|Issues||January 2006 Newsletter|
AN ALTERNATIVE AGENDA
Most politically engaged persons focus their energies on short-term objectives: promoting or opposing passage of specific pieces of legislation, supporting or opposing particular parties or candidates, attempting to block ratification of unsuitable presidential appointments, and so forth. Relatively few devote much effort to promoting a holistic, long-term agenda based on a firm belief in enduring principles and dedication to the common good. Both approaches are, of course, needed. Members of Citizens for Global Solutions tend to be among those who recognize the necessity of working on both short- and long-term goals. Fortunately, we are not alone. Numerous peace and justice activists share our perspective; and, as a response to the fiascos in domestic and foreign policy that we have witnessed in recent years, their numbers are rapidly growing.
In our own state, the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) serves as figurative meeting ground for organizations committed to fundamental change, CGS, along with MAP, challenges the con-ventional wisdom that there will always be wars; that the United States has some special (some would even say "God-given") authority to be the principal interpreter and arbiter of global peace, justice and economic rectitude; that it is normal and acceptable for our political parties to be deeply beholden to corporate interests; that the obscene differences in wealth and opportunity that characterize both our own and the global economy are acceptable; or that it is somehow okay for Americans, who make up only 4.5% of the world's population to consume roughly a fourth of its material resources and generate an even greater share of its pollution.
We reject a national agenda based on fear, suspicion and deceit; characterized by double standards; and manifested by arrogant, exceptionalist, unilateral and imperialistic behavior. Rather, we embrace an agenda of hope, inclusiveness and constructive global engagement.
Founded in 1995, MAP is now a coalition of sixty-four member organizations with a combined membership of many thousands. CGS (then under the name World Federalist Association) was among MAP's eight founding groups; and, from its very inception, MAP's agenda has, in very large measure, paralleled our own. Periodically, MAP issues position statements on important issues of current and long-term concern to its members. CGS is pleased to reproduce its most recent statements on pages 3 and 4.of this Newsletter. Past position statements are available on MAP's website, www.mapm.org.
Joe Schwartzberg, President, Minnesota Chapter
A FAIR TRADE LIGHTHOUSE
IN HONG KONG
Caught between protesters and government negotiators, fair trade offered a beacon of hope during the Sixth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. The 2005 Hong Kong Fair Trade Fair and Symposium took place from December 13 - 16, 2005. It featured over fifty fair trade producers and NGOs, a welcoming reception, high profile speakers, and the highlight, a fair trade fashion show. Together, these events promoted an international trade system that is working for people, for communities and for the environment. The fair trade model demonstrates how international trade can benefit those most hurt by the negative affects of the WTO: the marginalized and the small farmers who are suffering from low global commodity prices.
The fair hosted exhibitors from twenty countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, and the Middle East. Products for sale included mango juice, coffee, banana chips, nuts and sugar, not to mention exquisite textiles, jewelry, woodcarvings and paper products. In addition to the producers, several NGOs that support fair trade also exhibited such as the FAO and Consumers International.
Although the public was at times hindered from entering the fair due to the security shut down because of the building's proximity to the protests, there were still delegate visits from the governments of Canada, Luxemburg and Germany, a tour of the fair by staff of the World Bank, and full houses for several of the panels and the plenary session, which included Mary Robinson as a key speaker.
The week's most publicized event was the fair trade fashion show. Not only did models strut across the runway in stylish clothing, but the show had a message as well. In the opening remarks, India's Minister for Commerce and Industry highlighted the importance of fair trade in supporting small-scale cotton farmers and producers. During the show, models carried message boards with captions such as "What are you doing to meet the Millennium Development Goals?" and "No Peace with Poverty."
The intention of promoting fair trade in the midst of a world gathering of negotiators and demonstrators was to raise awareness, increase financing and affect policy that promotes fair trade... if this happens, then maybe in the future there will be fewer reasons to protest.
Editor's note: Working for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, CGS MN Board member, Patricia, was in Hong Kong for two weeks as the lead organizer of the Fair Trade Fair and Symposium.
THE YEAR 2005 IN REVIEW
Here are some of the things that the Minnesota Chapter of CGS accomplished over the past year:
January: What's Wrong and What's Right with the Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Security and Change? Joe Schwartzberg, President, Minnesota Chapter, CGS.
February: Linking the e Global and the Local, Andy Driscoll, broadcaster and community organization activist.
March: What to Do about Torture? Douglas Johnson, Director of Center for Victims of Torture.
April: Is Planetary Sustainability Possible? Terry Gips, economist and President, Alliance for Sustainability
May: The Situation in Darfur, Hugh Parmer and Colleen Striegel, President and staff, American Refugee Committee.
September: Nuclear History You Were Never Taught at School: Lisa Ledwidge, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
October: The Peacekeepers, film, discussion led by Michael Andregg, Director of Ground Zero Minnesota
November: The Politics and Religious Dimensions of US Empire, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, peace educator and author.
December: What Happened to the Road Map for Peace in Israel - Palestine, Florence Steichen, Director, Middle East Peace Now.
The imperial project of the so-called neo-conservatives is not conservatism at all, but radicalism, egotism and adventurism articulated in the stirring rhetoric of traditional patriotism.
--Clyde Prestowitz, Empire as a Way of Life, New York: Basic Books, 2003
POSITION STATEMENTS OF THE MINNESOTA ALLIANCE OF PEACEMAKERS
1. The Primacy of Justice
2. A World Based on Law Rather than Force
3. Disarmament and Conflict Resolution
4. Support for the U.N. System
5. A Healthy Ecosystem
6. Unity in Diversity
7. Providing for Future Generations
8. Fundamental Human Rights
9. Responsibility and Accountability
10. The Education of Children
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP?
If you like what we stand for and what we are doing (see page 5), you can help in several ways:
Book Review: SAVING CHRISTIANITY FROM EMPIRE, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, New York and London, Continuum, 2005, 184 pages, $24.00, ISBN 0-8264-1627-6. Reviewed by Louise Pardee
Whether or not you are concerned with saving Christianity, this book is an interesting read because of Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer's clear and insightful description of U.S. Empire. In his introduction, he says "this book is written especially for people who are troubled by the arrogance manifested frequently in the policies of the nation and the practices of many who call themselves Christians. Patriotic sloganeering, flag waving, good-versus-evil rhetoric, and presumptions of divine support for war and U.S. Empire are commonplace. They leave me feeling sad, frustrated, and determined." The author, who addressed the problem of American empire at CGS's Third Thursday Global Issues Forum in November, asserts that the intentions of the present administration to dominate the world are obvious to anyone who chooses to pay attention. Much of the rest of the world sees the United States as the greatest hindrance to world peace. How have we reached such a terrible condition?
The first five chapters (more than half the book) are devoted to the history and present manifestations of empire. Nelson-Pallmeyer describes the nuts and bolts of present U.S. foreign policy and its philosophical foundations. An especially important document is a 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, prepared primarily by Paul Wolfowitz for the then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney. It clearly outlines a strategy for permanent empire through the use of military power. Its three themes were: preventing the emergence of a new rival, a foreign policy to aggressively promote U.S. interests since no one could stop us, and unilateralism. The think tank known as The Project for the New American Century is the source of many of these ideas. (For an additional secular perspective, as described on page 2 of this Newsletter, come to our Third Thursday Forum in March.)
The second half of the book discusses the theology that has led to support of empire. Many of the "sacred" texts of Jews, Christians and Muslims depict a wrathful, punishing God. These texts are often used to justify violence. But there is also the radical non-violence of Jesus, which Nelson-Pallmeyer describes, especially the teaching to love one's enemy and the models for creative non-violent action.
The problems of U.S. Empire will not go away with the end of the current administration. They will change only when we, the citizens of this great country, decide to choose republic over empire. To do that, we must be well informed. This book provides much necessary information. It is brief and well written. I highly recommend it.
The dominant values of American life - affluence, achievement, appearance, power, competition, consumption, individualism - are vastly different from anything recognizably Christian. As individuals and as a culture, our existence has become massively idolatrous.
--Marcus Borg, A New Vision, San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1987
THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM
When? The third Thursday of each month, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.
SHOULD THE UN TRY TO BUILD STATES?
Failed states and states in danger of failure exist in various parts of the world. What does this imply for the regions in which those states exist? What dangers and opportunities do they present? Whose responsibility should it be to restore some semblance of order in failed states in the absence of a functioning and legitimate government? Is that an appropriate function for the United Nations? And can the UN, with its newly established Peacebuilding Commission, actually do the job? If so, what would be a reasonable state-building mandate and at what point should the UN terminate its mission?
Presenter: MICHAEL BARNETT
Holder of the Harold Stassen Chair of International Relations at the Humphrey Institute of Public affairs, Professor Barnett previously taught at the University of Wisconsin, Macalester College, Wellesley College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His academic foci are international organization, humanitarian action, the United Nations and Middle Eastern politics. He is the author or co-author of six books and of articles in numerous prestigious journals and is the winner of two major prizes for his scholarship. He is a past Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow at the US Mission to the UN and a present Board member of the Academic Council on the United Nations System.
INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE: REALISTIC GOAL OR DANGEROUS UTOPIA? LEARNING FROM THE EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE
In the last fifty years Europe has undergone a major political transformation, moving from war as an oft-chosen method of conflict resolution to institutionalized non-violent methods. However, a new treaty that would establish a Constitution for Europe was rejected by the French and Dutch peoples in recent referendums. Is European integration grinding to a halt? How should we assess past accomplishments and new challenges? What lessons does the European experience have for the United States and the world?
Presenter: CATHERINE GUISAN
Raised in Switzerland by a Swiss-Greek family, Catherine Guisan now teaches political science at the University of Minnesota where earned her degree in political science in 2000. Her book on the ethical politics of European integration, Un sens å l'Europe: Gagner la paix (1960-2003), was published by the prestigious Parisian firm, Odile Jacob in 2003. Dr. guisan has since lectured widely in Europe and the United States on European integration and international governance.
REFLECTIONS ON CURRENT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
Our country, under the current Bush administration, has embarked on a foreign policy course dominated by three elements: a) a post-9/11 paradigm that treats the struggle against terrorism as an actual "war" and depicts terrorists as primarily motivated by hatred of "who we are;" b) a "transformational" policy of democratization designed to uproot terrorism, particularly in the Middle East; and c) a national security doctrine that aims to prevent the rise of any "peer competitor." These ambitious priorities raise questions about how best to balance policy ends and means. They also cause significant counter-reactions around the world, further complicated by opposition to American free market capitalism. This program will reflect on the resulting political and economic tectonics that are now unfolding.
Presenter: THOMAS HANSON
A U.S. Foreign Service officer from 1973 to 1994, Thomas Hanson served in East Germany, France, Norway, the Soviet Union and other countries. He also worked on the Foreign Relations Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Most recently, he was Director for European and NATO Affairs at the Atlantic Council of the U.S. He is a frequent speaker in the Great Decisions program, an honorary Board member of the Foreign Policy Association, and Program Secretary of the Saint Paul-Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations. He holds graduate degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Institute for Advanced International Studies in Geneva, and the National School of Administration (ENA) in Paris.
Citizens for Global Solutions-Minnesota Chapter
5492 Bald Eagle Blvd. E.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
info at globalsolutionsmn.org