Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brigadier General John Adams calls for Cuba to be taken off the list of countries sponsoring terrorism

From Granma,

WASHINGTON, March 22.—Influential U.S. Brigadier General John Adams has publicly stated that his country should remove Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism and end its counterproductive and hypocritical policy toward the island, PL reports.
"Cuban presence on the list damages U.S. credibility with almost all of our key allies and puts us at odds with every country in Latin America, who view the listing as capricious and politically motivated," Adams noted in an article also signed by Capitol Counsel David W. Jones, published in The Hill, a U.S. Congress publication.
Retired from active service since 2007 and with much influence in the upper echelons of the Pentagon, Adams accumulated more than 35 years of experience in military missions.
The former U.S. military representative to NATO added that U.S. policy is damaging the interests of businesses and workers by justifying an economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba, which is preventing the creation of new jobs.
He confirmed that after the Cold War, many people in the intelligence services came to the conclusion that Cuba was not a threat to U.S. national security.
Adams recalled State Department pronouncements in its 2009 and 2010 reports acknowledging that there is no evidence of financial support for terrorist organizations in Cuba and that the national government has publicly condemned acts of terrorism.
He argued, "U.S. policy cripples efforts to cooperate with Cuba on important American national security issues, including transnational human, drug and weapons smuggling, as well as environmental disasters."

Monday, March 26, 2012

'The Pope will visit Cuba - so what?' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

  Make no mistake: Benedict XVI and Cardinal Ortega are trying to gain new spaces for the Catholic Church, not for the Cuban people.  Of course, that raises new questions, such as why the Cuban government would cooperate with their agenda. It also raises even more worrying questions about the extent to which this Catholic recovery may have a negative impact on some of the most important milestones achieved by Cuba in the past years, especially a well-defined secular system of education, and ever more progressive policies on abortion, gay and lesbian rights, et cetera.
Ultimately, we will have to wait and see what transpires during and after the visit. In the meantime, one can only agree with Cuban writer Abel German, who recently put it better than anyone else when he said: "The Pope will visit Cuba - so what?"

Read the full article at Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"If President Obama really can arrange for, as he says, the “tides of war” to recede...

...he is still left with a big task, of seeing to it that the veterans and their families are better served in the treatment of the less visible wounds they carry. While the Veterans Administration has improved in the past decade on these issues, mental health and brain injury treatment are still inadequate, both for service people and Vets.
Americans in general should rethink our policy of perpetual war and constant foreign intervention, of war as a standing industry with lobbies and paid-for TV spokesmen, purveyed by all the US news networks to keep us hooked on foreign deployments. War should be rare and a last resort. One thing Panetta got right is that the UN Charter should govern it, so that we can finally put the crimes of the Axis behind us as we move into the 21st century. War should either be for self-defense after an attack, or it should be to preserve dire threats to international order as deemed by the UN Security Council. Otherwise, it is not just a problem of a rogue sergeant, or of a rogue base. It will increasingly be a problem of a rogue nation.

Juan Cole @  Informed Comment, thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A Petition:

Push the Swedes to Start Thinking About the 
Banality of the Nobel Peace Prize

Dear Members of Stockholm’s County Administrative Board:
The signers of this petition ... understand your Board has formally asked the Nobel Foundation to respond to allegations that the peace prize no longer reflects Nobel’s will that the purpose of the prize was to diminish the role of military power in international relations... “Nobel called it a prize for the champions of peace,…and it’s indisputable that (Nobel) had in mind the peace movement, the movement which is actively pursuing a new global order … where nations safely can drop national armaments.”

The undersigned non-profit peace organizations and activists base their endorsement of your inquiry on the following facts:

Alfred Nobel’s will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

After only a few years, however, a disastrous trend was begun of awarding the prize to government officials and political figures who had done more to promote war than peace. For instance in 1919, the Nobel “prize for peace” went to Woodrow Wilson who had needlessly dragged his own nation into the worst war yet seen; who had developed innovative war propaganda techniques, conscription techniques, and tools for suppressing dissent; who had used the U.S. military to brutal effect in the Caribbean and Latin America; who had agreed to a war-promoting settlement to the Great War; but who, in the war’s aftermath, promoted a “League of Nations” in the hopes of resolving disputes peacefully.

Although the Nobel peace prize came to be heavily, but by no means entirely, dominated by elected officials, yet some excellent award choices occurred in the ensuing years: that of Jane Addams as co-recipient in 1931, Norman Angell in 1933, and organizations, such as the Red Cross in 1944 (and again in 1963) and the American Friends Service Committee in 1947. It’s worth asking, however, why even more principled war opponents including Gandhi were never deemed worthy.

In 1953 the Nobel went to General George Marshall. In 1973 a co-laureate was none other than Henry Kissinger[*] and whatever their merits, these were major makers of war who would almost certainly have also won the Nobel War Prize, were there such a thing. This insanity competed, however, with the bestowing in other years of the prize on leaders who were not holders of high office, not necessarily born to wealth, and not only opponents of war but also advocates of the use of nonviolent resistance to violence and injustice. Thus the peace prize went in 1964 to Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1976 to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, in 1980 to Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, in 1983 to Lech Walesa, in 1984 to Desmond Tutu, in 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, in 1992 to Rigoberta Menchú Tum, etc.

The Kissinger style “peace” laureate, and the MLK type differed in that one was the path of peace activists who dedicated their careers to international fraternity and demilitarization and the other was the path of powerful figures and makers of war who had either shown some restraint in a particular instance or had appeared (accurately or not) to have acted on behalf of peace in a particular situation. Honoring both nonviolent human rights advocates and mass murderers has moved the prize away from advocacy for the elimination of standing armies and is at odds with the words in Nobel’s will as well as the early tradition of awarding the prize to true advocates of peace.

In 2006 and 2007, Muhammad Yunus and Al Gore took home peace prizes for work that, at best, bears only an indirect connection to peace.

Despite these previous examples of falling short of Nobel’s original intent in establishing the Peace Prize, at least from 1901 to 2008, no peace prize was given to anyone who had neither done nor even pretended to do anything significant for peace nor done any other good and significant thing that some people might believe would indirectly contribute to peace. That all changed in 2009 when US President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama had just been placed in a position of great power promising to expand the world’s largest military, to escalate a war, and to launch strikes into other nations without any war declarations. He showed up to collect his winnings and gave a speech justifying and praising war. His acceptance speech rejected a previous laureate’s (MLK’s) speech as too peaceful.

The 2009 Nobel Prize recipient, President Barack Obama, did not even attempt to earn his award as some had hoped but has instead followed through on his speech justifying and praising war. This hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed by many other people in the world, prompting 1980 Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel’s recent letter to the 2009 peace laureate bemoaning the fact that Obama is waging wars on behalf of the military industrial complex and “burying himself more and more in violence and devoured by the domination of power”. In addition to directly contradicting the terms of Alfred Nobel’s last will, the awarding of the world’s foremost peace prize to a militarist who states his intent to wage war, perniciously serves the opposite purpose.

We therefore commend your investigation of the betrayal of the award in order to re-establish criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize that is aligned with Nobel’s original intent. We also suggest your Board communicate with the Nobel Foundation urging them to rescind Obama’s award so that the Nobel Peace Prize does not serve to sugarcoat, obfuscate and enable more use of violence and military force, the exact opposite purpose for which it was created.
By davidswanson – Posted on 29 February 2012
Endorse as an organization.
Endorse as an individual.

*  Tom Lehrer, born April, 8, 1928.  American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician.   He had the last word on the Nobel Peace Prize way back in 1973:   "Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."
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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.