We welcome American visitors to the site and to that of Drone Warfare

1 c3Four times as many Americans visited last week compared with random visitors from other regions – see top five of the twenty-three countries shown on site statistics. A sceptical friend attributes this to the relative size of its population, but this does not hold true as we only had two visitors from India.

Top post by far, as usual, is  Countries without armed forces or no standing army.

Corbyn: “Every war ends with a political agreement. Why not start with a political agreement and cut out the middle part?”

jeremy corbynRori Donaghy writes that when asked if there was ever a situation in which he would support military action, the 66-year-old (Jeremy Corbyn) argued that there are situations where an international peace-keeping force could be useful.

Extracts

“There is a role for peacekeeping forces under UN command,” he said. “They have to be properly managed and led. They have to have very clear terms of reference for what they are going to do.

“It’s got to be on the basis that there’s a wish to have a ceasefire in the first place. You cannot go in and bomb your way to peace – you go in on the basis of political negotiations.

“Every war ends with a political agreement. Why not start with a political agreement and cut out the middle part?”

See ‘UK would be safer if it stopped following US foreign policy . . . ‘: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/jeremy-corbyn-1991831019#sthash.ZEFI1r4L.dpuf

HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI

the Friend, 7 August 2015

 SEVENTY YEARS AGO

Hiroshima bomb

8:16 am

6 August 1945

American pilots dropped the world’s first atom bomb on Hiroshima.

Approximately 80,000 people were killed as a direct result of the explosion.

At least 60,000 more were dead by the end of the year.

Many of those who survived suffered long-term illness and disability

from the radiation, including cancers, tumours and birth defects.

Three days later a second nuclear bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki.

The bomb killed 74,000 people.

President Harry S Truman said Hiroshima had been chosen so that ‘soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.’

But over ninety-five per cent of the combined casualties of the two cities were civilian.

‘Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender

with minimum loss of “face”.

It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.’

General Dwight D Eisenhower

Thousands rally for peace in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beer Sheba and Haifa

The Times of Israel reports that on Saturday, thousands of people joined a Peace Now rally in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv against incitement and violence.

iarael rally2

This followed the firebomb attack on Friday morning in the West Bank village of Duma, suspected to have been carried out by Jewish extremists, which left a Palestinian toddler dead and his family fighting for their lives. On Thursday’s Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, a day earlier, six people were injured by an ultra-Orthodox man — who had just finished serving a 10-year sentence for stabbing three people at a similar parade 10 years earlier. One of those wounded – high school student Shira Banki (below ) – later died.

shira banki

The Peace Now demonstrators then headed toward Gan Meir to join up with those marching for LGBT rights — a separate event organized by LGBT and youth groups.

In Jerusalem, a rally was scheduled at Zion Square with President Reuven Rivlin to address the crowd, as well as family members of those injured in the stabbing attack Thursday. Similar protests were also taking place in Haifa and Beersheba.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Meretz head Zahava Gal-on spoke at the anti-violence rally, repeating comments they made earlier in the day on their Facebook pages. “I came here with a heavy heart following the Jewish pogrom on Friday”. She said the perpetrators were nothing short of a “Jewish Daesh,” an acronym used for the terror group the Islamic State.

Herzog told the crowd. “Terrorists are terrorists whether they are Jewish or Muslim. The Jewish people are ashamed of the actions by some among us and we have come to ask forgiveness”.

Yair Lapid, chairman of Israel’s fourth largest party Yesh Atid, and Yuval Steinitz, minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources (Likud), also addressed the crowd. “After a long week of incitement and violence, we must speak up,” read the Facebook event page for the Peace Now Tel Aviv rally. “The events of this week, ending with the attempted murder at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem and the deadly arson attack on Palestinians in Duma are a result of a toxic and violent atmosphere led by public figures. We must say no to Jewish terrorism and act against those who allow it to grow.”

Will the Israeli people be able to curb the Netanyahu government and even bring about beneficial change?

A day later:

President Rivlin  posted a message to Facebook condemning the murder and urging restraint and co-existence; responses included threats to his life and accused him of being ‘traitor’ and ‘terrorist.’

See http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/1.669104

 

Japanese prime minister ‘keeps a commitment to his US ally’ – building an Asia-Pacific community stretching from the U.S. to India?

A million protested against the Iraq war in Britain, what hope for 20,000?

japan2 vote 20,000

About 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Tokyo on Wednesday against the proposed law which would enable Japan to exercise “collective self-defence”- allowing its armed forces to fight alongside allies such as the US.

Nevertheless, amid protests in Japan’s Diet, and after 110 hours of debate, security bill legislation passed through a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday morning.

Yasukazu Hamada committee chairman (center) is surrounded by opposition politicians shouting and waving placards in protest against the special security bill.

Yasukazu Hamada committee chairman (center) is surrounded by opposition politicians shouting and waving placards in protest against the special security bill.

Conservatives such as Mr Abe are determined to revise the country’s pacifist constitution and ‘increase Japan’s role on the international stage’.

The bill is now set for a vote in the full lower house on Thursday where it is almost certain to pass, given the government majority. If the bill does not pass the upper house within 60 days, the lower house can push it through with another vote so it is likely to become law by the end of September. The bill will then head to the upper house for another protracted debate, keeping it in the public eye, and sapping Mr Abe’s popularity further.

A survey by Asahi Shimbun, conducted on Saturday and Sunday, found a 42% disapproval rate for the Cabinet, exceeding the approval rating for the first time since November. The planned reactivation of the nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture could further eat away at the Cabinet’s ratings.

The vision?

In April Gerald Curtis (WSJ) professor of political science at Columbia, wrote:

“The U.S. is and will remain for years to come the dominant power in East Asia, but it no longer enjoys the position of unchallengeable supremacy that it had in years past. This reality was made all too evident in recent days by the rush of its allies, excepting Japan, to sign up as founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite U.S. entreaties not to do so . . .

“Mr. Abe can offer a fitting commemoration of the end of the war by spelling out his view of the past. He can give his vision of the future and how he believes Japan can contribute to building an Asia-Pacific community stretching from the U.S. to India”.

Ominous?

How can we learn from history to build a peaceful future?

PVDD 5The author of ‘Learning the Lessons of War’, published recently in the SGI Quarterly magazine, a Buddhist forum for peace, culture and education, Dr Peter van den Dungen, has been at the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, UK, since 1976. A peace historian, he is founder and general coordinator of the International Network of Museums for Peace. Some extracts follow but interested readers are urged to follow the link and read the article in full.

Hegel’s “We learn from history that we do not learn from history” is a well-known saying. Given the continuing prevalence of war, it can also be said that we certainly do not seem to learn from war, such a pervasive feature of history. However, Immanuel Kant, a great German philosopher and one of the most profound thinkers on war and peace, argued in the late 18th century that humankind learns from history and war, but only the hard way.

After the Napoleonic Wars (of which Kant witnessed the beginning), the main European powers instituted a “concert” system to prevent a similar violent disruption of the established international order.

A century later, the horrors of World War I resulted in the creation of the League of Nations, the first organization of its kind, which was meant to limit the recourse to war. It also established agencies and the Permanent Court of International Justice in order to address issues that otherwise might result in war.

These new institutions proved too weak to prevent another world conflagration, which occurred a mere two decades after the first one. During World War II, plans were laid for a successor world organization. The onset of the Cold War, the antagonism between the main powers since then and inherent weaknesses have made the United Nations a rather ineffective instrument for keeping the peace. At the same time, it cannot be denied that it pioneered new techniques (not even foreseen in the Charter) to limit or prevent war, such as UN peacekeeping operations.

The end of World War II also saw the beginnings of a process of economic and social cooperation that resulted in a new political entity, the European Union. The need for this, as the surest way to abolish war and poverty, was urged by the organized peace movement in the 19th century, and similar ideas had been put forward in peace plans formulated by visionaries in earlier centuries.

Airing books containing the names of atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Airing books containing the names of atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

World War II had other profound consequences, particularly for the two countries that were widely regarded as responsible for it–Germany and Japan. Apart from the terrible loss of civilian life and destruction of their cities, Germany was divided and Japan became the victim of the use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both countries adopted peace constitutions with self-denying ordinances regarding their military capabilities and intentions. But in other respects, Germany learned lessons and pursued policies with the aim of achieving peace and reconciliation with its erstwhile adversaries, which have largely been lacking in Japan. They involve elements of apology, compensation, repair and restitution–expressed in moral, material and symbolical terms. Without such a deliberate and sincere strategy on the part of Germany, the project of European unification (of which the country has been the main pillar, together with France) would have been impossible.

cover sgi pciture

If Japan has learned lessons from the atrocities and crimes committed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the same cannot be said of the world as a whole.

Arnold Toynbee writes (in his autobiography, Experiences) that he had been jolted out of the traditional accepting attitude to war by the slaughter of half of his friends in World War I. The same revulsion against war was widespread in its aftermath. He noted that such revulsion “ought [to] have been total and universal from the moment . . . the world entered the Atomic Age.” He found that the American people, victorious in two world wars, had succumbed instead to militarism. Toynbee wrote this during the Vietnam War. Since then, the trauma of that war has been overshadowed by the events of 9/11, and militarism has become even more pervasive in American society.

An appropriate, meaningful and fruitful remembrance would amount to the initiation of nothing less than a worldwide program of peace education as part of the development of a comprehensive culture of peace. That peace is possible–indeed, that it is imperative for human survival–should be taught and learned in schools and universities and through peace museums.

In the modern world, museums are preeminent institutions, widely regarded as guardians of high culture that fulfill a major role in public education. It is telling that, whereas war and military museums are widespread (with hundreds of such museums in the US and UK alone) and often well-funded, peace museums are hard to find, with the singular exception of Japan. Likewise, war monuments abound, whereas antiwar and peace monuments are far less numerous. History textbooks have traditionally been dominated by war and its pretended heroes, with opponents of war and advocates of peace at best relegated to footnotes. The “invisibility” of peace in education, institutions and public life generally is a great hindrance to learning about peace and working toward it. In particular, museums honoring peacemakers of the past and present would inspire and encourage visitors to believe in peace and recognize their role in helping bring it about.

In this way, perhaps, Hegel’s sombre maxim may yet prove to be wrong.

Will a country with a stellar post-war record of peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights ‘lose out’?

gaza-tokyo-candlesa silent protest in Tokyo against the bloodshed in Gaza

Updating our news from Japan in November last year, Robin Harding reports in the FT that Japan’s politicians are “trapped in the capital for a long, hot summer”, as the current session of the Diet has been extended by 95 days until the end of September.

Shinzo Abe is devoting a great deal of political energy in seeking to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution by trying to pass a security reform bill which – says Harding – “threatens to turn the summer into a season of torment for the Japanese prime minister”.

Mr Abe aims to reinterpret the constitution, allowing it to exercise “collective” self-defence – coming to the military aid of an ally, instead of merely defending itself. Harding alleges that Abe has made the taking of this step a personal commitment to the US.

japan demo may peace clause

Early signs suggest it is causing Mr Abe significant political damage. His popularity has slid to a record low of 39%. Only 29% of the public support the security bills; 53% oppose them.

Harding reports the risk that the proposed reinterpretation of the constitution will violate it. Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic party invited a law professor to testify in parliament, only to have him declare that their bill is unconstitutional.

The Japan Times reports that an ‘anti-amendment rally’ of grass-roots movements opposing revision of the pacifist national charter was held in Yokohama on May 3, the Constitution Day holiday [above]. The participants, estimated at some 30,000, included politicians such as the Democratic Party of Japan Acting President Akira Nagatsuma and the Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii.

Political opponents are describing this move as opening the door to involvement in American wars and a Japan Times reader said: “It is a shame that the country with the most stellar record of peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights is losing out to a political leadership so nostalgic for the Japan of militarism and imperialism”.