Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Is There Space for Anything Besides War in the US Constitution?

Devote some of your "100 hours for peace" to a better understanding of the fundamental US document on war and peace: the US Constitution.

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second
American Revolution, 1783-1789
by Joseph J. Ellis
I suggested people take back control of (at least some of) the time that the election 2016 circus is stealing from all of us, and put it to work thinking deeply about how to work better for peace.

An example of something US people who want peace need to think deeply about: does the US Constitution help us or hurt us?

My sister's book, Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom, makes strong arguments about what the Constitution really intends, and what it should cause us to do differently if we really intend to follow it.

The case of US Army Captain Michael Nathan Smith should force all of us to go back to the Constitution and try to understand what kinds of military structure and actions are permissible under the law of the land.

And, like or not, this is also going to force us all to really confront what our national agreement has been in the past -- and needs to be in the future -- about guns.

I have spent the last several days readying a wonderful book, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, by Joseph J. Ellis, about how the U.S. Constitution came into being. It's at your local library. If your eyes glaze over when you hear "Constitution" and "Federalist Papers," this book will rescue you. (Extra incentive, if musical theater inspires you: one member of "the quartet" is Alexander Hamilton; the others are George Washington, James Madison, and John Jay.)

For instance, The Quartet makes clear that, first and foremost, the impetus for the U.S. Constitution was (a) to assure that funds would be available for carrying out war, and (b) to enable the unimpeded occupation of much greater amounts of territory [see (a)].

The story only begins there, and, as one would expect, the eventual course of events has been conditioned on the diverse attentions and interests and moods of the leaders involved and the public that has acquiesced in their leadership.

It seems to me that it is necessary for all of us to step up and understand what the US Constitution is about. Like it or not, it creates the ground for dialog with a greatly expanded circle of people about the direction of warmaking and peacemaking by the US and its citizens.

Related posts

"I am investing these 100 hours in thinking deeply about what it will take to change the war-like ways of this country I live in. I am going to ask hard questions, confront what's really standing in the way, think creatively, and come up with new ways to be an effective peace worker. This is my time and I am going to make the best use of it."

(See The Election 2016 Diet: Invest 100 Hours for Peace)

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 . . . .

(See Confronting Permawar: 5 Lessons from Captain Smith)

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 )

If you're really interested in effective harm reduction, the solution is a drastic reduction/elimination of the instruments of harm

(See ORLANDO SHOOTINGS: Start with the obvious (guns)

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