"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Attack Iran... Violate International Law... NO Kidding!!!

Well, it's about time!!!  AND, it didn't happen in the U.S.  NO, it's a safe bet that the U.S. Attorney General won't be finding that an attack on Iran (or any other country for that matter) just might violate international law.  But that's just what the British Attorney General has done. God Save the Queen!!!  Of course the news has been ringing in the hollowed halls of The White House, yet likely falling on deaf (and morally bankrupt) ears.  At least the UK government has, at last, stood up to the US.  And let us hope this will be just the beginning.

 Here is what Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament General Secretary, had to say about the news: 
"It is good news that the UK Government has both sought legal advice on the status of a pre-emptive military intervention in Iran, and is actually following it through. The Government has recognised that international law prohibits not only direct participation in such a strike, but also support or assistance to any state engaging in such unlawful actions. This is an important and laudable step. Indeed, the Government appears to have learned from the disaster of Iraq.
"The current tensions in the Middle East require diplomatic solutions. This is where the energy of our government must be focused. It must continue to reject developments that make a military conflict more likely, and work to ensure that the diplomatic process can operate and succeed." 

Click here to send an email thanking the United Kingdom's Attorney General for correctly interpreting international law and taking a stand for justice.
Here is the full story from The Guardian.
Britain rejects US request to use UK bases in nuclear standoff with Iran, By Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, October 25, 2012
Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law.

The Guardian has been told that US diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.

The US approaches are part of contingency planning over the nuclear standoff with Tehran, but British ministers have so far reacted coolly. They have pointed US officials to legal advice drafted by the attorney general's office which has been circulated to Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

This makes clear that Iran, which has consistently denied it has plans to develop a nuclear weapon, does not currently represent "a clear and present threat". Providing assistance to forces that could be involved in a pre-emptive strike would be a clear breach of international law, it states.

"The UK would be in breach of international law if it facilitated what amounted to a pre-emptive strike on Iran," said a senior Whitehall source. "It is explicit. The government has been using this to push back against the Americans."

Sources said the US had yet to make a formal request to the British government, and that they did not believe an acceleration towards conflict was imminent or more likely. The discussions so far had been to scope out the British position, they said.

"But I think the US has been surprised that ministers have been reluctant to provide assurances about this kind of upfront assistance," said one source. "They'd expect resistance from senior Liberal Democrats, but it's Tories as well. That has come as a bit of a surprise."

The situation reflects the lack of appetite within Whitehall for the UK to be drawn into any conflict, though the Royal Navy has a large presence in the Gulf in case the ongoing diplomatic efforts fail.

The navy has up to 10 ships in the region, including a nuclear-powered submarine. Its counter-mine vessels are on permanent rotation to help ensure that the strategically important shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz remain open.

The Guardian has been told that a British military delegation with a strong navy contingent flew to US Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, earlier this summer to run through a range of contingency plans with US planners.

The UK, however, has assumed that it would only become involved once a conflict had already begun, and has been reluctant to commit overt support to Washington in the buildup to any military action.

"It is quite likely that if the Israelis decided to attack Iran, or the Americans felt they had to do it for the Israelis or in support of them, the UK would not be told beforehand," said the source. "In some respects, the UK government would prefer it that way."

British and US diplomats insisted that the two countries regarded a diplomatic solution as the priority. But this depends on the White House being able to restrain Israel, which is nervous that Iran's underground uranium enrichment plant will soon make its nuclear programme immune to any outside attempts to stop it.

Israel has a less developed strike capability and its window for action against Iran will close much more quickly than that of the US, explained another official. "The key to holding back Israel is Israeli confidence that the US will deal with Iran when the moment is right."

With diplomatic efforts stalled by the US presidential election campaign, a new push to resolve the crisis will begin in late November or December.

Six global powers will spearhead a drive which is likely to involve an offer to lift some of the sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy in return for Tehran limiting its stockpile of enriched uranium.

The countries involved are the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China. Iran will be represented by its chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "As we continue to make clear, the government does not believe military action against Iran is the right course of action at this time, although no option is off the table. We believe that the twin-track approach of pressure through sanctions, which are having an impact, and engagement with Iran is the best way to resolve the nuclear issue. We are not going to speculate about scenarios in which military action would be legal. That would depend on the circumstances at the time."

The Foreign Office said it would not disclose whether the attorney general's advice has been sought on any specific issue.

A US state department official said: "The US and the UK co-ordinate on all kinds of subjects all the time, on a huge range of issues. We never speak on the record about these types of conversations."
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, warned at the UN general assembly last month that Iran's nuclear programme would reach Israel's "red line" by "next spring, at most by next summer", implying that Israel might then take military action in an attempt to destroy nuclear sites and set back the programme.

That red line, which Netanyahu illustrated at the UN with a marker pen on a picture of a bomb, is defined by Iranian progress in making uranium enriched to 20%, which would be much easier than uranium enriched to 5% to turn into weapons-grade material, should Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, take the strategic decision to abandon Iran's observance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and try to make a weapon. Tehran insists it has no such intention.

In August, the most senior US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, distanced himself from any Israeli plan to bomb Iran. He said such an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear programme".

He added: "I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it."


Monday, October 22, 2012

Backcountry Resisters Infiltrate Vandenberg AFB

Editor's Note:  News release below.  Click here to read an article in the Santa Maria Times announcing the ‘backcountry non-violent resistance action’.  Among those trekking the beautiful Vandenberg backcountry was Fr. Louis Vitale (can't keep a good resister down).  Resistance is NOT futile my Friends; and actions speak louder than words.


October 21, 2012
Nonviolent Backcountry Resisters Cause Disruptive Breach
of Vandenberg Air Force Base Security Zones

Vandenberg has lots of backcountry!!!

For the first time in nearly a decade, nonviolent civil resisters caused a disruptive breach of the backcountry security zones at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. VAFB enforces a sweeping global pattern of violent high-tech military abuse. Three participants were arrested for federal trespass and others eluded base security patrols. One participant [Theo Kayser] was hand-cuffed face down on the ground with an M-16 automatic rifle trained on his back during his 2 a.m. arrest, while search lights swept the surrounding hills. He was then held under armed guard for nine hours at a special security command post which VAFB had set up to deal with the backcountry occupation. Vandenberg security stated that they believed at least 15 individuals were spotted in base security zones between 0ctober 20th and 21st

Action participants hope that others will follow their example in the months ahead. They entered the huge US Strategic Command facility at widely dispersed points and hiked miles into the base, crossing fences and rough terrain under cover of night, hanging banners on nuclear first-strike missile silos deep inside Vandenberg. They also conducted an unauthorized Christian prayer liturgy and exorcism of evil inside VAFB boundaries. Multiple sources, including contacts within VAFB, confirmed that the announced plans and the backcountry security zone occupation caused days of disruptive base alerts, interrupting Vandenberg’s business as usual to prepare for and deal with the security zone breaches.

Backcountry action participants and their supporters say that “Vandenberg, built on land stolen from the Chumash nation, launches and controls key satellites which run worldwide drone strikes that kill civilians, and are positioning US forces for a catastrophic peak-oil war with Iran. VAFB is making nuclear world war more likely by its first-strike Minuteman III flight tests, which seriously contaminate stolen indigenous territory at the Earth’s largest coral atoll, Kwajalein.”

Arrested action participants include Franciscan Priest Louie Vitale and Los Angeles Catholic Worker community members Theo Kayser and Rebecca Casas.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ellsberg and the Vandenberg 15: Still Speaking Out!

(Editor's Note: This piece originally posted October 20, 2012 at MacGregor Eddy's Vandenberg Protest Blog: http://vandenbergprotest-macgregor.blogspot.com/)

Prosecution drops all charges against Vandenberg 15

By Robert Bernstein

Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst during the US war in Vietnam and very much believed in the cause. But the more he learned, the more he realized those in power were lying to the American people. The result: He risked going to prison for life in order to smuggle out the Pentagon Papers.

He was the Bradley Manning and the Julian Assange of his day.
Ellsberg's life would never be the same. In the decades since (he is now 81), he has been arrested numerous times to draw attention to illegal and unethical activities by the US government, mostly on military matters.
Back in February, he was part of the "Vandenberg 15" who were arrested on their way to protest a missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
This Tuesday, October 16, he and most of the rest of the Vandenberg 15 explained why they were there.
Ellsberg explained that the US is in violation of numerous laws because of its continued testing and development of nuclear weapons and missiles. For decades, the US has been obligated by treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons and nuclear missiles. It has failed to do so.
As John Amadon of Albany, NY explained, this was not civil disobedience. It was "civil resistance" to highlight the illegality of US nuclear weapons policies.
Also speaking at the event was David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, sponsor of the event. And Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in the US war in Iraq.
During Q&A an audience member described how Ellsberg had given him the courage to speak up quietly with a sign to protest another violation of law. The occasion was a speech by John Yoo at the Reagan Center. Yoo had signed off to torture captured prisoners of war during the Bush Administration, in violation of both US and international law.
Ellsberg was honored that he had helped inspire such courage. Ellsberg went on to say that he himself had been inspired to his courage by those who had come before him.
The Vandenberg 15 had gathered in anticipation of their trial. They had been warned by the judge that they would not be allowed to introduce any substantive evidence or issues regarding nuclear weapons or policy and the relevant violations of law by the US government. It would only be treated as a trespassing case.
But, at the last minute, the government asked the case to be dropped. As in the Pentagon Papers case, the government itself had apparently violated the law in its zeal to go after the protestors and it wanted the case to end before it started.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Call on the President and Congress: Peace, Not War with Iran

A war on Iran would be an absolute disaster, not only for the people of Iran, but for the entire Middle East. 

Whether or not Iran is currently seeking to build nuclear weapons, any attack on its sovereign soil, and particularly on its nuclear facilities, will strengthen its resolve to vigorously pursue development of nuclear weapons.  Adding one more member to the prestigious (albeit archaic) global nuclear club will only further undermine efforts at nonproliferation and global nuclear disarmament.

Furthermore, Israel's nuclear weapons program is the proverbial elephant in the Middle Eastern closet.  The global community has yet to face this issue; Israel has been give a pass even though it most certainly possesses a hundred or more nuclear weapons.

What should be most disconcerting would be the presence of two nuclear powers at each other's throats.  It would be an extremely uneasy "peace" indeed.  Should even a limited nuclear war ensue among Israel and Iran, much of the Middle East would become an uninhabitable wasteland.

Veterans for Peace is circulating an open letter calling on President Obama and the Congress that you are opposed to the war on Iran and support the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.

Please sign on to VFP's letter and share it widely.  We need to raise a groundswell in opposition to war and in support of peace (and nonviolent conflict resolution). 

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones have been established elsewhere, and it can be done in (and is critical to the future of) the Middle East.

Click here to read and sign VFP's open letter to President Obama and Congress.