Thursday, 28 February 2008

Keeping on keeping on

Somehow a story in the Albuquerque Tribune has made its way into my email inbox and awareness. ..
Longtime Albuquerque nuclear protester has heard curses, seen successes

It's obviously made an impression on those who have read it, and Chuck Hosking, the American Quaker involved, has obviously done likewise on those who have come across him, including one of our own NFPB members, it transpires.

I was reminded yesterday of the words of Margaret Mead ... "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ...which seems very apt to this story of committed activism and sheer persistence.

On checking the web reference for this piece, I notice that the Albuquerque Tribune ceased publication last Saturday - so here's a 'thank you!' for publishing such an inspiring story in your last days!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

War costs

On BBC's 'Start the Week' programme on the radio yesterday morning, there was an interview with an economist who gave stark figures about the estimated cost of the war in Iraq, in terms of money directly spent and on the fabric of American society. I've since found out more details, as outlined in this article in the Times:

'February 23, 2008
The three trillion dollar war
by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes
The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions

'The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.

'The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.'

"That's really upsetting", said the young person sitting next to me as we listened to the radio interview. Even more so, when it's put in perspective. Joseph Stiglitz reckoned (if I remember rightly) that the entire US aid budget for Africa for one year is the equivalent of around 8 days spending on the US army's operations in Iraq. And in relation to the UK, the Times article concludes:

'Based on assumptions set out in our book, the budgetary cost to the UK of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2010 will total more than £18 billion. If we include the social costs, the total impact on the UK will exceed £20 billion.'

Read more about it here and here

On a related theme, on Ekklesia we read, in Healing the psychological wounds of war By Andrew J. Weaver:

'The saying, "war is hell," only begins to describe how horrible it has been for tens of thousands in the military. War is a life-threatening experience that involves witnessing and sometimes engaging in terrifying and gruesome acts of violence. It also is, for most service personnel, a patriotic response to protect and defend their country, loved ones, values, and way of life. War is a shocking confrontation with death, devastation, and violence. It is normal for human beings to react to war's psychic trauma with profound feelings of fear, anger, grief, repulsion, helplessness, and horror, as well as with emotional numbness and disbelief.'


'The word "trauma" is derived from the Greek word meaning "wound." Just as a physical wound from combat can cause suffering in the body, a psychological trauma can cause suffering in the mind and soul. The church is in a critical position to help heal these wounds of war.'

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


What to do.

One article (on the International Middle East Media Centre website) has as its start headline:
"98 Palestinian patients, including 17 Children, die due to the Gaza siege"

On Saturday there will be protests in London and around the world, and there are Petitions to sign online for the attention of Gordon Brown and for the United Nations.

Meanwhile on The Guardian's comment pages, Jonathan Freedland explores the possibility of active non-violence as a strategy for the Palestinians and gets a fascinating range of responses - some more predictable than others.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Kosova - no lessons learnt

TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research) carries an interesting collection of pieces about Kosova and its newly-declared independence here.

In deeply pessimistic mood, editor Jan Oberg concludes:

It is the EU, the US and the UN that has failed since 1990. At least as much as the Serbs. The formula of archtype human folly and conflict illiteracy applies: “The winners take it all - the loser shall be humiliated. To hell with mutual understanding, reconciliation and fairness. We’ve done it to foes around the world for cventuries, to the Russians since 1989 with such excellent results - and now we do it with the Serbs.”

The unavoidable result of Sunday February 17, 2008, then? The beginning of a new round of conflict and violence for future generations to suffer from.

When will they ever learn?


Lots of interesting reading on the Ekklesia website..

Arms giant BAE lobbied Fraud Office to stop investigation
Documents released in the High Court yesterday show that Britain’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems, wrote to the Attorney General on a "strictly private and confidential" basis urging him to halt the Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations that BAE had bribed Saudi officials to secure the Al Yamamah arms deal.

Kobia pinpoints ethnic and political rifts hampering Kenya's churches
Ethnic and political divisions have prevented church leaders in Kenya from responding to the political crisis in their country, the main governing body of the World Council of Churches has been told by its general secretary, the Rev Samuel Kobia.

Kingston Jamaica to host global churches' peace conference
Kingston, Jamaica, will be the host city for the World Council of Churches' International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011, it has been announced - marking a decade of activity promoting practical responses to violence.

Church and aid groups say Gaza situation is worsening
Church and aid workers are warning that the situation in Gaza is deteriorating as Israelis and Palestinians continue to face off, more than two weeks after Israel cut the electric power supply to Gaza in response to Palestinian missile launchings into Israel

Friday, 1 February 2008

Peace plan for Iraq

Just had posted this week a document and YouTube link for a ten point peace plan for Iraq, from the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.

Read their document here (and key points summarised below)

and view Hans von Sponeck, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, presenting the proposals at the World Against War conference in London in December here:


1. The End of Occupation: Withdrawal of Foreign Troops, Mercenaries and Military Bases
2. Return of Iraq’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity
3. A UN-Led International Peace-Building Mission for Iraq
4. Debt Cancellation
5. International Compensation for Sanctions, Invasion and Occupation
6. Sovereignty Over Oil Resources
7. The Middle East – A Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction
8. A Truth and Reconciliation Process
9. People-to-People Cooperation
10. A Comprehensive Settlement for the Entire Region

The present situation in Iraq, Palestine and other parts of the Middle East is simply undeserving for the people in the area. It is also unworthy of a democracy-minded global community.

This peace proposal should be seen as an encouragement, indeed a moral appeal, to think about and constructively debate ways to end the tragic policy of confrontation and to find new ways of creating peace in and with Iraq and the wider Middle East. Peace is possible. However, it can be achieved only when all actors, governments, civil society and international organizations are willing to leave old and self-serving approaches behind and have the courage and commitment to proceed in new ways.