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Aristophanes: Rescuing Peace

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Aristophanes
From Peace
Unknown translator

HERMES
Ah! ah! you are a long way yet from reaching the gods, for they moved yesterday.

TRYGAEUS
To what part of the earth?

HERMES
Eh! of the earth, did you say?

TRYGAEUS
In short, where are they then?

HERMES
Very far, very far, right at the furthest end of the dome of heaven.

TRYGAEUS
But why have they left you all alone here?

HERMES
I am watching what remains of the furniture, the little pots and pans, the bits of chairs and tables, and odd wine-jars.

TRYGAEUS
And why have the gods moved away?

HERMES
Because of their wrath against the Greeks. They have located War in the house they occupied themselves and have given him full power to do with you exactly as he pleases; then they went as high up as ever they could, so as to see no more of your fights and to hear no more of your prayers.

TRYGAEUS
What reason have they for treating us so?

HERMES
Because they have afforded you an opportunity for peace more than once, but you have always preferred war. If the Laconians got the very slightest advantage, they would exclaim, “By the Twin Brethren! the Athenians shall smart for this.” If, on the contrary, the latter triumphed and the Laconians came with peace proposals, you would say, “By Demeter, they want to deceive us. No, by Zeus, we will not hear a word; they will always be coming as long as we hold Pylos.”

TRYGAEUS
Yes, that is quite the style our folk do talk in.

HERMES
So that I don’t know whether you will ever see Peace again.

TRYGAEUS
Why, where has she gone to then?

HERMES
War has cast her into a deep pit.

TRYGAEUS
Where?

HERMES
Down there, at the very bottom. And you see what heaps of stones he has piled over the top, so that you should never pull her out again.

TRYGAEUS
Tell me, what is War preparing against us?

HERMES
All I know is that last evening he brought along a huge mortar.

TRYGAEUS
And what is he going to do with his mortar?

HERMES
He wants to pound up all the cities of Greece in it…But I must say good-bye, for I think he is coming out; what an uproar he is making!
He departs in haste.

TRYGAEUS
Ah! great gods let us seek safety; I think I already hear the noise of this fearful war mortar.
He hides.

WAR enters, carrying a huge mortar
Oh! mortals, mortals, wretched mortals, how your jaws will snap!

TRYGAEUS
Oh! divine Apollo! what a prodigious big mortar! Oh, what misery the very sight of War causes me! This then is the foe from whom I fly, who is so cruel, so formidable, so stalwart, so solid on his legs!

WAR
Oh! Prasiae! thrice wretched, five times, aye, a thousand times wretched! for thou shalt be destroyed this day.
He throws some leeks into the mortar.

TRYGAEUS to the audience
This, gentlemen, does not concern us over much; it’s only so much the worse for the Laconians.

WAR
Oh! Megara! Megara! utterly are you going to be ground up! what fine mincemeat are you to be made into!
He throws in some garlic.

TRYGAEUS aside
Alas! alas! what bitter tears there will be among the Megarians!

WAR throwing in some cheese
Oh, Sicily! you too must perish! Your wretched towns shall be grated like this cheese. Now let us pour some Attic honey into the mortar.
He does so.

*****

TRYGAES
Yes, certainly. So therefore, Hermes, my friend, help us with your whole heart to find and deliver the captive and we will celebrate the great Panathenaea in your honour as well as all the festivals of the other gods; for Hermes shall be the Mysteries. the Dipolia, the Adonia; everywhere the towns, freed from their miseries, will sacrifice to Hermes the Liberator; you will be loaded with benefits of every kind, and to start with, I offer you this cup for libations as your first present.

HERMES
Ah! how golden cups do influence me! Come, friends. get to work. To the pit quickly, pick in hand, and drag away the stones.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
We go, but you, cleverest of all the gods, supervise our labours; tell us, good workman as you are, what we must do; we shall obey your orders with alacrity.
They begin to lift the stones.

TRYGAEUS
Quick, reach me your cup, and let us preface our work by addressing prayers to the gods.

HERMES
Libation! Libation! Silence! Let us offer our libations and our prayers, so that this day may begin an era of unalloyed happiness for Greece and that he who has bravely pulled at the rope with us may never resume his buckler.

TRYGAEUS
Aye, may we pass our lives in peace, caressing our mistresses and poking the fire.

HERMES
May he who would prefer the war, oh Dionysus…

TRYGAEUS
Be ever drawing barbed arrows out of his elbows.

HERMES
If there be a citizen, greedy for military rank and honours, who refuses, oh, divine Peace! to restore you to daylight…

TRYGAEUS
May he behave as cowardly as Cleonymus on the battlefield.

HERMES
If a lance-maker or a dealer in shields desires war for the sake of better trade…

TRYGAEUS
May he be taken by pirates and eat nothing but barley.

HERMES
If some ambitious man does not help us, because he wants to become a General, or if a slave is plotting to pass over to the enemy…

TRYGAEUS
Let his limbs be broken on the wheel, may he be beaten to death with rods!

*****

PEACE is drawn out of the pit. With her come OPORA and THEORIA.

TRYGAEUS
Oh! venerated goddess, who givest us our grapes, where am I to find the ten-thousand-gallon words wherewith to greet thee? I have none such at home. Oh! hail to thee, Opora, and thee, Theoria! How beautiful is thy face! How sweet thy breath! What gentle fragrance comes from thy bosom, gentle as freedom from military duty, as the most dainty perfumes!

TRYGAEUS
Oh! hateful soldier! your hideous satchel makes me sick! it stinks like the belching of onions, whereas this lovable deity has the odour of sweet fruits, of festivals, of the Dionysia, of the harmony of flutes, of the tragic poets, of the verses of Sophocles, of the phrases of Euripides…

TRYGAEUS
Listen, good folk! Let the husbandmen take their farming tools and return to their fields as quickly as possible, but without either sword, spear or javelin. All is as quiet as if Peace had been reigning for a century. Come, let everyone go and till the earth, singing the Paean.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS to PEACE
Oh, thou, whom men of standing desired and who art good to husbandmen, I have gazed upon thee with delight; and now I go to greet my vines, to caress after so long an absence the fig trees I planted in my youth.

TRYGAEUS
See, how their iron spades glitter and how beautifully their three-pronged mattocks glisten in the sun! How regularly they align the plants! I also burn to go into the country and to turn over the earth I have so long neglected. Friends, do you remember the happy life that Peace afforded us formerly; can you recall the splendid baskets of figs, both fresh and dried, the myrtles, the sweet wine, the violets blooming near the spring, and the olives, for which we have wept so much? Worship, adore the goddess for restoring you so many blessings.

CHORUS singing
Hail! hail! thou beloved divinity! thy return overwhelms us with joy. When far from thee, my ardent wish to see my fields again made me pine with regret. From thee came all blessings. Oh! much desired Peace! thou art the sole support of those who spend their lives tilling the earth. Under thy rule we had a thousand delicious enjoyments at our beck; thou wert the husbandman’s wheaten cake and his safeguard. So that our vineyards, our young fig-tree woods and all our plantations hail thee with delight and smile at thy coming.

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Theocritus: May spiders spin their slender webs over weapons of war

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Theocritus
Idylls
From Number 16
Translated by Bariss Mills

And may all our towns spoiled by enemy hands
be peopled by their former citizens
again. May they work the fertile fields,
and may countless thousands of sheep fatten
in pastures and go bleating over the plain,
and may cattle coming home in herds
warn the late traveler to hurry
on his way. And may the fallow ground
be plowed at seed-time when the cicada
sings overhead in the treetops, watching
the shepherds in the sun. And may spiders
spin their slender webs over battle-weapons,
and the battle-cry be heard no more.

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José-Maria de Heredia: Drunk with dreams that brutal conquests bring

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

José-Maria de Heredia
From The Trophies (1893)
Translated by John Myers O’Hara and John Hervey

The Conquistadores

As from their native eyries hawks take wing,
Spurred by the miseries they proudly share,
Bravos and chiefs from Palos de Moguer
Sail drunk with dreams that brutal conquests bring.
They seek the treasures fabulous to wring
From the far mines Cipango’s mountains bear,
The trade winds fill their sails and waft them where
Mysterious western shores lie beckoning.
Each evening for an epic dawn they yearn,
The phosphorescent seas that round them burn
Enchant their restless sleep with phantom gold;
And as from white-winged caravels they lean,
In unknown skies their wondering eyes behold
Strange stars ascend from Ocean’s depths unseen.

*****

To a Cuban Fountain

Beside the fountain, at the close of day,
I love to lie, by its sweet coolness wooed,
And from my heart rise in that solitude
Thoughts like the drops that wreathe its urn with spray.
Oft the white splendors of the moonlight play
Upon its sculptured shape and half delude;
Living it seems – fond error of my mood,
Its form endowed with charms that melt away.
O my fair Indian, the sun’s own love,
From maiden dreams awakened by the dove
That lulls thee with her vague and tender song;
Cuba, my land, beneath thy palms so fair,
Whose sweet-voiced streams murmur of passion where
Through radiant nights their music they prolong.

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Xenophon: Socrates’ war sophistry; civil crimes are martial virtues

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Xenophon: Begin wars as tardily, end them as speedily as possible

Xenophon: Guile without guilt. Peace and joy reigned everywhere.

Xenophon: War as obsession, warfare as mistress

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Xenophon
From Memorabilia or Recollections of Socrates
Translated by H. G. Dakyns

I see (replied Euthydemus) you are afraid I cannot expound the works of righteousness! Why, bless me! of course I can, and the works of unrighteousness into the bargain, since there are not a few of that sort within reach of eye and ear every day.

Shall we then (proceeded Socrates) write the letter R on this side, and on that side the letter W; and then anything that appears to us to be the product of righteousness we will place to the R account, and anything which appears to be the product of wrong-doing and iniquity to the account of W?

By all means do so (he answered), if you think that it assists matters.

Accordingly Socrates drew the letters, as he had suggested, and continued.

Soc. Lying exists among men, does it not?

Euth. Certainly.

To which side of the account then shall we place it? (he asked).

Euth. Clearly on the side of wrong and injustice.

Soc. Deceit too is not uncommon?

Euth. By no means.

Soc. To which side shall we place deceit?

Euth. Deceit clearly on the side of wrong.

Soc. Well, and chicanery or mischief of any sort?

Euth. That too.

Soc. And the enslavement of free-born men?

Euth. That too.

Soc. And we cannot allow any of these to lie on the R side of the account, to the side of right and justice, can we, Euthydemus?

It would be monstrous (he replied).

Soc. Very good. But supposing a man to be elected general, and he succeeds in enslaving an unjust, wicked, and hostile state, are we to say that he is doing wrong?

Euth. By no means.

Soc. Shall we not admit that he is doing what is right?

Euth. Certainly.

Soc. Again, suppose he deceives the foe while at war with them?

Euth. That would be all fair and right also.

Soc. Or steals and pillages their property? would he not be doing what is right?

Euth. Certainly; when you began I thought you were limiting the question to the case of friends.

Soc. So then everything which we set down on the side of Wrong will now have to be placed to the credit of Right?

Euth. Apparently.

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Eugenio Montale: Poetry in an era of nuclear weapons and Doomsday atmosphere

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Italian writers on war and militarism

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Eugenio Montale
From Nobel Prize in Literature lecture (1975)

The register of the names of those who, having given something to humanity, have received the coveted recognition of the Nobel Prize would be long. But infinitely more numerous and practically impossible to identify would be the legion, the army of those who work for humanity in infinite ways even without realizing it and who never aspire to any possible prize because they have not written works, acts or academic treatises and have never thought of “making the presses groan”, as the Italian expression says. There certainly exists an army of pure, immaculate souls, and they are an obstacle (certainly insufficient) to the spread of that utilitarian spirit which in various degrees is pushed to the point of corruption, crime and every form of violence and intolerance. The academicians of Stockholm have often said no to intolerance, cruel fanaticism and that persecuting spirit which turns the strong against the weak, oppressors against the oppressed. This is true particularly in their choice of literary works, works which can sometimes be murderous, but never like that atomic bomb which is the most mature fruit of the eternal tree of evil.

****

Evidently the arts, all the visual arts, are becoming more democratic in the worst sense of the word. Art is the production of objects for consumption, to be used and discarded while waiting for a new world in which man will have succeeded in freeing himself of everything, even of his own consciousness. The example I cite could be extended to the exclusively noisy and undifferentiated music listened to in those places where millions of young people gather to exorcize the horror of their solitude. But why more than ever has civilized man reached the point of having horror of himself?

…It alarms me that a sort of general Doomsday atmosphere accompanies an ever more wide-spread comfort, that well-being (there where it exists, that is in limited areas of the world) has the livid features of desperation. Against the dark background of this contemporary civilization of well-being, even the arts tend to mingle, to lose their identity. Mass communication, radio, and especially television, have attempted, not without success, to annihilate every possibility of solitude and reflection. Time becomes more rapid, works of a few years ago seem “dated” and the need the artist has to be listened to sooner or later becomes a spasmodic need of the topical, of the immediate. Whence the new art of our time which is the spectacle, a not necessarily theatrical exhibition in which the rudiments of every art are present and which effects a kind of psychic massage on the spectator or listener or reader as the case may be. The deus ex machina of this new heap is the director. His purpose is not only to co-ordinate scenic arrangements, but to give intentions to works which have none or have had other ones. There is a great sterility in all this, an immense lack of confidence in life. In such a landscape of hysterical exhibitionism what can be the place of poetry, the most discrete of arts, be? So-called lyrical poetry is work, the fruit of solitude and accumulated impressions. This is still true today but in rather limited cases. We have however more numerous cases in which the self-proclaimed poet falls into step with new times. Poetry then becomes acoustic and visual. The words splash in all directions, like the explosion of a grenade, there is no true meaning, but a verbal earthquake with many epicenters.

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The Lemon Tree
Translated by Lee Gerlach

Hear me a moment. Laureate poets
seem to wander among plants
no one knows: boxwood, acanthus,
where nothing is alive to touch.
I prefer small streets that falter
into grassy ditches where a boy,
searching in the sinking puddles,
might capture a struggling eel.
The little path that winds down
along the slope plunges through cane-tufts
and opens suddenly into the orchard
among the moss-green trunks
of the lemon trees.

Perhaps it is better
if the jubilee of small birds
dies down, swallowed in the sky,
yet more real to one who listens,
the murmur of tender leaves
in a breathless, unmoving air.
The senses are graced with an odor
filled with the earth.
It is like rain in a troubled breast,
sweet as an air that arrives
too suddenly and vanishes.
A miracle is hushed; all passions
are swept aside. Even the poor
know that richness,
the fragrance of the lemon trees.

You realize that in silences
things yield and almost betray
their ultimate secrets.
At times, one half expects
to discover an error in Nature,
the still point of reality,
the missing link that will not hold,
the thread we cannot untangle
in order to get at the truth.

You look around. Your mind seeks,
makes harmonies, falls apart
in the perfume, expands
when the day wearies away.
There are silences in which one watches
in every fading human shadow
something divine let go.

The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets of the sun.

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‘U.S. military mindset produces monsters’

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Press TV
September 24, 2011

‘US military mindset produces monsters’

Interview with Rick Rozoff, Manager for Stop NATO, Chicago
An analyst believes the actions of the US “kill team” charged with murdering Afghan civilians for sport is not isolated, but part of a systemic military mindset

Press TV talks with Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO in Chicago, about the mindset of the US military leadership and U.S. government indiscretion that is cultivating a carte blanche impunity toward the value of the lives of the civilians of Afghanistan and Iraq. The attitude filters from the top down, resulting in atrocities against innocent people by ground forces. Following is a transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Certainly this whole episode has been embarrassing for the U.S. Does that mean these “kill teams” still won’t pop up in Afghanistan, in Iraq?

Rick Rozoff: There’s all too much reason to believe that this is not an isolated incident, that in fact U.S. and other Western troops in Afghanistan have been given carte blanche to operate with comparative impunity. I fear that we may see more again along the lines of the monstrous and grotesque story you’ve just described.

Press TV: How much of the mentality, which allows soldiers to act out in such ways, is based on the leadership’s opinions of Iraqis and Afghanis?

Rick Rozoff: That’s a very astute question. Rather than singling out a 21-year-old infantryman for being solely responsible for this horrendous crime – and degradation and mutilation of the corpse of the teenager, the youth, he killed – the blame rests much higher up.

If the situation were reversed I can assure you that the U.S. would invoke so-called command responsibility and make sure the military commanders responsible for the troops in this sort of situation were held accountable.

We have to keep in mind, for example, that in the past two years, since 2009, U.S. special operations – so-called night raids, in particular – in Afghanistan have tripled, over the last two years.

There was also a report in June from a US-based non-governmental organization called Refugees International that stated, over the same period of time – over the last two years – 250,000 Afghan civilians have been displaced from their towns and villages because of similar special operations and attacks on the villages and the towns – these are helicopter gunships attacks; so-called night raids and so forth.

So, what we’re witnessing unfortunately is widespread and systematic abuse of Afghan civilians and the case in point we’re discussing now is one of the more atrocious, but I fear not a completely isolated development.

Press TV: Do cases like this provide hope that private contractors such as those from Blackwater, now known as Xe, will be held to account more often in cases where they do kill innocent people?

Rick Rozoff: One would hope so, but I live in Chicago in the U.S., the president of the US went to the White House from Chicago, and we might recall in his Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech in December of 2009, on the occasion of receiving a prize for peace, he openly boasted of the fact that the US is “the world’s military superpower.”

And I’m afraid that kind of arrogant attitude of being above the law, and obeying the law when one chooses, filters down through the ranks into occupation troops in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and the inevitable implication I suspect is that we can get away with it because we are Americans.

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Frank Harris: Henri Barbusse and the war against war

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Frank Harris
Excerpts from Henri Barbusse
From Latest Contemporary Portraits (1927)

The World War with its twenty millions of murdered human beings needed an avenging spirit, some one who would tell the truth and picture the horror, some great soul flaming with pity. Le Feu (“Under Fire”) of Henri Barbusse is the book we needed. Sensational books are nearly always bad books: this is a sensational book that is great because of its truth.

One would have thought that such a war would have produced a hundred reporters who would have shocked the world by merely telling what they had seen – the plain facts; yet only one man has attempted to do so.

***

This man could surely stand in our time as the best type of the reformer. To him the war against war is the highest object of life. He told me that he wanted a big International of all former soldiers in all countries; it seems that there are a quarter of million members already in England and Germany and even more in Italy. “I want,” he says, “to create a pacifist organisation which shall embrace the whole world: I want to touch the soul of all peoples, and so create a friendly and brotherly feeling even among our late enemies; a solidarity of enthusiasm which shall make any future war impossible.”

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Tibullus: War is a crime perpetrated by hearts hardened like weapons

September 24, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Tibullus: Elegies
Book I, Number XI
Translated by Theodore C. Williams

War is a Crime

Whoe’er first forged the terror-striking sword,
His own fierce heart had tempered like its blade.
What slaughter followed! Ah! what conflict wild!
What swifter journeys unto darksome death!
But blame not him! Ourselves have madly turned
On one another’s breasts that cunning edge
Wherewith he meant mere blood of beast to spill.

Gold makes our crime. No need for plundering war,
When bowls of beech-wood held the frugal feast.
No citadel was seen nor moated wall;
The shepherd chief led home his motley flock,
And slumbered free from care. Would I had lived
In that good, golden time; nor e’er had known
A mob in arms arrayed; nor felt my heart
Throb to the trumpet’s call! Now to the wars
I must away, where haply some chance foe
Bears now the blade my naked side shall feel.
Save me, dear Lares of my hearth and home!
Ye oft my childish steps did guard and bless,
As timidly beneath your seat they strayed.

Deem it no shame that hewn of ancient oak
Your simple emblems in my dwelling stand!
For so the pious generations gone
Revered your powers, and with offerings rude
To rough-hewn gods in narrow-built abodes,
Lived beautiful and honorable lives.
Did they not bring to crown your hallowed brows
Garlands of ripest corn, or pour new wine
In pure libation on the thirsty ground?
Oft on some votive day the father brought
The consecrated loaf, and close behind
His little daughter in her virgin palm
Bore honey bright as gold. O powers benign!
To ye once more a faithful servant prays
For safety! Let the deadly brazen spear
Pass harmless o’er my head! and I will slay
For sacrifice, with many a thankful song,
A swine and all her brood, while I, the priest,
Bearing the votive basket myrtle-bound,
Walk clothed in white, with myrtle in my hair.

Grant me but this! and he who can may prove
Mighty in arms and by the grace of Mars
Lay chieftains low; and let him tell the tale
To me who drink his health, while on the board
His wine-dipped finger draws, line after line,
Just how his trenches ranged! What madness dire
Bids men go foraging for death in war?
Our death is always near, and hour by hour,
With soundless step a little nearer draws.

What harvest down below, or vineyard green?
There Cerberus howls, and o’er the Stygian flood
The dark ship goes; while on the clouded shore
With hollow cheek and tresses lustreless,
Wanders the ghostly throng. O happier far
Some white-haired sire, among his children dear,
Beneath a lowly thatch! His sturdy son
Shepherds the young rams; he, his gentle ewes;
And oft at eve, his willing labor done,
His careful wife his weary limbs will bathe
From a full, steaming bowl. Such lot be mine!
So let this head grow gray, while I shall tell,
Repeating oft, the deeds of long ago!
Then may long Peace my country’s harvests bless!
Till then, let Peace on all our fields abide!
Bright-vestured Peace, who first beneath their yoke
Led oxen in the plough, who first the vine
Did nourish tenderly, and chose good grapes,
That rare old wine may pass from sire to son!
Peace! who doth keep the plow and harrow bright,
While rust on some forgotten shelf devours
The cruel soldier’s useless sword and shield.
From peaceful holiday with mirth and wine
The rustic, not half sober, driveth home
With wife and weans upon the lumbering wain.

But wars by Venus kindled ne’er have done;
The vanquished lass, with tresses rudely torn,
Of doors broke down, and smitten cheek complains;
And he, her victor-lover, weeps to see
How strong were his wild hands. But mocking Love
Teaches more angry words, and while they rave,
Sits with a smile between! O heart of stone!
O iron heart! that could thy sweetheart strike!
Ye gods avenge her! Is it not enough
To tear her soft robe from her limbs away,
And loose her knotted hair?—Enough, indeed,
To move her tears! Thrice happy is the wight
Whose frown some lovely mistress weeps to see!
But he who gives her blows!—Go, let him bear
A sword and spear! In exile let him be
From Venus’ mild domain! Come blessed Peace!
Come, holding forth thy blade of ripened corn!
Fill thy large lap with mellow fruits and fair!

*****

Translated by A.S. Kline as Book I, Number X

Make Peace Not War

Who was he, who first forged the fearful sword?
How iron-willed and truly made of iron he was!
Then slaughter was created, war was born to men.
then a quicker road was opened to dread death.
But perhaps it’s not the wretch’s fault we turn to evil
what he gave us to use on savage beasts?

That’s the curse of rich gold: there were no wars
when the beech-wood cup stood beside men’s plates.
There were no fortresses or fences, and the flock’s leader
sought sleep securely among the diverse sheep.
I might have lived then, Valgius, and not known
sad arms, or heard the trumpet with beating heart.
Now I’m dragged to war, and perhaps some enemy
already carries the spear that will pierce my side.
Lares of my fathers, save me: you are the same
that reared me, a little child running before your feet.
Don’t be ashamed that you’re made from ancient wood:
so you were when you lived in my grandfather’s house.
Then faith was better kept, when a wooden god
poorly dressed, stood in a narrow shrine.
He was placated, if someone offered the first grapes
or placed the garland of wheat-ears on his sacred head:
and whoever gained his wish brought the honey-cakes
himself, his little daughter behind, with the pure comb.
Turn the bronze spears away from me, Lares,
and (accept) a sacrifice of a hog from the full sty.
I will follow in pure clothing, carrying the basket
bound with myrtle, myrtle binding my own head.
So I may please you: let another be brave in war,
and topple hostile generals with Mars’ help,
then he can tell me his military deeds while I drink,
and draw his camp on the table with wine.
What madness to summon up dark Death by war!
It menaces us, and comes secretly on silent feet.
There are no cornfields down there, no trim vineyards,
only bold Cerberus, and the foul ferryman of Styx’s stream.
There, with eyeless sockets and scorched hair,
a pallid crowd wanders by the lakes of darkness.
No he’s more to be praised whom, blessed with children,
a long old age keeps occupied in his humble cottage.
He tends the sheep, and his son the lambs,
and his wife provides hot water for weary limbs.
So let me be, and may my head whiten with snowy temples,
and recall old things from ancient deeds.
Meanwhile let peace tend the fields. Bright peace first
bowed the oxen for ploughing under the curved yoke.
Peace nurtured the vines and laid up the juice of the grape
so the son’s wine might pour from the father’s jar.
Hoe and ploughshare gleam in peace, but rust seizes
the grim weapons of the cruel soldier in darkness.
The countryman drives home from the wood,
himself half-sober, with wife and children in his cart,
but then they summon love’s war, and the woman
bewails her torn hair and the broken doors.
The bruised girl weeps for her tender cheeks, but the victor
weeps himself that his hands were so strong in his madness.
And impudent Love supplies evil words to the quarrel,
and sits indifferent between the angry pair.
Ah, he’s stone and iron, whoever would strike his girl:
that action draws down the gods from the heavens.
let it be enough to have torn the thin cloth from her limbs,
enough to have disordered the arrangement of her hair,
enough to have caused her tears: he’s four times blessed
whose anger can make a tender girl weep.
But he whose hands are cruel, should carry shield and pike,
and stay far away from gentle Venus.
Then come, kindly Peace, hold the wheat-ear in your hand,
and let your radiant breast pour out fruits before us.

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Virgil: Age of peace

September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Virgil: Shall impious soldiers have these new-ploughed grounds?

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Virgil
Eclogue IV
Translated by A. S. Kline

Pollio

Muses of Sicily, let me sing a little more grandly.
Orchards and humble tamarisks don’t please everyone:
if I sing of the woods, let the woods be fit for a Consul.

Now the last age of the Cumaean prophecy begins:
the great roll-call of the centuries is born anew:
now Virgin Justice returns, and Saturn’s reign:
now a new race descends from the heavens above.
Only favour the child who’s born, pure Lucina, under whom
the first race of iron shall end, and a golden race
rise up throughout the world: now your Apollo reigns.
For, Pollio, in your consulship, this noble age begins,
and the noble months begin their advance:
any traces of our evils that remain will be cancelled,
while you lead, and leave the earth free from perpetual fear.
He will take on divine life, and he will see gods
mingled with heroes, and be seen by them,
and rule a peaceful world with his father’s powers.
And for you, boy, the uncultivated earth will pour out
her first little gifts, straggling ivy and cyclamen everywhere
and the bean flower with the smiling acanthus.
The goats will come home themselves, their udders swollen
with milk, and the cattle will have no fear of fierce lions:
Your cradle itself will pour out delightful flowers:
And the snakes will die, and deceitful poisonous herbs
will wither: Assyrian spice plants will spring up everywhere.
And you will read both of heroic glories, and your father’s deeds,
and will soon know what virtue can be.
The plain will slowly turn golden with tender wheat,
and the ripe clusters hang on the wild briar,
and the tough oak drip with dew-wet honey.
Some small traces of ancient error will lurk,
that will command men to take to the sea in ships,
encircle towns with walls, plough the earth with furrows.
Another Argo will arise to carry chosen heroes, a second
Tiphys as helmsman: there will be another War,
and great Achilles will be sent once more to Troy.
Then when the strength of age has made you a man,
the merchant himself will quit the sea, nor will the pine ship
trade its goods: every land will produce everything.
The soil will not feel the hoe: nor the vine the pruning hook:
the strong ploughman too will free his oxen from the yoke:
wool will no longer be taught to counterfeit varied colours,
the ram in the meadow will change his fleece of himself,
now to a sweet blushing purple, now to a saffron yellow:
scarlet will clothe the browsing lambs of its own accord.
‘Let such ages roll on’ the Fates said, in harmony,
to the spindle, with the power of inexorable destiny.
O dear child of the gods, take up your high honours
(the time is near), great son of Jupiter!
See the world, with its weighty dome, bowing,
earth and wide sea and deep heavens:
see how everything delights in the future age!
O let the last days of a long life remain to me,
and the inspiration to tell how great your deeds will be:
Thracian Orpheus and Linus will not overcome me in song,
though his mother helps the one, his father the other,
Calliope Orpheus, and lovely Apollo Linus.
Even Pan if he competed with me, with Arcady as judge,
even Pan, with Arcady as judge, would account himself beaten.
Little child, begin to recognise your mother with a smile:
ten months have brought a mother’s long labour.
Little child, begin: he on whom his parents do not smile
no god honours at his banquets, no goddess in her bed.

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Catullus: Appalled by fratricide, gods turned from man

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Catullus
From The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, Poem 64
Translated by Thomas Banks

Often in the death-bringing struggle of war, Mars
or Minerva, ruler of the swift river Triton, or Nemesis
in person urged on the armed hordes of men.

But after the earth was stained with unspeakable crime
and all chased justice from their desirous minds,
and brothers suffused their hands with brother’s blood,

then all things speakable, unspeakable, jumbled in evil madness,
turned the gods’ mind of justice away from us.

Therefore they do not deign to visit such throngs
nor allow themselves to be touched by day’s bright light.


Eteocles and Polynices
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

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Propertius: Elegy on war

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Sextus Propertius
From Elegies, Book III, 12
Translated by J.P. McCulloch

Postumus, can you leave her, tears in her face,
Galla, your wife,
and follow the soldier’s trade,
behind Caesar’s flags?
What good is Parthian plunder,
you wife’s prayerful cry unheeded?
If the law allows it,
let them all be damned equally,
who go abroad looking for gold,
along with any man who prefers
the arms of the camp
to those awaiting him in his bed.
You must be unhinged,
to drink from distant rivers
at day’s end,
helmet for a bucket, mantle thrown over your arm,
while she, meanwhile,
will toss in her bed with each hollow rumor,
afraid your manly valor
will bring you to a bitter end;
afraid the Median arrows will sing
at your riddled death,
or that you will fall by iron
at the hand of some cataphract
on a gold-trimmed horse;
afraid you will be brought back in a jar,
something to cry over;
and that is how they bring them home.

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Video: European Missile System Component Of First Strike Strategy

September 16, 2011 2 comments

RT
September 16, 2011

AMD ‘un-resets’ Washington’s relations with Moscow

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Video

Or second video screen at:
http://rt.com/news/amd-moscow-race-russia-683/

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Ship-based Standard Missile-3 launch (Missile Defense Agency)

The recent spike in activity has highlighted Washington’s commitment not only to press ahead with the European missile defense shield project, but also to extend and reinforce it, despite indicating two years ago that it wanted to abandon the scheme. That is the view of Rick Rozoff, an international affairs expert from the “Stop NATO” movement.

Rozoff adds that American claims of a threat from North Korea or Iran are purely fictitious.

“What we’re talking about is a potential adjunct to a first-strike system,” the expert says. “This means that in the event the US and its NATO allies would launch what they would describe as a ‘pre-emptive’ strike – but in reality a first strike – against a nation like Russia, an integrated missile defense system will be in place to ensure that any missiles surviving this ‘pre-emptive’ attack would be knocked out by kinetic interceptor missiles,” he explains.

“It is not defensive,” Rick Rozoff concludes, meaning that from the geographical standpoint, the positioning of the rockets makes no sense as they will not effectively intercept threats from either Pyongyang or Tehran.

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Joseph Addison: Already have our quarrels fill’d the world with widows and with orphans

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Joseph Addison and Richard Steele: It is a stupid and barbarous way to extend dominion by arms

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Joseph Addison
From Cato (1713)

Cato.

Let not a torrent of impetuous zeal

Transport thee thus beyond the bounds of reason:

True fortitude is seen in great exploits

That justice warrants, and that wisdom guides,

All else is towering phrenzy and distraction.

Are not the lives of those who draw the sword

In Rome’s defence intrusted to our care!

Should we thus lead them to a field of slaughter,

Might not the impartial world with reason say

We lavish’d at our death the blood of thousands,

To grace our fall, and make our ruin glorious!

Lucius, we next would know what’s your opinion?

Lucius.

My thoughts, I must confess, are turn’d on peace.

Already have our quarrels fill’d the world

With widows and with orphans: Scythia morns

Our guilty wars, and earth’s remotest regions

Lie half unpeopled by the feuds of Rome:

‘Tis time to sheath the sword, and spare mankind.

It is not Caesar, but the gods, my fathers,

The gods declare against us, and repel

Our vain attempts. To urge the foe to battle,

(Prompted by blind revenge and wild despair)

Were to refuse th’ awards of Providence,

And not to rest in heaven’s determination.

Already have we shown our love to Rome,

Now let us show submission to the gods.

We took up arms, not to revenge ourselves,

But free the commonwealth; when this end fails,

Arms have no farther use; our country’s cause,

That drew our swords, now wrests them from our hands,

And bids us not delight in Roman blood

Unprofitably shed; what men could do

Is done already: heaven and earth will witness,

If Rome must fall, that we are innocent.

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Wole Soyinka: Africa victim, never perpetrator, of theo/ideological wars

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Wole Soyinka
From Nobel Prize in Literature speech (1986)

Once we…overcome the temptation to contest the denial of this feat of imaginative projection to the African, we find ourselves left only with the dispassionate exercise of examining in what areas we encounter differences between the histories of societies which, according to Hegel and company, never conceived of [an] Omnipotent Extrusion into Infinite Space, and those who did – be these differences in the areas of economic or artistic life, social relations or scientific attainment – in short, in all those activities which are empirically verifiable, quite different from the racial consequences of imprecations arising from that post Adam-and-Eve nudist escapade in the Old Testament.

When we do this, we come upon a curious fact. The pre-colonial history of African societies – and I refer to both Euro-Christian and Arab-Islamic colonization – indicates very clearly that African societies never at any time of their existence went to war with another over the issue of their religion. That is, at no time did the black race attempt to subjugate or forcibly convert others with any holier-than-thou evangelizing zeal. Economic and political motives, yes. But not religion. Perhaps this unnatural fact was responsible for the conclusions of Hegel – we do not know. Certainly, the bloody histories of the world’s major religions, localized skirmishes of which extend even to the present, lead to a sneaking suspicion that religion, as defined by these eminent philosophers, comes to self-knowledge only through the activity of war.

When, therefore, towards the close of the Twentieth Century, that is, centuries after the Crusades and Jihads that laid waste other and one another’s civilizations, fragmented ancient cohesive social relations and trampled upon the spirituality of entire peoples, smashing their cultures in obedience to the strictures of unseen gods, when today, we encounter nations whose social reasoning is guided by canonical, theological claims, we believe, on our part, that the era of darkness has never truly left the world. A state [Apartheid South Africa] whose justification for the continuing suppression of its indigenes, indigenes who constitute the majority on that land, rests on claims to divine selection is a menace to secure global relationship in a world that thrives on nationalism as common denominator. Such a society does not, in other words, belong in this modern world. We also have our myths, but we have never employed them as a base for the subjugation of others.

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Immanuel Kant: Prescription for perpetual peace

September 12, 2011 1 comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Immanuel Kant
From Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795)
Translator not identified

Section I
Containing the Preliminary articles for perpetual peace among states

1. “No Treaty of Peace Shall Be Held Valid in Which There Is Tacitly Reserved Matter for a Future War”

Otherwise a treaty would be only a truce, a suspension of hostilities but not peace, which means the end of all hostilities – so much so that even to attach the word “perpetual” to it is a dubious pleonasm. The causes for making future wars (which are perhaps unknown to the contracting parties) are without exception annihilated by the treaty of peace, even if they should be dug out of dusty documents by acute sleuthing. When one or both parties to a treaty of peace, being too exhausted to continue warring with each other, make a tacit reservation (reservatio mentalis) in regard to old claims to be elaborated only at some more favorable opportunity in the future, the treaty is made in bad faith, and we have an artifice worthy of the casuistry of a Jesuit. Considered by itself, it is beneath the dignity of a sovereign, just as the readiness to indulge in this kind of reasoning is unworthy of the dignity of his minister.

But if, in consequence of enlightened concepts of statecraft, the glory of the state is placed in its continual aggrandizement by whatever means, my conclusion will appear merely academic and pedantic.

2. “No Independent States, Large or Small, Shall Come under the Dominion of Another State by Inheritance, Exchange, Purchase, or Donation”

A state is not, like the ground which it occupies, a piece of property (patrimonium). It is a society of men whom no one else has any right to command or to dispose except the state itself. It is a trunk with its own roots. But to incorporate it into another state, like a graft, is to destroy its existence as a moral person, reducing it to a thing; such incorporation thus contradicts the idea of the original contract without which no right over a people can be conceived.

Everyone knows to what dangers Europe, the only part of the world where this manner of acquisition is known, has been brought, even down to the most recent times, by the presumption that states could espouse one another; it is in part a new kind of industry for gaining ascendancy by means of family alliances and without expenditure of forces, and in part a way of extending one’s domain. Also the hiring-out of troops by one state to another, so that they can be used against an enemy not common to both, is to be counted under this principle; for in this manner the subjects, as though they were things to be manipulated at pleasure, are used and also used up.

3. “Standing Armies (miles perpetuus) Shall in Time Be Totally Abolished”

For they incessantly menace other states by their readiness to appear at all times prepared for war; they incite them to compete with each other in the number of armed men, and there is no limit to this. For this reason, the cost of peace finally becomes more oppressive than that of a short war, and consequently a standing army is itself a cause of offensive war waged in order to relieve the state of this burden. Add to this that to pay men to kill or to be killed seems to entail using them as mere machines and tools in the hand of another (the state), and this is hardly compatible with the rights of mankind in our own person. But the periodic and voluntary military exercises of citizens who thereby secure themselves and their country against foreign aggression are entirely different.

The accumulation of treasure would have the same effect, for, of the three powers – the power of armies, of alliances, and of money – the third is perhaps the most dependable weapon. Such accumulation of treasure is regarded by other states as a threat of war, and if it were not for the difficulties in learning the amount, it would force the other state to make an early attack.

4. “National Debts Shall Not Be Contracted with a View to the External Friction of States”

This expedient of seeking aid within or without the state is above suspicion when the purpose is domestic economy (e.g., the improvement of roads, new settlements, establishment of stores against unfruitful years, etc.). But as an opposing machine in the antagonism of powers, a credit system which grows beyond sight and which is yet a safe debt for the present requirements – because all the creditors do not require payment at one time – constitutes a dangerous money power. This ingenious invention of a commercial people [England] in this century is dangerous because it is a war treasure which exceeds the treasures of all other states; it cannot be exhausted except by default of taxes (which is inevitable), though it can be long delayed by the stimulus to trade which occurs through the reaction of credit on industry and commerce. This facility in making war, together with the inclination to do so on the part of rulers – an inclination which seems inborn in human nature – is thus a great hindrance to perpetual peace. Therefore, to forbid this credit system must be a preliminary article of perpetual peace all the more because it must eventually entangle many innocent states in the inevitable bankruptcy and openly harm them. They are therefore justified in allying themselves against such a state and its measures.

5. “No State Shall by Force Interfere with the Constitution or Government of Another State”

For what is there to authorize it to do so? The offense, perhaps, which a state gives to the subjects of another state? Rather the example of the evil into which a state has fallen because of its lawlessness should serve as a warning. Moreover, the bad example which one free person affords another as a scandalum acceptum is not an infringement of his rights. But it would be quite different if a state, by internal rebellion, should fall into two parts, each of which pretended to be a separate state making claim to the whole. To lend assistance to one of these cannot be considered an interference in the constitution of the other state (for it is then in a state of anarchy). But so long as the internal dissension has not come to this critical point, such interference by foreign powers would infringe on the rights of an independent people struggling with its internal disease; hence it would itself be an offense and would render the autonomy of all states insecure.

6. “No State Shall, during War, Permit Such Acts of Hostility Which Would Make Mutual Confidence in the Subsequent Peace Impossible: Such Are the Employment of Assassins (percussores), Poisoners (venefici), Breach of Capitulation, and Incitement to Treason (perduellio) in the Opposing State”

These are dishonorable stratagems. For some confidence in the character of the enemy must remain even in the midst of war, as otherwise no peace could be concluded and the hostilities would degenerate into a war of extermination (bellum internecinum). War, however, is only the sad recourse in the state of nature (where there is no tribunal which could judge with the force of law) by which each state asserts its right by violence and in which neither party can be adjudged unjust (for that would presuppose a juridical decision); in lieu of such a decision, the issue of the conflict (as if given by a so-called “judgment of God”) decides on which side justice lies. But between states no punitive war (bellum punitivum) is conceivable, because there is no relation between them of master and servant.

It follows that a war of extermination, in which the destruction of both parties and of all justice can result, would permit perpetual peace only in the vast burial ground of the human race. Therefore, such a war and the use of all means leading to it must be absolutely forbidden. But that the means cited do inevitably lead to it is clear from the fact that these infernal arts, vile in themselves, when once used would not long be confined to the sphere of war. Take, for instance, the use of spies (uti exploratoribus). In this, one employs the infamy of others (which can never be entirely eradicated) only to encourage its persistence even into the state of peace, to the undoing of the very spirit of peace.

Although the laws stated are objectively, i.e., in so far as they express the intention of rulers, mere prohibitions (leges prohibitivae), some of them are of that strict kind which hold regardless of circumstances (leges strictae) and which demand prompt execution. Such are Nos. 1, 5, and 6. Others, like Nos. 2, 3, and 4, while not exceptions from the rule of law, nevertheless are subjectively broader (leges latae) in respect to their observation, containing permission to delay their execution without, however, losing sight of the end. This permission does not authorize, under No. 2, for example, delaying until doomsday (or, as Augustus used to say, ad calendas Graecas) the re-establishment of the freedom of states which have been deprived of it – i.e., it does not permit us to fail to do it, but it allows a delay to prevent precipitation which might injure the goal striven for. For the prohibition concerns only the manner of acquisition which is no longer permitted, but not the possession, which, though not bearing a requisite title of right, has nevertheless been held lawful in all states by the public opinion of the time (the time of the putative acquisition).

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Thomas Mann: Dirge for a homeland wasted by war

September 11, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Thomas Mann: Selections on war

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Thomas Mann
Translated by Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter

From Doctor Faustus (1948)

I saw him once more in 1939, after the conquest of Poland, a year before his death, which his mother, at eighty, still survived. She led me up the stair to his room, entering it with the encouraging words: “Just come in, he will not notice you!” while I stood profoundly moved at the door. At the back of the room, on a sofa the foot end of which was towards me, so that I could not look into his face, there lay under a light woollen coverlet he that was once Adrian Leverkühn, whose immortal part is now so called. The colorless hands, whose sensitive shape I had always loved, lay crossed on his breast, like a saint’s on a medieval tomb. The beard, grown greyer, still lengthened more the hollow face, so now it was strikingly like an El Greco nobleman’s. What a mocking game Nature here played, one might say: presenting a picture of the utmost spirituality, just there whence the spirit had fled! The eyes lay deep in their sockets, the brows were bushier; from under them the apparition directed upon me an unspeakable earnest look, so searching as to be almost threatening. It made me quail; but even in a second it had as it were collapsed, the eyeballs rolled upwards, half disappearing under the lids and ceaselessly moving from side to side. I refused the mother’s repeated invitation to come closer, and turned weeping away.

On the 25th of August 1940 the news reached me in Freising that that remnant of a life had been quenched: a life which had given to my own, in love and effort, pride and pain, its essential content. At the open grave in the little Oberweiler churchyard stood with me, besides the relatives, Jeanette Scheurl, Rüdiger Schildknapp, Kunigunde Rosenstiel, and Meta Nackedey; also a stranger, a veiled unknown, who disappeared as the first clods fell on the coffin.

Germany, the hectic on her cheek, was reeling then at the height of her dissolute triumph, about to gain the whole world by virtue of the one pact she was minded to keep, which she had signed with her blood. Today, clung round by demons, a hand over one eye, with the other staring into horrors, down she flings from despair to despair. When will she reach the bottom of the abyss? When, out of uttermost hopelessness – a miracle beyond the power of belief – will the light of day dawn? A lonely man folds his hands and speaks: “God be merciful to thy poor soul, my friend, my Fatherland!”

*****

From Voyage With Don Quixote (1934)

Whatever pessimistic historians may say, human beings have a conscience, if only an aesthetic one, a feeling for good taste. They bow, of course, before success, before the fait accompli of brute force, even of successful crime. But at bottom they do not lose sight of the humanly beautiful, the violently wrong and brutalizing, which has happened in their midst; and in the end without their sympathy might and brute force can reap no lasting success.

Agitated times like ours always tend to confound the merely epochal with the eternal – as for instance liberalism with freedom – and to throw out the baby with the bath. Thus each free and thoughtful person, each mind which does not flicker in the wind of time, is forced back upon the foundations; driven to become once more conscious of them and to base more solidly upon them.

*****

From Goethe And Tolstoy (1922)

Does not all our love of our kind rest on a brotherly, sympathetic recognition of the human being’s well-nigh hopelessly difficult situation? Yes, there is a patriotism of humanity, and it rests on this: we love human beings because they have such a hard time – and because we are one of them ourself!

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U.S. Furthers Reagan’s Star Wars Plans With Global NATO

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
September 9, 2011

U.S. furthers Reagan’s Star War plans with global NATO
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca, conducted on September 4

They tried to shut you down over the weekend. Can you tell us what happened?

Yes, thank you for asking. The Stop NATO website was shut down by its host, WordPress, on Friday without any plausible explanation, with just a vague statement about “concern over some content on your site.” The site is a reputable news one and it took 24 hours and a good deal of pressure from sources around the world before WordPress relented and allowed the site to be reactivated. They didn’t close it down, they just prevented me from posting any new material. Of course, by the nature of these things it’s hard to determine whether it was a conscious political decision, but one has to allow for this possibility. Anyway, we are back online for the time being and thank you for asking.

Turkey has recently agreed formally to host NATO anti-ballistic missile elements on its territory.

From what I understand, the agreement by Turkey is that they are going to station what’s called a Forward-Based X-Band Radar-Transportable of the sort that was installed in Israel three years ago by the U.S., in the Negev Desert, which has by the way a range of 4,300 km (2,700 miles) and if aimed in the proper direction could take in the entirety of Western Russia and a good deal of Southern Russia. That is an equivalent of what is to be based in Turkey, in theory aimed exclusively against Iran, but I think only the credulous would believe that.

This has to be seen, of course, in the context of the decision reached at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, last November to incorporate all NATO nations into the U.S. Missile Defense Agency plans for a global anti-ballistic missile system. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has recently clarified that we are not only talking about regional or even European continent-wide interceptor missile systems but one that is international in scope. And bringing it into Turkey – there have, incidentally, been discussions going back ten or more years from respective heads of the Missile Defense Agency of the U.S. Defense Department about situating interceptor missile facilities not only in Turkey, but also in nations like Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan. So, there are plans to extend a U.S.-dominated interceptor missile system from Europe to the east and south, that is into the Middle East and presumably into the South Caucasus and all the way to Central Asia.


Launch of ship-based Standard Missile-3

Of those countries that you’ve mentioned, which are in the process of soon signing formal agreements with NATO that you know of?

Every one of them has an advanced partnership program with NATO except for Turkey, which is, of course, a member. But I think another important consideration is that Romanian President Traian Basescu said last week that the U.S. and Romania will soon sign an agreement for the stationing of 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania, which is part of what the Obama administration terms its Phased Adaptive Approach.

There are actually four phases of the SM-3, and last week Lockheed Martin announced it is establishing a testing facility near Huntsville, Alabama for what will be the most advanced, the SM-3 Block IIB, to go online in 2020. There will be an intermediate version ready for deployment in 2015, and SM-3s will be based, estimates are 24 each, in Romania and Poland. And we have to recall that last year the U.S. moved the first Patriot Advanced Capability-3, an advanced version of the Patriot interceptor missile, into the Polish city of Morag, which is only some 35 miles away from the Russian border, with Kaliningrad.

I would like to add that accompanying the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles in Poland are a hundred or more US servicemen, which are the first foreign troops to be stationed on Polish soil since the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, and the Forward-Based X-Band Radar set up in Israel is staffed by something in the neighborhood of a hundred U.S. military personnel as well, which are the first foreign troops stationed in Israel for a prolonged period in its history, and with the deployment of SM-3s in Romania a hundred U.S. troops will also be stationed in that nation, we are seeing the export of U.S. military forces and equipment to the east and to the south. I think it’s noteworthy that the announcement regarding Turkey was made by new State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who from 2005 to 2008 was U.S. permanent representative to NATO. This is the person who announced that Turkey is going to host a U.S.-NATO interceptor missile radar facility.

NATO is making overtures to India and India looks like it are considering working with them as well.

The actual announcement was made by another very significant person, the current U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, who incidentally six years ago co-authored a piece in Foreign Affairs, the monthly publication of the Council on Foreign Relations, with the intriguing title of Global NATO, the opening sentence of which states that NATO has “gone global,” and openly advocated at that point that NATO incorporate as full members, not simply as partners, what he deemed to be the world’s democracies, amongst which was India. The latter country would link interceptor missile capacities in Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf with those in the Asia-Pacific region: Japan, South Korea, Australia and Taiwan.

We are talking about people pursuing a long-term agenda. What the U.S. is reactivating now with the inclusion of NATO is the realization of the Ronald Reagan administration’s “Star Wars” plan, the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative out of which the current Missile Defense Agency developed; that is, one that allows the U.S. and its allies to be impenetrable to retaliation or any capability of retaliating by other countries that might be subjected to attacks by the U.S. and its allies. That is, nations like Russia and China will effectively lose their deterrence capabilities.

Targeted nation’s ballistic missiles can be destroyed in the boost, ascent, midcourse and terminal phases through a stratified series of constantly enhanced Patriot Advance Capability-3, sea- and land-based Standard Missile-3, Ground-based Midcourse Defense (with its Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle) and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors. A 280-foot-tall, 50,000-ton Missile Defense Agency Sea-Based X-Band Radar is home based in Adak, in the Aleutian Islands, menacingly close to Russia’s Pacific coast.


Sea-Based X-Band Radar, part of Ground-based Midcourse Defense system

To cap it all off, the Pentagon has been hell-bent in pursuing the militarization of space, a threat that China and Russia raise each year in the United Nations.

We have to recollect that the head of state of the U.S. currently, President Barack Obama – ironically, paradoxically, distressingly – on the occasion of delivering his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in December of 2009 openly boasted that the U.S. was “the world’s sole military superpower.”

And I think that to maintain that status in the face of a weakening U.S. economy, with the rise of the BRICS nations and so forth, with trends that suggest that the U.S. is in decline internationally, that Washington is intent on maintaining its military supremacy – its one trump card if you will, its ultima ratio regum – and to ensure that no other country has the ability to retaliate, particularly in strategic terms. And when we talk about the latest proposed model of the SM-3 we are talking about one that could threaten Russia as well as China. I would argue that North Korea and Iran are pretexts for developing a global Star Wars system that would place both Russia and China within a circle of U.S. and allied interceptor missile system.

NATO missile elements in India would protect against or annul what threat for NATO?

There is no threat to NATO at all in my estimate, so that’s a fictitious claim. What in fact you are seeing is consolidation of what observers have warned about for a decade – the emergence of an Asia-Pacific NATO.

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Senancour: Lottery of war amid heaps of the dead

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Étienne Pivert de Senancour
From Obermann (1804)
Translated by J. Anthony Barnes

War is nothing but a lottery for nearly all but the conmander-in-chief, and even he is far from being exempt from it. In modern warfare an officer on the high road to honours and promotion sees by his side a fighter quite as brave, and even more capable and robust, who is lost to fame for ever amid the heaps of the dead.

*****

Resistance invigorates the soul and gives it a nobler air; we feel our feet in the struggle with great griefs; we find pleasure in the effort of it, there is at least something to be done. But the obstructions, the boredoms, the limitations, the insipidity of life, it is these that wear me out and sicken me.

*****

What use to me are the specious arguments of a comfortable and flattering philosophy, the hollow mask of a cowardly instinct, the empty wisdom of sufferers who prolong the evils they endure so meekly, and who find sanction for our bondage in an imaginary necessity?

*****

Man’s morality and enthusiasm, his restless wishes and perpetual craving for expansion, seem to suggest that his goal is not in things that pass away, that his activity is not confined to visible phenomena, that his thought is concerned with necessary and eternal conceptions, that his business is to work for the betterment or the reformation of the world, that his vocation is in some sense to develop, to refine, to organize, to give more energy to matter, more power to living beings, more perfection to instruments, more fecundity to germs, better adjustment to correspondences, wider sway to order.

*****

Verily, I have no wish to drag myself from grade to grade, to take a position in society, to have superiors whom I acknowledge for the sake of having inferiors to disdain. Nothing is so absurd as that hierarchy of contempt which descends in accurately proportioned shades, and includes the whole state, from the prince who claims to be subject to God alone, down to the poorest street shoeblack, subject to the woman who lets him sleep on fusty straw.

*****

It is dreadful to end one’s days by saying: “No heart has been made happy through me; I have wrought nothing for the welfare of man; I have lived unmoved and ineffective, like some glacier in a mountain hollow which has withstood the noonday sun but has not descended to the valley to refresh with its water the herbage withered by the scorching rays.”

*****

[A]s man is insignificant in Nature, and everything to himself, he ought to concern himself somewhat less with the laws of the world and somewhat more with his own; dispensing perhaps with abstract sciences that have never dried a single tear in hamlet or attic; dispensing too with certain fine but useless arts, and with heroic but destructive passions, he ought to aim, if he can, at having institutions that will keep man human instead of brutalizing him, at having less science but also less ignorance, and to admit that if man is not a blind force which must be left at the mercy of fatalism, if his activities have any spontaneity, then morality is the only science for man whose fate is in the hands of his fellows.

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Rasul Gamzatov: For women war is never over

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

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Rasul Gamzatov
From Octaves
Translated by Peter Tempest

So many men were torn away
From us in war’s dread sweep…
Remembrance of it to this day
Makes wives and mothers weep.

New grass has grown, and grown are now
The sons of those who died,
And new fears flicker on the brow
Of mother and of bride.

*****

There are three songs people treasure,
Songs to which they smile or cry;
First, a song of deep-felt pleasure,
Is a mother’s lullaby.

Second is the song that, stroking
Her dead son’s cold cheek and breast,
A mother sings, from sorrow choking…
Third and last – come all the rest.

*****

Woman, wear your gayest dresses,
Put away old scarves and frocks!
“Fine attire my heart distresses
And I keep it in my box.”

Would you spoil your fine apparel?
Was that what you bought it for?
“No, the man for whom I’d wear it
Never came back from the war.”

*****

A new dawn breaks in soft grey light
Without the sun, for thick mist drowns
The field where, ageing overnight,
The earth, forlorn and sodden, frowns.

The earth with clouded brow recalls
A mother who in fond hope waits
To greet her son, but sees his horse
Come empty-saddled through the gates.

*****

The twentieth century is grim with rage,
We are disgraceful children in her eyes:
Never before in any time or age
Have men shed so much blood and told such lies.

The twentieth century is tired: she may
Deservedly her children eulogize:
Never so forcefully as in our day
Have men been fighting wickedness and lies.

*****

Folk in Hiroshima city
Are convinced, as I have heard,
That death spares the stricken if they
Cut a thousand paper birds.

Sick world, come take up your scissors!
This I beg you understand:
Do not die as that poor girl did
With the last but one in hand.

*****

Already twenty years have passed
Since my two brothers died.
And I – the third – in bitter dreams
Shed tears at their graveside.

I’ve learned from travelling to far
And unfamiliar shores:
All living men third brothers are
Of those who died in war.

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Selma Lagerlöf: The Fifth Commandment. The Great Beast is War.

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Selma Lagerlöf: The mark of death was on them all

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Selma Lagerlöf
From The Outcast (1918)
Translated by Felma Swanston Howard

The Fifth Commandment

While the crowd still waited for the conclusion of the sermon, a voice was heard, not from the graveside, but from somewhere farther out. A woman’s voice, thin and shrill, yet strangely audible and distinct.

They gathered round the speaker, and saw a young woman on her knees, with arms outstretched, head thrown back, and eyes closed. She seemed unconscious of herself, and spoke as in a trance.

“I see the dead,” she said. “I see those whom we have buried here. I see them move toward the land of Death, and enter in. And now, after they have gone a little way, I see them coming toward a building, like a schoolhouse, and asking admittance there.

“‘We are souls that have passed through the school of earth,’ they say to the keeper at the gate, ‘and we have come hither to show what we have learned of knowledge there.’

“But the keeper of the gate shakes his head. He tells them that they have ended their schooling too quickly. But all the same he opens the gate and lets them in.

“And I see them go into a great hall. I can see their fear. They are afraid and trembling, like all who are to be questioned so.

“Then a man comes forward to meet them. He wears a long robe, and his hair lies in smooth locks about his head.

‘”Ye souls that have passed through the school of earth,’ says the man to them, ‘can you say my Ten Commandments as they are said on earth to-day?’

“I see the souls of the dead rejoicing that no harder question is asked than this. And all together answer:

“‘Thou shalt not worship false gods.

“‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

“‘Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath day.

“‘Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother.’

“I hear them say this, but haltingly, and with great difficulty. And they are wondering in their minds why it should be so hard to say the words. They do not know themselves what makes them stammer and speak so faintly.

“‘You have learned this in some manner, albeit with faults and errors,’ says the teacher. ‘Now say the rest!’

“And then the souls of the dead speak out clearly and without difficulty:

“‘Thou shalt kill!

“‘Thou shalt commit adultery.

“‘Thou shalt steal.

“‘Thou shalt bear false witness.

“‘Thou shalt covet they neighbour’s house.

“‘Thou shalt lay waste they neighbour’s field, and his wife and his servant, his goods and all that is his.’

“And when all this is said, I can see that the dead are glad to have passed the test so well.

“But the teacher asks them:

“‘Who has taught you so to misread my law, that I had set to be a guard about the sacredness of human life?’

“And they answer him:

“‘We are soldiers. We are the subjects and servants of Death.’

“Then the teacher cries to them:

“‘Wake up, ye dead, and see who is this that ye honour, and who is your master!’

“And I see them waken up out of the error of earthly life as from a long dream. And they see then with dread that they are immortal souls, whose place is in heaven, and they begin to sorrow for all that they have done on earth, and to fear for the punishment to come.

“But then the teacher speaks to them again:

“‘I am he that is Lord of Death and of Life.

“‘And I sent Death upon earth to be the servant of Life.

“‘I let the withered leaves fall to the ground, that new fresh leaves may grow again next year.

“‘I let the stars in the firmament burn out and die that new stars may arise in their stead.

“‘I let the bodies of those who have lived their life be laid in the grave, that new life may bloom upon earth.

“‘But since Death has made himself master instead of servant, I will pursue him.

“‘For it is not my will that the harvest should be reaped before its time, nor the young fowl bird be taken by the fowler before it has built its nest and brought forth its young.

“‘And I will set a boundary and a landmark between the time that is now and the time that is to come; in a few years I will mark it. And this time shall be called the time of darkness.

“‘But ye souls, go back again to earth, and teach mankind to keep my Fifth Commandment, which is the Commandment to love thy neighbour, and is the key to all the rest.

“‘Tell them that my Millennium hangs in the east like a dawn. But how shall it rise in the sky and give light to the world, as long as ye let Death take the Great Beast in his service?

“‘For the Great Beast is War…'”

Lotta Hedman came to herself. She looked round and saw a close circle of people. Many faces shone with a great content.

“Where have I been?” she said. “What have I said? Has God at last spoken through my mouth?”

Tears of joy and thankfulness flowed from her eyes.

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Heinrich Mann: Mission of letters in a world in rubble with 10 million corpses underground

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Heinrich Mann: Nietzsche, war and the butchery of ten to twenty million souls

Heinrich Mann: Nowadays the real power is peace

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Heinrich Mann
From letter to his brother Thomas
January 5, 1918
Translated by Don Reneau

Self-righteousness? Oh, no – far more likely, rather, a feeling shared with those others who, like me, know how much all of us, the art of our generation and its cast of mind, are responsible for having allowed the catastrophe to come…

The inability to grasp the real earnestness of another’s life ultimately gives birth to monsters – thus you find that my letter, which was a gesture of simple friendliness, breathes triumph! Triumph over what? That everything “stands” well for me in the moment – namely, a world in rubble and 10 million corpses underground. Now that’s justification! That indeed promises satisfaction to the ideologue! But I am not the man to tailor the misery and death of peoples to the fancy of my mind, not I. I do not believe that the victory of one thing or another remains worth the words to mention it when people are perishing. After these last, utterly horrific events, whatever humanistic gains can be made in the future will taste bitter and sad. I don’t know if anyone can “help” his fellows “to live”; but let our literature, at least, not aid them toward death!

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