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JWT BLOG (News, Uncatalogued Links, & Editorial Reflections):

12/25/05: Photography is another, largely vicarious interest of mine. But "Memory as a Freeze-Frame," an essay on war photography by Susan Sontag, is quite relevant here. So also is "Exodus," an excellent exhibit of Sebastiao Salgado's photography of refugees which I visited during a recent brief visit to Salt Lake City.

12/11/05: Call for Participants: Panel Discussion with Veterans of War in Iraq, to be held at the University of Southern Maine on March 9, 2006, 7:00pm-9:00pm...

"On March 20, 2003 the United States led the invasion of Iraq. More than two and a half years later the undeclared war continues. Most of the information Americans receive about the war in Iraq come through mainstream media sources. What does the war in Iraq look like from the perspective of the U.S. soldiers doing the fighting? Has the experience of fighting in Iraq affected veterans' views of the war? What kind of circumstances do veterans face upon returning from their tours in Iraq? What do Iraq veterans want the American people to know about the war the U.S. military is fighting in Iraq?

Currently more than 152,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Iraq despite President Bush's declaration on May 1, 2003 that major combat operations in Iraq had ended. To date 2,105 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and more than 15,800 have been injured in combat. The most conservative estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths are in the tens of thousands.

To better understand the human cost of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, a panel discussion with Iraq war veterans will be held at USM on March 9, 2006. USM students and their family members who are veterans of the war in Iraq are invited to participate in this panel discussion. Please help educate members of USM and the wider community about your experiences as a veteran. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact: John Baugher / Assistant Professor / Department of Sociology / P.O. Box 9300 / University of Southern Maine / Portland, Maine 04104-9300 / Tel: (207) 780-4490 / Fax: (207) 780-5698 / Email: jbaugher (at)"

12/09/05: This just in: Torture and bad intelligence are linked! Well okay, I suppose we already knew that. It's a well-established truth that people will tell you anything that they think you want to hear in order to make you stop torturing them. So, what is news is that we are either relearning this truth all over again in the age of counter-terrorism warfare, or else we are torturing people (or "rendering" them to other nations for torture) from motives that ultimately have little to do with intelligence.

12/4/05: Col. Ted Westhusing was a military ethicist who volunteered to serve in Iraq but was disappointed by what he experienced there. An apparent suicide note discovered near his body read, "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more." Did he truly take his own life? Or was there foul play? A recent LA Times article gives details and raises questions.

11/19/05: Carl Conetta's "Arms Control in an Age of Strategic and Military Revolution" (Project on Defense Alternatives, November 15, 2005) doesn't fit into the existing categories on my main page. So, I'm providing a link here until I find time to expand and restructure my website to include a section on arms control/non-proliferation.

11/16/05: Once officially denied, the use of chemical weapons against Iraqi insurgents is now admitted as fact. Accordingly, George Monbiot observes in yesterday's Guardian, "Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him." Click here to read more of Monbiot's account of the use of phosphorus and napalm in Iraq. And click here to read Paul Reynolds circumspect account of the controversy for today's BBC news.

11/05/05: Paul Rogers' latest report for OpenDemocracy examines souring U.S.-Iran relations and sees armed hostilities as increasingly likely. The risks of escalation are significant: "Iran would have several options in the event of a US or Israeli attack: direct Revolutionary Guard involvement across the border in Iraq, making the predicament of US forces almost impossible; encouraging Hizbollah to open a "Lebanon front" with Israel; even the temporary closure of the Straits of Hormuz to create an oil-market panic. The stakes are therefore very high and it will take some extraordinary efforts by diplomats, mediators and others – including the Russians – to encourage the Washington and Tehran administrations to acquire a realistic sense of each other's point of view." Read more...

10/31/05: The Circle for Philosophy Studies at Padjadjaran University seeks to promote a "more humane" world of "peace, brotherhood [and] justice" by means of reflective, philosophical education. To this end, they are asking for donations of books in philosophy, but especially in "political philosophy, philosophy of law, applied political and legal ethics, [and] history of ethics." Please send donations to: CIRCLE FOR PHILOSOPHY STUDIES, PMII UNPAD, Belakang Toko Eiger Warung Kalde Rt. 03 Rw.02, Jatinangor Bandung 45363 INDONESIA

10/26/05: Karl Olson of Operation Yellow Elephant wrote to me with the following question: "Is a war a Just War if its strongest supporters, who are eligible to serve in the military and fight the war, nevertheless choose not to? In other words, can a war be a Just War if its supporters insist that "other people" do the actual fighting?"

My response: I think the problem of "dirty hands" is made worse when those who would justify the dirty work get others to do it for them. I'd say this is primarily a problem of personal ethics. But off the top of my head I can think of a couple of ways in which just war theorists might argue that it diminishes the justifiability of a war to fight it largely by means of troops who do not support it.

First, employing soldiers who believe in their mission is especially important for morale. Morale is an very important strategic resource and basis for success, as even Clausewitz, the consummate realist, acknowledged. Many theorists, from Augustine forward, have claimed that the prospect of success is a requirement of justice. Hence, lacking soldiers who believe in the war might be thought to diminish the justice of the war insofar as it reduces the prospects for success. I think this is a weak argument in part because I don't think the criterion of success applies across the board. Applying it across the board would lead us to condemn as unjust the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Warsaw Uprising, for example, which are widely considered to have been military failures. Yet, I would say these are paradigm cases of just warfare. So I take a very restrictive view of the principle of success; and I would not argue that fighting with unenthusiastic troops is unjust for this reason.

A better argument for the diminished justifiability of fighting by means of unenthusiastic or dissenting troops would focus on the ethical condition of consent within the ranks. Enlisted or career soldiers who end up fighting in wars they do not ethically or politically support suffer a diminution of freedom. The problem is not that they are thereby reduced to mere mercenaries. I have heard people make that argument, but it is misguided inasmuch as the services of mercenaries are available on an open market, whereas most dissenting soldiers remain bound to the commands of their governments. Rather, the problem is that soldiers who fight only because they are subject to those commands are less free than soldiers who also fight from their own independent sense of what is ethically right, good or necessary. There is a heavy burden of ethical justification on those who would put troops in harms way, and that burden is not lessened, but is rather increased if those troops also have to overcome the pangs of uneasy conscience.

10/6/05: Announcement for SubFM philosophy radio: "The La Trobe Philosophy Postgraduates' Radio Program this week looks at the ethical issues surrounding the possible introduction of identity cards and anti-terror legislation, in the wake of recent global events. Joining us will be Robert Sparrow (Philosophy and Bioethics, Monash), Jessica Wolfendale (CAPPE, Melbourne), and Peter Chen (National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash). The program will be webcast live on Friday 7 October (tomorrow), at 2 pm (Melbourne time), at

9/12/05: Conference announcement: "A conference commemorating the anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials will bring to Chautauqua County some of the world's leading figures in international law along with an eclectic mix of experts, four of whom took central stage in the drama that unfolded in a German courtroom 60 years ago.

For three days starting Tuesday, Sept. 27 at the historic Athenaeum Hotel on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution, "Sixty Years after the Nuremberg Trials: Crimes against Humanity and Peace," will examine today's incidences of war crimes in the light of the famous prosecution at Nuremberg. Sponsoring the conference are SUNY Fredonia, the Robert H. Jackson Center and Chautauqua Institution..." For more information, check out the conference website.

9/8/05: “WAR REQUIEM, A VISUAL RETROSPECTIVE OF WAR? is an art exhibition to be displayed at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, 9/7-10/2. "Opening night activities, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 9, will include a poetry reading by Pietro Di Giorgio and a performance of the “Pie Jesu? from Faure's Requiem. The musical presentation will be performed by soprano Nancy Delewsky-McCarthy and pianist Judith Moslak... Twenty visual artists will participate in this multimedia project which consist of sculpture, paintings, drawings, photography and more."

9/4/05: Announcement: "March to End the War in Iraq! September 24 - Wash. D.C. is organizing transportation by bus to Washington D.C. in order to facilitate participation. Locals: Buses for the march leave the Detroit area on the evening of Fri., 9/23 and return early Sun. 9/25. To reserve your seat, call Sigrid at 586.751.1199. Cost is $75."

8/25/05: Jeffrey Laurenti of the Century Foundation examines the implications of putting the US occupation to a vote in the anticipated Iraqi constitutional referendum.

8/12/05: Robert Drayfuss reports for "Important new details of the U.S.-Israeli espionage case involving Larry Franklin, the alleged Pentagon spy, two officials of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, and an intelligence official at the Embassy of Israel emerged last week." Read on...

8/6/05: A good way to mark the 60th anniversary of the incineration of Hiroshima is to take a virtual tour of that city's Peace Memorial Museum.

8/5/05: Local announcement: The Peace Alliance campaign to create a U.S. Department of Peace will be fundraising and garnering support at three Detroit metro area events in the next few days. The organizer, Colleen Mills, offers the following information: "On Sunday, we will be at the Holistic Expo at St. John's on Five Mile from 11:00am - 6:00pm. Tuesday is our BIG event - the 60th Anniversary of the Bombing of Nagasaki, at Unity of Livonia. There will be a prominent peace sign display from 6:30 - 7:15pm on Five & Middlebelt. The program will be at Unity of Livonia starting at 7:30pm. Ret. Lt.Gen. Robert Gard is the keynote speaker. He will talk on 'Do Nuclear Weapons Protect Our Nation's Security?' Kristen Hart will be singing her special song 'I Can Make A Difference'. We could use some more help if you haven't already volunteered. On Sat.August 13th there will be a DOP tent from 11:00am - 3:30pm. at the Yoga for Peace Fundraiser at Ford Field on Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. We are raising money to send more activists to Washington for the DOP Conference, Sept 10th-12th." P.S. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation to the fundraiser, Colleen is the person to contact. Write to me (mark (at) and I'll give you her contact information.

8/1/05: Henry Sokolski's "Defusing Iran's Bomb" is available online from "This article, relying on research and meetings with the nation’s leading experts on Iran, the Middle East, and nuclear proliferation — and based upon a working group report on these issues — is intended to make recommendations designed to reduce the harm Iran might do or encourage if it gained nuclear weapons." Click here to read it...

7/30/05: Wondering where all the political radicals have gone? Find out by reading the Foreign Policy in Focus report, "Now is the Time to Resist," by Henry Rosemont, Jr. Perhaps we'll soon see a resurgent civil disobedience movement in this country, and growing networks of organizations (like Resist Inc.) devoted to more radical, but non-violent methods of inducing political change.

7/29/05: Conference announcement: The Peace Alliance will be holding it's 3rd annual Department of Peace conference, Sept 10-12 in Washington, followed by renewed House legislation to create a U.S. D.O.P. on Sept 14. This celebrity-studded affair is open to anyone and everyone. To learn more, visit the conference website.

7/28/05: Conference announcement/call for abstracts: "Pain and Death: Politics, Aesthetics and Legalities, 8-10 December 2005, Canberra, Australia. A conference and associated exhibits and performances, Centre for Cross-cultural Research, The Australian National University, Convener: Carolyn Strange.

The so-called war on terror and its representations have ignited interest in pain and death across a wide range of disciplines, including criminology, political science, law, history, literature, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, linguistics, journalism and philosophy. At the same time artists working in the visual arts, as well as music, poetry, dance, and theatre have taken up the issue of state violence with renewed vigour. Fertile dialogue among and between artists, activists and scholars is the aim of this gathering.

State-inflicted and state-sanctioned violence involves practices that are justified and contested on legal and political grounds. Yet it also raises a question of aesthetics: how/can officially-authorized violence be represented? Scholars, artists and activists working on the politics and legalities of state violence, and those exploring and producing representations of officially-sanctioned pain and death are invited to submit an abstract.

Confirmed Keynote Performers: Owens Wiwa, human rights activist; Javier Moscoso, philosopher; Jonathan Lamb, literary scholar.

Invited Speakers: Joanna Bourke, Hilary Charlesworth, Betty Churcher, Costas Douzinas, Mark Finnane

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ABSTRACT SUBMISSION: Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, outlining your proposed topic, your approach, and the forms/media in which you intend to present your work. Include a brief (two-page) c.v., outlining your affiliation and your key publications, exhibits, and/or performances.

Send your abstract (preferably in WORD or PDF) to: carolyn.strange (at)

Or mail it to: Carolyn Strange, Centre for Cross-cultural Research, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia, 0200


FOR MORE INFORMATION..." Go to the conference website.

7/26/05: It's pathetic how many BLOGs feature frequent apologies for negligence, but here's mine. I really must expand and reorganize this website to accommodate online resources which do not fit neatly into the limited categories on my main page. But, for now, those who are curious enough to venture into my BLOG will be able to learn about such as-yet-uncategorized materials as Qiao Liang and Want Xiangsui's Unrestricted Warfare, which is excerpted from "a book published in China in February 1999 which proposes tactics for developing countries, in particular China, to compensate for their military inferiority vis-à-vis the United States during a high-tech war." A longer edition is available commercially with the provocative subtitle China's Master Plan to Destroy America. I found this and a lot more of interest at Geoffrey Klempner's

7/26/05: Conference announcement: The Society for European Philosophy and Forum for European Philosophy will be holding a joint conference focussing on the question "What is Terror?" Thursday 8 September - Saturday 10 September, at Reading University, UK. If you're in the area, check it out. Here are the details...

7/23/05: This from The Pen today: "There is a strong bipartisan move afoot in Congress to limit the power of the president to torture detainees in our name, specifically to bar the U.S. Military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment". Does it surprise anyone that this out of control administration is threatening to VETO the whole defense bill if can't continue to commit war crimes? If we do not speak out they are our crimes as well. Why don't you [click here to] tell your members of Congress to stand tall and stand together?

This is especially meaningful in the context of the hearings Friday where seasoned intelligence operatives stepped forward to testify that GOOD intelligence comes from building relationships over decades with foreign sources on a TRUST basis, not by pulling off the people's fingernails. It is precisely the rest of the world's confidence in our intelligence agencies that the outing by administration officials of one of our own top secret undercover agents has so wantonly destroyed for petty political purposes. And they did it AGAIN by outing a key inside source whose information would have prevented the recent British transit attacks. We are getting bad intelligence from administration policies that are doing nothing but destroy our country and our respect in the civilized world. Please tell Congress to demand that the torture must STOP [by following this link]."

The Pen's e-mail form includes a box for your comment. Here's my purely strategic comment (feel free to cut and paste it): As the famous German military strategist Clauswitz acknowledged, the greatest resources in warfare are moral. Hence, the 'war' against terrorism must essentially be the endeavor of our political culture to embody ideals capable of winning over the hearts and minds of the world's peoples. Since 9-11 we have been losing that war because we have been attempting to fight terrorism by means of brute strength alone. The enactment of legislative restrictions on torture is a crucial step towards turning the tide.

7/22/05: Michael T. Klare reports for The Nation on "The Iran War Buildup" today. Full scale invasion is unlikely, but missile strikes and commando raids are growing more probable, or at the very least being made to appear probable for European leverage in negotiations.

7/22/05: Sidney Jones reports on recent developments in Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, and on conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, Poso and Ceram, in this Institute of Southeast Asian Studies video...

7/22/05: Michigan Senator Carl Levin recently returned from a trip to Iraq. In response to one of the many e-mail messages his office gets from me, I received the following form letter and link to his full report:

"In light of your previous correspondence, I thought you might be interested in my report on my recent trip to Iraq. During my two-day stay in Iraq, I had the opportunity to meet with troops from Michigan, senior U.S. military and civilian officials, as well as Iraqi leaders, including President Talabani, Prime Minister Jaafari, and members of the Sunni Arab community.

Each time I have been to Iraq, I have been deeply impressed by the very high morale, dedication and professionalism of our servicemen and women. I told them that the Congress and the American people are proud of them and back them one hundred percent, regardless of differing positions on the Bush administration's policies.

While meeting with leaders in Iraq, I heard surprising optimism for meeting the August 15th deadline for the adoption of a draft constitution. I believe it is important that the U.S. make it clear to the Iraqis that if agreement on the constitution is not reached by their self-imposed date, we must reconsider our presence in Iraq and that all options will be on the table, including withdrawal.

I also believe we need a detailed road map for drawing down U.S. forces in Iraq. Such a plan would provide reassurance to the American public, which is expressing growing concern over simply being told we need to "stay the course," and to the Iraqi public, which needs to see that U.S. forces will not be in their country indefinitely.

The complete report on my trip to Iraq can be found on my website..."

7/21/05: Updated Local Announcement: “WAR REQUIEM, A VISUAL RETROSPECTIVE OF WAR? is an art exhibition to be displayed at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, 9/7-10/2. According to Project Director, Nancy Paton, "The purpose of the exhibit is to make a collaborative and visual statement concerning the consequences of war. The project will help promote public awareness and sensitivity to the issue while promoting a sense of hope and offering positive solutions for peace." Details: "Opening night activities, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 9, will include a poetry reading by Pietro Di Giorgio and a performance of the “Pie Jesu? from Faure's Requiem. The musical presentation will be performed by soprano Nancy Delewsky-McCarthy and pianist Judith Moslak... Twenty visual artists will participate in this multimedia project which consist of sculpture, paintings, drawings, photography and more. Artists include the nationally renowned artist Georg Vihos, who has spent his entire life painting and traveling ... in Florence and Detroit, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Another renowned artist participating in the exhibit is Sergio De Giusti, a sculptor, whose work has been widely exhibited in both the United States and Europe in such places as The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Newark Museum, The Tampa Museum; The Smithsonian; and numerous other locations. Other artists include Dennis Guastella who is currently Chairman of the Visual Arts Technology Department at Washtenaw Community College... Patricia Izzo, a photographer and painter, and many others."

7/15/05: The International Crisis Group reports on jihadism and counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia: "Nearly four years after 9/11, hardly a day passes without the 'war on terrorism' making headlines, with Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia and now London holding centre stage. But away from the spotlight, a quiet, dirty conflict is being waged in Somalia: in the rubble-strewn streets of the ruined capital of this state without a government, Mogadishu, al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed counter-terrorism networks are engaged in a shadowy and complex contest waged by intimidation, abduction and assassination. The U.S. has had some success but now risks evoking a backlash." Read more...

7/9/05: I'm back from conference travel in the UK. My sympathies to all who were directly affected by Thursdays bombings. Perhaps due to their history of contending with IRA bombings and perhaps also due to the customary English 'stiff upper lip', ground and air transportation out of London yesterday were remarkably smooth. It was business as usual, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened the day before. The degree of calm around London is especially impressive in light of my memory of what it was like to fly from NYC to LA a few days after 9-11, when it took several hours to get through the inexplicably wide and dense ring of new security surrounding LAX. If I may loosely generalize, there is a different cultural relation to fear in the UK than there is in the U.S. This is not a new idea. Roger Moore's 'Bowling for Columbine' presents what is not the first but perhaps the most entertaining account of the American culture of fear. Another case in point. Our official terrorist threat levels are unsubtle, color-coded for optimal impact on the imagination, and broadcast to the public as if the social production of fear were an important collective goal. In contrast, the counterpart threat scale in the UK is relatively gradual, purely conceptual and, most importantly, unpublished. To be charitable, the U.S. approach may be designed to excite public vigilance. In contrast, the less alarmist UK approach seems designed to maintain public calm. Which is the greater counter-terrorism resource in the final analysis? I'd place my bet on calm courage.

6/30/05: George Kassimiris of Wolverhampton's History and Governance Research Institute organized a terrific interdisciplinary conference on 'The Barbarization of Warfare'. As Joanna Bourke put it in her post-conference e-mail response, "...The quality of the papers was exemplary -- and the audience was alert, intelligent, and seriously engaged with the debates... I attend hundreds of these events and can honestly say that this was one of the best I have been to in many years." I concur. My compliments and thanks to George and everyone else in attendance who helped to make it such a stimulating and enjoyable event.

6/25/05: The World Tribunal on Iraq is being held in Istanbul this weekend. Speakers include Arundhati Roy, Richard Falk, Hans Von Sponek, Fadhil Al Bedrani, Samir Amin, and many others. Papers are available for viewing online.

6/23/05: "There is simply no evidence—none—that federal courts and conventional courts-martial are unable to protect sensitive evidence while at the same time affording an effective adversarial trial in keeping with high standards of fairness..." Read more of this testimony on detainees presented before the Senate Judiciary Committee by Stephen Schulhofer of NYU School of Law.

6/23/05: "KABUL, June 17 (AP) by Paul Haven — Al-Qaida has ferried about half a dozen Arab agents into Afghanistan in the past three weeks, two of whom detonated themselves in suicide bombings in the south targeting a packed mosque and a convoy of U.S. troops, Afghanistan's defense minister said Friday. Rahim Wardak told The Associated Press he received intelligence that Osama bin Laden's terror group is regrouping and intends to bring Iraq-style bloodshed to Afghanistan. He also warned that the country could be in for several months of intense violence ahead of key legislative elections." For further reports, check the Century Foundation's Afganistan Watch.

6/21/05: Anthony Cordesman, former director of intelligence for the U.S. Secretary of Defense, analyzes the prospects for successful military pacification of 'Iraq's Evolving Insurgency'. In sum, he concludes that "The Iraqi Government and US can scarcely claim that they are clearly moving towards victory."

6/16/05: Better late than never, I finally got around to watching 'Control Room', Jehame Noujaim's documentary on Al Jazeera TV's coverage of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. I highly recommend it. It is at once heartening and frustrating to see well-meaning people on opposite sides of violent political conflict engaging one another with open minds. The problem is that the speeches and shouts of those who are most eager for war tend to drown out the more reasonable, humane and receptive voices. As Al Jazeera's translator bemoans, "Soon there will be no more room for people like me who speak softly." This film listens attentively to such voices. On the U.S. side, Centcom press officer Lt. Josh Rushing comes off particularly well. He believes in the mission of the war; yet, he reveals the difficulty of reconciling patriotism with broader humanitarian sympathies. He is upset at the images of dead U.S. soldiers on Al Jazeera; yet, he stresses that Iraqis must feel the same way at images of their own dead. His assessment of the media on both sides is fair: "When I watch Al Jazeera I can tell what they're showing and what they're not showing by choice. Same thing when I watch Fox on the other end of the spectrum. I know which of the stories that we put out that they're picking up on and which ones they're not giving much balance. It benefits Al Jazeera to play to their nationalism because that's their audience, just as Fox plays to American patriotism for the exact same reason - American nationalism - because that's their demographic audience and that's what they want to see." Rushing adds that what troubles him about Iraqi nationalism or pan-Arab nationalism is its anti-Americanism. The more dovish Hassan Ibrahim of Al Jazeera, who comes off at least as well (perhaps by design), tries to help Rushing to understand this anti-Americanism. Yet Ibrahim, formerly of the BBC, is far from being anti-American himself. He has faith that American ideals, the American constitution and the American people will be strong enough to resist the American empire. Amen. We see another, more prudential form of ambivalence of perspective in the jaded figure of Al Jazeera's Samir Khader, who admires how well Fox spins the news, and who admits "Between us, if I am offered a job with Fox I will take it. To change the Arab nightmare into the American dream. I still have that dream. Maybe I will never be able to do it, but I have plans for my children."

6/15/05: Visit for information about their documentary video. Real Player excerpt are available on their website, including one about the manipulation of U.S. intelligence on Iraq. Click here to view the excerpt...

6/14/05: The Sunday Times reports that UK Ministers "were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal. The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper [see more about the Downing Street Minutes below], said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier..." Read more...

6/9/05: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is soft on terrorism. That's my claim. And I'm sticking to it until the USDHS stops picking and choosing which terrorists to detain without recourse to due process of law and which ones to shield from international prosecution. Case in point is the mollycoddling received by known international terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles. As Jeffrey Laurenti of the Century Foundation rightly points out, "Given the President's strong commitment to the global war on terror, a charge of immigration irregularities seem[s] a bit understated for someone indicted by Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 people aboard." Read more...

6/9/05: I love my congressional Representative, John Conyers, Jr. He's asking all concerned citizens to sign his letter to President Bush demanding answers to questions about the infamous Downing Street Memo. Also, Senator Teddy Kennedy has introduced a petition demanding a full congressional inquiry. I've signed both of them. Have you?

6/5/05: Whether or not the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is equal to the image of Stalin's network of "Gulags", the New York Times Op Ed argues today that it nevertheless is 'Un-American by Any Name'. In sum, "It is time to return to the basic principles of justice that served America so well even in the most perilous times of the past. Shutting down Guantánamo is just a first step. But it is a crucial step that would pay instant dividends around the world, not only toward repairing America's reputation but also toward enhancing its overall security." Better: a 'return' to American standards of justice, or, more precisely, a shift in the direction of progress towards the best American ideals of justice, is well overdue.

5/31/05: Matthew Rothschild reports for The Progressive on the mounting pressure from human rights groups calling for serious and impartial investigation into the war crimes of Bush, Rumsfeld, and other top U.S. officials: "Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA say there is 'prima facie' evidence against Rumsfeld for war crimes and torture. And Amnesty International USA says there is also 'prima facie' evidence against Bush for war crimes and torture..." Read more...

5/21/05: When asked last fall by students in my "Philosophy of Peace and War" class what I would do about the situation in Iraq if (hypothetically) I were elected president, I responded that I would order immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops on grounds that our presence there is the chief cause of social instability and political violence. Naturally, I felt less than fully confident in this judgment. But my conviction has deepened since then. Now, a new online report from Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives, which is based upon Iraqi public opinion surveys, offers further evidence for the view that U.S. withdrawal is probably the best way to quell the growing insurgency and to open the way towards an autonomous peace. Click here to read the full text of Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq.

5/21/05: The Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War prohibits, among other things, "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment." What forms of conduct does this proscribe? A little perspective is in order. Consider the following four unsavory images.

The first two images of the treatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners clearly represent what decent people around the world recognize as an "outrage upon personal dignity." In contrast, a moment of vulnerability, in which a once exalted dictator is seen standing in his briefs, only inflicts the slight indignity of being reduced to the level of common humanity. Hussein may not like the Sun underpants cover shot as much as he liked the earlier swimming trunks photo op; but I see no "humiliating and degrading treatment" in it. The tabloid jeer adds insult, to be sure; but it adds no injury. In short, Hussein does not have a case under the Geneva Conventions. His lawyers should not bluster so much. Nor should U.S. officials be clamoring so loudly for an investigation into the case of Hussein's violated privacy. By doing so, they belittle and divert attention away from the more serious offenses of U.S. prison policies in Iraq and elsewhere.

5/17/05: Pepe Escobar reports in the Asia Times on "The US and its 'special' dictator": "...Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov's army, which last Friday opened fire on thousands of unarmed protesters in Andijan, in the Ferghana Valley, has been showered by Washington in the past few years with hundreds of millions of dollars (US$200 million in 2002 alone) - all on behalf of the 'war on terror'...." Read more...

5/17/05: The "Downing Street memo" contains the minutes of July 23, 2002 meeting in which British officials discussed talks with the Bush administration about Iraq. The memo was leaked to The Times of London, and it confirms that the Bush administration deliberately falsified its case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As it states, British officials knew that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

5/16/05: Howard Zinn asks "Is not nationalism--that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder--one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? " in "The Scourge of Nationalism", from the online pages of The Progressive.

5/9/05: The International Institute for Defense will be hosting a conference on "Joint Force Transformation," July 26-28 2005 in Washington DC. Presentations will be given by various U.S. military officials on such topics as "Standardizing Joint National Training in Support of Transformation" and "Allied Forces Iraq Panel: Discussing Joint Operations - Are We Interoperable?". The focus of the conference and several of its key presenters are from the DoD Office of Force Transformation (OFT), which seeks to update U.S. defense strategy for the Information Age. The OFT emphasizes "Network Centric Operations," which are supposed to "develop and exploit an information advantage to improve organizational performance." To my mind, the OFT reports are exceptionally jargon-laden for documents that purport to advance "joint concept interoperability" between coalition members. The central scholarly authority of the OFT is David Alberts, author of Information Age Transformation: Getting to 21st Century Warfare. Alberts' vision would have top military brass think like an MBA: “There is a direct connection between an organization’s agility and its ability to bring all of its information to bear in developing an understanding of a situation and all of its assets to bear in responding to a situation. For this reason, a business model based on these characteristics is ideal for an Information Age military. Network Centric Warfare is a military business model (a way to create a competitive advantage and value) that has these desirable characteristics. Thus, the transformation to an Information Age Business model is inseparable from progress toward network-centric operations.? After looking over the OFT reports, I have one central worry. The "Information Age" is also the Misinformation Age or, less tendentiously, the Age of Mega-Corporate Information Management. In this context, a military policy jargon that would have Generals think like MBAs is especially congenial to corporate elites and their control over the production and flow of information that shapes military policy. This language is completely divorced from traditional frameworks of military ethics, just war theory, and international law. To the extent that Albert's (and Rumsfeld's) vision succeeds, modern just war theory and customary international law will suffer the same fate as medieval chivalry, the death of which is as much a story of conceptual change as a story of institutional transformation. If military policy is to defend and not attack human rights, then it cannot be dominated by the logic of corporate efficiency.

5/6/05: "Colombians Want Accused GIs to Stand Trial" By Kim Housego,, Thursday 05 May 2005: "Ibague, Colombia - Two American soldiers accused of arms trafficking emerged from jail Thursday and were handed over to U.S. officials, but a top Colombian official tried to delay their deportation, saying a treaty granting them immunity might be invalid..." The soldiers are accused of arming right wing death squads in Colombia. The whole article is available for free from

5/6/05: Imprints, a journal of analytic socialism, is now making content from past volumes available on the internet. Of particular interest to readers will be "The United States in the World – Just Wars and Just Societies: An Interview with Michael Walzer" (vol. 7, no. 1, 2003), "Marxism, the Holocaust and September 11: An Interview with Norman Geras" (vol. 6, no. 3, 2002), and a symposium on the war in Afganistan including papers by Darrel Moellendorf, Christopher Bertram, and Saladin Meckled-Garcia (vol. 6, no. 2, 2002).

5/1/05: Announcement: The second international gathering of the Network on Ethics and Justice in the Community of Nations will be held in connection with the 22nd. World Congress of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, at Granada University, Spain, 5/24-5/29/05. Two special workshops co-sponsored by the Network will be held. The first carries the title “Jürgen Habermas, John Rawls, and Immanuel Kant on Human Rights and Global Justice?. The second is on “The Ethics of Just and Unjust War?. View the program and abstracts here.

4/25/05: Human Rights Watch ( is calling for a formal investigation into high-ranking U.S. responsibility for human rights abuses: "Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees: It has now been one year since the appearance of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers humiliating and torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly after the photos came out, President George W. Bush vowed that the “wrongdoers will be brought to justice.

In the intervening months, it has become clear that torture and abuse have taken place not solely at Abu Ghraib but rather in dozens of U.S. detention facilities worldwide, that in many cases the abuse resulted in death or severe trauma, and that a good number of the victims were civilians with no connection to al-Qaeda or terrorism. There is also evidence of abuse at U.S.-controlled “secret locations? abroad and of U.S. authorities sending suspects to third-country dungeons around the world where torture was likely to occur.

To date, however, the only wrongdoers being brought to justice are those at the bottom of the chain-of-command. The evidence demands more. Yet a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses.

Evidence is mounting that high-ranking U.S. civilian and military leaders — including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — made decisions and issued policies that facilitated serious and widespread violations of the law. The circumstances strongly suggest that they either knew or should have known that such violations took place as a result of their actions. There is also mounting data that, when presented with evidence that abuse was in fact taking place, they failed to act to stem the abuse.

The coercive methods approved by senior U.S. officials and widely employed over the last three years include tactics that the United States has repeatedly condemned as barbarity and torture when practiced by others. Even the U.S. Army field manual condemns some of these methods as torture.

Although much relevant evidence remains secret, a series of revelations over the past twelve months already makes a compelling case for a thorough, genuinely independent investigation of what top officials did, what they knew, and how they responded when they became aware of the widespread nature of the abuses.

Click here to read the full report

4/23/05: Tom Engelhardt of has introduced and posted extended excerpts from Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism.

4/17/05: They're even talking about the Straussian philosophy of the Bush administration in Melbourne, Australia, on

4/17/05: Intelligent foreign policy in a democracy depends upon an informed citizenry. To that end, the U.S. needs media reform. Click here to listen to Bill Moyer's speech on media reform from Democracy Now (1:14:00).

4/14/05: "Detainees? What Detainees? -- William Fisher: NEW YORK, Apr 13 (IPS) - The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military's most senior leaders, want Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to approve new guidelines that will formalise the George W. Bush administration's policy of imprisoning so-called enemy combatants without the protections of the Geneva Conventions and enable the Pentagon to legally hold ?ghost detainees?, a human rights group is charging..." Read more...

4/11/05: Noam Chomsky's 11/16/2004 lecture, 'Illegal, but Legitimate: A Dubious Doctrine for the Times' is available for viewing as a QuickTime video (1:17:44) from Columbia University's Earth Institute.

4/8/05: "Whenever Balkan politicians discuss Kosovo's future status they warn of a "domino effect". One area frequently mentioned as vulnerable and a possible flashpoint of new violence is Serbia's Sandzak, an ethnically-mixed Muslim-Slav (Bosniak) majority region sandwiched between Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia." Read more from

4/6/05: "Local Fox Affiliate Debuts Terror Alert Van: MURFREESBORO, TN—Touting itself as 'the only channel with a terror-alert system designed to meet the specific needs of central Tennessee,' Fox News affiliate WMFB-TV Channel 11 debuted its terror-alert van Monday..."Read more...

4/5/05: CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT: "Gandian Nonviolence: Personal Transformation, Political Revolution, and Social Justice," hosted by Christian Brothers University and Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennesee, Friday and Saturday, October 14 and 15, 2005. More info...

3/30/05: "The special issue of Spaces of Identity on War Criminality is available on line... John-Paul Himka’s article... the topic he chose to address: the unwillingness of the Ukrainian diaspora to acknowledge crimes committed during WWII... James Sadkovich’s contribution also tackles a sensitive theme: the politically motivated misrepresentation of the past in Bosnia and Herzegovina... Srdja Pavlovic’s contribution ... analyzes the 1991 siege of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik and raises the question of personalization of responsibility for crimes committed as the necessary point of departure in the process of reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia... W. Andy Knight & Tanya Narozhna present a powerful account and analysis of war-torn Chechnya and the ruthless way this war has been waged by the Russian government... Lise Hogan and William Anselmi graciously accepted our invitation to reflect more philosophically on war..." - Editors of Spaces of Identity

3/28/05: "CALL FOR CONTRIBUTORS, MILITARY HISTORY PROJECT: ABC-CLIO is seeking contributors for the development of a Military History Series product entitled The United States at War: Understanding Conflict and Society, based on fourteen major conflicts in United States history." Read all about it...

3/25/05: "Anti-War Prankster Smuggles Art Into Top Museums"


The artist goes by the name of Banksy. Check out his website. Here's hoping his legal troubles will be slight.

3/25/05: Mapping the Oil Motive (from the Global Policy Forum): "Michael T. Klare (TomPaine) writes that the Bush administration's choice to invade Iraq stemmed from 'a combination of contributing factors,' including control of the country's oil resources. But 'it appears that the US incursion into Iraq [...] has largely failed to achieve its intended purposes.' The insurgency has crippled the country's capacity to export more oil, and 'no one is willing to predict when, if ever, the country will reach the fabled level of 6 million barrels per day' that US officials confidently spoke of after the invasion."

3/20/05: The latest National Defense Strategy report from the Pentagon codifies unilateral, preemptive attacks against other nations or subnational groups perceived as threats to U.S. national security. Incredibly, organizations of international law are listed alongside terrorist groups as among the threats to U.S. national security: "Our strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international [forums], judicial processes and terrorism." Read more...

3/20/05: Thanks to Nancy Paton for drawing my attention to, which is lobbying Congress to create a U.S. Department of Peace. Of course the U.S. has long had an organized "Peace Corps" working to aid communities abroad, but no arm of government that endeavors to cultivate in the American citizenry an appreciation of and a capacity for peace-making. It's about time. Click here to listen to Congressman Kucinich's speech about the vision behind this piece of legislation. Or read Walter Cronkite's Op Ed in favor of the proposal.

3/20/05: In "The Difference Uniforms Make: Collective Violence in Criminal Law and War" (pdf), Christopher Kutz argues "that the special problem of non-uniformed combatants and the general problem of justifying war are profoundly linked." His paper was part of a workshop recently hosted by the Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs, UC Berkeley School of Law.

3/19/05: The war in Iraq is two years old today. For many who rightly opposed the war before its commencement, the continued occupation remains an occasion for protest. Other pre-war dissenters, such as myself, fear that large public demonstrations against ongoing warfare are too easily misconstrued as unsupportive of troops or unappreciative of their well-meaning sacrifices. Demonstrations sometimes seem too shrill and inarticulate to obviate this charge. Yet, protests organized by Iraq war veterans and their families, such as those going off today in New York, Fort Bragg and Port Huron (to mention only a few), don't suffer this image problem and make for appropriate protest outings. Still other conscientious Americans have experienced, instead, a growing ambivalence towards a war that they initially supported but still may not wish to protest. To such minds, the war has been an unfortunate or mismanaged disappointment. But hope for democracy in Iraq may still be sufficient for U.S. troop commitments. From this point of view, reflection on public war-related art installations may seem a more appropriate way to mark this somber anniversary. Detroit locals may want to check out Cranbrook's exhibit of Steve Mumford's paintings of life in occupied Iraq.

3/16/05: After 9/11, published the following two-part report on "Responding to September 11th: The Framework of International Law". Part One concerns international legal limitations on the grounds for waging war: "Peaceful Resolution of Disputes and Use of Force" (pdf). Among the relevant restrictions on the use of force is the (recently ignored) Caroline 'necessity and proportionality' test, which strictly limits the circumstances under which nations may justifiably engage in anticipatory self-defense. The Caroline test requires that the 'necessity' for the use of pre-emptive military force must be ‘instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.’ Part Two of the Interights report concerns "Laws Applicable in Armed Conflict" (pdf), which include restrictions on the use of indiscriminate weapons systems (e.g., landmines, homemade mortars, and cluster munitions), standards for the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war, etc..

3/8/05: In "Going to War with the Army You Have", Michael Schwartz casts doubt on the prevailing American "command and control" theory about the Iraqi resistance. The CIA seems to agree with Schwartz, but unfortunately nobody's listening.

3/6/05: "One of the most difficult things to judge in the world today is the extent of American power. On the one hand, there is no doubt that the United States possesses a far larger pile of weapons than any other country, that the American economy is also larger than any other country's and that America's movies and television programs are consumed globally. America is widely accorded the title "only superpower," and many of its detractors as well as its supporters describe it as the world's first truly globe-straddling empire. On the other hand, it is not yet clear what the United States can accomplish with these eye-catching assets. For power, as Thomas Hobbes wrote in one of the most succinct and durable definitions of power ever offered, is a "present means, to obtain some future apparent good." Power, after all, is not just an expenditure of energy. There must be results.

Measured by Hobbes's test, the superpower looks less super. Its military has been stretched to the breaking point by the occupation of a single weak country, Iraq. Its economy is held hostage by Himalayas of external debt, much of it in the hands of a strategic rival, China, holder of nearly $200 billion in Treasury bills. Its domestic debt, caused in part by the war expenditures, also towers to the skies. The United States has dramatically failed to make progress in its main declared foreign policy objective, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction: While searching fruitlessly for nuclear programs in Iraq, where they did not exist, it temporized with North Korea, where they apparently do exist, and now it seems at a loss for a policy that will stop Iran from taking the same path. The President has just announced that the "end of tyranny" is his goal, but in his first term the global democracy movement suffered its greatest setback since the cold war--Russia's slide toward authoritarianism..." Read more of Jonathan Schell's article from Agence Global...

3/5/05: "The Imperial Peace", by Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey, is available for downloading from the European Journal of International Relations (Sage Publications). It offers a new way of analyzing the relationship between democracy and "zones of peace" in international affairs.

3/5/05: Dora Maria Tellez is branded as a terrorist: "The woman who epitomised the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution that overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza has been denied entry to the US to take up her post as a Harvard professor on the grounds that she had been involved in "terrorism"..."Read more...

3/4/05: According to Arab Media Reports, the Taliban are regaining strength:

"In an article titled "The Return of the Taliban," published in Al-Majalla, a widely circulated Arabic-language magazine based in London, Egyptian political analyst Fahmi Huwaidi writes that the Taliban "are getting stronger by the day" and, due to the discovery of large cachets of weapons, must be "massing for future attacks...

...Among several indicators of expanding Taliban influence, Huwaidi finds that:

-- After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban fighters launched attacks on U.S. and governmental forces in groups of 10 to 15 men. Now the Taliban attack in groups ranging from 100 to 150 men.

-- New Taliban leaders have appeared in Pakistani media, including military spokesmen and foreign relations officials.

-- The Taliban have launched a bimonthly newsletter called "Masone," or "Appearance," and distribute leaflets at night, in the same fashion that the Mujahideen communicated with the Afghan public during the Soviet invasion.

-- Taliban leadership have gathered 600 signatures from Afghan religious scholars on a statement calling for jihad against American forces and distributed in northern provinces. The importance of religion in Muslim society and in Afghanistan gives the petition weight." Read on...

3/3/05: The recently declassified U.S. DOD report on "The Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence"[1995] may explain a lot. Among other points of U.S. strategy, it offers this: "Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the US may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed. The fact that some elements may appear to be potentially "out of control" can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts thin the minds of an adversary's decision makers. 'This essential sense of fear is the working force of deterrence. That the US may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be part of the national persona we project to all adversaries."

3/3/05: According to "Genocide by Attrition", by By Eric Reeves, the United Nations inquiry into atrocities in western Sudan should have been willing to declare what they found to be not only "crimes against humanity" but also "genocide". Without aggressive humanitarian intervention, Darfur will become "Rwanda in slow motion."

3/2/05: "New Tools to Combat [Nuclear] Proliferation," by David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, for The Washington Quarterly: "Unraveling the A. Q. Khan and Future Proliferation Networks -- The most disturbing aspect of the international nuclear smuggling network headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, widely viewed as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, is how poorly the nuclear nonproliferation regime fared in exposing and stopping the network’s operation. Khan, with the help of associates on four continents, managed to buy and sell key nuclear weapons capabilities for more than two decades while eluding the world’s best intelligence agencies and nonproliferation institutions and organizations. Despite a wide range of hints and leads, the United States and its allies failed to thwart this network throughout the 1980s and 1990s as it sold the equipment and expertise needed to produce nuclear weapons to major U.S. enemies including Iran, Libya, and North Korea..." Read on...

3/1/05: Former detainees and the ACLU are suing Donald Rumsfeld according to today's good news from Reuters.

3/1/05: According to the latest International Crisis Group report for February 2005, the following are "Deteriorated Situations": Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nepal, North Korea, Northern Ireland (UK), Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Tajikistan, & Thailand. And these are "Improved Situations": Burundi, Bolivia, Egypt, Kashmir, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, & Taiwan Strait. Read all about it...

2/22/05: According to The Mackenzie Institute, "These then are the essential characteristics of terrorism:

•It can be used in war, in governance, and as a free-standing form of conflict.

•It generally seeks an audience far wider than its actual circle of victims, and the constant message is "Be afraid!"

•It sanctions violence that knows no laws or limits save those set by the perpetrators, and it invites a copy-cat response.

•Terrorist violence is inherently indiscriminate in its effects.

In addition to these four essentials that are common to all terror, the small group conflict method (terrorism proper) has some more characteristics of its own:

•Because they operate outside the law, terrorist groups are covert. Members conceal their allegiance or, if they are known to the authorities, they evade arrest.

•It uses violence against individuals, small groups, communities and states to advance a quasi-political agenda such as religious extremism, nationalism, minority grievances, single-issues (such as animal rights), or a radical ideology.

•By their small size and covert nature, terror groups present few visible assets other than their own members’ lives. In contrast, a targeted society offers endless assets as potential targets for the terrorists. This asymmetry makes it very difficult for governments which are constrained by the rule of law to establish a strategy of deterrence against terrorism, and it tends to push the authorities onto the defensive. For terrorists, success sometimes invites vulnerability, for as they grow in power, they tend to accumulate resources and sites that finally do offer targets for response.

•Authorities within nations that subject themselves to the rule of law are politically and legally accountable. Terrorists are not. The latter make their own justifications, reject the law and conventional morality. Nevertheless, to satisfy their supporters, they might set their own flexible codes of "legitimate targets."

•To enable a covert group to propagate its political message, terrorists often establish front organizations that operate within the law. Some terrorists may belong to overt fronts, as well as the covert "military" wing. Such a partnership is characterized by the relationship between the Provisional Wing of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

•In the course of spreading fear beyond the actual victims, terrorists often select symbolic targets like cultural sites or high ranking individuals (such as Lord Louis Mountbatten, murdered along with several family members in 1979 by the IRA), or a representative asset such as the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Indeed, a target’s symbolic worth to the terrorist may be far greater than its real political or material value.

•Terrorists typically use the media to portray themselves as "Robin Hood" heroes or their modern day incarnations such as Pretty Boy Floyd or John Dillinger, to magnify the impact of their operations, to demonstrate their invincibility, and to spread a "climate of collapse" in society. Consequently, operations are often planned for their news value. This is not a cynical exercise, as terrorists usually see themselves as heroic figures armed with a vision and courage which is lacking among the poor plodding masses. Many of them are acting out a heroic fantasy."

2/21/05: Iran readies military, fearing a U.S. attack Tensions with Bush administration surge over Tehran's disputed nuclear ambition, Borzou Daragahi, San Francisco Chronicle Foreign Service.

2/21/05: The International Crisis Group reports today that a peaceful resolution may be forthcoming for the longstanding armed conflict between the Ugandan government and the Sudanese-backed Lord's Resistance Army. "Although the government's unilateral ceasefire expires tomorrow, Uganda today faces its most significant prospect for peace in years...(more)..."

2/20/05: "We Aren't Fighting to Win Anymore: U.S. troops in Iraq are only trying to buy time." Commentary by Andrew J. Bacevich, in today's Los Angeles Times.

2/19/05: "There are things I have to do out here that I can't explain to my chain of command, and that the American people would never understand," says Sgt. First Class Glenn Aldrich in a Knight Ridder interview that probes deeper than most U.S. media coverage into the ethical and strategic difficulties that our troops are facing in Iraq.

2/18/05: Two items of interest to JWT readers from the latest Human Rights Brief: Sierra Leone: Diamonds for Arms, by Sheryl Dickey & The War of Attrition in Chiapas, by Sarah C. Aird.

2/17/05: In "NOTES ON AN INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY", Antonio F. Perez argues that "international civil society must be characterized by freedom as expressed through participation in governance by transnational communities, solidarity among transnational communities achieved through an international division of labor in the various spheres of human life, and a pluralist conception of subsidiarity under which human beings are able to define themselves in multiple patterns simultaneously as members of several national and transnational communities."

2/17/05: The Institute for Science and International Security reports on tunnels being built in Iran that may be designed to "house production facilities for some uranium conversion processes." Click here to see the satellite images and read the report.

2/17/05: U.S. media attention is building around a controversial case of military justice involving Marine Lt. Ilario Pantano: "A Manhattan Marine is facing a possible death sentence after shooting two Iraqis fleeing a suspected terror hideout in the Sunni Triangle." Click here to read comments of friends, family and defense attorney. "Americans outraged at the murder charges against a Marine who claims he killed two insurgent terrorists in Iraq in self-defense should have confidence in the military justice system, insists a Marine Corps spokesman." Also, as related background: "The Marine Corps officer charged with murder for killing two Iraqi insurgents was featured last spring in a gripping, first-hand account by an embedded Time magazine reporter who illustrated the hair-trigger intensity U.S. fighters endured facing an increasingly sophisticated foe on the outskirts of Fallujah."

2/16/05: U.S. Contractors in Iraq Allege Abuses Four Men Say they Witnessed Shooting of Unarmed Civilians

"There are new allegations that heavily armed private security contractors in Iraq are brutalizing Iraqi civilians. In an exclusive [MSNBC] ]interview, four former security contractors told NBC News that they watched as innocent Iraqi civilians were fired upon, and one crushed by a truck. The contractors worked for an American company paid by U.S. taxpayers. The Army is looking into the allegations.Read more...

2/15/05: Iraqi Election Catapults Critic of U.S. to Power.Read about Abdelaziz Hakim...

2/14/05: War tax resistance is on the rise. Read about it...

2/9/05: Nepal's Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse

"King Gyanendra's indefensible royal coup of 1 February is likely to strengthen the Maoist insurgency and intensify Nepal's civil war. The only way to achieve peace is through effective military action combined with a political strategy that undercuts Maoist positions, but neither is possible without a broad-based democratic government. A major build-up of government forces has done little to improve security across the country: Maoist insurgents hold sway over most rural areas and are increasingly active in towns nominally controlled by the government. State security forces simply lack the capacity to defeat them, especially now, as troops are occupied controlling politicians and journalists in Kathmandu rather than fighting insurgents. Gyanendra has gambled that the world would be reluctant to criticise his move too harshly or to cut support for Nepal as long as Maoist insurgents remain a serious threat. The international community must not allow that gamble to pay off." Read more from the International Crisis Group...

2/9/05: Susie Linfield's "The Dance of Civilizations: The West, the East, and Abu Ghraib," available from Dissent magazine, is refreshing, insightful, balanced, and right on target. I highly recommend it.

2/9/05: Strike Iran and Risk Huge Backlash, Blix Warns U.S. -- Sonny Inbaraj

BANGKOK, Feb 8 (IPS) - As Iran and the European Union go into talks in Geneva Tuesday on Tehran's nuclear programme, former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said the possibility of the United States attacking the Middle Eastern country, at this juncture, seemed remote.

But he warned that if a U.S. military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities were to take place, Washington could face a huge Iranian nationalist backlash.

'' I think the restraining element in this must be that the United States must know if they launch an attack, there (possibly) could be (a nuclear) retaliation,'' said Blix.

''There is uncertainty. They (the U.S.) may not know that the Iranians might be hiding some (nuclear weapons) prototype somewhere. They (the Iranians) have the designs and they have the technology,'' he told journalists late Monday at the Foreign Correspondents Club, here, in a programme organised by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation. Read more...

2/2/05: Thanks to Edmund Santurri for making available to JWT readers his article, "Philosophical Ambiguities in Ostensibly Unambiguous Times: The Moral Evaluation of Terrorism", The Journal for Peace and Justice Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2.

1/31/05: With anonymous campaigns and a Sunni boycott, this Iraqi election is, if not a sham, at least seriously flawed. But the unexpectedly high voter turnout and effective security is a pleasant surprise and a possible harbinger of a more democratic future for Iraq. Opponents of the war should not throw their wet blankets over this better-than-expected news. It is a serious and welcome blow to the philosophy of Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has denounced democratic will-formation as an "evil principle".

Some right wing pundits in the American media would like to convince an inattentive public that the surprising turnout for the Iraqi election is confirmation of Bush Administration policies. Let’s not kid ourselves. Ali Sistani has been calling for a general national election since June 2003, while Bush fought, alternatively, to avoid or postpone it.

The success of Bush's real plans, which have more to do with Iraqi oil than with Iraqi democracy, depends upon the immediate outcome of the election. In particular, it depends upon whether there will be a clear majority in the Assembly "between the leading Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIR) and the combined slate of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)" in favor of legalizing the privatization of Iraq's national oil industry. Recent assurances from leading SCIR candidates suggest that this outcome is forthcoming. But the potential emergence of democratic nationalism in Iraq may present serious future challenges to this arrangement.

What about the view from home? As a gas-guzzling American living in Motown, a city whose public transportation system ranges from shoddy to non-existent, should I be jubilant at the propect of corporate America owning rights to Iraqi oil? This means cheaper gas for ME, right? I mean, won't the billions of tax dollars we are spending on militarized corporate welfare at least allow us to get more for our money from Big Oil? Not necessarily. It is, after all, perpetual wartime in America, a time when we must tighten our belts, accept a little bit less freedom, pay a little bit more for gas, and work a little bit harder. Until we get serious about reclaiming democracy in America, our multi-national corporate oligarchs do not work for us. We work for them.

From a cosmopolitan point of view, the initial success of Iraqi national elections may appear to be a small victory for international legal order. The UN backed this election when the U.S. provisional authority was still offering resistance, and the UN election team was instrumental in raising Iraqi confidence in the legitimacy of the election. The potential for stronger future ties between Iran and a shiite-dominated Iraqi assembly, together with the loss of U.S. credibility and influence with the EU 3 in the UN security council, will make it more politically precarious for the U.S. to launch unilateral missile strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities in the near future. Occupations make for strange bedfellows. And it may now appear more incumbent upon the U.S. than ever before to negotiate with Iranian Shia in order to maintain its new influence over events in Iraq.

Yet, this appearance of a new emerging order in Iraq may be deceptive. The current U.S. administration has shown few signs of diplomatic acumen in the middle east. A realist would expect the next four years to resemble the last four. That means it's unlikely that the U.S. will extend an olive branch to Iran. Instead, we're more likely to see missile strikes, which will only help to destabilize Iraqi unity and perhaps hasten eventual U.S. withdrawal into a newly independent and newly fortified Kurdistan. I've been saying it for the last two years now, and nothing has yet convinced me to stop repeating myself. The current U.S. administration doesn't care about Iraq as such, and it will be happy to get out of this war having won control of the Kurdish oil fields.

1/29/05: Strategic Information Warfare: A New Face of War by Roger C. Molander, Andrew S. Riddile, and Peter A. Wilson, 1996, is available here for downloading in PDF format. "This report summarizes research performed by RAND for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence). The objective of this effort was to garner perspectives on a broad range of potential national security issues related to the evolving concept of information warfare, with a particular emphasis on the defensive aspects of what is characterized in the report as "strategic information warfare."? The study was undertaken in recognition that future U.S. national security strategy is likely to be profoundly affected by the ongoing rapid evolution of cyberspace (the global information infrastructure) and in this context by the growing dependence of the U.S. military and other national institutions and infrastructures on potentially vulnerable elements of the U.S. national information infrastructure.

This report should be of special interest to those who are exploring the effect of the information revolution on warfare. It should also be of interest to those segments of the U.S. and broader international security community that are concerned with the post–cold war evolution of military and national security strategy, especially strategy changes driven wholly or in part by the evolution of, and possible revolutions in, technology." Get the full report here...

1/29/05: The International Crisis Group's Middle East Report makes constructive recommendations for alleviating Turkish-Kurdish tensions in Kirkuk: "In northern Iraq, largely unnoticed, a conflict is brewing that, if allowed to boil over, could precipitate civil war, break-up of the country and in a worst-case scenario Turkish intervention. Tensions in the oil-rich Kirkuk region, where the political ambitions, historical claims and economic interests of the principal communities -- Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans and Chaldo-Assyrians -- clash, have been escalating since U.S. forces toppled the Baathist regime in April 2003. Violence is assuming a troubling pattern. Turkey, with its own large Kurdish population, is watching with growing anxiety. The U.S. and EU need to do more to resolve the Kirkuk question and help Ankara protect its vital interests without resort to increasingly hollow but destabilising threats of military intervention." Read more...

1/28/05: "The American-led war on terrorism is a threat to international justice and a challenge to the rule of law in the 21st century, says one of the world's most eminent jurists. "Sept. 11 led to a major overreaction by politicians in many countries," said Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. "In dictatorships their actions don't matter, because we don't expect any respect for human rights. But in a democracy we are handing victory to terrorists if we change our way of life and abandon human rights..."

"Terrorism must be fought for what it is, that is, criminality. To use the analogy of a real war is to elevate the status of the terrorists, and hand them the advantage," says Goldstone. In a time of crisis, he added, "the role of the judiciary is always weakened, and that is exactly when you need it. Politicians feel that they must do something, and that becomes the basis for unnecessary restrictions. In time of peace, human rights aren't threatened in the same way..." This and more from the Global Policy Forum.

1/28/05: One more way Abu Ghraib fuels the insurgency: "You grab a bunch of civilians and then throw them into prison camps where there are actually people active in the resistance. You basically allow people who are pissed off to associate with those active in the war and the prison becomes this massive recruiting center." Read about this and more in Mother Jones's interview with Christian Perenti, author of The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq, and Iraqi war correspondent for The Nation.

1/21/05: Check out the recent interview with Noah Feldman, "a former adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority on the ethics of nation-building and the promise and perils of Iraqi elections."

1/19/05: Joachim Koch's website contains many links to philosophical and political websites of interest. Most of the resources at are in German, but some also offer English versions.

1/17/05: Honor Martin Luther King Jr's birthday (with the aid of RealPlayer software) by listening to the good Doctor's full-length sermon entitled "Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam".

1/17/05: Paul Rogers and have published the latest "leaked" SWISH Report. SWISH, or the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics, is a mock "independent consultancy" offering al-Qaida an assessment of its efforts to date. Those who are interested in reading it will find it here.

1/15/05: Leslie Lefkow reports in the Guardian on implications of the Naivasha Protocols signed on Sunday: "The Naivasha agreement, ending two decades of war in southern Sudan, was three years in the making. Until the last moment, a final peace deal remained uncertain. In many respects, the agreement is to be welcomed. The north-south war produced some of the world's worst disaster statistics: 2 million dead and 4 million driven out of their homes, almost one in five of the entire Sudanese population.

There is, however, an important flaw in the deal. Under the terms of the Naivasha agreement, senior members of the Sudanese government responsible for heinous policies and abuses in southern Sudan get off scot-free. There are no provisions for any kind of justice mechanism in the north-south peace accord—no truth commission or compensation for the many victims..." Read more here.

1/14/05: Warm thanks and extra credit to Paul Pardi for spreading the word about JWT through his Philosophy News Service despite initial reservations that are worth mentioning here, in part because they prompted me to disclose my general editorial policy.

Pardi's concern: "It’s important to me personally as owner and operator of PNS to support US troops in combat (whether or not they actually should be in combat aside). When troops get into a combat situation, it becomes a practical question over and above a philosophical one for me. I want to be careful not to support or link to web sites or causes that might undermine our efforts in combat and jeopardize the lives of people putting their lives on the line (again, setting aside the question whether they should be there in the first place). That's not to say I think it's improper to be critical of war in general and even discuss and debate war during war time. I find most of your site very helpful on the latter front. You certainly have tons of great resources for doing good philosophical work on the topic of war.

But certainly you’d agree that your site is not just a philosophical treatment of abstract issues related to the study of just war but you present hard and fast conclusions on the moral oughtness of specific current military action. So it appears that you're both a research site on abstract issues related to just war theory and a site that promotes a cause: namely one that criticizes the war in Iraq (and other US military action around the world) and calls for its end. Am I correct on that? Your introductory blurb states that you're an "annotated aid to research and instruction in theoretical and empirical studies of war and peace."? It seems to me you're a bit more than that and advocate a very specific position and outcome of the studies you seek to promote. Let me know if I've gotten that wrong.

I think it is entirely proper to discuss, debate, and be critical of the moral oughtness of going into a specific war situation (like Iraq) prior to the conflict actually starting and to do the same when the conflict is over. However, being overly critical when troops are presently in combat jeopardizes more lives in my opinion. Having said that, I also think that people that believe a given war is unjust, need to have a voice and medium to say so and call for its end. So there's a fine line between healthy criticality and sedition. All this to say that I've wanted to take a deeper look at your site to make sure that I'm not violating my conscience in linking to it..."

My response: "...I think that my website presents a well-balanced range of resources from a wide array of philosophical and political orientations. As you note, however, it also has its own editorial (dovish) slant inasmuch as it is an ANNOTATED resource host. Yet, I believe that this feature of a political philosophy website is justifiable for two reasons.

First, it is not possible to stimulate critical reasoning about political ethics without presenting arguments of political ethics. Most, if not all of the resources to which I link do so, and I don't see why I should pretend to be above the fray. I think the same goes in the classroom. I ask my students to consider my arguments, to engage with my arguments, but not necessarily to agree with them. If arguments of political philosophy were never provocative, there wouldn't be such a thing as political philosophy. At risk of making your argument about sedition for you, it's worth noting that Socrates was provocative. Philosophy has never been politically neutral and shouldn't start trying to be.

Secondly, it is not possible for a website in political philosophy to be neutral with respect to every available position within the field. A webmaster who decides, for political reasons, not to provide a link to a political website does not thereby succeed in remaining politically neutral, but instead takes up a politically substantive position by way of omission. Better to raise our editorial perspectives to the level of discourse, if you ask me. It makes for a more open and transparent form of political discourse and opens up the possibility that we might be able to sustain an energetic and intelligent public sphere.

As for the war in Iraq, rather than saying too much, I've probably said too little on my website to fully explain the reasons why I opposed it prior to its commencement and why I remain critical of certain practices (for example, the use of torture & the use of cluster munitions in urban areas). That being said, I think my site IS supportive of our men and women in combat. I think our first responsibility towards men and women in the armed services is to make sure that their lives are not put at risk lightly and without just cause. After the government commits our troops to an unjust war, I believe we are still responsible for ensuring that as few lives as possible are lost in the cause. And I believe that critical public discourse about ongoing war policies may serve that end. I've been careful to avoid linking to any sites or presenting any content that might put our troops at risk or jeopardize national security. For the same reason, I must criticize any government policy -- such as the strategy of occupation as counter-terrorism warfare -- that does put our troops in harms way unnecessarily, and that does worsen both our security and global security. I believe that we should have proceeded in our counter-terrorism efforts by means of the rule of international law, and I'm not convinced that it's too late to alter course and head in that direction. If this position is seditious, then I should count my legal blessings for safety in numbers (the presidential campaign of Gen. Wesley Clark, for example, was similarly seditious). That being said, please let me know if you find anything on my site that you think seriously crosses the line. I'm open to constructive criticism."

Pardi's final word: "Though I think I might disagree with you about specifics regarding policy and how best to support troops in wartime, I find little about which to disagree regarding the approach to your web site. I do believe a site could treat subjects abstractly (I think this is different than neutrality by the way) and allow readers to apply those abstract principles to specific situations. While this is possible, I agree that its not very exciting. I'm a big proponent of philosophy being practical and changing the way we live by changing the way we think. I just don't want philosophers to appear to be concerned only about abstract principles when really they spend most of their time grinding axes. That bothers me (and I'm guessing it would bother you too). I'd be the first to admit that I'm not neutral on many subjects. But occasionally, I do try my best to treat a subject neutrally by focusing only on abstract principles and leaving application as a separate exercise."

My final word: If policy-talk unguided by reflection on abstract principles fails to rise above the level of blind prejudice, then reflection on abstract principles disconnected from a clear sense of concrete practical implications runs the risk of meaninglessness. Hence the smattering of philosophical and polemical ingredients on this website. Not to mention the fun factor.

JWT readers with something to add should e-mail their comments to Mark at JustWarTheory dot com.

1/10/05: Thanks to Ted Honderich for drawing my attention to the works posted on his website. Visitors to his website can view the following two philosophical articles addressing the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict: readers will also be particularly interested in checking out these three links to Honderich's own work:

In 'The Way Things Are', Honderich claims that Israel's expansion of its borders beyond the 1967 boundary lines (which he calls "neo-Zionism") constitutes "ethnic cleansing." And he argues that "the Principle of Humanity issues in a moral right on the part of the Palestinians to the terrorism they have been engaged in in Palestine and Israel." For the record, I agree that recent Israeli expansion is illegal and morally condemnable, but I do not believe that unjust territorial expansion justifies a form of political violence in response that deliberately targets non-combatants. Throw out the principle of discrimination and little or no conceptual basis remains for distinguishing between just and unjust wars. What can justify the use of arms apart from the need to protect innocent lives?


"On 21 December 2004, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) announced via the Federal Register the agency's decennial review of operational files. The review is designed to seek input on declassification of information for historical value or public interest. The CIA Information Act of 1984 allows the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) "to exempt operational files of the CIA from the publication, disclosure, search, and review provisions of the Freedom of Information Act." However, the DCI reviews the exemptions at least once every ten years to examine the potential for declassification of the information. The last review was conducted in March 1995.

The current review, as always, appears controversial. The National Security Archive argues that the CIA Information Act of 1984 created a loophole to avoid the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and called for Congressional oversight of the review process. For more information about the history of the CIA Information Act of 1984 and documentation, please visit the National Security Archive online at: Other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, are disturbed by the CIA's ability to deny FOIA requests and incidences, such as the refusal to release information about the recent torture allegations by American soldiers in Iraq.

If you or your organization wish to participate in the review, the CIA requests written comments about the historical value and generalized public interest in the operational files by 20 January 2005. For more information, please contact Director of Information Services Edmund Cohen by phone at (703/613-1215) or tap into the Federal Register notice online at: .

1/10/05: A soldier who served with the 320th Military Police Company at Abu Ghraib speaks out about the atrocities he witnessed in "In Good Conscience" By Scott Fleming, LiP Magazine. Exerpt courtesy of

1/6/05: The Fall 2004 issue of The Online Journal of Peace & Conflict Resolution includes the following items of interest to JWT readers:

1/1/05: Douglas Gearheart, a decorated veteran, asks in "Humanism on the Front Line," from PhilosophyNow online magazine, "Can there be behavior that is untainted, ethical, and decent, in the furtherance of an unjust war? Do all soldiers fighting a morally dubious cause carry the taint of the 'original sin'?" Gearheart's answer to this question draws upon personal experience leading a PSYOP team in Iraq, and calls for philosophical reflection on possibilities for military ethics that are independent of jus ad bellum policy considerations.

At the heart of Gearheart's essay is a plea for closer attention to issues of personal ethics that arise for individual soldiers: "...From the security of our normal lives, we can bemoan and criticize the invasion of Iraq. But we must never forget that everyday, essentially decent young men and women face the most challenging situations and dilemmas they will ever encounter. They are far from their homes and neighbors. What will guide them? I challenge philosophers and humanists to develop a work that targets this audience. The soldiers need your help if they cannot get it from their leadership. As humanists and free thinkers we need to get our message into the hearts and minds of those young soldiers who are becoming the diplomats of the free world, for better or for worse..." Read the rest of Gearheart's reflections here...

As Gearheart's essay suggests, soldiers are often able to find ways to maintain their personal integrity, by degrees, even when they are enlisted to fight or otherwise serve in unjust wars. Even wars fought for dubious reasons create occasions for assertions of personal virtue, much as wars fought for just causes provide opportunities for viciousness. Yet, unjust wars are especially problematic not only as matters of public policy, but also from the standpoint of personal ethics. Insofar as the traditional conceptual framework of just war theory belongs to political or public ethics, it is not a sufficient guide to the concerns of private conscience; but it can help to set broad terms of analysis by emphasizing the significant contextual thresholds that distinguish combatants from non-combatants.

As a matter of just war theory, the soldier who discovers the injustice of her nation's cause too late, after volunteering for duty and entering the field of battle, may still as a matter of self-defense justifiably fight the foes that directly target her. She may even justifiably fight to protect the other soldiers whose lives depend upon her defensive combat effectiveness. In another context, before reaching the field of battle, the soldier who wrestles with future participation in an unjust war after voluntarily enlisting and going through basic training must also consider his commitments when deciding whether or not to refuse service in protest. He must weigh the ethical value of his protest and non-participation against (a) the personal value of his own legal freedom, (b) the ethical value of keeping the promise implicit in his military contract (though the U.S. government's recent backsliding on its side of the bargain diminishes the ethical weight of such promises), and (c) the fact that the other soldiers with whom he has trained have already come to rely upon him, such that the integrity of his unit my be jeopardized, to a certain degree, by his refusal to serve along with them. Free of such entanglements, the would-be recruit considering voluntary military service must weigh in advance the likelihood of participation in unjust aggression against the likelihood of genuinely just and humanitarian military service.


The opinions expressed on are my own and do not represent the views of Oakland University or its affiliates. Please send your critical or supporting comments to Mark (at)

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