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'
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


Monday, October 2, 2017

Pure Evil in Los Vegas, or mass sins?

Pure Evil or mass sins?  Mass murder in Los Vegas.  Home of the free, land of the disconnected. Oct 1, 2017: 
The horrific carnage we just witnessed in Las Vegas will never be stopped with sensible or even draconian gun control measures.  The time and resources we spend on these are wasted.  It keeps us from addressing the systemic root causes of any mass murder.  This bloody incident highlights the cost of a warped mental perspective spawned by a lack of empathy/compassion for human life or a bent mental frame reinforced by real or perceived injustices.
News reports highlight Stephen Paddock slaughter as “the largest mass shooting in US modern history”.  This is true.   But we easily forget that guns are not the only or even the most horrifically destructive means of mass murder in the US.  Increasingly other easily affordable means are available to every U.S. citizen and increasingly every human on earth.  And most, like guns can never be effectively banned.
Note that Mr. Paddock had a pilot license and owned two aircraft.  And, according to investigators he had ammonium nitrate in his car.   Now think Timothy McVeigh with a rental truck killing over 150 people and al Qaida’s use of airplanes in killing thousands.  Or, the loan wolf terrorist attack in Nice France that killed 80 people using a rental truck without explosives or firearms.
Paddock was not a gun nut. He had no military or criminal background other than his father, a professional bank robber who was once on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.  Stephen Paddock was supposedly a multi-millionaire gamble/speculator.  Obviously he never speculated that his wealth could benefit others in great need, or be used for more unselfish ends.
President Trump called his assault on concert goers an act of “pure evil”.   “Evil’ however is not a useful word.  It certainly feels good say it but it has limited prescriptive value.   ‘Crime’ or ‘sin’ however, does.   These terms  offer some effective preventive measures to consider once we get past the grieving for those who were killed or wounded.   Why sin?   It was Mahatma Gandhi who once postulated the seven sources of sin.  Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Religion without sacrifice, and Politics without principle.  It appears that Mr. Paddock struck out on most. And so do most of us. Our culture encourages these sins and we have great difficulty in resisting them.
Someone once postulated, “how healthy can we be if we are well adjusted to a profoundly sick society?”   And I’m going to go way out on a limb here and suggest the root cause of mass killings by any technical means is our ‘American’ culture of individualism and “America first” -- a worship of selfishness without much consideration for the pledge that we have all given before our U.S. flag  of “Liberty and justice for all”.  
Few Americans are moved to action by whatever empathy they may have when US military forces accidently mass murder innocent people while conducting our nation’s 16 year war against terrorism.  We call it collateral damage and view such murders as acceptable in using force to maintaining our own security.  We dictate to other nations what weapons they are allowed to have and threaten them with lethal sanctions or annihilation if they don’t bend to our will.  When our corporations are linked to exploitive business ventures or corruption that results in lethal poverty, poisoning, prostitution, or support for murderous regimes.  Too few Americans turn to boycotts or urging their U.S. Representatives or Senators to vote against such crimes or introduce legislation to prohibit them.   Holding generals, soldiers or CEO’s accountable for such violations of fundamental human rights?  Just not a priority.
Some claim that we are a Christian nation.  But looking at most people’s check books it would be hard to identify those who actually walk Jesus’ talk.  That whole “do unto others” thing is more of an ‘eye for an eye’ reaction than a ‘love your neighbor’ or ‘forgive those who tress pass’ commitment.
Bottom line:  So don’t be surprised if sensible gun laws are passed and the mass killings don’t subside.  Or, if draconian gun laws pass and the killings accelerate.
It should be a “Self –Evident” “Truth” that all people are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.  And, that real peace and sustainable security is not a function of disarming people or having more or better armaments.  The imperishable human desires for maximum freedom and security are a function of justice.  In a religious sense, “the Golden Rule”.  
The surprise of Mr. Braddock’s family to his horrendous crime/sin could reflect the disconnect that exists within their family, and perhaps our own, and beyond to our local and global neighbors.  I’m not sure what it will take to change this.  To reconnect us to our better selves.  So far,  it appears that only massive pain and suffering even get us close to looking at alternatives to the status quo.  I could be wrong, but reality suggests not.  More gun laws are not the answer.  A culture that discourages sin and insists on laws that enforce “liberty and justice for all” could be.

Imagine a US culture with a profound respect for all human life and God’s creation that sustains it.  A culture of fewer sinners, led by a President and policy makers that walk our national pledge of  “liberty and justice for all”.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump at the UN

It looks like Trump finally realized he needs the rest of the world to succeed in de-nuking N. Korea.
Yet he used the word “sovereign” or its variants 19 times in his speech before the UN yesterday (averaging nearly once every two minutes).  He also asserted that, for all the U.N.’s noble intentions, “the nation state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.”
Someone should remind him that it was not ‘the nation state’ that achieved the greatest improvement in our human condition. It has been the application of science and engineering.  Particularly when focused on public health and safety rooted in the context of the Golden Rule. 
When the nation state uses science and engineering to protect itself instead of all humanity, we get nations with increasingly powerful weapons that any state, and now any group or agitated individual, can use to mass murder millions.
Only when the nation state applies its powers to the fundamental principle of ‘liberty and justice for all’ instead of its own special interests will the human condition be improved -- and sustained -- for generations to come. 
To achieve this mission look to the words of the Declaration of Independence and rewrite any Constitution that ignores the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.
The UN does have many noble intentions.  Unfortunately, it has always maintained it’s prime directive; the protection of national sovereignty, not human rights.   The UN protection of human rights isn’t even a low level action priority, and that’s the way nation states like it.

Re-engineer this specific UN failing and the human condition will rise like the morning sun.  . 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why I wanted Trump to be President.

TRUMP:  Why I wanted Trump to be elected.
People are going to think I’m crazy for the things I’m about to write (some already think I’m crazy).  But I want to go on record for recognizing the obvious.
Here’s the three reasons I repeatedly rationalized a Trump victory both before and after his election. 
Frist, without a radical transformation of our nation’s political systems and structures our comfy way of life will end catastrophically.   More than a year before Trump’s victory a U.S. Senator stated in a hearing on C-Span that US national security experts were surveyed to rank what they believed were the greatest threats to our national security.  Terrorism ranked #1.  But, second, above all other threats (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Climate Change…) was our own “government dysfunction”.  
After three decades of my own detailed study of global issues, all national security threats, the US Constitution, and the behavior of politicians, I would suggest that the number one barrier to our own security is our own government‘s dysfunction. 
It continues to ignore the fundamental principle offered in our Declaration of Independence:  the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and the “Self-Evident” “Truths” that all people are equally, and “endowed” with “certain inalienable rights” --  fundamental human rights that government must protect, and if ignored…will lead to catastrophic consequences.     The Civil are already cost more American lives than all other wars since then combined.  Combine our endless war against terrorism (an ideology that cannot be eradicated with weapons) with the evolution of weaponry…and we are quickly running out of time to get on the right course.  It may already be too late.  But the sooner we recognize the inevitable failure of our current course of action/inaction, the sooner we can get on the right course (“liberty and justice for all” just as all Americans have repeatedly pledged to our flag). 
 Any rational and well educated American today would have to acknowledge that our budget deficit, agricultural system, two party political system, aging infrastructure, health/medical care system …are each unsustainable. 
Our government (of, for, and by the people) relies primarily on reactionary measures to deal with most problems.  The Constitution was designed for slow responses.  Partisan rancor has made it almost unmovable.   Even predictable problems with inevitable catastrophic consequences like terrorism, WMD proliferation, pandemics, or climate change get little to no action.   Even under the best circumstances, and effective proactive efforts of our nation acting alone cannot deal effectively in stopping or preventing any of these.  Most global threats are immune to US policies because of a fundamental flaw in our U.S. Constitution.   It is based on an imaginary concept of independence.  A condition that exists nowhere in nature.   Every system and structure in our bodies is dependent upon multiple other systems and structures we depend on from our homes on out into the heavens. 
 Interdependence is the fundamental nature of our existence.  Global threats cannot be prevented from impacting ‘independent’ nations using ‘independent’ agencies.  This major flaw is at the heart of both our existing national and international political systems and structures.
I don’t believe it will be fixed without catastrophic consequences.  Trump was the best man to take us their quickly.    And, given the exponentially accelerating pace of the evolution of weaponry, its increasing affordability, availability, and unprecedented power from various combinations of dual use technologies (imagine bio weapons delivered by drones) … The sooner it happens the less lives will be lost and the better chance we will have of rebuilding while redesigning both our national and global systems and structures. 
I understand why others voted for him.  Many sensed the need for such radical change.  Trump was a logical gamble.  And, if I’m wrong about Trump, and he transforms himself into the perfect leader to deal with the interdependent global threats we all face, he will have single handedly destroyed the alt principles that have driven both the GOP and the Democrats to lock horns I a death match.  And, we will all benefit.   Trumps initial words at the UN today suggest he understands the need for a reformed UN.  I’m just not sure he will reform it in the way it needs to be reformed.  (See Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World:  By Joe Schwartzberg  
The list of Trump errors and lies is long.  But he has done some things right. 
1.       He didn’t offer to the public or the world our strategy for continuing our war effort in Afghanistan.  A fundamental principle helpful in any contest is not telling your competition what you are going to do.   Babe Ruth confidence in combat is a strategy for failure.
2.       He is relying on good Generals to inspire our enemies to the negotiating table
3.       I believe the statues representing the Confederacy should stand… and become evidence of the foolishness of our nation not following fundamental principles.  That civil war cost more American lives than all wars since then combined.  If Germany can keep and learn from the Gates and ovens of Austwitz, Americans should be able to keep and learn from the statues of traitorous Confederate Generals.
4.       Sometimes being just a little crazy/unpredictable when squaring off against hostile opponent can reduce their interest in a hostile entanglement.   Being unpredictable to your opponents can have its advantages.
5.       His last words regarding DACA were promising.
6.       His initial words at the UN were promising. 
 With Trump in office we win in the long run either way.  Either his ineptness or his genius brings about the radical transformation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter to put ‘justice for all’ and a sustainable environment ahead  of short term national interests and corporate profits.  Or, he destroys the GOP and the Democratic Partys by offering radical policies neither would have adopted without his outside the box thinking.

Bottom line:  It’s not Trump’s fault we are here. It is our own fault (we the people) because we allowed national and global conditions to deteriorate for decades without focusing on fundamental principles.   We were too comfortable and too busy doing other things besides being responsible citizens and voters. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution

"Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, of course, lays out the delegated, enumerated, and therefore limited powers of Congress. Only through a deliberate misreading of the general welfare and commerce clauses of the Constitution has the federal government been allowed to overreach its authority and extend its tendrils into every corner of civil society." -- Edward H. Crane, Founder and president of the Cato Institute.    Source: A Constitution of Liberty, Cato Institute 1995 Annual Report

This quote reflects the mental flaw/myth of believing specific systems and structures of American life are independent of one another.  In realty every aspect of commerce and the general welfare of ‘we the people” have an impact on “Every corner” of every aspect of our society and ultimately, the world.   Harmful elements emerging from either can threaten both the freedoms and security of the entire world.  Consider the risks fueled by antibiotic resistance exacerbated by unregulated cross border sales/distribution mixed with pockets of poverty, ignorance and/or violence.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Words should mean something!

If an asteroid threatened earth and humanity there would be many things to discuss, design, and build.   We would obviously need to engineer sustainable systems and structures in space or underground that could mimic our planets current life supporting conditions for the necessary bout.  
For this vital task, the first and most important system needed would be an effective communications system.    A language (system) relying on flawless structures (words) that mean only one thing.  A definition that everyone agreeing on and understands.   Imagine trying to build any complex system with a large group of people, each with different perspectives using essential tools and/or materials lacking precise names, labels, or descriptions.   
Human survival would depend on all systems and structures designed from the fundamental principles of science, technology, engineering, and religious faith.   In the unforgiving void of space or the earth’s crust, failure of any system or structure caused by miscommunications could be an extinction event.   In this context, our nation’s founding Fathers words, “Self-evident” “truths”, and the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” become profoundly relevant.   Their failure however, to engineer these principles into our U.S. Constitution was catastrophic. Our failure to apply them today in our foreign policy will be even more deadly.
Imagine different groups of arguing about the meaning of ‘right to life’ or ‘peace through strength’.   Without using precise words with indisputable meaning -- productive debate would be impossible.  This is the exact dilemma we face today with multiple potentially catastrophic problems  (WMD proliferation, Artificial intelligence, climate change, or nuclear exchange to name a few).
Given this, our highest personal, national and global priority should be health.  The health of our bodies, environment, economy, legal system, cooperative culture, and communication’s systems. 
And, in this context, our current debate around “Health Care” will never be resolved.  This two word phrase has no precise definition or meaning.  And, each word misleads.   Real ‘Health’ is about prevention -- preventing illness and injury not just preventing death once our bodies systems and structures have been unconsciously or consciously abused.
Free access to clean air and water, nutritious food, vaccinations and medical checkups is a fundamental human right.  And, maintaining a healthy population and environment is essential to preserving our individual and national prosperity and security (promoting the general welfare and forming a more perfect union).    In my view, anyone who takes unnecessary risks with their health (or the health of others) by over eating, eating junk food, smoking, avoiding exercise, abusing drugs, or texting while driving should have no free access to medical attention.  There is not enough money in the world to accommodate the blatant human irresponsibility of even 10% of all Americans.   Our so called “Health Care System” is unsustainable.  It threatens our economic security, and thus our national security.

The many threats we face from nature (pandemics, antibiotic resistance, hurricanes…) and human nature (bioterrorism, climate change, opioids, war, genocide…) could be largely prevented with truly ‘universal’ access to real health care (clean water, sanitation, education, and basic health services).   This is not about economics.  It’s about justice.   No justice…no peace.   As Americans we have a ll pledged “Liberty and justice for all”.  It’s either that or health for none. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What's missing from David Swanson's of the Dunkirk film

What’s missing from David Swanson’s assessment of Dunkirk Film:

David’s assessment is correct.  But it is also lethally flawed and a grand disservice to those who really seek peace on earth.   David conveniently ignores the far greater killer of humans and other persistent threats to humanity, some of which are a prime driver of war.  Poverty related starvation and easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases take roughly ten lives the lives of those lost in war. 
The Spanish Flu killed as many as 50 million people around the world during the WW I.  Many historians believe it was the primary reason the war ended.  Armies could no longer fight and the nations that supported them were crippled in supplying them.  More US soldiers died from the Spanish Flu than from the war itself.  That flu killed upwards of 600,000 Americans in just two years.
Smallpox alone killed more people in 70 years of the last century than all the wars, revolutions and genocides combined in 100 years of century. 
Both the film and Mr. Swanson ignore the fact that poverty and hunger in Germany led to Hitler’s rise.  They both also ignore the genius of those who offered humanity shortly after Hitler’s defeat, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the best means of preventing future wars.  
Today there are nearly 20 million people in danger of starvation, mostly a result of wars that could have been prevented if the peace movement had put the protection of human rights above their fantasy of disarming the world.
A majority of war deaths are caused by preventable infectious diseases.  But sanctions, a favorite means of governments to punish other nations for their behavior or weapons development-  can be more deadly than war to innocent people in those sanctioned nations.  And today, sanctions are the primary tool the world uses to discourage the production of nuclear weapons.  War remains an option.  The second Gulf War launched by the US in 2003 was to disarm another nation of WMD.  Prior to that US shock and awe invasion, Iraq had already used chemical weapons against another nation (Iran) and even its own people (the Kurds) using some US assistance (materials and intelligence reports) and zero US condemnation in the UN.
Using Mr. Swanson’s logic it appears that he and peace activists who think like him are more interested in outlawing or abolishing weapons than saving human lives or preventing war.  They actually believe that they can stop wars by reducing the human capacity to make weapons. This is as silly others who believe more weapons will stop war.   Both of these perspectives would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous to human security and our fundamental freedoms. 
Global justice (the universal enforcement of human rights) is the only workable path to maximizing human freedom, security, prosperity and sustainability. 
One fundamental human rights is the right to protect one’s self (family and friends) from an abusive government (their own or someone else’s).  That is reason alone NOT to take the path of disarmament. But, given the dual use nature of every technology a far greater reason exists.  It’s impossible to eliminate the means of mass murder.  Disarmament is at a fool’s errand.   But it appears nothing will stop Peace activist from spending their limited resources (members, time, money, and energy) on trying to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile the average Joe’s capacity to create WMD from biological, chemical, cyber, robotics and even conventional technologies (IEDs)  is off the chart easy and affordable.  And all of these dual use technologies are increasingly powerful, affordable, and ubiquitous every day. 
Peace activists also tend to ignore the growing injustices (restrictions of freedom and gross violations of human rights) that drive lethal grievances. Human insecurity from poverty, illiteracy, repression, and gross ignorance push people in pain to seek the means of mass murder.  And everyday technologies (cars, trucks, knives, and house hold chemicals…) are easily acquired if the will is there to abuse them. 
If Mr. Swanson and other such peace activist put more emphasis on reducing that human will…by focusing on real human security through the global protecting the  most fundamental human rights (to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness via Justice) they wouldn’t need to worry about the pursuit of any weapon.
“Once the mechanics and the fundamental causes of wars – of all wars – are realized, the futility and childishness of the passionate debates about armament and disarmament must be apparent to all. If human society were organized so that relations between groups and units in contact were regulated by democratically controlled law and legal institutions, then modern science could go ahead, devise and produce the most devastating weapons, and there would be no war. But if we allow sovereign rights to reside in the separate units and groups without regulating their relations by law, then we can prohibit every weapon, even a penknife, and people will beat out each other’s brains with clubs.”    Emory Reves, The Anatomy of Peace, 1945
“People must bring a machete, a spear, an arrow, a hoe, spades, rakes, nails, truncheons, electric irons, barbed wire, stones, and the like, in order, dear listeners, to kill Rawandan Tutsis.” (A Hutu’s call to arms quoted in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, August 19, 1998, p. A-18)

The main focus of international attention must move beyond the symptoms of weapons proliferation to its causes. It may seem easier to control supply, yet it is demand that raises the tide of proliferation. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for Jan-Feb 1999, p. 76, "Book Note" on Kosta Tsipis and Philip Morrison's book, "Reason Enough for Hope."

"We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women."  Thích Nhất Hạnh

“What’s Missing from Dunkirk Film”.  By David Swanson

Monday, May 29, 2017

Flaws of the U.S. Constitution and growing threats they exacerbate

Robert J. Samuelson’s economic expertise offers little value in evaluating the stability of our democracy. First, it is technically a Republic.   Our U.S. Constitution was engineered from political principles that were didn’t always match fundamental principles (“Impeachment remains an uneasy choice” Washington Post 5-29-17) like those the Founding Fathers identified in the Declaration of Independence.   All engineering feats (be they bridges, buildings or bureaucracies) must adhere to fundamental principles in their construction to avoid catastrophic failure. 
All systems and structures (natural or man-made) depend on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” to survive the inevitable stresses of the real world pressures that will inevitably stress them.  And when systems or structures fail it can lead to catastrophic consequences across other systems and structures. 
When Haitians followed an economic principle of not using rebar in building construction to save money, more Haitians died in 15 minutes from the earth quake than both Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.   The catastrophic consequences of that fatal error reverberates today in multiple systems and structures in Haiti’s economic, political, health, education and foreign policy arenas.   
Our linear human minds which are mostly dominated by western and religious thinking usually fail to grasp that all systems and structures are inherently dependent on dozens of other systems and structures (both natural and man-made).
Our nation’s founding fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence the most fundamental principle in sustaining peaceful human relationships .  Then they failed to incporate them into the construction of the our Constitution.  It failed to follow the “ Laws of Natures and Nature’s God’s” “self-evident truths” ‘that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…’  This flaw eventually cost more US lives than all other US wars combined.   That flaw was mostly corrected in application to national affairs.  But, it remains a catastrophic flaw today in impacting billions of human beings beyond our indefensible borders.
George Mason (ally of James Madison and George Washington) who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights recognized this fatal flaw early on and was one of three who refused to sign the U.S. Constitution.  His wisdom is reflected in his words:  "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. Such have been the adjudications of our courts of justice."
The list of recent reports below documents both the threats we face now and in the future (some preventable and others inevitable).  Some reports offer means of threat prevention by recommending transformation of both national and international systems and structures based on fundamental principles such as ‘justice for all’.  These will be essential in forming a more perfect union capable of preventing some threats, and responding to, and recovering from others that cannot be prevented.

1.      How Western Civilization could collapse: (April 18, 2017)  Some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future, says Rachel Nuwer. 
2.      Global Catastrophic Risks 2017:  (May 2017) Global Challenges Foundation’s Annual Report   (

3.     Peril and Promise: Emerging Technologies and WMD (May 2017)  By Natasha Bajema and Diane DiEuliis |  Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

4.      2017 Global Risk Report: (January 2017)  The Global Risks Report 2017 features perspectives from nearly 750 experts on the perceived impact and likelihood of 30 prevalent global risks as well as 13 underlying trends that could amplify them or alter the interconnections between them over a 10-year timeframe.
5.      Pulling Together: The Multilateral System and Its Future:  (September 2016) By the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM):   This report  is put out by the successor to the International Peace Academy, renamed International Peace Institute.

6.      Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance: (June 2015)  Co-Chairs, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.  Report:    Video:
7.       One Young World Summit: Ron Garan keynote talk. (Oct 2012)  Pittsburg  PA/Johannesburg South Africa

President Trump’s (or any President’s) commitment to put America first instead of human rights first in US foreign policy literately locks Americans into a perpetual war - the war against terrorism.  Terrorism is a tactic that can never be eliminated and its evolution is easily predictable.  No one should doubt that it will eventually cost millions of American lives, our most basic freedoms, and our cherished prosperity as violent extremists gain access to, and increasing willingness to use, the growing variety of WMD’s detailed in the 3rd report above.
Either we transform our U.S. Constitution and all of our nation’s systems and structures to protect the inalienable rights of all the world’s people (and our specie’s life support system) or we will face the devastating consequences of continued global injustices. 
Time is running out.  The acceleration of technology advancements and global events far outpaces our national and global system’s capacity to deal with them.   Our linear thinking must make a revolutionary leap, the same that our Founding Fathers took when they began walking down the path to a ‘more perfect union’.   Short of this transformation, the next best thing we can do is bring all of our existing systems and structures to bear on quickly, holistically, and comprehensively achieve the 17 Sustainable Development goals before the year 2030. 

We must train our minds to:
1.       Connect the dots (systems  and structures). 
2.       See the web (of our global interdependence). 
3.       Work for justice (“Liberty and Justice for all” is a fundamental principle).
4.       Prepare for the catastrophic consequences (of systems and structural) if we fail.  
Political principles (‘Peace through Strength’ or ‘America First’) must never override the fundamental principles of the” Laws of Nature and Natures God” that all people are created equal and deserving of certain rights that no government should take away.

Faith in science, engineering, and our common origins is our only means of maximizing freedom, security and future prosperity for all.    

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cyber Security is an oxymoron

Robert Samuelson’s view confirms the fact that ‘cyber security’ is an oxymoron (America’s Dangerous Internet Delusion”  Washington Post 5-22-17).   The fact is all technologies are a “double edged sword”.   The concept of dual use technology has been around since the invention of fire.  Our greatest risk may be from bio technology which shares many of the same characterizes as cyber.   There is a solution.  A solution that we are in greater denial about, even though sages and profits of been promoting it for thousands of years – the ideal of justice.  
Given the trillions of vital systems and structures inside and outside our bodies that we depend on every second of every day for our safety and survival, the very concept of security itself is an problematic.   But ‘justice for all’ is something that can greatly improve our chances – and with minimal loss of our freedoms (privacy, seeking comfort, ease of task, and prosperity). 
We need a global justice system.   ‘No justice, no peace’ is not just a slogan.   It’s a fundamental essential to improving any hope of maximizing human security everywhere.  

The dual use nature of all technology means security will never be achieved via disarmament (liberal view) or more armaments (conservative view).   Perhaps it’s time to rid ourselves and our U.S. Constitution of the illusionary concept of ‘independence’.   This is an illusionary concept that only exists in our minds and in our government policy.   Our increasing dependence on cyber and other forms of powerful technology, all globally available, means our American ideal of putting human rights over states’ rights must include the whole world.   Our persistent denial and refusal to institute this fundamental principle is the greatest threat to both our freedom and our security. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Our Common Oceans and Seas

Our Common Oceans and Seas
Our Common Oceans and Seas
by Rene Wadlow
2017-04-24 09:59:53
The people of the earth having agreed that the advancement of man in spiritual excellence and physical welfare
is the common goal of mankind...therefore the age of nations must end, and the era of humanity begin.”

Preamble to the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution
The United Nations is currently preparing a world conference 5-7 June 2017 devoted to the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal N° 14: Conserve and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  Non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the U.N. are invited to submit recommendations for the governmental working group which is meeting 24 to 27 April in New York.
wc00The Association of World Citizens has long been concerned with the Law of the Sea and had been active during the 10-year negotiations on the law of the sea during the 1970s, the meetings being held one month a year, alternatively in New York and Geneva. The world citizens position for the law of the sea was largely based on a three-point framework:
a) that the oceans and seas were the common heritage of humanity and should be seen as a living symbol of the unity of humanity;
b) that ocean management should be regulated by world law created as in as democratic manner as possible;
c) that the wealth of the oceans, considered as the common heritage of mankind should contain mechanisms of global redistribution, especially for the development of the poorest, a step toward a more just economic order, on land as well as at sea.
The concept of the oceans as the common heritage of humanity had been introduced into the U.N. awareness by a moving speech in the U.N. General Assembly by Arvid Pardo, Ambassador of Malta in November 1967.  Under traditional international sea law, the resources of the oceans, except those within a narrow territorial sea near the coast line  were regarded as "no one's property" or more positively as "common property."  The "no one's property" opened the door to the exploitation of resources by the most powerful and the most technologically advanced States.  The "common heritage" concept was put forward as a way of saying that "humanity" - at least as represented by the States in the U.N. - should have some say as to the way the resources of the oceans and seas should be managed.  Thus began the 1970s Law of the Seas negotiations.
Perhaps with or without the knowledge of Neptune, lord of the seas, the Maltese voted to change the political party in power just as the sea negotiations began. Arvid Pardo was replaced as Ambassador to the U.N. by a man who had neither the vision nor the diplomatic skills of Pardo.  Thus, during the 10 years of negotiations the "common heritage" flame was carried by world citizens, in large part by Elisabeth Mann Borgese with whom I worked  closely during the Geneva sessions of the negotiations.
Elisabeth Mann Borgese  (1918-2002)  whose birth anniversary we mark on 24 April, was a strong-willed woman.  She had to come out from under the shadow of both her father, Thomas Mann, the German writer and Nobel laureate for Literature, and her husband Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882-1952), Italian literary critic and political analyst.  From 1938, Thomas Mann lived in Princeton, New Jersey and gave occasional lectures at Princeton University. Thomas Mann, whose novel The Magic Mountain was one of the monuments of world literature between the two World Wars, always felt that he represented the best of German culture against the uncultured mass of the Nazis.  He took himself and his role very seriously, and his family existed basically to facilitate his thinking and writing.
ocean01_400_01G.A. Borgese had a regular professor's post at the University of Chicago but often lectured at other universities on the evils of Mussolini.  Borgese, who had been a leading literary critic and university professor in Milan, left Italy for the United States in 1931 when Mussolini announced that an oath of allegiance to the Fascist State would be required of all Italian professors. For Borgese, with a vast culture including the classic Greeks, the Renaissance Italians, and the 19th century nationalist writers, Mussolini was an evil caricature which too few Americans recognized as a destructive force in his own right and not just as the fifth wheel of Hitler's armed car. 
G.A. Borgese met Elizsabeth Mann on a lecture tour at Princeton, and despite being close to Thomas Mann in age, the couple married very quickly shortly after meeting.  Elisabeth moved to the University of Chicago and was soon caught up in Borgese's efforts to help the transition from the Age of Nations to the Age of Humanity. For Borgese, the world was in  a watershed period. The Age of Nations − with its nationalism which could be a liberating force in the 19th century as with the unification of Italy − had come to a close with the First World War.  The war clearly showed that nationalism was from then on only the symbol of death.  However, the Age of Humanity, which was the next step in human evolution, had not yet come into being, in part because too many people were still caught in the shadow play of the Age of Nations.
Since University of Chicago scientists had played an important role in the coming of the Atomic Age, G.A. Borgese and Richard McKeon, Dean of the University felt that the University should take a major role in drafting a world constitution for the Atomic Age. Thus the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, an interdisciplinary committee under the leadership of Robert Hutchins, head of the University of Chicago, was created in 1946. To re-capture the hopes and fears of the 1946-1948 period when the World Constitutions was being written, it is useful to read the book written by one of the members of the drafting team: Rexford Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy (University of Chicago Press, 1955). The book is Rex Tugwell's reflections on the years 1946-1954 written each year in August to mark the A-bombing of Hiroshima
Elisabeth had become the secretary of the Committee and the editor of its journal Common Cause.   The last issue ofCommon Cause was in June 1951. G.A. Borgese published a commentary on the Constitution, dealing especially with his ideas on the nature of justice. It was the last thing he wrote, and the book was published shortly after his death: G.A.Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1953). In 1950, the Korean War started. Hope for a radical transformation of the UN faded.  Borgese and his wife went to live in Florence, where weary and disappointed, he died in 1952.
The drafters of the World Constitution went on to other tasks. Robert Hutchins left the University of Chicago to head a “think tank”- Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions – taking some of the drafters, including Elisabeth, with him. She edited a booklet on the Preliminary Draft with a useful introduction A Constitution for the World (1965) However, much of the energy of the Center went into the protection of freedom of thought and expression in the USA, at the time under attack by the primitive anti-communism of then Senator Joe McCarthy.
In the mid-1950s, from world federalists and world citizens came various proposals for UN control of areas not under national control: UN control of the High Seas and the Waterways, especially after the 1956 Suez Canal conflict, and of Outer Space. A good overview of these proposals is contained in James A.  Joyce. Revolution on East River (New York: Ablard-Schuman, 1956).
After the 1967 proposal of Arvid Pardo, Elisabeth Mann Borgese  turned her attention and energy to the law of the sea. As the UN Law of the Sea Conference continued through the 1970s,  Elisabeth was active in seminars and conferences with the delegates, presenting ideas, showing that a strong treaty on the law of the sea would be a big step forward for humanity. Many of the issues raised during the negotiations leading to the Convention, especially the concept of the Exclusive Economic Zone, actively battled by Elisabeth but actively championed by Ambassador Alan Beesley of Canada, are with us today in the China seas tensions. While the resulting Convention of the Law of the Sea has not revolutionized world politics – as some of us  hoped in the early 1970s - the Convention is an important building block in the development of world law. We are grateful for the values and the energy that Elisabeth Mann Borgese embodied and we are still pushing for the concept of the common heritage of humanity.
Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens