Remember this lady? May 11, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Europe, Genocide, History, Race, War.
Tags: historym, holocaust, irena sendler, nazis, nobel peace, roger hollander, second world war, warsaw ghetto, world war II
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Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out,
King: I Have a Dream. Obama: I Have a Drone. January 16, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, History, War.
Tags: Afghanistan War, anti-war, civilian casualties, civilian deaths, drone missiles, I have a dream, inaugural address, martin luther king, mlk, nobel peace, norman solomon, obama inaugartion, obama nobel, peace, roger hollander, war
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Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”
After his speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, King went on to take great risks as a passionate advocate for peace.
After his Inaugural speech in January 2009, Obama has pursued policies that epitomize King’s grim warning in 1967: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”
But Obama has not ignored King’s anti-war legacy. On the contrary, the president has gone out of his way to distort and belittle it.
In his eleventh month as president — while escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a process that tripled the American troop levels there — Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. In his speech, he cast aspersions on the peace advocacy of another Nobel Peace laureate: Martin Luther King Jr.
The president struck a respectful tone as he whetted the rhetorical knife before twisting. “I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naive — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King,” he said, just before swiftly implying that those two advocates of nonviolent direct action were, in fact, passive and naive. “I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people,” Obama added.
Moments later, he was straining to justify American warfare: past, present, future. “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” Obama said. “I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.”
Then came the jingo pitch: “Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.”
Crowing about the moral virtues of making war while accepting a peace prize might seem a bit odd, but Obama’s rhetoric was in sync with a key dictum from Orwell: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
Laboring to denigrate King’s anti-war past while boasting about Uncle Sam’s past (albeit acknowledging “mistakes,” a classic retrospective euphemism for carnage from the vantage point of perpetrators), Obama marshaled his oratory to foreshadow and justify the killing yet to come under his authority.
Two weeks before the start of Obama’s second term, the British daily The Guardian noted that “U.S. use of drones has soared during Obama’s time in office, with the White House authorizing attacks in at least four countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is estimated that the CIA and the U.S. military have undertaken more than 300 drone strikes and killed about 2,500 people.”
The newspaper reported that a former member of Obama’s “counter-terrorism group” during the 2008 campaign, Michael Boyle, says the White House is now understating the number of civilian deaths due to the drone strikes, with loosened standards for when and where to attack: “The consequences can be seen in the targeting of mosques or funeral processions that kill non-combatants and tear at the social fabric of the regions where they occur. No one really knows the number of deaths caused by drones in these distant, sometimes ungoverned, lands.”
Although Obama criticized the Bush-era “war on terror” several years ago, Boyle points out, President Obama “has been just as ruthless and indifferent to the rule of law as his predecessor.”
Boyle’s assessment — consistent with the conclusions of many other policy analysts — found the Obama administration’s use of drones is “encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent.”
In recent weeks, more than 50,000 Americans have signed a petition to Ban Weaponized Drones from the World. The petition says that “weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs or chemical weapons.” It calls for President Obama “to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his ‘kill list’ program regardless of the technology employed.”
Count on lofty rhetoric from the Inaugural podium. The spirit of Dr. King will be elsewhere.
Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. He co-chairs the national Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State“.
Lawyers: Bradley Manning Already Punished for Unproven Crimes November 26, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Civil Liberties, Constitution.
Tags: roger hollander, Iraq war, civilian casualties, solitary confinement, constitution, nobel peace, cruel and unusual, wikileaks, bradley manning, presumption of innocence
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Roger’s note: nothing much new in this post, but I think it is important for us not to forget Bradley Manning. Wouldn’t it be a genuine triumph for justice if he were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
24-year-old accused of releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks
Three months before Bradley Manning is scheduled to face a court martial, and more than two years after his arrest, lawyers for 24-year-old Army Private First Class say the intelligence analyst accused of releasing classified documents to Wikileaks has already been punished for yet unproven charges, including violation of the Espionage Act and aiding the enemy.
A rally outside the gates of Fort Meade on Dec. 17, 2011, to bring media awareness to the growing movement supporting PFC Bradley Manning. At front, left to right, are political spokespeople attorney Kevin Zeese, LGBTQ activist Lt. Dan Choi and retired US Diplomat Col Ann Wright. Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg joined the group of supporters at the hearing later in the week. (Photo: Bradley Manning Support Network via Flickr)
Manning is accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents which were published on Wikileaks that show the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists by a US Apache helicopter in Iraq, McClatchy reports.
The exposed Baghdad attack left 12 dead. In a video, the American helicopter crew can be heard laughing and referring to Iraqi dead as “dead bastards.”
Manning is also accused of sharing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs and a series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables, in violation of military regulations, which the website BradleyManning.org says “have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by US-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy.”
Earlier this month, Manning acknowledged that he was the source of the documents as “an act of conscience,” and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He faces 22 charges and is scheduled for a court martial in February 2013.
But from July 2010 to April 2011, Manning was held in solitary confinement at the US marine corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia.
The Baltimore Sun reports today that Manning’s lawyers allege that during that time:
Manning was held in ‘the functional equivalent of solitary confinement: ‘Confined to a six-by-eight-foot cell, with no window or natural light, for more than 23 and a half hours each day. He was awakened at 5 a.m. each morning and required to remain awake until 10 p.m., his lawyers say. He was not permitted to lie on his bed or lean against the cell wall. He was not allowed to exercise in his cell.
If guards found him asleep during five-minute checks, they awakened him.
Lawyers argue that such “egregious” treatment of an as-yet-untried suspect, despite testimony by psychiatrists who said he presented no risk to himself and that the treatment was causing him psychological harm, is illegal pretrial punishment and violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice and US Constitution.
The British government and Amnesty International spoke out against his treatment, with Amnesty International calling conditions “unnecessarily severe and amount(ing) to inhumane treatment by US authorities.”
“Manning has not been convicted of any offense, but military authorities appear to be using all available means to punish him while in detention,” the human rights group said. “This undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence.”
In July, UN torture investigator Juan Mendez accused the US government of harsh treatment of Manning that may amount to torture.
Since the Quantico brig was closed in December 2011, Manning has been in medium-security confinement in Fort Leavenworth, the Baltimore Sun reports.
McClatchy reports that Dwight H. Sullivan, a former Marine Corps attorney who now teaches military law at George Washington University, says military law allows for the dismissal of charges against a suspect who is found to have been punished before trial— but such cases are rare.
Manning may begin testifying as a witness in pre-trial hearings as soon as Tuesday. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Nobel Peace Prize Jury Under Investigation February 4, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Peace, War.
Tags: alfred nobel, fredrik heffermehl, nobel fooundation, nobel peace, obama novel, peace, peace prize, roger hollander, war
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Probe: Has Nobel Peace Prize Lost Its Way?
Today marks the 2012 deadline for nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, but as the prize committee meets this year to discuss what individual or group has “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,” they will be under heightened scrutiny to be sure their choice fulfills the original intent of its founder, Alfred Nobel.
The reason for the heightened pressure rests on an investigation by the Stockholm County Administrative Board of the committee’s recent choices prompted by ‘persistent complaints’ by author and peace researcher, Fredrik Heffermehl, and roundly criticized choices by the committee in recent years — most notably US President Barack Obama, a war commander governing over numerous military conflicts at the time he was awarded the auspicious “peace” prize in 2009.
* * *
Heffermehl, author of the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted and a Norwegian lawyer, argues that the Nobel committee has violated the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, which established the prize. He states that for decades, the parties in the Norwegian parliament have misused the Nobel committee seats to reward party veterans lacking insight in the peace ideas that Nobel wished to support. Heffermehl writes that over half of the awards since 1946 have not conformed with the intention of Nobel, who wished to change the international system in order to end wars and armaments.
Heffermehl said today:
The Swedish inquiry responds to a complaint against mismanagement that I lodged last month. The Nobel Foundation has been asked to comment in particular on the secret private diaries of former committee chair Gunnar Jahn which indicate that no attention is paid to the directives in Nobel´s will. These diaries, [which were published for the first time by Heffermehl] show that Jahn repeatedly protested in vain against awards that ignored the intentions of Nobel. The diaries clearly demonstrate that the Norwegian awarding Committee already 50 years ago ceased to pay any regard to Nobel and what he wanted.
The Norwegian Parliament had already then taken over the Nobel award and started using it as their own. I have now struggled for four years to have the committee respect the rights of the intended recipients, but I’ve found that in Norway there is no interest in Alfred Nobel and what he wanted.
The Swedish inquiry also encourages the Board of the Nobel Foundation to comment on an article by a member of the Nobel family, Michael Nobel, who in an article last month in Aftenposten said that Norway may be deprived of control over the prize if the mismanagement continues.
* * *
According to Reuters:
“Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?” -Fredrik Heffermehl
Sweden Questions Nobel Peace Prize Selection Basis
…In [Heffermehl's] view the last qualified peace prize winners were the United Nations and its then-secretary general, Kofi Annan, in 2001.
Heffermehl [...] won the ear of Stockholm County Administrative Board, whose duties extend to making sure the country’s 7,300 registered foundations fulfill the wishes of their dead benefactors.
“Mr. Heffermehl has a couple of good arguments,” Mikael Wiman, the board’s attorney, told Reuters after he sent a letter this week to the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation board seeking comment.
Heffermehl’s approval did not include Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who won the prize jointly in 2007 for their work on climate change, and certainly not to Barack Obama, who won the prize in 2009 for “extraordinary efforts” in international diplomacy.
“Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?” Heffermehl asked rhetorically.
* * *
The Associated Press reports this morning:
Nobel Peace Prize Jury Under Investigation
Nobel Peace Prize officials were facing a formal inquiry over accusations they have drifted away from the prize’s original selection criteria by choosing such winners as President Barack Obama, as the nomination deadline for the 2012 awards closed Wednesday. [...]
If the Stockholm County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations in Sweden’s capital, finds that prize founder Alfred Nobel’s will is not being honored, it has the authority to suspend award decisions going back three years — though that would be unlikely and unprecedented, said Mikael Wiman, a legal expert working for the county.
Obama won in 2009, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won in 2010, and last year the award was split between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.
Obama Wins Nobel War Prize June 25, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Peace, War.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan troops, Afghanistan War, anti-war, drone missiles, Iraq, Iraq war, libya, libya war, military resistance, nobel peace, obama nobel, obama war, pakistan, partriot act, peace, roger hollander, troop withdrawal, us military bases, war
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“The President Will Begin By Thanking Congressional Democrats
‘For Campaigning In 2006 On The Antiwar Agenda, And Then Turning Around
Once In Office And Funding The War They Claimed To Oppose’”
Obama Wins Nobel War Prize by Sandy K, Military Resistance Organization.
As the July 2011 deadline for Afghan troop withdrawal nears,
President Barack Obama is gearing up for another significant milestone,
the Nobel War Prize awards ceremony, which will be held in Oslo next
Obama has been selected as this year’s winner of the first inaugural
prize to commemorate the world leader who has “best advanced the goals
of war and militarization across the globe,” amongst a notable cast of
runners-up that includes NATO’s head Anders Fogn Rasmussen, China’s
premier Wen Jiabao, and former President George W. Bush.
The selection committee includes a host of venerable war-makers in
their own right, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah
Saleh, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi — each of whom will be honored in a
special category celebrating the “Leaders that Wage War on Their Own
Among Obama’s list of war accomplishments, the committee highlighted
Obama’s decision to double the number of troops and expand the number of
private contractors in Afghanistan, as well as his dramatic escalation
of drone strikes and targeted assassinations in Yemen and Pakistan.
According to one committee member, “Two years ago, we worried that
President Obama would rollback Bush administration policies and pursue a
peace agenda, but in fact he’s expanded the militaristic Bush approach
to counterterrorism. He’s managed to get the U.S. involved in three wars
in the Middle East, keep Guantanamo open, and dramatically expand the
use of covert CIA capture/kill operations across the globe. We could not
think of a more worthy candidate for this award.
” News this week that the CIA is building a secret military base in the Middle East had the committee buzzing with excitement.
One judge noted, “We applaud Obama for presiding over 865 military
bases abroad at a cost of over $102 billion annually. At a time when the
country is faltering from the economic crisis, Obama’s decision to
approve the construction of more bases deserves praise.”
Obama’s speechwriters are hard at work preparing his acceptance
remarks, and PolicyMic managed to obtain a preview of the speech from a
source inside the White House.
The president will begin by thanking congressional Democrats “for
campaigning in 2006 on the antiwar agenda, and then turning around once
in office and funding the war they claimed to oppose.”
He will also thank Congress for “stepping aside and allowing me to go
to war in Libya without Congressional approval and once again approving
the Patriot Act despite years of supposed opposition.”
Ceremony organizers carefully timed the event in order to nudge Obama
toward breaking his pledge to begin a significant troop withdrawal in
July — a course the president is strongly considering.
They are urging the president to permanently take the Nobel Peace
Prize down from his bookshelf and replace it with the war prize next
Extracted from Military Resistance, (formerly GI Special), the magazine of the Military Resistance Organization. See the next post for more information about the organization
Nobel peace drones April 22, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Libya, Pakistan, War.
Tags: civilian casualties, drone, drone missiles, glenn greenwald, libya, nobel peace, pakistan, roger hollander, war
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A U.S. drone attack in Pakistan killed 23 people this morning, and this is how The New York Times described that event in its headline and first paragraph:
When I saw that, I was going to ask how the NYT could possibly know that the people whose lives the U.S. just ended were “militants,” but then I read further in the article and it said this: ”A government official in North Waziristan told Pakistani reporters that five children and four women were among the 23 who were killed.” So at least 9 of the 23 people we killed — at least — were presumably not “militants” at all, but rather innocent civilians (contrast how the NYT characterizes Libya’s attacks in its headlines: “Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas”).
Can someone who defends these drone attacks please identify the purpose? Is the idea that we’re going to keep dropping them until we kill all the “militants” in that area? We’ve been killing people in that area at a rapid clip for many, many years now, and we don’t seem to be much closer to extinguishing them. How many more do we have to kill before the eradication is complete?
Beyond that, isn’t it painfully obvious that however many “militants” we’re killing, we’re creating more and more all the time? How many family members, friends, neighbors and villagers of the “five children and four women” we just killed are now consumed with new levels of anti-American hatred? How many Pakistani adolescents who hear about these latest killings are now filled with an eagerness to become “militants”?
The NYT article dryly noted: “Friday’s attack could further fuel antidrone sentiment among the Pakistani public”; really, it could? It’s likely to fuel far more than mere “antidrone sentiment”; it’s certain to fuel more anti-American hatred: the primary driver of anti-American Terrorism. Isn’t that how you would react if a foreign country were sending flying robots over your town and continuously wiping out the lives of innocent women, children and men who are your fellow citizens? What conceivable rational purpose does this endless slaughter serve? Isn’t it obvious that the stated goal of all of this – to reduce the threat of Terrorism – is subverted rather than promoted by these actions?
Regarding the announcement yesterday that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner was now deploying these same flying death robots to Libya, both The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius and The Atlantic‘s James Fallows make the case against that decision. In particular, Ignatius writes that “surely it’s likely that the goal was to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi or other members of his inner circle.”
I don’t know if that is actually the purpose, though if Ignatius is good at anything , it’s faithfully conveying what military and intelligence officials tell him. If that is the goal, doesn’t that rather directly contradict Obama’s vow when explaining the reasons for our involvement in the war (after it started): “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” It already seemed clear from the joint Op-Ed by Obama and the leaders of France and Britain — in which they pledged to continue “operations” until Gadaffi was gone — that this vow had been abandoned. But if we’re sending drones to target Libyan regime leaders for death, doesn’t it make it indisputably clear that the assurances Obama gave when involving the U.S. in this war have now been violated. And does that matter?
Finally, when the OLC released its rationale for why the President was permitted to involve the U.S in Libya without Congressional approval, its central claim was that — due the very limited nature of our involvement and the short duration — this does not “constitute a ‘war’ within the meaning of the Declaration of War Clause” (Adam Serwer has more on this reasoning). Now that our involvement has broadened to include drone attacks weeks into this conflict, with no end in sight, can we agree that the U.S. is now fighting a “war” and that this therefore requires Congressional approval?
* * * * *
A new NYT/CBS poll today finds that only 39% approve of Obama’s handling of Libya, while 45% disapprove (see p. 17). That’s what happens when a President starts a new war without any pretense of democratic debate, let alone citizenry consent through the Congress.
Obama: Turn In Your Phony Nobel Peace Prize March 28, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Peace, War.
Tags: nobel, nobel peace, Obama, obama nobel, peace prize, peace.roger hollander, war
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I have begun a petition to demand that President Obama return the Nobel Peace Prize, the awarding of which was a gross error. His continued warmongering in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now Libya tells us that he has adopted the Bush Doctrine of permanent war. That such a person should hold the world’s most prestigious peach prize is a cruel joke. Demanding the return of Obama’s Nobel is a symbolic gesture, but such gestures can be a powerful means of expressing outrage.
You can sign that petition at the following link.
War, Peace and Obama’s Nobel November 7, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Women, War, Foreign Policy, Peace, Pakistan, Iran.
Tags: roger hollander, Obama, India nuclear, Pakistan nuclear, nuclear proliferation, war, Noam Chomsky, iran nuclear, peace, security council, nobel peace, non-proliferation treaty, nuclear non-proliferation, israel nuclear, npt, malalai joya, obama peace, nobel committee, nculear weapons, resolution 1887, iaea resolution, obama nuclear, nobel peace prize
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The hopes and prospects for peace aren’t well aligned-not even close. The task is to bring them nearer. Presumably that was the intent of the Nobel Peace Prize committee in choosing President Barack Obama.
The prize “seemed a kind of prayer and encouragement by the Nobel committee for future endeavor and more consensual American leadership,” Steven Erlanger and Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote in The New York Times.
The nature of the Bush-Obama transition bears directly on the likelihood that the prayers and encouragement might lead to progress.
The Nobel committee’s concerns were valid. They singled out Obama’s rhetoric on reducing nuclear weapons.
Right now Iran’s nuclear ambitions dominate the headlines. The warnings are that Iran may be concealing something from the International Atomic Energy Agency and violating U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887, passed last month and hailed as a victory for Obama’s efforts to contain Iran.
Meanwhile, a debate continues on whether Obama’s recent decision to reconfigure missile-defense systems in Europe is a capitulation to the Russians or a pragmatic step to defend the West from Iranian nuclear attack.
Silence is often more eloquent than loud clamor, so let us attend to what is unspoken.
Amid the furor over Iranian duplicity, the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to inspection.
The United States and Europe tried to block the IAEA resolution, but it passed anyway. The media virtually ignored the event.
The United States assured Israel that it would support Israel’s rejection of the resolution-reaffirming a secret understanding that has allowed Israel to maintain a nuclear arsenal closed to international inspections, according to officials familiar with the arrangements. Again, the media were silent.
Indian officials greeted U.N. Resolution 1887 by announcing that India “can now build nuclear weapons with the same destructive power as those in the arsenals of the world’s major nuclear powers,” the Financial Times reported.
Both India and Pakistan are expanding their nuclear weapons programs. They have twice come dangerously close to nuclear war, and the problems that almost ignited this catastrophe are very much alive.
Obama greeted Resolution 1887 differently. The day before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his inspiring commitment to peace, the Pentagon announced it was accelerating delivery of the most lethal non-nuclear weapons in the arsenal: 13-ton bombs for B-2 and B-52 stealth bombers, designed to destroy deeply hidden bunkers shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.
It’s no secret the bunker busters could be deployed against Iran.
Planning for these “massive ordnance penetrators” began in the Bush years but languished until Obama called for developing them rapidly when he came into office.
Passed unanimously, Resolution 1887 calls for the end of threats of force and for all countries to join the NPT, as Iran did long ago. NPT non-signers are India, Israel and Pakistan, all of which developed nuclear weapons with U.S. help, in violation of the NPT.
Iran hasn’t invaded another country for hundreds of years-unlike the United States, Israel and India (which occupies Kashmir, brutally).
The threat from Iran is minuscule. If Iran had nuclear weapons and delivery systems and prepared to use them, the country would be vaporized.
To believe Iran would use nuclear weapons to attack Israel, or anyone, “amounts to assuming that Iran’s leaders are insane” and that they look forward to being reduced to “radioactive dust,” strategic analyst Leonard Weiss observes, adding that Israel’s missile-carrying submarines are “virtually impervious to preemptive military attack,” not to speak of the immense U.S. arsenal.
In naval maneuvers in July, Israel sent its Dolphin class subs, capable of carrying nuclear missiles, through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea, sometimes accompanied by warships, to a position from which they could attack Iran-as they have a “sovereign right” to do, according to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Not for the first time, what is veiled in silence would receive front-page headlines in societies that valued their freedom and were concerned with the fate of the world.
The Iranian regime is harsh and repressive, and no humane person wants Iran-or anyone else-to have nuclear weapons. But a little honesty would not hurt in addressing these problems.
The Nobel Peace Prize, of course, is not concerned solely with reducing the threat of terminal nuclear war, but rather with war generally, and the preparation for war. In this regard, the selection of Obama raised eyebrows, not least in Iran, surrounded by U.S. occupying armies.
On Iran’s borders in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, Obama has escalated Bush’s war and is likely to proceed on that course, perhaps sharply.
Obama has made clear that the United States intends to retain a long-term major presence in the region. That much is signaled by the huge city-within-a city called “the Baghdad Embassy,” unlike any embassy in the world.
Obama has announced the construction of mega-embassies in Islamabad and Kabul, and huge consulates in Peshawar and elsewhere.
Nonpartisan budget and security monitors report in Government Executive that the “administration’s request for $538 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2010 and its stated intention to maintain a high level of funding in the coming years put the president on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since World War II. And that’s not counting the additional $130 billion the administration is requesting to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, with even more war spending slated for future years.”
The Nobel Peace Prize committee might well have made truly worthy choices, prominent among them the remarkable Afghan activist Malalai Joya.
This brave woman survived the Russians, and then the radical Islamists whose brutality was so extreme that the population welcomed the Taliban. Joya has withstood the Taliban and now the return of the warlords under the Karzai government.
Throughout, Joya worked effectively for human rights, particularly for women; she was elected to parliament and then expelled when she continued to denounce warlord atrocities. She now lives underground under heavy protection, but she continues the struggle, in word and deed. By such actions, repeated everywhere as best we can, the prospects for peace edge closer to hopes.
Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi on Threats to Iranian Rights, from Within and Abroad February 4, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: ahmadinejad, amy goodman, Democracy Now, gaza, human rights, icc, India, international criminal court, Iran, iran nuclear, iran political dissidents, iranian revolution, islamic republic, israel, Khatami, Middle East, netanyahu, nobel peace, nuclear weapons, pakistan, Palestine, roger hollander, shah, shirin ebadi, women's rights iran
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www.democracynow.org, February 4, 2009
Guest: Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer.
AMY GOODMAN: Iran says they’ve successfully launched their first domestically made satellite, raising renewed concerns about Iran’s ambitions among American, European and Israeli officials. Iran says the satellite is meant for research and communications.
The launch happened amidst ten-day celebrations marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution that deposed the pro-American Shah from power and redefined Iran as an Islamic Republic.
We’ll have more on the missile launch and American policy toward Iran in our next segment, but right now we’re going to turn to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Iranian human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi. She is on a short visit to the United States, speaking out against both American and Israeli military threats to Iran, as well as the growing domestic repression of activists within Iran.
In recent weeks, Ebadi, herself, has been the target of right-wing attacks in her country. Last December, security forces raided and shut down an organization she helped found, the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, and confiscated documents about her clients, who include some of Iran’s most important political figures of the last thirty years. Since then, her former secretary was arrested, and right-wing crowds have gathered outside her home, accusing her of supporting the United States and Israel.
I spoke with Shirin Ebadi yesterday about how she’s dealing with the climate of repression in her country, her visit to the US, and why she continues to fight for human rights in Iran. I began by asking her to describe what happened to her office in December.
- SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] Yes, it was the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we were going to celebrate that. An hour-and-a-half prior to the celebration, the police came to the Center and informed us that “According to and pursuant to an oral order of the prosecutor, we have to close down the Center and seal it.”
AMY GOODMAN: And so, then what happened? I understand your secretary was also arrested.
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] Yes. And a few days later, they raided my private law office, and on the basis of an excuse of nonpayment of taxes, they took the computers and several of my files away, although this was illegal and they had no right to do that. A few days even later past that, they raided—they came to my house, and they vandalized my house with spray paint and demonstrated against me. They took down my sign, the sign of my law office, and although I had called the police, the police came, but they only watched the demonstrators do the vandalism and the breaking of my sign.
And unfortunately, a few days even later, a young secretary, a female secretary, at the Center for the Defense of Human Rights was arrested. They went to her house at 6:00 a.m. and arrested her. And she has not been able to meet with any of her attorneys. We have appointed an attorney for her, but the attorney has not been able to meet with her or to talk to her, and she has not been able to meet with any members of her family. She is in solitary confinement at the present time.
AMY GOODMAN: The significance of the government taking the documents from your law offices? You represent some of the leading political dissidents. Do they now have access to your clients’ information?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] Yes, they do have access to important information now. As you know, they have—there is attorney-client privilege, and they should not have taken any of the files. What they did was illegal. I brought a criminal complaint against them for what they have done in taking the files, and to no avail up to now.
AMY GOODMAN: Shirin Ebadi, you had protesters outside your offices during the Israeli attack on Gaza saying you supported the United States and you supported Israel. Here in this country, there were Iranian Jews who were saying that you weren’t supporting Israel enough. Can you tell us your position on what’s happening right now in Israel and Gaza?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I first have to inform you that the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, that I am the director of, had issued a declaration supporting the people of Gaza prior to the demonstrations in front of my house. However, when you ask me about the differences between Israel and Palestine, I think that they have to negotiate, and they have to accept a two-state solution. The two of them should be able—the two states should be able to live in peace when both countries accept the two-state solution.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the statement of the Israeli prime minister frontrunner, Benjamin Netanyahu. He said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons ranks far above the global economy among the challenges facing leaders in the twenty-first century. I wanted to get your response.
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I don’t think that the Middle East needs nuclear weapons. I also don’t think that Pakistan, India or Israel need nuclear weapons. I think that they all should take measures in abolishing their nuclear weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: What message do you bring to the United States, as you’ve come here for two days—for several days to speak.
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I first want to congratulate the people of the United States for having elected a president who believes in human rights and on his first day of office ordered the closing down of the Guantanamo prison.
In the second instance, I want to say that America is a superpower, and the political behavior of America can be a role model for the rest of the world. What I want to suggest is that the United States join the ICC and, in this way, not let the dictators sleep a good night.
AMY GOODMAN: What exactly do you feel that Barack Obama should do right now? He has talked about direct dialogue with Iran. At what levels do you think the dialogue has to happen?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I think that the dialogue should take place at three levels: at the level of the presidents of both countries, at the level of the parliaments of both countries, and at the level of the civil society of both countries. And I think that the negotiations should bear in mind the interests of the people of both countries, not only the interests of a few companies. In the past, in 1953, the presidents of both countries, or the heads of both countries, spoke, but there the dialogue resulted in a few big oil companies coming to Iran.
AMY GOODMAN: Shirin Ebadi, there are going to be presidential elections in a few months in Iran. The man considered a reformist, Khatami, may run. Ahmadinejad said he could run. Have you considered running for president of Iran?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I have never had the intention to joining a power. I have to remain among the people and be the representative of people. That’s why I reiterate that I’m not going to join power.
AMY GOODMAN: Your offices have been raided. Your home has been raided. Your secretary has been arrested. You have the leading women’s rights campaigner in Iran—you can pronounce her name for me—who is now going to jail. Why are you returning to Iran? Do you feel safe there?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I don’t have enough safety in Iran, nor does any other person who works on human rights have enough safety in Iran. But I am going back to Iran. I have to do my work in Iran. And I will remain in Iran. That’s why I’m going back to Iran.
AMY GOODMAN: This is the thirtieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution. You were a judge, before the revolution, under the Shah; you are no longer. Talk about the state of your country and of women’s rights, in particular.
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] Over 65 percent of the university students in Iran are female. Women exist in all levels of government. They work in all levels of government. And they are present in the society. However, unfortunately, after the revolution, discriminatory laws have been passed against women. And I want to give you a few examples of these discriminatory laws. The life of a woman is worth half of that of a man; and therefore, if there is an automobile accident and a man and a woman are involved and their injuries are the same, the compensation paid to the woman is half of that paid to the man. Men can marry four wives. They can divorce their wives without an excuse. [Testimony] of two women in court equals [testimony] of one man. So these are the discriminatory laws I’m talking about.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think would change—bring change in Iran? And do you hold out any hope for these elections? Are you supporting anyone? Where do you think the real change will happen?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I believe in freedom of elections. Unfortunately, in Iran, the competency of the candidates has to be approved by the Guardian Council. In other words, they have to be qualified by the Guardian Council. This law is against the constitution of the country of Iran. And I [do] think that until and unless this law is outlawed, that we could have free elections in Iran. This is a principle that I believe in.
AMY GOODMAN: What gives you any hope? What gives you courage when you return to Iran, especially when you look at, for example, the crackdown now, just over the last few months?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] I am going back to Iran. What gives me courage is the duty that I have towards my country. And also, I believe in God, and that helps me.
AMY GOODMAN: If the United States were to attack Iran, and when you look at the repression that you and others have suffered, would that help the democratic movement in Iran?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] A military attack on Iran or even a threat of a military attack on Iran will deteriorate the situation of human rights and women’s rights, because it gives an excuse to the government to repress them more and more often.
AMY GOODMAN: Any other thing you would like to add, Shirin Ebadi?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] Although the office for the Center for the Defense of Human Rights has been closed down, but we are continuing our work. And this way, we want to tell the government of Iran and the people of Iran that we are going to fight the human rights abuses and the illegality that goes on in this regard in Iran.
Voices of Resistance Sing On January 1, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Peace.
Tags: Africa, amy goodman, bernice johnson reagon, cia, denis moynihan, eartha kitt, fbi, folk music, Guantanamo, harold pinter, harry belafonte, howard zinn, Iraq, joan baez, lady bird, miriam makeba, music, nobel peace, Obama, odetta, pete seeger, povertym, resistance, roger hollander, rosa parks, sncc, South Africa, stokely carmichael, tutu, us policy
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Dec 31, 2008, www.truthdig.com
By Amy Goodman
Strong voices for peace have left us this year, people who used their art for social change, often at a high personal price.
Odetta was a legendary folk singer of the civil rights movement.
Considered the “Queen of American Folk Music,” Odetta introduced audiences worldwide to African-American folk, blues and gospel music.
New Year’s Eve was her birthday. She would have been 78. When Rosa Parks was asked which songs meant the most to her, she replied, “All of the songs Odetta sings.”
Odetta sang “Oh, Freedom,” an African-American slave spiritual, at the 1963 March on Washington. Early on, she attracted the interest of Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger. Her voice, her talent with the guitar and the natural style in which she maintained her hair—later to be dubbed “afro”—set her as an icon of the civil rights movement. She told an interviewer in 2003:
“When I first started, I would sing these prison songs … it got to a point where doing the music actually healed me … it was music from those who went before. The music gave them strength, and the music gave us strength to carry it on.”
She inspired Bernice Johnson Reagon, an early member of the SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers. She had been suspended from college in Albany, Ga., for civil rights protests, then went on to Spelman College, where historian Howard Zinn and his wife, Roz, took her to folk music concerts by Joan Baez and Odetta.
Reagon recalls the first time she heard Odetta:
“In Georgia, where I grew up in the country, the roads were built by chain-gang labor. I knew the sound, because as the men worked, they sang. But I never thought I’d hear it coming from a concert stage … when she sang prison songs or work songs. … She was just what I needed to begin my life as a freedom fighter and as a Freedom Singer.”
Reagon later went on to found the women’s a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Another great liberation singer we lost this year was Miriam Makeba of South Africa, known as “Mama Afrika.” She sang against apartheid, then went into exile for decades. Belafonte helped her, too, gain recognition.
In 1968, she married SNCC-leader-turned-Black-Panther Stokely Carmichael, for which she was blacklisted in the U.S. until the 1980s.
Soon after her death, I asked the Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu about Makeba. The South African archbishop smiled: “Her singing, her voice, helped many people to know a little bit more about the vicious apartheid system. She was just a tremendous human being, a great loss to us and to Africa.”
Also blacklisted in 1968 was singer and actress Eartha Kitt, who died at age 81 on Christmas Day. In 1968, she was invited to a celebrity luncheon at the White House by Lady Bird Johnson, who asked Kitt about urban poverty. Kitt replied: “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.” The first lady reportedly burst into tears. For years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas and was investigated by the FBI and CIA.
Born out of the Deep South and South Africa, these women’s voices sang out, from concert halls to protest rallies. Another voice we just lost sang out from the written page. Harold Pinter died on Christmas Eve in London. Though too sick to travel to Stockholm to collect his Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he sent a video address: “The majority of politicians … are interested not in truth but in power. … To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance. … What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies.” Pinter was referring to U.S. policy from Guantanamo to Iraq.
As these icons are laid to rest, their voices continue to inspire millions. Barack Obama will soon take the reins of the most powerful nation on Earth, promising change. But it will now take the actions of those millions, heeding these echoes of the past and transforming them into their own voices, to effect real change.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.
© 2008 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate