Outrage at CorporateHaven
By Anne Petermann
December 9, 2009 – At the UN conference on climate change, the leak to the press of a document prepared by the Danish government, in collaboration with other rich countries, raised a lot of ire among those whose input was excluded. In response, the African delegation staged a spontaneous protest in the halls of the Bella Center, chanting "two degrees is suicide" in reference to a section of the leaked document that would allow for a two degree rise in global temperatures-which would lead to the deaths of millions of people in Africa.
On Human Rights Day, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Indigenous Peoples Power Project held a "Procession, Prayer and Rally for Indigenous Rights" at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen. On the day that Obama accepted his ironic Nobel Peace Prize, this rally took place to raise awareness about the U.S. energy industry’s war on indigenous lands. Another protest was held when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke at a press conference about the U.S. commitment to renewable energy-on the same day they announced they were opening the arctic to oil drilling.
Global Justice Ecology Project organized a panel on the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (REDD) scheme. Presenters included Sandy Gauntlett, a Maori from Aoteroa (New Zealand) who expressed ire over REDD, which does nothing to stop the sinking of the islands of his region. Camila Moreno was indignant over the implementation of REDD in Brazil, where some of the people most responsible for the rampant destruction of the Amazon stood to profit handsomely. Marcial Arias, a Kuna from Panama, passionately described the displacement of Indigenous Peoples in Panama for projects designed to offset carbon emissions in the North.
Outrage has been simmering under the surface with year after year of inaction. Now the rapidly accelerating crisis of climate change has caused the pot to begin boiling over, and we will be seeing more and more anger in the coming days.
Anne Petermann is executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project.
Over There, Over There
By Jerome Grossman
December 10 – President Obama is sending 30,000 more American combat soldiers to Afghanistan to join the 68,000 now there. Not to worry about the number of fighting troops; 30,000 is merely a down payment. General Stanley McCrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan will surely be asking for more troops to meet Obama’s deadline for victory, July 2011, the date that Obama says he will begin to withdraw U.S. troops.
The notion that the U.S. homeland can be protected by occupying Afghanistan is flawed. None of the 19 criminals who perpetrated September 11 were Afghans. The plot was hatched in Germany and the weapons used were box cutters (to enter the pilot cabin) and credit cards (to pay for flight instruction at American airfields). Let me repeat, the 19 criminals were trained in America and were known by the FBI and CIA to be bad guys.
President Obama doesn’t know how to end the war in Afghanistan so he is trying to pacify his main critics: the troop surge is for the military lobby and the civilian hawks who always find a reason to get into every fight, sometimes to spread U.S. influence, sometimes to support U.S. allies, sometimes to exercise U.S. hegemony, sometimes just to show who is the boss. The 19-month so-called exit strategy is also a political statement intended to pacify the Democrats who thought they were electing a peace candidate. But Obama says that war can be the road to peace, contrary to the views of his idols, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Obama has gained the support of John McCain and Karl Rove, as well as a host of Republicans for his Afghanistan policy while losing many of those who regarded him as a modern-day prophet.
Jerome Grossman (born 1917) is a political activist and commentator.
Obama’s Betrayal of Peace
By Jeff Nall
DECEMBER 11 – Not unlike religious extremists, many war faithful believe that war and militarism can bring peace and freedom. "Many men [sic] cry ‘Peace! Peace!’ but they refuse to do the things that make for peace," wrote Rev. Dr. King in Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos and Community. He went on to write: "One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
Yet recognition that peace is both the means as well as the end was absent in President Obama’s Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech on December 10, 2009. Like so many believers in war before him, Obama let out a cry for peace while loading his guns. "We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes," said Obama. "There will be times when nations—acting individually or in concert—will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified." Rather than simply dismissing the likes of Ghandi and Rev. Dr. King, Obama directly addressed both men’s legacy and works and directly refuted their analysis on the effectiveness of war to achieve peace. Obama said he was "mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: ‘Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem, it merely creates new and more complicated ones.’" Obama continued, saying that the Kings and Ghandis of the world could not be his sole guides as the Commander in Chief.
As if defending himself against the wisdom of prophetic peace makers, and perhaps his better conscience, Obama insisted that this war was different—this was a truly necessary, just war. "I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people…. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."
Jeff Nall is a freelance writer and activist.