Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tonight Tavis Smiley on King on the war in Vietnam 7 o'clock on PBS

   Tonight Tavis Smiley will do a show on Martin Luther King’s speech on Vietnam, a year to the day before he died (April 4, 1967),  It will be on PBS at 7 o’clock Denver time –ch.6 -  and elsewhere you can check the listings. Here is a note from Gloria Smith at the Veterans of Hope with links:

Dear Friends,


Please tune in to PBS tomorrow, Wednesday, March 31st, for Tavis Smiley's new special on Martin Luther King's Opposition to the Vietnam War...  (includes an interview with Vincent Harding)


In Denver, it's on RMPBS Channel 6 at 7pm. To check your local listings if you are outside of Denver please follow the link below.


Episode Two Details - "MLK: A Call to Conscience" . Tavis Smiley Reports . Tavis Smiley | PBS


For more information on this and other forthcoming events please become a fan of the Veterans of Hope on facebook at!/pages/Veterans-of-Hope-Project/80123577926?v=wall




          King’s speech lives to this day.  The spiritual death he speaks of is still upon us (a country that spends more on war than on program of social welfare is approaching spiritual death) as we can see in Iraq and its consequences. Despite the resilience of electing Barack Obama, it is still present in America's five wars and occupations, its $708 billion war budget (nearly 3 times the height of the Cold War budget), his inability, as an anti-Iraq war candidate, to extract himself even from there -his "objective" is to leave 50,000 occupying troops in Iraq this summer. The demonic suction pump of the war budget still diminishes programs for the poor, even the nonetheless very decent health care reform.

      My correspondent and friend  Bruce Fetter, an historian and Professor of African Studies at the University of Wisconsin wrote to me questioning my poem about King  V I o l en ce here.   He suggested that it mistakenly connects LBJ with King’s murder.  But it misses the point to agree or disagree with a poem (Pounds Canto 45 with usura came not Piera della Francesca is a striking example of an anti-semitic poem that one would disagree with – but it is still a poem in a series of poems.  If I wrote a poem, probably “disagreement” (does the poem need to say what you believe?) is not a response to it as a poem (more sharply, probably isn’t an appropriate response).  I often write poems with some oblique political significance as do many others, but simply “political poems” are really leaflets or pamphlets in gaudy dress; they are not poems.

      Vincent Harding is a Mennonite.  He once went with one other black and three white Mennonites driving as an integrated group through the South.  When they came to Atlanta, they called and spoke with Coretta.  They were invited to King’s home and spent an afternoon with him.  As they were getting up to go, Martin took Vincent aside and said: why don’t you move to Atlana?  So Vincent and Rosemary came to live a few doors from Martin and Coretta.  As I described in ch. 2 of Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?,  Vincent was the first in the civil rights movement to speak out against the War in Vietnam.  His two articles in Niebuhr’s Christianity and Crisis naming Western arrogance, are the finest indictments of that corruption in the journal (1965).  If one attends to the moving words of King’s Riverside speech, one will find the insight about “Western arrogance” repeated (it is also one of the themes today of Andrew Bacevich’s The Limits of Power which criticizes the racist American belief that it has the military power to shape, at gunpoint, anyone and anything).  

         King and Harding talked all the time.  They were practically alter egos.  King was also on the road 300 days a year in the movement.  His being in the Birmingham City Jail gave him time to write his marvelous reflective  “Letter” on civil disobedience on the back of a newspaper, explaining why black people, as well as saving the distorted souls and personalities of oppressors, cannot wait for relief of this oppression.  Martin asked Vincent to write the draft of the speech.

        Vincent drove with my family down to Colorado Springs where we both spoke at a rally about the Iraq War February 16, 2003.  There were worldwide rallies (2 milion in Madrid, 1 1/2 million in New York, several hundred thousand in Delhi and so forth).  Though peaceful and in principle nonviolent, the march following the rally was teargassed by the Colorado Spring police (the only place in the country where this happened).  Both of us spoke at the rally (it was an honor to speak with Vincent; I remember hearing him at a rally against the first Gulf War in 1990 ).  Vincent described to me the sorrow that his words –  Martin added to and transformed them, but it was in the same spirit - signed King's death warrant.  If you listen closely tonight, you will hear even in that one minute linked to above, some of that insight and sorrow. Martin, the great spiritual leader, was not a politician in a narrow sense, but rather a transformative statemen.  Read Harding’s poetic The Inconvenient Hero on how King changed in the last year of his life, leading a movement of the poor, questioning capitalism - and why, on the face of it – consider right now – would one not question capitalism?,  and being gunned down as he spoke with and for despised sanitation workers, mainly black, in Memphis.  

         Vincent told me he once asked the great Jim Lawson, the man who went to jail for opposing Korea, went to India to learn about satyagraha (civil disobedience) came back to Nashville and taught Diane Nash and other students how to resist nonviolently, how to integrate the lunch counters, and was now in Memphis and had invited King to come, if he blamed himself for Martin’s death.  No, he said, Martin did what he chose to do. 

    Well, King told Coretta he would die by the age of 40.  They blew up bombs outside his hotel room, stabbed him, plotted to assassinate him from Montgomery when he was 26 to the day the bullet that was chasing him “found him” in Vincent’s profound way of speaking to Smiley.  Martin stood out (so did my friend Andy Goodman and others, but many, endangered or in the eye of the storm at times, their skulls fractured as John L. Lewis here, nonetheless lived).  Martin was a great leader – “the greatest leader my state and perhaps my country has produced” said Jimmy Carter at the memorial service for Coretta Scott King –replied even in Montgomery to a reporter who asked him whether he was afraid “no, I am not afraid.  This is a great cause and I am a part of it.” But he knew his time was not long (that he would not get to the moutaintop with "us"). 

        In his Autobiography, King speaks of a moment when he was afraid for his children (that fear caused Malcolm to call off his bodyguards at the Audubon Church and allow the assassins to kill him there instead of bombing his home near where his daughters' slept - see Manning Marable's forthcoming biography).  King had a vision in his kitchen.  It filled him that to be a sacrifice for all of us was his calling, that the great words he spoke, that he was given to speak, that overshadow the words of many, meant also that he would die young.  

         Lawson’s answer which Vincent found helpful is part of the story.  American racism – as American as apple pie as H. Rap Brown put it – murdered Martin Luther King.  But he is part of the great storm against racism coming from the Revolution and John Brown and the civil rights movement, expressed in the election of Barack Obama 40 years after King was murdered.  That storm has made a difference but far from cured the horrific racism which still prevails in America (4 in 100 poor black teenagers find jobs, said a New York Times editorial, December 22, 2009).  We are all a part of this, we do not do enough – do not know how to do enough to change it.  That America sacrificed even a Martin Luther King on the altar of racism and profit is true, and we all as Americans share in it.

      Thich Nat Hanh came to Denver to speak (he does yearly in his efforts to heal America as France of its crimes against Indochina/Vietnam).  I heard him help a soldier who distraughtly told him in the presence of hundreds that he murdered a child in a faraway place thirty years ago (yet so near that the murder was in the agony of his whole being), find a way  -“you must work with Vietnamese orphans, he said, and “see me afterwards.”  Vincent introduced Hanh's talk. 

      Hanh, he said, had watched his fellow Buddhists sit in akshobya position saturated in gasoline, and burn themselves to protest the war.  That was not the way, Hanh decided, and came to the United States.  He met with King and King resolved that he had to speak against the war.  Vincent mentioned that Thich Nat Hanh returned four months before King was assassinated.  He stood up in a meeting and spoke of what King’s words meant to the Vietnamese.  “You are,” he said, “a Boddhistattva.”  It was good King heard those words (he was also just a man).  4 months…

          Speaking out and organizing against the war in Iraq, one of Hanh’s thoughts is that we have to work, each of us, in our lives, to prevent the next war.  It will take all of us doing something to break our ties to oil (down to the destructive agriculture in which we create strange “food-like” substances, not quite corn anymore, to sweeten and saturate the other chemicals of fast food with which many of us starve and poison ourselves).  

           Vincent is one of many friends of King who are interviewed in this film.  He helped craft words which will live as long as American English, and will be of special significance as long as we still need to turn America from a war complex to something less destructive.  A student of both of ours, April Guy, did a presentation for a course of mine, and then all social work students, changing the words of King from Vietnam to Iraq.  Many of us helped do the same thing at Martin Luther King day 2003, where for 30,000 marchers, fighting the upcoming aggression was what the day turned in.  Please watch Smiley's show.  This will not be the carefully expurgated King of a State Farm martin luther king day; this will be the words of a prophet...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jerusalem: nonviolent protests part 1

   The first part of this two-post sequence is on joint Palestinian and Jewish protests against the especially dangerous Isreali government settlements in Jerusalem, that government’s attempt to blow up any two state solution there,  and the likelihood of a third intifada (h/t Ilene Cohen); the companion, Protests and Explanations will be on a letter from Bruce Fetter, an historian of Africa at the University of Wisconsin with whom I have been in correspondence, about how to oppose unjust wars and occupations.  He notes that there are often morally straightforward and minimal conditions for protest and questions larger “leftist” explanations.  His letter raises the issue of how against the grain political insights can also often lead to wider questioning and explanation.

          In  occupied Jerusalem, Israel has suddenly created a  crisis with its dispossession of the Palestinians at or near holy sites, and building over their homes as if they had not existed – again this is, illegal internationally, psychologically hideous (feel into what it means to possess or build over the homes of others your government has despised, expelled and murdered)  and whose occupation of the territories is  morally repudiated by the world, including even the U.S. (Israel gets  $3 billion in US military support yearly and the US often explicitly sides with Israel – for instance, in foolishly rejected the Goldstone report.  But in this case, the US is perhaps considering abstaining from a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel - a brief item on Andrew Sullivan, two days ago).

      As a result of the occupation, Israeli products made in the territories cannot now be sold in Europe under the agreements Israel has reached but instead at a specially high tariff rate – Sbamir Salads  has just been caught using a fake Tel Aviv address and phone number in an attempt to avoid this, according Akiva Eldar, March 26th).  Israeli dishonor is in small and large things.  See here,

         The Jerusalem settlements are dramatically at the expense of any possible  two state solution. Jerusalem has holy sites for Islam and Judaism; East Jerusalem must be the capital of Palestine with such sites preserved.  But with the support of the government, the settlers are moving to destroy the Al-aksa mosque (see the second story below).  Elite Israeli politics are divided between fascists like the Foreign Minister Lieberman and belligerent opportunists like Netanyahu, who tolerate or egg on the threats to Islamic sites.

      Obama initially launched  and then abandoned a promising effort to halt the settlements and to encourage a decent, negotiated solution.   Israel  pretends – for diplomatic show -  that it isn’t steadily encroaching on Jerusalem.   Hence, the gratuitous insult to Vice President Biden, a longtime AIPAC supporter  who had come to affirm US slavish support for Israel  – just in time to have new dispossession of Palestinian owners and building in Jerusalem announced “as a surprise” to Netanyahu.  But Netanyahu’s choutzpah unintentionally did all the world and especially Israei citizens a favor; a crazed dog sank its teeth into a sleepy master’s hand.  In Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this past week, hostility was marked.  There was no ordinary, joint Obama-Natanyahu press conference or “photo op.”

      The US has also suddenly become clear – thanks to the Pentagon and General Petraeus – that its previously zealous support for Israel compromises its occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and endangers American soldiers.  The awful activities of Israel toward the Palestinians create widespread sentiment – and not just among Muslims – against America, and provide, as an outlier, the slogans and a source of recruitment  even for Al Qaida.  Al Qaida cannot be isolated and destroyed, as Petraeus suggested,  as long as there is no two state solution. 

         There is thus a conflict between the US “national” interest even as an imperial power in the Middle East and the supposed elite “national” interest of Israel.  But as I suggested in “A sea-change” here, most Americans have no interest in wars or occupations accompanied by bipartisan government/AIG/Goldman Sachs thievery and depression (17.2% real unemployment – nearly 1 in 5 American workers cannot find a full time job; gnawing anxiety about the future for most of the now failing middle class; foreclosures) for citizens.  The idea that Petraeus or the political elite speaks for a common good among Americans is false.  What he does speak for is a step toward decency and avoiding a further Middle East conflagration over years that the US would lose more disastrously even than it has so far.  Similarly, ordinary Israelis would benefit from a decent settlement with the Palestinians – that is a common good, and not the attempt to be the scary war state, the bellowing bully on the block, which costs Israelis in every way (dying in unnecessary wars, preparing always for war, being abjectly dependent on the American empire, permitting the ferocious exploitation of the Palestinians and shamefully blaming the victim, going on about lives in Israel while putting on  a “good face” that the ground is not on fire under them.  It used to be said that only she whose hair is on fire will need to plunge into the cooling waters of Buddhism.  Analagously, ordinary Israelis need peace and genuine physical security as if their hair is ablaze.

           The first story below contains a heartening note, the role of ordinary Israeli citizens in standing up against government depravity. David Grossman, the novelist, Avraham Berg a former Knesset speaker  and many others stand out for peace.  The article bizarrely refers to them as “leftists” rather than say defenders of law (international law) and decency, of the prophets, and what is good in Israel.  They stand for the salvation of Israel as a decent place rather than as a genocidal oppressor of indigenous people.  The same is true of 68 high school students who announced this winter that they would not serve in an occupying army (their intention was to resist at the likely cost of prison).  The protesters warned Netanyahu about his bureaucratese – that is, lying – and underlined that he got dealt with pointedly in Washington (much truth has been said about the currently buffoonish Bibi in Israel this week). 

       Burg rightly stresses that Netanyahu and Lieberman are currently determined to eliminate the possibility of a two state peace by dispossessing Palestinians and seizing Jerusalem.  There is the Al-Aksa mosque in the holy city, one that Israel has been cautious about, to some extent (see the second story below, a sad historical account).   The Israeli government may thus provoke further “religious war” in the Middle East (and quite likely over time  take down most of human life on the planet with them). It is almost the anniversary of  Martin King’s speech on Vietnam - see here and here - in which he stated the likely alternatives: nonviolence or annihilation.  The continuing 2010 assault on Jerusalem deeply illustrates King’s point.

         Second, Sharon’s militarist "visit" to the Al-Aqsa mosque triggered the second intifada.  Ordinary Palestinians will rise up against such provocations, let alone any attempt to destroy the Mosque itself.  Perhaps these benighted  settlers want to imitate the Taliban collapsing the great stone statues of Buddha.  They do not realize that all their decrying of “gentiles,” the rabid calling for murder of gentile babies supposedly based in the Torah, their invoking, of Joshua and the “battle” – genocidal massacre – of Jericho, does not cover their naked evil before the world. 

      Settlers fantasize that there are Jewish holy sites under the great Mosque,   Israel has already “allowed” the building of a “theme park” – call this Disney Torah-land - over displaced Palestianians which blocks one entrance to the Haram Ash-Sharif and the mosque.  Consider counterfactually if occupying Arabs were to destroy the Temple Mount, how Jews might react.  Or recall my post “Imagine” here in which a hypothetical late 21st century Saudi-China would occupy Vatican City, and tear down the Vatican around the Pope (despite the latter’s odious crimes of concealing child-rape and becoming an accomplice in it, it is hard to see most Europeans and Americans putting up with it). With the Israeli government winking and egging them on, there could be no more incendiary provocation than the settlers intend.

       Fortunately, the world is slowly focusing on the Israeli occupation, the treatment of indigenous people as subhuman, to be moved out or killed.  There are often shootings by the Israeli army of Palestinian teenagers who protest, an ordinary exercise of freedom.  These deaths are caused by the fact that Gazans are held in a “large open air concentration camp,” as my friend Tom Farer speaks of it, and forbidden to leave.  The Israeli government is lawless in the territories (a bloody tyrant); it has isolated itself in the world (see here and here) and screams at others that they do not understand, that even Jews who call it to account are supposedly “anti-semitic.”  

        Given the international recognition that the Iraeli occupation must end, it is likely that the Palestinians will pursue a nonviolent intifada against it, even against an attack on the mosque (though this is less likely).  Like the first intifada or better, they will turn away from murderous and counterproductive suicide bombers – there has been a long silence of such bombings in Israel now despite the slaughters in Gaza, the steady murder of  demonstrators -  or Hamas missiles (few and mostly errant).  Nowhere more clearly than in these ineffectual acts of violence has its role as seemingly justifying the oppression (by murdering Israeli innocents) and bringing down the greater violence of oppressors been more on display.  Sucide-bombing, killing women and children rather than even those responsible for Israeli policies, strengthens reaction, does a favor to otherwise buffoonish (though genocidal) oppressors.

     But the resisters do not yet understand the benefits of civil disobedience; a self-conscious campaign would likely be supported or participated in by many Israelis like Grossmann and international activists like the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement (think of Rachel Corrie or Thomas Hurndall).  Especially in the new international climate – with America unwilling to go along in the old, now glaringly irrational way, organized nonviolence modeled on Gandhi  or King, would enormously strengthen the cause of justice in the Middle East.

        On the word irrational: America enormously benefits from the role of Israel in the Middle East, from divide and rule, and has largely controlled the oil or the flow of oil  for fifty years as Chomsky has emphasized.  But the policy became fantastic hubris under Bush – to reshape the Middle East at gun point, the circumstances – two lengthy, losing and aimless occupations and international economic collapse - are now changed.  But rather than further Israeli encroachments/destruction of the holy sites of Islam as a provocation, it would be far better to have a nonviolent Palestinian (and Jewish and international) campaign of nonviolence for a decent solution as the new intifada.  Such a resistance would attract allies both in Israel and internationally. 

         There is already great anger and protest from below among Palestinians (all of it a matter of justice).   But the price exacted by Israeli government occupation is daily a  demoralizing one.  Perhaps only so great a provocation as an attack on the holy sites will generate a new intifada.  We are thus left to hope that Palestinians, who have shown great courage in the face of relentless injustice, can mount serious civil disobedience in the face of this.  If Obama stands up sufficiently, such a crisis might also be avoided; similarly, protestors from below in Israel can join with the Palestinians to end the occupation.  But the latter two components are both less central and  less likely.  As in South Africa, the Desmond Tutus come from below, among the oppressed. 

         But as Tutu emphasizes in No Future without Forgiveness, Truth and Reconciliation only happened after the electoral victory, not in the worst periods of apartheid.  We will have to all work so that a combination of pressures awaken decency in the Israeli elite before they do something – which they give every sign of yearning to do – which will produce long years of further conflagration.

       Still, King and Gandhi came forth during the oppression, not as part of the transition (and both were murdered before the transition).  King had some favorable circumstances (the vacillating but decent about civil rights federal judiciary and occasionally the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations).  Like any revolutionary protest movement, nonviolence needs some split in the ruling class, some revolutionary situation due to War, to make its appearance.  The US elite seeing Israel clearly as an ally when within its 1967 borders but a threat to its aims in the Middle East otherwise is a big shift, one with potentially very positive effects in opening the door to a civil disobedience campaign.

     Such a civil disobedience movement would even more forcefully give the lie to the Israeli government’s charge that it has “no partner to negotiate with.” The charge by the way is projection.  The Israeli elite has had no interest in negotiating, is no partner for peace, has done much, since 1967, to sabotage peace (that government initially created Hamas to undermine the PLO; it does everything in its power to disempower Palestinians not unlike European rulers pre- and during-World War II toward Jews).  Its coercive displacement of Palestinians and building in Jerusalem in the face of Obama’s counterpressure illustrates this point.  Israel is strong militarily, has a large store of nuclear weapons, and a more powerful ally.  It could work for peace.   Such a policy would be that of a hero, a statesman, somebody who really was strong, not a coward, a bully, a blowhard afraid to look in the mirror of his own words, up to this moment, a Netanyahu…

         Third, psychologically, ethnic cleansing and celebrations of genocide live on in history like a dark cloud, nurturing among the “victors” further wars and villainies until they destroy themselves. In Israel, many of the original Jewish settlers fled from genocidal Europe.  Celia Gilbert has written a poem June 20, 1944 (see here) on the Germans taking clothing and gold from the teeth of those they had forced into the last stages of misery and murdered.  Such things were sent back into Germany, planted in German mouths…There is a particular madness in the culture of Germany which will take ages to heal (see my poem Carmelites here). 

      This is even more true of US genocide toward Native Americans (not to mention slaves). 50 years later, the Germans have at least begun to take in the holocaust and memorialize the victims. In Denver we have Evans Boulevard, in Colorado, Mt. Evans, distinguished research professorships at the University of Denver and Northwestern are called Evans professorships, there is even an Evans Chapel at the University of Denver.  But John Evans was the Governor who sent out Chivington – whose statue is still in front of the state house – to do the Sand Creek massacre.  He commanded the slaughter of women and children...

      If one wants to understand American acquiescence in unjust wars (not that there isn’t lots of protest, fortunately) or that even Obama, the anti-Iraq war candidate, makes or escalates so many wars, here is a reason.  There is a deep psychic cost – not to say hideousness -  in living in the clothes and former homes  of the murdered and displaced, of celebrating those who committed atrocities.

       Nearly all states have this issue.  But Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine names this issue glaringly for Israelis. Yet Israel can today choose to stop a further ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories, and make peace with the Palestinians.  They can probably grab 80% of the old territory of Palestine (expanded from 50% that the original UN agreement gave them).  Claiming bizarrely  that they are endangered, Netanyahu, Lieberman and the settlers, one might say, outdo themselves in greed and foolishness.  Obviously it would be good to hold them to 50% or if one thinks about what Israel has done, a decent democratic equal rights-based single state solution looks increasing desirable. But if one wants to see paranoid madness (that one dare not talk about a future), look at mainstream Israeli politics.  How many displaced or "accursed" peoples (my anarchist grandfather JJ's word - "scion of an accursed race" in the first sentence of his autobiography The House Stood Forlorn)  ever receive a state, let alone could illegally and immorally expand it by another 60% of their original territory and still can appear to be making a decent deal (a little like forcing medical "insurance" companies to cover "preexisting conditions" and thus somehow appear decent).  Yet the Israeli elite (and many ordinary Israelis) have no peace, live murderously under a dark cloud of paranoia, guilt and greed…

       Jews suffered both from the crimes against them of the ages – pogroms and the Nazis, for example – and to be allowed to settle in Israel (it was the only place Europe and America would allow Jews as a national home), the committing of crimes (as if the Palestinians are today the Jews of the occupied territories).  The notion of securing one’s life by fighting against all the dangerous others (even Palestinians who did Jews no  harm) is strong and irrational in Israeli politics.  They name the dangers in others when they themselves have been the dangerous ones (once again, 300 children murdered in Gaza last January to 1 7 year old Israeli boy murdered by Hamas).

       Of others, Jews might rightly say: Germans and Americans, heal yourselves.  But that will not solve the Israeli's problem.  When I read that David Grossmann and Avraham Burg and other Israelis of conscience stand with the Palestinians in Jerusalem against this government madness, that high school students refuse to serve the army of occupation, it brings tears to my eyes for all of us, and the hope that their courage and decency – joined by that of all the rest of us - can finally do something to join with the Palestinians.  To heal the Jews and the world, we must stand up for decency toward Palestinians.

March 26, 2010

300 protesters gather in Sheikh Jarrah

Weekly leftist protest in east Jerusalem neighborhood spills over to Shepherd Hotel, where construction permit was granted this week. MK Dov Khenin: 'Netanyahu can lie to the world, but cannot do this with us'

Ronen Medzini

Published: 03.26.10, 17:14 / Israel News Ynet

Leftists and residents of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah held their weekly protest against the entrance of Jewish residents to homes in the Simon the Just compound in the Arab neighborhood on Friday, but this week, they also protested against the construction permit granted to the Shepherd Hotel in the east of the city which has added fuel to the crisis between Israel and the United States.

Some 300 people gathered to protest, including MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, and author David Grossman, planned to march from the compound, where they protest every week, to the hotel, under the slogan: "There is nothing holy in an occupied city." A group of some 50 demonstrators had already gathered at the hotel.

East Jerusalem

Haredim riot in Sheikh Jarrah / Shmulik Grossman

Shortly after rally against Jewish presence in east Jerusalem neighborhood concludes, dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews arrive at the scene, stone passing cars. Leftist: We'll fight for Palestinians' right to return to their homes

"The struggle here, in a certain sense, is not just for the Palestinians' rights, but for the future of us all in this land," Khenin told Ynet. "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sells his bluffs in a different way every time. When it was about Ramat Shlomo, he said this was 'just an approval in principle, not a construction permit,' now of Shepherd Hotel he says, 'The principle approval was granted earlier, the permit is of no significance'. He may be able to lie to the world, but he cannot do this with us."

According to Khenin, this week's protest is of special significance: "It is not just against the expulsion of Palestinian families from the neighborhood, but is also against steps to build a settlement that started at the lower part of the neighborhood, and this week expanded to the Shepherd Hotel in the upper part.

"This is not a technical authorization or a clerical decision. This is a government move to create an Israeli settlement in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem. This is a dangerous move, that works against the possibility of two capitals in Jerusalem – and without this principle we cannot reach a peace agreement." 

Burg also commented on this past week's incidents in the neighborhood: "This protest has a different meaning, in the sense of: 'We told you so'. Netanyahu, we told you that the moment of truth can be found in Jerusalem in general and in Sheikh Jarrah in particular. You didn't want to listen to us? So this is what they told you in Washington with disgrace."

According to Burg, the prime minister is now standing at a political crossroads: "The demonstrators here are begging from someone to plant some sense into the prime minister's head and some courage in his heart, so that he may have the strength to make the only decision that is currently possible. If he does not decide, he will drag Israel and the entire Middle East into an endless religious war. If he makes the right decision, which includes dividing Jerusalem and a retreat from all the mad settlements of the past 40 years, he will enter the national pantheon alongside Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin."

Shmulik Grossman contributed to this report

Israel plans expansion to Western Wall plaza

Published Thursday 25/03/2010 (updated) 27/03/2010 13:41

Jewish worshopers pay that the Western Wall in the Old City of occupied East

Jerusalem on 7 December 2006. [MaanImages/Magnus Johansson]

By Jonathan Cook

Jerusalem - The Israeli government has indicated that it will press ahead with a plan to enlarge the Jewish prayer plaza at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, despite warnings that the move risks triggering a third intifada.

Israeli officials rejected a Jerusalem court's proposal to shelve the plan earlier in the week after the judge accepted that the plaza's expansion would violate the "status quo" arrangement covering the Old City's holy places. Islamic authorities agreed to the arrangement after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

The proposed area for an expanded compound is in the area of the Mughrabi Gate, and one of the entrances to the Haram Ash-Sharif, or noble sanctuary, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Waves of Israeli encroachments on the site starting in August at the start of Ramadan and surging in February and March led to protests and violence targeting Palestinians. A heavily armed visit to the compound by Ariel Sharon in 2000, shortly before he became prime minister, to declare Israeli rights there sparked the Second Intifada.

In recent weeks, analysts have grown increasingly concerned that a third intifada is imminent as Benjamin Netanyahu's government advanced settlement building projects in East Jerusalem and declared several places deep in the occupied West Bank Israeli heritage sites.

Another assault on Muslim control so close to the Al-Aqsa Mosque would risk "pouring fuel on the fire" said Hanna Sweid, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament who filed the original planning objections to the Israeli scheme.

According to evidence presented to the Jerusalem court, Israeli officials used minor storm damage to a stone ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate as a pretext to tear it down six years ago. The intention was to replace the ramp with a permanent metal bridge and then extend the Jewish prayer plaza into the area where the ramp was positioned.

The scheme is the brainchild of Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall, who declared the damage to the ramp in 2004 a "miracle" that offered Israel the chance to take control of more land from Islamic authorities in the Old City.

The rabbi's plan was approved in late 2007 by a special ministerial committee headed by Ehud Olmert, then the prime minister. The project also won the backing of Netanyahu although he froze construction work in July under orders from the Jerusalem court.

In January, Israeli justice Moussia Arad proposed that the ramp be reinstated, or at the very least that the bridge follow the exact route of the ramp, and that all prayer at the site be banned. That position won the backing of United Nations officials monitoring Israel's work at the Mughrabi Gate.

Since the work on the gate began, Jordanian, Turkish, and Palestinian Islamic authorities have all expressed deep concern as the work was increasingly seen as a prelude to further expansion.

Observers had hoped that, faced with the danger of another row with the United States so soon after the diplomatic crisis sparked by Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem, Netanyahu might agree to the court's compromise.

They have been proved wrong.

"Netanyahu has a history of trampling on Palestinian rights in the Old City," Sweid said. "There is every reason to be worried about what he plans to get up to this time."

In 1996, during his previous stint as prime minister, Netanyahu opened the Western Wall tunnel, another excavation site close to the mosque compound, resulting in clashes that killed 75 Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers.

Israel says the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock sit on the ruins of two ancient Jewish temples, built by Solomon and Herod. People of the Jewish faith thus refer to the site as Temple Mount and in recent negotiations, some even attempted to stake out a degree of Jewish sovereignty of the area.

Last week, in a sign of the explosive consequences of tampering with the status quo concerning Jerusalem's holy places, clashes broke out in a "day of rage" in East Jerusalem following Israel's announcement that it had rebuilt an old synagogue, the Hurva, close to the mosques.

"The Haram Ash-Sharif is a site of unrivaled Muslim sensitivity and the Israeli government is playing with fire here," said Mohammed Masalha, a lecturer who heads a coalition of Islamic groups inside Israel that brought the court case.

In evidence presented to the court, Meir Ben Dov, an Israeli archaeologist and the excavations director at the Western Wall for nearly four decades, produced photographic evidence showing that the storm had caused only a minor landslide.

"I was asked by the government to inspect the damage two days after it occurred and I found maybe a dozen stones had been dislodged," he said. "The ramp could have been repaired in less than a week but instead they decided to demolish it."

Judge Arad, Ben Dov said, had been "shocked" when she saw the photographs.

Ben Dov said his recommendation that the walkway be repaired for 14,000 US dollars was ignored by Israeli officials, including the then-tourism minister, Benny Elon, a settler rabbi who heads a far-right party. Instead, the government tore down the ramp and built a temporary wooden bridge to the Mughrabi Gate while excavations were carried out in the area exposed by the ramp's destruction.

The Jerusalem comptroller, Shulamit Rubin, the city's watchdog official, criticized the excavations at the time, saying they were illegal because the necessary authorizations had not been sought.

The secretive nature of the excavations was widely assumed by Islamic groups to be evidence of an Israeli intention to search for parts of the destroyed temples. With such evidence, Israel would have a stronger claim to extend its control.

The unscientific approach to the excavations was highlighted in early 2007 when it emerged that three years earlier, Israeli archaeologists had unearthed a Muslim prayer room from the time of the Saladin, dating to the 11th century, but had kept the discovery quiet.

In February 2007, when Israel brought heavy machinery to the Mughrabi Gate excavations, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with police while the Islamic Movement within Israel staged large demonstrations. Islamic Jihad said it had fired two Qassam rockets from Gaza in response, and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade threatened to carry out attacks if the work was not halted.

Islamic authorities also expressed fears that the compound of mosques might be damaged by the bulldozers, and that the heavy machinery might also destroy the as-yet-undiscovered Al-Buraq mosque, believed to be located close to the Mughrabi Gate and marking the site where the Prophet Mohammed tethered his horse on his Night Journey between Mecca and Jerusalem. 

To calm the situation, Israel allowed Turkish experts to examine the excavations a short time later. They reported that Israel was trying to sideline Jerusalem's Islamic history so that its Jewish aspects could be emphasized.

Israel had another reason for pushing ahead with the illegal excavations, said Kais Nasser, the lawyer representing the Islamic groups. "They needed to unearth something, anything, that could be claimed as an antiquity to nullify Muslim demands for the ramp to be reinstated. Rebuilding the ramp would then be impossible because it would risk damaging an archaeological site."

Nasser said Israel hopes that if it can present the bridge as the only feasible option, then there will be no obstacles to expanding the prayer plaza.

Ben Dov said he shared such suspicions about Israel's activities at the site, adding that the goal of Israeli officials seemed to be to gain control over the whole 480-meter length of the Western Wall.

He and other observers have said it was just another example of a long-standing policy to gradually encroach on Muslim control of the mosque compound.

Among the most significant was the creation of the City of David, an Israeli archaeological park, directly south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Run by the extremist settler group Elad, the site has taken over neighboring Palestinian homes and, along with the Jerusalem municipality and government officials, has pushed for dozens more homes to be demolished. The group eventually wants to link up the park with the Temple Mount.

Jewish settlers have also been concentrating their efforts on taking over Palestinian homes in the Muslim quarter, close to the Haram Ash-Sharif, and have been supported by right-wing politicians, including in the past by Netanyahu.

One settler organization, Ateret Cohanim, has been especially active, and is known to be excavating under Palestinian homes around the compound in the hope of discovering traces of the temples.

"What we see here is an unholy alliance of government ministers, Jerusalem municipality officials, and settler organizations trying to revive a supposed golden era of Jewish sovereignty from thousands of years ago," Sweid said.

In addition, he added, Israel believes that a more significant Israeli presence close to the mosques would strengthen its hand in any final peace talks over the division of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, with Israel able to stake a bigger claim to sovereignty over the site.

At the Camp David talks in 2000, then US President Bill Clinton proposed dividing sovereignty so that Israel would have control over both the "subterranean spaces" of the mosque compound and the Western Wall. During the talks, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak alarmed observers by calling the whole compound the Jewish "holy of holies," a term previously used in referring only to the inner sanctum of the destroyed temples.

There are additional fears among Palestinians, and the wider Muslim world, of darker plots being hatched by even more extreme groups.

Although Jewish religious purity laws have traditionally forbidden Jews from entering the Temple Mount, a growing number of rabbis are demanding that Jews be allowed to pray in the compound. Even more fanatical groups are known to favor blowing up the mosques and building a third temple in their place.

The recent rebuilding of the Hurva synagogue has added to such concerns. The Israeli media reported that, according to a 300-year-old rabbinical prophecy, the synagogue's rebuilding would herald the construction of the third temple.

A sordid affair: The Mughrabi quarter's ethnic cleansing

Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Mughrabi, or Moroccan, quarter of Jerusalem's Old City after its capture in 1967 was one of the more sordid episodes of the 1967 war.

Until it was destroyed by Israel in 2004, the stone ramp that led to the Mughrabi Gate -- one of the main entrances to the elevated compound of mosques known as the Haram Ash-Sharif -- was the only visible reminder that the quarter, once home to 1,000 Palestinians, had ever existed.

At the end of the Six-Day war in June 1967, as Israeli troops poured into the Old City, the Israeli government was presented with an opportunity not only to restore a Jewish presence to the walled city but to create a newly expanded Jewish quarter that would have the Western Wall at its center.

Before 1948, prayer at the wall had been possible only at several points along a narrow alley at the margins of the densely populated Moroccan quarter, an area bequeathed in the 12th century to Saladin's followers by his son Malik Al-Afdal.

But in the immediate wake of the "miraculous" victory in 1967, the Israeli government saw the chance to create a wide prayer plaza in front of the wall, making it the symbolic heart of an expanded Jewish state that could unite religious and secular Jews.

All that stood in their way were the quarter's 135 homes.

On the night of 10 June, Uzi Narkiss, head of the army's central command, authorized 15 private demolition crews to raze the quarter under cover of dark. He, like the politicians, knew that neither the international community nor the Israeli courts would consent to such a brazen violation of international law.

When Teddy Kollek, the mayor of West Jerusalem, consulted the justice minister, he had been told: "I don't know what the legal status is. Do it quickly and may the God of Israel be with you."

Uzi Benziman, an Israeli journalist, described the "near-mystic" compulsion that drove those behind the act of ethnic cleansing: "The officers and the contractors considered themselves emissaries, come to renew Jewish statehood as it had been 1,897 years earlier."

An officer went from house to house ordering the residents to evacuate. According to observers, those who refused finally fled when the walls of their homes came down. One old woman, found amid the rubble, died a short time later.

As the ruins were cleared and the ground leveled to create an expansive plaza in front of the Western Wall, the contractors were told to use the rubble from the homes to build a ramp up to the Mughrabi Gate. The gate is the only entrance to the compound for which Israel has kept the key. The ramp was designated the only access point for all non-Muslim visitors, including the Israeli police, to the Haram Ash-Sharif.

The Western Wall and the plaza, on land that had previously fallen under the control of the Islamic authorities, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry. A few days later, on the Jewish holy day of Shavuot, an estimated 200,000 Israeli Jews -- one in 10 of the population -- came to visit the wall.

Although Israel effectively annexed East Jerusalem, its leaders were still troubled by the possible international repercussions of being seen to seize control of the Old City's holy places, especially the compound of mosques. Under a so-called "status quo" agreement, Muslim officials were supposed to continue controlling the mosque compound, with Israeli oversight.

But that did not stop the rapid emergence of a movement in Israel seeking control of the compound too. Many Jews believe the ruins of the temples of Solomon and Herod can be found under the mosques.

From the early 1970s, extremist rabbis -- led by the Shlomo Goren, then the chief rabbi of Israel -- began lobbying for Jews to be allowed into the compound to pray, despite traditional rabbinical rulings against such a practice.

Jewish groups soon sprang up demanding more: that the mosques be blown up to make way for a third temple that would bring nearer the arrival of the Messiah.

Since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, little of the status quo agreement remains. Israeli movement restrictions affecting both Gaza and the West Bank mean that today only a tiny number of Palestinians can reach the mosques. Palestinian institutions are also barred from operating inside Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, settlers and Israeli officials have encroached on more and more land around the mosque compound. At the Camp David talks with the Palestinians in 2000, Israel proposed for the first time that Jews be allowed to pray in the compound and that Israel have a degree of sovereignty over the site.

In recent years Israeli Jews have started to be escorted by Israeli police inside the compound through the Mughrabi Gate, although praying so far has not been sanctioned.

The author is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi. It is republished here with permission from the author.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Poem: V i o l en c e



          in Memphis

               April 4th

                          brother Martin



                                          garbage workers

                                          black andwhite


a bullet 

   from James Earl RayLB J  U S A



                       your way


Friday, March 26, 2010

Inference to the best explanation

       Aleksandar Jokic, a philosopher who teaches at Portland State, sent me a friendly amendment about my use of a fundamental philosophical term inductive inference to the best explanation (Gilbert Harman) which comes from C.S. Pierce (abduction, as Aleksandar rightly calls it in the note). This is perhaps the leading idea in the study of non-pure mathematics explanations.  So it would be valuable, I think, to many readers, to see what is at issue in this argument, as opposed to common but distorted views, for instance, empiricism (more accurately, deteriorated logical positivism via IQ testing in psychology) which dominates political and social “science.”   Understanding inference to the best explanation will also prove valuable in a discussion of moral objectivity or moral realism (with Hilary Putnam and Steve Wagner) which I will pursue in the near future. For a longer consideration of these matters, see Democratic Individuality, chs. 1-4.

     In many cases, from ordinary reasoning to detective work to physics, what we do is to compare significant evidence* with reasonable inferences, and decide which is an inference to be best explanation.  This may take a long time, we may  get it wrong for a time, or, as Popper suggests, the best explanation may be surprising or counterintuitive.  For instance, many of us initially have intuitions about American foreign policy which are, given evidence, mistaken but hard to shake; a counterinference that these policies arise from a destructive war complex or empire may be hard, at first, to reach, harder still to unravel the implications of fully.  Or Greeks discovered the novel human possibilities of the polis – of democratic debate on great issues like war and peace as opposed to the religiously-“inspired” commands of a despot, the initial and then uncontroversial form of rule (cf. Leo Strauss today) – as Aristotle suggests in book 1 of the Politics.  Or we have learned that Aristotle offers an uncontroversial notion of just war – one of self-defense by a free regime, one which has  at least a limited common good – and a mistaken view that slave-hunting is a form of just war.  After two millennia of struggle, Montesquieu and Hegel rightly rejected this view of bondage and “justice” and founded modern liberalism.  The last two are striking examples of what I call moral progress in the first chapter of Democratic Individuality (Hilary makes a related point about moral learning in a recent lecture), and the first is a candidate if we ever manage to get beyond it (even Obama, despite his many wars, gives some halting signs of it on torture or Iran or Israel or agreements to reduce the danger of nuclear war with Russia…). 

        The course of reasoning is not deductive (from premises, as in mathematics), but from relevant facts. It is thus like induction or as Harman also says, an inductive inference to the best explanation.  But it can also employ highly developed theories (as in physics), and arrive at deductions from them.  The reasonableness of those theories is dependent on argument, given striking issues or anomalies, with leading, competing theories; when a leading theory goes awry about such examples, scientific discovery involves, as physics strikingly reveals, remarkable and before unimagined inferences to the best explanation (quantum mechanics, relativity).  One scientific realist amendment to Aleksandar’s account below – the second step in abduction, that my hypothesis explains the surprising fact – is only in the context of a web of scientific (or practical) reasoning which includes leading alternate hypotheses which make the phenomenon significant, the hypothesis plausible (i.e. the Michelson-Morley experiment and Einstein’s rejection of aether in his 1905 paper on special relativity).  One needs to explain things which the prevailing theory or explanation does while also and unexpectedly illuminating anomalies for it.

       Aleksandar is also responding to what one might call genocide-shock. In Europe and in the United States, political murder, associated with fascism, is all around us.  If one takes on what torture is (read Andrew Sullivan or Scott Horton over the last years; Andrew pinpoints the moral issue with photographs from Abu Ghraib or the murders in American custody), one will be repulsed not only by the Cheneys, Condi Rice or Rumsfeld but by Democrats, even  Obama, who have tried to hide and protect them.  The US often indicts others for crimes (sometimes exaggerations of crimes) which its own record of murder (or even collaboration in, as with Saddam) sharply outweighs.  In the late 1990s, for example,  the assistant General Secretary of the UN Denis Halliday and 2 other UN humanitarian leaders resigned because of the genocide – some hundreds of thousands of children unnecessarily dead - caused by the UN boycott of Iraq, pushed by the United States and Great Britain (see John Pilger’s “Paying the Price” made for BBC and never shown on American television).

     But we need to heal up the world.  This means stopping the crimes, holding investigations and hearings to restore the rule of law, and exacting punishment.  I prefer Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.  This is, however, the nonviolence of the strong (Tutu, Gandhi)  In America, it would be hard to achieve more than punishment (leaving Cheney disgraced and isolated on some small island, say a Guantanamo without torture, with clothes, food and Fox news – where he can do no more harm and live out his madness and maybe even heal some – say, turn off Fox News - strikes me as sufficient).  But this is a long way up from here.

      In this murderous climate, Aleksandr speaks of revulsion for Nietzsche and Heidegger.  With Hilary Putnam and Tracy Strong, I read Nietzsche as having many ideas, ones which do not simply or even mainly point in a fascist direction (though there is a nasty current that does). And of course I am struck also by what Leo Strauss calls Nietzsche’s “inexhaustible power of passionate and fascinating speech.” Heidegger’s writings on poetry, such as his 1946 “What are Poets for?” (Wozu Dichter?), though stained by German reactionary nationalism of a sort alien to Hoederlin (he prefers Hoelderlin to Rilke largely on nationalist grounds) are often quite wonderful.  His critique of technology and arguments about mortality also open or develop paths through forests.  But I know exactly what Aleksandar is speaking of.  As I said in the first post on Enmity and Tyranny here, I looked into the darkness of Schmitt’s medieval anti-semitism and it to some extent possessed me (I felt ill and had to take steps to dispel its effects).  Nietzsche is a brilliant psychologist: when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you.  As Aleksandar suggests, some things are so awful that they can burn right through you.  To walk a path, one must be careful about how one looks.

“Dear Alan, I read your blog post today and I am writing to urge a friendly amendment. Let me just first mention that I was quite happy to discover the blog almost simultaneously with but independently of Tiphaine around the time she was working on her Strauss paper. You deal with some issues that are of interest to me in relation to the phenomenon I call genocidalism that I have been exploring for some time. However, those things you present in a way that is highly readable, with clear argumentation, when explored in the original are too painful for me to engage in. By this I mean to tell you that I could no longer summon the force to read Nietzsche or Heidegger and their cronies. In other words, continental philosophy  is something I find almost impossible to read. Yet, you are able to render people like Strauss or Schmitt understandable, you reveal with great clarity what their views were, their arguments (or lack of), and influence that spare me the necessity to go after such interpretations myself to see their covert and open support for fascism and the rest. My friendly amendment concerns the phrase "inductive inferences to the best explanation". Now the phrase suggests a single type of reasoning where there are two. And my reading of Harman and others is that they are saying as much about the two different kinds of reasoning processes. To make the point that there is no such thing as inductive reasoning that results in the best explanation let me start with a few definitions: An *argument* is a group of statements divided in two parts: (i) the claim, and (ii) evidence offered in support of the claim. *Reasoning* is the process of connecting evidence and the claim. There are exactly three kinds of reasoning processes: 1. Deductive (D)
2. Inductive (I) 3. Abductive, also called Retroductive, also called Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) Now, the phrase from your blog suggests that IBE is a kind of I (inductive reasoning) when in fact these are two very different kinds of reasoning processes. What they have in common is that they both, unlike D, allow for the possibility that even the best I and IBE arguments in fact have true premises and false conclusions--that is because the intention is not, like in deductive reasoning--to provide an absolute, 100% guarantee that if the premises are true then the conclusion also must be true. Instead, the intended connection between premises and the conclusion is something less than absolute guarantee, that is good likelihood or probability that if the premises are true so is the conclusion. But the difference between I and IBE is that IBE does not proceed from a sample and does not extrapolate that a population that the conclusion talks about has a certain property based on the fact that the population that the premises talk about has a given property. Instead, IBE is based on the explanatory power of the hypothesis asserted in the conclusion (and offered in the second premise). In other words, an Abductive argument has roughly the following form: 1. A surprising phenomenon, P, has been observed. 2. If my hypothesis, H, were true, then P would be explained. Therefore: 3. H is true. Now, what Harman is arguing in the paper you are citing is not that IBE is the same sort of reasoning as I. He is arguing that a certain type of argument called enumerative induction is better understood as an abductive rather than inductive argument. It remains true that I and IBE are different kinds of reasoning, producing different kinds of arguments that would have to be evaluated differently. That is, if we are considering an I argument the conclusion of which we don't like we would have to go into the questions about the sample: is it representative, large enough, etc. And if we are evaluating an IBE whose conclusion we do not like the challenge is very different: we must offer a better explanation, a different hypothesis that does a better job. In conclusion, I am presenting you with reasons to reformulate your point in such a way that does not suggest that IBE is a kind of I, but a different kind of reasoning altogether. Best regards, Aleksandar”

*significant - determined by leading theories in a domain of investigation at the time.  All scientific investigation of facts is, as has been said by Norbert Hanson, "theory-loaded" or theory-governed. The common forms of empiricism or behaviorism, as philosophical views purporting to account for the successes of science, don't have a chance.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Steven Wagner's proposals to curtail unjust wars


     Steve Wagner sent me a long letter clarifying his argument to Hilary Putnam about how to move toward a regime less prone to aggression and self-destruction than our current one.  I posted on these comments “A philosopher – Steven Wagner – looks at war” here, Hilary’s paper here, and my comment on it “A philosopher – Hilary Putnam - looks at war” here.  I am very grateful for a continuing conversation about these issues which I think many might benefit from.  Steve also sent a lecture he gave to the undergraduate philosophy club at Illinois on these matters (which I reprint below – jwar in the text is just war; there are some abbreviated sentences in the notes but it will be clear to anyone who makes a try at it), and some readings (which I have not reprinted) from a larger reading against the Iraq War which he organized.* 

    Steve (and Hilary) are among those not so common people who take public action when war or racism affects their lives.  He regards it as a responsibility, as a philosopher and teacher, to stand up about war and to organize others to converse about/act against it.  In this, the three of us (and many of you) have something in common. 

      We all now teach students whose lives were turned around (they at least made it back to school) from Iraq.  We do not so often reach the homeless, the jobless, the imprisoned or the maimed.  But in the institutions where we are, we stand up.  I am honored to reprint these two documents (unedited as Steve says) which I think everyone can learn from.  Professional philosophy, he  rightly suggests, has dealt too little with war.  There are individuals who wrote articles in the light of Vietnam and Iraq, many more who spoke out and protested against them, comparatively almost no belligerent fools.  About Iraq, for all college faculty in every discipline in our region, there was only one Israeli Army officer – he got on NBC which would allow no anti-war people, as an “expert,” asserting that WMD would be found in Syria a year after the invasion; in addition, one international relations person and one humanitarian interventionist who quickly changed his mind, spoke out publically – these were the only 3 who would debate in favor of the war.  The outspokenness of many against the war, and the silence otherwise was enough to make one feel good about university faculty members quite generally. 

      But Steve’s point about philosophy as a field unfortunately stands.  There is a tendency to regard the truth as too simple and clear on this matter, as Montesquieu says, the government too bent on destruction and self-destruction, and therefore many stand against it, to one extent or another, but do not to try to provide some answers. 

        But Guernica (the painting covered at the United Nations for Colin Powell’s reprehensible speech) looms over us.  The world cries out for answers – and all of us (citizens, inhabitants) have not so long to provide them. I am grateful to Steve and Hilary for continuing action, thinking and conversation to heal the world.


“Dear Alan,

       I attach with no editing or revision my notes for a presentation to  the undergraduate philosophy club a few years back, also some  reactions I sent Hilary upon reading his ms. —Hilary did point out to  me that Hegel addresses the question of war in his History, thus making our profession look a little better...I also attach something of at most personal interest.    

       Some years back I organized a public reading (small scale) of texts on war and public violence, in honor of victims thereof.  Here are the texts, no need to bother with them (but since they were written by non-me, the literary quality is high!)

       In a complete rush, without editing, here are responses to what you've posted or privately shared concerning war, peace, and the ideas Hilary attributed to me. I am very grateful for the conversation. My remark on an institution assessing the factual situation and likelihoods prior to any belligerent course should be considered as follows...

     —Regardless of my numerous blind spots and shortcomings, the last thing I am is non-political!  To take an essentially trivial example, our highway safety agency was not even capable of objectively assessing Toyotas.  I'd never be so naive as to think you advance public epistemology just by creating some board, cabal, or think tank. It is obvious that the constitution and functioning of any institution of knowledge is a highly political matter. 

       On the other hand, some public information-assessment agencies work fairly well—the GAO for instance.  Or, weirdly, in a certain respect the CIA. As you know, some (admittedly naive!) people conceived the CIA, back when, as a research agency only.  No sabotage, killing, manipulating elections, bribery, Air America and USAID, heroin pipelines, etc.  Their pure research is still considered quite good.  Now consider...(a) I was thinking of raising the epistemic standard for belligerent policy decisions from the present level, which is so low that virtually anything would be an improvement—and  any improvement would avert countless deaths and disasters.   (b) Start with CIA-quality research, then (i) make everything totally transparent; (ii) researchers/staff selected/elected by publicly  acceptable criteria roughly in the way that, under slight idealization, decent university departments in geography, history, etc. are constituted.   (c) Appropriate guards against bribery, manipulation, etc. — not as though this can't be done.   (d) Continued public oversight and transparency.  Incl. but not at all restricted to  appropriate representation, in staff or oversight, of the classes/sectors who would bear the burdens of warfare.

         Clarification: I use 'belligerence' rather than 'war' because there's a legitimate ordinary-language question whether using a drone to take  out target Y in location L, or the Mossad assassination in Dubai reported a few hours ago, or an embargo on goods (of whatever kind) to country X, are war.  But they're belligerence. — Next — any belligerent action as democratic decision.  At a minimum: no undeclared warfare.  This alone sounds like a laughably low bar, but again as you know, it's enough to have led every U.S. government  since 1945 to flout it, across a series of acts of war, small and great, that possibly only William Blum has a total view of, well, Blum and a prodigiously memorious M.I.T. linguist-philosopher. —Declaration in a bicameral system, say our own, would be by both houses, and subject to immediate suit for judicial review; i.e.: no lower standards for belligerence than for any garden-variety law. [Immediate review since by the nature of belligerence various parties will immediately have standing.]

       The foregoing may seem a little elaborate, but really it just spells out the transfer, to cases of belligerence, of what are in fact rather ordinary standards.  Now as for your/Hilary's alternative ("public opinion in democracies world-wide")   1. No necessary conflict with my suggestion!  (Which is no more than a suggestion.)   2. One would at least need to discuss how to implement that politically and  concretely...!   3. If "democracies" is supposed to rule anything out, the decision on what counts as one is open to serious abuse.  I'll not comment myself, but I would certainly not volunteer for the job of defending this part against charges of Eurocentrism.  4. \ "Democracies" are a subset of nations with highly developed mass media.  These exist to sow ignorance and manipulate public opinion.  Needs at least to be discussed, lest the proposal appear non-political in its own way.

        On another matter, you suggested that local, organized popular resistance be considered to fall under the Just War heading, as opposed to the move in my notes (rejecting JWar, but taking this form of armed conflict as potentially legitimate).  My response: I won't stand on the terminology... What matters to me is rejecting institutions of belligerence, and rejecting the views these hold as capable of justifying belligerence.  If we consider 'war' to mean what is conducted by standing armed forces, within a government in the usual sense, then the Sandinistas, French Resistance, Chinese Communists (pre-1949), Haitian slaves, etc. were not conducting wars. If someone wants to turn this around and say, no, what this means is that just under conditions of distributed popular resistance, by definition defensive and not suited for conquest, are the JWar conditions satisfiable (sometimes), I'd reply that I don't think that's what people generally mean—but I see no particular reason to object.

      ...Far more discussion of all this is possible.  I wanted to give you quick glimpse of my thinking beyond what you gleaned from Hilary's allusions (again: generous and appreciated!).  If anything I've mentioned on the topic could be said to constitute an idea, by the standards of professional philosophy, then it is the idea of looking at the epistemology of belligerence/JWar.  In this area  collective/institutional mental states (beliefs, desires, etc.) are  commonly (and rightly) attributed all over the place, but I do not happen to be aware of anyone's having asked how/when these could meet what are, in other contexts, perfectly normal criteria of justification. —Note that the notion of "public opinion in democracies" would face the same question; my point about media (and:  education) goes to that. 

       I had another idea which the notes merely alluded to. ... As a matter of fact, you can go a long way toward all the results I want (peace-loving ones!) by applying nothing more than a robust, simplified form of consequentialism (reasonable "utilitarianism") that  should not be terribly controversial in the domain of public policy /social choice.  Hilary (also you) takes quite a different route, but it may be similar in effect.  Now despite this I do not want the calculations/considerations around belligerence to be purely (n.b.) consequentialist in the usual sense (despite the vast improvement that offers); I think a notion of rights (or better: rights-like) is important.  Hilary is tending in the same direction.

        In a curious way there's a difference in perspective.  Hilary is more like: "we need extraordinary standards to justify belligerence."  I'm more like: "let's imagine what it would be to apply, to belligerence, standards that elsewhere count as unremarkable."  At the moment I can't decide whether this a deep difference or just a matter of vantage point.


        I seem to recall your citing Robert Jackson.  The attached readings contain a line of his from the Nürnberg summation — (roughly, from memory) "In the long perspective of history, the twentieth century will not occupy a distinguished place, unless its second half is to redeem its first".  I once paired this as an email signature with Bertrand Russell's reply, in the mid-60s, to the question what he foresaw for the rest of the century:  " 'What do I foresee?' Nothing but corpses. It's as simple as that." 

With kind regards,



The Ethics of War: Pacifism, ‘Just War’, and Beyond

(informal presentation notes for our undergraduate club)


Steven Wagner

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

2 November, 2005



The theme is topical. That’s almost a distraction.  You can’t name an historical point when it wasn’t, or foresee one where it won’t be.

Combine: orientation re how philosophy can help our thinking; some definite, useful positions (vs. too much survey, too many fine distinctions, too many footnotes!); fresh items to keep more advanced students interested and show that these are living topics.


Peace—and war—peripheral to mainstream political philosophy.  A bizarre disconnection from reality?  Or a judgment that these topics raise no great philosophical questions?  (Which would be improbable.)

Cases in point: Rawls, Theory of Justice; or Hegel, Philosophy of Right.  Standard rejoinder, perhaps: in logical progression we settle/clarify the units before interactions among the units.  But if used in an exclusionary way this is scientifically fallacious.  Or: focus on the domestic b/c it’s the “normal” condition, with war as the sporadic aberration.  But in the case at hand the “units” (states and the like) are conceived and perpetuated in warfare/threat; derive or lose resources through it (directly or indirectly); are organized with an eye to its conduct (e.g., by maintaining/supporting armies, spies, etc.)  The units are intertwined with warfare (conduct, threat of, etc.) historically; functionally; conceptually.

The topic has very rarely received philosophy of the first order.

Clearly primary question: ethics of undertaking, preparing for, threatening war in the first place.  (As opposed to rules of engagement, etc.)  State of the discussion:

Widespread agreement that the burden of proof is on war-making, in general and case-by-case.

Among soi-disant theorists of war, strong preference for some form of “just war doctrine”. —Philosophers agree with generals!

Among informed and enlightened political writers, working consensus that armed forces generally do the bidding of grasping, oppressive elites—Historically hardly debatable! —and nothing else can be expected from them.  Thus elimination of war a by-product of revolutionary social transformation.

Necessary, if routine, textbook exposition: tenets of just war doctrine (omitting much analytical qualification):

1. Just cause.

2. Purity of motive (of the motive in 1).

3. Warfare as a public act by public authorities.

4. Last (feasible, plausible) resort (to achieve 1).

5. Probability of success (at 1).

6. Ethical benefits (see 1) will outweigh the inevitable evil.  (Sometimes also called “proportionality”.)

Call these Jwar 1-6.

This is usually opposed to pacifism: some form of general, principled opposition to war.

Trouble starts here: no clear incompatibility between Jwar and pacifism.  Jwar is a framework for justification which one could hold to be satisfied: often, never, almost never, …

My aims:

Offer a form/variant of pacifism for consideration.

Jwar is philosophically bankrupt.

A core pacifism

Some insights of past analysis… [illustrate or elaborate]

#1: “Bellicosity” is a standing condition of society/societies, with warfare proper as an intermittent manifestation—or intensification—thereof.

#2: This condition ramifies through the usual list of principal social institutions—markets/banking, schools, courts, police, legislation, entertainment, family/reproduction, urban+transportation organization, industry, labor force, …

#3: Connected analytically and empirically to practices/institutions in the sense of: patriarchy, coercion, inequality/exploitation, … N.b. Gandhi: the greatest form of violence is poverty.  Also Hannah Arendt (Human Condition): to obstruct robust, chaotic public exchanges of ideas and perspectives is a major form of violence. 

Thus a form or variant of pacifism (one hypothesis, not to rule out others):

Opposition (resistance) to the institutions and manifestations of bellicosity.  This understood simultaneously as a:

—long-term, comprehensive socio-political programme

—unilateral and immediate programme for one’s own society, whichever it may be.  Not (or hardly) conditional on developments elsewhere.

—basis for immediate refusal to participate in the most intense + direct institutions of bellicosity (the military; weapons manufacture; research to the ends of war, surveillance, and the like; … e.g.); others as possible.  (The more these pervade, the less possible.)


Stronger than usual formulations of pacifism (although, often, not of other oppositional political views) b/c of inclusive scope (institutions).  Recall: ramifications, analytical + empirical connections. 

Weaker b/c the prohibition becomes less clear as the warfare becomes less institutional, less systematic, less the product of a bellicose structure of society.  More concretely: indigenous(-based) guerilla warfare and related—violent (conjoined with nonviolent)—resistance.

    Clarification: to the extent that it is distributed and popular.  E.g., among current “guerilla” movements FARC (Colombia) seems rather suspect in this regard. Far from incidentally, it is also not very successful politically—facing opposition from its own supposed popular base.

    Reasons for the exclusion:

Radically different institutional, political, economic profile of popular (n.b.) resistance.  E.g., it can hardly gain its resources from an economy geared toward sustaining it(!); participation is essentially voluntary (typically against powerful incentives for going over to the dominant side); leaders may or may not be formally elected but require confidence and popularity, and similarly operations require consent; if there’s any chance of success then “the guerillas move among the population as fish move in water”; etc. 

Virtually always reactive against state-institutional warfare (armed occupation)—by foreign or own state.  Hence empirically posterior, almost epiphenomenal (despite its historical importance).

[And in terms of argumentative strategy] Evades, tactically(!), a main objection to pacifism—purely defensive violence against already initiated, local aggression.  While compatible with respecting, for quite a distance, the broad benevolent, ahimsic (essentially Buddhist) motives for stronger pacifism: opposition to organizing civil society around coercion and oppression, let alone around warmaking (cf. bellicosity). Peace and non-harming as pervasively, a way of life.

Elaboration: from a viewpoint of general opposition to violence, or to armed and organized violence, agnosticism about guerilla resistance makes no sense!  But here we consider the ethics of war in the context of political economy, ideology.  For the reasons sketched, state warfare (or repression) and popular resistance are analytically radically distinct.  With the former obviously the primary phenomenon.  So we focus on its critique, content for the moment to let the other fall where it may.

Very well.  A discussable position.  What else do we want to do?  Dissolve or cancel the rival—Jwar. 

 Could do that by arguing that for empirical reasons, Jwar has—for all the philosophical sound and fury—v. little effective difference from our pacifism.  This is far from wild.

    One “little” snag: almost by definition, Jwar 3 will not hold.  Jwar 3 fails for popular resistance; for their part our pacifist cannot accept Jwar’s authoritarian state agent.

    Could just drop 3? No, use it as the thread to unravel Jwar on relatively abstract—but no less politically compelling! —philosophical grounds.  Historically 3 was a big deal—so its pivotal philosophical character is appropriate.  Note: 3 is the odd condition out—it has no reference to 1—which is no accident.

Jwar unfounded

Perspective: our interest in connecting critique of war with broad programme of liberation—democracy, equality, transparency, sociality/community, human realization, autonomy.  Cf. historian Brian Downing: roughly, zero-sum relation between devoting social resources to bellicosity vs. to civic well-being.  (Surprise!)  Argue that Jwar cannot survive reflection on the nature of community and agency.

Interesting echo in the textbook rival to the Jwar and pacifist camps, “realism”. —On its face misnamed and not a serious philosophical position.  Not to mention: advocated by serial war criminals like G. Kennan and H. Kissinger. —But can be construed as saying: Jwar models states—armed states—as agents subject to ethical description [as ethical agents], i.e., to moral motive, intention, deliberation, and this is false.  That far “realism” is indeed more realistic than Jwar.  Let's explain... 

Agents—personal, subpersonal, suprapersonal; unity and transparency.

Paradigm agents: individual humans.

Alternative: subpersonal (ancient; but also from Kant, Freud, Chomsky, …)

Alternative: suprapersonal (clubs, nations, corporations, families, clans, towns, Republics, teams, …)

Conditions on personhood (Plato and onward): unity of action, acting as one entity; integrated awareness/information flow.  Given these, can attribute, to some extent or other, predicates of agency: motive, belief, knowledge, foresight, …

Jwar: States (modern or premodern) as person-like agents, as “persons”.  “France made war on Germany.”

Criticisms: Politically hierarchical, class- and gender-divided (etc.) societies fail the unity and transparency conditions.  Common agency, shared knowledge, etc. fail.  Therefore the agent of war—which is indeed basically the whole society—is not the agent deciding/deliberating on the war. —Compare Jwar 3, which tries to address this but can't.

This is not readily fixed—that would mean eliminating (radically reducing) the social divisions.  Then considering the war decisions of such a (“utopian”) society.  We strongly doubt whether such a society would choose war (under remotely normal conditions); it’s a commonplace that wars are initiated to benefit the elites, under conditions of massive deception, indoctrination, propaganda.

In any case, only then could we even talk about satisfying the Jwar conditions.

Restatement: Jwar assumes a war-fighting agent—basically the whole society/nation, as is empirically the case—and a decision-maker.  The Jwar fiction is that the latter agent is the former, but social divisions preclude this.  Within reason the latter can (nearly enough) satisfy conditions for being one (collective) agent.  But this is useless for Jwar.  [Elaboration…  See also below.]

Moreover: because bellicosity spreads (is indeed in positive feedback with) coercion, secrecy/deception, exploitation: the more pronounced bellicosity is in society X, the less X will satisfy appropriate unity conditions.  So exactly as we approach war-readiness, the agency presuppositions for Jwar go down the drain.

Rejoinder: “These are just the worries Jwar 3 is supposed to address.  ‘Legitimacy of the state agent’, etc.” —Yeah, but it “addresses” them by defining them away.  It’s true that state authorities will (all but by definition of ‘state’…) assert [in effect] that agency conditions are satisfied.  That has nothing to do with actual satisfaction.  

One could add: empirical arguments that for any elite (“military-industrial-political complex”) as we know it, satisfying Jwar 2, incidentally also Jwar 4, is wildly unlikely.  That would tie into the following…

Justifying a claim to justice in war

A tempting ambiguity in ‘Jwar’: suppose a given war is just, by these standards, for the sake of argument; but initiating it is justified only if the judgments affirming 1-6 are not only held but held with justification. 

If we’re treating the state, or the elite, as a person-type agent, then let’s apply rather ordinary epistemic criteria to the judgments.

Elementary that justification will fail.  Justification would require [in an obvious empirical sense] objective estimates of capacities, likelihoods, alternatives, etc.  Exactly the institutional structures and patterns of bellicosity preclude this.  E.g., secret police/spies (foreign and domestic); secret deliberation; authoritarian hierarchies processing the information; option of securing consent by coercion or propaganda; profits to some from war-making; career benefits from war-making; etc.  The systems that bellicosity requires/involves—upon whose existence war-making depends—corrupt the collection, flow, and processing of information.    

The whole notion would be laughed out by nearly any economist or psychologist.  It’s empirically hard enough to rationally estimate outcomes for oneself.  Jwar conditions 4-6 (at least) require reliable estimates, by the war-deciding elite, of likely losses and gains to others.

Virtually superfluous to elaborate all this in light of current events.  Also, again, almost distracting—the point is timeless.

 On the topic of knowability, it would be almost unfair to dwell on Jwar 2.  That is, not only is satisfaction of Jwar2 wildly implausible in actual cases (this wouldn’t as such be an argument against Jwar, only an argument that Jwar leads to pacifism).  Rather, we’re requiring the war-deciding elite to be a reliable assessor of its own motives.  Now this is an empirical question about types of or about individual agents.  The University of Illinois chess club seems quite an accurate estimator of its own motives, as likely are chess clubs in general.  Maybe I am, in my near-dotage, a fair estimator of my motives—better than some people (for their own motives) anyway, if worse than other. Etc.; cases vary.  Obvious that a political elite is not very well wired up for this sort of thing.

So, a form of double argument against Jwar. 

    A. For the right/intended agents [= whole societies/nations], conditions of agency fail; and fail worse the more bellicosity takes root. 

    B. For the war-deciding elites, agency obtains reasonably well.  But aside from the fact of their not being the intended agents, they are in general incapable of epistemically justified deliberation re going to war.

(It's unsurprising, given the empirical difficulty of even verifying what the elite’s attitudes are—esp. under conditions of bellicose social organization—that since Day 1 Jwar doctrine has been an open invitation to hypocrisy.  Whether this, too, is a philosophical weakness of the position we leave for another time.  It is certainly a weakness for any conception intended to play a role in public argumentation. Cf. analogous concerns in Rawls, we need public justifications that merit and are seen to merit confidence.)


Avoidance of war is intimately connected to highly substantive democracy and community. —This is absolutely not the familiar, brain-dead (and false) saw about “democracies not making war on democracies.” —Rather:

The Jwar conditions would make sense only under conditions of radical equality, community, knowledgeability.  But these are incompatible with institutions of bellicosity.  Moreover, under those conditions a popular desire—all things considered—to make war is pretty implausible.

At the same time (cf. Plato, Republic), the radical (democratic community-creating) conditions help to optimize a society's resilience against takeover and conquest [compare our reflections on popular resistance]; optimize ability to position oneself (through economics, diplomacy, …) as a desired friend/ally, not target.

So a pacifist hypothesis supercedes Jwar analyses.

[That said, an observation: Popular armed resistance, although by definition (and intent) disqualified from Jwar 3, is otherwise semi-congenial to Jwar.  There’s likely fair justification in the cause (Jwar 1). —Ironically, the Spanish resistance that gave us the word ‘guerilla’ may be one of the lesser cases.  The peasants were so miserably repressed by Church and King that Napoleonic conquest might have been a relief… —Moreover popular resistance simply cannot be aggressive, a foreign “intervention”, or the like.  Jwar2 can’t be taken too seriously—philosophically—in any case, but here it will be better off than usual.  Jwar 4 almost goes without saying.  Indeed, occupiers and repressive authorities methodically destroy civilian institutions.  These, not armed elements, are typically the first target—look at Israel in Palestine, e.g..  So when guerilla tactics gain support there is often little alternative.  Jwar 5 varies wildly, but in a given case the chance for success can be high.  Jwar 6 involves a twist.  As far as effects on the enemy (occupiers) goes, popular resistance is almost necessarily “proportional”—guerillas just can’t muster that much force, and occupiers may have a politically precarious position anyway.  The question would be whether overthrowing the occupiers is worth the toll they will exact on the population, esp. the resistance and their sympathizers.  Here we arrive at, and will prescind from, difficult problems for resistance strategy.  Note, though, that by the same token Jwar theorists tend to overlook or deny the cost of bellicosity for the population undertaking a supposedly just war—e.g., the rise of the U.S. military-industrial-police state as a consequence of WW2.

I’m not a Jwar theorist, but an exclusive focus on popular resistance would seem advisable for anyone in that framework.]


If there exists a dominant bellicose state, and you attempt radical, or really even quite mild reform, it will of course go to the ends of the Earth to destroy you. 

Appendix: getting started

Start on-line with the Stanford, Routledge, and Internet encyclopedias of philosophy.  These offer bibliographies and links.  Among the original articles available on-line try E. Mendieta, “The ‘clash of civilizations’ and the just war tradition” and, particularly, A. Alexandra, “Political pacificism”. —Philosophers tend first to mention Augustine, Aquinas, and Kant.  But—with due respect—specifically on bellicosity/peace the two most philosophically insightful authors are Thucydides and Woolf.  (Peleponnesian War, Three Guineas) —As for journals, the leading philosophical ethics journals hereabouts (Philosophy and Public Affairs, Ethics) offer little.  Just started is a promising electronic journal out of Adelaide, Borderlands.  It’s highly interdisciplinary and eclectic, already including some fine work on our topics.

Appendix: a predictable debate

“You’ve ignored the obvious question for any pacifism: is it credible or even palatable that we—either the U.S. or the U.K.—shouldn’t have fought Hitler?”

The question is reasonable but far from primary.  It’s a separate topic, but since this inevitably comes up, here’s some quick orientation.  (Unphilosophical, but part of this stretch of applied ethics territory.)

1. ‘Einmal ist keinmal’ (“one example is no examples” — I gather there’s a similar saying in Arabic).  If that’s the only decent challenge anyone ever comes up with, its interest is limited.

2. On historical grounds, note that the challenger only means the European war.  The Pacific war was nothing more than an imperialist catfight, as was widely remarked even at the time.

3. In its usual form the argument cheats by using hindsight.  Britain's war against Germany could well have been lost, in which case fighting it would have been much worse than not fighting it.

4. The counterfactual history assumed here is extremely complicated.  E.g., for Germany to hold an empire against guerilla warfare would have been extremely difficult (esp. in the Soviet territories).  On the other hand, the U.S. very quickly put Nazis in power in Greece (initiating a civil war to that end), permeated the German and Italian governments with them, etc.  The “black-white” conception of the decision-theoretic outcomes is a pleasant fantasy.

5. The war arose out of the omnilaterally militarized Euro-American world of the time, including U.S. efforts to arm and otherwise back the Nazis.  The Nazi danger is therefore no argument at all against rejecting institutions of force.  We’re therefore taking on the challenge most favorably construed—“everything has been done wrong up through 1939; OK.  But now what do you say? 

This could be discussed further, but it’s something of a tangent from my talk’s main lines.  Very little of the philosophical theory is affected (even w/o reverting to point 1). 

Afterthought for philosophers

"You said, 'It’s empirically hard enough to rationally estimate outcomes for oneself.  Jwar conditions 4-6 (at least) require reliable estimates, by the war-deciding elite, of likely losses and gains to others.'  But doesn't philosophical ethics require that, assuming even a moderately consequentialist component?" —Good question.  Not a problem for my position, rather it underscores the point.  The difficulty of estimating consequences means

(i) Setting the epistemic standards for political decision-making very high.  Existing institutions/procedures are inadequate to begin with and radically compromised to boot. 

(ii) Generally an argument for gradualism, for, as it were, corrigible rather than ballistic movements.  Since war-making is paradigmatically ballistic (not to mention, then also epistemically corrupting), this argues further against warfare.  Hence also against maintaining institutions and social practices serving bellicosity. 

*There is a wider conversation here.  I used to talk with John Rawls about these matters (some of that conversation shows up in his remarks on the democratic peace hypothesis in Law of Peoples, pp. 48-52), with Dick Boyd and Dick Miller, and recently, with Brendan Hogan and James Bohman (see here).  Philosophy is a field which invites critical argument and leads to public action.  If the writing is not so plentiful, the reality, in doing something, is much better