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Forum Post: On Ending War

Posted 4 years ago on Jan. 21, 2014, 3:46 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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On Ending War

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 10:18 By E. Douglas Kihn, Truthout | Op-Ed


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The evidence suggests there is no insurmountable human genetic predisposition to war, but human survival likely depends on assuring there be no more war.

Yogi Berra said it: "The future ain't what it used to be."

On August 6, 1945, our world changed forever. On that day, an entire metropolis was wiped out with one bomb dropped from one airplane. This singular event demonstrated conclusively that the human race had reached a crossroads: We are compelled to end warfare, or sooner or later warfare will end us. The great physicist Albert Einstein, one of the architects of the Bomb, said it first: "World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones," assuming of course that anybody survives World War III and the nuclear winter that would inevitably follow.

To those who claim that ending war is impossible, we must answer that giving up is not an option! Neither is burying one's head in the sand and pretending that nuclear holocaust can't happen.

We've been lucky so far. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the US war machine in 1945, not a single atomic bomb has been used in warfare. There have been many close calls in the intervening years, and since the Cold War ended, conventional thinking has it that there is no longer any danger of nuclear war.

Don't fall for it. The USA is still "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," to quote Martin Luther King. According to Global Zero, a group that promotes eliminating all nuclear weapons, citing a Federation of American Scientists report, the United States has 7,700 nuclear warheads. The Department of Defense disclosed in 2012 that "as of September 30, 2009, the US stockpile of nuclear weapons consisted of 5,113 warheads."

These devices are armed and ready to do serious damage to our world. President Eisenhower wasn't kidding when he warned all of us in 1960 about the now-famous "military-industrial complex." Every day that goes by, we are one day closer to a nuclear disaster.

And not just from Washington. The rightwing misleaders in Tel Aviv, the saber rattlers in London, Paris and Moscow, the loose cannons in Pyongyang, and the nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan all hold the world hostage with threats of massive death from nuclear blasts, an irradiated biosphere and the dangerous precedent of the resumption of nuclear war. Nobody really seems to know for sure how many nukes really exist in the world. No one knows either how many are needed to end humanity, probably because it's never been tried. But there will be no winners in this game of Russian Roulette. That much we do know.

As their economic system continues to deteriorate and rebellions develop, an increasingly paranoid and irrational American oligarchy could conceivably initiate a first-strike against its perceived enemies, or use its nuclear arsenal to retaliate against the perpetrators of a nuclear 9/11.

Are Humans Genetically Predisposed to War?

Many will use their concept of biology as a reason to scoff at the suggestion that we must end war. But even if warfare is in our genes, we still have to change - or someday perish.

In this year of 2014, the majority of folks in the world would earnestly like to see an end to war in all its forms. The good news for them is that the overwhelming body of scientific evidence points to the conclusion that while we are very adaptable, we are not predominantly designed by nature for warfare. Space constraints allow us to review only a small sampling of this evidence.

The most immediate and dramatic evidence concerns the mental health problems of those people involved in war. The consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder for returning veterans of American wars are now commonplace news items. In World War I, they called it "shell shock" or "cowardice." Killing and maiming other people haunts war veterans for the rest of their lives. And for soldiers and civilians alike, the threat of being killed and the witnessing of war's destructiveness can and often does cause serious mental illness.

According to a September 21, 2013 report by CNN, 22 American veterans - one every 65 minutes - commit suicide every day. And this figure may be an underestimate. Not counted was Levi Derby, who was not in the VA system at the time. Levi "hanged himself in his grandfather's garage in Illinois on April 5, 2007. He was haunted, says his mother, Judy Casper, by an Afghan child's death. He had handed the girl a bottle of water, and when she came forward to take it, she stepped on a land mine."

In the same article, former US defense secretary Leon Panetta called the suicide rate among service members an epidemic.

There are species for which fighting amongst themselves is completely natural and causes no appreciable psychological harm. For example, communities of common chimpanzees (not to be confused with their and our peaceful and sexy cousins, the bonobo) will conduct violent raids on other chimp communities over scarce resources, sometimes causing fatalities. However, neither the losers nor the winners suffer nervous breakdowns nor suicides as a result of these confrontations. They just carry on life as usual.

Most animal species, however, go to great lengths to avoid fatal encounters with their own kind. That is a principal reason your dog loves those trees so much when you walk him. He's marking his boundaries in an effort to promote canine safety and harmony.

For a riveting first-hand account of how uncontaminated Stone Age forager-hunters avoid conflicts amongst themselves in the resource-rich environment of the Ituri rainforest of the Congo, read Clive Turnbull's observations of the M'buti people in his six-decade-old classic The Forest People.

The same author wrote another book titled The Mountain People, detailing the horrific violence amongst a people facing death by starvation in the Sahel region of East Africa.

Other modern forager-hunter tribes who regularly war on each other have been pointed to as proof that war is in our genes, so to speak. Discounting threatened starvation as the cause, these tribes usually practice ritual warfare in which only a few warriors are actually injured or killed. One could interpret this as infantile warfare, a childlike copying of warlike behavior practiced by surrounding "civilized" peoples.

Modern greed and bad manners can be infectious. In many recorded instances, people living with primitive technologies copy the behaviors of adjacent cultures that have advanced technologies. And in some instances, specifically in New Guinea and the Amazon rainforest, this can even lead to wars of extermination against neighbors once in a generation.

According to a November 15, 2013 report in the Huffington Post, more than 70 members of the US military encounter abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault or are raped every day. That's three every hour. This is a clear indication of the deep demoralization that exists within this violent organization. But then, historically speaking, warriors have never been famous for their manners or respect for others.

What is military boot camp but a two-month course that attempts to mentally and physically break, i.e. brainwash, pliable 18-year-olds so they can be reprogrammed to operate against their natural inclinations of kindness, sharing and cooperation. Only in this way can they participate effectively in the ultimate form of competition - war.



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[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 4 years ago

Some more evidence, if you need it

Here are some more facts that disprove the flawed theory "Warfare is in our genes."

• For humans, sharing is the norm, while selfishness and bullying are universally despised. When someone grabs most of the pie while leaving a small portion for the rest of us, or butts into the front of the line, our instincts prompt us to say, "Hey, you selfish bastard! What the hell are you doing?" We don't say, "Good goin', dude! High five!"

• The first walled settlement has been dated to 7,000 BCE in the Neolithic Middle East. The main purpose of fortifications is to protect communities from organized violence, i.e. warfare. Prior to this date, fortifications didn't exist anywhere.

• The first conclusive evidence of organized warfare is evident in the Talheim Death Pit in Germany, where archaeologists believe a massacre of a rival tribe might have been conducted at approximately 5,000 BCE. Thirty-four people were bound and killed, predominantly by a blow to the left temple. While death by human violence is evidenced as far back as 34,000 years ago, large-scale violence is a relatively recent development. The implication is that for millions of years of hominid existence, sparse populations of pre-agricultural, forager-hunter tribes lived in relative harmony.

• Hand-crafted weapons, rather than simple hunting tools, did not appear in Europe until 4,500 BCE, at the earliest.

• In separate scientific studies published in the August 2013 issue of the journal Evolutionary Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara anthropologists Adrian Jaeggi and Michael Gurven came to the following conclusion: "Sharing doesn't just enhance the welfare of humans," wrote Gurven. "The human subsistence niche would never have been possible without sharing. It's no coincidence that sharing is most pervasive and structured among humans, the one primate whose economy is defined by high levels of interdependence."

• A University of Virginia study used functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to determine that we are hardwired to empathize with others, especially those who are close to us, as reported in the August 2013 issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. In other words, our self-identity is largely based on whom we know and empathize with.

• Cave paintings go back 30-40,000 years. Yet, most archaeologists agree with the American social psychologist Leon Festinger in his book The Human Legacy (1983, Columbia University Press), when he states on page 135 that, "the earliest known [cave] paintings that are described as representations of scenes of warfare are rock paintings from Spain . . . [dating from] between 8,000 and 5,000 B.C."

• The theory has been put forward by some that since wars are fought mainly by men, therefore war is the result of "testosterone poisoning." This notion was demolished by a September 2013 report in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicating to the surprise of researchers that boosting testosterone levels in humans can promote generosity, but only when there is no threat of competition. The findings show that testosterone is implicated in behaviors that help to foster and maintain social relationships, indicating that its effects are more nuanced than previously thought, and that the hormone itself does not automatically lead to aggressive or warlike behavior.

It would appear from the foregoing evidence that our genes and hormones are not to blame, but rather something else is.

The Root Cause of War

Around 10,000 BCE, something astounding happened to the human species. That event is known as the Agrarian Revolution. For the first time, after millions of years of precarious forager-hunter existence, communities of humans were able to accumulate surpluses of food. Extra food meant food security, larger populations, settled communities, and most importantly, the accumulation of food wealth.

Accumulated wealth in the hands of the greediest, smartest, and strongest few translates as power over the rest. The ability to get others to do whatever you want is an intoxicating feeling. Once begun, social power amasses more social power in a cascading process of accumulation. Enough never seems to be enough.

The wealthy few who rule over the majority have a name - the oligarchy.

Drunk with power, primitive oligarchies began organizing their societies into hierarchies and developing social institutions that would protect and even extend their wealth and privileges. Walls were built, laws were promulgated and armed bodies of men were created. These were the first states. We call them city-states.

Writing was invented at this early juncture for two purposes: To delineate who owns what, and to glorify and justify the first oligarchs.

Primitive oligarchies began coveting the wealth of neighboring communities and making plans to usurp that wealth by the employment of organized violence. By means of bribery, false propaganda and coercion, they used commoners to construct the first walls and the first armies. Bingo! War!

However, having said this, one must concede the fact that without agriculture, oligarchies, and states, humans would still be living at a very primitive technological level, enduring short perilous lives in wilderness conditions.

Curing the Disease of War

The conventional and paltry medical meaning of cure is to alleviate symptoms for a while. However, a deeper and more realistic definition of cure is to get rid of a problem in such a way that it never returns.

Ending war means preventing the occurrence of warfare for all time. Prevention of war or any other pathology logically requires addressing and eliminating the root cause.

Over the course of thousands of years, city-states have evolved into our modern nation-states. The first oligarchies composed of priests and warriors have passed through multiple mutations over time to finally become today's millionaire and billionaire oligarchs, the fabled "1%," whose thirst for more power is matched by their ruthlessness in obtaining it.

Naturally, all institutions of each modern nation-state exist mainly to defend and extend the wealth and power of its resident oligarchy. Contrary to relentless oligarchic propaganda, nation-states do not serve the interests of the majorities living in them.

The fire that stokes modern war is nationalism, commonly known as patriotism, and its infernal engine is the nation-state. Once the peace-loving majority of the world understands this, it will become obvious that neither the United States, nor its military, nor the United Nations can ever play a part in the cure of the disease of war.

We must finally acknowledge that chasing after the fires started by this firebug and putting out his fires is never going to stop his criminal activity. Neither will removing all the fire-starting equipment from our own homes. And we can all agree that extinguishing fires isn't at all the same thing as preventing fires.

To extend this useful analogy further, fire prevention can only be achieved by uniting forces to track down the arsonist, disarm him, arrest him and extinguish his fiery career forever.

Step One in catching and putting an end to the activities of the firebug is to separate ourselves from the firebug, to stop identifying with and supporting the firebug.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 4 years ago

Canadian Government Bent on Expanding Weapon Sales Globally

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 11:37 By Anton Woronczuk, The Real News Network | Video Interview




ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore. And welcome to another edition of The Engler Report.

Joining us now is Yves Engler. Yves Engler is a Canadian commentator and author. His most recent book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's Foreign Policy.

Thanks for joining us, Yves.


WORONCZUK: So, earlier this month the Postmedia News reported that the Canadian government is going to try and support its domestic arms industry by expanding the number of countries with whom it can do arms deals. But earlier, in September 2013, the Harper government also said that it wouldn't support--or wouldn't sign an international arms treaty that would regulate its arms deals with foreign governments that are potential human rights abusers.

So my question is: who in the Canadian government is trying to expand the countries with whom the ‑Canadian government can do foreign arms deals?

ENGLER: Well, I think the Harper government has shown a very strong and militarist bent, has, you know, increased the Canadian military budget, has, you know, gone to war in Libya, Afghanistan, and been, you know, very vocal, supportive of militarism. And this is a kind of an extension of this.

They oppose efforts to control international weapons sales, hence their opposition to the UN Arms Trade Treaty. You know, at previous meetings of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, they bring members of the gun lobby in this country that they actually become part of the Canadian delegation to the negotiations around the Arms Trade Treaty. So they were sort of trying to undermine the treaty from inside and refusing to sign it right now.

So there's an organized arms industry in this country that sells something in the range of $12 billion a year in weapons sales, and they clearly have the ear of the government. And they would like to see--the Postmedia report that you referred to talked about how there is a concern within the arms industry in this country over sort of reductions in sales to traditional allies, be it the U.S., be it other NATO countries that are generally the main place that most Canadian weapons sales go.

And so the idea is is that opening up new markets--places like Columbia, other countries--adding those countries to the list of countries that Canadian weapons companies can sell to without special authorization.

And so I think that the Conservative government ideologically is very sympathetic to militarism. And they're also quite close to the arms industry.

So I think that's the kind of main forces driving these moves.

WORONCZUK: And so, what countries has the Canadian government engaged in arms deals with in the past? And maybe you could focus a bit on some arms deals to Middle Eastern governments.

ENGLER: Yeah. I mean, there's been a--you know, Canadian arms industry has been ranked, depending on how it's quantified, anything from the six biggest in the world to about the 12th biggest in the world. So it's a fairly significant arms industry. Most of that is components of larger weapons projects, often high-tech pieces that go into weapons that are actually built in the U.S. And there's, you know, some major corporations, companies like CAE, a Montreal-based company that's world leader in simulation technology and training fighter jet pilots [and the like]. And so there's a long history.

Light armored vehicles that are built in London, Ontario, that was one of the recent announcements of delivery of a significant number of light armored vehicles to Colombia. Much bigger--the second-biggest recipient of Canadian weapons after the U.S. is actually Saudi Arabia in recent years, and actually going back for quite a few years now. It sort of varies a little bit depending on the year. But billions of dollars in Canadian light armored vehicles have been sent to Saudi Arabia in recent years. Those are light armored vehicles that we use to crack down on the pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain, when the Saudi forces entered Bahrain to prop up the 200-plus year monarchy in Bahrain.

There's been--there was--a year ago, the major arms fair in the Middle East, in the UAE, I believe it was the Canadian ambassador there was actively promoting all the Canadian companies that were at the arms fair and really sort of cheerleading. The Canadian government even sent a Canadian naval vessel to the region during the arms fair to sort of, like, show Canada's military might. And oftentimes our naval vessels are used as a way to generate weapons sales globally.

So the Canadian government is--Canadian companies have been selling weapons all around the world. One of the ones that got a lot of controversy--this is going back seven, eight, nine years ago--was SNC-Lavalin that had received a huge order to sell bullets to the U.S. military because the U.S. military had used up so many of its bullets in Iraq. And so they get a huge order for SNC-Lavalin. Fortunately, in that case the peace movement, the antiwar movement launched a campaign against SNC-Lavalin and was successful in forcing SNC-Lavalin to actually sell its bullet-making component of the company.

So yeah, there's a long history of Canadian weapons sales globally, and the Harper government seems bent on expanding those weapons sales, whatever the consequences for human rights globally.

WORONCZUK: Yves, thanks so much for that report.

ENGLER: Thanks for having me.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 4 years ago

The New Neocons Are "Socialist" (They Say)

Saturday, 25 January 2014 09:22 By Pierre Guerlain, Truthout | Op-Ed


Recently, French President François Hollande visited Saudi Arabia, and commentators noted that France was trying to take advantage of a cooling of relations between the United States and that country to, among other things, sell weapons to the not very democratic kingdom. France also is set to benefit from Lebanese arms purchases funded by Saudi Arabia. In the Geneva negotiations between Iran and six countries, the foreign minister of France, Laurent Fabius, proved the toughest negotiator and claimed that Iran would violate the agreement. During a visit to Israel, supposedly socialist Hollande was effusive in the expression of his friendship for far-rightist Benjamin Netanyahu - although the latter had publicly humiliated Hollande during a state visit to France in fall 2012. All the signs are there that French foreign policy not only follows in the footsteps of the one chosen by pro-Bush Nicolas Sarkozy - but has moved even farther to the right than US foreign policy.

Hollande calls himself a socialist, although he promotes typical neoliberal policies in economics and is more willing to cut social spending than to think twice before launching a war. He is said to have felt betrayed when President Obama, finally, decided not to use military force in Syria. France officially supported the Syrian opposition and is only now realizing that the situation in that country is more complex than a nasty regime fighting democrats who want a new Arab spring. Precisely at the point when Obama is moving toward a more sensible approach to Iran, and maybe the whole Middle East, France is stepping into the boots of the neocons. In foreign policy, Hollande is to the right of Jacques Chirac and much to the right of the latest incarnation of Obama.

For Europeans - and notably southern Europeans - opposition to US foreign policy had been a staple since the Vietnam war. Huge majorities opposed the Iraq war. Now it seems that France wishes to be a kind of mini-Bush in the world. To all intents and purposes, France has become part of the informal alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia and is now taking sides in the brutal conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslim groups. These conflicts were exacerbated by the US war in Iraq, as is well-known in geopolitical circles. This change often is presented as a clever commercial move for the French, who hope to benefit from the flaps between the United States and its allies. Whatever benefits might accrue are bound to be peanuts for an economy that is not in great shape.

The United States, of course, is still the leader in illegal killings by drones and special-ops interventions all over the globe. It can be faulted for not pushing for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet Obama took a little positive step in negotiations with Iran and wisely decided not to bomb Syria. Congress does not like these timid gestures, which, however, make peace likelier. And now American neocons, the same people who in 2003 called the French "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," are full of praise for what they call Hollande's determination or toughness. Hollande is anything but a tough guy; he gives up in most fights and is now jettisoning all social programs. As a "socialist," he should be worried about where the praise comes from. McCain praising a "socialist" - where is the mistake? I prefer Paul Krugman's critique of Hollande: He includes Hollande in the group of "spineless, muddleheaded politicians on the moderate left."

Hollande claims to be close to Obama (although the feeling does not seem to be mutual), but his foreign policy decisions, most probably inspired by a set of advisers and cronies, make him a closet Republican. If he were a true friend of Israel, as he claims to be, he would tell the leaders of that country what Jewish Voice for Peace or Peter Beinart say about the regime, not to mention Jimmy Carter - who is no leftist. If he were a true friend of the Palestinians, he also would warn about the deleterious impact of the so-called Jewish settlements. If he were a true friend of peace, he would push for a settlement with Iran and not send French troops to Africa without active support from other Europeans (he did get a UN decision). French foreign policy may be stealing a page from Clinton's book - for it seems to be dictated by economic considerations - yet the realignment now in progress takes France farther from the US under Obama.

In the past, France often was a leader in resisting the United States. De Gaulle criticized the war in Vietnam, and the public in France loved it. Chirac, who had some remnants of Gaullism in his opportunistic political makeup, opposed the war in Iraq. Then Sarkozy sucked up to Bush, and now faux-socialist Hollande sabotages or tries to sabotage Obama's few progressive steps. Of course, France is a medium-sized power that cannot do much on its own. So France's planes and macho bravado had to be camouflaged when the US decided not to bomb Syria. Yet in PR terms, a new French opposition to the United States is beneficial because it leads to some, admittedly marginal, commercial gains.

Former French criticism of US militarism or military adventurism was progressive; it was not necessarily socialist, but it was a voice, among many others, warning the United States about its "demons in the cellar" - to use Anatol Lieven's phrase. Today, criticism of US use of drones would be in order. In the case of NSA spying activities, France's reaction, compared with Brazil's, was rather muted when it should have been loud (that is, if the French did not have their own version of illegal spying, too). Yet what the new neo-cons in France are doing is criticizing the United States for the wrong reasons. When Obama faces tough battles in the Senate, it is rather unfortunate that a difficult ally should prove as nasty as the warmongers and hawks in Congress.

Leftists in the United States frequently argue that Eisenhower today would be considered a dangerous radical, especially with his warning about the military-industrial complex. Hollande is said to have betrayed the left in his domestic agenda - but that betrayal is even clearer in his foreign policy. He stands to the right of De Gaulle in the company of American reactionaries. If this is "socialist," then the world should be protected from such cynical hijacking of political labels.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 0 points by RadicalsUnite (94) 4 years ago

does mad work when whole planet is risked?