ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress and the President to Read the Pact that Outlawed War
November 12, 2011
RootsAction.org & Jared Ball / Black Agenda Report
November 11th was not consecrated to celebrate war or to "support the troops." Originally called "Armistice Day," the holiday began in 1918 to mark the end of World War I and promote the idea of ending all war. After a 10-year campaign, war was legally banned in 1928. "Wars produce veterans on both sides," Jared Ball notes. "Nat Turner was a veteran, as was Sitting Bull.... Let us commemorate their sacrifce, too."
ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress and the President to Read the Pact that Outlawed War
Originally called "Armistice Day," the holiday began in 1918, celebrating the end of World War I and the idea of ending all war. A 10-year campaign launched that year and by 1928 had legally banned all war-making.
We aren't told this in school, but in January 1929 the US Senate ratified by a vote of 8- to-1 a treaty that is still on the books, still upheld by most of the world, still listed on the US State Department's website -- a treaty that under Article VI of the US Constitution is the "supreme law of the land."
This treaty, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, bans all war. Bad wars and "good wars," aggressive wars and "humanitarian wars" -- they are all illegal, having been legally abolished like dueling, blood feuds, and slavery before them.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact reads:
"The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
"The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."
On this Veterans Day, let's make our lawmakers aware of the law of the land. Ask Congress and the president to simply read the Kellogg-Briand Pact (and read it yourself).
The wisdom of the War Outlawry movement of the 1920s is revived in a new book written by RootsAction campaigner David Swanson, titled When the World Outlawed War. This is a masterful account of how people in the United States and around the world worked to abolish war as a legitimate act of state policy and won in 1928, outlawing war with a treaty that is still on the books.
Swanson's account of the successful work of those who came before us to insist that war be outlawed points us toward new ways of thinking about both war and political activism.
You can buy the paperback at 100Fires, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, other sellers, or your local independent bookstore, which can order it through Ingram. (The list price is $15.)
Redefining Veteran's Day
Jared Ball / Black Agenda Report
(November 8, 2011) -- Wars produce veterans on both sides. Thus, opponents of the wars the US government has waged since its inception against "enemies" within its territory are also veterans. "Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as "insurgent[s]" as are those fighting today against the US in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere." Nat Turner was a veteran, as was Sitting Bull. So are the dozens of political prisoners still held in the American Gulag. Let us commemorate their sacrifce, too, on November 11.
"Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war."
I am officially a veteran. Like many I was conscripted by this country's "poverty draft" and its associated judicial-military pipeline, the one that encourages military time over jail time, and then immediately pressed into service of this nation's imperial projects. And while I recognize this reality and can still appreciate the position in which people like me have found themselves and the suffering some have endured for it, I prefer we praise another kind of veteran.
On November 11th let us commemorate those who have fought, and still fight, those who have been exiled, assassinated or imprisoned as veterans of the many on-going wars against US and Western imperialism. More than any they deserve our reflection and support.
Veteran's Day began as "Armistice Day," commemorating the end of what we now call World War I, what was called then the "war to end all wars." But rabid empires can only expand. There can never be an armistice. So after a second so-called World War they simply dropped the "Armistice" and made it about the oh-so-many veterans that would be created and re-created by the permanency of war. This permanence of the nation's war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation's thirst for war.
Simply interlace lists of American wars against Europe between 1776 and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 which "settled" the matter of control over this land with lists of American invasions into every pocket of Latin America and the Caribbean from then until now.
Then add the lists of repression of hundreds of African uprisings against enslavement and the domestic policing of internally held colonies and suppression of labor organizers and you won't find a 10 year period in this country's history when it wasn't at war. And all of this warfare creates veterans on all sides.
"The permanence of the nation's war machine is evident in the permanence of this nation's thirst for war."
In the US alone we currently have dozens of political prisoners still incarcerated for their veteran participation in these wars. We certainly have thousands more here and around the globe who have, in some form of solidarity, been engaged in anti-imperial, counter-terrorism but whose names and stories we don't know and whose political legacy we have not carried on. Perhaps an aggressive attempt to redefine the state's propaganda could help.
Power over definition is essential. This is why Nat Turner and his compatriots were once described as "insurgent[s]" as are those fighting today against the US in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And it is also why, more than a century after Nat Turner, this same concept, applied to his political descendants, resulted in the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) application of "counter-insurgency" tactics against domestic targets. Malcolm X did say that, "the police do locally what the military does internationally."
This, of course, is not mere semantics. Those we know as political prisoners are indeed veteran prisoners of war. These POWs, as former Black Liberation Army member and current political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim has explained, come from the Black, Indigenous and Latin American "nations" held in "domestic (neo) colonialism." They, along with those oppressed along class lines, are "all fighting wars of national liberation, seeking independence and sovereignty from capitalist exploitation."
In fact, during the sentencing for Muntaqim, Albert ‘Nuh' (Noah) Washington and Herman Bell, all members of the Black Liberation Army, the judge said as much, that if these are prisoners of war then they should see themselves as having been "captured by the enemy." And so our commemoration of a Veteran's Day should incorporate work to free our prisoners of war and to finally force this country into an armistice. This is the least we can do.
So as symbolism goes it is indeed fitting then that this year Veteran's Day coincides with the release of Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, a film that is already said to be little more than praise to a "brilliant patriot" who was merely an "impediment to the civil rights movement" and who may have been gay. Yes, Veteran's Day and J. Edgar, one praises those who do internationally what the other did domestically.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com.
Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found and reached online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.
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