Saturday, 30 December 2006

War is Not A Solution For Terrorism

War Is Not A Solution For Terrorism By Howard Zinn

THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out. The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups. I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous fire- power, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations -- the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan -- and were forced to withdraw. Even the "victories" of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence -- the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are. The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate. This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable." So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism. For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll. If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the author of the forthcoming book, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress to be published by City Lights Books ( this winter.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Poor health in the USA. 10 awful facts and an awful joke.

On average, Chileans can expect to live longer than the average American, even though GDP per person is about a quarter of America's. A Cuban male has a better chance of surviving until 65 than an American male, even though GDP per capita in the US is about eight times Cuba's.The figures suggest Americans have, on average, traded longevity for higher incomes over the past 50 years.
Copied from the Philobiblon blog.

Annual subsidy from the UK government to the British arms industry: $600 million.

Number of times that the average Briton throws away their own weight in garbage every year: 10.

Percent of reconstruction contracts paid for with Iraqi funds awarded to Iraqi companies: 2.

Amount the USA still spends on nuclear weapons every day: $96 million.

Percentage of global trade income that would be needed to eradicate poverty worldwide: 1%.

Number of US nuclear bombs lost and never recovered: 11.

Percentage of US military spending necessary to ensure all essentials for life (food, water, shelter) to everyone in the world: 10% according to the UN.

Number of countries engaged in serious conflicts that have been sold arms by the UK since 1997: 20.

Number of people who have died in wars since the end of WWII: 86 million.

Number of children who could be educated in a developing country for the cost of a jet fighter: 3 million.

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack. "Miss Whack, I'd like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday." Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager. Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral. The frog says, "Sure . I have this," and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed. Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.She finds the manager and says, "There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral." She holds up the tiny pink elephant. "I mean, what in the world is this?"..........
The bank manager looks back at her and says..."It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Caroline on Radio 4

Long piece on future for the Green Party, after the 'adoption' of the green agenda by other parties, do we become 'mainstream' or 'stay marginal'; what is our role; and a strong interview from Caroline: today2_green_20061228.ram

We also got a plug on the main ITV News, last night. A clip on recycling Christmas Trees started with the words 'The Green Party advises..................'

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Councils lose money by not investing ethically

Council pension fund's holding of shares in BAE Systems brought a poorer return in 2005 than if the money had been put into ethical investments.

Growth in the FTSE4Good Global 100 index, a leading tracker of ethical investments, was more than 50 pct greater in the past 12 months than the rise in BAE shares. The usual Council excuse is that the pension fund has to achieve the best possible investment returns for its members. These figures showthat investing in BAE makes poor investment sense as well as being immoral. BAE shares ended the year 10.6 pct higher than a year previously, as institutional investors cynically welcomed the government's decision to order the Serious Fraud Office to end its investigation into bribery allegations against the weapons manufacturer. However, the FTSE4Good Global 100 index did much better, surging more than15 pct during 2006, justly rewarding people who chose to invest in a principled way. Some other measures of ethical investment even outshone theFTSE4Good Global index, depending on the method of calculation. The DowJones EURO STOXX Sustainability 40 has soared more than 26 pct in the pastyear. The FTSE4Good Global Index achieved a similar outperformance against theFTSE 100 index of leading UK shares, which gained about 10 pct in 2006. The more narrowly-focussed FTSE4Good UK index also did better than the FTSE 100,with an 11 pct leap, despite the limited number of companies in the UK from which the index's components can be selected.

The UK has trailed behind other European countries in developing ethically acceptable and environmentally friendly industries, undermined by attitudes such as that of the Barnet Council pension fund. This means that Britain is still lagging behind in obtaining the economic benefits that such industries are now bringing to more forward-looking countries, both in terms of job creation and return on investment. For instance, Denmark is home to Vestas Wind Systems, the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines. Vestas employs 11,900 people and has seen its share price more than double this year, to 229 euros from 104.5. If Council pension funds adopted a more ethical policy, such as the UN guidelines, it could achieve a double benefit of improving the fund's investment returns and, if it invested in appropriate UK companies, it could help encourage faster growth in ethical business sectors in this country.

Council pension funds should to scrap their current immoral investment policies and adopt the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Different Christmas practices.

In Italy they have no Christmas trees. Instead they decorate small wooden pyramids with fruit.
Ukrainians decorate their trees with an artificial spider and matching web. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck.
The citizens of Caracas, Venezuela block off the streets on Christmas eve so that people can roller-skate to God's house.
It is a British Christmas tradition that a wish made while mixing the Christmas pudding will come true only if the ingredients are stirred in a clockwise direction.
A traditional Christmas dinner in early England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard.
Sending red Christmas cards to anyone in Japan constitutes bad etiquette, since funeral notices there are customarily printed in red.
In Norway on Christmas Eve, all the brooms in the house are hidden because long ago it was believed that witches and mischievous spirits came out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for riding.
Santa Claus was originally dressed in green. Coca-Cola introduced the red clothes to match their corporate colours.

Embarrass Tony Blair - get him to No. 1 on the Top Ten
Hi Pop Pickers,
You may or may not know that I was in a band at university called Ugly Rumours - which is a coincidence as it was my ugly rumours that got us into the war in Iraq. The war has killed over 650,000 civilians and more than 3,000 British and US soldiers. On the 01/01/07 "Ugly Rumours" - fronted by yours truly - are putting out a cover version of the Edwin Starr classic War (What is it good for?). We are aiming to get the track to number one in the UK pop charts to keep the pressure on the government to end this illegal war. (Plus I want to be remembered as the UK's highest charting British Prime Minister of all time!)

The download is only 79p - with 20p being donated to the Stop the War Coalition. All downloads pre-ordered before New Year's Day count towards the chart placing. So get pre-ordering now!
Yours always,
Tony Blair

- As of the 1st of January 2007 download only releases are eligible for the UK Top 40.
- Over a million people went on the original stop the war march, millions more now feel aggrieved that they were lied to over the supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction
- The first week of January is traditionally a quiet week in the charts, a number one can be achieved with approximately 30,000 sales

- Please click the link above and pre-order the track, it will only take 2 minutes

- Please also email all your contacts and let them know about this project. Only with your help can we get this track to number one, embarrass Tony (How is he going to explain this to George Bush!) and put pressure on the government to end this illegal war

As Edmund Burke said; "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing"

Monday, 25 December 2006


Welcome to the blog. It has been a hectic year for both the Green Party in London and myself. I have had a consecutive run of ten GP events which finished last Thursday. I enjoy interacting with local members, but the travelling, particularly in the fog, can be tiring.

An interesting fact that I picked up at the Hounslow Green Party event is that you cannot access Heathrow Airport on foot! You can arrive by tube, car, bus or even bike, but cannot just walk in.

We are now at Christmas Day, so I can relax a little. The Green Room is open for business for a few hours while I wait to go to my daughter's for Christmas dinner. The computer is in the shop so it is as easy to have the shop open as not. However, I don't expect any business.

Anyway, here is a little present for you, just in case you are feeling depressed:
Go there and find out how rich you really are. You will find that you are one of the richest in the world, so it could be worse:-) Even with my very limited income (Green activism does not pay very well, or at all, in my case) I came in the top 14%.

Update: someone has just come into the shop and spent £13. Just shows that you never know. An old antique dealer once told me 'You may sell nothing if you are opened but you will definitely sell nothing if you are closed'.
Peace, light and joy to everyone.