stalemated by the deterrence factor of having nukes. Ask yourself: what if the USSR had never developed nukes or helped China develop a nuclear capacity? Would the lack of a deterrence have allowed the US to turn up the heat on a Cold War?
Joint Statement: We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments. We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation “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.”
Analysis: Article VI states:
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.
The NPT was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. Although the number of nuclear-armed missiles has decreased, one might still ask whether this reflects a genuine commitment to the Article VI obligation, given the exponential increase in the explosive yield of nukes over the years? In 2020, Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, lamented: “The horror of a nuclear detonation may feel like distant history. Treaties to reduce nuclear arsenals and risks of proliferation are being abandoned, new types of nuclear weapons are being produced, and serious threats are being made.” Barack Obama who called for nuclear reduction during his presidency ended it by authorizing a $1 trillion nuclear modernization. Did that indicate a commitment to Article VI?
Joint Statement: We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorized or unintended use of nuclear weapons. We reiterate the validity of our previous statements on de-targeting, reaffirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State.
We underline our desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all. We intend to continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability, increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all. We are resolved to pursue constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests and concerns.
Analysis: The countries that strive for offensive military superiority ignore the wisdom and warning of the pacifist scientist Albert Einstein: “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. The very prevention of war requires more faith, courage and resolution than are needed to prepare for war. We must all do our share, that we may be equal to the task of peace.”
Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric made known the sentiment of UN secretary-general António Guterres to the Joint Statement: “The Secretary-General takes the opportunity to restate what he has said repeatedly: the only way to eliminate all nuclear risks is to eliminate all nuclear weapons.”The post What Does the Statement of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War Tell Us? first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Photo credit: peace-justice.org
This year, 2021, began with a huge sense of relief as Trump left office. We hoped to emerge from the ravages of COVID, pass a hefty Build Back Better (BBB) bill, and make significant cuts to the Pentagon budget. But, alas, we faced a January 6 white nationalist insurrection, two new COVID mutations, a sliced-and-diced BBB bill that didn’t pass, and a Pentagon budget that actually INCREASED!
It was, indeed, a disastrous year, but we do have some reasons to cheer:
1. The U.S. survived its first major coup plot on January 6 and key right-wing groups are on the wane. With participants in the insurrection being charged and some facing significant jail time, new efforts to mobilize–including September’s “Justice for J6” rally–fizzled. As for Trump, let’s remember that in early 2021, he was impeached again, he lost his main mouthpiece, Twitter, and his attempt to build a rival social media service seems to have stalled. QAnon is in decline—its major hashtags have evaporated and Twitter shut down some 70,000 Q accounts. We may still see a resurgence (including another Trump attempt to take the White House), but so far the insurrection seems to have peaked and is being rolled back.
2. Latin America is undergoing a massive shift toward progressive governments. Gabriel Boric, a young Chilean progressive who campaigned for broad reforms, including universal healthcare and a higher minimum wage, won a landslide victory in December. His victory follows the victories of Xiomara Castro in Honduras in November, Pedro Castillo in Peru in June, and Luis Arce in Bolivia in October 2020. In Brazil, former president Lula da Silva may soon return to the presidency via next year’s elections. All of this bodes well for policies that benefit the people of Latin America and for greater solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other nations in the U.S. crosshairs.
3. The struggle for racial justice and accountability saw some major wins in 2021. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all 3 charges related to the murder of George Floyd and has pled guilty in the federal civil rights version of the case. The three Georgia men who killed Ahmaud Arbery for the crime of going out for a jog were also convicted. Progressive District Attorneys in cities and counties across this country are fighting to end cash bail and no-knock warrants, mass incarceration, and mandatory sentencing minimums. We see a backlash against these DAs, such as in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but they have strong community support.
4. U.S. troops left Afghanistan, winding down a deadly 20-year intervention. Some of us were against this U.S. invasion to begin with, and pushed for 20 years for our troops to leave. The exit was carried out in the same shameful, chaotic way as the 20 years of war, and the U.S. is once again targeting the Afghan people by freezing the billions of dollars of Afghan money held in overseas banks. That’s why we have joined the effort to #UnfreezeAfghanistan. But we do recognize that the U.S. troop withdrawal was necessary to give Afghans the chance to shape their own future, to stop spending $300 million a day on a failed war, and to roll back U.S. militarism.
5. COVID has returned with a vengeance, but we have been winning battles against other deadly diseases. Malaria, which kills half a million people a year, mostly in Africa, might be vanquished thanks to a groundbreaking vaccine, the first ever for a parasitic disease. On the HIV front, a new vaccine has shown a 97% response rate in Phase I clinical trials. Almost 40 million people were living with HIV in 2020, and hundreds of thousands of people die from AIDS-related illnesses each year. While the vaccine is still in Phase I trials, it is an extremely hopeful sign for 2022.
6. The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in 2017, went into effect this year after fulfilling the requirement that it be ratified by at least 50 countries. The U.S. and the world’s other nuclear powers have not signed the treaty and it has no enforcement mechanism but, for the first time in history, nuclear weapons are illegal under international law. With 86 signatories so far, the treaty helps to delegitimize nuclear weapons and reinforce global norms against their use. At a time when the outcome of the nuclear talks with Iran are uncertain, and when conflicts with Russia and China regarding Ukraine and Taiwan are intensifying, such a reminder is critical.
7. In the U.S., workers are actually gaining power amidst the ravages of COVID. Wages are going up and unions are starting to re-emerge. With millions of workers quitting their jobs from burnout or re-evaluation of life goals (dubbed the “Great Resignation”), the resulting labor shortage has given workers more space to push for better wages, benefits and working conditions. There were over 300 strikes from hospitals to coal plants to universities—many of them successful. Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York, succeeded in forming the first union at a Starbucks store in the US. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, lost their attempt to form the first Amazon union, but the National Labor Relations Board has ordered a new election due to management’s improper conduct. So 2022 may well be a banner year for worker’s rights and unions.
8. While not nearly enough, there were some key environmental gains, with Biden starting his term by re-entering the Paris Climate Accords. The COP26 meeting put a spotlight on the urgent need for revved up environmental action, with environmental activists worldwide pressuring their own governments to step up. Some 44 nations are now committed to ending the use of coal, and the G7 countries vowed not to fund coal plants any more. Here in the U.S., thanks to sustained environmental activism, the Keystone XL and PennEast pipelines were officially canceled and the Biden administration nixed oil and gas drilling on federal land. Renewable energy installations are at an all-time high and wind farms are planned along the entire U.S. coastline. Another major polluter, China, is building the largest energy installation in history, a whopping 100 gigawatts of wind and solar power (the entire capacity, as of 2021, of U.S. solar energy), and plans to plant a Belgium-sized area of forest every year going forward.
9. Yes, there have actually been some advances for women’s choice this year. When we look beyond the outrageous anti-abortion law in Texas that empowers private citizens to sue abortion providers, we see that many countries in the rest of the world are moving in the opposite direction. In 2021, abortion was legalized in South Korea, Thailand, and Argentina, while safe access increased in New Zealand, Ecuador, and Uruguay. A major victory in a very Catholic country came in September, when Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized it. Isn’t it ironic that, prior to Roe v. Wade, thousands of women from U.S. states along the Mexican border would cross into Mexico to get (illegal) abortions? Now, they might again be going, and this time for legal abortions.
10. Another reason to celebrate: 2021 is over. And 2022 may actually be the year we conquer COVID and move forward on a full agenda of pressing issues, including pushing Congress to pass a version of the Build Back Better bill; pressing for passage of the voting rights legislation that will stop the outrageous statewide voter suppression; mobilizing against the far right—and a return of Trump or Trump-lite; stopping the Cold War with China; preventing a military conflict with Russia in Ukraine; and cutting the outrageous Pentagon budget to invest in the health of our people and planet.
If we could make gains in a year as bad as 2021, just think what we can accomplish in 2022.The post Yes, There Were 10 Good Things About 2021 first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African anti-apartheid icon, has died at the age of 90. In 1984 Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work fighting to end white minority rule in South Africa. After the fall of apartheid, Archbishop Tutu chaired the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where he pushed for restorative justice. He was a leading voice for human rights and peace around the world. He opposed the Iraq War and condemned the Israeli occupation in Palestine, comparing it to apartheid South Africa. We re-air two interviews Archbishop Tutu did on Democracy Now!, as well as two speeches on the Iraq War and the climate crisis.The post Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931-2021) on Apartheid, War, Palestine, Guantánamo, Climate Crisis & More first appeared on Dissident Voice.
On Veteran’s Day it’s typical and appropriate to see countless homages, salutes and earnest formal and informal appreciation ceremonies for military servicemen and servicewomen in every electronic and paper medium that we encounter. It’s part of who we are. It’s part of how we got where we are.
I get it. We all get it.
Sometimes, however, Veteran’s Day observances annoy me. And not because I’m unpatriotic. I simply feel conflicted.
I’ve been told—or, perhaps, better put, corrected—that America is not the land of the free, home of the brave, but, in fact, the land of the free because of the brave.
Is this really true?
I don’t think most folks would find my answer or my questions very patriotic.
Last January 16th marked the thirtieth anniversary of the six-week Gulf War in Iraq. This past September marked the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, which resulted in the invasion of Iraq (again, in 2003), which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. So, let’s be honest. Back then, were the national pep rallies and resultant increased military enlistments to wage these wars a product of bravery or military-industrial complex knavery? Or simple dupery?
Former Vice President (and Halliburton magnate) Dick Cheney is smiling.
Should I defend my country, right or wrong? Seems like that’s a painful mistake we’ve made in the past.
Should I simply love it or leave it?
Philosophically speaking, the infamous, pro-war ‘Love It or Leave” charge is a classic false dilemma. It reduces an issue to a puerile, simplistic either/or proposition. Americans really seem to love simplistic either/or propositions, but they’re hardly ever useful or productive—or correct.
World War II can be viewed as a legitimate, necessary either/or equation that we, in the end—or till the end—needed to answer and did answer. And arguably well. Except in the end. The use of nuclear weapons on unsuspecting civilian population centers were arguably the greatest single-instant terrorist acts in human history.
The Korean War was hardly legitimate. The Vietnam War was entirely illegitimate and could be argued to comprise a long-running war crime or a regimen of crimes against humanity. Reagan’s four-day invasion of Grenada (ridiculously code-named Operation Urgent Fury) in 1983 was little more than a pathetic press-op to cover for cutting and running in Lebanon after the American Embassy in Beirut was bombed a few months earlier. And the last two Gulf wars in the Middle East were simply errands for Big Oil (the second offering a nice a little side-dash for the massive, naturally-occurring Lithium deposit in Afghanistan).
I try not to have a problem with folks saying “Thank you for your service” to veterans in person, on TV, radio, podcast, campaign trail, whatever. But the phrasing sometimes bothers me. Take this past Veteran’s Day, for example.
On one mildly interesting Texana page on a popular social platform, I encountered an image of a soldier with a caption featuring the proud proclamation, “Truly we stand on the shoulders of giants. My father in Vietnam, 1967.”
This is where I get into trouble.
I appreciate the social platform administrator’s father’s service, but give me a break. If there were any giants in America’s war against Vietnam, they were all Goliath. And Vietnam’s David smote us in a poetic and Biblical sense.
In his farewell address sixty years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned against a new threat to American democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
We didn’t heed Ike’s warning and, for the last three decades, war-mongers have called the shots.
Hell, ask Barrack Obama, the former Droner-in-Chief. Do you think he would have survived a stand against American Empire?
Lucky for the military-industrial complex, Americans have short memories and weren’t real astute students of history to begin with. But our nation’s belligerent foreign diplomacy makes us look like giant, ignorant, insufferable assholes who stood on the shoulders of more giant, ignorant, insufferable assholes.
And this is where I get into more trouble.
With all due respect, most of the time when we thank our veterans for their “service,” we’re not really thanking them for their dedication, commitment or sacrifice to worthy or even just causes. We’re simply thanking them for putting their lives, limbs and sanity on the line for our bullshit.
Shame on us.The post Shoulders of Goliath first appeared on Dissident Voice.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
How do you give thanks for freedoms that are constantly being eroded?
How do you express gratitude for one’s safety when the perils posed by the American police state grow more treacherous by the day?
How do you come together as a nation in thanksgiving when the powers-that-be continue to polarize and divide us into warring factions?
Every year finds us struggling to reconcile our hope for a better, freer, more just world with the soul-sucking reality of a world in which greed, meanness and war continue to triumph.
Fifty years ago, John Lennon released “Imagine” and exhorted us to “Imagine all the people livin’ life in peace.” That same year, Lennon released “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” as part of a major anti-war campaign. Lennon—a musical genius, anti-war activist, and a high-profile example of the lengths to which the Deep State will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority—made clear that the only way to achieve an end to hunger, violence, war, and tyranny is to want it badly enough and work towards it.
Fifty years later, we clearly don’t want those things badly enough.
Peace remains out of reach. Activists and whistleblowers continue to be prosecuted for challenging the government’s authority. Militarism is on the rise, all the while the governmental war machine continues to wreak havoc on innocent lives.
For those of us who joined with John Lennon to imagine a world of peace, it’s getting harder to reconcile that dream with the reality of the American police state. And those who do dare to speak up about government corruption (such as Julian Assange) are labeled dissidents, troublemakers, terrorists, lunatics, or mentally ill and tagged for surveillance, censorship or, worse, involuntary detention.
All the while, people still keep looking to the government to “fix” what’s wrong with this country. You’d think we’d have learned—after 20 years of heavy-handed government authoritarianism that started with the 9/11 attacks and has continued through to the present-day COVID-19 tyranny—that the only thing the government can be trusted to do is make things worse.
Now we find ourselves approaching that time of year when, as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, we’re supposed to give thanks as a nation and as individuals for our safety and our freedoms.
It’s not an easy undertaking.
Thinking good thoughts, being grateful, counting your blessings and adopting a glass-half-full mindset are fine and good, but that’s not enough. This world requires doers, men and women (and children) who will put those good thoughts into action.
Remember, evil prevails when good men and women do nothing.
Here’s what I suggest: this year, do yourselves a favor and turn off the talking heads, shut down the screen devices, tune out the politicians, take a deep breath, then do something to pay your blessings forward.
Refuse to remain silent. Take a stand. Speak up. Speak out. Recognize injustice. Don’t turn away from suffering.
Find something to be thankful for about the things and people in your community for which you might have the least tolerance or appreciation. Instead of just rattling off a list of things you’re thankful for that sound good, dig a little deeper and acknowledge the good in those you may have underappreciated or feared.
When it comes time to giving thanks for your good fortune, put your gratitude into action: pay your blessings forward with deeds that spread a little kindness, lighten someone’s burden, and brighten some dark corner.
Engage in acts of kindness. Smile more. Fight less. Build bridges. Refuse to let toxic politics define your relationships. Focus on the things that unite instead of that which divides.
Do your part to push back against the meanness of our culture with conscious compassion and humanity. Moods are contagious, the good and the bad. They can be passed from person to person. So can the actions associated with those moods, the good and the bad.
Be a hero, whether or not anyone ever notices.
Acts of benevolence, no matter how inconsequential they might seem, can spark a movement.
All it takes is one person to start a chain reaction.
For instance, a few years ago in Florida, a family of six—four adults and two young boys—were swept out to sea by a powerful rip current in Panama City Beach. There was no lifeguard on duty. The police were standing by, waiting for a rescue boat. And the few people who had tried to help ended up stranded, as well.
Those on shore grouped together and formed a human chain. What started with five volunteers grew to 15, then 80 people, some of whom couldn’t swim.
One by one, they linked hands and stretched as far as their chain would go. The strongest of the volunteers swam out beyond the chain and began passing the stranded victims of the rip current down the chain.
One by one, they rescued those in trouble and pulled each other in.
There’s a moral here for what needs to happen in this country if we only can band together and prevail against the riptides that threaten to overwhelm us.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, there may not be much we can do to avoid the dismal reality of the police state in the long term—not so long as the powers-that-be continue to call the shots and allow profit margins to take precedence over the needs of people—but in the short term, there are things we can all do right now to make this world (or at least our small corners of it) a little bit kinder, a lot less hostile and more just.
It’s never too late to start making things right in the world.
John Lennon tried to imagine a world in which we all lived in peace. He was a beautiful dreamer whose life ended with an assassin’s bullet on December 8, 1980.
Still, that doesn’t mean the dream has to die, too.
There’s something to be said for working to make that dream a reality. As Lennon reminded his listeners, “War is over, if you want it.”
The choice is ours, if we want it.The post Don’t Give up on the Blessings of Freedom first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Amid all the flag-waving, chants of “USA, USA,” and other nationalist hoopla that characterize mainstream politics in the United States, it’s easy to miss the fact that most Americans favor global governance. Although a great many Americans do feel a sense of identification with the U.S. government, a majority also supports the exercise of transnational authority.
This approval of global governance is especially striking in the case of the United Nations. A February 2020 Gallup poll reported that 64 percent of U.S. respondents wanted the UN to play a leading or a major role in world affairs. Similarly, a Pew Research Center poll that summer found that 62 percent of Americans had a positive view of the world organization, compared to 31 percent with a negative one. Respondents gave the UN particularly high ratings for promoting peace (72 percent) and promoting human rights (70 percent), while also according it positive ratings for promoting economic development, taking action on climate change and infectious diseases, and caring about the needs of ordinary people.
The strong support for the United Nations has continued during 2021. A survey done in early September by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates found that 84 percent of U.S. respondents believed it important for the United States to maintain an active role in the UN, that 69 percent viewed the UN as a relevant organization needed in the world today, and that 63 percent favored resuming payment of U.S. dues to the UN (which the Trump administration had halted). Although the favorable rating of the UN dropped somewhat (to 56 percent) from the poll’s finding the preceding year, the unfavorable rating also dropped (to 26 percent), leaving the global body with an approval ratio among Americans of more than two to one.
Furthermore, despite an almost complete absence of recent polls on strengthening global governance, there are indications that most Americans like the idea. In late June and early July 2020, a survey conducted by the Swedish company Novus for the Global Challenges Foundation reported strong support among Americans for enhancing international solidarity. Asked if a “global supranational organization should be created to make binding global decisions on how to manage global risks,” 54 percent of U.S. respondents supported the idea, while only 27 percent opposed it.
Not surprisingly, Americans have formed organizations that, working with comparable groups in other countries, seek to move beyond the traditional nation state system by fostering support for global governance.
The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) is comprised of over 20,000 members (60 percent of whom are under the age of 26) and more than 200 chapters across the country. According to UNA-USA, it is “committed to strengthening the United Nations system, promoting constructive United States leadership in that system, and achieving the goals set forth in the UN Charter.”
The UN is merely a confederation of nations, and there are also U.S. organizations, though smaller than UNA-USA, that champion the establishment of a more unified entity, a world federation. The largest of these organizations is Citizens for Global Solutions (previously the World Federalist Association). In its own words, it works to “educate and advocate for a democratic federation of nations with enforceable world law to abolish war and global violence in the resolution of disputes, protect universal human rights and freedoms, and restore and sustain our global environment.”
In fact, Americans have exhibited considerable support for some form of global governance ever since 1945, when World War II and the use of nuclear weapons shook up traditional thinking about international relations. But recent global disasters have given it a new urgency. Among these disasters are the onrushing climate catastrophe, the Covid-19 disease pandemic, growing economic inequality, and the massive flight of refugees from their homelands.
Admittedly, these global crises have sometimes led to xenophobia, intolerance, and other forms of nationalist backlash. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the popularity of Donald Trump and his election to the presidency without them.
But worldwide crises have also exposed the limitations of the nation state system, in which nearly 200 nations jealously guard their own “national interest,” and suggest the need for enhanced global governance.
For this reason, most Americans favor supplementing their U.S. citizenship with world citizenship.The post Most Americans Look Favorably on Global Governance first appeared on Dissident Voice.
The implications of the Baghuz Massacre should deeply underscore the integrity, morality, and vital importance of WikiLeaks and its heroic publisher and political prisoner Julian Assange. The Baghuz Massacre was a failed cover-up by the United States. WikiLeaks is the journalistic enterprise that shines a spotlight on the egregious crimes of states.
Assange is imprisoned under tortuous conditions because he exposed how the US governmental-corporate-military machine operates. WikiLeaks published the video “Collateral Murder” wherein a US Apache helicopter crew gunned dead 12 civilians walking in a New Baghdad street.
The Baghuz massacre points to how the criminal state operates, by covering up its crimes. WikiLeaks threw light on the crimes in support of the public’s right to know what their country is up to.
Baghuz is part of a long line of murderous military actions. It begins with several extermination campaigns against the Original Peoples of Turtle Island, among them the Gnadenhutten Massacre, to the Wounded Knee Massacre, and the Trail of Tears. The massacres spread overseas to subjugate and colonize the Philippines; at the tail end of WWII there was the Tokyo firebombing and the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bombs. Then it was on to the Korean peninsula which was cut in two by the US. Among the gruesome US exploits were the No Gun Ri massacre in South Korea and the Sinchon Massacre in North Korea. North Korea was devastated by a massive scorched earth campaign. Next up was the My Lai Massacre in Viet Nam. In Iraq, among the war crimes were the Amiriyah shelter bombing and Haditha massacre. In Afghanistan there have been wedding parties bombed, the infamous Bagram torture facility, the Kandahar massacre, etc. The US has continued its murderous swath through Haiti, Honduras, Libya, and on to Syria. None of these countries had attacked the US. (Even 9-11 is purportedly carried out by Saudis according to American authorities.)
In Syria, the US intelligence has either been duped or complicit in blaming president Bashar al Assad for chemical weapon attacks to launch missile attacks, to support the ISIS terrorists, and to loot Syrian oil. Along the way, the deeply concealed Baghuz Massacre that killed dozens of Syrian civilians in a 2019 bombing has bubbled to public awareness.
The US is not alone in the war crimes extravaganza. Much of the western world is participating in the criminal militarism or otherwise colluding with the US. Sweden stands out as a neutral country that set the trap to ensnare Assange, so that Britain might hold him for extradition to the US. It is no wonder that the western-state apparatus that conspires to bury exposure of its war crimes has carried out a merciless campaign to eliminate Assange who exposes the crimes for the public.
The Baghuz Massacre is just another ripple in the ocean of massacres that would require a voluminous manuscript to chronicle. Assange and WikiLeaks are the exposing tonic needed to halt the war machine.
The Baghuz Massacre adds fuel to the calls for Assange to be released forthwith so that WikiLeaks and its publisher may, if Assange is up to it after the psychological trauma he has endured, shed a spotlight on war crimes. Awareness of the crimes of state can point the way for peoples of the world to renounce forever violence and warring — leading instead to peaceful co-existence.The post The Baghuz Massacre Underlines the Necessity for Freeing Julian Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.