|Issues||March 2006 Newsletter|
PROBLEMS, RESPONSES AND SOLUTIONS
A perennial question for both individuals and organizations seeking to promote peace and justice is deciding how best to spend their scarce resources of talent, energy, money and time. There are always, it seems, so many problems calling for an immediate response that one is tempted to put less urgent matters on the back burner.
Genocide is an obvious example. Even so, our country and the UN shamefully failed to muster the needed resolve to halt the monstrous orgy of violence that ravished Rwanda in 1984. When genocide loomed again in Darfur, CGS, to its credit, took action played a major role in inducing Congress to pass the Darfur Peace and Responsibility Act. Yet. It would be a grave mistake to consider this initial response a solution to the Darfur problem. In fact, that problem is but a local manifestation - a symptom one might say - of a whole set of underlying problems that are widespread, if not global, in nature. Among these are: excessive population, growth, resultant resource depletion, and land hunger; singling out particular ethnic groups for plunder and other forms of harsh treatment by dominant groups; the impunity enjoyed by tyrannical leaders because or our outmoded notions in regard to national sovereignty; and the absence within the UN system of effective, automatic enforcement mechanisms, even in the face of massive human rights violations.
To consider the analogy with human pathology, people often go to doctors complaining of pains, coughs, rashes, fevers, chills, and so forth,, as if those were the problems that needed to be cured, not recognizing that those are merely the symptoms of deeper underlying problems such as cancer, emphysema, malaria, etc. While alleviating all these symptoms is certainly in order, any doctor who did no more than that would be failing in his duty. What we really need is cures (solutions), at both the human and the global level. CGS certainly recognizes this and hopes, within certain unavoidable constraints, to act accordingly.
What, then, are those constraints? Let me suggest a few that I suppose figure largely in CGS's calculus: 1) Since not all of CGS's members see eye to eye on many issues, to take a stand prematurely, might prove excessively divisive. For example, while I presume that the vast majority of members regard the US's unilateral invasion of Iraq contrary to international law and otherwise ill-advised, it is less clear that a comparable majority would now wish for a speedy withdrawal in view of the potential consequences. This is an issue on which the national movement has yet to take a clear stand, but on which the Minnesota Chapter has felt a stand to be in order (see notice on the bottom of page 3.) 2) Even when a solution is sought, it is all too often unclear what that solution might be. 3) Finally, organizations, like individuals, can effectively deal with only a handful of issues at a time. Organizations have to show results if they are to remain viable and retain the financial support of the foundations on which they necessarily depend. So, they are typically reluctant to tilt at windmills. The choices of individual are less constrained.
Happily, notwithstanding the constraints just noted, CGS maintains a "think tank," the World Federalist Institute (WFI) on whose Steering Committee I am privileged to serve. A comparison of the "Vision" statement of CGS and the ""Mission statement" of WFI would here be in order:
"Citizens for Global Solutions envisions a future in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone. This vision requires effective democratic global institutions that will apply the rule of law while respecting the diversity and autonomy of national and local communities."
"The mission of the World Federalist Institute (WFI) of Citizens for Global Solutions is to explore -- through research, discussion, and creative thought - the values, concepts, and principles of world federalism."
While, as a group, WFI has yet to make any major breakthrough in providing a solution for a global problem, most of its members, in their individual capacities, have put forward remarkably trenchant analyses of major world problems and suggestions for medium-term reforms that would ameliorate, if not quite solve, some of them. The proposal for a UN Administrative Academy noted on the bottom of this page, is a case in point.
Joe Schwartzberg, President, Minnesota Chapter, CGS
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of other members of the Minnesota Chapter or other chapters of CGS.
GLOBAL WARMING ACTION ALERT
Residents of Apple Valley, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, and St. Paul: You should be pleased that your mayors have joined with 200 other mayors around the country and signed the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, committing your cities to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to reduce global warming pollution.
Minnesotans everywhere else: Where are your mayors on global warming?
Global warming is probably the world's most serious environmental problem. Scientists estimate that global warming pollution (e.g., smokestack and tailpipe emissions) must be drastically reduced in the next 30 to 50 years to avoid triggering irreversible problems such as melting of the polar ice caps and severe sea level rises.
The Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement is an important step toward solving the urgent problem of climate change. It is a good way to take local action on an issue that is deadlocked at the federal level. The United States is one of two major industrialized countries in the world, along with Australia, that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
If you reside in one of the above-mentioned Minnesota cities, thank your mayor.
If you live outside the five above mentioned cities, we need you. You will soon receive a mailing from CGS-MN requesting that you contact your mayor to ask that s/he sign the Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement. This simple action may literally help save our planet.
Regardless of where you live, consider attending one of the upcoming global warming educational events in the Twin Cities listed on page 4.
For further information, visit the CGS-MN website http://www.globalsolutionsmn.org/climate/.
A UNITED NATIONS ADMINISTRATIVE ACADEMY
At the request of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, an updated version of Joe Schwartzberg's paper "Needed: A United Nations Administrative Academy," originally presented in Lisbon in 2002 at the annual meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System will be published in the UN Chronicle, the UN's flagship publication.
Eyewitness to Global Warming: Public Forums with Will Steger
Will Steger, the renowned polar explorer, educator, writer, and photographer, will speak at seven Twin Cities congregations about global warming. Steger led the most significant dogsled exploration in history. Slides and stories document his first-hand observations of dramatic changes at the Arctic and in Antarctica where the effects of global warming are most apparent. Steger, Congregations Caring for Creation, and Minnesotans for and Energy Efficient Economy (ME3) will share information on what individuals, government leaders, and congregations can do to address this serious global concern. These events are free and open to the public.
Presentations are scheduled for the following places and times. Contact ME3 for general information and specific details at 651.726.7562 or consult the following web site: www.me3.org.
Burnesville: Sunday, March 26, 7 pm; and Sunday, April 2, 7 pm.
Eagan: Sunday, April 30, 1 pm.
Eden Prairie: Sunday, April 23, 2 pm.
Forest Lake: Sunday, March 12, 6 pm.
Minneapolis: Tuesday, March 21, 7 pm; Monday, April 17, 7 pm; Sunday, and April 23, 2 pm.
A TIME FOR ACTION ON IRAQ, JOIN THE DEMONSTRATION ON MARCH 18
In the sixties and early seventies massive protests in the streets of American cities led our government to the realization that it had to end its ill-advised war in Vietnam. It is time once again for the people to lead the way! To mark the third anniversary of the immoral and illegal US invasion of Iraq, demonstrations in hundreds of American cites (as well as protests in other cities throughout the world) will call for a speedy US withdrawal from Iraq. The Minnesota Chapter of CGS is proud to be among the sponsors of the program in Minneapolis. Please take part if you can and, if possible make and bring your own poster.
1 pm. Gather at Library Plaza & Mall area near Hennepin and Lagoon Aves. In Minneapolis.
THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM
When? The third Thursday of each month, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.
March 16: 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.
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April 16: INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION: MEDIA DEMOCRACY: WHAT IS IT? HOW DO WE SECURE IT? WHO IN THE WORLD HAS IT?
On the premise that a democratic society cannot exist without a democratic media, we will profile what "the media" is in an era of rampant technological expansion and commercial concentration, define what "media democracy" is in such a context and what's required to secure it, and examine the state of "media democracy" in nations and regions of the world-with a special focus on the expanding "digital divide" between the technological "haves" and "have-nots" of our world's societies. Discussion attendees will also receive a comprehensive set of resources on these and other media issues.Presenter: RICHARD L. (LEE) DECHERT. Lee is a longtime staffer at tpt, Twin Cities Public Television, with a broad background in broadcast technology and the funding, producing, promoting and providing of program and outreach services. For many years he has been active with organizations like the Resource Center of the Americas, WAMM (Women Against Military Madness), and Friends for a Non-Violent World. He has been a researcher, writer, organizer and consultant for local and national media organizations. And he's currently an advisory board member of the Twin Cities Media Alliance and a Board member of the Minnesota Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions.
Citizens for Global Solutions-Minnesota Chapter
5492 Bald Eagle Blvd. E.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
info at globalsolutionsmn.org