Saturday, August 12, 2017

Donald Trump: The Great Clarifier



Ever since nuclear weapons were first invented and the United States used them against Japan, ordinary citizens have been subjected to an unrelenting campaign of obfuscation and confusion about their true nature and what's at stake. If any of us stopped long enough to think about nuclear weapons, we realized that everything possible must be done to get rid of them, and to make sure no one is every able to cause them to be used. But our ability to think has been challenged by a smokescreen of state propaganda: the state needs them, the state has everything under control, the state will take care of it. (Just feel lucky you're a citizen of such a big, strong state.)

Now along comes Donald Trump, who has sole authority to order a nuclear first strike and is tossing out threats left and right against North Korea.

People are waking up. Nuclear war is not an abstraction. It is a real possibility, and it is in the hands (right now) of a single person.

There are now forty-four (44) co-sponsors on Rep. Ted Lieu's House bill to rein in presidential first use of nuclear weapons. (And nine (9) co-sponsors on the corresponding bill in the Senate sponsored by Ed Markey.) Now is the time to demand a tidal wave of support for this bill, and get the unilateral authority over these weapons out of the hands of a single person.

Please use this script to call and get YOUR representative on that list! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New This Week (July 18, 2017)


South Korea's new leader: Moon Jae-in
(Image: NY Daily News)


Several months ago, I wrote suggesting that there will be a breakthrough in the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula under the new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. (See #Nuclearban Game-Changer: South Korea? and Korea: A History of Living Under Nuclear Terror.)

Today, The New York Times reported that South Korea wants to enter into negotiations with North Korea, breaking from the confrontational approach of the US in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program. (See "South Korea Proposes Military Talks With North at Their Border.")

*     *     *

There are now forty (40) co-sponsors on Rep. Ted Lieu's House bill to rein in presidential first use of nuclear weapons. (And nine (9) co-sponsors on the corresponding bill in the Senate sponsored by Ed Markey.) Will support continue to grow in the rest of July and through the summer?

Please use this script to call and get YOUR representative on that list! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Modest Proposal: UNAs and #Nuclearban Education

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has issued a challenge:
" . . . show the people reasons to support the UN . . . "
Exhibit #1 is #nuclearban
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One hundred and twenty-two (122) countries have agreed on a global nuclear weapons ban treaty text, and the treaty is in line to be adopted and enter into force in the months ahead.

A global network of United Nations Associations (UNAs) exists to engage in public education about the work of the UN, and encourage public support of the UN.

The #nuclearban is an issue the UNAs on which the UNAs can really roll up their sleeves and make a difference -- by using their convening power to bring together members of the public to learn about, discuss, and organize for action in support of this most important of UN initiatives. In doing so, they will foster a better understanding of the UN overall, and form the basis for more and better public involvement with their UNA chapters in the years ahead.

This work is especially important in the US and other countries whose governments are not currently supporting the #nuclearban. The public needs to become much, much more engaged.

It's worth remembering that the United Nations was created at the very moment that nuclear weapons were introduced. The UN's work for peace during all the ensuing decades has been done under the shadow of the nuclear threat.

In my opinion, the future of the UN very much hinges on the #nuclearban. Isn't it time for UNAs everywhere to answer the call and bring this development before the larger public?


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Related links

"Response to UNA-UK call for UK to attend nuclear ban treaty negotiations"


Monday, July 10, 2017

New This Week (July 10, 2017)

7-7-17
A historic day of liberation for the world;
a historic day of shame for US citizens, because their country tried to stop #nuclearban
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On Friday at the United Nations, 122 nations voted on final language on the "Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons" (#nuclearban). The treaty will be open for signature when the General Assembly reconvenes September 20 in New York; all signs point to rapidly reaching the threshold that will cause the treaty to go into effect. The treaty enters into force 90 days after 50 signatures are reached. That means that on or about January 1, 2018, the world will very likely have a treaty in force outlawing nuclear weapons.

The United States has opposed the entire nuclear ban process. (Their response to the treaty announcement was to join the UK and France in saying, "We do not intend to sign, ratify, or every become party to it." - see "A Treaty Is Reached to Ban Nuclear Arms. Now Comes the Hard Part," by Rick Gladstone in The New York Times.)

Of course, the US is bound by treaty to strive toward complete nuclear disarmament -- eventually. I'm referring, of course, to its Article VI obligations under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) (See A DEAL'S A DEAL! (What part of "nuclear disarmament" doesn't the US understand?) )

So the question is not if, but when. And the nuclear ban treaty seems to point to a much earlier date for achieving complete nuclear disarmament.

There is so much courageous work by people all around the world to bring about #nuclearban. People in the holdout countries like the US could be forgiven for feeling frustration and shame that their governments are clinging stubbornly to the wrong side of history. The #nuclearban treaty looks like it will sail into force while the US continues its bizarre journey into irrelevance in this and other aspects of global affairs. (viz. climate - e.g. "World Leaders Move Forward on Climate Change, Without U.S.")

Fine. The US is going to stamp its feet and hold its breath. Just one question: do we have to burn through $1 trillion while we're doing it? (See "Why a $1 trillion endeavor to modernize the US nuclear arsenal could get more bipartisan support") There is a massive nuclear weapons modernization program underway in the US, and you've gotta ask, "Is that a good investment as we head into a world in which nuclear weapons are outlawed?"

For our democratically-elected representatives, the calculus has got to be pretty simple, "People are really not happy that we can't agree on a way to come up with the money to make sure everyone will have health care. One trillion dollars -- trillion with a "T" -- maybe we'd better start acting like we're not throwing money down the drain . . . . "

Luckily, there are already a group of senators on the case. In March, 13 US senators wrote, "While we appreciate the work of the Defense Science Board, we strongly disagree with the wisdom or need to develop new nuclear weapons or resume nuclear testing. For 71 years the United States has led the world in opposition to the use of nuclear weapons, leadership that would be called into question should the United States develop new, so-called low-yield nuclear weapons. As you prepare to lead the Trump administration’s review of U.S. nuclear policy and posture, we urge you not to act on the Board's recommendations." (See "Senators Reject Call for New Nuclear Weapons, Ending Nuclear Testing Ban," March 14, 2017, signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Edward J. Markey, Richard J. Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Ron Wyden, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Tammy Baldwin, Jeffrey Merkley, Bernard Sanders, Brian Schatz, Chris Van Hollen, and Kamala D. Harris.)


#nuclearban: If the world is now OUTLAWING #nuclearweapons,
how is a $1 TRILLION development program a good idea?
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Let's pick up where we left off and start exercising Congressional power over the sky's-the-limit nuclear weapons spending of the US government.


RELATED UPDATE - JULY 12 -  There are now thirty-nine (39) co-sponsors on Rep. Ted Lieu's House bill to rein in presidential first use of nuclear weapons. (And nine (9) co-sponsors on the corresponding bill in the Senate sponsored by Ed Markey.) Will support continue to grow in the rest of July and through the summer?

Please use this script to call and get YOUR representative on that list! 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Food for Thought: #Nuclearban's Network Character

Global Connectivity


I have written quite a bit encouraging people to be interested in the network aspect of our joint peace promotion endeavors - particularly as it relates to a truly global peace activism community.

I continue to believe that there is a great leap forward that is available to us if we devote more attention to the network character of what we are doing.

It is so close, we can practically taste it. The current work on a global nuclear weapons ban treaty -- particularly connected via social media and #nuclearban hashtag -- brings these network dimensions tangibly close.

In the course of any one individual's activism efforts, they inevitably bump up against the realization that each of us -- even the most prolific, even the most creative -- is limited. But there truly is power in the network: a strong network just keeps getting bigger and stronger and more effective, even as individual nodes (er, people) wax and wane.

What should this realization lead us to do?

Here are three recommendations:


(1) Laboratory Approach

I believe there is a lot that could be learned by putting some of the recent activity (e.g. with respect to #nuclearban) under a microscope.

Activists may not be inclined to sift through several weeks or months of social media communication, but there are lots of talented people who could contribute to this. Data mining and #peacetech are growing areas of interest.

There are existing apps, such as Bluenod, that can be used to take a first stab at this. And there is readily-available data on the major social media platforms -- there for the analyzing by anyone comfortable using a little code. (See Matthew A. Russell, Mining the Social Web: Data Mining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, GitHub, and More)



#nuclearban Twitter community on Bluenod



(2) Actionable Research Output

Just about every activist and activist organization engages in social media communication. Most organizations (and even some individuals) have an explicit plan to "up their social media game." Some even have staff devoting substantial amounts of their time to just doing social media campaigns.

It seems reasonable that the laboratory approach suggested in (1) above have as a near-term objective communicating its discoveries to organizations (and individuals) that have a real commitment to using them to become more effective.

That naturally points to the desirability of starting the conversation as soon as possible. If people digging into the true face of the social web-driven global peace community know what activist organizations are already observing and conjecturing, and what they wish they know and what they hope they will someday be able to accomplish, they can be that much more alert in their researches.

For instance, in my very limited experience in this area, it seems to me that the evolving global nature of network raises the question for every activist organization, "How much of our effort should be directed at communicating with people who are already part of our audience? How much to people we are not currently reaching? How do we decide the amount of resources to spend on various approaches? How do we gauge return on investment?" In other words, should we be thinking Montana? or Mongolia?


Mongolia: lots of #nuclear ban supporters
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(3) Expand the Conversation

As someone who not-so-long ago moved to the Bay Area I'm having an epiphany . . . .

The technology and social media tools we are using today were, in many cases, conceived by people who are profoundly interested in how these (or next stage) applications can help society be better.

Evan Williams
For instance, this article made me think, "Here's someone who's spending his days asking the same questions I am asking!": "'The Internet Is Broken': @ev Is Trying to Salvage It." "'I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,' Evan Williams says. 'I was wrong about that.'" By the way, Williams created Blogger (on which this blog is published), was one of the founders of Twitter, and has a new project called Medium.

People like Ev Williams may or may not identify themselves as "peace activists," but they and we share some major concerns, and they have enormous resources to contribute.

Resolved: I will meet some new people . . . and have some conversations . . . even if I have to (gulp) leave the East Bay to do it!


The #nuclearban effort on the ground is surging ahead. Now is the perfect time to explore the network character of #nuclearban -- a little measurement and analysis, a little actionable research output, and some scintillating conversation.


To be continued . . . .


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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Food for Thought: Global Markets, Global Brands, and the #Nuclearban

The negotiations on a global nuclear weapons ban are moving inexorably to conclusion at the United Nations.

By coincidence, the US -- the great #nuclearban refusenik -- will celebrate Independence Day this week, just as the negotiations are wrapping up. So it seems like a good moment to remember what Independence Day is all about . . . .


Consumers saying NO!: The Boston Tea Party


Scholars have recently begun to stress that the real revolutionary power of the American Revolution lay in the organized action of consumers in North America who hit their imperial rulers where it hurt: in their trading businesses. (See, for instance, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence, by H.T. Breen)

As someone who had a long career in international trade, I look at the map of all the #nuclearban-supporting countries from the standpoint of a US-based global marketer, and I think, "Uh-oh ...."


Interactive #nuclearban map from @icanaustria.
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People ask, "Even if all the #nuclearban-supporting countries enter into a treaty, what difference does it make if countries like the US remain outside the treaty? Where is the leverage to make the US change?"

I suspect that we have an enormous amount of leverage . . . !


Top 100 Global Brands ... including Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, Google,
GE, McDonald's, Intel, Apple, Disney, HP, and more ...


Everything that is happening in the US right now -- really, a state of political chaos -- is a function of how rapidly our economy is changing, and our inability to understand where we sit relative to the global economy. We are the beneficiaries of our integration with global markets . . . and we don't seem to realize how good we've got it, or how quickly we could lose the benefits of that integration.

One thing that I learned during my years traveling around the world as a US business person: people in other countries don't actually love us that much.  I'm not saying that people in other countries have anything against people in the US, but we often float through life in a kind of trance in which we imagine that everything about the US is great! and people everywhere are filled with warm feelings about the US. The truth is that there is a lot of ambivalence.

And that means the US -- the government, the people, the businesses -- don't get a free pass for bad behavior.

I was very intrigued by the actions of Apple CEO Tim Cook several weeks ago. When Donald Trump rejected US participation in the Paris climate accord, Cook hastened to reassure the community of Apple stakeholders:

I know many of you share my disappointment with the White House's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. I spoke with President Trump on Tuesday and tried to persuade him to keep the U.S. in the agreement. But it wasn't enough.

Climate change is real and we all share a responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today's developments will have no impact on Apple's efforts to protect the environment. We power nearly all of our operations with renewable energy, which we believe is an example of something that's good for our planet and makes good business sense as well.

We will keep working toward the ambitious goals of a closed-loop supply chain, and to eventually stop mining new materials altogether. Of course, we're going to keep working with our suppliers to help them do more to power their businesses with clean energy. And we will keep challenging ourselves to do even more. Knowing the good work that we and countless others around the world are doing, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our planet's future.

Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.

(See "Tim Cook emails Apple employees after failing to change Donald Trump’s mind about the Paris climate deal")

I believe business leaders like Tim Cook are gravely concerned about the political risk to their brands. They understand that their wildly popular brands may be tarred by association with the US - the country where they just happen to be domiciled. In the case of climate, there is a world consensus on the problem, and a daily-growing awareness that those who stand to be hurt the most by the problem are in the Global South. The problem for Tim Cook and Apple (and many other global brands based in the US) is: how can we let our customers throughout the world know that we're good guys -- that we're the ones wearing white hats -- despite the fact that we live in painfully close proximity to a practically outlaw regime?

In the days and weeks ahead, we will likely have a global consensus on outlawing nuclear weapons. And in boardrooms across this country, heated discussion of a new kind of political risk will begin . . . .

RELATED POST: Is there a relationship between #nuclearban and #G20?


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