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Welcome to my blog, a quasi-weekly column on topics and issues that have my attention, or that are intended to inform or inspire--including the following reminder:

"Realize why you're here, and be about it!"

Do Americans believe in justice?

It’s not a rhetorical question.

I'm sure virtually all Americans would say “Of course!” they believe in justice.  It’s a cornerstone of our democracy.  It’s a fundamental tenet of our relationships—personal, professional, economic, societal, ethical.  Moreover, I would venture that most Americans believe that justice is a universal value: that over time, justice prevails.  Or, as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of the universe may be long, but it bends toward justice.”

So, believing in justice, one has to be concerned about the future of the United States.  Justice may be blind, but she keeps accurate accounts.  She records that a people that destroys another country under false pretenses--say, Iraq--owes a debt to justice.  We add to the debt when we destroy what is left of Afghanistan.  When GIs and military contractors kill and rape and pillage civilians.  When we incarcerate hundreds of innocents—uncharged and unprosecuted—at Guantanamo.  When we send drones to destroy wedding parties.  When GIs piss on corpses, laughing.  Or take trophy photos with corpses they then post to porn sites. 

Or perhaps Justice is most disturbed by the American people's careless disregard—our unconcern—about these historical facts.  Perhaps she is most dismayed by our ability to continue shopping, consuming, recreating, while atrocities are committed in our name--and too often at our insistence.  Perhaps she wonders at our unexamined faith that our wars are just. That we’re heroes, if you can stomach it, when the record shows that we condone savagery.  Indeed, we initiate it.

For documentation, please see http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175491/tomgram%3A_chase_madar%2C_accusing_wikileaks_of_murder/#more.


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Peace is imperative

Not a month has gone by since our "withdrawal" from Iraq and forces in the United States are demanding war with Iran. Despite the deficit, despite the supposedly dire debt situation, these forces argue that somehow we have the wherewithal to destroy another country. We wouldn't have to occupy it.  We could just bomb it to smithereens. 

The arguments are familiar: we can't let a hostile, fundamentalist regime develop a nuclear weapon.  Never mind that we have 8,500 in our own arsenal--which, along with Russia's, constitute 95% of the world's nuclear weapons.  Never mind that we've taught our enemies to value nuclear weapons: if you've got one (like North Korea and Pakistan) we negotiate; if you haven't (like Iraq and Afghanistan) we invade. 

Never mind that Iran would be insane to deploy a weapon of any kind--nuclear or conventional--unless absolutely cornered, because of the certain annihilation that would result. 

What we're really looking for is an excuse to take Iran out now, before they develop a nuclear weapon, so that we can install a government more friendly to our interests.  It's "the great game," don't you know.  Trouble is, it's played with real people--people with children, lovers, hopes, and aspirations similar to our own.  And it's played on a real planet--a planet staggering under the impact of our relentless assault as it is.  

Wouldn't it make far more sense to have high-level talks with Iran?  To stop harassing and isolating her as an "evil" regime and give her people a stake in a cooperative future?  Wouldn't it make sense to stop supporting other oppressive regimes in the Middle East so that we aren't perceived as hypocrites when we advocate democracy?  Wouldn't it make sense to use our diplomatic weight to insist on peace between Israel and Palestine, thereby removing a major source of geopolitical friction and despair?

 Yes, the road will be rocky and full of pitfalls.  Yes, we will have to overcome many differences. Yes, there is mistrust on both sides--distrust that is well-placed given our history in their affairs. But that is the hard work of peace.  It is work that preserves life, promotes true problem-solving, and sustains the common ground we share--a place called Earth.

Peace talks are always required at the end of a conflict.  Let's try them at the beginning.  The world we'll save is our own.   


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Welcome 2012

What a year, what a world!

2011 was an emotional, spiritual, political, environmental roller-coaster ride, was it not?

On the macro level we witnessed a tsunami and nuclear catastrophe in Japan; Wikileaks cables and videos showing the dark side of American foreign policy; Bradley Manning’s arrest and solitary confinement, followed by a defense that totally misses the point of his political heroism; Dan Choi’s victory over the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; and a year full of thrilling grassroots movements—from the Arab Spring to the Occupy protests of the fall.

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