Emptying/An Ancient Lesson

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Public domain photo

An Ancient Lesson

All is impermanent… emptying… transient… the hevel of Ecclesiastes

Beauty of an April day… youth… ideals… attachment to someone, something, or place

You cannot escape

Live with love… with meaning and dignity

Koheleth knew this in forgotten days

Take this certainty along.

The Wrong Argument

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Public domain photo: Lt. Col. Kate Germano

 

The Wrong Argument

At times, in matters of war and peace, living in the United States seems like a trip through Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Events are often not what they seem. The New York Times, in its “At War” column, presented such a discussion on the topic of women in the U.S. Marines.

The article, “Lt. Col. Kate Germano on Marines and Women,” (July 28, 2015) dealt with the lieutenant colonel’s removal from duty as the head of the women’s training battalion at Parris Island in South Carolina. Lt. Col. Germano had been relieved of duty after the Marine Gazette declined to publish an article by her about the inequality of Marine training that required less strenuous and rigorous training of women compared to male recruits. (There is no evidence that the article in the Gazette was directly linked to Germano’s removal from her command post.)  The article, “When Did It Become an Insult to Train Like a Girl?” was censored from the Gazette. Germano presented well-reasoned arguments showing that women could train as hard as men and needed to be held to the same standards of training and expectations, both prior to, and during basic training.

This is the wrong argument. Common sense dictates that all military recruits need to be treated the same way. But, the argument needs to be made that the nation is long overdue for a necessary discussion about the endless nature of the wars it now fights, many of these wars being wars of choice and not necessity. A necessary war has not been fought since World War II, and that so-called “Good War” was replete with crimes against humanity and against the collective wisdom enshrined in the laws of war.

War in the 20th and 21st centuries has seldom been about noble intentions. Instead, the extension of military might and empire and the control of natural resources by the U.S. and much of Western Europe have been the drummer to which we march.

The response to the horror of the attacks of September 2001 could have been dealt with by a police action. The intelligence apparatus of the government failed to prevent them, but could have prevented them. The administration of George W. Bush made little of the reports of an imminent attack against the U.S. and dismissed available intelligence that was literally right under their noses. A police action would have necessitated an elite unit, or elite units, and then the issue of gender bias in military training would have made sense. As a society, however, we are far, far away from that kind of rational debate. Our irrational foreign, military, and economic policies got the nation into the horrible mess it found itself in in 2001. We needed to have kept our friends close, but our enemies closer (to paraphrase a popular quote from the movie The Godfather), and we did not.

U.S. foreign policy allowed religious fundamentalist hatred to fester following the Soviet military defeat in 1989 in Afghanistan, which was the Soviets own Vietnam quagmire. Following the Soviet defeat, the U.S. cut those fundamentalists loose, not worrying what their response would be when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991.

U.S. policy was so fragmented following the initial attack in Afghanistan in 2001 that Osama bin Laden was allowed to escape while he could have been captured in December at the Battle of Tora Bora.

Relieving Lt. Col. Kate Germano was an act of cowardice and it needs to be reversed based on the facts presented in The New York Times. Accepting her arguments for a more egalitarian Marine Corps, however, will do nothing to change the face of U.S. militarism.

The comments section that accompanied the Times article about Lt. Col. Germano did not contain any highly rated reader comments that made any protest against the underlying reality of the constant war footing of the U.S., or the conduct of endless wars in which the U.S. is now involved. For 35 years all of the questions about war have steadily moved to the right, leaving a gaping hole where debate and protest once existed. An Orwellian argument for endless wars and constantly changing enemies could not have been better scripted.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

 

Cloud Shapes

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Cloud Shapes

The Berkshire Hills settled into humidity and heat with late July

Massive cloud shapes

Michelin Man sailing in on southwest breeze

Profit on his bulbous mind.

 

In ancient times

I’d lounge on screened porch

A child’s imagination

Conjuring sky-borne gods/heroes/great thunder lizards

Before the storm.

Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?

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Public domain photo

 

Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?

Ashley Smith’s “A Socialist in the Senate? The Unfortunate Truth about Bernie Sanders,” (November 15, 2006) tells the tale of how the political Left gets thrown under the relentless wheels of the military-industrial complex by supporting candidates who do not consistently serve the interests of peace. The decimation of the forces for peace is predictable as they are sacrificed and offered up to the gods of electoral politics. The marginalization in each electoral cycle of the Left is a testament to how relentless the political/economic system is in guaranteeing its outcomes vis-à-vis war and peace.

A few years ago an email communication from Senator Elizabeth Warren, a steadfast supporter of an economic egalitarianism and regulation of the forces that control capital, left me with the same sense of how business as usual about U.S. war making has all but captured and controlled dissident voices. Only those on the fringes (not the fringe of significant and importance) of the political process are left to stand and are effectively marginalized and silenced. In the email the senator expressed her steadfast support of the war on terrorism.

While vigilance is an intelligent policy, the paths leading to the so-called war on terror are littered with counterproductive foreign and military policies. It is impossible to deny, in just one example, that U.S. support of religious fundamentalists in the 1980s in Afghanistan led in a direct line to the attacks of September 2001. As a result, we have witnessed over 13 years of endless wars. Mario Puzo’s admonition to “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer,” needed to be  recognized in U.S. foreign policy.

Sanders’ socialist beliefs and actions evolved into almost complete support of the Democratic Party after leaving the stage of Vermont politics and entering the national arena. Smith points out that Sanders voted with Democrats more consistently than many other Democrats: Ninety-eight percent of the time at the writing of Smith’s article. Sanders’ support for Democrats soon was reflected in their financing of his campaigns.

And here is where Sanders greatest equivocation has come. In spite of claims of being antiwar, his “hawkish” support of Clinton’s military actions in the 1999 Kosovo War caused one of his advisers to quit. When antiwar activists occupied Sanders’ office in 1999 because of that support of Clinton’s war policies, he had them arrested.

In 2001, Sanders did not support the vote in Congress to oppose the war in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Barbara Lee stood alone! This vote was followed by his support for appropriations to support boththe war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism, although Sanders has been a critic of the Iraq War.

Then Sanders supported only a gradual withdrawal from Iraq. When impeachment was on the so-called table against George W. Bush in 2006, he said that impeachment was “impractical.”

Sanders, like his Democratic allies, has supported Israel’s aggressive Middle East policies against Palestinian statehood. He supported HR 282, the Iran Freedom Support Act, which was similar to the resolutions leading to the Iraq War. Indeed, it appears that Sanders is even to the political Right of many liberal Democrats!

An article in the Huffington Post, “President Bernie Sanders Will Save America From Endless Counterinsurgency Wars and Protect Our Nation’s Veterans,” (July 7, 2015) is laudable for its recognition of Sanders’ support of military veterans, but is way off of the mark as far as what Sanders might accomplish against the thoroughly militarized foreign policies of the government. Presidential candidates of the past such as Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and George McGovern have strongly and bravely criticized the militarized policies of the government and were left in the political dust.

My Facebook pages are loaded with posts on a daily basis lauding Bernie Sanders as the savior of the Left, yet some of his actions in Vermont, and in both the House and Senate, are at odds with the Left/populist image that he attempts to put forward. Whether or not Sanders has a chance of winning the Democratic nomination for president is debatable, but readers ought not to count on him to push back on the militarism and military actions that have become routine under both Democrats and Republicans who occupy the presidency. Even President Eisenhower, who warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, went along with the expansion of that juggernaut. And the beat goes on, as does the march of empire and greed, and the wars continue.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

 

A Sprig of Pachouli

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Photo by Howie Lisnoff: Washington Square Park

 

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Photo by Howie Lisnoff: Pachouli and Rosemary in Jan’s Garden

 

 

For Alan

A Sprig of Pachouli

Jan brought in the sprig of pachouli from the garden/summer deep-green leaves/rubbed on forearms/ reminder of Washington Square Park/Sixties’-early Seventies’ summers/ideals of peace and love and hope for the future.

Purple Loosestrife/Late July

 

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Photo by Howie Lisnoff: Purple Loosestrife, Great Barrington, MA.

Purple Loosestrife/Late July

Purple loosestrife took up

Country lane spaces

Left by early summer

Beside roadside dazzling orange day lilies

Emerald leaf and needle

Sweet cut grass

Mown hay

Wind-driven clouds

Warmth against skin

Rejoice, rejoice!