All posts by CPNN Coordinator

About CPNN Coordinator

Dr David Adams is the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly.

From Nazra for Feminist Studies (Egypt): A Letter of Solidarity; Together, We Stand in Solidarity..To Build

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

A letter from Nazra for Feminist Studies (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License)

At the present time, we and humanity as a whole are experiencing a new crisis, which can be considered the biggest crisis of our modern time. In these times, the world adopts a number of feminist values and convey them to the globe such as joining forces in times of fear, loss and build, collective responsibility and action towards our survival, international cooperation and collectiveness in order to understand and identify ways to overcome this crisis.

COVID-19 pandemic not only comes as a threat to our lives, but it threatens women by increasing the possibilities of discrimination and oppression against them. In light of this development, we reconsider the concept of survival for these women, while revisiting the different intersectionalities of women’s lives.

In this moment, we, women and feminists, are conscious of the magnitude of the fears, burdens and risks that we face.

Additionally, we realize that we have a significant role towards humanity in which history testifies for us playing this role in previous similar times. Moreover, we are aware of how to cooperate with others in order to develop values of feminist solidarity as well as our responsibilities toward each other’s and toward our causes.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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We are aware that together we can build bridges to cross over the fears and dangers and together we can build a new start in history for the feminist movement.

The feminist movement has continuously established feminist solidarity and collective action, while consolidating their values and disseminating them to the world through inspiring experiences. Most of these experiences reflect dedication, sacrifice and the adoption of collective survival values to enhance women’s lives. The feminist movements, wave after another have learned how to fight oppressive and discriminatory structures while being mindful of the intersectionality of women’s conditions. Moreover, they learned how to build and make progress out of major crises.

This message in such times is a reminder to ourselves and to feminist activists all over the world that we are aware of what to be done.

We know that this is a time to hold strongly to our values and causes, it is a time to share our experiences, to share our agonies and fears, to share awareness and develop it together, to exchange ideas, support and feminist solidarity, a time to build.

We know that this is a time to think about all the women who are now frightened and threatened and in need of our voices. A time to make sure that we listen to women and their experiences, and we know very well that these crises as they present pain to women, they provide them with resistance and resilience.

This time might constitute a new beginning, and we need to cooperate together and to evolve together in order to survive through various means and with an awareness that is shaped by us to present humanity with new rich values as we have always did that emanates from the continued act of resistance and dedication to defend women’s rights, while adhering to our feminist values.

(Thank you to Anwarul Chowdhury for calling our attention to this article.)

A global call from Palestine Action for the Planet

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

 An blog by Mazin Qumsiyeh in the Popular Resistance Blogspot

More and more people realize that the current global political and economic structures are unable to deal with global climate crisis, the endless conflicts, proliferation of WMD, and the increased frequency of pandemics. This is no longer just a question of morality and rights but a question of our survival as a civilization and as a planet facing mass extinction. erg,” he said.

World War II transformed our planet in ways not foreseen before, including creating instruments like the United Nations ostensibly to stop wars and conflict and encourage cooperation across borders. Yet we have had many wars and economic blockades and inequality that have killed tens of millions of people since 1945. A large part of this had to do with the flawed system created: the dominance of five nations at the UN, the presumption that challenges in 1945 would be the same as our challenges decades later, and the hegemony of the United States, then thought to be more benevolent than others as a policeman of the world. This hegemony includes the use of the US dollar in global trade and as a reserve currency even after the US dropped the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. The IMF and World Bank instruments also drifted to become tools of hegemony and control.

This system, whether one thinks it worked for a while or not, is clearly unsustainable in the 2020s and beyond – an era of global challenges such as climate change and pandemics. The COVID-19 crisis shows clearly that we cannot continue in this system of supposed “growth” in certain national economies via rampant uncontrolled capitalism and hegemony of rich individuals and corporations who can and do usurp democracy, including via mass media. The rich thus got richer and the poor poorer even in supposedly rich countries. 

We humans of all backgrounds, living across this planet must work together to create new paradigms and systems. We collectively make this urgent call to restructure: not just to face this COVID-19 crisis, but to face climate change and future global challenges.

Boldly, we demand and will work towards these objectives:

1)  The institutions created following World War II were dominated by the five victors and now must be democratized and transformed to serve all people of this planet particularly the impoverished people. This can be done via votes proportional to populations and via ensuring collective global security.  A new program for a healthier global system can and must be developed with the widest participation of professionals and the general public. It will build on the excellent UN Sustainable Development Goals and other conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Building on those is with the aim of sustainability and survival of our species and our fragile ecosystems. But communities and countries can also start such programs without waiting for change in the UN system.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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2) Measuring development by GDP or the averaged PPP (GDP per person averaged at a national level) is a misleading approach and ignores human needs. We demand that governments do not burden future generations with debt and an illusion of growth that is profiting few at the expense of the many. The earth has plenty of resources and production to keep all of us healthy and well-fed when we reset our priorities towards: social services (the elderly and others in need), agriculture (especially permaculture), health, education, and research (technological advances that help sustainability).

3) Drastically reduce military spending (increasingly militarized police) and redirect to serve rather than kill and exploit people. Even a small fraction of the 1.8 trillion spent on the military annually would be enough to end hunger and cure pandemics.

4) We can choose to respond to crises without giving-up on our liberties. History has shown that national authorities remove our liberties in crises and then rarely return them in full. To address this, citizens must vote directly on certain issues and all measures must expire and be renewed, if need be, within a reasonable timeframe via a vote by citizens

5) Nationalism as a political organizational structure has run its course and like other systems before it (city-states, kingdoms, and empires) must now evolve into a new system to face new realities of global threats. The nature of a new system needs significant thinking, but it is clear that to respond to an increasingly global crisis (climate change and pandemics), we have to have both local empowerment and global systems of joint struggle and solidarity. A corollary of this is that certain natural resources such as the Amazon rainforest and oceans must be protected as a planetary resource, and not left to the whims of national systems that can shift quickly for greed and imperialism. Thus, we must strengthen local communities, particularly native people. Another corollary is that we must limit national authority and create new systems that challenge colonialism, racism, sexism, and exploitation.

6) We must abandon our consumerist ways by living simply and humbly and reducing our footprints on this earth. We aim for zero-waste, for using renewable energy, for growing our own food in our own communities, and for cleaner, and healthier environment for all of us (humans, fauna, flora).  Reduce, Recycle, Refuse Refuse. Reduce our use of water (e.g. via compost toilets, proper water management, etc.) and of material and supplies (living humbly). Reduce solid wastes, plastics, and fossil fuels (towards final elimination). Recycle what cannot be eliminated. But most significantly refuse the urge to shop (consumerism).

7) Decrease building of massive and much unneeded infrastructure like stadiums and dams and increase vegetation preferably with native trees and bushes.

8)   Reconnect to nature and learn from it. Ecosystem balance must be restored. We humans must recognize ourselves as part of nature and live in harmony with it.

Covid-19: A new organization of the world is essential (Moroccan university professor)

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from APA News (translation by CPNN)

Mr. Abdelmoughit Benmassoud Tredano, Professor of Political Science and Geopolitics at Mohammed V University in Rabat, provides an analysis of post-Covid-19 international relations, as well as the first lessons from the coronavirus crisis.

According to him, the crisis has only just begun with the collapse of the stock markets, the fall in the price of oil, against a background of war between the powers, and other more or less serious signals. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Now a new organization of the world is essential. First, at the individual, group and national level, individualism is outdated and solidarity is needed instead.

Also, an understanding of the uniqueness of humans and our common destiny must replace the carefree attitude of before. This certainly implies rethinking the organization of the world on all levels, in the sense of less globalization and above all the rehabilitation of the welfare state, predicts Pr. Tredano.

According to the Director of the Moroccan Journal of Political and Social Sciences and President of the Center for Research and Studies in Social Sciences (CRESS), a new organization of the world must be envisaged and new modes of production and distribution of wealth must be researched and applied. Suffice to say that a challenge to globalization is not only imperative but even beneficial.

“This is not a luxury but an essential and perhaps saving choice. Now we face the choice between the extinction of humanity and our survival. It may seem overwhelming and excessive, but the choice is there, “said the Moroccan academic, author of numerous works, books, articles and studies on internal and international political issues.

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(click here for the original version in French)

Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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This is an opportunity as well as a crisis. The Covid-19 crisis “can have a virtue: that of allowing the planet a certain break,” he maintains. For him, what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and environmentalists could not impose on economic and financial policy makers, the crisis linked to this pandemic is, in part, realizing it.

Apparently, the air in the Chinese city of Wuhan is starting to be breathable; and the water in the canals of Venice (Italy) has become more transparent!

The coronavirus pandemic poses many challenges. Europe and the world are discovering that they all depend on China; economic indendence, in fact independence in general, is in question.

Also, a questioning of globalization supposes a beginning of relocation and reindustrialisation, he explains, adding that we must re-establish a circular economy, ecological solidarity, cooperation and proximity.

The academic also stresses that the organization of the world by regional groups must be adopted because no single state can stand alone, unless it is an entire continent. He insists on the imperative of solidarity between peoples and states, in these times of planetary crisis.

The global geopolitical configuration will be completely turned upside down, he acknowledges, noting that the signals since at least 2003 are becoming clearer: Europe is crumbling, America is floundering and Asia is asserting itself.

Pointing out that following each world geopolitical cataclysm, there is a need to build a new international order, Professor Tredano believes that the idea of ​​the coexistence of regional and international powers is a track and a guarantee that avoids the domination of the powerful.

“International cooperation must be effective and not just as a slogan that we wave in all international forums if we are to be able to effectively deal with crisis situations such as the one we are currently experiencing. Now everything is global!,” underlines the Professor.

While waiting for a “demondialization”, he continues, the culture of peace and tolerance must be established. “It must meet fundamental and unavoidable conditions of collective life of peoples and states in a difficult and complex world. All of this presupposes a new organization of the world.”

Gorbachev: Time to Revise the Entire Global Agenda

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An interview of Mikhail Gorbachev by World Beyond War

Q: How did you take the news of the pandemic?

A: I think I took it the way most people did. Initially, there was hope that it could be controlled, localized. But things took a very different turn and the epidemic spread far and wide. Unprecedented measures and decisions became necessary. Leaders, citizens and international organizations found themselves in an extremely difficult situation. All of this will have to be thoroughly analyzed, but the priority now is to take things in hand and defeat this new, vicious enemy.


Image of Mikhail Gorbachev from recent BBC interview

Q: How do you assess the measures now being taken?


A: The main concern must be people’s security and saving people’s lives. I assume that the steps now being taken are based on science and the advice of the most competent experts. Right now they are practically unanimous that lockdown is necessary. This is something both the authorities and the people must accept. A lot depends on people’s behavior. Utmost responsibility and discipline is of the essence. Then we may hope that the worst could be avoided.

Q: Is it time yet for lessons learned? Do you agree that the world will never be the same?


A: That depends precisely on what lessons will be learned. I recall recent history of how we addressed the nuclear threat. We understood that it is our common enemy, a threat to all of us, and the leaders of two nations, the Soviet Union and the United States declared that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Then came Reykjavik and the first treaties eliminating nuclear weapons. By now, 85% of those arsenals have been eliminated. We must continue along this path but we now see new challenges. Together with my friends in the Forum of Nobel Peace Laureates we have for years been calling for a radical rethinking of international politics. Let me quote from out appeal adopted back in 2005:

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Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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“Focusing on meeting human needs and having a reverence for life are the foundation of human security. Excessive military expenditures actually breeds insecurity. Two areas where funds need to be channeled by the international community are education and health, particularly regarding the scourges of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through both protection and prevention.” What could one add to this? Just the name of the new dreadful disease.

Over the past five years all we’ve been hearing is talk about weapons, missiles and airstrikes. But is it not clear by now that wars and the arms race cannot solve today’s global problems? War is a defeat, a failure of politics! This common tragedy has reminded us of the futility of trying to go into hiding and sit it out, ignoring the threats that we face. In today’s world, no one can hope to go into hiding!

And so I’ll never tire of repeating: We need to demilitarize world affairs, international politics and political thinking and reallocate funds from military purposes to the purposes serving human security. We need to rethink the very concept of security. Above all else, security should mean providing food, water, which is already in short supply, a clean environment and, as top priority, caring for people’s health.

To achieve human security we need to develop strategies, make preparations, plan and create reserves. This should be the responsibility of national leaders and leaders at all levels.

I believe that preparations should start now for an Emergency Session of the United Nations General Assembly, to be held as soon as the situation is stabilized. It should be about nothing less than revising the entire global agenda.

Q: Could I ask how things have changed for you and for the Gorbachev Foundation?


A: Of course we are complying with all requirements and we have had to start working from home. I am communicating with colleagues by phone and we have created a discussion platform on the web. We’ll be adapting to the new circumstances. I’ve been asked to write an additional chapter for the English edition of my book What Is At Stake Now, to account for the new developments. I have agreed and will work on it.

Thanks to Pavel Palazhchenko and Metta Spencer.

The world needs solidarity. Join #UN75

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

A survey from The United Nations

The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. Will we emerge stronger and better equipped to work together? Or will distrust and isolation grow further? 2020 must be a year of dialogue, when we come together to discuss our priorities as a human family, and how we can build a better future for all.

Why now?

Covid-19 is a stark reminder of the need for cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Our response will determine how fast the world recovers, whether we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and how well we handle pressing challenges: from the climate crisis to pandemics, inequalities, new forms of violence, and rapid changes in technology and in our population.

But just when we need collective action more than ever, support for global cooperation has been flagging. In many countries, public trust in traditional institutions is in decline and relations between countries have been under strain. Will this pandemic bring the world closer together? Or will it lead to greater mistrust? Global dialogue – and action – is now more urgent than ever.

What is UN75 doing?

In January 2020, we launched our global dialogue initiative, and discussions have taken place in all settings, from classrooms to boardrooms, across the world. In order to reach as many people as possible, we have built partnerships with youth, civil society, business and media organisations, and created a one-minute survey that is quick and easy to complete.

We have always placed strong emphasis on online engagement, through virtual dialogues and social media, and are now increasing these efforts in light of Covid-19. We are also working with our partners to take planned events into the digital space, and find innovative ways to engage audiences in line with WHO guidelines and local health regulations.

Why join?

It is vital that your voice is heard at this crucial time for the world. Your views, concerns and ideas will be presented to world leaders and senior UN officials at the official commemoration of the 75th Anniversary by the UN General Assembly in September 2020. After September, groups around the world will discuss how best to take forward the priorities and proposals generated.

Each conversation is an opportunity to encourage individuals to take actions in their own lives in line with what they have heard and learned. They can yield insights and evidence that national and international organisations can apply. Findings may inspire new programmes, investments, partnerships and campaigns, among other options. A global platform to illustrate key outcomes of discussions is being developed by the UN75 team.

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(click here for the version in French or click here for the version in Spanish.)

Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

(continued from left column).

How can I take part?

Take our one-minute survey and share it widely: www.un75.online

Check out the UN75 toolkit with guidelines on how to join, and inspire conversations and amplify voices through channels and communities for people to talk and be heard. We will be adding more information on online dialogues in the coming days

Follow @JoinUN75 and #UN75  on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and add your voice to the testimonials from people who have already taken part

One-minute survey

Overall, do you think that people in 2045 will be better off, worse off, the same as you are today?

Better
The same
Worse

If you picture the world you want in 25 years, what three things would you most want to see? (Select up to THREE)

More employment opportunities
More respect for human rights
Better access to education
Greater equality within countries
Greater equality between countries
Greater equality between men and women
More sustainable consumption and production
More environmental protection
Less conflict
Better access to healthcare
Better management of international migration
Other, please specify

Which of these global trends do you think will most affect our future (Select up to THREE)

Risks arising from new technologies (data privacy, impacts on jobs)
Climate change and environmental issues (e.g. pollution, deforestation)
Forced migration and displacement (e.g. people fleeing conflict or disasters)
Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
Armed conflict and politically motivated violence
Rapid changes in our populations (e.g. more people living in cities, ageing populations)
Risk of terrorism
Cyber warfare and new forms of weapons (e.g. artificial intelligence weapons)
Breakdown in relations between countries
Risks related to health (e.g. pandemics, greater resistance to antibiotics)
Organised crime (e.g. trafficking)
Other, please specify

How important – or not – is it for countries to work together to manage the above trends?

Essential
Very important
Fairly important
Not very important
Not important at all

What would you advise the UN Secretary-General to do to address these global trends?
(140 characters) – OPTIONAL

Coronavirus as a Chance for System Change: 5 Suggestions from Tamera

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from Tamera

We’re living in times in which things are happening we didn’t think were possible up until recently. We see the worrying developments towards totalitarian societies. We see communities and societies across the globe experiencing losses of loved ones in great and growing numbers, as well as widespread chaos, the disruption of support networks and a shortage of necessities. We see that this disproportionately impacts elders and historically marginalized populations. We see misery, fear and loneliness as so many are restricted to isolation and quarantine. We see health systems overwhelmed, and support staff overworked and underpaid.

But we also see many examples of courage and solidarity. And we experience nature taking a deep breath of relief. What will all this lead to? Will we return to everyday normality in any foreseeable future? Or will we as humanity seize this opportunity for a deep system change? Will we make a fresh start and build a culture aligned with life? Many friends have asked us what we think about the coronavirus crisis and how we are dealing with it. There are many answers on different levels. In the following, we summarize some of our thought-lines and suggestions for action.

For all those who love life and this Earth, the crisis represents a great opportunity, in addition to all its challenges: now, we have the opportunity to join forces worldwide to achieve a shared goal, develop social cohesion, set up decentralized structures, a solidarity economy – a genuine reboot. In times of such upheaval, it can be easy to become distracted by differing opinions. We invite the consideration that what we do, think and imagine now will help to shape the future.

We believe that a likely outcome of this crisis will be an economic collapse and thus significant restrictions to supply systems. In addition, there’s the danger the crisis will be used to attack democracy and civil rights and to impose totalitarian structures and mass surveillance with the help of modern technology. In some countries (such as China, India, Israel, and the Philippines) we are already observing such developments and the great suffering of those affected. In this scenario, a climate of fear and the avoidance of contact will make social cohesion increasingly difficult – therefore aggravating people’s attempts to organize, offer mutual support and resist human rights violations.

It’s right to act in solidarity now, also regarding the instructions of governments. But when we witness lies, injustice and human rights violations, we cannot remain silent.
In this situation, it’s imperative we work in a constructive direction. Now our global collective intelligence is needed. The situation challenges us all to understand and thoroughly transform the structures of society and our own inner patterns. Some suggestions from our perspective of system change:

1. Understand and disarm fear

The most dangerous and infectious virus is the virus of fear. Undetected and unconscious fears have always triggered defensive behaviors that become solidified in aggression, wars, fascism and the persecution of historically oppressed populations. If we are privileged enough to be able to stop our busyness for a while, let’s use it to understand our fears and disarm them.

This also includes a critical approach to information. We know the mechanisms of mainstream mass media and the pressure to think alike, especially in crisis situations. However, it would not be the first time in history that the one single story explaining the situation turned out to be wrong. That is why we must maintain our critical perspective, remain open to other sources of information, and have the courage to say what we believe to be true – while remaining open to hear the views of others.

2. Solidarity

As a community, Tamera is guided by the ethical principles of responsibility, truth and mutual support. We believe these values to be essential, especially during such times. Now is the moment to ensure that connections and relationships developing in the worldwide community are strengthened, rather than eroded.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

(continued from left column).

Above all, let’s not forget those who are suffering most under the crisis. This includes refugees at closed borders and in large camps; all people in tight conditions such as slums; the homeless, street children, and undocumented people, especially in countries with totalitarian tendencies.

We invite you to consider how you can act in solidarity from where you are, leveraging your privileges and your voice. Let’s speak out against the restrictions of human and civil rights being imposed in the name of health and safety, and especially to resist any kind of divisive propaganda that blames “others” (especially people of color) for this crisis.
Tamera is currently closed for visitors and so we’re unable to meet our network partners in the region, but we’re committed to keeping in close touch and staying alert for where support and solidarity are needed.

3. Decentralization

Let’s make ourselves more independent from a collapsing globalized system! Now is the time to strengthen our regional networks and organize our food, water and energy supply as far as possible in a regional and decentralized way. Let’s support the farmers and producers in our region. Let’s grow our own food – always in cooperation with nature. Let’s share the surplus with those who can’t do that. Let’s save seeds. Let’s get to know and care for our water sources. Let’s collect rainwater in local retention structures and swales and use it wisely. Let’s strengthen decentralized energy production through solar and wind power – let’s share information and construct alternative energy technologies together, such as solar cookers and biogas systems for cooking.

Decentralization also includes taking responsibility for health, education and communications: we also need independence from global suppliers by establishing reliable regional cooperation in these areas.

4. Envisioning

The power of the dominant capitalist system is partly based on people’s inability to imagine functioning alternatives. Buckminster Fuller said, “The world is now too dangerous for anything less than utopia.” For those who have access to outdoor spaces, this situation is a special opportunity to rediscover our contact with nature and with life itself. In this time where normality is interrupted, we have the chance to truly ask ourselves: How do we want to live? What does a world look like in which people live together in solidarity and contact with nature and each other? What opportunity do we have to build functioning decision-making and supply structures in food, water and energy? How can we regain lost power to think, to love, to be there for each other? Let’s allow ourselves to connect with these visions, for they are so much more than individual fantasies. They are actually possibilities aligned with an evolutionary direction inherent to life.

5. A global direction

Now that old systems are failing, our prayer is that more people will gain a deeper understanding of a possible, shared direction for which we can join forces: a fundamental system change towards a culture of partnership. We believe this includes building communities that dissolve mistrust and historical trauma among themselves and become capable of trust, truth, and autonomous thinking; regions that produce their own food and energy on the basis of cooperation with nature; a deep understanding of the sacred matrix and the Earth as a living being; healing love and reconciliation of the sexes; and cooperation with universal powers – the indefinable mystery to which we all belong. This also includes overcoming old pictures of what an “enemy” is. Even viruses don’t need to be seen as enemies, but parts of the shared body of life, bringing corrections to light that are necessary for healing.

All this encompasses what is meant by the Healing Biotopes Plan. We’re now taking the time to study its basic ideas anew and to deepen them. (From May 11 to 31, we will offer an online course on this topic!)

To conclude, we would like to give you some inspiration from the unpublished essay, “Future Vision” by Sabine Lichtenfels. It was written in 2008 and is very relevant for today. It is a description of a possible future, looking back on the essential changes that were part of the construction of a new nonviolent world. She writes:

“We had no other choice left. The external pressure increased enormously and compelled us to awaken our inner awareness and power for change. The external circumstances forced us to become impeccable. They forced us to discover and develop the place within us where we were truly unassailable. The decisive event, which was even now able to initiate a new future, was the return to the certainty of God’s existence. The luminous quality that we habitually projected into the afterlife is in reality already present in our bodies. A great certainty and joy of being suddenly awoke and motivated us to renew our actions. We knew: If we are able to live a life in which we understand how to end war fully, then this will bring about a new reality.”

USA: A Department of Actual Defense in a Time of Coronavirus

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by David Swanson in Pressenza (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license)

When a few thousand people were murdered on September 11, 2001, I was actually stupid enough – I kid you not – to imagine that the general public would conclude that because massive military forces, nuclear arsenals, and foreign bases had done nothing to prevent and much to provoke those crimes, the U.S. government would need to start scaling back its single biggest expense. By September 12th it was clear that the opposite course would be followed.


Louisiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen test first responders for COVID-19 infections at Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 20, 2020. The testing site is one of three across New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes and will soon open to the general public. (Image by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh)

Since 2001, we have seen the U.S. government dump over a trillion dollars a year into militarism, and push the rest of the world to expend another trillion dollars a year, much of it on U.S.-made weapons. We’ve seen the creation of permawars, and the normalization of long-distance, push-button murder with drone wars. All of this has generated more terrorism in the name of fighting it. And it has come at the expense of actual defense.

A government agency aimed at actually defending people from actual dangers would cease activities that are counter-productive, that cause major environmental and climate destruction, and that consume resources that could be put to good use. Militarism meets all of those criteria.

Coronavirus will kill many more than a few thousand people, even just in the United States. The death toll there may fall between 200,000 and 2,200,000. That high figure would be 0.6% of the U.S. population, which compares with 0.3% of the U.S. population killed by World War II, or 5.0% of the Iraqi population killed in the war begun in 2003. The low figure of 200,000 would be 67 times the death count from 9-11. Should we expect to see the U.S. government expending $67 trillion a year on health and wellness? Even one sixty-seventh of that, even a mere trillion a year spent where it’s actually useful could work wonders.

The microscopic little virus, just like the men with boxcutters on airplanes, is simply not addressed by military spending. On the contrary, the environmental destruction of militarism and of the dominant global culture as a whole very likely contributes to the mutation and spread of such viruses. Factory farming and carnivorism likely contribute as well. And at least some diseases, such as Lyme and Anthrax, have been spread by military labs doing openly offensive or supposedly defensive work on bioweapons.

A Department of Actual Defense, as opposed to a Department of War renamed Defense, would be looking very hard at the twin dangers of nuclear and climate apocalypse, and the accompanying spin-offs like coronavirus. I don’t mean looking at them with an eye to militarizing borders, getting more oil out of the arctic as the ice melts, demonizing immigrants to sell more weapons, or developing “smaller” and “more usable” nukes. We have all of that sociopathy already. I mean looking at these threats in order to actually defend against them.

The biggest dangers include:

* poor health, and poor diets and lifestyles that contribute to poor health,

* particular diseases and ecosystem destruction that contributes to them,

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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* poverty and financial insecurity that lead to poor health and to the inability to take necessary steps against a disease like coronavirus,

* suicide, and the unhappy lives and mental illness and access to guns that contribute,

* accidents, and the transportation and workplace policies that contribute,

* War is a top cause of death where there are wars. Foreign terrorism is nowhere remotely near a top cause of death in nations that wage distant wars.

The disastrous response that we are seeing from the U.S. and other governments to the current disaster should put to rest once and for all the notion that people will automatically become better and wiser once things get bad enough.

Those proclaiming empire over and capitalism dead should get a grip on themselves. Capitalism is thriving, as is empire. A culture that has spent decades preparing to act badly when the COVID-19 hits the fan cannot be made to be acting wisely simply by declaring it so.

But acting disastrously is not inevitable. It’s a choice, albeit a difficult one to change quickly. It’s popular to predict that climate collapse will cause war, but climate collapse can’t cause a war in a culture that doesn’t use war. What causes war, or insider trading and pandemic profiteering, or negligent mass homicide is the preparation of systems designed for those things and for nothing else.

We could prepare a society and a government for positive steps instead. A Department of Actual Defense would need to be global, not national, but a national government could do a cheap imitation of parts of it that would be wild improvements over what we’re seeing now. Such a department might encompass what’s been conceived of as a Department of Peace, an agency aimed at moving from violence to nonviolence. But a Department of Actual Defense would also be dedicated to preventing all major harm.

Imagine if everyone on earth right now had financial security and top medical care. We would all be better off in many ways. That task may sound dreamy or visionary, but it is actually radically smaller than the task of building the militaries that have been built in recent years.

Imagine if climate collapse were being treated like the urgent emergency that coronavirus is now understood to be. Climate collapse should have been treated that way many years ago. The sooner it is, the easier things will be. The later, the harder. Why choose the harder road?

Imagine if the nuclear doomsday clock being closer to midnight than ever before were addressed appropriately, with some hint of interest from human governments in human survival. That’s a project that costs nothing and saves billions — so, feel free to mock it, but not to scream howyagonnapayforit. Nobody screams that for military-sized corporate bailouts anyway.

A Department of Actual Defense would not be a military attacking a different enemy. The problem of disease or illness is one to be addressed as much by improved environment, lifestyle, and diet as by medicine, and by an approach to medicine that attempts all solutions whether or not they resemble “attacking” the “enemy” virus.

A Department of Actual Defense would train pro-environment workers, disaster-relief workers, and suicide-prevention workers in the tasks of protecting the environment, relieving disasters, and preventing suicide, as opposed to training and arming them all to kill large number of people with weapons but then assigning them to other tasks. We don’t need a military redirected but disbanded.

What humanity needs is not a better militarism, but a better humanity.

Discuss this on this webinar on April 7.

Time to Change America: seven suggestions

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by W. J. Astore in Bracing Views

In my latest article for  TomDispatch.com, I argue that the coronavirus crisis provides an opportunity to reimagine America.  Please read the entire article  at TomDispatch; what follows is an extended excerpt.  Thanks!


There’s only one Spaceship Earth

This should be a time for a genuinely new approach, one fit for a world of rising disruption and disaster, one that would define a new, more democratic, less bellicose America. To that end, here are seven suggestions, focusing — since I’m a retired military officer — mainly on the U.S. military, a subject that continues to preoccupy me, especially since, at present, that military and the rest of the national security state swallow up roughly 60% of federal discretionary spending:

1. If ever there was a time to reduce our massive and wasteful military spending, this is it. There was never, for example, any sense in investing up to $1.7 trillion over the next 30 years to “modernize” America’s nuclear arsenal. (Why are new weapons needed to exterminate humanity when the “old” ones still work just fine?) Hundreds of stealth fighters and bombers — it’s estimated that Lockheed Martin’s disappointing F-35 jet fighter alone will cost $1.5 trillion over its life span — do nothing to secure us from pandemics, the devastating effects of climate change, or other all-too-pressing threats. Such weaponry only emboldens a militaristic and chauvinistic foreign policy that will facilitate yet more wars and blowback problems of every sort. And speaking of wars, isn’t it finally time to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan? More than $6 trillion has already been wasted on those wars and, in this time of global peril, even more is being wasted on this country’s forever conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa. (Roughly $4 billion a month continues to be spent on Afghanistan alone, despite all the talk about “peace” there.)

2. Along with ending profligate weapons programs and quagmire wars, isn’t it time for the U.S. to begin dramatically reducing its military “footprint” on this planet? Roughly 800 U.S. military bases circle the globe in a historically unprecedented fashion at a yearly cost somewhere north of $100 billion. Cutting such numbers in half over the next decade would be a more than achievable goal. Permanently cutting provocative “war games” in South Korea, Europe, and elsewhere would be no less sensible. Are North Korea and Russia truly deterred by such dramatic displays of destructive military might?

3. Come to think of it, why does the U.S. need the immediate military capacity to fight two major foreign wars simultaneously, as the Pentagon continues to insist we do and plan for, in the name of “defending” our country? Here’s a radical proposal: if you add 70,000 Special Operations forces to 186,000 Marine Corps personnel, the U.S. already possesses a potent quick-strike force of roughly 250,000 troops. Now, add in the Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions and the 10th Mountain Division. What you have is more than enough military power to provide for America’s actual national security. All other Army divisions could be reduced to cadres, expandable only if our borders are directly threatened by war.

(Article continued on the right column)

Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

(Article continued from the left column)

Similarly, restructure the Air Force and Navy to de-emphasize the present “global strike” vision of those services, while getting rid of Donald Trump’s newest service, the Space Force, and the absurdist idea of taking war into low earth orbit. Doesn’t America already have enough war here on this small planet of ours?

4. Bring back the draft, just not for military purposes. Make it part of a national service program for improving America. It’s time for a new Civilian Conservation Corps focused on fostering a Green New Deal. It’s time for a new Works Progress Administration to rebuild America’s infrastructure and reinvigorate our culture, as that organization did in the Great Depression years. It’s time to engage young people in service to this country. Tackling COVID-19 or future pandemics would be far easier if there were quickly trained medical aides who could help free doctors and nurses to focus on the more difficult cases. Tackling climate change will likely require more young men and women fighting forest fires on the west coast, as my dad did while in the CCC — and in a climate-changing world there will be no shortage of other necessary projects to save our planet. Isn’t it time America’s youth answered a call to service? Better yet, isn’t it time we offered them the opportunity to truly put America, rather than themselves, first?

5. And speaking of “America First,” that eternal Trumpian catch-phrase, isn’t it time for all Americans to recognize that global pandemics and climate change make a mockery of walls and go-it-alone nationalism, not to speak of politics that divide, distract, and keep so many down? President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that only Americans can truly hurt America, but there’s a corollary to that: only Americans can truly save America — by uniting, focusing on our common problems, and uplifting one another. To do so, it’s vitally necessary to put an end to fear-mongering (and warmongering). As President Roosevelt famously said in his first inaugural address in the depths of the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear inhibits our ability to think clearly, to cooperate fully, to change things radically as a community.

6. To cite Yoda, the Jedi master, we must unlearn what we have learned. For example, America’s real heroes shouldn’t be “warriors” who kill or sports stars who throw footballs and dunk basketballs. We’re witnessing our true heroes in action right now: our doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, together with our first responders, and those workers who stay in grocery stores, pharmacies, and the like and continue to serve us all despite the danger of contracting the coronavirus from customers. They are all selflessly resisting a threat too many of us either didn’t foresee or refused to treat seriously, most notably, of course, President Donald Trump: a pandemic that transcends borders and boundaries. But can Americans transcend the increasingly harsh and divisive borders and boundaries of our own minds? Can we come to work selflessly to save and improve the lives of others? Can we become, in a sense, lovers of humanity?

7. Finally, we must extend our love to encompass nature, our planet. For if we keep treating our lands, our waters, and our skies like a set of trash cans and garbage bins, our children and their children will inherit far harder times than the present moment, hard as it may be.

What these seven suggestions really amount to is rejecting a militarized mindset of aggression and a corporate mindset of exploitation for one that sees humanity and this planet more holistically. Isn’t it time to regain that vision of the earth we shared collectively during the Apollo moon missions: a fragile blue sanctuary floating in the velvety darkness of space, an irreplaceable home to be cared for and respected since there’s no other place for us to go? . . .

(Note: William Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history.)

(Thank you to Peter Veres who called this to our attention.)

Former UK Royal Navy Commanders call for nuclear cuts to help address Covid-19 pandemic

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Move the Nuclear Weapons Money

Three former UK Royal Navy Commanders sent a letter to all UK parliamentarians on April 1 questioning the policy of maintaining a continuous at sea nuclear deterrent.

The commanders note that the £2 billion a year cost of maintaining this nuclear posture and readiness for war appear to be unjustifiable, especially as the economic costs of the coronavirus pandemic are mounting, and while there appears to be no threat of a ‘bolt from the blue’ nuclear attack against the UK, for which the policy is intended to counter.

In addition, the letter questions the decision by parliament to invest even more substantial resources in building new nuclear warheads and the submarines to carry them.

“It is completely unacceptable that the UK continues to spend billions of pounds on deploying and modernising the Trident Nuclear Weapon System when faced with the threats to health, climate change and world economies that Coronavirus poses,” said Commander Robert Forsyth RN (Ret’d), a former nuclear submariner, signatory to the letter and supporter of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign.

The letter was organised by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and sent to all members of the UK House of Commons, UK House of Lords, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, and Northern Ireland Assembly.

(continued in right column)

Question related to this article:
 
Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

(continued from left column).

“This pandemic, and the inability of the British government to either prepare for or effectively respond to such an immediate threat to life, demonstrates the twisted priorities at the heart of nuclear weapons spending,’ said Tom Unterrainer, Director of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. “Rather than work to guarantee real security this government prioritises the acquisition and deployment of weapons of mass murder.”

The signatories to the letter hope that their efforts to question the nuclear ‘Continuous At Sea Deterrent’ will encourage politicians and the wider public to begin to question the morality and the feasibility of nuclear weaponry.

According to Commander Robert Green RN (Ret’d), former nuclear-armed aircraft bombardier-navigator and one of the other co-signers of the letter, ‘Nuclear deterrence is no more than a repulsive, unlawful protection racket used as a counterfeit currency of power, and hugely profitable to the corporate arms industry.’ (Commander Green is also a supporter of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign).

The letter was supported by a number of UK parliamentarians including Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP (SNP Westminster Group Leader), Lord Green of Deddington, Baroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer and Bill Kidd (Member, Scottish Parliament). Baroness Miller and Mr Kidd are the UK Co-Presidents of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).

“Covid-19 is showing us that humanity’s worst threats- pandemics and climate change are shared globally,’ said Baroness Sue Miller. ‘We should not waste resources on renewing nuclear weapons as we should be using all resources we can in tackling these all too real issues.’

All of the nuclear weapons powers, and those states which are supportive of them, are wasting precious resources on the likes of Trident against the wishes of their peoples, when they should be addressing the real and deadly enemy in the form of COVID19,’ said Bill Kidd MSP, who also serves as the Convenor of the Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Nuclear Disarmament.

“With human beings and national economies under genuine threat, it is the duty of governments and parliamentarians to pull back from nuclear war planning and preparation, and to instead cooperate internationally on facing down this deadly pandemic,” concluded Mr Kidd.

PAYNCoP Gabon and Engineers Without Borders join forces to fight COVID 19

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

Sent to CPNN by Jerry Bibang

As part of the fight against COVID 19, the Youth Association for Development (JED), member of PAYNCoP Gabon, and the NGO Engineers Without Borders (ISF) yesterday, Wednesday, April 1, served the populations of the district behind the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in the 1st arrondissement of the commune of Libreville, with a station for hand-washing.

(click here for the original version in French.)

Question related to this article:
 
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

(continued from left column).

The initiative is part of a project which consists of setting up handwashing stations in the under-integrated districts of Libreville and its surroundings, especially those experiencing difficulties in supplying drinking water. “The situation is more complex in these districts because access to drinking water is a real challenge for people, and sometimes they live together in small rooms, so it is difficult to respect the 1 meter distance. This is why we have targeted these areas,” said Darel Oliny, Executive Director of Engineers Without Borders in Gabon.

For Jerry Bibang, the National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon, this is an action that supports the efforts of the Government in the fight against the pandemic which is currently ravaging. “The public authorities started the war against COVID 19, as citizens and patriots, it is up to us to stand up and go to the front against the common enemy” he added before inviting the residents to respect barrier gestures for better prevention.

After Behind the École Normale Supérieure, the Nzeng-Ayong district, in the 6th arrondissement of Libreville, will be the next step in this citizen initiative.