Monday, March 12, 2018

National Security Redefined. Documenting local costs of global injustices.

An action coalition for redefining national security? 
"No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result." --Ludwig von Mises
National Security is NOT what it used to be. 
Even before Trump’s election a survey of national security experts claimed that the second greatest threat our national security was our own “government dysfunction”. 
Each day another politician, military general, CEO, or prestigious commission cites yet another non-military issue related to “National Security” then followed by the phrase “one of the greatest”.    From cyber hacks on our democracy, unsustainable US debt, inevitable pandemics, increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather conditions, Artificial Intelligence, nation state failures, evolution of weapons, terrorism and WMD proliferation… to name a few.
There’s a fundamental reason for this.  Every system and structure in the world is interconnected and interdependent on a variety of resources and actions.  But our global system of governance is not.  It operates on an alternative principle invented in the human mind and found nowhere in nature – independence.  In political jargon this means national sovereignty – a political concept invented over 400 years ago at the treaty if Westphalia.  Since then, things have changed tremendously.  The exponential advances in technology now demand that we change accordingly, or face catastrophic consequences in virtually every aspect of civilization as we know it.
Accelerating advances in dual-use technology and the irreversible globalization of our economy, health, and environment has locked everyone’s freedom and security together due to the increasing availability of anyone’s affordable access to multiple dual-use technologies, each with unprecedented capacity for mass murder, destruction, disruption, or disinformation.  
Traditional military means of defending nations and their citizens may still work against invading armies but they are virtually useless against a host of other national security threats. 
Few people understand that biological (natural or human engineered) threats could kill as many Americans as a limited nuclear exchange; cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure could kill millions;  social media destroying our democratic essentials (truth, trust in government, and elections) erodes our unity from within; the global proliferation of various dual-use technologies capable of yielding unprecedentedly powerful, anonymous and autonomous WMD weapons will increase risks to privacy and freedom of movement;  and the budget busting evolution of new military weaponry for which there is no immediate effective defense represents an entirely new generation of warfare that could derail our vital economy on which our traditional national security elements depend.
Increasing military expenditures for more or even new weapons systems will be wasted money at best.  At worse, these expenditures and new weapon systems will be used to continue an endless war against terrorism, a tactic that can never be defeated by military means.  Let me repeat …NEVER be defeated by military means. Yet US budget deficits continue to fatten our already unsustainable debt burden. This then provides more reason to further slash the vital funds needed for preventing war and reducing other non-military related threats.   General Mattis’ gets it.  In his budget request he asked Congress to “buy me more bullets” ‘if you continue cut funding for the State Department and USAID’.
Why will Congress not listen?  The Military Industrial Complex has their army of lobbyists.  But the bigger reason is that peace activists don’t, and most Americans and their Members of Congress continue to assume that our nation’s security is a function of military spending.  Some in office may be afraid to declare their opposition to such a myth but this could not be sustained if American’s really understood the local costs of US military interventions abroad and lack of investments in improving the lives others beyond our shores.  In other words, global justice for all.
This must change!  As more US citizens and policy makers are now willing to speak out against virtually unrestricted access to firearms domestically … we cannot wait until there is a mass casualty terrorist attack in the US before offering clear warning that it is our US military interventions ‘over there’ that is the primary recruiting tool for terrorists attacks ‘over here’.
This and other lethal domestic consequences of violent US military involvement abroad (returning soldiers with PTSD…) and our lack of humanitarian investments in nation building or diplomacy abroad  can no longer be ignored.  The local cost of infectious diseases like Polio, Measles, TB, HIV/AIDs, Ebola and other new and re-emerging infectious diseases that cannot be stopped by a border wall when most infectious diseases are delivered here by US tourists, troops, and business travelers returning to their families and friends  via airports, water ports, and legal border crossings.
Draughts, floods, hurricanes, wild fires and tornadoes are increasing in frequency and intensity. These local extreme weather conditions will accelerate and continue to rack up tens of billions of dollar in damage and thousands of US deaths as global temperatures and oceans continue to rise.  
No wall or military weapons can stop Cyber-criminal hackers and low cost- lethal Opioid doses breaching our borders.  Investments in local prevention would protect more dollars and lives than any new class of nuclear weapon or hypersonic torpedoes.
There are multiple other sources of domestic benefit from addressing global issues at their source.  From job losses to the loss of our Antibiotic arsenal the quality of our lives is irreversibly linked to the quality of lives of everyone we share this world with.  
Americans must document the local costs of global injustices.  Add up they are shocking.  We must reverse the obscene amount of US tax dollars being poured into weapons and wars that in the long run only exacerbate global injustices when they are used… and do as much damage even if they are not used because of the lost financing for investing in preventive measures.
If you would like to assist in gathering information on local costs of global injustices consider working with us to document specific costs in your own Congressional District.  We will assist you each step of the way to create a local event in your community at no cost to you, other than your valuable time. And, we will never ask you for anything but that time.
We cannot think of a better use of anyone’s time, than gathering information that can persuade policy makers to stop the madness of violence, poverty and other global injustices that are linked to our local communities.
The Action Network:   Conf Call March 29, 2018  7 pm EST.
At least two action options exist using the local costs once they are documented.  
1.        Freeze and Seize Offshore accounts:    There is at least $32 trillion stashed in private offshore accounts by kleptocrats, drug cartels, and capitalists avoiding taxes.  

2.      The Robin Hood Tax:     The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax of less than half of 1% on Wall Street transactions that could generate $300 Billion annually. 
The Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street will kick start the economy and get America back on its feet by funding College For All, creating jobs and strengthening public services like healthcare, education and infrastructure at home while tackling AIDS, global health, poverty and climate challenges around the world.

The SDGs are the only comprehensive plan available that can effectively address the root causes of war, pandemics, genocide, environmental destruction, hunger, starvation, refugees…
It would take a movement of movements (peace, environment, and social/economic justice movements coming together) within the US to create sufficient political will to make it happen.
SUMMARY:  An immediate plan is needed to redefine national security.   More military funding, nuclear weapons, or walls will not protect us against climate change, pandemics, terrorism, job losses, cyber-attacks, WMD proliferation, the evolution of new weapons for which there is no defense, or an endless arms race we cannot afford.  Before the November elections we must document the local health, economic, and environmental costs within each of the 435 US Congressional Districts that result from the endless wars we are engaged in and the poverty related consequences of other injustices that our foreign policy avoids or inadvertently causes.  Either weekend around the 4th of July Independence Day celebrations would an ideal time to clearly document our global interdependence -- and our need for a comprehensive global approach to prevent most of the threats our military cannot protect us from.
If not this, what?  If not now, when?  If not a movement of movements…what?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

AR-15s are NOT the perfect tool for mass killing.

The highly respected journalist William Falk (Editor-in-Chief of the THE WEEK magazine) wrote his usually insightful “Editor’s Letter” in his March 2, 2018 edition.   It needs a correction.   "AR-15-style rifles are" NOT "the perfect tools for mass killings".  A rental truck is far easier and cheaper to acquire, load, and use.  The mass murderer in Nice, France killed nearly twice as many and wounded nearly the same number as the Las Vegas shooter (who shot more than 400 people in 10 minutes).  That motivated lone driver used less than 4 minutes.  Timothy McVeigh profoundly beat that by using a special mix of fuel oil and fertilizer in a rental truck.  That was far more difficult than grabbing an AR-15.  But killing 168 people and wounding 680 more in under three seconds!  That makes the rental truck and access to farm supplies a far more "perfect tool" for committing mass murder.  Arguably McVeigh was not mentally ill.   Perhaps there is something mentally sick with a culture that produces mass murderers that we should urgently be looking to change.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Massacres: Florida Students to Foreign Villagers

Of all human experiences, the worst is losing a child.  Two dozen parents of Parkland School in Florida experienced this ultimate horror last week when a disturbed youth used a military grade weapon to mass murder 15 students and two teachers.  Student outrage there and nationwide is entirely understandable.  Repetitive bloody, deadly school shootings must end.  Perhaps this slaughter is the straw that breaks the back of the NRA-funded Congress. Maybe this one will prompt changes in government policy loopholes that permit easy gun access to almost anyone. Don’t, however, get hopes up. 

Even enacting and enforcing the strictest gun laws will not end Americans’ mass killings, according to evidence. Two less discussed factors would need to be addressed: 1) the unrelenting U.S. culture of violence and 2) our detachment from fundamental principles that are essential to diminishing the demented desire to slaughter others at will. These two elements will sustain Americans’ culture of bloody violence regardless of any strategy to limit access to guns.  Why? Our capacity to slaughter others is not limited to guns. Ever more powerful, affordable and accessible means of mass murder surround us.  

Imagine Timothy McVeigh’s lower death toll had he used an automatic weapon to attack Oklahoma City federal building.  His WMD of choice was a fuel oil/fertilizer explosive mix filling a rental truck.  McVeigh killed 19 children plus 149 adults.  Even without explosives, an average truck or automobile can mow down dozens. One ISIS member demonstrated this in 2016 in Nice, France, killing 84 and wounding over 300.  Any school or public gathering is prime targets for any mentally impaired or vengeance-seeking driver.

George Lakoff identified two basic human problem solving types.  The first is “direct causation” a solution that immediately comes to mind. When liberals hear of a gun killing, they think “Take it away.”  When conservatives hear the same, they think, “Shoot the shooter!”  Regarding ‘illegal’ immigrants?   Conservatives say “Build a wall!”.  Liberal’s demand we “Protect their their human rights.” Lakoff believes knee-jerk type thinking and effective actions requires deeper thinking he calls “systemic causation.”  Inevitably, addressing systemic flaws in our laws and culture will offer more effective comprehensive solutions.

Unfortunately, most Americans are disinterested in examining systems that have for decades, provided elements of freedom, comfort and security.  Since the 2008 glitch in our economic system, however, more Americans see a rigged system that is not in their favor.  Historically and globally, the economic system has never been rigged in favor of everyone.  Living conditions have improved for most, yet still billions of people suffer daily from the terror of, war, genocide, hunger, infectious diseases and natural disasters, mostly rooted in lethal poverty killing and displacing tens of millions of innocent people a year. 

Over 15,000 children under age 5 still die every day from easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases. Most Americans rarely hear about this. And when we do, we rarely care enough to act.  Few opportunities exist for those actually in the crosshairs of these problems to escape lethal and debilitating injustices that our national and international system of laws monstrously causes or ignores.

So how are those deaths and suffering linked to student deaths in Florida, Chicago, or Baltimore?  Or the Las Vegas concert mass shooting, for which no motive has been found?  The answer isn’t guns?  A powerful case can be made that it is our nation’s culturally acceptable disconnect from each other that is largely reinforced by an illusion of separateness and exceptionalism drilled into our brains each time we celebrate our ‘Independence’ each 4th of July -- with bombs bursting in air and rightfully honoring those who sacrificed their lives and fortunes giving birth to our federation.  Our lethal mental error is thinking we are independent, different and exceptional because of it. In believing the US is better than other nations and their unfortunate people if our drone strikes accidently kill their innocent children by the dozens or our ‘shock and awe’ military campaign results in massive ‘collateral damage’ it is acceptable because we are protecting our own freedoms and security.  We ignore the first two paragraphs of our actual Declaration of Independence referencing the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and the “Truths” that we should hold as “Self-evident”.  Since our nation’s founding we have ignored them.  And the unprecedented cost in American lives and treasure will continue to rise until we codify them into every legal system but most importantly our way of thinking.
Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  We falsely believe our borders and our laws make our lives more valuable than theirs.  And other lives don’t matter if my life sucks.  We make no mental connection between the Florida shooter’s sick mind and our absence of real concern for children dying of preventable diseases or being dismembered by errant US drone strikes.  But some American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and even some directing drones strikes from Florida military bases, beg to differ.  PTSD is not their mental problem.  It is a normal and natural reaction to our profoundly dysfunctional culture.

How many returning US soldiers have murdered themselves, their loved ones, or strangers due to their up-close and personal war experiences. We are all to blame.

School violence is not new.  While working as a high school teacher at Cherry Hill, New Jersey in the late 1970s, a troubled student detonated a bomb in a locker near my classroom.  The explosion rattled our skulls and our minds.  The first thought?  “Why would anyone do such a thing?” The second thought?  “They had issues.”  In hind sight we refused to see them or address them for that troubled soul.

Foresight is what we need now.   When shocked by events local or global, and struggling to figure why people do ‘crazy’ things, my mentor suggests viewing every person’s action as either “an act of love or a request for love.” Instead we just blame them.  We assume their mental problems are beyond help. We are wrong.

What in our mind/culture gives us consent to avoid people who different from us or stir our discomfort?   Peer pressure in today’s teens can discourage befriending an odd ball.  For adults it is our discomfort with divisive partisan views or differences in our religious, ethnic, or patriotic beliefs that separates us from workable solutions and forming a more perfect union. The lethal and destructive consequence of this ‘independent’ mind set should be “Self-evident”. 

Our mental separation from neighbors, odd family members, other nations, and especially our natural environment’s life support system - does not bode well for our species’ health and wellbeing.  The exponential global growth of our technological capacity for mass murder is irreversibly attached to our flawed mental construct that believes we are free and independent of the needs and the will of all others that we share this planet with.  This will be our undoing. 
Humanity evolved within highly socialized tribes. If our minds fail to understand that we now exist in a global tribe and not groupings of independent people and nations every aspect of what we know as civilized life is endangered.  Not just school safety, our elections, our nation, and our freedoms. Everything.  Everything we need work smoothly and sustainably as individuals or nations is made up of systems and structures that are all interdependent on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.   As we celebrate ( ‘worship’?) Independence Day this July 4th, this is the singular ideal we must honor.  All people have the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Independence is an illusion. We must now fight for liberty and justice for all, or prepare for unprecedented murderous chaos.   If that happens, a gun may become your best friend.

If you are still unconvinced…please read on.  

Our nation’s culture of increasing personal disconnect accelerated by smart phone addiction, selfies, endless entertainment, and mindless distractions will occasionally be interrupted by something important - like a mass shooting, an recession, a flood or a terrorist attack.  You will either become more interested in root (systemic) causes and addressing those, or you will turn more inward with despair, fear, and possibly hopelessness.  
Before that, remember that nearly 40 million Americans have no access to affordable health care and 1000s will likely to go bankrupt each year attempting to pay medical costs of intentional or accidental gun-shot victims, many who are faceless because they were not shot at a school. 

Our minds are limited as to how much death and suffering we can think about.  We cannot, however, limit our anger and advocacy to massacre emergencies.  We must work to understand our culture that glorifies violence yet ignores 50 young girls kidnapped from their boarding school recently in a Nigerian village by Boko Haram extremists, or the 5.5 million children and youths trapped for sex and slavery by human traffickers in the U.S. and elsewhere.   We must work mentally to understand the bravery of a Black Muslim off-duty Maryland Police officer murdered this week coming to rescue his next door neighbor who fear for her life from her estranged husband.  The armed officer was shot in an ambush at close range 5 times with a shot gun within steps of his own front door.  Multiple police attempts to find and disarm the suspect in the days leading up to the attack had failed.

Enraged, heartbroken students and parents who are preparing #MarchForOurLives on March 24 will be insufficient unless their preparations include teach-ins about America’s culture of violence, separatism and exceptionalism. Hopefully they will teach others that the terrorizing teenage deaths at U.S. schools is no more or less tragic than the 6,000 teens who will be killed this year texting while driving, the 5,000 teen deaths from driving while under the influence of alcohol, the thousands who will kill themselves from loneliness, cultural pressures, or lack of love and attention needed to meaningfully connect to others here, and the millions of children and parents suffering, displaced, and killed abroad from poverty and wars that are too often the result of US military involvement or lack of our humanitarian involvement.

My hope is that #MarchForOurLives protesters learn that guns do not divide us;  but our personal perspectives on guns do. 
Hunting and target shooting were major parts of my youth.  My father taught me (unintentionally) the greatest value of guns: self-defense.  He was a big, strong, illiterate and bitter man after the loss of his first son in a tragic drowning incident he could have prevented; He was a good man if providing for one’s family was the primary measure.  We never wanted for food, clothing, a warm bed, or entertainment.  We did however, deeply desired freedom from frequent physical beatings and verbal abuse.   His intolerance for anyone disagreeing with him or not immediately and perfectly performing his orders, and occasional death threats were terrifying.  As I grew more capable of enduring physical and emotional pain inflicted on me, my motivation turned to stopping the torment and bruises that he inflicted on my heroic mother. My gravitational attraction to guns in his unlocked gun cabinet grew.

Fantasies of murdering my father continued until I dreamed I actually did it.  I awoke crying.  Yet that didn’t stop my mind from imagining multiple lethal ways without using a gun to bring an end to his life and final peace and security to my Mom, sister and myself.  I’m proof that a motivated mind and a human body’s fragility and vulnerability are virtually unlimited.  This realization helped me earn a top grade in a college ROTC task shortly after the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attack.   Our assignment was to imagine ourselves as terrorists conjuring plots to attack the US.  I aced it.  I’d joined ROTC to avoid the Vietnam War draft and quit as soon as the war ended.  Studying biology and various global life threats after that my only shock on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was that most Americans were shocked it had happened.  I had feared a massive terrorist attack and mentioned the threat of the suicidal airliner attack a few years before the Trade Towers fell.  Studying technological capacity and threat motives it became self-evident that ‘peace’ would not last. Without global justice, any ‘peace’ was just a period of reloading. And every tool and technology can be weaponized.  That is it the user’s heart that determines how it will be used. 
We can never effectively limit the technology available to any murderous passion.  But, we can dramatically reduce the human desire to commit mass murder, both here or abroad.  Our culture must be fully committed to everyone’s wellbeing.   We pledge liberty and justice for all but don’t codify it or demand it.  Justice and the protection of human rights are core principles of our Constitution but they are too often not enforced.   It’s no mystery that every major religion’s first principle is the Golden Rule, and the local and global consequences of failing that wisdom.

Hopefully, youth-inspired #NeverAgain actions will focus on transforming out nation’s inherently flawed government, economic and healthcare systems and structures that to this day fail to codify the fundamental principles used to justify the birth of our nation.  
Every 4th of July we celebrate the document that offered those self-evident truths flowing from the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.   Perhaps its finally time we make “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” and “Liberty, and justice for all” our primary goal. 
Chuck Woolery, former Chair, United Nations Council of Organizations
and Deborah Dupré, Human Rights Reporter (rtd) onTwitter @DeborahDupré

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Manaford millions and US National Security

What’s the connection between Manafort’s offshore millions and US national security?  It has nothing to do with Russia as you might think.  It has everything to do with the a global economic system that allows people like Manafort, drug cartel kingpins, and government kleptocrats - like Russia’s billionaire president Putin -- stashing trillions in cash in legal offshore accounts.  Trillions that could go to addressing the dire human needs globally that underlie a range of biosecurity risk to every American.  (Shockingly, even a few US states have similar banking laws that make them legal repositories for an estimated $12 trillion from such ‘private’ entities.)
Now consider today’s news report regarding the aging of CDC’s most important biosecurity facilities.  At 15 year and aging they must continue research on the most highly infectious and non-curable viral diseases now know.  They are in funding competition for limited resources with dozens of other vital (and some not-so-vital) government agencies.   And it will take 4 years to safely upgrade them.
With the current and growing risk of pandemics, the slow spread of new or re-emerging infectious diseases (think HIV/AIDS), or the loss of our antibiotic arsenal, all being inevitable threats, time is not on our side.  Then there is the not inevitable but increasing likely criminal use of engineered biological WMD.  Bioterrorism can be as catastrophic to American lives, prosperity, and national security as a limited nuclear exchange.   Engineering of bioweapons is relatively easy compared to nuclear WMD and the technology to do it is ubiquitous and affordable technology.  And the results anonymous,  easy to deliver, and then multiply and spread by themselves.
Our security would be far better served by freezing and ceasing some of these offshore accounts and devoting the fresh resources to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  These goals represent the comprehensive global approach to security by addressing the poverty and injustices that are fueling a range of serious threats.   More military spending won’t help and may even exacerbate these human threats as foreign wars expand and our military involvement continues to create refugees and more enemies with the collateral damage that are inevitable in waging any kinetic war.
A 1980 Presidential Commission on World Hunger warned “The Commission believes that 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.
With the evolution of weapons, war and other threats…time is running out.  It should be clear there is no shortage of money that should have been devoted to improving humanities condition, not just the greedy and callous 1 percent.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

State of the Union? Dysfunctional!

President Trumps first State of the Union address in 2018 would have been accurate if he had used one word. Dysfunctional! 

Our short term political and socio-economic agendas are out of sync and out-of-balance with basic human needs for our sustainable survival.  Together we must focus on strategic solutions not cultural biases. Solutions based on hard evidence that allows the possibility to harmonize all systems and structures (cellular, body, family, city, state, national, global) together. Because thats were we are. Together. Now in an unsustainable union on spaceship earth.

This will require using fundamental principles, not the alternative principles created in by human minds that have never been conclusively tested.

Engineers own half of the equation for us to survive and thrive when they follow the “Laws of Nature”. Laws that have been tested over billions of years.
Theologians and policymakers own the other half when following the laws of “Nature’s God”. Laws that have been tested over millions of years now represented by The Golden Rule.

Combining these we can engineer a sustainable world with ‘life, liberty and justice for all’. Ignoring them will be catastrophic.

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles." -- Thomas Jefferson, 1797

To hell with patience! Literally. That’s where we are heading if we fail to codify fundamental principles in all that we do on this finite planet. It’s now urgent that we act consistently and holistically on such principles!

Warning! If you prefer that ‘life and death’ decisions be based on human emotions instead of logic and reasoning, stop reading now. You won’t agree with most of what follows.
It is not fake news that our political system (elections, party loyalty, candidate financing, procurement process…) are dysfunctional.
Our current government system and structures (a divided and uncooperative Congress, a bully Administration, an unprincipled Supreme Court, DOD, DHS, HHS, CIA, Dept of Veterans Affairs, Dept of Education…) are all dysfunctional. We don’t trust them. We don’t trust the media, scientists, corporations, or each other. But trust is what we need to thrive and survive.
Just as troubling is the UN system and other global structures (NATO, G-8, G-20…) that we created to deal with terrorism, pandemics, wars, genocide, famine, WMD proliferation, poverty, climate change and failed states… They are also dysfunctional.
Only a fool would trust any of these systems and structures to fix themselves. Yet they must be fixed unless you believe that "politics as usual" can do it. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is a workable definition of insanity.
As a human principle is has persistently failed. And that persistent failure is now threatening ever aspect of our lives.

What follows may sound utopian, but considering the alternative we may want to consider some utopian ideas. It wouldn’t be the first.
The great visionary and genius designer Buckminster Fuller highlighted in his 1973 book with the same name "Utopia or Oblivion." 
‘We can either create heaven on earth — or our children will inherit a living hell.’ This is now an urgent choice.

So here’s the key question. Is there anything we can trust? Our coinage suggested ‘In God we Trust”. But what does that mean?
Here is something it could mean that is in sync with our nation’s Founding Fathers.
The idea that our rights, our sovereign rights are God given. Our most fundamental rights of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are not a gift from our government just to Americans with a passport. But to all people regardless of their government’s priorities. Protecting the fundamental rights of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all people equally is the ONLY valid function of government.

These were the “Truths” that our founding fathers claimed were “Self-evident”. The idea that ‘all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ These rights, and others, are worthy of trust. We cannot trust those who offer alternative principles.

Can we trust justice? “Justice for all” is essentially the modern version of ‘the Golden Rule”. A fundamental principle of every major religion. Yet Americans have a Department of Justice that enforces unjust laws. It is a legal system not a system that enforces justice. It is fundamentally flawed. Yet we continue to worship the Constitution and the systems and structures it codified. And then we wonder why our State of the Union is dysfunctional.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Real World. Not the one your mind invented.

The Real World. 

January 1, 2018, the UN Secretary-General issued a red alert for the world calling for unity in a world of growing conflict and inequality.  He said, “Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals.”  If we fail his advice we should arrange burial plans for millions of people, the US Constitution, and the UN Charter.  Without transforming these two governance systems and structures we can expect increasing chaos.   Things change but we don’t.   We collectively keep ignoring the “Self-evident” “Truths” inherent in the “Laws of Nature and Natures God”(LN&NG).  These fundamental principles (FPs) are essential for sustainably governing our lives, our nations, and the world.  They are principles from which other basic truths, laws, or assumptions are made for making workable things.  America’s founding fathers acknowledged their importance in the lead paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.   FPs should not be confused with the alternative principles (APs) that humans craft to forward other agendas.  APs might work temporarily, but inevitably they fail.  Every reliable system and structure in the world that we depend on to sustain life is based on FPs.   Humanities persistent failure to distinguish between FPs and APs is the difference between life and billions of deaths.  It is the difference between prevention and unsustainable economic and environmental costs.   Anyone concerned about reversing the world’s accelerating chaos should adhere to FPs for solutions to sustain freedom and security for all.
Listed below are key factors influencing our minds perceptions of the world.  Some meld our hearts and minds. Others distract our thinking from what is required for managing a more workable world.  They have been gleaned from dozens of sources over three decades of observing the growing abyss between the horrific things humans do in the world and how wonderful the world could be if we actually adopted the LN&NG that have been understood for decades, some for millenniums.
As a biologist I find it fascinating that the Bible, written nearly 2000 years ago, predicted global chaos if responsible choices were shunned.  It must have been obvious, even back then, that advances in weaponry and the resistance of the human mind to change were unsustainable.
Three lines of change:   Change is a FP.  Life’s prime directive is survival.   Thus, a biological FP dictates that if a living thing fails to adapt to the changing world around it, it will parish.  Humans are adventurous but they also value stability/security.  The natural world has many threats so for millennium humans have invented principles intended to protect themselves and those they spawn and depend on.  If those principles adhered to the LN&NG they increased their chance of survival. If those principles were incompatible with the LN & NG the people and cultures that adopted them usually perished.  Principles incompatible with the LN&NG are APs (alternative principles).  They may have been useful once but ultimately they fail.
Given the two FPs above (constant change and the need to adapt) it should be easy to predict the real world consequences of these three current-era non-intersecting lines.  The first line arches upward representing the exponential growth in the power and global availability of technologies.  The second line rises shallow but relatively straight.  It represents linear human thinking.  The last line represents government change. It runs flat across time with a blip up on Sept 11, 2001, but is now declining in any prospect for significant change in either the US Constitution or UN governing systems.

Our Pleistocene linear thinking shouldn’t need Artificial Intelligence (AI) to forecast the inevitable consequences of relying on a 260 year old AP (American federalism) working within a 400 year old global governing AP (national sovereignty).   The current hyper technological change in an irreversibly interconnected world spells chaos.
The technologies changing the fastest are bio, cyber, and robotics -- each are increasingly profound and challenging to contemplate global consequences.  Bioengineers can now make new viruses faster than our capacity to make, test, and manufacture vaccines to protect against them.  Computer engineers are developing AI to think and learn infinitely faster than humans-- spawning weapon systems that pose an existential threat acknowledged by the smartest minds in the technology world.   Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that whoever masters AI will become ‘ruler of the world’.   Last year China’s government, which can change quickly, announced its plans to be the “premier global AI innovation center” by 2030.  China already invests heavily in AI and the former Executive Chair of Google’s parent Alphabet, said China is expected to overtake the US within a decade.  The vital question should not be which nation develops AI first but can any nation control it.
The economic cost of investing precious time and limited tax dollars into weapons systems for protecting ‘national security’ in a never ending arms race and endless war on terrorism… is unsustainable. Yet nations keep doing it.  Meanwhile, poverty and its related hunger and infectious diseases combined with the rise of wealth related chronic diseases continue to destabilize nation states via social unrest and economic debt respectively.    Given the inevitable threat of pandemics or the likelihood of bioengineered weapons destabilizing nations and global economic systems with little warning, the fact that existing governments rely on reactionary responses instead of preventive actions -- is sheer stupidity.   Knowing this is the Modus operandi of many humans is not encouraging.
War tactics and strategies will continue to evolve. The permanent war against terrorism (with privacy being sacrificed for security) and rising threats between nations accelerate the evolution of weapon technologies which are mostly dependent on private R&D tech advances.  The nature of corporations is global sales and distribution of its technology.   Given that all technology is dual-use, even Fitbits (the personal wristband health monitors) can be weaponized if terrorists hack them to find and target soldiers or military bases where they live and train.
Another factor is that ‘offensive’ uses of technology usually have an advantage over their defensive uses.  Given the natural vulnerabilities to the S&S within our bodies and complex unfortified technological S&S we rely on to protect them, protecting life is at a disadvantage.  Castles, rivers and oceans once helped to protect us.  Not now.  A more troubling factor is that traditional weapons used to be used up when used. Bio and Cyber weapons replicate themselves freely when used and are increasingly less noticeable and more anonymous.
Worldwide engineers adhering to FPs are creating unprecedentedly powerful, affordable, and ubiquitous technologies -- all with multiple uses.  Only the motivation of the user decides how.  And human users are prone to error and anticipating unintended consequences.  Technologies can be directed to achieve miracles or disasters.  Meanwhile our mind’s linear thinking (particularly among peace activists) struggles to understand the real world implications of these factors.   These and others make disarmament ultimately impossible and deterrence increasingly irrelevant making the progressive ‘peace through disarmament’ AP and the conservative “peace through strength” AP equally foolish.
Ultimately technology cannot be controlled.  But preventing or remediating natural or intentional disasters require it.   Transforming our global governance S&S to incorporate the LN&NG can significantly reduce motivation to misuse technology.
America’s founding fathers failed to do this when engineering our nation’s original federal system.  And within 100 years our civil war lasting only four years killed more Americans than all the wars since then combined.   Astonishingly, we still haven’t codified these ‘self-evident’ FPs into our dealings with people in other nations.   The lethal blowback from unjust foreign policy and military actions will only accelerate.   Old dogmatic political APs like ‘national sovereignty’ are simply unworkable in a rapidly changing and irreversibly interdependent world.
Universal elements (Systems, Structures, and Fundamental Principles)­:   All life forms are delicate systems and structures that depend on natural S&S that are all based on the LN&NG.  Being part of all of this we must remember that over 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct.  And, nothing but the best use of human ingenuity and technological can ensure the survival of current species including ourselves. 
Our focus thus far has been on making mostly unnecessary things-- systems and structures that make our lives easier and more comfortable while ignoring the lives of others who cannot afford them.  We only recently started thinking seriously about environmental sustainability.   But these ‘green’ investments pale in comparison to our investments in military might, looking good, and immediate comforts.  
Human’s primary structural survival advantages (walking on two legs, thumbs for tool making, and shoulders capable of accurate projectile throwing) evolved with our mind’s creative capacity for solving problems we encounter in nature.   Again, our creative mind (once a strength) has now become our primary problem.  We recognize and then ignore FPs and defend to the death maintaining APs accelerating our demise.  Engineers and scientists rely on FPs and use repeatable tests to ensure they work.   Politicians use APs then use elections and wars for testing.  No wonder “We the people” lost trust in government.  Trust requires truth and APs are basically unreliable.  Engineering a more workable world will require FPs inherent in the LN&NG.
An FP that politicians often mention but rarely codify is justice.  Every major religion promotes the “Golden Rule”.   Wise men assert that Nature’s God settles for nothing less.  Americans pledge “justice for all” but rarely demand it in governments S&S.  The Declaration of Independence offered us another FP of Nature’s God -- our “unalienable right” to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.  Only a partisan politician trapped in an ideological bubble of APs can miss this theme.  Why? 
Domains of experience (senses, feelings, and concepts):  When birthed we initially experience the real world through five senses.  These lead to internal sensations we later in life call ‘feelings’ or ‘emotions’.   Our use of words for conceptual learning is achieved with our mind’s unprecedented capacity for language.   Before relying on science to understand S&S we used language to creatively describe and explain things.  We shared stories, analogies and concepts.  These could be useful or irrelevant, even dangerous, if they distanced us from the LN&NG.   
Science and religions eventually helped us identify FPs, explore them, and adopt them into our lives.  Old stories and unexamined concepts however still reinforce APs and S&S spread them.  We freely do either.  Tragically, our bodies, families, and nations are never free of the dangers of relying on APs.  Here is how concepts (APs) create and exacerbate many of today’s problems while FPs will solve them.  Applying concepts consistent with the LN&NG can help us manage reality thus creating a more workable world.
Expectations (Freedom, Security, and Independence):  “Freedom is…a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” John Webbe.  
We are free to do as we want.  But we (and humanity) will never be free of the consequences.  Every action has consequences -- perhaps thousands.   And, every action inevitably impacts the freedom and security of others.   Then, as much as people want freedom, they also want security.   This creates an unavoidable freedom verses security dilemma.  In order to maximize both freedom and security it is essential to understand we have unintentionally created a trilemma (a condition in which we must choose two out of three options).  The third desire created in our minds is an AP – ‘independence’.  Which, in reality, is an illusion.
In worshiping ‘independence’ we blind ourselves to the consequences our actions have on other things (people, nations and the environment).  By recognizing this and taking responsible actions regarding the LN&NG we can effectively maximizes both our freedom and our security.   Believing ‘independent’ governments can protect our freedom and security is recipe for sacrificing freedom and/or security.  One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. 
Most factors that influence our nation’s economy, environment, society, crime rates, health, and security are significantly influenced by global forces-- forces that walls, weapons systems, and independent governments (or agencies) cannot stop.  One pathogen, one computer virus, or one high altitude EMP event can ruin your whole day.
Our current government S&S do great injustices when we try to hold nations accountable for the actions of their leaders.  This ‘national sovereignty’ system is inherently flawed relying on diplomacy, covert actions, war, threats of war, or sanctions (which can be more deadly than war) when seeking accountability.  This so-called ‘International Law’ is no better than international hopes and dreams.  Each of these APs ignores the LN&NG.   The grand illusion is assuming that sovereignty belongs to governments.  According to the LN&NG sovereignty belongs to individuals to govern their own destiny.  Citizens may lend it to governments to collectively defend their freedoms and security, but if their government acts irresponsibly… there will be consequences to both.   Borders, reactionary policies, limited budgets, and hopeful wishes are worse than useless.
 The trilemma applies to every sector.  Consider health (biosecurity perhaps the most immediate and inevitably threat to humanity).  The greatest human achievement is arguably the unprecedented global eradication of Smallpox.  Wars killed around 100 million people in the 20th century.  Governments murdering their own citizens (genocides) took 160 million more.  Smallpox alone killed over 300 million (more than war and genocide combined) in just 70 years of that century.  Astonishingly, if just one nation, tribe, or family had rejected the Smallpox vaccine, the mass killer would still be with us today.   Instead, because of a onetime US government investment of $32 million into the 10 year global campaign, US taxpayers have saved over $1000 domestically for every dollar invested globally.  It was the engineering (using FPs) of global S&S at every government level which achieved it.  Every issue (education, religion, cybersecurity, trade, environment, crime, immigration, WMD proliferation, terrorism…) fits this scenario.  Maximizing freedom and security, requires shedding the AP of independence.   
Paths (Status quo, extinction, transformation):  The acceleration of threatening news will continue without fundamental change in government S&S.   By doing nothing or just tweaking the S&S conditions will continue to worsen indefinitely.  Catastrophic collapse may be inevitable given the evolution of weaponry.   Codifying the LN&NG into all government S&S will transform the current ‘law of force’ into the ‘force of law’.  The global Rule of Law.
Essential factors (Democracy, Justice, and Unalienable Human Rights):  Words mean specific things to engineers, scientists, doctors, and even lawyers.  To politicians words can mean anything (think “health care”).   Politicians often praise the phrase “rule of law” but few have a working definition.   Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy did.  When asked “what makes the ‘Rule of Law’ effective?”  He answered ‘it requires “three” basic elements.  First, the laws must be made and enforced by a democratic process (people’s participating in rule making is important, but majority rule is dangerous).   Second, laws must be applied equally to all (No justice.  No peace).   Third, laws must be protective of basic unalienable human rights’ (many claim this alone is the primary function of government).
Dangerously, US government S&S miscarried here.  In our “Justice System” it is better to be rich and guilty than innocent and poor.  It is a legal system not a justice system.  Worse, our nation’s defense system is lethally unjust globally.  Both systems demonstrate little respect for everyone’s unalienable rights.
Fundamental rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness):   You’d be crazy to drive across a bridge or fly in an airplane that was engineered using APs.  Yet we are complacent in living with a US Constitution and UN Charter with both ignoring the LN&NG.  Why not trust “Self-evident” “Truths”?
Confucius say, “Abandon weapons first. Then food.  But never abandon trust.  People cannot get on without trust. Trust is more important than life.”  Last year Thomas Friedman said “Government moves at the speed of trust.”  In FDRs 1941 State of the Union Address he defined four basic freedoms ‘freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear.’  Together these quotes offer a sane path to ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. 
Countless truth-seekers over the last 3000 years have spelled out the FPs. Historians document the persistent human folly of ignoring them.  Why do politicians continue to defend APs as our cherished freedoms and security diminish? 
Mental Flaws (beliefs, limits, and intractability):  We cannot deny our mind’s capacity to believe ANYTHING.   Our imaginative capacity enabled us to visit the moon, eradicate smallpox, and establish a global communications system.   Originally, a tool to improve our chances for survival and procreation, our mind eventually became the righteous and often murderous defender of APs.  
Worse yet, we don’t even do what we know we should -- like preventing problems instead of reacting to them.  But our minds capacity for distraction may be most dangerous.   We are sinking in quicksand while swatting at flies.  Instead of debating who can marry, we should be lobbying our elected officials 24/7/365 to take essential actions.
Essential actions (Holistic, funding, security):   Expert’s agree.  Workable solutions will require ‘holistic’, ‘comprehensive’, ‘universal’ or ‘whole of government” efforts.   These are needed to prevent wars, genocides, famines, dictatorships, terrorism… and effectively recover from threats we cannot prevent.  After WWII’s horrors the undemocratic UN agreed to what should be humanities most valuable document – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   It’s the closest the world came to codifying the LN&NG, but the UN was given no power to enforce it.  This December 10th is the 70th anniversary of the hope it offered.  Gloriously, just 2 years ago, the world’s governments approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.  But, without adequate funding.  Fortunately, there’s no lack of money in the real world.   What is needed is a global movement of movements (MOM) to freeze and seize some of the estimated $32 trillion now stashed in off-shore accounts by corrupt leaders, drug cartels, and greedy capitalists - all avoiding national taxation S&S. 
Movements (Peace, Justice, & Environment):  Advocating as one movement, these three broad movements (peace, environment, and social/economic justice movements) consisting of tens of thousands of organizations with hundreds of millions of individuals could create the political will for funding a more workable world.  But their advocacy must be done in the context of national security…as well as their existing humanitarian/moral goals.  So far each has resisted abandoning their own movement’s special interest to sustainably achieve life, liberty and justice for all.
Three publications (Global justice, Warnings, UN Reform):   There’s no shortage of prestigious studies, unanimous reports, and bipartisan commissions offering repeated warnings about the threats we face, action plans to prevent them and the blue prints to create a more workable world.  Here’s three: 
Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World:  By Joe Schwartzberg. A book summary can be found:
In conclusion:  Unless we follow the laws of nature (using science and engineering to sustain humanity) and nature’s God (the wisdom of the ages –the golden rule – liberty and justice for all)  humanities destiny will be hobbled or ended.  This revelation is not new.  Everything changes.  Can we?

"Now all acts of legislature apparently contrary to natural right and justice, are, in our laws, and must be in the nature of things, considered as void. The laws of nature are the laws of God: A legislature must not obstruct our obedience to him from whose punishments they cannot protect us. All human constitutions which contradict His laws, we are in conscience bound to disobey." -- George Mason (1725-1792), drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights and one of three who refused to sign the Constitution.

"A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse." -- Thomas Jefferson

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.
1.  Available through the Passblue website of independent analysis of U.N. issues in a 3 January 2018 article by Kacie Candela

René 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.