Advocacy, more than economic interests, is about consciousness and knowledge. It is about building a strong democracy, holding those in power accountable. It is about focusing on questions left out or hidden, on how information is shared or concealed.
So, as maybe you know, but most people do not, a Peace Pact was signed on August 27, 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, an international agreement to outlaw war. The inspiration, vision and endless labor behind it came from a mass movement begun and led by a lawyer from Chicago named Salmon Oliver Levinson. Obviously the pact did not succeed and a few months ago, on its anniversary, David Swanson, executive director of World Beyond War, listed 10 Ways we pretend war is not a crime. With the dark clouds thickening at the start of 2020 it can be useful to summarize his list.
1-. Normalization. “Many people can’t imagine a world without war,” says D. Swanson. “Our entertainment, our education, our mass media, and our politics treat violence, often extreme and sadistic violence, as normal and unremarkable, and participation in war as an admirable and praiseworthy ‘service’ completely regardless of whether the war participated in is an evil murderous catastrophe.”
2-. Exceptionalism. Swanson points out that media report as if we have “a right to kill people anywhere, as ‘needed’,” as well as a right to defend ourselves against what we deem ‘aggression.’ This gives us grounds for bombing the offending nation. If civilians and children die, it “is not a crime when a U.S. president does it.”
3-. The near total absence of consequences. The International Criminal Court, till now, has only prosecuted ‘War Crimes.’ “While occasionally low-ranking members of the military are punished for particular atrocities, there is no accountability for those who launch wars or commit crimes within wars, unless they are African.”
4-. The good war problem. “We have not only a faith in the possibility of the good war, of bombing for peace and justice, but a requirement, to believe in the existence of good wars.”
5-. Secret agencies plan and fight wars, and media outlets ignore them. “The CIA and all of its relatives in the U.S. government and around the world have normalized lying, spying, murdering, torturing, government secrecy”, lawlessness, and distrust of foreign and our own governments, and our ability to “participate in self-government, and acceptance of perma-war.”
6-. Treaties are not just ignored and violated but also torn up and rejected, generating enemies and avoiding disarmament. By the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation nuclear-armed nations committed not to transfer nuclear weapons to other nations or encourage other nations to acquire nuclear weapons. The U.S. “keeps nuclear weapons in other nations and has given nuclear technology to other nations.”
7-. Just War Theory. Theories of the Sts. Ambrose and Augustine describing the four conditions that must be met in order for a war to be just (the roots of just-war theory go back to the Roman orator Cicero) “have saturated western culture and made their way into the minds of us all,” until recently. Even though, in the conference held in Rome on April 11-13, 2016 “Nonviolence and Just Peace”, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace moved away from just war theory.
8-. The U.S. Presidency has been given imperial powers. Swanson says that, “It is the opinion not only of the current president, that anything a president does is legal.”
9-. Laws like the U.N. Charter are ignored or forgotten, or are circumvented through the use of excuses, pretenses, and obfuscations. It should useful to ask what are the obligations under the U.N. Charter. There cannot possibly be obligations of peace.
10-. Laws like the Kellogg-Briand Pact are ignored. However, this pact bans all war and is a treaty to which the governments are parties. That makes it the supreme “law of the land under the U.S.” and other signatories countries’ Constitution. It is a treaty that has not been ended or abolished or withdrawn from. Therefore, what David Swanson says regarding the U.S. is valid for all countries that signed it.
See the entire article, Ways we pretend war is not a crime
John Paul Pezzi, mccj
VIVAT International NGO
with consultative special status at UN