Saturday, May 20, 2006

Stop the Next War

In His Name, Exalted

My Lord, I know that there will soon be a day

When angels will come to bear my soul away,

Then if I am asked whether I’d rather stay,

In answer I’m certain of what I would say:

“Don’t leave me in this cruel world any more

Unless it would be to stop the next war.”

The wars of today aren’t like those of old

When face to face stood strong champions bold;

No cluster bombs fell and it was a shame

To let any harm come to the sick or the lame.

“Don’t leave me in this cruel world any longer

Unless I can stand up for peace a bit stronger.”

Come listen to me Christian, Muslim and Jew!

The one God we worship knows all that we do.

He knows of the violence the torture and rape;

He knows every sin whatever its shape.

“God don’t let us stay here to shed each others’ blood;

Don’t let us forget why You sent down the Flood.”

“If you can’t believe, at least try to be free,”

Some such words were spoken by Husayn ibn Ali u.

Don’t be a blockhead for the oil industry

Or the war profiteers— our neo-aristocracy.

“Don’t let this cruel world be a prison for us

Of oppression and greed, fear, terror and lust.”

Now, cycles of violence have spun out of control;

Our national leaders don’t have peace as their goal.

Our children play games with as much blood and gore

As has traumatized soldiers who’ve come back from real war.

“God, I don’t care to stay in a world that’s so cruel,

Won’t you bring forth the Mahdi u and sweet Jesus u to rule?”

The hour is approaching, my race is nearly run;

The evening light is fading with the silently sinking sun.

Praise God for His blessings, and for hearts filled with song,

And may He forgive us for all that we’ve done wrong.

“Don’t leave me in this cruel world all alone,

Come bear me away or send one of Your own.”

When our lives are over what will our descendents say,

That we fought to protect our interests in the most aggresive way?

Or that we sought to protect the innocent from suffering and pain?

And that divine mercy in our works was made plain?

“Don’t leave me, dear Lord, in this cruel world any more

Unless it would be to stop the next war.”

Hajj Muhammad Legenhausen


20 May 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Einstein considered himself a pacifist[22] and humanitarian,[23] and in later years, a committed democratic socialist. He once said, "I believe Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence for fighting for our cause, but by non-participation of anything you believe is evil." Einstein's views on other issues, including socialism, McCarthyism and racism, were controversial. In a 1949 article entitled "Why Socialism?",[24] Albert Einstein described the "predatory phase of human development", exemplified by a chaotic capitalist society, as a source of evil to be overcome. He disapproved of the totalitarian regimes in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, and argued in favor of a democratic socialist system which would combine a planned economy with a deep respect for human rights. Einstein was a co-founder of the liberal German Democratic Party and a member of the AFL-CIO-affiliated union the American Federation of Teachers.

Einstein was very much involved in the Civil Rights movement. He was a close friend of Paul Robeson for over 20 years. Einstein was a member of several civil rights groups (including the Princeton chapter of the NAACP) many of which were headed by Paul Robeson. He served as co-chair with Paul Robeson of the American Crusade to End Lynching. When W.E.B. DuBois was frivolously charged with being a communist spy during the McCarthy era while he was in his 80s, Einstein volunteered as a character witness in the case. The case was dismissed shortly after it was announced that he was to appear in that capacity. Einstein was quoted as saying that "racism is America's greatest disease".

The U.S. FBI kept a 1,427 page file on his activities and recommended that he be barred from immigrating to the United States under the Alien Exclusion Act, alleging that Einstein "believes in, advises, advocates, or teaches a doctrine which, in a legal sense, as held by the courts in other cases, 'would allow anarchy to stalk in unmolested' and result in 'government in name only'", among other charges. They also alleged that Einstein "was a member, sponsor, or affiliated with thirty-four communist fronts between 1937-1954" and "also served as honorary chairman for three communist organizations".[25] It should be noted that many of the documents in the file were submitted to the FBI, mainly by civilian political groups, and not actually written by FBI officials.

In 1939, Einstein signed a letter, written by Leó Szilárd, to President Roosevelt arguing that the United States should start funding research into the development of nuclear weapons.
In 1939, Einstein signed a letter, written by Leó Szilárd, to President Roosevelt arguing that the United States should start funding research into the development of nuclear weapons.

Einstein opposed tyrannical forms of government, and for this reason (and his Jewish background), opposed the Nazi regime and fled Germany shortly after it came to power. At the same time, Einstein's anarchist nephew Carl Einstein, who shared many of his views, was fighting the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Einstein initially favored construction of the atomic bomb, in order to ensure that Hitler did not do so first, and even sent a letter[26] to President Roosevelt (dated August 2, 1939, before World War II broke out, and probably written by Leó Szilárd) encouraging him to initiate a program to create a nuclear weapon. Roosevelt responded to this by setting up a committee for the investigation of using uranium as a weapon, which in a few years was superseded by the Manhattan Project.

After the war, though, Einstein lobbied for nuclear disarmament and a world government: "I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth—rocks!"[27]

Einstein was a supporter of Zionism. He supported Jewish settlement in Israel and was active in the establishment of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which published (1930) a volume titled About Zionism: Speeches and Lectures by Professor Albert Einstein, and to which Einstein bequeathed his papers. However, he opposed nationalism and expressed skepticism about whether a Jewish nation-state was the best solution. In later life, in 1952, he was offered the post of second president of the newly created state of Israel, but declined the offer, claiming that he lacked the necessary people skills. Einstein was disturbed by the violence taking place in Israel after the Second World War and expressed that he was disappointed with the Jewish Ultra-Nationalist Organization (Irgun and the Stern Gang). Nonetheless, Einstein remained deeply committed to the welfare of the Jewish state and the Jewish people for the rest of his life.

Albert Einstein was closely associated with plans for what the press called "a Jewish-sponsored non-quota university," from August 19, 1946, with the announcement of the formation of the Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, Inc. until June 22, 1947, when he withdrew support and barred the use of his name by the foundation. The university opened in 1948 as Brandeis University.

Einstein, along with Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell, fought against nuclear tests and bombs. As his last public act, and just days before his death, he signed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which led to the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. His letter to Russell read:

Dear Bertrand Russell,
Thank you for your letter of April 5. I am gladly willing to sign your excellent statement. I also agree with your choice of the prospective signers.
With kind regards, A. Einstein

Russell-Einstein Manifesto

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In the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft.
We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism.
Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.
We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it.
We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?
The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow.
No doubt in an H-bomb war great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated, the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs can gradually spread destruction over a very much wider area than had been supposed.
It is stated on very good authority that a bomb can now be manufactured which will be 2,500 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima. Such a bomb, if exploded near the ground or under water, sends radio-active particles into the upper air. They sink gradually and reach the surface of the earth in the form of a deadly dust or rain. It was this dust which infected the Japanese fishermen and their catch of fish. No one knows how widely such lethal radio-active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.
Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert's knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.
Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.
The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty. But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term "mankind" feels vague and abstract. People scarcely realize in imagination that the danger is to themselves and their children and their grandchildren, and not only to a dimly apprehended humanity. They can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue provided modern weapons are prohibited.
This hope is illusory. Whatever agreements not to use H-bombs had been reached in time of peace, they would no longer be considered binding in time of war, and both sides would set to work to manufacture H-bombs as soon as war broke out, for, if one side manufactured the bombs and the other did not, the side that manufactured them would inevitably be victorious.
Although an agreement to renounce nuclear weapons as part of a general reduction of armaments would not afford an ultimate solution, it would serve certain important purposes. First, any agreement between East and West is to the good in so far as it tends to diminish tension. Second, the abolition of thermo-nuclear weapons, if each side believed that the other had carried it out sincerely, would lessen the fear of a sudden attack in the style of Pearl Harbour, which at present keeps both sides in a state of nervous apprehension. We should, therefore, welcome such an agreement though only as a first step.
Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West.
There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.
We invite this Congress, and through it the scientists of the world and the general public, to subscribe to the following resolution:
"In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them."

Einstein Speaks on Nuclear Weapons and World Peace

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Einstein's voice -- on the Holocaust"Today, the physicists who participate in watching the most formidable and dangerous weapon of all time... cannot desist from warning and warning again: we cannot and should not slacken in our efforts to make the nations of the world and especially their governments aware of the unspeakable disaster they are certain to provoke unless they change their attitude towards each other and towards the task of shaping the future. We helped in creating this new weapon in order to prevent the enemies of mankind from achieving it ahead of us. Which, given the mentality of the Nazis, would have meant inconceivable destruction, and the enslavement of the rest of the world...

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"Large parts of the world are faced with starvation, while others are living in abundance. The nations were promised liberation and justice, but we have witnessed and are witnessing, even now, the sad spectacle of liberating armies firing into populations who want their independence and social equality, and supporting in those countries by force of arms, such parties and personalities as appear to be most suited to serve vested interests. Territorial questions and arguments of power, obsolete though they are, still prevail over the essential demands of common welfare and justice."

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Sound Credit: Voice of America Brodacast, December 10, 1945;
National Archives Control Number NNSM(s)-306-EN-8554
Image © Brown Brothers, Sterling, PA.
Previous:The Nuclear Age II

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Defusing Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Without War

April 19, 2006

The Fellowship of Reconciliation is troubled by the increasingly hostile and militant posture of the United States towards Iran, including talk of pre-emptive military action. Once again, a country that has not attacked anyone is being threatened with attack, possibly involving nuclear weapons. As a rationale, the U.S. administration claims to possess proof that the Iranian government’s effort to acquire nuclear technology is in fact a plan to produce nuclear weapons.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation abhors all war, particularly a pre-emptive war with a manufactured rationale. The war against Iraq is such a war, and it has proven disastrous, wreaking destruction and misery on Iraq, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 2,400 U.S. troops, and leaving the Middle East more unstable and volatile than ever before.

It is not certain that Iran will escalate its nuclear program beyond its stated purpose of providing nuclear power (which in itself is an unfortunate choice in this 20th anniversary year of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster). Even if it wished to, most experts maintain that it will be 5 to 10 years before Iran could produce a nuclear weapon. But the U.S. administration would have us think otherwise – as it did about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Most major powers, including U.S. allies, rightly favor ongoing diplomacy to resolve the nuclear issue. This approach is in keeping with FOR’s faith-based commitment to nonviolent resolution of conflict, and should be applauded. Sadly, the U.S. administration seems to place precious little faith in diplomacy, as it demonstrated in the case of Iraq, with such appalling consequences. With such a credibility deficit, any reason offered to justify a pre-emptive war against Iran should be treated with the greatest skepticism.

As bad as the war on Iraq has been, attacking Iran would be even more disastrous. It would cause a new wave of anti-American sentiment among Muslims and more militant operations against U.S. targets worldwide. Iran plays a leadership role for over 120 million Shiite Muslims, who are scattered in various Middle Eastern countries and elsewhere. Attacking the home of Shiite Islam would only heighten religious violence.

As an organization committed to building ties with the people of Iran, the Fellowship of Reconciliation believes that the best way to support the Iranian people in their quest for full democracy and global participation is through empowering civil society, promoting cultural exchange, and listening respectfully to Iranian needs and expectations. Bullying and bombs will not promote the kind of mutual respect and global peace we all seek. The United States should drop its bellicose attitude and try a non-military approach, in which respect for the humanity of the people of both nations is upheld.

The Iranian government, for its part, could work to establish this trust by avoiding some of the unhelpful rhetoric that has recently emanated from Tehran. A more constructive and compassionate tone, one that reflects the spirit of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and regional friendship, would go a long way towards building trust internationally. Iran is an ancient nation with a rich history and diverse religious and ethnic culture. The political language from Tehran should highlight the generous spirit of this civilization, a spirit that a recent FOR delegation to Iran experienced so warmly.

In the final analysis, the United States remains the owner of the biggest stockpile of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons worldwide. As such, it has no moral authority to force other nations to eschew nuclear power for fear they might develop nuclear weapons of their own. The FOR believes all nations, including the United States, should move toward a safer world by getting rid of their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. Only then will they have the moral right to encourage non-nuclear nations not to acquire them in the first place.

Contact: Hossein Alizadeh 845-358-4601

©2006 Fellowship of Reconciliation

Founding of the Fellowship

In 1914, an ecumenical conference was held in Switzerland by Christians seeking to prevent the outbreak of war in Europe. Before the conference ended, however, World War I had started and those present had to return to their respective countries. At a railroad station in Germany, two of the participants, Henry Hodgkin, an English Quaker, and Friedrich Sigmund-Schultze, a German Lutheran, pledged to find a way of working for peace even though their countries were at war. Out of this pledge Christians gathered in Cambridge, England in December 1914 to found the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The US FOR was founded one year later, in 1915.

The FOR has since become an interfaith and international movement with branches and groups in over 40 countries and on every continent. Today the membership of FOR includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and people of other faith traditions, as well as those with no formal religious affiliation.

Fellowship of Reconciliation
Leads 2nd Peace Mission to Iran

Despite the rise in tensions between the United States and Iran, and talk of sanctions or military intervention, the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s second interfaith peace delegation is now in Iran meeting with ordinary Iranians, and exchanging with them firsthand viewpoints on the relationship of their two countries.

The delegation, which has been in Iran since May 9 and returns May 20, is part of FOR’s ongoing commitment to working for peace, justice, and the nonviolent resolution of conflict.

Press Release

Delegation Reports

FOR's Iran program

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006)

On February 17, during one of worst blizzards in New York City's history, over 2000 people made their way to Lincoln Center for an evening called POEMS NOT FIT FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. On the stage of Avery Fisher Hall were some of the greatest poets in America. Among them was Stanley Kunitz. He read:

...My dear, is it too late for peace, too late
For men to gather at the wells to drink
The sweet water; too late for fellowship
And laughter at the forge; too late for us
To say, "let us be good to one another"?
The lamps go singly out; the valley sleeps;
I tend the last light shining on the farms
And keep for you the thought of love alive,
As scholars dungeoned in an ignorant age
Tended the embers of the Trojan fire.
Cities shall suffer siege and some shall fall,
But man's not taken. What the deep heart means,
Its message of the big, round, childish hand,
Its wonder, its simple lonely cry,
The bloodied envelope addressed to you,
Is history, that wide and mortal pang.

The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz , W.W. Norton & Co. 2000

Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. He attended Harvard College, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1926 and a master's degree in 1927. He served in the Army in World War II, after a request for conscientious objector status was denied.

Kunitz published his first book of poetry, Intellectual Things, in 1930. Fourteen years later, he published his second book, Passport to War. His recent books include: The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz (W. W. Norton, 2000); Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected (1995), which won the National Book Award; Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays (1985); The Poems of Stanley Kunitz, 1928-1978, which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Testing-Tree (1971); and Selected Poems, 1928-1958, which won the Pulitzer Prize. His work has been translated in numerous languages, including Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Macedonian, French, Japanese, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Stanley Kunitz

"Sometimes I feel ashamed that I've written so few poems on political themes, on the causes that agitate me," Kunitz says in "Reflections," a preface to his poems. "But then I remind myself that to choose to live as a poet in the modern superstate is in itself a political action." And in a brief lyric, "The System," he provides a timeless epigram on the villainy of the corrupt politicians in every age:

That pack of scoundrels

tumbling through the gate


as the Order of the State.

Mr. President,

In the name of humanity and common decency, the poets of “this nation of nations,” as Walt Whitman defined the country that we cherish, implore you not to launch a so-called “pre-emptive” strike against the subject people of Iraq. Have you reckoned with the consequences, the danger of inciting World War III?

When they shall paint our sockets gray
And light us like a stinking fuse,
Remember that we once could say,
Yesterday we had a world to lose.

Stanley Kunitz

In 1998 Stanley Kunitz received the Courage of Conscience Award from Peace Abbey.

In the prologue to the Peace Abbey film, Stonewalk, Kunitz asked the question:

"To whom can one pledge his allegiance except to the victims?"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who had attempted starting in 1858 to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
Anna Jarvis' daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, would of course have known of her mother's work, and the work of Julia Ward Howe. Much later, when her mother died, this second Anna Jarvis started her own crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in West Virginia in 1907 in the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday School. And from there the custom caught on ? spreading eventually to 45 states. Finally the holiday was declared officially by states beginning in 1912, and in 1914 the President, Woodrow Wilson, declared the first national Mother's Day.

In the tradition of women calling for a mother's day for peace, the following appeal has been issued by CodePink.

Mother's Day 2006: A Call for Peace!

  • For a schedule of events click here.

  • For more info to help you plan your trip to DC click here.

  • To see the schedule of teach-ins and workshops planned for Saturday evening and late-night, please click here.

  • Don't forget to check out the Rideshare and Housing resources for coming to Washington D.C.

  • Volunteer at the Vigil! Click here to sign up to volunteer.

  • To our 24-hour vigil in DC. Download the email friendly flyer here!

  • Listen to Randi Rhodes’ Public Service Announcement for Mother's Day

  • To our special fundraising event with Nina Utne, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Diane Wilson, Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Gael Murphy.
    12 MAY Friday 8:30-10:30PM - $50.00
    BUSBOYS AND POETS, 14th & V Street, NW
    Washington D.C. 20009/U Street Metro
    Click here to buy your ticket
  • Local CODEPINK groups are encouraged to send us reports on events, showcaseing their Mother's Day actions around the country. Click here to upload your photos and media coverage links! NOTE: this is for REPORTING back on events, not for listing upcoming events.
  • View Mother's Day actions around the country in this section!
  • And don't forget to check out the Mother's Day Blogs (see above link)!
  • Honor the Mothers of the Fallen. This Mother's Day (May 14th), many mothers will mark this occasion with a heavy heart. Thousands of mothers – including Cindy Sheehan – who have lost their children to the war in Iraq, will be descending on Washington, D.C. for a 24-hour vigil at the White House to honor the war dead and protest the war. What can you do? Send a Mother's Day rose to Washington, D.C., and let the mothers of fallen soliders know you stand with them – and against the war. Organic roses will be presented to the mothers and then tied to the fence outside the White House as a memorial to the dead and a call for peace. Click here to send your rose now!
  • Write a letter to Laura to ask her how she, as a mother, can continue to support a war that is leaving scores of American and Iraqi mothers bereft. Send your letters to We’ll deliver them en masse; we'll also take the most compelling letters and turn them into a book, “Letters to Laura.”

  • For more info about this project or to see sample letters click here.
  • Get your Mother a gift that fits your values and supports the work of CODEPINK. Check out the CODEPINK online store for ideas and special Mother's Day packages; for an even more special gift add your mom's name to the "My Mom Wants Peace" page.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Robert Strange McNamara

Robert Strange McNamara (born June 9, 1916) is an American business executive and a former United States Secretary of Defense. McNamara served as Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968. He resigned that position to become President of the World Bank (19681981).

Robert McNamara in 1964
Robert McNamara in 1964
The Fog of War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
Directed byErrol Morris
Produced byErrol Morris
StarringRobert McNamara
Distributed bySony Pictures
ReleasedDecember 19, 2003 (USA)
Running time95 min.
IMDb profile

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, is a documentary film directed by Errol Morris and released in December 2003. The film includes an original score by Philip Glass and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The term "fog of war", made popular by Carl von Clausewitz in his book On War in 1832, refers to the cloud of uncertainty that descends over a battlefield once fighting begins.


The film depicts the life of Robert Strange McNamara, United States Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968, through the use of archival footage, White House recordings, and most prominently, an interview of McNamara at the age of 85. The subject matter spans from McNamara's work as one of the "Whiz Kids" during World War II and at Ford to his involvement in the Vietnam War as the Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

In a 2004 appearance at UC Berkeley, Morris said that he was inspired to create the movie after reading McNamara's 2001 book (with James G. Blight), Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century. The entire webcast can be found at UC Berkeley News.

The concept of formulating the film into "11 lessons" comes from McNamara's 1996 book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. Morris creates the film's 11 lessons from various statements that McNamara uses throughout the interview (Morris interviewed McNamara for over 20 hours). The lessons lend structure to The Fog of War, but they are not explicitly McNamara's (at the aforementioned UC Berkeley event, McNamara contended that he did not agree with Morris's interpretations in all respects). After the completion of the film, McNamara responded to Morris by complementing the film's eleven lessons with ten more lessons of his own, which are included on the film's DVD.

When, at the Berkeley event, McNamara was pushed to apply his original lessons (from his 1996 book) to the US invasion of Iraq, he refused, arguing that former Secretaries of Defense should not comment on the policy of the current Secretary of Defense. McNamara suggested that other people were welcome to apply his lessons to Iraq if they wanted to, but that he would not explicitly do it, and noted that his lessons were more general than any particular military conflict (he had indeed written them some time before the Iraq war).

The film's eleven lessons

  1. Empathize with your enemy.
  2. Rationality will not save us.
  3. There's something beyond one's self.
  4. Maximize efficiency.
  5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
  6. Get the data.
  7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
  8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
  9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
  10. Never say never.
  11. You can't change human nature.

McNamara's additional ten lessons

These were written as a companion to the film and were included in the Special Features of the DVD.

  1. The human race will not eliminate war in this century but we can reduce war, the level of killing, by adhering to the principles of a just war, in particular of proportionality.
  2. The indefinite combinations of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will lead to the destruction of nations.
  3. We are the most powerful nation in the world - economically, politically, and militarily - and we are likely to remain so for decades ahead. But we are not omniscient. If we cannot persuade other nations with similar interests and similar values of the merits of the proposed use of that power, we should not proceed unilaterally except in the unlikely requirement to defend the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii.
  4. Moral principles are often ambiguous guides to foreign policy and defense policy, but surely we can agree that we should establish as a major goal of U.S. foreign policy and, indeed, of foreign policy across the globe : the avoidance in this century of the carnage--160 million dead--caused by conflict in the 20th century.
  5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health, and employment.
  6. Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head. Of course, they have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.
  7. President Kennedy believed a primary responsibility of a president--indeed "the" primary responsibility of a president--is to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.
  8. War is a blunt instrument by which to settle disputes between or within nations, and economic sanctions are rarely effective. Therefore, we should build a system of jurisprudence based on the International Court--that the U.S. has refused to support--which would hold individuals responsible for crimes against humanity.
  9. If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy--I don't mean "sympathy" but rather "understanding" to counter their attacks on us and the Western World.
  10. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the risk of mass destruction as a result of the breakdown of the Non-Proliferation Regime. We--the U.S. are contributing to that breakdown.

11 Lessons from Vietnam

The origin of the film's lesson concept, these eleven came from McNamara's book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam:

  1. We misjudged then — and we have since — the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries … and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.
  2. We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience … We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.
  3. We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.
  4. Our judgments of friend and foe alike reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.
  5. We failed then — and have since — to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces and doctrine…
  6. We failed as well to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.
  7. We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement … before we initiated the action.
  8. After the action got under way and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course … we did not fully explain what was happening and why we were doing what we did.
  9. We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.
  10. We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action … should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.
  11. We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions … At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.

Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.


Source: Globe and Mail, Jan. 24, 2004

See also

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

Sanford S. Elberg Lectures / Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Robert S. McNamara

See the 1996 interview with McNamara in text and video (RealPlayer) format.

Born in San Francisco on June 9, 1916, Mr. McNamara graduated from the University of California in 1937. In 1939 he received an MBA degree from Harvard, and in 1940 he returned to Harvard to become an instructor and later Assistant Professor of Business Administration. In 1943 he was commissioned a captain in the air force and served in the UK, India, China, and the Pacific. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and promoted to lieutenant colonel before going on inactive duty in April 1946.

Upon his discharge from the air force, McNamara joined the Ford Motor Company. He was elected as a director of the company in 1957, and president of the company in 1960. At the request of President-elect John F. Kennedy, McNamara agreed to serve as Secretary of Defense of the United States, a position he held from 1961 until 1968. He became president of the World Bank Group of Institutions in April of 1968, retiring in 1981.

Since his retirement, McNamara has served on a number of boards of directors for both corporations and non-profit associations. He writes and speaks on many topics including population and development, world hunger, the environment, East-West relations, nuclear arms, and his vision of our nation in the 21st century.

McNamara is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, and has received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (with Distinction), the Albert Einstein Peace Price, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Medal, and the Dag Hammarskjold Honorary Medal. He is author of The Essence of Security; One Hundred Countries, Two Billion Poeple; Out of the Cold; and In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam.

Continuing the discussions at lunch during the conference proceedings are: (L to R) ex-KGB officer Nikolai S. Leonov, National Security Archive staff member Svetlana Savranskaya, former U.S. Ambassador Raymond L. Garthoff, one-time Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy M. Kornienko, and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

50 ways

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day

Morand, photo of painting

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.

The heart of the movement was in Chicago, organized primarily by the anarchist International Working People's Association. Businesses and the state were terrified by the increasingly revolutionary character of the movement and prepared accordingly. The police and militia were increased in size and received new and powerful weapons financed by local business leaders. Chicago's Commercial Club purchased a $2000 machine gun for the Illinois National Guard to be used against strikers. Nevertheless, by May 1st, the movement had already won gains for many Chicago clothing cutters, shoemakers, and packing-house workers. But on May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality.

The meeting proceeded without incident, and by the time the last speaker was on the platform, the rainy gathering was already breaking up, with only a few hundred people remaining. It was then that 180 cops marched into the square and ordered the meeting to disperse. As the speakers climbed down from the platform, a bomb was thrown at the police, killing one and injuring seventy. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one worker and injuring many others.

Although it was never determined who threw the bomb, the incident was used as an excuse to attack the entire Left and labor movement. Police ransacked the homes and offices of suspected radicals, and hundreds were arrested without charge. Anarchists in particular were harassed, and eight of Chicago's most active were charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the Haymarket bombing. A kangaroo court found all eight guilty, despite a lack of evidence connecting any of them to the bomb-thrower (only one was even present at the meeting, and he was on the speakers' platform), and they were sentenced to die. Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer, and George Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison, The remaining three were finally pardoned in 1893.

from "May Day -- the Real Labor Day" by

May Day is still celebrated by socialists in Europe, for example:

Der SPD-Parteivorstand ruft alle Mitglieder der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands auf, sich an den Demonstrationen und Kundgebungen des Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes am 1. Mai 2006 zu beteiligen.

The anarchism of the Haymarket massacre is no longer a popular workers' movement. Nevertheless, anarchism continues to crop up in unlikely places. The stance of the anarchists on war and militarism has been based on opposition to government, and hence to government use of violence and force which is seen as especially harmful to people and oppressive. Historical anarchism has often been anti-religious, although there have been numerous exceptions.

See the wikipedia article Christian Anarchism.

Here is a wikipedia article on Anarchism and Islam.

Globally, anarchism has also grown in popularity and influence as part of the anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalisation movements.

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