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U.S. Faith Leaders Call for Xmas Truce in Ukraine as Zelensky Visits D.C. Seeking More Arms & Money

Democracy Now 22 Dec 22,

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has wrapped up a one-day visit to Washington, D.C., where he called on the Biden administration and lawmakers to provide more military and financial aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. This was Zelensky’s first overseas trip in nearly a year, since the war began. Ahead of the trip, over 1,000 faith leaders in the United States called for a Christmas truce in Ukraine. For more on the war and hopes for peace, we speak with CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin, theologian Cornel West and Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, senior adviser to the Fellowship of Reconciliation……………………

AMY GOODMAN: During his speech to a joint session of Congress later in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said aid to Ukraine should be viewed as investment, not charity.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahead of President Zelensky’s trip to Washington, over a thousand faith leaders in the United States called for a Christmas truce in Ukraine. The signatories included the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Bishop William Barber and members of the Russian Orthodox Church. The letter was initiated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, CodePink and the National Council of Elders. The groups also released this short video featuring some of the signatories.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by three guests involved in this call by over a thousand faith leaders for a Christmas truce in Ukraine.- Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler….. Cornel West … Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink………………..

MEDEA BENJAMIN: We feel that this war is not going to be won on the battlefield. This is something that the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said. We see that the head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who has been so hawkish on this, was asked his greatest fear; he said, “Spinning out of control. If it goes wrong, it could go horribly wrong.” We see us no longer marching towards a nuclear Armageddon with their eyes closed; it’s with our eyes opened. There will not be a military victory. There must be negotiations.

And we don’t want the moral center questioning this war to be coming from people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Donald Trump or Tucker Carlson, who are the people now questioning this war. We want it to come from the moral center of this country. That means the faith-based community, who understands that we have to protect all of God’s creations and that our moral obligation is to stop the killing, stop the fighting, stop the war. And that’s why we have called for this Christmas truce.

CORNEL WEST: ……………………… we have to be willing to have a moral witness that keeps track of the organized greed, of the routinized hatred, of the manipulated fear and the chronic hypocrisy of the wounded Russian empire and the American empire, that is, of course, 800 — has 800 military troops units around the world and doesn’t want to be honest about its own role. We know that if there were missiles in Canada or Mexico or Venezuela or Cuba, the U.S. military would blow them to smithereens. So we have no moral authority when it comes to dealing with the gangster activity of Putin. We have American gangster activity in our military-industrial complex tied to the White House.

…………….. AMY GOODMAN: And, Reverend Graylan Hagler, if you can talk about what this truce would mean, as a minister in Washington, D.C., and senior adviser to the Fellowship of Conciliation? It seems that in the United States — this is unlike even the media in France, for example, and Germany — that negotiation is viewed as capitulation. In other places, it’s viewed as how to save the planet. But talk about what it would look like here and what your response was to yesterday’s joint session of Congress, to the plea that President Zelensky made, with his people under fire across Ukraine, what it means for President Biden to agree to send this Patriot missile system. Clearly, Zelensky, to laughter, has said he’ll be asking for more.

REV. GRAYLAN SCOTT HAGLER:………………………………………….. What we’re looking at is, in 1914, on Christmas Eve, in World War I, people came out of the trenches, combatants, and celebrated for a moment an atmosphere of peace. And we’re saying that that history is speaking to us right now and calling upon us right now to create an atmosphere where we can begin the road towards peace and reconciliation, because the issue is, is weapons are not going to take us there, and combatants are not going to take us there. It’s only when we sit down and say, “Enough is enough, and we need to reason from the heart and the spirit of justice.”

…………………..MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I think it’s important to understand that Angela Merkel, in her interview, also said, “Why would Putin ever trust the West in peace negotiations?” Basically, using those peace negotiations not to stop the inflow of weapons into Ukraine, but to start pouring them in even more. And so, there is no trust on any side at this point.

But there is a need for negotiations. Both sides have staked out their positions, maximalist positions on each side, Zelensky now saying they want every inch of Donbas and all of Crimea back, and the Russians saying they now control and owned these four regions of Ukraine that they can’t even control on the battlefield. But these are positions for negotiations. But the call for negotiations has to come from Biden. And it is not happening. We see that after he met with Macron, the head of France, Macron said there are legitimate security interests of Russia that have to be taken into account. So that all has to be dealt with at the peace table.

And so, what we are saying with this Christmas truce call is that let’s be realistic with the American people. We keep pouring more money. Now it will be another $45 billion that will be approved by the end of this week. That’s over $100 billion, without a year going by, that could have been used for so many essential needs here in this country, and instead poured into a war that is not winnable on the battlefield. 

So, we need to be honest about this. And that’s why we have this call for a Christmas truce. That’s why Reverend Barber will be giving a Christmas Eve sermon on the moral imperative of a truce. That’s why we’re having a week of protests, starting January 13th; February 19th, the Libertarian Party and the People’s Party calling for a protest in Washington, D.C.; March 8th, International Women’s Day, an international call of women to say, “Stop this war, and end all wars.” That’s what we need to do.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to two clips of President Biden. This was the joint news conference that he held with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday afternoon at the White House.

…………… (Biden – ) the United States is committed to ensuring that the brave Ukrainian people can continue, continue to defend their country against Russian aggressions as long as it takes.

AMY GOODMAN: And Biden went on to indicate he would let Zelensky set the timetable for any negotiated settlement with Russia.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It can succeed in the battlefield with our help, and the help of our European allies and others, so that if and when President Zelensky is ready to talk with the Russians, he will be able to succeed, as well, because he will have won on the battlefield……………………..

AMY GOODMAN: ………………………………….There’s also discussion that this moment that President Biden and President Zelensky have seized for Zelensky’s joint session of Congress address is right before the House changes hands to Republicans, because a number of Republicans — not clear if the House speaker will be McCarthy — are demanding that this money and weapons flow stop. How do you feel as a progressive antiwar activist — two things — being allied with far-right Republicans and, secondly, being called by some a Russian apologist?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: I feel that if I were in Russia, I would be in jail for protesting this war. I also feel terrible that my congresspeople in the Progressive Caucus were cowed and silenced. I think the 30 who signed on that letter, in their heart of hearts, probably believe that negotiations is the only way. And we have to pressure them more to come out and say that their original stance was right………………. So, it’s our job to put the pressure on our members of Congress, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, to come out with the only rational position right now.

The U.S., unfortunately, and the Biden administration, has been against negotiations, nixed the negotiations that were going on in late March, early April, and told the Ukrainians, basically, “You don’t have to negotiate, because we’re going to keep pouring more weapons in.” This is only helping the weapons companies, who actually were the sponsors of a reception at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on December 8th, brought to you by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. They are the ones who are getting rich in this. The Ukrainians are suffering. ………. …………………………………more https://www.democracynow.org/2022/12/22/christmas_truce_letter

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December 25, 2022 Posted by | politics, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Archbishop renews call for dialogue on ridding world of nuclear weapons

BY CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Albuquerque, N.M. — October 19, 2022,

The world still has not learned “the essential lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “the only way to eliminate the nuclear danger is through careful, universal, verifiable steps to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“It is the very nature of these weapons that the possession of any nuclear weapons is an existential danger to all,” he said. “And Pope Francis has been explicitly clear that ‘the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.'”

He renewed his call “for dialogue on the existential issue of eliminating nuclear weapons” and said New Mexico’s congressional delegation should help lead this dialogue,” given that the federal government spends billions in the state on weapons production while New Mexico “remains mired at the bottom of numerous socioeconomic indicators.”

st nuclear war Aug. 9, 2017. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)

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Albuquerque, N.M. — October 19, 2022

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The world still has not learned “the essential lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “the only way to eliminate the nuclear danger is through careful, universal, verifiable steps to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“It is the very nature of these weapons that the possession of any nuclear weapons is an existential danger to all,” he said. “And Pope Francis has been explicitly clear that ‘the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.'”

He renewed his call “for dialogue on the existential issue of eliminating nuclear weapons” and said New Mexico’s congressional delegation should help lead this dialogue,” given that the federal government spends billions in the state on weapons production while New Mexico “remains mired at the bottom of numerous socioeconomic indicators.”

Wester made the comments in an Oct. 14 reflection on the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “regarded as the closest that humanity has ever come to global nuclear annihilation,” he said.

A month earlier, he took his summons to begin meaningful conversations to achieve full nuclear disarmament to the annual United Nations prayer service in New York.

In August, he apologized for the atomic bombings of Japan in 1945 and to Indigenous New Mexicans, uranium miners and scientists suffering from ill health related to the nuclear weapons industry in the state.

He also released a pastoral letter Jan. 11: “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.”……………………..

“Robert McNamara, defense secretary under President Kennedy, said that we survived the Cuban Missile Crisis only by plain dumb luck,” Wester said. “In my own childhood, I had to practice the futile exercise of ‘duck and cover’ in school.”

“It deeply pains me to think of young boys and girls growing up today with renewed nuclear threats that should have been decisively dealt with and resolved 60 years ago,” he added.

st nuclear war Aug. 9, 2017. (CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters)

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Albuquerque, N.M. — October 19, 2022

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The world still has not learned “the essential lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “the only way to eliminate the nuclear danger is through careful, universal, verifiable steps to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“It is the very nature of these weapons that the possession of any nuclear weapons is an existential danger to all,” he said. “And Pope Francis has been explicitly clear that ‘the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.'”

He renewed his call “for dialogue on the existential issue of eliminating nuclear weapons” and said New Mexico’s congressional delegation should help lead this dialogue,” given that the federal government spends billions in the state on weapons production while New Mexico “remains mired at the bottom of numerous socioeconomic indicators.”

Wester made the comments in an Oct. 14 reflection on the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “regarded as the closest that humanity has ever come to global nuclear annihilation,” he said.

A month earlier, he took his summons to begin meaningful conversations to achieve full nuclear disarmament to the annual United Nations prayer service in New York.

In August, he apologized for the atomic bombings of Japan in 1945 and to Indigenous New Mexicans, uranium miners and scientists suffering from ill health related to the nuclear weapons industry in the state.

He also released a pastoral letter Jan. 11: “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.”

For 13 days in October 1962, President John F. Kennedy convened a small group of senior officials to debate how to address the newly discovered presence of Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, which is just 90 miles from the United States.

Some in the group wanted a military solution, such as an invasion or air strikes, and others sought a diplomatic solution to remove the missiles. The U.S. eventually agreed to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s offer to remove the Cuban missiles in exchange for the U.S. promising not to invade Cuba.

Now, 60 years later, President Joe Biden “is invoking that dreaded name of Armageddon to describe what could potentially occur in the crisis over Ukraine,” Wester said.

Biden was responding to suggestions by Russian President Vladimir Putin that possibly tactical nuclear weapons could be used in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“Robert McNamara, defense secretary under President Kennedy, said that we survived the Cuban Missile Crisis only by plain dumb luck,” Wester said. “In my own childhood, I had to practice the futile exercise of ‘duck and cover’ in school.”

“It deeply pains me to think of young boys and girls growing up today with renewed nuclear threats that should have been decisively dealt with and resolved 60 years ago,” he added.
 

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That the world’s nuclear weapons states “have no intention to honor their pledge to eliminate nuclear weapons,” he said, “is made abundantly clear yet again by the failure of the recent Review Conference of the (Nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty to make any progress whatsoever toward global nuclear disarmament.”

“Yet the U.S. and other nuclear weapons powers sternly denounce the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which the Vatican was the first nation-state to sign,” he said.

Wester said the nuclear powers’ alternative to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is investing “trillions of dollars … into so-called ‘modernization’ programs that will keep nuclear weapons forever.”

They “intentionally ignore” the treaty’s “50-year-old obligation to enter into serious negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament,” he added.

Investing in such modernization programs helps fuel “a new nuclear arms race” and “robs society of resources that could help humanity achieve its full potential” in many areas, including education, health care and addressing climate change, Wester said.

It will be “extremely hard work” to abolish nuclear weapons and have this “concretely verified,” he said, but humanity cannot “continue to survive with nuclear weapons.”…………

He said the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has “a special responsibility” to “help lead humanity toward nuclear weapons abolition.”

“More money is spent on nuclear weapons research and production in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe than any other diocese in the country because of the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories,” he explained.

Perhaps these labs provide “new verification technologies that could help underpin a future world free of nuclear weapons,” he suggested.

“Congress should have the courage to begin to help lead us toward a future world free of nuclear weapons,” Wester said. “In particular, I call upon the New Mexican congressional delegation to end their support for unneeded, exorbitantly expensive plutonium pit production for nuclear weapons.”

He said New Mexico’s congressional members tout expanding nuclear weapons production programs as jobs programs, but these federal dollars “appear to stay in privileged enclaves” of the state, he noted, while New Mexico has the most children living in poverty and declining per capita income relative to the other 49 states.  https://www.ncronline.org/news/archbishop-renews-call-dialogue-ridding-world-nuclear-weapons

October 19, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Vasily Arkhipov saved the world — Beyond Nuclear International

Russian refused a nuclear launch during Cuban Missile Crisis

Vasily Arkhipov saved the world — Beyond Nuclear International

Sixty years ago the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted and nuclear war came close

By Angelo Baracca 16 Oct 22,

On October 14, 1962, a U.S. U-2 spy plane flying over Cuba revealed that the Soviet Union was building ramps for the installation of missiles with nuclear warheads. President Kennedy immediately ordered a naval blockade of Cuba. The most serious crisis since the beginning of the Cold War began: for thirteen, endless, days the Soviet Union and the United States faced off against one another, coming close to war. The whole world waited with bated breath. And indeed, not only did we get close to World War III, but also to nuclear Armageddon! The reason that none of this came to pass was the cool-headedness of a Soviet captain, Vasily Arkhipov (and “perhaps” also, quite independently, of his American counterpart, William Bassett, although we have only a posthumous testimony).

Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, comparisons have been made from many quarters with that crisis 60 years ago: indeed there are not only a few commonalities, but also many points of difference. History is a great teacher, in fact it is the only guide we have for the present, but it is necessary to put it in context.

At that time, 15 years after the end of World War II (and the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki), there was no international agreement on arms control, much less on the nuclear arsenals that were becoming the focus of military confrontation between the two blocs. By about 1960, the U.S. had about 30,000 nuclear warheads, the USSR about 5,000, enough for total devastation: intercontinental missiles were in their infancy, and the USSR had only about 20 capable of reaching U.S. territory. Britain built their bomb in 1952; France in 1960 (in collaboration with Israel); China did not reach that point until 1964………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

another aspect to consider in assessing Washington’s behaviour back in 1962. Throughout the crisis, from October 14 to 28, the U.S. General Staff insisted on military action to eliminate the missile ramps before they became operational: little did they know that there were already 140 Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba!…………………………………………………………………………………….

It was on that fateful day on October 27, 1962, that a U.S. naval team spotted the B-59 submarine in international waters and began an all-out hunt to force it to surface. Tensions on board were sky-high. The Arctic Fleet’s submarine ventilation system malfunctioned in the Atlantic; the temperature inside the submarine rose to 45-50 degrees. Carbon dioxide levels also rose; the crew (78 members) were hardly able to breathe.

It was impossible to contact Moscow, and under pursuit of the Americans, the captain of the B-59, Savitsky, was convinced that war had broken out. He didn’t want to sink without a fight, so he decided to launch a nuclear warhead at the aircraft carrier. We will die too, but we will take them with us. The political officer agreed with the captain, but on the flagship B-59, Arkhipov’s consent was also needed; World War III, nuclear war, hung on his decision. And Arkhipov objected to, reasoned with and convinced the commander.

On October 27, the crisis was at its height. A U.S. U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba and another, over Russia, was almost intercepted. Kennedy negotiated for the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for a promise not to invade the island again (as the U.S. had done a year earlier by organizing the landing of Cuban counterrevolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs). The Soviet freighters turned back and on October 28 Khrushchev announced that he had ordered the removal of the missiles from Cuba.

Arkhipov convinced Commander Savitsky to surface the B-59; he refused U.S. fighter assistance and headed for Russia. His mission had failed.

Arkhipov continued to serve in the Soviet Navy; his role in having saved the world remaining unknown until shortly before his death in 1998 at age 72. His wife Olga recounted a few years later, “I was and always will be proud of my husband. He is the man who saved the world.” October 27 should be proclaimed Arkhipov day!

But there is another not insignificant aspect of the affair that became known only 50 years later. I pointed out that the deployment of nuclear missiles in foreign territories by Washington was being carried out secretly: and so they had also done in 1961 in Japan, in Okinawa, which Khrushchev clearly suspected, although their range could hit parts of China and not the USSR.

The Kennedy Tapes revealed that this was unknown to President Kennedy himself, elected in January 1961, and he was informed of it just as the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted. In any case, in his televised address on Oct. 22, 1962, a week after the crisis broke out, Kennedy had the impudence to say, “Our strategic missiles have never been transferred to the territory of another nation under a cloak of secrecy and deception.”

So it was not until 2015 that a testimony emerged from a serviceman named Bordne, serving in Okinawa, that on that very fateful night of October 27, his superior, William Bassett (deceased in 2011), received an order to launch the nuclear missiles, but he sensed something wrong in that order, stalled, asked for clarification, insisted twice, and finally received the counter order; stop everything!

So today we can tell this story. And it is very appropriate to remember it because things are no longer like that. With the objective of avoiding “human error” there has been a tendency to entrust nuclear weapons’ control to automation. The crucial problem is error, the high rate of false positives in predicting rare events. Unfortunately, the decision made by a machine will be irrevocable! Not only can machines make mistakes, but they can also be fooled by false signals. An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists last January commented, “If artificial intelligence controlled nuclear weapons we might all be dead!”

Today there can no longer be a man who has the authority, and the responsibility, to verify and contradict a nuclear alert, as even Colonel Stanislav Petrov did on 26 September 1983.

The parallel between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the resurgence of the nuclear nightmare is certainly evocative, but inadequate. With the 1962 agreement to withdraw Soviet missiles from Cuba, the U.S. granted in return something of fundamental importance to military balance: later on, in order to conceal the connection with the agreement reached with Moscow that October 28, 1962, the U.S. withdrew their missiles deployed in Turkey and Italy.

In recent years security in Europe has been compromised by NATO’s eastward extension: what concession could the US offer to restore it?

The parallel between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the resurgence of the nuclear nightmare is certainly evocative, but inadequate. With the 1962 agreement to withdraw Soviet missiles from Cuba, the U.S. granted in return something of fundamental importance to military balance: later on, in order to conceal the connection with the agreement reached with Moscow that October 28, 1962, the U.S. withdrew their missiles deployed in Turkey and Italy.

In recent years security in Europe has been compromised by NATO’s eastward extension: what concession could the US offer to restore it?  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2022/10/16/vasily-arkhipov-saved-the-world/

October 16, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Death by Nationalism?

The game may be almost over. more http://commonwonders.com/death-by-nationalism/ By Robert C. Koehler, 12 Oct 22,

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies put it this way:

“The irresolvable dilemma facing Western leaders is that this is a no-win situation. How can they militarily defeat Russia, when it possesses 6,000 nuclear warheads and its military doctrine explicitly states that it will use them before it will accept an existential military defeat?”

Neither side is willing to let go of its commitment: to protect, to expand, a piece of the whole planet, no matter what the cost. The game of conquest — the game of war, and all that comes with it, e.g., the dehumanization of most of humanity, the indifference to its toll on the planet itself — has been going on for thousands of years. It’s our “history.” Indeed, history is taught from war to war to war.

Wars — who wins, who loses — are the building blocks of who we are, and they have managed to consume the various counter-philosophies that crop up, such as religious belief in love and interconnectedness, and turn them into allies. Love thy enemy? Nah, that’s silly. Love isn’t possible until you defeat the devil. And, oh yeah, violence is morally neutral, as per St. Augustine and the “just war theory” he came up with sixteen hundred years ago (as I wrote about last week). This made things so convenient for would-be conquerors.

And that philosophy has hardened into reality: We’re number one! Our empire is better than yours! And humanity’s weaponry — its ability to fight and kill — has advanced, from clubs to spears to guns to . . . uh, nukes.

Slight problem! Nuclear weapons clarify a truth we have previously been able to ignore: The consequences of war and dehumanization always, always, always come home. There are no “nations,” except in our imagi-nations.

So are we stuck with all this power we’ve aligned against ourselves in defense of a falsehood? That seems to be the case, as the war in Ukraine continues and escalates, pushing itself (and all of us) closer to Armageddon. Much of the world is aware of the danger of this falsehood; we even have a global organization, the United Nations, that keeps trying to unite the world, but it has no power to force unity (or sanity) on the planet. The fate of all of us seems to be in the hands of a few leaders who actually possess nuclear weapons, and will use them if “necessary.”

And sometimes I fear the worst: that the only way such leaders will lose their power — to develop and maybe use their nukes — is for one or several of them to, oh my God, launch a nuclear war. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re a split-second decision away from such an occurrence. Seemingly, in the wake of such a war — if human life has survived and is able to begin rebuilding civilization — sanity and a sense of global wholeness might find its way to the core of the human social structure; and our collective thinking, having no other choice, will finally see beyond war and war preparation.

Let me drop the narrative at this point. I have no idea what’s going to happen, let alone what’s going to happen “next.” I can only reach into the depths of my soul and begin praying, you might say, to every God on this planet. Oh Lords, let humanity grow up before it kills itself.

And as I pray, who shows up but the French philosopher and political activist Simone Weil, who died in 1943, two years before the nuclear age birthed itself, but who knew something was deeply wrong. And of course much was already wrong. The Nazis controlled her country. She was able to flee France with her parents, but she died at age 34, apparently of a combination of tuberculosis and self-starvation.

But what she left behind in her writing is a precious pearl of awareness. Is it too late? Here’s where I drop to my knees.

“Weil,” wrote Christy Wampole in a New York Times op-ed three years ago, “saw in her historical moment a loss of a sense of scale, a creeping ineptitude in judgment and communication and, ultimately, a forfeiture of rational thought. She observed how political platforms being built upon words like ‘roots’ or ‘homeland’ could use more abstractions — like ‘the foreigner,’ ‘the immigrant,’ ‘the minority’ and ‘the refugee’ — to turn flesh-and-blood individuals into targets.”

No human being is an abstraction? Is this where the rebuilding starts?

And then a song started playing in my head, in my soul. The song is “Deportee,” written and sung by Woody Guthrie 75 years ago, after a plane crashed over California’s Los Gatos Canyon, killing 32 people — mostly Mexicans, being sent back to Mexico because they were either here “illegally” or their guest worker contracts had expired. Initially the media identified by name only the actual Americans who died (pilot, copilot, stewardess). The rest were simply deportees.

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees.”

What does this have to do with a Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, ongoing slaughter and nuclear powers at odds with each other in Ukraine, a world in endless and bloody conflict almost everywhere? I have no idea.

Except, maybe, this: If a nuclear war happens, everyone on the planet is no more than a deportee.

October 12, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Nuclear War and Moral Sanity

In a spiritual and moral sense, the world’s nuclear powers are the most underdeveloped nations—committed to maintaining power over, rather than power with, the rest of the planet. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/09/29/nuclear-war-and-moral-sanity ROBERT C. KOEHLER, September 29, 2022,

What does surrender look like in the world of geopolitics? To my mind, this gets pretty close:

“President Biden’s national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States had warned Russia that there would be ‘catastrophic consequences’ for the country if Moscow used nuclear weapons in its increasing desperation to hold on to territory in Ukraine.”

This is surrender in multiple directions, or so it seemed to me as I read these words the other day in the New York Times — surrender to the worst (the stupidest) of who we are, on the part not only of the growling superpowers on both sides of the conflict, who are apparently playing games with Armageddon, but also surrender on the part of the mainstream media, which has failed, yet again, to cover war in the context of a larger sanity.

Oops, darn that mushroom cloud!

Maintaining peace through militarism — us vs. them in which good guy wins and bad guy loses — has gotten blown up in the age of nukes. But for some reason any grasp of this remains politically marginal. In a world that has sliced itself into international borders, power remains a matter of dominance, or so the world’s leaders (and the media that covers them) continue, apparently, to believe.

Much of Planet Earth is moving beyond this glaringly lethal ignorance, but the most “powerful” nations on the planet remain spiritually underdeveloped. It’s the only way they can hold onto their power.

As a journalist, my impulse is to cry out to the media to do its job: to cover geopolitics, to cover war — Russian, American and all the rest — in a context larger than that declared by the national leaders who are caught up in it. The best the Times could do, at least in this particular story, was to cast Putin as an international “pariah” because, in threatening to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if necessary, he “broke the nuclear taboo for the first time in 77 years.”

In other words, it’s OK to possess nukes. You’re just not supposed to talk about them.

The larger context of this particular story would, it seems to me, include a perspective that transcends the thinking of both American and Russian leadership. Such a perspective would include the fact that most of the world’s nations, as well as the United Nations, have declared nuclear weapons . . . ahem . . . illegal.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans their use, development and actual possession, was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 2017 by a vote of 122-1 (the nine nations that possess nukes, along with most of the members of NATO, boycotted the vote). It has now been ratified by 68 countries, and signed by a total of 91.

“On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we reject the claim that nuclear disarmament is some impossible utopian dream.”

So said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres a few days ago, making a point that is globally crucial and by no means irrelevant to the looming disaster in Ukraine. For God’s sake, we have become a trans-national planet and the job of everyone — this includes world leaders, media, you, me — is to envision a trans-militarized world and continue evolving toward it.

“Eliminating these devices of death is not only possible, it is necessary,” Guterres said. “. . . we need a new vision for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.”

I repeat: We need a new vision! A “new vision for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.” A new vision of the meaning of geopolitics, the shortcomings of nationalism and national borders. A new vision of the nature of power. What if — at the highest levels of media and government — we saw “power” as a force that valued life?

Here are some words of Martin Luther King: “In a real sense all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.”

Let us consider the possibility that this isn’t just blather — that it’s actually true. Then what it means, at the deepest core of human existence, is that playing war — endlessly preparing to destroy part of ourselves — is suicidal behavior. National military budgets might as well be called suicide budgets. We have to start learning how to live without defining ourselves by our enemies. What if, at the very least, the media reported on war in this context, rather than in the context of good vs. evil, NATO vs. Putin?

As David Swanson pointed out at World Beyond War, both Russia and the United States “stand as rogue regimes outside the Landmines Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Arms Trade Treaty, and many others.” Neither country is party to the International Criminal Court or supports its rulings. And the U.S. and its allies violated any commitment to Russia, such as the eastward expansion of NATO, when the Cold War ended, making the present moment of nuclear uncertainty inevitable.

As I noted, the wealthiest and most militarily powerful nations on the planet are, in a spiritual — in a moral — sense, the world’s most underdeveloped nations, committed to maintaining power over, rather than power with, the rest of the planet. At the very least, the media shouldn’t give national leaders trapped in this commitment the final say in how to move forward.

And no matter what the danger, such leaders will not, of their own volition, give up their nations’ nuclear weapons. They cannot hear António Guterres, who, speaking in a larger sanity, points out: “Eliminating nuclear weapons would be the greatest gift we could bestow on future generations.”

October 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

After U.N. conference, nuclear disarmament advocates look to new strategies

Dennis Sadowski, Catholic Review, 11 Sept 22,

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Four weeks of debate — during a review conference for a treaty widely viewed as a cornerstone of nuclear disarmament — resulted in no consensus on how to move forward despite the efforts of the Holy See, disarmament advocates and non-nuclear nations

Russia blocked agreement on a final document late Aug. 26, the review conference’s final day, by objecting to paragraphs raising concerns about military activity around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The 10th Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at the United Nations headquarters in New York led to widespread consensus on numerous issues related to nuclear safety, but could not satisfy the Russian delegation’s objection even though the document did not mention Russia by name.

Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of international politics at The Catholic University of America, attended the conference as an expert consultant to the Holy See Mission at the U.N.

She told Catholic News Service that the Holy See’s participation in the review conference and its consistent voice in urging the world to abolish nuclear weapons was critical, especially at a time when fears remain that nuclear weapons may be introduced to the war in Ukraine

Early in the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country’s nuclear forces on alert, but has since backed off any suggestion that he would authorize the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

The review conference brought delegations from around the world to New York to discuss next steps toward fulfilling the treaty’s goal of the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons. Originally scheduled for 2020, it was delayed three times because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the treaty’s provisions is a requirement that parties to it “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

Disarmament advocates say that not enough has been done to achieve that goal…………………………………..

Maryann Cusimano Love also said that while the Russian objection was the main focus coming out of the meeting, the 35-page draft document offered numerous other steps related to nuclear safety, reducing nuclear arsenals and protecting human life that conference delegates can pursue going forward.

………………………………. the 65 states that have signed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, including the Holy See, released a statement voicing their disappointment over the outcome. They pledged their support for the treaty, saying it was a necessary step toward an eventual ban on nuclear weapons.

The ban treaty went into force in January 2021, but has not gained the support of any nuclear-armed nations.

Supporters of the ban treaty also expressed concern that the risk of the use of nuclear weapons in the world today remained high, “and the possibility of the catastrophic humanitarian impact … is looming ominously over us.”

“We are dismayed that this very fact has been used at the NPT review conference deliberations as reason against the urgently needed progress on nuclear disarmament, and to uphold an approach to security based on the fallacy of nuclear deterrence. This approach relies on the threat of the actual use of nuclear weapons and, hence, the risks of the destruction of countless lives, of societies, of nations, and of inflicting global catastrophic consequences,” the statement said…………………………………………… more https://catholicreview.org/after-u-n-conference-nuclear-disarmament-advocates-look-to-new-strategies/

September 19, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

John Queripel: The blind side to western wars and western war crimes

https://johnmenadue.com/john-queripel-the-blind-side-to-western-wars-and-western-war-crimes/, Pearls and Irritations, By P&I Guest Writers, Aug 22, 2022

The calls mount for the Russian leader to be dragged before a War Crimes Tribunal, while everyone from international sporting bodies to businesses and banks is busy sanctioning Russia. Yet, the three world leaders responsible for the illegal Iraq  war of 2003 have still not been held to account

One of the ideas, central to the thought of the Swiss founder of Analytical Psychology Carl Jung, was the shadow side. This is the side of our personalities we find unattractive which we, as a means of defence, then project onto others.

Jung asserted, it is not only individuals, but whole cultures, which are inclined to do this. Thus, in the years preceding the Nazi takeover, Jung spoke of Germany, caught in a cult of intellectualism, denying primal forces, projecting their unacknowledged dark side on to ‘the other.’ Of course, we know that the Nazis rose to power exploiting this projection of darkness to others, be they Communists, Romanies, Jews or homosexuals. The end of that journey was mass extermination in such places as Auschwitz.

It is very comforting but deeply dangerous to project our own darkness onto others, whom we then demonise. Currently most of those things, dark and evil in world politics, are being projected on to Russia, in particular their leader, Vladimir Putin, understood as ‘megalomaniac,’ ‘tyrant,’ and ‘war-monger.’ He may indeed be these things, but projection of these forces on to him saves us having to face up to their presence in ourselves.

The West, so vociferous in their criticism of Putin, cannot front up to the reality that it has been equally criminal in invading a sovereign state on concocted excuses. Unable to convince the U.N. Security Council, over what, even at the time, was a highly dubious claim that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction,’ which the then U.K. Prime Minister, Tony Blair claimed could reign down on British cities within 40 minutes, the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ chose to go to war.

The resultant destruction was horrendous. Though figures vary greatly, the highly reputable medical journal, ‘The Lancet’ estimated there were 654,965 excess deaths in Iraq from the time of the 2003 invasion to mid-2006 only. In that year, 2006 alone, the U.N. estimates the number of innocent civilians killed as totalling 34,452. The most potent image of the destruction wrought by that war is found in images of Fallujah after the allies had finished their bombing. Putin and the Russians still have a long way to go to reach that level of death and destruction.

The calls mount for the Russian leader to be dragged before a War Crimes Tribunal, while everyone from international sporting bodies to businesses and banks is busy sanctioning Russia. Yet, the three world leaders responsible for the illegal war of 2003 have still not been held to account. Nor were those bodies, now declaring their abhorrence to war, imposing sanctions against the Western nations guilty of the same aggressive invasion of a sovereign state. Having, trashed the ‘rules based international order,’ of which it so loves to speak, did the West not suspect that one like Putin would profit from such?

It is comforting to project one’s shadow side on another, but Jung asserted, it comes back to bite in a highly destructive way.

John Queripel is a Newcastle-based theologian, author, and social commentator 

August 22, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Macron that Ukrainian shelling of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant risks disaster

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his French counterpart Emmanuel
Macron that shelling of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power
plant in southern Ukraine, which he blamed on Kyiv, could result in a
large-scale disaster.

 Reuters 19th Aug 2022

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-says-putin-macron-hold-call-discuss-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant-russian-2022-08-19/

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Seventy-five years after the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan, we remain perched on the precipice of unparalleled catastrophe.

Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission.

The Lessons We Haven’t Learned, The Progressive Magazine, BY HELEN CALDICOTT, AUGUST 3, 2020

In truth, the U.S. Department of Defense is a misnomer; it is actually the Department of War, Death, and Suicide. Hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money are spent annually by corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation to create and build the most hideous weapons of destruction.

Brilliant people employed by these massive corporations, mostly men, are deploying their brainpower to devise better and more hideous ways of killing.  

”……………………………… What rained down on those two Japanese cities seventy-five years ago was destruction on a scale never seen before or since. People exposed within half a mile of the atomic fireball were seared to piles of smoking char in a fraction of a second as their internal organs boiled away. The small black bundles stuck to the streets and bridges and sidewalks of Hiroshima numbered in the thousands.

A little boy was reaching up to catch a red dragonfly with his hand against the blue sky when there was a blinding flash and he disappeared. He turned into gas and left his shadow behind on the pavement, a haunting relic later moved to the Hiroshima Museum. A woman was running while holding her baby; she and the baby were turned into a charcoal statue.

In all, about 120,000 people were killed immediately by the two bombs, and tens of thousands more died later due to radiation exposure.

In 1957, when I was eighteen, I read a book by Nevil Shute, an English novelist who ended up in Australia. On the Beach described how the city of Melbourne awaited a deadly cloud of radiation from a nuclear war that was triggered by an accident in the northern hemisphere, killing everything. Men drank their last gin and tonics in the Melbourne Club while the government dispensed cyanide capsules so parents could kill their children quickly to avoid the agonizing symptoms of radiation poisoning.

At the time, I was in medical school, where I learned about radiation biology—the classic experiments of Hermann J. Muller, who in the 1920s irradiated Drosophila fruit flies inducing genetic mutations and morphological abnormalities. Concurrently, the United States and the Soviet Union were testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, bombarding huge populations with radioactive fallout.

In my naiveté, I couldn’t understand what these men thought they were doing because the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation were well known in scientific circles. Madame Curie had died of aplastic anemia secondary to radium, an alpha emitter polluting her bones; her daughter died of leukemia, and many of the early radiologists who exposed themselves randomly to X-rays died from malignancies.

Einstein wrote: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Robert Oppenheimer, watching the world’s first nuclear explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945, muttered to himself, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

The scientists knew that they had discovered the seeds of human destruction.

In my naiveté, I couldn’t understand what these men thought they were doing because the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation were well known in scientific circles. Madame Curie had died of aplastic anemia secondary to radium, an alpha emitter polluting her bones; her daughter died of leukemia, and many of the early radiologists who exposed themselves randomly to X-rays died from malignancies.

Einstein wrote: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Robert Oppenheimer, watching the world’s first nuclear explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945, muttered to himself, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

The scientists knew that they had discovered the seeds of human destruction.

A nuclear “exchange” between these two superpowers would take little over one hour to complete. A twenty-megaton bomb (the equivalent of twenty million tons of TNT) would excavate a hole three-quarters of a mile wide and 800 feet deep, converting all buildings and people into radioactive fallout that would be shot up in the mushroom cloud. Within six miles in all directions every living thing would be vaporized. Twenty miles from the epicenter, huge fires would erupt, as winds of up to 500 miles per hour would suck people out of buildings and turn them into missiles traveling at 100 miles per hour. The fires would coalesce, incinerating much of the United States and causing most nuclear power plants to melt down, greatly exacerbating radioactive fallout.

Potentially billions of people would die hideously from acute radiation sickness, vomiting, and bleeding to death. As thick black radioactive smoke engulfed the stratosphere, the Earth would, over time, be plunged into another ice age—a “nuclear winter,” annihilating almost all living organisms.

Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission. Our planet is in the intensive care unit, approaching several terminal events.

Will we gradually burn and shrivel life on our wondrous Earth by emitting the ancient carbon stored over billions of years to drive our cars and power our industries, or will we end it suddenly by creating a global gas oven?

The International Energy Agency said recently that we only have six months left to avert the effects of global warming before it is too late. Earlier this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it’s ever been.

In truth, the U.S. Department of Defense is a misnomer; it is actually the Department of War, Death, and Suicide. Hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money are spent annually by corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation to create and build the most hideous weapons of destruction.

President Donald Trump is right when he says we need to make friends with the Russians, for it is Russian bombs that might well annihilate the United States. Indeed, we need to foster friendship with all nations and reinvest the trillions of dollars spent on war, killing, and death, saving the ecosphere by powering the world with renewable energy including solar, wind, and geothermal, and planting trillions of trees.

Such a move would also free up billions of dollars that could be reallocated to such purposes as providing free medical care for all U.S. citizens, along with free education, housing for the homeless, and care for those with mental illness.

The United States needs to rise to its full moral and spiritual height and lead the world to sanity and survival. I know this is possible because, in the 1980s, millions of wonderful people rose up, nationally and internationally, in opposition to the arms race and the Cold War.

But what is the present reality in the United States?

There are 450 Minuteman III missiles operational on the Great Plains—in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. In each missile silo are two missileers, who control and launch the missiles which contain one or two hydrogen bombs. Planes armed with hydrogen bombs stand ready to take off at any moment, and nuclear submarines silently plow the oceans ready to launch.

Both the United States and Russia have nuclear weapons targeted at military facilities and population centers. Nuclear war could happen at any time, by accident or design. The late Stephen Hawking warned in 2014 that artificial intelligence, now being deployed by the military, could become so autonomous that it could start a nuclear war by itself.

This threat is largely ignored by politicians and the mainstream media, who continue to practice psychic numbing as we stumble blindly toward our demise.

 How come the physicists, engineers, and military personnel who have laced the world with nuclear weapons ready to launch never factored into their equations the probability that an immature, petulant man-baby could hold the trigger for our destruction in his hands? https://progressive.org/magazine/the-lessons-we-havent-learned-caldicott/

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Connecting Toxic Memories: Hiroshima and Nuremberg

the NATO Three had the temerity to issue a joint statement expressing their total opposition to the approach taken by the so-called Ban Treaty (TPNW), declared it was their intention to continue to rely on nuclear weapons to meet their far-flung security needs broadly specified to include geopolitical deterrence, that is, not only is this weaponry not being limited to the defense of homelands but vital strategic concerns that could potentially arise anywhere on the planet. At present, this commitment to nuclearism is illustrated by the U.S. posture in response to the Ukraine War and the future of Taiwan, as well as by revealing refusal even to accept a No First Use framework of restraint.

What was most controversial about the [Nuremberg] trials was the failure to inquire into the violations of international criminal law by the winning side, which is why these tribunals, however conscientious their work, have been derided over the years as glaring instances of ‘victors’ justice.’

CounterPunch, BY RICHARD FALK, 12 Aug 22,

77 Years After Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Peace activists around the world often choose August 6th and 9th each year to grieve anew the human suffering and devastation caused by dropping atomic bombs on the undefended Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which lacked military significance. Among other things these atomic attacks were ‘geopolitical crimes’ of ultimate terror, with scant combat justification, and intended mainly as a warning to Soviet leaders not to defy the West in the peace diplomacy at the end of World War II.

These August dates marking the utter destruction of these two cities are treated as events giving rise to what has been widely known as the nuclear age. This awful beginning can never be forgotten or redeemed, although ever since the explosions in 1945 the solemnity of these occasions has been overshadowed outside of Japan by widespread fears that a nuclear war might occur at some point and a quiet rage continues to build around the world that the nuclear weapons states, above all the U.S., have stubbornly defiantly refused to take steps to fulfill pledges to seek a reliable path to nuclear disarmament in good faith.

This moral and political pledge became legally obligatory in Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (1970), a commitment affirmed unanimously in an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996. It has become clear that for the security establishments of the ‘NATO Three’ (U.S. France, UK) this disarmament commitment was never more than ‘a useful fiction’ that conveyed the sense that the non-nuclear states were being given something valuable and commensurate to the willingness to give up their conditional option to underpin national security by acquiring nuclear weapons (as Russia and China, as well as Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have done over the decades).

The non-nuclear Parties to the NPT  are not formally obliged to give up their option of acquiring nuclear weapons unconditionally.  Article 10 confers on all Parties to the NPT a right of withdrawal if “extraordinary events..have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country.” In practice, as Iran is finding out, this right of withdrawal gives way to the geopolitical priorities of an enforcement regime presided over by the United States. The so-called Jerusalem Declaration signed in July by U.S. and Israel leaders commits to using whatever military force is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weaponry.

NPT Review Conference at the UN

Currently the NPT Review Conference, postponed since 2020 because of COVID, at UN Headquarters in New York City, two significant contradictory developments dominated the scene. It was the first such meeting of NPT Parties since the Treaty of Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) came into force in early 2021. This treaty, a project of governments from the Global South in active coalition with Global Civil Society has drawn a bright line between the majority views of the peoples of the world and the security elites of these nine nuclear weapons states.

This impasse between the nuclear haves and have-nots amounts to an existential confirmation of ‘nuclear apartheid’ as the precarious and self-serving underpinning of global security unless and until the advocates TPNW muster enough strength and will to mount a real challenge to such a hegemonic and menacing concentration of unaccountable power and discretionary authority.

New Patterns of Geopolitical Rivalry Increase Risks of Nuclear War

The second notable development at the NPT Review Conference lent a sense of immediacy and urgency to what had become 77 years after Hiroshima a somewhat abstract concern is the Ukraine War, and its geopolitical spillover effect of heightening the perceived risks of the use of nuclear weaponry and even the danger of nuclear war. The U.S. has decided it is worth challenging Russia’s attack on Ukraine sufficiently to uphold its strategic logic that since the end of the Cold War the world has political space for one extraterritorial state, which became the sole supplier of global governance when it comes to the international security agenda. Among other things, unipolarity meant that Cold War Era mutual respect for territorial spheres of influence on the borders of Great Powers no longer are pillars of stable geopolitical coexistence. After the Soviet collapse in 1992 the U.S. has acted as if entitled to implement a Monroe Doctrine for the world. To make such a grandiose hegemonic political destiny credible it has shouldered the immense economic and strategic burdens that accompany the role, maintaining hundreds of foreign military bases and naval fleets in every ocean.

NATO’s insistence early in the Ukraine War on making Russia pay for its invasion by being again reduced to the normalcies of territorial sovereignty was undoubtedly intended to be a master class for the benefit of Russia, and especially China, in the geopolitics of the post-Cold War world. It also provided an occasion to send China, currently the more formidable adversary of the West, a message written with the blood of Ukrainian lives, that any show of force to regain control over Taiwan will be met an even more punitive response, including thinly veiled threats that pointedly refuse to rule out uses of nuclear weapons. Pentagon war games some months ago ominously showed that China would prevail in any military encounter in the South China Seas unless the U.S. was prepared to cross the nuclear threshold. This assessment should be affirming the renewed strategic relevance of nuclear weaponry. It has proven helpful in making the case for even larger military appropriations from Congress.

American diplomacy toward China has aggravated an already inflammatory context by some inexplicably provocative behavior in recent months. First came a gratuitous public pronouncement by Biden last May while in Asia to provide whatever military assistance was deemed necessary to protect Taiwan if under attack by China. And secondly, a totally destabilizing August visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi at a time of already high tensions. These provocations violated the spirit of the Shanghai Communique that was issued by China and the U.S. in 1972………………………………………………………………………………….

What was most controversial about the [Nuremberg] trials was the failure to inquire into the violations of international criminal law by the winning side, which is why these tribunals, however conscientious their work, have been derided over the years as glaring instances of ‘victors’ justice.’

My interest in the connections between Hiroshima and Nuremberg is somewhat different. The insensitivity of such a high profile signing of this agreement on August 8th establishing the Nuremberg Tribunal is appalling. It occurred during the very days of the atomic bombings, arguably the worst crime of World War II at least on a par with the Holocaust. It is more than insensitivity, it is moral numbness, which prepares political actors, whether states, empire, or leaders, to embrace past crimes and commit future crimes. It leads directly to such features of world order as a geopolitical right of exception at the UN by way of the veto and impunity with respect to accountability procedures. In effect, the UN is designed quite literally to give assurances that the most dangerous states, as of 1945, are jurisprudentially protected forever from any adverse Security Council decision as to criminal acts, at least within the UN System.

What is this slightly disguised feature of legality and legitimacy conveying to a curious observer? That law and accountability are relevant for propaganda and punishment against Great Power adversaries, and that the wrongs of victors in major wars are beyond scrutiny but those of the vanquished and weak are to be judged in what amounts to ‘show trials’ because of this core failure to treat equals equally.

There is yet something else to reflect upon. If August 8th had been a different day that of infamy because an English or American city had been targeted by a German atomic bomb and yet Germany still lost the war, the act and the weapon would have been criminalized at Nuremberg and by subsequent international action. We might not be still living with this weaponry if the perpetrators of those dreadful events of August 6th and 9th had been the losers in World War II, which makes the rightly celebrated defeat of fascism on balance a somewhat questionable long-term victory for humanity.

77 years later it seems worth pondering allow this long repressed relationship between Hiroshima and Nuremberg in the context of the recent irresponsible heightening of geopolitical tensions with Russia and China.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, Chair of Global law, Queen Mary University London, and Research Associate, Orfalea Center of Global Studies, UCSB.   https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/08/12/connecting-toxic-memories-hiroshima-and-nuremberg/

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, legal, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Archbishop Wester apologizes for harms caused by nuclear weapons industry

 Catholic News Service,  August 10, 2022

A New Mexico archbishop whose archdiocese is home to two major federal nuclear weapons research facilities and an Air Force base apologized for the atomic bombings of Japan and to Indigenous New Mexicans, uranium miners and scientists suffering from ill health related to the nuclear weapons industry.

Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe said the time has come for the world to fervently work to undertake the long process to achieve nuclear disarmament.

He made the comments in a homily during a Mass Aug. 9 marking the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan…………………..

He called on American and Japanese people to “drive the international will to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.”

The appeal follows the January release of his pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.” In it, he invited people in New Mexico in particular, but around the world as well to begin conversations on how to end the nuclear threat facing the planet.

Archbishop Wester said he believes the Santa Fe Archdiocese must lead the call for nuclear disarmament because it is where the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories are located. The labs conducts high-level weapons research and development.

The archbishop’s apology extended to other communities of people affected by research, development and manufacturing of nuclear weapons:

— Residents of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, where dozens of nuclear explosion tests were conducted from 1946 to 1958, drenching atolls with radiation.

— Native American communities in the Tularosa Basin of southeastern New Mexico near wear the first above-ground nuclear explosion was conducted.

— The 7,700 scientists and other lab workers who have filed claims with the government for serious illnesses linked to their work.

He called Tularosa Basin residents the “first nuclear victims.”

Radioactive fallout from the first atomic test explosion July 16, 1945, blanketed the basin. Residents have experienced high rates of cancer, including rare forms of the disease, according to numerous studies by health experts.

Archbishop Wester recognized the work of several members of Catholic parishes in the affected area who have seen family members die from cancer. He also pointed to their work for “just compensation” from the federal government for survivors and their families through the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

He also lamented plans by the federal government to spend up to $2 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize weapons and build new missiles, submarines and bombers to deliver them.

“This is nuclear weapons forever,” he said. “We are in a new nuclear arms race that is arguably more dangerous than the first.”………………………….

A Buddhist, Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, urged people to understand human suffering and to strive for “being peace” in the world.

She also encouraged each person to expand their “moral circle” and “practice radical inclusion” of all life on earth to understand the imperative of acting to eliminate nuclear weapons.

 https://catholicnews.com/archbishop-wester-apologizes-for-harms-caused-by-nuclear-weapons-industry/

August 9, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Archbishop Wester embarks on the long path to end the nuclear threat

In 2017 the Holy See became the first government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty entered into force in January 2021

.

Jul 14, 2022, by Dennis SadowskiCatholic News Service,

Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, thinks it’s time for serious conversations about how to achieve nuclear disarmament — not just for the United States but for all countries of the world.

And he’s trying to initiate such discussions, beginning in his own archdiocese, home of two national laboratories — Sandia and Los Alamos — where nuclear weapon research and development continues.

The archbishop hopes the pastoral letter he released in January, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament,” can be a starting point.

The document is the most recent and perhaps most heartfelt from a U.S. bishop seeking to end the nuclear arms race. His concern is that after decades in which arms control treaties led to reductions in nuclear armaments, a new arms race is already underway as the U.S. and Russia, the world’s primary nuclear powers, develop new weapons systems.

“I think we’ve been lulled into a false sense of complacency. I think it’s important as the archbishop of Santa Fe that I say something, that the archdiocese has a seat at the table on this discussion, because this is the birthplace of the nuclear bomb,” Wester told Catholic News Service…………………

His concern is that in any future nuclear exchange, however limited, Earth will never be the same and it’s likely the planet — and virtually all life — will be destroyed.

Pope Francis also had a role in Wester’s decision to issue the pastoral letter.

Throughout his papacy the pope has appealed to the world’s nine nuclear weapons-possessing nations to dismantle their arsenals for the good of humanity. In 2017 the Holy See became the first government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty entered into force in January 2021.

But it was the pope’s comments during a November 2019 visit to Hiroshima that stayed with Wester.

“The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago,” the pope said. “We will be judged on this.”…………………….. more  https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/archbishop-wester-embarks-long-path-end-nuclear-threat0

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Church stands against nuclear power in the Philippines

JUCA News, July 04, 2022

Renewable generation must double in the next few years if we are to save the nation from an economic meltdown

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga has spoken out against the revival of the Bataan nuclear power plant saying it would be a great danger to the people and the environment. The Philippine bishops’ conference stands against nuclear power also.

“The voice of our people is strongly, openly no,” he said. Bishop Santos claimed the danger would be greater than any possible benefit. The danger “heavily outweighs its benefits,” he told Radyo Veritas on June 3.

The bishop was reacting to news reports that the Philippines’ new president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to revive the nuclear power plant built by his father — the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

When former president Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order that allowed nuclear power plants to be considered as a source of electricity generation, a wave of concern swept through the minds and hearts of the security, environmental, medical, and renewable energy thinking community……………………

“The Diocese of Balanga has decided… [we] are against this [move] and this stand will not change.”

The gray-haired veterans of the anti-Bataan Nuclear Power Plant campaigns, such as famous campaigner Professor Roland Simbulan of Nuclear Free Philippines, will recall the hundreds of millions of dollars that were siphoned off the deal into the private accounts of Marcos cronies.

Had the nuclear plant been operational, the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption and the many earthquakes would have likely caused a nuclear disaster.  The real possibility of a nuclear accident is what rightly scares millions of people away from nuclear power as a source of electricity when there are many alternatives of renewable energy available.

Solar and wind farms, hydro dams, geothermal, and biomass are all available and at much lower cost in comparison to nuclear energy, coal, oil and gas imports.

According to a report by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the few existing renewable energy (RE) projects, especially solar and wind power have already saved the Philippines 4.04 billion pesos (about US$73 million).

Besides, renewable energy sources of electricity are free, thanks to nature. The wind blows, the sun shines and volcanic heat is always present for geothermal plants and delivered by nature without cost. They just need more investment and harnessing and they pose no danger………………………………………………………

The greatest challenge is the safe disposal of the deadly contaminated nuclear waste, which will last for thousands of years. The Philippine Department of Energy consultant proposes burying it on a remote island. For sure, the contamination will leech into the ocean and poison sea life and those who eat fish.

Pope Francis has encouraged everyone to use alternative ways to protect the environment and nuclear power is not one of them.

The future of the planet and humans is to stop burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, and stop global warming and accelerate the building of renewable energy projects……………   https://www.ucanews.com/news/church-stands-against-nuclear-power-in-the-philippines/97889

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

New Mexico, work for peace and well-being, not nuclear weapons

Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: Hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.

New Mexico, work for peace and well-being, not nuclear weapons,  https://www.abqjournal.com/2509231/new-mexico-work-for-peace-and-wellbeing-not-nuclear-weapons.html

BY THE MOST REVEREND JOHN C. WESTER / ARCHBISHOP OF SANTA FE
SUNDAY, JUNE 19TH, 2022 
 My Archdiocese is named Santa Fe for the “Holy Faith” of St. Francis, patron saint of the environment and tireless promoter of peace. Pope Francis took his papal name from that revered saint and has explicitly called for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Yet ironically, two of the nation’s three nuclear weapons labs – Los Alamos and Sandia – are located within the Archdiocese. That is why 40% of the DOE’s national nuclear weapons budget of $16.5 billion will be spent in New Mexico alone, double that of any other state. In addition, New Mexico has the largest repository of nuclear warheads in the United States, with up to 2,500 warheads held in reserve at the Kirtland AFB just south of the Albuquerque Sunport.

The New Mexico congressional delegation has always historically supported the nuclear weapons industry in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs. This needs to be critically examined and questioned, both morally and practically. Why is it that New Mexico consistently ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in key socio-economic indicators? Does the nuclear weapons industry really benefit New Mexicans as a whole? The facts indicate no.

For example, during the nearly 80 years the nuclear weapons industry has been in the Land of Enchantment, Census Bureau data show that New Mexico slipped in per capita income from 37th in 1959 to 49th in 2019. Last year U.S. News and World Report gave New Mexico a best-state-to-live-in ranking of third from the bottom and dead last in education. According to the N.M. Human Services Department, we have the highest percentage of seniors living in poverty and the second-highest rate of overall poverty, suicide and food insecurity among children. The Land of Enchantment was recently ranked 49th among all states in overall child well-being. Not coincidentally, New Mexico’s population is 63% people of color who disproportionately bear the negative impacts of poverty.

Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: Hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.

The Vatican itself has evolved from conditionally accepting nuclear weapons as necessary for “deterrence” to now declaring even their possession as immoral. This is because nuclear weapons indiscriminately kill everybody, and the nuclear powers have made zero progress toward the disarmament they promised to pursue in the 1970 NonProliferation Treaty. In fact, they are going backward with Russia’s current nuclear saber-rattling and the U.S.’ $1.7 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program. But in truth, neither country ever had just “deterrence.” Instead, they spent enormous sums on nuclear warfighting capabilities, which is why we have thousands of nuclear weapons instead of just the few hundred needed for only deterrence.

Given today’s increased dangers, I quote President Reagan, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then, would it not be better to do away with them entirely?” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “Rationality will not save us. … It was luck that prevented nuclear war.”

Let’s not count on our luck holding out – let’s abolish nuclear weapons as both President Reagan and Pope Francis have directed us toward. In turn, New Mexicans should direct their congressional representatives to lead us toward that promised land while encouraging life-affirming jobs instead.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pope Francis again says that the West provoked or failed to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pope Doubles Down On NATO-Ukraine Comments: Russian Invasion Was “Provoked” https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/pope-doubles-down-ukraine-war-comments-russian-invasion-was-provoked

BY TYLER DURDEN, WEDNESDAY, JUN 15, 2022 –
Pope Francis has doubled down on prior controversial statements suggesting the Russia-Ukraine conflict is largely NATO’s fault, asserting also that “war cannot be reduced to distinction between good guys and bad guys” – as the Vatican’s own headline to the interview reads.

In statements published Tuesday by the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, the Roman Catholic leaders said that the Russian invasion was “perhaps somehow provoked” while again saying there were signs that NATO had been “barking at the gates of Russia” in the run-up.

The pontiff still condemned what he called the “ferocity and cruelty of the Russian troops” while warning against a pure ‘good vs. evil’ fairytale narrative of the conflict.

Just like with his initial similar comments made at the start of May, these latest statements have triggered outrage among Western pundits who’ve called for escalating military support to Ukraine at the expense of dialogue with Moscow toward negotiating a settlement to end the war:

“We need to move away from the usual Little Red Riding Hood pattern, in that Little Red Riding Hood was good and the wolf was the bad one,” Francis said. “Something global is emerging and the elements are very much entwined.”

That’s when in the interview he provided more context to his early May statements on the war. He said that a couple months prior to the Feb.24 invasion, he met with a “wise” head of state – though Francis didn’t name him or her

“…a wise man who speaks little, a very wise man indeed … He told me that he was very worried about how Nato was moving. I asked him why, and he replied: ‘They are barking at the gates of Russia. They don’t understand that the Russians are imperial and can’t have any foreign power getting close to them.'”

“He concluded, ‘The situation could lead to war.’ This was his opinion. On 24 February, the war began. That head of state was able to read the signs of what was happening.”

He added: “We do not see the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was, perhaps, somehow either provoked or not prevented.”

The Pope also reiterated that the arms industry in the West is benefitting from the bloodshed: “I also note the interest in testing and selling weapons. It is very sad, but at the end of the day that is what is at stake,” he said in the interview.

Someone may say to me at this point: but you are pro-Putin! No, I am not. It would be simplistic and erroneous to say such a thing. I am simply against turning a complex situation into a distinction between good guys and bad guys, without considering the roots and self-interests, which are very complex. While we witness the ferocity and cruelty of Russian troops, we should not forget the problems, and seek to solve them,” he explained.

According to Vatican News, the pontiff additionally described that even beyond Ukraine-Russian, “the world is at war

“We see what is happening now in Ukraine in a certain way because it is closer to us and pricks our sensibilities more. But there are other countries far away—think of some parts of Africa, northern Nigeria, northern Congo—where war is ongoing and nobody cares. Think of Myanmar and the Rohingya. The world is at war. Today, for me, World War III has been declared.”

The last time he suggested the West is at least equally to blame for the unfolding Ukraine war, an avalanche of op-eds and condemnations were issued by US and Western officials suggesting that somehow liberal Pope Francis too has been ‘compromised’ by Putin (ironically a smear typically reserved for Trump or Republicans in general).

June 16, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | 1 Comment