Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jewish Pacifism


Virginia Iris Holmes. Integrating Diversity, Reconciling Contradiction: The Jüdischer Friedensbund in Late Weimar Germany LBI Year Book XLVII (2002).
This article shows that the short-lived German Jewish pacifist organisation, the Jüdischer Friedensbund (1929–1933), integrated the prominent figures and philosophies of both Jewish liberalism and Zionism in pursuit of a common goal, the Friedensidee (peace idea), which members saw as grounded in their Judaism. It discusses the pacifist Weltanschauungen of prominent Jewish leaders such as Rabbi Leo Baeck, Albert Einstein, Oscar Wassermann, Alfred Nossig, Alfred Klee, Heinrich Stern, Ernestine Eschelbacher, Alfred Goldschmidt, and Rabbi Felix Goldmann. It also addresses the workings of gender, antisemitism, and relations between East European and native German Jews.

Murray Polner, War – Again and Again and Again
“…I remain a pacifist, a Jewish pacifist no less. In the long run, nonviolence has a far better chance of maintaining peace than B52s, cluster and daisy cutter bombs and a very lucrative weapons industry. And where Israel and Palestine are concerned, the never-ending reprisals and retaliatory raids have led to nothing but sheer hell for all parties.”

Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, Zionism and Judaism – Let Us Define Our Terms
“Within the Zionist movement itself a tiny faction constantly criticized both the Labor and Revisionist mainstreams. This small group, associated with the Brit Shalom movement, advocated a bi-national democratic state and was willing to accept Jewish minority status therein. In the words of one of its foremost thinkers, Judah Magnes, Chancellor of Hebrew University, ‘If we cannot find ways of peace and understanding (with the indigenous population), if we can only establish ourselves upon the force of bayonets, then our whole enterprise is not worthwhile and it is better that the eternal people should remain patient and wait.’”

Irving Ruderman, Peace In Jewish Law
The Amidah, the central prayer of the three daily services, consists of a series of nineteen blessings in praise, thanks, and request to God. The concluding request is for the blessings of peace. Upon returning the Torah scrolls to the Ark, all Jews give praise for the Torah whose ways are "ways of peace." In the Talmud, "Shalom" is even a name for God. Each Sabbath is ushered into the observant household with a song to the angels of peace, "Shalom Aleichem." And in the Sabbath morning service, we say those who wish for life must "ask for peace and pursue it." It is not enough just to ask for peace; we must dedicate our lives in its pursuit.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., The Glory of War
“War is the devil's sacrament. It promises to bind us not with God but with the nation state. It grants not life but death. It provides not liberty but slavery. It lives not on truth but on lies, and these lies are themselves said to be worthy of defense. It exalts evil and puts down the good. It is promiscuous in encouraging an orgy of sin, not self-restraint and thought. It is irrational and bloody and vicious and appalling. And it claims to be the highest achievement of man.”

Gerald Cromer, “The War of the Torah”: The Israeli Religious Peace Movements’ Struggle for Legitimation
“Understanding the reasons for the religious peace movements' lack of cultural resonance is an essential prerequisite for developing new and more successful rhetorical strategies. It is a sine qua non in the battle for recognition as a legitimate reading of Jewish tradition and, in turn, for winning this particular "war of the Torah".”

Against Jewish Pacifism:
It is easy to find articles attacking Jewish pacifism as surrender or suicide. Fairly representative is the following by a retired U.S. Army Colonel.

Evelyn Wilcock, Pacifism and the Jews. Hawthorne Press, 1994
Covering a period from 1914 to the 1980s, this book offers a social and biographical history of pacifist stances within Judaism. The holy inheritance of the Kabbala, Hasidism, and sacred texts are considered alongside secular dilemmas to do with the state and war.
This book meets a particular need in peace studies, social history, and theology. It gives insight into an expression of conscience that needs to be heard, and the lives of individuals who have sought to give it voice.
Evelyn Wilcock is a historian and sociologist with a particular interest in the relationship between political theory and religious belief. She has pioneered the unknown subject of Jewish pacifism and regularly contributes articles and give talks on Jewish pacifism to both Jewish and non-Jewish groups.

Murray Polner, Naomi Goodman (Editor), The Challenge of Shalom: The Jewish Tradition of Peace and Justice. New Society Pub (1994).

David R. Smock, Perspectives on Pacifism: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Views on Nonviolence and International Conflict. United States Institute of Peace Press (March 1995).

Maurice S Friedman, The covenant of peace: A Jewish witness (Pendle Hill pamphlet 110). Pendle Hill (January 1, 1965).

Jewish Peace Groups

Jewish Peace Fellowship
"The Jewish Peace Fellowship unites those who believe that Jewish ideals and experience provide inspiration for a nonviolent philosophy of life. Stimulated by elements in traditional and contemporary Judaism stressing love and brotherhood, the JPF promotes the attitude of respect for man and confidence in his essential decency, These attitudes it endeavors to incorporate in the personal relations of its members and friends. In striving to eliminate the causes of war, the JPF is also concerned with the advancement of freedom and justice for all men." JPF Statement of Purpose

Growing awareness of the Jewish roots of pacifism gave birth to the Jewish Peace Fellowship. Its relationship to Jewish communal institutions and the moral quandaries of individual Jews is a paradox of simultaneous acceptance and rejection. The birth process was a slow one, spanning almost twenty years. In 1924. the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Reform Judaism’s rabbinical body, denounced the use of war by society. ( A few years later, the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly followed suit.) In the same year, when Abraham Cronbach distributed a Jewish pacifist pledge at the Central Conference Convention, few rabbis responded. The Executive Board firmly indicated that such a campaign would be harmful to the Jewish community and to the Reform rabbinical college where he taught. Rabbi Cronbach’s efforts were premature.

In the midst of World War II, the Jewish Peace Fellowship was formed in 1941. Many of the members were rejected by their families as well as by the general Jewish community. Their own consciences were torn by the horrors exercised in Germany, their pacifism confronted with the necessity of opposing unsurpassed evil unleashed against fellow Jews, with no easy nonviolent answers. Yet, despite the quandaries, funds were soon coming in to JPF from official Jewish bodies.

What accounts for such a paradoxical organization? The Jewish Peace Fellowship coalesced during 1941 and the beginning of 1942 out of three groups of Jewish antiwar activists. Two groups had formed under the leadership of Rabbi Isidor Hoffman, one consisting of Columbia University graduate students and the other of Jewish conscientious objectors in the New York city and Philadelphia areas. The third group was led by Cronbach, Jane Evans, and Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld in Cincinnati. At the first united meeting, Lelyveld was named President, Hoffman vice-President, and Abraham Citron, Secretary. Abraham Cronbach, Jane Evans, and Sam Grand participate with the officers in the first Executive Board committee. The members were closely connected to the Reform and Conservative organizational bodies as well as to Jewish communal organizations, These personal and institutional ties helped when it came time to convince the Jewish community of its obligation to Jewish pacifists.

The spread of JPF was more informal, however: by word of mouth or through exposure to JPF publications. By the first newsletter in August 1942, membership has reached 53 with new chapters in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. By February 1943, there were 93 members. JPF was represented on the National Service Board for Religious Objectors and engaged in various projects to assist COs and to eliminate racism. The organization declared itself at this time for the establishment of a Palestinian refuge for persecuted Jews.

Already, one of the ever-present problems of JPF emerged. Of the 93 members, only 33 contributed money. The services solicited from the organization have always outweighed its financial resources. Money was eventually sought and received from the Jewish community. Because Jewish COs were, in general, being supported in civilian work camps by non-Jewish religious groups, principally by the Quakers, the Jewish community was successfully convinced to fund Jewish COs through the JPF. (At that time, religious COs – no others were recognized – had their basic support in camps paid for by their respective denominations.) With the end of the war, however, this funding ceased.

JPF’s principal function has been to link individuals working for peace and to serve as a forum for discussion of peacemaking. Sporadically, the organization has become more active. Each new burst of activity has been marked by changes in the newsletter format and upgrading of its style. In the 1950s, Tidings replaced the initial newsletter. It was followed in the late ‘60s by a revived Newsletter along with a new quarterly Shalom magazine. Activity remained centered around support for COs and anti-war programs.

With each moral crisis in American society, interest in JPF has expanded. As the problems have retreated from public focus, so has the visibility of the organization, It peaked, of course, during the war in Vietnam. By the summer of 1970, JPF had 1250 members and 2000 additional friends and supporters. In the peak years of CO counseling, field secretaries were placed in major regions of the country. By the Fall of 1969, Allan Solomonow became the first National Program Director. He was succeeded by Paul Schiffman and, later, Bruce Ballin.

With the end of the war, JPF had to release its field secretaries and program director for lack of money. But the founders and members of JPF had no grandiose illusions about its cope and importance. Nor did they with to segregate Jews in their efforts for peace. Their major peacemaking activities were extended in working with organizations such as the FOR, WRL, WILPF, and SABE. When Rabbi Michael Robinson accepted the presidency of JPF in 1965, he insisted on affiliation with the FOR. Close cooperation has continued under Naomi Goodman’s current term in office. Leadership in the JPF has come primarily from the Chairmen and Secretaries. Besides those people already mentioned, these have included Jerome Malino, Arthur Gilbert, Asher Block, Jacob Sloan, Don Peretz, Hershel Matt, Max Ticktin and Irving Ruderman.

As the focus of concern over American involvement has shifted from Indochina to the Middle East, JPF finds itself in the same isolate position it occupied during its early days, during World War II. With the lives of a substantial proportion of Jews at stake, most Jews place their faith in military solutions to the conflict., JPF’s purpose is to promote nonviolent alternatives in the Middle East and elsewhere. Individual members may disagree over political goals, but they share a basic respect for the territorial rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. One of the functions of JPF today is to lend support to Israeli COs who find themselves so completely isolated within Israeli society.

Within America, JPF continues to cooperate with other pacifist groups to work for amnesty and against militarism. Members nit only give voice to their views through the Jewish Peace Fellowship, but they have also helped open up the doors of the Jewish community to various groups (including BREIRA, Yozma, PIPA and Tzedek Tzedek) which stand for new directions in Israeli and American Jewish policy. The Jewish Peace Fellowship continues to operate in a low-key fashion, working quietly to open the channels for peacemaking and cooperating with other groups – but as a distinctive presence, giving a specifically Jewish affirmation of peace to those Jews who participate.
June Stillman

Neturei Karta
“Jews are not allowed to dominate, kill, harm or demean another people and are not allowed to have anything to do with the Zionist enterprise, their political meddling and their wars.”
-from “What is the Neturei Karta?” at:

“They call us "self-hating" Jews when we raise criticisms of Israeli policies. Yet most of those Jews who risk this calumny as the cost of getting involved actually feel a special resonance with the history and culture of the Jews--because this is a people who have proclaimed a message of love, justice and peace; they feel a special pride in being part of a people who have insisted on the possibility of tikkun, a Hebrew word expressing a belief that the world can be fundamentally healed and transformed.”
-Rabbi Michael Lerner

Peace Now

Seeds of Peace

The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC)

Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

Bat Shalom

Other Links:
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of and author of Speaking of Liberty.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tom Fox

In God's Name

On behalf of all of us here in Qom who admire the work of CPT in Iraq, we offer our condolences on the occassion of the brutal murder of Tom Fox to all his friends and relatives and colleagues in CPT and MPT .

Muslims offer condolences with the words of the Qur'an: "Verily, we are for Allah, and unto Him do we return." (2:156)

We were deeply dismayed by the abduction of the CPTers in Iraq, and find it difficult to understand how the perpetrators of such crimes can consider themselves to be Muslims. We would hope that the faithful of all religions and particularly Muslims would join us in calling for their release, and in expressing the strongest possible condemnation of such crimes, since we are repeatedly enjoined in the Qur'an to forbid evil.

Now with grieving hearts we join you in mourning over the martyrdom of our brother Tom Fox, for truly he bore witness to a profound faith in God through his life and death.

Hajj Muhammad Legenhausen
The Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institue, Qom, Iran

SPECIAL ISSUE: Remembering Tom Fox, Christian Peacemaker 03.13.2006


Photo of Tom Fox with Palestinian refugee children in Iraq taken in Oct. 2005.
The staff of Sojourners extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Christian Peacemaker Teams member Tom Fox, who was found dead near Baghdad on Thursday. His three teammates, seen in a video broadcast last week, are believed to be alive but remain captive.

As we mourn Tom's death, we focus on his solidarity with the unnamed tens of thousands of Iraqi dead, disappeared, detained, and tortured. Christ is present in their suffering (Matthew 25). Yet, we also recognize that Tom's suffering is special because it was in voluntary obedience to Christ's call to suffer as he did to prove his love for both neighbors and enemies: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it" (Mark 8:34-35).

As evidenced by the outpouring of support and sympathy from across religious and national boundaries, Tom's life and death are a testimony to the truth of Jesus' gospel - and a challenge to all who claim to follow it.

- The Editors

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Tom's last journey
by Doug Pritchard

Our brother Tom has begun his final journey home.

He left Anaconda military base at Balat, Iraq, at dawn on Mar. 13 (9 p.m. EST, Mar. 12), and is expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware at 1 a.m. EST, Mar. 14.

CPT Toronto was originally informed by Canadian authorities at 1:30 p.m. EST Mar. 10, that a body had been found in Baghdad which was likely that of Tom Fox. An hour later, when the CPT Iraq team asked officials at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad if they could come to identify the body, they were told that it had already left on a military transport for Dover. Officials had repeatedly assured the team over the previous three months that CPT would be able to accompany our colleagues home "if at all possible." They now said that their only focus was getting the body back to the USA as soon as possible. At 8 p.m. EST, the U.S. State Department confirmed the identity as Tom Fox based on fingerprints.

The next day, Mar. 11, at 10 a.m. EST, CPT Iraq learned that Tom's body was still at the Anaconda base at Balat. The U.S. Embassy arranged for Beth Pyles, a member of the CPT Iraq team, to travel to Anaconda, and she was able to keep vigil with Tom for the next 36 hours until his departure. Meanwhile, CPT members Rich Meyer and Anne Montgomery travelled to Dover, and have been in the vicinity since 5 p.m. Mar. 11, keeping vigil and awaiting Tom's arrival.

Pyles was present on the tarmac at Anaconda as Tom's coffin was loaded onto the plane for Dover. She reported that his coffin was draped in a U.S. flag. This is unusual for a civilian, but Tom may not have been uncomfortable with this since he had always called his nation to live out the high ideals which it professed. Iraqi detainees who die in U.S custody are also transported to Dover for autopsies and forensics. On this plane, right beside Tom's coffin, was the coffin of an Iraqi detainee. So Tom accompanied an Iraqi detainee in death, just as he had done so often in life.

At Tom's departure, Pyles read out from the gospel of John, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it" (1:5). In honour of Tom's Iraqi companion, she spoke the words called out repeatedly from the mosques of Baghdad during the Shock and Awe bombing campaign in March 2003, "allah akhbar" (God is greater). She concluded the sending with words from the Jewish scriptures, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).

Dawn broke. The contingent of Puerto Rican soldiers nearby saluted. The plane taxied away. Venus, the morning star, shone brightly overhead as the night faded away. Godspeed you, Tom, on your final journey home to your family and friends.

Doug Pritchard is a co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

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Remembering Tom Fox
by Celeste Kennel-Shank

Some said they wanted revenge. Others said they were trying to forgive those who took his life. Others came to pay tribute to their friend and colleague.

In a discussion led by Tom Fox's colleagues and professors from Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding on Saturday night in Washington, D.C., participants pondered peace issues, response to Fox's death, and the possibility of reconciliation with those labeled enemies.

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Reflections from Christian Peacemaker Teams

We mourn the loss of Tom Fox CPT statement

'Why are we here?' Most recent reflection by Tom Fox before his abduction

'Dikes that are overflowing, not with water, but with blood' by CPTer Michele Naar Obed

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Juan Cole

Juan Cole is
Professor of History at the University of Michigan
Juan Cole
Quran Quote of the Day on Peace
The Muslims say "hello" with the phrase "as-Salamu `alaykum"-- "peace be upon you." Once the pagan, polytheistic Meccan tribes started attacking the Muslims and trying to wipe them out, the question was raised of how to repond when a pagan not connected to the Meccans greeted a Muslim. The instinct was to refuse to accept the sincerity of the greeting, "peace be upon you," which was also a pledge of non-violence toward the person greeted. That tendency was reinforced by greed, since if the Muslims fought these pagan strangers and won, they would legitimately be able to demand loot from them. (This was a tribal, often nomadic society, and that was the custom when tribes raided each other).The Quran settles this dilemma. It says that Muslims are not to taunt pagans who greet them with "peace be upon you" by shouting, "You're not a Muslim!" They are to accept the sincerity of the greeting, and are not to get so greedy for spoils that they let it affect their judgment of others. When you are offered peace, take it.

Quran 4:94:. . . Do not say to one who offers you peace, "You are not a believer," seeking the spoils of this life. For God has abundant treasure. You used to be like them, after all, and then God blessed you.

Neither 4:94, nor 4:90, quoted on Friday, imply that pagans must give up their paganism in order to be at peace with, and treated well by Muslims. Rather, the Quran takes a two-track approach. As a monotheistic scripture, it condemns idol worship and warns its practitioners of hell-fire in the afterlife. But as a matter of everyday, this-worldly practice, the Quran commands Muslims to live in peace with pagans who do not make war on them and who approach them in peace.This is the answer to the reader who asked about the Quran's attitude to atheists. The Quran condemns unbelief as spiritually wrong and as leading to perdition in the next life. But the Quran says Muslims should live in peace with nonviolent pagans in this world, if the pagans are inclined to coexistence with the Muslims.Readers asked me about the long list of militant verses collected by polemicists against Islam. The answer is that those verses refer to the Meccan power elite in the 620s AD, who were waging a determined military, political and economic war to defeat the Muslims holed up in nearby Medina, and wipe them and the new religion out. It is frankly dishonest to take a verse about, say, the battle of Badr against the militant Meccan pagans ("unbelievers") and imply that it refers to contemporary American Christians or American atheists for that matter. What was objectionable to the Quran in practical terms about the Meccan unbelievers was their murderousness toward Muslims, not their attachment to their star goddesses. Muslims are instructed to be nice to unbelievers who don't share that murderousness.Note that I am explicating the Quran itself. Later Muslim commentators have interpreted it in many ways, and much Muslim law and practice are based on later customs and traditions. I am here deploying the technique of the hermeneutical circle, using texts from the book to illuminate other texts from the book. This strategy makes sense because we don't have any works we can be sure are as early as, and contemporaneous with the Quran. The biographies of the Prophet were produced nearly two centuries later and more. Much later Quran interpretation was done by persons who lived in militaristic, feudal societies, or who lived in empires where Muslims were a ruling caste, and their interpretations were shaped by these circumstances. They also tended to lack the techniques of contextual and causal thinking typical of contemporary academic writing. The Quran was produced at a time when the Muslims were a small group, and persecuted by the richer and more powerful Meccan pagans, and the Quran is not picky about the beliefs of the friendly tribes willing to be at peace with the Muslims.
posted by Juan @ 3/12/2006 06:18:00 AM 4

Quran Quote of the Day on Peace
Speaking of the revealed scripture, the Quran, that book says:

[5:16] With it, God guides those who follow his good-pleasure to the paths of peace, and he delivers them out of darkness into the light, with his permission. He guides them unto the straight path.

posted by Juan @ 3/11/2006 06:25:00 AM 4

Quran Quote of the Day on Peace

The fourth chapter of the Quran, "Women," addressed the early Muslim community in Medina during the 620s, at a time when they were being attacked by the powerful pagan Meccans, who were trying to wipe them out. The Quran repeatedly commands the Muslims to defend themselves from these Meccan infidels and polytheists, who worshipped star goddesses (think Venus) and refused to permit the new monotheistic teachings of Muhammad. The Quran objects on spiritual grounds to the Meccans' polytheism, but it was only when the Meccans tried to ethnically cleanse the Muslims that it commanded them to fight back.

But there were non-Muslim, including pagan, tribes with whom the Muslims had reached peace treaties, with whom they were not at war. So the question arises-- what if a new non-Muslim tribe shows up in the area? Are the Muslims to treat them as enemies or not? Remember that they are pagans, or at least non-Muslims, and entering the war zone of Western Arabia. This is what the Quran says about pursuing warfare in these ambiguous circumstances:

[4:90] Exempt those who join a people with whom you have concluded a peace treaty, and those who come to you with hearts unwilling to fight you, nor to fight their relatives. Had God willed, he could have placed them in power over you and they would have made war on you. Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no way to go against them.

(Cole translation, influenced by several existing ones, but done from the Arabic text.)

The Quran lays down in 4:90 the rules governing such a situation. Muslims are not to fight tribes under these conditions:

1. If the new tribe joins up with a tribe in the area with which the Muslims are at peace, then the Muslims are to act peacefully toward the new one.

2. If the new tribe shows up in the region and lets the Muslims know that they have no desire to attack Medinah or the Muslims, then the Muslims are to act peacefully toward it. Some of these tribes may be related to the Muslim tribes of Medina, and that may be one reason they are inclined to peace. The inclination must be returned under these circumstances.

The Quran reminds the Muslims that they benefit from peace with the peaceful. If they had to fight all the tribes in Arabia, they might well be conquered. Returning peaceful intentions in kind is a sort of "social intelligence" that allowed Muslims to focus on the real threat, the profound hatred for them of the Meccans, while living at peace with the neutral Arabs.

The default in the Quran is therefore not aggressive warfare, something the book repeatedly condemns. Warfare is permitted in self-defense. But the default is to be at peace with those who are at peace with you.

posted by Juan @ 3/10/2006 06:24:00 AM 3

Juan Cole’s blog, where the above was posted is called “Informed Comment”:
Peace and Love in the Quran
A list of postings from Informed Comment on this subject.
Quran 25:63.
Quran 28:55
Quran 5:82.
Quran 4:90
Quran 4:94

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Jessie Wallace Hughan (1875-1955)

Jessie Wallace Hughan (Dec. 25, 1875-April 10, 1955)


by Jessie Wallace Hughan


We have hearkened thy bugle call
In the shrieking shell,
And we fling back the challenge all
To the gates of Hell,—
Not in the far-off years,
Now, while the whole world fears,
While the earth shakes under thy spears,
We defy thee, O Mars!

By the curse of a nation’s guilt
For their ruler’s gain,
by the pomp of an empire built
On the people’s pain,
By the brother’s blood men spill
At their master’s word and will, -
We will not go forth to kill.
We defy thee, O Mars!

By the lonely victory fought
On Calvary’s cross,
By the glory of Rome as naught
And her treasure dross,
By the freedom of man revealed,
By the faith of the martyrs sealed,
We may die, but we will not yield.
We defy thee, O Mars!

Thine is the lightening flame
And the power of the past.
Ours be the stainless name
And the Cause that shall last.
There is death in thy bolts arrayed,
But we challenge thee undismayed,
Unarmored and unafraid—
We defy thee, O Mars!

With apologies to Lewis Carroll

”You are bold, Uncle Samuel,” the young man said,
”And nobody threatens to shoot you,
Yet you walk down the street in a bullet-proof hat.
I ask, in this age, does it suit you?”

”In my youth,” said his father, “I wore without fear
A peaceful provincial old tile,
But the Germans are setting the fashions this year,
And this helmet’s the Kaiser’s own style.”

”You are bold,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And your neighbors are harmless and few.
But you’re building a fence with a burglar-proof door;
Don’t you think it may shut off the view?”

”In my youth,” said the sage, “I was reckless in folly,
But now I live back of a wall;
The fences in Europe have kept things so jolly,
I needn’t be worried at all.”

”You are bold,” said his son, “and I always have felt
that your temper was truly delectable,
Yet a dozen revolvers protrude from your belt,
do you think it looks really respectable?”

”In my youth,” he replied, “the commandments were rife,
But the sixth one has worn very thin;
The brave men thinks nothing of laying down life—
Of another—to save his own skin.”

”You are bold,” cried the youth, “and I’ve always agreed
You were one of the venturesome sort,
But you won’t take a chance till the risk’s guaranteed,
Do you think you are really a sport?”

”I have answered three questions: this isn’t a school,”
Said his uncle. “Go back to the farm.
It’s only a coward or Pacifist fool
Who dares be the first to disarm.”

More apologies to Lewis Carroll

The gunsmith and the armor trust
Were walking on the shore;
They wept like anything to see
The nations all at war—
”But if they keep it up,” they said,
”Our stocks will surely soar.”

”O workers, will you shoot with us?”
The gunsmith did beseech.
”A gentlemanly exercise
It pays us well to teach;
And since we love neutrality
We’ll give a gun to each.”

A million men from East and West
Came running with a bound
”We must defend our land,” they said,
”So many thieves are round”;
And this was odd, for none of them
Possessed a foot of ground.

”A pretext old,” the gunsmith told,
”But pretty sure to suit,
A flag insulted may afford
Our new commercial route,—
So if you’re ready, workers dear,
Let us begin to shoot.”

”But not at them,” the East declared,
Turning a little blue,
”After such friendship that would be
A dismal thing to do.”
”Now be prepared,” the gunsmith said,
”Before they fire on you.”

”And wait a bit,” the West replied,
”Before we shoot our brothers,
For some of them have wives at home,
And all of them have mothers.”
”Now hustle,” said the armor trust:
”They’re awful brutes, those others.”

”I weep for you,” the gunsmith said,
”I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Shells of the largest size;
With a Red Cross subscription list
He wiped his streaming eyes.

”Now, workers,” said the armor trust,
”You’ve nobly fought and bled;
Shall we go home to celebrate?”
But not a word was said,—
And this was hardly odd, because
They all of them were dead.

All poems copyright 1932 by Jessie Wallace Hughan. First appeared in The Challenge of Mars and Other Poems (1932). Reprinted by
with permission.

The second of three daughters, third of four children, Jessie was born in Brooklyn, New York to Margaret and Samuel Hughan. Her father was born in England to a Scottish family and came to New York in 1863. Her mother’s English, Scottish, and French heritage family had come to the United States in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Jessie, attended grammar school on Staten Island and then went on to Northfield Seminary in Massachusetts. She enrolled in Barnard College in 1894 and with three fellow students in 1898 founded the nationwide sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, whose mascot is the Panda bear, color is cardinal, flower is the Jacquiminot Rose, and gem is the ruby.
Jessie earned her A.B. in 1898 with the thesis “Recent Theories of Profits”, a forerunner of her 1932 poetry collection “The Challenge of Mars and Other Verses”. Her study of economics continued at Columbia University where she pursued the family interest in the single tax theory, and wrote a thesis entitled “The Place of Henry George in Economics” (1899) For her doctoral thesis she chose the subject of socialism and in 1907 became a socialist “by conviction and not merely by emotion”. In 1910 she received her Ph.D. for the dissertation “The Present Status of Socialism in America”.

Professional Life
Jessie began a teaching career at schools in Naugatuck, Connecticut and White Plains, New York. She went on to teach in Brooklyn, and a series of public high schools throughout New York. In the 1920’s she chaired the English Department at Textile High School and was then in charge of the Cooperative Annex. She did notable work as head of one of the most difficult “problem” high schools for girls. Her treatise “Studies in Personality for High Schools” is known for its insight. She retired from teaching in 1945. She had been an active member of the teachers union.

Political Candidacy
Jessie Hughan ran for public office several times starting in 1915 when she became candidate for Alderman in New York on the Socialist ticket. In 1918, she ran for Secretary of State. In 1920 she ran for Lieutenant Governor. She campaigned on the Socialist ticket for U.S. representative from New York several times: in 1922 (16th District), 1924 (17th District), 1928 (15th District), and 1934 (15th District). In 1926 she was a candidate for U.S. Senator from New York. She did not win any election, and had no illusions about her prospects. She believed that the Socialist vote was not a waste because it placed pressure on the winning party to grant some Socialist reforms.

Peace Work
After the beginning of World War I, Hughan with three other women founded the “Anti-Enlistment League”, whose object was to oppose military service. She became a charter member of the FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation), a Christian pacifist organization in 1915. Although she was warned in 1917 that her antiwar feelings might result in her dismissal from the school system, she persisted in her pacifist activities and formed, in 1922, a “Committee for Enrollment Against War”. The “Lusk Certificate of Character and Loyalty” had been denied to her for years because she had ADDED to her teachers oath of loyalty “This obedience being qualified always by dictates of conscience.” In 1923, with the support of members of the FOR, the Women’s Peace Union, and the Women’s Peace Society, Hughan founded the War Resisters League, the American Section of the War Resisters International, as a pacifist organization open to all persons regardless of their religious views. She ran the WRL for many years out of a desk in her living room; she was its secretary until 1945, and served on the executive committee until she passed away ten years later. She worked almost single-handedly to enlist both young Christians and young socialists, and spoke and wrote ceaselessly for the League.
The WRL membership pledge, which has remained essentially unchanged since its inception, reads: "The War Resisters League affirms that war is a crime against humanity. We therefore are determined not to support any kind of war, international or civil, and to strive non-violently for the removal of all causes of war."
In 1938 she helped found the United Pacifist Committee, a group that coordinated peace education and conscientious objectors. In 1940 she founded the Pacifist Teachers League. She was one of the first to take a stand against the government when Civilian Public Service Camps were established, where the objectors were forced to work without pay. Greatly bothered by rumors of Nazi plans for the destruction of Germany’s Jews during WWII, she pushed for immediate armistice and predicted that, without it, millions would be killed. After her death, the “Jessie Wallace Hughan Memorial Fund” was begun for publishing works to promote the cause of peace. She is one of thirty women from around the world quoted on the Pacifist Memorial in Washington, DC, where she is quoted on a plaque: "War, rather than any foreign state, is the supreme enemy of country and mankind. One day citizens will covet for this nation the prestige of being the first to escape the shackles of war."

Among her many articles, brochures, and treatises, her published writings include her Ph.D. thesis in 1911, The Facts of Socialism (1913), International Government (1923), and Pacifism and Invasion (1943) (which is included in Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, 2nd ed., eds., Robert L. Holmes and Barry L. Gan (Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2004). She also published a collection of poetry, The Challenge of Mars and Other Poems in 1932.

A study of international government,
Other Editions: Unknown Binding – 1923

The facts of socialism,
American socialism of the present day,
The present status of socialism in America
What is socialism?
Three decades of war resistance,
A preface to post-war
The beginnings of war resistance
Pacifism and invasion
Pacifism and invasion ; On duelling (A.J. Muste Memorial Institute essay series) (A.J. Muste Memorial Institute essay series)
Why not peace in 1944?
What about Spain?
If we should be invaded: Facing a fantastic hypothesis
The challenge of Mars, and other verses,

On her death John Haynes Holmes wrote. “Jessie Wallace Hughan stands in no need of eulogy. Her record through more than a half-century of time—her pamphlets, articles, books, and addresses at meetings, private and public, her mere presence as friend and counselor—these are and will long remain her own best tribute.”

“Jessie had no malice; she had all charity.”—Stella Perry 1955


Other References
Bennet, Scott H.; Radical pacifism and the general strike against war: Jessie Wallace Hughan, the founding of the War Resisters League, and the socialist origins of secular radical pacifism in America (Research report /Texas Transportation Institute)
Jessie Wallace Hughan: Woman of courage (AFOSR-TR)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

War Resisters League

WRL.GIF (4682 bytes)

When I was at Archbishop Molloy High School (from which I graduated in 1971), in Briarwood, Queens, New York, I was a Catholic pacifist. I held pretty heretical beliefs for a Catholic, and not just about pacifism. I had a lot of trouble with the idea of Jesus (peace be with him) as God. I could accept that he was inspired by God, holy as a human being can be, but not God. Jesus is to be followed, not worshipped. That was my theology. I was a high school kid. I also liked Kierkegaard a lot. My friends bought me about ten of his books for my birthday when I was sixteen or seventeen. Kierkegaard is passionate, troubled and his works put me in a strange mood of devotion, doubt and faith.
Since grammar school at Holy Child Jesus, I had become used to being one of the only kids in the class to be opposed to the Vietnam War. I learned this from my father. Over supper he would lecture us about the evils of war, and tell us that communists and Russians are human beings, not demons. He would criticize the Church, too, for equivocating on such issues. How can we support war and go to church on Sundays and sing, “They shall know we are Christians by our love”? he asked us. God bless him.
In high school I sporadically scraped together some savings to give to the 5th Avenue Peace Parade Committee, the War Resisters League, and to subscribe to Ramparts. I felt that I was a member of “the movement”, although too young to actively participate, except by going to an occasional demonstration. By sophomore year of high school I was wearing peace and moratorium buttons and a pin with the broken rifle insignia of the War Resisters League. My history teacher, Mr. Salmon, questioned me about my position on the war, and gently argued against my pacifism. I was in awe of Mr. Salmon’s erudition. He would quote Toynbee and tell stories about the private lives of European kings and queens. At the supper table, I would recount the day’s events at school for my parents, and took pride in my ability to defend myself in open discussion with my admired history professor.
My father, however, believed that opposition to the government and Church should be confined to private discussions in the family and among close friends, and cautioned me against getting a bad name for myself by public displays in school. The following night as I slept he took the peace buttons and War Resisters League pin from on top of my dresser and threw them away. I was crushed. I even searched the garbage can. My mother consoled me, telling me that my father just didn’t want me to get into any trouble.
When I turned 18, I applied for conscientious objector status. My application was rejected and I was classified A1, ready for combat. But then there were cutbacks in the number of draftees, and in the lottery used to pick who would be enlisted, I had a lucky number, and so, didn’t have to appeal the classification.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Anup Shah

High Military Expenditure in Some Places

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Table of contents for this page

This web page has the following sub-sections:

World Military Spending

Global military expenditure and arms trade form the largest spending in the world at over $950 billion in annual expenditure, as noted by the prestigous Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI), for 2003. Furthermore:

World military spending in 2003 increased by about 11 per cent in real terms. This is a remarkable rate of increase, even more so given that it was preceded by an increase of 6.5 per cent in 2002.

  • Over two years world military spending increased by 18 per cent in real terms, to reach $956 billion (in current dollars) in 2003.
  • High-income countries account for about 75 per cent of world military spending but only 16 per cent of world population.
  • The combined military spending of these countries was slightly higher than the aggregate foreign debt of all low-income countries and 10 times higher than their combined levels of official development assistance in 2001.
  • … There is a large gap between what countries are prepared to allocate for military means to provide security and maintain their global and regional power status, on the one hand, and to alleviate poverty and promote economic development, on the other.

The main reason for the increase in world military spending is the massive increase in the United States, which accounts for almost half of the world total…. In the absence of [appropriations for the new war on terror, and on Iraq], US military expenditure would still show a significant increase, but at a much slower rate, and world military spending would show a rise of 4 per cent rather than 11 per cent in 2003.

… While US military expenditure is set to continue to grow and will continue to propel world military spending, the pace is likely to fall back somewhat in the next few years. In the longer term it is doubtful whether current levels will be economically and politically sustainable.

Elisabeth Skons, Catalina Perdomo, Sam Perlo-Freeman and Petter Stalenheim, Military expenditure, Chapter 10, SPIRI Yearbook 2004, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, June 9, 2004

U.S. Military Spending

The United States, being the most formidable military power, it is worth looking at their spending.

The U.S. military budget request by the Bush Administration for Fiscal Year 2007 is $462.7 billion. (This includes the Defense Department budget, funding for the Department of Energy (which includes nuclear weapons) and “other” which the source does not define. It does not include other items such as money for the Afghan and Iraq wars—$50 billion for Fiscal Year 2007 and an extra $70 billion for FY 2006, on top of the $50 billion approved by Congress.)

These figures typically do not include combat figures, so 2001 onwards, the Afghan war, and 2003 onwards, the Iraq war costs are not in this budget. As of early 2006, Congress had already approved an additional funding total of $300 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Compared to the rest of the world, these numbers are indeed staggering.

In Context: U.S. Military Spending Versus Rest of the World

Consider the following:

The above sources compare the given fiscal year budget request with the latest figures for other countries, which are sometimes two years old. Still using those statistics for other countries, however, a comparison can be made here of the US Fiscal Year 2005 spending against other equivalent data:

  • The US military spending was almost two-fifths of the total.
  • The US military spending was almost 7 times larger than the Chinese budget, the second largest spender.
  • The US military budget was almost 29 times as large as the combined spending of the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) who spent $14.65 billion.
  • It was more than the combined spending of the next 14 nations.
  • The United States and its close allies accounted for some two thirds to three-quarters of all military spending, depending on who you count as close allies (typically NATO countries, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and South Korea)
  • The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together spent $139 billion, 30% of the U.S. military budget.

Some of the above statistics come from organizations such as the Center for Defense Information, and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. They often include a global comparison. The one for Fiscal Year 2007 has been produced as a graph here:

Military spending in 2005 ($ Billions, and percent of total)
CountryDollars (billions)% of totalRank

Source: U.S. Military Spending vs. the World, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, February 6, 2006


  • Figures are for latest year available, usually 2005. Expenditures are used in a few cases where official budgets are significantly lower than actual spending.
  • * 2004 Figure.
  • Source uses FY 2007 for US figure (and includes Iraq and Afghan spending). I have used 2005 to try and keep in line with other countries listed (but I have NOT included the Iraq and Afghan operations cost which would be another $75 billion).
  • Due to rounding, some percentages may appear as zero.

If you are viewing this table on another site, please see for further details.

United States420.743%1
United Kingdom51.15%4
Saudi Arabia21.32%9
South Korea20.72%10
North Korea*5.51%25

Compare the military spending with the entire budget of the United Nations:

The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $10 billion each year, or about $1.70 for each of the world’s inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is just a tiny fraction of the world’s military spending. Yet for nearly two decades, the UN has faced a debilitating financial crisis and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN’s voluntary funds. As of November 30, 2005, members arrears to the Regular Budget topped $695 million, of which the United States alone owed $587 million (84% of the regular budget).

UN Financial Crisis, Global Policy Forum (as of February 2006)

The UN was created after World War II with leading efforts by the United States and key allies.

Generally, compared to Cold War levels, the amount of military spending and expenditure in most nations has been reduced. For example, global military spending declined from $1.2 trillion in 1985 to $809 billion in 1998, though in 2005 has risen to almost one trillion. The United States’ spending, while reduced compared to the Cold War era, is still close to Cold War levels.

In 1997 alone, half of USA’s aid was related to military aid/trade—and most of that was to countries that are already wealthy, like Israel, or Turkey (which has often been one of the largest recipients of US military aid and has often been criticized for its human rights violations and crackdowns). Compare that to very poor countries like Sub-Saharan African nations that received very little aid.

During his 2000 election campaign, President George Bush had promised an an additional 45 billion dollars over nine years to the military budget. Yet, that increase was seen in just the Fiscal Year 2003 request alone. This large increase is attributed to the “War on Terror”.

Some regions around the world are also beginning to see an increase in spending. Especially in Asia.

For those hoping the world can decreaes its military spending, a research for SPIRI suggests that “while the invasion [of Iraq] may have served as warning to other states with weapons of mass destruction, it could have the reverse effect in that some states may see an increase in arsenals as the only way to prevent a forced regime change.”

In this new era, traditional military threats to the USA are fairly remote. All of their enemies, former enemies and even allies do not pose a military threat to the United States. For a while now, critics of large military spending have pointed out that most likely forms of threat to the United States would be through terrorist actions, rather than conventional warfare, and that the spending is still geared towards Cold War-type scenarios and other such conventional confrontations.

[T]he lion’s share of this money is not spent by the Pentagon on protecting American citizens. It goes to supporting U.S. military activities, including interventions, throughout the world. Were this budget and the organization it finances called the “Military Department,” then attitudes might be quite different. Americans are willing to pay for defense, but they would probably be much less willing to spend billions of dollars if the money were labeled “Foreign Military Operations.”

The Billions For “Defense” Jeopardize Our Safety, Center For Defense Information, March 9, 2000

And, of course, this will come from American tax payer money. Many studies and polls show that military spending is one of the last things on the minds of American people.

Furthermore, “national defense” category of federal spending in 1997, for example, amounted to 51% of the United States discretionary budget (the money the President/Administration and Congress have direct control over, and must decide and act to spend each year. This is different to mandatory spending, the money that is spent in compliance with existing laws, such as social secuity benefits, medicare, paying the interest on the national debt and so on). This has been similar in recent years too. For example,

  • For 2003
    • The total budget request for discretionary spending was $767 billion, of which 51.6% was the military budget — $396 billion.
    • The next two largest items were education and health, getting $52bn and $49bn dollars, (6.8% and 6.4% of discretionary budget) respectively.
  • For 2004
    • It is similar to the previous year.
    • The total budget request for discretionary spending was $782 billion, 51% of which was the military budget — $399 billion.
    • The next two largest items were education and health, getting $55bn and $49bn (7% and 6.3% of discretionary budget) respectively.
  • For 2005
    • It is also similar to previous years.
    • The total budget request for discretionary spending was $820 billion, 51% of which was the military budget — $421 billion.
    • The next two largest items were education and health, getting $60bn and $51bn (7% and 6.2% of discretionary budget) respectively.
  • For 2006
    • It is also similar to previous years.
    • The total budget request for discretionary spending is $840.5 billion, 52% of which is the military budget — $438.8 billion.
    • The next two largest items are education and health, getting $58.4bn and $51bn (6.9% and 6.1% of discretionary budget) respectively.
  • For 2007
    • It is also similar to previous years.
    • The total budget request for discretionary spending is $873 billion, 52.7% of which is the military budget — $460 billion.
    • The next two largest items are education and health, getting $56.8bn and $53.1bn (6.5% and 6.1% of discretionary budget) respectively.

For facts, statistics, research and news on US military spending, also visit the Center for Defense Information (CDI) web site. They have a section on US Military Spending.

But it is not just the U.S. military spending. In fact, as Jan Oberg argues, westerm militarism often overlaps with civilian functions affecting attitudes to militarism in general. As a result, when revelations come out that some Western militaries may have trained dictators and human rights violators, the justification given may be surprising, which we look at in the next page.

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