The Peace Movement Is As Vital As Ever

A peace mural is painted near the road leading to Planadas, Colombia, where a peasant uprising in 1964 led to the birth of the FARC. | Photo: AFP

By Staff of Morning Star – “I WANT to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years,” US President Donald Trump reportedly raged following news of more murder and mayhem in Afghanistan. “We aren’t winning. We are losing.” The trigger-happy president in the White House imagines that his armies are in difficulty because he can’t get the staff: US officials say he has pressed for the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, to be fired. Nicholson is the 17th Nato commander in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion took place in 2001, so singling him out might seem unfair. Admittedly his job is harder than his predecessors’ because the war he’s tasked with was declared over by Barack Obama at the end of 2014, which makes the continuing deaths of soldiers and civilians in the central Asian country more embarrassing for Washington. The killing of a Georgian soldier and two Afghan civilians on Thursday, following that of two US troops on Wednesday, show the Taliban remains a lethal adversary. But the Islamist group — which itself grew out of the mojahedin insurgents armed and funded by the US and its allies in their successful bid to destroy the socialist and secular Afghanistan of the 1970s and 1980s — is no longer the country’s last word in Wahhabi extremism, since Islamic State (Isis), a child of the US and British invasion of Iraq, is now also busy murdering police officers and Red Crescent workers.

15,000 At Glastonbury Set Record For Biggest Human Peace Sign

People form a giant peace sign at Glastonbury. Photograph: Andy Eliot/PA

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen for The Guardian – About 15,000 people gathered at Glastonbury’s monumental stone circle on Thursday to set a new record for making the world’s biggest human peace sign. The event was one of the first to display a spirit of unity in the face of recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, as the festival officially opens on Friday. Organised by the team who run Glastonbury’s green fields as a “message of peace to the world”, the attempt broke the previous record when 5,814 people performed a similar stunt at Ithaca festival in New York in 2008. Among those taking part were Emily Eavis and William Hawk, a Native American from the Standing Rock reservation. Cat Warren, 22, from Bristol, was held aloft on the shoulders of her friends – all part of a cheerleading team – to cheers from the crowd. “There are worries that things like the attacks in Manchester and London are just going to divide people, and make people more hateful towards minorities,” said Warren. “So just coming together and celebrating with people from all ages, races and religions, it feels so lovely. It’s almost like a protest to anyone who is being hateful and shows we’re not afraid. We could do with a bit more of this outside of Glastonbury.”

Margaret Sarfehjooy, Prominent Minnesota Peace Activist, Remembered

Margaret Sarfehjooy Tom Bottolene (Fight Back! News/Staff)

By Sarah Martin for Fight Back! News – Minneapolis, MN – Margaret Sarfehjooy, a tireless, fearless and greatly respected anti-war activist, died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 28. She was a longtime member of WAMM (Women Against Military Madness) and on the organizations board for many years. As Meredith Aby-Keirstead, of the Anti-War Committee says, “Margaret was an outspoken advocate for the Middle East. She was a consistent anti-imperialist and understood the true danger of the U.S. in Syria and Iran. She was also a tireless solidarity activist for freedom for Palestine. I always looked to Margaret for political analysis about the region and she was always supportive to other activists looking to develop their own research and analytical skills.” Margaret was an articulate speaker. At the recent March rally commemorating the 14th anniversary of the beginning of the war on Afghanistan, she spoke about U.S. threats and attacks on Iran. She was an excellent writer. Her article in the latest edition of the WAMM newsletter, “Are State Legislatures Demanding a Loyalty Oath to Israel?” exposes and analyzes the top-down attempts to criminalize the growing Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement.

To Prevent Or Stop Wars: What Can Peace Movements Do?

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By René Wadlow for TRANSCEND Media Service – 1 May 2017 – Christine Schweitzer, the current chair of the War Resisters’ International and very involved with the Balkans Peace Team during the 1980s Yugoslav wars, has written a useful analysis of peace organizations opposition to government military policy, basically using secondary sources. There is a good bibliography on nonviolent protests with numerous references to works in German which may be less known to FOR readers. She focuses on opposition within the USA to the war in Vietnam and the two wars in Iraq (1991) and (2003). There is also a chapter on the peace movement opposition to US government aid to the Contras of Nicaragua. She does not deal with the movements that sought a ban of certain types of weapons, cluster munitions, land mines, drones nor efforts to control nuclear weapons (the Freeze) nor “Ban the Bomb” whose renewed effort is underway at the UN General Assembly these days. The book does not go into a description of socio-economic conditions which may be a cause – or at least an important factor – in armed conflicts. Thus one has to know already something of economic conditions…

Where Is The Peace Movement When We Really Need It?

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By Ethan Young for The Indypendent – We now live under a regime that sees catastrophic war moves as a handy distraction from its endless failures. The boundaries between the executive branch, corporations, finance and the military are fast losing substance. We stand by in horror as they play chicken with the world from Syria to Russia to North Korea. A mass peace movement is urgently needed but still a long way away. Why? There are a number of “common sense” reasons that have been floating around the left for decades. There is a long-held belief that ending the draft removed the life-or-death motivation that revived anti-interventionism beyond all expectations during the Vietnam war. Continued sympathy for the Democratic Party is also blamed for the lack of protest over the war moves of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. However, what is extraordinary about the U.S. peace movement is not that it receded, but that it emerged at all during the 1960s, affecting the national culture and posing lasting problems for both dominant parties. This mini-enlightenment marked a shift in national consensus from ardently pro-military to anti-intervention, with elements of pacifism and persistent anti-fascism that were defining features of the emerging counterculture.

Obituary: Minneapolis Pacifist Went To Prison Three Times Opposing War

March 30, 1955 Off to Jail Again -- Minnesota’s four Doty brothers surrendered Tuesday to the United States marshal in St. Paul to begin a second prison term for their defiance of military conscription. Above, they are leaving the federal courthouse on their way to Ramsey county jail, accompanied by their father, William (far left), a Bruno, Minn., farmer, who served a World War I prison term for his pacifist beliefs. The brothers, all sentenced to two years, are (left to right Joel. 28, Orin, 27, Paul, 26, and Sid, 25. Their jailward journey ironically took them past a United States air force recruiting sign outside the courthouse. Joel, spokesman for the brothers, handed reporters a handwritten statement reaffirming their belief that “conscription and war is wrong” and declaring that “we feel that we are going back to prison for the second time for the same offense”. March 29, 1955 Larry Schreiber, Minneapolis Star Tribune

By Randy Furst for the Star Tribune. In the early 1950s, during the onset of the Korean War, he and his brothers Joel, Paul and Sid refused to register for the draft and were convicted in federal court and sent to prison. Someone registered them, according to his daughter, so when they got out of prison, they received a military call-up notice. They refused to show up for induction, were convicted again and sent to prison a second time. “He used to say to me, ‘One person doing something is better than a thousand people doing nothing,’ ” she recalled. “He never gave up on trying to educate and raise people’s consciousness.”

The Peace Movement And Resistance In Dark Times

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By Joseph Gerson for Truthout. Let me begin by celebrating the people across the country who didn’t roll over and play dead when Donald Trump said he wanted to deport up to 3 million undocumented “criminal immigrants” who he imagines are among us. We weren’t silent when his advisor urged the creation of a Muslim registry, or in the face of the reckless rhetoric of tearing up the Iran nuclear deal. Didn’t we take hope when people spontaneously came out into the streets? Raise your hand if you took hope from the Hamilton cast pressing Vice-President-elect Mike Pence to defend our diversity and rights. And weren’t we encouraged when mayors and governors pledged to enforce our sanctuary cities and states? Friends, what we do in the coming weeks will be important — continuing to set down moral markers, illuminating the threats to our nation and rallying for what could be the most important struggle for the soul and identity of this nation since the Civil War. What we do in this period can strengthen the backbones of our congressional and state legislative representatives, opinion-makers and people at the grassroots to defend our Constitution, our rights and to oppose Trumpian militarism.

Trump Silver Lining: People Are Organizing

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By Peter Bergel for Peaceworker. Here’s a specific suggestion, recently offered by a friend: as Donald Trump follows his inauguration on January 20 with 100 days of revealing to us what his administration’s agenda is going to be, let us begin 100 Days of Peace and Justice during which we reveal what our agenda is going to be. Never in the history of the world has there been a leader who was able to govern without the cooperation – or at least the acquiescence – of the governed. Let us make it clear that we will only accept governance that meets our needs and aspirations. Under the umbrella of 100 Days of Peace and Justice we can speak with a unified voice on all the issues we care about by demonstrating what we want and resisting what we do not want. Initiate projects that fire your enthusiasm and refuse cooperation with those that do not represent you. No overall coordination is required. As the overused slogan says: Just do it.

What Could Unite A Larger Peace Movement? Oh, This!

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By David Swanson for Let’s Try Democracy – In a time of division and disagreement, when people who all agree on something important sometimes spend more time bickering with each other than working on their collective cause, is it possible to craft an agenda that brings them together and adds to their numbers? It turns out, somewhat to my surprise, the answer is yes.

Why Campaigns, Not Protests, Get The Goods

Student Protest US History

By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence. In order to build the kind of power that creates change you need a direct action campaign that harnesses a series of actions into an escalating sequence. Millions of Americans have participated in the past half-century in such campaigns: bus boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins, the Fight for $15, farmworkers, campus divestment campaigns on South African apartheid and fossil fuels, strikes against corporations, impeding mountaintop removal coal mining, blocking the U.S. plan to invade Nicaragua, preventing the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline. Despite this, most Americans don’t understand the difference between a protest and a campaign. Campaigns are very different from protests because they are built for sustainability and escalation. The United States has its own legacy of powerful campaigns and a pool of hard-won skills in our population. It’s time to retire one-off protests, and step up to wins that can lay the foundation of a living revolution.

Crises In Peace Movement? Need To Make Our Voices Heard

"Light a candle for peace" protest in Bethlehem

By Harry Targ for Diary of a Heartland Radical – I have been a member of a grassroots peace group for 25 years. We mobilized a teach-in and other activities against Gulf War One, had daily demonstrations against the bombing of Serbia, mobilized panels and demonstrations against the lead up to and perpetuation of the brutal war in Iraq, worked with Palestinian solidarity groups, and marched against proposed bombing of Syria in 2013. Our numbers have peaked and ebbed over this long period. Currently membership is less than ten, although many former and current members have been involved in a variety of other campaigns

What A 21st-Century Peace Movement Looks Like

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By By Alice Slater for The Nation – As President Obama flew to a NATO Summit meeting in Warsaw this weekend to plan and develop new ways for this rusty Cold War alliance to extend its reach and power in Europe and Asia, issuing new calls for billions more in funds to enhance their saber rattling war games and expansion to the Russian border, New York peace groups organized a Say-No-to-NATO rally in Times Square as European activists demonstrated in protest in Warsaw.

Daniel Berrigan Dead At 94

Daniel Berrigan in wheel chair

From a variety of sources on the death of Daniel Berrigan: We are bereft. We are so sad. We are aching and wrung out. Our bodies are tired as Dan’s was—after a hip fracture, repeated infections, prolonged frailty. And we are so grateful: for the excellent and conscientious care Dan received at Murray Weigel, for his long life and considerable gifts, for his grace in each of our lives, for his courage and witness and prodigious vocabulary. Dan taught us that every person is a miracle, every person has a story, every person is worthy of respect.

White House Peace Vigil Will Keep Going, Activist Vows

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By John Zangas for DC Media Group – The future of the longest-running peace protest in the U.S. recently came into question when its co-founder, Concepcion Picciotto, passed away on January 25. Picciotto was largely responsible for keeping the anti-nuclear vigil in front of the White House going since its beginning in August 1981. Long dreaded, her death is mourned by supporters and fellow volunteers who have kept the peace vigil going for 34 years. Her absence also creates a practical problem: how to cover the long shifts she put in every day through all kinds of weather.

The Forgotten Movement To Stop The Terror Wars After 9/11

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By Tom Engelhardt for Tom Dispatch – Who even remembers the moment in mid-February 2003, almost 13 years ago, when millions of people across this country and the planet turned out in an antiwar moment unique in history? It was aimed at stopping a conflict that had yet to begin. Those demonstrators, myself included, were trying to put pressure on the administration of George W. Bush not to do what its top officials so visibly, desperately wanted to do: invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, garrison it for decades to come, and turn that country into an American gas station.