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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pacific Fisheries' Futile Conflict: How about sharing?

In much of the 20th century, conflict and war centered on oil resources and the Middle East. Will the 21st century see conflict and war center on fisheries, particularly in the Pacific?

The UN International Day for Peace 2016 has been tied to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Life Below Water is goal #14. With Barack Obama visiting Asia, and the G7 meeting in Japan, it's a good time to see how Life Below Water ties to issues of war and peace.

I was intrigued by an op-ed by outgoing Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou in the Wall Street Journal.  It was a closely argued piece on the appropriate way to observe (and adjudicate) economic rights in the Pacific. (See "Taiwan's Stake in the Western Pacific") This was Ma's swan song -- it appeared on the eve of his retirement from the presidency, and the (historic) swearing in of the Taiwan's new (woman) president.

I know that these ocean rights are important. But really? Why ask people to consider a point-by-point analysis of the respective merits of Taiping Island and Okinotori Reef claims by Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan?

I've lived in Taiwan. I knew there were a lot of fish in Taiwan.
I just never stopped to think about where the fish came from.
It made me stop and think: Ma felt this was the most important topic to talk about as he walked out the door. In effect, Ma was saying: Hey! Pay attention to these fishing rights! They will be the most important thing of all to us in the years to come!

(N.B.: not "the Mainland"!)

Consider: "Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein." (See Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources) Won't that percentage grow steadily as more and more people turn away from beef, pork, and other land-based and farmed sources of animal protein?

So this is causing me to think differently about a topic I've written about before: the growing tensions in the South China Sea. In a previous post, I emphasized oil and gas rights there, and wrote: "[A]ren't the assets that lie under the South China Sea precisely the kind of oil and gas properties that are rapidly becoming valueless in light of the carbon bubble?  Given that the oil companies already have five times as many reserves as they can ever put to use without breaking the planet, aren't those South China Sea hydrocarbons destined to stay beneath the sea where they belong?" (See SOUTH CHINA SEA FACE OFF: Does this make ANY sense?)

Now I'm waking up.

"It's the fish, stupid." 

It's not just a question of one country or another being entitled. It's a question of how we are going to share this . . . and how we're going to make sure we don't mess it up.

Red indicates extreme over-fishing. (Source: interactive map)

A good place to start is to examine UNCLOS -- the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It "defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources."  It is the authority that nations are referring to in dealing with the current conflicts in the South China Sea, for instance.

The US has refused to ratify UNCLOS and so stands outside of it. Perhaps it's time for the world to tell the US that to come to the table and participate in the conversation about the future of life below water as an equal partner with the other nations of the world. And to leave their warships at home.

Related posts

It will benefit us antiwar activists in the US to attend to and reflect upon the importance of these Sustainable Development Goals to achieving the goal of ending war.

(See PEACE DAY 2016: What comes first? Demilitarization? or Development?)

What people in Asia (and others) have seen for the past century is that something is happening in the Pacific, and it's being driven in part by advances in naval (and, subsequently, aviation and electronics) technology, and in part by powerful nations (principally, but not limited to, the U.S.) proximate to the area.

(See The Imperialized Pacific: What We Need to Understand)

As I read the Chinese language paper every day, it is clear to me that -- in the absence of sustained civic discourse on the security issues in the Pacific region -- our future is being shaped by military posturing.

(See SOUTH CHINA SEA FACE OFF: Does this make ANY sense?)

My hope and belief is that a Berkeley forum on peace and prosperity in the Pacific would reveal a shared interest in de-escalating the South China Sea confrontation, and dramatically increase awareness of shared Pacific prospects for well-being.

(See 21st c. Berkeley: More Relevant Than Ever to Antiwar Movement)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

21st c. Berkeley: More Relevant Than Ever to Antiwar Movement

As a "peace" enclave within California's concentrated military/defense economy, Berkeley and the East Bay have a role to play in the discussion about China.

BERKELEY: Looking west -- the bay, San Francisco . . . and beyond.

As I set out to understand California's entanglement in the military-industrial complex, I started where I live: Berkeley.

Reading a letter to the editor from our representative in Congress, Barbara Lee, a few days ago reminded me that the 13th district is kind of unusual: "As the National Defense Authorization Act comes up for a vote, I will once again co-lead a bipartisan amendment to audit the Pentagon." (Read more on Barbara Lee's position on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).)

Yup, this is different than the town I just came from. Chicago's star corporate citizen is mega military contractor Boeing.

Of course, Berkeley was ground zero for the antiwar movement during the '60s. But what's its relevance today?

A bridge to China

As a long-time student of China and the Chinese language, I am enchanted to find myself in a city whose university attracts lots of the very smartest students from China and other parts of Asia. (See "Berkeley - International Student Enrollment - Fall 2015") Many other Berkeley students who are US citizens claim Asian ethnicity. (See "Berkeley - Enrollment Data")

If California, and especially the Bay Area, is the historic link between the US and China, Berkeley is a particularly vital US-China hub right now.

We all say things like "youth are our future" . . . . What would happen if we encouraged a serious discussion between the diverse people in the Berkeley community (and from other communities) about the future of peace and security in the Pacific region?

Does this make ANY sense?
The discussion we need to have

I wrote recently about the growing tensions in the South China Sea.

As I read the Chinese language paper every day, it is clear to me that -- in the absence of sustained civic discourse on the security issues in the Pacific region -- our future is being shaped by military posturing.

I think a good way to re-direct the conversation would be to get a large number of young people who know and care about the situation in the region to get together and talk. It should include people from the various countries and territories concerned. It should be directed at the future we're all trying to build together. It should place a strong premium on listening. It should be open-ended.

Some possible starting points

The good thing about a university town is that it has many of the ingredients necessary to conduct forums.

Now this I understand . . . !
(Image: Android Authority)
Here are a few available in Berkeley that might assist the type of discussion I am suggesting:

* Student associations, including Chinese Students Association, Taiwanese American Student Association,
Hong Kong Student Association, . . . .

* University departments, including International Relations and  Institute of East Asian Studies

* Citizen groups, including United Nations Association - East Bay

* Relevant University affiliates, such as Office of International Relations and International House - UC Berkeley

My hope and belief is that a Berkeley forum on peace and prosperity in the Pacific would reveal a shared interest in de-escalating the South China Sea confrontation, and dramatically increase awareness of shared Pacific prospects for well-being.

Related Posts

In four hundred and thirty-five Congressional districts, there is an inseparable relationship between campaign funding for Congressional races and the military contractors. How do we push back?

(See IT'S A LOCK: Why the US Can't Break Its Addiction to War)

What people in Asia (and others) have seen for the past century is that something is happening in the Pacific, and it's being driven in part by advances in naval (and, subsequently, aviation and electronics) technology, and in part by powerful nations (principally, but not limited to, the U.S.) proximate to the area.

(See The Imperialized Pacific: What We Need to Understand)

"Although we know the end from the very beginning," says Walker, "the story is no less compelling to watch." A man, gloriously alone (except for his own reflection) on an ice-covered lake; the soothing pastel colors of the distant sky; and what seems surely to be a circle he is digging around himself with a pick-axe. A perfect parable for our headlong rush toward climate crisis?

(See How Do You Say "Suicide Narcissus" in Chinese?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Should US People Learn from Venezuela on Refugees?

Venezuela's policies and economics are under stress. It has everything to do with oil prices. And government spending. Oh, and also refugees . . . .

Area of 2015 Colombia-Venezuela migrant crisis
(Source: Wikipedia)
An editorial in The New York Times -- "Venezuela’s Downward Spiral" -- caught my eye yesterday. The piece was tsk-tsking "years of catastrophically bad rule" in that country.

As I read it, I thought to myself, "Yes but . . . . "  Wasn't there something about the issue of large numbers of migrants from Colombia to Venezuela? I seemed to have an impression that "the rest of the story" involved Venezuela embracing huge numbers of people in need.

I went back and found the story I remembered: Venezuela's welcome to migrants became news in the US last year, when Venezuela began some deportations - between several hundred and a few thousand people. The article I read mentioned 604,000 migrants from Colombia living in Venezuela. That seemed like a lot. And I think that fact lodged in my mind because the recent progress on the peace process in Colombia has reminded me of the decades of conflict there.

I think it's significant that the same social benefits provided to Venezuelans under Chavez' "Bolivarian Revolution" are reported to have been extended to the migrants from Colombia.

The magnitude of Venezuela's generosity is certainly significant. I plan to take some time to learn about this in more detail, but one source indicates the total migration from Colombia to Venezuela in the past 40 years is 5.6 million people.  In a country of 31 million, that's huge. More information on Venezuela's role as a net receiver of migrants can be found on the website of the International Organization for Migration.

If US people -- who live in one of the richest countries in the world, one that has a very, very, very problematic attitude to migration in its own region --  want to talk about Venezuela, they should at least bother to learn about and consider the broader context.

They might actually find cause to rethink their own behavior.

Related posts

Perhaps, like me, you will read a sentence like, "In 2001, many people came to her neighbourhood looking for a new home, fleeing from the Naya River where the paramilitaries had massacred and displaced the Afro-Colombian communities," and wonder what it refers to.

(See COLOMBIA: Where did the violence come from?)

Sergey Ponomarev won first prize in the 2016 World Press Photo awards: General News for this November 16, 2015 photo: "Refugees arrive by boat near the village of Skala on Lesbos, Greece."
(See Image to Action: Sergey Ponomarev on the Refugee Crisis)

It will take me multiple posts to spell out everything that I feel needs to be said about the Ayotzinapa 43.  People in the US need to work to change their own attitude about Mexico, and about the culpability or all of us here in the US in the wrongs that are being done down there. The Ayotzinapa 43 were persecuted for saying "the future can be different." It's time for us to take up their cry.

(See Ayotzinapa43: US People Need an Attitude Adjustment )

Sun Raid is a searing reminder that people in the US have always been happy to welcome immigrants to help make their businesses profitable and make sure they had cheap stuff and cheap labor . . . . but how dare they expect to be treated like people!

(See WELCOME MAT USA: Come in! Come in! (Get out! Get out!))

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gender Equity and Peace: Let's ALL have a say in conflict resolution

What does gender have to do with war and peace? Old view: "men are from Mars, women are from Venus." New view: it's about equity.

The UN International Day for Peace 2016 has been tied to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Gender Equality is goal #5.

When I was a young adult, a popular book was Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex. It encouraged people to accept different styles of interaction it recognized in men and women. Since men were inherently "competitive, individualistic, not into 'caring and sharing,' wanting to be admired for their ability to hang tough and deliver the goods yet unwilling to communicate the fact they need admiration" and women inherently "craving respect from their men, looking for emotional bells and whistles and not so much material status symbols as their men might suppose, prone to cycles of emotional fatigue and dependent on their mates to cherish them" (so the theory went, as summarized by one Amazon reviewer), the way for everyone to get along best is to accept the world as it is and try a little harder to speak each other's language.

This view of two starkly different "sexes" ends up reinforcing a common view about war and peace: it's the guys who are responsible for war -- they can't help themselves, it's biological -- and it's the women who make good peace activists -- because, you know, they're more peaceful.

Boys fight wars, girls heal. (Right?)
(Florence Nightingale -- Natl Lib of Medicine image)
I confess to reaching, myself, for the convenient and comforting idea that women are civilization's great, reliable backstop against the looming destruction of human society via wars cooked up by men. According to this rather magical line of thinking, women's biology provides a kind of guaranteed reservoir of peace elixir, which will surely prevail once unleashed.

But gender is a social construct . . . .

In large part due to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the movement for LGBTQ justice, I have begun to understand the ways in which categories like race and gender are social constructs, i.e. they function principally to bestow or deny power.

I've come to understand that gender cannot be understood just on the basis of body morphology or biochemistry. A big part of gender -- and a part that is of enormous consequence for conflict and cooperation -- is socially constructed. How we treat each other when we're together has overwhelming importance to this thing called gender.

Walt Whitman, Civil War nurse
Just as focusing on skin pigmentation makes us miss the point that "race" exists to enable some people to claim and maintain privilege, so focusing on estrogen or testosterone makes us miss the point that "gender" exists to enable some people to dominate the conversation and dictate the course of action.

Surprising findings on gender equity

About 18 months ago, I read some startling findings about women and men working together.

Some researchers wanted to know what predictors could be found for teams that were successful at achieving results. To their surprise, they found that the predictors that you might expect -- particularly expertise, past experience, even hard work -- were not the ones that correlated closely with success. Here's what did:

* Successful teams consisted of members who were capable of reading each other's verbal and non-verbal clues, in order to better listen to them.

* The members of successful teams each spoke about an equal amount of the time.

* On average, successful teams had more women.

(See the description of the findings, originally published in Science, in "Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others" by Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Mallone and Christopher F. Chabris)

Hey, it's science!
What I found really exciting is the potential to take these findings and follow them up in our own environments. We're all on committees and teams right? We all attend meetings. So go into a meeting and watch what happens. Who gets to speak? Does one person (or a few people) dominate? Are people listening to each other? Have people heard each other, or do they talk over each other?

And what I discovered when I started to pay attention to how these factors operate in my own environment was that there tended to be a very "gendered" environment in a lot of group settings -- a few people (mostly men) doing all the talking, and the rest (mostly women) unable to get a word in edgewise. I also noticed that the gendered nature of the gatherings would tend to snowball -- once people realized there wouldn't be an equal chance for everyone to be heard, they stopped trying to listen to each other and became anxious to simply get a chance to speak.

I noticed a couple of other things. For one thing, I noticed that the more a given meeting fit this pattern, the more likely people were to leave the meeting and behave as if it had never happened. People would just go their own ways, and do whatever it was they were originally planning to do.

I also noticed that if a small effort was made -- "Hey, let's hear from some of the people who haven't had a chance to speak yet" -- it was actually possible to move the proceedings toward equitable participation. And those tended to be the meetings that had noticeable follow-through.

So when we say conflict resolution and peace may have something to do with gender, maybe what we're really saying is that something different happens when people listen to each other . . . when everyone gets an equal chance to speak . . . and when people who are most likely to be denied a place at the table actually get to participate.

Gender Equity, the SDGs, and Peace

Having a say:
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
I have my doubts about whether every single one of the SDGs is of equal importance in bringing us to a world without war.

(I frankly wonder whether eliminating war isn't a precondition for some of them.)

But there is no question in my mind that gender equity is foundational to moving us closer and closer to a world where conflict is addressed through cooperation and compromise, and not through domination and violence.

In fact, in some ways "gender equity" as I understand it -- "everybody gets about an equal chance to be heard" -- may very well be synonymous with "conflict resolution."

Related posts

It will benefit us antiwar activists in the US to attend to and reflect upon the importance of these Sustainable Development Goals to achieving the goal of ending war.

(See PEACE DAY 2016: What comes first? Demilitarization? or Development?)

In a composition suggestive of a yin-yang symbol, a woman in a burka (but wearing audacious red glitter platform heels) is surrounded by genie-ish tableaus of the many male obsessions/pastimes that some of us rail about frequently -- sexualized pop singers, professional sports -- as well as some that we probably should rail about more (such as patriarchy in religion and political violence).

(See VIOLENCE: " . . . and the women must live with the consequences . . . " )

Women Without Men is a recent movie by the artist Shirin Neshat, based on the novel by Shahrnush Parsipur.. The first time I saw it, at the end I walked straight to the ticket window and bought another ticket and walked right back in and watched it again. The film contains haunting scene after haunting scene, and it makes it clear that Iran is a place where people are able to ask questions about patriarchy and about what it is going to take to overcome it.

(See Women Without Men as a US-Iran Cultural Bridge)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Confronting Permawar: 5 Lessons from Captain Smith

Captain Nathan Michael Smith -- US Army photo

US Army Capt. Nathan Michael Smith has sued the commander-in-chief, President Obama, for ordering war in violation of the US Constitution. Therein lie 5 lessons.

(1) What we've got: permawar
"Permawar" (who benefits?)

The US is making war in so many places, and so continuously, that it not longer makes sense to speak of this war or that war; it is a state of permanent war -- "permawar."

George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt only serves to underline the fact that it's never mission accomplished -- the US rolls from conflict to conflict to conflict -- Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq . . . .

The next war is always just around the corner (e.g. Iran) or being carried out by a proxy (e.g. in Palestine).

Many people seem to have forgotten this is not the way it's supposed to be. But Capt. Smith hasn't. (He remembers the Constitution he's sworn to to uphold.)

(2) Why we've got it: Congress is asleep

One explanation for the
Congressional coma . . .
People can disagree over Congress' performance in general, but there can be no disagreement that Congress has failed to do it's job with respect to war. Under Article I, Section 8, of the US Constitution, the Congress shall have Power...:
* [Clause 10] To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

* [Clause 11] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

* [Clause 12] To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

* [Clause 13] To provide and maintain a Navy;

* [Clause 14] To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

* [Clause 15] To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

* [Clause 16] To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

(3) PS: WE're asleep!

Tell Congress: say NO to war!
And before we ordinary citizens get all huffy, we need to remember: Congress works for us!

Ask yourself:

* do you know the details of Congress' war powers under the US Constitution?

* when was the last time you told your congressman in detail how you wanted her/him to represent you in war deliberations?

* which advocacy group(s) do you work with on issues of war and peace?

(4) It's not hopeless

On Syria, It's Time for Congress
to Remember Who They Represent
It's important to remember that there is a very recent example of the People telling Congress, and then Congress telling the President, that the US should not go to war.

In summer/fall 2013, President Obama was on the verge of going to war in Syria. Congress debated the issue and the US public resoundingly told their members of Congress they opposed war.

The US finds all kinds of ways to contribute to war and violence in places like Syria. But there's no question that US citizens and the US Congress can slow it and stop it when they try.

(5) It will take courage

I am (I will become) Bradley Manning
I can't imagine the courage that Capt. Nathan Michael Smith has mustered to challenge his commander-in-chief.

However, I've noticed we're seeing more and more people come forward to put the truth and justice above their own personal convenience and comfort.

For those of us who lack the opportunity and/or courage to make such big contributions, we can still ask: what can I do to lift up and support the work of such citizen leaders?

Related posts

In four hundred and thirty-five Congressional districts, there is an inseparable relationship between campaign funding for Congressional races and the military contractors. How do we push back?

(See IT'S A LOCK: Why the US Can't Break Its Addiction to War)

Anyone who has had to write a speech knows that the hardest part is to land on the main idea. Once you've got that right, the rest practically writes itself.

(See "The way to respond to ISIS is not through violence." )

First Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) called the U.S. on the carpet for dodging the call from the international community to come clean about its drone killings. Then Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) submitted a bill calling for drone transparency. So ... are we finally going to get the truth?

(See REAL Progressives Demand that the U.S. Come Clean on Drone Killings

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stopping Gun Violence: Time to get effective ....

If people really want to put a stop to gun violence, they'll need to do the unthinkable: learn from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

"Sha’Quille Kornegay shot herself with
a 9-millimeter handgun she found while
staying at her father’s house."
(Photo: Haven Parrish, Jr.)
I was struck by the coincidence of the obituary of the creator of the famous sculpture of a gun with a knotted barrel (Carl Frederik Reutersward, below), with a heartbreaking story on toddlers dying in gun accidents.

Now today I see that George Zimmerman is making headlines auctioning off the gun he used to murder Trayvon Martin.

The US is a country addicted to violence; violence defines our domestic lives and our foreign affairs. Certainly the long-term solution that is needed is a wholesale turn to nonviolence. (See Campaign Nonviolence.)

A medium term solution lies, in my opinion, in the public health approach of groups such as Cure Violence: to try to get more and more people to stop and think in between the urge to violence and the actual act of violence.

Carl Fredrik Reutersward and "Non-Violence" sculpture
The short term solution, though, is clearly gun safety and gun control. The best advice I've heard on how to get to a solution in the short term came from Capitol Hill.

It was spring, 2014, and I had gone to the Hart Senate Office Building together with six other faith activists to meet with our senators' and representatives' staff. The issue we were there to talk about was gun safety and gun control, and the meetings were to give thanks where thanks were due, and also to urge greater efforts in the days ahead.

In one office, we said, "We know the Senator is consistently with us on gun safety and gun control. Thank you for that. Now tell us: what will it take for him to build more support for gun control with others in Congress."

"The best thing you could possibly do," said the staffer, "is realize how effective the NRA is at getting constituents to send targeted communications to their elected representatives. They focus on the right piece of legislation at the exactly the right moment, and they make sure large numbers of constituents are communicating directly with their representatives and senators with clear messages."

"Your hearts are in the right place," he added. "But you have to be more effective than the NRA."

I realized then and there that all the good intentions in the world won't get the job done unless we are organized. To reach our gun safety and gun control goals, we need skilled coordination to help us:

* focus on the right legislation
* act at the right time
* mobilize constituents
* communicate clearly and convincingly

To be effective at stopping gun violence, find an effective group and commit your time, energy, skills, and money. One place to start is Everytown for Gun Safety.

Related posts

A virus is able to be so successful precisely because it (most of the time) doesn't kill its host. I can't help thinking that we simply are not being intelligent about how to respond to violence.   How might recognizing the "viral" nature of violence help us to respond to it more intelligently?

(See Violence: Taking Over Like a Virus)

The United States is like that alcoholic family member, for whom every circumstance is an excuse to hit the bottle. Except, with the US, the bottle is violence.

(See It's Time for the United States to Stop Hitting the Bottle)

There are some people, at least, who see a very clear connection between violence on the streets of cities like Chicago and violence carried out by the U.S. military, the CIA, and other U.S. government agencies around the world.

(See Time for Ceasefire? Barack Obama and Speaking About Violence )

There are all kinds of efforts to change the way policing is done in Chicago, and how it gets managed. These efforts mirror those being made in cities nationwide. I support those efforts, and am committed to working on them until we accomplish sweeping change. But sweeping change will take time . . . .

(See Disarm the CPD)

It's way too easy to launch U.S. missiles. (Maybe if it were a little more costly, challenging, or painful to carry out these attacks, they would at least require someone to give an explanation that makes sense first.)

(See AMERICANS: Happy As Long As They're Blowing Something Up )

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

OBAMA: First stop, Hiroshima; second stop, Moscow

#Obama in #Hiroshima
(Please retweet this message.)

Barack Obama is going to Hiroshima. The world will be expecting a big announcement - steps toward REAL nuclear disarmament, steps including Russia.

Here are five reasons why Hiroshima should be just the first stop on Obama's trip (and the second stop should be Moscow).

What Would a Nuclear Weapon Do
to Chicago? (Go ahead, guess . . . )
(1) Hiroshima? the tip of the iceberg ....

People can hardly bear to confront the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And yet perhaps the most important thing to remember as the eyes of the world turn to the Obama visit to Hiroshima is that each of today's nuclear weapons is a thousand times more powerful and a thousand times worse than the one used at Hiroshima.

Job #1 Vis-a-vis Russia:
(2) US and Russia

People in the US are fed a daily diet of stories about other countries' nuclear weapons -- China (scary!), Pakistan (very scary!!), North Korea (very, very scary!!!) -- and possible future nuclear weapons -- IRAN!!!! -- but the two countries with THOUSANDS of nuclear weapons on alert and ready to go are the US and Russia.

We will never be safe until the US and Russia cut their own nuclear weapons.

Nuclear disarmament is
an obligation.
(3) Promises to Keep

Little has changed in 50 years. The world entered into a regime designed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons -- absolutely, 100% predicated on the promise of states with nuclear weapons -- the US, Russia, and others -- to eliminate theirs.

When you hear the words "NPT" and "Nonproliferation Treaty," ask the US and Russia: have you eliminate your nuclear weapons yet, as you promised you would?

(4) The US has a problem

President, Congress, People:
Who's gonna get this done?
A year ago, people were talking about how US politicians were gridlocked and our government had become ineffective.

Today, our political class is in crisis.

Barack Obama came into office in 2009 thinking -- or at least saying he thought -- he would bring about a huge advance in creating a nuclear-weapons-free world. Somewhere along the way, he seems to have decided it's not on him.

People need to tell Obama to face facts. It is on him.

It's not the way our government is supposed to work. But it's the hand he's been dealt.

World to US: DISARM!
(5) The world is watching

The way the world views the US is this: our country -- and a few others like us -- are holding a sword over everyone else's head.

It's time for the US to wise up and see itself as others see it.

In other words, it's time for us to care about our relationship with the other people with whom we share the planet.

What more is it gonna take?

Putin and Obama: #talk

Other related posts

"It's not enough to remember this just once a year; it's not enough that we make a single book -- Hiroshima -- required reading, and never go beyond that. There should be a whole canon that people study progressively, year by year, to grasp and retain the horror of this."

(See FIRE AND BLAST: A Curriculum that Confronts Nuclear Danger?)

Do we have a way to immerse ourselves in the experience of what the use of those nuclear weapons would really mean -- prospectively -- so that we can truly cause ourselves to confront our own inaction?

(See Stop engaging in risky behavior )

Any advocacy for the elimination of nuclear weapons must sooner or later get around to the specifics of the steps by which we get to zero. U.S. nuclear strategists recognize that 311 is still a large number of strategic nuclear weapons for the U.S. to hold. Shouldn't our minimum demand be to get U.S. to this level (or below)?

(See Why Are These Military Experts Saying CUT CUT CUT Nukes? )

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon - a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War - deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )

I'm marveling at the adjacency of a piece of public art -- one with a very clear message about the risk of human ambition and self-absorption and heedlessness -- to the center of political power in the city of Chicago.

(See NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Who will bring us down to earth? )