Category Archives: Readings

Only the ‘Readings’ from 2021 onwards are accessible here. For older ‘Readings in Nonviolence’, please click on the “Go to our pre-2021 Archive website’ on the right, and select ‘Readings’ there.

Reading in Nonviolence: Updating Adomnán: A Law of the Innocents for our time

Introduction by INNATE to the material below

In their mission statement, the promulgators of the Law of the Innocents, 21st Century (Seán English, Elizabeth Cullen and Marian Naughton), state that “While we have and fully support international laws for the protection of people and the environment in war, we wish to write this new law, a moral law; a bottom-up, soft-power law, a law of and for people around the world who are concerned about the current situation world-wide and the very real threats that war and the arms industry pose to all of us, and to our beautiful planetary home.”

War is often accepted as part of the nature of things. It is not. It is a human construct and like other such cultural constructs it can be changed or even ended and replaced with something more fitting – and respectful of all humans – for dealing with conflict. While conflict will always be with us, how we deal with it is crucial. Cooperation is necessary in various fields for humanity to survive and thrive and warfare is the very opposite.

We are reproducing here both the brief account of the history, and the 21st century Law of the Innocents/Lex Innocentium (but not the penalties or restitution sections or the Message to Future Generations – these can all be found on the website). Further details and information about getting in touch, and booking for the launch in Birr (Co Offaly) and Lorrha (Co Tipperary) on 21st September, are on their website https://lexinnocentium21.ie/

Please note that the texts involved are still undergoing minor development and changes. Up to date versions will be on the website

History of the law

This does not attempt to be a detailed history. It is a brief account of the history that has inspired the creation of Lex Innocentium, 21st Century. Most of the account of Adomnán and his Lex Innocentium is taken from the work of James W. Houlihan listed below. Anything appearing in quotation marks comes from Dr. Houlihan’s work. We have also greatly enjoyed reading Warren Bardsley’s book, Against the Tide.

Lex Innocentium, 21st Century takes its name from the original Lex Innocentium, Cáin Adomnáin or Adomnán’s Law, which was signed and decreed at the Synod of Birr (Co. Offaly) in the summer of the year 697 AD. In his Lex Innocentium, Adomnán secured protection in times of war (jus in bello) for clerics (and church property), women and youth (those yet too young to engage in war). While this might not have been the first law in relation to the conduct of war, it was probably the first law to identify specific non-combatants and to procure protection for them.

Adomnán was an Irish Monk, born in or around the year 627/28 AD. His parents, Rónán and Rónnat, were of two separate branches of the Cenél Conaill, whose homeland was in the region now known as Co. Donegal. Adomnán was a fourth cousin of Loingseach mac Óengusso, who became King of Tara in the year 695 AD and who was one of the signatories of Lex Innocentium. Adomnán was also related through Cenél Conaill to Columba (Colmcille), founder of the Abbey at Iona. Indeed, Adomnán was writing his life of Columba, Vita Columbae, at the time of the Synod of Birr in 697, the centenary year of Columba’s death.

Adomnán became the Ninth Abbot of Iona in the year 679. At that time, Iona was a centre of the Irish Church. The Abbot of Iona presided over a confederation of monasteries across Ireland and Western Scotland. Adomnán was a man of immense learning, talent and ability. Ireland of the seventh century was known for its religion and its learning. People from Britain and Europe ‘looked to Ireland for instruction in religion as well as other subjects, such as Latin, rhetoric, grammar, geometry, physics and computus’ (calculation of the date of Easter). However, Ireland was also a violent place, with conflicts, disputes, skirmishes and battles underway in various places at various times. Adomnán, no doubt, would have been aware of and witnessed violence in his lifetime. Indeed, it is suggested that it was his experience, with his mother, Rónnat, of witnessing the horrendous aftermath of a battle in Brega (now, more-or-less, Co. Meath) that deepened his abhorrence of violence against unarmed people whom he called ‘innocents’. While this specific account might not be true, it may well be that Adomnán was moved by such an incident. His very real concern for the welfare of innocent people in times of war resulted in the calling of the Synod of Birr and the enactment of Lex Innocentium (the Law of the Innocents).

Adomnán’s connections with noble families in Ireland, his position as Abbot of Iona and his reputation as a wise and learned man empowered him to invite kings and other civil leaders as well as bishops and abbots of the church to his Synod at Birr. In all, there were ninety-one signatories to Lex Innocentium, forty clerical leaders and fifty-one lay persons. They came from all over Ireland, Dál Riada (parts of Western Scotland-and-the-Isles and part of Northern Ireland) and Pictland (Scotland). It is not certain that all of the signatories were present at the Synod, but there is a strong possibility that they were. The law was an Irish Law to be enacted in Ireland and in Britain.

It is unclear as to the exact application or impact of this law in Ireland and Britain. However, there are some mentions of it in the records down through the years. Most interestingly, almost a thousand years after the Synod of Birr, in the winter of the year 1628/29, Franciscan Brother, Micheál O’Cléirigh, Leader of the Four Masters, discussed his copy of the Law of Adomnán with Flann Mac Aodhagáin (Mac Egan) of the lawyer family at Redwood Castle at Lorrha, Co. Tipperary.

The old Irish Order (including the ancient tradition of the Brehon Laws) was on the point of collapse, particularly following the Flight of the Earls in September 1607, as the British extended their control over Ireland. O’Cléirigh had been sent by his superiors in Louvain to compile a record of Irish Saints. However, he extended his brief to include ancient Irish history and Irish law before they were lost to memory. Over a number of years, he travelled the length and breadth of Ireland collecting histories and copying manuscripts. Within twenty years of the meeting at Redwood, the castle was abandoned and in ruin.

O’Cléirigh’s copy of Adomnán’s law is housed at the Bibliotheque Royale, Brussels. The only other surviving copy is at the Bodleian Museum, Oxford.

According to James Houlihan (2020), the reading of Adomnán’s Law at Birr in 697 was the first legislative expression of the concept of ‘innocents’ in the history of Western Europe. Houlihan advises us that it was not until the Geneva Conventions of 1949 that the concept of the non-combatant was again so clearly and explicitly defined. Indeed, Adomnán’s Law has sometimes been referred to as the Geneva Convention of the Gaels.

History is usually taught through a series of battles, wars, conquests and violent resistance. But real history is a complex fabric made up of many threads and themes. Indeed, there are many who would argue that war has not always been a widespread or constant part of human history or a naturally inevitable part of human development (for example, the Seville Statement on Violence, UNESCO, 1986).

The persistent themes of non-violence, education, justice, charity and peace-keeping are very real in the fabric of our history here in Ireland, and we are sure they can be found in the histories of other peoples throughout the world. A brief review of our Irish history allows us to follow such threads from Colmcille’s decision to walk away from a military life into a monastic one; Brigid’s decision to sell her father’s sword to buy food for the poor and Adomnán’s Lex Innocentium – through our history as the Island of Saints and Scholars, O’Connell’s non-violent mass movements for social reform; our membership of the League of Nations and the United Nations, and our long traditions of overseas missionary work, humanitarian aid and peace-keeping up to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Northern Ireland Peace Process and Article 29 of our Constitution which commits us to ‘devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality’ and ‘adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination’.

Our belief in and love of peace, justice, protection, education and kindness have always been with us. It is now time to give them voice. We hope that friends across the world will pick up these themes in their own histories and weave them with ours to make a better future for all of us.

Sources

Houlihan, James W., Adomnán’s Lex Innocentium and the Laws of War (Four Courts Press, 2020)

Houlihan, James W., The Great Law of Birr (2022)

Bardley, Warren, Against the Tide, The Story of Adomnán of Iona, Wild Goose Publications (2006).

Other sources

Bunreacht na hÉireann

The Seville Statement on Violence UNESCO (1986)

LEX INNOCENTIUM, 21ST CENTURY

The Law of the Innocents, 21st Century

INSPIRED BY ADOMNÁN’S LAW, LEX INNOCENTIUM (697 AD) and its protection of ‘innocent’ non-combatants in war, by other pertinent ancient laws, beliefs, traditions, and religious teachings; by international laws of our own time; by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and by the hard work, dedication and sacrifices of peace activists and environmental activists down the years and throughout the world, WE, THE SIGNATORIES AND SUBSCRIBERS to this new law, Lex Innocentium, 21st Century, believe that it is now time to launch this people’s law, a moral law, a law of principle, that can be used by individuals and groups to highlight failures of governments around the world to save humanity from the scourge of war; to call governments and international leaders to account for those failures; and to challenge all those who have a vested interest in the instigation, justification and normalization of war. We also believe that, given the nature of modern weapons, it is now time to extend protection from the scourge of war to our Planet Earth and to the Future. WE HEREBY DECREE:

1. That it is wrong, and a crime under this people’s law to kill, hurt, harm, or take hostage Innocent People in war, military operation or armed conflict, deliberately, consequentially or accidentlyy (whether a war has been declared or not) OR through siege, lockdown or the cutting off of essential supplies OR through damage to civilian infrastructure.

1.1 For the purpose of this clause, the term ‘innocent people’ will include all non-combatants of all ages and gender; conscientious objectors and those who walk away from war, violence or military operations of any kind; aid workers; journalists and peace activists (all ‘Innocents’ under this law). It is also wrong and a crime to kill, injure or harm the crops, livestock or domestic animals (including household pets) upon which these innocent people rely for food or companionship.

1.2 That Innocents under this law will also include ‘Innocent Witnesses’ – all those who are troubled, offended, distressed or traumatized by the harmful impact of war on their Fellow Human Beings, on the Earth or on the Future, caused without their consent, and caused against their principles, against their feelings of empathy and compassion, and against their wisdom.

1.3 That it is wrong, and a crime under this people’s law to force individuals to commit acts of violence and aggression against their will, their beliefs or their principles.

1.4. That it is wrong, and a crime under this people’s law to harm, injure or diminish the heart, soul or spirit of humanity through acts of violence, cruelty and war.

2. That it is wrong, and a crime under this people’s law to hurt, harm, injure or damage Planet Earth (an ‘Innocent’ under this law), her soil, water or atmosphere or any of her wide and varied ecosystems and living creatures, including humanity; whether deliberately, consequentially or accidentlally, through war or aggression, military operation or armed conflict, or through the manufacture, testing, storing or decommissioning* of weapons of any kind, including traditional explosive weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons and weapons yet to be invented.

3. That it is wrong, and a crime under this people’s law to threaten, put at risk or harm Future Generations of Humanity or the Future Welfare of the Earth, her soil, water or atmosphere or any of her wide and varied ecosystems and living creatures (all ‘Innocents’ under this law), whether deliberately, consequentially or accidently, through war or aggression, military operation or armed conflict, or through the manufacture, testing, storing or decommissioning* of weapons of any kind, including traditional explosive weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons and weapons yet to be invented.

*While we wish for all weapons to be decommissioned, decommissioning can be extremely toxic. Every care must be taken in the decommissioning of weapons to avoid harm. Given their toxicity, it is better not to make such weapons in the first place.

4. That it is wrong, and a crime under this people’s law to spend money and resources on war, including the stockpiling of weapons. It is also wrong and a crime for any individual, group, business, manufacturing enterprise, or government to assist, aid, abet or facilitate the harms and injuries listed in this law on the Innocents protected by this law. For the purposes of this law, facilitating will include ignoring and failing to try to end the harm through mediation, negotiation and peaceful means.

5. Given the indefensible nature of modern warfare, defence can no longer justify engagement in war or military aggression of any kind OR the military industrial complex, including the arms industry and all other associated institutions. In its protections, Lex Innocentium, 21st Century, renders modern warfare impossible without breaking this law, and necessarily rejects the Just War Theory.

THIS LAW THUS DECLARES that War (whether declared or not) is a Crime against Humanity, a Crime against the Earth and a Crime against the Future

See https://lexinnocentium21.ie/ for further details and information, or to get in touch.

Social Change Now: A guide for reflection and connection (Deepa Iyer)

A commentary by Stefania Gualberti

To engage in social change at this moment in time requires consistent attention, deep reflection, and committed collective action.” (Deepa Iyer, https://www.deepaiyer.com/home/social-change-now )

In this guide Deepa Iyer offers a framework for social change. In a world that demands action and change we can easily burn out, feel numb and disconnected as our efforts never feel enough.

What if we could realize who we are, what role we play and what we can offer and connect to a social ecosystem to create effective and lasting change?

Are you a healer or a disrupter, a caregiver or a storyteller, a frontline responder or a visionary? These are some of the ten roles mapped out in this framework and Deepa maintains all are needed.

Frontline Responders: We address community crises by assembling and organizing resources, networks, and messages.

Visionaries: We imagine and generate our boldest possibilities, hopes, and dreams, and remind us of our direction.

Builders: We develop, organize, and implement ideas, practices, people, and resources in service to a collective vision.

Disrupters: We take uncomfortable and risky actions to shake up the status quo, to raise awareness, and to build power.

Caregivers: We nurture and nourish the people around us by creating and sustaining a community of care, joy, and connection.

Experimenters: We innovate, pioneer, and invent. We take risks and course correct as needed.

Weavers: We see the through-lines of connectivity between people, places, organizations, ideas, and movements.

Storytellers: We craft and share our community stories, cultures, experiences, histories, and possibilities through art, music, media, and movement.

Healers: We recognize and tend to the generational and current traumas caused by oppressive systems, institutions, policies, and practices.

Guides: We teach, counsel, and advise, using our gifts of well-earned discernment and wisdom.” (Page 42, Social Change Now : A guide for reflection and connection, Deepa Iyer).

People do not have to force themselves to change and be different, they are encouraged to operate from their resources and skills and to offer what they have in connection with others in the ecosystem.

An ecosystem is defined as “a community, a home, or a place and space where we feel a sense of belonging, familiarity, and alignment around our values, goals, and strategies for the future, and where we emphasize the importance of cultivating, nurturing, and sustaining relationships, connections, and solidarity.” (Page 24, Social Change Now: A guide for reflection and connection, Deepa Iyer).

According to Deepa Iyer coming together to do social change work in ecosystems, brings in accountability, collaboration, care and support.

I have loved this model when I encountered it through a study group organised by the healer and visionary Maggie McKeever across Ireland online as a response to the overwhelming nature of the recent actions in support of Palestine. It made sense to me as it is accepting, inviting, inspiring and hopeful in a time when we can feel the opposite.

We had the privilege to have Deepa Iyer at one of our fortnightly meetings.

She was reflecting on how we can’t all be frontliners and disrupters to get involved as for some people this leads to exhaustion and disengagement. Others gain energy and motivation and absolutely thrive in street actions. We can all support each other however and she mentioned the importance of healers and carers, who often are not considered in social change movements. She suggested that we could be part of different ecosystems and show up and take different roles in different groups, the key is to be aware and name it for yourself and others.

The other element I liked was the focus on body and energy. How is your response? How can you gather wisdom from your body cues (drained energy, burn out as well as empowerment and generating energy) and how can you take care of self and others?

Deepa Iyer encourages us to consider the bigger picture to make our work and involvement sustainable for the long term. Social change is not a short-term commitment. So, before you get tired, learn to connect.

l Workshop materials on group work and dynamics on the INNATE website can be found in the second section of ‘Workshops’ at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/workshops/

Readings in Nonviolence: Russian threat? By Jan Oberg

Introduction:

In the following piece Jan Oberg provides some really important points correcting and challenging western views of Russia. We would not necessarily agree with all his points as stated, or what is omitted; issues come to mind about the Finland-Russia war of 1939, how the Soviet/Russian state controlled its empire in eastern Europe after the Second World War, the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 (not dealt with in this piece), and the extent, if any, to which you can say Russia “has created a society that is admirable” without very considerable qualification regarding repression and the suborning of democracy. However most of his points are spot on. – Ed.

Russia Is Not a Threat to NATO or Neutral States. Full Stop.

By Jan Oberg

from Transcend Media Service

NATO just turned 75 – amid its deepest crisis ever, no matter what they say. During all these years, we have heard repeatedly that the “Russians” – the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact and today’s Russia – are coming!

But while the Soviets/Russians have invaded other countries, they’ve never invaded a NATO or a neutral country in Europe. And when the First Cold War ended a good 30 years ago, and archives were opened, allegedly no plans were found for an out-of-the-blue attack on and occupation of any such country – but there were plans for how to roll back attacking Western forces if they should try.

If your predictions have been so consistently wrong over seven decades, wouldn’t it be common sense to ask: Why is it that we’ve been wrong all the time? Why do we spend trillions on guarding ourselves against a permanent threat that never happens – a bit like waiting for Godot in Beckett’s equally absurd drama?

The intellectually nonsensical (see later) NATO goal that all members must spend at least 2% of the GDP that used to be seen as a ceiling has rapidly turned into the floor.

And why do NATO countries these years move in the direction of a war economy where guns take priority over butter to such an extent that their economies and welfare will be fundamentally undermined? This will be a main reason they will lose out more quickly than otherwise to the up-and-coming new actors in the emerging multi-polar world, China, India and Africa in particular?

Virtually all that is needed to support those militarism-promoting and dangerously wrong predictions and policies are one or more of these four assertions or mantras:

The Russians are coming.

Putin is a dictator, an evil man.

Look at his full-scale invasion in Ukraine – out-of-the-blue and unprovoked.

After Putin has taken Ukraine, he will not be satisfied but will move on to take other countries.

This is repeatedly stated without any evidence or probability, simply postulated. This is also the scenario stated by the US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, in early March 2024 – from which he concluded that “if Ukraine fell, NATO would be in a fighting Russia.” The Swedish Chief of Defence has argued that Putin could do a partial invasion of Southern Sweden (Skåne).

Why is Russia not a threat to NATO or neutral states?

Let’s now go back to the Russian threat that isn’t. Here follow some arguments – with no priority intended.

1 • Russia lost at least 25 million people in the 2nd world war. The Russians know better than most what war means.

2 • Russia sees a need for a security zone of some kind because it is Russia that has been invaded three times since 1812 – Napoleon, the White Revolution and Hitler – not the other way around, but handling an occupied NATO member is not productive or possible.

3 • Russia has the largest reservoir in terms of natural resources and does not need to try to grab those of others – like the US and others the oil in the Middle East.

4 • Russia has learnt from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact around 1990-91 that you cannot follow the NATO countries in terms of military expenditures without militarising yourself to death, i.e. undermining your civilian economy.

5 • That points to the fact that Russia’s economy is very small in comparison with those of the 32 NATO countries.

6 • Russia’s military expenditures were 8% of NATO’s up to its invasion of Ukraine. It is true that military expenditures do not translate directly into capabilities to start wars, fight and sustain them. On the famous other hand, starting a war against an adversary with 12 times larger military expenditures and a vastly bigger economy would be madness, suicide or a Himalayan, fatal miscalculation based on complete irrationality. Putin and the people around him do not suffer from such diseases.

7 • These limitations make it extremely unlikely that Russia would succeed, if it tried, in building anything faintly similar to the US global empire or be an imperialist’ as it is often called. It has a few bases abroad, but not 600+ like the US. Russia is not an imperialist power.

8 • If it invaded a NATO country (or any other for that matter), it would face a new problem: Occupied people will invariably work against their occupiers. How would Russia, with its relatively limited military resources, be able to administer, secure and develop a series of countries – and have none of them or a “Rest-NATO” arm to get them back?

9 • If aggression against NATO or neutral states – or against states around the world – was, so to speak, in the Russians’ genes, why haven’t they done much more of it? In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union’s global reach, particularly in Africa as well as the Middle East—politically and militarily—was much bigger than Russia’s today.

10 • Putin’s post-Cold War Russia has invested predominantly in getting Russia back on its feet after the complete and disastrous disintegration back then – and it has created a society that is admirable with a stronger economy than most have predicted – and also remained quite resistant to history’s most intense and wide-ranging sanctions imposed by EU and NATO countries. Invading a NATO country would undermine or destroy all that.

11 • Vladimir Putin has been president for more than 20 years. If he was a true expansionist or “imperialist,” how come he has not invaded one country after the other – also inspired by the US and NATO countries that have been doing that sort of thing permanently, not the least in the wake of 9/11?

12 • If Russia is such a formidable threat, why has it not built over 600 military bases worldwide like the US and hundreds more to match France and the UK in that field? (See the answer in 13).

13 • While the Soviet Union represented another competing ideology until its dissolution – Soviet Communism, planned state economy, one Communist Party, etc. – Russia today can not possibly be perceived as a systemic or ideological threat.

14 • All Russian leaders, including Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev have expressed an interest in working with NATO, building ‘a European’ house’ as Gorbachev called it. Former NATO S-G Robertson has informed us how he discussed a sort of NATO membership with the Soviet Union, and when Putin raised the issue, he was told by NATO that Russia would have to queue up after little Montenegro. The Soviet Union asked to become a NATO member in 1954, was turned down and then established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. These Russian attempts – in vain, however – can hardly be seen as only negative, more perhaps like a little Western brother who wants to join the larger brother rather than kill him.

15 • President Putin has repeatedly stated that he sees Russia as – at least also – a European culture and state, that without interchanges between Western Europe and Russia throughout history, Russia would not have been what it is today. Western Europeans in NATO and the EU have never had a similar attitude to Russian culture; they had no problem or hesitancy cutting it off after the invasion of Ukraine.

16 • Vladimir Putin has never said to NATO that “if so and so happens – or if you do this or that – Russia will invade your country.” His style has been to appeal to NATO not to continue the policy of expansion; one example is his speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. Overall, Russia’s attitude to NATO has been much more defensive after the end of the end of the Cold War than during it.

17 • Whatever you may think of Russia’s President, he is neither inexperienced nor a hothead or a suicidal fool. And he did not fall ill or become a maniac during the day of February 23, 2022.

NATO is not ‘defensive’ and has operated for the last 25 years in gross violation of its own Treaty.

If some or all of the 17 points above are reasonable, NATO has only one task now: Mind its own business.

If you read NATO’s Treaty of 1949 – https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm – it is basically a copy of the UN Charter. It argues that conflicts shall be transferred to the UN and solved by peaceful means, and then it adds Article 5, which states that if one NATO member is attacked, the others shall come to its defence. The alliance’s words are indeed defensive, but since its first out-of-area operation – the ruthless 78 days of bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999 – it has pursued offensive policies and operations in gross violation of its own Treaty.

NATO countries’ massive involvement in Ukraine, using it as a bridgehead or proxy for weakening Russia – or trying to defeat it once and for all – is the peak point of this criminal policy down the slippery slope.

Those who call NATO ‘defensive’ lack basic insights in these matters – or practise opportune ignorance.

An alliance – and members of it – that

  • acts way outside its own membership circle,

  • conducts offensive military operations far away,

  • lacks a legal mandate as in Yugoslavia,

  • builds on offensive rather than defensive deterrence,

  • pursues forward defence and deployment,

  • bases itself on nuclear weapons, and

  • insists on using nuclear weapons also against a conventional attack,

simply cannot by any definition of the concept be characterised as ‘defensive.’

This is another example of a militarist humbug. ‘Defensive’ is for domestic consumption; of course, you cannot admit to your citizens that you’re offensive and threatening to others. And no country facing NATO confrontation would perceive it as ‘defensive.’ So, ‘defensive’ is for the NATO world, not the rest of the world.

– This article is taken from Transcend Media Service #845, 22 – 28 April 2024, https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/04/russia-is-not-a-threat-to-nato-or-neutral-states-full-stop/

Jan Oberg is director of the independent Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Sweden.

The possibility of nonviolent resistance in the contemporary world

A review of “Pacifism Today: A Dialogue about Alternatives to War in Ukraine”by Majken Jul Sørensen, Irene Publishing, 2024, ISBN 978-91-88061-69-0

Review by Rob Fairmichael

The war in Ukraine, occasioned immediately by a Russian military attack to annex Ukraine, has persuaded some people of the impossibility of nonviolent resistance to such an attack. In this regard it is a bit similar to what happened in the 1930s with the Spanish Civil War. How could pacifism or nonviolence resist in such a situation?

One initial problem is that violence and nonviolence are seldom judged with the same criteria. The war in Ukraine has descended into a First World War-type conflict of attrition. People are realising that Putin can afford to keep throwing resources at the war – anything to avoid losing face – and throwing away lives. The effect at home, justifying repression, also suits Putin. The human, environmental and economic cost of the war, on all sides, is massive. And ‘the west’ has to some extent got tired of throwing military resources to Ukraine (and ‘President Trump’ could end US resources going there anyway). And yet very few are saying that perhaps resisting in this way was a mistake, or that settling early on in the war (when Ukraine was considered to be in the ascendant) should have taken place – the failure to do that was partly the fault of gung ho Boris Johnson in opposing any deal and I would say he has blood on his hands.

Thus ‘war’ as a methodology has not come into question despite the failure to kick Russia out of Ukraine or even its acquisitions in 2022.

Whether you call this publication, with 71 numbered pages, a pamphlet or a book is open to debate. It is short and written by Majken Jul Sørensen in the format of a dialogue (imagined) between a sceptic and herself on the issues involved. This is a useful approach even if sometimes I would feel the sceptic’s comments don’t quite ring true. But I am certainly not accusing the author of being disengenuous and this approach is primarily to provide a hook to hang her quite comprehensive comments on; the book will be judged on whether people are persuaded by Majken’s comments.

Early on Majken (which is how she gives her name before what she says) gives three reasons why she is a pacifist; “…I think it is wrong to kill other people….Second, the price people pay for fighting a war is simply too high…..However, most important is the third part of my answer: today we know a great deal about fighting with nonviolent means and it is irrational to ignore this knowledge…”

She deals with the difficulties in demonstrating publicly in repressive situations and I think more can be made of ‘flash mob’ type manifestations where something happens suddenly and then stops just as suddenly, before ‘security’ forces get there. She mentions ‘two minute strikes’ in Denmark under Nazi control – this may have been too short to have a logistical effect but it showed the widespread support for resistance; and during that war the Freedom Council concluded that strikes caused more damage to the German war effort than riots and sabotage. This all still requires audacity, organisation and skill. She gives some details on Norwegian Second World War resistance to the Quisling regime which was relatively successful while also difficult and dangerous. She emphasises the importance of local knowledge and being able to “read the political game”.

In talking about Chenoweth and Stephan’s 2011 publication “Why civil resistance works”, (see e.g. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/04/01/nonviolent-resistance-to-invasion-occupation-and-coups-detat/ which shows nonviolent resistance to be more effective than violent (based on 20th century case studies), a point I would add is that Chenoweth and Stephan were studying conflicts within states rather than international war. But a significant number of these were similar in outworking to an inter-state war, and the close relations (literally in the case of mixed Russian-Ukrainian families) between Russia and Ukraine means that they are hardly strangers battling it out from opposite sides of the globe.

Majken also looks at questions around non-lethal violence (e.g. sabotage and rioting) and concludes that “Sabotage and riots might…play a role when it prevents the occupier from having the calm that they long for” and while saying scholars of nonviolence need to look at this more closely she does state that “Maybe the less risky adoption of nonviolent methods without sabotage and riots can be sufficient to disturb the calm and keep the fighting spirit high.”

Unarmed resistance requires courage and sacrifice; there is no easy way to resist, as Majken discusses, and she looks at questions regarding nonviolent accompaniment and the possibilities, or lack of them for using this approach. Perhaps I can add a point previously made by Peter Emerson in these pages – what if such action or presence was engaged in by high profile actors – senior religious and civic figures – it might be both more possible and more effective.

As to whether a moral commitment to pacifism is necessary, or simply a belief in the effectiveness of nonviolence, Majken states “it will be easier for a movement to maintain nonviolent discipline if the refusal to harm comes from a moral belief….”

She correctly identifies NATO’s role in provoking Russia while agreeing that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a brutal act of aggression. She does warn of the dangers of ‘this’ war going on for a long time while also looking at how Putin could be brought down. I would say that sometimes, though we may not like the answer, the requirement is not only resistance but also significant periods of time to enable an opportunity to emerge; the ‘Prague spring’ nonviolent resistance to the Warsaw Pact (=Russian Communist) invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was partly successful – Gene Sharp puts its collapse down to political failings – but the Czechs and Slovaks had to wait another two decades and the popular resistance made possible by Gorbachev’s reforms before being able to throw off the yoke they were under. There are no instant magic wands, nonviolent or violent (violent resistance in Prague in 1968 would have led to catastrophic suffering for the Czechs).

Majken’s final chapter is on “Preparing for unarmed struggle”. This is important. Armies train to both be efficient using their weapons and for soldiers to be prepared to kill. Nonviolent resistance can be effective without preparation but potentially far more effective with it, and she gives a reading list for further learning and thought.

This is a timely publication which is based on the failure of the war machine – military, arms trade, media and above all political establishments – to resist war and its effects. In Gaza we see military speak used to attempt to justify the unjustifiable by Israel. And if you want to trace that back it partly comes from Israeli insecurity and Western guilt after the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany. And the rise to power of Hitler was largely based on the treatment of Germany following the First World War, and that conflagration was the result of clashing military-imperial rivalries. I realise that this cause-and-effect linkage is simplistic but I would still argue it is correct. So where and how do we ‘break into history’ to say stop?

In the case of the war in Ukraine the time for real rapprochement with Russia was following the collapse of communism. Had ‘the west’ assisted Russia economically and provided other assistance then the authoritarian direction might have been halted. And while it might be counter-intuitive for some people to say eastern Europe would have been safer without NATO membership, NATO pushing towards Russia not only broke promises made after the fall of communism in Russia and eastern Europe but ignored Russia’s memory of Western invasions.

Nonviolent resistance is a vital way to break into history and change the future – in opposing dictatorial rule internally as well dealing with conflict internationally. Some other issues in this area, including in relation to Ireland, are discussed at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/04/01/nonviolent-resistance-to-invasion-occupation-and-coups-detat/ Majken Jul Sørensen’s book is an important contemporary contribution to the discussion about all of this and deserves widespread reading and discussion. If humanity is to survive on this small globe of ours then nonviolence and the development of nonviolent resistance is essential.

lIrene Publishing’s website is at https://irenepublishing.com/ and – among other items of interest – their list includes books on “Social Defence” by Jørgen Johansen and Brian Martin, on “Gandhi the organiser” by Bob Overy, Michael Randle on his and Pat Pottle’s trial for springing George Blake from prison in Britain, on constructive nonviolent action by Andrew Rigby, “To prevent or stop wars – What can peace movements do?” by Christine Schweitzer, and “Whistleblowing – A practical guide” by Brian Martin. As well, of course, as the above book in the review…..

 

Neutrality, how are ye? US warplanes at Shannon and transiting Irish air space

.lNonviolent News is publishing this list, compiled by Edward Horgan, because it shows part of the extent of existing Irish collusion with the USA military and NATO.

US military aircraft and aircraft on contract to the US military transiting through Shannon airport and Irish air-space between 7th Oct 2023 and 17th March 2024.

The following are details compiled by Edward Horgan of US military aircraft and aircraft on contract to the US military that have passed through Shannon airport and Irish air space between 7th October 2023 and 17th March 2024. Over 70 aircraft landings or overflights are listed here, but this is likely not the full list. Most of these aircraft were going to or coming from the Middle East. Due to limited resources, there may be some inaccuracies in the details below, including the fact that we are not able to monitor all aircraft transiting through Shannon airport or Irish airspace. However, the information provided below does demonstrate the very serious extent of Irish Government complicity in war crimes and genocide and unjustified breaches of Irish neutrality.

  1. 17th March 2024 OMNI Air number N234AX on contract to the US military, landed at Shannon airport at 0951am this morning coming from Tbilisi capital of Georgia, Omni Air N234AX flew on to US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina

  2. 16th March 2024 Omni Air N378AX also on contract to the US military landed at Shannon about 0450am coming from Indianapolis in the US, and took off again at 0726am heading for Sofia in Bulgaria and onwards to US air base Al Udeid in Qatar. This is the largest US base in the Middle East. Both aircraft are likely to have been transporting armed US soldiers.

  3. 12th March 2024 Omni Air N828AX on contract to the US military landed at Shannon airport. It was coming from coming from El Paso, and Fort Cavazos TX and Baltimore. I It then flew on to Kuwait one of the major distribution points for US troops and munitions around the Middle East,

  4. 13th March 2024 US Air Force C40C number 02-0202 landed at Shannon airport. It was coming from US Airbase Andrews, Camp Springs, Washington. It then flew on to Amman capital of Jordan before flying towards the Gulf of Aqaba.

  5. 9th March 2024 US Navy C40 number 16-5833 landed at Shannon airport at 02.36 am this morning coming from New Orleans Naval Air Station via Dover Portsmouth.

  6. 8th March 2024 US Marine Corps KC130J Super Hercules number 16-9532 arrived at Shannon from Milwaukee in the US a distance of over 5,700 kilometres. It spent6 the day and overnight at Shannon and took off again today at 11.58 and then flew on to Cambridge airport in England. Its destination after Cambridge is not known.

  7. 3rd March 2024 US Air Force, Gulfstream 5 executive jet number 99-0402 flew through Irish airspace on 3rd March, using callsign SAM265 on its way to Frankfurt and from there it flew to Cyrus and to Tel Aviv Israel on 4th March. On its return journey to the US it landed at Shannon about 17.55 pm on 5th March and stayed overnight at Shannon and then took off at about 09.00am on 6th March and flew on to Washington. This type of US Air Force aircraft may well have been carrying senior US administration officials or senior US military officers. Given the US active support for the genocide being committed by Israeli in Gaza no US military aircraft or aircraft on contract to the US military should be allowed land at Irish airports or pass through Irish airspace. This makes Ireland complicit in US war crimes and in possible acts of genocide.

  8. 4th March 2024 Omni Air aircraft number N846AX landed at Shannon airport, having come from Baltimore Washington. It then flew on to Sofia Bulgaria and from there to Kuwait. It then flew back to the US through Irish airspace on the 5th March.

  9. 2nd March 2024 There were at least 4 US military aircraft at Shannon on 2nd March. Two US Air Force Hercules C140H aircraft landed at Shannon Tuesday 27th February coming from Ramstein US air base in Germany. They remained at Shannon until today. Their registration numbers were 89-9106 and 92-3023. They both took off from Shannon at about 11.40am this morning and then flew to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk where they spent a few hours before flying on north towards Iceland.

  10. US Air force Boeing C40C registration number 02-0201 arrived at Shannon airport on 2nd March about 04.43am coming from Washington US and took off again about 06.15 am and flew on Brindisi in Italy.

  11. US Air Force Boeing C40B number 01-0015 arrived at Shannon about 16.00pm, coming from Tel Aviv Israel. It took off again about 17.50 heading west towards the USA. Previously on 26th February it arrived at Shannon coming from MacDill air force base in Florida at about 22.00 pm and took off again heading towards the Middle East. It landed in both Cyprus and Israel on 28th February, but its movements otherwise are not clear. This type of aircraft is usually used by senior US Government officials who have been supporting Israeli genocidal attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

  12. 1st March 2024 Omni Air N207AX arrived at Shannon on 28 Feb from US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, and Tbilisi in Georgia. It returned to Shannon on 1st March about 0013 AM and took off for Washington DC about 0307am.

  13. 29th Feb 2024 Omni Air N846AX on contract to the US military arrived at Shannon about 01.48 on 29 Feb and then flew on to US base at Poznan in Poland, and to Sofia in Bulgaria and then to the Persian Gulf area. It then returned to Shannon today at about 0844am and took off again about 11.45am on its return journey to the US.

  14. 28th Feb 2024 Two US air force Hercules C130H landed at Shannon airport on 28 Geb., number 90-9108 landed at 12.40pm and number 92-3023 landed at 12.58pm. Both were coming from Ramstein US Air base in Germany. They are still at Shannon airport this Wednesday morning. At least one of them made deliveries in recent days to British airbase Akrotiri in Cyprus which is one of the delivery points for Israel.

  15. 19th Feb 2024 US Air force Gulfstream 5, number 01-0029 arrived at Shannon about 10.35 coming from Vienna probably from the Security Conference, and took off again about 11.30am and has since landed at Washington. On 14th February this aircraft landed at Tel Aviv Israel.

  16. 17th Feb 2024, US Navy C40a aircraft number 165832 landed back at Shannon coming from Bahrain on its way back to the US. It arrived at Shannon on 15th Feb stayed overnight at Shannon and travelled on to Bahrain via Chania in Crete most likely delivering military materials to Bahrain for distribution around the Middle East.

  17. 12 Feb 2024 US Military Beechcraft BE20 landed at Shannon coming from Keflavik in Iceland, and stayed overnight at Shannon. Its registration number is 84-00162.

  18. 8th Feb 2024 Omni Air N846AX On contract to the US military passed through Shannon on 8th February and flew on to the Kuwait which is a US Military distribution point for other locations in the Middle East, including Israel. It then flew on to Oman and also very likely went on Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. It returned to refuel at Shannon airport yesterday on its way back to the USA.

  19. 6th Feb 2024 a US Marine Corps Cessna C580 executive jet number 166715 landed at Shannon about 10.54 am coming from Bordeaux in France4th February,

  20. Omni Air N342AX on contract to the US military passed through Shannon airport on its way to Kuwait and Qatar. It also refuelled at Shannon on its return journey to the US on Monday 5th February.

  21. 5th Feb. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s aircraft US Air force 99-0004 refuelled at Shannon airport this morning, in spite of the fact that he and the US government are actively complicity and assisting the genocide that is happening in Gaza and the West Bank at present. The aircraft arrived at Shannon from Washington at about 0400 am and took off again about 0550 am, and was last seem over the Adriatic Sea on its way to the Middle East. Meanwhile two US Navy Hercules KC130T aircraft spent last night 4th Feb. at Shannon airport.

  22. 4th Feb 2024 US Navy Hercules C130 spent 2 overnights at Shannon airport. It arrived from Norfolk Naval Air Station Virginia on 2nd Feb. This US Navy aircraft made quick stopover at Sigonella US Naval Air station located at Sigonella Italian air base in Sicily. This US NA Station NAS Sigonella is the hub of U.S. naval air operations in the Mediterranean and is also likely to be actively involved in supporting Israeli war crimes in Gaza. This US Navy Hercules C130 refuelled at Shannon on its return journey to the US.

  23. 31st Jan 2024- US military Beech 200 Super King turboprop number 84-00488, arrived at Shannon coming from an air base near Naples. Prior to that it had been in the Red Sea area on Monday where the US has been launching attacks against Yemen.

  24. 26th Jan 2024 Omni Air n234ax refuelled at Shannon having come from Washington yesterday and took off from Shannon about 05.18am and flew on to Aviano air base in Italy which is a major logistic distribution base.

  25. 23rd Jan It US Navy C40 aircraft landed at Shannon airport just after 5am. Its number was 16-6696 and it was coming from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia and from Naval Air Station Moyport near Jacksonville, Florida. It stayed overnight at Shannon and then flew on to Sigonella air base in Sicily,

  26. 17th Jan 2024 US Navy Hercules C130T number 16-5160 landed at Shannon about 13.38 coming from Sigonella air base in Sicily. It has been in Bahrain a few days ago also so may well have been supporting US military aggression across the Middle East.

  27. 16th Jan 2024 US Navy Hercules KC130T mid-air refueller, number 16-5315 arrived from Rota naval airbase in Spain about 12.05pm stayed overnight and took off about 10am

  28. US Air force C40 arrived at Shannon about 12.15 coming from Zurich and Bucharest and took off again about 13.00 heading west towards USA.

  29. 11th Jan 2024 At least 3 aircraft associated with US military were refuelled at Shannon airport on 11th Jan. The aircraft most likely carrying Anthony Blinken US Secretary of State, who has been very actively supporting the Israeli government committing Genocide against the Palestinian people, landed at Shannon about 18.05 pm this evening. The aircraft number was 99-0004. During his tour of the Middle East he helped organise air attacks by the US and UK on Yemen,

  30. Omni Air N819AX landed at Shannon about 01.32 coming from Bardufoss air base in northern Norway. It took off this evening about 17.00 heading west towards the USA.

  31. The Third aircraft was a Hercules HC130J belonging to the US Marine Corps. This is a multipurpose aircraft with a mid-air refuelling capacity. It also came from Bardufoss air base and It landed this evening about 19.30pm. Its registration number was 16-9229.

  32. 9th Jan. an Eastern Airlines aircraft number N706KW had been at Shannon for a few days, but was on contract to the US military using US military call sign CMB566. It took off from Shannon shortly after 8am on 9th Jan and flew on to Rzeszow airport in SE Poland which is one of the main supply airports for the Ukrainian military.

  33. 8th Jan. Omni Air N846AX coming from Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, landed at Shannon about 02.05 am and took off again about 05.05 and flew on to Kuwait and to the United Arab Emirates using US military call sign CMB554. On its return journey to the USA today Jan 9th it stopped off at an airbase in Jordan and at Ramstein air base in Germany.

  34. 5th Jan. Omni Air registration number N225AX arrived at Shannon yesterday coming from Fort Worth Dallas Texas, refuelled at Shannon and then travelled on to Kuwait and to Al Udeid air base in Qatar. Al Udeid is the largest US air base in the Middle East and is used a major distribution point for distributing US soldiers and military materials (bombs etc) to other locations around the Middle East, including Israel. It also refuelled at Shannon on its way back to the USA.

  35. 5th and 6th Jan. were busy for US military activity going through Shannon airport and through Irish airspace. a US Marine Corps Super Hercules KC130J number 16-6512 refuelling tanker overflew through Irish airspace 6th Jan. travelling from Stuttgart in Germany probably to Iceland.

  36. Omni N819AX overflew Irish airspace early this morning heading for Al Udeid air base in Qatar.

  37. Omni N828AX flew through Irish airspace on 5th Jan. from Kuwait to El Paso in Texas, and is now on its way again from El Paso to the Middle East and refuelled at Shannon

  38. On 6th Jan. Omni N846AX refuelled at Shannon on 5th Jan on its way to Kuwait, and returned to US today overflying through Irish airspace at about 11.50am.

  39. Omni N423AX overflew Ireland on 5th Jan. on its way to Sofia Bulgaria and probably also to the Persian Gulf.

  40. Omni N225AX overflew Ireland on 5th Jan. on its way to Ramstein US air base in Germany.

  41. Also on 5th Jan. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken probably passed through Shannon airport in US Air Force aircraft number 99-0004, coming from Camp Springs Andrews air base in Washington and landing at Shannon for refuelling about 10.30 and taking off again about 12 noon.

  42. 20th December At least 3 US air force aircraft refuelled at Shannon on their way back from the Middle East USAF C17 Globemaster number 07-7185 arrived at Shannon from Camp Springs Washington on 17 December, and then flew on to Ramstein in Germany and from there possibly to Israel. On 20 December it returned to Shannon about 17.50, refuelled and left Shannon towards the US at about 20.35pm.

  43. On 18 Dec. 2023 another USAF C17 Globemaster number 02-1106 was in Tel Aviv Israel. On 20 Dec., it was in Bahrain and flew from there to Akrotiri British air base in Cyprus and from there to Shannon where it landed about 19.20pm.

  44. On 17 December USAF C32A came from Camp Springs Washington, overflew through Irish airspace, landed at Ramstein in Germany and then flew on to the Middle East, most likely to Israel. On 20 December it arrived at Shannon about 19.15, coming from Akrotiri in Cyprus and probably also from Israel. It took off again from Shannon about 20.30 heading west towards the US. At least two of these flights were likely to be connected to the presence of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Israel where he was providing support for the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

  45. 19th Dec 2023 US air force C40B number 02-0042 landed at Shannon airport about 15.40pm coming from a strange location in the Palestinian West Bank, possibly an Israeli air base. It took off again at 1735pm heading for Camp Springs air base near Washington.

  46. 17th Dec. 2023 USAF C17 Globemaster arrived at Shannon about 03.40 am coming from Camp Springs air base in Washington, and took off again at about 06.45am heading for Ramstein air base in Germany.

  47. USAF C40 Boeing 757 number 99-0004 also travelled from Camp Springs in Washington, landed at Shannon about 03.30am and took off again about 05.00 am and went on to Ramstein air base in Germany. Both later travelled on towards the Middle East.

  48. 15th Dec. 2023 US air force number 01-0015 arrived at Shannon about 6pm coming from Israel and Palestinian West Bank. It may have been transporting Jake Sullivan Whitehouse National Security Advisor who met Netanyahu and probably told him that US has approved the sale and immediate delivery of 13,000 more tank shells for Israeli bombing of Gaza.

  49. Also landed at Shannon tonight about 9.15pm was Omni Air N207AX on contract to the US military coming from Kuwait and Oman and possibly also from Djibouti.

  50. 14th Dec. 2023 Another US military aircraft at Shannon airport. US air force C40C seems to have arrived at Shannon on Monday 11 December from the United Arab Emirates. Its registration number is 02-0203. It took off from Shannon 14 Dec heading west towards the USA.

  51. 11th Dec. US military Hercules KC130J mid-air refuelling aircraft number 169225 landed at Shannon airport about 17.10pm, coming from Bardufoss air base in Norway.

  52. Earlier on 11th Dec. a C40 US military transport aircraft coming from Dubai and a US Air force Gulfstream 5 executive Jet also landed at Shannon.

  53. 10th Dec. US Navy C40 Clipper number 16-5831. arrived at Shannon yesterday about 02.26am and stayed all day and overnight at Shannon, leaving about 09.10am. It came from Naval Air Station New Orleans and Dover air base Delaware, it went on to land in Bahrain.

  54. US air force registration number is 01-0015 Boeing 737-700, coming from MacDill air force base in Tampa Florida landed at Shannon about 19.17pm tonight and took off again about 21.40pm, heading east towards Europe and likely towards the Middle East.

  55. 6th Dec. Omni Air N207AX on contract to the US military was refuelled at Shannon coming from air bases in Qatar, Kuwait and Ramstein in Germany.

  56. 7th Dec. US Air force special operations plane number 62-4131 R135W flew through Irish airspace coming from Omaha and it landed at Cambridge UK, and then flew on the UAE and Qatar. An almost identical aircraft RC135 number 64-148432 has been doing almost daily reconnaissance type flights and patrols off the coast of Gaza beginning on 7th October the day the Gaza war began using Chania air base in Crete to refuel. It was still on patrol off Gaza today 9th December 2023.

  57. 1st Dec. 2023 Omni Air N846AX on contract to the US military overflew through Irish airspace on 29 Nov. landed at Frankfurt Hahn and flew on to Bahrain. It then flew back to Nuremberg and Riga Latvia and landed at Shannon about 01.57am on 1st Dec.

  58. On 29th Nov Omni Air N468AX coming from US landed at Shannon about 03.55am and took off again about 0755 and flew on to Rzeszow in Poland near the border with Ukraine, and also landed in Nuremberg and Romania. On 30th Nov it landed at Shannon about 03.54 and took off the US about 06.09, and has since landed at Hunter Army Air Field in Georgia.

  59. On 29 Nov Omni Air N828AX overflew through Irish Airspace coming from Washington DC, and flew on to land at Ramstein air base in German and to air bases in Kuwait and Qatar when are major US distributions bases to other locations in the Middle East, including Israel. It overflew through Irish airspace again on 1st Dec. at about 01.34am on its way back to the USA.

  60. Also on 1st Dec. Omni Air N819AX flew through Irish airspace about 1400pm coming from Dallas TX. It was last seen flying over Romania probably heading towards the Middle East

  61. 28th Nov. 2023 a US navy aircraft number 16-5829 landed at Shannon airport. coming from Oceana airbase Virginia Beach. It stayed overnight at Shannon and on 29 Nov then travelled on to joint air base Chania in Crete and has returned to Shannon again later on 29th.

  62. 13th Nov. 2023 US air force aircraft registration 02-0042 arrived at Shannon airport coming from MacDill air force base in Tampa Florida. It took off again about 9pm heading south east over Europe.

  63. 10th Nov. US Navy C40A aircraft registration number 16-5832 arrived at Shannon from Sigonella air base in Sicily. It stayed for two overnights at Shannon and took off on 12th Nov. and flew on to Portsmouth in the USA.

  64. 6th Nov. 2023 three aircraft on contract to US military refuelled at Shannon. Omni Air N378AX arrived at Shannon also from Fort Campbell in Tennessee, It refuelled at Shannon and has since flown on to land near Constanta in Romania.

  65. Omni air N828AX went on to make deliveries to Nuremberg Germany, Tallinn in Estonia and Poznan in Poland.

  66. Omni air N846AX has since landed in Kuwait.

  67. 2nd Nov. US Air force diplomatic aircraft number 98-0002 landed at Shannon airport at about 23:02 coming from Camp Springs Joint Air base Andrews in Washington DC. It may well have been carrying US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who was due to visit Israel and possibly other locations in the Middle East.

  68. 27th Oct. Omni Air aircraft number N468AX landed for refuelling about 22.13 pm while on contract to the US military transportation command. It was coming from Oman in the Persian Gulf via Sofia in Bulgaria, but also looks like it had also made a return journey from a location south of Oman, probably to Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.

  69. 22nd Oct. US Navy Hercules C130T landed at Shannon yesterday 21st October about 15:45 pm coming from Sigonella in Sicily and Bahrain. It stayed overnight last night and took off about 10:34 this morning heading west towards the USA.

  70. 17 Oct 2023 Eastern Airlines aircraft registration number N705KW which was on contract to the US military passed through Shannon airport on Tuesday 17th October, coming from Bangor Maine USA, and then travelled on to United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and landed again at Shannon airport on its return journey on 19th Oct.

  71. 7th Oct. 2023 Omni Air N468AX on contract to the US military arrived at Shannon about 5.52 am coming from Pope Army Air Field in North Carolina and from Baltimore Washington. It took off again about 09.33am made a further refuelling stop at Sofia Bulgaria and then flew on to Kuwait.

On 7th October 2023 war has once again broken out between Israel and Palestine with hundreds of people killed in the last 24 hours.

Our thoughts and prayers are are with the victims of war everywhere.

In the meantime, the death toll in Gaza up to 17TH March 2024 has exceeded 31,000 including at least 12,300 children.

Shannonwatch website is at www.shannonwatch.org

The next monthly Shannon peace vigil on Sunday 14th April 2pm to 3pm.

Readings in Nonviolence: Johan Galtung on conflict transformation

Introduction

Johan Galtung died on 17th February 2024, aged 93. He was a well known figure and analyst not just in the field of peace and conflict but on a wider, global level. Transcend Media Service, which he founded, reports that he mediated in over 150 conflicts in 150 countries, authored 170 books on peace and related issues (96 as sole author) as well as countless articles and commentaries in the media.

Marking his life and death we are publishing here an article, first produced in 2010, on conflict.

Conflict Transformation as a Way of Life by Johan Galtung

From an essay written in 1968, “Conflict as a Way of Life[i]:

If you cannot remove conflict, why not adjust your thinking about it? Why not try and see conflict as the salt of life, the big energizer, the tickler, the tantalizer, rather than as a bothersome nuisance, as noise in perfect channel, as disturbing ripples in otherwise quiet waters? In short, why not treat conflict as a form of life, particularly since we all know that it is precisely during the period of our lives when we are exposed to a conflict that really challenges us, and that we finally are able to master, that we feel most alive”.

The essay goes on exploring “a science of conflictology” (this book is an effort); “conflictology as a subject in school emphasizing/ “resolving the underlying incompatibility” (the SABONA project is an effort in that direction); “conflict participation” (1968 was important, today it is almost commonplace), “democratization of conflict management” (could be better, also overcoming the elitism in mediation); “conflict has to be appreciated–if we have the courage and maturity to meet the challenge and enjoy it”.

The maturity and challenge ultimately come down to the individual. And the exposure to conflict will generally increase. Groups demand access to individuals, domestic society penetrates groups, global society the domestic society. To withdraw from what happens at the mega, macro and meso levels is hardly possible in today’s world, given the means of communication and transportation–and we may only be at the beginning. Withdrawing together with others–in a conflict-free local community, a territorially closed vicinity–will play a role. But so will exposure to the enormous diversity of the human condition, like the life stages we all experience. Culture will open for new values also when basic needs and interests are met. Close also that window? There will still be forces and counter-forces as long as there are humans around. Shutting them out, opting for the hermit style? Not only a-human but anti-human. An inner dialectic, dynamism, detached from an outer dialectic, is only for the very few.

Conflict is our fate. As are micro-organisms, so better learn how to handle them. The exposure to the pursuit of goals blocked by the pursuit of other goals can be overcome if our resistance capacity is sufficient, like an infection can be overcome by the immune system. But, if conflict is (almost) identified with violence then major parts of that resistance capacity is lost in an otherwise laudable effort to reduce violence. What is lost is the challenge to transcend, going beyond, at all four levels, as human growth, social growth, regional, global growth.

Of course we can transcend without conflict. We may have a goal, an end but not the means; in other words, a problem. We may apply our human creativity to it; Einstein, Picasso. But the conflict adds the dynamic of at least two incompatible goal pursuits, as driving forces. Attention, please, here and now. Have as a goal a master’s degree and time, money and hard work will take you there. Have as a goal joint study for shared love, and empathy and creativity may be needed.

Thus, we are laboring in our societies to bridge the legitimate goals of growth and distribution, including with Nature. The easy way out is laziness: go for one of these goals only. Such actors exist. But going for both has led to social capitalism, the Japanese and Chinese models; not perfect, but new and more is on the way. Politics is the art of the impossible; otherwise it is merely technology.

We are also laboring in a world with North-South and West-Islam. The lazy way out, once again, is to go for one horn of these dilemmas. But the other horn does not go away, we are coupled, be it in a world or a domestic order, or disorder. Take it on, no laziness, please.

Using incompatibilities, contradictions, as challenge gives us energy to draw upon. Driving history forward? Depends, it comes with no guarantee, except the daoist promise that new contradictions are lining up. Unspent energy can be hitched on to the contradiction next in line.

The point is to balance between the Scylla of apathy, simply giving in to some either-or, and the Charybdis of fighting the alternative with negative conflict energy. But is that not to demand too much of us poor human beings? Not really, there are ample rewards. Not only getting a degree but together with your love; enjoying the fruits of both growth and distribution; having regions enrich each other, two-way, not one-way only, opening oneself to the wisdom of two, three, many religions. What could be more rewarding once we get out of the either-or trap?

But there is a hitch: it may be hard work. And difficult work. Why should it be easy? Who said that such both-and fruits are served on a platter free of charge? However, it is not necessary to have absorbed critically these pages, or similar books. Rather, let us boil it down to a simple essence, taking “five” from Islam and the word “commandment” from Christianity.

For conflict transformation as a way of life, on top of conflict as a way of life, consider these five commandments:

  1. Try to see a conflict from above: the actors, their goals, their pursuits, their clashes. Including you. You may need outside help.

  2. Try to be evenhanded. Try to see yourself or the other side of yourself as clearly as you see the others. Again, you may need help.

  3. The legitimacy test: be judgmental about goals and pursuits, ends and means, including your own. What is legitimate–legal, compatible with human rights, with basic human needs–what is not?

  4. Look at all those legitimate goals and pursuits and put your joint creativity to work: what are the minimum changes needed for a compelling vision, with maximum accommodation of all legitimate goals?

  5. Enact that vision. And if it does not work, back to No. 1. Try again. And again…and again… Perseverance is the key.

If it works, take on the next conflict in line. Start with yourself, your dilemmas, then your disputes with your spouse, your family, at school and work, neighbors; in widening circles. Let your empathic, nonviolent, creative voice be heard socially, globally. And you are part of a world culture of peaceful conflict transformation.

Note:

[i]. Chapter 15, Johan Galtung, Peace and Social Structure, Essays in Peace Research, Vol. III, Copenhagen: Ejlers, 1978, pp. 484-507 (see http://www.transcend.org/tup/); presented at the Plenary Session of the World Federation for Mental Health, 7th International Congress, London August 16, 1968. I still feel the warmth of Margaret Mead after the session; this was her kind of stuff!

lThis piece appeared as the Epilogue of the book, A Theory of Conflict, Transcend University Press, 2010. It is taken from the 26th February 2024 edition of Transcend Media Service https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/02/conflict-transformation-as-a-way-of-life-2/ The same issue also contains various commentaries as a memorial on Johan Galtung himself.

Remembering Alexei Navalny and helping Ukraine

by Peter Emerson

In view of Alexei Navalny’s heroic life and tragic death, and the continuing horrors of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it is important to understand our own mistakes in Russia’s recent history. To quote the Russian/Ukrainian philosopher, Vladimir Vernadsky, “everything is connected,” (‘всё связано’).

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union of 1985, this was the end of the Cold War. In theory, it should have led to demobilisation and huge waves of disarmament. But no; and in fact, since that time, NATO has expanded. Many western ‘experts’ went to Moscow to advise him, not on peace, but on privatisation and democratisation, with a focus on, respectively, the free market and majoritarianism, i.e., majority voting/majority rule. But the original Russian translation of this term was ‘большевизм’ bolshevism; (a replacement has now been concocted, majoritarnost).

Two years later, ethno-religious clashes erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus. The headline in Moscow’s main newspaper Pravda was “Вот наш Ольстер,” (‘Vot nash Olster’), “This is our Northern Ireland.” In effect, the right of self-determination was a cause of conflict. After all, if Ireland can leave the UK, or if Azerbaijan can leave the USSR, then Northern Ireland could leave Ireland, or an enclave like Nagorno-Karabakh could leave Azerbaijan. And the Caucasus was full of enclaves. “Why should I be in the minority in your state when you could be in the minority in mine?” asked one Vladimir Gligorov in Yugoslavia, a land of one language, two scripts, three religions, four …. five republics, and six neighbours. And like the famous Russian dolls, the matrioshki, inside every majority there was yet another minority.

In those days, the Soviet Union was still a one-party state. In their first elections of 1989, therefore, every candidate was a communist… but there were green, red, blue, brown – all sorts of communists. And those who might otherwise have been in a Green Party were members of ‘the ecological union.’ They held a meeting in Moscow, in 1989, and there I met Zurab Zhvania from Georgia. We spoke about consensus and all that, and so, one year later, he invited me to go to Tbilisi to give a press conference (in Russian, my Georgian isn’t) on power-sharing.

Now initially, the West supported the maintenance of the Soviet Union, not least because of the oil in Siberia. We wanted this stuff to be available, which requires inter alia political stability. And we wanted it to be cheap, so we advised firstly, a free market – Friedman economics. But no country should ever adopt a free market at a time of deficits in the basics, like food. The law was passed; lots of unscrupulous went to the supermarket, bought up everything, set up a table outside the metro stations, and sold it all at ten times the price. Hence the oligarchs. Secondly, the West advised a freely convertible currency, i.e., Russia should float the rouble. It sank. And Russian oil was cheap.

But back to self-determination. There soon followed disturbances for independence in Georgia, Azerbaijan – Ukraine initially was relatively quiet – and then, in 1991, in Lithuania, which was different, apparently; it was more ‘European’. At this point, the West made a huge mistake: we ditched the reformer, Gorbachev, in favour of the unprincipled Boris Yeltsin. Like his English namesake, this man had one thing only (apart from a love of the vodka): ambition. Originally, he was Gorbachev’s protégé, but when given the chance, he wanted power. Over what? Oh anything, or even everything. Over the Soviet Union? And when Yeltsin realised his path to power would be better served by supporting the break-away republics, he did so. And he could become not a Soviet, only a Russian tsar.

Now Russia, in a way, was similar to England, in that in their day, both ruled empires, and both thought God was on their side. Russia with its capital of Moscow, was the third Rome. Christianity, it was argued, started in Rome, moved to Constantinople, and the one true faith was now in Moscow. And with God on its side, Russia survived the invasion of Poland during the Times of Troubles, at the turn of the 17th Century; defeated Sweden in 1709, when Peter the Great won the Battle of Poltava (which is in today’s Ukraine); halted Napoléon at the Battle of Borodino in 1812 (and hence Tchaikovsky’s famous overture); and won the Great Patriotic War against Hitler. And today, the same good God was going to save Russia from the advances of NATO.

Now just as many a Moscovite regarded the two adjectives – Russian and Soviet – as very similar, so too (in days not that long gone), many Londoners regarded the words British and English as all but synonymous. When the Soviet Union was established, or concocted, the Bolsheviks decided that every republic should have its ‘own’ communist party; hence the Georgian, the Lithuanian, etc. But there wasn’t a Russian one. Oops. In 1989, the ‘error’ was realised; the Russian Communist Party held its founding congress. Yeltsin, now a rival to Gorbachev, stood for the presidency. But Gorbachev’s man won, and Yeltsin lost. The latter then ripped up his party card and converted to Orthodox Christianity. It was just so obvious that the man was ambitious, and nothing else. Sadly, the western media, including The Irish Times, decided to support him. (Western journalists often shared the same block of flats, and frequently the same interpretation of events.)

(By this time, my co-author and I had written an article in Moscow News on consensus, which had created a huge amount of interest… in Russia! As a result, we published a number of other essays, not least one in Novy Mir (New World), Russia’s leading literary journal with a print run of three million, where we appeared alongside Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. The Irish Times, I’m afraid, was just not interested in these achievements of another Irishman.)

In 1991, then, Yeltsin took over, not as a Soviet imperialist, but as a Russian one. The last thing he wanted was the right of self-determination to be popular among the various peoples in Russia, the Sumi and Komi up near the Arctic, the Tartars and Maris on the western side of the Urals, and all the various folk in the Northern Caucasus, let alone the dozens in Siberia, the Buryats near Lake Baikal or the Chukchis on the Pacific coast, for example. (In fact, the authorities themselves weren’t sure how many different peoples there were; the official figure was between 60 and 120). So Russia opposed any attempt by any people to hold a referendum and break away – matrioshki nationalism, they called it – and hence Yeltsin’s first war in Chechnya in 1994.

The Caucasus was in a mess. There were Georgians (Orthodox) in Chechnya (Muslim), fighting the Russians (Orthodox); Russians and Chechens in Abkhazia (Muslim) fighting the Georgians. And Russia was also supporting another enclave, South Ossetia, where everyone was Orthodox. Violence, as always, was breeding yet more violence. There followed a second war in Chechnya in 1999, and hence too Yeltsin’s own protégé, Vladimir Putin.

The Soviet Union was now dead, all the republics were now independent, including in ’91 Ukraine, a country of mainly Christian Slavs – with just a few minorities like the Crimean Tatars. Unlike Russia, other lands were also mainly Slav: Poland, Czechoslovakia (as was), Bulgaria and, not least, Yugoslavia (the southern Slavs).

Unfortunately, the West again advised majoritarianism – and Ukraine now divided into two: a Russian-speaking Orthodox ‘half’ versus a Ukrainian-speaking Catholic/Uniate ‘half’. That is what often happens when decisions are taken in binary votes, and when elections are conducted in the two-round system. The divisions worsened. In 2004, Viktor Yushchenko won the presidential election, by a whisker, and he was pro-West; in the spontaneous celebrations which followed in Kiev, some were flying confederate flags, others the Georgian flag, and many were sleeping in (spontaneous?) tents supplied from abroad. But Yushchenko was the president and, with the polity of majority rule, he could ensure Ukraine was pro-West. (At the time, I wrote in Fortnight that Ukraine could perhaps join the EU, but not NATO. As happens so often in human history, one side fails to understand how the other lot think.)

Six years later, the other Viktor, Yushchenko’s old rival, Yanukovich won, again by a whisker; oh dear, was the reaction; he was pro-Russia, and it was still majority rule. The protests in Maidan turned violent. Only in 2014 did the West change its mind: democracy was not majority rule after all, apparently; as in Northern Ireland, it was (sort of) decided that it was now power-sharing. An EU (EC as was) delegation rushed over to Kiev but…too late; on the day it arrived, Yanukovich ran into exile.

Meanwhile, the newly independent Georgia had also divided, only to fight two ethno-wars in the enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – (there was very nearly another war in Adjara) – and all over self-determination. There then followed the civil war, after which Eduard Shevardnadze restored some order. Next, in 2004, came the so-called velvet revolution, which wasn’t a revolution at all, really, but the elections did involve a changing of the guard. Shevardnadze, however, was still in his dacha in Tbilisi, not far from the hotel where I and other OSCE election observers were staying. Georgia now had a new prime minister, (my colleague), Zurab Zhvania. In 2005, he died. In a gas leak? That was the official line, but many Georgians thought he’d been murdered on the orders of the then President, Mikhail Saakashvili. They also believed that if Zhvania had still been in office on 1st August 2008, Georgia would not have gone to war with Russia in South Ossetia. But war it was. One week later – with Putin in Beijing for the Olympics – Russia recorded its first casualties. He rushed home. That war was started not only by Putin.

He now saw that referendums could be, er, useful. Russia had opposed the referendum in Kosova – yet more matrioshki nationalism – but he changed his mind (again) to support the 2006 referendum for self-determination in South Ossetia (and ignored the other referendum in Ahalgori, a Georgian enclave in South Ossetia, which voted in the opposite way). It was a repetition of what had happened in Croatia where in 1991 the Catholics had voted for independence while, one week earlier, the Orthodox had voted for the opposite; and where, in the name of democracy, partners in and adult children of mixed relationships were just, well, disenfranchised,

Back to Ukraine where, in 2014, Putin’s man Yanukovich had lost and run away, and Putin doesn’t like losing.  So he wanted Crimea to reverse its 1991 referendum decision in support of Ukraine and instead to declare independence – (from Ukraine); (such a collective vacillation is also catered for in the Belfast Agreement – the seven-year ’never-end-em’). After the shambolic, ‘little green men’ referendum in Crimea, there followed other dubious polls in Donetsk and Luhansk, and 2014, you will recall, was also the year of Scotland’s referendum. A Russian separatist in Luhansk ‘justified’ his call to arms with the word Shotlandiya Шотландия, (Scotland). “Everything is [indeed] connected.”

After yet more violence, Putin wanted Donetsk and Luhansk, not to be independent at all, but to be incorporated – (into Russia). He’d changed his mind again, (like the EU). So in 2022 more referendums were held and, supposedly, apparently, and democratically, a majority of the people had also changed their minds, and quite by chance of course, in exactly the same way. This is all democratic nonsense; in many instances, as shown by Napoléon, Hitler and countless others, majority votes in referendums, parliaments and party congresses, identify not the will of the given electorate, but the will of the author(s) of the question. (Brexit, of course, a glaring exception, backfired.)

Can we never question our obsession with the 2,500-year-old binary vote? Even on problems that are obviously multi-optional, must everything be reduced/distorted, either into a dichotomy, as in the 2016 Brexit referendum, or to a number of binary questions, as in Theresa May’s indicative (sic) votes? In a similar fashion, the Good Friday Agreement says that Northern Ireland has to be either British or Irish; that, as in Croatia and South Ossetia, there are these two possibilities, only; that other options, for a compromise and/or peace, or an interregnum, whatever, shall not even exist let alone be on the ballot paper.

And the world blunders on, despite the facts that:

+ “all the wars in the former Yugoslavia started with a referendum,” (Oslobodjenje, 7.2.1999);

+ the same now applies to the conflict in Ukraine;

+ both Milorad Dodik in Republika Srpska want, and Anatoly Bibilov in South Ossetia wanted, yet more binary referendums, as do Sinn Féin and the SNP in their bailiwicks, as well as some Catalans, Taiwanese, Baluchis, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

Finally, and, even more importantly,

+ majoritarianism, the majority coalition in the Knesset, is (not the but) a cause of the horrible violence that is now the cause of so much suffering and devastation in the Middle East.

So, what is to be done now? As before but now more urgently than ever, we must support those many Russians who are opposing the war, in particular, Yulia Navalnaya. The British and US ambassadors recently laid flowers at the memorial for her husband. They should do more to help (and, as I suggested earlier) support all forms of non-violent anti-war demonstrations, if only by their presence.

In addition, it would be wise to acknowledge some of our earlier mistakes, and to change those of our political structure which Putin is also using for his military aims: simplistic electoral systems and false-flag binary referendums.

As mentioned above, another complication comes from the war in the Middle East. Here too, we should question the western political structures which, inter alia, allow Netanyahu in the name of democracy to rule with Israel’s most extreme right-wing majority coalition ever! Suffice also to say that the ideal, a one-state solution, could not work if it were to be based on majority voting; if only from that point of view, we should be seeking a more inclusive form of decision-making.

A sense of urgency is required, not least because Putin is now trying to woo the Palestinians (and the ‘global South’), implying that he opposes (Israeli) violence and that his ‘special military operation’ is an act of defence against western militarism as seen, in his eyes, by the expansion of NATO.

It is important, of course – and I wrote as a pacifist who therefore believes in the principle of minimum force – to continue to supply arms and ammunitions. In many horrible instances of violence – when someone attacks a child, for example, or a violent man attacks a woman – the true pacifist will never do nothing: he/she should always intervene, if need be by putting their own body between the attacker and the victim. But we should also emphasise our long-term aspirations for a world without nuclear weapons; for a world where military expenditures are reduced; for a world in which all nations, and all parties/factions, cooperate to confront the existential problems of Climate Change.

Readings in Nonviolence: Aesop’s Fable – The Wolf and the Lamb

l See https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53493251185/in/dateposted/ for Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s pictorial take on ‘The wolf and the lamb’

Story and analysis by Gearóid Ó Dubhthaigh

There are many versions of this disturbing fable; here is my presentation of it.

One morning a hungry wolf, who was out hunting stopped to drinking at a brook. A short distance downstream he caught sight of a young unsuspecting, vulnerable lamb – a farm animal – that had become separated from his flock.

The wolf set his eyes upon the lamb and thought to himself: “There’s my dinner, delivered to me on a plate!”

Because the lamb looked particularly helpless and innocent, the wolf felt he ought to pick some quarrel to excuse his intention to seize the lamb.

So, drawing near he accused the lamb, saying: “How dare you muddy the water I’m drinking?”

The lamb, frightened at this threatening charge, said, in a tone as mild as possible, and trying to not exacerbate the wolf’s feelings: “Don’t get angry with me! It couldn’t possibly be me who is muddying the water you are drinking as the stream flows from you towards me.”

Very well,” said the wolf; “but I know you spoke ill of me a year ago.” “I couldn’t have done so; I wasn’t born until this year.” bleated the trembling lamb.

Well, then it must have been your brother,” growled the wolf.

It cannot have been so, for I never had any,” answered the Lamb.

The wolf, finding it impossible to come up with a plausible pretext, rejoined “’Tis all the same to me, if it wasn’t you, it was one of your lot. Fortune has conveniently brought us together so I can avenge the wrong done to me.”

At this he leaped upon the distraught lamb, and ate him on the spot.

Comments

Let us begin by looking at the story itself.

Who is involved?

Do animals speak to each other like they do in this story? No.

And we all know that in real life wolves must eat other animals to survive.

So, this story is not about animals, it is about people. Aesop used animals and birds as characters through whom he could gently and memorably present moral lessons, about people: human nature, us, what we see around us – we may see ourselves in the characters.

In this fable we have one who is very powerful and is intent upon depriving a weaker one of something that is his by right (his life). There is a clash between what a powerful one wants (having his way, his will, his desire), and (doing) what is just.

Let’s examine the story of the Wolf and the Lamb, and see what lessons we can gain from it. You may draw many other thoughts from it

1. “The wolf set his eyes upon the lamb and thought to himself”, and we might say that he thought only of himself.

(i) Somebody who is hungry or full of fear will find it difficult or impossible to hear the concerns of another. People who are dying of hunger are known to become like mad men, doing things that they could never otherwise conceive of doing.

(ii) The same can be true of those deprived of sleep or are under the influence of mind-altering substances such as alcohol and drugs; their judgement and self-control is impaired.

(iii) Similarly, emotions can blot out reason. Someone who over a period of time – in a similar manner to how we Adore and Worship God – can become fixated (obsessed, full of lust, infatuated, terrified, paranoid, full of vengeance, envy, etc.). In this state they can become overpowered by their emotions concerning wanting this very thing that they don’t have, and merge the importance of having it with their ego. They become blind to reality and will not be open to listening to reason, nor will they be capable of giving consideration of what is Just; they will pursue their objective regardless.

2. Why might the wolf want to vindicate, to justify, to excuse his intention to seize the lamb?

(i) Perhaps other wolves might think less of him for seizing such an easy prey – they might hold a wolf who hunted for his food in much higher regard.

(ii) More importantly there could be repercussions for this wolf if it became known to the farmer that a wolf was lurking in the vicinity of his flock liable to attack any one of them.

(iii) Furthermore, as the wolf was too lazy to go out and hunt for his food, rather than poaching lambs, there could be repercussions for other wolves; as the farmer would not know which wolf had done this, and so he might kill any or all of them. The other wolves in his pack might feel their lives were unnecessarily endangered and force this deviant, careless wolf out of the district.

3. … he accused the lamb …

– What do you think of the wolf’s excuses; were they based upon reality or were they exactly that, excuses; the skin of a lie?

– Did he use them to distract from reality?

– Can we learn anything about the wolf by looking at the accusations he makes?

(i) The wolf had seen that the lamb looked particularly helpless and innocent. By making an allegation, he placed an emotional barrier between him and the lamb; in effect he was labelling the lamb a deviant, an enemy. He was refocusing the encounter with the lamb, making it less likely that his intentions would become stymied by empathy.

(ii) Often, we will present ourselves as victims of injustice – some hurt inflicted by another – in order to justify an attack upon somebody.

Much of Scripture can be summarised by saying:

Do not use the sins of another to justify your own wrong-doing.

(iii) Often the accusations we make concerning others are more applicable to ourselves; they tell our own story.

The wolf’s allegation that the lamb was muddying the water maybe a subconscious recognition of his ploy to muddying the situation, so that the thinking become “muddied”, in other words we are distracted from the truth of the situation, reality.

The allegation that someone spoke ill of him, may reveal his true fears; he may be looking for an excuse so as to prevent others from speaking ill of him, for doing such a cruel and imprudent thing.

4. Those who are intent upon doing something wrong will come up with any excuse, no matter how improbable. Even so those with overwhelming power seems to have a need to justify their disregard for right order, with a fake appeal to reason and conscience. Yet their cover for their arbitrary cruelty and tyrannical use of power, can be an extraordinary flimsy excuse, having little connection with reality. It may merely serve as a distraction from reality. Perhaps we perceive ourselves as in some way dependent upon the compliance and even complicity of those around us (our reference group) so that we must justify our actions, less they become alarmed and think we might do the same to them, and so if they have the means and the audacity, they may turn upon us.

The first accusations were easily disproven as the details were evidently not true. The final justification presented by the wolf was guilt by association, where it was not almost impossible to prove or disprove the validity of the injury the wolf claimed he suffered. In any case the alleged offences were clearly irrelevant; the wolf was determined to make a meal of the lamb.

They say that the first casualty of war is the truth.

Violence cannot (continue to) exist without lies, and lies can’t exist without (being backed up by) violence (or the threat of violence).

Jesus Christ said to His Disciples:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. (Mt.10:16)

Nonviolent News note: We are happy to publish relevant material with a religious ethos or background whether it is Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jain or whatever (material from these faith backgrounds, for example, can be found on our website). We are equally happy to publish material with a secular, atheist or agnostic ethos.

Nuclear power is a regrets industry – Some facts

by Caroline Hurley

1. Esteemed international climate solutions organisation Project Drawdown cautions against relying on nuclear power compared to other solutions because “At Project Drawdown, we consider Nuclear Power a “regrets” solution. It has potential to avoid emissions, but carries many concerns as well” – https://drawdown.org/solutions/nuclear-power

The five hundred odd nuclear power plants currently producing about 10 per cent of the world’s energy should be wound down for the serious and enduring liabilities they represent.

In 2023, the first nuclear power project in the U.S. featuring a small modular reactor was cancelled after a 53% surge in costs – https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Pioneering-Nuclear-Project-Gets-Canceled-After-Costs-Surge.html

The cost of Hinkley Point C, Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in decades, was originally priced at £16 billion. That made it the most expensive building in the world, and that was before costs began to spiral upwards. The latest estimate is that it will cost £32 billion. Promising lower bills with nuclear power makes no sense. Nuclear energy is the only type of energy whose production costs have been steadily soaring year after year.

2. Plant operations routinely release by-products: long-lived fission elements including radioactive plutonium-239, isotopes of iodine, caesium, radon and selenium, mixed in with minor actinides like curium and americium. Huge volumes of water are depleted. Safe nuclear waste storage methods have not yet been invented. Vitrification comes closest, where chemicals are extracted from high-level waste, folded into glass rods, put in sealed steel containers and then buried, in salt preferably, to delay melting, with fingers crossed. Deep geological disposal is proposed for long-term management but remains controversial, having to withstand up to millions of years of half-live releases, and entailing transport and other hazards. Lower-level waste is sealed in cement or recycled. This dooms future generations. If any kind of nuclear reactors had been constructed as part of the Stonehenge or Newgrange complexes, 21st century people would still have to manage the radioactive waste. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, about the size of County Kerry, will remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of years, maybe more. It has expanded in recent years.

3. In a country where neutrality is still cherished, Ireland should oppose civilian nuclear facilities which elsewhere are repeatedly adopted for military purposes. Anything from 15,000 to 25,000 nuclear weapons and counting now burden the planet, from a cumulative production tally of about 130,000 bombs, most made in either America or Russia, and smaller numbers in up to thirty other countries. The US alone ran over a thousand nuclear bomb tests between 1945 and 1992, each more lethal than the last. Another thousand were carried out elsewhere. At least two hundred nuclear reactor accidents occurred, many non-reported, as Soviet authorities had hoped for Chernobyl. A 2019 Sellafield leak did not make the news.

4. Some sources directly attribute over two million human deaths to atmospheric nuclear testing. Negligence during tests in the 1950s, when milk was contaminated, earned the US government a guilty verdict by a judge in 1984. Record volumes of radiation released raised health risks for millions of people. The United Nations announced in 2000 that nuclear radioactivity has spread across the entire earth. Nature everywhere now bears the tattoo. The Anthropocene was born with detonation of the first atomic bomb in the New Mexico Desert on July 16th, 1945, copper-fastening the Great Acceleration, of human progress and associated earth degradation. The revised standard to minimise dangerous releases is zero yield from sub-critical tests.

5. Joshua Frank, author of Atomic Days (2022), recalls the single largest anti-nuclear protest ever, which took place in New York City in September 1979 when an estimated 200,000 people rallied in Battery Park, calling for an immediate shut-down of Three Mile Island and an end to nuclear power proliferation globally. The global environmental movement sprang in large part from this era, which involved a very lively Irish element (Carnsore Point).

These invigorating actions, along with the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, put a halt to the construction of new nuclear plants in the United States. Since the accident, up to eighty per cent of Belarus children present with somatic pathologies, including deformities, cellular irregularities and age-inappropriate conditions like stroke, cardiac arrest, and neonatal cardiac cavities known as Chernobyl heart. Countless bodies of workers and patients absorbed isotopes sufficiently to classify them as walking radioactive waste. Plans for dozens of plants were shelved. By the mid-1980s the remarkably successful anti-nuclear power movement shifted its focus, joining the rapidly growing nuclear freeze movement, which was working to put the brakes on the global nuclear arms race.

6. How shameful that in the name of climate action, some are trying to undo this monumental success by prescribing nukes as a remedy? Of many reasons to oppose nuclear power. seven stand out: nuclear energy is not carbon neutral, huge mining impacts, nuclear power’s ties to atomic weapons, extreme waste issues, risks of accidents, and costs. See https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/09/09/the-case-against-nuclear-power-a-primer/

Numerous individuals and organisations have emerged in Ireland advocating for nuclear power as a major climate fix for a clean energy transition, particularly since, after a very close vote by lawmakers in July 2022, the European Parliament approved amended EU taxonomy rules labelling investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly. Some regard this as hijacking the EU’s key instrument of green policy, “openly accomplished through a campaign of misinformation conducted by the nuclear lobby.” – https://www.euronews.com/2023/08/25/sustainability-has-lost-its-meaning-as-the-nuclear-lobby-triumphs

Groups already participating in environmental projects around the country are being especially targeted to become poster-child converts to nuclear energy by industry influencers and Key Opinion Leaders, whose PR profiles are designed to project authority and trustworthiness. Lazarsfield’s milestone 1950s marketing study showed that driving consumer demand involves coaching “the effectiveness of interpersonal relations at each stage of the diffusion process”. It’s about capturing hearts and minds, even perhaps reassuring with convenient untruths, such as the claims made about reliable affordable small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), touted as solutions since the 1950s. The only one under construction in America was cancelled in 2023 due to unaffordability and, not counting just two prototypes under test, one in Russia and one in China, no other SMRs are in commercial use yet in the world.

However, if governments can be persuaded to take a risk on these boondoggles, whose record of breakdown and incidents contradict reliability claims, massive transfers of taxpayers’ money beckon. Governments also fall for other trade tricks, for example in France, the state had to buy electricity from a malfunctioning over-centralised energy sector, and run point heaters in summertime to destroy surplus electricity (for a fee) though produced and purchased, it could not be used anywhere. Intercountry grids will hardly address such warped bloats and glitches.

7. In their book, The Menace of Atomic Energy, published 50 years ago, Ralph Nader and John Abbotts revealed to readers that the person most responsible for developing American nuclear reactors, Dr Alvin Weinberg, admitted he would prefer solar energy if its cost could be brought down to less than 2.5 times the cost of nuclear energy. Solar panels can be installed quickly, with minimal disruption to nature. Methods to reduce the embodied energy used up in panels and improve end-of-life disposal progress steadily.

In 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) declared solar electricity the cheapest in history: at least four times cheaper than nuclear. Rare mention of nuclear energy being the most expensive signals the lobbying power of this massive miasmic industry.

In Germany, plans to open a nuclear reprocessing plant at Wackersdorf in Bavaria were discontinued in 1989 because of major public protests. The experience converted former lead nuclear exponent Dr Franz Alt to the benefits of renewable energy (RE). Alt coined the phrase, “solar panels for peace”, echoing President Eisenhower’s 1950s slogan, “atoms for peace”, referring to using fissile nuclear material for civilian electricity production not weapons. The monstrous consequences of accidents or conflict prove nuclear production poses a persistent security threat.

8. Decentralised energy independence based on 100% clean renewables is the eco alternative because, beyond its attraction as a target in the event of invasion, centralised electricity generation makes the grid unstable, and an unstable grid makes power supply unstable. Ireland with its already very centralised supply has a very high System Average Interruption Duration Index (the indicator of supply reliability), much higher than countries with a decentralised supply like Denmark or Germany. Local photovoltaic power generation means independence from burdensome or mistaken government and market forces.

Chronic above-average prices are predicted in the UK due to its large nuclear power plants and a lack of onshore Renewable Energy power plants. Power monopolies reinforcing their own dominance pose major threats to economies. Since Ireland’s electricity supply is linked to the UK grid, power price increases there are felt here.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) warned that crises such as the Ukraine war “makes it positively clear that we must invest in a secure, reliable, resilient, decentralized, democratic, and 100% clean and renewable energy system. Energy independence and climate change are both issues of national security”. Ending this dependency is urgent both on environmental and peace-and-justice grounds.

9. In her 2019 book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, Kate Brown shows that the US and other countries censored and destroyed evidence of radiation’s long-term biological toxicity, especially following low to moderate doses, which delay symptoms, meaning millions of impaired people are excluded from casualty counts. She hardly needed to mention the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ignominious but still extant 1959 agreement to desist from investigating and reporting the human health risks of nuclear radiation, made with US-sponsored nuclear advocate, the extremely powerful interest group, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Those who tried to probe atomic poisoning could find themselves fired, arrested or worse. The 2023 film La Syndicaliste gives a feel for what inquirers are up against. Such obstacles stymie the demand for proper wide-ranging studies into the actual consequences of massive lasting contamination of living beings. Brown’s retrieval of scattered reports by citizens, public servants and independent scientists whose perspectives clash with authority’s accounts of limited harm, sets the record straight. https://drb.ie/articles/were-all-hot-now/

In mid-sixties America, Dr John Gofman, cholesterol pioneer and inventor of the Linear Non-Threshold model, wondered about radiation’s impact on the human body, and initiated large-scale research. He and his colleague Dr Tamplin reviewed data from Japan’s Life-Span Study of atomic bomb victims. Observing how cancer and genetic injury so often succeeded radiation poisoning, Gofman and Tamplin concluded in1969 that safety guidelines for low-level exposure were way too high and recommended their reduction by ninety per cent. The US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) disputed the findings, and General Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, promptly ordered confiscation of the exhaustive medical documentation used, depriving humanity of this unique trove.

As Brown recounts, result reports were destroyed in 1973, and another independent researcher, Thomas Mancuso, fired in 1977. In the 1990s, Joseph Lyon encountered insider obstruction when gathering statistics for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on elevated sickness after Nevada tests: a further example of the high-level sabotage Brown repeatedly detected. Experts finally agreed in 1996 they were wrong, some might say criminally, to doubt the severity and prevalence of radioactive diseases in Chernobyl. Rather than safety guidelines being lowered, however, the trend is to raise them farther after each big nuclear event affecting populations and their homes, foods and workplaces, as if the logistics of sane response otherwise is too overwhelming. 2023 research confirms the disproportionately high and cumulative persistence of radioactive contamination – https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.3c03565#

Acknowledging Gofman’s work, the National Academy of Science carried out an enormous study on the biological effects of ionising radiation, or BEIR, for short. Findings confirmed warnings sounded by Gofman, yet even his advice to at least locate nuclear plants away from built-up areas was ignored.

10. The radiation that can cause severe burns, systemic sickness and death makes up fifteen per cent of a nuclear bomb’s output. Just fifty of today’s bombs could kill two hundred million people. In 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences invented the Doomsday Clock. Sixty years later, in 2007, the minute hand moved forward two minutes, from seven to five minutes to midnight. Ten years later, in 2017, it advanced another two and a half minutes due to extra risks from nuclear terrorism, rogue state arms acceleration and general nuclear renewal. Since 2023, it’s closer again, at 90 seconds to midnight. The taxonomy listing nuclear energy as green is emboldening for greenwashing companies. Who wouldn’t love a hazard-free clean energy? It’s like magic – until a closer look is taken. State services should ensure adequate and independent expertise is in place to compel transparency, corporate governance, and public awareness and safety. Instead, opinion formers flourish as they exhort people to be optimistic about a future presented as high-tech, nature-blind, urban and ever more prosperous. Realistically though, since the nuclear industry inhabits the same business spaces as fossil fuel companies, simply choose nuclear to increase humanity’s chance of soonest going broke, economically, environmentally and morally, on the way to midnight and extinction.

Finally, an important reference is the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2023

https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2023-.html

Conflicts in the Middle East, NI and elsewhere

by Peter Emerson

We start with a theoretical solution to the problem; next, we examine its most recent causes; and then propose possible steps for a less violent future.

The problem

The ideal would be a one-state solution, a country where peoples of different ethno-religious backgrounds share a territory where religion is not regarded as a distinction of nationhood. This has often been the case, not only in Israel and throughout the Middle East. Suffice for the moment to say that a single state of Israel/Palestine combined could not work, at all, if its governance were based on majority voting and majority rule.

Other jurisdictions have also been based on a religious affiliation: they include Northern Ireland, Pakistan and India, Libya, Croatia and Timor Leste. Unfortunately, in western democratic practice, problems are invariably reduced to dichotomies or series of dichotomies, and even though more sophisticated decision-making procedures have long since been devised, as often as not, decisions are still taken by a (simple, weighted or consociational) majority vote.

An alternative solution would involve the two states, Israel and Palestine, as neighbours: the former as is, contiguous, the latter split between Gaza and the West Bank. At the moment, there’s only one properly constituted nation-state, Israel, a country with a population of about 20% Arab. Therefore, in a democracy, (for as long as ethno-religious origins are considered to be so important) its parliament should also be about 20% Arab; Israel uses a closed-list form of PR, and currently, there are about 10% Arab elected representatives.

Secondly – or so it could be argued if democracy was for everybody and not just a majority – any government of ten or more ministers should include at least one or two Arabs; today’s cabinet in the Knesset consists of 28 ministers, so the number of Arabs should be three (on 10%) or six (on 20%). There are none. There were some in the previous administration, but Netanyahu now presides over the most extreme right-wing government of its history. Apparently, in current democratic practice, you can go to bed with the devil, as long as your cabinet is at least 50% + 1 of the parliament, it shall be regarded (by most) as democratic.

In a similar fashion, in 2017, Britain’s Tories teamed up with a bunch whose policies (but not necessarily the persons) were extremist, the DUP; the Labour Party did something similar in 1978; (so both of the UK’s big parties have and have always had a vested interest in keeping NI in the UK, so its majoritarian – and sometimes hung – parliament would always include a small number of malleable outsiders). Meanwhile, elsewhere, other extremist parties have also prospered. Austria’s coalition of 1999 included its Freedom Party on 52 seats but excluded the Socialists on 65. A similar party was in government (with no ministers) in the Netherlands in 2010, and in the wake of their 2023 election, the Dutch may soon be ruled by a coalition led by this party. Meanwhile, with its Alternative für Deutschland the right in Germany and elsewhere is also on the rise.

Majority coalitions, they say, lead to stable government… yet in some instances, as in Israel in 2015, the government has had a majority of just one MP: a tail which then wags the dog.

Israel often claims it is the only democracy in the Middle East. So part of the problem there is the fact that democracy here, as practised, is so adversarial; that some electoral systems are not preferential and proportional; that most cabinets are not all-party power-sharing administrations – indeed, the only one currently in existence but not in a conflict zone is in Switzerland; and thirdly, that decision-making almost everywhere is based on majority votes.

Recent causes

The most immediate cause of the current war was the horrific violence of October last year. The situation has been exacerbated by Israel’s excessive use of force since those events. Apart from outsiders like the USA, the UK and Russia, other players in the conflict include Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and of course Iran; their histories in this problem go back a little further.

Lebanon

In 1943, Beirut benefited from the fact that there were no ‘western experts’ (because the latter were all fighting WWII), so the Lebanese devised their own political structure. They now have an almost brilliant electoral system, albeit based on Britain’s useless first-past-the-post. In any constituency of, say, 50:25:25 Sunni:Maronite:Shi’a, parties may nominate candidates, but only if they too are in the same ratio of 2:1:1; accordingly, there shall be 4 or a multiple of 4 elected representatives, always in the same 2:1:1 ratio. Voters may vote for only one party, which means in this instance they also vote for four people in that same religious ratio of 2:1:1; if they don’t want a particular candidate, they can cross him/her out and put in another one… of the same religion! In effect, then, the election takes religion out of politics. Well, not quite; but it was a nice idea.

If NI also had that rule, if standing two candidates in North Belfast, for example, the DUP would have to include a Catholic! 

Their elections, then, are pretty good. Their religiously most diverse constituency elected 17 representatives, so there were lots and lots of candidates! And a typical result for a 128-member parliament included Shi’a, Sunni, Maronite, Greek and Armenian Orthodox and Catholic, Druze, Alawite and Protestant MPs… as well as, just in case, one more for the minorities!

The Taif Agreement also catered for a form of power-sharing, with appointments to various important posts – the likes of the president, premier, and speaker – subject to religious affiliation: a Maronite, a Sunni and a Shi’a, respectively. Sadly, therefore, their power-sharing arrangement perpetuated the very problem it was supposed to overcome.

In like manner, the designations used in Stormont in consociational votes enforce the sectarianism they were designed to obviate. 

In all, the authors of the Taif Agreement accepted the fact that, in every election, the voters should have a good choice. But, they continued, in decision-making, both the MPs in parliament and the voters in any referendum would have choices which were only binary.

Similarly, the authors of the Belfast Agreement agreed that, when choosing their local representatives, the voters in any council or Assembly election should be offered a choice of more than two candidates; and we still have PR-STV. When making decisions, however – ah, that’s different, apparently – the MLAs in Stormont or the voters in a referendum are to be given choices that are only binary. 

This tendency is universal. In 1949 in Germany, which had caused so many to suffer in, and/or as a consequence of, the Weimar Republic – which had a polity based on PR elections but majority voting in the parliament – the new post-Hitler settlement was to include a different form of PR in elections, but decision-making in the Bundestag still had to be binary, apparently. It’s in the Basic Law: “The fact that members of the Bundestag take decisions on behalf of the whole German people is a requirement for majority decision-making.” This oxymoron is pure gobbledegook! There is however one good proviso: all future elections of the chancellor are to be so-called constructive votes, so nobody is to vote ‘no’; rather, if they didn’t like option A, they could propose option B. In the USA, where two of the founding fathers actually invented a form of PR, decision-making in Congress has to be dichotomous. Trump is only the denouement of a binary polity.

And so it goes on, in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, decision-making on all sorts of disputes – and nearly all of them are multi-optional – is invariably binary! Even in Pyongyang, the North Korean constitution, article 97, stipulates majority voting, (not that it’s used very often).

Lebanon today is a multi-multi society, with a very fragile form of power-sharing in Beirut, while the mainly Shi’a sect of Hezbollah is concentrated in the South, close to the Israeli border.

Syria

The Golan Heights were taken by Israel, by force, during the six-day war of 1967.

In the wake of the Arab Spring in Tunisia in 2010, democracy was on the move. Whereupon a Sunni majority in Syria decided to oppose the rule of Bashar al-Assad, a member of a Shi’a sect called the Alawites; therefore, he belonged to a minority of a minority. The protest started in 2011, peacefully, but it turned violent within a year; the rest is yet more bloody history.

Yemen

Yemen has long since been split, with a mainly Sunni population in the eastern ‘half’ opposing the Shi’as in what had been the British colony of Aden, where today’s Houthis are based. Yet again, the country is divided in a majority-versus-minority conflict, as if being a majority (no matter how defined) gives them the right to rule.

A civil war started in 2014, with the Houthis trying to take over the whole country. Saudi Arabia intervened, militarily, on the side of the Sunnis (of course), while Iran supported and armed the Houthis (again of course). In 2022, the UN brokered a cease-fire, but the events in Gaza have prompted the Houthis to attack ships in the Red Sea, supposedly in support of their fellow religionists in Gaza in Palestine.

Iran

In 1906, in Iran, Britain discovered oil, which was sort of OK, and then decided that the oil was not Iranian but British. Mossadegh thought that was not OK, so in 1953, he held a referendum to nationalise it all, and he won, massively. That was just not good enough, apparently, so the British organised a coup, installed the Shah, and he had a referendum to reverse that decision… massively. Next, in 1979, the revolutionary Ayatollah had another poll, this one to prove that the people did not want to be socialist (by 99.8%) or capitalist (by 99.9%) and actually preferred to be Islamic (by 99.5%). As usual, a majority identifies, not the will of the people, not the will of the majority, but the will of he – it’s usually a he – who sets the question. The turnout was always high… except in the last plebiscite it was only 65%, as the Shi’a voted ‘yes’, of course, but the mainly Sunni minority of Turkmens in the North abstained, of course.

In like manner, the Catholics boycotted our 1973 border poll, as did the Orthodox in Croatia’s independence plebiscite of 1991, so too the Muslims in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1994, and the Georgians in South Ossetia in 2006, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Yet still there are people in these islands who want binary referendums, and academics in University College London and elsewhere who think of nothing else.

The future

But back to the problem of violence in the Middle East. There are at least two ways we can help:

a) at home, we could practice a form of democracy that, at least in theory, could work in a one-state solution;

and

b) in the conflict zone, where maybe a few of the great and good – religious leaders of all faiths, politicians, and retired but famous folk from many professions, with Arabic and Hebrew speakers among them – could walk, slowly, from Gaza to Jerusalem.

At Home

If we want all-party power-sharing in the Knesset, we should first practise it ourselves: the British people electing their parliament in a colour-blind, preferential and proportional system (like PR-STV); the British and Irish elected representatives then voting in a procedure which allows every member to choose, in order of preference, both those whom they wish to be in cabinet, and the ministry in which they want each of their nominees to serve – so the ballot paper is tabular. Like PR-STV, this matrix vote entices every party to nominate only as many as it thinks it can get elected; and it’s based on a Modified Borda Count which entices the parliamentarians to complete a full ballot. In effect, therefore, the voting procedure encourages every elected representative to cross the gender gap, the party divide and even the sectarian chasm! In the Knesset, it would mean that the a 28-member cabinet would invariably include about three to six Arabs.

Both Dáil Éireann and the House of Commons should not only preach all-party power-sharing; they should practise it. So too should Stormont, such that every executive would be cross-party; and governance, throughout these islands, could be more inclusive.

In the Dáil, Sinn Féin would also be in cabinet. In Ankara, the Kurds would be sharing power. And in the House of Commons, with only 1.5% of the MPs, the DUP would never be in government, (unless perhaps their number included one individual of exceptional talent). Meanwhile, the AfD would be in government in Berlin, the PVV in The Hague, and so on. And such cabinets would take all decisions in consensus, either verbally, and/or by using an MBC.

In the Middle East

By definition, in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi perhaps, anti-war protests should always be ‘peace-ful’. Those involved – the more famous the better – should best be old: persons like the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, an Imam, a Rabbi, a Buddhist, a Hindu, perhaps a serving or retired president like Mary Robinson, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, along with a few interpreters and some younger persons perhaps to care for the donkeys carrying the tents and so on. They could walk, slowly, meet the victims, discuss the problems with whomsoever, not least the press… and talk peace.

Peter Emerson

The de Borda Institute

www.deborda.org