Pope Francis speaks from Assisi: “War . . . driven by greed for interests, money, resources, not religion”

September 21, 2016

 assisi

An annual World Day of Prayer event is held in the medieval town of Assisi in central Italy, to combat the persecution of peoples for their faiths and extremism ‘dressed up’ as religion.

Pope Francis has insisted that violence committed in the name of religion has nothing to do with God. During a trip to Poland in August he said “the world is at war,” but driven by greed for “interests, money, resources, not religion”.

During a private visit, he met faith leaders and victims of war to discuss growing religious fanaticism and escalating violence around the world.

pope-francis

The Times of Israel reported that he said there is no God of war and called on “all men and women of good will, of any religion, to pray for peace.”

The pope reminded the West that while it had suffered a string of deadly jihadist attacks, there were parts of the world where cities were being flattened by fighting, prisoners were tortured and families were starved to death:

“We are frightened… by some terrorist acts but this is nothing compared to what is happening in those countries, in those lands where day and night bombs fall,” he said at a morning mass at the Vatican: “As we pray today, it would be good if we all felt shame, shame that humans, our brothers and sisters, are capable of doing this.”

In the Piazza of Saint Francis, Assisi, Radio Vatican broadcast his appeal for peace: “Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs.  We need a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life”.

 

 

 


Proper soldiering: developing a different view of security

September 3, 2016

Amid appalling news of man-made brutality from Yemen, Syria and other conutries a ray of humanity penetrates, recalling senior military figures who have advocated a constructive use of military skills, in environmental work, emergencies, peacekeeping, peace building and – first and foremost they would say – defence of their country’s border.

Michael Harbottle, a former chief of peacekeeping forces in Cyprus, pointed out the advantages of using military skills and equipment in What is Proper Soldiering? p15:

“From time immemorial armies and navies have responded to calls for help in peacetime. Now the air forces can provide an additional dimension to that help by being able to transport aid and rescue teams into remote and isolated areas not easily accessible by land. Flooding and earthquakes have been the more prevalent disasters for which all three services of the armed forces have been required. The navy with their small craft have provided a means of reaching and bringing to safety stranded victims of cyclone disasters”.

General Eustace D’Souza (Mumbai) gave a memorable and well-received One World Trust lecture in the House of Commons in 2001.

He spoke about his work promoting the creation of a structure for environmental protection within the three Indian armed services, so that today every unit has a specific environmental role to play. He regarded this as central to global security and part of the whole ‘web of life’.

The San Diego UnionTribune reports that in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Federal Labour Agency chief Frank-Juergen Weise formally initiated a pilot project on Thursday.

german troops help refugees

Refugees from the Syrian bombardment are learning how to reconstruct houses and acquiring other civil reconstruction skills at a German military education centre where, for 12 weeks, military experts are teaching 120 refugees engineering, construction, sanitation and other skills in three four-week courses. “The goal is for these young people to get good basic training,” the defense minister told reporters.

Von der Leyen said the idea is that the eventual rebuilding of Syria will need “more than just new stones, it will take people with confidence and diverse skills.” Even if the refugees decide not to return home, the programme will help them to acquire the skills they need to work in Germany. Ali Sharqi, a Syrian refugee, took time out from learning how to repair a damaged house to talk with reporters; his primary goal is to learn a marketable skill. As the minister, Ursula von der Leyen said, “We don’t know how long it will take until they can return, so they have to be able to make a living while they are here”.

Eirwen Harbottle recalls meeting Dr (later Prof) Ewan Anderson (geopolitics, Durham University), who has carried out research and practical studies in the Middle East on water and minerals resources issues, international boundary disputes, particularly relating to water, refugee movements, development, minerals and strategic resources. He discussed a joint project in which he would analyse the scientific research presently carried out by different armed forces into environmental/climate issues, while Michael Harbottle would concentrate on the psychological impact on military thinking.

She added that it was clear that individuals in the armed forces who were engaged in environmental protection and allied research, were developing a very different mindset from the old, traditional ideas about ‘expertise in warfighting’ being the basis of security.

More from Michael Harbottle: https://civilisation3000.wordpress.com/articles-2/michael-harbottle-points-out-the-advantages-of-using-military-skills-and-equipment-in-what-is-proper-soldiering-p15/

 

 


NATO wargames condemned by the United States Conference of Mayors

July 4, 2016

 

The United States Conference of Mayors, town and city leaders administering populations greater than 30,000, condemned NATO’s Anaconda War Games on Russia’s border as increasing the threat of nuclear conflict.

NATO esthonia 16

“NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia”, according to Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-general

But Sam Jones, the FT’s defence and security editor, reports at length on ‘European wargames’. NATO has been supporting Kevadtorm (“Spring Storm”): a military ‘exercise’ in which around 1,000 troops from Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and Portugal, have been deployed to Estonia to train and ‘play the enemy’ (above).

Across the Baltic, under the alliance’s aegis, Latvia held “Summer Shield” with 1,100 troops, Lithuania has begun “Iron Wolf”, with 5,000 troops and in June, “Saber Strike” saw thousands of US troops airlifted into the entire region and in Poland, “Anakonda”, a 31,000-man war game closed a few weeks ago.

It is said that NATO is worried by Russia’s plans

More than 2,000 exercises and wargames, snap drills and rapid mobilisation exercises will be held, that could see tens of thousands of troops deployed in Russia’s western military zone. NATO’s defence ministers in Brussels will ask for 3,000 to 4,000 NATO troops, in four battalions — one American, one British, one Canadian and one German — to be stationed in the three Baltic states and Poland on a “persistent” basis.

The alliance’s political unity is being challenged by a divergence of views

Next week Warsaw’s NATO biennial summit will take place but some NATO members have other priorities: Southern European members are preoccupied by the Mediterranean migrant crisis and Jones reports that Germany, whose diplomats are known to have the closest ties to the Russian government, fears that NATO is entering into a wildly irresponsible game of military bluff.

With activity in Afghanistan winding down, the Wales NATO summit focussed on responding to the Ukrainian crisis, but ‘dovish voices’ in the alliance believed further mobilisation would be too provocative at the time.

Jones writes that Russia perceives the US game-plan as a military formula of “regime change” to topple or destabilise governments that do not bend to western economic and democratic values.

Russia says that its borderland military build-up is a response to NATO’s own growing military presence. In May 2014, Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, speaking at the Moscow International Security Conference, described NATO’s reinforcement of the Baltic states and Poland as part of a grander game to expand aggressively the alliance’s influence in Ukraine and, by implication, Russia itself. Successive conflicts after 1990, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the Arab Spring were seen as part of a continuum, as were the Rose revolution in Georgia (2003), the Orange revolution in Ukraine (2004), the green movement in Iran (2009) and most recently, the Syrian civil war.

The Rand Corporation is a think-tank founded by the Douglas Aircraft Company and now funded by the US government, university collaborators & private sources, with clients including the CIA and Defence Advanced Research Projects. It has concluded that with its current forces, “NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members”.

However, one general says it would be unable to deploy “east of the Oder” in the event of outright war. It would simply be too vulnerable during transit and deployment and the logistical planning for the spearhead rapid reaction brigade VJTF would be hampered by:

  • private-sector ownership of infrastructure across Europe, which means NATO now has to deal with many interlocutors to shift even the most modest number of tanks around the continent;
  • military vehicles which do not comply with some countries’ exhaust emission rules;
  • special permits taking weeks to sign off, which have to be applied for before each exercise;
  • though the VJTF is supposed to deploy in no more than 48 hours, the truck drivers transporting its tanks and artillery still need to take their EU-mandated minimum sleeping hours and
  • it takes an average of five days to get the right clearances in place to move troops around Europe, far short of the promised 48 hours rapid response time.

us conf mayors

 The United States Conference of Mayors’ resolution added: “The Obama administration has not only reduced the US nuclear stockpile less than any post-Cold War presidency, but also decided to spend on trillion dollars to maintain and modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads, production facilities, delivery systems, and command and control”. It seems, however, that NATO, backed by the Rand Corporation is calling for additional expenditure to counter the alleged Russian threat.

The country’s mayors are a voice of peace and reason in the face of mounting influence by the foreign policy establishment and defense lobbyists, and have rendered similar resolutions calling for the United States to pursue a less threatening foreign policy for 11 consecutive years.


Pope Francis: the cynical will mock, the inhibited, cringe and those ‘beholden to the weapons industry’ will do their utmost to undermine

March 25, 2016
pope2http://aleteia.org/2016/03/24/gesture-of-brotherhood-pope-washes-feet-of-muslim-christian-refugees-as-brussels-recovers/

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees during Holy Thursday Mass at a refugee centre on the outskirts of Rome.

Nicole Winfield reported from Rome in The Washington Post that in Castelnuovo di Porto, Pope Francis declared Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees children of the same God, as he performed a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels attacks.

Francis denounced the carnage as a “gesture of war” carried out by blood-thirsty people beholden to the weapons industry.

“We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,” the pope said in his off-the-cuff homily, delivered in the windy courtyard of the center.

Francis shocked many Catholics within weeks of his 2013 election by performing the ritual on women and Muslims at a juvenile detention center. After years of violating the rules, in January he changed the regulations to explicitly allow women and girls to participate.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained that the Vatican norms are meant for traditional liturgies in Catholic communities, not necessarily a unique papal Mass where the overall message is one of universal brotherhood and the love of God for all his children. He added that Francis clearly intended the message to be universal. “All of us, together: Muslims, Hindu, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals. But brothers, children of the same God.

“We want to live in peace, integrated.”

 

 

 

 


Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — western foreign policy disasters

February 16, 2016

In 2002 a state visit: – welcomed by Queen Elizabeth and the Blairs:

syria assad queen

Truth in the words of a ‘prophet without honour’

“Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, might we agree that the destruction of two states — Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — have been western foreign policy disasters?

“When you destroy a state the gates to every corner of hell are opened — no frontiers, no police, no law, no education, no infrastructure, no government, a Hobbesian war of all against all. After Iraq one might have thought western policymakers would have paused before turning Libya into a 1000km breach in the previously reasonably solid southern Mediterranean border through which refugees and Islamist jihadis now pour or export weapons and Islamist ideology”.

And now:

alleppo destruction

The Times reports that the five year conflict in Syria has claimed at least 250,000 lives.

Continued (minus anti-Russian bias):

“Of course we all celebrate an uprising against nasty authoritarians and there are no end of them to chose from in the Middle East, the Gulf, parts of Africa and further afield. It is so easy to start fuelling a conflict but so hard to say it is time to end it, hold our noses and let death and internal politics take the place of external intervention. Restoring state authority in Iraq, Libya and Syria should now be the supreme object of statecraft . . . “

Instead of the destroyed or semi-destroyed states and tsunamis of refugees that have been the main fruits of western policy this decade, we could build a stable Euro-Mediterranean region where investment can replace intervention on its southern and eastern littorals and return the EU to growth, prosperity and confidence.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d7db9bc6-d18b-11e5-92a1-c5e23ef99c77.html#ixzz40KQVHPTg

 

 


Climate change – a threat to peace

February 17, 2015

maw dvd first shotThe first shot of the MAW DVD

The Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change was produced by a team led by Stern at HM Treasury and released in October 2006. In the Review, climate change is described as an ‘economic externality’.

Instead of polarising debate, bear in mind that the steps advocated to counter climate change are beneficial in themselves – as pictured:

GWhoax (2).

Some experts called the genocide in Darfur the world’s first conflict caused by climate change, as the Scientific American reported in 2009. A major factor was a decline in rainfall over the past 30 years as the region’s population doubled, pitting wandering pastoral nomads against settled farmers for land and water.

In 2011, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), told the media: “We have enough evidence, enough scientific findings which should convince people that action has to be taken. Based on observation, we know that there will be more floods, more drought, more heat waves and more extreme precipitation events. These things are happening . . . The UN is particularly concerned about the impact of global warming and climate change on low-lying areas, especially islands”.

conflict climate change coverThis 2013 guide (cover, left) addresses the links between conflict and climate change. It includes an attractively produced 18 minute DVD which explains that conflict and climate change are linked, and can be tackled by ordinary people, communities, businesses and governments.

Colleagues at the Centre for Holistic Studies in Mumbai noted in the 80s the growing unpredictability of the climate which was affecting agriculture even then. This is described in the DVD’s opening sentences by Saleemul Huq (IIED). Other well-chosen speakers are listed on the cover opposite.

Many predict that impacts will include increasing strains on water and food supplies, civil resource wars, mass migration and international conflict.

Lord Stern, currently chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (LSE) and president of the British Academy, last year wrote: “Rises in temperature could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity . . . The risks are immense and can only be sensibly managed by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will require a new low-carbon industrial revolution . . . (implementing) a strong price on greenhouse gas pollution across the economy, which would also help to reduce emissions”.

RTCC, a news and analysis website focused on providing the latest updates and insight into global low carbon developments, reports that local conflicts over water and land are being increasingly linked to civil war and genocide in North Africa, according to the UN. A UNCCD report released at the start of February warns that an ‘Invisible Frontline’ is emerging in the Sahel region, driven by land degradation and the effects of climate change.

The positive benefits of moving to a low carbon economy listed in the cartoon shown above include:

  • clean air
  • clean water
  • healthy children
  • ‘livable’ cities
  • green jobs
  • forests preserved and
  • energy independence

The climate change impacts listed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group II, which compiled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, led to widespread agreement that fossil fuel divestment needs to end now.

Noting that the impetus for change now is seen in civil society, the speakers listed above called for the political will to see high levels of military spending reduced, with funds and expertise redirected to peaceful and constructive purposes.

When will governments hear this call and act together?

climate change cartoon 1990 2019


Japanese-Palestinian relations: support in times of trouble

January 23, 2015

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A March kite flying event was held in Gaza to express solidarity with the Japanese people affected by the tsunami disaster in 2011.

gaza kites tsunami anniversary

A thousand Palestine refugee students from UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools in Gaza gathered to fly kites in commemoration of the disaster that killed thousands of people and caused immense damage. Read on here.

In July people staged a silent protest in Tokyo against the bloodshed in Gaza, the biggest gathering in the Japanese capital since the violence began.

gaza tokyo candles

As night fell demonstrators holding candles formed huge letters spelling “Gaza” in a city park, and offered a one-minute prayer for victims of the violence in the Palestinian territory. Some waved Palestinian flags while others carried signs reading: “Stop the killing in Gaza. Japan cares.” “We want people in Gaza to know that they are not isolated from the world,” said Sonoko Kawakami, one of the organizers. “Gaza is far from Japan, but we are going to continue to do whatever we can do here.”

gaza tokyo candle pattern

Leading members of the Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish faiths delivered brief messages calling for an end to the violence. Read on here.

In August, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) accepted a contribution of US$ 4.5 million from the Government of Japan which has a tradition of commitment to international humanitarian efforts.

unrwa

The Japanese contribution will support UNRWA’s distribution of daily food rations as well as non-food items such as blankets, mattresses, hygiene kits, and diapers to all IDPs in UNRWA shelters. It will also enable UNRWA health centres to provide quality health care through provision of medicines.

Mr. Junya Matsuura, Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative to the Palestinian Authority explained that the US$ 4.5 million contribution to UNRWA was part of Japan’s assistance to Palestinians in Gaza affected by the conflict and emphasized that Japan continues to make efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire in coordination with the international community.

The Government of Japan has been a major UNRWA partner for many years, and has responded generously to support UNRWA programmes throughout the region. As a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission since 1973, Japan has also provided valued advice and support to the Agency’s Commissioner-General. Read on here.

gaza abbas meets j pm

On Tuesday, 20th January, during a visit to Israel and Palestine, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced during that his country would provide $100m. to help reconstruct the Gaza Strip and create job opportunities for Palestinians.

At the joint press conference he added that Japan plans to send experts in March to help the Palestinians establish small businesses and reiterated Japan’s support for the two-state solution, expressing hope that peace would prevail in the region so that people could enjoy prosperity and development.

Mr Abbas told the press conference that Israel had to choose between peace and settlements, and that he is committed to resuming peace talks with Israel “on the basis of the Arab peace initiatives and UN resolutions.”

He thanked Japan for its support for Palestinian refugees over the past few decades and for the 2012 Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. Abbas said he had briefed the Japanese prime minister on the latest developments surrounding the peace process and his efforts to seek a UN Security resolution that establishes a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. Read on here.