Cold WAR. Again. WWIII Probable. Again.

War 3  nato-russia-war New-Cold-War HR 758 (Russia)

US – Russia relations have deteriorated severely in the past decade and they just got worse. That is not solely due to the actions and posturing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, many in the USA and Russia are warning that the recent passage of House Resolution 758 could lead to all-out war, especially if the Senate passes a similar resolution.

Tensions between Russia and the US are being fueled every day by players who would benefit financially from a resumption of the Cold War which, from 1948 to 1991 cost US taxpayers $20 TRILLION dollars (in 2014 dollars), an amount exceeding our $18 trillion National Debt.

With fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Syria a staging ground for an ongoing proxy war between the big powers, our US treasury is being drained for military adventures, our national debt is piling up, and we are less safe.

Dennis Kucinich writes: “… HR 758 is tantamount to a ‘Declaration of Cold War’ against Russia, reciting a host of grievances, old and new, against Russia which represent complaints that Russia could well make against the US, given our nation’s most recent military actions: Violating territorial integrity, violations of international law, violations of nuclear arms agreements.
“The resolution demands Russia be isolated and “… the President, in consultation with Congress, conduct a review of the force posture, readiness and responsibilities of United States Armed Forces and the forces of other members of NATO to determine if the contributions and actions of each are sufficient to meet the obligations of collective self-defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and to specify the measures needed to remedy any deficiencies….”

“In other words, let’s get ready for war with Russia.”    HR 758 (Russia)

Ron Paul, writing in The Inquisitr, believes that a “reckless” Congress has essentially declared war on Vladimir Putin and Russia based upon Resolution 758. Fears of World War 3 were stoked when Russian fighter jets faced off against NATO jets in a blitz designed to be a “show of force” by Vladimir Putin.

Russian media is already warning that the recently passed House Resolution 758 could lead to “all-out” war if the U.S. Senate were to pass similar legislation. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich claims that supplying lethal aid to Ukraine would be a direct violation of the Geneva Agreements. In addition, Russian media funded by the government has published an editorial that attempts to refute House Resolution 758, and even goes so far as to claim that the United States is provoking World War 3 by bringing the United States one step closer to an “all-out” war with Russia.

Not War

UPDATE:

The Ukraine Freedom Support Act — HR 5859 and S. 2828 — increases sanctions on Russia’s main weapons exporter, the natural gas company Gazprom, and any company that exports weapons to Syria. HR 5859 was introduced (12/11/14) and passed by voice vote late that evening. The Senate bill also passed by a voice vote.

At the Cato Institute, visiting research fellow Emma Ashford writes about the military aid that would go to Ukraine: “The bill authorizes the president to make available defensive weapons, services and training to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, crew weapons and ammunition, counter-artillery radar, tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and command and communications equipment.”

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FROM 9/11 To 11/11

This is  a reposting of an article by Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich on The Blog. Seems worth reading to me.

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Elizabeth Kucinich Headshot Elizabeth Kucinich, Policy Director, Center for Food Safety

Dennis J. Kucinich Headshot Dennis J. Kucinich, former 16-year member of the U.S. Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate

American Journey From Terror to Peace, 9/11 to 11/11

Posted: 11/11/2014 12:30 pm EST Updated: 11/11/2014 12:59 pm EST
AMERICAN FLAG
 This day commemorates both Veterans Day in the US and Armistice Day abroad, marking the end of the First World War, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 1918. This year of 2014 is particularly poignant as it also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI.

Originally, Armistice Day was celebrated in the US, as an homage to peace and solidarity with the nations of the world who paid a terrible price in WWI, including 116,576 Americans who died. In 1954, the day became Veterans Day in the US.

In Europe, the centennial of the four-year period of the First World War, 1914-1918, is being observed with solemn ceremony, remembering the bravery and courage of 10 million soldiers and nearly 7 million civilians who perished. One million people died in a series of battles across the River Somme, France, in just four months.

Remembered, too, are the failures and foibles of the leaders of governments who precipitated the war, a “march of folly” well-chronicled by historian Barbara Tuchman in the Guns of August.

While Armistice Day signals a renewed interest in Europe in the practicality of peace and reconciliation and unity, here at home we observe Veterans Day still riveted to the narrative of deep fear derived from September 11, 2001.

9/11 was that searing day which was the genesis of the “War on Terror,” a perpetual war now in its 14th year, predicted by Washington insiders to last perhaps another 30. We rightly honor those who answered the call of the nation and recall our obligation “to care for those who have borne the battle.” How much better would the honor we accord the valorous be if it included guarantees for physical and emotional security after one’s service?

9/11 to 11/11 are now the parentheses of our national experience, from terror to war to tributes for those we send to fight. Is America fated to draw a straight line from 9/11 to 11/11, more veterans of more wars? Can we take an evolutionary journey away from terror and toward the peace and reconciliation implicit in Armistice Day?

How do we break the mind-forged bars of fear that presently keep us on the treadmill of war, annihilating our Constitution, eliminating our civil liberties, and dismissing any hope for a domestic economy in which everyone has an opportunity to survive?

Since September 11, 2001, America has gone abroad in search of enemies to slay. Thousands of our men and women have been killed, tens of thousands permanently injured. The ensuing civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan number in the millions.

As America exercises a titanic power of destructiveness we have unwittingly created more enemies. Occupations fuel insurgencies and give legitimacy to those rebel groups who would otherwise be shunned by the societies for which they allegedly fight.

The Middle East is being radicalized by the wars, strengthening resistance; nationalism, sectarianism and jihadism are rising; retribution brings more violent suppression, which in turn creates more enemies and more resistance.

And as if we do not have our hands full in the Middle East, the US military looks west to the South China Sea for relevance, i.e., future conflicts. If that fails, our aging cold war apparatchiks, using NATO cat’s-paw, are renewing a cold war with Russia.

This Veterans Day, we are locked into a maddening, deadly cycle of perpetual war led on by our home-grown sorcerers’ apprentices of rigid ideologies, the flag-waving war profiteers and shadowy foreign powers who are happy to stay behind the scenes. As long as the US does the blood-letting and our taxpayers foot the bill, now in trillions of dollars.

We return to 9/11. On the day of September 11, 2001, and the months that followed, the heart of the world was open to the United States, including expressions of support from Iran and Russia. Flowers adorned American embassies in all countries.

At our point of greatest anguish and pain, the world was there for us. Calling for reconciliation. Calling for a new approach to international relations. Hoping for a moment of reflection and historical perspective.

Our leaders took us in a very different direction. Eleven years ago, in 2003, millions of Americans and citizens world-wide took to the streets to protest the onrushing war against Iraq; a war that used 9/11 as a cover. A war against a nation with absolutely no connection to the 9/11 attacks.

Washington today is a convergence of civic celebration of veterans, and the anticipation that Congress will soon vote to give the President new war-making authority and approve more money for more War in Iraq and Syria.

The last authorization for war against Iraq was obtained fraudulently. But with the upcoming authorization and war appropriations, our civic narrative, deprived of memory, requires no consequence, only the plodding towards more war.

This new request rests not on fraud, but on hubris — the vainglorious notion that we will, at last, “stabilize” (remake) Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, that US military might trumps culture, religion, history.

Outside the beltway bubble, another America exists. Here people struggle with an economy where wealth is accelerating upwards, where unemployment, underemployment, low wages, limited opportunities for higher education, the high cost of housing and health care and precarious retirement conditions daily impose physical suffering and mental anguish.

Washington needs a re-evaluate America’s role in the world. What makes us safe and secure at home?

In the past month, we have held listening sessions with groups of people in Iowa, New York, Oregon, Washington State, Northern and Southern California, and Colorado, inquiring what “National Security” really means to them.

What we are finding is that some Americans define national security not in terms of military prowess or foreign invasions, but in terms of true human security for America, including food security and economic security.

The recent elections and polls reflected this too, with the state of the economy weighing on people’s minds, and foreign policy way down the list.

Washington, D.C., on the other hand, has created a grim equation. National Security = more war. National Security = less freedom. National Security = the hemorrhaging of taxpayer money to war in sacrifice of the domestic economy.

We can report from those meetings, there is another America stirring.

Unlike Capitol Hill, the other America has been shaken, but still holds fast to ideals and to the Constitution. It is an America restless for change, keenly aware of promises not delivered, and resentful of a system which profits the few while keeping the many fearful and at war.

America’s future may well be described by whether we can successfully navigate the path from terror to peace, a path from 9/11 to 11/11 and the spirit of Armistice. It is a path that requires truth, reconciliation, commitment and courage. War-weary Americans are ready for a new direction, whether official Washington is ready or not.

Let us take this four-year period, from 2014 to 2018, the 100th anniversaries of the global battle of WWI to the Armistice of November 11, 1918, to bring our own great transition from entrenched commitment to perpetual war.

How Many Iraqis Died in the Iraq War?

Reposted from FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)

Jun wardiary1
07
2013
How Many Iraqis Died in the Iraq War?
By Rebecca Hellmich 53 Comments

Map of Iraqi Civilian Casualties

How many Iraqis died in the Iraq War? That’s the kind of question that should be asked, especially if you happen to live in the countries that launched the war that killed so many.

The results from a new poll commissioned by the British media watchdog group MediaLens exposed a startling disconnect between the realities of the Iraq War and public perceptions of it: Namely, what the Iraqi death toll was. When Britons were asked “how many Iraqis, both combatants and civilians, do you think have died as a consequence of the war that began in Iraq in 2003?,” 44 percent of respondents estimated that 5,000 or fewer deaths had occurred.

As Alex Thomson, a reporter for the UK’s Channel 4 (5/31/13), wrote:

That figure is so staggeringly, mind-blowingly at odds with reality as to leave a journalist who worked long and hard to bring home the reality of war speechless.

And polls done in the United States have offered similar conclusions. A Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) poll (3/1/06-3/6/06) that asked how many Iraqi civilians had been killed since the beginning of the war yielded a median estimate of 5,000 deaths.

And when respondents were asked in a different poll (AP/Ipsos, 2/12/07-2/15/07) to give their “best guess” about civilian deaths, 24 percent chose the option of 1,001 to 5,000 deaths.

These answers are, of course, way off the mark. Estimates of the death toll range from about 174,000 (Iraq Body Count, 3/19/13) to over a million (Opinion Business Research, cited in Congressional Research Service, 10/7/10). Even at the times of those U.S. polls, death estimates were far beyond the public’s estimates.

Of course, these findings are disheartening because they reflect a very distorted public perception of the war. But they are indicative of an even bigger problem: corporate media’s inadequate coverage of the human costs of U.S.-led wars.

It seems that much of the mainstream media took Tommy Franks’ infamous quote, “We don’t do body counts” (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/3/03), to heart, because Iraqi victims of warfare were rarely of interest in news reports.

And when they are, they could be a massive undercount. A December 1, 2011 CBS Evening News report told viewers that “more than 50,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war” (FAIR Action Alert, 12/2/11). This figure was sourced to iCasualties.org, which had one of the lowest estimates of civilian casualties at the time and warned readers that the number was probably a severe undercount.

The “corrected” figure that CBS put forth 11 days later was 115,676 civilians killed, and sourced to Iraq Body Count–still one of the most conservative estimates to be found (FAIR Activism Update, 12/13/11).

But the main issue here is that the press has kept the public in the dark: How can one make a decision about the impact of war if they don’t know, even roughly, how many deaths there were?

As blogger Joe Emersberger put it (Z Blogs, 5/30/13) , the MediaLens-commissioned poll results

are a striking illustration of how a “free press” imposes ignorance on the public in order to promote war. Future wars (or “interventions”) are obviously far more likely when the public within an aggressor state is kept clueless about the human cost.

UPDATE: The World Health Organization’s estimate of 151,000 violent Iraqi deaths from March 2003 to June 2006 should also be noted.

Kucinich Comments on the Iraqi Occupation & Lies

The cost to the U.S. treasury: $3 Trillion.

Cost in Lives: 4477 dead U.S. troops (http://www.defense.gov/)

Over 1 million Iraqis (Based on international news reports; there is no agency that keeps track of accurate numbers of Iraqis killed.)

Cost in injuries: 33151 U.S. troops.

Other Coalition Troops – Iraq
318
US Military Deaths – Afghanistan
1,802
Other Military Deaths – Afghanistan
954
Contractor Employee Deaths Iraq
1,487
Journalists – Iraq
348
Academics Killed – Iraq
448

 

War & Peace; Israel & Palestine – Full transcript of Obama’s speech at UN General Assembly

I have highlighted, in bold, the parts that deal with Palestinian statehood.

 Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations — the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.

War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilizations. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused not just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes.

No American did more to pursue this objective than President Franklin Roosevelt. He knew that a victory in war was not enough. As he said at one of the very first meetings on the founding of the United Nations, “We have got to make, not merely peace, but a peace that will last.”

The men and women who built this institution understood that peace is more than just the absence of war. A lasting peace — for nations and for individuals — depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom. It depends on struggle and sacrifice, on compromise, and on a sense of common humanity.

One delegate to the San Francisco Conference that led to the creation of the United Nations put it well: “Many people,” she said, “have talked as if all that has to be done to get peace was to say loudly and frequently that we loved peace and we hated war. Now we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we cannot avoid having war brought upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world.”

The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.

I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place — Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization — remained at large. Today, we’ve set a new direction.

At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq — for its government and for its security forces, for its people and for their aspirations.

As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.

So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.

Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as Al-Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.

So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women — must be our guide.

And in that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.

Think about it: One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt. But the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination. And last summer, as a new flag went up in Juba, former soldiers laid down their arms, men and women wept with joy, and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future that they will shape.

One year ago, the people of Côte D’Ivoire approached a landmark election. And when the incumbent lost, and refused to respect the results, the world refused to look the other way. U.N. peacekeepers were harassed, but they did not leave their posts. The Security Council, led by the United States and Nigeria and France, came together to support the will of the people. And Côte D’Ivoire is now governed by the man who was elected to lead.

One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but he ignited a movement. In a face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word, “freedom.” The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. And now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy that they deserve.

One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.

One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world’s longest-serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of the revolution and said, “Our words are free now.” It’s a feeling you can’t explain. Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

In the months that followed, the will of the coalition proved unbreakable, and the will of the Libyan people could not be denied. Forty-two years of tyranny was ended in six months. From Tripoli to Misurata to Benghazi — today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.

This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.

So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper — “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” — is closer at hand.

But let us remember: Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.

In Iran, we’ve seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people. As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?

Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.

Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.

In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.

We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.

Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.

Now, I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades.

Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.

Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied. That’s the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That’s the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties.

We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state.

But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.

Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

That is the truth — each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.

This body — founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person — must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live lives of peace and security and dignity and opportunity. And we will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and each other’s fears. That is the project to which America is committed. There are no shortcuts. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.

Now, even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize — we must also remind ourselves — that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease. These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace and together we’re called upon to confront them.

To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers. Next March, a summit in Seoul will advance our efforts to lock down all of them. The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will cut our deployed arsenals to the lowest level in half a century, and our nations are pursuing talks on how to achieve even deeper reductions. America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them.

And so we have begun to move in the right direction. And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them.

The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful. It has not met its obligations and it rejects offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power. North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.
To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we’ve made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty. It’s an extraordinary achievement. And yet, three years ago, we were confronted with the worst financial crisis in eight decades. And that crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year — our fates are interconnected. In a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.

And today, we confront the challenges that have followed on the heels of that crisis. Around the world recovery is still fragile. Markets remain volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling just to get by. We acted together to avert a depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I’ve announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, at the same time as I’m committed to substantially reducing our deficits over time.

We stand with our European allies as they reshape their institutions and address their own fiscal challenges. For other countries, leaders face a different challenge as they shift their economy towards more self-reliance, boosting domestic demand while slowing inflation. So we will work with emerging economies that have rebounded strongly, so that rising standards of living create new markets that promote global growth. That’s what our commitment to prosperity demands.

To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men and women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demand.

To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger — whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease.

This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge. And today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the HWO’s [sic] goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.

To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.

And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.

And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down the economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.

I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations — to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living.

It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this — to bind our fates together, to help us recognize ourselves in each other — because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people.

And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.

Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.

Thank you very much.

THERE IS DEATH I CANNOT FEEL

I grew up believing in peace, opposing war, all war. I accepted non-violence as the way to go. I was, however, impressed by the Students for a Democratic Society splinter group, The Weathermen. They advocated “bring the war home,” because too many people seemed not to care how many died, when it was elsewhere.
The destruction of the twin World Trade Center Towers was certainly bringing war home. It was hard to reconcile the feelings of anger and revenge with non-violence and peace. I started writing that day, and didn’t stop for weeks. I only wrote a few lines a day. I finished after September 20, 2001, because that is the day President Bush declared war on a thing: terror, and before October 7, 2001, because that is the day the current war in Afghanistan became official. (See: Afghanistan prior to 9/11)

THERE IS DEATH I CANNOT FEEL

Denial.
A plane crashing into a building. New York. I’m late for work. I’ll find out what this is about later. At work there is a TV on across the hall in the office. Pictures of a building burning, a plane smashing into a building. World trade center. I’ve been there. Delivered packages in the ’70’s. Toured New York in the ’90’s.  Walked the observation deck. Pictures of that building collapsing. Pictures of another building collapsing.  Unreal.  Surreal. I see but don’t believe. Nonsense. Thousands of people in those buildings, as many as 50,000. It can’t be happening. The eyes take it in, but the mind is numb.
Awakening.
I want to know what happened; how, when, why?  I turn on the radio; alternate listening,  wandering across the hall to the TV.  I see it happen over and over.  I want to know how many people were killed, as if it matters how many thousands.  The radio brings fresh reports: two planes, three planes, four!  It’s too incredible.  Hijackers.  Terrorists.  Religious fanatics.  Muslims.  Islam.  Terrorists.  Hijacked. The usually loquacious media commentators repeat the same things over and over.  Pictures from the Pentagon.  The Pentagon?  How in hell do you hit that?  Images in my head of protests at the Pentagon.  Hated object of military mistakes, military arrogance. Smoke and fire.  How many dead?  No one knows.  Plane down in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania?  No word from the President yet, he’s on Air Force One, circling, traveling.  He’s in an underground bunker.  His life could be in danger.  Who speaks for the U.S.?  Who did this?  Why?  No one claims responsibility.  This is real terror.  The apocalypse?  I’m alert.  I’m awake.
Anger.
It’s stopped.  All news is an endless replaying of the same images, the same destruction, the same death.  No more.  I don’t want to see any more.  I don’t want to hear anymore.  Kill them.  Kill the people who did this.  Flay them; draw and quarter them.  Stop them.  Yes, that’s it.  We must destroy them before they destroy us.  Us?  The U.S.  My country.  The country I  live in.  The country I share with millions of others.  We’re under attack.  We must defend ourselves.  We must, we must, we must retaliate; we must kill, destroy.  Adrenalin pumping; I can’t sleep.  How do we answer?  Who do we attack?  When?
Grief.
Death.  Death on a massive scale.  People grieving.  There are people grieving around the world.  People who were not involved, strangers.  They build altars, bring flowers.  I see them crying, grieving, and the tears flow down my face uncontrollably.  My face is soaked in empathy with people who cry in empathy with the grief of the families of the victims.  My emotions pour out.  My spirit returns.


Acceptance.
No more killing.  If we kill innocents, we are no better than the killers.  No country has declared war.  The terrorists are spread throughout the world.  They have declared war against the most powerful nation on our planet.  Backfire!  The nations of the world express their solidarity with us, with the U.S.  Our President declares a war on terrorism.  There will be action.  We will hunt the terrorists down.  We will exact justice.  But who will be killed?  Poor Afghans?  Goat herders and camel riders?  They did not do this.  A government is in power that says it did not do this, but, but, they’re not sorry about it either.  So, do we kill them?  Their own people fight against them.  Civil war.
Healing.
Afghans dying already from malnutrition, hunger, disease.  The country is impoverished.  The borders are closed to the Red Cross, to any foreign aid.  The country is sick, maybe dying.  Should we help it along?  Or, or, or perhaps we should try to help those people.  Drop food supplies.  Drop newspapers.  Drop letters from Muslims around the world who denounce terrorism, who denounce killing as anathema to their religion, to the core of their beliefs.  There is no holy war.  The terrorists want us to attack Muslims, want us to attack Muslim countries.  They expect to split the world into warring religious camps.  We cannot play their game. We must not play their deadly game.  We must show the world that we are the strongest nation in the world, that we do have the best people.  We believe in tolerance, respect for each other.  We may not practice our beliefs all the time, but we try.  We try.  Let us find ways to heal.  Let us find ways to defend ourselves without killing others who cannot defend themselves from us.  Revenge is sweet, but revenge goes on and on, and on.   There have been centuries of revenge already.  If we act alone, if we destroy and bomb and kill; if we take one innocent life in the name of  revenge, then we will be alone.  Terrorism will go on; people around the world will suffer.   Let us work with the nations of our world to solve this crime, to stop it from ever happening again.  Let us unite with former enemies, with Libya and Cuba and Russia, and China, and all of our friends and allies in the world.  Together we can stop terrorism once and for all.  Together we can root out the causes of terror: the distrust, the injustice, the fear, the poverty, and the unreasoning hatred of those who are different.  It is our world.  We are the people of the Earth.  We are one.

We are one.

We are one.

Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead, Osama is Dead

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden

East Room

11:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts. On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family. We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.

We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies. Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot. Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world. And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda. Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad. As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded. So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice. We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores. And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.