Saturday, March 21, 2009

1848: 'A virtual European Union of rebellion'

From The Prague (Berlin, Paris, Milan) Spring :

Two thousand eight was not a change year. Eighteen forty-eight was a change year. A series of liberal revolutions exploded from one end of Europe to the other, toppling governments from France to Hungary to many of the small German and Italian states. The revolts are not well known in the United States, but they rank in the annals of upheaval alongside the American Revolution in 1776, the French Revolution in 1789 and the end of European Communism in 1989 (relatively gentle though that was).

In “1848: Year of Revolution,” a lively, panoramic new history, Mike Rapport describes the uprisings of that year while making clear their modern resonance. The revolutionaries, he argues, were overmatched by near-impossible challenges that sound remarkably familiar today. They had to wrestle with the demons of nationalism, which threatened to drag liberal revolutions down into the muck of ethnic conflict. They had to forge new constitutional orders that could temper violent radicalism. And they had to confront the grinding poverty and social misery of the freshly empowered masses, who had unattainable expectations for economic growth and social equality. The book's descriptions of impoverished serfs and alienated city dwellers could equally well be about peasants in the Chinese countryside and migrant workers in Beijing and Chongqing today.

Rapport, a lecturer in history at the University of Stirling in Scotland, begins by explaining that European order had been frozen since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, with conservative rule imposed by the great imperial courts. Chief among the absolutists was Klemens von Metternich, Austria's icy chancellor, haunted by memories of the cataclysmic wars after the French Revolution. “In times of crisis,” the loftily paranoid Metternich wrote, monarchs had to show themselves as “fathers invested with all the authority which belongs to heads of families.” The flesh-and-blood emperors were rather less impressive: Czar Nicholas I was a pioneer in creating Russia's brutal secret police, while Austria's “mentally disabled” Emperor Ferdinand was called “Ferdy the Loony” by his subjects.

During a deep economic crisis in the 1840s, the desperate misery of peasants, artisans and the urban poor generated popular rage at the Metternichian system. In the past, nervous governments had censored their press, clamped down on labor unions and froze the middle class and professionals out of politics. When liberals rose up in places like Naples and Piedmont, they were crushed by Austrian forces. Polish nationalists got stomped under Austrian, Prussian and Russian boots; in 1830, a Polish revolt ended with Russia hauling 80,000 Poles off to Siberia in chains.

What were wild demands in 1848 are democratic dogma today: free speech, parliaments, religious liberty, jury ­trials. But despite such noble goals, the revolutionaries were easily enraptured with violence. The great Italian democrat Giuseppe Mazzini, whom Metternich called the most dangerous man in Europe, believed that “ideas ripen quickly when nourished by the blood of martyrs.”

The insurrections were astonishingly widespread, with different local grievances detonating in sequence across the continent — a virtual European Union of rebellion. They were ignited by a riot in Austrian-ruled Milan, which was followed by a revolution in Sicily. Next, protest marchers in Paris clashed with the munici­pal guard, prompting riots across the city. The French government had no stomach for the military onslaught necessary to crush the revolt, and King Louis-Philippe helplessly fled to Britain with his queen, assisted by a British vice-consul who provided the royal couple with the alias “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

Then German liberals and workers, thrilled by the news from Paris, took to the streets. In Hungary, Lajos Kossuth, a noble turned vehement radical against Austrian domination, thundered for self-government free from “the pestilential air” of Metternich's absolutism. In Vienna itself, troops opened fire on rebellious crowds; the shaken Austrian government allowed a constitution and forced Metternich to resign. Even in reactionary Prussia, where soldiers unleashed artillery against the mutinous citizenry in Berlin's streets, the king had to grant a constitution. The only great powers spared bloody chaos were Britain, where constitutional government and middle-class support were already established, and Russia, where the czar choked off any hint of revolt, radicalizing subsequent generations of revolutionaries.

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Bestselling authors expect riots and social unrests in Germany, Europe, USA

Our recent article about the rising global riots threat as follow up to millions of lost jobs and mass poverty led to an impressive storm of discussions in blogs, forums and other parts of the world wide web. Now we repeat our forecast: Europe and the United States will have to invest very much more in their social systems - otherwise the situation on the streets will get out of control. We therefore publish this story again - and hope you will give us a direct feedback this time: Do you think western countries will manage the crisis without social revolution? by Vlad Georgescu and Marita Vollborn

The global financial crisis could lead to an economic meltdown - and to instable democratic structures in the western world. Because governments spend more billions than they possess, the outcome will probably be a massive inflation connected with millions of lost jobs - or even the total collapse. That's why President Barack Obama needed an astronomic 3B-stimulus. But the Big Bailout will probably end as Big Bang: With no changes on the more-growth-more-capital-more financial market power mentality there will be no escape from the crisis. A global monetary reform seems to be the last exit from chaos and before social unrests will inevitably start. Are the US awaiting the next revolution?

Since the existence of America's economy, private consumers have been the backbone of economics. More growth, more money to expend. Quiet simple, for decades. But America's greedy financial system led to a global crisis, threatening democracies in Europe - and maybe even in the US. Governments falling in Island may be unimportant for the rest of the world, while millions of people protesting and burning barricades in France are alarming signs of the democratic erosion.

Barack Obama now starts the fight against the great depression - but many of the crucial statistics the President's men own are to old to be used. The US Census Bureau intends to survey the nation's spending habits, by this delivering fresh data to the President. In January 2009, U.S. Census Bureau field representatives started collecting information about how much Americans spend for groceries, clothing, transportation, housing, health care and other items from a sample of households across the country.

The Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey program consists of two parts:

* The Interview Survey - Throughout the year, about 43,000 households will be interviewed once every three months over five calendar quarters to obtain data on relatively large expenditures and also for those expenditures that occur on a regular basis (such as rent and utilities).

* The Diary Survey - During the year, another 9,200 households will keep two consecutive one-week diaries of smaller, more frequent purchases that may be difficult for respondents to recall later (such as a fast-food purchase at a drive-through window, a soda or candy bar from a vending machine, or a carton of eggs from the supermarket).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics then calculates and publishes integrated data from the two surveys — providing a snapshot of our nation's economy and spending habits. Government economists use the survey results to update a “market basket” of goods and services for the Consumer Price Index, our nation's most widely used measure of inflation.

Before the CE interviews begin, households will receive a letter from the Census Bureau director informing them of their selection to participate in the survey. Census Bureau field representatives will visit these households to conduct the interview. The field representative must display an official photo identification before proceeding with the interview. Federal law ensures survey respondents' personal information and answers are kept confidential.

The average annual amount spend for housing for the United States is $16,684, which means a percentage of total expenditures as high as 33.9.

Unfortunatelly, this is not everything the President has to know. "As of February 5, 2009, the total U.S. federal debt was $10.71 trillion, or about $37,703 per capita", explains WIKIPEDIA. The October 2008 bailout bill (H.R.1424) raised the U.S. debt ceiling (i.e. limit on how much money may be borrowed at one time) from $10 trillion to $11.3 trillion. Of this amount, debt held by the public was roughly $6.4 trillion. In 2007, the public debt was 36.8 percent of GDP, with a total debt of 65.5 percent of GDP. And even the CIA Factbook ranked the total percentage as 23rd in the world. In other words: Sooner or later, the United States are going to follow Argentina: A monetary reform would cut the national debt, but also the assets.

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G-20 bracing: "Anarchists by definition won't come and see us," he said

From Police warn of G20 protest scale :

Known activists are planning in an "unprecedented" way ahead of next month's G20 summit in London, the Metropolitan Police have warned.

Cdr Bob Broadhurst, in charge of the policing operation, said anarchists and environmentalists were plotting a series of demonstrations.

Groups active in the late 1990s were re-emerging and forming new alliances to protest at the meeting, he said.

The operation will involve thousands of officers and cost an estimated £7.2m.

World leaders, including US President Barack Obama, will begin to arrive in the UK on 31 March.

The next day campaigners are expected to target the City of London in a series of anti-globalisation and climate change demonstrations.

As the G20 summit begins on 2 April, protests are also planned at the Excel conference centre in Docklands.

Numbers challenge

Cdr Broadhurst said officers from six forces would be involved in a massive security operation before and during the summit.

However, it was difficult to estimate how many protesters would actually turn up on the main day of activity on 1 April.

"Clearly there are some very innovative and clever people and they know our tactics," Cdr Broadhurst said. "They want to stop the City on the Wednesday - that is their avowed intention."

He said it was his aim to "facilitate lawful protest" and he revealed plans for a special demonstration pen near the Excel Centre to accommodate a few hundred protesters.

But while police had worked closely with some campaigners, the plans of other groups were harder to ascertain.

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Meanwhile, indie media are suggesting some interesting travel itineraries:

Smash We Can! NATO summit coming up

It's time to start making plans to travel to the NATO summit in Strasbourg France, here are some links

The resistance against the NATO summit starts with the opening of the camp on the 1st of April which is also the Action day against "European security architecture". The main events take place on the 3rd and 4th of April. Friday the 3rd will see blockades against the opening banquet of the NATO summit whilst Saturday the 4th will be a day of more blockades in Strasbourg and a massdemonstration.

here's a bunch of links for further info:

Home Secretary blatantly ignores unfavorable court decision

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, appears to have declared war on the government’s own secret terror court, overruling decisions made by judges in the Special Immigration Appeals Court (SIAC). In what can only be described as an act of executive fiat, two men who attended a hearing at the SIAC were driven away from the court, expecting to return home, as ordered by the SIAC judges, but were, instead, delivered to Belmarsh prison, where they were joined by three other men, who had been seized in raids on their homes.

Journalist and author Andy Worthington notes that the whole operation was clearly planned by the Home Secretary in advance. "Even though she had informed neither the men’s lawyers nor the SIAC judges." The first the lawyers heard about it was when one of the men’s wives rang, inquiring why he had not yet returned home. He adds; "the Home Secretary has acted in a manner that would have pleased King John, in those days before England's nobles forced him to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, establishing for the first time that the king had no right to imprison his subjects except upon the lawful judgment of his peers or the law of the land."

On The Newswire: Jacqui Smith versus Justice Mitting | Home Secretary ignores Court decision, kidnaps bailed men and imprisons them in Belmarsh | Revealed: flawed intelligence exposes the scandal of Belmarsh detainees | Invisible Barriers: Detention without Trial/Social Housing Policy in the UK Today

Previous Features: Hundreds Join Demo for Academic Freedom and Against Deportation | Anger Over "Terror Arrests" at Nottingham University | The Global War of Terror | The Racist 'War on Terror' | Terror profiling nets innocents

Links: National Guantanamo Coalition | Cageprisoners | 100 Days to Close Guantánamo and End Torture | The Campaign against Criminalising Communities | Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) | Reprieve | Andy Worthington | Indymedia Topic Pages:Terror War | Guantanamo

What is the Home Secretary thinking?

After the Law Lords’ ruling last week, that Abu Qatada and two Algerians — known only as U and RB — can be deported to Jordan and Algeria, the government petitioned to revoke the bail conditions of U and RB, as well as three other men — known only as Y, Z and VV — but failed to inform their lawyers until Wednesday, and then gagged them, preventing them from discussing the cases until yesterday, when they mounted a challenge at a SIAC hearing in London. An observer noted that the government’s claims that it now had the right to revoke the bail of the five men was “comprehensively trashed” by Dinah Rose QC, representing the men.

More importantly, the SIAC judges ruled that no further action in respect of the men’s cases was to be taken until next week at the earliest, and scheduled a full hearing for next Thursday morning.

" Expecting to return home, as ordered by the SIAC judges, they were, instead, delivered to Belmarsh prison "

However, when the two men who attended the hearing — U and VV — were driven away from the court, expecting to return home, as ordered by the SIAC judges, they were, instead, delivered to Belmarsh prison, where they were joined by the other three men, who had been seized in raids on their homes.

When the SIAC met again today, the men’s lawyers argued that the government was in contempt of court, and expected that Mr. Justice Mitting, the chief judge, wouldn't be too happy to hear that the government behaved as though SIAC’s decisions were irrelevant. In a humiliating defeat for the government, the SIAC judges ruled that all of the men — except U — are to be released from Belmarsh and allowed to return home under previously agreed conditions. It seems the judges’ decision to order four of the five men to be sent home was chosen as an alternative to the lawyers’ recommended course of action: nailing Jacqui Smith for contempt of court and kidnap.

" The lawyers’ recommended course of action: nailing Jacqui Smith for contempt of court and kidnap "

SIAC will now be meeting on Wednesday 4th March to discuss the European Court of Human Rights’ objections to the British government’s use of Special Advocates in closed court sessions, and the rules preventing the Special Advocates from reporting any information whatsoever to either the accused or their lawyers.

A hearing to review U’s bail conditions is scheduled for Thursday 5th March, and another hearing, examining the government’s request to revoke all the men’s existing bail conditions and to imprison them in Belmarsh by legal means is scheduled for Wednesday 11th March. Campaigners are calling for people to come along. Hearings start at 9.30 am. SIAC is located at Field House, 15 Bream’s Buildings, London EC4A 1DZ. A map is can be found here (PDF).

UK Indymedia Features / Andy Worthington

~ UK Indymedia ~


Andy is the author of "The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison"
(published by Pluto Press and distributed in the US by Macmillan)
See the definitive prisoner list here:

Israel: Legitimization of land theft

From Haaretz :

The theft of private land and lawless construction, with the authorities' collaboration, have long been routine in the land of the settlers. The scope of these deeds and their seriousness are described extensively in the report on illegal outposts compiled by Talia Sasson, formerly a senior state prosecution attorney. The report was buried almost two years ago.

However, the decision of the Supreme Planning Council (SPC) for Judea and Samaria, which was revealed in Haaretz on Sunday, to legitimize the plan to build the Matityahu East neighborhood in Modi'in Ilit, beyond the Green Line, marks a nadir.

The plan is to legitimize 42 high-rises, which are in various stages of construction, some of them on land allegedly stolen from the villagers of Bil'in. All of the high-rises being built contravene the planning and construction laws. Peace Now and Bil'in's residents petitioned the High Court of Justice two years ago to have construction stopped. The legal counsel of Modi'in Ilit warned in writing of "construction offenses of such colossal proportions, ignoring the law and planning regulations, that words cannot describe [them]."

Following the petition, with the support of the State Prosecution, the High Court ordered a halt to construction and to the neighborhood's occupancy more than a year ago. At that time the prosecution instructed the police to open an investigation into those involved in the affair.

The authorities responsible for enforcing the region's planning and building laws knew what was going on and turned a blind eye. Instead, they recently decided to legitimize it retroactively.

Matityahu East is the latest in a series of such affairs in which the separation barrier, supposedly serving Israel's security needs, is used to annex West Bank territory to expand the settlements. The defense minister is dragging his feet on everything concerning the evacuation of illegal outposts. At the same time, bodies he is responsible for - led by the civil administration - are colluding in land grabbing and legitimizing illegal construction throughout the West Bank.

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The Israeli terror (and Tristan Anderson)

by David Rovics

And now, almost six years to the day after the murder of Rachel Corrie, my friend and comrade Tristan Anderson has been critically injured by the IDF.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I was in Olympia, Washington driving towards Evergreen State College when I got a phone call from someone in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. An Evergreen graduate named Rachel Corrie had been killed a few days before by an Israeli soldier in an armored bulldozer, and someone with an Australian accent on my cell phone named Tom was wondering whether it was OK for the International Solidarity Movement to use the lyrics to a song I had just written about the incident on their website. Rachel's murder was followed quickly by the murder of a British ISM activist named Tom Hurndall.

And now, almost six years to the day after the murder of Rachel Corrie, my friend and comrade Tristan Anderson has been critically injured by the IDF. He joins ISM activist Brian Avery, who was also shot in the face. Brian survived, seriously disfigured but otherwise intact. Tristan lies in a coma in a hospital near Tel Aviv and may or may not be as lucky as Brian. His brain was exposed by the tear gas canister fired at close range at his face, and as I write, large parts of his frontal lobe have had to be removed by the surgeons.

Rachel, Tom, Brian and Tristan join the ranks of the thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese civilians killed and the tens of thousands maimed by the IDF since 2000 alone. Being privileged foreigners (at least before they were killed or maimed), they did not have the opportunity to join the ranks of the millions of Palestinians and Lebanese who have been driven into desperate poverty, malnourishment and homelessness by the Israeli invasion and occupation of their lands.

There are many other contemporary and historical examples of genocidal regimes. A few of them – contemporary Turkey, Indonesia or, chiefly among them, the United States – lay claim to the notion that they are democratic countries. Others, such as Saddam's Iraq, apartheid South Africa, and Nazi Germany also made such claims, but nobody believed them. It's challenging to make comparisons between them, at least in terms of trying to figure out which one should deserve the title of Most Genocidal Regime. There are issues of scale, longevity and historical circumstances that make such judgements difficult. Other types of comparisons, though, are not only easy to make, but seem as unavoidable as the elephant in the living room.

It probably didn't help that as the Israeli military was laying siege to the Gaza Strip two months ago I was on a tour of Australia, free from my responsibilities as a father and thus with more free time than I ever have when I'm home these days. I did then what I normally do in my free time – read. The book I happened to be reading at the time was one I had been meaning to read for decades, which I had just picked up at a book store during a visit to Canada – William Shirer's 1,200-page tome, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. As Israel's massive armored divisions and ultra-modern Air Force was laying waste to an already-occupied walled ghetto filled with nearly starving refugees armed with nothing more than rocks and the occasional small arms, mostly home-made, I was reading about the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The comparisons are not exact. At the height of what was then widely known as the Nazi Terror, in Auschwitz the SS killed thousands of Jews and Russians every day. No such gas chambers exist or have ever existed in Israel. But for those of you reading this who have not already decided that I am a self-loathing Jew or some kind of anti-Semite, I would like to share with you some of the streams of consciousness that were passing through my head as I was attending protests in Australia against the bombing of Gaza, in between the unavoidable visits to the ubiquitous Australian war memorials and the next chapter of Shirer's history of Nazi Germany.

There I was, bearing witness to the siege of a walled ghetto already under occupation. There have been many sieges of cities over the centuries, but sieges of already-occupied walled ghettoes are far fewer, and for any student of history the similarities are obvious, the comparisons inevitable.

When I first visited Israel in 1999 I was struck by what a nation of trauma survivors it was. I was reminded immediately of my first visit to Ireland some years before, where the great famine that wiped out half the population over a century before seemed like it had happened perhaps a generation ago. In Israel the Nazi Holocaust seemed to have happened yesterday, and in the mindset of many Israelis it seemed as if it were carried out by Palestinians rather than Germans. I encountered anti-Arab racism daily in Israel. When I sang songs about the horrors of the sanctions against Iraq (around a half million Iraqi children dead as a direct result at that point according to UNICEF) I was told by middle-class, middle-aged Israeli folk music fans that killing Iraqi children was OK because they were just going to grow up to become terrorists anyway. I was told that “the Arab mindset” was hopelessly backwards and that They just wanted to “drive us into the sea.” (I even heard Israeli Jews refer to “Latin numerals” when it was clear from the context that they meant Arabic numerals – a Freudian slip I'm sure.)

Most of the Israeli Jews I met seemed confident of the historical persecution of Jews in the Middle East. Actual history bears no resemblance to their version of it, but this did not get in the way of their fantasies. It was in Europe where the Catholic Church and the Nazi movement carried out pogroms and built death camps, not in the Muslim world, but these Jews identified culturally with their European inquisitors, not with their historical Muslim and Christian friends with whom their Arab and Persian Jewish brethren had lived in peace for thousands of years.

And now after decades of the so-called “peace process” Israel's new Foreign Minister openly advocates for the ethnic cleansing of Israel, for the driving out of the million or so Palestinians living within Israel's 1948 borders. In this nation of survivors of the Nazi Terror, race laws reign supreme. There is one set of laws for Jews, and another set of laws for everyone else. As in Nazi Germany, “everyone else” is then divided into groups with relative privileges in comparison with each other (for example, “Israeli Arabs” vs. West Bank Palestinians vs. those condemned to live in Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison and the most densely-populated place on Earth).

Like the Zionists, the Nazis also came to power on the backs of trauma and claims of victimhood. For decades, history has been written by the victors, so it is hard to imagine how well Hitler was able to sell the case to the German people (and to many others around the world) that Germany was a nation oppressed by their neighbors as well as by “the enemy within,” the Jews.

Millions of Germans had been slaughtered -- along with millions of Russians, French, Brits, Australians, etc. -- in the War to End All Wars (WWI). German Jews were disproportionately of a leftwing persuasion, and many of the leaders of the social democrats who signed the Treaty of Versailles were, in fact, Jewish. Thus the Jews could be blamed for Germany's defeat (never mind the Kaiser's imperial ambitions) and could also somehow be blamed for the devastating economic depression that followed it (never mind the fact that much of the rest of the world was also in the throes of a similarly devastating depression). The Nazi solution to the “Jewish problem” was to create a society based on racial laws that systematically discriminated against Jews, took away their property, prevented them from joining the military or doing any number of other jobs, drove them out of the country or into ghettoes around which the Nazis built walls, and then ultimately invaded many of the countries into which the Jewish refugees had fled, laid siege to the ghettoes, starving and ultimately killing most of the residents.

Fast forward a few years to 1948, to Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel's father and others in the Zionist movement. The propaganda to try to encourage Jewish emigration to Palestine was that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land,” but the Zionist movement actually on the ground in Palestine knew better. For them, the Palestinian people were all too real, and were an obstacle, a problem to be fixed through systematic, brutal ethnic cleansing. The Zionist movement in Palestine, followed by the State of Israel, dealt with the Palestinian problem (that is, the problem of the existence of Palestinians), by creating a society based on racial laws that systematically discriminated against Palestinians, took away their property, prevented them from joining the military, drove them out of the country or into ghettoes around which the Jews built walls, and then ultimately invaded many of the countries into which the Palestinian refugees had fled, laying siege to their cities, ghettoes and refugee camps, starving and killing thousands upon thousands of the residents, oftentimes in the form of wholesale slaughter that in some instances rivalled the intensity of the Nazi genocide.

The Irgun and other groups whom the British administrators of Palestine referred to as terrorists blew up buses full of Palestinian civilians, attacked Palestinian towns and cities with naval bombardment, laid siege to towns with tanks and automatic weapons on three sides in order to force the residents to flee. This is how the Zionist movement formed their state, this was the Israeli “war of independence.”

The Zionists who were flooding into Palestine and quickly changing the demographics of Palestinian society claimed they were being persecuted. There were many isolated incidents that could be called persecution, and many more incidents of Zionist settlers in pre-1948 Palestine persecuting the residents with whom they were sharing a country. By the same token, the Nazis made mostly baseless claims that German-speaking citizens of Poland and Czechoslovakia were being persecuted – the Germans were being persecuted and had to defend themselves by invading their neighbors. By the time the Nazis invaded and occupied France, and Britain finally decided to make good on its treaty obligations and fight fascism, the Nazis could – quite rightly – claim that they had been attacked by Britain. The Germans were the victims of Britain was the Nazi line.

Fast forward again to 1948. The Arab countries neighboring Palestine belatedly sent in a force to defend their fellow Arabs from the Zionists – a force that was numerically and militarily no match for the Zionist army and was quickly defeated. But in the annals of Zionist propaganda this was not Arabs coming to the defense of their brethren who were being slaughtered and driven from their land, it was an “unprovoked attack,” like the British assault on poor Germany. Like the Germans surrounded by hostile neighbors bent on keeping the Germans down, “the Arabs” wanted to “wipe Israel off the map.”

One of Hitler's favorite methods of managing, at least in the Nazi-run press, of appearing to be the voice of reason in the face of his “war-mongering” European neighbors was to make a pretense of “peace negotiations” which were generally last-minute ultimatums that could be accepted or not without any actual negotiating at all. For example, Czechoslovakia (and its ostensible allies, Britain and France) was told it could give up the Sudetenland and other Czech territories and thus avert destruction at the hands of the German military. It actually acquiesced to all German demands (with the encouragement of Britain and France) and was annexed by Germany anyway, on the grounds that the Czechs were being unreasonable, that Czechs were terrorizing ethnic Germans within its borders, etc.

Similarly, the Israeli government regularly asserts that if countries like Syria and Lebanon and political movements like Hamas would only “recognize Israel's right to exist” then there could be peace. The Arab states are consistently portrayed by Israel as the unreasonable parties, and any efforts on the parts of Arab countries to obey the will of the majority of their people and stand up to Israel's daily theft of Palestinian land and slaughter of Palestinian people is portrayed by Israeli leaders as proof that they want to “wipe Israel off the map.” Yet when the Israeli government is asked the very simple question, where are your borders, no answer is forthcoming. Like Nazi Germany, the neighboring countries are expected to acquiesce to all Israeli demands or be portrayed as the aggressors. But how can any reasonable country be expected to recognize a nation that will not itself recognize its own borders? What is Israel, and where does it end and its neighbors' lands begin? Also, on what grounds should Israel be recognized, when it is daily involved in violating all sorts of international laws, daily involved in theft and murder, daily involved with the subjugation of the Palestinian people, and refuses to give back land it took by force of arms from Lebanon and Syria?

Resistance to Nazi tyranny within Germany or in occupied countries was dealt with through incredible brutality. Entire families of dissidents would routinely be sent to concentration camps and often killed. If an occupation soldier was killed, collective punishment was the modus operandi of the Nazi regime. Oftentimes a hundred people in a village would be killed in retribution for the murder of one German soldier.

Similarly, whereas the families of partisans would be sent to the camps, the houses of the families of resistance fighters from the West Bank and Gaza are routinely destroyed. An attack on Israeli territory is routinely responded to (even when the attack itself was generally a response) with massively disproportionate collective punishment, including attacks by helicopter gunships on densely-populated areas where multiple families are killed in order to take out one Hamas or other political leader. Border closures resulting in loss of employment for hundreds of thousands are another routine Israeli response to any resistance to their occupation. Thousands of children and adults are routinely arrested and held indefinitely in Israeli prisons without ever being charged (in courts that are themselves illegitimate anyway). As in Nazi-occupied Europe, no Palestinian man or boy can ever be confident that he will not be dragged out of bed on any given night, taken from his home and arrested.

We are told by the Israeli government not to pay attention to the numbers, that proportionality doesn't matter. There often seems to be a clear effort on the part of the IDF and its political leaders to kill a hundred Palestinians for every Israeli killed, as was the case in the most recent Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. If proportionality is irrelevant and morality has no numerical measure, then presumably it would be morally justifiable from the Israeli government perspective if a hundred Israelis were killed for every Palestinian the IDF shoots, but if such a thing were to happen we could be sure to hear from the Israelis all about Palestinian monstrousness, no doubt. This, however, is extremely unlikely ever to happen, since there is no Palestinian military, no Palestinian tanks, no Palestinian Air Force, etc. It's jet fighters versus home-made bombs and ineffective “rocklets” that rarely hit any target.

The Nazis became famous for, among other things, developing methods of torture that make the Spanish Inquisition look humane. Israel has also excelled at developing new ways to cause horrible physical and emotional suffering to human beings. During the most recent Israeli “war” against Lebanon, among the many buildings demolished from the air was the old Khiam Prison in southern Lebanon. When I visited Lebanon in 2005 I toured the Khiam Prison, which was in an area abandoned by the Israelis in 2000 after years of fighting between the IDF, their Lebanese collaborators, and Hezbollah. In Khiam Prison one could see where the US military got its ideas for torturing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. There were specially-designed boxes just big enough for a man to kneel, far too small to stand up or lie down, in which men would be held for weeks at a time and subjected day and night to loud music, regularly taken out of their boxes to be beaten.

We are told by the Israelis that the massive civilian death toll among Palestinians is unavoidable, since Palestinian “terrorists” hide among the civilian population when they carry out their attacks on occupation soldiers. We are also told that the Palestinians are targeting civilians in the (now almost nonexistent) suicide attacks inside Israel. It's an interesting form of two-faced logic, since the main form of transportation used by Israeli soldiers are public buses. This is abundantly obvious to anyone who takes a public bus in Israel. In this highly militarized society where most men and women over the age of eighteen are either active-duty soldiers or reservists, you can hardly find a public bus that is not transporting at least one uniformed soldier with a machine gun hanging off of his shoulder.

It's also an interesting form of dual logic, since the ghetto fighters of Warsaw so justifiably revered by Israeli society were fighting entirely from civilian areas, since they were themselves civilians, fighting from and for their homes, armed with home-made or occasionally smuggled weapons, just like the Palestinian fighters today.

The Nazis found collaborators within the Jews of Warsaw, who became their Jewish Police, or Judenrat. Prior to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, it was the Judenrat who arrested or rounded up Jews wanted by the Nazis, and brought them to the border of the ghetto, to be safely (for the Nazis) handed over, and generally sent to their deaths. Taking a page from this history, the Oslo “peace process” involved a dividing up of Palestinian territory into areas A, B and C. Area A is the downtown, or the area within the ghetto walls that now surround so many of the bombed-out shells that were once thriving Palestinian towns and cities. Area A is the part that Israelis have generously allowed to be policed by Fatah, which has increasingly become, in the eyes of many Palestinians, Israeli collaborators. Israel regularly invades Area A parts of the West Bank whenever it wants to, but otherwise it tries to get the Fatah police to do their policing for them.

Hamas, which refuses to go along with the program, is then painted as a terrorist group that simply must be wiped out, because they doggedly refuse to be collaborators. Like the Jewish Fighting Organization (the ZOB was their Polish acronym) in Warsaw, Hamas does not deal gently with collaborators or with the Israeli occupation forces. Facing impossible, overwhelming odds and essentially certain death, Hamas does what they can to mount some kind of a resistance to the Israeli Terror. ZOB fighters referred to themselves as the “walking dead.” Like the ZOB and other valiant resistance groups throughout the history of every continent, Hamas also embraces martyrdom. Embracing martyrdom is often painted by Israelis and others as some kind of peculiar trait of “Islamic fundamentalists,” which is ridiculous and completely ahistorical, as well as an insult to the memory of the very ghetto fighters in Warsaw who helped inspire the Zionist state in the first place.

Hitler loved to portray his “Aryan” soldiers as icons of morality and good behavior, which of course was nonsense. Like the IDF, the German soldiers fought very well and bravely, especially from the inside of a tank. And like the IDF, who are also widely viewed within Israel as the world's most moral army, the German soldiers consistently engaged in acts of sadism against civilians throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. And like the IDF, they were almost never punished for such acts.

Reminders of the sadism that permeates the Israeli military are never far away, and are often described most eloquently by former occupation soldiers who turned against their commanders in the Knesset. (Thankfully, there are many such soldiers. Unfortunately, there aren't nearly enough of them to make a difference.) The tendency of IDF soldiers to shoot children in the head with live ammunition is well-known and well-documented.

I vividly recall the outrage of many of my Jewish Israeli fans when Ariel Sharon “visited” the Al-Aqsa Mosque, along with hundreds of soldiers, prompting some stone-throwing from local Palestinian youths, to which the soldiers responded with live ammunition, killing many, leading to the Al-Aqsa Intifada and thousands more deaths, overwhelmingly of Palestinian children.

My fans weren't outraged at Sharon, however, they were outraged at me for writing my first of a series of songs about the Israeli occupation, “Children of Jerusalem.” What many people took particular offense to was the line about the general (Sharon) grinning. They told me this couldn't be accurate, because IDF soldiers carried out their duties with a grim sense of necessity, never enjoying the killing of the kids who were always shot because they were in the way of the ubiquitous “Palestinian gunmen” who were always firing first, at the poor defenseless tanks which for some reason were in the middle of their cities. For my outrageous accusations they called me a fascist and all sorts of other things.

But unfortunately they're wrong. The soldiers often are grinning. Like the smirking soldier who was standing in the ambulance that was trying to transport Tristan Anderson to the hospital just a few days ago, refusing to move to allow the medics to close the door. Tristan was only one of a multitude of victims of the Israeli Terror, and this sadistic soldier was only one of many other sadistic Israeli soldiers obeying the whims of a government run by sadistic, racist men and women.

Israel bears many of the hallmarks of a fascist regime. What's more, it is, like Nazi Germany, a very popular regime among its people. Like Nazi Germany, it is justly reviled by people around the world, but actively supported by so many of its people. Like Nazi Germany, governments and corporations around the world prefer to profit from trading with it rather than standing up to it and isolating it. Like Nazi Germany, it is dependent on the outside world for food, fuel and other basic necessities of life.

Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel is not going to be defeated militarily. But it can be defeated if the people of the world – especially in the US -- pressure their governments to recognize Israel for the aggressive, racist state that it fundamentally is and has been since 1948, cut off the aid and impose trade sanctions of the sort that were imposed on South Africa under apartheid. The beginning of the process of isolating this small country from the world community that allows it to prosper is to educate people about the true nature of Zionism.

The Middle East has been and must be shared by Muslims, Christians and Jews as it was since long before the Zionist armies expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their lands in 1948. Nothing, including the Nazi Holocaust, justifies what has been done and, most importantly, continues to be done to the Palestinians. The time is long since past to call the Jewish state out for the fundamentally racist regime that it is. In the name of the ghetto fighters of Warsaw, let us strive to see a world where no one needs to die with a stone in their hand trying to defend a starved, walled ghetto against an army of tanks and planes, where people like Tristan don't need to have their brains blown out for trying to prevent a wall from being built around yet another ghetto.

~ San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center ~

More than 2 dozen anti-war protesters arrested

San Francisco -- Police arrested more than two dozen protesters at separate anti-war events in San Francisco on Thursday, including five men who protesters said were veterans of the Iraq war.

The protests were part of a daylong series of more than two dozen events that took place at BART stations around the Bay Area, said Sandra Schwartz, peace education coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee.

"We're doing it because it's the sixth anniversary of the (Iraq) war," Schwartz said. "We wanted to call attention to the fact the war is not over, the occupation of Iraq has not ended, and the occupation of Afghanistan is escalating."

Most of the day's events were musical or spoken word events, Schwartz said.

At a late afternoon event at Civic Center Plaza, protesters blocked Market Street, saying they intended to remain there for 71 minutes of silence - one second for each of the 4,259 members of the U.S. military killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

After 43 minutes, police stepped in and arrested 11 protesters, including five men identified by organizers as veterans of the Iraq war. Those men were identified by protest organizers as Carl Davison, Peter Schlange, Muhammad Abdullah, Matthew Edwards, and Jordan Towers, all affiliated with Iraq Veterans Against the War.

~ more... ~

Peace activists arrested while confronting the War Machine

 ARLINGTON, VA - Seven peace activists were arrested this morning as they attempted to meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

The peace activists are associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), and their visit followed a letter to Gates demanding all military forces be withdrawn from Iraq, Afghanistan, and that bombings of Pakistan immediately cease.
Group dedicated to nonviolent action urge Secretary Gates to stop pursuing war against Afghanistan and Iraq

ARLINGTON, VA - Seven peace activists were arrested this morning as they attempted to meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

The peace activists are associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), and their visit followed a letter to Gates demanding all military forces be withdrawn from Iraq, Afghanistan, and that bombings of Pakistan immediately cease. The group of committed activists from New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and the District of Columbia were arrested by Pentagon Police after they strenuously requested to meet with Gates.

"We wish to petition our government for a redress of grievances," said Michelle Grise, coordinator of NCNR. "Our grievance is that our government continues to engage in clear violations of international law by aggressively and immorally waging wars on countries which pose no immediate threat to our nation."

Grise was arrested along with six other activists, including 78 year-old Eve Tetaz. A retired D.C. public schoolteacher, Tetaz is a veteran peace activist and faces potential jail time for her protests.

"We are here to demand that these illegal and immoral wars cease, and that our government instead seek peace and justice," Tetaz said. "We must remind Secretary Gates that all life is sacred."

Those arrested included: Manijeh Saba, Eve Tetaz, Michelle Grise, Ellen Barfield, Pete Perry, Steve Mihalis, and Max Obuszewski.

The action took place on St. Patrick's Day, and the activists remembered Peter DeMott, one of the four activists who were arrested for entering a military recruiting station on March 17, 2003, two days before shock and awe. DeMott and the three others poured their blood and recited liturgy in order to show their opposition to the Iraq War. The violent occupation of Iraq begins it's seventh year this week.

Other anti-war actions this week in Washington include nonviolent direct action by the college-aged group, Our Spring Break, on Thursday, and a large march to the Pentagon on Saturday.

Below you will find the letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.


Saturday March 7, 2009

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Secretary Gates,

I am writing as a representative of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We are a group of citizens dedicated to working for an end to the illegal war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the illegal bombing, since July of 2008, of Pakistan. These actions are causing incredible human suffering, growing distrust of the United States around the world, and are diverting our resources which could be better used to ease human suffering. We follow the principles of Gandhi, King, Day and others, working nonviolently for a peaceful world.

We would like to meet with you to discuss this situation. As members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, we adhere to the Nuremberg protocols. These principles, established during the trials of Nazi war criminals, call on people of conscience to challenge their government when it is engaged in criminal activity. Not only do we have the responsibility to meet with you, but you have a responsibility and duty to follow the laws and uphold the constitution as you swore when you took your oath of office.

On March 19 the seventh year of the Iraq war begins. The attack and invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law and an immoral chapter in U.S. history, staining our country's reputation, and it must end immediately. The war in Afghanistan and the bombing of Pakistan must also end immediately. Despite mounting U.S. military and civilian casualties, the people of the U.S. are now being asked to financially support an enlarged and prolonged occupation of Afghanistan, with no end in sight, and which we believe is immoral. It is urgent that we meet soon as innocent people are dying everyday.

We would appreciate a response by March 14, so that NCNR members can arrange their travel plans to be at the meeting at a time appropriate to your schedule. If perchance, you fail to respond we will come to the Pentagon some time in the next few weeks to request a meeting.

In peace,

Joy First
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
6014 Gateway Green
Madison, WI 53716
608 222-7581

Michelle Grise'
Reston, VA
ncnrconvener (at)

Peter J. Perry
Washington, DC

Malachy Kilbride
Arlington, VA

Ellen E Barfield
Baltimore, MD

Eve Tetaz
Washington, DC

Steve Mihalis
Elyria, Ohio

Manijeh Saba
Somerset, New Jersey

Max Obuszewski
Baltimore, MD

~ DC Indymedia ~

Smash EDO Commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

Smash EDO Press Release

17th March 2009

Smash EDO Commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq while Seven Campaigners Stand Trial for Resisting Weapons Factory

The campaign against EDO MBM/ITT is holding an all night protest vigil at the EDO factory in Home Farm Road, Brighton from 4.30pm Thursday 19th to 10am Friday 20th to mark the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq began on the night of 19th/20th March 2003. Since then over a million people have died as a result of the invasion and occupation. EDO have been making money out of the suffering of the people of Iraq. The company produce components for the Paveway III and IV, the most used missiles in the 2003-4 bombardment

Seven people are currently on trial for aggravated trespass in Brighton Magistrates court charged with locking on to the fence of EDO MBM/ITT on March 19th 2008 to commemorate the sixth anniversry of the invasion. They are arguing, in their defence, that EDO's business is not lawful. Paul Hills, Managing Direrctor of EDO, is currently being questioned at the Magistrate's Court over his companys' complicity in war crimes. The trial is scheduled to

Chloe Marsh, press spokesperson for the Smash EDO campaign, said "six years have passed since the UK and US, armed by companies like EDO MBM, invaded Iraq. Since then millions of lives have been ruined. The only people who have profitted out of the invasion and occupation are private companies like EDO MBM. We will keep on campaigning until EDO close down."


For more Details call 07754135290


Notes for Journalists

The Company

From their base in Moulescoombe Brighton, EDO MBM/ITT, a unit of ITT corporation, manufacture vital parts for the Hellfire and Paveway weapons systems, laserguided missiles used extensively in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Somalia. EDO Corp were recently acquired by ITT in a multi-billion pound deal. ITT's links to fascism go back to the 1930s. The founder Sosthenes Behn was the first foreign businessman received by Hitler after his seizure of power.

The Campaign

There has been active campaign against the presence of EDO MBM in Brighton since the outbreak of the Iraq war. Campaigners include students, Quakers, Palestine solidarity activists, anti-capitalists and academics. Despite an injunction under the protection of harassment act (which failed) and over forty arrests the campaign is still going strong.Their avowed aim is to expose EDO MBM and their complicity in war crimes and to remove them from Brighton. They hold regular weekly demos outside the Moulescoombe factory on Wednesday's between 4 and 6.


On the Verge is an independent film about the SMASH EDO Campaign “In 2004 a group of Brighton peace campaigners began to bang pot and pans outside their local arms manufacturers EDO MBM in disgust of their part in the Iraq war. This has grown into the Smash EDO campaign, which has cost the company millions, been the subject of large scale police operations and has tested the right to protest in the UK.Using activist, police and CCTV footage plus interviews with those involved in the campaign, 'On The Verge' tells the story of one of the most persistent and imaginative campaigns to emerge out of the UK's anti-war movement and direct action scene.”

~ ~

France officially asks to rejoin NATO command

PARIS (AP) — President Nicolas Sarkozy has submitted a formal request to rejoin the NATO command structure following a 43-year absence, French and NATO officials said Friday.

A letter with the request was presented Thursday to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer during an EU summit in Brussels, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Submitting the letter was a formality, but an essential step in France's return to the alliance — which celebrates its 60th birthday in two weeks.

The NATO official said the alliance must now decide what sort of command posts France will take up.

Upon fully returning to NATO, France expects to receive two command posts — one in Norfolk, Virginia, responsible for defining the strategic transformation of the alliance, and another in Lisbon, Portugal.

In 1966, President Charles de Gaulle abruptly pulled France out of the NATO command and evicted all allied troops and bases, including its military headquarters, from France in an effort to assert sovereignty over its own territory.

France remained a NATO member, but has stayed outside the decision-making core since de Gaulle's pullout.

~ more... ~

Veteran scales Veterans Affairs building in downtown DC to hang anti-war sign

From The Seattle Times :

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Army veteran has been arrested after climbing up the Veterans Affairs Department building in downtown Washington to hang a sign protesting the Iraq war.

Forrest Schmidt was arrested Thursday outside the building, which is less than a block from the White House. Before his arrest, though, Schmidt had time to hang a large banner over the building entrance that read "Veterans say NO to War and Occupation."

A group of veterans and anti-war activists is planning to march on the Pentagon on Saturday to mark the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war. The march will continue past the offices of defense contractors, including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and General Dynamics.

Canada bans outspoken anti-war British lawmaker

TORONTO (AP) — Canada has banned an outspoken anti-war British lawmaker from the country on national security grounds, officials said Friday.

George Galloway is well known in Britain for his opposition to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He was due to give a speech in Toronto on March 30.

A spokesman for Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canadian border officials made the decision because Galloway constitutes a national security threat.

The government will not overturn the decision for someone "who only recently bragged about providing financial support for Hamas, which is a banned terrorist organization in Canada," Alykhan Velshi said.

Last week, Galloway was awarded an honorary Palestinian passport in a secret meeting with the Hamas prime minister. Ismail Haniyeh's office released a photo of the two men embracing.

Galloway has also celebrated Taliban soldiers fighting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, Velshi said.

"In this case, I believe folks that are supporting and promoting and helping terrorist organizations are not needed to visit Canada," Kenney said.

Galloway called the ban outrageous.

~ more... ~

The Power of Protest

The campaign against nuclear weapons was not simply an ideological movement; it was a potent political force.

by Lawrence S. Wittner

[Introduction: Six decades into the nuclear age, it is worth reflecting on the fact that the United States remains the only nation to have detonated a nuclear weapon in combat, that Japan alone among nations has experienced nuclear attack, and that for all the terror unleashed in subsequent wars, no nation has launched nuclear weapons on an enemy since 1945. What forces have prevented nuclear war, and what lessons can be drawn from this experience for the future? Lawrence Wittner finds important answers to these questions in the world anti- nuclear movement.

Japan has played an important role in this world movement from its inception. The Japanese antinuclear movement began in response to the atomic bombing of Japan. In 1946, citizens' groups in Hiroshima, meeting to commemorate the sufferings of the population, gradually, turned to agitation against the nuclear arms race. By warning the world of the horrors of nuclear war, hibakusha and their supporters believed, the suffering and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would acquire transcendent meaning. Although U.S. censorship and other restraints barred publication detailing the horror inflicted by the atomic bombs, a campaign against the Bomb gradually gathered strength.

That campaign took off as a mass movement after March 1954, when U.S. nuclear testing irradiated the crew of a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon and citizens of Bikini. This led to an antinuclear petition initiated by women and eventually signed by 32 million people in the largest anti-nuclear protest ever. The movement quickly became international. In August 1955, tens of thousands of delegates -- most of them Japanese -- convened in Hiroshima for the First World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. The Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) was organized to continue the antinuclear crusade in Japan, which continued to rage in the following years.

However, the Cold War partisanship of the Japan Communist Party (JCP) within Gensuikyo generated intense friction inside the organization. Consequently, in 1965 the Japan Socialist Party, Sohyo, and other organizations calling for a more evenhanded approach critical of the nuclear stance of all nuclear powers created a rival group, the Japan Congress Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikin). Attempts in the late 1970s and early 1980s to foster greater cooperation between the two organizations resulted in another outpouring of nuclear disarmament activism in the early 1980s. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese demonstrated against nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Tokyo. Once again, tens of millions of people signed antinuclear petitions. Although this activism fell off in subsequent years, the idea of nuclear disarmament, a centerpiece of Japanese pacifism, has retained enormous popular appeal. Polls in 1998 showed that 78 percent of the Japanese public favored the complete destruction of nuclear weapons.

In a post-9/11 world with a single superpower, what strategies will anti-nuclear activists devise to prevent nuclear war? With Japan dispatching troops to Iraq in violation of its own constitution, and with rising pressures to revise the constitutional ban on war, the issues are particularly salient for Japan. The answer to that question may hinge on the ability of anti-war and anti-nuclear activists to unify their movements. By Japan Focus coordinator]

One of the most striking facts about the modern world is that, for the past 58 years, we have managed to avoid nuclear war. After all, a nation that has developed weapons tends to use them. For example, immediately after the U.S. government built nuclear weapons, it employed them to destroy Japanese cities. Just as startling, a nation that has devoted vast resources to developing weapons usually does not get rid of them -- at least until it develops more powerful weapons.

But since August 1945, no nation has attacked another with nuclear weapons, and only a relatively small number of nations have chosen to build them. Also, those nations that have developed nuclear weapons have for the most part accepted nuclear arms control and disarmament measures: the Partial Test Ban Treaty; the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (I and II); the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (I and II); and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Why have they adopted these policies of nuclear restraint?

The answer lies in a massive grassroots campaign that has mobilized millions of people in nations around the globe: the world nuclear disarmament movement. Indeed, the history of nuclear restraint without the nuclear disarmament movement is like the history of civil rights legislation without the civil rights movement.

A message from the masses

Nuclear restraint did not come naturally to government officials, who initially viewed nuclear weapons as useful additions to their nations' military might.

This certainly included U.S. officials. Learning of the successful destruction of Hiroshima, President Truman called the atomic bomb "the greatest thing in history" and moved forward with the nuclear annihilation of Nagasaki. He also ordered the creation of a vast nuclear arsenal for the United States, including hydrogen bombs.

Truman's successor, Dwight Eisenhower, came to office with no interest whatsoever in nuclear arms controls or disarmament. Instead, Eisenhower favored what he called "massive retaliation" and the integration of nuclear weapons into conventional war. Nuclear weapons, Eisenhower declared, should "be used exactly as you would use a bullet or anything else." John F. Kennedy campaigned for the Presidency by pledging a U.S. nuclear buildup to close the supposed "missile gap" between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Even Jimmy Carter -- as much a man of peace as any who has reached the White House -- championed the development of the neutron bomb and the MX missile. Ronald Reagan, of course, entered office as an opponent of every nuclear arms control treaty signed by his Democratic and Republican predecessors. Furthermore, he talked glibly about fighting and winning nuclear wars. His successor, George H. W. Bush, halted nuclear arms control and disarmament negotiations in one of his first acts in office.

But they all came around to rejecting nuclear war and championing nuclear arms control and disarmament measures.

This reversal occurred because of a massive, worldwide campaign of public protest against the nuclear arms race and nuclear war. Atomic scientists, pacifists, professional groups, religious bodies, unions, intellectuals, and just plain folks were horrified at the nuclear recklessness of government officials -- including their own -- and demanded nuclear disarmament. Powerful anti-nuclear groups sprang up around the world. In the United States, they included the Federation of American Scientists, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), Women Strike for Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. These constituencies demanded that the nuclear arms race stop, that nuclear disarmament begin, and that nuclear war be banned. For the most part, the general public agreed. During the 1980s, polls found that 70 to 80 percent of Americans supported the Nuclear Freeze proposal for a Soviet-American treaty to halt the testing, development, and deployment of nuclear weapons. The waging of nuclear war inspired widespread popular revulsion.

This public resistance to nuclear weapons startled government officials and gradually pushed them back from implementing their nuclear ambitions. As U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles put it, there had developed "a popular and diplomatic pressure for limitation of armament that cannot be resisted by the United States without our forfeiting the good will of our allies and the support of a large part of our own people." When the Soviet Union began a unilateral halt to nuclear testing in 1958, the U.S. government could no longer resist. Testing was "not evil," Eisenhower remarked in exasperation, but "people have been brought to believe that it is!" And so the U.S. and British governments joined the Russians in halting nuclear testing. When some Eisenhower administration officials called for greater flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, the President brushed them off. "The use of nuclear weapons," he said, "would raise serious political problems in view of the current state of world opinion."

The Kennedy administration also felt besieged by protests against nuclear weapons. According to the minutes of a November 1961 National Security Council meeting, "the President voiced doubts that we could ever test in Nevada again for domestic political reasons," while the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, "pointed up the difficulty of testing at Eniwetok." Ultimately, Kennedy turned to Norman Cousins, the founder and co-chair of SANE, and urged him to use his meeting with Nikita Khrushchev to smooth the path toward a nuclear test ban treaty. That's just what Cousins did, and the result was the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. Jerome Wiesner, Kennedy's White House Science adviser, gave the major credit for the treaty to SANE and Women Strike for Peace. According to McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy's national security adviser, the treaty "was achieved primarily by world opinion."

When it came to the Vietnam War, Bundy recalled, the U.S. government did not dare to use nuclear weapons. Why? There would have been a terrible public reaction abroad, Bundy said; even more significant was the prospect of public upheaval in the United States, for -- as he recalled -- "no president could hope for understanding and support from his own countrymen if he used the bomb." Explaining his own restraint in the war, Richard Nixon recalled bitterly that, had he used nuclear weapons or bombed North Vietnamese dikes, "The resulting domestic and international uproar would have damaged our foreign policy on all fronts."

Taking "yes" for an answer

Even the hawkish Ronald Reagan had the good sense to get out of the way of the political steamroller. In an effort to dampen popular protest against his nuclear buildup, he endorsed the "zero option -- a proposal to remove all the intermediate range nuclear missiles from Europe. Then he dropped plans to deploy the neutron bomb. Then he agreed to abide by the provisions of SALT II -- though it was never ratified and, during the 1980 campaign, he had condemned it as an act of "appeasement." Although Reagan proceeded with the deployment of U.S. missiles in Western Europe, he was so rattled by the massive protests against them that, in October 1983, he told his startled secretary of state: "If things get hotter and hotter and arms control remains an issue, maybe I should go see [Soviet Premier Yuri] Andropov and propose eliminating all nuclear weapons." And, despite protests from his advisers, he did propose that, in a remarkable speech in January 1984. Moreover, as early as April 1982 he began declaring publicly that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." He added, "To those who protest against nuclear war, I can only say: 'I'm with you!'"

All this happened during Reagan's first term in office, during the reigns of Leonid Brezhnev, Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko in the Soviet Union -- before the advent of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev's rise to power in March 1985 removed the Soviet stumbling block in the path of arms control and disarmament agreements, for the new Soviet party leader was a movement convert. Gorbachev's "New Thinking" -- by which he meant the necessity for peace and disarmament in the nuclear age -- came from a well-known anti-nuclear statement by Albert Einstein in 1946, reiterated in the famous Russell-Einstein appeal of 1955. Gorbachev's advisers have frequently pointed to the powerful influence of the nuclear disarmament campaign upon the Soviet leader, and Gorbachev himself declared that the new thinking took into consideration the conclusions and demands of the antiwar organizations and anti-nuclear activists.

Gorbachev met frequently with leaders of the nuclear disarmament movement and often followed their suggestions. On the advice of nuclear disarmament activists, he initiated and later continued a unilateral Soviet nuclear testing moratorium, decided against building a Star Wars antimissile system, and split the issue of Star Wars from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, thus taking the crucial step toward the 1987 agreement that removed all intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

When Gorbachev suddenly called the U.S. bluff by agreeing to remove all the Euromissiles (the zero option), it horrified NATO's hawks -- including Margaret Thatcher in Britain, the Christian Democrats in West Germany, and key Republican leaders in the United States, such as Robert Dole, Jesse Helms, and Henry Kissinger. But, as U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz recalled: "If the United States reversed its stand now . . . such a reversal would be political dynamite!" Or, as Kenneth Adelman, Reagan's hawkish director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, put it: "We had to take yes for an answer."

In response to anti-nuclear agitation during these years, there were also important shifts in other lands. New Zealand banned nuclear warships in its ports; Australia refused to test MX missiles. India halted work on nuclear weapons, and its prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, joined with Gorbachev in calling for nuclear abolition. The Philippines adopted a nuclear-free constitution and shut down U.S. military bases that housed nuclear weapons. South Africa scrapped its nuclear weapons program. No new nations joined the nuclear club.

Although the movement began to decline in the late 1980s, it retained some influence. President George H. W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, felt that Reagan had moved too fast and too far toward nuclear disarmament and abruptly halted disarmament negotiations. But their reluctance soon collapsed.

The U.S. and British governments wanted to significantly upgrade short-range nuclear forces in Western Europe. However, a number of West European governments, frightened at the prospect of a revival of public protest, resisted. When Gorbachev unilaterally removed short-range missiles from Eastern Europe, thus encouraging popular protests against the missiles in Western Europe, Baker was horrified. "We were losing the battle for public opinion. We had to do something," he wrote in his memoirs. "NATO could not afford another crisis over deploying nuclear weapons. The alliance . . . would not be able to survive." Thus, the Bush administration backed off and agreed to negotiate missile reductions. Eventually, in a sharp departure from past practice, it unilaterally withdrew its short-range missiles from Western Europe.

Stopping the tests

The impact of the anti-nuclear movement upon nuclear testing was even more direct. Since the mid-1980s, disarmament groups around the world had been working to stop underground nuclear weapons explosions. Thanks to their pleas, Gorbachev initiated and continued his unilateral nuclear testing moratorium. But, after eighteen months of Reagan administration rebuffs to the moratorium and to a test ban treaty, in February 1987 the Soviets resumed testing. This setback, however, only heightened anti-nuclear agitation.

Protesters organized large demonstrations at the Nevada Test Site. Police arrested thousands of Americans each year for nonviolent civil disobedience. Inspired by these actions, a massive Nevada-Semipalatinsk nuclear disarmament movement emerged in the Soviet Union, eventually forcing the closure of the Soviet nuclear test sites.

Meanwhile, sympathetic members of Congress introduced a variety of bills to halt U.S. nuclear testing. In 1991, pressed hard by disarmament groups, they pushed for action again. The final legislation, passed in the summer of 1992, halted underground nuclear testing for nine months, placed strict conditions on further U.S. testing, and required test ban negotiations and an end to U.S. testing by late 1996.

Having halted U.S. and Soviet nuclear testing, the movement pushed on in the following years to secure the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). During his presidential campaign, Bill Clinton -- recognizing the popular appeal of ending nuclear testing -- had pledged to support the test ban treaty. But after he entered the White House in January 1993, Clinton began to renege. Disarmament groups and anti-nuclear members of Congress stirred up a test ban campaign later that year, and the administration extended the U.S. nuclear testing moratorium, pressed other nuclear powers to join it, and began worldwide efforts to secure a treaty. Finally, in September 1996, representatives of countries around the world celebrated the signing of the CTBT. Speaking at the U.N. ceremonies, U.S. Amb. Madeleine Albright declared: "This was a treaty sought by ordinary people everywhere, and today the power of that universal wish could not be denied."

That is the good news.

What can be done?

The bad news is that since the end of the Cold War popular pressure against nuclear weapons has waned, and -- as a result -- hawkish government officials have felt freer to go about their traditional business of preparing for war, including nuclear war. India and Pakistan became nuclear weapons powers and threatened one another with nuclear annihilation. The U.S. Senate rejected ratification of the CTBT. And the administration of George W. Bush -- playing upon fears generated by 9/11 -- has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, opposed the CTBT, and laid plans for building new nuclear weapons.

Decades of struggle against the Bomb offer some strategic lessons. One is that the threat nuclear weapons pose to human survival provides a very effective basis for sparking mass mobilization against them. Even so, playing on fear can backfire, for hawkish forces can use it to make the case for more nuclear weapons. Consequently, disarmament advocates must not only stress the dangers of a nuclear buildup, but also provide a practical, positive alternative. On a short-term basis, this means nuclear arms control and disarmament under international control; on a long-term basis, the strengthening of international authority to prevent war and aggression.

Furthermore, because the mass media usually avoid discussing nuclear weapons issues and because much of the public would prefer not to think about nuclear annihilation, many people are ignorant about their governments' nuclear ambitions. Therefore, to stir up mass mobilization against nuclear weapons, disarmament groups must work overtime at raising popular consciousness about what governments are doing to prepare for nuclear war.

Finally, in order to develop that consciousness-raising campaign, as well as sensible alternatives to preparing for nuclear war, disarmament groups (and other civil society organizations) need to adopt a common focus for their efforts. They did this (more or less) in connection with halting nuclear testing, coordinating the European Nuclear Disarmament campaign, and organizing the Nuclear Freeze campaign.

There are also more profound lessons. Left to themselves, governments gravitate toward nuclear weapons and nuclear war as a means of defending national interests. Nor is this surprising, for the nation-state system has produced arms races and wars throughout its history. Fortunately, nations can be compelled to reverse themselves. When the nuclear disarmament movement has mobilized substantial popular pressure, it has succeeded in curbing the nuclear arms race and preventing nuclear war.

What the movement has done before, it can do again.

Lawrence S. Wittner, professor of history at the State University of New York-Albany, is the author of Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971 to the Present (2003). This article appeared in the July-August 2004 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

~ Source: Japan Focus ~

'I took a picture to show my dentist' - the first package tourists arrive in Iraq

Martin Chulov reports in the Guardian :

When tourism chiefs in Basra were assessing the prospects for western visitors four years ago, their verdict was not encouraging. "There is," they said, "a 70% to 80% chance you will be OK."

Things must have improved because yesterday the first group of western package tourists to visit Iraq's capital and second city finally arrived in Baghdad - tired, uninsured and a little exasperated, but happy - after a 17-day tour that would have been unthinkable 12 months ago.

On the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the irony was compelling: the last group of western foreigners to arrive outside the Sheraton hotel in Baghdad were invading US marines. Six years on, the assembled group of four Britons, a Russian who lives in London, two Americans and a Canadian wielded nothing more menacing than suitcases and dogeared tourism guides.

[ ... ]

The tour was organised by Geoff Hann, who has been bringing groups to Iraq since the 1970s. He was last in Baghdad in October 2003 before returning for a travel conference late last year, then deciding security had improved enough to risk another tour.

Most clients were retired people with an abiding interest in the culture, rather than would-be war tourists, he said.

"Dealing with the former government was probably more ordered," he said when asked to compare than and now. "As long as you did what Saddam's guards asked you to, you were fine."

None of the group could get travel insurance and all turned up despite stern warnings from the Foreign Office.

~ more... ~

2,300 years later, 'Alexander-mania' grips Macedonia

Much to the anger of Greece, the ancient conqueror is making a big comeback in Macedonia – he's arriving just in time for Sunday's election.

Robert Marquand reports in the Christian Science Monitor :

The "Alexander-mania," as critics call it, is partly a vote-getting strategy by the ruling party, known by its initials VMRO. Doubts exist as to whether party leaders actually believe the claims, but they are being sold as truth. The failure last spring to get a clear NATO invitation prompted fury in Skopje, and the Alexander campaign is seen as an effort to up the ante.

By pushing its thumb further into the already sore eye of Greece, both NATO and EU membership for the small, landlocked state remains in limbo. Macedonia is also distracted from reducing tensions with its sizable Albanian minority community following a brief ethnic war in 2001, diplomats say.

The dispute with Greece, largely unchanged since 1991, centers on a fight over the use of "Macedonia" as the country's name. Greece wants a name that doesn't include or at least deemphasizes "Macedonia," which Greeks say is their own. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia says its name is its own sovereign business. Negotiations have been endless.

For years, Greek demands were seen as cock-eyed and petty in diplomatic circles. Yet Macedonia has been losing sympathy as it roars out heritage claims on Alexander.

"If the name is the condition of our survival, which it seems to be, we are very far from reaching our strategic aims: NATO and the EU," says former Macedonian Foreign Minister Denko Maleski. "The new way of thinking about history is keeping tensions alive. We are a new nation, liberal and international, suddenly veering into the 19th century."

A poll last month showed that 97 percent of ethnic Macedonians favored staying out of the EU if it meant compromising on the name.

"The name dispute is more than a bilateral issue between Skopje and Athens. It risks derailing the main strategy of both NATO and the EU for stabilizing Macedonia," says a recent report from the International Crisis Group.

Some diplomats frame Sunday's elections as a vote for a president who may push Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski for a name resolution versus a nationalist who would not. Right now, it appears that VMRO's George Ivanov, an architect of the Alexander discourse, is set to win big. The opposition is in disarray, and Macedonia could end up with a one-party state.

"The entire nationalism hysteria, which only few question as most media get huge sums of money through government advertising, serves not only as a distraction from serious problems ... but has created an atmosphere that makes compromise difficult. It reminds me a bit of the madness of Serbia in the '90s, though not on the same scale, when Serbs spoke of themselves as 'the heavenly people,' " says Ana Petruseva, managing editor of Balkan Insight, in Skopje.

Indee, Macedonia's bold claim to be the taproot of Western civilization is daily media fare.

Last summer, the government flew in members of Pakistan's Hunza tribe, considered lost descendants of Alexander, to tour the country. Startled and pleased Hunza were greeted at Alexander airport with flowers and treated like long lost cousins as they disported across the nation, cameras in tow.

Even "God" has gotten involved. A nine-minute TV ad starts with a petition from Macedonia to the heavens: "Our neighbors distributed thousands of books across the world, containing false history and portraying a wrong picture about Macedonia. ... Only you know our pain." The Almighty then responds: "From you, Macedonians, descendants of Macedon, I conceived the white race. All that stretches to the seas off Japan is conceived from your genes."

Sinisa-Jakov Marusic, a columnist for Balkan Insight, cheekily observed, "So there you have it! What better proof than God himself?"

Beyond theatrics, the new program deeply troubles many scholars and intellectuals here – who are being sidelined – for its promulgation of myth as truth. The new taxpayer-funded Alexander ideology has no serious texts.

Unlike Serbia's Kosovo story, based on centuries of poetry and legend, the Macedonian ideology is being both invented and presented at the same time. There is no outside scholarly consensus, no textual tradition; the result is a kind of history-free history. The top-down, debate-free imposition of the new history is itself seen as illiberal and authoritarian.

The new program deeply troubles many scholars here. "What is the content of 'Alexanderization?'" asks Irena Stefoska, a Byzantine scholar at the Institute of National History here. "Who knows? It is a new reading of history completely different from the previous, not done from an academic point of view, but from a purely political view."

Alexander is considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time. Born in the Greek city of Pella in 356 BC, his conquests extended to most of his known world by the time of his death at age 32. He opened up Greek civilization from the Mediterranean to India, and is regarded as the first to link Europe, Asia, and Africa.

"Alexander was the captain general of all the Hellenes. He spoke Greek. He went to war on behalf of the Hellenes. No one in the ancient, medieval, or modern world has disputed this," says Michael Wood, a historian and British filmmaker who has produced a work on Alexander and has another in the making.

"The Macedonian state claim has no basis in history; it is a state-sponsored myth. I tell my Macedonian and Greek friends to ignore it," Mr. Wood adds.

State archaeologists in Skopje and Athens, however, are busy unearthing ancient Hellenic artifacts, which are then presented as evidence of Alexander heritage. Advocates of this new history leap from the present day to ancient times, ignoring Ottoman, Slavonian, and Byzantine periods when the Balkan peoples migrated and mingled.

"The problem is that no one today can be the direct descendants of ancient civilizations," says Ms. Stefoska. "Macedonians are Slavs. Our Slavonic heritage is accepted by historians."

Several years ago, VMRO officials claimed that Macedonia's majority population had an ethnic Bulgarian or Slavic origin.

~ more... ~


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