Should the U.S. Fear, Antagonize, Denigrate, Irritate or Embrace China?

This anonymous post about anti-China perceptions in the West is viral on the internet. I found it fascinating and thought-provoking. I think you will too…. 

What Do You Really Want From Us?

When we were the sick man of Asia,

We were called the yellow peril.

When we are billed as the next superpower, we are called “the threat.”

When we closed our doors, you launched the Opium War to open our markets.

When we embraced free trade, you blamed us for stealing your jobs.

When we were falling apart, you marched in your troops and demanded your fair share.

When we tried to put the broken pieces back together again, Free Tibet, you screamed. It was an invasion!

When we tried communism, you hated us for being communist.

When we embraced capitalism, you hated us for being capitalist.

When we had a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet.

When we tried limiting our numbers, you said we abused human rights.

When we were poor, you thought we were dogs.

When we lend you cash, you blame us for your national debts.

When we build our industries, you call us polluters.

When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming.

When we buy oil, you call it exploitation and genocide.

When you go to war for oil, you call it liberation.

When we were lost in chaos, you demanded the rule of law.

When we uphold law and order against violence, you call it a violation of human rights.

When we were silent, you said you wanted us to have free speech.

When we are silent no more, you say we are brainwashed xenophobes.

Why do you hate us so much? we asked.

No, you answered, we don't hate you.

We don't hate you either,

But do you understand us?

Of course we do, you said,

We have AFP, CNN and BBC….

What do you really want from us?

Think hard first, then answer…

Because you only get so many chances.

Enough is enough, enough hypocrisy for this one world.

We want one world, one dream, and peace on earth.

This big blue earth is big enough for all of us.


Please send your comments to Thank you! 🙂


Biological Arms Races, Biocontainment Labs, Hazards and Assessments

No one wants peace more than a soldier who’s been to war. Military men were my first heroes, my first saints. My darling Dad earned a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, and a chest-full of campaign ribbons and medals. My childhood “hometowns” were Army posts scattered around the U.S., and Japan and Germany.  I went to twelve different schools before college. A civilian now, I’ve listened nostalgically for twenty years to the bugled sounds of Taps floating in my bedroom window near Ft. Detrick.


My husband and good friends working at Ft. Detrick convinced me long ago that the technicians and scientists there have the best intentions, the highest skills, admirable goals, and very conscientious safety precautions.


Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to convince me that the planned Level 3 and 4 labs will be safe in Frederick. The record shows that research lab workers, even those with the highest security clearances and the best available training, are still fallible human beings who can and do become victims of blackmail, fall in love unwisely, get into desperate financial situations, hide growing prescription and other drug problems, and develop volatile feelings about co-workers. Lab workers sometimes become blind to their own religious and political biases and bigotry, and are thus susceptible to involvement in illicit covert operations, conspiracies and cover-ups.


Sometimes they get in a hurry and make professionally embarrassing mistakes and bad decisions. Sometimes they hide evidence, fudge records and fake procedures in order to save their jobs and livelihoods, and then rationalize the risks they’re taking—escalating and exponentially complicating situations already perilous.


Also sadly, no one yet has been able to explain to me why it wouldn’t be easy, temptingly easy, to kamikaze an airplane flown from the Frederick Airport into a targeted Ft. Detrick building, or lob a well-placed rocket over the Ft. Detrick fence. Either of these unpreventable actions would very legitimately throw chaos and panic into the post, city and metropolitan area, creating unforeseen, complicated, dangerous situations.


Scientists in these labs will be genetically-engineering (from diseases with no cures), completely new, highly lethal and contagious life forms, life, life so new that no one yet understands how it works. What if a newly-mutated strain somehow finds a way to attach itself to a lab worker in some unpredictable way, some way that defeats the protections put on it, so that the lab workers carry it outside unknowingly? I plead for humility in the face of nature’s chaotic, awesome genetic power.


Furthermore, if we build the facility, we’ll scare other countries into creating their own labs, creating something like an arms race with ourselves, and increasing the threat. I can’t think why Detrick’s scientists, or the Post Commander, would welcome such dangerous projects, which only complicate, compromise and jeopardize all the other crucially important and valuable research currently being done at USAMRIID and elsewhere on post.


I know we can’t avoid all risks in today’s angry and violent world, but we can avoid adding recklessly to their sum. We can choose not to consolidate, in a metropolitan area, an unpredictable mix of risky components with an infinite potential for dangerous permutations.


I was almost raped as a young mother. A very caring policeman later sternly warned me, “Don’t be so stupid as to leave your window-shade up! You’re attracting every pervert in the county. Eventually, they’ll all make a beeline to your window!”


These labs leave the window-shades in Frederick up. Their very existence in Frederick asks, perhaps begs, for trouble, and that trouble will make its dangerous beeline straight to our area.


Before we expose huge populations to catastrophic risks with BSL 3 & 4 labs, we need to ask why. If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it is needed? Wouldn’t we have to vaccinate people before the threat reaches them? Perhaps an antidote, not a vaccine, will be needed. And how much vaccine, and when, would be considered a good solution? And who would be vaccinated? Only the government? The military? The medical community?  Who might our solution actually save?


And finally, has anyone examined the probability that these risky efforts can even be successful? We’re considering exposing huge populations to catastrophic risks. For what? If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it’s needed?


None of my concerns are even mentioned in the current USAMRIID hazard assessment, much less addressed.


What is needed is a mature, high-quality thought process developing an informed equation comparing the risks and costs of the potential biowarfare threat itself with the risks and costs of attempting to address the threat. At what point are they equal?


Merely by building such facilities, aren’t we unreasonably augmenting the threat? Aren’t we creating/driving a biological arms race with ourselves, since other threatened countries will feel it necessary to build their own labs, requiring us to expand ours again in an expensive, pointless, dangerous, ineffective, wasteful and infinite cycle?


Here is what a credible, predictive and useful BSL 3 & 4 hazard assessment might look like:


1. Estimate the cost of the planned response to perceived Biological Warfare (BW) threats

   –  List the possible negative events which inspired the proposed solution.

   –  Estimate the probability of each negative event occurring.

   –  Estimate the impact of each negative event, if it occurred.

   –  Estimate the risk (the probability of occurrence times impact) of each negative event.

   –  Estimate the expected cost associated with these possible negative events (some sort of group probability—a statistician would be required.)

   –  Estimate the actual costs of responding to perceived BW threats (labs, people, security, maintenance, upgrades, social, political, other costs…)

   –  Add actual and expected costs.


2. Estimate the benefits of the suggested solution (which is essentially a list of the costs of the negative events that would happen to the U.S. as a result of the perceived BW activities of other countries, assuming that the U.S. does nothing to ward off such possibilities.)


3. List the additional possible negative events that could happen to the U.S. as a result of other countries’ feeling threatened by our new labs and then building similar BW efforts, including the costs of expanding the U.S. response to these rising threats.


4. Using the list produced in step #3, proceed with the steps described in #1 above to determine the benefits of the planned solution.


5. After completing steps #3 and #4 above, we would have an informed decision-makers’ estimate of the costs and benefits of the planned response to the perceived BW threats.


6.  Evaluate the assumption that the planned solution to the perceived BW threats would actually be effective, (i.e., what is the likelihood of the US having an appropriate and effective vaccine or antidote ready when it was actually needed during a BW event? Etc.)


7. As a final step, do a sensitivity analysis.  Determine how much the result of the cost/benefit analysis above would change as a result of changes in the assumptions used to create it.


8. At what point does the risk of the threat itself equal the risk of trying to address the threat?


Essentially, we need to develop an equation, a model, which will allow decision-makers to make a practical and informed comparison weighing and comparing the risks and costs of the BW threat itself to the risks and costs of addressing the threat. A mature, high-quality thought process comparing the risks with the solution would allow for decision-makers’ discussions, and even some disagreement about the assumptions and decisions, but at least all involved would be assured that all issues were addressed in a systematic way.


Sometimes the “costs” in the above equation would be expressed in terms of dollars, sometimes in terms of human life, sometimes in terms of political costs, i.e., international opinion, good faith, trust, health, environmental costs, social costs, risks of increased anger, terrorism, war, etc. A complete list of costs and risks would of course also include the cost of the additional threats which will inevitably emerge as a result of the U.S. building such a facility to address the perceived threats. The list of expected monetary costs should thus include the costs of building the facilities, securing them, running them, maintaining them, and upgrading them again and again as response-threats spiral. Do we really want to start this death-spiral?





A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace




















































































Covering Obama: A Cautionary Note to Journalists and Historians

Journalists who recently told the election tale in terms of a superior candidate emerging victorious over an inferior one risked a barrage of criticism from rightist pundits. And indeed, the salutations of the world’s moral and political leaders, and the tears of admirers everywhere, have crowned Barack Obama a peerless light-bearer, while John McCain, partly for the sake of a contrasting story line, has been cast in the evil emperor role.


Truly, it would be as misguided for liberal-leaning journalists to indelibly identify Obama as a permanent force for good, as for right-leaning journalists to gnash their teeth to nubs over their White Knight’s defeat by the evil Antichrist, because what keeps journalists working is their sure-handed avoidance of any final pronouncements on the rapidly-changing nature of the people and human institutions in the scene before them, in favor of reporting in medias res exactly what just happened.


In this particular case, what just happened was that a famously-esteemed public servant, John McCain, too often gave in to cynicism; attacked his until-recently unknown opponent; promoted fear; and acted the part of convenient tool of greedy and foolish party opportunists narrowly serving the interests of America’s wealthiest citizens.


What just happened was that voters rightly associated John McCain’s candidacy with the failed policies of today’s Republican Party, the party of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Rove, and Hadley, who, together with Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk, duped two highly-electable, ideologically “authentic” rock stars, Bush II and McCain, into fatuously selling, with fatal consequences to large swaths of Americans and Iraqis, a vacuous, greed-based ideology.


What just happened was that a Republican presidential campaign aligned itself with policies promoting U.S. hegemony; a dominion of haves over have-nots; a belief in the inevitability of a divided world; militarized solutions to political conflicts; and a continuation of institutionalized bigotry, hatred, ignorance and poverty as the optimal path to safety and prosperity.


Journalists legitimately pointed out that there were clear differences between the two candidates and their campaigns—two very different approaches to governing, two distinct philosophies, two methodologies, two visions.


Journalists rightly explained how and why most world citizens came together to embrace and applaud the more hopeful candidate and reject the more cynical one.


To be sure, John McCain is neither the devil nor the evil emperor. He is, however, a believer in the aggressive, violent, chauvinistic ideology of the Bush regime which preceded him. George W. Bush isn’t the devil either, but he did quite naively become falsely persuaded that his only choice was to unleash hell in the Middle East, thereby adding greatly to the sum of human suffering and injustices in the false hope of thus preventing some.


Many high-minded journalists very professionally told a story of how, in this one glorious instance, Americans courageously elected a man advocating diplomacy, global problem-solving, an end to class warfare, relief for the planet, a search for common interests and solutions, the education of all children everywhere in the necessary skills, ideals and values of citizenship and productivity, and a belief in working together to lift mankind up instead of tearing it down.


Barack’s victory was a victory of hope, love, and faith over cynicism, despair, and vengeance. Journalists telling his election story just exactly as it unfolded were right to tell the truth that for a brief shining moment, America once again welcomed the possibility of a promising new king ready and eager to reign wisely and well from a diverse, compassionate and representative roundtable.


At the risk of grievously mixing regal metaphors:  Make it so.




Please send comments to

Anti-China Bias in Washington Post: A Letter to Their Ombudsman

One of the joys of blogging is that I can respond more quickly with letters-to-the-editor on breaking news, because I have already been writing/thinking about them on my blog. Here is a letter regarding anti-China bias which I sent today to the Washington Post's Ombudsman, Deborah Howell. (I will post any response I receive in my blog.)

Dear Ms. Howell:

I must once again protest The Washington Post’s relentless editorial bias against China and China's favorite current project, the upcoming Beijing Olympics (see “Saved by China,” May 14.) For several years, whenever China has made the news, The Washington Post has jumped on all such occasions to write strongly negative editorials portraying China in the most unfriendly, unfavorable light. This negative bias is not apparent in your great newspaper toward any other nation or ethnicity. My letters-to-the-editor and my calls to you questioning this pointed hostility have been ignored. I hope that no single individual in your organization is so powerful as to feel free to disseminate his or her personal racist, belligerent perspectives toward this powerful, influential and important nation, because such attacks are unworthy and unrepresentative of your otherwise admirably balanced, objective news organization.

A loyal and concerned customer,

Nancy Pace

(Please see below, a letter I sent in October 2007)

To the Editor:

Who gains from your relentlessly adversarial, competitive slant toward China, except a few fear-mongering demagogues and their greedy, war-profiteering kin (see your mean-spirited editorial about the problems of the Three Gorges Dam, Oct. 15th.) Please consider adopting a friendlier, more open-minded editorial tone which treats all others everywhere the way we in the U.S. would like to be treated by foreign journalists. Salute and learn from others’ achievements, empathize with their failures, celebrate commonalities, accept differences, bear with weaknesses, enlighten and support one another.

Sincerely yours,

Nancy Pace

Also below is a pre-Olympics comparison of Chinese and American human rights' records I recently posted on my blog, (which offers commentary on breaking news at the intersection of politics, peace, culture and spirituality.) This post also objects to widespread American media bias against China, currently led, I believe, by the Washington Post.

Thank you very much for your interest. I would welcome a telephone discussion with you.

Tired of Doing All the Dirty Work for the Greedy Oil-and-War-Profiteering Corporations

Why all the subterfuge and indirection? Let's just get down to it, be straightforward and direct:

Instead of dragging U.S. troops, diplomats, politicians, reporters, and the rest of us citizens into the Middle East holocaust, why not just drop all our stupidly transparent political pretenses and hand over the whole bloody mess to the corporations? Let’s just give them all the depressing tasks related to stealing and controlling the oil, let them go ahead and divvy up all the various conquest-and-occupation tasks–and of course, the profits, too–but they were going to get those anyway.

Our expensive, time-consuming national hand-wringing is such a waste. Why elaborately go through all those pointlessly unsettling motions of giving a damn, all those silly political and journalistic rituals intended I suppose to ease our way into Middle East hegemony—when our very professional corporations could get the job done much more efficiently and thoughtfully, well out of the public eye.

Why should we Americans have to be involved at all (except of course a few staggeringly-wealthy shareholders, who can't help themselves.) Why should the rest of us even have to pull ourselves away from our video games and shopping and stuff to think about any of this distressing business? What does it have to do with us? 

It’s not like we have any illusions anymore that the war has anything to do with our consent, our safety, or our future well-being. We're clear already that we'll get nothing out of Bush’s endless war but more debts and enemies, so why must we also participate in all the suffering—or even watch it unfold?

The corporations could easily buy up all their own weapons, hire and train their own militaries, attack and conquer (whomever), grab up their own oilfields, bribe and terrorize their own collaborators, subdue and exploit foreign populations, and write and produce their own media propaganda–as in fact they already do now–without the U.S. government and citizenry being so embarrassingly dragged into the whole mess to provide political cover. The corporations obviously don’t need our citizen support or even our (present-day) tax money. They've managed to move forward on their agenda quite nicely for many years without any of that.

And if we're no help to them, we're certainly no bother to them, either, as we've clearly decided to roll over and play dead, asking polite permission for only a few brief opportunities to attempt to dignify our/their actions with silent moments of protest and mourning. 

Insufficient to maintain a shred of dignity? Then to heck with faking it. Just make it official, give them carte blanche. They're running the show already anyway. Let them just take whatever they want, however and whenever they want to, from whomever, wherever; they’re going to do it anyway, and the niceties of humanitarian and spiritual and political ideals be damned, because, don't forget, we’re still, by far, the biggest bully on the block, and so long as we are, such niceties aren't worth our trouble. Are they?

Unless of course empire-building is not what America is about….

Unless of course we’re willing to risk peace, and turn our national will and resources toward cooperating with all the world’s peoples everywhere to end violence and solve our problems together, as one.

(So let's just do it. Now.)


Is Islamic Extremism ‘the Problem’? Is Endless War ‘the Answer’? How Can We Stop Terrorism?

We can’t just turn the other cheek to angry Islamic extremists, and we can’t fight an endless, economy-breaking, un-winnable war against terrorists either. Talk show simpletons say “just nuke ‘em all,” but even President Bush admits that America must “change the conditions that moved nineteen kids to come on airplanes to murder our citizens.”


And we’d be upset too, if Islamic nations had done to our country what we’ve done to them. To the world’s Muslims, our attacks have not been isolated incidents, but part of a long chain of conspiracies in a war upon Islam itself.


Western powers have indeed killed and wounded millions of Muslims during the last century, blighting their livelihoods and dreams with little consideration for justice, political freedom, and tolerance. Most of us in the West aren’t even aware of this tragic history of Western interference in Islamic nations. Our mainstream press has tiptoed around topics unpopular with their corporate sponsors, and TV and radio send out a torrent of xenophobia from reckless demagogues portraying Islam as a destructive ideology that has brought all its problems upon itself.


Americans express outrage at attacks on American soldiers, but turn a deaf ear to the pleas of millions of Iraqi war refugees desperate for asylum from our wars. We express indignation when an Israeli dies, but can’t be bothered to count—much less mourn—the untold Muslim victims of our Middle East wars. This double standard would shock us if the oceans of propaganda we swim in daily did not prevent our awareness of it.


Terrorism, like war, is a continuation of politics “by other means.” Grieving and jobless Muslim youth “join up” with terrorist forces in hopes of prevailing against regional and international foes, just as American youths patriotically join the armed services to donate their young bodies in service to their government’s many goals, and end up killing innocent strangers, or dying, or being maimed, only for the mercenary protection and expansion of far-flung corporate/economic interests.


Our country has never been invaded by Muslims, nor, credibly, by anyone else. We spend an annual military budget larger than the next fourteen largest nations combined–in total, 45% of the entire military spending in the whole world–on attacks on and within the homelands of foreigners who have never come anywhere near our homes. We have over 600 military bases all over the world. All this pretense of “defense” of America…even though former Secretary of State Madeline Albright guilelessly admitted after 9/11 that “…’homeland security’ is something people hadn’t really thought of before.”


For years, we’ve been instructed that our wars against Islam were fought defensively in response to 1400 years of aggressions in adherence to obscure Islamic scriptures urging global conquest and the spread of Islam by the sword. Few Americans realize that the Crusades were an unimaginably cruel and bloody centuries-long Western invasion of Islamic lands, or that for more than three hundred years, English adventurers penetrating Middle Eastern society have drawn up elaborate plans for assuming control through colonization, plans later pursued by a newly imperialistic America.


Some think our attacks on Islam well-intentioned—i.e., we hope to save misguided Muslims from themselves—so blind are we to the failings of our own brash young culture, and to the glories and losses of ancient Islamic ones. Of course Muslims/Arabs long for many changes of various kinds—but only those changes which arise from their own efforts, not from external interference, and certainly not from foreign aggressors. Americans wouldn’t appreciate foreign occupiers telling us how to live either. Different cultures with long separate traditions and histories, with different assumptions about values, beliefs, practices and ideals, have no business forcing themselves on other cultures. Many Muslim women, for instance, await the day they can move about more freely without their coverings; nevertheless, without exception, there are no Muslim women who want strangers to come from far away to shoot their fathers, sons and brothers in order to secure their “rights” for them.


In today’s brave new world of the internet, freedom of information is no longer a luxury, but a requirement for economic growth—so change will come to every remote corner of the globe, faster than puny humanity can thoughtfully adapt to it. The important question is not “Will things change?” but “How will things change?” While some people will always be more resistant to change than others, change will come to everyone, everywhere, inevitably. No one can stop it. We will all ultimately influence one another, for the better or for the worse, as we choose.


As long as we strove to live up to our ideals, America was a beacon to the world, effectively marketing our highest values of freedom and human rights worldwide. However, since we’ve begun to rely primarily upon our military, and not our moral strength during the last century, since we have used our might primarily to support the greedy ambitions of unscrupulous corporate profiteers, we have temporarily lost our persuasive influence for positive international change.


We now have only a “shrewd” Secretary of State who refuses dialogue with opposing states, and who bribes and bullies our nervous “allies” into tolerating our unfair international practices. Where is our strong, cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace, promoting global peace and harmony? Where are our official national ambassadors of compassion and justice, sharing our expertise, riches and good will with all nations and all peoples? How do the puny efforts grounded in our highest patriotic and religious ideals and heritage stack up against our unlimited expenditures for endless war?


The literate class in the Muslim world certainly blames the U.S. for oppressing Muslim states. As cruelly and certainly as war kills both body and spirit, so do economic and political exploitations kill, maim and warp lives. Western nations have been meddling politically, financially and militarily throughout the twentieth century, repressing democratic movements and political freedoms throughout all Arab nations, propping up Western-friendly dictators, failing to promote good governance and economic advancement, and neglecting to address rapidly-changing social, demographic and economic developmental challenges. Islamic extremism will continue to thrive until Muslim youth everywhere are offered real hope of political and economic improvements.


During the twentieth century, U.S.-based international corporations backed by powerful military forces reliably insured a steady flow of oil westward at bargain basement prices, while suppressing the economic development and progress of the countries which owned that finite, precious resource. Increasingly, our goal has been military and economic hegemony in the Middle East, by way of incursions into Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Somalia, Western Sudan, Kashmir, the Philippines, Bosnia, Chechnya, Assam, and East Timor. Besides fighting to insure “our” cheap, reliable oil “supply,” we’ve insisted on favorable trade advantages, prevented the spread of nuclear weapons (with the exception, of course, of our own thousands of weapons, and those of our allies) and supported and protected our friend Israel, in part because such support offers us a conveniently aggressive military wedge/base into the Middle East.


Angry Muslims believe that we want to weaken and divide the Arab world, shake the foundations of Islamic belief, and dismantle the structures of Muslim society—their culture, traditions, and their approaches to justice, government, rights, and freedom, however controversial. They believe we want to lead their young people astray, control and limit their use of and profit from their resources, and emasculate and neutralize all opposition to our agenda by spreading our competing western values and influence.


Many Muslims believe that we in the West very much want to keep their countries backward, afflicted, poor and miserable, so we can more easily exploit their riches—their oil, land and human resources. They attribute America’s historical political and economic success not to a morally, economically and politically superior system of government, but to a two-hundred year exploitation of the richest swath of virgin territory and resources that the world has ever known, on the backs of slaves and slaughtered Native Americans, using a form of government primarily supportive of the growth of wealth (the U.S. was originally settled by capitalist business ventures in Jamestown, Plymouth, etc.) and backed up by a growing military force which turned next to support for similar profitable exploitations in the third world.


The West’s war against Islam is considered criminally immoral by the millions of peaceful/innocent non-“enemy” Muslims who have been the “collateral damage” of western aggressions. Like Americans, Arabs have the right to keep and/or sell their resources whenever and at whatever price they prefer. They feel their only hope is to resist and endure Western onslaughts until their undeserved suffering redemptively earns them international sympathy and respect—and/or breaks the American economy—as their resistance broke the national economies of the late great Soviet and British empires.


Muslims pray that the U.S. will lose their political will for unending war, that media backlash from our allies will eventually convince us of endless war’s tragic and wasteful effects. A survey of 47 major nations by Pew Research recently demonstrated that “global public opinion (is) increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations (and) disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years…. Global support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism is shrinking, and distrust of American leadership and foreign policy is growing. Not only is there worldwide support for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but there also is considerable opposition to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.”


The biggest problem with fighting an endless war on terrorism is that such a war does nothing at all to resolve the terrorist problem, while creating more terrorists. Wars on terrorism are wars no one wins and everyone loses.


Nevertheless, U.S. war profiteers continue to press for expanded wars throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, opportunistically portraying Islam not as a peaceful religion practiced variously by a billion people, not as a tolerant, moderate, ancient faith with a rich tradition of scholarship, compatible with political democracy and religious pluralism, but instead, as a fundamentalist terrorist cult different from all other religions in its aggressive global political agenda, solely responsible for atrocities, civil wars, attacks on Americans, the 9/11 tragedy, and for disgusting practices such as stonings and beheadings–an “evil religion” deserving of annihilation by “the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.”


Stereotypes of Islam as a monolithic religion predisposed to violence simplify the realities of a complex, multi-faceted religion. Some Islamists, like some fundamentalist Christians, pervert what is in essence a peaceful religion, through violent cults bent on universal conversion and conquest—but we can’t blame the whole of either Islam or of Christianity for such aberrations. As in Christianity, there is simply too much diversity within Islam, which has its own versions of Jesus Freaks and criminally violent cults, but also its spiritual mystics and its vast majority of family-centered, civic-minded, peaceful—if very human—communities. As with Christianity, the educated (or uneducated) conscience of each individual Muslim determines his interpretation about “what is Islam” and what is “true Muslim practice.” Like Christians, Muslims can find congregations and leaders who support just about any strain of peaceful or reactionary religious practice, in both secular and Islamic societies.


Millions of Christians currently live in Arab countries, sharing very much the same culture as their Muslim counterparts, just as Muslims in America share much of our American culture. Unarguably, some Muslim leaders are intransigent and fearful, and some fundamentalist Muslims are as crazy as loons—just like some of our own crazy leaders and fundamentalist Christians, who would nuke whole Arab nations right now. But just because each culture has its crazies doesn’t give anyone the right to attack all Christians or all Muslims in “self-defense.” No society can prevent all senseless, tragic injustices, but we do not have to add to their sum.


Some Muslims believe an Islamic state best-suited to achieving Islamic ideals, just as Americans are partial to their own familiar political systems–however imperfect all these political systems are. Some Muslims see Al-Qaeda jihadists as legitimate martyrs, just as we honor the sacrifices and good intentions of our own fallen soldiers even when their wars are discredited. Some Muslims believe stoning and beheading to be true Islamic practices, just as some of our own Christians sects still practice exorcism, voodoo and other bloody or satanic rituals. Most otherwise-peaceful Christians would react violently if America were invaded, just as, during wartime in Arab lands, otherwise-peaceful sects react with what appears to be religiously-inspired violence, making it difficult to consistently distinguish among essentially peaceful groups.


Religion can be misused in any land, whether Christian or Jewish or Muslim—to win votes, to gain political power and control, to further various nationalist and ethnic motives. Just as political electioneering in America relies upon familiar, emotion-stirring patriotic and Judeo/Christian words and images, politics in Arab lands come clothed in the garb of Islam. Like our own neoconservative opportunists, radical Islamic opportunists urge their political ideologies and associated plans—whether for a utopian future embracing Sharia law and rejecting secularism and all things foreign, or for world domination and a global empire run by international corporations—all these unscrupulous politicians (whether clerical or secular) urge their dark visions using religion as a motivator for change, and not the other way around.


In their worst forms, both Islam and Christianity encourage violence and persecution. At best, both are cooperative, tolerant religions. Surprisingly, within contemporary American society, Muslims often seem to be almost more christian than Christians, since modern Christianity has stripped down (to the distress of some and the satisfaction of others) under the influences of modern media, academia and consumer economics to the two primary commandments of “love God and love your neighbor”—while encouraging widely varying interpretations about what these two commandments might mean.


Like most traditional Christian congregations, most American Muslim congregations resist the blandishments of Western media and money which are making so many inroads into modern Christian lifestyles. Most Muslim congregations in America remain deeply devoted to traditional moral principles and values, to avoidance of evaluating people on the basis of what they produce and consume, and—for better or worse—to clearly-defined gender expectations, including a firm rejection of sodomy, pornography, gay lifestyles, abortion and birth control. American Muslims also strongly commit to generous giving, to volunteerism, large families, and to other related traditions embraced by many Christians. Islam’s firm resistance to the biblically-forbidden practice of usury (lending at interest) has long remained a thorn in the side of American capitalists.


Some Christians are concerned that American Muslims will parlay their success in resisting modern/Western temptations in order to lure new converts from Christianity, and thus conquer the West via a sort of stealth attack through immigration without assimilation. Unfortunately, such paranoia is often stoked by demagogic Christian ministers fearful of losing their congregations (and their livelihoods), pastors who might better serve their flocks, their Saviour, and God by trusting in them and turning their examples and service toward higher, more inclusive, more loving goals.


If we stop “warring” on terrorism, we can still firmly resist the crime of terrorism wherever it occurs in the world, by partnering with criminal justice organizations in all governments, most especially those in need of our good example and support.


The very best way to reverse Islamic terrorism, though, is step-by-step, the same way it was created, by reversing the causes of anti-Americanism and extremist violence. Step-by-step, we can move away from a foreign policy of violence-based international competition toward one embracing non-violent global cooperation. Neither approach to ending terrorism is simple, obvious or guaranteed. But only one has any chance of succeeding.


Our first step can be to recognize Islam’s highest priority, after the practice of their faith: to repel aggressors whom they fear will corrupt their religion or Muslim way of life. Out of respect for this principle, Western powers can withdraw their unwelcome pressure and influence along with their troops, and attend instead to the business and pleasure of dwelling and working in Islamic lands, as polite, invited guests respectful of different cultures and traditions.


We can find ways to work against religious and ethnic xenophobia, educating ourselves about historic predations in Arab lands, and promoting understanding and acceptance of Islamic perspectives.


A change of heart toward Islam can support expenditures for reparations to Iraqis and other injured parties, which will go a long way toward rebuilding good will and positive relationships among nations.


We can expand our diplomatic missions to so-called “hostile” nations, spending the money freed from foreign wars on more diplomacy and open dialogue, which will increase mutual understanding and respect, and diminish the likelihood of future wars.


We can demonstrate our good will by welcoming Iraqi refugees into the U.S., helping them create peaceful Muslim communities, and integrate into American civic life.


We can reform our own political system so that the will and welfare of the people can be heard above the demands of big business, the wealthy, corporations, lobbyists, and the military-industrial complex.


We can offer our generous support across the world only for indigenous, peaceful, representative political movements and leaders, whether or not they follow our familiar western parliamentary and constitutional models. We can promote dialogue and better understanding with regional and national organizations which have turned to violence under the pressure of wars and occupations, and together find peaceful, just solutions to conflicts.


We can work together to reduce the spread of nuclear and conventional weapons, first reducing our own to provide a convincing example.


We can purchase land in exchange for peace in Israel/Palestine, and offer our financial assistance only to peaceful leaders on all sides who reject the politics of fear and violence, who respect all ancestries, beliefs, and traditions, and who embrace inclusivity and equitability.


We can work toward respectful, peaceful, just and equitable trade relations with all nations.


We can build good will by respecting local ownership of resources, and offer our principled support in resolving problems of development, production and distribution.


We can work to redirect and downsize our military forces to those necessary only for homeland defense, reduce the global spread of arms, and end the global influence of our own home-grown American military/industrial complex.


We can generously fund the establishment and stated goals of the proposed cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace


We can reform and rebuild the U.N. into a universally trusted and respected world body, effective in furthering its noble goals.


We can fully fund national peacekeeping armies to work with the U.N. to prevent the rise of national and regional military powers, wars of aggression, war crimes, and violent interferences with the sovereignty of nations.


We can create a U.S. military health system, a sort of national Doctors Without Borders, maintaining its readiness for national emergencies (such as acts of terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters, and military invasions) by sending it everywhere else on the globe where such emergencies may occur.


We can support the most-cherished projects of the peoples of all nations whom we have formerly distrusted, misunderstood, and feared.


We can work together to build a world culture of peace and non-violent conflict resolution, a culture that fits comfortably within all religious and secular systems, that is tolerant of all religions and ideologies, that can be gradually institutionalized into international law, universally taught, and culturally supported through exchanges.


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Creative Fun by Eppy

Here are some of my hobbies (painting, cartooning, etc.) as well as a self-portrait, and a portrait of me by my five-year-old friend, Alexa. Look for them elsewhere in my website to see/learn more…. Thank you for visiting my website!  -eppyharmon











Welcome to America's Future, Senator Allen, and More Power to It

Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen's recent racist remarks reminded me of my own childhood racism against immigrants. Unlike him, I have seen the future of immigration in America, and it is good.


My military family moved to San Antonio during the late 1950’s, my middle school years. We had moved eight times before, years I spent in overseas post schools with middle-class multiracial/multiethnic classmates. Transferring now to a San Antonio “off-post” public school, I was surprised to be thrown in among many desperately poor Hispanics, and shocked to see their harsh treatment by my Anglo classmates.


Although some teachers treated all students respectfully, the consensus about “Meskins” among the Anglos in my school was that they were dirty, poor, immoral, violent, sneaky, and “too stupid” to speak English. The filter of racism soon blurred my own eyes, too, to the differences among these children, and eventually I clumped them all, even the occasional middle-class and native-English speaking exceptions, into a single rejected race.


Through whispered conversations, I “found out” what my schoolmates “knew”—that all these kids were children of “illegals” who had snuck across “the river” and were no doubt now sneaking around in bushes and backrooms doing filthy jobs our parents wouldn't dream of doing, living in hovels, probably stealing and breaking other laws too. We exchanged warnings about their poor side of town: “Don’t go near the San Antonio River unless you want to get knifed by a 'Mex'!” My wealthiest friends even bragged about “'owning' a ‘wet’ (‘wetback’) or two” hidden away on distant ranches in shacks stocked with sacks of beans, left to chop cedar at pennies a day.


Gradually I conformed, and viewed immigrants with suspicion and disgust. Sometimes we sneered at them, occasionally fought them, but mostly we ignored them. How quickly I went from feeling righteously indignant about their mistreatment, to apathy, to feeling more “in the know” and “appropriate” about how to feel and act—that is, prejudicially.


Needless to say, I knew nothing about racism, or about how hard it is to get ahead when you’re poor, or about the immense barriers of linguistic disadvantage, or the challenges of a new life in a different culture, especially an illegal life. I saw without seeing only the glaring commonalities of poverty, for indeed, many of my Hispanic classmates were dirty, their clothes were smelly, and their poor English made them seem ignorant.


I’m especially saddened to recall how kind many of the Hispanic children were to me at first, how attractive and fun they seemed to this lonely new girl. Too quickly, I came to “know better,” pulling away from them, frightened by the stronger social prohibitions against socializing with “Mexes.” I'm sure my cruel transformation and confused withdrawal hurt many feelings.


Fast-forward now to forty years later, to the recent year I returned to San Antonio to care for my dying father. To my astonishment, I found a completely changed San Antonio, a bright working city ornamented by a proud Hispanic cultural heritage. During that difficult year of family losses, every one of my childhood prejudices were firmly replaced with admiration and deep gratitude for the long line of outstanding care-giving and service professionals who helped me—nearly all native-English speaking, educated, middle and upper-class Hispanics.


From that ragtag bunch of schoolmates of yesteryear, no doubt largely parented by penniless, uneducated laborers who braved their way across the border, came this impressive line of smiling, capable, courteous, faith-driven professionals. Where “Meskins” were previously relegated only to San Antonio’s lowest social classes, now they were the home-care aides who tenderly washed and fed my father, the capable nurses who treated him, the orderlies who gently attended him in hospital, the dedicated doctors who set his broken hip, the hospice workers who comforted us, the owners of the funeral home, and the directors who helped us plan his funeral.


Hispanics now ably run much of the city, blending in with the Anglo minority attractively and patriotically. As I hurried through busy days, helpful Hispanic faces sold me groceries and hardware, delivered our packages, repaired our dishwasher, patrolled our streets, and repaired our phone. My father’s accountant was Hispanic, as was his attorney.


I recalled then my youthful astonishment when I overheard talk about nationally respected local “Meskins” such as Henry B. Gonzalez and Henry Cisneros, who later transformed the city for Hemisfair, refurbishing the San Antonio River Walk to become one of the world’s safest and most colorful international tourist attractions. I couldn't imagine then how these apparently benevolent leaders could possibly be drawn from the same racial pool I had learned to exclude from my personal repertoire of “nice people.” Or perhaps, even, “human beings?”


The San Antonio of today is a multicultural treat, largely run by courteous, ambitious Hispanics. Every Hispanic I met during that painful year was a genial, earnest, hard-working, well-intentioned person demonstrating solid values.


Welcome to the America of the future, Sen. Allen, and more power to it.


Immigrants break no laws they ever had a chance to democratically vote on. Immigrants are doing exactly what every one of us would do for ourselves and for our families, were we faced with an impossible present and future…and were we as daring and persistent as they.


Only the United States spends billions to guard its borders from terrorists (although quite a few nations are presently scrambling to arm themselves against American invasions.) No expensive walls are being built to keep terrorists out of Canada, China, Norway, or Sweden, although each of these countries has a similarly long, porous border. Unlike the U.S.A., however, they have friendly, cooperative foreign policies—i.e., fewer enemies.


When we elect leaders committed to creating fewer deadly enemies with hurtful trade and foreign policies, when we generously embrace the world’s problems as our own, then we will spend far less money on war and security, and have more to spend on a better life for ourselves and the immigrants we need to help make this country great again. Hopefully, some day soon, many more of these adventurers will claim for themselves that same bright prize our audacious American forebearers claimed throughout our history, that grandest lottery ticket gamble of all, the chance to win U.S. citizenship.



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Putting On and Taking Off the Pretty Face of War

The heartrending recent news coverage about the ghastly deaths of defenseless civilians, mostly children, in Qana, Lebanon, tells the real story of the mideast wars: random slaughter, and the relentless ruin of the loves, livelihoods, work, and hopes of thousands of innocent civilians on all sides. Nevertheless, true believers in the necessity, efficacy, and morality of war still churn out article after article arguing war's fairness and positive aspects (“Israeli Military Service Unites Generations;” “'Disproportionate' in What Moral Universe;'” “For Troops, A Sense of Moral Clarity.”) For, in order to sustain the important illusion that war is moral, and to divert public attention away from war's inevitably bloody means and ends, pro-war propagandists shamefully exploit every one of the heart-swelling, toe-tapping, chest-beating moments which arise in the midst of horrific wars—all the gentlemanly charitable acts, the selfless patriotism and bravery, the beauty and idealism of youth….


Although “might” cannot make right, fear and influence can be combined fairly successfully to shape public perception to thinking that “our” wars are primarily about camaraderie, adventure, skill, professionalism, physical prowess, pride, and masculinity…and to thinking that wars can be fought cleanly, judiciously, even kindly, in order to rescue the downtrodden, promote democracy, and protect our homes, families, and way of life.


Even well-intentioned efforts to ameliorate war’s devastating effects, such as banning nuclear weapons and landmines, and instituting war crimes trials, can be exploited, and held up as proof that war is just and humane.


But the fact that war has moments of fineness and decency should not lull us into deluding ourselves that repeated indiscriminate acts of violence against one’s fellow man are anything except wrong. As in Qana, ninety percent of the victims of modern wars are civilians. Soldiers, politicians, and private citizens alike must choose to abandon their consciences for the duration of wars, because war itself is a crime against humanity.


Although “wars of self-defense,” a highly ambiguous and arguable term, are still considered to be legal, all that is legal is not necessarily moral. Wars are fundamentally about the use of force to achieve political goals, not about morality. But moral or not, all fighting must relentlessly be made palatable to its funding and fighting public. Any politician or general worth his pay-grade knows well how to drape war in the colors and images of respectability and tradition. Yet no gallantly waving flag, no proud anthem, pledge, nor crisp salute can ever promise that war’s processes or outcomes will be representative, humane, or moral.


Every soldier who ever shot, tortured, or pushed a captive out of a plane in order to obtain information necessary to protect his own knows that the cruel reality of war makes a mockery of the prettified versions held up for public viewing, the ones giving lip service to human rights, morality, and a rule of law which rests on due process, presumption of innocence, the right to legal counsel, and a fair and speedy trial..


Any soldier who ever fought in a real shooting war knows that legal and moral niceties are suspended during the life-and-death situation that is war, hauled out only as convenient for public viewing. Snipers, for example, act instantaneously as judge, jury, and executioner to their random, anonymous suspects. Bombardiers, and missile and rocket launchers unleash hell, raining fire down equally upon all their anonymous, hapless victims.


To hear tell, war crimes are rare aberrations perpetrated by atypical rogues, stray criminal elements within otherwise pristine organizations. The truth is, crimes against humanity happen all the time, on both sides, during all wars, a direct result of the bloody training, means, conditions, and ends of war.


When top military leaders find themselves irrevocably trapped in the unwelcome spotlight of undeniable war crimes, they immediately stage a big show of fairness and due process. Military defenders make feeble attempts to drum up sympathy for the scapegoats, calling attention to inadequate training and terrible conditions of battlefield stress, while prosecutors demonize the poor sad crazy grunts who were so foolish as to get caught tarnishing the honor of their noble units, and promise harsh punishments for any freakish renegades who may have mysteriously insinuated themselves into their otherwise holier-than-everyone-else squeaky-clean corps.


Officers always protect themselves and one another, limiting, placing, and holding blame as far down the chain of command as possible, leaving a poor few marginalized dupes to twist publicly in the wind. In every war crime trial, the viewing public—soldiers especially—must be newly convinced once again that “our” wars are conducted honorably, that our soldiers are unusually fine and pure, and that the rights of all civilians and combatants alike are protected by doily-white-gloved military justice.


Anonymous military judges always announce shockingly lenient sentences, horrifying victims’ families and their countrymen, but comforting fellow-soldiers who require reassurance that they, too, when forced into similar or worse acts, will not be abandoned. Other leniencies are later quietly extended under the table to prisoners who gallantly lie, or who fall upon their own swords to protect the honor (and butts) of comrades and superiors.


Although soldiers' advocates repeatedly plead for clarity in Rules of Engagement, Geneva Conventions, and so on, top government and military officials prefer to keep all military rules as fuzzy and vague as possible, not wishing to be handcuffed during wartime. But no amount of “clarity” will ever change the fact that real war is always immorally indiscriminate in its victims. Generals don’t aspire to leading a band of ethicists; they want naïve, malleable young recruits, trainable into lock-step killers able to withstand the moral confusion necessary to blood-letting, troops who will follow any order, march into any hell, and do what they’re told, which is to win wars by remorselessly killing vast swaths of human beings. To prevail in war, soldiers must believe that all is fair, that anything goes, if necessary to accomplish their mission and protect their buddies.


Signatories of the Geneva Conventions hope to receive equivalent courtesies when their guys fall into enemy hands. But reciprocity has no value when rules are always discarded as inapplicable during every new war, just because this new latest incarnation of a monster-of-the-moment—whether Kraut, Jap, terrorist, whatever—is touted to be the coldest, least reasonable, most dangerous enemy ever to threaten anyone, deserving of torture, murder, in fact complete annihilation from the earth, along with their families and other similar scum, as quickly as possible by all available means including chemical, biological, and nuclear.


After war’s end, forgotten conventions prove once again useful in punishing the losing side and propping up the flagging resolve of a public weary from manning and funding the last war. War crimes trials help portray war’s most recent victors as the most legitimately aggrieved, gentlemanly, and honorable—and not just the most effectively brutal—while urging new spending on military rebuilding against the next, greater foe as once again sweet, necessary, and good.


Respect and support for the quality of human life everywhere is the highest value we can hold. This value reinforces every other precious value we may embrace—all conceptions of God, duty, honor, country, organization, mission, brotherhood, freedom, democracy, justice. The business of indiscriminately maiming and killing human beings for profit and power (under however many pretty guises) can never stand up to close moral scrutiny.


I would defend myself, my family, and neighbors from armed enemies breaking down our doors and coming in our windows, and would willingly fund armed local militias well-trained in peaceful conflict resolution for that purpose. Other than that, and rather than risk adding to the sum of injustice in the world by going to war, I would instead risk suffering a certain amount of injustice ourselves (a risk always taken in going to war) by devoting the rest of our current defense budget to building understanding and good will among all the earth’s peoples through proven peaceful and generous methods. My first step would be to pass the very specific and impressive proposed legislation (Bills H.R. 3760 and S. 1756) authorizing and funding a cabinet-level Department of Peace.


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