To my dear comrades,
Though using the gender-biased terminology of 1624, John Donne's Meditation 17 seems to me as if it could have been written in the first hour after Monday's carnage in Boston:
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
For those of us who have crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, those last few blocks on Boylston Street are unforgettable, emotionally as well as physically. To see the pictures and videos of maimed instead of merely exhausted bodies there is an especially searing experience. Saying that the bombing instantaneously turned a moment of large-scale human triumph into horror has already become a cliché. But it is true nonetheless. Reading about the lives of the dead and wounded is heartbreaking. Seeing the heroism of so many people who immediately ran toward instead of away from the explosions – including Boston Athletic Association volunteers and peace activists – is an inspiring reminder of human beings' capacity to put the needs of others before their own.
Washington's Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #95 • March 31, 2013
Michael Reagan connects the war in Iraq, elite impunity, the police murder of Kimani Gray, the Steubenville rape case, and the "sequester" assault on the poor, to the "madness from the top" that structures U.S. society.
It's March and despite what you read on the sports pages the real madness in the country isn't on the basketball court. It's on the streets of New York where police murder another Black teenager. It's in Steubenville, Ohio, where a teenage girl is raped by high school athletes and a culture of misogyny blames the victim. It's in the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, which passed without a single perpetrator of that lie-based bloodletting facing any consequences whatsoever. And it's in “sequestration,” a special kind of “structural violence” that targets the most vulnerable among us. This kind of madness, madness from the top, rooted in the violence and self-interest of the powerful, is enough to drive many of the rest of us mad in a different sense. We're mad with the kind of anger and outrage that leads to resistance.
With all eyes on North Korea since its third nuclear test, remarkably little has been said about how we arrived at this crisis point. Inadequately contextualized as North Korea’s response to fortified UN sanctions, the latest nuclear test bespeaks the failure of U.S. diplomacy toward its historic enemy.
The commonplace U.S. media framing of North Korea as the region’s foremost security threat obscures the disingenuous nature of U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy in the region, specifically the identity between what his advisers dub “strategic patience,” on the one hand, and his forward-deployed military posture and alliance with regional hawks on the other. Examining Obama’s aggressive North Korea policy and its consequences is crucial to understanding why demonstrations of military might—of politics by other means, to borrow from Carl von Clausewitz—are the only avenues of communication North Korea appears to have with the United States at this juncture.
Washington's Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #94/February 28, 2013
Rebecca Tumposky cuts through this month's hypocrisy in Washington concerning drones, Afghanistan, the Israel Lobby and Chuck Hagel allegedly being a threat to U.S. "national security." She also suggests that peace advocates can learn a lot from the Forward on Climate# #NoKXL actions that brought tens of thousands into the streets February 17.
Even counting the Oscar ceremony there was more posturing and acting in Washington than in Hollywood this month.As March 1 "sequestration" cuts that will impose hardship on millions loomed, Congress members preened for the cameras and gave priority to the partisan blame game over mention of poor people. In hearings considering Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary, Republican hawks acted as if Hagel’s saying the Iraq War was a mistake or that he was a senator from Nebraska rather than Israel made the man a friend of terrorism. President Obama spoke of a withdrawal from Afghanistan that isn't really a withdrawal and urged action on climate while acting as if the Keystone XL pipeline was not a grave threat to the planet. And the leaked memos on "justified’ targeted killing" meant that even Academy Award level costume design couldn't hide the "war is peace," "murder is self-defense" logic of Washington's drone warfare policy.
Sasha Wright lays bare the underlying dynamics of the U.S.-supported French intervention in Mali, spotlighting the role of AFRICOM and Western-imposed "structural adjustment" policies. She follows up by assessing the results of Israel's "let's debate-everything-except-settlements-and-occupation" elections.
This month in his inauguration speech President Obama declared that “a decade of war is now ending,” and “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” But the only wars Obama is ending (and even those not 100%) are the big ones, involving large-scale deployment of ground troops, substantial U.S. casualties, and direct naked occupations.
Elvis Méndez examines the connections between this country's toxic allegiance to militarism, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and the frenzy surrounding the fiscal cliff.
Another month, another spectacle: this month’s political theater is The Fiscal Cliff. The authors are the same Washington "wise men" who were responsible for the Super Committee, the "Gang of Six" and a litany of other proposals for imposing austerity measures on the U.S. public under the guise of deficit reduction and pragmatic fiscal policy. As of this writing the precise final script is still being negotiated behind closed doors. But no version has a happy ending for the 99%.
The specifics pushed by different factions of the U.S political class vary. But one thread remains constant: blind allegiance to war spending. The U.S. is - and has been for over 30 years - guided by a policy of military Keynesianism. Children abroad in occupied territories or regions under drone assault, and children at home (including - but not only - those murdered in Newtown) suffer the consequences of a system that prioritizes weapons manufacturing and remote killing machines over the physical and mental well-being of the next generation.
Analyzing Israel's latest assault on Gaza against the background of a rapidly changing region, Clare Bayard highlights the parallels between the Israeli and U.S. national narratives which give the racist "clash of civilizations" framework so much resonance in U.S. political discourse.
In the heart of the rapidly changing and unstable Middle East, Israel launched the biggest offensive against Gaza since 2008's Operation Cast Lead this month. The assault killed hundreds and alienated millions, and the global backlash led to more countries than ever defying Israeli and U.S. pressure in the U.N. vote to make Palestine a "non-member state" November 29.
What happens in Palestine/Israel affects the world:
"The Middle East lies on the world's largest "shatterbelt"... the region of contact between the world's great sea and land powers... shatterbelts are not just flashpoints for great power conflict. Critically, and unlike in other areas, small states located inside them can significantly affect the course of conflict simply by changing sides, shifting the balance of power across a tipping point. " -Roxane Farmanfarmaian in Redrawing the Middle East Map
On the eve of the election, Shenaaz Janmohamed highlights the way the world is changing and how resistance across the globe challenges the culture of avoidance and U.S. policies of persistent war.
|Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Mercy on the Plain of Arafat, in October 2012. (Image courtesy of AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)|
The last Friday of October was Eid al-Adha, the Islamic holiday marking the end of the hajj or pilgrimage season. This holiday is about considering the act of sacrifice in our daily lives. Goat and lamb are typically slaughtered and the food secured by this practice is shared collectively in community and offered to poor families. I attended an Eid celebration in Oakland, California and the khutbah, or sermon, invited us to think of the animals that we sacrifice as representing the qualities which need slaughtering in our society. The Imam invited us to think of killing off the tendencies that are not accountable to community.
This piece was originally posted on WarTimes on September 30, 2012
Washington's Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #89
This month’s Review is a little different from the usual War Times offering. In it, War Times crew member Nathan Paulsen shares his personal struggles with the isolation and despair that sometimes creep into the lives of people working for peace and justice. In this context, he touches on events in Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, and Iraq – and in his own life.
How does using the framework of militarism help understand war in its different forms? At a time when economic crisis has eclipsed issues of war, how does "militarism" mobilize the movement for peace and justice? This is a War Times-sponsored event that took place in San Francisco on August 4, 2012.
With Rebecca Gordon of War Times
Sarah Lazare of Civilian-Soldier Alliance: http://www.civsol.org/
Rachel Herzing of Critical Resistance: http://criticalresistance.org/
Moderated by Attieno Davis of War Times.