In an ideal world, there is no need for the phrase, “In an ideal world.”
We do not reside in an ideal world. We reside in a world in which business and political interests, often using social and political structures, demand the individual to stand down and obey. Wars are fought and the reasons or causes are often left unclear, lest we the many individuals find the reasons or causes suspect or lest we suspect that the reasons or causes are not in our interests.
I have been using this website to shine a light on human rights stories, and in doing so, I try to always remember that any one individual’s story that I may take the time to write about is one of many similar (sometimes, identical) stories in that person’s country. Raif Badawi, the blogger who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for his writing and who was flogged as part of his punishment on January 9, 2015, is one of an estimated 30,000 political prisoners in his nation. And Saudi Arabia is but one nation, one nation with business, political, and also religious interests that demand that one can only celebrate a “freedom of expression” by freely expressing that one ought not be free to express oneself.
In my own country, we have a Presidential election rumbling through our communities this year. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010 did very little in the way of expanding resources for democracy (it did much to impede democracy), but it gave us this unintended consequence: we now sometimes know who is paying our candidates for President to run for the office. In the last two election cycles, several candidates have not had to raise money from the likes of you and me because they had individual supporters bankrolling them for the sake of campaigning on that supporter’s pet issues. This year, we have one candidate lending his own campaign money for his own odd (and so far successful) attempt at the job.
And on one side, we have candidates actively campaigning against peace. We hear one candidate (Senator Ted Cruz) bray about bombing regions to “find out if sand glows.” (In one fell swoop, he manages to be both pro-unspeakable violence and pretty damn racist.) The U.S. is a country that after 15 years of continuous war, we are somehow still insecure about our global standing, fearful of attacks from without, rooting for killing civilians. Listen to the Republican candidates and their supporters: they are cheering for the deaths of civilians. Cheering. Ask any of them who, exactly, our enemies are, and none offer a coherent reply. “Islam,” some say, which begs the follow-up that is never asked: “Are we to bomb one billion people?” Another will say “militant Islam” is our enemy, which is the same thing as saying our enemies are “people with strong opinions that I do not agree with who express them forcefully.”
Fundamentalism is the world’s costliest insanity. Fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Christianity, fundamentalist Judaism, fundamentalist anything.
Not one of the candidates on the Republican side support peace. In the name of global socio-political “realism,” none support peace. None support the Golden Rule. All win votes by declaring that they alone are capable of forcing the nations of the world to respect us in ways that we do not respect the nations and peoples of the world. My country has spent 15 years (some would insist the number is more like six decades) attempting to strong-arm the world into agreeing with our own self-regard.
The average American has no fight with most of the quote-unquote enemies that our powerful interests tell us every so often we must fight. Yet we love getting whipped up against our “enemies,” because in an insecure economic time we need to believe that we have enemies. And for our so-called leaders, or those who desire that title, the easy solution to sell voters is the seduction of the promise that they will cause foreign suffering to save us here. We live in an terribly neurotic era.
Who will stand up for peace? What does “peace” even mean in an era like our current bloodthirsty one? The organization CODEPINK has an idea. A pretty good one: make “beautiful trouble at 2016 Presidential candidate appearances” and ask each of the candidates running for President about peace. Ask them why they are against any of these things.
Idealism is not fundamentalism. Peace is complicated because diplomacy and mutual respect are complicated, and the candidates running for office this year are out-doing one another in their attempts to sell us the lie that the world is simple and that the simplest solutions to our problems here at home are more bombs dropped on children over there. More war is not simple; the cry for more war is merely a tool to get an audience’s blood up so its members feel fired up enough to vote. This is a dangerous and stupid ploy.
Are CODEPINK’s 10 “Peace Positions” my top 10? No, I don’t think so, but I do not disagree with any of them. Are they achievable? Well, I continue to insist on breathing, eating, and living, so I must believe that they are achievable. I have to. Because the more bombs we drop over there, the more likely it is that problems that were not mine in lands far away will become problems in my front yard. That is the impoverished world, a world starved of ideas, that the Ted Cruzes and Donald Trumps and Hillary Clintons are helping to create.
Here is CODEPINK’s “10 Peace Positions Presidential Candidates Should Take“:
U.S. relations with the rest of the world should be based on respect, cooperation, and diplomacy, not war. We are asking presidential candidates to agree to:
1. REDUCE MILITARY SPENDING, INVEST AT HOME
Dramatically reduce military spending, including closing over 800 military bases in 70 nations. Invest the freed-up funds in sustainable energy projects, infrastructure, care for veterans, education, housing, tax cuts for the lowest incomes, humanitarian aid, and payment of the federal debt. Create a transition program for workers to move frommilitary- to peace-based jobs.
2. USE DIPLOMACY FIRST
Continue the policies started under the Obama Administration of making peace with Cuba and Iran, and extend to other conflict areas of the world, including North Korea. Cease US military involvement and support diplomatic resolutions in the Middle East, including Israel-Palestine.
3. ABIDE BY INTERNATIONAL LAW—NO UNAUTHORIZED WARS
Abolish the presidential kill list, stop using weaponized drones for extrajudicial assassinations, and support a global treaty banning these weapons systems. Cease the practice of launching wars not authorized by Congress or the United Nations.
4. WORK TOWARD A NUCLEAR-FREE, PEACEFUL WORLD
Abide by obligations under the NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) to cut the US nuclear arsenal and promote a nuclear-free world. Stop intimidating Russia; end NATO expansion on its borders. Remove the missile defense systems from Europe.
5. PROMOTE WOMEN IN PEACEMAKING
Uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that calls for the full involvement of women in preventing, resolving, and recovering from conflict.
6. END U.S. SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL’S OCCUPATION
The US government should hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Commit to ending financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israel’s occupation and its human rights abuses.
7. OBSERVE U.S. LAW PROHIBITING THE SALE OF WEAPONS TO HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS
Stop the practice of giving or selling weapons to countries that are human rights violators, such as Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
8. END THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND U.S. BORDERS
End the policy of transferring military-grade weaponry and surveillance equipment from the military to local police departments. End the militarization of our national borders.
9. STOP ILLEGAL DETENTION OF PRISONERS IN GUANTANAMO AND ELSEWHERE, HOLD TORTURERS ACCOUNTABLE
Release prisoners who have been cleared for release and try the others in federal courts. Arrest and put on trial US personnel who engaged in torture. Close Gitmo.
10. RESPECT WHISTLEBLOWERS—AND OUR PRIVACY
Recognize the value of whistleblowers in serving the best interests of the public. End mass surveillance, including the bulk collection of our personal data.
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