Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Bangladesh: Dhaka to host World Peace Conference on Dec 4-5

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Dhaka Tribune

The government has fixed December 4 and 5 to hold the planned “World Peace Conference” as part of the ongoing celebration of birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen adressing the press in Dhaka on Thursday, May 20, 2021 Focus Bangla

“We have decided to hold the conference in the month of victory, and we are hopeful to make it in-person,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his residence on Monday.

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Question related to this article:
 
Are there countries that promote a culture of peace?

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He said that the “Bangabandhu Peace Award” would be introduced and conferred during the conference. Many countries introduce such awards after the name of their father of the nation, like Gandhi Peace Prize in India.

Momen also said Dhaka is not planning to invite any heads of states or governments to the conference, rather the government will gather the world-renowned peace activists, writers, poets, singers and global civil society figures to promote the culture of peace and tolerance.

A national committee headed by Speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury has already been formed to organize the peace conference successfully. The committee members sat for the first meeting on Monday.

At the conference, a special discussion would be held on the life of Bangabandhu as Bangladesh is now a model of peace following the path shown by its founding father, the minister said.

He added that Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is spreading the peace message across the world, which is the “culture of peace.”

Mayors for Peace Adopts New Vision and Action Plan

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

Text taken from the Mayors for Peace PX Vsion and Actio Plan

In order to achieve a world in which all people can perpetually benefit from peace by realizing the total elimination of nuclear weapons and by attaining and maintaining peaceful coexistence between the whole of humanity, subsequent to the 2020 Vision, Mayors for Peace adopted the Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World (PX Vision): Peacebuilding by Cities for Disarmament and Common Security at the 12th Executive Conference in July 2021. Based on this, we will build cities where citizens act with a strong sense of solidarity for the ultimate goal of realizing lasting world peace.


Participants in 12th Executive Conference
(click on image to enlarge)

As the Vision of a global network made up of heads of local governments, whose role is to ensure citizens’ safety and security, it centers on the objective “realize a world without nuclear weapons” in the quest for the eradication of the greatest threat to our peaceful lives.

Another objective, “realize safe and resilient cities,” has been set forth as a target indispensable to ensuring citizens’ safety and security by tackling the issues distinctive to each member’s region that are threatening the coexistence of the human race.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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While accomplishing these two objectives, we must also bring about a fundamentally important paradigm shift involving two things. Firstly, we will seek to change the “nation-minded” approach currently prevalent among global leaders, which prioritizes each country’s own interests, to a “civic-minded” approach, which values mutual aid and the recognition of shared interest. Secondly and more importantly, we will seek to build a consensus in civil society in favor of the realization of a peaceful, nuclear weapon-free world. Through the shift represented by these two things, we will urge policymakers to demonstrate decisive leadership to effect peace-oriented policy change. For this reason, we have set forth a third objective, “promote a culture of peace,” to establish a concrete base for the other two objectives. This entails cultivating peace consciousness and causing a culture of peace—a culture in which the everyday actions of each member of the public are grounded in thinking about peace—to take root in civil society. As a network composed of mayors of local governments, the most immediate presence to citizens, Mayors for Peace has concluded that promoting a culture of peace is the most significant role to fulfill both locally and internationally.

These three objectives to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace are mutually reinforcing goals. Together, they aim to cultivate a shared sense of belonging to a single human family, regardless of our cultural, religious, or ethnic differences.

Furthermore, sustainable development of Mayors for Peace as an organization will be key to consistent implementation of various initiatives under this Vision. To that end, in conjunction with further expansion of our membership, we will enhance our members’ initiatives, work in collaboration with a diverse range of groups, strengthen the functions of the Secretariat, and improve our financial capability.

Based on the following Vision and the 2021 – 2025 Action Plan, and in solidarity with 8,037 member cities in 165 countries and regions, we hereby express our determination to continue our utmost efforts toward our goal of realizing lasting world peace.

US: Why Daniel Hale Deserves Gratitude, Not Prison

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Kathy Kelly in Transcend Media Service

“Pardon Daniel Hale.” These words hung in the air on a recent Saturday evening, projected onto several Washington, D.C. buildings, above the face of a courageous whistleblower facing ten years in prison.

The artists aimed to inform the U.S. public about Daniel E. Hale, a former Air Force analyst who blew the whistle on the consequences of drone warfare. Hale will appear for sentencing before Judge Liam O’Grady on July 27th.


Image of Daniel Hale projected on a building in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 2021. Photo credit:  Nick Mottern

The U.S. Air Force had assigned Hale to work for the National Security Agency. At one point, he also served in Afghanistan, at the Bagram Air Force Base.

“In this role as a signals analyst, Hale was involved in the identifying of targets  for the US drone program,” notes Chip Gibbons, policy director for Defending Rights and Dissent, in a lengthy article about Hale’s case. “Hale would tell the filmmakers of the 2016 documentary National Bird  that he was disturbed by ‘the uncertainty if anyone I was involved in kill[ing] or captur[ing] was a civilian or not. There’s no way of knowing.’”

Hale, thirty-three, believed the public wasn’t getting crucial information about the nature and extent of U.S. drone assassinations of civilians. Lacking that evidence, U.S. people couldn’t make informed decisions. Moved by his conscience, he opted to become a truth-teller.

The U.S. government is treating him as a threat, a thief who stole documents, and an enemy. If ordinary people knew more about him, they might regard him as a hero.

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Question for this article:

Drones (unmanned bombers), Should they be outlawed?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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Hale was charged  under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing classified information to a reporter. The Espionage Act is  an antiquated World War I era law, passed in 1917, designed for use against enemies of the U.S. accused of spying. The U.S. government has dusted it off, more recently, for use against whistle blowers.

Individuals charged under this law are not allowed  to raise any issues regarding motivation or intent. They literally are not allowed to explain the basis for their actions.

One observer of whistleblowers’ struggles with the courts was himself a whistleblower. Tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, John Kiriakou spent  two and a half years in prison for exposing government wrongdoing. He says  the U.S. government in these cases engages in “charge stacking” to ensure a lengthy prison term as well as “venue-shopping” to try such cases in the nation’s most conservative districts.

Daniel Hale was facing trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, home to the Pentagon as well as many CIA and other federal government agents. He was   up to 50 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

On March 31, Hale pled guilty  on one count of retention and transmission of national defense information. He now faces a maximum of ten years in prison.

At no point has he been able to raise before a judge his alarm about the Pentagon’s false claims that targeted drone assassination is precise and civilian deaths are minimal.

Hale was familiar with details of a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker. He saw evidence that between January 2012 and February 2013, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed  more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

Had he gone to trial, a jury of his peers might have learned more details about consequences of drone attacks. Weaponized drones are typically outfitted with Hellfire missiles, designed for use against vehicles and buildings.

Living Under Drones, the most complete documentation  of the human impact of U.S. drone attacks yet produced, reports:

“The most immediate consequence of drone strikes is, of course, death and injury to those targeted or near a strike.  The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs.  Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.”

A new variation of this missile can hurl about 100 pounds of metal through the top of a vehicle or building; the missiles also deploy, just before impact, six long, whirring  blades intended to slice up any person or object in the missile’s path.

Any drone operator or analyst should be aghast, as Daniel Hale was, at the possibility of killing and maiming civilians through such grotesque means. But Daniel Hale’s ordeal may be intended to send a chilling message to other U.S. government and military analysts: keep quiet.

Nick Mottern, of the Ban Killer Drones  campaign, accompanied artists projecting Hale’s image on various walls in D.C. He engaged people who were passing by, asking if they knew of Daniel Hale’s case. Not a single person he spoke with had. Nor did anyone know anything about drone warfare.

Now imprisoned at the Alexandria (VA) Adult Detention Center, Hale  awaits sentencing.

Supporters urge people to “stand with Daniel Hale.” One solidarity action involves writing Judge O’Grady to express gratitude that Hale told the truth about the U.S. use of drones to kill innocent people.

At a time when drone sales and usage are proliferating worldwide and causing increasingly gruesome damage, President Joe Biden continues to launch  killer drone attacks around the world, albeit with some new restrictions.

Hale’s honesty, courage, and exemplary readiness to act in accord with his conscience are critically needed. Instead, the U.S. government has done its best to silence him.

Barcelona will host the Second International Peace Congress from October 15-17, 2021

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Pressenza

Under the title “(Re)imagine our world: Action for Peace and Justice”, participants from around 70 countries will attend the meeting of the international peace movement and other social movements, with renowned activists and experts.


The congress will have a hybrid format, with face-to-face activities, conferences, workshops and cultural events, but with the possibility of following many of them online.

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) are the main organisers of the Second International Peace Congress to be held in Barcelona from October 15-17, 2021.

Under the title “(Re)imagine our world. Action for Peace and Justice”, participants from around 70 countries will attend this event with face-to-face activities, conferences and workshops, most of which will take place at the CCCB (Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona).

The main goal of the congress is to invigorate international pacifism and peacework, offer a meeting point for different actors, redefine action for peace, and, as the motto of the congress says, reimagine the world through the prism of a culture of peace.

According to the IPB Co-President, Philip Jennings, the congress aims to be the largest gathering of activists for peace in 2021, the year that the United Nations has declared the International Year of Peace and Trust. “It’s also a big year for IPB, as we celebrate our 130th anniversary and as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Olof Palme report on common security; the time has come to develop a new blueprint for common survival”, he adds.

“The IPB World Peace Congress in Barcelona will allow so many of us to meet in person for the first time in almost two years. Networking among peace and disarmament activities in different countries and regions is our most essential resource”, says Lisa Clark, IPB Co-President.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article or here for a French version.)

Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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The congress seeks to foster synergies between organisations and individuals and between interconnected social movements fighting for global justice: peace and disarmament advocates, feminist and LGBTQIA+ activists, environmentalists and climate activists, anti-racists and indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and trade unionists.

During the three days of the congress, there will be talks and lectures by more than thirty speakers. Featured names include Noam Chomsky, Martin Chungong, Jeremy Corbyn, Beatrice Fihn, Wada Masako, Vandana Shiva and Jody Williams.

A congress with a long history

The first peace congress in history was held in 1843 in London, then in Paris in 1889 and Rome in 1891 when the IPB was created.

In 2016, the World Congress returned with the idea of putting disarmament on the global agenda. This first congress of this new stage took place in Berlin, and now the continuation will take place in Barcelona five years later.

The IPB has their headquarters in Berlin and offices in the Catalan capital and Geneva.

“Barcelona is a city of peace – one of the few in the world with an organized and resourced commitment to promote and campaign for peace – and it has opened its arms to the IPB, with both the city and the region playing an active role in preparing for the congress”, says Jennings.

The city is the home of one of the congress hosts, Centre Delàs, an IPB member and a hive of peace, research, and campaigns regionally and globally. The IPB has a unique presence at Centre Delàs, where the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) is based and animated.

The co-organiser of the Barcelona Congress is the ICIP, a research, dissemination and action organisation created by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2007 to promote peace in Catalan society and internationally and make Catalonia play an active role as an agent of peace in the world.

For more information, you can contact Sean Conner (sean.conner@ipb-office.berlin or +49 176 5688 5567).

If you need photographs, videos or other materials, you can access this link:
https://trello.com/b/MPBI8oQZ/wpc2021

You can download the programme draft here.

US-Russia Summit advances key points in international Open Letter

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An email received from Unfold Zero

At their Summit Meeting in Geneva yesterday, President’s Biden and Putin adopted a U.S.-Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability in which they reaffirmed ‘the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’ and announced that they will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future. ‘Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.’

This agreement advances key points in the Open Letter to Presidents Biden and Putin in Advance of their June 16, 2021 Summit, which was sent to the two leaders last week. The Open letter was endorsed by over 1200 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics and scientists and other representatives of civil society.


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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Endorsers included UN Messengers for Peace Michael Douglas and Jane Goodall; public visionary Deepak Chopra; two former UN Under-Secretary Generals for Disarmament Sergio Duarte and Nobuyasu Abe; Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire; former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson; and a number of former foreign and defense ministers, generals, UN ambassadors and other officials of nuclear armed, allied and non-nuclear countries.

From Joint Presidential Statement to concrete policy

In addition to affirming that “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, the Open Letter calls on the USA and Russia to make a ‘joint commitment that their nations will not use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, and to make this a key step toward fulfilling the United Nations goal to totally eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet.’ The adoption of such No First Use (NFU) policies should be one of the objectives of the Strategic Stability Dialogue that the two leaders are embarking upon.

There is growing traction globally for the adoption of NFU policies by the nuclear armed (and allied) states, as evidenced by legislative action, public appeals and NFU campaigns including the global campaign NoFirstUse Global.

The adoption of such policies would not only reduce the risk of nuclear attacks, but aso pave the way to the adoption of more comprehensive nuclear disarmament measures toward the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. See Why No-First-Use.

Afghanistan: Striving for Human Security While Ending Forever Wars

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has initiated an essential discussion of the terms and conditions under which the demilitarization of security might be carried out without undermining the human security of the populations involved.  While the process of demilitarization will be long and complex, the immediate requirements of something more than careless abandonment are evident in Afghanistan. We urge the peace education community to inquire into the terms of the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan that would be as ethical and constructive as possible. We see such an inquiry as a first step toward the design of a comprehensive and effective transition strategy from a militarized to human security system. In the near future further pieces on the problematic of troop withdrawals and human security will be shared here as we explore the possibilities for such design.


A woman walks in front of tents at an internally displaced persons (IDP) site in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. (Photo: OCHA Afghanistan/Fariba Housaini)

We recommend that educators begin this process with a discussion of Nicholas Kristof’s Op Ed in the May 17, 2021 issue of the New York Times reproduced below. Carefully review the multiple practical needs withdrawal that he outlines, and reflect together on Kristof’s assessment of the significance of education.  Also, note that he quotes our colleague and longtime GCPE member and IIPE participant, Sakena Yacoobi. And, if you are so moved, write to the President and other US responsibles, urging them to assure that the withdrawal process does not cause further suffering among the Afghan people.

-BAR, 5/17/21

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Question related to this article:

Is peace possible in Afghanistan?

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Education Poses an Existential Threat to Extremism

(Reposted from: New York Times.  May 15, 2021)

By Nicholas Kristof

Lying in her hospital bed in Kabul, Afghanistan, having survived an extremist group’s bombing  that killed more than 80 students at her school, a 17-year-old named Arifa was as determined as she was frightened.

“I will continue my education, even if I’m afraid,” Arifa, who hopes to become a doctor, vowed  to Richard Engel of NBC News.

Afghan girls and boys may lack books, pens and laptops, but in their thirst for education, they have plenty to teach the world. Indeed, one of the few things the extremists and the students seem to agree on is the transformational power of education, especially girls’ education.
In some hideous way, perhaps it was rational for fundamentalists to blow up the school, because girls’ education poses an existential threat to extremism. That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. It’s why the Afghan Taliban threw acid in girls’ faces.

In the long run, a girl with a book is a greater threat to extremism than a drone overhead.
“The way to long-term change is education,” said Sakena Yacoobi, a hero of mine who has devoted her life to educating her fellow Afghans. “A nation is not built on temporary jobs and mining rights, contractors and political favors. A nation is built on culture and shared history, shared reality and community well-being. We pass these down with education.”

Since 9/11, we Americans have sought to defeat terrorism and extremism with the military toolbox. As we pull our forces out of Kabul and Kandahar, this is a moment to reflect on the limits of military power and the reasons to invest in more cost-effective tools to change the world, like schooling.

After almost 20 years and $2 trillion, the mightiest army in the history of the world couldn’t remake Afghanistan. Some Americans are critical of President Biden for withdrawing from Afghanistan, but I think he made the right decision. I’ve long argued that we were losing ground and that the war was unsustainable.

I reached that conclusion after Afghan contractors in Kabul who supplied U.S. forces told me  that for every $1,000 America paid them, they gave $600 to the Taliban in bribes to pass through checkpoints. To support a single U.S. soldier in Helmand Province, contractors paid the Taliban enough in bribes to hire 10 men to fight against that American.

Yet while America’s longest war is unsustainable, we must remember our obligations. We should greatly accelerate visas for the roughly 17,000  Afghan translators, aides and others who have worked with the United States and will be in danger when our forces are gone. Otherwise, their blood will be on our hands.

So with a heightened appreciation of the limits of military power, let’s try to chip away at extremism with tools like education. It’s also much cheaper. For the cost of deploying a single soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we can establish and pay expenses of 20 rudimentary schools.

There’s a misperception that the Taliban will not allow girls to be educated. It’s not easy, but it can be done. The Taliban tolerates many girls’ schools, particularly primary schools and those with female teachers, but aid groups must negotiate with communities and win support. It doesn’t work to have a sign saying it’s donated by America.

“Most aid groups have been able to operate successfully on both sides of Taliban front lines,” noted Paul Barker, who has spent many years in the region as an aid worker.

Girls’ education is not a magic wand. Schools were built in all corners of Afghanistan over the last 20 years, yet this was not enough  to stymie the Taliban.

“It’s not that you go to school and suddenly are empowered,” a young Afghan woman told me. Let’s be honest: Nothing works as well as we would like to overcome extremism.
Yet this young woman is an example of what’s at stake. She studied on her own in the Taliban heartland and then was able to come to the United States — where she is now doing research on quantum algorithms.

Education is an imperfect weapon against extremism, but it helps. It works through some combination of opening minds, building a middle class, giving women a greater voice in society and reducing population growth and thus a destabilizing “youth bulge” in the population.

So I hope that as we, chastened, pull military forces from Afghanistan, we will learn something from extremists and their victims alike: Promoting girls’ education isn’t about mushy idealism, but about employing an inexpensive tool that is frustratingly slow — but sometimes the best tool we’ve got.

“There is no other way to build a nation,” Yacoobi told me. “Maybe someday we will melt down some of these guns and trade them in for medicines and new Homeric epics. If we wish to get there, we must always start with education.”

Thousands of Jews and Arabs Rally in Tel-Aviv for Peace and Coexistence

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Information from Israeli media, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

A mass march and rally for peace and coexistence, organized by the movements “Standing Together” and “Breaking the Silence” took place on Saturday (May 22) in Tel Aviv.


Photo from Twitter account of Haaretz

The marchers welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and demanded the government to end its occupation of the West Bank and to make peace with the Palestinians. Their chants included “This is all of our homes,” “We stand together without hatred and without fear,” and “The answer to the Right is Israel and Palestine,”

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Question related to this article:

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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The rally was addressed by Israeli novelist David Grossman, author ʻAwdah Bishārāt, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh and Knesset member Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), as well as two of the organizers of the demonstration, Itamar Avnery and Sally Abed.

Ayman Odeh said, “People are speaking about the darkness that is descending on this country,” he said. “ I see light. I see a strong light. Jews and Arabs together will dispel the darkness. You are the light.”

The article in the Times of Israel quoted participants at the rallies who came to “hear different voices from what is in the media” and to see others who want peace and coexistence.

A similar rally with about 200 people took place on Saturday in Jaffa.

Also on Saturday, hundreds protested outside the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Residence in Jerusalem, blaming him for the escalation in Gaza and calling for his resignation.

Australia : Brisbane Weapons Expo Protest Planned

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Rose Lane from the Westender

From 1 to 3 June a weapons expo will be held at the Brisbane Convention Centre, but, unlike the Wedding Expo or the Health, Wellness, and Fitness Expo, for example, this one is not open to the public.


Land Forces 2021  is being organised by the AMDA Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that originated in 1976 when it began conducting airshows. Over the past 45 years its purpose has expanded. The website states:

“The vision is for Australia to be strongly positioned as a nation at the forefront of aviation, aerospace, maritime, defence and security, with leading-edge resources and capabilities in industry, manufacturing and information/communications technology throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and around the world.”

Their mission is to take Australia to the World by bringing the World to Australia.

Land Forces 2021 attendance is “reserved for those with a professional, government agency, business, academic, scientific, operational or response involvement in land defence and related industry sectors.” Fourteen stakeholders will be in attendance, including Boeing, Saab, Raytheon, Rheinmetall Defence, and Nioa, a Brisbane-based company that, since 2016, has donated almost $600,000 to the Katter’s Australia Party, and the Liberal National Party. (disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au)

On Saturday 1 May a public meeting and art show entitled “Disrupt Land Forces” will be hosted by a coalition of organisations, including Wage Peace, Quakers Queensland, Just PeaceUnited Nations Association of Queensland, and others. It proposes to “raise public awareness” about the Expo, and to “seek to ban the Expo using non-violent action…expose companies in Brisbane engaged in weapons designing, engineering, and/or manufacturing” and “redirect the national conversation…”

The last Land Forces Expo was held in 2018 in South Australia and attracted 15,331 attendees from 26 countries. According to a spokesperson from the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, “hosting Land Forces in Queensland is an opportunity to showcase the amazing defence, innovation, manufacturing, and maintenance operations” of the state. He said the expo “will give Queensland small and medium businesses a platform to generate quality leads, which will boost the industry and create more jobs for Queenslanders” and that manufacturing in the defence industry “employs nearly 180,000 people across Queensland, contributing over $19.2 billion to the economy and driving innovation across a range of growth sectors”.

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Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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However, local state member, Amy MacMahon argues that the money and energy invested in innovation and manufacture within the weapons industry could be better spent.

“Why are our best minds being used to make products to kill innocent human beings? Why are they not being used to create things that will foster partnerships and make the planet safer?”

Ms MacMahon argues the conflicts the Australian government has been involved in have been devastating, citing the refugees still being held in detention at Kangaroo Point as evidence. She claims that anything that feeds into warfare is problematic and that there is a lack of transparency over where public money is spent.

When asked how much money the State Government had invested in Land Forces 2021 the Department of State Development stated, “The sponsorship amount to be paid for the 2021 event is confidential under the terms of the sponsorship agreement”.

Organisers of the Disrupt Land Forces claim Australia spends $98.9m a day on defence and related industries, money that could be better spent on public housing, health, employment, and education. They claim increasing militarisation does not, as the government claims, make Australians safer:

“Australia’s national security is better served through adopting an independent foreign policy; relationship building with all our Asian neighbours; managing conflicts without violence; finding diplomatic solutions rather than depending on militarism; creating a culture of peace, e.g. adding Australia’s signature to the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”

Christine Venner Westaway from Quakers Queensland, argues more investment in war only begets more war, and that talk of an increasingly hostile China and claims of job creation are merely used to justify making money from the arms trade. Ms Westaway cites the example of the New Zealand defence force sent to war-torn Bouganville on a peace-keeping mission as an example of how peace can be achieved without the use of weapons. In 1997 NZ troops entered Bouganville without weapons, instead taking music and culture to share with the people. As Bouganville is a matrilineal society, more female troops were included in the mission. According to NZ website RNZ,

“When the NZ led mission went in, what it did was it created space. We were able to get their trust to such an extent that they handed in their guns, and they would talk to each other.”

A documentary Soldiers Without Guns  was made about the mission and released in 2019.

MORE INFORMATION

The meeting on 1 May will be held at Jagera Hall, Musgrave Park from 2.30 to 4.30pm and speakers include MP Amy MacMahon; Binil Kattiparambil from the Islamic Council of Queensland; Gamilaraay and Kooma radio host and podcaster, Boe Spearim; and Zelda Grimshaw from Wage Peace.

Details at this LINK.

USA: Some positive news from the United National Antiwar Coalition

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

Excerpts from the blog of the United National Antiwar Coalition

People-to-People Projects Build Israeli Impunity
APRIL 23, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Yara Hawari, published on Consortium News, April 8, 2021 The People-to-People (P2P) framework, which refers to projects that bring Palestinian and Israeli civil society actors together in so-called cooperation and dialogue, has been revived among donor-funded initiatives in Palestine. Emphasizing notions of cooperation, understanding, and peace building, P2P is promoted as a positive framework at a time when the[…READ MORE]


In Defense of Mother Earth
APRIL 16, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

Cancelling the KXL Pipeline: A Victory for the Working Class & the Environment! The Trans Mountain (TMX) Pipeline is Next! by Alison Bodine, published on Fire This Time Magazine, April, 2021 On January 20, 2021, U.S. President Biden’s first day in office, he cancelled the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline by rescinding a Presidential permit required to complete construction at the[…READ MORE]

Ramsey Clark, Human Rights Fighter, 1927-2021
APRIL 16, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Sara Flounders, published on International Action Center, April 12, 2021 We salute Ramsey Clark, who died April 9, 2021, an outspoken defender of all forms of popular resistance to oppression, a leader always willing to challenge the crimes of U.S. militarism and global arrogance. He remained optimistic that the power of people could determine history. His courageous voice will[…READ MORE]

The US Can’t Control the World
APRIL 15, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Margaret Kimberley, published on Black Agenda Report, April 7, 2021 Slow-witted Joe Biden appears to think that we’re still in the age of the sole superpower, when in fact that era has come and gone. “China’s Belt and Road Initiative involves countries on every continent and provides opportunity where the western nations offer only debt and subjugation.” As this columnist[…READ MORE]

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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Flawed Approach Sunk Amazon Union Drive, But Birthed National Movement
APRIL 13, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

By Mike Elk, published by Labor Today, April 9, 2021 Today, the union drive at Amazon in Alabama, which drew unprecedented political and media attention, was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin. Last month, as we stood in the parking lot of Amazon’s warehouse and spoke with 32-year-old Ashley Beringer about her take on the Amazon union vote, it became apparent[…READ MORE]

The Real Victory in Bessemer: Renewal of Working Class Organizing
APRIL 12, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Scott Williams, published on Workers World, April 2, 2021 “The workers in Bessemer never thought they’d spark a national discussion. This is their moment, but it’s not just about Amazon. This is about every employer and the right of every worker to fair pay, safe workplaces, a voice in their workplace and the right to organize unions without illegal[…READ MORE]

NO STALLING! The only solution — U.S. out of Afghanistan
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As Biden Plans Withdrawal, Analysis Shows Afghan War Cost At Least 241,000 Lives and $2.26 Trillion

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

In the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement  that he plans to withdraw all regular U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by this year’s anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, experts at the Costs of War Project on Friday released an update on what nearly two decades of war has cost in both dollars and human lives.


An estimated 241,000 people have died as a direct result of the war, and the United States has spent $2.26 trillion  on military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion, according to the project, housed at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.

“These horrific numbers are testament to the costs of war, first to the Afghan people, and then to the soldiers and people of the United States,” said project co-director and Brown University professor Catherine Lutz in a statement. “Ending the war as soon as possible is the only rational and humane thing to do.”

The new Costs of War Project figures are part of a nearly decadelong effort by co-director and Boston University professor Neta Crawford to track the costs of post-9/11 wars in not only Afghanistan and Pakistan but also Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond.

The death tally includes U.S. military and contractors, Department of Defense civilians, Afghan and Pakistani national military and police, other allied troops, civilians, opposition fighters, journalists and media workers, and humanitarian aid workers. The project notes that “these figures do not include deaths caused by disease, loss of access to food, water, infrastructure, and/or other indirect consequences of the war.”

The financial costs include Overseas Contingency Operations budgets of the U.S. Defense and State departments, the DOD’s base-budget war-related increases, veteran care, and estimated interest on money borrowed to fund the war. It does not included future costs of veteran care or future interest payments.

“The DOD spending, at over $900 billion in Afghanistan, is the tip of the iceberg,” Crawford said. “The costs of the Afghanistan war include its escalation into Pakistan, millions of refugees and displaced persons, the toll in lives of combatants and noncombatants, and the need to care for America’s veterans. The Pentagon’s base budget has increased as well.”

“We report these estimates so that the American people will have a better understanding of the scale of the effort and its consequences,” she explained. “The American people also lost some transparency here. A more comprehensive accounting is yet to be completed. It would include not just money that may or may not have been well spent, but the count of those wounded, those who lost limbs, and the tremendous psychological toll of decades of war on combatants and noncombatants and their families.”

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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The new numbers come after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) argued  Thursday in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the withdrawal should spark reflection upon “the enormous costs” of nearly two decades of war and enable the U.S. to “refocus on diplomacy as our foreign policy tool of first resort.”

“Executing a responsible and comprehensive withdrawal from Afghanistan is an essential first step toward Biden fulfilling his commitment to end ‘forever wars,'” the lawmakers wrote. “But more work must be done.”

Antiwar activists and human rights advocates concur.

Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, noted  Friday that Biden’s announcement “has raised fears that further insecurity may erode important gains in human rights that have allowed Afghans, women and girls in particular, to enjoy greater freedoms and better education and health.”

“The U.S. government should commit to providing vital funding and diplomatic support to preserve and expand on those gains and press for an end to abuses against civilians,” Gossman said.

In addition to boosting assistance for education and health, especially for Afghan females of all ages, “assistance will be needed to improve enforcement of laws protecting women and to ensure that legal aid is available for women prisoners and juvenile detainees,” Human Rights Watch explained.

The group also called for strengthening Afghan human rights groups, particularly the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and said that “the U.S. should provide long-term institutional support to assist independent news media organizations to become self-sustaining. The U.S. should also press the Taliban—which could become an aid recipient under any future peace agreement—to cease all threats and attacks on the media and to pledge to uphold media freedom.”

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of the peace group CodePink wrote in The Progressive Thursday that “it’s true that a U.S. withdrawal may lead to setbacks in the gains made by Afghan women and girls. But those gains have been mainly in the capital city of Kabul. Two-thirds  of girls in Afghanistan still receive no primary education, and Afghan women will never achieve significant advances while their country remains at war.”

“Ending the fighting and investing a small fraction of U.S. war spending in education and healthcare would do far more to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls,” they asserted. More broadly, the pair filled in some of details that haven’t been a major focus since the president confirmed plans to end the longest U.S. war, writing:

What Biden did not admit is that the United States and its allies, with all their money and firepower, were unable to vanquish the Taliban, who currently control about half of Afghanistan and are positioned to control even more in the coming months without a ceasefire. Nor did Biden admit that, in two decades, the United States and its allies have been unable to build up a stable, democratic, popular government or a competent military in the country.

Benjamin and Davies also noted that “while Biden is being pilloried by some for pulling out too soon, the truth is that he is violating  a May 1 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal that was painstakingly negotiated under the Trump administration,” and anticipation of that U.S. violation has prompted the Taliban to refuse to join 10 days of United Nations-led peace talks set to start in Istanbul on April 24.

“We must hope that, in the coming months, the U.N. will find a way to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan together and craft a ceasefire and a workable peace process based on power sharing,” they concluded. “After so many decades of war and intense suffering, much of it perpetrated by the United States and its allies, the Afghan people desperately need—and deserve—an end to this war.”