DAVID SOLEIL – What if instead of living in reactive fear of death, that we engaged in the pro-active, life-affirming love of building a caring community?
ROBERT HINDS – It is a false notion that peace can be won by ramping up for war. As America has been at war, one after another, peace is almost never achieved by this strategy. Peace generally comes from diplomacy and a willingness to put the needs of society above the desires of the elite.
WINSLOW MYERS – Another mass shooting in the U.S.; Russia attacking whomever it thinks most threatens Assad; the carnage across vast swaths of the Middle East, where a Hobbesian chaos reigns so complete that one can no longer tell the players apart enough to decide upon rational strategic policy—these disparate events are united by one primal cultural assumption: that humans murdering other humans represents an effective way to resolve conflicts.
KATHY KELLY – Before the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing in Iraq, a group of activists living in Baghdad would regularly go to city sites that were crucial for maintaining health and well-being in Baghdad. These sites included hospitals, electrical facilities, water purification plants, and schools. The activists would then string large vinyl banners between the trees outside these buildings that read: “To Bomb This Site Would Be A War Crime.” At the time, we encouraged people in U.S. cities to do the same, trying to build empathy for people trapped in Iraq, anticipating a terrible aerial bombing. Tragically, sadly, the banners must again condemn war crimes, this time echoing international outcry.
DAVID SWANSON – The accepted story in the United States of what’s happened in Syria is just that, a story told to make narrative sense of something completely un-understood.
ARNOLD OLIVER – More than five years ago a soldier named Bowe Bergdahl left his U.S. Army unit in Afghanistan. He was captured, imprisoned in brutal conditions for five years, and finally released in a prisoner exchange in 2014. The Army is now considering whether he should be court-martialed for desertion and other crimes. Bergdahl’s case needs to be understood, not only in terms of his actions, but also what is known about the psychology of war. What we have learned ought to give pause to those eager to send young people off to fight and die. To explain, let’s review some of the research on the psychological stressors relevant to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
GEORGE LAKEY – Does Japan have a security problem? Of course — to be a nation is to have a security problem. But real pragmatists ask for fresh alternatives to militarism.
STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – We’ve all heard of the Blue Helmets — the United Nations armed peacekeeping wing. But have you heard about the White Helmets, the unarmed peacekeeping and first responders in Syria? Seeing organized nonviolence in the midst of violent conflict is not expected and not often found, but it’s on the increase. There are Peace Brigades International, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Muslim Peacemaker Teams, and the White Helmets in Syria.
KEN BUTIGAN – It’s synchronistic that, the same week Pope Francis brought his message of peace, people and the planet to the United States, thousands of activists were dramatizing many of these same themes by taking to the streets in hundreds of cities for a culture of peace and nonviolence. It was a coincidence that Campaign Nonviolence’s second annual week of nonviolent actions took place during the pope’s visit. But the fact that both happened at the same time underscores the importance of two critical elements of nonviolent change: vision and action.
NICHOLAS J. S. DAVIES – For millions of victims of U.S. war crimes and for the future of our country and the world, whoever we elect as our next President must be ready on day one to start dismantling this infernal war machine and building a “permanent structure of peace,” on a firm foundation of humanity, diplomacy and a renewed U.S. commitment to the rule of international law.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The New York Times reported last week that U.S. soldiers still fighting the war in Afghanistan — 14 years on — are under orders to be “culturally sensitive” regarding different attitudes among our Afghan allies about, uh … the sexual abuse of children.
PRESS RELEASE – Peace car travels across the United States to present 100th peace “letter” to President Obama.
JOHN LAFORGE – Finally, after three years of legal wrangling and 24 months in jail and prison, a successful appeal decision has hinted at what a kangaroo Kabuki dance the trial was. Last May, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, voting two-to-one, threw out the “sabotage” convictions, declaring, “No rational jury could find that the defendants had that intent [sabotage] when they cut the fences… Nor could a rational jury find that the defendants had that intent when they engaged in the protest activities outside.” U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing for the majority said, “It takes more than bad publicity to injure the national defense.” The Appeals Court decision could have been challenged by the Justice Department with an appeal to all 23 judges of the 6th Circuit, but on June 22 the government threw in the towel.
MEL GURTOV – Several developments in China over the past few weeks have shown us a country quite different from the one often portrayed by outsiders—an emerging superpower, with global economic reach and ambitions to challenge American predominance, at least in Asia. The real China, the one most familiar to its citizens, faces serious, long-term problems at home. Therefore, President Obama can either press China hard on currency valuation, human rights, and cyberhacking, or he can engage in a dialogue of equals and pursue common ground on climate change, Iran, the South China Sea dispute, and North Korea. In choosing the latter course, Obama would be recognizing that Xi is plagued by domestic problems largely of his own making. US pressure on him now would not only be strongly resented; it would be quite counterproductive. Let the Chinese people determine the fate of what Xi Jinping calls the “China dream.”
THOMAS B. ETZEL – Contact Theory, a central tenet of peace building, was first developed in the 1950s by renowned researcher Gordon Allport, and is based on the belief that separation and unfamiliarity between conflicting groups can, and often does, breed negative attitudes such as stereotypes and prejudices which can potentially escalate into hostility and violence.