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Rubén Darío: You think the future is wherever your bullet strikes

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Rubén Darío
To Roosevelt (1904)

Translated by Lysander Kemp

The voice that would reach you, Hunter, must speak
in Biblical tones, or in the poetry of Walt Whitman.
You are primitive and modern, simple and complex;
you are one part George Washington and one part Nimrod.
You are the United States,
future invader of our naive America
with its Indian blood, an America
that still prays to Christ and still speaks Spanish.

You are strong, proud model of your race;
you are cultured and able; you oppose Tolstoy.
You are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar,
breaking horses and murdering tigers.
(You are a Professor of Energy,
as current lunatics say).

You think that life is a fire,
that progress is an irruption,
that the future is wherever
your bullet strikes.
No.

The United States is grand and powerful.
Whenever it trembles, a profound shudder
runs down the enormous backbone of the Andes.
If it shouts, the sound is like the roar of a lion.
And Hugo said to Grant: “The stars are yours.”
(The dawning sun of the Argentine barely shines;
the star of Chile is rising..) A wealthy country,
joining the cult of Mammon to the cult of Hercules;
while Liberty, lighting the path
to easy conquest, raises her torch in New York.

But our own America, which has had poets
since the ancient times of Nezahualcóyolt;
which preserved the footprint of great Bacchus,
and learned the Panic alphabet once,
and consulted the stars; which also knew Atlantic
(whose name comes ringing down to us in Plato)
and has lived, since the earliest moments of its life,
in light, in fire, in fragrance, and in love –
the America of Moctezuma and Atahualpa,
the aromatic America of Columbus,
Catholic America, Spanish America,
the America where noble Cuauthémoc said:
“I am not in a bed of roses” – our America,
trembling with hurricanes, trembling with Love:
O men with Saxon eyes and barbarous souls,
our America lives. And dreams. And loves.
And it is the daughter of the Sun. Be careful.
Long live Spanish America!
A thousand cubs of the Spanish lion are roaming free.
Roosevelt, you must become, by God’s own will,
the deadly Rifleman and the dreadful Hunter
before you can clutch us in your iron claws.

And though you have everything, you are lacking one thing:
God!

*****

A Roosevelt

Es con voz de la Biblia, o verso de Walt Whitman,
que habría que llegar hasta ti, Cazador!
Primitivo y moderno, sencillo y complicado,
con un algo de Washington y cuatro de Nemrod.
Eres los Estados Unidos,
eres el futuro invasor
de la América ingenua que tiene sangre indígena,
que aún reza a Jesucristo y aún habla en español.

Eres soberbio y fuerte ejemplar de tu raza;
eres culto, eres hábil; te opones a Tolstoy.
Y domando caballos, o asesinando tigres,
eres un Alejandro-Nabucodonosor.
(Eres un profesor de energía,
como dicen los locos de hoy.)
Crees que la vida es incendio,
que el progreso es erupción;
en donde pones la bala
el porvenir pones.
No.

Los Estados Unidos son potentes y grandes.
Cuando ellos se estremecen hay un hondo temblor
que pasa por las vértebras enormes de los Andes.
Si clamáis, se oye como el rugir del león.
Ya Hugo a Grant le dijo: «Las estrellas son vuestras».
(Apenas brilla, alzándose, el argentino sol
y la estrella chilena se levanta…) Sois ricos.
Juntáis al culto de Hércules el culto de Mammón;
y alumbrando el camino de la fácil conquista,
la Libertad levanta su antorcha en Nueva York.

Mas la América nuestra, que tenía poetas
desde los viejos tiempos de Netzahualcoyotl,
que ha guardado las huellas de los pies del gran Baco,
que el alfabeto pánico en un tiempo aprendió;
que consultó los astros, que conoció la Atlántida,
cuyo nombre nos llega resonando en Platón,
que desde los remotos momentos de su vida
vive de luz, de fuego, de perfume, de amor,
la América del gran Moctezuma, del Inca,
la América fragante de Cristóbal Colón,
la América católica, la América española,
la América en que dijo el noble Guatemoc:
«Yo no estoy en un lecho de rosas»; esa América
que tiembla de huracanes y que vive de Amor,
hombres de ojos sajones y alma bárbara, vive.
Y sueña. Y ama, y vibra; y es la hija del Sol.
Tened cuidado. ¡Vive la América española!
Hay mil cachorros sueltos del León Español.
Se necesitaría, Roosevelt, ser Dios mismo,
el Riflero terrible y el fuerte Cazador,
para poder tenernos en vuestras férreas garras.

Y, pues contáis con todo, falta una cosa: ¡Dios!

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Adam Mickiewicz: The transient glory of military conquerors

November 30, 2011 1 comment

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

Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855)
The Ruins of the Castle at Balaklava
Translator unknown

These castles heaped in shattered piles once graced
And guarded you, Crimea, thankless land!
Today like giant skulls set high they stand
And shelter reptiles, or men more debased.
Upon that tower a coat of arms is traced,
And letters, some dead hero’s name, whose hand
Scourged armies. Now he sleeps forgotten and
The grapevine holds him, like a worm, embraced.
Here Greeks have chiseled Attic ornament,
Italians cast the Mongols into chains
And pilgrims chanted slowly, Mecca bent:
Today the black-winged vulture only reigns
As in a city, dead and pestilent,
Where mourning banners flutter to the plains.

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Rampant Militarization of the World: West Risks New Arms Race In Europe

November 29, 2011 6 comments

Voice of Russia
November 29, 2011

Audio

Does the West want to start arms race in Europe?
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to GlobalResearch.ca


Collage: Voice of Russia

About a month ago, NATO tested first-strike capabilities by using a mobile radar in Turkey. Why would a defensive system need to test offensive capabilities? We have the cyber warfare center. You said it also can be used as an offensive tool by the U.S. We have hypersonic missile tests and the Prompt Global Strike system. I think these are pretty good reasons for the Russian Federation to be worried, to put it mildly, as to the intentions of the West. Why would the West want to start an arms race in Europe? Why would this be profitable? Why not include Russia as part of the sectoral approach system? It’s probably a rhetorical question but can you touch upon it?

There is no rational answer to it, certainly not a persuasive one from the West. For example, as you mentioned, Russia is far from simply arbitrarily and firmly opposing the creation of a unilateral U.S. interceptor missile system in Europe. The entire western flank of Russia is affected by this, of course: From the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

Russia went out of its way, Russian political leadership went out of its way to be accommodating; to offer, for example, the use of the Gabala radar site it maintains in Azerbaijan to be employed in conjunction with NATO. It offered a sectoral approach in which Russia would cover part of the affected area and NATO the other and so forth, for purposes of integration and communication. But we know that several things have occurred this week, and so far this month – the advanced hypersonic weapon test earlier this month, the statement by Anatoly Serdyukov, the defense minister of Russia, the day before Medvedev’s statement stating that Russian Air Defenses will be equipped to protect Russian nuclear strategic capabilities in the European part of the Russian Federation, and also that the U.S. announced – and was soon followed by 14 NATO allies in doing so – that it is effectively pulling out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, blaming Russia for it because Russia suspended its activities within the CFE, as it’s known, in 2007 – but did so because the U.S. and its NATO allies refused to ratify amendments to the treaty. The U.S. has used the presence of a comparatively small contingent of Russian peacekeepers in Transdniester and, before Mikhail Saakashvili launched an assault against South Ossetia and began the 5-day war with Russia in August of 2008, the existence at that time of, again, small contingents of Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, using that as an excuse for basically suspending, for not ratifying amendments to, the CFE Treaty.

And we have, as you know, President Medvedev’s statement on Wednesday, the fact that Russia may be compelled to suspend its activities in or withdraw from the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). This is a very momentous week in terms of security in Russia with the fear of not only a new arms race, a new missile race, but something perhaps even more ominous than that.

What we are looking at is brinkmanship, lawlessness – I don’t know what other words to use to describe it – very bold and threatening actions by the U.S. and its NATO partners to move missiles up to Russia’s borders, in the case of Poland, which adjoins Kaliningrad, and perhaps Aegis-class warships equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Russia and, of course, the 24 Standard Missile-3 land-based interceptors that are going to be placed in Romania, directly across the Black Sea from Russia.

I believe that President Medvedev mentioned precisely that – “on our borders and in waters bordering Russia” and so forth. What we are seeing is an almost calculated provocation, as I would characterize it. That’s the best interpretation.

The worst is that the U.S. and NATO are building up the military capability for neutralizing Russia’s strategic deterrent capability in the west and the south of the country. And I suspect that, having this year a military budget of some $730 billion, which in constant dollars is at a World War II level, the highest since 1945, I’m reminded of the old expression that the abuse of power inevitably results from the power to abuse. As long as the U.S. has built itself into, in Obama’s terms, “the world’s sole military superpower,” it feels it can operate with impunity.

Would you say it’s time for the world to be very concerned here?

It’s way past time to be very concerned. I don’t know if it occurred at this year’s General Assembly session at the UN but I know that in preceding years Russia and China jointly went to the General Assembly and introduced resolutions addressing yet another threat, which is the militarization of space by the U.S. This is the ultimate facet of the so-called global missile shield. So there will be a space component to this in addition to land-, air- and sea-based interceptor missiles and radar. The world has sounded the alarm, at least major nations have. But I would like to see both the Security Council and the General Assembly convene on an emergency basis, to be honest about it, to demand that this rampant militarization of the world stop. Two years ago, the Financial Times talked about a $123 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia and three of its Persian Gulf allies with the U.S. The Saudi portion of that is estimated at $60-67 billion, which is the single largest bilateral military deal in human history.

We’ve seen comparable buildups with countries like Canada, Australia and Japan. You don’t build up this kind of military capability unless, at the very least, you are going to use it to blackmail somebody.

We should recall that on Wednesday President Medvedev’s statements were very tempered. He was mentioning certain contingency plans that would only be put into operation if the U.S. didn’t eventually heed the plea by Russia to notify it of its missile deployment plans and not pose a threat, or a potential threat, to Russian strategic interests and so forth. This wasn’t a threat. This was rather stating that Russia would be compelled to introduce certain defensive measures if the U.S. and NATO continued to turn a deaf ear to Russia’s offers of cooperation but was also an expression of its concern. One major Russian official – it may have been Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, I’m not sure – says the U.S. claims to be defending its own territory by building up a missile defense system, but that missile defense system is encroaching on Russian borders.

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John Greenleaf Whittier: The Peace Convention at Brussels

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

John Greenleaf Whittier: Selections on peace and war

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John Greenleaf Whittier
The Peace Convention at Brussels (1848)

*****

Then, o’er Earth’s war-field, till the strife shall cease,
Like Morven’s harpers, sing your song of peace;
As in old fable rang the Thracian’s lyre,
Midst howl of fiends and roar of penal fire,
Till the fierce din to pleasing murmurs fell,
And love subdued the maddened heart of hell.

Not vain the vision which the prophets saw,
Skirting with green the fiery waste of war,
Through the hot sand-gleam, looming soft and calm
On the sky’s rim, the fountain-shading palm.

*****

Still in thy streets, O Paris! doth the stain
Of blood defy the cleansing autumn rain;
Still breaks the smoke Messina’s ruins through,
And Naples mourns that new Bartholomew,
When squalid beggary, for a dole of bread,
At a crowned murderer’s beck of license, fed
The yawning trenches with her noble dead;
Still, doomed Vienna, through thy stately halls
The shell goes crashing and the red shot falls,
And, leagued to crush thee, on the Danube’s side,
The bearded Croat and Bosniak spearman ride;
Still in that vale where Himalaya’s snow
Melts round the cornfields and the vines below,
The Sikh’s hot cannon, answering ball for ball,
Flames in the breach of Moultan’s shattered wall;
On Chenab’s side the vulture seeks the slain,
And Sutlej paints with blood its banks again.

“What folly, then,” the faithless critic cries,
With sneering lip, and wise world-knowing eyes,
“While fort to fort, and post to post, repeat
The ceaseless challenge of the war-drum’s beat,
And round the green earth, to the church-bell’s chime,
The morning drum-roll of the camp keeps time,
To dream of peace amidst a world in arms,
Of swords to ploughshares changed by Scriptural charms,
Of nations, drunken with the wine of blood,
Staggering to take the Pledge of Brotherhood,
Like tipplers answering Father Matthew’s call;
The sullen Spaniard, and the mad-cap Gaul,
The bull-dog Briton, yielding but with life,
The Yankee swaggering with his bowie-knife,
The Russ, from banquets with the vulture shared,
The blood still dripping from his amber beard,
Quitting their mad Berserker dance to hear
The dull, meek droning of a drab-coat seer;
Leaving the sport of Presidents and Kings,
Where men for dice each titled gambler flings,
To meet alternate on the Seine and Thames,
For tea and gossip, like old country dames!
No! let the cravens plead the weakling’s cant,
Let Cobden cipher, and let Vincent rant,
Let Sturge preach peace to democratic throngs,
And Burritt, stammering through his hundred tongues,
Repeat, in all, his ghostly lessons o’er,
Timed to the pauses of the battery’s roar;
Check Ban or Kaiser with the barricade
Of “Olive-leaves” and Resolutions made,
Spike guns with pointed Scripture-texts, and hope
To capsize navies with a windy trope;
Still shall the glory and the pomp of War
Along their train the shouting millions draw;
Still dusty Labor to the passing Brave
His cap shall doff, and Beauty’s kerchief wave;
Still shall the bard to Valor tune his song,
Still Hero-worship kneel before the Strong;
Rosy and sleek, the sable-gowned divine,
O’er his third bottle of suggestive wine,
To plumed and sworded auditors, shall prove
Their trade accordant with the Law of Love;
And Church for State, and State for Church, shall fight,
And both agree, that “Might alone is Right!”
Despite of sneers like these, O faithful few,
Who dare to hold God’s word and witness true,
Whose clear-eyed faith transcends our evil time,
And o’er the present wilderness of crime
Sees the calm future, with its robes of green,
Its fleece-flecked mountains, and soft streams between, –
Still keep the path which duty bids ye tread,
Though worldly wisdom shake the cautious head;
No truth from Heaven descends upon our sphere,
Without the greeting of the skeptic’s sneer;
Denied and mocked at, till its blessings fall,
Common as dew and sunshine, over all.”

Then, o’er Earth’s war-field, till the strife shall cease,
Like Morven’s harpers, sing your song of peace;
As in old fable rang the Thracian’s lyre,
Midst howl of fiends and roar of penal fire,
Till the fierce din to pleasing murmurs fell,
And love subdued the maddened heart of hell.
Lend, once again, that holy song a tongue,
Which the glad angels of the Advent sung,
Their cradle-anthem for the Saviour’s birth,
Glory to God, and peace unto the earth!
Through the mad discord send that calming word
Which wind and wave on wild Gennesareth heard,
Lift in Christ’s name his Cross against the Sword!
Not vain the vision which the prophets saw,
Skirting with green the fiery waste of war,
Through the hot sand-gleam, looming soft and calm
On the sky’s rim, the fountain-shading palm.
Still lives for Earth, which fiends so long have trod,
The great hope resting on the truth of God, –
Evil shall cease and Violence pass away,
And the tired world breathe free through a long Sabbath day. 

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Hypersonic Missiles: Who Is The Target?

November 28, 2011 3 comments

http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/28/61168605.html

Voice of Russia
November 28, 2011

Hypersonic missile: who is the target?
John Robles

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

====

The first thing that is on everybody’s minds is President Medvedev’s statement regarding NATO. Why at this late date exactly, at this juncture?

In a rather alarming manner we’ve seen an expanding recruitment for the U.S. missile system in Europe, through the mechanism of NATO, in the last couple of months where, in addition to the countries where we know there are going to be US interceptor missiles stationed, the deployment of a Forward-Based X-Band Radar facility in Turkey has been confirmed.

We’ve also seen the recruitment of nations like Spain, the Netherlands and others into what the White House and the Pentagon refer to as the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile system, one that is going to proceed in four phases, the third and fourth phases with the introduction of very advanced-stage Standard Missile-3 land-based interceptors, with the understanding that these can be employed not strictly for defensive purposes but to target all Russian strategic deterrent forces and capabilities in Europe.

Recently, the U.S. and NATO conducted tests for their new hypersonic missile. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about that?

Earlier this month, the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) did just that. It’s actually an interdepartmental weapon system, its part of what’s called Conventional Prompt Global Strike, or sometimes simply Prompt Global Strike.

Last year, for example, the Obama administration asked for somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter of a billion dollars for this year to develop the capacity. It’s meant to deliver conventional weapon attacks to any site on the planet within no more than 60 minutes. And what happened earlier this month was that the U.S. Army tested the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which traveled an estimated 7,400 km/h, which is over six times the speed of sound.

In August, an unsuccessful test of an AHW-related component was to have traveled at 27,000 km/h, which is over MACH 20 – that is 20 times the speed of sound. To be hypersonic one has to exceed MACH 5, or five times the speed of sound.

The day before President Medvedev’s statement about moving mobile ISKANDER missiles into the Kaliningrad District, but also potentially into Belarus and into the southern Krasnodar region, which would be closer to US missiles in Romania and to the NATO radar facility in Turkey, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov mentioned that Russia’s new air-defense systems are capable of intercepting any kind of missiles, including U.S. interceptor missiles but also, he explicitly mentioned, hypersonic weapons.

He said that explicitly? Hypersonic?

Yes, he said it specifically in reference to the test that had been conducted a week earlier by the U.S.

You mentioned earlier this was a part of the Prompt Global Strike system? Is this a first-strike system?

I’ll read you a comment that was made a couple of years ago by a person who is now retired, then-Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cartwright, who stated that the proclaimed intent of the Prompt Global Strike program was to deliver strikes by conventional missiles or heavy bombers – long-range bombers – anywhere on the face of the Earth within an hour.

Marine General James Cartwright stated: “At the high end, strikes could be delivered in 300 milliseconds,” which is a fraction of a second.

There was also a comment by another person who is now retired, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense William Lynn, who stated roughly the same thing a year and a half ago. He said: “The next air warfare priority for the Pentagon is developing a next-generation, deep-penetrating strike capability that can overcome air defenses,” meaning again that a first-strike capability or part of a general first-strike capability that would permit the US to strike fast, deep and undetected presumably into the interior of countries that have advanced air defense systems. I can only think of three countries that would match that description – Iran, to a lesser extent, and Russia and China, to a greater.

How would this all tie in with the Cyber Warfare Center that’s been active recently in Estonia?

Yes, in 2008, NATO set up one of what they call, what NATO calls, a Center of Excellence, a Cyber Defense Centre in the capital of Estonia, in reaction to cyber attacks, real or alleged.

So we have three components being integrated, one of them being the so-called global missile shield. But, first of all, there is no real assurance that the missiles in fact pack a non-explosive warhead. They are supposed to be what are called kinetic or hit-to-kill missiles, but at any time that the U.S. chooses I suspect it can put a strategic warhead on one of these missiles after they are deployed in Poland or Romania and no one would be the wiser.

We know that the momentous statement by President Medvedev on Wednesday cited the fact that Russia was not consulted about anything. In his own words, the U.S. rather blithely announces developments after the fact or rather the president or defense minister of Russia have to read in Western newspapers information concerning U.S. plans to deploy, under NATO auspices, 48 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania and Poland, 24 each, and, as he put it, it’s presented to Russia as an accomplished fact.

With that lack of consultation, with that lack of openness, transparency, one would be justified in fearing the ultimate purpose of U.S. missiles in nations like Poland and Romania or ship-based versions of Standard Missile-3 interceptors that will be deployed in the Baltic Sea and may well find their way into the Barents, Norwegian and Black Seas.

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D.H. Lawrence: Future War, Murderous Weapons, Refinements of Evil

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment

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

D. H. Lawrence: Selections on war

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Future War

After our industrial civilisation has broken, and 
the civilisation of touch has begun
war will cease, there will be no more wars.
The heart of man, in so far as it is budding, is budding warless
and budding towards infinite variety, variegation
and where there is infinite variety, there is no interest in war.
Oneness, makes war, the obsession of oneness.

*****

Murderous Weapons

So guns and strong explosives
are evil, evil
they let death upon unseen men
in sheer murder.

And most murderous of all devices
are poison gas and air-bombs
refinements of evil.

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John Davidson: Blood in torrents pour in vain, for war breeds war again

November 26, 2011 2 comments

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

John Davidson: The blood of men poured out in endless wars

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John Davidson
War Song (1899)

johndavidson

In anguish we uplift
A new unhallowed song:
The race is to the swift;
The battle to the strong.

Of old it was ordained
That we, in packs like curs,
Some thirty million trained
And licensed murderers,

In crime should live and act,
If cunning folk say sooth
Who flay the naked fact
And carve the heart of truth.

The rulers cry aloud,
“We cannot cancel war,
The end and bloody shroud
Of wrongs the worst abhor,
And order’s swaddling band:
Know that relentless strife
Remains by sea and land
The holiest law of life.
From fear in every guise,
From sloth, from lust of pelf,
By war’s great sacrifice
The world redeems itself.
War is the source, the theme
Of art; the goal, the bent
And brilliant academe
Of noble sentiment;
The augury, the dawn
Of golden times of grace;
The true catholicon,
And blood-bath of the race.”

We thirty million trained
And licensed murderers,
Like zanies rigged, and chained
By drill and scourge and curse
In shackles of despair
We know not how to break –
What do we victims care
For art, what interest take
In things unseen, unheard?
Some diplomat no doubt
Will launch a heedless word,
And lurking war leap out!

We spell-bound armies then,
Huge brutes in dumb distress,
Machines compact of men
Who once had consciences,
Must trample harvests down –
Vineyard, and corn and oil;
Dismantle town by town,
Hamlet and homestead spoil
On each appointed path,
Till lust of havoc light
A blood-red blaze of wrath
In every frenzied sight.

In many a mountain pass,
Or meadow green and fresh,
Mass shall encounter mass
Of shuddering human flesh;
Opposing ordnance roar
Across the swaths of slain,
And blood in torrents pour
In vain – always in vain,
For war breeds war again!

The shameful dream is past,
The subtle maze untrod:
We recognise at last
That war is not of God.

*****

Battle

The war of words is done;
The red-lipped cannon speak;
The battle has begun.

The web your speeches spun
Tears and blood shall streak;
The war of words is done.

Smoke enshrouds the sun;
Earth staggers at the shriek
Of battle new begun.

Poltroons and braggarts run:
Woe to the poor, the meek!
The war of words is done.

“And hope not now to shun
The doom that dogs the weak,”
Thunders every gun;

“Victory must be won.”
When the red-lipped cannon speak,
The war of words is done,
The slaughter has begun.

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Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood

November 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

James Russell Lowell: Dante and universal peace

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James Russell Lowell
From To Lamartine (1848)

I did not praise thee when the crowd,
‘Witched with the moment’s inspiration,
Vexed thy still ether with hosannas loud,
And stamped their dusty adoration;
I but looked upward with the rest,
And, when they shouted Greatest, whispered Best.

….

Now thou’rt thy plain, grand self again,
Thou art secure from panegyric,
Thou who gav’st politics an epic strain,
And actedst Freedom’s noblest lyric;
This side the Blessed Isles, no tree
Grows green enough to make a wreath for thee.

….

The highest duty to mere man vouchsafed
Was laid on thee, – out of wild chaos,
When the roused popular ocean foamed and chafed
And vulture War from his Imaus
Snuffed blood, to summon homely Peace,
And show that only order is release.

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Lamartine: The republic of peace

November 24, 2011 1 comment

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

Alphonse de Lamartine
From Manifesto to Europe (1848)
Translator unknown

The proclamation of the French republic is not an act of aggression against any form of government in the world. Forms of government have diversities as legitimate as the diversities of character – of geographical situation – of intellectual, moral, and material development among nations.

War, therefore, is not now the principle of the French republic, as it was the fatal and glorious necessity of the republic of 1792. Half a century separates 1792 from 1848. To return, after the lapse of half a century, to the principle of 1792, or to the principle of conquest pursued during the empire, would not be to advance, but to regress. The revolution of yesterday is a step forward, not backward. The world and ourselves are desirous of advancing to fraternity and peace…

The republic pronounced at its birth, and in the midst of a conflict not provoked by the people, three words, which have revealed its soul, and which will call down on its cradle the blessing of God and man: liberty, equality, fraternity. It gave on the following day, in the abolition of the punishment of death for political offences, the true commentary on those three words, as far as regards the domestic policy of France; it is for you to give them their true commentary abroad. The meaning of these three words, as applied to our foreign policy, is this: the emancipation of France from the chains which have fettered her principles and her dignity; her reinstatement in the rank she is entitled to occupy among the great powers of Europe; in short, the declaration of alliance and friendship to all nations. If France be conscious of the part she has to perform in the liberal and civilising mission of the age, there is not one of those words which signifies war. If Europe be prudent and just, there is not one of those words which does not signify peace.

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Fénelon: War is the most dreadful of all evils by which heaven has afflicted man

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

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

François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon
From The Adventures of Telemachus (1699)
Translated by John Hawkesworth

“‘We hold, as thou seest, king, in one hand the sword, and an olive-branch in the other. Here are peace and war; make your choice. Peace has the preference in our estimation; it is for peace that we have yielded to thy people the delightful borders of the sea, where the sun renders the earth fertile, and matures the most delicious fruits. Peace is still more sweet than these fruits; and for peace we have retired to the mountains that are covered with eternal snow, where spring is decorated with no flowers, and autumn is enriched with no fruit. We abhor that brutality, which, under the specious names of ambition and glory, desolates the earth and destroys mankind. If thou hast placed glory in carnage and desolation, we do not envy, but pity the delusion, and beseech the gods that our minds may never be perverted by so dreadful a phrensy. If the sciences which the Greeks learn with so much assiduity, and the politeness of which they boast with such a conscious superiority, inspire them with desires so sanguinary and injurious, we think ourselves happy to be without these advantages. It will be our glory to continue ignorant and unpolished, but just, humane, faithful, and disinterested; to be content with little, and to despise the false delicacy which makes it necessary to have much. We prize nothing but health, frugality, freedom, and vigor both of body and of mind; we cultivate only the love of virtue, the fear of the gods, benevolence to our neighbors, zeal for our friends, integrity to the world, moderation in prosperity, fortitude in distress, courage to speak truth in every situation, and a just abhorrence and contempt of flattery. Such are the people whom we oflTer thee as neighbors and alUes. If thou shalt be so blinded by the gods in their displeasure as to reject them, experience shall teach thee, when it is too late, that those whose moderation inclines them to peace, are most to be dreaded when compelled to war…'”

*****

“All the misfortunes that you have suffered hitherto have not taught you what should be done to prevent a war. What you have yourself related of the candid integrity of these barbarians, is sufficient to show that you might have shared with them the blessings of peace; but pride and arrogance necessarily bring on the calamities of war.

“You have been afraid of making your enemies proud; but you have, without scruple, made them powerful, by an arrogant and injurious conduct, which has united innumerable nations against you. To what purpose are these towers, of which you have so pompously displayed the advantages, but to reduce all the surrounding nations to the necessity, either of perishing themselves, or of destroying you to preserve their freedom? You erected these towers for your security, but they are really the source of your danger.

“By attempting to appear powerful, you have subverted your power; and, while you are the object of enmity and terror to your neighbors from without, your strength is exhausted within, to maintain a war which this enmity and terror have made necessary…”

****

“Among other princes in this assembly I see Nestor. Thy years and wisdom, O Nestor, have acquainted thee with the calamities of war, even when it is undertaken with justice, and is favored by the gods. War is the most dreadful of all evils by which heaven has afflicted man. Thou canst never forget what was suffered by the Greeks, during the ten years they spent before the walls of Troy — what divisions among their chiefs! what caprices of fortune! what carnage from the hand of Hector! what calamity in distant cities, during the long absence of their kings! and what misfortunes at their return!”

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Zuhair: Accursed thing, war will grind you between millstones

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Zuhair/Zuhayr (520-609)
From The Poem of Zuhair
Translated by F. E. Johnson

“And war is not but what you have learnt it to be, and
what you have experienced, and what is said concerning it,
is not a story based on suppositions.

“When you stir it up, you will stir it up as an accursed
thing, and it will become greedy when you excite its greed
and it will rage fiercely.

“Then it will grind you as the grinding of the upper millstone
against the lower…”

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Dylan Thomas: The Hand That Signed the Paper

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Dylan Thomas
The Hand That Signed the Paper (1936)

The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.

The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The finger joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose’s quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.

The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.

The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor stroke the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.

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Cervantes: Everything then was friendship, everything was harmony

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Miguel de Cervantes
From Don Quixote
Translated by Tom Lathrop

“What a happy time and a happy age were those that the ancients called Golden! And not because gold — which in this our Age of Iron is so valued — was gotten in that fortunate time without any trouble, but rather because the people who lived then didn’t know the two words yours and mine! In that holy age all things were commonly owned. To find their daily sustenance, they had only to raise their hands and take it from the robust oaks, which liberally offered their sweet and ripe fruit to them. Crystal clear fountains and running rivers, in magnificent abundance, offered them their delicious and transparent water. In the fissures of boulders and in the hollows of trees, the diligent and prudent bees formed their republics and offered to any hand, without recompense, the fertile harvest of their very sweet work. The robust cork trees shed their lightweight bark without any artifice other than their own courtesy, with which people began to cover their rustic houses, built only for protection against the rigors of the heavens. Everything then was friendship, everything was harmony. The heavy plow had not yet dared to open nor visit the pious bowels of our first mother, for she, without being forced, gave everywhere from her fertile and broad bosom that could fill, sustain, and delight the children that possessed her then.

“It was then that the simple and beautiful young shepherdesses could travel from valley to valley and from hill to hill, either in braids or with their hair flowing behind, with only enough clothing to cover modestly what decency requires, and has always required. And their ornamentation was not like the Tyrian purple and silk woven in a thousand different ways that women esteem nowadays, but rather it was of intertwined green-dock and ivy, with which they carried themselves with perhaps as much dignity and composure as our courtesans do nowadays, strutting about in extravagant dresses. In those days, literary expressions of love were recited in a simple way, without any unnatural circumlocution to express them.

“Fraud, deceit, and wickedness had not as yet contaminated truth and sincerity. Justice was administered on its own terms and was not tainted by favor and self-interest, which now impair, overturn, and persecute it. Arbitrary law had not yet debased the rulings of the judge, because in those days there was nothing to judge, nor anyone to be judged.

“Young women, with their chastity intact, traveled about on their own anywhere they wanted, as I’ve said, without fearing the damaging boldness or lust of others, and if they suffered any ruination it was born of their own pleasure and free will. Nowadays, in our detestable age, no young woman is secure, even though she be hidden and locked in a new labyrinth of Crete, for even there, through the cracks or borne in the air, the plague of lust finds its way in with the zeal of cursed importunity, and brings her to ruin in spite of her seclusion. As time went by and as wickedness grew, the order of knight errantry was instituted to defend young women, protect widows, and help orphans and needy people.

“I am a member of this order, brother goatherds, and I’m grateful for the hearty welcome and reception you’ve given me and my squire. For, although under natural law all living souls are obliged to show favor to knights errant, it’s still fitting that — knowing as I do you received and entertained me with no knowledge of this obligation — I should acknowledge your good will with utmost gratitude.”

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J.B. Priestley: Insane regress of ultimate weapons leads to radioactive cemetery

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

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

J.B. Priestley
Britain and the Nuclear Bombs (1957)

jbpriestley

*****

The prospect now is not one of countries without navies but navies without countries. And we have arrived at an insane regress of ultimate weapons that are not ultimate.

For that matter, why should it be assumed that the men who create and control such monstrous devices are in their right minds? They live in an unhealthy mental climate, an atmosphere dangerous to sanity. They are responsible to no large body of ordinary sensible men and women, who pay for these weapons without ever having ordered them, who have never been asked anywhere yet if they wanted them.

It is possible, as some thinkers hold, that our civilisation is bent on self destruction, hurriedly planning its own doomsday. This may explain matters better than any wearisome recital of plot and counter plot in terms of world powers. The curious and sinister air of somnambulism there is about our major international affairs, the steady drift from bad to worse, the speeches that begin to sound meaningless, the conferences that achieve nothing, all the persons of great consequence who somehow feel like puppets.

It will be universal catastrophe and apocalypse…And it is not hard to believe that this is what some of our contemporaries really desire, that behind the photogenic smiles and cheerful patter nothing exists but the death wish.

*****

Two events of this autumn should compel us to reconsider the question of Britain and the nuclear bombs. The first of these events was Mr Aneurin Bevan’s speech at the Labour Party conference, which seemed to many of us to slam a door in our faces. It was not dishonest but it was very much a party conference speech, and its use of terms like ‘unilateral’ and ‘polarisation’ lent it a suggestion of the ‘Foreign Office spokesman’. Delegates asked not to confuse ‘an emotional spasm’ with ‘statesmanship’ might have retorted that the statesmanship of the last 10 years has produced little else but emotional spasms. And though it is true, as Mr Bevan argued, that independent action by this country, to ban nuclear bombs, would involve our foreign minister in many difficulties, most of us would rather have a bewildered and overworked Foreign Office than a country about to be turned into a radioactive cemetery. Getting out of the water may be difficult, but it’s better than drowning.

The second event was the successful launching of the Soviet satellite, followed by an immediate outbreak of what may fairly be called satellitis, producing a rise in temperature and delirium. In the poker game where Britain still sits, nervously fingering a few remaining chips, like a Treasury official playing with two drunk oil millionaires, the stakes have been doubled again. Disarmament talks must now take place in an atmosphere properly belonging to boys’ papers and science fiction, though already charged with far more hysterical competitiveness. If statesmanship is to see us through, it will have to break the familiar and dubious pattern of the last few years. Perhaps what we need now, before it is too late, is not statesmanship but lifesmanship.

One ‘ultimate weapon’, the final deterrent, succeeds another. After the bombs, the intercontinental rockets; and after the rockets, according to the First Lord of the Admiralty, the guided-missile submarine, which will ‘carry a guided missile with a nuclear warhead and appear off the coasts of any country in the world with a capability of penetrating to the centre of any continent.’ The prospect now is not one of countries without navies but navies without countries. And we have arrived at an insane regress of ultimate weapons that are not ultimate.

But all this is to the good; and we cannot have too much of it, we are told, because no men in their right minds would let loose such powers of destruction. Here is the realistic view. Any criticism of it is presumed to be based on wild idealism. But surely it is the wildest idealism, at the furthest remove from a sober realism, to assume that men will always behave reasonably and in line with their best interests? Yet this is precisely what we are asked to believe, and to stake our all on it.

For that matter, why should it be assumed that the men who create and control such monstrous devices are in their right minds? They live in an unhealthy mental climate, an atmosphere dangerous to sanity. They are responsible to no large body of ordinary sensible men and women, who pay for these weapons without ever having ordered them, who have never been asked anywhere yet if they wanted them. When and where have these preparations for public warfare ever been put to the test of public opinions? We cannot even follow the example of the young man in the limerick and ask who does what and with which and to whom? The whole proceedings take place in the stifling secrecy of an expensive lunatic asylum. And as one ultimate weapon after another is added to the pile, the mental climate deteriorates, the atmosphere thickens, and the tension is such that soon something may snap.

The more elaborately involved and hair-triggered the machinery of destruction, the more likely it is that this machinery will be set in motion, if only by accident. Three glasses too many of vodka or bourbon-on-the-rocks, and the wrong button may be pushed. Combine this stock-piling of nuclear weapons with a crazy competitiveness, boastful confidence in public and a mounting fear in private, and what was unthinkable a few years ago now at the best only seems unlikely and very soon maybe inevitable. Then western impatience cries ‘Let’s get the damned thing over!’ and eastern fatalism mutters ‘If this has to be, then we must accept it’. And people in general are now in a worse position every year, further away from intervention; they have less and less freedom of action; they are deafened and blinded by propaganda and giant headlines; they are robbed of decisions by fear or apathy.

It is possible, as some thinkers hold, that our civilisation is bent on self destruction, hurriedly planning its own doomsday. This may explain matters better than any wearisome recital of plot and counter plot in terms of world powers. The curious and sinister air of somnambulism there is about our major international affairs, the steady drift from bad to worse, the speeches that begin to sound meaningless, the conferences that achieve nothing, all the persons of great consequence who somehow feel like puppets. We have all seen people in whom was sown the final seed of self-destruction, people who would sit with us making sensible plans and then go off and quietly bring them to nothing, never really looking for anything but death. Our individual civilisation, behaving in a similar fashion, may be under the same kind of spell, hell-bent on murdering itself. But it is possible that the spell can be broken. If it can, then it only will be by an immensely decisive gesture, a clear act of will. Instead of endless bargaining for a little of this in exchange for a little of that, while all the time the bargainers are hurried down a road that gets steeper and narrower, somebody will have to say ‘I’m through with all of this’.

In plain words: now that Britain has told the world she has the H-bomb she should announce as early as possible that she has done with it, that she proposes to reject, in all circumstances, nuclear warfare. This is not pacifism. There is no suggestion here of abandoning the immediate defence of the island. Indeed, it might be considerably strengthened, reducing the threat of actual invasion, which is the root fear in people’s minds, a fear often artfully manipulated for purposes far removed from any defence of hearth and home. (This is of course the exact opposite of the views expressed at the Tory conference by Mr Sandys, who appears to believe that bigger and bigger bombs and rockets in more and more places, if necessary, thousands of miles away, will bring us peace and prosperity.) No, what should be abandoned is the idea of deterrence by the threat of retaliation. There is no real security in it, no faith, hope, nor charity in it.

But let us take a look at our present policy entirely on its own level. There is no standing still, no stalemates, in this idiot game; one ‘ultimate weapon’ succeeds another. To stay in the race at all, except in an ignominious position, we risk bankruptcy, the disappearance of the Welfare State, a standard of living that might begin to make communist propaganda sound more attractive than it does at present. We could in fact be so busy, inspired by the indefatigable Mr Sandys, defending ourselves against communism somewhere else, a long way off, that we would wake up one morning to hear it knocking on the back door. Indeed this is Moscow’s old head-I-win-tails-you-lose policy.

Here we might do well to consider well Western strategy, first grandiloquently proclaimed by Sir Winston in those speeches he made in America just after the war. The Soviet Union was to be held in leash by nuclear power. We had the bomb and they hadn’t. The race would be on but the West had a flying start. But Russia was not without physicists, and some German scientists and highly trained technicians had disappeared somewhere in eastern Europe. For the immediate defence of West Germany, the atom bomb threat no doubt served its turn. But was this really sound long-term strategy? It created the unhealthy climate, the poisonous atmosphere of our present time. It set the Russians galloping in the nuclear race. It freed them from the immense logistic options that must be solved if large armies are to be moved everywhere, and from some very tricky problems of morale that would soon appear once the Red Army was a long way from home. It encouraged the support of so-called peoples’ and nationalistic and anti-colonial wars, not big enough to be settled by nuclear weapons. In spite of America’s ring of advanced air bases, the race had only to be run a little longer to offer Russia at least an equally good set-up, and, in comparison with Britain alone, clearly an enormously better set-up.

We are like a man in a poker game who never dares cry ‘I’ll see you’. The Soviet Union came through the last war because it had vast spaces and a large population and a ruthless disregard of losses, human and material. It still has them. Matched against this overcrowded island with its intricate urban organisation, at the last dreadful pinch – and party dictators who feel unsure of their power can pinch quicker than most democratic leaders – the other side possesses all the advantages. If there is one country that should never have gambled in this game, it is Britain. Once the table stakes were being raised, the chips piling up, we were out. And though we may have been fooling ourselves, we have not been fooling anyone else.

This answers any gobbling cries about losing our national prestige. We have none in terms of power. (The world has still respect and admiration for our culture, and we are busy reducing that respect and admiration through starving it. The cost of a few bombs might well have made all the difference.) We ended the war high in the world’s regard. We could have taken over its moral leadership, spoken and acted for what remained of its conscience; but we chose to act otherwise – with obvious and melancholy consequences both abroad, where in power politics we cut a shabby figure, and at home, where we shrug it all away or go to the theatre to applaud the latest jeers and sneers at Britannia. It has been said we cannot send our ministers naked to the conference table. But the sight of a naked minister might bring to the conference some sense of human situation. What we do is something much worse: we send them there half-dressed, half-smart, half-tough, half-apologetic, figures inviting contempt. That is why we are so excited and happy when we can send abroad a good looking young woman in a pretty new dress to represent us, playing the only card we feel that can take a trick – the queen.

It is argued, as it was most vehemently by Mr Bevan of Brighton, that if we walked out of the nuclear arms race then the world will be ‘polarised’ between America and the Soviet Union, without any hope of mediation between the fixed and bristling camps. ‘Just consider for a moment’ he cried, ‘all the little nations running, one here and one there, one running to Russia, one to the US, all once more clustering under the castle war…’ But surely this is one of those ‘realistic’ arguments that are not based on reality. The idea of the Third Force was rejected by the very party Mr Bevan was addressing. The world was polarised when, without a single protest from all the guardians of our national pride, parts of East Anglia ceased to be under control and became an American airbase. We cannot at one and the same time be an independent power, bargaining on equal terms, and a minor ally or satellite. If there are little nations that do not run for shelter to the walls of the White House or the Kremlin because they are happy to accept Britain as their nuclear umbrella, we hear very little about them. If it is a question of brute power, this argument is unreal.

It is not entirely stupid, however, because something more than brute power is involved. There is nothing unreal in the idea of a third nation, especially one like ours, old and experienced in world affairs, possessing great political traditions, to which other and smaller nations could look while the two new giants mutter and glare at each other. But it all depends what the nation is doing. If it is still in the nuclear gamble, without being able to control or put an end to the game, then that nation is useless to others, is frittering away its historical prestige, and the polarisation, which Mr Bevan sees as the worst result of our rejection of nuclear warfare, is already an accomplished fact. And if it is, then we must ask ourselves what we can do to break this polarity, what course of action on our part might have some [chance] of changing the world situation. To continue doing what we are doing will not change it. Even during the few weeks since Mr Bevan made his speech the world is becoming more rigidly and dangerously polarised than ever, just because the Russians have sent a metal football circling the globe. What then can Britain do to de-polarise the world?

The only move left that can mean anything is to go into reverse, decisively rejecting nuclear warfare. This gives the world something quite different from the polarised powers: there is not a country that can make H-bombs but decides against them. Had Britain taken this decision years ago the world would be a safer and saner place than it is today. But it is still not too late. And such a move will have to be ‘unilateral’; Domesday may arrive before the nuclear powers reach any agreement; and it is only a decisive ‘unilateral’ move that can achieve the moral force it needs to be effective.

It will be a hard decision to take because all habit is against it. Many persons of consequence and their entourages of experts would have to think fresh thoughts. They would have to risk losing friends and not influencing people. For example, so far as they involve nuclear warfare, our commitments to NATO, SEATO and the rest, and our obligations to the Commonwealth, would have to be sharply adjusted. Anywhere from Brussels to Brisbane, reproaches would be hurled, backs would be turned. But what else have these countries to suggest, what way out, what hope for man? And if, to save our souls and this planet, we are willing to remain here and take certain risks, why should we falter because we might have complaints from Rhodesia and reproaches from Christchurch, N.Z.? And it might not be a bad idea if the NATO peoples armed themselves to defend themselves, taking their rifles to the ranges at the weekend, like the Swiss.

American official and service opinion would be dead against us, naturally. The unsinkable (but expendable) aircraft carrier would have gone. Certain Soviet bases allotted to British nuclear attack would have to be included among the targets of the American Strategic Air Service. And so on and so forth. But though service chiefs and their staff go on examining and marketing their maps and planning their logistics, having no alternative but resignation, they are as fantastic and unreal in their way as their political and diplomatic colleagues are in theirs. What is fantastic and unreal is their assumption that they are traditionally occupied with their professional duties, attending in advance to the next war, Number Three in the world series. But what will happen – and one wrong report by a sleepy observer may start it off – will not be anything recognisable as war, and an affair of victories and defeats, something that one side can win or that you can all call off when you have had enough. It will be universal catastrophe and apocalypse, the crack of doom into which Communism, western democracy, their way of life and our way of life, may disappear forever. And it is not hard to believe that this is what some of our contemporaries really desire, that behind the photogenic smiles and cheerful patter nothing exists but the death wish.

We live in the thought of this prospect as if we existed in a permanent smog. All sensible men and women – and this excludes most who are in the V.I.P.–Highest-Security-Top-Secret-Top-People Class, men now so conditioned by this atmosphere of power politics, intrigue, secrecy, insane invention, that they are more than half-barmy – have no illusions about what is happening to us, and know that those responsible have made two bad miscalculation. First, they have prostituted so much science in their preparations for war and they have completely changed the character of what they are doing, without any equivalent change in the politics of and relations between states. Foreign affairs are still conducted as if the mobilisation of a few divisions might settle something [if they] are not backed with push-button arrangements to let loose earthquakes and pestilences and pronounce the death sentences of continents. This leaves us all in a worse dilemma than the sorcerer’s apprentice. The second miscalculation assumed that if the odds were multiplied fast enough, your side would break through because the other side would break down. And because this has not happened, a third illusion is being welcomed, namely, that now, with everything piling up, poker chips flung on the table by the handful, the tension obviously increasing, now at last we are arriving at an acknowledged drawn game, a not-too-state stalemate, a cosy old balance of power. This could well be the last of our illusions.

The risk of our rejecting nuclear warfare, totally and in all circumstances, is quite clear, all too easy to understand. We lose such bargaining power as we now possess. We have no deterrent to a nuclear threat. We deliberately exchange ‘security’ for insecurity. (And the fact that some such exchange is recommended by the major religions, in their earlier and non-establishment phases, needs not detain us here.) But the risk is clear and the arguments against running it irrefutable, only if we refuse, as from the first too many of us here have refused, to take anything but short-term conventional views, only if we will not follow any thought to its conclusion. Our ‘hard-headed realism’ is neither hard-headed nor realistic just because it insists on our behaving in a new world as if we were living in an old world, the one that has been replaced.

Britain runs the greatest risk just by mumbling and muddling along, never speaking out, avoiding any decisive creative act. For a world in which our deliberate ‘insecurity’ would prove to be our undoing is not a world in which real security could be found. As the game gets faster, the competition keener, the unthinkable will turn into the inevitable, the weapons will take command, and the deterrents will not deter. Our bargaining power is slight; the force of our example might be great. The catastrophic antics of our time have behind them men hag-ridden by fear, which explains the irrationality of it all, the crazy disproportion between means and ends. If we openly challenge this fear, then we might break this wicked spell that all but a few uncertified lunatics desperately wish to see broken, we could begin to restore the world to sanity and lift this nation from its recent ignominy to its former grandeur. Alone, we defied Hitler; and alone we can defy this nuclear madness into which the spirit of Hitler seems to have passed to poison the world. There may be other chain-reactions besides those leading to destruction; and we might start one. The British of these times, so frequently hiding their decent, kind faces behind masks of sullen apathy or sour, cheap cynicism, often seem to be waiting for something better than party squabbles and appeals to the narrowest self-interest, something great and noble in its intention that would make them feel good again. And this might well be a declaration to the world that after a certain date one power able to engage in nuclear warfare will reject the evil thing forever.

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U.S. Arms Persian Gulf Allies For Conflict With Iran

November 18, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
November 18, 2011

U.S. Arms Persian Gulf Allies For Conflict With Iran
Rick Rozoff

Rumors and reports of, speculation over and scenarios for attacks against Iran’s civilian nuclear power facilities and military sites by the United States, Israel or both have flared up periodically over the past several years, especially since early 2005.

However, recent statements by among others the president and defense minister of Israel and a leading candidate for the American presidency in next year’s election – Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Mitt Romney respectively – before and after the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program manifest a more stark and menacing tone that has been heard in a long time. Standing U.S. head of state Barack Obama recently stated, “We are not taking any options off the table.”

The above threats and others of the same tenor have been noted in the capitals of countries around the world.

Last week the Global Times, a publication of the Communist Party of China, featured an unsigned editorial entitled “Winds of war start blowing toward Iran,” which contained these excerpts:

“The financial crisis is showing cracks in the Western lifestyle, making people anxious and irritable. History teaches us that war can quickly raise its ugly head at such times. There are always those who think wars can be a catalyst to move past a crisis.”

“While the US and other Western countries are struggling economically, their military power reigns supreme. This contrast is inevitably tempting in their strategic thinking but would have a profoundly negative impact on world peace.”

“Military rhetoric is usually heard from Western mouths. Where will the next war happen? War first exists in the minds of those obsessed with military might. If war is treated as a tool to solve problems, new excuses for it can easily be found.”

“The last few days have seen tensions over Iran take a sharp turn for the worse. Some feel that the US and Israel should combine to strike at Iranian nuclear facilities. This is reminiscent of those who encouraged NATO to hit Syria a few weeks ago.” [1]

On November 14 former Cuban president Fidel Castro warned that “a U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran would inevitably unleash a bloody war,” adding that because of the country’s size and comparative military strength “an attack on Iran is not like the previous Israeli military adventures in Iraq and Syria.” In fact, with a population as high as 75-77 million, Iran is larger in that regard than the last four nations attacked by the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies combined: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Four days earlier Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Duma Committee for International Affairs, in casting grave doubts on the accuracy and purpose of the recent IAEA report on Iran, said:

“A military operation against Iran could have grave consequences. And Russia should make every effort to control emotions, bring negotiations back into the field of political and expert discussion, and not allow any such action against Iran.” [2]

The following day it was announced that Iran was pursuing full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, whose members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (Iran’s fellow observers in the group are India, Pakistan and Mongolia), with the Supreme National Security Council’s Secretary Assistant Ali Bageri stating, “We have already submitted a relevant application.” [3]

Slightly over two years ago the U.S, and Israel held the world’s largest-ever live-fire anti-ballistic missile drills in the second country, Juniper Cobra 10. [4]

Over a thousand U.S. and an equal amount of Israeli troops participated in the war games which included three of the four tiers of rapidly the evolving American global interceptor missile network: The Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Standard Missile-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems.

Early next year Juniper Cobra 12 will be held in Israel with the involvement of over 5,000 U.S. and Israeli troops, the largest joint military exercise ever conducted by the two nations.

Last summer the Jerusalem Post ran a feature with the title “Israel, US to hold massive missile defense drill next year,” which stated:

“Called Juniper Cobra, the exercise will be held in early 2012 and will include the Arrow 2 and Iron Dome as well as America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. The exercise will likely include the actual launching of interceptors from these systems.”

The Israeli daily added:

“The purpose of the exercise is to create the necessary infrastructure that would enable interoperability between Israeli and American missile defense systems in case the US government decided to deploy these systems here in the event of a conflict with Iran, like it did ahead of the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991.” [5]

Another major Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, ran a story last week under the title “Israel, U.S. to embark on largest joint exercise in allies’ history,” which cited Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, stating that the upcoming missile drills will represent the “largest” and “most significant” joint military maneuvers ever held by the U.S. and Israel.

The account added:

“‘Our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before,’ said Shapiro, adding that Israel’s military edge was a ‘top priority’ for himself, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama.” [6]

The intensification of already unprecedented missile interception coordination between two of the world’s main military powers indicates preparation for withstanding potential Iranian retaliation following Israeli, American or joint strikes against Iran.

The deployment of a U.S. Forward-Based X-Band Radar in Israel’s Negev Desert three years ago and this past summer’s first deployment of an Aegis class guided missile warship, USS Monterrey, to the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the U.S.-NATO Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile system endorsed at NATO’s summit in Portugal a year ago, which will further entail the stationing of missiles and radar in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey and other, as yet undisclosed, countries, are further signs of systematic plans for guaranteeing that the U.S. NATO allies and partners (like Israel) are invulnerable to counterattacks. [7]

The withdrawal of American and allied troops from Iraq and the beginning of a drawdown of their counterparts in Afghanistan can also be seen in this context, as removing targets for possible retaliation should a large-scale attack be staged against Iran.

In the last three weeks features have appeared in two of America’s major newspapers, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which reveal another source for prospective attacks against Iran: The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). All are close military allies of and recipients of weapons from the U.S. and are linked with NATO through the eponymous Istanbul Cooperation Initiative launched at the 2004 NATO summit in Turkey. [8] A recent headline in Britain’s Guardian alluded to a “mini-NATO” in the Persian Gulf and Voice of Russia featured an article with the title of “US envisions NATO of the Gulf.”

A New York Times report of October 29 mentioned that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently confirmed the Pentagon currently has 40,000 troops in the Persian Gulf region (excluding Iraq), including 23,000 in Kuwait. The daily stated that new U.S. plans could include the deployment of more combat troops to the latter state and a heightened presence of American warships in the area.

The account further detailed that the Obama administration “is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new ‘security architecture’ for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.” [9]

On November 11 the Wall Street Journal revealed that the White House will provide the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with “thousands of advanced ‘bunker-buster’ bombs and other munitions, part of a stepped-up U.S. effort to build a regional coalition to counter Iran.” The weapons will “vastly expand the existing capabilities of the country’s air force to target fixed structures, which could include bunkers and tunnels — the kind of installations where Iran is believed to be developing weapons.” [10] Another source mentioned 500 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles in addition to the other munitions. A news story four days later disclosed that the U.S. Air Force has received “super-heavy bunker buster bombs” from Boeing to be carried by B-2 bombers. The new bunker-busters weigh “13.6 tons and [have] a built-in satellite navigation system, with “experts not[ing] that this type of bomb which is capable of breaking 18-meter-thick concrete walls is a perfect weapon for attacking nuclear facilities in Iran.” [11]

The Wall Street Journal report, echoing that of the New York Times earlier, added:

“The Obama administration is trying to build up the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, U.A.E. and Kuwait, as a unified counterweight to Iran.

“In recent months, the U.S. has begun holding a regular strategic dialogue with the GCC bloc. And the Pentagon has been trying to improve intelligence-sharing and military compatibility among the six countries.”

The newspaper reminded its readers of a $67 billion arms deal initiated by the White House with Saudi Arabia in 2010 to supply the second nation with 84 F-15 fighter jets and 2,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, 72 Black Hawk and 70 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-2 and other missiles, and warships. The largest bilateral weapons sale in history. Two years ago a Financial Times feature estimated that Washington plans to sell $123 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the U.S. Defense Department plans to supply Stinger missiles and medium-range air-to-air missiles to Oman.

Citing Pentagon officials, the paper added:

“The U.A.E. has a large fleet of advanced U.S.-made F-16 fighters that could carry the bunker-busters. The U.A.E. currently has several hundred JDAMs [joint direct attack munitions/bunker-busters] in its arsenal, and the 4,900 in the new proposal would represent a massive buildup [of] direct attack munitions.”

“Proponents of the deal point to the U.A.E.’s support for U.S. efforts to isolate Iran, and its critical backing to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization air campaign in Libya. Officials said providing JDAMs and other U.S. weapons systems to the U.A.E. will make it easier for the country to participate in similar missions in the future.” [12]

The role of the UAE and its GCC partners this year in NATO’s war against Libya and in interventions in Bahrain and Yemen and against Syria will be addressed later. [13]

A Russian expert, Professor Sergei Druzhilovsky at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, characterized the intensification of American arms sales to its Gulf clients in the following words:

“Clearly, the aim is to provoke Iran to respond by some inadequate moves, which would enable the Americans to justify subsequent violence and military force. Because no further arming of U.S. allies in the Arab Middle East will make them any stronger. It’s not the strength of its allies, which simply doesn’t exist, but its own military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain and its own fleet in the Persian Gulf that Washington relies upon. So, this is a pure provocation.” [14]

The Wall Street journal article also discussed the integration of the six GCC states into U.S. plans for an international interceptor missile system:

“The U.S. has also sought to build up missile-defense systems across the region, with the goal of building an integrated network to defend against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Iran. [15]

Last year Washington announced the sale of land-based interceptor missiles to Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, mainly of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 model.

With land- and ship-based interceptor missiles in the Persian Gulf, Washington will link the NATO system in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean with that being developed in the Asia-Pacific region with partners Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and, with what of late has been an initiative of U.S. permanent representative to NATO Ivo Daalder, India joining the NATO missile interception system [16] to increasingly surround Iran, Russia and China.

On November 13 Aviation International News reported that Washington is planning to provide Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries to the United Arab Emirates, adding to nine Patriot Advanced Capability-3 units on order. The Pentagon has deployed two THAAD active batteries to date, both in the U.S., so the stationing of the interceptors (96-144 missiles) in the UAE would be the first time they have been deployed overseas.

The news site supplied these details:

“[T]he UAE was the first export customer to be cleared to receive the system. THAAD has completed 12 successful flight tests, nine of which involved target engagements. The latest test, FTT-12, was undertaken on October 5 at the Pacific Missile Test Range at Barking Sands, Hawaii. Two interceptors were launched successfully against two targets in a near-simultaneous engagement.”

“[T]here is significant interest in upgraded Patriot and THAAD systems [in the region]. Kuwait and Qatar have both reported interest in the latter.

“As well as anticipating finalization of the THAAD contract, Lockheed Martin is awaiting the outcome of another UAE decision concerning an air defense battle management system.” [17]

According to Press TV earlier this month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that the NATO missile system, particularly the deployment of an X-Band radar unit in Turkey, “jeopardizes the interests of the country and the entire region.”

This year has seen the emergence of Persian Gulf monarchies grouped in the Gulf Cooperation Council as a military adjunct to NATO, as a combat-ready and -proven force ready to collaborate with their Western arms suppliers and allies to intervene and wage war in the Middle East and North Africa.

The United Arab Emirates provided six U.S. F-16 and six French Mirage warplanes for NATO’s Operation Unified Protector and its 26,000 air missions and nearly 10,000 combat flights over Libya. Qatar supplied six Mirage fighter jets and two C-17 military transport planes. News reports at the time remarked that the above represented the first time Gulf Cooperation Council states had joined a NATO combat mission. (Although the UAE has a contingent of troops serving under NATO in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.)

In June Robert Gates, while still U.S. defense secretary, praised the role of the UAE, Jordan ad Morocco in the war against Libya – Jordan and Morocco have since applied for membership in the GCC – stating, “In Libya, the involvement of Jordan, Morocco, the UAE and others in the Middle East have been hugely important.”

The then-Pentagon chief added this significant comment:

“I am not sure we would have moved forward to the UN, even undertaking this enterprise, had it not been for the vote in the Arab League that then paved the way for the UN Security Council resolutions.” [18]

Gates paralleled repeated statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the war citing the Arab League initiative against Libya on February 22 when the organization, then dominated by the GCC as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were in turmoil and Syria soon to join them, condemned and suspended the membership of the North African country, a move recently repeated in relation to Syria.

The GCC’s participation in NATO’s naval blockade and air war against Libya was accompanied by its first armed intervention in a member state, the deployment of 1,500 Saudi and Emirati troops to Bahrain in the middle of March in an operation called Peninsula Shield. [19]

After Libya, Bahrain and Afghanistan, GCC members, severally and collectively, have been prepared for a military conflict closer to home, in the Persian Gulf.

In May Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski announced after meeting with his UAE counterpart that the Gulf state will “become the first Arab country to open an embassy at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The following day the Kuwait News Agency quoted a statement from the French Foreign Ministry supporting the initiative:

“The United Arab Emirates has just asked for the accreditation of an ambassador to NATO.

“We fully support this request.

“This is a new step in our relations, which have witnessed an intensity and quality in cooperation between the UAE and the Alliance, notably in the framework of Operation Unified Protector in Libya.”

The Iranian response was, according to Press TV, that “This move by the UAE sets the stage to officially authorize the presence of an uninvited guest in the region.”

The preceding month five NATO warships visited the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait “under the 2004 Istanbul Cooperation Initiative” as an Agence France-Presse dispatch phrased it.

In commenting on the earlier-cited New York Times article on the Persian Gulf, a Voice of Russia commentary stated:

“[W]ith Qatar and the United Arab Emirates participating in the latest NATO-led campaign against Libya, this new ‘security architecture’ will mostly likely expand to carry out a similar function throughout the Middle East.

“[A]s the United States moves towards integrating the six states of the Gulf Co-operation Council into a security alliance that would increase both US and Saudi domination in the region, Iran could very well find itself the next victim of a US-led ‘humanitarian intervention.'” [20]

In addition to the escalation of U.S. military presence in the region, in 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened a military complex – with a navy base, air base, and training camp – in the United Arab Emirates, his country’s first permanent base in the Persian Gulf. In doing so Paris joined the U.S., Britain, Canada, the Netherlands. Australia and New Zealand in maintaining a military presence in the country. (Canada has since abandoned Camp Mirage in the UAE.)

The UAE has recently reopened negotiations with France for a military surveillance satellite, which “could also be linked to the protracted negotiations to buy 60 Dassault Aviation Rafale multi-role fighter jets, a deal that could be worth up to $10 billion.”

According to a United Press International story of late last month, “On April 24, the emirates launched its fifth communications satellite into orbit, the first to provide secure and independent telecommunications for its armed forces amid a drive by Arab states in the gulf to boost their military capabilities against Iran.

“The Emirates’ Y1A satellite was launched from the European Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket.”

Another report by the same agency a month before said that “Dassault Aviation hopes to capitalize on France’s participation with the United Arab Emirates in the air campaign against Moammar Gadhafi’s crumbling regime in Libya to promote the sale of 60 Rafale multi-role jets to the Persian Gulf state.” The story mentioned that “The emirates’ military says it wants missiles capable of reaching targets deep inside Iran,” and offered this description of current UAE air capabilities:

“The United Arab Emirates has built up what is widely viewed as the most formidable air force in the Persian Gulf. It has 184 combat aircraft, including 155 ground-attack fighters, mainly 55 Lockheed F-16E Block 60 Desert Eagles, 25 F-16F Block 60 Eagles and 18 French Dassault Mirage 2000-9DADs and 44 Mirage 2000-9RADs.”

The arming of the GCC by the U.S., France and other NATO powers at an exponential rate is, in addition to providing an economic boon to crisis-ridden Western countries, transparently and exclusively directed against Iran.

The advantages accruing to the U.S. and Israel in having a regional grouping of its neighbors attack Iran in lieu of doing so themselves are sufficiently evident not to warrant being belabored.

Washington is using the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies to act as surrogates for its own interests against Iran as it is with Georgia against Russia [21] and the Philippines vis-a-vis China. (NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the North Atlantic Council just returned from Georgia, the second such visit a NATO chief and the bloc’s 28 ambassadors have paid, the first occurring the month after Georgia invaded South Ossetia in August 2008, provoking a five-day war with Russia. Late last month 2,000 U.S. and 1,000 Filipino marines participated in combat drills near the Spratly Islands, which are contested by the Philippines and China.

Even if the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their GCC partners don’t launch unprovoked strikes against Iranian nuclear and military sites, a provocation staged, say, by the UAE around the oil-rich island of Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf (frequently referred to by U.S. officials as the Arabian Gulf in a direct affront and challenge to Iran), administered by Iran but claimed by the UAE, will be casus belli enough for the GCC and through it the Arab League it controls. From there, as with Libya earlier this year, the U.S. and its NATO allies will take up cudgels on behalf of the “threatened” Arab Gulf states and enter the lists against Iran.

The Obama Doctrine [22], like the Nixon Doctrine of forty years earlier, emphasizes the role of proxies (identified as allies and victims) in doing what the U.S. chooses not to do, not to do alone or to be seen doing alone. It justifies military aggression in the name of decisions reached by organizations it doesn’t belong to, like the Arab League and the African Union in regards to Libya, and settles geopolitical scores with independent-minded rivals under the guise of intervening on behalf of aggrieved and injured third parties. A lesson that Russia has already learned, China is now learning and Iran may be taught next.

 

1) Winds of war start blowing toward Iran

Global Times, November 9, 2011

http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/683060/Winds-of-war-start-blowing-toward-Iran.aspx
2) ‘Russia can prevent military operation against Iran’
RT, November 10, 2011
http://rt.com/politics/nuclear-military-iran-russia-011
3) Tehran applies for full membership in SCO
Trend News Agency, November 11, 2011
4) Israel: Forging NATO Missile Shield, Rehearsing War With Iran
Stop NATO, November 5, 2009
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/israel-forging-nato-missile-shield-rehearsing-war-with-iran/
5) Israel, US to hold massive missile defense drill next year
Jerusalem Post, July 26, 2011
http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=230974
6) Israel, U.S. to embark on largest joint exercise in allies’ history
Ha’aretz, November 11, 2011
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-u-s-to-embark-on-largest-jo
int-exercise-in-allies-history-1.393878
7) Israel: Global NATO’s 29th Member
Stop NATO January 17, 2010
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/israel-global-natos-29th-member
8) NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul
Stop NATO, February 6, 2009
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/nato-in-persian-gulf-from-third-world-war-to-istanbul
9) U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq
New York Times, October 29, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/world/middleeast/united-states-plans-post-iraq-troop-increase-in-persian-gulf.html?pagewanted=all
10) U.S. Plans Bomb Sales in Gulf to Counter Iran
Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577030392418491690.html
11) US Air Forces get super-heavy bunker buster bombs
Itar-Tass, November 15, 2011
http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/15/60453467.html
12) U.S. Plans Bomb Sales in Gulf to Counter Iran
Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577030392418491690.html
13) Gulf State Gendarmes: West Backs Holy Alliance For Control Of Arab World And Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, May 25, 2011
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/gulf-state-gendarmes-west-backs-holy-alliance-for-control-of-arab-world-and-persian-gulf
14) Profitable provocation
Voice of Russia, November 11, 2011
http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/11/60236281.html
15) U.S. Plans Bomb Sales in Gulf to Counter Iran
Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577030392418491690.html
16) NATO and India to build joint missile defense system?
Voice of Russia, September 2, 2011
http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/09/02/55583082.html

NATO in India overtures
Voice of Russia, September 2, 2011
http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/09/02/55583082.html

India may agree to deploy NATO missile system
Pakistan Observer, September 6, 2011
http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=112723
17) THAAD on Target for UAE
Aviation International News, November 13, 2011
http://www.ainonline.com/?q=aviation-news/dubai-air-show/2011-11-13/thaad-target-uae
18) World Tribune, June 12, 2011
19) Bahrain: U.S. Backs Saudi Military Intervention, Conflict With Iran
Stop NATO, March 16, 2011
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/bahrain-u-s-backs-saudi-military-intervention-conflict-with-iran
20) US envisions NATO of the Gulf
Voice of Russia, October 31, 2011
http://rt.com/news/us-military-iraq-iran-171
21) Washington To Rearm Georgia For New Conflicts
Stop NATO, January 14, 2011
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/u-s-to-rearm-georgia-for-new-conflicts
22) Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind
Stop NATO, December 10, 2009
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/obama-doctrine-eternal-war-for-imperfect-mankind

Categories: Uncategorized

William Dean Howells: Editha

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

William Dean Howells: Selections on war

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William Dean Howells
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
Editha (1905)

(Thanks to and in memory of Geoff Berne)

The air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not yet burst. Editha sat looking out into the hot spring afternoon, with her lips parted, and panting with the intensity of the question whether she could let him go. She had decided that she could not let him stay, when she saw him at the end of the still leafless avenue, making slowly up towards the house, with his head down and his figure relaxed. She ran impatiently out on the veranda, to the edge of the steps, and imperatively demanded greater haste of him with her will before she called him aloud to him: “George!”

He had quickened his pace in mystical response to her mystical urgence, before he could have heard her; now he looked up and answered, “Well?”

“Oh, how united we are!” she exulted, and then she swooped down the steps to him, “What is it?” she cried.

“It’s war,” he said. and he pulled her up to him and kissed her.

She kissed him back intensely, but irrelevantly, as to their passion, and uttered from deep in her throat. “How glorious!”

“It’s war,” he repeated, without consenting to her sense of it; and she did not know just what to think at first. She never knew what to think of him; that made his mystery, his charm. All through their courtship, which was contemporaneous with the growth of the war feeling, she had been puzzled by his want of seriousness about it. He seemed to despise it even more than he abhorred it. She could have understood his abhorring any sort of bloodshed; that would have been a survival of his old life when he thought he would be a minister, and before he changed and took up the law. But making light of a cause so high and noble seemed to show a want of earnestness at the core of his being. Not but that she felt herself able to cope with a congenital defect of that sort, and make his love for her save him from himself. Now perhaps the miracle was already wrought in him. In the presence of the tremendous fact that he announced, all triviality seemed to have gone out of him; she began to feel that. He sank down on the top step, and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, while she poured out upon him her question of the origin and authenticity of his news.

All the while, in her duplex emotioning, she was aware that now at the very beginning she must put a guard upon herself against urging him, by any word or act, to take the part that her whole soul willed him to take, for the completion of her ideal of him. He was very nearly perfect as he was, and he must be allowed to perfect himself. But he was peculiar, and he might very well be reasoned out of his peculiarity. Before her reasoning went her emotioning: her nature pulling upon his nature, her womanhood upon his manhood, without her knowing the means she was using to the end she was willing. She had always supposed that the man who won her would have done something to win her; she did not know what, but something. George Gearson had simply asked her for her love, on the way home from a concert, and she gave her love to him, without, as it were, thinking. But now, it flashed upon her, if he could do something worthy to have won her – be a hero, her hero – it would be even better than if he had done it before asking her; it would be grander. Besides, she had believed in the war from the beginning.

“But don’t you see, dearest,” she said, “that it wouldn’t have come to this if it hadn’t been in the order of Providence? And I call any war glorious that is for the liberation of people who have been struggling for years against the cruelest oppression. Don’t you think so, too?”

“I suppose so,” he returned, languidly. “But war! Is it glorious to break the peace of the world?”

“That ignoble peace! It was no peace at all, with that crime and shame at our very gates.” She was conscious of parroting the current phrases of the newspapers, but it was no time to pick and choose her words. She must sacrifice anything to the high ideal she had for him, and after a good deal of rapid argument she ended with the climax: “But now it doesn’t matter about the how or why. Since the war has come, all that is gone. There are no two sides any more. There is nothing now but our country.”

He sat with his eyes closed and his head leant back against the veranda, and he remarked, with a vague smile, as if musing aloud, “Our country – right or wrong.”

“Yes, right or wrong!” she returned, fervidly. “I’ll go and get you some lemonade.” She rose rustling, and whisked away; when she came back with two tall glasses of clouded liquid on a tray, and the ice clucking in them, he still sat as she had left him, and she said, as if there had been no interruption: “But there is no question of wrong in this case. I call it a sacred war. A war for liberty and humanity, if ever there was one. And I know you will see it just as I do, yet.”

He took half the lemonade at a gulp, and he answered as he set the glass down: “I know you always have the highest ideal. When I differ from you I ought to doubt myself.”

A generous sob rose in Editha’s throat for the humility of a man, so very nearly perfect, who was willing to put himself below her.

Besides, she felt, more subliminally, that he was never so near slipping through her fingers as when he took that meek way.

“You shall not say that! Only, for once I happen to be right.” She seized his hand in her two hands, and poured her soul from her eyes into his. “Don’t you think so?” she entreated him.

He released his hand and drank the rest of his lemonade, and she added, “Have mine, too,” but he shook his head in answering, “I’ve no business to think so, unless I act so, too.”

Her heart stopped a beat before it pulsed on with leaps that she felt in her neck. She had noticed that strange thing in men: they seemed to feel bound to do what they believed, and not think a thing was finished when they said it, as girls did. She knew what was in his mind, but she pretended not, and she said, “Oh, I am not sure,” and then faltered.

He went on as if to himself, without apparently heeding her: “There’s only one way of proving one’s faith in a thing like this.”

She could not say that she understood, but she did understand.

He went on again. “If I believed – if I felt as you do about this war – Do you wish me to feel as you do?”

Now she was really not sure; so she said: “George, I don’t know what you mean.”

He seemed to muse away from her as before. “There is a sort of fascination in it. I suppose that at the bottom of his heart every man would like at times to have his courage tested, to see how he would act.”

“How can you talk in that ghastly way?”

“It is rather morbid. Still, that’s what it comes to, unless you’re swept away by ambition or driven by conviction. I haven’t the conviction or the ambition, and the other thing is what it comes to with me. I ought to have been a preacher, after all; then I couldn’t have asked it of myself, as I must, now I’m a lawyer. And you believe it’s a holy war, Editha?” he suddenly addressed her. “Oh, I know you do! But you wish me to believe so, too?”

She hardly knew whether he was mocking or not, in the ironical way he always had with her plainer mind. But the only thing was to be outspoken with him.

“George, I wish you to believe whatever you think is true, at any and every cost. If I’ve tried to talk you into anything, I take it all back.”

“Oh, I know that, Editha. I know how sincere you are, and how – I wish I had your undoubting spirit! I’ll think it over; I’d like to believe as you do. But I don’t, now; I don’t, indeed. It isn’t this war alone; though this seems peculiarly wanton and needless; but it’s every war – so stupid; it makes me sick. Why shouldn’t this thing have been settled reasonably?”

“Because,” she said, very throatily again, “God meant it to be war.”

“You think it was God? Yes, I suppose that is what people wi11 say.”

“Do you suppose it would have been war if God hadn’t meant it?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes it seems as if God had put this world into men’s keeping to work it as they pleased.”

“Now, George, that is blasphemy.”

“Well, I won’t blaspheme. I’ll try to believe in your pocket Providence,” he said, and then he rose to go.

“Why don’t you stay to dinner?” Dinner at Balcom’s Works was at one o’clock.

“I’ll come back to supper, if you’ll let me. Perhaps I shall bring you a convert.”

“Well, you may come back, on that condition.”

“All right. If I don’t come, you’ll understand.”

He went away without kissing her, and she felt it a suspension of their engagement. It all interested her intensely; she was undergoing a tremendous experience, and she was being equal to it. While she stood looking after him, her mother came out through one of the long windows onto the veranda, with a catlike softness and vagueness.

“Why didn’t he stay to dinner?”

“Because – because – war has been declared,” Editha pronounced, without turning.

Her mother said, “Oh, my!” and then said nothing more until she had sat down in one of the large Shaker chairs and rocked herself for some time. Then she closed whatever tacit passage of thought there had been in her mind with the spoken words: “Well, I hope he won’t go.”

“And I hope he will,” the girl said, and confronted her mother with a stormy exaltation that would have frightened any creature less unimpressionable than a cat.

Her mother rocked herself again for an interval of cogitation. What she arrived at in speech was: “Well, I guess you’ve done a wicked thing, Editha Balcom.”

The girl said, as she passed indoors through the same window her mother had come out by: “I haven’t done anything – yet.”

In her room, she put together all her letters and gifts from Gearson, down to the withered petals of the first flower he had offered, with that timidity of his veiled in that irony of his. In the heart of the packet she enshrined her engagement ring which she had restored to the pretty box he had brought it her in. Then she sat down, if not calmly yet strongly, and wrote:

“George: – I understood when you left me. But I think we had better emphasize your meaning that if we cannot be one in everything we had better be one in nothing. So I am sending these things for your keeping till you have made up your mind.

“I shall always love you, and therefore I shall never marry any one else. But the man I marry must love his country first of all, and be able to say to me,

“‘I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.’

“There is no honor above America with me. In this great hour there is no other honor.

“Your heart will make my words clear to you. I had never expected to say so much, but it has come upon me that I must say the utmost. Editha.”

She thought she had worded her letter well, worded it in a way that could not be bettered; all had been implied and nothing expressed.

She had it ready to send with the packet she had tied with red, white, and blue ribbon, when it occurred to her that she was not just to him, that she was not giving him a fair chance. He had said he would go and think it over, and she was not waiting. She was pushing, threatening, compelling. That was not a woman’s part. She must leave him free, free, free. She could not accept for her country or herself a forced sacrifice.

In writing her letter she had satisfied the impulse from which it sprang; she could well afford to wait till he had thought it over. She put the packet and the letter by, and rested serene in the consciousness of having done what was laid upon her by her love itself to do, and yet used patience, mercy, justice.

She had her reward. Gearson did not come to tea, but she had given him till morning, when, late at night there came up from the village the sound of a fife and drum, with a tumult of voices, in shouting, singing, and laughing. The noise drew nearer and nearer; it reached the street end of the avenue; there it silenced itself, and one voice, the voice she knew best, rose over the silence. It fell; the air was filled with cheers; the fife and drum struck up, with the shouting, singing, and laughing again, but now retreating; and a single figure came hurrying up the avenue.

She ran down to meet her lover and clung to him. He was very gay, and he put his arm round her with a boisterous laugh. “Well, you must call me Captain now; or Cap, if you prefer; that’s what the boys call me. Yes, we’ve had a meeting at the town-hall, and everybody has volunteered; and they selected me for captain, and I’m going to the war, the big war, the glorious war, the holy war ordained by the pocket Providence that blesses butchery. Come along; let’s tell the whole family about it. Call them from their downy beds, father, mother, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks!”

But when they mounted the veranda steps he did not wait for a larger audience; he poured the story out upon Editha alone.

“There was a lot of speaking, and then some of the fools set up a shout for me. It was all going one way, and I thought it would be a good joke to sprinkle a little cold water on them. But you can’t do that with a crowd that adores you. The first thing I knew I was sprinkling hell-fire on them. ‘Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.’ That was the style. Now that it had come to the fight, there were no two parties; there was one country, and the thing was to fight to a finish as quick as possible. I suggested volunteering then and there, and I wrote my name first of all on the roster. Then they elected me – that’s all. I wish I had some ice-water.”

She left him walking up and down the veranda, while she ran for the ice-pitcher and a goblet, and when she came back he was still walking up and down, shouting the story he had told her to her father and mother, who had come out more sketchily dressed than they commonly were by day. He drank goblet after goblet of the ice-water without noticing who was giving it, and kept on talking, and laughing through his talk wildly. “It’s astonishing,” he said, “how well the worse reason looks when you try to make it appear the better. Why, I believe I was the first convert to the war in that crowd to-night! I never thought I should like to kill a man; but now I shouldn’t care; and the smokeless powder lets you see the man drop that you kill. It’s all for the country! What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”

Editha had a great, vital thought, an inspiration. She set down the ice-pitcher on the veranda floor, and ran up-stairs and got the letter she had written him. When at last he noisily bade her father and mother, “Well, good-night. I forgot I woke you up; I sha’n’t want any sleep myself,” she followed him down the avenue to the gate. There, after the whirling words that seemed to fly away from her thoughts and refuse to serve them, she made a last effort to solemnize the moment that seemed so crazy, and pressed the letter she had written upon him.

“What’s this?” he said. “Want me to mail it?”

“No, no. It’s for you. I wrote it after you went this morning. Keep it – keep it- and read it sometime -” She thought, and then her inspiration came: “Read it if ever you doubt what you’ve done, or fear that I regret your having done it. Read it after you’ve started.”

They strained each other in embraces that seemed as ineffective as their words, and he kissed her face with quick, hot breaths that were so unlike him, that made her feel as if she had lost her old lover and found a stranger in his place. The stranger said: “What a gorgeous flower you are, with your red hair, and your blue eyes that look black now, and your face with the color painted out by the white moonshine! Let me hold you under the chin, to see whether I love blood, you tiger-lily!” Then he laughed Gearson’s laugh, and released her, scared and giddy. Within her wilfulness she had been frightened by a sense of subtler force in him, and mystically mastered as she had never been before.

She ran all the way back to the house, and mounted the steps panting. Her mother and father were talking of the great affair. Her mother said: “Wa’n’t Mr. Gearson in rather of an excited state of mind? Didn’t you think he acted curious?”

“Well, not for a man who’d just been elected captain and had set ’em up for the whole of Company A,” her father chuckled back.

“What in the world do you mean, Mr. Balcom? Oh! There’s Editha!” She offered to follow the girl indoors.

“Don’t come, mother!” Editha called, vanishing.

Mrs. Balcom remained to reproach her husband. “I don’t see much of anything to laugh at.”

“Well, it’s catching. Caught it from Gearson. I guess it won’t be much of a war, and I guess Gearson don’t think so either. The other fellows will back down as soon as they see we mean it. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’m going back to bed, myself.”

Gearson came again next afternoon, looking pale and rather sick, but quite himself, even to his languid irony. “I guess I’d better tell you, Editha, that I consecrated myself to your god of battles last night by pouring too many libations to him down my own throat. But I’m all right now. One has to carry off the excitement, somehow.”

“Promise me,” she commanded, “that you’ll never touch it again!”

“What! Not let the cannikin clink? Not let the soldier drink? Well, I promise.”

“You don’t belong to yourself now; you don’t even belong to me. You belong to your country, and you have a sacred charge to keep yourself strong and well for your country’s sake. I have been thinking, thinking all night and all day long.”

“You look as if you had been crying a little, too,” he said, with his queer smile.

“That’s all past. I’ve been thinking, and worshipping you. Don’t you suppose I know all that you’ve been through, to come to this? I’ve followed you every step from your old theories and opinions.”

“Well, you’ve had a long row to hoe.”

“And I know you’ve done this from the highest motives -”

“Oh, there won’t be much pettifogging to do till this cruel war is -”

“And you haven’t simply done it for my sake. I couldn’t respect you if you had.”

“Well, then we’ll say I haven’t. A man that hasn’t got his own respect intact wants the respect of all the other people he can corner. But we won’t go into that. I’m in for the thing now, and we’ve got to face our future. My idea is that this isn’t going to be a very protracted struggle; we shall just scare the enemy to death before it comes to a fight at all. But we must provide for contingencies, Editha. If anything happens to me -”

“Oh, George!” She clung to him, sobbing.

“I don’t want you to feel foolishly bound to my memory. I should hate that, wherever I happened to be.”

“I am yours, for time and eternity – time and eternity.” She liked the words; they satisfied her famine for phrases.

“Well, say eternity; that’s all right; but time’s another thing; and I’m talking about time. But there is something! My mother! If anything happens -”

She winced, and he laughed. “You’re not the bold soldier-girl of yesterday!” Then he sobered. “If anything happens, I want you to help my mother out. She won’t like my doing this thing. She brought me up to think war a fool thing as well as a bad thing. My father was in the Civil War; all through it; lost his arm in it.” She thrilled with the sense of the arm round her; what if that should be lost? He laughed as if divining her: “Oh, it doesn’t run in the family, as far as I know!” Then he added gravely: “He came home with misgivings about war, and they grew on him. I guess he and mother agreed between them that I was to be brought up in his final mind about it; but that was before my time. I only knew him from my mother’s report of him and his opinions; I don’t know whether they were hers first; but they were hers last. This will be a blow to her. I shall have to write and tell her -”

He stopped, and she asked: “Would you like me to write, too, George?”

“I don’t believe that would do. No, I’ll do the writing. She’ll understand a little if I say that I thought the way to minimize it was to make war on the largest possible scale at once – that I felt I must have been helping on the war somehow if I hadn’t helped keep it from coming, and I knew I hadn’t; when it came, I had no right to stay out of it.”

Whether his sophistries satisfied him or not, they satisfied her. She clung to his breast, and whispered, with closed eyes and quivering lips: “Yes, yes, yes!”

“But if anything should happen, you might go to her and see what you could do for her. You know? It’s rather far off; she can’t leave her chair -”

“Oh, I’ll go, if it’s the ends of the earth! But nothing will happen! Nothing can! I -”

She felt her lifted with his rising, and Gearson was saying, with his arm still round her, to her father: “Well, we’re off at once, Mr. Balcom. We’re to be formally accepted at the capital, and then bunched up with the rest somehow, and sent into camp somewhere, and got to the front as soon as possible. We all want to be in the van, of course; we’re the first company to report to the Governor. I came to tell Editha, but I hadn’t got round to it.”

She saw him again for a moment at the capital, in the station, just before the train started southward with his regiment. He looked well, in his uniform, and very soldierly, but somehow girlish, too, with his clean-shaven face and slim figure. The manly eyes and the strong voice satisfied her, and his preoccupation with some unexpected details of duty flattered her. Other girls were weeping and bemoaning themselves, but she felt a sort of noble distinction in the abstraction, the almost unconsciousness, with which they parted. Only at the last moment he said: “Don’t forget my mother. It mayn’t be such a walk-over as I supposed,” and he laughed at the notion.

He waved his hand to her as the train moved off – she knew it among a score of hands that were waved to other girls from the platform of the car, for it held a letter which she knew was hers. Then he went inside the car to read it, doubtless, and she did not see him again. But she felt safe for him through the strength of what she called her love. What she called her God, always speaking the name in a deep voice and with the implication of a mutual understanding, would watch over him and keep him and bring him back to her. If with an empty sleeve, then he should have three arms instead of two, for both of hers should be his for life. She did not see, though, why she should always be thinking of the arm his father had lost.

There were not many letters from him, but they were such as she could have wished, and she put her whole strength into making hers such as she imagined he could have wished, glorifying and supporting him. She wrote to his mother glorifying him as their hero, but the brief answer she got was merely to the effect that Mrs. Gearson was not well enough to write herself, and thanking her for her letter by the hand of someone who called herself “Yrs truly, Mrs. W. J. Andrews.”

Editha determined not to be hurt, but to write again quite as if the answer had been all she expected. Before it seemed as if she could have written, there came news of the first skirmish, and in the list of the killed, which was telegraphed as a trifling loss on our side, was Gearson’s name. There was a frantic time of trying to make out that it might be, must be, some other Gearson; but the name and the company and the regiment and the State were too definitely given.

Then there was a lapse into depths out of which it seemed as if she never could rise again; then a lift into clouds far above all grief, black clouds, that blotted out the sun, but where she soared with him, with George – George! She had the fever that she expected of herself, but she did not die in it; she was not even delirious, and it did not last long. When she was well enough to leave her bed, her one thought was of George’s mother, of his strangely worded wish that she should go to her and see what she could do for her. In the exaltation of the duty laid upon her – it buoyed her up instead of burdening her – she rapidly recovered.

Her father went with her on the long railroad journey from northern New York to western Iowa; he had business out at Davenport, and he said he could just as well go then as any other time; and he went with her to the little country town where George’s mother lived in a little house on the edge of the illimitable cornfields, under trees pushed to a top of the rolling prairie. George’s father had settled there after the Civil War, as so many other old soldiers had done; but they were Eastern people, and Editha fancied touches of the East in the June rose overhanging the front door, and the garden with early summer flowers stretching from the gate of the paling fence.

It was very low inside the house, and so dim, with the closed blinds, that they could scarcely see one another: Editha tall and black in her crapes which filled the air with the smell of their dyes; her father standing decorously apart with his hat on his forearm, as at funerals; a woman rested in a deep arm-chair, and the woman who had let the strangers in stood behind the chair.

The seated woman turned her head round and up, and asked the woman behind her chair: “Who did you say?”

Editha, if she had done what she expected of herself, would have gone down on her knees at the feet of the seated figure and said, “I am George’s Editha,” for answer.

But instead of her own voice she heard that other woman’s voice, saying: “Well, I don’t know as I did get the name just right. I guess I’ll have to make a little more light in here,” and she went and pushed two of the shutters ajar.

Then Editha’s father said, in his public will-now-address-a-few-remarks tone: “My name is Balcom, ma’am – Junius H. Balcom, of Balcom’s Works, New York; my daughter -”

“Oh!” the seated woman broke in, with a powerful voice, the voice that always surprised Editha from Gearson’s slender frame. “Let me see you. Stand round where the light can strike on your face,” and Editha dumbly obeyed. “So, you’re Editha Balcom,” she sighed.

“Yes,” Editha said, more like a culprit than a comforter.

“What did you come for?” Mrs. Gearson asked.

Editha’s face quivered and her knees shook. “I came – because – because George -” She could go no further.

“Yes,” the mother said, “he told me he had asked you to come if he got killed. You didn’t expect that, I suppose, when you sent him.”

“I would rather have died myself than done it!” Editha said, with more truth in her deep voice than she ordinarily found in it. “I tried to leave him free -”

“Yes, that letter of yours, that came back with his other things, left him free.”

Editha saw now where George’s irony came from.

“It was not to be read before – unless – until – I told him so,” she faltered.

“Of course, he wouldn’t read a letter of yours, under the circumstances, till he thought you wanted him to. Been sick?” the woman abruptly demanded.

“Very sick,” Editha said, with self-pity.

“Daughter’s life,” her father interposed, “was almost despaired of, at one time.”

Mrs. Gearson gave him no heed. “I suppose you would have been glad to die, such a brave person as you! I don’t believe he was glad to die. He was always a timid boy, that way; he was afraid of a good many things; but if he was afraid he did what he made up his mind to. I suppose he made up his mind to go, but I knew what it cost him by what it cost me when I heard of it. I had been through one war before. When you sent him you didn’t expect he would get killed.”

The voice seemed to compassionate Editha, and it was time. “No,” she huskily murmured.

“No, girls don’t; women don’t, when they give their men up to their country. They think they’ll come marching back, somehow, just as gay as they went, or if it’s an empty sleeve, or even an empty pantaloon, it’s all the more glory, and they’re so much the prouder of them, poor things!”

The tears began to run down Editha’s face; she had not wept till then; but it was now such a relief to be understood that the tears came.

“No, you didn’t expect him to get killed,” Mrs. Gearson repeated, in a voice which was startlingly like George’s again. “You just expected him to kill some one else, some of those foreigners, that weren’t there because they had any say about it, but because they had to be there, poor wretches – conscripts, or whatever they call ’em. You thought it would be all right for my George, your George, to kill the sons of those miserable mothers and the husbands of those girls that you would never see the faces of.” The woman lifted her powerful voice in a psalmlike note. “I thank my God he didn’t live to do it! I thank my God they killed him first, and that he ain’t livin’ with their blood on his hands!” She dropped her eyes, which she had raised with her voice, and glared at Editha. “What you got that black on for?” She lifted herself by her powerful arms so high that her helpless body seemed to hang limp its full length. “Take it off, take it off, before I tear it from your back!”

The lady who was passing the summer near Balcom’s Works was sketching Editha’s beauty, which lent itself wonderfully to the effects of a colorist. It had come to that confidence which is rather apt to grow between artist and sitter, and Editha had told her everything.

“To think of your having such a tragedy in your life!” the lady said. She added: “I suppose there are people who feel that way about war. But when you consider the good this war has done – how much it has done for the country! I can’t understand such people, for my part. And when you had come all the way out there to console her – got up out of a sick-bed! Well!”

“I think,” Editha said, magnanimously, “she wasn’t quite in her right mind; and so did papa.”

“Yes,” the lady said, looking at Editha’s lips in nature and then at her lips in art, and giving an empirical touch to them in the picture. “But how dreadful of her! How perfectly – excuse me – how vulgar!”

A light broke upon Editha in the darkness which she felt had been without a gleam of brightness for weeks and months. The mystery that had bewildered her was solved by the word; and from that moment she rose from grovelling in shame and self-pity, and began to live again in the ideal.

Categories: Uncategorized

Juvenal: Mighty warriors and their tombs are circumscribed by Fate

November 17, 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

Juvenal: The spoils of war and the price thereof

Juvenal: War and violence, baser than the beasts

Juvenal: Weigh the greatest military commanders in the balance

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Juvenal
From Satire X
Rendered into English by William Popple

There are whom Martial Glory only charms,
Who place their chief felicity in Arms.
The blood-stain’d Casque, the Chariot arm’d with Steel,
The waving Pendant, and the broken Keel,
The shatter’d Breastplate and the blunted Spear,
The mournful Captive foll’wing in the rear,
Inspire with Joy – By these urg’d on to Fame,
Greek, Roman, and Barbarian gain’d a Name.
But let unbiass’d reason trace the cause,
Why Thirst of Glory more than Virtue draws;
The wonder ceases when the cause is shown,
“Glory gives recompense, but Virtue none.”
For from the virtuous act, the Palm but take,
And who will follow Virtue for its sake?
Yet let this Passion in the Hero reign,
And ev’ry Hero proves his Country’s Bane.
But what’s the recompense which Virtue gives?
The mighty Warrior on a Tomb-stone lives;
The pompous Epitaph his Toil rewards,
The Sculptur’d Stone his sacred ashes guards;
The stately Monument attracts all Eyes,
And the vain Hero thinks he never dyes.
But let some barren Fig-tree’s ample root
Beneath the Base its spreading branches shoot,
(For Tombs, like Heroes, have their certain date,
Their periods both are circumscribed by Fate,)
Down drops the brittle Marble on the floor,
And the vain Hero dies to live no more.

Categories: Uncategorized

La Fontaine: When shall Peace pack up these bloody darts?

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Jean de La Fontaine
From An Animal in the Moon (1677)
Translator unknown

Some change had taken place on high,
Presaging earthly changes nigh;
Perhaps, indeed, it might betoken
The wars that had already broken
Out wildly over the Continent.

A mouse, between the lenses caged,
Had caused these wars, so fiercely waged!
No doubt the happy English folks
Laughed at it as the best of jokes.
How soon will Mars afford the chance
For like amusements here in France!

We wish for peace, but do not sigh.
The English Charles the secret knows
To make the most of his repose.
And more than this, he’ll know the way,
By valour, working sword in hand,
To bring his sea encircled land
To share the fight it only sees today.
Yet, could he but this quarrel quell,
What incense-clouds would grateful swell!
What deed more worthy of his fame!
Augustus, Julius, pray, which Caesar’s name
Shines now on story’s page with purest flame?
O people happy in your sturdy hearts!
Say, when shall Peace pack up these bloody darts,
And send us all, like you, to softer arts?

*****

From the translation by Edward Marsh

And though we pray for peace, we do not sigh.
Charles has his choice of Peace and War:
Well graced to shine in both, will he resolve
T’indulge his prowess, and his Isle involve
In these fierce sports she watches from afar?
Nay, could his mediation bring surcease
Of rage and strife, ’twere worthier of his fame.
Think you Augustus left a lower name
Than the first Caesar with his conquering star?
Too happy England! When shall we
Like you with single mind have liberty
To follow undistraught the arts of Peace?

Categories: Uncategorized

Syria In Western Strategy For Global Military Supremacy

November 15, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
November 15, 2011

Syria In Western Strategy For Global Military Supremacy
Rick Rozoff

The League of Arab States (Arab League) suspended the membership of Syria in the organization on November 12 as it had with Libya on February 22 of this year. In the case of Libya, whose membership was reinstated after NATO bombed proxy forces into power in late August, reports at the time indicated that member states Algeria and Syria had been opposed to the action but folded under pressure for a consensus from the eight Arab states governed by royal families – Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which to all intents and purposes now are the Arab League, with the other formal members either victims of recent regime change of one sort or another or likely targets for such a fate.

With the replication of the February move this past weekend, Algeria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the suspension of Syria and Iraq abstained through some combination of principled opposition and self-interest, as the four may well be the next nations to be suspended by the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and Jordan and Morocco (the latter two having recently applied for membership though not in the Persian Gulf, Morocco bordering the Atlantic Ocean) should the U.S.-NATO-Arab monarchs entente demand it.

Washington is pressuring Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign as he being shown the door courtesy of a plan devised by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as demanding the same of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The GCC deployed troops to Bahrain in March, in that instance to prop up the government, that of the Al Khalifa dynasty. 

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supplied NATO with warplanes and the Transitional National Council with weapons and special forces personnel for the almost 230-day blockade and bombardment of Libya, and Jordan and Morocco joined the two Gulf states at the Paris summit on March 19 that launched the war against Libya.

The four Arab nations are both close bilateral military allies of the Pentagon and members of NATO partnership programs, the Mediterranean Dialogue in the case of Jordan and Morocco, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Jordan and the UAE are to date the only official Arabic Troop Contributing Nations for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

On October 31, eleven days after the murder of former Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi, NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen flew into Tripoli and offered the services of the world’s only military bloc in reconstituting the battered nation’s military and internal security forces as NATO is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan with the NATO Training Mission-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan. Rebuilding, transforming and modernizing the armed forces of Libya, as with those of the other two countries, to achieve NATO standards and interoperability.

A week later Ivo Daalder, long-time proponent and architect of Global NATO [1], now empowered to put his plans into effect as the Obama administration’s ambassador to the military alliance, offered the inevitable complement to Rasmussen’s offer in reiterating that “NATO is prepared, if requested by the new Libyan authorities, to consider ways in which it could help the Libyan authorities, particularly in the area of defense and security reform.”

According to the same Agence France-Presse account, “Daalder also said Libya could bolster its ties with the transatlantic alliance by joining NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, a partnership comprising Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Jordan and Israel.” (The new regimes in Egypt and Tunisia are fully honoring previous military commitments to the U.S. and NATO.)

The exact scenario that a Stop NATO article warned about on March 25, six days after U.S. Africa Command launched Operation Odyssey Dawn and the beginning of the over seven-month-long war against Libya:

“If the current Libyan model is duplicated in Syria as increasingly seems to be the case, and with Lebanon already blockaded by warships from NATO nations since 2006 in what is the prototype for what NATO will soon replicate off the coast of Libya, the Mediterranean Sea will be entirely under the control of NATO and its leading member, the U.S. 

“Cyprus in the only European Union member and indeed the only European nation (except for microstates) that is – for the time being – not a NATO member or partner, and Libya is the only African nation bordering the Mediterranean not a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program.” [2] 

If indeed Syria becomes the next Libya and a new Yemeni regime is installed under the control of the Gulf Cooperation Council, then the only nations remaining in the vast stretch of territory known as the Broader or Greater Middle East, from Mauritania on the Atlantic coast to Kazakhstan on the Chinese and Russian borders, not tied to NATO through multinational and bilateral partnerships will be Lebanon (see above), Eritrea, Iran and Sudan. 

Djibouti hosts thousands of troops from the U.S. and other NATO member states. NATO has airlifted several thousand Ugandan and Burundian troops for the proxy war in the capital of Somalia as well as establishing a beachhead in the semi-autonomous/autonomous Puntland region of the country for its Operation Ocean Shield naval deployment in the Gulf of Aden. The six GCC states are included in NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are members of the Partnership for Peace, the program employed to graduate twelve Eastern European countries to full NATO membership from 1999-2009. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Armenia also have NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans and Georgia a special Annual Program as well as an Alliance liaison in its capital (NATO Contact Point Embassy.) In 2006 Kazakhstan became the first non-European nation to be granted an Individual Partnership Action Plan. [3]

NATO also has a liaison office in Ethiopia which assists in the development of the eastern component of the African Standby Force, modeled after the global NATO Response Force.

With the partnerships in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Persian Gulf connecting with those in Central and South Asia (NATO has troops stationed on bases in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and beyond that with India and the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations [4], linking up with the military bloc’s Contact Country partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, the U.S. and its major Western allies are tightening a NATO band, an armed phalanx, along the entire Northern Hemisphere. An American-led military axis from, in language Western leaders have used throughout the post-Cold War era, Vancouver to Vladivostok (proceeding eastward).

Three years ago Malta rejoined the Partnership for Peace, thereby adding to bases in Sardinia, Sicily, and Crete NATO, and bases in Cyprus Britain, can use as fighter jet, supply, refueling, arms storage and docking jumping-off points for military aggression in Africa and the Middle East.

Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Libya are the only Mediterranean countries that are not currently NATO members or partners and the U.S. and its fellow NATO members have designs on all four. Libya’s joining the Mediterranean Dialogue will complete Alliance partnerships across North Africa from Egypt to Morocco and will entail its Western-rebuilt navy being recruited into NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor maritime surveillance and interdiction activities across the length and breadth of the Mediterranean Sea, an operation now in its eleventh year.

The government of Syria is not only Iran’s main but it’s only reliable ally among state actors in the Arab world. The Syrian port city of Tartus hosts Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean. Regime change in Damascus, however it’s effected, will oust the Russian and Iranian navies from the sea by eliminating the only friendly docking facilities.

The consequences of the installation of a pro-Western government in Syria would also affect neighboring Lebanon, where Israel and its Western patrons would have a free hand to attack Hezbollah and Communist Party militias in the south of the nation and along with efforts by the U.S. to buy off the state’s military over the past five years eliminate all opposition to Western control of the country, military and political.

Palestine would not fare any better. In August Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting American congressmen that “the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under US command,” according to an aide cited by the Ma’an News Agency. [5]

He may well see NATO and U.S. troops stationed on his nation’s soil, but not on the terms he intends.

Nothing occurs in isolation and surely not in the age of Western powers employing expressions like the world’s sole military superpower and Global NATO and forging ahead with projects for their realization. Syria is no exception.

1) 21st Century Strategy: Militarized Europe, Globalized NATO
    Stop NATO, February 26, 2010
    https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/21st-century-strategy-militarized-europe-globalized-nato/
    …
    West Plots To Supplant United Nations With Global NATO
    Stop NATO, May 27, 2009  
    https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/154/
2) Libyan War And Control Of The Mediterranean
     Stop NATO, March 25, 2011
     https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/3973
3) Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
    Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
    https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/kazakhstan-u-s-nato-seek-military-outpost-between-russia-and-china/
4)  India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure
     Stop NATO. September 10, 2010
     https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/india-u-s-completes-global-military-structure/
      …
    Southeast Asia: U.S. Completing Asian NATO To Confront China
    Stop NATO, November 6, 2011
    https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/southeast-asia-u-s-completing-asian-nato-to-confront-china/
5)  Abbas tells US lawmakers: NATO role in Palestinian state
     Ma’an News Agency, August 12, 2011
     http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=412599

Categories: Uncategorized

Christopher Marlowe: Accurs’d be he that first invented war!

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Christopher Marlowe: Parricide and filicide. While lions war, poor lambs perish.

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Christopher Marlowe
From Tamburlaine the Great (1587)

Blood is the god of war’s rich livery.

Accurs’d be he that first invented war!
They knew not, ah, they knew not, simple men,
How those were hit by pelting cannon-shot
Stand staggering like a quivering aspen-leaf
Fearing the force of Boreas’ boisterous blasts!

Hast thou beheld a peal of ordnance strike
A ring of pikes, mingled with shot and horse,
Whose shatter’d limbs, being toss’d as high as heaven,
Hang in the air as thick as sunny motes…
Hast thou not seen my horsemen charge the foe,
Shot through the arms, cut overthwart the hands,
Dying their lances with their streaming blood…?

Categories: Uncategorized

Alexander Blok: The kite, the mother and endless war

November 14, 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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Alexander Blok
Translated by Alex Miller

The Kite (1916)

Describing circle after circle,
The wheeling kite looks down upon
A dream-like, empty meadow. A mother
Grieves in the cabin for her son:
“Here, suck this breast, here, take this bread.
Grow up, be humble, trust in God.”

The ages pass, endless war rages,
Revolt flares, villages are burned,
But you are still the same, my homeland,
In beauty ancient and tear-stained.
How long must that poor mother cry,
How long the kite wheel in the sky?

*****

Untitled (1905)

Then they charged, straight at
the breast-bone
Came the glittering bayonet.
Someone shouted, “Hallelujah!”
Someone whispered, “Don’t forget!”

Someone fell, arms flailing wildly,
Then the ranks closed over him.
Underfoot, someone was struggling,
Who – no time to take it in.

Only in a cheerful memory
Was a candle lit somewhere,
On and on they thundered, trampling
That warm body lying there.

No one’s destined to grow older –
Death from mouth to mouth is passed…
Fury blazes ever higher,
Far ahead lies bloody waste…

Gnashing shall be all the louder.
Pain more sweet, life swifter spent.
Afterwards, the earth will try to
Soothe the affrighted firmament.

*****

Untitled (1911)

Yes, inspiration so commands me:
My vision, being wholly free,
Is drawn to where all’s degradation,
And dirt, and gloom, and poverty.
And yet I love this world of horror;
Through it I glimpse another one,
A promised land that’s full of beauty,
A land that’s simple and humane.
But if you neither sow nor harvest,
If you’re just human, as you say –
What can you know? How can you venture
Judgement in this mad century?
Have you not been reduced by sickness,
Poverty or starvation ever?
Have you not seen children in Paris?
Beggars in winter by the river?
Open your eyes, open them quickly,
To life’s unfathomable horrors,
Before the great storm that’s impending
destroys all in this land of yours.
But do not let your proud wrath strike
The ones who bear life’s heavy burden.
Another sowed the seeds of evil.
And yet that sowing was not barren…
He’s right, who has at least rejected
Life’s cheap cosmetic show outright,
And, like the timid mole, has burrowed
Underground, hiding from the light,
And wilted there, his whole life hating
That light and railing at it so,
Not even looking to the future,
And saying to the present, “No!”

Categories: Uncategorized

Petrarch: Wealth and power at a bloody rate is wicked, better bread and water eat with peace

November 12, 2011 1 comment

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

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Petrarch
From The Triumph of Death (1348)
Translated by R.G. Macgregor

She answered then; afar we might perceive
Millions of dead heap’d on th’ adjacent plain;
No verse nor prose may comprehend the slain
Did on Death’s triumph wait, from India,
From Spain, and from Morocco, from Cathay,
And all the skirts of th’ earth they gathered were;
Who had most happy lived, attended there:
Popes, Emperors, nor Kings, no ensigns wore
Of their past height, but naked show’d and poor.
Where be their riches, where their precious gems,
Their mitres, sceptres, robes, and diadems?
Oh, miserable men, whose hopes arise
From worldly joys, yet be there few so wise
As in those trifling follies not to trust;
And if they be deceived, in end ’tis just:
Ah! more than blind, what gain you by your toil?
You must return once to your mother’s soil,
And after-times your names shall hardly know,
Nor any profit from your labour grow;
All those strange countries by your warlike stroke
Submitted to a tributary yoke;
The fuel erst of your ambitious fire,
What help they now? The vast and bad desire
Of wealth and power at a bloody rate
Is wicked, better bread and water eat
With peace; a wooden dish doth seldom hold
A poison’d draught; glass is more safe than gold…

Categories: Uncategorized

Georg Trakl: Night beckons to dying soldiers, the ghosts of the killed are sighing

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Georg Trakl
In the East (1914)
Unknown translator

Like the wild organs of the winter storm
Is the people’s gloomy rage,
The purple billow of battle
Of stars leaf-stripped.

With broken brows, silvery arms
The night beckons to dying soldiers.
In the autumnal ash-tree’s shade
The ghosts of the killed are sighing.

Thorny wilderness surrounds the town.
From steps that bleeds the moon
Drives off dumbfounded women.
Wild wolves have burst through the gate.

*****

On The Eastern Front
Translated by James Wright and Robert Bly

The ominous anger of masses of men
Is like the wild organ of the winter storm,
The purple surge of battle,
Leafless stars.

With broken eyebrows and silver arms
The night waves to dying soldiers.
In the shade of the ash tree of autumn
The souls of the slain are sighing.

A thorny desert surrounds the city.
The moon chases the shocked women
From the bleeding stairways.
Wild wolves have broken through the door.

Categories: Uncategorized

Novalis: Celebrating a great banquet of love as a festival of peace

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Novalis
From Christendom or Europe (1799)
Translator unknown

Now let us turn to the political drama of our times. The old and new order are locked in struggle. The inadequacy and destitution of the previous political institutions has become apparent in frightful phenomena. If only the historical end of the war were, as in the sciences, a more intimate and varied contact and connection between the European states!

No peace can be concluded among the conflicting powers. All peace is only an illusion, only a temporary truce. From the standpoint of the cabinets, and of common opinion, no unity is conceivable.

All conquests mean nothing, for the inner capitol of that kingdom lies not behind
earthen walls and cannot be stormed.

Who knows whether there has been enough war, whether it will ever cease, unless one seizes the palm branch, which a spiritual power alone can offer. Blood will continue to flow in Europe until the nations recognize their terrible madness. This will continue to drive them into circles until, moved and calmed by sacred music, they step before their past altars in a motley throng. Then they will undertake works of peace, celebrating with hot tears a great banquet of love as a festival of peace on the smoking battlefields.

*****

From Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1800)
Translated by Palmer Hilty

Dreams of youth are transitory,
Distant lies my fatherland;
And my house – how old my story! –
Victim fell to firebrand.
Frightful as the stormy breakers
Came the wild invading wreckers,
And my paradise was sand.

Blazing embers darted, marging
Far and wide the azure sky.
Knights on horses wildly charging
Stormed our caravanserai.
Brothers fell to sabers’ clashing,
Father under rooftree’s crashing,
We in harsh captivity.

How tranquilly the Christians could have visited the Holy Sepulcher without the need of starting a terrible, useless war which has embittered everything, spread endless wretchedness, and separated the East from Europe forever.

The new world bursts upon the sight
And darkens the daystar’s glowing light;
Where ancient mossy ruins glimmer
One sees a wondrous future shimmer;
And things once commonplace and dull
Appear now strange and wonderful.
The reign of love is ushered in
And fable now begins to spin.
Each being seeks its primal dower
And casts about for words of power.
And so the great heart of the world
Is stirred, and endless flowers unfurled.
All things must into all others flow,
Each through the other thrive and grow
And each in all others represented

The while with all of them it mingles
And avidly drops into their deeps,
Refreshing thus its nature, singles
A thousand thoughts out, new invented.
World turns to dream and dream to world,
Belief into being hurled
Which is yet is seen but from afar…

Categories: Uncategorized

Oscar Wilde: Crimson seas of war, Great Game in Central and South Asia

November 9, 2011 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Oscar Wilde: Antidote to war

Oscar Wilde: Crimson seas of war, Great Game in Central and South Asia

Oscar Wilde: Who would dare to praise the barren pride of warring nations?

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Oscar Wilde:
Ave Imperatrix (1881)
(emphasis added)

Set in this stormy Northern sea,
Queen of these restless fields of tide,
England! what shall men say of thee,
Before whose feet the worlds divide?

The earth, a brittle globe of glass,
Lies in the hollow of thy hand,
And through its heart of crystal pass,
Like shadows through a twilight land,

The spears of crimson-suited war,
The long white-crested waves of fight,
And all the deadly fires which are
The torches of the lords of Night.

The yellow leopards, strained and lean,
The treacherous Russian knows so well,
With gaping blackened jaws are seen
Leap through the hail of screaming shell.

The strong sea-lion of England’s wars
Hath left his sapphire cave of sea,
To battle with the storm that mars
The stars of England’s chivalry.

The brazen-throated clarion blows
Across the Pathan’s reedy fen,
And the high steeps of Indian snows
Shake to the tread of armed men.

And many an Afghan chief, who lies
Beneath his cool pomegranate-trees,
Clutches his sword in fierce surmise
When on the mountain-side he sees

The fleet-foot Marri scout, who comes
To tell how he hath heard afar
The measured roll of English drums
Beat at the gates of Kandahar.

For southern wind and east wind meet
Where, girt and crowned by sword and fire,
England with bare and bloody feet
Climbs the steep road of wide empire.

O lonely Himalayan height,
Grey pillar of the Indian sky,
Where saw’st thou last in clanging flight
Our winged dogs of Victory?

The almond-groves of Samarcand,
Bokhara, where red lilies blow,
And Oxus, by whose yellow sand
The grave white-turbaned merchants go:

And on from thence to Ispahan,
The gilded garden of the sun,
Whence the long dusty caravan
Brings cedar wood and vermilion;

And that dread city of Cabool
Set at the mountain’s scarped feet,
Whose marble tanks are ever full
With water for the noonday heat:

Where through the narrow straight Bazaar
A little maid Circassian
Is led, a present from the Czar
Unto some old and bearded khan, –

Here have our wild war-eagles flown,
And flapped wide wings in fiery fight;
But the sad dove, that sits alone
In England – she hath no delight.

In vain the laughing girl will lean
To greet her love with love-lit eyes:
Down in some treacherous black ravine,
Clutching his flag, the dead boy lies.

And many a moon and sun will see
The lingering wistful children wait
To climb upon their father’s knee;
And in each house made desolate

Pale women who have lost their lord
Will kiss the relics of the slain –
Some tarnished epaulette – some sword –
Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain.

For not in quiet English fields
Are these, our brothers, lain to rest,
Where we might deck their broken shields
With all the flowers the dead love best.

For some are by the Delhi walls,
And many in the Afghan land,
And many where the Ganges falls
Through seven mouths of shifting sand.

And some in Russian waters lie,
And others in the seas which are
The portals to the East, or by
The wind-swept heights of Trafalgar.

O wandering graves! O restless sleep!
O silence of the sunless day!
O still ravine! O stormy deep!
Give up your prey! Give up your prey!

And thou whose wounds are never healed,
Whose weary race is never won,
O Cromwell’s England! must thou yield
For every inch of ground a son?

Go! crown with thorns thy gold-crowned head,
Change thy glad song to song of pain;
Wind and wild wave have got thy dead,
And will not yield them back again.

Wave and wild wind and foreign shore
Possess the flower of English land –
Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more,
Hands that shall never clasp thy hand.

What profit now that we have bound
The whole round world with nets of gold,
If hidden in our heart is found
The care that groweth never old?

What profit that our galleys ride,
Pine-forest-like, on every main?
Ruin and wreck are at our side,
Grim warders of the House of Pain.

Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet?
Where is our English chivalry?
Wild grasses are their burial-sheet,
And sobbing waves their threnody.

O loved ones lying far away,
What word of love can dead lips send!
O wasted dust! O senseless clay!
Is this the end! is this the end!

Peace, peace! we wrong the noble dead
To vex their solemn slumber so;
Though childless, and with thorn-crowned head,
Up the steep road must England go,

Yet when this fiery web is spun,
Her watchmen shall descry from far
The young Republic like a sun
Rise from these crimson seas of war.

Categories: Uncategorized

Edgar Lee Masters: “The honor of the flag must be upheld”

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Edgar Lee Masters: The Philippine Conquest

Edgar Lee Masters: The words, Pro Patria, what do they mean, anyway?

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Edgar Lee Masters
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
Harry Wilmans
From Spoon River Anthology (1915)

I was just turned twenty-one,
And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent,
Made a speech in Bindle’s Opera House.
“The honor of the flag must be upheld,” he said,
“Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs
Or the greatest power in Europe.”
And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved
As he spoke.
And I went to the war in spite of my father,
And followed the flag till I saw it raised
By our camp in a rice field near Manila,
And all of us cheered and cheered it.
But there were flies and poisonous things;
And there was the deadly water,
And the cruel heat,
And the sickening, putrid food;
And the smell of the trench just back of the tents
Where the soldiers went to empty themselves;
And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis;
And beastly acts between ourselves or alone,
With bullying, hatred, degradation among us,
And days of loathing and nights of fear
To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp,
Following the flag,
Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts.
Now there’s a flag over me in Spoon River!
A flag! A flag!

Categories: Uncategorized

Friedrich Schiller: Oh, blessed peace, may the day of grim War’s ruthless crew never dawn

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Friedrich Schiller: Beauty, peace and reconciliation

Friedrich Schiller: The citizen is naught, the soldier all; rude hordes, lawless grown in lengthy war

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Friedrich Schiller
From The Song of the Bell (1798)
Translated by Theodore Martin

Oh, blessed peace,
Oh, Concord sweet,
Hover, oh hover,
With kindly sway,
Over this town of ours, I pray!
Oh, may it never dawn, the day,
When grim War’s ruthless crew
Shall riot this calm valley through!
When the heavens which evening’s mellow red
Colours with hues so fair,
Are all aflame with the ghastly glare
Of blazing towns, and the havoc dread
Of villages burning there!

****

Woe to those, who hand light’s heaven-sent torch
To the purblind fool! Its kindly ray
Is no light for him, it can only scorch,
And cities and countries in ashes lay.

****

She waves, swings free!
Joy to our town may this portend,
And PEACE the message be, she foremost forth
Shall send!

Categories: Uncategorized

Southeast Asia: U.S. Completing Asian NATO To Confront China

November 7, 2011 4 comments

Stop NATO
November 6, 2011

Southeast Asia: U.S. Completing Asian NATO To Confront China
Rick Rozoff

Since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization adopted its first Strategic Concept for the 21st century a year ago this month in Portugal, and in the process all but formalized the bloc as a global military intervention force, discussion has been rife concerning a collective partnership with the 54-nation African Union, a “mini-NATO” in the Persian Gulf and another in the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic Sea, the culmination of the transformation of the Mediterranean into a NATO sea and the effective “NATOization” of the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). [1-5]

The U.S.-dominated military alliance, whose current American ambassador, Ivo Daalder, for years has advocated becoming a full-fledged global NATO (in one instance in an article with that precise title), expanded from 16 to 28 full members in the decade beginning in 1999 and has over forty partners in four continents outside the Euro-Atlantic zone under the auspices of programs like the Partnership for Peace in Europe and Asia, the Mediterranean Dialogue in Africa and the Middle East, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in the Persian Gulf,  the Contact Country format in the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea), Annual National Programs with Georgia and Ukraine, the Afghanistan-Pakistan-International Security Assistance Force Tripartite Commission, the NATO-Russia Council, the NATO Training Mission-Iraq and NATO-Training Mission – Afghanistan (with a Libyan version to follow), a bilateral agreement with the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia where NATO has airlifted thousands of Ugandan and Burundian troops for the war there and other arrangements.

Formal partnerships with the African Union and ASEAN would gain the world’s only military bloc fifty new cohorts in Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco – the last not an African Union member – are already members of the Mediterranean Dialogue) and ten in Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore. Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition, in September U.S. permanent representative to NATO Daalder told Indian journalists visiting the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels:

“I think it is important to have a dialogue (with India) and deepen that dialogue.

“It is through dialogue, through understanding each other’s perceptions and perhaps by working on misperceptions that may exist, that we can strengthen the relations between India and NATO.”

He also bluntly suggested that India, a founding member of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement, should abandon its policy of neutrality and collaborate with the U.S. and NATO in the development of an international interceptor missile system.

In articles written in the last decade, including the aforementioned “Global NATO,” [6]  Daalder and fellow Brookings Institution and Council on Foreign Relations officials argued for partnerships between the bloc and nations around the world under Daalder’s concept of an Alliance of Democratic States and other mechanisms. The countries mentioned by name include Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea. [7]

Immediately ahead of the NATO summit in Lisbon, Daalder was quoted stating:

“We’re launching Nato 3.0.

“It is no longer just about Europe – it’s not a global alliance but it is a global actor. We need to look for opportunities to work with countries we haven’t worked with before, like India, China and Brazil.”

The month before, in October of last year, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a video post on his blog, “We should reach out to new and important partners, including China and India.”

With NATO as the prime mover and in charge, that is. He added: “We should encourage consultations between interested allies and partners on security issues of common concern, with NATO as a hub for those discussions.”

In September of this year he told the Xinhua News Agency: “I would very much like to see a strengthened dialogue between China and NATO.” China and India were among 47 nations represented at a meeting at NATO headquarters on September 14 to discuss naval operations in the Gulf of Aden and in the broader Indian Ocean where NATO runs Operation Ocean Shield. Other non-NATO nations present were Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. At the time the last two were supplying warplanes for NATO’s Operation Unified Protector assault against Libya.

If the architects of an international NATO realize their ambitions fully, more than 140 of the world’s 194 nations will be members or partners of the North Atlantic Alliance. Their troops, military hardware and air and other bases will be available to the U.S.-dominated bloc for actions nearly everywhere in the world, as warplanes from NATO partner Israel have recently been training in Romania, Greece and a NATO air base in Sardinia for strikes against Iran.

With every nation on the European continent and every European island nation except for Cyprus now either a NATO member or partner and with the Alliance now firmly ensconced in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, the U.S. and its Western allies are concentrating their firepower on East Asia.

The war in Afghanistan is in its eleventh year and it has provided NATO the opportunity to integrate the militaries of over fifteen Asian-Pacific countries (including the Middle East and the South Caucasus in that category) through supplying troops and other military personnel to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force: Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. All but Bahrain and Japan are what the bloc refers to as Troop Contributing Nations, of which Kazakhstan is to be the 49th, with its parliament at least temporarily blocking the formalization of that status.

Before his death late last year U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke was recruiting Bangladesh to become the 50th official supplier of troops for NATO’s Afghan war. [8]

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently concluded an eight-day trip to Asia, his first as Pentagon chief, where he visited Indonesia, Japan and South Korea.

On the first leg of his journey he met with the defense ministers of the ten members of ASEAN. Indonesia holds the organization’s chairmanship this year. Next year it will be transferred to Cambodia, where at the same time Panetta was in East Asia his subordinate, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Robert Scher, visited for two days to solidify military relations with the host nation where U.S. Army Pacific has led multinational Angkor Sentinel military exercises for the past two years.

Xinhua quoted the Pentagon official as saying:

“It’s a fruitful visit. I participated in a series of productive meetings with the Cambodian Ministry of Defense and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) to discuss the growing U.S.-Cambodia bilateral defense relationship…”

He was additionally cited stating he “had discussions about Cambodia’s objectives as it approaches to take over the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2012.

“The U.S. Department of Defense is committed to continuing to work with the RCAF to develop a professional force that will contribute to regional and international peace and stability” and “the United States’ overall commitment is to enhance its engagement in the Asia-Pacific region in the future.”

While in Indonesia, Panetta indulged in the affectation of identifying himself as “a son of the U.S. Pacific coast,” having been raised in California, as his commander-in-chief, Hawaii-born President Barack Obama, has touted himself as America’s first Pacific head of state.

He met with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, according to the Stars and Stripes newspaper, “to discuss growing bilateral military relations and broader issues facing Southeast Asia…[c]hief among those issues [being] China’s growing assertiveness in an area it considers its own backyard.”

In his own words, “I’ve made it very clear that the United States remains a Pacific power, that we will continue to strengthen our presence in this part of the world and that we will remain a force…in this region.”

Later in Japan, the Pentagon chief told American troops at  the Yokota Air Base near Tokyo: “We are not anticipating any cutbacks in this region. If anything we are going to strengthen our presence in the Pacific.” Two weeks earlier Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had spoken in a  similar vein: “Probably the greatest opportunities in the years ahead will be found in the Asia Pacific region, which is why we have renewed America’s leadership and pre-eminent role there.”

In July of 2010 Clinton attended the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi and entered the fray in the disputes between ASEAN member states and China over the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, in essence pledging the U.S. as guarantor for ASEAN against China. Panetta’s meeting with his ten ASEAN counterparts last month provided an overt military component to the commitment.

While in Japan the defense secretary celebrated a half century of American-Japanese military colloboration enshrined in the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan of 1960, adding, “And it will be for the next 50 years as well.” 

Panetta also told assembled U.S. and Japanese troops: “I just had the opportunity to be in Indonesia and meet with the (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) defense ministers. And I conveyed the same message to them: the United States will continue to work with all of them to improve our cooperation, to improve our assistance, and to make sure that we strengthen security for all nations in the Pacific region.”

Southeast Asia has a population of approximately 600 million, two-thirds that of the Western Hemisphere and almost three-quarters that of Europe. It contains one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes, the Strait of Malacca. The strait runs for 600 miles between Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to the east and the Indonesian island of Sumatra to the west.

According to the United Nations International Maritime Organization, at least 50,000 ships pass through the waterway annually, transporting 30 percent of the goods traded in the world, including oil from the Persian Gulf to major East Asian nations like China, Japan and South Korea. As many as 20 million barrels of oil a day pass through the Strait of Malacca, an amount that will only increase with the further advance of the Asian Century. [9]

Since the end of the Cold War the U.S. and its Western allies have expanded NATO throughout Europe and combined that effort with the creation of an Asian NATO that in part consists of the revival and expansion of other Cold War military alliances based on NATO: The Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS).

But what is being built currently is far more extensive than all the latter three combined and is, moreover, not complementary to but in collusion with NATO, the Afghan war serving the purpose of unifying East and West under American and NATO control as the Korean War and Vietnam War did for the creation and consolidation of SEATO and ANZUS.

In May of 2010 the Atlantic Council of the United States, the main NATO lobbying group in the Western Hemisphere and indeed in the world, posted an article by Max Boot, the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and frequent lecturer at the Army War College and the Command and General Staff College, titled “Building an East Asian NATO.”

It contained this excerpt:

“A common complaint heard among American officials and policy analysts is that in East Asia – one of the most important and conflict-prone areas of the planet – there is no security architecture comparable to NATO. The U.S. has ties to many key countries, notably Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, and Taiwan. But they do not have strong ties to one another, and there is no joint military planning of the kind that NATO undertakes…” [10]

In recent months the topic of a NATO-ASEAN military partnership has been given increased attention.

In August  U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell gave an interview to The Australian in which he said:

“One of the most important challenges for US foreign policy is to effect a transition from the immediate and vexing challenges of the Middle East to the long-term and deeply consequential issues in Asia.”

“There is an undeniable assertive quality to Chinese foreign policy and we’re seeing that play out in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

“What has been effective in the past year or so is the number of countries in the Asia-Pacific (that) have been prepared to say to China that greater transparency (from China in military matters) is in the interests of the Asia-Pacific region.

“I think what you see is an across-the-board effort (by the US) to articulate India as playing a greater role in Asia, and also revitalising relations with ASEAN – both ASEAN as an institution, and with its key members, such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, and revitalising what used to be a very important relationship with The Philippines.” [11]

His comments paralleled those of defense chief Panetta and other Pentagon officials in affirming that with the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the beginning of a drawdown in Afghanistan, the Pentagon is focusing on East Asia, with NATO to take a greater role in policing the Greater/Broader/New Middle East and Africa in order to free up the American military to shift to the east.

In July an article appeared in the Jakarta Post with the title “Sketching out a future ASEAN-NATO partnership” by Evan A. Laksmana, identified as a researcher for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, presumably an affiliate of the think tank of the same name in Washington, D.C. Indonesia, recall, currently chairs ASEAN.

The author’s comments included:

“As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) enters its seventh decade and as ASEAN consolidates its regional community building ahead of and beyond 2015, the bodies have much to learn from each other.

“For NATO, ASEAN will be increasingly critical for the future of Asian stability and order and would be an ideal candidate for a strategic counterpart to tackle common regional and global security challenges – especially when ASEAN consolidates its regional community building, allowing it to share NATO’s role as a community of like-minded nations…

“Southeast Asia’s geopolitical, geo-strategic, and geo-economic value also suggests that NATO’s future missions beyond its traditional area of operations might increasingly depend on ASEAN.”

Further, he recommended:

“Any future ASEAN-NATO partnership could at least be placed within five major policy areas: peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), maritime security, defense reform and counterterrorism.”

“These five areas of engagement could be further executed in four levels of cooperation: strategic, institutional, operational and people-to-people.

“Strategically, NATO can engage ASEAN in discussions and dialogue regarding the five security issues using two tracks.

“In track one, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (consisting of all ASEAN countries plus Australia, the US, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Russia and New Zealand) as well as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) provide critical dialogue venues.

“In track two, two groupings are crucial: the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS), a network of nine major think tanks in Southeast Asia, and the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP), a network of nearly all major Asia Pacific think tanks.

“Institutionally, NATO could explore future cooperation or collaboration with either the ASEAN Secretariat, the network of ASEAN Peacekeeping Centers, the ASEAN Center for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief or even the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation.

“Other forms of diplomatic defense activities such as port visits or officer exchanges that are more practical and ‘neutral’ might also help alleviate some of the sensitivities of regional countries regarding NATO’s visibility.”

The writer ended his piece with these comments:

“This would slowly and gradually raise the public profile and awareness of NATO’s potential contribution to regional stability.

“This is at least the writer’s impression from discussions with various NATO officials on a recent trip.

“NATO should at least start thinking of engaging ASEAN early to avoid any surprises when a new, region-wide crisis in Asia comes knocking. For ASEAN, if we are serious about boosting our regional security community building, would it hurt to learn from a multi-national organization that has had the longest practical experience in the endeavor?” [12]

Three days later an article appeared in the Pakistani press called “NATO knocks at the door of ASEAN” by Dr. Jassim Taqui, which issued these warnings:

“Having failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has decided to change direction towards Southeast Asia. In this regard, NATO shows a keen interest to establish a partnership with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).”

Although “the United States continued to influence ASEAN since 1997,” now “Washington is combining with India to influence the region in a bid to neutralize the rising cooperation between ASEAN and China.

“During her visit to India, the US Secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton urged India to expand its traditional sphere of influence from South Asia to Central Asia and Southeast Asia to contain China’s increasing assertiveness. Ostensibly, Clinton’s slip of the tongue suggests a strategy that aims to encircle China in its backyard in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim on one hand and to boost engagement in Central Asia, on China’s western flank, on the other.

“Clinton’s tone is confrontational. It justifies the containment of China by Washington and New Delhi on the ground of ‘common values and interests.’ Clinton also announced that the Obama administration would soon launch a three-way dialogue with India and Japan to counter China.” [13]

At the beginning of the year U.S. Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters:

“We have 28,500 troops on the Korean Peninsula. We’ve got, I think, north of 50,000 troops in Japan. So we have significant assets already there. Over the long-term lay-down of our forces in the Pacific, we are looking at ways to even bolster that, not necessarily in Korea and Japan, but along the Pacific Rim, particularly in Southeast Asia.” [14]

In September a U.S. Pacific Command spokesperson told The Diplomat “that ASEAN’s pursuit of regional defence industry collaboration would help advance US national interests in the Asia-Pacific as it would usher in a new ‘set of standards, similar to NATO, (that) will facilitate interoperability among ASEAN and US militaries.'”

The feature also stated:

“From an operational perspective, the adoption of NATO standards by ASEAN would advance long-term plug-and-play interoperability between NATO and ASEAN militaries. While this would improve joint-military action across numerous mission spaces, it also would allow Pentagon defence planners to view ASEAN militaries as potential forward-based force multipliers for some regional scenarios with potential adversaries, including China.” [15]

As the year nears it end it is apparent that the Pentagon and its increasingly global military bloc, NATO, are concentrating on integrating the militaries of Southeast Asia in their inexorable drive to contain and confront China and abort the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a viable, non-military alternative to them in Eurasia.

1) Africa: Global NATO Seeks To Recruit 50 New Military Partners
   Stop NATO, February 20, 2011
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/africa-global-nato-seeks-to-recruit-50-new-military-partners
2) US envisions NATO of the Gulf
   RT, October 31, 2011
   http://rt.com/news/us-military-iraq-iran-171/
   …
   U.S. And NATO Allies Escalate Military Buildup Against Iran
   Stop NATO,December 6, 2010
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/s-and-nato-allies-escalate-military-buildup-around-iran/
3) Britain Spearheads “Mini-NATO” In Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea
   Stop NATO, January 22, 2011
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/britain-spearheads-mini-nato-in-arctic-ocean-baltic-sea/
4) Cyprus: U.S. To Dominate All Europe, Mediterranean Through NATO
   Stop NATO, March 3, 2011
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/cyprus-u-s-to-dominate-all-europe-mediterranean-through-nato
5) North Korea As Pretext: U.S. Builds Asian Military Alliance Against China And Russia
   Stop NATO, December 3, 2010
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/north-korea-as-pretext-u-s-builds-asian-military-alliance-against-china-and-russia/
  …
  After NATO Summit, U.S. To Intensify Military Drive Into Asia
  Stop NATO, November 17, 2010
  https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/after-nato-summit-u-s-to-intensify-military-drive-into-asia
  …
  Southeast Asia: West Completes Plans For Asian NATO
  Stop NATO, October 21, 2010
  https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/southeast-asia-west-completes-plans-for-asian-nato
6) Global NATO, Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier
   Foreign Affairs, September-October 2006
   http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61922/ivo-daalder-and-james-goldgeier/global-nato
7) West Plots To Supplant United Nations With Global NATO
   Stop NATO, May 27, 2009
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/154
8) Bangladesh: U.S. And NATO Forge New Military Partnership In South Asia
   Stop NATO, September 29, 2010
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/bangladesh-u-s-and-nato-forge-new-partnership-in-south-asia
9) Southeast Asia: West Completes Plans For Asian NATO
   Stop NATO, October 21, 2010
   https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/southeast-asia-west-completes-plans-for-asian-nato
10) Building an East Asian NATO, Max Boot
    Atlantic Council, May 12, 2010
    http://www.acus.org/natosource/building-east-asian-nato
11) US keeps an eagle eye on Asia
    The Australian, August 15, 2011
   
12) Sketching out a future ASEAN-NATO partnership, Evan A. Laksmana  
Jakarta Post, July 26, 2011
13) NATO knocks the door of ASEAN, Dr. Jassim Taqui
Pakistan Observer, July 29, 2011
http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=105831
14) US considers boosting force in Asia: Pentagon
Yonhap News, January 28, 2011
http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2931600
15) A NATO-Like ASEAN?, Eddie Walsh
The Diplomat, September 20, 2011
http://the-diplomat.com/new-leaders-forum/2011/09/20/a-nato-like-asean

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Ivan Franko: Even the dove has the blood of men on its snowy white wings

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Ukrainian writers on war

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Ivan Franko
Translated by Percival Cundy

The Dove (1889)

A hermit was sitting by his lonely cell,
Far off in the heart of the primeval woods
Where nothing was heard but the voices of birds,
And murmurs of leaves as the wind rose and fell.
When lo! he looked upwards and there he descried
His sole friend returning, a snowy white dove,
Which he for two days had been mourning as lost.
The dove fluttered down, came to rest at his feet.
The hermit at once to the dove, where it stood,
Extended his hand to caress it, but stopped –
Those snowy white wings bore the stain of men’s blood.
The holy man gasped: “What a curse on all things
There must be, when even a dove doth return
From dwellings of man with their blood on its wings!”

*****

From The Death of Cain (1889)

“…To slaughter beasts
And birds, their fellows too, ransack the earth
To find out what and whom to kill?
For them, the hard and cutting stones they find
But suited for knife or spear or dart.
For this they tear the horns from stag and buck,
The teeth from other beasts. The woman said
That they had found a certain kind of stone
Which in the fire dissolves as though ’twere wax.
And from it they have learned to make them knives
And spears and arrowheads more hard and sharp
Than those of flint. So here’s where knowledge leads!
Blood, wounds, and death, these are its primal gifts!”

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Edwin Arnold: My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels till earth wears the red record of my name

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Edwin Arnold: Heaven’s love descending in that loveliest word, PEACE!

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Edwin Arnold
From The Light of Asia (1879)

The blue doves cooed from every well, far off
The village drums beat for some marriage-feast;
All things spoke peace and plenty, and the Prince
Saw and rejoiced. But, looking deep, he saw
The thorns which grow upon this rose of life:
How the swart peasant sweated for his wage,
Toiling for leave to live; and how he urged
The great-eyed oxen through the flaming hours,
Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too,
How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him,
And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed
The fish-tiger of that which it had seized;
The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did chase
The jewelled butterflies: till everywhere
Each slew a slayer and in turn was slain,
Life living upon death. So the fair show
Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy
Of mutual murder, from the worm to man,
Who himself kills his fellow; seeing which –
The hungry ploughman and his laboring kine,
Their dewlaps blistered with the bitter yoke,
The rage to live which makes all living strife –
The Prince Siddârtha sighed. “Is this,” he said,
“That happy earth they brought me forth to see?
How salt with sweat the peasant’s bread! how hard
The oxen’s service! in the brake how fierce
The war of weak and strong! i’ th’ air what plots!
No refuge e’en in water. Go aside
A space, and let me muse on what ye show.”

*****

“…I will not have that crown
Which may be mine: I lay aside those realms
Which wait the gleaming of my naked sword:
My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels
From victory to victory, till earth
Wears the red record of my name.”

*****

“Pity and need
Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood,
Which runneth of one hue, nor caste in tears,
Which trickle salt with all; neither comes man
To birth with tilka-mark stamped on the brow,
Nor sacred thread on neck. Who doth right deeds
Is twice-born, and who doeth ill deeds vile…”

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Sole Military Super-Bloc: NATO Issues Daily Reprieves To The World

November 4, 2011 6 comments

Stop NATO
November 4, 2011

Sole Military Super-Bloc: NATO Issues Daily Reprieves To The World
Rick Rozoff

On October 31 North Atlantic Treaty Organization chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen arrived in the Libyan capital of Tripoli at the end of seven full months of the military bloc’s war in the country and effused: “It’s great to be in Libya, free Libya.”

Like Scipio Africanus the Younger almost twenty-two centuries earlier in what is now Libya’s western neighbor Tunisia, then Carthage, Rasmussen planted the banner of a conquering power on the soil of North Africa. Perhaps NATO will grant Rasmussen, too, the honorific agnomen Africanus after the military bloc’s first war and first conquest on the continent.

While basking in the triumph of what Western commentators have celebrated as NATO’s first complete and uncontested military victory – “the most successful in Nato history” in Rasmussen’s words – in the Libyan capital, the secretary general was questioned by a reporter about plans to replicate the Libyan model in Syria and stated: “My answer is very short. NATO has no intention (to intervene) whatsoever. I can completely rule that out.”

However, to belie his claim he immediately added: “Having said that, I strongly condemn the crackdown on the civilian population in Syria. What has happened in Libya sends a clear signal. You cannot neglect the will of the people.”

The 227-day war against Libya waged first by U.S. Africa Command from March 19-31 and thereafter by NATO is, according to the NATO chieftain, “a clear signal” to Syria, but “NATO has no intention” to commence military actions against Syria. Scant assurance to the nation’s government and populace alike, to be sure.

On the day Muammar Gaddafi was brutally killed, Senator John McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and presidential candidate in 2008, threatened the president of Syria, the prime minister of Russia and unnamed Chinese leaders with the less than eloquent admonition that they “got a reason to be uneasy” according to one account. He told the BBC on October 20: “I think dictators all over the world, including Bashar al-Assad, maybe even Mr. Putin, maybe some Chinese, maybe all of them, may be a little bit more nervous.” He repeated the parallel between Libya and Syria three days later while in Jordan.

Had Rasmussen been someone other than who he is, which is to say an honest individual, his comments in the Libyan capital would have been limited to the line of Tacitus about a Roman campaign in the century following the Third Punic War: Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. (They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.) Libya has been destroyed. What is left of the city of Sirte presents a vivid image that suits all too well the Roman historian’s words.

Back at home in NATO Headquarters in Brussels three days later, Rasmussen gave his latest monthly press briefing, in which he stated:

“Let me stress that NATO has no intention whatsoever to intervene in Iran, and NATO is not engaged as an alliance in the Iran question.”

He began his comments with this account: “This week I had the privilege to visit Tripoli, the capital of free Libya. It was the first time ever that a NATO Secretary General set foot in the country and something none of us could have imagined only a year ago.”

During the question and answer period which succeeded his presentation he responded to a question on Libya by stating:

“We would be prepared to offer the same kind of assistance as we have offered to other partners within defence and security sector reforms. That is, overall to help put defence and security agencies under civilian and democratic control. We can also help in organizing a modern defence, modern structures. In more specific terms we can help when it comes to institution-building like the building of a defence ministry, how to organize General Staff of the Armed Forces, just to mention some examples.

“NATO has a lot of expertise within defence and security sector reform, and actually a number of our Allies have gone through a similar transition from dictatorship into democracy, so they have a very valuable experience to offer. And I talked with Chairman Jalil and made clear that we are ready to assist Libya within such reform efforts if requested…”

Given the alliance’s history over the past twenty years, what he in fact pledged was that NATO will train – from scratch and in English – the armed forces of the new Libyan proxy regime as it has done previously and is still engaged in doing in other nations and provinces it has invaded and in other manners subjugated: Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Libya, which until now has been the only North African nation not to be pulled into NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership – Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are members as are Israel, Jordan and Mauritania – will become the eighth member and a joint asset of NATO and U.S. Africa Command.

The chief of what is not only the sole extant military bloc in the world but the largest and longest-lived multinational armed alliance in history may have taken to issuing regular disclaimers concerning attacking new nations well outside the so-called Euro-Atlantic zone, but how much credence the secretary general’s pronouncements should be given is best indicated by how unconscionably NATO lied its way into full-fledged wars in three continents over the past twelve years.

With 28 full members at present, after a 75 per cent increase between 1999-2009, and over 40 partners around the world, the North Atlantic bloc has integrated the militaries of a third of the world’s nations for deployments to war and post-war zones in the Balkans and South Asia, with Africa the next destination.

Its latest trophy is the battered, bloodied and brutalized body of Muammar Gaddafi, murdered after a U.S. Hellfire missile and French laser-guided bombs struck his convoy outside Sirte on October 20, eight months before what would have been his seventieth birthday. So bereft of the most elementary notions of decency and values, moral and aesthetic, are the governments of the West and the people they deserve (as a British writer a century ago reversed the well-known dictum of Joseph de Maistre), that the only stimulants left to awaken their satiated and dehumanized sensibilities are – as they are inured to violence, even on a mass scale – necrophilia and fiendish, ghoulish Grand Guignol. The lower tier of American culture, mass-market escapist entertainment, is consumed by a fascination with vampires, flesh-eating zombies and the like and graphic depictions of foreign leaders and former leaders being mauled and murdered are simply more lurid diversions for jaded ennuyés.

In reference to the murder of Gaddafi and his son Muatassim, the public display of their corpses and the sports enthusiast-like celebration of those gruesome acts by the likes of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin lambasted them as emblematic of sadistic triumphalism, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denounced them as disgusting and Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Ivan Melnikov characterized the first as “a striking illustration of American and their NATO allies’ policy in the North-African country,” according to Interfax in the third instance.

They are in fact grotesque, in the sense that Hegel defined the word, as the idealization of the ugly.

In his own words, the last-cited Russian official warned: “I think that the entire world should watch today the published photographs and video records of Gaddafi’s murder. It is not just a dead former leader of Libya. It’s the symbol of the sovereignty of an independent country that was torn to pieces by Americans.”

The day after Gaddafi’s murder the same news agency cited another deputy of the lower house of parliament of the same, Communist, party, Vadim Solovyov, as affirming: “The American economy is in need of inexpensive oil, so the U.S. government is even ready to wage wars, if only oil arrives…Any country with large reserves of energy resources – Iran, Syria, Venezuela or Nigeria – could come next.”

NATO ground, air and naval forces continue their murderous rampages in Afghanistan, across the border into Pakistan, in Kosovska Mitrovica, in Libya and off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden and adjoining waters (where NATO killed the captain of a Taiwanese fishing vessel and wounded two Iranian fishermen in separate attacks earlier this year).

A Stop NATO feature in August provided an, admittedly incomplete, list of nations that NATO, actuated by its first Strategic Concept for the 21st century adopted at the bloc’s summit in Lisbon last November and its initial implementation in Libya this year, could attack or otherwise intervene in next: Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Ecuador, Eritrea, Iran, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Moldova-Transdniester, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, the South Caucasus (Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia), Sudan-South Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Uganda, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

In the interim the Obama administration announced the deployment of special forces to four of the above nations and on the day of Gaddafi’s murder the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on African affairs, Senator Chris Coons, was reported by Associated Press as asserting that “Moammar Gadhafi’s death and the promise of a new Libyan regime are arguments for the measured U.S. military response in central Africa where the U.S. has sent roughly 100 troops” to Uganda, Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

That the nations of the world require almost daily assurances, however untrustworthy, that they will not be attacked by the mightiest multinational military formation in history is an indictment of the age that submits to living under such ongoing and ubiquitous threats. The time is ripe and in fact long overdue for issuing a call for an international anti-NATO initiative addressed to individuals, organizations, political parties and governments to convene an extraordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly to demand the disbanding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a – as the gravest – threat to world peace.

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Ernesto Cardenal: They speak of peace and secretly prepare for war

November 4, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Ernesto Cardenal
Psalm 5 (a paraphrase)
Translated by Robert Marquez

Give ear to my words, O Lord
Hearken unto my moaning
Pay heed to my protest
For you are not a God friendly to dictators
neither are you a partisan of their politics
Nor are you influenced by their propaganda
Neither are you in league with the gangster

There is no sincerity in their speeches
nor in their press releases

They speak of peace in their speeches
while they increase their war production
They speak of peace at Peace Conferences
and secretly prepare for war
Their lying radios roar into the night
Their desks are strewn with criminal intentions and sinister reports
But you will deliver me from their plans
They speak through the mouth of the submachine gun
Their flashing tongues are bayonets…

Punish them, O Lord,
thwart them in their policies
confuse their memorandums
obstruct their programs

At the hour of Alarm
you shall be with me
you shall be my refuge on the day of the Bomb
To him who believes not in the lies of their commercial messages
nor in their publicity campaigns nor in their political campaigns
you will give your blessing
With love do you encompass him
As with armor-plated tanks.

Psalm 5 (King James Version)

A Prayer for Protection
To the chief Musician upon Ne’hiloth, A Psalm of David.

Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my meditation.

Hearken unto the voice of my cry,
my King, and my God:
for unto thee will I pray.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD;
in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee,
and will look up.

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee.

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight:
thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing:
the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy:
and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies;
make thy way straight before my face.

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
their inward part is very wickedness;
their throat is an open sepulchre;
they flatter with their tongue.

Destroy thou them, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions;
for they have rebelled against thee.

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice:
let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them:
let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous;
with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

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César Vallejo: So much love and yet so powerless against death

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

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

César Vallejo
Mass (1939, posthumous)
Translated By Paul O’Prey

At the end of the battle the fighter lay dead. A man came to him
and said: ‘Don’t die! I love you too much!’
But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Two came to him and again said:
‘Don’t leave us! Take heart!
Come back to life!’
But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Then twenty, a hundred, a thousand,
Five hundred thousand, came, crying:
‘So much love and yet so powerless against death!’
But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Millions surrounded him,
pleading together:
‘Brother, don’t leave us!’
But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Then, all the men on earth
stood round him. The corpse eyed them sadly,
overwhelmed. He got up slowly,
embraced the first man, started to walk…

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Andrew Marvell: When roses only arms might bear

November 2, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Andrew Marvell: War all this doth overgrow

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Andrew Marvell
A Garden, Written after the Civil Wars

See how the flowers, as at parade,
Under their colours stand display’d:
Each regiment in order grows,
That of the tulip, pink, and rose.
But when the vigilant patrol
Of stars walks round about the pole,
Their leaves, that to the stalks are curl’d,
Seem to their staves the ensigns furl’d.
Then in some flower’s beloved hut
Each bee, as sentinel, is shut,
And sleeps so too; but if once stirr’d,
She runs you through, nor asks the word.
O thou, that dear and happy Isle,
The garden of the world erewhile,
Thou Paradise of the four seas
Which Heaven planted us to please,
But, to exclude the world, did guard
With wat’ry if not flaming sword;
What luckless apple did we taste
To make us mortal and thee waste!
Unhappy! shall we never more
That sweet militia restore,
When gardens only had their towers,
And all the garrisons were flowers;
When roses only arms might bear,
And men did rosy garlands wear?

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Thomas Campion: Then bloody swords and armour should not be

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Thomas Campion: Raving war wastes our empty fields

Thomas Campion: Upright man needs neither towers nor armour

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Thomas Campion
A Booke of Ayres (1601)
My Sweetest Lesbia (after Catullus)

My sweetest Lesbia, let vs liue and loue,
And though the sager sort our deedes reproue,
Let vs not way them: heau’ns great lampes doe diue
Into their west, and straight againe reuiue,
But soone as once set is our little light,
Then must we sleepe one euer-during night.

If all would lead their liues in loue like mee,
Then bloudie swords and armour should not be,
No drum nor trumpet peaceful sleepes should moue,
Vnles alar’me came from the campe of loue:
But fooles do liue, and wast their little light,
And seeke with paine their euer-during night.

When timely death my life and fortune ends,
Let not my hearse be vext with mourning friends,
But let all louers rich in triumph come,
And with sweet pastimes grace my happie tombe;
And Lesbia close vp thou my little light,
And crown with loue my euer-during night.

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