Wednesday, December 31, 2008

War Crimes Tribunal/From The Ashes of Gaza

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 3:23 PM

An Israeli  War Crimes Tribunal May be the Only Deterrent to a Global War

By Francis A. Boyle

The United Nations General Assembly must immediately establish an

International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as a "subsidiary organ"

under U.N. Charter Article 22. The ICTI would be organized along the lines

of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was

established by the Security Council.

The purpose of the ICTI would be to investigate and prosecute Israeli war

crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon

and Palestine--just as the ICTY did for the victims of international crimes

committed by Serbia and the Milosevic Regime throughout the Balkans.

The establishment of ICTI would provide some small degree of justice to the

victims of Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against

the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine--just as the ICTY has done in the

Balkans. Furthermore, the establishment of ICTI by the U.N. General Assembly

would serve as a deterrent effect upon Israeli leaders such as Prime

Minister Olmert,  Foreign Minister Livni,   Defense Minister  Barak  , Chief of Staff  Ashkenazi  and Israel's

other top generals that they will be prosecuted for their further infliction

of international crimes upon the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

Without such a deterrent, Israel might be emboldened to attack Syria with

the full support of the Likhudnik Bush Jr. Neoconservatives, who have always

viewed Syria as "low-hanging fruit" ready to be taken out by means of their

joint aggression.  If Israel attacks Syria as it did when

it invaded Lebanon in 1982, Iran has vowed to come to Syria's defense.

And of course Israel and the Bush Jr administration very much want a pretext

to attack Iran.  This scenario could readily degenerate into World War III.

For the U.N. General Assembly to establish ICTI could stop the further

development of this momentum towards a regional if not global catastrophe. 

Francis A. Boyle

Law Building

504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.

Champaign, IL 61820 USA

217-333-7954 (Voice)

217-244-1478 (Fax)

(personal comments only)


Published on Tuesday, December 30, 2008 by The Guardian/UK

From The Ashes of Gaza

In the face of Israel's latest onslaught, the only option for Palestinian nationalism is to embrace a one-state solution

by Tariq Ali

The assault on Gaza [1], planned over six months [2] and executed with perfect timing, was designed largely, as Neve Gordon has rightly observed [3], to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder in a cynical contest between the right and the far right in Israel. Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon in 2006, sit back and watch.

Washington, as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet. The EU politicians, having observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, the targeting of civilians etc (for all the gory detail, see Harvard scholar Sara Roy's chilling essay in the London Review of Books [4]) were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had "provoked" Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect. The moth-eaten Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt and Nato's favourite Islamists in Ankara failed to register even a symbolic protest by recalling their ambassadors from Israel. China and Russia did not convene a meeting of the UN security council to discuss the crisis.

As result of official apathy, one outcome of this latest attack will be to inflame Muslim communities throughout the world and swell the ranks of those very organisations that the west claims it is combating in the "war against terror".

The bloodshed in Gaza raises broader strategic questions for both sides, issues related to recent history. One fact that needs to be recognised is that there is no Palestinian Authority. There never was one. The Oslo Accords [5] were an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians, creating a set of disconnected and shrivelled Palestinian ghettoes under the permanent watch of a brutal enforcer. The PLO, once the repository of Palestinian hope, became little more than a supplicant for EU money.

Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The west and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the "international community" in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, US and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run.

Even the timing of the election was set by the determination to rig the outcome. Scheduled for the summer of 2005, it was delayed till January 2006 to give Abbas time to distribute assets in Gaza - in the words of an Egyptian intelligence officer, "the public will then support the Authority against Hamas."

Popular desire for a clean broom after ten years of corruption, bullying and bluster under Fatah proved stronger than all of this. Hamas's electoral triumph was treated as an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism, and a fearsome blow to the prospects of peace with Israel, by rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world. Immediate financial and diplomatic pressures were applied to force Hamas to adopt the same policies as those of the party it had defeated at the polls. Uncompromised by the Palestinian Authority's combination of greed and dependency, the self-enrichment of its servile spokesmen and policemen, and their acquiescence in a "peace process" that has brought only further expropriation and misery to the population under them, Hamas offered the alternative of a simple example. Without any of the resources of its rival, it set up clinics, schools, hospitals, vocational training and welfare programmes for the poor. Its leaders and cadres lived frugally, within reach of ordinary people.

It is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad base of its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran. How far its conduct in the second Intifada has given it an additional degree of credibility is less clear. Its armed attacks on Israel, like those of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or Islamic Jihad, have been retaliations against an occupation far more deadly than any actions it has ever undertaken. Measured on the scale of IDF killings, Palestinian strikes have been few and far between. The asymmetry was starkly exposed during Hamas's unilateral ceasefire, begun in June 2003, and maintained throughout the summer, despite the Israeli campaign of raids and mass arrests that followed, in which some 300 Hamas cadres were seized from the West Bank.

On August 19 2003, a self-proclaimed "Hamas" cell from Hebron, disowned and denounced by the official leadership, blew up a bus [6] in west Jerusalem, upon which Israel promptly assassinated [7] the Hamas ceasefire's negotiator, Ismail Abu Shanab. Hamas, in turn, responded. In return, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states cut funding to its charities and, in September 2003, the EU declared the whole Hamas movement to be a terrorist organization - a longstanding demand of Tel Aviv.

What has actually distinguished Hamas in a hopelessly unequal combat is not dispatch of suicide bombers, to which a range of competing groups resorted, but its superior discipline - demonstrated by its ability to enforce a self-declared ceasefire against Israel over the past year. All civilian deaths are to be condemned, but since Israel is their principal practitioner, Euro-American cant serves only to expose those who utter it. Overwhelmingly, the boot of murder is on the other foot, ruthlessly stamped into Palestine by a modern army equipped with jets, tanks and missiles in the longest-armed oppression of modern history.

"Nobody can reject or condemn the revolt of a people that has been suffering under military occupation for 45 years against occupation force," said General Shlomo Gazit [8], former chief of Israeli military intelligence, in 1993. The real grievance of the EU and US against Hamas is that it refused to accept the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the Palestinians. The west's priority ever since was to break this resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting the presidential powers of Abbas - as publicly picked for his post by Washington, as was Karzai in Kabul - at the expense of the legislative council is another.

No serious efforts were made to negotiate with the elected Palestinian leadership. I doubt if Hamas could have been rapidly suborned to western and Israeli interests, but it would not have been unprecedented. Hamas' programmatic heritage remains mortgaged to the most fatal weakness of Palestinian nationalism: the belief that the political choices before it are either rejection of the existence of Israel altogether or acceptance of the dismembered remnants of a fifth of the country. From the fantasy maximalism of the first to the pathetic minimalism of the second, the path is all too short, as the history of Fatah has shown.

The test for Hamas is not whether it can be house-trained to the satisfaction of western opinion, but whether it can break with this crippling tradition. Soon after the Hamas election victory in Gaza, I was asked in public by a Palestinian what I would do in their place. "Dissolve the Palestinian Authority" was my response and end the make-believe. To do so would situate the Palestinian national cause on its proper basis, with the demand that the country and its resources be divided equitably, in proportion to two populations that are equal in size - not 80% to one and 20% to the other, a dispossession of such iniquity that no self-respecting people will ever submit to it in the long run. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians alike, in which the exactions of Zionism are repaired. There is no other way.

And Israeli citizens might ponder the following words from Shakespeare (in The Merchant of Venice), which I have slightly altered:

"I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that ... the villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."


© 2008 Guardian News and Media Limited

Tariq Ali has been a leading figure of the international left since the 60s. He has been writing for the Guardian since the 70s. He is a long-standing editor of the New Left Review and a political commentator published on every continent.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


James Rainey | Freedom of the Press as a Foreign Concept


t r u t h o u t | 12.30


Freedom of the Press as a Foreign Concept

Sunday 28 December 2008


by: James Rainey, The Los Angeles Times


    A Mexican reporter who wrote about drug violence in his homeland is being held in custody by none other than the U.S. government and its immigration service.


    Yes, we reporters might get stuck covering the late shift or - egad! - a parade. When disaster strikes or a source calls back on deadline, the nights can be long. Newspaper layoffs and hard economic times can cast a pall over just about everything we do.


    But those concerns seem a piffle every time I read dispatches from around the world about journalists who, fighting for the story, also must fight for their lives.


    The day before Christmas, an international group condemned the protracted torture of a journalist in Pakistan. And militant Maoists ransacked the offices of an opposition newspaperin Nepal. Its crime? Using acronyms for two of the militant groups without distinguishing between them.


    A couple of days later, news arrived that Zimbabwean journalist and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko had been accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Mukoko - already in custody for challenging Robert Mugabe, the thug who runs her country - could face death.


    Sadly, real press freedom remains elusive even closer to home, as revealed by another story just over our southern border.


    Two days before Christmas, a 15-year-old Mexican boy held a news conference in El Paso to detail how his reporter father had been held - without charges - for six months. Theperpetrators were not shadowy foreign agents or some sketchy dictator, but the United States government and its immigration service.


    The story grows out of the drug violence that has beset Mexico and left more than 5,300 people dead this year. Since 2000, 44 journalists have been killed in Mexico, many of them targeted for writing about the drug gangs that dominate the country.


    The military crackdown on the drug lords has created its own problems. And that's what brought reporter Emilio Gutierrez Soto of El Diario del Noroeste into the story.


    In 2005, he wrote that some soldiers were drunk when they raided a hotel in northern Chihuahua state. Other stories reported alleged thievery by the military. Last spring, a squad of soldiers and their commanding officer invited Gutierrez to a restaurant in his hometown of Ascension. They told him he would pay with his life if he continued. They ordered him not to tell anyone about the meeting.


    Gutierrez, 46, promptly wrote another story, in which he recounted the alleged death threat. A few nights later, he said, a pounding on the door awoke him and his son.


    Some 50 soldiers, wearing masks, ripped through the house, claiming they were looking for drugs and illegal weapons, he said.


    The soldiers didn't find anything and left, Gutierrez said. After, a friend of one of the soldiers warned him that the next visit would be the last.


    Gutierrez, the sole supporter of his son, decided he could not wait. On June 15, the reporter and his boy crossed the Rio Grande and into the land of the 1st Amendment, turning themselves in to immigration officials and pleading for asylum.


    Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials took father and son into custody and sent them to a detention center in El Paso.


    The U.S. has rejected asylum requests from several other Mexican journalists who said they feared for their safety. But Gutierrez said he believed he could prove he had a real and credible fear for his personal safety in his home country.


    The bitter irony - according to his lawyer, Carlos Spector - is that by presenting himself as an "arriving alien," the reporter was not entitled to the judicial hearing that an illegal crosser would have received.


    ICE's request to postpone his hearing until March means that Gutierrez will have waited nine months to plead his case.


    So he sits and waits, missing his freedom and his son (who was released to family friends in the U.S. after a couple of months in custody). He wonders how he can make a new start, if he gets the chance.


    "I am not a criminal," the reporter said in a telephone interview last week. "I am a journalist."


    U.S. officials, Spector said, have called Gutierrez a "threat to the community" but offered no evidence. "They can't even come up with a rationale," Spector said. "They don't even try."


    An ICE spokeswoman declined to comment, citing Gutierrez's privacy and the pending hearing.


    Spector theorizes that the U.S. government is loath to offer relief to a journalist who has raised doubts about the Mexican military's conduct. That would embarrass an ally and trading partner.


    Even if he could be released back to Mexico, Gutierrez said, he would not want to go, fearful about his safety and of leaving his son behind. "I love my country, but I can't go," he said. "Because if I do, I'm going to die."


    Another El Diario reporter was shot to death last month outside his home in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso. An online newspaper editor at the funeral received a cell phone call: "You will be next."


    Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit that advocates for journalists, has spearheaded attempts to win Gutierrez's release. The Catholic bishop of El Paso last week lent his voice to the campaign.


    It would be nice to believe our government is trying only to protect us. But it's hard to imagine what's taking so long to decide Gutierrez's fate - or what would warrant holding a reporter for so long, without the chance to plead for his freedom.


    In the meantime, the US government has pledged that it wants to help Mexico win its war on drugs and corruption.


    A good way to start would be to protect the journalists who have risked their lives to help the public understand a sad, sad state of affairs.


House will shape environmental, energy and workplace safety policies."


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Your favorite vice president -- the vote was very close/The Noose Tightens

Toon of the Day

Cheney Review

Jeff Danziger



Toon of the Day

War Criminal Confesses

Wasserman - Boston Globe



Sponsored By

The Noose Tightens

Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and other top Bush officials could soon face legal jeopardy.

Jonathan Tepperman

Newsweek Web Exclusive

The United States, like many countries, has a bad habit of committing wartime excesses and an even worse record of accounting for them afterward. But a remarkable string of recent events suggests that may finally be changing—and that top Bush administration officials could soon face legal jeopardy for prisoner abuse committed under their watch in the war on terror.

In early December, in a highly unusual move, a federal court in New York agreed to rehear a lawsuit against former Attorney General John Ashcroft brought by a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar. (Arar was a victim of the administration's extraordinary rendition program: he was seized by U.S. officials in 2002 while in transit through Kennedy Airport and deported to Syria, where he was tortured.) Then, on Dec. 15, the Supreme Court revived a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld by four Guantánamo detainees alleging abuse there—a reminder that the court, unlike the White House, will extend Constitutional protections to foreigners at Gitmo. Finally, in the same week the Senate Armed Service Committee, led by Carl Levin and John McCain, released a blistering report specifically blaming key administration figures for prisoner mistreatment and interrogation techniques that broke the law. The bipartisan report reads like a brief for the prosecution—calling, for example, Rumsfeld's behavior a "direct cause" of abuse. Analysts say it gives a green light to prosecutors, and supplies them with political cover and factual ammunition. Administration officials, with a few exceptions, deny wrongdoing. Vice President Dick Cheney says there was nothing improper with U.S. interrogation techniques—"we don't do torture," he repeated in an ABC interview on Dec. 15. The government blamed the worst abuses, such as those at Abu Ghraib, on a few bad apples.

High-level charges, if they come, would be a first in U.S. history. "Traditionally we've caught some poor bastard down low and not gone up the chain," says Burt Neuborne, a constitutional expert and Supreme Court lawyer at NYU. Prosecutions may well be forestalled if Bush issues a blanket pardon in his final days, as Neuborne and many other experts now expect. (Some see Cheney's recent defiant-sounding admission of his own role in approving waterboarding as an attempt to force Bush's hand.)

Constitutionally, Bush could pardon everyone involved in formulating and executing the administration's interrogation techniques without providing specifics or naming names. And the pardon could apply to himself. Such a step, however, would seem like an admission of guilt and thus be politically awkward. Even if Bush takes it, civil suits for monetary damages could still proceed; such cases, though hard to win, are proliferating. Yet most legal scholars argue that a civil suit would not the best approach here. Neuborne calls it an "excessively lawyer-centric" strategy and says judges are extremely reluctant to award damages in such cases. Conservative legal experts like David Rifkin (who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations) argue that no accounting is necessary, since the worst interrogation techniques, like waterboarding, have already been abandoned and Obama is expected to make further changes.

A growing group of advocates are now instead calling for a South African-style truth and reconciliation commission. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, says that although "we know what went on," "knowledge and a change in practices are not sufficient: there must be acknowledgment and repudiation as well." He favors the creation of a nonpartisan commission of inquiry with a professional staff and subpoena power, calling it "the only way to definitively repudiate this ugly chapter in U.S. history."

But for those interested in tougher sanctions, one other possibility looms. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld," points out that over 20 countries now have universal jurisdiction laws that would allow them to indict U.S. officials for torture if America doesn't do it itself. A few such cases were attempted in recent years but were dropped, reportedly under U.S. pressure. Now the Obama administration may be less likely to stand in their way. This doesn't mean it will extradite Cheney and Co. to stand trial abroad. But at the very least, the threat of such suits could soon force Bush aides to think twice before buying plane tickets. "The world is getting smaller for these guys," says Ratner, "and they'll have to check with their lawyers very carefully before they travel." Jail time it isn't—but it may be some justice nonetheless.



© 2008 


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Vigil to honor Baltimore's homicide victims/Christmas Massacres "Killed 400" - read with caution as subject matter is brutal

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2008 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm



t r u t h o u t | 12.30


Christmas Massacres "Killed 400"

Tuesday 30 December 2008


by: BBC News


    More than 400 people have been killed by Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo in attacks since Christmas day, aid agency Caritas says.


    The head of Caritas in DR Congo told the BBC some 20,000 people had fled to the mountains from the rebels, who have denied carrying out the attacks.


    An eyewitness told the BBC that five people in Faradje had their lips cut off by Lord's Resistance Army fighters.


    They were told that it was a warning not to speak ill of the rebels.


    The armies of Uganda, South Sudan and DR Congo carried out a joint offensive against the rebels in mid-December after LRA leader Joseph Kony again refused to sign a peace deal.


    The LRA leader, who has lived in a jungle hideout in north-eastern DR Congo for the last few years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


    Uganda's government had been involved in lengthy peace negotiations with the LRA, hosted by the South Sudanese government.


    But Mr Kony has demanded that arrest warrants for him and his associates be dropped before any agreement can be struck.


    "Hacked to Death"


    News of the attacks in north-eastern DR Congo began to come out after the weekend when the Ugandan army accused the LRA of hacking to death 45 civilians in a Catholic church near Doruma.


    Bruno Mitewo, head of the Catholic aid agency, says that from information they have collated from their parishes on the ground, more than 400 civilians have died in the attacks.


    He said that in Faradje 150 civilians had died, almost 75 people in Duru and 215 in Doruma.


    The victims had been hacked to death and forced into fires, he said.


    "All villages were burned by rebels... we don't know where exactly the population is because all the villages are empty," he told the BBC.


    "We have almost 6,500 displaced who are refugees in the parishes of the Catholic Church around the city of Dungu, more than 20,000 people displaced are running to the mountains," he said.


    Those who were hiding in the bush and forest were mainly the young, as the LRA tends to kidnap children and recruit them as fighters, he said.


    An eyewitness in Faradje said the people who had their lips cut off were being treated for their injuries.


    Earlier, LRA spokesman David Nekorach Matsanga told the BBC that the allegations that the massacres had been perpetrated by LRA fighters were untrue.


    He said rebel units were not in the areas concerned and said a group of LRA defectors who joined the Ugandan army may have been responsible.


    Many thousands of Congolese villagers fled their homes after LRA attacks near Dungu in October.


    Countries from Uganda to the Central African Republic have suffered 20 years of terror inflicted by the LRA.


    Tens of thousands of children have been abducted to be fighters and sex slaves.


    Uganda's government said the joint offensive had destroyed some 70% of the LRA camps in DR Congo.


    BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says that Mr Kony's force is relatively small - about 650 strong - but the difficulty is that when it is hit, it scatters and then regroups.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Searching for today's Gandhis and Kings

There are 22 days until Jan. 20, 2009.


Searching for today's Gandhis and Kings

Washington Times - Washington, DC, USA

By Daniel L. Davis, Thursday, December 25, 2008

More than 2 million people have been displaced and 200,000 have been killed in the four-year-old conflict between government-backed Arab militias and the mostly black African Darfuris in Sudan. Some foreign leaders have accused the government of genocide.

Romans 12:17-18:
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

The Bible:
Sura 8, chapter 6: And if they incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in Allah

The Koran:
We are today in one of the world's most violent and unstable periods since perhaps World War II.

In the past seven years the world has seen major terror attacks in the United States, Great Britain, Spain, Africa, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India, horrific genocidal slaughter in Darfur and outright war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of citizens, soldiers, insurgents, men, women, children, the innocent, the guilty and the in-between have been killed, wounded, maimed, blown apart, beheaded, executed and otherwise dispatched from the land of the living. Tensions are heating to the boiling point and could explode into major war between India and Pakistan; the Kurds and Iraq/Turkey/Iran/Syria; Iran and the United States/Israel; Hezbollah and Israel; and Russia and Georgia - among others. War and rumors of war dominate our lives.

Somehow the spirit of joy and happiness that normally characterizes this time of year seems strangely out of place. Far more than presents this Christmas, we are in desperate need of the gift of peace.

The editorial pages of the nation's leading newspapers are stocked full of pundits explaining how we can "win the war on terror" by using strong-armed tactics, co-opting the weak and employing intimidation to attain our ends. Many recommend we threaten military action against Iran if it doesn't bend to our will. Others argue that the new president ought to hold to a tough and aggressive policy regarding Russian "aggression."

Still more enthusiastically endorse a deepening and widening of the war in Afghanistan, perhaps even to Pakistan - whether the government in Islamabad agrees to it or not. What is consistent about all these efforts is that they posit that to achieve peace, we must employ ever greater amounts of violence and force. The result seems only to be a festering of the violence, an increase in the amount of terrorism and more antagonistic relations between nation states.

But what we need now more than ever is the emergence of strong, powerful, disciplined and visionary men and women of peace to show a new and better way.

Not at all referring to anti-war protesting, I believe the world needs courageous and driven people who are willing to stand against the tide of increasing violence and the militarization of conflict resolution, to aggressively promote peaceful solutions and reason; and to appeal to the better side of man's nature. It is a commonly held belief among rational and educated adults that such ideas are "pie in the sky" comments better suited to fairy tales than serious policy discussion. But such dismissive attitudes would be factually wrong. History provides powerful and recent evidence to the contrary.

In my view, the five most historically significant and consequential leaders in American history are George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Our nation would not be what it is today were it not for the cumulative efforts of all five men. King is most commonly lauded for the courage and passion he displayed in his fight for the equality of black Americans during the turbulent '60s. But such a view fails to illuminate the powerful intellect, wisdom, moral courage, discipline and iron will of the man I believe was the most consequential American of the 20th century.

The passage of time has dulled contemporary understanding of the humiliation, the violence and outright evil King endured to bring justice and equality to American citizens who happened to have black skin. Had he responded with "an eye for an eye" and answered violence with violence, I am convinced that King would have only been a footnote in history and the cause for which he fought would have foundered. But he did not follow the path of violence, and the 300 million residents of our country are today the lucky beneficiaries of his efforts.

King, who himself was inspired early in his life by the example of nonviolent resistance demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi, wrote in his autobiography that "Gandhi resisted evil with as much vigor and power as the violent resister, but he resisted with love instead of hate. True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power. It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflictor of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart."

In his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, King expanded on this theme when he said, "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force." King did not simply lay the foundation of equality for black Americans, he elevated American society and culture itself with his commitment to nonviolent resistance. Where, I ask, is the Martin Luther King Jr. of the 21st century?

Perhaps somewhere in America this day there lives a man or woman in whose soul burns a King-esque passion for the betterment of our nation and world. Someone who believes that the solution to violence is not simply the application of more and greater force, but the way of understanding, respect, honor, wisdom, creative ideas and humility. But maybe that person is somewhere in Pakistan. Or maybe Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Canada, Germany, Russia, or even what we might consider the unlikeliest of places - Iran, some obscure madrassa in the Islamic world or a former member of Hezbollah. Better yet, how great it would be if a number of new Gandhis or Kings rose from each of those locations, working within their respective spheres of influence for the common good of both their own nation and the world around them.

Conventional wisdom in today's world ridicules the idea that a violent world can be changed using nonviolent means - just like British authorities initially ridiculed Gandhi and American leaders in the South dismissed the efforts of King. But I submit the absence of such visionaries, coupled with the currently prevailing concept for the escalation of violence to solve violent problems, could lead to the same globally volatile environment that existed in 1914.

On the eve of the "Great War," leaders in countries all over Europe were intent on not appearing weak in the eyes of their competitors, and thus took strong action after the Sarajevo spark, answering strength with strength, violence with escalating violence so that their adversaries would "get the message." Instead, as has happened all too often in mankind's history, violence took on a life of its own, spiraling out of anyone's control. Millions paid with their lives; whole generations of European men were gutted.

For there to be even a chance of avoiding their fate, new leaders cast from the molds of Gandhi and King must arise. Pray such leaders show themselves soon.

• Army Maj. Daniel L. Davis is a cavalry officer who fought in Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Kucinich Calls for UN Investigation into Israeli Attacks on Gaza/NLG condemns massacre

Published on Cleveland Leader (

Kucinich Calls for UN Investigation into Israeli Attacks on Gaza

By Julie

Created 12/29/2008 - 2:06pm

Cleveland congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is now calling for a United Nations investigation to attacks on Gaza by Israel. Kucinich also criticized Israel for what he deems a disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks, standing in stark contrast to other House Democrats that have offered nearly unanimous support for Israel.

Leading Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), have blamed Hamas for the most recent violence in the Middle East that has left more than 300 dead in Gaza. Meanwhile, just one individual in Israel has been killed by a Hamas rocket.

Kucinich likens Israel's attacks on Gaza to its 2006 war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Kucinich said that in both cases civilian populations were attacked and "countless innocents" were injured or killed.

In a statement Kucinich said:

“All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law. Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable.”

Kucinich continues stating that the perpetrators of attacks against Israel should be brought to justice, but that Israel "cannot create a ware against and entire people in order to attempt to bring justice to the few who are responsible."

In his statement Kucinich said that he sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting an independent inquiry into the situation, stating that attacks on civilians represented collective punishment, a violation a Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Pelosi and Reid, meanwhile, have remained steadfast in their support of Israel. President-elect Barack Obama has not yet weighed in on the violence, although his advisor, David Axelrod, noted Sunday evening that statements Obama made over the summer supported Israel's right to defend itself.

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The National Lawyers Guild Condemns Illegal Israeli Massacre of over 300 Gazans, Calls for Ceasefire and Urges Participation in Protests 

Monday, December 29, 2008, 01:57 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, December 29, 2008
Contact: Marjorie Cohn, NLG President,; 619-374-6923
Radhika Sainath, NLG Free Gaza Committee,, 917-669-6903

The National Lawyers Guild Condemns Illegal Israeli Massacre of over 300 Gazans, Calls for Ceasefire and Urges Participation in Protests

New York. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns Israel's massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip which has left over 300 dead and 1,400 wounded, with the tolls mounting. The Israeli Air Force dropped more than 100 bombs in dozens of locations throughout the Gaza Strip as children left school on Saturday. The dead include men, women and children in school uniforms.

"International law forbids the targeting of civilians," said Radhika Sainath, a civil rights attorney and member of the Free Gaza Committee of the NLG. "Israel must comply with laws of war and the Fourth Geneva Convention." Today's massacre marks an escalation of Israel's two-year blockade of the Strip which has deprived 1.5 million Palestinians of necessary food, medicine, fuel and other necessities. In November 2008, the United Nations stated that it had run out of food to feed over 750,000 needy Gazans.

Israel claims that the attack is in response to Palestinian rocket fire, which caused no recent Israeli deaths and few injuries. However, Israel's "rolling bombardment" and impending ground invasion is grossly disproportionate in light of the minimal damage caused by Palestinian rockets. “The law of war prohibits collective punishment and the targeting of a civilian population disproportionate to military necessity. Israel has flouted both these prohibitions, that follow its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and its sealing of Gaza, subjecting Gazans to near starvation,” said Marjorie Cohn, NLG president and a professor of international law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. “The Human Rights and Security Assistance Act mandates that the United States cease all military aid to Israel, which has engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

Israeli military spokesman Avi Benayahu stated that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was "only just the beginning," showing utter contempt for international norms and the lives of innocent Palestinians. The Guild calls on the entire international community, and the United States in particular, to demand an end to Israel's blockade of the Occupied Territories and its murderous assault on the Palestinian people. We urge everyone to join in the demonstrations planned across the country in opposition to this latest attack on the rule of law by Israel and we call on both sides to immediately reinstate the cease fire.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs