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We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the onset of World War I. One of the lessons of that horrendous war was that chemical weapons cause inhumane suffering and death and that they are not reliable weapons. Their effectiveness depends on which way the wind is blowing, a situation subject to change. After the war, the use of chemical and biological weapons in warfare was banned by the Geneva Protocol of 1925. More recently, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997, and today 189 countries are parties to this treaty.
The situation in Syria is an object of serious preoccupation and once more the United States, assuming the role of the world's policeman, proposes to invade Syria in the name of "Freedom" and "Human Rights".
Your predecessor George W. Bush, in his messianic madness, invoked religious fundamentalism to launch his messianic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he declared that he talked with God, and God told him that he had to attack Iraq, he did so claiming it was the message of God to export "freedom" to the world.
In 2012, I was dispatched to help the big ISPs to figure out how to sell their vision for a "faster," "cleaner" internet. Six months later I produced this report -- and leaked it to the world. Learn more and take action.
I now ask the people of Japan for help. My country is no longer the country I once knew, a country moving at least in the direction of providing opportunity for all, regardless of income. The tendency to paranoia and international law-breaking was always there, at a low fever, in clandestine and semi-clandestine actions around the world, driven by visions of American exceptionalism pandered onto an all too naïve public. Though I like to believe that there was the intention at least to make the world a better place, in fact these actions were frankly not just frequently amateurish and inept, they resulted in the suffering and death of many. Nor it seems, have any of the lessons been learnt. Since 9/11, the United States has adopted a national security policy that can most charitably be described as one of anaphylactic shock. Terrorism ranks with shark attacks in terms of real risk. We have, however, so over-reacted, and misreacted to the tragedy that we have become a danger both to ourselves and to others.
While thinking about Syria it may be valuable to keep in mind something Chomsky regularly and wisely suggests: that the realization of a just and eventually peaceful world certainly requires our sustained commitment to the fundamental moral principle of universality, which simply means that we hold ourselves to the same set of standards that we expect of others. Then it would be complete hypocrisy to consider ourselves civilized were we to claim an act wrong for others but not for us.
What is evil? Rather than defining evil as a loss of goodness, a corruption of nature, or a type of failure, why not define evil as the injection of suffering into the world, suffering that was not there before and should not be there now? This definition provides for an Occam’s razor like resolution of complex political, economic, and social questions such as starting a war, blocking food distribution for the poor, or denying medical coverage to the needy. Simply ask yourself if a particular option will cause suffering. The decision then becomes easy, and it becomes particularly easy on questions of war.
Journalist Mark Taylor-Canfield talks with Mike Malloy about the surveillance of Seattle environmental activists by the FBI. Six people were visited by FBI agents who were apparently investigating protests against the Alberta Tar Sands project and Northwest coal trains.
Despite his own recent statements to the contrary, President Barack Obama has no legal authority to assault the government of Syria even as “a warning shot.” Neither the United States Constitution, nor the War Powers Act of 1973 gives him such authority in the absence of an emergency that allows Congress no time to react.
Obama cannot cite the present situation as such an emergency, given his public statement that members of Congress need not act until the completion of their scheduled vacation. He has said that his proposal is “not time sensitive.” If Congress fails to approve a resolution approving acts of war against Syria, he cannot order any military assault into Syria.
So much has been written about whether to go to war with Syria, I confess I have little of substance to add to the debate. Instead I will share the process through which I made my decision utilizing the following epistemological insights coming from the most unlikely of sources (at least for me), former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld as expressed during a news conference discussion of the Iraq war .
“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.” — Donald Rumsfeld, February 12, 2002
Clearly, I am not alone in my confidence in Rumsfeld’s “wisdom” as he is still a favorite and respected “expert” often called upon by a myriad of Main Stream Media outlets for his perspective on foreign policy, war, and the resolution of conflict.
All summer the threat of violence was in the air in Hellersdorf. This borough on the outskirts of East Berlin, once a huge site of modern high-rise buildings aimed at solving East German housing problems, provided homes for nearly 130,000 people. After "the Wall went down" many high-rise buildings were cropped from eleven to five or six stories, renovated, and given colorful new facades. But with the new problem of joblessness (currently at 11.7 percent in Berlin), more and more people left to hunt work in other parts of Germany or elsewhere. Numerous buildings, constructed in the 1980s, emptied out. More recently, working-class families, some with immigrant background, after being pushed out of central Berlin by high-priced gentrification, found that rents were not soaring quite so quickly in outlying areas like Hellersdorf. A new mix, often featuring disintegration, and defeatism due to a lack of hope, offered just the ingredients neo-Nazis and their allies were looking for.