US prelates lead ‘Pilgrimage of Peace’ to Japan seeking abolition of nuclear weapons


An article by John Lavenburg in Crux

A “Pilgrimage of Peace” to Japan led by two U.S. archbishops will soon depart, with advocacy for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide and for the creation of a peaceful global environment chief among their priorities.

Led by Archbishops John Wester of Santa Fe and Paul Etienne of Seattle, and joined by organizations and archdiocesan officials dedicated to nuclear disarmament advocacy, the delegation also hopes to strengthen ties with the bishops of Japan.

John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, speaking at a recent forum held by Department of Energy officials at the Santa Fe Convention Center. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

“During this Pilgrimage of Peace to Japan, I hope to encourage conversation about universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament and walk together towards a new future of peace, a new promised land of peace, a new culture of peace and nonviolence where we all might learn to live in peace as sisters and brothers on this beautiful planet, our common home,” Wester said in a statement.

Etienne, in a statement of his own, added that to build a community where humanity can flourish, it’s important to “keep educating ourselves, praying for peace, and appealing for verifiable nuclear disarmament, which reflects Catholic teaching and is the path for the common good.”

The delegation will depart for the pilgrimage on July 31, with an itinerary that includes stops in Tokyo, Akita, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. They will return to the States on August 12. The trip is funded by grants and personal contributions; according to organizers, no diocesan funds were used.

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

Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

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The trip follows a May open letter from Wester, Etienne, Archbishop Peter Michiaki Nakamura of Nagasaki and Bishop Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama of Nagasaki, where they implored leaders of the Group of Seven countries to take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.

The letter came as G7 leaders met in Japan from May 19-21. Out of that meeting leaders from the G7 countries committed to working towards a world absent of nuclear weapons, and called on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea to cease nuclear escalation. Beyond the joint statement in support of nuclear disarmament, G7 leaders took no concrete steps towards that goal.

As of 2022, Russia and the United States have far and away the largest nuclear arsenals. According to data published in March by the Federation of American Scientists, Russia and the United States have 5,899 and 5,244 nuclear warheads, respectively. Third on the list is China with 410, followed by France (290), the United Kingdom (225), Pakistan (170), and India (164). No other country has an arsenal of more than 90 nuclear warheads, the data shows.

Both the Santa Fe and Seattle archdioceses, led by Wester and Etienne, have ties to nuclear weapons. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is the U.S. diocese with the most spending on nuclear weapons per capita, and contains two weapons laboratories and the nation’s largest nuclear weapons depository. The Archdiocese of Seattle is the U.S. diocese that has deployed the most strategic weapons.

Meanwhile, two of the dioceses the delegation will visit on the pilgrimage, the Dioceses of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are the only two dioceses in the world that have suffered from atomic attacks when the United States bombed both cities during World War II.

As part of the pilgrimage to Japan, the delegation will pray a novena for peace from August 1 to August 9, the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945.

Wester has been especially outspoken about the need for nuclear disarmament in recent years, prompted both by a 2017 trip he took to Japan, and the reality of his diocese’s involvement in the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. In his statement on the upcoming pilgrimage, he said he holds out hope that one day nuclear threats can be a thing of the past.

“I hope one day, we will stop building these weapons, disarm our state and our world, and embark on a new future without the fear and terror of the nuclear threat,” Wester said.

11th World Peace Forum held in Beijing


An article in PR Newswire from

The 11th World Peace Forum, organized by Tsinghua University and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, concluded in Beijing on July 3. The forum, themed “Stabilizing an Unstable World through Consensus and Cooperation,” gathered former political leaders, diplomatic envoys, experts, and scholars from around the world to shed light on promoting world peace and win-win cooperation.

China’s Vice President Han Zheng delivers a keynote speech at the 11th World Peace Forum opening ceremony on July 3, 2023.

China’s Vice President Han Zheng delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony. Han said that in the face of profound changes in the international situation, China has put forward a series of major initiatives, such as the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative, constantly enriching the connotation and practical path of the concept of building a community with a shared future for humanity, and injecting strong positive energy into world peace and development.

Han stressed that Chinese modernization follows the path of peaceful development, and China will unswervingly advocate, build and uphold world peace.

The future lies in dialogue and consultation

In the panel discussion titled “Security in the Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Solutions,” Singapore’s Ambassador to China, Peter Tan, emphasized the importance of dialogue and consultation when discussing Sino-U.S. relations. “It is, therefore, in our view, critical for China and the United States to have regular, peaceful, and constructive engagements. This will help stabilize the relationship,” he said.

Tan believed that the two countries should maintain open and effective channels of communication and interaction, whether conducted in the public domain or behind closed doors. Tan said that dialogue is the basis for building mutual understanding and bridging differences.

Pankaj Saran, former deputy national security advisor for strategic affairs of India, proposed during the same panel discussion that countries should address issues through dialogue and negotiation rather than force, abide by the rules-based order, and respect sovereignty and territorial integrity to foster interconnectivity.

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Questions for this article:

Does China promote a culture of peace?

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During the panel discussion titled “Major-Power Collaboration in Managing Global Problems,” Jia Qingguo, a professor from the School of International Studies at Peking University, underscored the importance of consultation and dialogue in managing major-country relations. Jia noted that encouraging dialogue and negotiation to find common political solutions is especially crucial to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

We must allow those pragmatic and kind people to make their voices heard in international exchanges and interactions, and they have to join together to deal with some extremist voices in the international arena, Jia said.

Multilateralism needs to deliver mutual benefits and win-win results

The world today is undergoing complex and profound changes. How can we restore stability to this unstable world through harmonious and multilateral cooperation? How should multilateralism adapt to the realities and needs of the 21st-century international system?

Igor Ivanov, president of the Russian International Affairs Council and former secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, underscored the importance of multilateralism at the major plenary session titled “The Evolution of Multilateralism.” According to Ivanov, multilateralism serves as a mechanism for fostering more open and transparent international relations and for interactions between countries with different political systems, ideologies, histories, and cultures. The multilateralism of the 21st century can only be universal and effective if it is suitable for a world of value, political and economic pluralism, Ivanov said.

In addition, countries must learn to recognize the equality of all actors in the multilateral format to achieve mutual benefits and win-win results. “Cooperation can be successful if it is mutually beneficial, meaning that it can prove its effectiveness of multilateralism for the individual actors in the international system,” Ivanov said.

Multilateralism also took center stage in a panel discussion about climate change. Siddharth Chatterjee, the U.N. development system resident coordinator in China, pointed out that the world is facing unprecedented risks due to climate change that extend beyond the environmental sphere. Only multilateralism can effectively address this crisis and ensure a sustainable existence for future generations.

Global cooperation is required to mitigate these risks and aid vulnerable regions. This necessitates a commitment to multilateralism, as no single country can resolve the climate crisis on its own, added Chatterjee.

This year marked the first in-person edition of the forum in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum consisted of four major panel discussion sessions and 20 panel discussions, covering topics such as the international order, relationships between major countries, the evolution of multilateralism, nuclear non-proliferation, and artificial intelligence security.

The forum attracted worldwide attention, bringing together more than 150 journalists from more than 50 countries.

‘A Terrible Mistake’: Key Dems in US Oppose Biden’s Move to Send Cluster Munitions to Ukraine


An article by Kenny Stancil in Common Dreams (reprinted under license Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Several high-ranking House Democrats have joined human rights groups in expressing dismay over President Joe Biden's decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions—weapons that more than 120 countries have banned due to their devastating and long-lasting impacts on civilians.

Biden on Friday defended his move to send cluster bombs to Ukraine as part of a new $800 million weapons package, tellingCNN it was "a very difficult decision" made because "Ukrainians are running out of ammunition" needed to stave off Russia's invasion.

Biden's comments came after top Democrats on the House Rules Committee and the panels that fund the Pentagon and State Department denounced the White House in rare statements broadcasting discord within the president's party.

"The decision by the Biden administration to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine is unnecessary and a terrible mistake," said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. "The legacy of cluster bombs is misery, death, and expensive cleanup generations after their use."

"These weapons should be eliminated from our stockpiles, not dumped in Ukraine," she added.

"The Biden administration will probably think twice when the pictures start coming back of children who have been harmed by American-made cluster munitions."

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), ranking member of the House Rules Committee, said that he continues "to strongly support helping Ukraine stand up to Russia's brutal war of aggression."

"But cluster munitions won't help," he stressed. "They are indiscriminate weapons that disperse hundreds of bomblets which can travel far beyond military targets and injure, maim, and kill civilians—often long after a conflict is over. I urge President Biden to listen to our NATO allies, such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain, who oppose sending cluster munitions to Ukraine for the same reasons."

One hundred twenty-three nations—including 23 of NATO's 31 members—have joined the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits all production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of the weapons. The treaty entered force nearly 13 years ago, but the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine have yet to sign it.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday published a report detailing the catastrophic effects that cluster bombs with exceptionally high bomblet failure rates used by both Russian and Ukrainian forces since the start of the war last year have already had and will have in the years ahead. Mary Wareham, the organization's acting arms director, said that "both sides should immediately stop using them and not try to get more."

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, said Thursday that she was "alarmed" Biden was even "considering sending cluster bombs to Ukraine." She pointed out that more than three dozen human rights and anti-war organizations had urged Biden in June to "remain steadfast" in opposing any transfer of the widely condemned weapons despite growing calls from congressional Republicans and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to send them to Kyiv.

U.S.-made cluster munitions have been used around the world for decades—including during Washington's wars on Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia—unleashing widespread destruction and littering landscapes with unexploded ordnance that still endangers unsuspecting civilians and hinders socioeconomic development generations later. HRW has documented how U.S.-made cluster bombs continue to cause grievous harm in various countries, including Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen.

The subcommittee Lee previously chaired has long blocked the transfer of cluster munitions, which were last exported from the U.S. in 2015. Although the U.S. destroyed roughly 3.7 million cluster bombs from 2008 to 2017 and they are no longer produced by any U.S. companies, the Pentagon is estimated to still possess about 3.7 million "obsolete" cluster bombs containing over 300 million submunitions.

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Questions for this article:

Can cluster bombs be abolished?

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As Arms Control Association executive director Daryl Kimball explained Thursday: "In 2008, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued an order to phase out by 2018 cluster munitions with an unexploded ordnance rate of greater than 1%… [and] in 2011, the Obama administration affirmed this policy."

"The Pentagon has, unfortunately, dragged its feet and in 2017 the Trump administration announced the 2018 deadline for phasing out non-compliant cluster munitions would not be met," said Kimball. "No new deadline for meeting that goal was set by the Trump administration or the Biden administration."

In December, Lee and McGovern were among the 11 Democratic members of Congress who wrote in a letter to Biden that the U.S. "should be leading the global effort to rid the world of these weapons, not continuing to stockpile them."

Congress has passed legislation forbidding the export of cluster bombs that leave behind more than 1% of their submunitions as "duds." However, Biden is using a rarely invoked provision of the Foreign Assistance Act to bypass the restriction on so-called "national security" grounds, increasing the chances that Ukrainian neighborhoods and farms will be polluted with de facto landmines. Ukraine is already facing a multibillion-dollar cleanup effort, de-mining experts say.

According toThe Washington Post:

The principal weapon under consideration, an M864 artillery shell first produced in 1987, is fired from the 155mm howitzers the United States and other Western countries have provided Ukraine. In its last publicly available estimate, more than 20 years ago, the Pentagon assessed that artillery shell to have a “dud” rate of 6%, meaning that at least four of each of the 72 submunitions each shell carries would remain unexploded across an area of approximately 22,500 square meters—roughly the size of 4½ football fields. . . . The Pentagon now says it has new assessments, based on testing as recent as 2020, with failure rates no higher than 2.35%. While that exceeds the limit of 1% mandated by Congress every year since 2017, officials are ‘carefully selecting’ munitions with the 2.35% dud rate or below for transfer to Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Thursday.

"It's dismaying to see the long-established 1% unexploded ordnance standard for cluster munitions rolled back as this will result in more duds, which means an even greater threat to civilians, including de-miners," Wareham told the newspaper.

"The lack of transparency on how this number was reached is disappointing and seems unprecedented," she added.

As Politico reported:

Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon official and military adviser at PAX Protection of Civilians, a Dutch NGO, noted that the actual dud rates in the field are much higher than those recorded during tests “conducted under perfect and unrealistic conditions.”

Comments from U.S. officials defending the decision do not allay the fears of many in the community, Garlasco said, expressing skepticism about the Pentagon’s latest test data showing lower dud rates.

Arms control advocates who were on a call with administration officials on Friday said that despite claims the cluster munitions being sent would have lower dud rates, there were no details about the types and sources of the cluster munitions the U.S. plans to send.

Congressional Democrats' December letter urging Biden to join the majority of the world's countries in outlawing cluster bombs was also signed by Reps. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

On Thursday, Jacobs and Omar introduced an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act recently approved by the House Armed Services Committee that would prevent the sale or transfer of cluster munitions.

Jacobs, Lee, McGovern, and Omar are all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But even some hawkish Democrats such as Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania are not hiding their disgust with Biden's about-face.

"There are some who will say that these weapons are necessary to level the battlefield given Russia's reported use of them," said Houlahan, co-chair of the bipartisan Unexploded Ordnance and Demining Caucus.

"I challenge the notion that we should employ the same tactics Russia is using, blurring the lines of moral high ground," she continued. "And I challenge all of us to remember that this war will end, and the broken pieces of Ukraine will need to be rebuilt."

Biden's move was praised by John Bolton, a notorious warmonger who has served in every GOP-led White House since the Reagan administration. It was also welcomed by some congressional Republicans, including far-right Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), whose only complaint was that "it took too long."

Sarah Yager, HRW's Washington director, toldThe Hill that those "legislators, policymakers, and the Biden administration will probably think twice when the pictures start coming back of children who have been harmed by American-made cluster munitions.

Global Women for Peace United Against NATO


A Declaration for Peace from Women against NATO

As NATO prepares for its upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11th and 12th, the peace movement is organizing internationally. We are organising protests – and as well as saying No to NATO, we are saying Yes to peace, presenting alternatives to war, and a new vision of security.

In March, many women got together online, from across the world, to present an action plan: to ensure women’s mobilization on this crucial issue. We call ourselves Global Women for Peace United Against NATO and we have produced a Declaration for Peace, outlining our message of peace, justice, solidarity, and common security.

As part of the international protests, we are organizing a programme of events in Brussels, home of the NATO headquarters. This will take place from July 6th to 9th; there will be meetings, debates, seminars, and street actions – and much of it will be available online as well as in person. Find the programme here.

Please join us however you can – and help us expand participation, especially from those living in NATO states, or in NATO ‘partner’ countries. The events are women-led but we welcome all who are against NATO to participate.

The Declaration, together with the names and affiliations of the first signatories can be found on this page. Click here to find the Declaration translated into many languages. More are being added all the time.

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Questions related to this article:

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

Can NATO be abolished?

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The Declaration and list of signatories will be sent to the NATO headquarters, NATO members and partners, and their parliaments, together with the EU Commission and members of the European Parliament. We will make sure our voices are heard – our voices for peace and justice.

Will you join us?

Will you sign now?

Let’s build this movement for peace together!



Women for Peace Finland:

Ulla Klotzer: ullaklotzer[at]
Lea Launokari: lea.launokari[at]


George Friday: geo4realdem[at]
Nancy Price: nancytprice39[at] 


Kate Hudson: kate.hudson[at]


Emmelien Lievens: emmelien[at] (especially for media and press)

France: For an Emergency Plan to Overcome the Crisis


A declaration of the Groupe parlementaire La France insoumise -NUPES & La France insoumise (translation by CPNN)

The death of young Nahel on the morning of June 27 in Nanterre triggered a wave of emotion and anger in the country. It has also acted as a spark, triggering a revolt in many cities across the country, which urgently demands a political response.

Faced with this situation, the government has locked itself into an escalation of verbal security that only serves to worsen the situation. They shirk their own responsibility and target rebellious France to hide their incompetence and inability to act. At the same time, they give up looking for a way out of the crisis, and they abandon the victims of damage to public property, housing and businesses essential to daily life.

We advocate no strategy of violence, but we demand that the causes of the situation be addressed because the problems are not new. For working-class neighborhoods, racism, police violence or discrimination in access to employment or housing are the daily lot of the inhabitants. The destruction of public services, social protections and associative solidarity, due to neoliberal austerity policies, has been going on for decades. For there to be harmony, strong actions are needed on the part of the government which, today as yesterday, are absent. Since the revolts of 2005, there has been no response.

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(click here for the original French version)

Question for this article:

Where are police being trained in culture of peace?

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Restoring trust is all the more difficult since the government has distinguished itself in recent years by its inability to deal with popular demands by any means other than contempt and ignorance, whether during the mobilization of yellow vests or against retirement at 64. They make it seem like no change is possible within the current framework. Therefore what is required is a complete break and exceptional responses.

For this, we request a debate in the National Assembly under Article 50-1 of the Constitution in order to propose an emergency plan including:

* The immediate repeal of the “license to kill” provisions of the Cazeneuve law of 2017, responsible for the explosion of deaths when the subject refuses to comply

* The creation of a “Truth and Justice” commission to establish all responsibilities concerning police violence that has resulted in the death or mutilation of citizens

* The immediate expatriation of any case of police violence, the complete reform of the IGPN and the creation of an independent investigation service.

* State support for repairs to shops, housing and public places that have damaged in recent days

* An in-depth reform of the national police to rebuild a better trained republican police and to get rid of all forms of racism, including in particular the dissolution of the BAC, the restoration of the code of ethics of 1986, the strengthening of training, the introduction of genuine community policing and the end of lethal immobilization techniques. We must close the period started by Sarkozy in 2002 that treats young people from working-class neighborhoods as an enemy from within.

* A global action program against discrimination including in particular the creation of a Commissioner for Equality, specialized centers within the courts of appeal and the implementation of the identity check receipt to fight against the face control

* A public investment plan in poor neighborhoods for the restoration of public services, housing, public schools, access to health and culture, financing of associations and social centers

The Trillion Dollar Silencer: Why There Is So Little Anti-War Protest in the United States


A book by Joan Roelofs on sale by Clarity Press.

The Trillion Dollar Silencer investigates the astounding lack of popular protest at the death and destruction that the military industrial complex is inflicting on people, nations, and the environment, and its budget-draining costs. Where is the antiwar protest by progressives, libertarians, environmentalists, civil rights advocates, academics, clergy, community volunteers, artists, et al? This book focuses on how military largesse infests such public sectors’ interests.

Contractors and bases serve as the economic hubs of their regions. State and local governments are intertwined with the DoD; some states have Military Departments. National Guard annual subsidies are large. Joint projects include aid to state environmental departments for restoration, and government-environmental organization teams to create buffer zones for bombing ranges. Economic development commissions aim to attract military industries and keep the existing bases and corporations. Veterans Administration hospitals are boons to their communities.

Universities, colleges, and faculty get contracts and grants from the DoD and its agencies, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Minerva Initiative. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs are subsidized by the DoD. Civilian jobs in the DoD provide opportunities for scientists, engineers, policy analysts, and others.

Every kind of business and nonprofit, including environmental and charitable organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Goodwill Industries feeds at the DoD trough via contracts and grants.

Individuals, arts institutions, charities, churches, and universities succumb to the profitability of military-related investments. Pension funds of public and private employees are replete with military stocks.

Philanthropy is another silencer. The DoD itself donates equipment to organizations, especially those of youth, and lends equipped battalions to Hollywood. The weapons firms give generously to the arts and charities, heavily to youth and minorities. They also initiate joint programs such as providing tutors and mentors for robotics teams in public schools.

Our militarized economy is destructive and wasteful. How can we replace the multitude of dependencies on military funding and restore the boundary between it and civil society? Surely a first step is to see how military spending results in the complicity of civil society in its pernicious outcomes. That is what this book tries to reveal.

* * *

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Questions related to this article:
The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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Reviewer comments

“It is perhaps the most fraught question of our time, whatever happened to the anti-war movement? In this provocative and illuminating book, Joan Roelofs penetrates deep into the inner-workings of the vast political economy of war-making, revealing how the arms cartel has consolidated its power, captured our political system, infiltrated the media and stifled dissent. At a perilous moment in history, Roelofs has given us a call to action, loud and clear enough to awaken our anesthetized consciences.” JEFFREY ST CLAIR, Editor of CounterPunch, Author, Grand Theft Pentagon

“The Trillion Dollar Silencer is a masterful primer on an institution – the United States military — that has literally thousands of facets and functions, and about a thousand billion dollars each year to support its role in preparing for and making war around the world. Rich in explanatory images, charts and maps, the pieces of the puzzle that Joan Roelofs identifies are so many and so complex that even the most informed readers will learn something in every chapter. The book’s central question is how the military industrial complex has been able to acquire so many taxpayer dollars year after year and so much cultural assent to its overwrought, violent mission. The answers she gives will help us to reverse our otherwise continuing deadly and expensive course.” CATHARINE LUTZ, Professor Emerita of Anthropology and International Studies, Co-Director, Costs of War Project, Brown University

“The world’s leading weapons dealer and warmaker, the United States, may also have the least popular resistance to militarism. Why the quiet acceptance? This book helps us to become aware that darn near every inch of U.S. society has been infiltrated by the normalization or celebration of war preparations, that essentially our culture, not just our elected officials, has been bought. This book also provides guidance on what we can do about it.” DAVID SWANSON, Executive Director of World Beyond War and author of War Is A Lie

“Why is there so much acceptance of, and so little protest against, our war policies and all the other tactics of subversion employed by the military-intelligence-industrial complex to sustain hegemony. While the peace movement answers this question with reference to propaganda, fear and distractions, this book focuses on the enormity of the war machine’s penetration into numerous aspects of civilian life. The sections in the book on this penetration into philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and NGO’s are probably the most eye-popping portions of the book. Roelofs shows that the real goal is the construction of “the normal” in ways functional to the interests of the Pentagon, unconventional warfare institutions and military contractors.” PAUL SHANNON, Executive Committee of Mass[achusetts] Peace Action

“Now is exactly the right time for her highly recommended book.” W.T. WHITNEY, Counterpunch

“…for individuals and collectives who are already politically initiated and opposed to the US imperialist war machine, the present book would be of immense help to widen the cracks of this mighty system…” MANALI CHAKRABARTI, Research Unit for Political Economy, India

(Editor’s note: It has been called to our attention that another article published at this time describes a report on how American military contracts to so-called “think tanks” are able to inject their propaganda into the mass media. The article is Report Shows How Military Industrial Complex Sets Media Narrative on Ukraine. The report shows that Ukraine War coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, from March 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023 quotes 33 think tanks, all but one of which receive military funding.)

Brasilia summit: Lula and Maduro reboot regional integration


An article from Morning Star Online

Brazil’s President Lula invited all 13 presidents from South America to a summit on May 30 aimed at developing a collective and “common vision and relaunching decisive actions for sustainable development, peace and the well-being of our peoples.”

(Click on image to enlarge)

Lula presented 10 proposals to bring about the region’s rapprochement — a consensual approach to economic, social and cultural issues.

Peru’s de facto ruler Dina Boluarte was not present because Peru’s right-wing congress did not authorise her to attend.

Among the proposals, Lula put forward the undertaking of regional investments to assist social and economic developments, mobilising the resources of banks such as Bank of the South, a development bank set up by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (Fonplata) and the Venezuelan Economic and Social Development Bank (Bandes).

Lula also made a strong pitch for deepening South American independence and sovereignty in monetary matters through compensation mechanisms and the creation of a common reference currency for trade to reduce the region’s dependence on currencies such as the dollar.

He stressed the need to collaborate at the level of regional planning for which he asked for the updating of the South American Council for Infrastructure and Planning (Cosiplan), emphasising physical and digital integration.

He also stressed the need to reactivate regional co-operation on health, especially on vaccination and health infrastructure.

He went on to focus on regional collaboration in two key strategic areas, energy and defence. The South American nations had already established the Defence Council of the South (Codesur), which due to the US reactionary counteroffensive that led to right-wing governments coming into office in the region between 2009 and 2019, had not been functioning. 

Collaboration on the former, given that many South American countries are oil producers would enormously enhance the region’s economic muscle and bargaining position at the international level, especially in the current world geopolitical climate.

Lula proposed to create a high-level structure made up of representatives of all involved presidents to relaunch a renewed regional integration process in South America, stressing the urgency of these tasks — something enthusiastically echoed by Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.

During the summit, President Maduro held meetings with various presidents aimed at strengthening strategic bilateral ties with those nations to consolidate paths of co-operation and integration.

Presidents Maduro and Lula met at Brazil’s presidential palace where they celebrated the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, including the reopening of embassies after four years of Brazil’s total break with Venezuela carried out by extreme right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.

A memorandum of understanding on agri-food matters was signed by representatives from both countries aimed at strengthening exchanges on livestock, food sovereignty and security.

Furthermore, Lula and Maduro discussed the possibility of Venezuela joining the Brics coalition (made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which Lula strongly supports, opening the possibility of the two countries making use of the common currency Brics intends to issue.

Maduro also held a meeting with Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro at Itamaraty, Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Relations, that resulted in the signing of the Agreement for the Creation of the Neighbourhood and Integration Commission to co-ordinate co-operation on their extensive common border.

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Questions related to this article:
Latin America, has it taken the lead in the struggle for a culture of peace?

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The border has been the favourite area of operations for narco-trafficking paramilitaries as well as a base for Colombia-sponsored paramilitary and other operations against Venezuela.

President Petro has become a key figure in the dialogue persistently advocated by President Maduro between Caracas and the far-right opposition in Venezuela.

Petro organised an international conference on Venezuela, held in Bogota, to encourage talks between them.

Maduro also met Bolivia’s President Luis Arce, also at Itamaraty, seeking to strengthen strategic ties between the two nations. While Venezuela is rich in oil resources, Bolivia is rich in natural gas.

The meeting took place within the framework of 13 co-operation agreements signed last April between the two presidents as part of the Venezuela-Bolivia Joint Integration Commission.

Following Lula and Maduro’s encouragement to strengthen Unasur, Petro announced Colombia’s re-entry into the regional organisation.

Perhaps most significantly, Lula vindicated the political legitimacy of the Maduro government: at a joint press conference with Maduro, Brazil’s president expressed joy in saying “Venezuela is back!”

He stressed that Venezuela is a democracy and any view to the contrary is the result of a false “political narrative” of “authoritarianism and anti-democracy” from the enemies of Venezuela.

He added: “I have argued a lot with European social democrats who defend democracy and do not understand that Venezuela is a democracy.”

Lula went further to state that it is incredible that the nation has been inflicted by over 900 sanctions because the US does not like it.

He went on to say that to deny Maduro was the president of Venezuela, and to recognise Juan Guaido instead, was the “most absurd thing in the world.”

Lula also expressed a strong wish that Venezuela goes back to being a fully sovereign nation where “only its people through a free vote, decide who will govern the nation.”

In stark contrast to “civilised” Europe, Paraguay’s recently elected president, Santiago Pena, a rightwinger, in an interview with the BBC declared: “There is only one president in Venezuela and his name is Nicolas Maduro.”

On the 31 tons of Venezuelan gold held in the Bank of England, Lula was unequivocal: “That gold reserve, instead of being placed under the custody of Guaido, must be placed in the custody of the Venezuelan government.”

Lula added that Brazil’s relationship with Venezuela should not just be commercial; it needs to be political, cultural, economic and technological.

He said this could be around university partnerships and even their armed forces, working together in their common border “to combat narco-trafficking.”

Lula’s proposal for Venezuela to join the Brics coalition and Venezuela’s enthusiastic willingness to do so was instantly welcomed by China and Russia.

This is in the context of Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff, who was deposed by convoluted right-wing machinations in 2016, being appointed president of the Brics New Development Bank.

With Lula’s summit, South America’s regional integration has taken a qualitative leap forward. It confronts serious complexities in the neoliberal legacy left by the right-wing administrations which wrecked several national economies in a very short period.

Washington’s policy combines heavy-handed interventionism to bring about regime change, especially against Venezuela, with a “divide and rule” policy that was successful in bringing the likes of Bolsonaro, Mauricio Macri, Ivan Duque, and many other right-wing leaders to power.

The summit is a strong reaffirmation of the region’s collective sovereignty — all factors of enormous strategic significance. It is also a victory for multipolarity, and objectively a substantial setback for the US and its accomplices.

Lula meets the Pope, talks world peace


An article from Prensa Latina

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday (June 21) met Pope Francis in the Vatican for 45 minutes and the two discussed world peace, along with other matters.

The Brazilian leader thanked the Pope on social media for the audience and for the “good conversation about peace in the world.”

The behind-doors meeting took place in the Vatican close to the residence of the Pope, who recently underwent surgery for hernia.

The meeting was followed by the Brazilian delegation meeting the Pope and the traditional exchange of gifts.

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Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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Lula, who had received a letter from the Argentine-origin Pope while in prison, gifted him a print of the painting Sagrada Familia by Pernambuco-based artist JF Borges.

On his part, Francis presented Lula with his 2023 Message of Peace, the document on human brotherhood and the book on Statio Orbis from Mar. 27, 2020, when he had prayed for the end of the pandemic at a deserted St Peter’s Square.

Lula invited the pontiff to make another visit to Brazil – as his first international visit as Pope had been to Rio de Janeiro in July 2013 – and attend the festival honoring Our Lady of Nazareth in October.

The Brazilian president’s office had already announced that he intended to discuss the fight against hunger with the Pope along with other issues such as his initiative to end the Ukraine war.

Lula has proposed forming a group of countries to mediate in possible negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, although his proposal has elicited little response from the international community.

The Brazilian leader arrived in the Vatican in a convoy of around 15 official cars along with the first lady, and was received at the doors of the Paul VI audience hall by the Pope’s aide, Leonardo Sapienza.

After his Vatican visit, Lula is set to meet Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Wednesday evening at her official residence and seat of power, the Chigi Palace in Rome.

He will also meet Rome’s mayor Roberto Gualtieri, an old friend who had met Lula in prison while he was behind bars on corruption charges that were later revoked by the judiciary. On Thursday, the Brazilian president will fly to Paris for the next stop of his Europe tour.

2023 United Nations Resolution on the Culture of Peace


Data from UN document of A/77/L.74 and Meeting coverage of 79th Meeting of GA 77th Session

The UN General Assembly adopted without a vote this year’s resolution for the culture of peace, presented as usual by the delegation of Bangladesh.

The resolution was sponsored by the following countries: Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

Photo from BNN

Following 40 preambular paragraphs which among other things recognized “the importance of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 1999,” the resolution included the following 21 operative paragraphs:

1. Reiterates that the objective of the effective implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace is to strengthen further the global movement for a culture of peace, and calls upon all concerned to renew their attention to this objective;

2. Invites Member States to continue to place greater emphasis on and expand their activities promoting a culture of peace at the national, regional and international levels and to ensure that peace and non-violence are fostered at all levels;

3. Invites the entities of the United Nations system, within their existing mandates, to integrate, as appropriate, the eight action areas of the Programme of Action into their programmes of activities, focusing on promoting a culture of peace and non-violence at the national, regional and international levels;

4. Commends the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for strengthening efforts to mobilize all relevant stakeholders within and outside the United Nations system in support of a culture of peace, and invites the Organization to continue to enhance communication and outreach, including through the culture of peace website;

5. Commends the practical initiatives and actions by relevant United Nations bodies, including the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the University for Peace, as well as their activities in further promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, in particular the promotion of peace education and activities related to specific areas identified in the Programme of Action, and encourages them to continue and further strengthen and expand their efforts;

6. Stresses the importance of addressing the underlying drivers of violence and conflict to promote a culture of peace;

7. Encourages Member States, United Nations entities and other relevant actors to adopt a holistic approach to the cross-cutting dimensions of peace, development, humanitarian action and human rights in order to prevent the recurrence of conflict and build lasting peace;

8. Underlines that early childhood development contributes to the development of more peaceful societies through advancing equality, tolerance, human development and promoting human rights, and calls for investment in early childhood education, including through effective policies and practices, towards promoting a culture of peace;

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

Question for this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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9. Encourages Member States, United Nations entities, regional and subregional organizations and relevant actors to consider instituting mechanisms to involve youth in the promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance and intercultural and interreligious dialogue and develop, as appropriate, an understanding of respect for human dignity, pluralism and diversity, including, as appropriate, through education programmes, that could discourage their participation in acts of terrorism, violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, violence, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination;

10. Encourages the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to increase its activities that focus on peace education and global citizenship education in order to enhance an understanding among young people of values such as peace, tolerance, openness, inclusion and mutual respect, which are essential in developing a culture of peace;

11. Encourages the United Nations peacebuilding architecture to continue to promote peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities, as outlined in its resolutions 72/276 and 75/201, and to advance a culture of peace and non-violence in postconflict peacebuilding efforts at the country level, and recognizes the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission in this regard;

12. Emphasizes the critical importance of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and in this regard calls upon States to promote the values of a culture of peace, inter alia, in countering rising inequalities, discrimination, exclusion, hate crimes and violence;

13. Urges the appropriate authorities to provide age-appropriate education in children’s schools that builds a culture of peace and non-violence, including lessons in mutual understanding, respect, tolerance, active and global citizenship and human rights;

14. Encourages the involvement of media, especially the mass media, in promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, with particular regard to children and young people;

15. Commends civil society, non-governmental organizations and young people for their activities in further promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, including through their campaign to raise awareness on a culture of peace and the peaceful settlement of disputes;

16. Encourages civil society and non-governmental organizations to further strengthen their efforts to promote a culture of peace, inter alia, by adopting their own programme of activities to complement the initiatives of Member States, the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, in line with the Declaration and Programme of Action;

17. Invites Member States, all entities of the United Nations system and civil society organizations to accord increasing attention to their observance of the International Day of Peace on 21 September each year as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, in accordance with its resolution 55/282 of 7 September 2001, and of the International Day of Non-Violence on 2 October, in accordance with its resolution 61/271 of 15 June 2007;

18. Requests the President of the General Assembly to consider convening a high-level forum, as appropriate and within existing resources, devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action on the occasion of the anniversary of its adoption, on or around 13 September, and requests the Secretariat to provide required logistical support for its effective organization within their respective mandates and existing resources;

19. Invites the Secretary-General, within existing resources, in consultation with the Member States and taking into account the observations of civil society organizations, to explore mechanisms and strategies, in particular strategies in the sphere of information and communications technology, for the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action and to initiate outreach efforts to increase global awareness of the Programme of Action and its eight areas of action aimed at their implementation, including through public information activities by the Department of Global Communications of the Secretariat;

20. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session a report, within existing resources, on actions taken by Member States, on the basis of information provided by them, and those taken system-wide by all concerned entities of the United Nations to implement the present resolution;

21. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-eighth session the item entitled “Culture of peace”.

Following the presentation by Bangladesh, the resolution was welcomed by Brunei Darussalam, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), by Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, by Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Other speakers were from Syria, Malaysia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea and Iran, and an exchange of criticisms between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Vienna’s International Summit for Peace in Ukraine Issues a Global Call for Action


An article by Medea Benjamin published by Code Pink

During the  weekend of June 10-11 in Vienna, Austria, over 300 people representing peace organizations from 32 countries came together for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine to demand an end to the fighting. In a formal conference declaration, participants declared, “We are a broad and politically diverse coalition that represents peace movements and civil society. We are firmly united in our belief that war is a crime against humanity and there is no military solution to the current crisis.” (See CPNN June 12 for full text.)

To amplify their call for a ceasefire, Summit participants committed themselves to organizing Global Weeks of Action–protests, street vigils and political lobbying–during the days of September 30-October 8.

Summit organizers chose Austria as the location of the peace conference because  Austria is one of only a few neutral non-NATO states left in Europe. Ireland, Switzerland and Malta are a mere handful of neutral European states, now that previously neutral states Finland has joined NATO and Sweden is next in line. Austria’s capital, Vienna, is known as “UN City,” and is also home to the Secretariat of the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which monitored the ceasefire in the Donbas from the signing of the Minsk II agreement in 2015 until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. 

Surprisingly, neutral Austria turned out to be quite hostile to the Peace Summit. The union federation caved in to pressure from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria and other detractors, who smeared the events as a fifth column for the Russian invaders. The ambassador had objected to some of the speakers, including world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs and European Union Parliament member Clare Daly. (See CPNN June 9 for details.)

Even the press club, where the final press conference was scheduled, canceled at the last minute. The Austrian liberal/left newspaper Der Standard piled on, panning the conference both beforehand, during and afterwards, alleging that the speakers were too pro-Russian. Undaunted, local organizers quickly found other locations.The conference took place in a lovely concert center, and the press conference in a local cafe. 

The most moving panel of the conference was the one with representatives from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, who risked their lives to participate in the Summit. Yurii Sheliazhenko, secretary treasurer of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, is unable to leave the country and therefore spoke to attendees from Kyiv via Zoom. 

“Like many Ukrainians, I am a victim of aggression of Russian army, which bombs my city, and a victim of human rights violations by the Ukrainian army, which tries to drag me to the meat grinder, denying my right to refuse to kill, to leave the country for my studies in University of Münster … Think about it: all men from 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving the country, they are hunted on the streets and forcibly abducted to the army’s serfdom.” 

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Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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Sheliazhenko told the Summit that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had tried to deny conscientious objector status to Ukrainian war resisters, but relented when international pressure demanded that the Ukrainian military recognize rights secured under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Several groups at the Summit pledged to provide support for conscientious objectors from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and also took up a collection for Ukrainian families lacking access to clean water following the recent destruction of the Kakhovka dam. 

Highlights of the Summit also included remarks by representatives from the Global South, who came from China, Cameroon, Ghana, Mexico and Bolivia. Bolivia’s Vice President  David Choquehuanca inspired the crowd as he spoke of the need to heed the wisdom of indigenous cultures and their mediation practices. 

Many speakers said the real impetus to end this war will come from the Global South, where politicians can see the widespread hunger and inflation that this conflict is causing, and are taking leading roles in offering their services as mediators.

Almost all of Europe was represented, including dozens from Italy, the country  mobilizing the continent’s largest peace demonstrations, with over 100,000 protesters. Unlike in the United States, where the demonstrations have been small, Italian organizers have successfully built coalitions that include trade unions and the religious community, as well as traditional peace groups. Their advice to others was to narrow and simplify their demands in order to broaden their appeal and build a mass anti-war movement.

The eight-person U.S. delegation included representatives from CODEPINK, Peace in Ukraine, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Veterans for Peace. U.S. retired colonel and diplomat Ann Wright was a featured speaker, along with former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who joined remotely.

Despite the uniform bottom line of the participants, which was a call for peace talks, there were plenty of disagreements, especially in the workshops. Some people believed that we should continue to send weapons while pushing for talks; others called for an immediate end to weapons transfers. Some insisted on calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops, while others believed that should be the result of negotiations, not a pre-condition. Some put more blame on the role of NATO expansion and the interference of the U.S. in Ukraine’s internal affairs, while others said the blame belongs exclusively at the doorstep of the Russian invaders. 

Some of these differences were reflected in discussions surrounding the final declaration, where there was plenty of back and forth about what should and should not be mentioned. There were strong calls to condemn NATO provocations and the role of the U.S./UK in sabotaging early attempts at mediation. These sentiments, along with others condemning the West, were left out of the final document, which some criticized as too bland. References to NATO provocations that led to the Russian invasion were deleted and replaced with the following language:

“The institutions established to ensure peace and security in Europe fell short, and the failure of diplomacy led to war. Now diplomacy is urgently needed to end the war before it destroys Ukraine and endangers humanity.”

But the most important segment of the final document and the gathering itself was the call for further actions.

“This weekend should be seen as just the start,” said organizer Reiner Braun. “We need more days of action, more gatherings, more outreach to students and environmentalists, more educational events. But this was a great beginning of global coordination.”