Congress Can Stop War with North Korea

by Elliott Adams, Meta Peace Team

We live in a world where North Korea presents the possibility of retaliatory strikes on the US main land and our Republican administration is throwing around wildly bellicose and recklessly threatening words that risk all of us having to pay the price of a nuclear Trump NKoreaexchange. It is time for congress to fulfill their constitutional responsibility (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11) to be the only body in the US that may start a war. Congress now allows the President an emergency exemption to take action if they are told about it in 48 hours and the President gets Congress’s approval in 60 days (War Powers Resolution 1973). That is plenty of time for a nuclear conflagration to start. Congress must adjust the War Powers Resolution exemption by saying that no military action can be taken against North Korea without prior written authorization by Congress.

North Korea has repeatedly made it clear that their nuclear arsenal is defensive. They have cited the lesson of Libya and Iraq where the US negotiated away their nuclear ambitions and then invaded them.  Kim Jung Un in explaining their nuclear program said, “no nuclear nation has been invaded.”

Those who are knowledgeable say there is not any feasible military option. One military action being floated would be a “surgical strike” to eliminate their nuclear capability before they could use it. People familiar with the area say a “surgical strike” will surely result in the annihilation of Seoul’s 10 million people and devastation in Japan and the rest of South Korea. And it will not eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capacity.  Instead it will almost surely result in the firing of any nuclear weapons they have. This scenario ignores that both Russia and China (both nuclear nations) have a deep security interest in not letting North Korea fall.  Another military action being floated would be a “decapitation strike” aimed at eliminating the leadership of North Korea so they could not launch a counter defensive attack. The resulting disaster will be the same as with a “surgical strike.”

Can we live with a nuclear North Korea joining the other 8 nuclear nations? We have been living with nuclear enemies since 1949.  In fact we have lived most of that time with dozens to thousands of nuclear tipped weapons aimed at us 24/7.  And we have been living with an internationally recognized nuclear North Korea since 2006.

Some argue that dramatic military posturing will bring Kim Jung Un to heel.  For three generations North Korea has lived under continuing US military threat, from the invasion and attempted occupation by the US in 1953, including repeated sanctions, with 3 annual joint US/South Korea massive military actions which North Korea sees as practice for invading North Korea again, and now this Republican administration has announced the stationing of nuclear equipped aircraft carrier groups and nuclear equipped submarines to within striking distance of North Korea. These military actions are counter-productive. They drive North Korea into a threatened defensive posture.  In this state a nation may misinterpret moves by other nations, they set all their armaments on hair triggers, they organize their defense on “fail deadly” rather than a “fail safe” procedures all of which increase the chance of even an accidental war.  More seriously it dissolves the fabric of a relationship necessary for negotiations.

At another level this military posturing by the US makes the Kim Jung Un government more stable and increases the public tolerance for massive military spending, neither of which we want.

Can we work with the “quixotic irrational North Korean dictator?” Kim Jung Un has been absolutely consistent. He has made it clear he believes the US is planning to attack North Korea. He has consistently done what he can to protect from those attacks even at huge cost to the country.  North Koreans have lived with deprivation and devastation for years for the good of the nation and there is no reason to think they will not continue to do so.

The more threats, the more saber rattling, the more bellicose posturing the US does, the more North Korea will feel at danger, besieged, and under threat of attack.  The more threatened they feel the more dangerous they become and the more likely we are to get sucked into a war unintentionally. Congress cannot stop what the White House says.  But they can change the situation.  If they use their Constitutional responsibility to say no military action may be taken toward North Korea without their prior written consent it would send a clear message to the North Korean leaders that despite the bellicose words from the White House and aggressive posturing we are not poised to attack them.  North Korea knows that a preemptive nuclear attack on the US would be suicide: That is not an option they are considering. If North Korea were to attack South Korea, which they aren’t, we would have plenty of time to respond, they know we already have our 3rd largest military deployment in South Korea and much, much more nearby.

Call your Congressperson and Senator and ask them to act to limit the White House authorization to attack North Korea.


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Elliott Adams was in South Korea while in the US Army and returned out of uniform. He was in the infantry as a paratrooper and was also deployed to Vietnam, Japan, and Alaska. He has maintained an interest in and continued to study the Korean conflict ever since.

 

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Book Review: “The Nonviolence Handbook” by Michael N. Nagler

By Cynthia Kipkorir       October 18, 2017

Nagler_ImageWhat stands out to you most when you hear the word non-violence? An absence of violence? Well, Michael N. Nagler in his book “The Nonviolence Handbook” argues that referring to nonviolence as an absence of violence – or more so, a safer option to violence – robs the nonviolence endeavor of its power.

What nonviolence means, as well as the tenets embodying nonviolence, are examples of topics Michael discusses in his book. “The Nonviolence Handbook”, therefore, is a good primer to the concept of nonviolence and therefore a good read for anyone who is remotely interested in understanding the nonviolence phenomenon.

Michael starts by informing his audience that nonviolence is a trait inherent in all of us–this is a message borrowed from Gandhi who proclaimed nonviolence to be “…the law of our species.” Nevertheless, the author opines that as much as humanity has nonviolence ingrained in its nature, it cannot manifest it until it fully understands the nonviolence concept. In the subsequent chapters, the author thus explicitly explains to its audience how to invoke nonviolence and how to ensure they are using nonviolence ‘correctly.’

The trap you and I fall into (often if not always), when dealing with a perpetrator of an injustice (i.e. a government, institution, individual etc.), is conflating the perpetrator and the evil/oppression that they are inflicting. Nagler, however, advises his audience to separate the evil and the evildoer, thereby imploring readers to not cooperate with the evil and not the perpetrator of the evil per se. It is easy to see why this is a strong argument; only when we separate the evil and the evildoer will we able to see the oppressor as an individual who is just like us (human) and thus in need of our help to be ‘delivered’ from the evil.

Another illuminating concept, arguably one of the most fundamental principles of nonviolence in the book discussed by the author, is the concept of “how much nonviolence is too much nonviolence?”. The reader is introduced to the different stages of nonviolence, namely: Conflict resolution, Satyagraha and ultimate sacrifice. Ergo, depending on the level of violence/oppression inflicted, nonviolent actors can invoke the above stages. As can be conjectured from the meaning of the word, conflict resolution is the 1st stage and this essentially involves tools such as negotiation and mediation. Conflict resolution is thus useful when both parties are willing to lend each other an ear. Nevertheless, if the conflict cannot be resolved in the first stage, satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) is invoked. Satyagraha therefore uses tools such as strikes and civil disobedience. Yes, don’t let the sophistication of the word fool you, Satyagraha is something most of you have taken part in. Lastly, the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ is the third stage, and one we should resort to if the first two stages have emerged unsuccessful. As the stage implies, ultimate sacrifice is the do-or-die stage whereby the nonviolent actors are willing to risk dying to oblige the oppressor to adhere to their demands.

The discussion of the different stages of the nonviolence movement is arguably the most important part of the book because of the author’s success in spelling out clearly what we readers already know and have taken part in numerous times, albeit sometimes unknowingly. While we might have taken part in the stages in a different order, for example putting our lives in danger before trying to negotiate with the oppressor, the author reminds us that it is important to invoke the stages depending on the extremity of the oppression. This is what the author has referred to as proportionality. Invoking the wrong stage for a wrong stage of the oppression might risk us alienating the oppressor even further.

Another important point raised in the book that is worth mentioning is the importance of constructive programs. Nagler underscores the importance of having a good replacement program after an old repressive regime is brought down; this is imperative in ensuring that no power vacuum is left and therefore eliminating the possibility of another undesired regime taking over. The constructive program discussed by Nagler is a phenomenon largely adopted by organizations such as the United Nations, and one that has been successful in many conflict-ridden countries.

The book’s power, therefore, lies in it convincing its readers that nonviolence actually works and that it is the right way of ensuring its actors get their demands. It spells out clearly how to practice nonviolence and reminds readers of their innate nonviolent nature, thereby beseeching them to rid themselves of the notion that violence is the answer to all problems. It also warns its audience of the bias towards violence depicted by the mass media – – Imagine all of the instances of belligerent behavior depicted by the media in any given day. It is thus easy to see why this continuous depiction of violence in the media has the tendency to normalize violence and therefore our need to shun such media.

The author does a good job of informing his readers that the fruits of nonviolent endeavors may not be instantly tangible, and urges readers not to confuse lack of an immediate response with failure. This is a particularly good reminder for those of us who tend to throw in the towel easily.

All in all, this is a must book for those who are interested in knowing and understanding how nonviolence works and how they can implement it in their everyday life.

N.B. Though nonviolence is more often than not discussed in the context of ‘full blown’ activities like protests and going to war, we can always invoke nonviolence in our everyday relationships too.

“It is not me against you but you and me against the problem.”

Google says Palestine was never on Google Maps after claims it had been ‘airbrushed’ away

The Telegraph
A glitch caused West Bank and Gaza to disappear from Google Maps
A “glitch” caused West Bank and Gaza to disappear from Google Maps
CREDIT: GOOGLE

Accusations online that Google had deleted Palestine from its Maps facility prompted the internet giant to explain that the country “has never been” on the service.

The row came after a glitch caused the West Bank and Gaza to briefly disappear from Google Maps.

Palestine, although recognised as a country by the United Nations, has never been on Google Maps. Instead of being demarcated with a solid line that denotes a country border, Google instead defines the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with a dashed border – the mark it uses to outline disputed territories.

Google was forced to explain that it doesn’t define Palestine as a country separate from Israel on Maps after a petition signed by 250,000 people described the company’s “airbrushing” of Palestine as “deeply offensive” and called for the internet giant to put Palestine on its map.

A glitch that briefly removed the labels for the West Bank and Gaza sparked outrage on social media, with people tweeting under the hashtag #PalestineIsHere.

Dear , Where is ? You cannot erase an entire country!

The Change.org petition accused Google of being “complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine” by marking the conflicted area with a dotted line that denotes a problematic border.

“Google Maps is now regarded as definitive by people around the world, including journalists, students and others carrying out research into the Israel-Palestine situation,” said the petition. “Recognition of Palestine by Google may even turn out to be as important as recognition by organisations like the UN.”

Google said in a response that Palestine had never been marked as a territory on its map, but that a glitch in the software had resulted in Palestinian areas being removed.

“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps,” said a spokesman for Google. “However, we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to get these labels back to the area.”

Back in 2013 Google “followed the lead of the UN” and updated the Palestinian version of its Search homepage with the description “Palestine” as opposed to “Palestinian Territories”. In a significant mile stone in the conflict, the Palestinian flag was raised at the UN’s headquarters last year.

What I’ve learned about U.S. Foreign Policy: The Against the Third World Video compilation by Frank Dorrel

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This Video compilation consists of clips and videos documenting United States foreign policy present a less known history of United States international involvement. Throughout the video clips are included discussion of actions taken by the United States government and elites that are outside the purview of both International and American law. These clips depict the actions of a global hegemon, the United States, taking actions in order to garner and maintain global influence.  From the CIA backed overthrow of governments in Iran and Guatemala to attacks by the United States against civilian populations in Panama.

While the film contained no comprehensive analysis of the clips and videos it compiled, the juxtaposition of the various pieces information presents a reality in stark contrast with many portrayals of American exceptionalism.  To me, this film becomes makes the most sense when viewed through International Relations balance of power theory.  In the films 10 different segments, the United States foreign policy is repeatedly presented as seeking to gain power, while undermining other world powers even at the expense of traditional American ideals.

Though I wish the film included a broader analysis to tie the wide range of ideas together, overall I certainly believe this video compilation is worth watching.  Whether or not you agree with the perspective it presents, its depiction of the United States as a flawed actor in a complex international system can provide valuable insight into current and future United States foreign affairs.

Film Review- The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear

By: Daniel Bloomberg

The Power of Nightmares is a 2004 documentary detailing the rise of the politics of fear.  It traces this rise by tracing the development of two groups from the 1970’s-1990’s in different regions of the world, following different ideologies, and following different paths, that each came to use the same tactic, fear as a means to bring about political goals:  The United States Neoconservative movement, and the extreme Islamist movement of the Middle East.

This documentary excellently depicts the evolution of the ideologies of these groups as they deliberately create a mythology of Good vs. Evil in order to unite their constituencies in what they considered to be a more moral society seeking to drive the evil from the world.  This evolution occurs as in certain instances such as during the Cold War these groups begin to fall victim to the myth that they themselves created and in others including during the Clinton administration, where they simply didn’t care. This was a radical change from politicians of previous periods who had offered visions of change for a better future.  It concludes with a unique presentation of Al Qaeda, and the larger war on terror as a distorted projection of this myth.  

MPT’s Elliott Adams part of “The St. Pat’s 7”

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The St. Pat’s 7

On St.Patrick’s Day nearly two hundred people gathered at the gates of the Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines to protest the use of drones by our country. Seven crossed the line and were arrested. Each was charged with trespass, a simple misdemeanor. A trial has been scheduled for June 23 at the Polk County Courthouse. If convicted, they could be sentenced to thirty days in jail or be fined $100.

We have seen these trials before. They are expensive. Thousands of dollars will be spent. The trial could last as long as a week. Jury selection will be time consuming. Each defendant has the right to exercise “four strikes”. A large pool of jurors will be needed so six can be chosen to serve. There will be a judge, a prosecutor, a court reporter, a court attendant, and expert witnesses. And there could be as many as seven lawyers retained to protect the defendants’ rights
and advocate for their cause.

We ask, what is the point? These defendants – “The St. Pat’s 7” – did nothing more than exercise their consciences. No property was damaged and no one was injured. They acted peacefully and submitted themselves to the authorities.

It is a fact that these dissenters, and others like them, know they will be arrested. They stage their “actions” before reporters and cameras, hoping the brief news coverage will somehow influence public opinion. They believe that by telling their story to a jury their truth will be heard and others will take up the cause.

Perhaps this is the way it should be – that our criminal justice system with its police, prosecutors, judges and jurors should be used in the service of public discourse on issues important to all of us.  But perhaps there is a better way.

What if a Peacemaking Circle were held? What if the seven defendants, and an equal number of National Guard personnel, sat in a Circle with a skilled neutral who would facilitate the conversation?  What if a talking piece were used so each could speak without interruption?  And what if, like a trial, the process were open to the public? Anyone
could attend, sit outside the Circle, and listen to everything said.

There would be truth telling – by the defendants and by the National Guard. There would be no attempt to reach consensus. It wouldn’t be possible. The protestors abhor the use of drones. The Guard personnel, while perhaps sympathetic to the protestors, have chosen to join the Guard and have a job to do. Each side has a truth.

While a jury trial would result in a determination of guilt or innocence, the Circle process would honor each person’s truth no matter the chasm between.

And wouldn’t a great service be rendered by the sharing of these truths in the presence of the community at large?

We support such an effort and call upon those in authority to give it deep consideration. The National Guard, the seven defendants, and the community deserve it.

Sincerely,

  • Rev.  Alejandro Alfareo-Santia, Pastor, D.M. Trinity UMC
  • Rev. Ryan Arnold, Sr. Pastor, First Christian Church
  • Bob Brammer, Iowa Attorney General staff retired
  • Rev. Brian Carter, UMC Iowa Legislature lobbyist
  • Rev. Kathleen Clark, Retired UMC minister
  • Rev. Denny Coon, Sr. Pastor, Walnut Hill United Methodist Church
  • Patricia A. Coon
  • Eloise M. Cranke, Methodist Federation for Social Action Iowa Coordinator
  • Charles Day, Ph.D Therapist
  • Fr. Tom DeCarlo, Des Moines Diocese
  • Catherine Dietz-Kilen, Attorney
  • Cathy Dodds
  • Laura Douglas, Educator
  • Dr. David Drake, Psychiatrist
  • Kathleen Ferguson
  • Rev. Eric Guy, Sr. Pastor, First United Methodist Church
  • Dennis Groenenboom, Executive Director, Iowa Legal Aid
  • Dave Hurd, Retired President of Principle Financial Group
  • Trudy Hurd
  • Carmen Lamp-Zeitler, CFUM Director
  • Grace W. Liddon
  • Diane Krell
  • Dr. Keith Krell, Endodontics Specialist
  • Mike W. McCarthy
  • Matt McCoy, Iowa State Senator
  • Rev. Brian K. Milford, United Methodist District Superintendent
  • Kathleen McQuillen, Des Moines AFSC Coordinator
  • Rev. Russell J. A. Melby, ELCA, Retired Director of Iowa Church World Service
  • Rev. Steve Melby, Retired UMC minister
  • Elsie P. Naylor, UCC
  • Fr. David Polich, Des Moines Diocese
  • Rev. Sarai Rice, Presbyterian minister
  • The Right Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
  • Mark Smith, Retired Union Labor leader
  • Rev. William Steward, Retired Sr. Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Mark Stringer, Sr. Pastor, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines
  • Susie Tierney, Des Moines Just Faith
  • Julius C. Trimble, Bishop, Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • Virginia Varce, Lay church leader
  • Jerry Wiener, Jewish Community
  • And of course, META PEACE TEAM!

Film Review: The Interrupters

Film Review: The Interrupters

By Craig Wing

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The Interrupters tells the stories of three individuals-Ameena Mathews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams- who work to protect their Chicago communities from violence. The film chronicles the journey of Ameena, Eddie, and Cobe as they act as “Violence Interrupters” and attempt to intervene in disputes before they turn violent. The film poignantly captures the redemptive struggle of three ex-gang members who seek to diminish the violence in their local communities by means of intervention.

The film was directed by Steve James and expertly chronicles the pernicious violence that plagues the inner-cities of the U.S. The footage captured in this film is gritty and provocative. Steve Jones has crafted a documentary that offers a first-hand account of the dichotomy of brutal violence and hopeful redemption that is found in the urban enclaves of the U.S. A film of this power and magnitude should not be missed.

Film Review:Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence

Film Review-Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence

By Craig Wing

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David Barnhart’s documentary film, Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence, deals with the personal and societal impacts of gun violence in America. The film consists of conversations with survivors and victims’ families, community leaders, lawmakers, former ATF officials, police officers, and emergency room chaplains and surgeons. The documentary utilizes the “ripple effect” theory to illustrate the wide-ranging impact that a shooting has on a survivor, a family, the local community, and society as a whole.

The film offers an insightful array of personal testimonies of those impacted by the “ripple effect” of gun violence.The documentary offers not only insight into the wide-ranging effects of gun violence in our culture, but also provides pertinent information on how to prevent gun violence in the first place.The film addresses the issue of gun violence prevention and advocates the need for universal background checks and waiting periods for all gun purchases, and a ban on semiautomatic weapons. The documentary urges its viewers to actively find the local organizations dedicated to gun violence prevention and to get involved.

In summary, Trigger is a film well worth watching. The documentary is well crafted and the content provided is fascinating. The stories of those affected by gun violence are insightful and at times emotionally riveting.  Perhaps the greatest aspect of the film is the insightful solutions that it provides to its viewers in regard to actively preventing gun violence in one’s own community.

Ishmael: Book Review

Ishmael: Book Review
By Craig Wing

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Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael is a novel imbued with a powerful sense of social urgency. This utterly unique piece of literature tells the story of a disillusioned man who answers a cryptic newspaper ad in the personal section that exclaims, “TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.” Little does the man know that his teacher is a telepathic gorilla named Ishmael.

Ishmael engages his pupil in Socratic dialogue, chalked full of astonishing insights regarding the destructive nature of mankind’s modern civilization. The topic of discussion is entirely engaging and thoroughly absorbing. The reader is taken on a critical examination and journey into the very infancy of civilization and back. Over-all, I highly recommend this wonderful novel.

The Corporation: Film Review

The Corporation: Film Review

By Craig Wing

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The Corporation is a documentary film that explores the historical evolution, psychological make-up, and impact of the most dominant institution of the modern era. The documentary presents the corporation as a paradoxical institution that creates both great wealth and enormous societal harm. Utilizing the premise of legal corporate “personhood”, the film provides an in-depth analysis of the sociopathic psychology that the institution exhibits.

The documentary, released in 2003, was directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott and was based on Joel Bakan’s book The Corporation: the Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. The film consists of a wide array of interviews from CEO’s, brokers, whistle blowers, and corporate insiders and critics. The documentary contains footage from 40 interviews: including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva, and Michael Moore.

The Corporation is an ambitious and highly informative documentary. The content provided in this film offers an emotionally-charged and intellectually engaging experience. The style and tone of the film is riveting and highly entertaining. Over-all, The Corporation is expertly crafted and immensely insightful. This documentary should be required viewing for anyone interested in gaining an understanding of the history, psychological nature, and impact of the modern-day business corporation.