Wednesday, October 31, 2012



BUILDING A CULTURE OF PEACE, October 31, 2012. Compiled by Dick Bennett. (#1 May 21, 2009).

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Contents #1 May 21, 2009

Book Forum May 22, 2009

Bacevich on Illusions of the “American Century”

A New Purpose for Patriotic Days

Norman Mailer’s Why Are We at War?

The Patriot Act

Matthew Rothschild

Dick’s Letter

World Comments on Patriotism

Contents of #2

Pfaff: US History and Myths: Manifest Destiny, Exceptionalism, Empire

Parenti: US Superpatiotism

Dick Bennett: Patriotic, Defensive Murder, It’s the War Department

Salisbury: Repression USA Two Generations

Resistance to Patriot Act, Cheer for the Heroes

Nathanson: Moderate Patriotism

Woehrie: Peace Is Patriotic




Judge Learned Hand

Rev. Dave Hunter

Hedges: Meaning of War

Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters: For a knowledge-based peace, justice, and: ecology movement and an informed citizenry as the foundation for change.

--Pfaff, William. The Irony of Manifest Destiny: the Tragedy of American Foreign Policy. Walker, 2010. Rev. The Catholic Worker (March-April 2011). “In this magisterial essay, William Pfaff dissects the illusions which the ideology of Manifest Destiny has given rise to. The most notable is the doctrine of American Exceptionalism.” Also see his Fear, Anger, and Failure: A Chronicle of the Bush Administrations’s War Against Terror from the Attacks of 9/11 to Defeat in Baghdad. Rev. CW (Aug.-Sept. 2004).



In Superpatriotism (2004), Michael Parenti defines superpatriotism as “the readiness to follow national leaders unquestionably in their dealings with other countries, especially in confrontations involving military force.” It assumes that the United States is endowed with superior virtue and has a unique history and special place in the world. A key component of superpatriotism is an uncritical dedication to military glory and nation-state aggrandizement. United States leaders repeatedly interweave piety and patriotism. Superpatriots believe that the United States was intended by God, history, or destiny to play a unique and superior role in the world. Politico-economic elites promote flag reverence, loyalty oaths, and nationalistic anniversaries. They urge the teaching of a sanitized version of US history in the public schools. They establish national shrines and monuments. They inaugurate propaganda campaigns that depict others as national security threats and incite alarm at home.

What does it means to be a real patriot? Real patriots educate themselves about the real history of their country. Real patriots find different things in our past to be proud of: the struggle for enfranchisement, the abolitionist movement, the peace movement, the elimination of child labor, the struggle for collective bargaining, the eight-hour day, occupational safety, racial justice, gender equity. Real patriots note things that they really should fear: global warming, the overpowering influence of money on political life, electoral fraud, the power of corporations, corporate crime, underfunding of public services, a profit-driven military budget, the runaway national debt, repressive laws that steal away our civil liberties, and an oil-driven foreign policy. Real patriots struggle for social change: taxes for the rich, renewable non-polluting energy, safe mass transit systems, freedom of speech, non-profit production, new political parties, democratization of the political process and the economy.

(354 words)


Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway on July 22, 2011. Why? He thought they were Muslims; he thought Muslims were taking over his country. “I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country.” “’I am a member of the Norwegian resistance movement….We demand that our ethnic rights not be taken away from us.” It was a “suicide attack,” he said; he had not expected “to survive that day.”

He sounds like bin Laden: he too was defending his faith and people. And like the followers of bin Laden, who murdered thousands of people, Breivik was willing to give up his life.

In court Breivik argued that “he had acted in his country’s defense” and compared himself to U.S. commanders who authorized the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.” On this basis he asked the court “’that I be acquitted.’” “’As long as you call me evil, you should call the U.S. commanders during World War II evil as well when they decided to drop the bomb on Japan.’” But the U.S. was not evil because “they tried to have noble motives to try to save people’s lives.” just as he did. He was protesting “the ‘Islamic’ “colonization” of Norway,” “’I did this out of goodness, not evil.’” Nor were the murders psychopathic but were a “’preventive strike.’”

To reverse the chronological order: The U.S. Department of “Defense”. invades and bombs from Guatemala in 1954 to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, all in violation of the U.N. Charter, killing millions of innocents. The U.S. equipped Osama bin Laden in his resistance to the Soviet Occupation. Bin Laden ’s al Qaeda members bombed the Twin Towers, in defense of his faith, of Afghanistan, occupied now my the U.S., and other Middle Eastern nations. And Breivik bombs and shoots in defense of “my people, my city, my country.”

Formerly a high value, the idea of “defense” has been so outrageously sullied and abused by extremist nationalistic and ethnic fanatics and xenophobes, let us banish the word until the idea loses its power to motivate mass murder. A major beginning would be accurately naming the Pentagon the Department of War.


--William Blum. Killing Hope and Rogue State.

--Mark Lewis and Alan Cowell (The New York Times). “Patriotically Killed 77, Norwegian Testifies.” ADG (April 18, 2012), 3A.


STEPHAN SALISBURY, author of Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland.


Mohamed Ghorab had no hint one late spring morning that when he dropped his daughter off at school, his life would change forever. Federal agents and police surrounded him in front of terrified parents, teachers and school children. They hustled him off to jail and eventually deported him. His wife was detained at the same time. Agents raided the obscure Philadelphia mosque where Ghorab was imam, ransacking its simple interior and his house next door.

This was a fearful time in the life of America following 9/11, as prize-winning reporter Stephan Salisbury well knew. But he did not anticipate the extremity of fear that emerged as he explored the aftermath of that virtually forgotten raid. Over time, the members of the mosque and the imam’s family opened up to him, giving Salisbury a unique opportunity to chronicle the demolition of lives and families, the spread of anti-immigrant hysteria and its manipulation by the government.

As he explored these events, Salisbury was constantly reminded of similar incidents in his own past—the paranoia and police activity that surrounded his political involvement in the 1960s and the surveillance and informing that dogged his father, Harrison Salisbury, a well-known New York Times reporter and editor, for half a century. Salisbury weaves these strands together into a personal portrait of an America fracturing under the intense pressure of the war on terror—the homeland in the time of Osama.

“Stephan Salisbury tells a dark and important story that has not been told before and that vividly conveys the texture of the lives of men and women caught up in a web of hostility and government interference.” Gay Talese

“Drawing on his own history as an antiwar dissident, Salisbury writes compassionately of the families destroyed and the lives ruined by government-orchestrated repression. This is a vital document for our times, lyrical to an extent unexpected in a political book, yet imbued with a fervor that at every turn is made just by dogged, scrupulous reporting.” Ken Kalfus, author of The Commissariat of Enlightenment

“Stephan Salisbury has written a deeply reported, thoughtful meditation on what happens when a society decides it needs to spy on its own. Salisbury’s immersive account of the real-life consequences that happen when an entire community is placed under suspicion makes it clear that covert government surveillance comes with costs that can’t be measured on any balance sheet. Everyone agrees that abuses of power are bad, but Salisbury pushes readers to ponder the consequences—for individuals and for our open, democratic society—that accompany even the legal variety of permanent surveillance.” Michael Schaffer, author of One Nation Under Dog

Stephan Salisbury is the senior cultural writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he has been a reporter for three decades. He has covered everything from the Pennsylvania prison system, unrest in Ireland and Eastern Europe and the coup in Turkey to the culture wars in the United States and the disruptions of American life in the wake of 9/11. He has received numerous awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize as part of an Enquirer team investigating local election fraud in 1995. He is married to the painter Jennifer Baker; they have a daughter and a son.

Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010.


Democracy Now (8-11-10)

Harms of the Patriot Act include the thousands of National Security Letters demanding information without warrant and including a gag order. At least 192,500 between 2002 and 2006.

Two heroes of free speech interviewed: Nicholas Merrill, internet service provider who sued the government with the ACLU. Librarian George Christian and 3 other librarians refused to comply and challenged FBI’s request for records. Both argue the Security Letters violated the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments.

STEPHEN NATHANSON. Patriotism, Morality, and Peace. Roman and Littlefield, 1993. Is patriotism a worthy ideal, one that we ought to promote and support? Or is it a dangerous and destructive notion that leads to war and hostility? "Patriotism, Morality, and Peace" provides the first sustained philosophical treatment of these questions, distinguishes different forms of patriotism, and shows why some forms are indeed dangerous, while others can be valuable and constructive. Nathanson has written several books on patriotism.

Nathanson distinguishes between extreme patriotism (chauvinism, jingoism, and xenophobia) and extreme universalism (all nations and people are of equal concern) as advocated by Tolstoy. Instead, Nathanson recommends a “moderate patriotism” that embodies the following values:

1. Special affection for one’s own country

2. A desire that one’s country prosper and flourish

3. Special but not exclusive concern for one’s own country

4. Support of morally constrained pursuit of national goals

5. Conditional support of one’s country’s policies

These features avoid the extreme patriotism of believing one’s country is best and of feeling hostility toward others; love of one’s country does not exclude the humanity of people in other countries. “Having excised the belief in superiority, the desire for dominance, exclusiveness of concern, and non-recognition of moral constraints on national actions, moderate patriotism permits the pursuit of legitimate national goals by morally legitimate means.”

Moderate patriotism also avoids Tolstoy’s extreme universalism of complete equality of all countries and peoples. Because for Tolstoy patriotism meant an exclusive concern for one’s own country, a belief in the superiority of one’s country, a desire for dominance over other countries, no constraints on the pursuit of one’s country’s goals, and automatic support of one’s country’s military policies, he rejected patriotism. But he was rejecting extreme patriotism. Moderate patriotism avoids these liabilities so rightly abhorrent to Tolstoy.

Conclusion to chapter 3: “Finally, for all these reasons, moderate patriotism is not warlike or belligerent.” Dick

--Woehrle, Lynne, et al. Contesting Patriotism: Culture, Power, and Strategy in the Peace Movement. Roman & Littlefield, 2009. Rev. Fellowship (Spring 2010). A deep grounding of the peace movement is its effort to reclaim the attribution of “patriotic” for criticism of the nation-state when it wages war. The book traces the many ways “in which major groups in the peace movement have advanced this cause in their publications over the past 20 years.”


Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fayetteville

A patriot is one who wrestles for the soul of her country as she wrestles for her own being

(Adrienne Rich)

No one can be a patriot on an empty stomach. (Brann, The Iconoclast, Old glory)

I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone. (Last Words of Edith Cavel, before her execution by the Germans, October 12, 1915))

Peace is Patriotic (Bumper Sticker)

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel (Samuel Johnson)

You can’t prove you’re an American by waving Old Glory (Helen Gahagan Douglas)

Homily on Matriotism

Let me say right off the bat, that I’m in favor of love of country, and in favor of men and fathers, so you might ask “What’s with this matriotism business?” Anti male? Anti patriotism? Anti flag? No, it’s just that over the course of my adult life I’ve too often seen the symbols of patriotism misused to promote actions and values which are antithetical to a deeper love of country and love of humanity. During Viet Nam many people – I among them – conceded the flag to the far right, leaving me without a symbol of those values and hopes and aspirations which are the bedrock of this great nation. So I thought that since we too often get patriotism wrong, and allow it to calcify into superficial or dangerous or oppressive flag waving, and or corrode the values of free speech by forbidding flag burning, in the name of patriotism. let’s try again, with a slightly different name, and look to our mother values to express our love of country. Maybe we can get it right.

A word of caution. Just as those old patriotic catchphrases and flags can be misused, so can the slogans and ideals of the values we embrace. “Peace is patriotic” we said in our responsive reading. And so it is, usually. But I recently read Philip Roth’s novel, The Plot Against America, a dystopian fantasy about an America where the 1940 election was won by Lindbergh, a fascist friendly, Hitler loving isolationist. He campaigned against getting into the “Jews war” in Europe. It was a scary book. A call for peace is worthy of closer examination, but it is not automatically in our best interests. I remain skeptical of any bumper sticker politics, even those I find appealing or amusing. If your argument in politics – or religion – is something that you can shout across an abyss at the other side, I want to look more closely before I sign on.

So this morning we offer some of the depths, some of the elements of patriotism, or matriotism, some of the underlying values. Some and some were brought by members of the congregation. They are all worthy of your further attention.

Echoing through my mind as I thought about this service was a scene from my childhood kitchen. Next to the cellar door my mother hung a small cork bulletin board, no doubt for the various lists and clippings that accumulate in any family – this was before the ubiquity of refrigerator magnets. But I had other ideas. In school, bulletin boards were for educational and celebratory displays. And so I took it upon myself to decorate for the Fourth of July – flags and fireworks clipped from magazines, and in large letters against a beautiful cloud studded sky, a quote which I remember as being from Eisenhower, but Google tells me is attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville: “America is great because she is good; if she ceases to be good she will cease to be great.” You might argue the literal truth of that, you might question the details, but, especially in recent years, it might serve as a beacon for us. Matriotism requires us to always live towards our democratic ideals, to be good in every sense, to aspire towards a world with peace, liberty, and justice for all.


Excerpt: 'Why Women Should Rule the World' by Dee Dee Myers

Different Perspectives, Different Priorities

As women have played an increasingly important role in politics, there is no question that they've brought a different perspective, focusing attention on a broader set of issues and building alliances with other women. That's not to say that women in elective office focus only, or even mostly, on so-called women's issues. But research confirms that both Republican and Democratic women are more likely than their male counterparts to initiate and fight for bills that champion social justice, protect the environment, advocate for families, and promote nonviolent conflict resolution. They also focus on issues like transportation, agriculture, and arms control, just like men. But women, as Geraldine Ferraro once said, "raise issues that others overlook, pass bills that others oppose, invest in projects that others dismiss, and seek to end abuses that others ignore." Amen.

Kay Bailey Hutchison was the first Republican woman elected to the Texas House in 1972. "There were four Democratic women and me, for a total of five who were elected that year. And we did get together to do several things that were definitely a result of our experience as women. We changed the laws regarding rape victims in Texas and became really the leader in the nation on fair treatment for rape victims. And we did that as a coalition. We did equal credit rights for women. We did historical preservation. I also did transportation . . . That was not my experience as a woman, but I definitely worked with the Democratic women. And it was a great coalition that we had because the Republicans knew that if I was on it, it was okay. And the Democratic women had the credibility with the Democrats. So when we went together, we just mowed over them."

Hutchison believes the goal of representative government is to bring together as many backgrounds, points of view, and experiences as possible "to make a better result. And it's just that, historically, the women's experience was not at the table." But that's changing, she told me during an interview in her stately Senate office, and the effect on legislation is undeniable.

. . .

Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic governor of Kansas, told me she's a "huge believer" that more women in elective office would produce better decisions. "People bring their own life experiences, and women's life experiences are different than men's — not better, not worse, different. And 51, 52 percent of the population is women. And so having people at the table who make decisions based on their life experiences, their lens — whether it's as a mother, a daughter, a spouse, somebody who's in the workplace — I think we get better policies, a better dynamic."

As women slowly gain power, their values and priorities are reshaping the agenda. A multitude of studies show that when women control the family funds, they generally spend more on health, nutrition, and education — and less on alcohol and cigarettes. The effects extend beyond the family. In one study of local councils (panchyats) in India, researchers found that when women are in charge, they make different choices than men, investing in projects that directly affect their particular needs, like clean drinking water and better roads. That's not to say that women's priorities are better than men's. Rather, when women are empowered, when they can speak from the experience of their own lives, they often address different, previously neglected issues. And families and whole communities benefit.

Excerpted from Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Myers. Copyright (c) 2008 Dee Dee Myers.

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by

“Matriotism” by Cindy Sheehan

Much as I wish I could take credit for the word "matriotism," another woman wrote to me and gave me the concept. I was so intrigued by the word that I have been meditating on the possible ideology behind it, and a new paradigm for true and lasting peace in the world.

Before I dive into the concept of Matriotism, let's explore the word "patriotism." defines it as: love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it. When we all know that patriotism in the US means: exploiting others' love for country by sending them and their children off to sacrifice for my bank balance!

There have been volumes written about patriotism, defining it, supporting it, challenging the notion of it, etc. I believe the notion of patriotism has been expediently and nefariously exploited, and used to lead our nation into scores of disastrous and needless wars. The idea of patriotism has virtually wiped out entire generations of our precious young people and has allowed our nation's leaders to commit mass murder on an unprecedented scale. The vile sputum of "if you aren't with us, then you are against us" is basically the epitome of patriotism gone wild. After the tragedy of 9/11 we were on our way to becoming a fledgling Matriotic society until our leaders jumped on the bandwagon of inappropriate and misguided vengeance to send our young people to die and kill in two countries that were no threat to the USA or to our way of life. The neocons exploited patriotism to fulfill their goals of imperialism and plumder.

This sort of patriotism begins when we enter kindergarten and learn the nationalist "Pledge of Allegiance." It transcends all sense when we are taught the "Star Spangled Banner," a hymn to war. In our history classes the genocide of the Native American peoples is glossed over as we learn about the spread of American Imperialism over our continent, though it wasn't named until the 1840's, when the doctrine of Manifest Destiny was expounded to justify the USA's conquest of and "civilizing" of Mexican territories and Native American populations. Manifest Destiny sought to spread the "the boundaries of freedom" to the American Continent, with the notion that we have a special mission from God. Sound familiar?

All though school, we are brainwashed into believing that some how our leaders are always right and certainly have our best interests at heart when they wave the flag and convince us to hate fellow human beings who stand in the way of making immense profits from war. As Samuel Johnson said, patriotism is the "last refuge of a scoundrel."

Matriotism is the opposite of patriotism not to destroy it, but to be a yin to its yang, and balance out the militarism of patriotism.

Not everyone is a mother, but there is one universal truth that no one can dispute no matter how hard they try (and believe me, some will try): Everyone has a mother! Mothers give life, and if the child is lucky, mothers nurture life. And if a man has had a nurturing mother he will already have a base of Matriotism.

A Matriot loves his/her country but does not buy into the exploitive phrase of "My country right or wrong." (As Chesterton said, that's like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober.") A Matriot knows that her country can do a lot of things right, especially when the government is not involved. For example, I know of no other citizens of any country who are more personally generous than those of America. However, a Matriot also knows that when her country is wrong, it can be responsible for murdering thouands upon thousands of innocent and unsuspecting humans. A true Matriot would never drop an atomic bomb or bombs filled with white phosphorous, carpet bomb cities and villages, or control drones from thousands of miles away to kill innocent men, women and children.

There is one most important thing that matriots would never do, however, and this is the key to stopping killing to solve problems: a matriot would never send her child or another mother's child to fight nonsense wars and would march into a war herself that she considered just to protect her child from harm. Aha! Matriots would fight their own battles, but take a dim view of having to do so, and would seldom resort to violence to solve conflict! Patriots cowardly hide behind the flag and eagerly send young people to die to fill their own pocketbooks.

War will end forever when we matriots stand up and say: "No, I am not giving my child to the fake patriotism of the war machine which chews up my flesh and blood to spit out obscene profits."

"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens." ~ Baha'u'llah

Matriotism above all is a commitment to truth and to celebrate the dignity of all life.

Judge Learned Hand Address at “I Am an American” Day May 21, 1944

What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions upon laws and upon courts. . . .Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies th ere it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.

And what is this liberty which must lied in the eharts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads stright to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upn their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the sprit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weights their interests alongside its own without bias; the sprit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded.

Dave Hunter, How Patriotic Are You?

Patriotism, in my view, involves more than flying the flag on the 4th of July and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. These outward acts are important, but theyre not enough. Heres a quiz, intended to stimulate thought about the meaning of patriotism.

1. Do you vote in national, state, and local elections? The legitimacy of the government, at every level, comes from the people. While voting is not ones only civic duty, it is an important one. By voting, I mean informed voting. Study the issues, study the candidates, study the parties, and make informed and responsible decisions.

2. Do you obey the law? While there are times when civil disobedience may be appropriate, or even required (remember segregated lunch counters), under normal circumstances, the law is for everyone, not just for everyone else. If a particular law appears to be unwise or unjust, work to get it changed.

3. Do you pay your taxes cheerfully, honestly, and fully? Taxes are a small price to pay for a civilized society.

4. Do you show concern for the welfare of the community? We are all in this together. We need to come to each others help in time of need. We do this by helping people one to one, by volunteering for organizations, by making monetary contributions.

5. Do you confront injustice? Our ideal is a nation "with liberty and justice for all." The reality inevitably falls short. When you witness an injustice for example, racial discrimination dont let it go, but confront the apparent offender, write a letter to the Times-News, report the incident to the proper governmental authorities, get involved with justice-seeking organizations.

6. Are you prepared to sacrifice? Many before us have sacrificed years of their lives, or their very lives in, for example, World War II battlefields and efforts in the South to gain civil rights for all to protect this nation and to push it to fulfill it vision.

7. Do you know our history? We can hardly claim to love our country is we dont bother to learn its history. There is much of which we can be proud in that history, and lessons to be learned lest we repeat our mistakes.

8. Do you understand that love need not be rationed? We can love the flag and the Nation for which it stands, and, at the same time, we can love our family, God, and much else.

9. Do you speak and behave in a way that will bring respect to our nation? Whether we are private citizens or national leaders, what we say and how we act affects how others around the world judge us. It is our hope that others will respect the United States and seek to follow our example. We must assure that we are worthy of that respect, and that our example is one that deserves to be followed.

10. Do you want our Nation to have a future? If the United States is to survive as a free and prosperous nation, as the role model for others, then we need to protect our environment (for example, by combating global warming) and our economic foundation (for example, by not leaving our grandchildren burdened by federal debt).

July 4 is an appropriate day to celebrate patriotism; every day of the year we should live patriotism.

Daniel Webster Dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument June 17, 1825

Our proper business is improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement. In a day of peace let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, built up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing the great objects which our condition points out to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and a habitual feeling that these twenty four states are one country. Let our conceptions be enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let u s extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Le out object be our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of peace, and of liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever.

War is a force that gives us meaning

by Chris Hedges

Amnesty International NOW magazine, Winter 2002

War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of Central American roads, locked in unnerving firefights in the marshes in southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guards, strafed by Russian Mig-21s in central Bosnia, shot at by Serb snipers and shelled with deafening rounds of artillery in Sarajevo that threw out thousands of deadly bits of iron fragments. I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.

And yet there is a part of me that remains nostalgic for war's simplicity and high. The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it gives us what we all long for in life. It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our news. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those that have the least meaning in their lives-the impoverished refugees in Gaza, the disenfranchised North African immigrants in France, even the lost legions of youth that live in the splendid indolence and safety of the industrialized world-are all susceptible to war's appeal.


I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers -historians, war correspondents, filmmakers novelists and the state-all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us.

And so it takes little in wartime to turn ordinary men into killers. Most give themselves willingly to the seduction of unlimited power to destroy, and all feel the peer pressure. Few, once in bottle, can find the strength to resist.

The historian Christopher Browning noted the willingness to kill in Ordinary Men, his study of Reserve Police Battalion 101 in Poland during World War ll. On the morning of July 12, 1942, the battalion was ordered to shoot 1800 Jews in the village of Jozefow in a day-long action. The men in the unit had to round up the Jews, march them into the forest and one by one order them to lie down in a row. The victims, including women, infants, children and the elderly, were shot dead at close range.

Battalion members were offered the option to refuse, an option only about a dozen men took, although more asked to be relieved once the killing began. Those who did not want to continue, Browning says, were disgusted rather than plagued by conscience. When the men returned to the barracks they "were depressed, angered, embittered and shaken." They drank heavily. They were told not to talk about the event, "but they needed no encouragement in that direction."


The most recent U.S. conflicts have insulated the public and U.S. troops from both the disgust and pangs of conscience. The Gulf War-waged from bombers high above the fray and reported by carefully controlled journalists-made war fashionable again. It was a cause the nation willingly embraced. It exorcised the ghosts of Vietnam. It gave us heroes and the heady belief in our own military superiority and technology. It almost made war fun. And the chief culprit was, as in many conflicts, not the military but the press. Television reporters happily disseminated the spoon-fed images that served the propaganda effort of the military and the state. These images did little to convey the reality of war. Pool reporters, those guided around in groups by the military, wrote once again about "our boys" eating packaged army food, practicing for chemical weapons attacks and bathing out of buckets in the desert. It was war as spectacle, war, if we are honest, as entertainment. The images and stories were designed to make us feel good about our nation, about ourselves. The families and soldiers being blown to bits by iron fragmentation bombs just over the border in Iraq were faceless and nameless phantoms.

The moment I stepped off an Army C-130 military transport in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to cover the Persian Gulf War, I was escorted to a room with several dozen other reporters and photographers. I was told to sign a paper that said I would abide by the severe restrictions placed on the press. The restrictions authorized "pool reporters" to be escorted by the military on field trips. Most of the press sat in hotel rooms and rewrote the bland copy filed by the pool or used the pool video and photos. I violated this agreement the next morning when I went into the field without authorization. The rest of the war, most of which I spent dodging Military Police and trying to talk my way into units, was a forlorn and lonely struggle against the heavy press control.

The notion that the press was used in the war is incorrect. The press wanted to be used. It saw itself as part of the war effort. Most reporters sent to cover a war don't really want to go near the fighting. They do not tell this to their editors and indeed will moan and complain about restrictions. The handful who actually head out into the field have a bitter enmity with the hotel room warriors. But even those who do go out are guilty of distortion-maybe more so. For they not only believe the myth, feed off of the drug, but also embrace the cause. They may do it with more skepticism. They certainly expose more lies and misconceptions. But they believe. We all believe. When you stop believing you stop going to war.

I knew a Muslim soldier, a father, who fought on the front lines around Sarajevo. His unit, in one of the rare attempts to take back a few streets controlled by the Serbs, pushed across Serb lines. They did not get very far. The fighting was heavy. As he moved down the street, he heard a door swing open and fired a burst from his AK-47 assault rifle. A 12-year-old girl dropped dead. He saw in the body of the unknown girl Iying prostrate in front of him the image of his own 1z-year-old daughter. He broke down. He had to be helped back to the city. He was lost for the rest of the war, shuttered inside his apartment, nervous, morose and broken. This experience is far more typical of warfare than the Rambo heroics we are fed by the state and the entertainment industry. The cost of killing is all the more bitter because of the deep disillusionment that war usually brings.


The disillusionment comes later. Each generation again responds to war as innocents. Each generation discovers its own disillusionment-often at a terrible price.

"We believed we were there for a high moral purpose," wrote Philip Caputo in his book on Vietnam, Rumor of War. "But somehow our idealism was lost, our morals corrupted, and the purpose forgotten."

Once again the United States stands poised on the threshold of war. "We go forward," President George W. Bush assures us, "to defend freedom and all that is good and just in the world." He is not shy about warning other states that they either stand with us in the war on terrorism or will be counted as aligned with those that defy us. This too is a crusade.

But the war on terrorism is different in that we Americans find ourselves in the dangerous position of going to war not against a state but a phantom. The crusade we have embarked upon in the war on terrorism is targeting an elusive and protean enemy. The battle we have begun is never-ending. But it may be too late to wind back the heady rhetoric. We have embarked on a campaign as quixotic as the one mounted to destroy us. As it continues, as terrorist attacks intrude on our lives, as we feel less and less secure, the acceptance of all methods to lash out at real and perceived enemies will distort and deform our democracy.

And yet, the campaign's attraction seems irresistible. War makes the world understandable, a black-and-white tableau of them and us. It suspends thought, especially self-critical thought. All bow before the supreme effort. We are one. Most of us willingly accept war as long as we can fold it into a belief system that paints the ensuing suffering as necessary for a higher good; for human beings seek not only happiness but also meaning. And tragically, war is sometimes the most powerful way in human society to achieve meaning.

Chris Hedges is a reporter with the New York Times where he was part of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on global terrorism. He won Al's 2002 Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. This article was adapted from War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning (Public Affairs, Perseus Group, 2002).


Monday, October 29, 2012


OMNI ISRAEL-PALESTINE NEWSLETTER #6, October 29, 2012. Compiled by Dick Bennett FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE AND JUSTICE. (#1 Feb. 22, 2011; #2 Feb. 16, 2012; #3 March 1, 2012; #4 May 18, 2012; #5 August 13, 2012).

Here is the link to all OMNI topical newsletters: For a knowledge-based peace, justice, and ecology movement and an informed citizenry as the foundation for change. Here is the link to the Index:

Contents of #4

Jerusalem March

Palestinian Non-Violence

UN Condemns Settlements

Americans for Peace Now

Jean Zaru, Occupied with Nonviolence

Rev. of Two Books: Beinart and Bar-On

Atzmon, The Wandering Who

Contents of #5

APN: Reject the Levy Report

Qumsiyah’s Newsletter: Gradual Destruction of Indigenous Palestinians

Qumsiyah, Destruction of Palestinian State

Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance

Leila Khaled Resistance Fighter

Palestinian Gandhi

Palestinian Nakba

Bedisha, Testimonies of Palestine 2011

3 Films:

Christian Zionism, With God on Our Side

Palestinian Child, Miral

Wall in Binin, 5 Broken Cameras

Contents #6

Shehadeh: The Occupation

Kestler-D’Amours: Israel’s Apartheid Wall Extending

Social Forum in Brazil on the Occupation

Veterans for Peace

APN Call to Jews to Defend Civility and Justice

Rachel Corrie Verdict

Parallel Cases

Bachevich, Israel/US

Safieh: Israel’s Mistreatment of Its Palestinians

Loewenstein & Moor: One State Solution


Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh – review

Anger co-exists with a sense of beauty in a valuable journal of West Bank life

Rev. by Jonathan Heawood,  The Observer, Saturday 4 August 2012 .

Raja Shehadeh: ‘a contemplative man who writes with great simplicity and beauty’. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Raja Shehadeh is an angry man. He is angry about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the illegal settlements that dot his beloved Palestinian landscape and the roads that divide the people of this territory. And he is angry about the failure of Israel's allies and donors to prevent the discrimination against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs that he encounters in his life as an activist and a lawyer.

 Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh

Shehadeh is also a contemplative man, a walker who meditates, tends his garden and writes about his daily life in Ramallah with great simplicity and beauty. His first memoir, Strangers in the House, was published 10 years ago to warm reviews, but it was Palestinian Walks that drew a wider audience to his work and won the Orwell prize for political writing in 2008. It combined an intimate account of six walks through the Palestinian landscape with a devastating analysis of the politics of land ownership.

Shehadeh's anger in that book was modulated through his observations of the natural world. In these diaries, which cover the period 2009-11, the emotions are more immediate and rawer. Shehadeh's anger extends beyond the political domain and into his personal life: he is even angry with the dental assistant who addresses him in Hebrew. "Hearing Hebrew over the telephone aroused insecurity and fear, recalling earlier times when I received calls summoning me for interrogation by the military." Truly, in Ramallah, the personal is political.

Shehadeh notes the destructive potential of his anger, knowing that it is easy to dismiss an angry spokesman. At times, though, it seems that he uses it to sustain himself when beauty is not enough: "I want to continue to feel the anger and to rage, rage against the dying of the light." These raw emotions are also linked to the death of his mother, just before these diaries open. She was exiled from her home city of Jaffa in 1948, and watched her family's wealth disintegrate. In remembering the turbulent 60 years that followed, in which she lost her family, friends and property, he finds himself "still angry at what she had to suffer".

This heartfelt rage and frustration oscillates with Shehadeh's continuing sense of beauty, his enjoyment of his garden and his appreciation of "how lovely life is, how dearly we should cherish and cling to it".

He watches the Palestinian Authority pursuing a vigorous campaign for full membership of the United Nations. The emblem for this campaign – a gigantic replica of a UN chair – is installed at the centre of Ramallah as a symbol of Palestine's desire for a seat at the table. Shehadeh drives past this with somewhat raised eyebrows. He is almost as sceptical about the Palestinian leaders as he is about their Israeli counterparts.

But his spirits are lifted by the Arab Spring and its implications for Israel and Palestine. His diary entries in early 2011 are filled with a sudden rush of exhilaration as the possibility of profound and peaceful change flashes before him. Now the anger is pulled away, like a curtain, to reveal the desperately thwarted hope that lies behind it. Shehadeh dares to imagine a future in which Israel, Palestine and the other eastern Mediterranean states co-exist within a federal structure akin to the European Union. He traces this dream through the shared history of the region, in particular the Ottoman era, during which grand engineering projects linked these territories together by rail. "Not that we should call for a return of anything resembling Ottoman rule – the Ottomans were brutal and inefficient – but, rather, a return to the way things were organised then, with communities and cultures united."

This ambitious vision seems increasingly remote as Syria descends into civil war and the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinian Authority shows no sign of relaxing. Yet Shehadeh's rare blend of rage and contemplation gives him the resilience to keep working towards this seemingly impossible dream. He reminds us that France and Germany, mutual enemies for a thousand years, now share a cultural institute in the West Bank.

Shehadeh is a committed diarist who has been keeping a journal most of his life and surely his eyes and ears will remain open to these continuing upheavals, just as he continues to watch the dappled light coming through the gazebo covered with vines in his garden. We can only hope that he and his publishers continue to bring us his precious commentary on life inside one of the world's greatest political fault lines.

Jonathan Heawood is director of programmes at the Sigrid Rausing Trust

"Israel's Apartheid Wall Threatens to Cut Through History"—Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Nov/Dec 2012) 26-7. Israel threatening to cut through the West Bank village of Battir.

Whether you are attending our conference or just checking in from home, we hope you will join us next week for a National Briefing with Stop the Wall's founder Jamal Juma'a for member groups to learn more about the first ever World Social Forum - Free Palestine (WSF-FP) that is taking place in Brazil in November. The WSF-FP is a great opportunity to share, build and advance strategies and common visions, bringing together activists and varying sectors to develop strategies, tactics, networks, and cross-struggle alliances. Mark your calendars and click here to email National Organizer Anna Baltzer for more details!

VFP has a Palestine Working Group to expose the so-called “Peace Process” as an Israeli delaying tactic while they confiscate more Palestinian land and water, demolish more Palestinian homes, and expand more illgal Jewish settlements. They actively support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS). See the Spring-Summer VFP Newsletter. Eduardo Cohen and Dr. Jack Dresser, co-chairs. VFP 314-725-6005; (Dick)

We Must Speak Out
Debra DeLee, APN via to jbennet
Dear Dick--
The Talmud says that whoever can speak out to his household to prevent wrongdoing but does not, is considered guilty of that wrong; he is guilty of wrongdoing if he does not speak out to his fellow citizens or even the whole world when he sees their wrongdoing. (Shabbat 54b)
At the New Year, our time of self-contemplation and judgment, we must consider whether we have spoken out when it was our responsibility to do so. Those of us who care deeply about Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state must acknowledge that there is much wrong that needs to be addressed. It is our responsibility to speak out and work to correct those wrongs.

You may have seen our Rosh Hashanah appeal, written by Americans for Peace Now’s Director of Strategic Communications, Rabbi Alana Suskin. In her letter, Rabbi Suskin calls for the American Jewish community to speak out about the very real problems in Israel - settlement-building, settler lawlessness, assault on democracy, and inaction by the Israeli authorities against outrages that threaten the possibility of a two-state solution.

Many extremists work in the name of “Greater Israel.” We have a vision of a greater Israel as well. It is an Israel where civility is cherished; a Jewish state in which democracy and the rule of law are sacred; a state that lives in peace with her neighbors. We call upon the American Jewish community to speak loudly and firmly against wrongdoing, in order that this vision will be realized.

We at APN will continue to speak out for a better future for Israel. We hope that 5773 will be a year in which we all are brave enough to speak out against the wrongs we see. Join us.

L’shanah Tovah, Debra DeLee
CEO, Americans for Peace Now

JustForeignPolicy, 8-28-12 :

1) An Israeli judge has ruled that the killing of Rachel Corrie was a "regrettable accident" for which the state of Israel was not responsible in a civil lawsuit brought by the Corrie family, the Guardian reports. The Corries vowed to appeal the decision to Israeli's high court. The judge said Rachel had "put herself in a dangerous situation" and her death was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army. The ruling found no fault in the internal Israeli military investigation which cleared the driver of the bulldozer which crushed Corrie to death, an investigation which the U.S. has criticized as not being "thorough, credible and transparent." The family was "deeply saddened and deeply troubled" by the ruling, Cindy Corrie said. "I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel."

Human Rights Watch said the verdict "sets a dangerous precedent in its claim that there was no liability for Corrie's death because the Israeli forces involved were conducting a 'combat operation' … The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation flatly contradicts Israel's international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict, and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its forces."

2) Amnesty International condemned the Israeli court's verdict, saying it continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "Rachel Corrie was a peaceful American protestor who was killed while attempting to protect a Palestinian home from the crushing force of an Israeli military bulldozer," said Sanjeev Bery, Middle East and North Africa advocacy director for Amnesty International USA. "Rachel Corrie was clearly identifiable as a civilian, as she was wearing a fluorescent orange vest when she was killed," said Bery. "She and other non-violent activists had been peacefully demonstrating against the demolitions for hours when the Israeli military bulldozer ran over her." Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank is still routine, Amnesty notes. Over 600 structures were demolished in 2011, resulting in the forcible eviction of almost 1,100 people. In the first seven months of 2012, the Israeli military demolished 327 structures in the West Bank, displacing 575 people.

3) The Corrie case laid bare the state of the collective Israeli military mind, which cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets if they crossed a red line that was invisible to everyone but the soldiers looking at it on their maps, writes Chris McGreal in the Guardian. The military gave itself a blanket protection by declaring southern Gaza a war zone, even though it was heavily populated by ordinary Palestinians, and set rules of engagement so broad that just about anyone was a target. With that went virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances. [McGreal was the Guardian correspondent in Israel when Rachel was killed -JFP

The following is a comment to the NYT story today about the verdict in the Rachel Corrie case:

Richard, New York

I wonder how many other foreign governments could murder a young American girl in cold blood and get away with it without a peep from the U.S. government. The open cynicism of the judge's ruling, along with the recent murder of a random Palestinian by a mob of hate-crazed Israeli teenagers, tells us all we need to know about the current state of their society.

Israel has been slowly poisoned by its original sin: violently displacing an indigenous Palestinian population in and then telling itself a thousand lies to justify this fact. More than a half-century of brutality and moral evasion have produced a breakdown in even the most basic standards of human decency that I as an American Jew find unbearable to witness.

In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In the United States, capitalism triumphed over democracy. - Fran Lebowitz, author (b. 1950)


The case laid bare the state of the collective Israeli military mind, which cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets if they crossed a red line that was invisible to everyone but the soldiers looking at it on their maps. The military gave itself a blanket protection by declaring southern Gaza a war zone, even though it was heavily populated by ordinary Palestinians, and set rules of engagement so broad that just about anyone was a target.

With that went virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances – an impunity reinforced by Tuesday's verdict in Haifa.

The Israeli military commander in southern Gaza at the time was Colonel Pinhas "Pinky" Zuaretz. A few weeks after Corrie's death, I (as the Guardian's correspondent in Israel) spoke to him about how it was that so many children were shot by Israeli soldiers at times when there was no combat. His explanation was chilling.

At that point, three years into the second intifada, more than 400 children had been killed by the Israeli army. Nearly half were in Rafah and neighbouring Khan Yunis. One in four were under the age of 12.

I focussed on the deaths of six children in a 10-week period, all in circumstances far from combat. The dead included a 12-year-old girl, Haneen Abu Sitta, killed in Rafah as she walked home from school near a security fence around one of the fortified Jewish settlements in Gaza at the time. The army made up an explanation by falsely claiming Haneen was killed during a gun battle between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Zuaretz conceded to me that there was no battle and that the girl was shot by a soldier who had no business opening fire. It was the same with the killings of some of the other children. The colonel was fleetingly remorseful.

"Every name of a child here, it makes me feel bad because it's the fault of my soldiers. I need to learn and see the mistakes of my troops," he said. But Zuaretz was not going to do anything about it; and by the end of the interview, he was casting the killings as an unfortunate part of the struggle for Israel's very survival.

"I remember the Holocaust. We have a choice, to fight the terrorists or to face being consumed by the flames again," he said.

In court, Zuaretz said the whole of southern Gaza was a combat zone and anyone who entered parts of it had made themselves a target. But those parts included houses where Palestinians built walls within walls in their homes to protect themselves from Israeli bullets.

In that context, covering up the truth about the killings of innocents, including Corrie, became an important part of the survival strategy because of the damage the truth could do to the military's standing, not only in the rest of the world but also among Israelis.

The death of Khalil al-Mughrabi two years before Corrie died was telling. The 11-year-old boy was playing football when he was shot dead in Rafah by an Israeli soldier. The respected Israeli human rights organisations, B'Tselem, wrote to the army demanding an investigation. Several months later, the judge advocate general's office wrote back saying that Khalil was killed by soldiers who had acted with "restraint and control" to disperse a riot in the area.

But the judge advocate general's office made the mistake of attaching a copy of its own confidential investigation, which came to a very different conclusion: that the riot had been much earlier in the day and the soldiers who shot the child should not have opened fire. In the report, the chief military prosecutor, Colonel Einat Ron, then spelled out alternative false scenarios that should be offered to B'Tselem. The official account was a lie and the army knew it.

The message to ordinary soldiers was clear: you have a free hand because the military will protect you to protect itself. It is that immunity from accountability that was the road to Corrie's death.

She wasn't the only foreign victim at about that time. In the following months, Israeli soldiers shot dead James Miller, a British television documentary journalist, and Tom Hurndall, a British photographer and pro-Palestinian activist. In November 2002, an Israeli sniper had killed a British United Nations worker, Iain Hook, in Jenin in the West Bank.

British inquests returned verdicts of unlawful killings in all three deaths, but Israel rejected calls for the soldiers who killed Miller and Hook to be held to account. The Israeli military initially whitewashed Hurndall's killing but after an outcry led by his parents, and British government pressure, the sniper who shot him was sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter.

That sentence apparently did nothing to erode a military mindset that sees only enemies.

Three years after Corrie's death, an Israeli army officer who emptied the magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl, Iman al-Hams, and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was cleared by a military court.

Iman was shot and wounded after crossing the invisible red line around an Israeli military base in Rafah, but she was never any closer than 100 yards. The officer then left the base in order to "confirm the kill" by pumping the wounded girl full of bullets. An Israeli military investigation concluded he had acted properly.

Tuesday's court verdict in Haifa will have done nothing to end that climate of impunity. Nor anything that would have us believe that Israel's repeated proclamation that it has the "most moral army in the world" is any more true than its explanation of so many Palestinian deaths.

4) How the US and Israeli justice systems whitewash state crimes:
Courts are supposed to check the abuse of executive power, not cravenly serve it. But in the US and Israel, that is now the case

Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, Tuesday 28 August 2012

“How We Became Israel:

Peace means dominion for Netanyahu—and now for us.”

By Andrew J. Bacevich • September 10, 2012 (The American Conservative, reprinted in Harper’s Magazine Nov. 2012)

Peace means different things to different governments and different countries. To some it suggests harmony based on tolerance and mutual respect. To others it serves as a euphemism for dominance, peace defining the relationship between the strong and the supine.

In the absence of actually existing peace, a nation’s reigning definition of peace shapes its proclivity to use force. A nation committed to peace-as-harmony will tend to employ force as a last resort. The United States once subscribed to this view. Or beyond the confines of the Western Hemisphere, it at least pretended to do so.

A nation seeking peace-as-dominion will use force more freely. This has long been an Israeli predilection. Since the end of the Cold War and especially since 9/11, however, it has become America’s as well. As a consequence, U.S. national-security policy increasingly conforms to patterns of behavior pioneered by the Jewish state. This “Israelification” of U.S. policy may prove beneficial for Israel. Based on the available evidence, it’s not likely to be good for the United States.

Here is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing what he calls his “vision of peace” in June 2009: “If we get a guarantee of demilitarization … we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.” The inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank, if armed and sufficiently angry, can certainly annoy Israel. But they cannot destroy it or do it serious harm. By any measure, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) wield vastly greater power than the Palestinians can possibly muster. Still, from Netanyahu’s perspective, “real peace” becomes possible only if Palestinians guarantee that their putative state will forego even the most meager military capabilities. Your side disarms, our side stays armed to the teeth: that’s Netanyahu’s vision of peace in a nutshell.

Netanyahu asks a lot of Palestinians. Yet however baldly stated, his demands reflect longstanding Israeli thinking. For Israel, peace derives from security, which must be absolute and assured. Security thus defined requires not simply military advantage but military supremacy.

From Israel’s perspective, threats to supremacy require anticipatory action, the earlier the better. The IDF attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 provides one especially instructive example. Israel’s destruction of a suspected Syrian nuclear facility in 2007 provides a second.

Yet alongside perceived threat, perceived opportunity can provide sufficient motive for anticipatory action. In 1956 and again in 1967, Israel attacked Egypt not because the blustering Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser possessed the capability (even if he proclaimed the intention) of destroying the hated Zionists, but because preventive war seemingly promised a big Israeli pay-off. In the first instance, the Israelis came away empty-handed. In the second, they hit the jackpot operationally, albeit with problematic strategic consequences.

For decades, Israel relied on a powerful combination of tanks and fighter-bombers as its preferred instrument of preemption. In more recent times, however, it has deemphasized its swift sword in favor of the shiv between the ribs. Why deploy lumbering armored columns when a missile launched from an Apache attack helicopter or a bomb fixed to an Iranian scientist’s car can do the job more cheaply and with less risk? Thus has targeted assassination eclipsed conventional military methods as the hallmark of the Israeli way of war.

Whether using tanks to conquer or assassins to liquidate, adherence to this knee-to-the-groin paradigm has won Israel few friends in the region and few admirers around the world (Americans notably excepted). The likelihood of this approach eliminating or even diminishing Arab or Iranian hostility toward Israel appears less than promising. That said, the approach has thus far succeeded in preserving and even expanding the Jewish state: more than 60 years after its founding, Israel persists and even prospers. By this rough but not inconsequential measure, the Israeli security concept has succeeded. Okay, it’s nasty: but so far at least, it’s worked.

What’s hard to figure out is why the United States would choose to follow Israel’s path. Yet over the course of the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama quarter-century, that’s precisely what we’ve done. The pursuit of global military dominance, a proclivity for preemption, a growing taste for assassination—all justified as essential to self-defense. That pretty much describes our present-day MO.

Israel is a small country with a small population and no shortage of hostile neighbors. Ours is a huge country with an enormous population and no enemy, unless you count the Cuban-Venezuelan Axis of Ailing Dictators, within several thousand miles. We have choices that Israel does not. Yet in disregarding those choices the United States has stumbled willy-nilly into an Israeli-like condition of perpetual war, with peace increasingly tied to unrealistic expectations of adversaries and would-be adversaries acquiescing in Washington’s will.

Israelification got its kick-start with George H.W. Bush’s Operation Desert Storm, a triumphal Hundred-Hour War likened at the time to Israel’s triumphal Six-Day War. Victory over the “fourth largest army in the world” fostered illusions of the United States exercising perpetually and on a global scale military primacy akin to what Israel has exercised regionally. Soon thereafter, the Pentagon announced that henceforth it would settle for nothing less than “Full Spectrum Dominance.”

Bill Clinton’s contribution to the process was to normalize the use of force. During the several decades of the Cold War, the U.S. had resorted to overt armed intervention only occasionally. Although difficult today to recall, back then whole years might pass without U.S. troops being sent into harm’s way. Over the course of Clinton’s two terms in office, however, intervention became commonplace.

The average Israeli had long since become inured to reports of IDF incursions into southern Lebanon or Gaza. Now the average American has become accustomed to reports of U.S. troops battling Somali warlords, supervising regime change in Haiti, or occupying the Balkans. Yet the real signature of the Clinton years came in the form of airstrikes. Blasting targets in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Serbia, and Sudan, but above all in Iraq, became the functional equivalent of Israel’s reliance on airpower to punish “terrorists” from standoff ranges.

In the wake of 9/11, George W. Bush, a true believer in Full Spectrum Dominance, set out to liberate or pacify (take your pick) the Islamic world. The United States followed Israel in assigning itself the prerogative of waging preventive war. Although it depicted Saddam Hussein as an existential threat, the Bush administration also viewed Iraq as an opportunity: here the United States would signal to other recalcitrants the fate awaiting them should they mess with Uncle Sam.

More subtly, in going after Saddam, Bush was tacitly embracing a longstanding Israeli conception of deterrence. During the Cold War, deterrence had meant conveying a credible threat to dissuade your opponent from hostile action. Israel had never subscribed to that view. Influencing the behavior of potential adversaries required more than signaling what Israel might do if sufficiently aggravated; influence was exerted by punitive action, ideally delivered on a disproportionate scale. Hit the other guy first, if possible; failing that, whack him several times harder than he hit you: not the biblical injunction of an eye for an eye, but both eyes, an ear, and several teeth, with a kick in the nuts thrown in for good measure. The aim was to send a message: screw with us and this will happen to you. This is the message Bush intended to convey when he ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Unfortunately, Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched with all the confidence that had informed Operation Peace for Galilee, Israel’s equally ill-advised 1982 incursion into Lebanon, landed the United States in an equivalent mess. Or perhaps a different comparison applies: the U.S. occupation of Iraq triggered violent resistance akin to what the IDF faced as a consequence of Israel occupying the West Bank. Two successive Intifadas had given the Israeli army fits. The insurgency in Iraq (along with its Afghan sibling) gave the American army fits. Neither the Israeli nor the American reputation for martial invincibility survived the encounter.

By the time Barack Obama succeeded Bush in 2009, most Americans—like most Israelis—had lost their appetite for invading and occupying countries. Obama’s response? Hew ever more closely to the evolving Israeli way of doing things. “Obama wants to be known for winding down long wars,” writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. “But he has shown no hesitance when it comes to shorter, Israel-style operations. He is a special ops hawk, a drone militarist.”

Just so: with his affinity for missile-firing drones, Obama has established targeted assassination as the very centerpiece of U.S. national-security policy. With his affinity for commandos, he has expanded the size and mandate of U.S. Special Operations Command, which now maintains an active presence in more than 70 countries. In Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, and the frontier regions of Pakistan—and who knows how many other far-flung places—Obama seemingly shares Prime Minister Netanyahu’s expectations: keep whacking and a positive outcome will eventually ensue.

The government of Israel, along with ardently pro-Israel Americans like Michael Gerson, may view the convergence of U.S. and Israeli national-security practices with some satisfaction. The prevailing U.S. definition of self-defense—a self-assigned mandate to target anyone anywhere thought to endanger U.S. security—is exceedingly elastic. As such, it provides a certain cover for equivalent Israeli inclinations. And to the extent that our roster of enemies overlaps with theirs—did someone say Iran?—military action ordered by Washington just might shorten Jerusalem’s “to do” list.

Yet where does this all lead? “We don’t have enough drones,” writes the columnist David Ignatius, “to kill all the enemies we will make if we turn the world into a free-fire zone.” And if Delta Force, the Green Berets, army rangers, Navy SEALs, and the like constitute (in the words of one SEAL) “the dark matter … the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” we probably don’t have enough of them either. Unfortunately, the Obama administration seems willing to test both propositions.

The process of aligning U.S. national-security practice with Israeli precedents is now essentially complete. Their habits are ours. Reversing that process would require stores of courage and imagination that may no longer exist in Washington. Given the reigning domestic political climate, those holding or seeking positions of power find it easier—and less risky—to stay the course, vainly nursing the hope that by killing enough “terrorists” peace on terms of our choosing will result. Here too the United States has succumbed to Israeli illusions.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a visiting professor at Notre Dame.

Israel's "Separate and Unequal" Policies Toward its Palestinian Citizens by Diana Safieh, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Nov/Dec 2012), 30-31.

The War of Ideas in the Middle East

Moor and Loewenstein bring ‘After Zionism’ to DC

by Diana Galbraith on October 10, 2012
Most anyone who spends a couple of hours or days in the West Bank can see that not only is there not a viable “second state” for the ever-elusive “two-state solution.” When one goes to the West Bank to see how rapidly the settlements are being built, and their strategic arrangement, it is clear that there never was going to be one.

My Palestine advocacy work began three summers ago when I met Palestinians for the first time while studying in Jordan. I was aghast at how their stories--and the facts on the ground, even in Jordan--countered everything I had grown up believing and the entire master narrative in the US about the Middle East. The following summer I traveled to Palestine to see for myself, and my suspicions were confirmed. It also became clear to me as I traveled with Anna Baltzer, Rich Forer, and other Jewish-Americans that the dialogue in that community on Israel/Palestine was shifting. Having grown up around amazing and special Jewish friends, neighbors, colleagues, and classmates, the occupation and the devastating effects it has had for almost a century on indigenous Palestinians was an affront to everything I know and believe about Judaism.

Working with Jewish activists, such as the ICAHD activist who gave us a tour of East Jerusalem, who desire freedom and justice for all in Israel/Palestine made it clear to me that there is another chapter of history unfolding beyond Zionism, that in essence a “post-Zionist” narrative and movement are emerging. Needless to say, the ongoing discussion about a “two-state solution” is an illusion and a political cover to for allow settlement expansion and the inevitable failure of Oslo. We know that politics, particularly in the US, is part of the problem and an obstruction to justice for Palestinians. It therefore falls to the rest of us to recognize the reality on the ground and to push the dialogue in that direction.

In their new book After Zionism [a collection of essays] , Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor take as their premise that there is a de facto one state that between the river and the sea that is divided by a regime of apartheid rather than by geographical boundaries. They wanted to move the dialogue forward to match the status on the ground. What After Zionism does is take the one-state situation as an empirical reality on the ground and the book's 14 contributors - many of the key thinkers and activists working on the question of Israel/Palestine today - explain exactly how and why this is the case. Their project seeks to begin, rather, to jumpstart the dialogue going forward about what one state will look like and how it will come about.

I've known of Ahmed and Antony’s work for awhile. I follow them on Twitter (where Antony is regularly trolled for his views) and have saw Ahmed speak at the Penn BDS conference. As soon as I learned that they would be in DC for a book tour, I knew I wanted to help. The one-state scenario is crystal clear to me and part of my advocacy for Palestine is bringing that dialogue into the mainstream. I was able to help connect activists on the ground in DC to raise awareness of the tour, so when the date finally arrived to attend their book talk at the Palestine Center in DC, I was excited.

The lunchtime event on Thursday, September 13 was well-attended, with the a combination of retirees, full-time workers dashing over from their workplaces, and interns assigned to take notes. I ran into a PLO intern, who said that the PLO’s official stance is still two states, which I find baffling.

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Palestine Center, did his usual excellent job at moderating the talk. He prompted Antony and Ahmed to discuss the content of the book, the overall project, and their broader views on the occupation and what the future looks like. The discussion then opened to the audience. Questions were constructive and curious, there was no hostility or token person intent on accosting the speakers.

Antony and Ahmed took turns speaking about how and why they came to develop the project, which was two years in the making. Antony said that the two hadn’t met in person until two weeks before, when the book tour began. Ahmed has been squeezing time out of his busy schedule as a graduate student at Harvard and Soros Fellow to make appearances for the book while Antony is also promoting his “Disaster Capitalism” book and arrived in DC from an appearance in Haiti.

Antony emphasized the importance of Jewish and Palestinian activists working together in a meaningful way, beyond “warm, fuzzy” polite dialogue that rarely produces results and urged the Jewish community to revise its support of Zionism. Ahmed cited the extensive settlement patterns in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as evidence that Israel will never withdraw. The book contains essays by folks of various religious backgrounds. Antony comes from a secular Jewish family and Ahmed is a Palestinian-American who was born in Rafah.

They are pushing the dialogue the farthest forward it has ever been, and counter the hysterical canard that equality in the region equals doom for Israel and Judaism. There is such a thing as “life after Zionism,” and their book is an opening chapter in that dialogue.

About Diana Galbraith
Diana Galbraith is a graduate student of Arab Studies at Georgetown with an emphasis on Palestine and post-colonialism.
Also see rev. by Sprusansky and Stimson in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Nov/Dec. 2012).

Dick Bennett reviews literature of peace and justice

Saturday, October 27, 2012



Nicholson Baker in "Why I'm a Pacifist: The Dangerous Myth of the Good War," Harper's (May 2011) argues that Hitler was foremost a hostage-taker, and that the allies early in the war at least should have tried to negotiate with Hitler to rescue Jews, as the pacifists at the time urged (Abraham Kaufman, Dorothy Day, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Rabbi Abraham Cronbach, Vera Brittain, Arthur Ponsonby, Clarence Pickett, Bertha Bracey, Runham Brown, Grace Beaton, Victor Gollancz, to name a few). Instead, the allies chose retribution, air war, firebombing, and the Holocaust continued. The pacifists were practical (there are numerous smaller examples of saving Jews and other objects of Hitler's enmity); they sought to save lives. Dick

OMNI PACIFISM NEWSLETTER #1, October 27, 2012. Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace and Justice.

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What is it?

Misc. Research

Cady: Non-absolute Pacifism

McCarthy: Myths about Pacifism


Review of Morehead’s Troublesome People.

World War I

K. Dahlberg: Edwin Dahlberg

Thomas: Thomas Brothers


Misc. Reports via Google

Baker: Hitler, Pacifism, Rescuing the Jews

Bonhoeffer Film

Nuclear War

Leroy Seat: Daniel Berrigan


Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters: For a knowledge-based peace, justice, and:

ecology movement and an informed citizenry as the foundation for change.



Here is the first of many pages on pacifism from google:

1. Pacifism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[edit] Definition. Pacifism covers a spectrum of views, including the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved, ...

Definition - Early history - Modern history - Religion - Cached - Similar

2. Pacifism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

by A Fiala - 2010 - Cited by 3 - Related articles

Jul 6, 2006 ... Pacifism is a commitment to peace and opposition to war. Our ordinary language allows a diverse set of beliefs and commitments to be held ... - Similar

3. Pacifism

Pacifism is a belief that violence, even in self-defence, is unjustifiable under any conditions and that negotiation is preferable to war as a means of ... - Cached - Similar

4. Pacifism [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Apr 19, 2005 ... Pacifism is the theory that peaceful rather than violent or belligerent relations should govern human intercourse and that arbitration, ... - Cached

5. Pacifism - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster ...

opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically : refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds ... - Cached - Similar

6. Pacifism

Pacifism is the moral principle that the use of force is wrong for any reason. This applies to both the initiation of force, as well as defensive or ... - Cached - Similar

7. Images for pacifism

- Report images

8. Pacifism (Magic 2011) - Gatherer - Magic: The Gathering

9. Pacifism

A discussion on Christian Pacifism. A source of information for deeper understanding of religious subjects. -

Searches related to pacifism

pacifism quotes

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--Cady, Duane. From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum. Temple UP, 2010 (2nd ed.). Rev. Fellowship (Spring 2011). The kinds and degrees of non-absolute pacifism, which weighs moral duty and concern for consequences.

--Colman McCarthy, “Fighting Fire with Water.” The Progressive (Feb. 2011). Refutes five myths about pacifism.



”Votes for Women, Chastity for Men,”

A Review by Brian Harrison in The London Review of Books (Jan. 21, 1988) of four books:

• Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 by Caroline Moorehead. Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp, April 1987.

• Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914

Princeton, 295 pp, £22.00, June 1987, ISBN 0 691 05497 5

• Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 by Pat Jalland

Oxford, 366 pp, £19.50, November 1986, ISBN 0 19 822668 3

• An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 by A.M. McBriar

Oxford, 407 pp, £35.00, July 1987, ISBN 0 19 820111 7

Social movements have been in vogue among British historians since the 1950s. This is partly because Labour’s agenda, strangely combining statist welfare and libertarian protest, has dominated the political and intellectual climate. But there is also a professional reason for these historiographical priorities. The reaction against the narrowness of the old political and constitutional history has never been complete: by choosing social movements as their theme, historians could simultaneously ride the old and respectable horse of political history and the new and fashionable one of sociology. Political history provided a secure chronological framework while they ventured forth into the vast unknowns of social class, religious denomination and regional culture. Edward Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class (1963) was a landmark here, and we now possess histories of feminism, pacifism, of the movements against slavery and cruelty to animals, and for free trade, family allowances, factory-hours and public health, to name only a few. . . .

Caroline Moorehead aims to portray ‘what modern pacifists are actually like’, and to bring out ‘their style, their diversity, their origins and their eloquence’. With much sympathy she emphasises the range of their reforming interests and their loneliness. Above all, she reminds us that moral courage is less common, because more difficult to sustain, than physical courage. She describes the terrible persecutions that conscientious objectors often had to face on their own. Their sufferings become all the more vivid when recollected in tranquillity by mild, ageing and patently humane people in their pebble-dashed, trimly-gardened terrace house in Sea-ford, or in their bow-fronted sitting-room in Croydon. She presents her informants with all the skills of the journalist and we see from her book how interviews can lend impact and immediacy to studies of recent social movements. Moorehead has also taken the trouble to visit many of the places she discusses – in Britain, Japan, West Germany and the United States – and her comparative approach often clarifies what is distinctive about the peace movement in particular national cultures: millenarian tendencies in America, for instance, or anti-Nazi complications in Germany. Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s victims played a unique role in a Japanese peace movement which encountered extraordinary governmental secrecy about the bomb’s effects.

All this should have made Troublesome People an outstanding success. Unfortunately the book illustrates the disintegrating tendency of ‘oral history’ when unaccompanied by a clear analytical framework. In its later chapters, Moorehead’s comparative analysis degenerates into a sort of travel diary, and her grasp of international relations and political sociology is not clear enough to set the experience of the individual pacifist firmly into context. There is a further difficulty. While sympathy is essential to effective historical writing, it can all too easily sacrifice proportion. Given the book’s stress on the awfulness of the weapons and on the reasoned independent-mindedness of their critics, the non-joining, by standing general public is implicitly presented as blankly hostile, stupid, uncomprehending, callous and even (through its agents) brutal. Take Moorehead’s approach to A.J.P Taylor’s breathtakingly naive rhetorical question at a CND meeting in 1958: ‘ “Is there anyone here who would do this to another human being?” Silence. “Then why are we making the damned thing?” Thunderous applause.’ Whatever happened at the meeting, the question begs for a rejoinder, yet Taylor gets off scot-free. . . .


--Dahlberg, Keith. Edwin T. Dahlberg: Pastor, Peacemaker, Prophet. Judson P, 2010. Dahlberg was a pacifist pastor who became a conscientious objector during WWI. During the Vietnam War he was part of a fact-finding team to visit the country. Dick

--Thomas, Louisa. Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family – A Test of Will and Faith in World War I. Penguin, 2011. Norman Thomas and his three brothers.

Norman Thomas Family Biography: A Study in Conscience

Review By Mark Johnson, June 14, 2011,

Conscience was named one of the ten best books of the month by Barnes and Noble this week, putting a story that details the life of one of FOR’s early leaders in a prominent and deserving place on bookshelves across America. This is the story of the conscience that informs conscientious objection as a core element of the birth of FOR as manifest in the biography of Norman Thomas and his brothers Ralph, Evan, and Arthur told by Norman’s great-grand-daughter Louisa Thomas. Ms. Thomas shared a pre-release copy which I read over the Memorial Day weekend and review below. She also agreed to answer some questions raised in my mind by the book. These follow the review.

Louisa Thomas never uses the word quixotic to describe the lives and passion of her great-grand-father, Norman Thomas, his pacifist brother Evan or their soldier siblings Ralph and Arthur. But the nostalgic, ambivalent echo of lives largely unrewarded, when spent in loyalty to conscience, gives a certain reverence to this family biography, and you can almost see them tilting at the windmills of idealism.

While Norman Thomas carries the most recognition for his long tenure as the perennial candidate for President from the Socialist Party, an early member and significant leader of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and other early 20th-century pacifist organizations, and editor first of The World Tomorrow (now Fellowship magazine), and later The Nation, his brothers are equally central pillars of this story.

Ralph, the second born, is trained as an engineer and enlists in the first world war. A Princeton and MIT graduate with officer qualities, he is wounded at the front and hospitalized; never returning to his regiment, he avoids further injury in combat. He debates the pacifist case his brothers make his whole lif,e but offers a forum for Norman’s views from time to time. He loses one son to the second world war.

Arthur, the youngest brother, is torn between training for mission work in Asia — which would exempt him from service — and a vision of flying. In the end he joins the Army air corps and trains as a pilot, but the war ends before he is tested as a soldier. Two sisters are a part of the family portrait, but less central to the story here.

“After World War I, Norman wrote a book called The Conscientious Objector in America… The dedication was to his brothers, with whom he had so often disagreed. That book was, therefore, a family story, and so is this,” says Louisa Thomas in her preface. But “In the Thomas brothers’ history, we all might find some of our own.” Her promise here, as well of those in a glowing set of dust jacket epigraphs by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Isaacson, Jon Meacham, and Hendrik Hertzberg, among others, is completely fulfilled. Exhibiting a satisfying balance of family affection and journalistic objectivity, Thomas describes an era and set of ideas which still demand our consideration today.

In an age when we obsess on a theory of the separation of Church and State, this story reminds us that citizenship, for most Americans, is still an ongoing dialogue between political and religious ideologies which together define both individual and corporate biographies in deep and important ways. “At the time, the church was part of the engine of social reform, no less than law. The progressive spirit drew some of its fervor from a sublimated Protestant moralism.” The voice of Thomas from the pulpit moved rather easily to the voice of Thomas from the public soapbox, more easily than in a world after Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., another scion of the age of conscience as it slowly evaporated from the pulpit of the 21st century descendants of this story. (Coffin’s grandfather, Henry, was a mentoring peer of the Thomases.)

The description of the McKinley-Bryan presidential race and the rise of populism at the end of the 19th century, cannot be read without the color of current politics tinting the view. “Populism can be ugly, infused with racism and xenophobia. In those days, many populists encourage farmers to fear foreigners, who, they suggested, would take their work and ‘dilute’ their culture and blood. They sometimes embraced policies potentially more ruinous than the ones they meant to fix. At the same time, populists kept alive egalitarian ideas that countered the inequalities and excess of the Gilded Age. The people demanded to be heard, and their demand was backed by combustible energy.”

Among the wonderful accomplishments of the story is the clear sense of development over the lifetimes of the family members, we see the growth of clarity and commitment to pacifism, even when it requires somewhat monumental movement from conservative Christianity to progressive Socialism, on the part of Norman and Evan. It captures well the notion of crystallization of conscience emerging in the current literature to describe the experience of war on those wrestling with the moral issues of killing. And it also explores with intimacy and elegance the space for tolerance in a family with widely divergent views, especially in the portrait of the family matriarch, Emma Thomas, who serves as a reconciling intermediary even as her owns values are challenged by her children’s choices.

It is true that this is not the fully ordinary family. As students at Princeton University, three of the Thomas brothers personally knew — and were known and admired by — Woodrow Wilson, allowing for a nuanced sense of drama as Wilson listened to but rejected the case Thomas made to avoid the war and Evan made to respect conscientious objectors. The FOR nexus is even richer as Evan’s mentor, John Nevin Sayre, was a successor to Norman as general secretary of FOR, was also the brother-in-law of Wilson’s daughter and he exercised Eleventh Hour access more than once on behalf of the Thomas’s views.

The continuing movement to the margin of progressive religious voices is often prefigured in the life of Norman and Evan, who, in seeking to make a difference, to do something that had meaning, found themselves looking beyond the Presbyterian Church in which they were raised and trained for ministry. The longing to do good may have found, for them – especially Norman — expression in the Socialist agenda, but that portal opened and peaked only briefly during their lifetime and has been subjected to the same pejorative attack as progressive faith-based conscience since. Louisa Thomas writes that “In 1911, hundreds of Socialists had been voted into office in elections around the country, including fifty-six mayors and a congressman…. Few realized that 1912 [in Eugene Debs run for President against Taft and Teddy Roosevelt] would be, in fact, the peak of the Socialist’s prospects.”

The surprising, beguiling ease with which the country moved from the impossibility of any war to the inevitability of a world war during Wilson’s term as President unfolds clearly in Louisa Thomas’s narrative. The surprising, disturbing slide to censorship and suppression of dissent fuels the sense of injustice with war and warring for the Thomas brothers. The careful exploration of an emergent, organic understanding of conscience as the root issue in conscientious objection is the richest gift of this biography. It should serve to stir a deeper discourse on the place of conscience in political, theological, economic and social life today. We can be grateful to the Thomases and their peers for close and serious thinking on conscience, and especially to this grand-daughter for offering this story.

For this reviewer, who serves in the lineage that extends from Norman Thomas and John Nevin Sayre, through the lines of A.J. Muste and Father John Dear among others, and who followed the path to conscientious objection during the Vietnam war (made more passable and even smooth by the precedent of the Thomas brothers and many others), and finds himself related by marriage to military policy-shapers like General Stanley McChrystal, I did find, in this story, much of my own. Having done alternative service in The Lebanon and studied at the American University of Beirut, I met descendants of Cleveland Dodge, and a career in the YMCA meant that John R. Mott, Kirby Page, and Sherwood Eddy shaped my life and career in ways very similar to those of the Thomases a generation earlier. But I recommend it more fully in the confidence that, so well written and so fully relevant to the continuing questions of conscience and war, every reader will find it entertaining and enlightening.

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D. Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

June 14, 2011

The following exchange with author Louisa Thomas took place over the course of the week of June 12, 2011. . . .

Dick’s comment on the book: I agree with all of this review, so it is maybe a little churlish to point out how thin the book appears when compared to Hochschild’s To End All Wars. Hochschild’s book on warriors and pacifists during WWI recalls though it does not match novels in the great tradition from Bleak House and Moby Dick to Magic Mountain and Women in Love. This is the tradition of major immersion in particularized individuals developing in time and place in a density and closeness of point of view. Of course these books are necessarily long, while Thomas’s is only 275 pages (and Hochschild’s only 100 pages longer)!


1. PBS - THE GOOD WAR: World War II Pacifists

The vast majority of Americans supported World War II after Pearl Harbor was bombed, recognizing a fascist threat to Western democracy. Over the years, it has ...

2. Pacifism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to Between the two World Wars‎: In the aftermath of World War I, there was a great revulsion against war, leading to the formation of War Resisters' ...

Christian pacifism - Anarcho-pacifism - Category:Pacifism

3. The Dilemmas of British Pacifists During World War II - JStor

by RA Rempel - 1978 - Cited by 2 - Related articles

World War II raisec difficult moral issues for British pacifists. By 1939 Nazi ... the majority of World War II British pacifists belonged to three organizations: ...

4. How Should a Pacifist View World War II?
Thinking Pacifism

Jan 21, 2011 – Ted Grimsrud—January 21, 2011. In my writing project, The Long Shadow: World War II's Moral Legacy, I take an approach that might seem a ...

5. Pacifism and World War II
Green Left Weekly

Pacifism and World War II. Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 10:00. By Paul Burns. Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, The End of Civilization Simon and ...

6. Philosophers' Playground: World War II and Pacifism

Feb 19, 2007 – World War II and Pacifism. Guest post today from Hanno. It would have gone up on Friday, but someone had to go to Mardi Gras and ...

7. WWII Pacifists Exposed Mental Ward Horrors : NPR › News › Health

Dec 30, 2009 – In September of 1942, Warren Sawyer, a 23-year-old conscientious objector, reported for his volunteer assignment as an attendant at a state ...

8. Pacifism, World War II, and Modern Warfare -

Aug 18, 2011 – I have been thinking about the debate over pacifism this week in anticipation of a reading group discussion. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote an essay ...

9. A Christian Pacifist Response to World War II « Peace Theology

Jun 12, 2012 – Ted Grimsrud—Peace Essays #C.6. [Presented as Keeney Peace Lecture, Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio, October 25, 2011]. World War II ...

Nicholson Baker in "Why I'm a Pacifist: The Dangerous Myth of the Good War," Harper's (May 2011) argues that Hitler was foremost a hostage-taker, and that the allies early in the war at least should have tried to negotiate with Hitler to rescue Jews, as the pacifists at the time urged (Abraham Kaufman, Dorothy Day, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Rabbi Abraham Cronbach, Vera Brittain, Arthur Ponsonby, Clarence Pickett, Bertha Bracey, Runham Brown, Grace Beaton, Victor Gollancz, to name a few). Instead, the allies chose retribution, air war, firebombing, and the Holocaust continued. The pacifists were practical (there are numerous smaller examples of saving Jews and other objects of Hitler's enmity); they sought to save lives. Dick Bennett.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist and Nazi Resistor

Aug 23, 2009 ... Film Review. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist and Nazi Resistor by Martin Doblmeier (2003)


The View from This Seat

Reflections about Life, Love, Light, and Liberty (the 4-Ls) by Leroy Seat, missionary to Japan (1966-2004), Chancellor of Seinan Gakuin (1996-2004), professor emeritus of Seinan Gakuin University, and pastor emeritus of Fukuoka International Church.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In Praise of Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan, the anti-war Jesuit priest who turned 90 in May of this year, has been a fervent advocate of peace for decades. As I have been thinking about him recently, I am writing this as another posting of my “in praise of” series. (Click on “praise” in the label column on the right to see others postings in this series.)

Especially you who are 60 or older doubtlessly know something about Berrigan, who first became widely known in the late 1960s. He and his brother Philip (1923-2002) became highly visible anti-war/peace activists during the Vietnam War. After that war ended, they continued to oppose nuclear weapons.

Some of you may harbor a fairly negative image of Daniel and Philip Berrigan. For several years up to the end of the war in Vietnam they were greatly criticized by the media as well as by many within the Catholic Church. (Like his older brother, Philip was also a priest.)

The Berrigan brothers, with a few others, engaged in numerous acts of civil disobedience to protest what they believed to be an unjust war. They were two of the “Cantonville Nine,” nine people who in May 1968 went to the draft board in a Baltimore suburb, took 378 draft files, brought them to the parking lot in wire baskets, dumped them out, poured homemade napalm over them, and set them on fire.

They were arrested, of course, and after a few months as a fugitive, Daniel was in prison from August 1970 to February1972. Earlier, in 1967, he had been the first priest in U.S. history to be arrested for a protest against war. He was in jail only five days that time.

Then in September 1980 the Berrigan brothers and a few others began the Plowshares Movement. They illegally trespassed onto a nuclear missile facility in Pennsylvania, where they damaged nuclear warhead nosecones and poured their own blood onto documents and files.

Earlier this month I finished reading Daniel’s autobiography, To Dwell in Peace (1987), and I was much impressed by his life story and especially by his dedication to peace and justice. (I was also impressed by the splendid prose in which the book is written.)

In the book, says that when the church yields “before the politics of the virtuous versus the ‘kingdom of evil,’ we become, willy-nilly, the spiritual arm of ever-renewed violence” (p. 156). Unfortunately, that seems to have been the case often, and is seen in the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I am now reading Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings (2009), selected with an introduction by John Dear, who was mentored by Berrigan. Dear (b. 1959) is also a Jesuit priest and an avid anti-war/peace activist; he has been arrested more than 75 times.

Dear writes that Berrigan “remains a beacon of hope to peace-loving people everywhere” (p. 24). For that reason I am happy to post these few words in praise of Daniel Berrigan, who for far more than half his ninety years has been an extraordinary prophet and peacemaker.


Here is the first page of google on pacifist films:

1. Designing Pacifist Films (Paul Goodman)

What, then, are the available resources of pacifist persuasion that can be used for a pacifist film? They can be roughly classified as: ... - Cached

2. Anarcho-Pacifist Films

About Me. Anarcho-Pacifist Films. View my complete profile ... Posted by Anarcho-Pacifist Films at 9:56 PM 1 comments ... - Cached - Similar

3. Films with keyword: Pacifism - AllMovie

Films with keyword: Pacifism .... 2002, Pacifist Who Went to War. 2004, Helen's War: Portrait of a Dissident. 2002, Religion, War, and Violence: The Ethics ... - Cached

4. "Hollywood's Answer to War" by William M. Drew

Mar 7, 1998 ... It seems that for every pacifist film, there have been a dozen Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Norris "action" movies glorifying violence as ... - Cached - Similar

5. militant pacifism « The League of Dead Films

Jan 21, 2011 ... Bringing dead films back to life one review at a time ... Jules Verne, Kirk Douglas, mastermind, militant pacifism, musical interlude, ... - Cached

6. Movies
Japan trilogy "Human Condition" puts pacifism to harsh ...

Aug 31, 2008 ... Masaki Kobayashi's brilliant pacifist classic — the nearly 10-hour "Human Condition" — gets a rare revival at SIFF Cinema in September. ... –

Pacifism - Europa Film Treasures

Results of your research: Pacifism . Discover Europa Film Treasures films. Here: Results of your research: Pacifism. -

7. Feminism, Pacifism & Environmentalism: The Messages of Hayao Miyazaki

8. May 13, 2010 ... After meeting Ashitaka, she starts realize that violence will not solve the problem, which is of course the film's pacifist message. ... -

9. 5001 nights at the movies - Google Books Result

Pauline Kael - 1991 - Performing Arts - 945 pages

(The year 1930 was, of course, a good year for pacifism, which always flourishes between wars; Milestone didn't make pacifist films during the Second World ...


Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)