Author: Oregon PeaceWorks

How Grassroots Activists Made Peace with North Korea Possible

SARAH FREEMAN-WOOLPERT – Among the most important developments for the peace movement in the last year is the formation of broad coalitions. According to international scholar-activist Simone Chun, 2018 marked “the first time we saw a formidable, sustaining coalition with major American peace activists and the Korean activist communities.” These coalitions have allowed actors to coordinate strategically in pushing for clear goals, like a formal declaration ending the Korean War and sustained diplomacy on a path to peace. These coalitions have also been key in elevating a range of voices, particularly those of Koreans, women and people of color, who have often been marginalized from the mainstream policy debates in Washington D.C.

Nuclear Industry Continues Trying to Minimize Nuclear Accidents

JOHN LAFORGE – he World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. Claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.

Safety Eroding Further in the US Nuclear Weapons Complex

ROBERT ALVAREZ – Though the Cold War is long over, the Energy Department’s antiquated, contractor-dominated management system—in which safety goal posts are easily moved behind closed doors—continues to endure and, in some cases, thrive. Without the meaningful oversight of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the nuclear weapons complex will predictably march back to a time, in the not-so-distant past, when public and worker safety was an afterthought—with serious consequences.

U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue, for Now

KEVIN MARTIN – On September 12, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially certified Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “…are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.” This is required to allow U.S. planes to continue refueling jets for the Saudi/UAE coalition, without which it could not keep dropping bombs on targets in Yemen. Secretary of Defense James Mattis concurred with Pompeo, though congressional legislation required only Pompeo’s say-so.

How a Detroit Community Overcomes a Lack of City Services

KEVON PAYNTER – Decades of economic and population decline, a depleted tax base, and critically underfunded city services have forced Southwest Detroiters to self-organize, establishing a local network of goods and services to fill in for missing city services. The result is a range of neighbor-to-neighbor efforts, like Detroiters Helping Each Other (DHEO), that seek to address broader needs that are going unmet by local government agencies.

National Campaign Emerges to Prevent Nuclear War

ROBERT DODGE – A national collaborative grassroots coalition to abolish nuclear weapons is rapidly emerging in this country. The effort called “Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War” started last fall after the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 122 nations with the U.S. and other nuclear nations boycotting.

Victory in Superdelegates Fight Means: Grassroots Can Win

NORMAN SOLOMAN – When members of the Democratic National Committee voted to take power away from themselves and other “superdelegates” — removing their leverage over the presidential nominating process — they took a big step toward heeding a sign that activists held outside their decisive meeting: “Democratic Party: Live Up to Your Name.”

Afghani Peace Activists Ask Us to Rethink War

DR. HAKIM (DR. TECK YOUNG, WEE) – It’s frustrating that whereas all human beings wish to live meaningful lives, we seem helpless in the face of a few individuals waging wars and exploiting our world. But we can each do something about this insensible status quo, as ordinary folk of the People’s Peace Movement ( PPM ) show us by taking one barefoot-step at a time, traveling to the Northern areas of Afghanistan to persuade fellow Afghans, whether they’re with ‘insurgent groups’ or with the U.S./NATO/Afghan forces, to stop fighting.

Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, and No One Is Talking About It

LEE CAMP – We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names. Once every 12 minutes.

Bipartisan Dysfunctionality Puts The World At Risk

POPULAR RESISTANCE – All of humanity is being put at risk by the duopoly of Democrats and Republicans opposition to dialogue with Russia. The combination of Russophobia and the Democratic Party’s compulsion to criticize Trump’s every action, even when he accidentally does something sensible, is preventing the two largest nuclear powers, with the two most advanced militaries in the world, from working together to create a safer and more secure world.

NATO: Time To Re-Examine An Alliance

CONN M. HALLINAN – It is finally time to re-think alliances. NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there is no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force. It is time NATO went the way of the Warsaw Pact and recognize that the old ways of thinking are not only outdated but also dangerous.

Curing Fascism

DAVID SWANSON – Fascism is a disease, a delusion, a toxic worldview. It’s encouraged and manipulated by propaganda. Its characteristics are numerous and to various degrees widespread and long-lasting.

Border Security: Wall vs. Principles

ROBERT KOEHLER – Consider the limited thinking that produces a concept such as “border security.” The essential assumption here is that the United States of America is primarily a physical container – three and a half million square miles of freedom and prosperity, whoopee, but the supply is limited. Sorry, have-nots, we don’t have room for you.

While Rome (and Most Everywhere Else) Burns: Climate Change Asserts Itself

MEL GURTOV – Every world leader who shrinks from directly addressing climate change through public and international policy is, to my mind, guilty of a crime against humanity. A harsh judgment? As I read scientists’ reports about just how fast the polar ice caps are melting, how quickly seas are rising, and how temperatures worldwide are making new records, I conclude that worsening environmental conditions are outrunning both scientific predictions and the ability to act in time. Inaction in such dire circumstances is inexcusable, and should be punishable, on behalf of humanity.

How Women Led a Peaceful Flotilla to Reclaim their Island from the Sri Lankan Navy

LISA FULLER – 100 Sri Lankan community members have permanently moved back to their navy-occupied island of Iranaitheevu. After a quarter century of displacement, they have begun to rebuild the long-neglected, war-ravaged town. Their success was not a result of luck, nor did the navy have a sudden change of heart. Instead, a group of women from the community had developed and implemented a nonviolent strategy that closely resembles techniques implemented by professional civilian peacekeepers in conflict zones across the world.

Which Is More Occupied, Crimea or Afghanistan?

DAVID SWANSON – I don’t propose comparing the horrors of the so-called longest U.S. war — as if the wars on Native Americans aren’t real — with World War II or Iraq. I propose comparing them with the people of Crimea voting to make their little piece of land part of Russia again. Which is more barbaric, immoral, illegal, destructive, and traumatic?

It’s a Miracle We Have Not Destroyed Ourselves Yet

KARY LOVE – Given we are still here, and the history of close calls, I concluded on the road to understanding the “Damascus” disaster, that only a loving god, watching out for drunkards and fools, can account for the many unexplainable “miracles” that have occurred along the way. As has been said, man has killed god, fortunately god is more merciful. Let us pray.

Russophobia Does Not Serve Our Self Interest

WINSLOW MYERS – With the executive branch demonstrably willing to gallop bareback off the established foreign policy reservation, the knee-jerk adversary of progressives for decades, the so-called “deep state,” with its reflexive fear of Russian totalitarian infiltration and its perpetuation of military dominance in all earthly spheres, may at least be providing a sorely needed element of restraint and integrity.

More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution

MATT WILKINS – The only thing worse than being lied to is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it’s true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it.

Trump’s Space Force: Military Profiteering’s Final Frontier

HARVEY WASSERMAN – The Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, has announced a new mission into the realm of martial excess. It is one is that will surely enrich the aerospace industry while spreading the global battlefield to a new dimension.

Trump is calling for the creation of a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military, to militarize the heavens.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space,” Trump told a meeting of the National Space Council in mid-June. “We must have American dominance in space.”

Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament

KATHY KELLY – In the state of Georgia’s Glynn County Detention Center, four activists await trial stemming from their nonviolent action, on April 4, 2018, at the Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay. In all, seven Catholic plowshares activists acted that day, aiming to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.” The Kings Bay is home port to six nuclear armed Trident ballistic missile submarines with the combined explosive power of over 9000 Hiroshima bombs.

Valuing Life More than Borders

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “We are people who believe in the worth of every human being,” Elizabeth Warren said the other day, and I wondered for a moment what life would be like if that were true. The more crucial question, however, is: How can we make it true?

Trump’s War on the Poor: An Impeachable Offense

MEL GURTOV – Were it not for the source, it would hardly be news to learn that the United States can’t take care of its most needy—that it may be the richest country, but it is also increasingly, appallingly, unequal in how its wealth and opportunities are shared. When the various dimensions of human security are examined, critics have long noted that the US falls short, whether in treatment of children, poverty rates, income gaps between rich and poor, or even life expectancy. All this has been amply documented in annual reports of the United Nations Development Programme.

What can be Learned from a Mass Shooting that didn’t Happen?

MICHAEL NAGLER – Nonviolence is spread out all around us, yet we so often fail to see how it can be used to stop some of today’s worst atrocities. Take school shootings, as just one example. It’s telling that the idea of arming teachers has been seriously debated in the media, while nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution remain largely unknown. That’s why the recent film “Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story” is so unique. It tells the true story of Antoinette Tuff, an elementary school accountant in Decatur, Georgia, who prevented a mass shooting in 2013 by talking would-be killer Michael Hill into putting down his assault weapon.

Trump’s Getting Us Ready to Fight a Nuclear War

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Although many people have criticized the bizarre nature of Donald Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea, his recent love fest with Kim Jong Un does have the potential to reduce the dangers posed by nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. Even so, buried far below the mass media coverage of the summit spectacle, the reality is that Trump―assisted by his military and civilian advisors―is busy getting the United States ready for nuclear war.

The Resistance Ramps Up as Pro-immigrant Direct Action Breaks Out Nationwide

L.A. KAUFMANN – Quite suddenly, over the last week or so, something crucial has shifted in the mood of the grassroots resistance to Donald Trump. You can time it, more or less, to the release of that devastating recording of migrant children weeping for their parents after having been ripped from their arms, or the widely circulated photographs of children being held in cages. The unfolding horror of Trump’s family separation policy, and his administration’s plans for indefinite immigrant detention, is galvanizing people to fight back in a way that hasn’t yet happened under this presidency — specifically, with mass direct action.

Why Are the Poor Patriotic?

DAVID SWANSON – We should be very grateful to Francesco Duina for his new book, Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country. He begins with the following dilemma. The poor in the United States are in many ways worse off than in other wealthy countries, but they are more patriotic than are the poor in those other countries and even more patriotic than are wealthier people in their own country. Their country is (among wealthy countries) tops in inequality, and bottoms in social support, and yet they overwhelmingly believe that the United States is “fundamentally better than other countries.” Why?