|Issues||Fall 2004 Newsletter|
FORCE OR LAW?
There are two ways to resolve disputes between nations. One is through diplomacy and application of the rules of international law. The other is through the threat or actual use of military force. Which holds out greater hope for the future well being of the human family? What sort of world would we have if all nations adopted the approach of the current Bush administration: that when a nation's leaders proclaim, even without proof, that a significant threat to the nation exists, established international constraints against the unilateral use of force become invalid, that the UN's responsibility to deal with threats to the peace become irrelevant, that one's own nation may arbitrarily assume the roles of policeman, judge, and jury, in dealing with another sovereign nation? Who would feel safer in such an anarchic world?
The history of civilization, to a large degree, is the history of expanding the role of law and limiting the role of force in human affairs, first, within small bands of hunters and gatherers, then within tribes and small city-states, and finally among nations. The territorial realms within which law was permitted to operate were continually expanded. International law began to be codified only in the 17th century. It took two devastating World Wars, however, to put in place international organizations tasked with the maintenance of world peace. The first of these, the League of Nations, was a dismal failure. The second, the United Nations, despite its many imperfections, was successful to a limited degree, but gradually gaining in experience and capability. While it could not do its job adequately without the unanimous concurrence of the five permanent members of the Security Council, it had at least established the principle that unprovoked aggression was morally and legally unacceptable. But the current Bush doctrine of waging preemptive war would, if allowed to stand, set back the clock on the development of world rule of law by a century or more. We must not let that happen. Might must not make right. It is our duty as world citizens and as lovers of peace and justice to oppose those who put reliance on force above respect for the rule of law and thereby help resume the forward march of human history.
Joe Schwartzberg, Minnesota Chapter President
A POST-ELECTION MESSAGE FROM CHARLES J. BROWN,
President & CEO, Citizens for Global Solutions
November 3rd did not dawn the way we hoped or expected. The initial election returns - including a fairly decisive win for President Bush - do not seem to bode well for progressive issues in general and global issues in particular. The challenges we now face are genuine, but not overwhelming.
I won't kid you - the next four years will not be easy. A majority of Americans have decided to travel a path different from the one we seek. But a majority is not a mandate. Those who made this choice did so for what they believe are valid reasons, not because they are ignorant, evil, reckless or irrational. We must not demonize those who disagree with us - to do so is to ensure that our message is never heard by those who most need to hear it and to condemn ourselves to irrelevance. Instead, we must convince all Americans that a positive vision based on global cooperation can and will trump a philosophy based entirely on fear. The President's approach may have won support in the short run, but it is not an organizing principle around which he can build a permanent majority.
Not all the news is bad. According to our preliminary analysis, of the 189 global leaders endorsed by Global Solutions PAC, 169 have won, including 12 of 14 in the Senate. The big winners include some of our strongest supporters - Senators Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, and newly-elected Senators Barack Obama and Ken Salazar. One of our most effective opponents - Rep. George Nethercutt - failed utterly in his desperate attempt to unseat another global leader, Senator Patty Murray. Seven of our eight featured global leaders - whose campaigns we asked our members to support directly - won. And Global Solutions PAC raised over $85,000, a 41 percent jump over what was raised in 2002.
So we have build a solid foundation, and demonstrated that our approach can and will work. But if we are to succeed, we will have to become passionate advocates and not merely passive defenders. We will have to engage our critics rather than ignore them. We will have to stand up for what we believe in, and not shy away from opportunities to challenge our opponents' misleading assertions. We will have to present a compelling case that the United States must reject unilateralism and re-engage the world as a partner, participant and leader.
We did not win the battle. But by no means have we lost the war. Our opponents' margin of victory is not insurmountable, no matter how it may appear in the bleak light of today's returns. We have only just begin to educate the American people about the need for global solutions. We will succeed. It is only a matter of time before we build a globalist majority in Congress and elect a globalist president to the White House.
So enough about yesterday. Today our work begins anew.
Earth to Mars
CHOOSING A FLAG TO UNITE A PLANET
Printed in the International Herald Tribune, January 29, 2004
Los Angeles, California. President George W. Bush took a shot at establishing a legacy beyond a permanent war on terror when he delivered his space vision speech at the headquarters of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [in January, 2004]. Arrayed behind him were several pieces of NASA artwork depicting future moments in space exploration.
The one most directly behind his back showed a futuristic landing craft, a rocky red surface, a blue-gray sky and an astronaut holding a pole with an American flag.
Although such a landing is probably at least a quarter-century away, according to the Bush administration's own timetable, apparently it has already been decided to plant in the soil of Planet Mars not a flag representing all the inhabitants of Planet Earth, but a flag of the United States.
Perhaps the most obvious level on which this might turn out to be an unwise artistic choice is financial. President Bush advocated going back to the moon, establishing a permanent presence there, and only then venturing onward to Mars. The only possible way to pay for all that will be to allow this new space initiative to unfold as a global collaboration rather than an international competition.
It's difficult to see what motive either a citizen or a government of another country might have to invest their toil and treasure in such an undertaking after seeing that piece of art.
Why participate, if the decision has already been made that the very first astronaut will be representing only some rather than all of us?
There's also an issue larger than simply sharing the expenses. If there's anything that should be done on behalf of all the Earth, it is the first time a single human sets foot on a planet other than Earth. A 21st-century space program could generate a profound sense of human solidarity, a non-negotiable ethic of shared destiny, an intuition that we are all in the same boat on Spaceship Earth. It could cultivate what the great developmental psychologist Erik Erikson called an "all-human solidarity," and what Voltaire called a "part of humanity."
The irony to the president's backdrop is that almost every astronaut seems to perceive such larger horizons. "The first day or so we all pointed to our countries," said the Saudi Arabian astronaut Sultan Bin Salman al-Saud, himself from a region as polarized as any in the world.
"The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth." Another international astronaut, Kalpana Chawla, born in India but raised to the heavens as an American, looked down from Columbia's last voyage, but then decided to look up. "When you look out at the stars and galaxies," she said, "you feel like you come not from any particular place, but from the solar system."
Even Neil Armstrong experienced a transnational epiphany. Interviewed in 1979 for Apollo 11's 10th anniversary, he was asked how he felt as he saluted the American flag. "We didn't have a strong nationalistic feeling at that time," he said. "We felt more that it was a venture of all mankind."
The 27 fortunate souls who have ventured outward to lunar orbit have all gazed upon a single, borderless, breathtaking planet suspended among the blazing stars. They were perhaps the first humans to have the opportunity to grasp that the whole Earth was more than the sum of its parts, that it was something singularly deserving of our loyalty, our allegiance, our planetary patriotism.
So let us envision a slightly different scene than the one arrayed behind the president. The first passenger-bearing spacecraft has just set down on the Martian plain, near a gully in the long shadow of Olympus Mons. Five billion souls sit spellbound, glued to television screens, the single greatest moment of shared human experience. The door opens, and the chosen one emerges into the Martian sunlight. Perhaps he or she is today a sophomore at a high school in Kansas, or Mississippi, or Ethiopia. He or she takes three cautious steps down the ladder, and then plants a boot squarely on the surface of Planet Mars. And the visit declares, "We come in peace, we come to explore, and we come to endure. And so today, here in the soil of Planet Mars, I plant the flag of Planet Earth."
It would be a precious gesture, one that would make all Earthlings feel part of the venture. If an artist's rendition of that moment had been displayed behind the president, it might have done more to bring our world together, in a stroke, than all the things Bush has done in three short years to drive it apart.
By Tad Daley
The writer serves as senior policy advisor to the presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich
|Citizens for Global Solutions
Citizens for Global Solutions-Minnesota Chapter
5145 16th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55417
info at globalsolutionsmn.org