Re: RN: the Nuclear threat still exists


Jan Slakov

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 02:45:16 -0700
To: •••@••.•••
From: Bill Ellis <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: RN: the Nuclear threat still exists

War is hell.  I know. I am a WW II veteran.

Before the war I was a conscious objector.
I choose to stay out, so designed radar systems instead.
But as the atrocities of Hitler becae known. I enlisted.
I reluctantly felt that war was the only way to stop
that mad man.

Today I look at Sadam and the leaders of Serbia with
the same reluctance.  I am a founding member of
Veterans Against War.  But meglomania must be eliminated.
Sadam has the money to buil billion dollar palaces by the score.
Is he really interested in his people, or just using them to
forward his own cruelty on the rest of the whorl?

Just thinking.

Bill Ellis
PO BOX 567
Rangeley ME 04970-0567 USA

Bill, I (Jan) think the underlying question you raise here is: What if
Saddam Hussein and Milosovitch were the present-day equivalents to Hitler?
Would it still make sense for us to renounce the use of force?

Two interesting discussions arise out of that: To what degree are the
current Iraqi, Serbian and US (!) regimes comparable to Hitler's Third
Reich? Is there any time when the use of force is justified?

Here are some of what I know of the foremost characteristics of Hitler's
Nazi regime:

1.- terrible intolerance of certain groups, violation of human rights

2.- leader idolatry, no freedom of speech

3.- a need for "Lebensraum" - a grasp for global hegemony

4.- a belief in "might is right", using violence to reach its ends

On point 1, I think the current Taliban regime comes closest to being
similar to Hitler's Nazi regime.

On point 2, Saddam Hussein's Iraq seems a pretty close match.

On point 3, surely no government quite matches the US government. Unlike the
Nazis, the US does not implant extensions of its own government in foreign
countries, but it has puppet regimes all over the planet and has
consistently backed some of the most horrible regimes the world has known,
including the Nazis. (Talk about playing with fire!) We know that this grasp
for global hegemony is really corporate-backed and is not something the US
government does because the US people drive it to do so. But, for someone
like me, the way citizens in all Western countries go along with (and yes,
actively support) the criminal behaviour of our governments is terribly

On point 4, there are precious few examples of countries or movements that
do not invest in the "might is right" paradigm. Costa Rica and Andorra are
probably the best-known national examples and I remember reading in a
_Fellowship_ magazine that Latvia had decided to use civilian unarmed
defence for its defence needs. (I'm not sure how that decision has panned
out.) And freedom movements throughout the world have used non-violence: the
Satyagraha (Sat-truth & Agraha-firmness) movement in India, the US civil
rights and war resistence movements, the movement for liberation from
Ferdiand Marcos' regime in the Philippines, the movement for freedom in
Burma (currently under the military regime which calls that country Myanmar)
but some have also used violence (eg. the Chinese & Soviet revolutions,
Peru's Shining Path movement, the Basque separatist group, ETA).

Surely, again, if any nation in the world today can be said to have invested
most heavily in the "might is right" paradigm, it is the US, which builds
and distributes all kinds of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction,
and refuses to renounce the use of such weapons for first strike objectives.

If we look realistically at the world situation, is there any time when we
feel that the use of force is justified?

To some degree, this question must be answered by each person according to
his or her own conscience. I realize that most people are not prepared to
struggle for justice with the same courage and conviction that Gandhi did;
so I don't have much faith that if some Saddam Hussein type invaded Canada,
say, that people would be ready to offer effective non-violent resistance.
What is much more likely is that our nations will come under extreme stress
from running out of resources, environmental destruction and economic
collapse. Once again, I don't feel too hopeful that people will be prepared
to meet this stress in ways that will enable us to live in peace and liberty.

My "heroes" of WW 2 are the people who resisted non-violently, who took in
Jews, deserters from the German army, etc., people who spoke out against
Nazism from within Germany (my daughter is named after Sophie Scholl), and
so on. While people I admire did as you did, Bill, and reluctantly supported
the Allied war effort (eg. Hellen Keller)**, I can't imagine myself ever
supporting a war effort. I feel there is more useful work to be done by
supporting efforts to struggle aginst evil with non-violence.

Actually, I think weapons of mass destruction can be looked upon as a
blessing: we know that to use them is suicidal. Now, more than at any time
in history, the argument for the "might is right" paradigm just doesn't hold
water. At least that's what I think.

I mean, "we" won WW II, but did we win the war against fascism? 

**BTW, you can read about the side of Helen Keller that kids never get to
learn about in the pollyanna biographies of her life (her political
activism) and other examples such as that of Sophie Scholl in a great book
called _Women Against the Iron Fist_ by Sybil Oldfield. (Unfortunately, it
seems to be out of print now, but surely some libraries can get copies.)

Viviane Lerner, who sent us notice of yesterday's TV program on the Iraqi
nuclear arms effort, wanted to make some comments too:
all the best, jan

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 09:23:11 -1000
To: •••@••.•••
From: viviane lerner <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: RN: the Nuclear threat still exists

Hello, everybody, and many thanks to Jan for her comments!
        It's a bad habit of mine that I rarely preface what I send out, and it's
only fair that it should come home to roost! It's just that, a lot of the
time, I don't have time to give my opinion and I think that the info is
more important than my opinion and should be circulated anyway. Also, I
have circulated so many postings from Kathy Kelly ("Voices in the
Wilderness") who is charged with violating the embargo (I'll send this
separately) that I tend to assume that people know where I come from
(assumptions will kill me!!!).
        I also have a lot of info on depleted uranium (talking about "nuclear
threat!"). When I think of this protracted war on Iraq, I think of the
unbelievable plight of the Iraqi people, not of Saddam Hussein. For one,
6000 children under the age of 5 dying every month from lack of potable
water, food and medical supplies, because of the embargo... And since it
seems that this nightmare (think of the Iraqi mothers!) is not about to
stop, I believe we should keep an eye on what the media are saying and
whether we are being prepared for another round of bombing, etc. Is the
goal to pound Iraq and its people into rubble? What kind of a "solution" is
        I don't lack for things to say in the same vein, but I have to run.