Mission Statement

This blog is dedicated to tracking current events and developments that exemplify, support or discredit the
themes of City, Save Thyself! Nuclear Terror and the Urban Ballot.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Questions for the Targeted Multitudes

Some one thousand missiles around the world are targeted on short alert. Additional targeting, as we learned on 9/11, is done by terrorists. Here are a few questions for targeted Americans.

If you learn that young people are taught to hate Americans and terrorism is a result, who should you send to better inform those young people, soldiers or civilians?

If cities are targeted by terrorists, given that all people, including terrorists, have common needs - to make a living, raise children, care for the sick and aged, conserve and protect living space, and experience life’s pleasures - how might we make something useful of this?

Which would you choose, between a war where your city is destroyed but your nation wins, or war where your city remains intact but your nation loses? How do we avoid this choice?

If terrorists get nuclear weapons as they are trying to do and security experts predict they will do, will the American nuclear arsenal deter them?

What groups are fomenting misunderstanding and distrust around the world? Any in the U.S.?

What power centers have greater influence on nations’ foreign policies - cities and their populations, or corporations that produce oil, mineral ores, agricultural products, vehicles, machinery, and weapons?

How might cities influence national policy toward law enforcement and away from war?

If you were elected in your city or town to meet with representatives elected in cities and towns of other countries to discuss mutual vulnerability, which of these would you put on the agenda:

- Sources of conflict
- Trade
- Exploitation of labor and natural resources
- Weapons targeting
- Territorial disputes
- Military Alliances
- Zero nuclear weapons
- How to replace the war system with enforced law
- Pledge to teach school children the history, language, culture of all major cultures

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rules of War

I see the Geneva Convention on the Rules of War is up for revision. Rules for war was a great idea - throw a little humanity at Armageddon. It is time, though, to try something more ambitious and prevent war! Time was, in 1918 and 1945, after each World War, when to prevent war was the preeminent objective of nations. Why is it off national agendas? Today’s marvels of communication and transportation make global law enforcement, war’s alternative, finally, blessedly, feasible.

The missing ingredient is political feasibility. Activists by the millions are available to create the feasibility, but they mill around instead of going after political power. As the result, Presidents and Prime Ministers get boxed in by arms makers, profiteers, and assembly line workers at the missile factories, not to mention generals, patriotic yahoos, haters, revengers, and pessimists.

Try an experiment. Imagine that a brief fifty years have passed and you live in a secure world - no war - no nuclear weapons - no national fighting arsenals. Jot down the necessary components of that world. I come up with two:- first, global institutions of law enforcement, with administrative, judicial, and policing branches; second, democratic oversight to keep the enforcement accountable. Where is a proposal or plan to achieve this, never mind how long it might take to achieve. Where is our survival instinct?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

End Time or New Beginning?

Mass delusion seldom approaches reality as closely as today’s religious/sci-fi End Time enthusiasts approach nuclear holocaust. Given nuclear proliferation and the prospect of terrorists with WMD, wild imaginings and history are converging.

Would that End Time fervor prompted more effective effort to prevent nuclear holocaust. Consider that war and law always have been history’s opposing alternatives for controlling events. Problem is, the nation system, which evolved to provide populations with a first-line military defense, is a war system, unable to achieve reliable law enforcement because it’s always, you go first, and my sovereignty is sacred. Nations are hopelessly enmeshed, politically, ideologically, and economically, in preparing for and fighting wars.

Populations, millions of living, feeling, individual humans, are the beginning and end of values, purpose, and existence. All of our institutions, theories, and habits are directed to conserving and carrying on human life. Humans have lost control of the nations, and now need alternative, or additional, institutions through which to conduct public business on the global scale to which science and technology have brought them. With the nation configuration for human endeavor and security enmeshed in an uncontrollable web of private greed and group antagonism, it is time for supplemental configurations.

Sixty-five years after Hiroshima what are the alternatives to the crippled nation system?

International law’s enforcement power is beyond reach because of economic protectiveness, racial biases, chauvinism, greed, pride, and sovereignty concern. In the nuclear age the survival of civilization and avoidance of unimaginable suffering depend on some sizable number of individuals in many nations self-selecting themselves to employ a power configuration that works across national borders and pressures all nations to switch from the war system to enforced law.

The new political configuration must be both sub-national and supra-national. It must give the targeted populations access to political power, and at the same time work across national boundaries. The configuration that meets this test is the municipalities of the world, united for mutual security and able to pressure all their nations at the same time.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life Span - Our Glory and Curse

The human glory and curse is life span - too short to gain enough wisdom, short enough not to lock in mistakes. Life span kills us off, but two redeeming qualities ennoble the species - intellect and social instinct. Every newborn is endowed with inventive potential and a collective instinct.

Democracy was invented to make the most of these twin endowments, but the instinct for common cause has been collectivized into group think that defeats the intellect. Intelligence gets overwhelmed by the torrent of entertainment and information that usurp time and attention.

Group think also breaks the chain of empathy, compassion, and cooperation, the hallmarks of social instinct.

The hope remains that, destructive as the past has been, new folks will do it differently if even a few think hard enough about what to do instead of surrendering to what’s wrong. It can go the other way, though, if in any generation too few lay the groundwork for the doing that takes generations.

John Adams once wrote: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” (McCullough, p. 236)

I doubt Adams meant that politics, war, and mathematics ever would be dispensed with. The necessity for generations to build on one another is the point. We have lost sight of what the Founders saw so very well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Doctrine of (unrealistic) Realism

Security for the United States is taken to mean winning wars. To the limited degree we take security to mean preventing war, it means intimidating opponents by arms superiority, and diplomacy based on weapons and wealth.

What security no longer means is in fact the only possible source of authentic security, which is enforced law. Authentic security is not sought, because the United States does not want to submit to law. The curse of super power is to rely on power solely.

MIT’s Security Studies Program displays a six panel announcement about its mission, in the first paragraph of which one finds, “...the avoidance of war where possible, and the achievement of victory when necessary.”

MIT is the heart of the war establishment’s academic arm. We see in this sentence how security and war are inextricably bound, regardless of history, logic, creative intelligence, and any life sustaining survival instinct. The sentence denies authentic security in every word. War is to be avoided, not prevented, i.e., its eternal and unpreventable menace is taken for granted. The only alternatives are victory or defeat, not prevention. It is a militarized view of human existence, depending on contentions of force, violence, and cruelty to the exclusion of enforced law and the global democracy that would make enforced law accountable and feasible.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Lobby for START

The Senate must ratify START by a two-thirds vote. Arms control advocates are being urged to lobby their Senators, but Senators would listen to city and town governments much, much faster than to individual voters. Hundreds of cities around the world remain targeted by ICBMs, twenty years after the Cold War ended. Cities are therefore the logical entities to demand de-targeting. They can speak on behalf of their populations, not to mention their targeted hospitals, libraries, parks, office buildings, and city halls.

A Mayor, City Councilor, Alderman, or Town Selectman is readily accessible for an appointment, especially for an appointment of a group three or six or ten, or representatives of a neighborhood organization. Ask your governing body to hold a public hearing. Local media will be there.

160 American municipalities belong to Mayors for Peace, started by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, numbering 4144 communities in 144 countries. Go to the Mayors for Peace website and see whether your municipality belongs. If it does belong, that will give you a leg up in getting your state’s Senators to vote to ratify START. Mayors for Peace has adopted the 20-20 Vision Campaign, calling for eradication of nuclear weapons by 2020. START is just the start of that.

In my state, Massachusetts, fifteen cities and towns belong to Mayors for Peace, and Republican Senator Scott Brown’s vote is in doubt. Brown should receive resolutions from all those communities, and many more besides.

What you are asking your local governing body for is a resolution addressed to your two Senators, making these points:

1. 65 years have passed since Hiroshima.

2. Twenty years after the Cold War, some one thousand Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles remain targeted at cities around the world, on fifteen minute alert.

3. START is the next step in universal, progressive, verifiable nuclear arms reductions. Slowness in ratifying the Treaty is blocking further progress.

4. This city (or town), on behalf of its targeted population, says ratify START now!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eisenhower's Goals for Americans - Fifty Years Later

Fifty years ago, as his second term was ending, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed a bipartisan group of the country’s smartest people to tell Americans what goals they should pursue. It goes without saying, of course, that Americans are not advice takers and not long term thinkers.

Export more than you import, Goals for Americans advised. Since then, for decades we’ve run trade deficits. Avoid too great concentrations of economic power. The rich have gotten richer and now the richest 1% enjoys a quarter of the income and 44 million live in poverty. Avoid impractical and unnecessary military projects. Reagan’s Star Wars has cost over $100 billion and remains a steady drain without having improved security.

Plan roads, rapid transit, housing, parks, and urban renewal regionally. With some exceptions, urban sprawl prevails, with home foreclosures rife and affordable housing falling ever further behind the need. Extend medical insurance through public and private agencies, and control health costs. Today 46 million are uninsured, and the 2010 battle to take the Commission’s advice 50 years later may have destroyed Obama’s presidency.

Support and strengthen the UN, International Court of Justice, and world law. We’ve treated all of these with disdain, withholding UN dues, limiting ICJ jurisdiction, and refusing to join the International Criminal Court. Create an informed public through better newspapers and television. Newspapers are going out of business and television is a wasteland. Above all, above all, control nuclear weapons by ensuring no nation is in a position of significant advantage, and imposing universal inspections. The world is on the brink of expanded nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapons are seen by many as a standard part of national arsenals.

Interestingly, the first section of Goals for Americans is entitled The Individual and the last is entitled The United Nations. The Commission thus framed the goals, looking forward from World War II, in the context of citizens on the one hand and the world on the other. The nation fell in between. One reason so few of the goals have been realized is that Americans glorify their nation, denigrate the UN, and deny personal responsibility. They endow a disembodied construct, their nation, with all responsibility, and relieve themselves of any responsibility.