S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fiercely Peaceful

The silverback gorilla symbolizes the kind of courage needed to be a real peacemaker. Thoughtful, aware of his power, and-in this view-not a carnivore, but a gentle vegetarian. He is perhaps aware how endangered he and those in his care are, but he remains a forager, not a warrior. We Homo Sapiens have lost our way.

It may take more courage to fight for peace than to go to war.

Today's post is a digest of small and big stories about the struggles to end conflicts all around the world. Each story is about the effort, how it sometimes fall far short, and how resolving conflict sometimes prevails. What I celebrate are ways that human beings are able to keep on trying in the face of enormously difficult challenges. I begin on the most poignant of notes.

Musicians for Peace Redux - In the late sixties, I was a thirty-something feminist Liberal looking on and raising elementary school age kids. The Peace Movement feels very different to me now. I dare not be nostalgic for those good old days, because today is today. And the fight for peace must be waged with new voices and instruments that I no longer recognize. They are facing critical reviews. Here is the story from Newsday:

MUSIC REVIEW Jammin' for peace. Now. REVIEW - BY IRA ROBBINS. SPECIAL TO NEWSDAY. March 23, 2006
Beyond the 10-foot-tall peace signs flanking the stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Monday night's Bring 'Em Home Now! Concert didn't much resemble the rallies musicians joined to protest a different war four decades ago. To be sure, there were plenty of self-righteous troubadours strumming acoustic guitars, and a speech by the movement's media-declared "rock star," activist mom Cindy Sheehan (introduced by a movie star, Susan Sarandon). Funds were raised to press the campaign, and the converted were preached to.
But times have changed since Phil Ochs and Joan Baez sang their protest songs on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in the '60s. The event to mark the start of the fourth year of the war in Iraq and demand its end featured an entertainingly absurd costumed and choreographed new wave extravaganza from Fischerspooner, smugly vulgar stand-up by Margaret Cho and thudding porn-rap by the woman who calls herself Peaches. There were fey songs about nothing ("I Feel Like a Child") by Devendra Banhart, a fop who crosses Marc Bolan and Donovan with Gilbert O'Sullivan, and a bravura performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Rufus Wainwright that underscored the evening's gay-friendly side. It all felt a very long way from huddling in the rain and facing the antagonism of hecklers and cops.
Still, the well-produced event's collective impact was stirring, an engaging call to arms that made the dull shame of a tragedy taking place 6,000 miles away feel more like a house-on-fire emergency.

Israel, Fatah and Hamas in a bizarre triangulated dance - Israel is soon to hold and election. Palestine's two factions, Hamas and Fatah are not currently in an actual full-blown war with Israel, but they are certainly not actively waging peace either. It is a general cease fire. But I am still a cautious lonely optimist about Hamas' capacity to turn their swords into plowshares, if the West does not mess it up. For the latest in that saga, check out this Aljazeera story on how the Hamas government may emerge.

Islamists to dominate Hamas cabinet - 3/19/06 - The Palestinian president will accept Hamas' cabinet line-up, but will press the group to make changes to its government agenda, which calls for resistance by any means to end Israeli occupation, aides say. . . .
Hamas, the surprise winner of parliamentary elections in January, has refused to accept interim peace deals with Israel or to commit to seeking a negotiated settlement as demanded by Abbas. Abbas could try to delay installation of a government until after Israel's 28 March parliamentary election. A standoff over Hamas' government programme could trigger a constitutional crisis, Palestinian officials have said.
Hamas completed forming a Palestinian cabinet that will put loyal members of the Islamist group in charge of key ministries, including interior, foreign affairs and finance, Hamas officials said on Saturday . . .
The Islamist resistance movement's inability to win any coalition partners and its decision to appoint its own members to the top three ministries could bolster US and Israeli efforts to isolate the new government diplomatically and economically.

Iraq = Civil war or sectarian strife? One of my recent posts dealt with the question of whether Iraq is in a civil war. It is still an open question. Again I am cautiously optimistic about Iraq's capacity to step back from the abyss. This story romantically confirms that impulse in me. From Aljazeera, it puts a different face on the question of sectarian violence.

Iraqi marriages defy civil war spectre, By Ahmed Janabi Thursday 23 March
Many Iraqis dismiss the possibility of civil war in their country saying the Iraqi tribal, ethnic, religious and sectarian mosaic is interconnected through blood and marriage. Despite widespread speculation at home and abroad that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, couples from different backgrounds have been defying the theory by marriage.
Young men and women – as was the case before the US-led invasion three years ago - from different ethnic, religious and sectarian backgrounds still flock to the civil courts every morning for marriage contracts.
Sahira Abd al-Karim, a civil lawyer in Baghdad, confirmed to that Iraqis from different backgrounds are still marrying each other.
"Sectarianism is something shameful among Iraqis, especially the middle class," she said. "As a lawyer in the civil courts in Baghdad I have seen Sunni marrying Shia, Arab marrying a Kurd.

Peace activists free at last - three out of four. This qualifies as one of those goodIraq stories our current president has been so hungry for. A small group of these enourmously courageous hostages were liberated; a Briton and two Canadians were freed in Iraq. According to the BBC,

British Iraq hostage Kember freedNorman Kember and two Canadian fellow peace activists held hostage in Iraq for almost four months have been freed by multinational forces.
Mr Kember, 74, of north-west London, James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were three of four men seized in Baghdad in November.
Mr Kember said in a statement: "It is great to be free, and I'm looking forward to getting back to the UK."
The men's US colleague, Tom Fox, was found dead in Baghdad two weeks ago. The three men are believed to have been rescued at 0800 local time (0500 GMT), following a weeks-long operation led by British troops and involving US and Canadian special forces.
Officials have revealed few details of the operation, but it is known that none of the captors was present, no shots were fired and no-one was injured.
Please let it not be four more decades - Let us hope that Hamas listens to this news: Basque separatists are going to try peaceful means after four decades of violence. It will be interesting to see the faces behind the terrorist masks. The BBC tells the story that,

Eta declares permanent ceasefire
Eta said the ceasefire would start on FridayThe Basque separatist group Eta has declared a permanent ceasefire. Eta is blamed for killing more than 800 people in its four-decade fight for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and south-west France.
In a statement released to Basque media, the group said its objective now was "to promote a democratic process in the Basque country".
Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the government was cautious but hopeful about the announcement. The BBC's Danny Wood, in Madrid, says the ceasefire could be the first step towards a formal peace process.
Eta, which is classed as a terrorist group by the US and the European Union, declared an indefinite ceasefire in 1998 but peace talks broke down and the
bombing campaign resumed a year later. The group has never previously called a permanent stop to the violence.

Peace prompts pink slips - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the newly elected President of Western Africa. Liberia, which was decimated by years and years of civil war, must now learn to move forward in very different ways. This very talented new president is waging peace, while having to make some very courageous decisions about laying off thousands of her government's workers. To quote from the Liberian website:

Laying off gov't workers - 23 Mar 2006 - The new peace-time government of Liberia has begun laying off thousands of government workers, some because they fail to show up for work, others because they cannot read or write, in a bid to slash the swollen payroll after
14 years of on-off civil war. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in her inaugural address in mid-January described the 69,000-strong workforce she inherited as “bloated”. Worker associations say the payroll will be reduced to 30,000 but the government has said only that it wants to ‘right-size’ the workforce. The Liberian government is the single largest employer in the country where the private sector has been largely dormant since the start of the civil war in 1989. Unemployment is estimated at 85 percent, according to the UN.
Active, not passive voice - The best peace makers are rarely passive. Most of them display a vigor and passion that is inspiring to those around them. Think of Joan of Arc, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, just to name a few. They could be fierce when it was needed. Who else should be on that list?

1 comment:

JasonSpalding said...

Iraq --- Cold War II --- Back with a vengeance!

The war in Iraq is a critical blunder by State Department of the United States. The U.S.S.R. was before its break up was allied with Iran in its war against Iraq. Iraq at the time had the support of the State Department of the United States. You remember the Axiom the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So when the U.S.S.R. dissolved some in the state department that we no longer had to keep supporting Iraq. So Saddam stopped getting the due he was felt so he tried to conquer Kuwait. This pissed off to many in the world so the U.S.A. and the rest of the world stepped in and sent his soldiers packing back to Iraq. Now when Iraq became has become further destabilized the U.S. had to go in and insure the safety of our worlds needed oil supply. Flash forward till now and what is happening Iran wants to control its nuclear destiny and who is supporting them Russia a former member of the U.S.S.R. club. So the real question is Russia attempting a come back?