Prestigious International Peace Prize Awarded to Courageous Whistleblower Bradley Manning

July 22, 2013

IPB AWARDS MACBRIDE PEACE PRIZE 2013 TO US WHISTLEBLOWER BRADLEY MANNING

Note: Peace Action is a longtime member of the International Peace Bureau and strongly concurs with this award’s much deserved honoring of Bradley Manning.

manning19 July 2013 Geneva

 

The International Peace Bureau is delighted to announce that this year’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize is to be awarded to Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower whose case has attracted worldwide attention, for his courageous actions in revealing information about US war crimes. His trial is likely to be concluded in the coming days.

 

Read-IPB-Press-Release

Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq and another 90,000 about Afghanistan, as well as the material used in the “Collateral Murder” video produced by WikiLeaks: videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Garani airstrike in Afghanistan. At the time, it constituted the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public. Much of it was published by WikiLeaks or its media partners between April and November 2010.

 

Manning has so far been detained for three years  — first in Kuwait, then in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Va., and finally at a medium-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. —before being charged with 22 offenses, including communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source and aiding the enemy. He pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the 22 charges, which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years. A full life sentence is now also possible.

 

IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson comments: “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty”. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies – especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the US claims to uphold.

 

About the MacBride Prize

The prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) – 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006).It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights. (details at: http://ipb.org/i/about-ipb/II-F-mac-bride-peace-prize.html)

 

The (non-monetary) Prize consists of a medal made in ‘Peace Bronze’, a material derived from recycled nuclear weapons components*. It will be formally awarded on Sept. 14 in Stockholm, at a special evening on Whistleblowing, which forms part of the triennial gathering of the International Peace Bureau. See brochure at:http://www.ipb.org/uploads/tbl_events_web/172/documents/Stockholm_brochure.pdf

 

 

*IPB is deeply grateful to the manufacturers of the medal:  http://www.fromwartopeace.com/


Scenes from an Empire in Decline, from Afghanistan, Yemen and the U.S.

June 1, 2012

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Norwegian philosopher and peace studies pioneer Johan Galtung has a very useful analytic framework for peace and justice activists in our current times, “the Decline of the U.S. Empire and the flowering of the U.S. Republic.” While Professor Galtung writes very convincingly about the nature of U.S. empire and how it can be transformed into a republic truly worthy of our national mythology and wonderful people, it’s a fairly self-explanatory concept, namely that as the U.S. Empire inexorably declines, as all empires have, there should be space and resources freed up to help the U.S. Republic really blossom. (And Peace Action’s “Move the Money” campaign to slash military spending in order to invest in human needs and environmental restoration embodies this concept in a concrete way.)

I’ll return to this theme often in the future, but for now I won’t attempt a comprehensive description of the U.S. Empire, nor the signs of its decline (which won’t necessarily be quick, or pretty). Instead, here are a few snapshots.

Reuters has an article today by Peter Apps that lays out the complexities of the political and military situation in Yemen, and what appears to be an inevitable slide into further entanglement by the U.S. and its allies, which raises serious war powers concerns. Peace movement veteran Tom Hayden’s article in The Nation puts the conflict in Yemen, including U.S. drone strikes, into the context of “The Long War” that many military analysts say could be measured in decades.

Turning to Afghanistan, the country in which the U.S. is waging its longest war (eleven years and counting, and President Obama’s agreement with President Hamid Karzai might keep U.S. troops there for another dozen years), Ian Pounds, a volunteer teacher of orphans in Afghanistan, has one of the most comprehensive, damning condemnations of the failure of U.S. policy in that country I have ever read, published by CounterPunch. It’s long-ish, but worth a read. Here’s an excerpt from near the end of the piece:

“The U.S. government pays no attention to law anymore. It murders American citizens without trial (yes, the President signed into his powers the ability to have an American citizen assassinated if he or any future president deems that person a threat to security). America tortures, still. It invades privacy without a warrant. It invades countries illegally and under false pretenses. And America doggedly refuses to take responsibility for any of its multiple failures in this war, or any war.”

So where is the “Flowering of the U.S. Republic” in this blog post, you may well ask?

People in this country and around the world working for peace and justice  are contributing to the turn from Empire to Republic, but many U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are doing more than their share in this regard. Read Iraq War vet Zach LaPorte’s moving account of returning his war medals at the terrific NATO protest in Chicago two weeks ago, published on Michael Moore’s website, and view the terrific slideshow and video of the protest on the Iraq Veterans Against the War website.

We all have a role to play in determining how the Empire ends and what comes after, and I hope we build a country worthy of the example of these vets who have sacrificed so much, and who now testify so eloquently that war is not the answer.


The Greek Tragedy

May 24, 2012

by Peter Deccy

Much has been reported about the decline of the Greek economy. Some Republicans have enjoyed using the tragedy to warn the same fate awaits the US unless it cuts its social spending, often implying the social safety net in Greece supports a lazy society that prefers drinking on the beach and handouts to hard work and productivity.

Nice try. What’s been missing in mainstream media coverage is the fact that Greece is the 3rd largest importer of weapons in the world. That’s right, China, India, Greece.

Greece is largest importer of weapons among the NATO allies. While NATO countries spend an average of 1.7% of their GDP on ‘defense’, Greece has been spending 4%. That’s roughly $1,500 per person.
It has a standing army of 156,000 men, more than the UK which has 6 times the population of Greece. Military service of nine months is compulsory.

And who is selling them the weapons? No, it’s not the world largest weapons trafficker (the US) this time. It’s France and Germany, the belt tighteners who have been pressing Greece to accept a bread and water diet to solve their financial crisis.

Of course, you need a threat of cosmic proportions to justify runaway military spending. For Greece, that’s Turkey. But wait, isn’t Turkey Greece’s NATO ally? Yes, they are, but don’t look behind the curtain. The extreme right in Greece has long used the dispute over Cyprus to justify their militarism. That sounds vaguely familiar.

So the Republican’s have it half right, which is twice their average score. If we don’t watch out we’ll end up in the same mess Greece is in. But it won’t be because we’re taking too good care of our people. It will be because of our addiction to militarism.


In Chicago for the NATO Free Future Counter-Summit and marching on May 20?

May 14, 2012

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If you are marching on May 20, take our Nonviolence & Media training at 5pm on Wednesday, May 16.

Feel prepared and supported to exercise your right to nonviolent protest and speak to the media about why we must  end the war in Afghanistan and retire NATO.

After an overview of NATO/G8, the National Lawyers Guild and Street Medics will do presentations and answer questions.

You will have the option to do a NVDA training or break out to a media training session led by trainers from Peace Action and AFSC.

RSVP

You will feel ready to go on Sunday, know your rights and counter the NATO summit media spin! Space is limited, please email Mary at mzerkel@afsc.org if you are interested in participating.

March on May 20 with the Network for NATO Free Future contingent for  the IVAW and CANG8 march.


Only a Month Away, Won’t You Please Come to Chicago…for Peace, Justice and a NATO-Free Future!

April 16, 2012

–Executive Director Kevin Martin

In just over a month, peace activists and allies from other social justice movements from around the country and around the world will gather in Chicago (where I lived and worked for ten terrific years) to call for peace, economic justice and the end of NATO when that alliance convenes for its annual meeting. Please plan to join us May 18-20 for what will be an illuminating, action oriented Counter-Summit conference, and a march of veterans of the Afghanistan war returning their medals to U.S. officials to call for an end to our country’s longest war and just treatment for returning veterans and the people of Afghanistan who have suffered immeasurably over the last several decades of nearly endless wars.

More information, including registration and speakers can be found on the NATO-Free Future website (Peace Action is a founding member of the national and international coalitions on this issue). I’ll be there and hope you will join us!

Also, WBEZ-FM, Chicago’s public radio station, hosted a thought-provoking live public town meeting on NATO and the upcoming summit, featuring Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, a longtime friend and ally and a principle speaker at our conference in May. It’s long, and hour and a half, but worthwhile. Kathy, who has traveled many timed to Afghanistan in solidarity with the people of that war-weary country, is excellent as always on the show, and the audience Q and A session with host Jerome McDonnell (the last 30-45 minutes or so) is very interesting, great questions and comments from the attendees.


Peace Action on C-SPAN

August 17, 2011

Thanks to the hard work of national Peace Action board member (and University of Hawai’i Human Rights Law Center founder) Joshua Cooper, Peace Action got some serious airtime (an hour and a quarter) on C-SPAN. Joshua has organized Human Rights on the Hill conferences in DC for law students and the public for a decade now, and he and I were filmed at this year’s event at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke Law School.


Nonviolent Opposition to Militarism from Kansas City to Korea!

August 5, 2011

As the U.S. Empire declines, more indefensible and inexplicable pieces of the war machine are exposed and opposed by peace-mongers around the world. Two in the news today, both for their absurdity but also for the effective, nonviolent resistance they have provoked, are the new bomb factory to make non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons in Kansas City and a proposed U.S. naval base related to Star Wars “missile defense” on Jeju Island, South Korea.

KC Peace Planters, a coalition which includes our Peace Action affiliate, PeaceWorks Kansas City, succeeded in placing an initiative on this fall’s election ballot to stop the planned bomb factory and replace it with a green energy plant. The Kansas City council is moving to get the initiative off the ballot, citing spurious “national security” arguments. Stay tuned for more information on how to support the struggle to stop the bomb factory in KC.

Half a world away, the residents of Gangjeong, Jeju want to be left alone to continue farming and fishing on their beautiful island rather than hosting a naval base intended to serve as part of a provocative and useless “missile defense” system. Our friend Christine Ahn has an excellent op-ed on the issue in the International Herald Tribune. Read it, learn more and act in solidarity with the people of Jeju by signing and circulating this petition.


Bob Gates vs. Larry Wittner, Maintain the Empire or Militarist Madness – You Make the Call!

May 23, 2011

Secretary of War Robert Gates, in his commencement speech at Notre Dame over the weekend, warned against cuts in the US military budget. Not surprising (even though Gates has gotten some praise for his proposals to trim some of the waste and duplication in the Pentagon budget). Gates (how he escaped jail for his role in the Iran-Contra coverup in the ’80s is beyond me) inadvertantly touched on some of the basic tenets of US Empire (protecting shipping lanes and access to cheap energy sources), but basically he offers no sustainable vision for the U.S.’s role in the world, it’s basically “let’s hang on to as much of our military Empire for as long as we can.”

In contrast, Peace Action board member, professor, scholar and author Larry Wittner offers a much more critical view of U.S. and global militarism, including weapons sales and military spending, in his piece on History News Network. And, he offers a better path forward, a much more sustainable policy of coordinated international intelligence and police work rather than an endless “war on terror,” peaceful, diplomatic engagement with the world, and investment in human needs.

Speaking of making the call, be on the lookout tomorrow from an Action Alert from Peace Action and other organizations to call Congress and demand an end to the war in Afghanistan and a rejection of congressional efforts to expand presidential war-making authority.


Memo to President Three Wars – New Tools Other Than Hammers Needed ASAP!

March 29, 2011

President Barack “Three Wars” Obama (Nixon, Reagan and even G.W. Bush could only dream of conducting three wars at once!) was unconvincing in making his case for war in Libya last night in his speech to the country. Of course, he side-stepped the constitutional war powers question – consulting with bipartisan Congressional leadership doesn’t cut the mustard, as even he knew before becoming president, as Bob Naiman of Just Foreign Policy recounted on Huffington Post.

And, as his predecessor loved to do, he mightily slew his own Straw Man, setting up and then knocking down the argument that because the U.S. can’t intervene militarily everywhere in the world where people are being brutally suppressed, we can’t intervene anywhere. I haven’t seen opponents or skeptics of the Libya intervention making that argument.

What I have seen is the hypocrisy and inconsistency of U.S. Middle East policy being challenged, most succinctly by The Daily Show’s devastating “America’s Freedom Packages” sketch last week. Without going into a huge laundry list of inconsistencies, how about this one – protesters are being killed in Bahrain and Yemen by U.S.-allied regimes, and I’ve heard of no calls for no-fly zones or even cutting off weapons to those regimes.

Some Libya war opponents claim the humanitarian justification for the intervention are bogus, that oil or some other U.S./Western imperial interest must really be behind this. That may well be true, but I don’t know that for certain. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies thinks access to or domination of Libya’s oil is not the main reason for U.S./NATO intervention, as we have been buying oil from the Gaddafi government since 2003.

The problem is, because of a long history of imperial wars and military and foreign policies, the U.S., even under a president thought to be more peaceful and less unilateral than his predecessor, has little credibility left when it comes to waging war, especially when it selectively preaches nonviolence to some who seek democracy while arming others.

The awe-inspiring, mostly nonviolent, secular and entirely indigenous revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, which captivated the world and inspired protest in other countries, were slow to receive support from President Three Wars and his Cabinet. As they embarrassingly fumbled for days (Vice-President Biden saying Egyptian President for Life Hosni Mubarak was not a dictator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opining that Mubarak really did have the interests of his people at heart) to get on the side of the people and the right side of history, I almost felt sorry for them (almost but not quite!).

What could they have said? The truth, that our foreign policy in the Middle East has been morally bankrupt and cynical for decades, and that we would gladly have kept supporting and arming Mubarak (as we had for thirty years) and his son (his chosen successor) ad infinitum had it not been for the heroic Tahrir Square protesters standing up and saying, “Enough!”? I’d love to have seen that speech!

At least the Administration is consistent, though in a bad way, in being slow to support nonviolent movements. It could have supported the initial nonviolent resistance campaign in Libya, as University of San Francisco Professor (and former Peace Action Education Fund board member) Stephen Zunes noted on truthout. It didn’t, choosing instead to support the armed rebels, perhaps missing a chance to intervene non-militarily before the armed conflict escalated.

But of course U.S. foreign policy is best summed up by Mark Twain’s adage, “When your only tools are hammers, all problems look like nails.”

In a rapidly changing world, one of whose dominant features is the decline of U.S. Empire, we need new tools. Offering rhetorical and material support to nonviolent democratic forces seeking emancipation from despots (especially ones the U.S. has supported) would be a great start. A serious commitment to emphasizing diplomacy and just economic development over military strategies, in Libya, Afghanistan, Palestine and Israel and many other countries, would do wonders to lessen armed conflict.

Shutting down the U.S. arms bazaar (we are the world’s number one weapons pusher, and weapons are the country’s number one manufactured export to the world) would do wonders for global peace and stability. While we’re at it, let’s take a look at our $1.2 trillion annual “national security” budget and 900 foreign military bases and consider how that is crippling our domestic economy by hoarding resources needed for human and environmental needs programs and job creation. Creating a standing United Nations peacekeeping force, under the aegis of the Secretary-General and not subject to the Security Council veto, is long overdue, and would have much more credibility than U.S./NATO or other “great power” militaries claiming to intervene for humanitarian purposes.

As long as the U.S. thwarts those and other needed changes in policy, we appear to be doomed to more wars, many to be justified as “humanitarian” in nature. My children, ages 17 and 13, think the U.S. is always at war, and of course they would, that has been true since they were old enough to be aware of such things, and it’s been true the overwhelming majority of the time since 1776. Isn’t it well past time for new tools?


Confusion over Libya War Reflects the Decline of US Empire (Which is a Good Thing!)

March 23, 2011

–by Kevin Martin, Executive Director

The U.S./British/French-led intervention in the civil war in Libya has caused confusion on many sides – in domestic public opinion, congressional opinions about the legal, moral and strategic rationales for launching yet another war (President Obama may well be lucky he is visiting Central and South America and that Congress is out of session right now), and in the international community. Here are just a few of the many unanswered questions:

What are the objectives in Libya? Regime change? The UN didn’t authorize that but Obama and others have said Col. Muammar Qaddafi must go.

Who is leading or coordinating the “coalition” of military forces attacking Libya? Not NATO (Turkey won’t allow it, good for them). Obama said the U.S. will turn over leadership of the war to someone – he didn’t specify whom – in a matter of days. France is proposing a new “steering committee” of the various countries involved. What is this, a pick-up game of war?

Who exactly, other than the amorphous “anti-Qaddafi forces,” are we supporting in Libya?

How will this war impact other countries and peoples in a region that has seen such breathtaking change in just the last couple of months? What is going on in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Iran and Iraq (an invasion – Saudi and United Arab Emirates forces into Bahrain – and mass killings and/or crackdowns against protesters, presumably because those in power think they can get away with it while the world’s attention is focused on Libya)? Do the U.S. and U.N. have any consistent standards for invoking the “responsibility to protect” justification for “humanitarian” military interventions?

I’m sure the reader could think of many more. All of this is not surprising, and it’s not just from “the fog of war.” It’s evidence of the emergence of a multi-polar, somewhat messy world order in the winter of US Empire.

I know most people get defensive hearing the U.S. called an Empire. But look at our failed, endless wars, economic and fiscal crises at the national, state and local levels (manufactured, not “real,” by our bailout of Wall Street, refusal to justly tax the rich and corporations, and the wars and gargantuan military budget equivalent to the rest of the world’s countries combined), rapacious, reckless energy consumption and destruction of the environment. Call it something other than Empire, but call it what it is – unsustainable. We have to find a better path forward for our children, our country, and the world.

Johan Galtung, considered a founder of the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, predicts the end of the Empire by 2020, but even if he is off by a few years – and he was pretty dead-on about the demise of the Soviet Union – we need to start constructing a better society now.

So the real questions are how do we minimize the destruction likely to be caused as this decline accelerates, and most importantly, how do we build something better, both internationally and domestically, in its wake? How do we empower people to take control of their lives, communities, workplaces, schools, economies, countries, and the stewardship of finite, fragile planet we all share?

Anyone claiming to have all the answers would be a fool. The “triple evils” of our society – racism, militarism and economic exploitation – decried by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967 are still powerful today. But the beginnings of that new, more just world are seen where people come together to stand against injustice and demand a better way.

The people of Egypt captivated the world with their mostly nonviolent and secular revolution against a dictator the U.S. supported for nearly thirty years. Obama, and his successor, and his successor’s successor, would gladly have kept lavishing money, weapons and political cover on Mubarak and his son (who Mubarak had anointed to replace him) ad infinitum, but the people of Egypt stood up and said, “No More!”

In Wisconsin, the illegal, audacious union-busting move by Governor Scott Walker, ironic as Wisconsin was the first state to recognize state workers’ right to collective bargaining, sparked an awe-inspiring response from working people there (and in other state capitals as well). People peacefully occupied the Capitol Building (aided by the police!) and farmers on tractors converged on Madison to join a crowd of over 100,000 two Saturdays ago. That is what solidarity looks like! And Peace Action Wisconsin activists were there, loud and proud!

Then there was U.S. Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) congressional hearing on the “radicalization” of the American Muslim community. This racist, repugnant, new McCarthyite sham was widely denounced, deservedly so, in the media and among civil liberties activists, in a show of support for our American Muslim sisters and brothers.

Progress is being made in other places as well. Illinois recently became the 16th state to repeal the death penalty, and Maryland may also do so soon; the votes are there in the legislature and the governor has said he will sign the bill into law. Maryland and other states are making progress toward legally recognizing gay marriage, and medical marijuana and decriminalization seems to have inexorable momentum in many states and municipalities.

One needn’t agree with all these moves to see what is happening – people are standing up, standing together, and demanding better solutions to our country’s challenges. It is also happening, if slowly, on health care reform, energy and food safety and sustainability (great issues for building community), ending our disastrous wars and cutting our outrageous military budget in order to reinvest in human needs.

Just as protesters in Madison drew inspiration and support from those in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, advancement domestically is linked to progress in building better structures to replace a Pax Americana (what Pax? We’re fighting three wars!).

The Libya “humanitarian intervention” should be the last of its kind. Instead of selective, pick-up wars (with who knows what unintended consequences) against selected despots, a permanent UN peacekeeping force under the direction of the Secretary-General, not the Security Council, needs to be established. Regional economic and security alliances, based on respect for human rights and democracy, need to be strengthened. And diplomacy, sustainable economic development and disarmament, rather than coercive threats, human and resource exploitation and arms races, must be the cornerstones for a more peaceful and stable international order.

The demise of the U.S. Empire will likely not be pretty, or easy, but we can help steer it to a softer landing. And we should keep our eyes on the prize that will follow, the blossoming of the U.S. Republic (as Galtung has termed it), and a more peaceful, just, stable world.


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