Wednesday, January 10, 2018

UN reform! Anyone other than the Chinese?

Chinese Leadership on U.N. Reform

Rene Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service
6 Jan 2017 – There have been a number of periods when proposals for new or different United Nations structures were proposed and discussed. The first was in the 1944-1945 period when the Charter was being drafted. Some who had lived through the decline and then death of the League of Nations wanted a stronger world institution, able to move more quickly and effectively in times of crisis or the start of armed conflict.
In practice, the League of Nations was reincarnated in 1945 in the U.N. Charter but the names of some of the bodies were changed and new Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO were added. There was some dissatisfaction during the San Francisco negotiations, and an article was added indicating that 10 years after the coming into force of the Charter a proposal to hold a U.N. Charter Review Conference would be placed on the Agenda – thus for 1955.
The possibility of a U.N. Charter Review Conference led in the 1953-1954 period to a host of proposals for changes in the U.N. structures, for a greater role for international law, for a standing U.N. “peace force”. Nearly all these proposals would require modifications in the U.N. Charter.
When 1955 arrived, the United States and the Soviet Union, who did not want a Charter Review Conference which might have questioned their policies, were able to sweep the Charter Review agenda item under the rug from where it has never emerged. In place of a Charter Review Conference, a U.N. Committee on “Strengthening the U.N. Charter” was set up which made a number of useful suggestions, none of which were put into practice as such. The Committee on Strengthening the Charter was the first of a series of expert committees, “High-Level Panels” set up within the U.N. to review its functioning and its ability to respond to new challenges. There have also been a number of committees set up outside of the U.N. to look at world challenges and U.N. responses, such as the Commission on Global Governance.
While in practice there have been modifications in the ways the U.N. works, few of these changes have recognized an expert group’s recommendations as the source of the changes. Some of the proposals made would have strengthened some factions of the U.N. system over the then current status quo – most usually to strength the role of developing countries (the South) over the industrialized States (the North). While the vocabulary of “win-win” modifications is often used, in practice few States want to take a chance, and the status quo continues.
Now, with a new Secretary General who knows well how the U.N. works from his decade as High Commissioner for Refugees, U.N. reform is again “in the air”. There are an increasing number of proposals presented by governments and by non-governmental organizations associated with the U.N. The emphasis today is on what can be done without a revision of the Charter. Most of the proposals turn on what the Secretary General can do on his own authority. The Secretary General cannot go against the will of States – especially the most powerful States – , but he does have a certain power of initiative and can make changes under the cover of “better management”.
One of the most complete reform proposals has just been issued for discussion at the U.N. by the Government of China in a 27-page document. (1) Many of the proposals are very similar to suggestions made by the Association of World Citizens. The Chinese text has no footnotes as to what documents were read before writing the paper, so we will not suggest that they were “borrowed” from world citizens. We can only say that great minds go along the same avenues!
The Chinese proposals are divided into three major categories:
1.  Strengthening the conflict resolution, peacekeeping functions of the U.N.
2. Strengthening the capacity of the organization to promote economic and social wellbeing while at the same time protecting the environment.
3. Strengthening the management aspects both at U.N. Headquarters and in the field, strengthening the cooperation among U.N. Agencies, regional government organizations and new institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The paper begins with its aims and spirit.
The world is undergoing major developments, transformation, and adjustment, but peace and development remains the call of our day. The trends of global multi-polarity, economic globalization, IT application and cultural diversity are surging forward; and countries are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Yet, the world faces growing uncertainties and destabilizing factors as well as interwoven global threats and challenges that keep cropping up. Against this backdrop China is ready to work together with other countries to forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.”
The Chinese proposals merit close attention. Most are not radically new. The proposals are very “State-centric”. The role and capacity for action of non-governmental organizations is never mentioned. However, it is not so much the proposals themselves as the timing which is important. The reform of the U.N. has become a major policy issue. No other great power has put forward such a comprehensive set of proposals and none seem likely to do so. It is likely that given the large place given to a greater say in development policy and practice for the countries of the South, most of the 134 States which are considered “South” will support the Chinese proposals and not present counter proposals. China is not currently tied down in regional armed conflicts, and there is a strong “win-win” spirit in the presentation. Thus we can look to Chinese leadership on the U.N. Reform agenda.
Note:
1.  Available through the Passblue website of independent analysis of U.N. issues in a 3 January 2018 article by Kacie Candela
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RenĂ© Wadlow is a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Task Force on the Middle East, president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens, and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dear Editor,
My jaw dropped three times reading “Security Flaws” page A17 in the Washington Post this weekend.   
First, when I read the severity of the cyber security flaws it highlighted (confirming what I’ve thought about “cyber security” being an oxymoron).   Second, when I noted this profound news was relegated to page A17.  Nearly every aspect of our health, freedom and lives (banking, transportation, power, food, water, health care, emergency response, voting…) is now extremely dependent on cyber technology and profoundly vulnerable.  Third, when I went to find the article on the Post web page to share with others…I realized there is no ‘dropdown’ column for ‘science’, ‘technology’, or ‘engineering’. 
I used to tour the country doing campus and civic group presentations regarding a growing list of national security threats we face (some inevitable, most preventable) and the increasingly urgent need for  government effectiveness to prepare for, prevent, or recover from them.   My first PowerPoint slide had three lines.  The first was a growth curve arching increasingly upward representing the exponential growth in the power of dual-use technology (bio, cyber, nano, robotics, even conventional) over time.   The second was a linear straight line rising diagonally upward representing our brains capacity to absorb information and understand the world around us (our minds delusional capacity to ‘believe anything’ was on the next PowerPoint slide).  The third line represented our Government’s capacity for change.  It was essentially a flat line –little to no change over time (I did add a blip to that line in presentations done after Sept. 11, 2001).  I stopped doing these presentations a few years after my last professional job advocating for effective world government to address these global threats (something that should be even more self-evident given the growing global chaos since then).  What is most disturbing to me now is that since then that flat line has been heading downward.  If I were doing these presentations today I’d add a 4th line showing a similar decline in public trust in the media, churches, corporations and the government.
How the Post, with its new owner (and our new President, both products of advances in cyber technology) does not have a prime website ‘drop down’ for this influential category of technology is a surprise.
If I ever do more presentations on national security threats I’ll have to modify my initial PowerPoint slide by adding two more lines.   The forth line would represent the fourth estate (including the Post) regarding how we get our news.   It will slant gradually downward as technology transforms the quantity, quality, and source of that news.   The fifth line would basically parallel the third and fourth lines.  Slanting down over time representing the public’s loss in trust that ‘we the people’ have in both the news and our government’s ability to respond change.  
Things change.  Can we?  Can we do it fast enough and in the right direction?  Our founding fathers gave us the basic rules for achieving a ‘more perfect union”.  They offered ‘Self-Evident” “Truths” they failed to follow themselves in writing our flawed Constitution.  At what point will we make a change, a transformational change/coarse correction, before Artificial Intelligence makes it for us, or we destroy our own capacity for change via ignorance, apathy and exhaustion?   What we need are people who swear an oath to the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.    Not to a piece of paper (the Constitution) or a single book (Bible, Tora, Quran…).   If we fail to combine the power of technology with the power of the human spirit to ensure “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” as well as “justice for all” we may not deserve this profound gift we have been given on this third planet from the Sun.
2018 promises to be worse than 2017.  The hope we have that things will change for the better without an unprecedented united effort if folly.  Exactly 70 years ago after the horrors of World War II the world was given a document as profound as our Declaration of Independence.   The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was offered as a foundation for future peace, security and freedom for all.   Witnessing a new weapon with the capacity to vaporize a hundred thousand people in a flash, an attempted genocide, and catastrophic global war should have convinced those at the time to offer more than just a list of ideal goals.  They should have provided us with an ideal global system of governing the threats we face.  Threats that would only grow with time and advances in new technologies. 
Instead the key policy makers of the winners WWII gave ‘we the people of the world’ a virtually powerless global structure called the UN.  They ensured that the global paradigm of “national sovereignty” created over 400 years ago as a “peace treaty” would become “international law”.   They didn’t seem to consider the fact that the so called Treaty of Westphalia still allowed wars within and between states, and still permitted (helped create) two World Wars in less than 40 years.   It should come as no surprise that “international law” in reality is no law at all other than the law of the jungle.   Within nations, governments still do as they please.  Genocide, ethnic cleansing, starvation remind us we can only condemn in words, resolutions, and unenforceable treaties.
Considering relations between governments, nations with nuclear weapons can do as they please to other nations without them.  Or dictate to other nations suspected of having them or trying to acquire them.   Occasionally, governments looking out for themselves still have the freedom to use their nuclear weapons against another nation they feel threaten by.   Like a  “Stand your Ground” law that now exists in some US states.  Yes. You might end up murdering some individual you perceived as a threat to you, but that loss of their potentially innocent life was acceptable to ensure your right to self-protection.
So international law isn’t much more than bunch of good ideas and promises with zero enforcement capacity other than war itself, or sanctions which can be more deadly than war or sometimes lead to war.

  And, if those nations had nuclear weapons, the leaders of those nations could damn near do anything they wanted to other nations without ever being held personally accountable. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

“Who Can you Trust”, the book by Rachel Botsman, should be required reading for all eligible voters.   

The quick answer to the title question:   Engineers!   

Our currency says “In God We Trust” but as Thomas Jefferson once quipped “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Given what our government has done and continues to do to us and others around the world is there any question about why few trust it.

From the beginning our government failed to codify the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” when engineering the Constitution, the foundation of our government system and structures.  

First it condoned slavery and other injustices against Native Americans leading to a civil war that cost more American lives than all the wars we have fought since then combined.   

Today our foreign policy and war fighting strategies still ignore the self-evident truth that all people are created equal and deserving of the unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

Given the evolution of weaponry and war, the consequences of injustices related to our worshiped Constitution will be far greater than most people imagine.

So what do we trust?  When we flip a light switch we trust the lights will come on.  When we drive over a bridge we trust it won't collapse into the water.  When we go into surgery, we ultimately trust those involved in the operation to rely on proven medical procedures and medicines, and the hospital systems and structures intended to keep us safe while we are sedated and long after we awake.  

Why can't we trust our policy makers to enact a fair tax code?  How about a health care system to protect all children equally?  Or the elderly regardless of their income level.  Can we trust our government to protect the natural systems and structures we need to ensure every American has access to clean air and water, nutritious food and a relatively predictable climate? 

Most engineers and health professionals swear oaths to protect public health and safety.   Elected government officials, military leaders, and most public servants swear to protect the Constitution -- a document that used political principles but is allowed by 'we the people" to overlook the laws of nature and even nature’s God.

We tend to trust professions that rely on science and engineering but not those that rely on unscientific principles like “peace through strength”, "if it leads it bleeds" or “if it feels good do it”.  

Some professions may follow a moral or spiritual compass that they might attribute to ‘nature’s God’, the greater good of humanity, or justice (‘golden rule’) as a fundamental principle.  But then ignore the laws of nature and blame God when things don't turn out right.  They fail to grasp the self evident truth that nature always has the last vote.

Too often government laws and policies are based on alternative principles.  Political or party principles based on hypothetically good, but largely untested, ideas.   And then wonder why our government is increasing dysfunctional.   Engineers and doctors don’t rely on witchcraft or prayer to build strong bridges or heal the sick.  The Defense Department doesn’t rely on partisan principles in designing weapons systems. 
In reality, every aspect of our national security depends on well-functioning systems and reliable structures that are based on fundamental principles.  Protecting our freedoms, our security and our prosperity rely on all systems and structures operating smoothly.   

Thomas Freedman once said “Government moves at the speed of trust”.   Our government hasn’t passed a significant piece of legislation favoring 'justice for all' for decades.  According to a survey of US national security experts two years ago our own government’s dysfunction was the second greatest threat to our nation, just below terrorism.   Few would dispute that our government’s dysfunction has continued to worsen since then.
The inevitable lethal consequences of our loss of trust in government will be calculated in lives lost from the threat from gun nuts or homegrown lone-wolf terrorists using IEDs or drone delivered chemical or biological WMD.    It is impossible to protect both our Constitutional rights to bear arms and maintain our privacy  (2nd & 4nd Amendments) while also protecting our individual/national security.

Our only reliable means of maximizing both our freedom and national security is by re engineering our government and all of its policies (foreign and domestic) to responsibly following “the laws of nature and Nature’s God” and codify the “Truths” that we hold to be “Self-evident”.   

It was 69 years ago to the day - of the printing of this Washington Post book review, Dec. 10, 1948, - that the world attempted to follow the genius of a unique government design - that put human rights above states’ rights.  It was after the horrors of World War II that all nations agreed to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the security of future generations.

Humanity has yet to trust any system of world government and the creation of structures that would be needed to hold individuals and governments accountable for violations of human rights or crimes against the environment on which all life and prosperity depends.  But the world has recently agreed on meeting a comprehensive set of goals called the Sustainable Development Goals.  These represent the world’s best path to maximizing humanities freedoms, security and shared prosperity. 

If ‘we the people’ and governments of the world took on this set of 17 goals to the same degree we invest in our military readiness, we would spark the transformation of change needed at every level to bring trust back into the hearts and minds of people worldwide.

Any government constitution that continues to codify injustices at home or abroad cannot be trusted to deliver freedom, security, or prosperity indefinitely.    That should now be a ‘self-evident truth’ to any individual who trusts in the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

An 'Attention economy' within our 'distraction culture'

http://theweek.com/articles/737813/how-silicon-valley-hooks
Our addiction to social media was planned as a means of making software engineers rich. It was no conspiracy. Just good old capitalism of giving people what they want and rewarding their ‘likes’.
Unfortunately, the consequences of these creative ‘connecting’ apps were not fully understood. Not until Trump was elected.
Most people recognized their loss privacy and reasonably feared a ‘big brother’ government. Masses of lazy citizens largely relying on social media for their news. This only accelerated the decline of our democracy via mass misinformation, both intentional (fake news) and via our gross ignorance on important issues (war, terrorism, government, geography, and politics just to name a few).
But it was our innate tendency to be easily distracted that was reinforced over time by a culture of comfort and lack of responsibility or accountability for any beliefs we might acquire with our short attention spans. These qualities enabled the app ‘attention’ getters to get insanely wealthy. And our politics to get insanely crazy.
Thus we have a ‘attention economy’ built on top of a ‘distraction culture’. Can you think of a solution to this trend? It doesn’t matter. As the saying goes ‘”culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

"To become informed and hold government accountable, the general public needs to obtain news that is comprehensive yet interesting and understandable, that conveys facts and outcomes, not cosmetic images and airy promises. But that is not what the public demands." - Eric Alterman

" Although most Americans may be largely ignorant of what was, and still is, being done in their names, all are likely to pay a steep price-individually and collectively-for their nation's continued efforts to dominate the global scene."  - Chalmers Johnson

"To be innocent in America is to permit the continued theft of hundreds of billions of dollars from the state by Wall Street swindlers and speculators. To be innocent in America is to stand by as insurance and pharmaceutical companies, in the name of profit, condemn ill people, including children, to die. To be innocent in America is refusing to resist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are not only illegal under international law but responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people. This is the odd age we live in. Innocence is complicity."  -  Chris Hedges

Dear Editor,
It doesn’t matter if Trump’s distracting antics are a result of his genius or insanity. The bigger problem that Dana Milbank (“Get ready for Trump fireworks” Sunday 12-3-17) alludes to is that most newspaper readers are addicted to distractions instead of important issues.
Social media engineers used their genius to bring us addictive apps that made our lives increasingly out of touch with reality… insane. We think we are more ‘connected’ to the world texting while walking across the street. Using the cognitive science’s findings on addiction they created a booming ‘attention economy’, making themselves insanely rich. But few had any concern for either the immediate or long term consequences on our nation.
Nearly half of all Americans now get their (fake?) news from social media platforms that we are increasingly addicted to. And, while many people and software companies are now rightfully concerned about the loss of individual privacy and the larger risk to our democracy from an increasingly misinformed electorate, few have raised concerns about our longer term and more serious addiction to distractions.
Our species was never engineered (via evolution or creation) to passively accept hyper-paced lives and the exponential growth of technological change. And, no one engineered our governing and electoral systems to accommodate these stresses either. What most people want are simple and comfortable lives speckled with random but largely non-life threatening distractions. Unfortunately, lethal threats have been growing in the absence of us being responsible citizens regularly petitioning our elected officials.
For decades most Americans lived in a relatively comfortable economy peppered daily with semi-exciting distractions (sports, sex scandals, movies, wine tastings, concerts, and political side shows). Our comforts enabled our distractions. Meanwhile we persistently ignored the important issues all around us. Rarely do we consider applying the fundamental principles that our nation was founded on (“Truths” we ‘hold to be self-evident’”). Or, the “pledge” most Americans have given repeatedly to the flag to ensure “liberty and justice for all”.
So Trump’s genius or insanity is not the problem! He is just a symptom of our ‘attention economy’ built on our ‘culture of distraction’. It is as unsustainable as Trump’s failure of principled leadership.


Monday, November 6, 2017

US deaths in Niger (and future deaths) could have been prevented.

Dear (Washington Post) Editor,

The three troubling front page stories (Saturday Nov. 4, 2017) on “Africa/ISIS”, “climate change”, and “migrant” issues were each forecast in President Carter’s 1980 Presidential Commission on World Hunger.  It presaged the consequences of ignoring world hunger and poverty in terms of future “international terrorism”, “war”, “environmental hazards”, “refugees” and other problems.   It stated, ”Calculable or not…this combination of problems now threatens the national security of all countries just as surely as advancing armies or nuclear arsenals.”  
The report concluded “In the final analysis, unless Americans -- as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world -- place far higher priority on overcoming world hunger, its effects will no longer remain remote or unfamiliar.  Nor can we wait until we reach the brink of the precipice; the major actions required do not lend themselves to crisis planning, patchwork management, or emergency financing... The hour is late.  Age-old forces of poverty, disease, inequity, and hunger continue to challenge the world.  Our humanity demands that we act upon these challenges now...”     
Your editorial the same day titled “After Niger, a needed debate” called for “updating the legal authorization for U.S. military action against terrorist groups”, the “AUMF”.  This suggestion ignores the wisdom of most counter-terrorism experts who believe that military force alone cannot defeat this metalizing violent extremist threat.  What could make a difference is the “long-neglected business” of sustainable development.   Appropriating funds to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be more effective than any “AUMF”.
Carter’s Commission understood this back then: “promoting economic development in general, and overcoming hunger in particular, are tasks far more critical to the U.S. national security than most policymakers acknowledge or even believe. Since the advent of nuclear weapons most Americans have been conditioned to equate national security with the strength of strategic military forces. The Commission considers this prevailing belief to be a simplistic illusion. Armed might represents merely the physical aspect of national security. Military force is ultimately useless in the absence of the global security that only coordinated international progress toward social justice can bring.”
The SDG’s are our best hope.   This may not be “Constitutional” but it is fundamentally wise.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

China overtakes US?

It’s official (according to Time, Nov 13, 2017)!  China’s “state capitalist system is better equipped and perhaps even more sustainable than the American model”. 
It should have been obvious from the start (it was to some) that the US capitalist system's victory over the Soviet’s system would be final.  Theirs was only the first to fail.  And, even if China’s system had not (yet?) surpassed the US system, our debt ridden system was doomed due to multiple structure flaws.  It was a system without fundamental principles like the ‘Laws of nature and Nature's God’.   The same flaws contained in the engineering or our Constitution. 
First, it is not possible for any national economy to perpetually dominate a global capitalist system.  Global economic competition breeds a winner but also many losers in a race to the lowest profit margins.  Any economic system that prioritizes profit over people and governments that lack any enforceable global controls leaves all national contenders at the whims of the lowest denominators; human rights protections such as health care, education, fair wages and environmental costs.
Eventually, no global capitalist system is sustainable environmentally without a global political system that effectively puts the protection of natural resources and human rights (justice) above the power of individual nation states and global corporations.  These institutions follow their own short term self-interests with zero non-violent enforceable restraints.
Yes.  Our system “dominated the international system since the end of WWII”.  But at what price?  Our dependence on foreign oil was the primary driver of US foreign and military policy that enriched and protected repressive oil rich regimes that first yielded Al Qaeda and then ISIS.  Before that it was our policies that prioritized US corporate interests throughout Latin America and Asia.  We minimized walking-our-talk regarding high minded human rights values and prioritized those who benefited most from our economic system (most Americans and particularly the top 1%).  From that same focus we also got the Vietnam War, our ‘war on drugs’, and a combative political culture each continuing to divide, criminalize, disable, and kill Americans.
China remained relatively ‘isolated’ during these decades of US decadence, dominance, and international military adventurism (US military bases remain in well over 100 nations).  Now China is gallivanting around the world making friends in every hamlet and nation (many hostile or ambivalent to US interests) offering development projects and jobs, jobs, jobs -- improvements in lives of millions of impoverished world citizens that will likely endear them and their national government  to the Chinese model - and perhaps China’s future policy choices that will continue to diminish US power and self-interest in our increasingly interdependent world.   China is even adopting the wisdom of investing in renewable energies and environmental protections while US policy changes slide backward.
It didn’t have to be this way.  American’s worship of ‘national sovereignty’ and prioritization of military power over moral power over the past few decades blinded us to this inevitable outcome.  As China grows in both economic, military and global political power it will be increasingly difficult to the US to peacefully negotiate any other alternatives.   Alternatives do exist but they are virtually invisible to most Americans and US policy makers due to our preconceived notions/beliefs about the supremacy of our U.S. Constitution and the flawed systems and structures it maintains. 
You want examples?  Your security, and thus freedoms, would be gravely at risk if you chose to fly in an airplane, cross a bridge, live in a high-rise, use a doctor, or adopt a diet that had not been engineered based on the fundamental principles inherent in ‘laws of nature’.   Americans have increasingly lost their trust in government, not because government is inherently bad.  It’s just increasing clear that it cannot be trusted to protect both our freedoms and our security.  And the primary reason for this is not corrupt or greedy politicians.  It’s because our current government system and it’s structures are based on a flawed concept that ‘we the people’ have codified into all of our laws.  That flawed concept being that unnatural concept of ‘independence’.   In a nutshell, independent nations and independent agencies cannot deal effectively with globally interdependent problems.   The threats we face from WMD proliferation, cyber fueled extremist ideologies, refugees, pandemics, climate change, artificial intelligence, or a global recession are immune to independent actions.  If you monitor C-span and listen to the experts offering the best solutions to these threats you will hear several words repeatedly; “holistic”, “comprehensive”, “whole-of-government”, “collective”, “resilience”.   The first four are in reference to the fundamental need to address each problem as a species.  The last word is used for two reasons.  First, those who are offering the solutions know (consciously or unconsciously) that the first four words will be ignored by all policy makers.  Second, some of the catastrophic threats that cannot be prevented, even with a collective investment of effort and resources, will require a response that will most likely go beyond most of the artificial political borders we have drawn and wrapped our local, state, and national laws around  (earthquakes, super volcanos, asteroids, accidental wars, genocides, and eventually AI).  
It may be possible to produce an even more sustainable, secure and prosperous future system, but it would require our nation finally putting into practice the fundamental principles our founding fathers held to be ‘self-evident’ truths in our Declaration of Independence.  The concept supported by every major world religion, that all people are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.  And finally adopting the list of rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be the best place to start.  Given that codifying these rights in any global system and structures of government, the next best option we have is adequately funding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030 that were adopted by most of the world’s nations two years ago.
There is an estimated $34 trillion anonymously hidden in off shore accounts by kleptocratic rulers, drug lords, and capitalists avoiding taxes who benefited handsomely from the lawless global capitalist system.  Seizing and freezing a large portion of these assets would mean governments would not need to increase taxes to achieve these vital global goals.   US leadership on this issue before we lose any more global economic leverage would be transformational in investing in the prevention of most of the threats we now face, and better enable us to address the threats even the best governments cannot prevent.
In essence, we need to reform our Constitution.  No new Amendments would be needed but expanding the rights protected under our current Constitution to all people, would be a good start.  This was the promise offered by our Declaration of Independence and pledged by every American who has ever stood before our flag and said the words “Liberty and justice for all” with their hands over their solumn heart.  
The one other term often touted by high minded policy makers to justify the righteousness of their end goal is our belief in the “rule of law”.  It’s a profound idea that is applied nowhere in our foreign policy.  I believe it to be a fundamental principle of any legitimate government ‘of, for, and by the people’.  
Engineering a government should be no different than engineering a bridge.  Words and phrases should mean something specific.  Supreme Court Justice Kennedy was once asked what was needed for the rule of law to be effective.  He said three elements.  First the laws needed to be made and enforced by a democratic process. But democracy by itself is too easily abused. Second, the laws must be enforced equally on all…no one is above the law.  Last, the laws focus must be the protection of human rights. Rights that we have regardless of our skin color, religion, place of birth….  Anyone who argues differently is arguing for an unsustainable government system and structure.   China’s new economic system ignores two of these three elements. 
Perhaps its time we offered the world what we have always said we valued.  A democratic system enforcing liberty and justice for all within the spirit of “Nature’s God”. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Treaty to Ban Nukes a waste of time

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize selection of the group dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons represents yet another failure of the committee to fully understand what is actually needed to achieve a solid foundation for sustainable world peace.
Conservatives believe peace is a function of armaments.  Liberals believe peace is a function of disarmament.  Both miss the fundamental age old self-evident truth that real peace is a function of justice.   Any so called ‘peace’ without justice will be just a temporary ceasefire that allows all sides to rearm and develop new capacities for waging war and mass murder.
“No justice, No Peace” is a frequent rallying poster for the peace movement but rarely do they advocate for an enforceable global justice system -- a system that puts the rights of “we the people” above the rights of nations to do as they please.  The unenforceable ‘feel-good’ concept/system of treaties and international law has allowed injustices, often mass murder and those who start wars, to go virtually unpunished.   This lack of global accountability has given humanity the accelerating chaos and growing list of seeming insurmountable problems we all face today. 
Both ancient and modern scribes have always insisted that injustices are the primary driver of war and other forms of mass violence.  

"Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens" : Plato : Ancient Greek philosopher (428/427-348/347 B.C.)

True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice. Jane Addams (First American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize).

Now with new kinds of WMD far easier and cheaper to develop than nuclear weapons, and increasingly anonymous delivery systems, it’s time to look beyond the failed concepts of both disarmament, and increasing armaments, as a means of maximizing both the freedoms and security that we all cherish.

After the horrors of World War II there was a global consensus that the protection of fundamental human rights was essential to preventing future wars and other threats to our freedom and security.  The world unanimously approved of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Unfortunately, the war’s victors created a UN that failed to give it the powers needed to protect these list of inalienable human rights. 
This post war error mirrored the same fatal error that our founding fathers made in writing the U.S. Constitution.  A ‘Bill of Rights’ ensured our nation’s creation, but it did so codifying the injustice of slavery -- putting States Rights over human rights.  This led to a war that cost more US lives than all the wars Americans fought in since then - combined.   One should never doubt that the degree to which people in this nation are denied their fundamental rights is the degree to which risk future domestic violence and potentially another civil war (imagine the bloodshed if the Second Amendment were abolished).   Now imagine an effort to abolish nuclear weapons in a world filled with nation states that insist on putting their national economic or survival interest above the rights of ‘we the world’s people’.   
So why reward the potentially catastrophic effort of ‘banning’ nuclear weapons (see Iraq War 2003, growing tensions with both North Korea or Iran) without first eliminating the injustices that fuel the tensions.
Understanding the origin of the Nobel Peace prize offers some insight.   Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite was intended to make war so destructive it would be ‘unthinkable”.   It made sense at the time.  Today, given the evolution of varying sources of WMD it makes even more sense.   But banning WMD technology will do nothing to reduce its availability and increasing affordability, when there is so much demand for it.
If one clearly understands the current and future accelerating evolution of biological weapons, cyber threats, robotics, nano technology, and eventually drone delivery of almost any form of mass murder conceivable, then the need for another path to security becomes self-evident.   Unfortunately, most disarmament (or armament) advocates are trapped in their deep-rooted mental bubble that effectively blinds them from this obvious modern technological dilemma.   Seeing the dilemma clearly one can see that banning injustices will be infinitely easier than trying to ban the means of mass destruction.
In the late 1990s a panel at the Brookings Institute confirmed the wisdom of investing limited time and resources in protecting  human rights and the environment verses the growing difficulty of trying to track both the movements of weapons and financial resources.   The panel’s study of four basic types of treaties and the impact that advances in technology were having on each of them was extremely important and increasingly relevant today.  They basically concluded, advances in technology were making it easier and easier to monitor and verify violations in human rights and environmental treaties, yet the same advances in technology were making it harder and harder to monitor and verify the movement of weapons and financial resources.   Some consider our Government’s debt and budget deficits a more inevitable threat to national security threat than nuclear war.  
And, we are now in a perpetual global war against terrorism…a tactic of the weak for which there will be no victory without banning the conditions that drive the weak to choose such a violent tactics.  Banning their capacity to acquire weapons of any kind will not only bankrupt any nation that tries.  It will also require that nation to violate the privacy rights of every person in the world.   And even a Gestapo like inspection force will not be capable of finding and stopping every attempt at mass murder. 
Global justice won’t stop them all either.  But it will dramatically reduce the number of injustices that drive increasing numbers of people to seek the means for mass murder.
And, when (not if) biological weapons are used the resulting refugee flows, poverty, spread of infectious diseases, halt of trade, environmental degradation, and more WMD proliferation will only exacerbate risks to our freedoms and domestic security.
The bottom line is that the global elimination of nuclear weapons is possible -- it just isn’t going to happen in a world of growing and glairing injustices.   Even if by magic all nuclear weapons disappeared overnight, we would be no safer from those who can more easily and affordably acquire other forms of WMD, some with anonymous delivery capability, and some with even greater capacity for mass murder than a limited nuclear exchange or a non-nuclear World War III.  
The highest peace priority must be lessening the drivers of any kind of war or desire for mass murder.  If nations, peace activists, and the Nobel Prize committee were truly interested in creating a world where the possibility of war would be greatly diminished….they would abandon their fantasies of increased security through either disarmament or increased armaments – and put the protection of human rights on the top of their agenda.
The most direct means of achieving this has already been agreed upon by all the world’s nations.  It’s achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030.  This is as close as we can now get, short of a world federation that puts the protection of human rights above the rights of nation states, to laying the foundation for sustainable world peace and security from other ominous and likely threats.  
Anything short of this only postpones the day of reckoning, yielding the evolution of weaponry an even greater capacity for mass murder and the likelihood they will be used. 

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."  - Thomas Jefferson


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