Category Archives: Granny Guide to Real News

Bases Bases Everywhere!

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The U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases on foreign soil, as well as aircraft carrier “Strike Forces”. The Okinawa Prefecture is home to more than 70% of the U.S. bases in Japan. Opposition to the U.S. presence started in 1995 after the rape of a schoolgirl by three soldiers. Plane and helicopter crashes starting in 1959 continue to this day and the Okinawans want an end to the bases.

On Saturday, January 5, 2019 the Granny Peace Brigade joined Vets for Peace and Catholic Workers to set up a temporary base in Grand Central. Our signs tell it all – Stop the US Base in Okinawa. We were there to support Hideko Otake and the coalition “Stand with Okinawa” to stop the landfill of Henoko Bay.

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Okinawans are protesting the U.S. Marine Corps plan to build an airbase in the bay — a gorgeous pristine blue body of water, home to an endangered sea mammal, the Dugong. A petition was started December 8th to halt the work until a referendum is held in Okinawa to determine the fate of the proposed base. The petition, started on December 8th, had over 180,000 signatures, and is directed to President Trump to halt the construction.

The petition deadline was January 7th, but for updates go to: http://standwithokinawa.net/

Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

The Granny Peace Brigade and Climate Change – duh, we mean, Climate Chaos

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On January 16, 2015 the media reported that 2014 was the warmest year on earth since 1880 when record keeping began.  Five weeks earlier, on December 8, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a suit bought by seven youth plaintiffs.  Their claim is that the U.S. Constitution safeguards for them and future generations a healthy climate system.
The case is part of Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL) based on the centuries old doctrine of Public Trust.  Please see our blog of November 19th, 2013  (ATL and GPB)  for a description of ATL and the amicus curiae brief the Grannies filed together with countless groups.
The ostrich-like posture of the Supreme Court is not deterring these youth. Working with Our Children’s Trust based in Eugene, Oregon and other organizations such as iMatter Youth, they are building a case for federal action through state courts with cases now pending in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.  Previous suits brought in six other states – Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Montana, Pennsylvania and Texas – provide valuable legal stepping stones.
The GPB recognizes the dire urgency of climate chaos and will continue to monitor OCT and we encourage you to visit their site.  Our Children’s Trust is working “to secure science-based climate recovery policy nationally, and to return to the Supreme Court if necessary.  We will expand our efforts to enforce individual states’ responsibilities to preserve the atmosphere for the benefit of future generations, and will advance select global and local efforts to do the same.  Piecemeal legislative and executive actions not based on nature’s laws will simply never get us where we need to be.   We need judicial declarations that government must act systemically to stabilize our climate.”

If you have family or friends in any of the states with current cases pending, give them the OCT website and SPREAD THE WORD!
SAVE THE DATE: Sunday, April 26  PEACE AND PLANET  March and Mobilization in New York City.  For specifics:  www.peaceandplanet.org

– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade

The United States-Israel-Palestine — some thoughts

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On August 1st a reporter on Aljazeera America News describing the carnage in Rafah said  “today I saw several children…I have to say…I have never seen children look so shell shocked.”  On the internet there is a picture of a very young child sitting on stones next to dead parents.

Has our Government no memory, no mercy, no shame, or is it that our holders of office fear loss of support if compliance with and assistance to the Government of Israel is not accepted as a ‘given’ duty?

Continue reading The United States-Israel-Palestine — some thoughts

ATL and GPB – Hint: it’s not a Tweet

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As the United Nations Conference on Climate Change meets in Warsaw, the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB) has joined an Amicus Brief (Friend of the Court) in support of five Youth Plaintiffs and their federal lawsuit of Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL).

Together with other organizations – Global Kids, Earth Guardians, 350.org, Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action NetworkLabor Network for Sustainability, HelpAge International and HelpAge USA – the Grannies are supporting these Youths and their appeal filed on May 23, 2013.

Atmospheric Trust Litigation is grounded in Public Trust Doctrine in which governments have a legal responsibility to protect those resources essential for collective survival and prosperity.   Public Trust Doctrine dates to Roman Emperor Justinian 1500 years ago.

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Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs Global Warming and an activist since the age of 12, first filed a suit on May 4, 2011 against six U. S. agency defendants demanding “Climate Recovery Plans” to protect our climate system. Alec, the lead plaintiff, was 16 years old and joining him were 4 Youths in a legal action in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

In April 2012 the National Association of Manufacturers was granted defendant status in the case as “fossil fuel intervenors.”  On May 12, 2012 District Court Judge Robert Wilkins dismissed the Youth’s suit on the grounds that it was a legislative matter and not one for courts to decide.

In the fall of  2012 several Grannies met with Julia Olson, attorney and Executive Director of  Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization working with youth around the country, and filmmaker Kelly Matheson, coordinator of a Trust campaign.  At that meeting the GPB was invited to join the case as a Friend of the Court, should an appeal be filed.  And it was filed on October 22, 2013.

The Youth Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  It charges that irreparable harm to resources and loss of a habitable climate system is a breach of the Trust relationship between Youth and Government.  As such it is a breach of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.  Youth’s claims are based on fundamental obligations of the government which are incapable of being displaced by legislation.

The GPB has now joined the appeal as Amicus Curiae, a Friend of the Court, with the following statement:

We Grannies stand for Peace.  The Granny Peace Brigade (“GPB”) formed in 2006 after 18 older women were found not guilty in a court of law of charges related to their actions opposing the Iraq War.  We stand for human rights and justice.  We oppose war and the violence of poverty and racism.  We are committed to the struggle to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren everywhere.  From the perspective of our ages ranging between 67 and 98 years, we are witnesses to the drastic and dramatic climate changes taking place and feel it our responsibility to act on behalf of future generations.   We join with the plaintiffs.

– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade

(Return to GPB website)

No to Weaponized and Surveillance Drones

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Response to questions about U.S. military use of drones is often — use of drones lessens the numbers of ground forces required and, therefore, our military casualties. Here in the U.S the battlefields of the Civil War are known  but most military actions in the Middle East, South Central, South Asia, and Africa in which we have been and are engaged are carried on principally in towns and villages, whether or not there are drones in the sky.  So, as I see it, our young still go off to war and continue to serve as ‘cannon fodder.’  It is they who carry out on the ground the military, often demeaning sometimes deadly, confrontations with townspeople-villagers — waking sleeping families, breaking into celebrations, disrupting ordinary gatherings — and they who reap the reaction of the invaded people.  Yes, there may be a saving drone — but not always.   David Swanson points out in “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields”  ‘The Battles of Fallujah were fought in the city of Fallujah, Iraq.'(1)  We know the result — destruction of the City of Mosques; aftermath: continuing high rate of birth defects, scientists suspect tied to the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in military assaults.(2)

Countering the claim that drones are more precise in targeting than manned aircraft, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analysis found that missile strikes by drones ‘were 10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians’ than were strikes by fighter jets.(3) Officials who conducted a study for the Pentagon noted with regard to some drone pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — ‘Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months  They watch someone’s pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot. (4)

In an Afghan village the Predator drones  are referred to as benghai, the ‘buzzing flies.’  Civilians are terrorized.  A villager said ‘They are evil things that fly so high you don’t see them but all the time you hear them.  Night and day we hear this sound and then the bombardment starts.'(5)  Some abandon hometowns in fear.   It is reported that in 2012 in Afghanistan 506 weapons were fired from unmanned aerial aircraft.(5)

Some drone strikes are carried out as killings of persons targeted by top U.S. officials for assassination abroad, this may include U.S. citizens. These are options for action not only in Afghanistan but also in countries with which the U.S. is not officially at war — Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia.  The circumstances of the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, American/Yemeni Imam, in Yemen, on September 30. 2011, as well as  the circumstances leading up to it, is dealt with by Jeremy Scahill in has book “Dirty Wars – The World Is a Battlefield” and in the film “Dirty Wars.” (6)  On October 14, 2011, after the assassination of Anwar Awlaki, his son Abdulrahman was kill by a drone while visiting relatives in the Yemeni village of Shabwah; relatives were also killed. Why?  “Dirty Wars” provides information gleaned by the author from media and other sources.(6)

I was 8 years old when, on December 8, 1941, we were sent home from school after being told the United States was at war.  Never since that morning have I been so terrified.  But we in the U.S. were spared; others, sadly, have not been so spared. Modern warfare has not been experienced on U.S. soil.  Do most of us know, do most of us care about the terror, and massive suffering, death, destruction our military and CIA operations in countries we have invaded (officially or not) has caused?  These have been countries that have not attacked, nor planned to attack, the US.  It seems that the 1997 “Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century”  [e.g. its positive view of U.S. military intervention](7) weighs heavily in U.S. foreign policy.  However, in this time of widespread international conflict and dissension, I believe the U.S. government  should desire to act to seek just resolution through diplomacy rather than through expressions of military might.  What is called for now is not military use of the drone nor design of more capable versatile versions of it but a worldwide ban on weaponized and surveillance drones, as well as enforcement of the ban on production and use of chemical weapons.  It is hoped that toward this end many of us will direct our views to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the United States Government.

For more info: http://www.knowdrones.com/

– Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

(1)  “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields,” David Swanson, Global Research, January 19, 2011 (from book “War is a Lie”).

(2) “Iraq War Anniversary:  Birth Defects And Cancer Rates At Devastating High In Basra and Fallujah (VIDEO),”  Eline Gordts, Huffington Post, March 20, 2013.

(3) “US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft — adviser”  Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, July 2, 2013.

(4) “Report:  High Lelvels Of ‘Burnout” In U.S. Drone Pilots,” Rachel Martin, NPR, December 18, 2011.

(5) “U.S. Drone Strikes In Afghanistan Cause Villagers to Flee:  Report,” Kathy Gannon, Huffington Post,  March 28, 2013.

(6) “Dirty Wars – The World is a Battlefield,” Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books, New York, 2013.

(7) “Statement of Principles June 3, 1997 – Project for the New American Century.”

War Is Not Entertainment

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photo-1(Click on photos for larger images.)

This deeply disturbing and oh so powerful  photo of a veteran holding a sign  on his lap that says “war is not entertainment” was taped to this disgusting ad that is on almost every corner these days promoting the Imax GI Joe RETALIATION movie.

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Ann and I saw it on the SE corner of 86 and Broadway and were deeply moved by the image and the gut wrenching example of the horror of war and militarism — what a creative action and how profound!

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How tragic! Yet it also reveals something  transformative. It demonstrates how each one of us can do powerful actions on our own not always in connection with an organizational affiliation. Someone had written “AMEN” on the picture as well. When I returned several hours later and after a rain episode to leave a Granny Peace Brigade card next to the photo inviting the gentleman to contact us, the photo was barely visible as the rain had washed it out. I am glad we have these pictures to honor this person. Maybe one of us will see him on the street – I would like to say thank you to him – and I’m so sorry. Peace be with you.

– Jenny Heinz: text and photos
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Realities in Palestine: An Eyewitness Report

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We returned recently from an eye-opening journey to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories. We went because of the troubling news coming from Gaza about collective punishment, because of images of a 300-mile wall of separation between Israelis and Palestinians, and perhaps most of all because of our desire to understand the nature of this occupation of Palestinian lands, the longest occupation in recent history, in place since the 1967 Israel-Palestine war.

We traveled with the Interfaith Peace Builders (IFPB, www.ifpb.org) and thirty US delegates, of various ages, religions, and occupations. We traveled mainly along the “Green Line,” which is not green at all but dusty and rather desolate. This line was the boundary between Israel and the West Bank created by the 1967 war. While this boundary remains very real to the Palestinians, it under-represents the division of land between Israelis and Palestinians. The sequence of maps in the figure shows that since 1967 continuous land confiscation east of the Green Line and west of the Jordan has markedly reduced the land remaining in Palestinian control. Whether taken by the military or by settlers, the remaining small and isolated parcels of land barely constitute a viable second state.Salomon_FourMaps440

Realities-in-Palestine

– Carol Husten, Julio Rodriguez, Pat Salomon
For the Granny Peace Brigade

How I learned about Iran through NoRuz

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About 4 years ago, I was found in Union Square Park by the Granny Peace Brigade. This changed my life. Its members have tons of energy and passion for Peace, and accomplish so much. They are fun to be with and I love them. First, I took part in their Phone-a-thons, then got involved with the Legislative Committee and helped with actions of the Counter-Recruitment and No Bases Committees.

Now I’m privileged to be learning about the history and culture of Iran.

This spring, the GPB decided it was critical speak out along with others who are trying to Prevent Another War, namely on Iran.

2012_01_27(Click on photos for larger images.)

The first event held on February 4th started with a demonstration in front of the New York Times’ building, protesting the newspaper’s coverage as being distorted and even war-mongering, and calling on the Public Editor to correct the coverage. Then we marched to Times Square for a larger rally and on to the UN Missions of Israel and the United States, all along passing out our literature.  After its disgraceful role in the lead up to the war in Iraq, we were outraged that once again, the Times is using innuendo and bluster to gin up the drive to attack Iran.

At a meeting to plan a second event, I mentioned that I knew very little about the country, other than that the US had overthrown Mosaddegh in 1953, and that in 1979 the country overthrew the Shah [King] and became an Islamic Republic. I wished there could be tourism between the two countries so I could go there and get to understand it better.

Even before learning much about the country, I also couldn’t understand the purpose of the sanctions that are spoken of so highly by governments trying to look like they would do anything to prevent themselves from bombing another country too hastily.  What has Iran done that requires other countries to punish them?  Will this punishing action [sanctions] make them toe the line, which line?  Has Iran, or its leaders, been given a list of things to do, or not do, which will cause ending of the sanctions? Aren’t sanctions, like a blockade, an act of war?

Ann Shirazi then told the committee that a way of making people aware of the Iranian culture was right in front of our faces, because NowRuz was coming.

What’s NowRuz, or NoRuz?

2012_03_21Haft-Seen-table
NoRuz means New Year and it’s known as the Persian New Year.  It began 3000 years ago in the Zoroastrian civilization and is celebrated today in the Middle East, South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Northern Africa. It occurs from the first day of spring for 13 days and includes preparing a table with [at least] seven items beginning with the letter “S” which symbolize things like peace, hope, rebirth, love, fertility, patience, health and beauty. The table is called a HaftSeen table which means seven S’s. Some of the items are familiar — garlic, vinegar, apples, and others are less so — crushed sumac berries (a red powder, like paprika), samanu (a sweet wheat pudding) and sabzeh (sprouts that look like the catnip in the green market).

As we planned when and where we would do the action and who would do what, I asked Ann to recommend a book about the country and its history.  She gave the names of two: “All the Shah’s Men,” and “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ.” I got both books from the library and read them quickly, learning so much more about the people and their values and the 20th century history of Iran.

Ann and I took a short bus ride to New Jersey to a fair in a hotel that was held to help people buy the ingredients for NoRuz. She told me stories of her visits to Iran over the years that gave me more of a feeling for the generosity and warmth of the people.

A few days before our second event, the Left Forum had a panel discussion about the looming war fever where I learned even more.

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The second event on March 21st, the second day of Spring, took place in Times Square where we had a table with the seven S items and others, and passed out literature to the public explaining the  holiday and providing Facts About Iran.

I look forward to deepening my understanding about Iran as we plan additional events.   We hope to have a Teach-In in the coming months with experts who can explain more about the political, moral and economic aspects of world behavior toward Iran.

-Edith Cresmer
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos 1 & 3: Masahiro Hosoda
Photos 2: Caroline Chinlund

Reopen Shuhada Street in Hebron

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For 17 years by order of Israeli authorities, Shuhada Street in Hebron, West Bank, has been closed to Palestinians.  Below is my letter in this regard mailed to the Embassy of Israel to the United States.
February 22, 2012

The Honorable Michael Oren
Ambassador of Israel
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Drive N.W.
Washington, D.C.20008-3021

Excellency:

Respectfully I write to you concerning the Government of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, making particular reference to the closure of  Shuhada Street in Hebron and recommending its reopening.

The Government of Israel continues occupation of the West Bank and as the administering power has, along the sides of Shuhada Street, formerly a busy marketplace in this Palestinian City,  allowed settlements to develop and settlers to become privileged dwellers.  Palestinians are denied basic rights as residents.  In 1994 Shuhada Street was closed to Palestinians by the Israeli army after the killing of Palestinian worshipers by a settler. Thus the victims were punished!  The overall injustice to which Palestinian families, for many Hebron has been home for generations/centuries, have been subjected appears to be for the benefit of non-Palestinians simply because the non-Palestinians are Israelis.

It is appalling!  Palestinian-operated businesses have been closed; Palestinians may not leave their homes through a door that opens onto Shuhada Street — for a period passes were issued to allow use of doors opening onto Shuhada Street; there is military surveillance; Palestinians are forbidden to work or to drive on Shuhada Street. The settlers reign supreme in the home of Palestinians.  The humanity and the understandable and justifiable anger of Palestinian Arabs should be acknowledged.

Palestinian Mizrahi and Palestinian Arabs have lived together in these lands for centuries. As is known there have been documented conflicts in Hebron between Arabs and Jews.  Reference is made here to the 1929 massacre of Jews by Arabs.  Many Jews were saved by Arabs who took them into their homes.  In 1994 an Israeli settler attacked Moslem worshipers inside the Cave/Tomb of the Patriarchs — a place of worship both for Jews (Me’arat ha Machpela – Cave of the Double Tombs) and for Moslems (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahim – Sanctuary of Abraham [also] Ibrahim’s Mosque) — both people the “seed of Abraham” — both people  Semites.

Should not the plight of Palestinian Arabs be kept in mind by the Israeli occupiers?  Over the decades so many Palestinians have had to leave their homes, some of them ancestral homes.  Yes, there was a Holocaust but the Palestinians had no involvement in it — it was European.  The Palestinians did not turn away the St. Louis — It was the United States.  It is necessary for us to consider history forthrightly, to weigh culpability carefully, to assess ‘action and reaction’ accurately and with sensitivity/fairly.

The powerful combination of the Government of Israel and the Government of the United States makes it possible for the occupying power to act — while the world watches — often in disregard of rights and well-being of the people whose homeland it occupies.

I, Excellency, strongly believe it is within reason that all in life should have the right, among other rights, to —
sanctity of one’s of home and its property
one’s orchard/grove/farm
adequate access to homeland water supply
adequate access to energy sources and resources
leave and return home unimpeded
a childhood
learning
work
travel
freedom

Why should Palestinians be denied basic rights in their own homeland? Even the Balfour Declaration stated ‘… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’

Empathy for those perceived as ‘the other’ is needed.  Do we have sympathy for the people in both the town and the village dealt with here?  In her ‘New York Times’ op-ed article, December 28, 2011, ‘Honoring All Who Saved Jews,’ Eva Weisel described what happened in December 1942 when German troops occupied her hometown.  She was 13 years old.  I point out that a Palestinian of Eva Weisel’s generation also could describe an event no child — or adult — should have to experience.  In April 1948, the Arab village of Deir Yassin, in a part of Palestine which was to become part of Israel, was seized and occupied.  As I see it, if continuing physical and social carnage are ever to be understood as non-solutions in conflict resolution,  all of us will have to take to heart the plaintive utterance of Shylock  “…If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?….”

Excellency, it is my request to your Office that your Government be urged to act to restore the rights of Palestinians, and in this connection that you recommend the permanent reopening of Shuhada Street in Hebron.

Respectfully submitted,

– Barbara Walker 
(retired United Nations staff member)

 

for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird

ALL SEATS FILLED AT THE US PREMIERE OF “STANDING ARMY” AT THE LEONARD NIMOY THALIA

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February 27, 2011.  You want to be here as the theater fills; you’re absorbed in the quiet as Vinie Burrows asks for moments of silence in memory of the anti-imperialism historian Chalmers Johnson.  It is his testimony you’re about to hear in Enrico Parenti and Thomas Fazi’s film, STANDING ARMY.

"Standing Army" banner
Vinie recalls the promise she and other Grannies made four years ago to other women at an international conference in Venezuela: to inform the U.S. public about the many sorrows visited upon these women and their families by the U.S. military presence in their countries.  And today, she says with feeling, for the fifth time we offer a “teach-in” as evidence of the “sorrows of the U.S. Empire.”

The theater darkens.  The film begins to unfold the facts.

The official statistics:
The U.S. maintains 716 operational military bases in 110 countries.   There are 250,000 military personnel, men and women, employed on those bases.  The annual cost of the US military presence is in the billions.

US Military Bases - World Map

The sweep of history:
WW II ends, and the U.S. corporate elite sees its future in the war industry, an endless production of bigger and more destructive arsenals.  A good pretext is the threat from the USSR, the escalation of fear, the arms race, the creation of the “communist menace.”

Always, there is the need for an enemy (Castro, Ho Chi MInh);  after glasnost, new enemies are found:  Chavez, Iran, drugs, then Al Qaeda and terrorism.

The testimony:
You feel the power of people’s life stories. The filmmakers show us how an airbase on Okinawa shatters the quiet in a nursery school.  An eloquent Japanese man gestures to his land, now part of a huge airfield and says that so long as his land is used for machines of war and death, he feels responsible, and will not stop his protest or efforts to end the occupation of his land.

Brown University Anthropology Professor Catherine Lutz calls bases “the booty of war.”  That is the premise and rationale for their presence in Japan, Italy, Germany (all WWII) and more recently South Korea, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.  You re-learn that military personnel stationed on US bases commit violent crimes against women and men of the occupied country.  Offenders are not tried by local the courts because of SOFA (the Status of Occupying Forces Agreement).  Often they are not punished other than to be sent back to the U.S.  SOFA causes huge resentment towards the U.S.

You see the enormity of construction; you sense it is not “temporary”.  You follow the logic that where there are soldiers there will be war.  Eisenhower warned against the escalation of the Military Industrial Complex, but here it is, fully realized.  And in the worst case scenario, it is unstoppable.

Here some of the heroes of Parenti and Fazi’s film come in:
The people of Okinawa keeping vigil in their rainforest to stop a U.S. helicopter pad from being constructed.  The 2,000 Chagossians forcibly removed from their small, beautiful island of Diego Garcia by Great Britain after WW II and leased to the U.S. for a secret naval and air base but continuing the struggle to regain the right to live in their homeland, seeking redress in ever higher courts of law.  The people in Vicenza, Italy holding a referendum to prevent a U.S. airbase expansion and their mayor deying authorities in Rome.

Then there are the clear, cogent statements of Chalmers Johnson who worked within the US information-gathering system until he saw too much, and began to feel the urgent need to document how military bases and soldiers are a recipe for endless war.

The film ends with a reminder of the reason for its title: STANDING ARMY.  It was George Washington who warned that a Standing Army would be a threat to any republic.
You, the viewer, feel keenly grateful for the accuracy and skill of these two filmmakers who, with the benefit of an Italian perspective, have succeeded in telling the story of the way the US commitment to empire parallels the course of history that led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Lights come up and we’re introduced to our guest speaker, Ray McGovern. Vinie outlines Ray’s background as a CIA analyst during years of the Kennedy through the George H.W. Bush administrations, and more recently as the founder of the VIPS, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  We’re in the company of the kind of hero we’ve just seen in the film.  He’s recently been hurt during a brutal arrest by the Washington, DC police when he protested the statements of Secretary of State Clinton.  All he did was silently stand and turn his back during her speech.  He asks us to turn around and look at one another.  He wants us to feel ourselves as a presence, as a force.  He says, “We need to put our bodies into it!  Does anyone have any more doubts as to why “they” hate us??”
2011_02_27_051McGovern tells how as a major in Russian studies at Fordham, he admired and learned from his mentor George Kennan.  Later, he was appalled by Kennan’s statements that the U.S. has 50% of the world’s wealth, 6% of the world’s population and the goal is to keep it that way….forget sentimentality, forget human rights.   Here one can recognize US policy in South and Central America, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Africa and the Middle East.  Here is the structure of the Foundations for a New World Order reported in the film.

Some of McGovern’s points:
The presence of US military in the Middle East and elsewhere is about O.I.L.
O for oil; I for Israel; L for logistics.  It’s about securing access to petroleum and supporting our ally, Israel.  But, says McGovern, it might be time to realize our interests in the Middle East are not the same as Israel’s right now.

Iran stopped building a nuclear weapon in 2003.  This is a fact.

The 4th Estate media, controlled by advertisers, corporations and the government, is no longer an honored part of our common life.

Wikileaks is good news.  The 5th Estate media is our only channel today. Watch footage that showed the attack on Iraqi civilians from the Apache helicopter. Also, watch a fine piece put together by German TV about Bradley Manning.  (Google: “Panorama, Bradley Manning”)

Though the US disclaims having permanent military bases abroad, the word “enduring” has appeared in the lexicon.

Many good questions are submitted to McGovern.  His responses:

The Pentagon, not the President, not Congress, holds warmaking power in D.C.

Q:  What do you suggest a person can do?
A:  “Get together with no more than four others, preferably a majority of you should be women, meet regularly, decide that you’ll be supportive of one another, you’ll hold one another accountable for doing what you agreed to do. Then do it!”

Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport - sign

Obama, during his campaign said, “You’ve got to make me do it!” (change the system).  Let’s make Obama do it!

On that stirring note, the audience gave Ray Mc Govern a standing ovation, which was followed by songs from The Raging Grannies.

Must see this film!
Who would have a better perspective on the perils of empire than the Italians, where Rome still holds the evidence of the greatness and the fall?  It is our good fortune that two Italian filmmakers have shown that the story of US Imperialism is repeating the story of the end of the Roman Empire  It’s important to see this film.  It brings the arguments together and supplies the evidence to back them up.

– Caroline Chinlund
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Illustrations (1&2) courtesy of “Standing Army”
Photos (3&4): Eva-Lee Baird