Tag Archives: peace

Peace Now! War is Not a Natural Disaster

3 Aug

Department of Peace

Over at 3 Quarks Daily my current post reproduces a section of a slender book I’ve put together with the help of Charlie Keil and Becky Liebman. The book collects some historical materials about efforts to create a department of peace in the federal government, starting with at 1793 essay by Benjamin Rush, one of our Founding Fathers: “A Plan of a Peace-Office for the United States.” It includes accounts of legislative efforts in the 20th century and commentary by Charlie Keil and me. The book is entitled We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business; Nobody’s Job. It’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and eBook formats.

Below the peace symbol I’m including the Prologue, which is by Mary Liebman, an important activist from the 1970s. The book include other excerpts from the newsletters Liebman wrote for the Peace Act Advisory Council.

one of them old time good ones

War is not a Natural Disaster

The human race knows a lot about how to make war. We should: we’ve been doing it since Biblical times. Experts define “war” as any conflict in which the dead number more than 3,000 people. Below that number – by revolution, insurrection, armed exploration, native uprising, clan feud, violent strikes, lynching, riot, excessive partisanship of soccer fans, or plain personal murderousness – none of that counts until more than 3,000 people have been slaughtered. Then it gets in the record books as a war. Disregarding our barbarian ancestors, the Attilas and Genghis Khans for whom war was a way of life; overlooking two centuries of carnage in nine Crusades, and the Hundred year’s War, which occupied France and England for 115 years, just looking at the world since Columbus discovered America, we find that the world has been at peace less than half the time, and the wars are getting bigger and worse.

Out of this collective experience with war, we’ve learned how to do it. Homer left notes. We have the memoirs of generals and statesmen from Caesar down to modern times to guide us. There are textbooks to study. And almost everyone in government has served in the armed forces or some other war-connected duty. They understand it.

By contrast, what do any of us know about how to make peace? Nobody has ever done it. Until Hiroshima, few people talked very seriously about doing it. The Bomb changed things forever. We began to realize that no nation would ever again fight through to glorious victory. The celebrations, the cheering crowds in Times Square, the church bells ringing and the bands playing – those are sounds that belong to history. They will never be heard again at the end of any war, anywhere, by anybody. So while we are not better men than our ancestors, and maybe not much smarter, we are faced with the necessity of making peace – and nobody knows how.

Well, let’s start with what we do know. In any public undertaking, from building a dam to putting a man on the moon, we start by hiring somebody to be in charge. We give him an office, a staff, a desk, a typewriter, a telephone. We give him a budget. We say, “Begin.” It may come as something of a shock to realize that in this vast proliferating federal bureaucracy, there is no one in charge of peace. There is nobody who goes to an office in Washington and works 9-to-5 for peace, unhampered by any other consideration or responsibility. […]

War is not a natural disaster. It is a manmade disaster, directed and carried out by ordinary people, who are hired and paid by other ordinary people, to make war. It will stop when ordinary people decide that, whatever satisfactions and rewards war may have offered in the past, the risk is now too high and the return too low. If you are ready to invest in a new and exciting American enterprise, you can start by spending an hour telling your Congressman why you want a Department of Peace.

* * * * *

Mary Liebman published these words on the first two pages of the February 1973 issue of PAX, the newsletter for the Council for a Department of Peace (CODEP). It was a message she had been honing for two years and would continue for three more. We note that back then it was true, as she said, “almost everyone in government has served in the armed forces or some other war-connected duty.” That’s no longer true. Conscription ended in 1973 with the eventual result that most people in government are too young to have faced the military draft or to have friends and relatives who did.

Table of Contents

Prologue: War is not a Natural Disaster
Mary Liebman 2

What’s in this Pamphlet?
Bill Benzon 4

A Plan of a Peace-Office for the United States
Benjamin Rush 6

Comments on Benjamin Rush’s Proposal
Bill Benzon 9

Why a Department of Peace?
Fredrick L. Schuman 12

Peace is Everybody’s Business; Nobody’s Job
Mary Liebman, Bill Benzon 29

Waging Peace
Charlie Keil 36

Resolution for a Department of Peace
Charlie Keil 42

Appendix: List of Selected Peace Organizations 44
About the Authors 46

The Time Has Come for a Department of Peace

14 Dec

Over at 3 Quarks Daily I’ve posted The United States Needs a Department of Peace. The idea was first proposed in 1793 by Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and has been frequently proposed over the last century (Wikipedia). Starting in 1935 a number of bills have been introduced introduced into Congress, most recently by Dennis Kucinich as H.R. 808. It was re-introduced in the 114th Congress on February 26, 2015 by Barbara Lee as H.R. 1111.

I devote most of my 3QD post to the text Rush’s proposal, but introduce it with some commentary on the allegorical paintings he proposes for the room that would house his proposed Peace Office. He also proposed that the following assertions be posted on a sign above the door to the War Office:

1. An office for butchering the human species.
2. A Widow and Orphan making office.
3. A broken bone making office.
4. A Wooden leg making office.
5. An office for creating public and private vices.
6. An office for creating public debt.
7. An office for creating speculators, stock Jobbers, and Bankrupts.
8. An office for creating famine.
9. An office for creating pestilential diseases.
10. An office for creating poverty, and the destruction of liberty, and national happiness.

Waging Peace

18 Nov

By Charlie Keil

This was written over a decade ago and hasn’t  been updated, yet. But the basic thrust is as valid as ever.

Contradictions (a short introduction to “Waging Peace”)

I am adding this introduction to “Waging Peace” plus a “free copyright” notice to encourage its circulation, and sending it out again because it seems more obvious each day that time may be running out. IF the next rounds of terrorism here hit a few nuclear power stations and chernobylize big portions of east and west coasts, IF more bacteria and different kinds of bacteria are released, etc. etc. etc. and IF the West keeps acting out the scenarios of retaliation scripted by terrorists, then this country will not have the resources to help solve the world¹s problems even if it should eventually summon up the common sense, common decency, and the willingness to do so.

Diction = what is being said. Contra = against. We need to counter what is being said about the “war” on terrorism and challenge the assumptions behind this diction.

The old Marxist sense of the word “contradiction” must be remembered too; at certain points in time the dialectics, the oppostional forces, become so glaring and obvious that people will act in order to change the world system before it kills them.

You know it is time to “look at the contradictions” and to speak out against what is being proposed as a solution in the centers of power when:

  • the rich are obscenely rich and the poor are desperately poor all over the world;
  • world militarism (800 billion annual budget) is sucking up diminishing resources and destroying the biosphere and this “consciousness” experiment we call humanity;
  • 40,000 children die each day of starvation and preventable diseases;
  • many fields needed for food production are filled with landmines;
  • topsoil is flowing down all the rivers of the planet;
  • ozone layer, global warming, pollution levels disappear as issues because we are “at war” and now we really just don¹t have time for these deeper underlying problems;
  • deadly bacteria sent by Bush Sr. from Rockville, Maryland to Iraq in the 1980s may be returning to Washington D.C. to threaten Bush Jr. and the rest of us;
  • your home and backyard could be irradiated by the next terrorist attack.

This list could be much, much longer.

There is another long list, of cleansings or “administrative massacres” about to happen in Europe, Asia, Africa: against the Roma in any one or more of half a dozen east European and Balkan countries; against the Chinese or the next minority in Indonesia; against the Pagans and Christians of southern Sudan for the tenth or fifteenth time; as I write, the news reports 100s killed in Benue State Nigeria where we lived for two years ­ again, the list of ongoing and potential scapegoats is long and getting longer. I don¹t believe that the UN or the regional organizations are ready at this moment either to prevent these events within states or to attempt an intervention once they get started. Looking back, the Saddam Hussein regime should have been sanctioned and arrested after the gassing of Kurdish villages in 1988. Intervention was 8 years late in Greater Serbia. No one intervened in Rwanda. The illegal and ineffective missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan by the Clinton administration in response to embassy bombings in East Africa should have told us that the era of “war” with inappropriate technology was over. We don¹t know how to stop cleansing or terrorism, twin evils that threaten to plunge all of us into chaos. Continue reading

An Appeal to the Pope on Behalf of the Creatures in the Cosmos

10 Feb

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I’ve got another post at 3 Quarks Daily, Charlie Keil’s Simple Appeal to the Pope on Behalf of the Future. Here’s a conversation Charlie and I have been having on Facebook:

Charlie Keil: Nice nesting and contexting Bill Benzon! … I’ll spread your commentary and the proposal around as far as I can reach into social media.

Some comments:
A big YES, to all those Firsts for Francis you list: First Jesuit, First Latin American, etc.

And another big YES to making this appeal to people of all religions who will need to form an ecumencal alliance if humans are to turn away from war once and for all.

A correction: be clear about the difference between “nations” (ethnic groups, tribes, those sharing values & traditions, peoples, who have a right to self-determination) and “states” (often, but not necessarily, the war-making enemy of anarcho-pacifists like myself and/or the enemy of nations trapped within states).

Correcting myself in the light of your highlighting the original St. Francis as putting the Creation, the speciation, before us as God’s other “book” to be praised and interpreted constantly. Just as “children’s liberation” and full expression can not be accomplished without peace, neither can the diversity of species by saved, strengthened, praised and interpreted properly without ending wars, banning weapons of mass destruction, creating Peace in all meridiens.

Bill Benzon: Thanks, CK. I was aware of the “nation” issue when writing the piece. Should have used “nation state” at every point.

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Charlie Keil: I’d have to go back to each sentence to see if that would work. I think it is safest, from anthropological, self-determination of peoples, classless society, and human rights points of view to just talk about states as states, because there are so few states made up of just one nation. Even homogeneolus Japan has the Ainu up north, the Okinawans down south, and a long hidden Korean underclass or caste. Whenever you’re tempted to use the phrase ‘nation state’ think of the Kurds existing in the corners of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and looking for self-determination since before the 1920s, or think of the 200 plus peoples caught in the trap that Lady Lugard named Nigeria.

On Behalf of the Future, your phrase keeps me thinking of all the ways that a Papal Peace Initiative opens the key doors to preserving species integrity and diversity, increasing awareness of Children’s Rights (European Network of Masters in Children’s Rights), and reviving the very essence of Christianity and all the other major religions.

Bill Benzon: Ah, but Charlie, THAT’s why I use the “nation state” phrase. It’s because the USofA was conceived as a nation-state that a large and important class of its inhabitants were defined as 3/5 of a person in the founding documents. Nation-states and nationalism go hand-in-hand. And this leads to a whole conversation about how people locate themselves in the world, aka identity, and that’s larger than will fit in these little FB text blocks.

Continue reading

Truth and Traditions Top Five

1 May

1. Declaration of Independence

219 years ago our originators “brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Today we have less liberty. Inequality has reached obscene proportions as millions die of preventable diseases and starvation each year, and over a billion children suffer sociogenic brain damage worldwide, as the rich get ever richer.

2. Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

David Graeber recounts the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). As an exercise you might want to read the story as one about the recent mortgage mess in the United States.

3. David Brooks, Fooled by Inequality

He’s at it again, being reasonable out of one side of his mouth while makin’ it up out of the other. I’m talking about David Brooks, Mr. Reasonable, the Mr. Blizzard of plausible risibility. His column, The Wrong Inequality, is a masterpiece of rhetorical legerdemain and misdirection.

4. Truth and Traditions Defined

The inconvenient truths of peak oil now, peak drinkable water now, peak everything on the horizon, as far as the eye can see. The many, many ugly truths of war and waste have been systematically unexamined by our corporate owned mass media who stand to profit by ignoring news unfit for them to print or speak. . . . Those thousands of animistic traditions that peoples all over the world lived by for 99.8% of human existence: feeling the “spirit” in all life forms, honoring reciprocities and gift circulation, maintaining hospitality and generosity, sharing tools and talents in daily life, replanting three trees for every tree cut down, minimizing division of labor, maximizing individuation and Self-expression.

5. Wall Street: The Dead Face of Domination

IMGP4452rd - The Face of Domination

Those buildings are in New York City’s financial district (aka Wall Street). That’s where the captains of finance manipulate our world while playing ‘King of the Hill’ against one another. Those buildings are machines. They are the Borg. We ARE living in The Matrix. We are nothing but feedstock for the adolescent games those machines play with one another.

NATO CALL TO ACTION: MARCH WITH VETERANS FOR JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION | MichaelMoore.com

12 Mar

We as Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, from around the country will converge in Chicago on May 20th to march to the NATO summit and ceremoniously return our medals to NATO generals. We were awarded these medals for serving in the Global War on Terror, a war based on lies and failed polices. This endless war has killed thousands, stripped the humanity of all involved, and drained our communities of trillions of dollars, diverting funds from schools, clinics, libraries, and other public goods.

Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on fellow service members, veterans, Chicagoans, and everyone who believes in justice, dignity, and respect for all peoples to join us in the streets on May 20th. On this day, we will hold a nonviolent march to the site of the NATO summit where we will ceremoniously return our military service medals. We will demand that NATO immediately end the occupation of Afghanistan and relating economic and social injustices, bring U.S. war dollars home to fund our communities, and acknowledge the rights and humanity of all who are affected by these wars. In order to begin a process of justice and reconciliation with the people of Afghanistan and other affected nations, fellow service members, veterans, and the American people.

via NATO CALL TO ACTION: MARCH WITH VETERANS FOR JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION | MichaelMoore.com.

Ron Paul Interview Transcribed

7 Sep

“The Founder’s were right: non-intervention, friends and trade with people, more prosperity, and peace.”

Here’s a clip of an interview with Ron Paul on America Live with Megyn Kelly:

He’s trying to change history, and so are we. He gave this interview after he placed well in the Iowa straw poll, but got little notice in the MSM. Starting at about 1:10 into the video, Kelly asks Paul whether or not the media is ignoring him:

Paul: Sure. Yeah they are, and we need to ask them why? What are they afraid of? Well, we’re certainly in the top tier. We did well in Iowa and we have a good organization. We can raise money.

But they don’t want to discuss my views because I think they’re frightened by us challenging the status quo and the establishment. When it comes to foreign policy, monetary policy, the entitlement system, because my views are quite different from the other candidates. They’d just as soon us not get the coverage that the others are getting and they will concentrate on establishment type politicians.

Kelly: There seems to be a narrative emerging that you can’t win and therefore they’re giving you back of the hand treatment. There was an editorial in The Wall Street Journal that said “He has no chance to win.” This despite the fact that you are 152 votes within the top spot in the Iowa straw pole. In fact out of almost 17,000 votes cast you were a 150 votes or so from number one. But The Wall Street Journal and others that you can’t win. Why? Why do they believe that?

Paul: Well they want to believe it and they want to promote an idea. They don’t want to promote information because they’re having a couple poles where I either came in first or second when you match my name up against Obama. Because my votes really compete.

“I’m trying to change the course of history.”

This would be a reason why the Democrats don’t want me to win either. Because I can compete against Obama. His base is very unhappy with his expansion of the war, and his lack of interest in protecting civil liberties. And therefore they don’t want to hear from me either. But I’ve done quite well. I’m quite willing to match my name up against Obama any time of the day.

Kelly: It’s got to be somewhat frustrating for you. I mean to come in second and be as close as you were to winning in Iowa, not to mention the polling that you’ve been doing, which is fairly good. To have this kind of treatment in the media, does this disturb you?

Paul: Well it disturbs me. I don’t use the word ‘frustrating’ because I anticipate and I know how the system works, and I know what I’m trying to do, because not like I’m just trying to win and get elected.

I’m trying to change the course of history and our history in this country hasn’t been good for the last 100 years, whether it’s our drift into managing an empire, the destruction of our currency, the deficits that have been run up, the climax of the dollar reserve standard. This is big stuff and nobody else is addressing this.

So in spite of the shortcomings of the reporting of this I write if off a bit, because they don’t have any idea about the significance of the idea of the monetary system and what’s going on with the Federal Reserve.

“The peace candidate is always a very strong candidate.”

But the people, grass roots America, are startin’ to wake up. Millions of people are reading about the Federal Reserve and understanding how they bail out their friends. Trillions of dollars. Give a third of all that money they used in the bail-out, give it to foreign banks. People realize this even though the media, generally speaking, they don’t understand it, they don’t ask the right questions. And if they do understand it they don’t want to get the secret out of how the system that we have protects the special interests, the big corporations, the corporatism that runs our society. Continue reading

Hymn of Gratitude

24 Apr

From Charlie’s Facebook page.

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Hymn of Gratitude for the Catholic Worker Vol. LXXVII, No. 5 August-September, 2010


price 1 cent (can't find the sign for 'cent' very easily on this computer,
sign of the times)


these front page headlines:

Joseph Takami of Nagasaki                              Our Lady the Hibakusha


plus an excellent review of BOMBING CIVILIANS: A TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY.
Edited by Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn B. Young. The New Press, New York and London, 2009.
Reviewed by Bill Griffin.

who titles his review Bombs Do Not Save Lives

Here it is 2011 and May 1 coming up

Truth & Traditions Party mobilizing people 1 x 1

to bring some sanity each day into politics USA

a tar pit full of failing flailing dinosaurs

desperate on the very brink of extinction

us modest milky warmblooded mammals

nipping at their gigantic achilles heels

I know the blog box is not set up in a way that favors poets who may be fussy about

space, wanting air and the aura of ether around the penumbra of each word, each line,
and especially around each unspoken thot. Plodding traditional prose will have to serve.

Continue reading

No2War

13 Feb

This sign is by Jersey Joe, aka Rime. It used to be seen by 1000s of people a day as they drove West out of New York City from the Holland Tunnel. It’s no longer there; the building was demolished. But the aspiration hangs in the air.

no2war