We’re all in the same (sinking) boat

I heartily recommend an article in today’s New York Times entitled “Beyond Low Vaccination Rates Lurks a More Profound Social Weakness” (the original title, in the print edition, was “What Causes Vaccine Hesitancy?”). Authored by Anita Sreedhar and Anand Gopal, it makes non-vaxxers, who I still think are illogical and not looking out for themselves and others, a lot more understandable. It also makes a very important point about what’s lacking in our public health system (the same as what’s lacking in our system as a whole). There’s still some connection to Trump’s disastrous politicization of the pandemic, but that’s not the whole story. He was/is capitalizing on some big holes and weaknesses in our society as a whole, a result, I think, of the two-party political system dominated by the corporate elite (the 1%). A system like this that doesn’t work for so many can’t and won’t meaningfully address big things like disease, climate change, resource depletion, etc. And it’s a worldwide system, dominated by a few “successful” countries, as the global migrant crisis, criticized by Pope Francis this weekend, shows. What the 1% and those hanging onto their coattails don’t realize is that they and their families will eventually suffer from the big problems, too. We’re all ultimately one, standing or falling together.

Climate change will end the age of empires and force us to adopt world government

As envisaged in Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent novel The Ministry for the Future, and detailed in Alfred McCoy’s article “To Govern the Globe” yesterday on counterpunch.org, the capitalist nation-state system’s failure to address climate change will eventually lead to the adoption of some kind of world government in a last-ditch attempt to save and protect whatever of earthly life is left.

After listing three successive world empires (Spanish/Portuguese, British, and American), McCoy concludes his article by saying, “it seems safe to assume that China will gain enough strength to weaken Washington’s global grip and become the preeminent world power around 2030. Count on one thing, though: the accelerating pace of climate change will almost certainly curtail China’s hegemony within two or three decades…If the ‘Chinese century’ does indeed start around 2030, barring remarkable advances in the reduction of the use of fossil fuels on this planet, it’s likely to end sometime around 2050 when its main financial center [Shanghai] is flooded out and its agricultural heartland [the North China Plain, a prime agricultural region between Beijing and Shanghai currently inhabited by 400 million people] begins to swelter in insufferable heat and humidity.

Given that Washington’s world system and Beijing’s emerging alternative show every sign of failing to limit carbon emissions in significant enough ways, by mid-century the international community will likely need a new form of global governance to contain the damage…As long as nations have the sovereign right to seal their borders, the world will have no way of protecting the human rights of hundreds of millions of climate-change refugees. Facing a spectacle of mass global suffering, the community of nations might well agree on the need for a new form of global governance. Such a supranational body or bodies would need sovereign authority over three critical areas: emissions controls, refugee resettlement, and environmental reconstruction. If the transition to renewable energy sources is still not complete by 2050, then this international body might well compel nations to curb emissions and adopt renewable energy. Whether under the auspices of the UN or a successor organization, a high commissioner for global refugees would need the authority to supersede state sovereignty in order to require nations to help resettle such tidal flows of humanity. The future equivalents of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank could also transfer resources from wealthy temperate countries to feed tropical communities decimated by climate change.

Massive programs like these would change the very idea of what constitutes a world order. At present, no one can predict whether such reforms will come soon enough to slow climate change or arrive too late to do anything but manage the escalating damage of uncontrollable feedback loops. One thing is becoming quite clear, however. The environmental destruction in our future will be so profound that anything less than the emergence of a new form of global governance – one capable of protecting the planet and the human rights of all its inhabitants – will mean that wars over water, land, and people are likely to erupt across the planet amid climate chaos. Absent some truly fundamental change in our global governance and in energy use, by mid-century humanity will begin to face disasters of an almost unimaginable kind that will make imperial orders of any sort something for the history books.”

Massive famine beginning in Afghanistan

Please go to http://www.democracynow.com today, 11-16-21, to view or read its headline story of a massive famine beginning in Afghanistan because of US economic sanctions. This important topic wasn’t anywhere in the New York Times today, whose coverage, even on the World link, is all US-oriented.

US economic sanctions of various kinds harm and kill even more people than our wars and drone strikes, and achieve nothing.

Afghans are fleeing into Iran, which also suffers from US sanctions, and then, along with Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians, and others, all suffering from “First World” policies, are trying to get into Europe. They’re being forcibly turned away, most notably at the Belarus/Polish border, just like Mexicans and Central Americans are turned away at our southern border.

These are human beings, trying to live, and protect their children. We Americans and Europeans, more privileged by the luck of where we were born, need to welcome and help them, and stop our government from harming them in the first place. This is what Jesus taught. Are we really going to celebrate his birth in another month with food and material gifts while children are freezing and starving to death because our governments think we’re better than they are?

The Hypocrisy of Bemoaning the End of the US War in Afghanistan

According to an 8-16-21 piece on Counterpunch by David Swanson, “the U.S. government, according to its own reporting, accounts for 66% of all the weapons exported to the least democratic quintile of nations on earth. Of the 50 most oppressive governments identified by a U.S.-government-funded study, the U.S. arms 82% of them: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen. Israel’s government, notorious for its violent oppression of Palestinian people, is not on that list (it’s a U.S.-funded list) but is the top recipient of “aid” funding for U.S. weapons from the U.S. government. The Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act (H.R.4718) would prevent U.S. weapons sales to other nations that are in violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law. During the last Congress, the bill, introduced by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, gathered a grand total of zero cosponsors.

What do you notice about that list of nations? One of them, Afghanistan, was on the list of oppressive governments before the Taliban threatened to take it over. And the other 40 are of truly minimal interest to the U.S. corporate media, much less to any of the “BUT THE WOMEN!” crowd out there moaning in agony that a war might end. The same crowd seems to have no objection to the proposal moving through the U.S. Congress to force U.S. women at age 18 to register for a military draft that would have them (against their will) killing and dying in more of these wars?

What would I propose that the U.S. government do for the women and men and children of Afghanistan now, regardless of horrible decisions in the past that it’s too late to undo and silly and offensive to rehash?

1. Until it can reform itself into an entity capable of benevolent action, not a goddamned thing.

2. Stop encouraging the Taliban to think that it can become a model U.S. client state in a few years if it’s mean and nasty enough, by ceasing to arm and train and fund brutal dictatorships all over the globe.

3. Cease eroding the idea of the rule of law around the world by dropping opposition to the International Criminal Court and the World Court, by joining the International Criminal Court, and by eliminating the veto and democratizing the United Nations Security Council.

4. Cease being the leading holdout globally on major human rights treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which every nation on earth has ratified except the United States, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which every nation on earth has ratified except the United States, Iran, Sudan, and Somalia.

5. Move 20% of the U.S. military budget into useful things each year for five years.

6. Move 10% of that rededicated funding into providing no-strings-attached aid and encouragement to the most law-abiding and honest-to-god small-d democratic poor nations on the planet.

7. Take a hard look at the U.S. government, and take serious steps to remove bribery from the election system, establish fair public funding and media coverage for elections, and remove gerrymandering, the filibuster, and as soon as possible the United States Senate.

8. Free, apologize to, and thank every whistleblower who’s told us what the U.S. government was doing in Afghanistan for the past 20 years. Consider why we needed whistleblowers to tell us.

9. Prosecute or free and apologize to every prisoner at Guantanamo, close the base, and get out of Cuba.

10. Get out of the way of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Taliban crimes in Afghanistan, as well as its prosecution of crimes committed there by the Afghan government, and by the militaries of the United States and its junior partners.

11. Swiftly become an entity that can credibly comment on horrors being committed by the Taliban, by – among other things – caring enough about humanity to invest heavily in ending the destruction of the earth’s climate and the existence of nuclear weapons.”

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. 

Free Winona!

Winona LaDuke and many others have been trying to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline construction, which threatens the integrity of the headwaters of the Mississippi River area, where Winona and many of the other protestors live. This encapsulates all the major issues of our time: capitalism and fossil fuels vs. living in harmony with the earth, which is casting us off with a pandemic and global warming because we don’t recognize our place in the web of life and support its processes. As a group, the majority in this country also fail to honor non-white lives and cultures — the diversity, which nature exemplifies. I think we need to recognize that man-made laws and the police and military protect the capitalist, racist system and private property, rather than people or Life

Winona is currently in a local county jail, the powers-that-be hoping that the Stop Line-3 movement will fall apart without her on-site leadership. What they fail to recognize is that this is a leader-full movement that I hope will grow and continue. Native Lives and Livelihoods (wild rice, etc.) matter, and so does the earth and water on which all forms of life, including the mostly arrogant Western world, depends.