By Chuck Woolery, The Activist (And not the TV Host)
Someone had said “Shred the U.S. Constitution!”
That was the sentiment of government experts burdened with the secret job of recovering had there been a catastrophic event during the Cold War. Mostly former U.S. government officials these individuals were driven by the possibility of a nuclear war and the hope of rebuilding our nation after it or some other catastrophic event.
Astonishingly they named the Declaration of Independence as the document worthy of protection.
It housed the fundamental principles essential for creating any sustainable human system of government dedicated to human freedom, the fundamental promise of America’s greatness.
Abraham Lincoln recognized as much when our nation was close to dissolving over slavery. That bloody civil war killed more Americans than both world wars, North Korea, and Vietnam wars combined. Lincoln called the Declaration of Independence our “Apple of Gold” and our Constitution it’s “Frame of Silver”. Our pledge of “Liberty and justice for all” reflects the same. Having failed this pledge Americans have been engaged in war after war after war.
November 11th was originally celebrated as Armistice Day. The day that the War to end all Wars abruptly ended (20 million dead). It then politically ended unjustly with the treaty of Versailles, setting the conditions for World War II. It was after that war and the Korean War that Congress changed the holiday to Veterans Day to honor only American veterans, and the ideal of permanently ending war was largely lost to two prevailing but untested passions; ‘peace by disarmament’ or ‘peace through strength’. Neither had a chance in hell of working given the fundamentally flawed global system of unenforceable international law – a system worshiping national sovereignty that originated 400 years ago with the Treaty of Westphalia. Note the failure of treaties in peace keeping.
Without just and enforceable rules and regulations to peacefully hold governments accountable for their murderous actions inside or outside their borders, chaos continues to reign supreme in 2018. Put simply, protecting national sovereignty remains superior to protecting human rights. And ‘we the people’ accept this without question or pause.
Even after the horrors of World War II (60 million war dead, Nazi genocide killing 6 million innocent people , and the creation of a new bomb that could vaporize 100,000 people in seconds) we allowed a profound effort to prevent another war from working. FDR’s wife Eleanor Roosevelt led the effort intended to remedy the injustices that often lead to war by drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was unanimity’s approved on Dec. 10th, 1948 (exactly 70 years ago, 30 days from today). But the UN was never given the power to enforce it.
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Within a few years the Cold War began and over the next four decades over 100 million innocent men, women, and mostly children died from easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases while hundreds of billions were spent on weapons to prevent war. Nuclear weapons may have prevented another hot world war but on Sept 11, 2001 just 19 individuals armed with razor knives used our own passenger airliners as WMD, and sparked a global war that continues today, with no end in sight. It has so far cost trillions of American tax payers dollars and twice as many American lives as the 9-11 attack itself.
And, when today’s extremists acquire tactical efficiency in biological, chemical, nuclear, cyber or robotics technology millions of Americans will likely die. We must find another way and time is NOT on our side.
By now it should be self-evident that the most powerful military in the world cannot stop the abuse of technology — when a person, group or nation is determined to commit mass murder (some willing to die in the process). And the fact is that global US military involvement since 9-11 has created more committed murderous extremist than existed before 9-11. Don’t believe that our most capable and honorable military force will be able to stop a biological weapon entering our nation or truck bombs from obliterating our public buildings. A cyber-attack or EMP event affecting our vulnerable infrastructure could also cause mass murder. A recent GAO study of our militaries most sophisticate weapons systems reported that 80 percent were hackable by relatively simple methods.
We fail to realize that security is essentially an illusion if someone is committed to death or destruction. Making matters more difficult is our Constitution. Any serious effort to detect and preempt a domestic attack must inevitably violate our 4th Amendment. With the recent rise in domestic ‘terrorism’ this must be painfully clear. The freedom/security dilemma is real. Resolving it requires deeper thinking beyond our primal fears. We can start by thoroughly understanding the evolution of weaponry and war itself which should fundamentally change how we calculate the costs of war.
It should no longer be calculated in terms of lost blood and treasure, but possible losing civilization as we know it. And, this reality has existed for decades. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Albert Einstein was asked ‘which weapons would WW III be fought with?’ Einstein wisely answered that he didn’t know. But he was certain that “WW IV would be fought with sticks and stones.”
Exponential advances in every technology now yields unprecedented killing capacity to almost any one with a serious grudge and enough money to buy a car, truck or computer. The dual use nature of every technology means that any disarmament effort can easily be overcome with human creativity if the will is there to commit mass murder. Even without the Second Amendment. Take guns away and cars or trucks can be used to slaughter dozens. Remember what Timothy McVeigh did 25 years ago in Oklahoma City with a driver’s license, rental truck, fuel oil, fertilizer, some coper wire, and a timer.
This single factor of ‘dual-use technology’ alone should fundamental shift our approach to war, peace, and security. Intentional mass murder is not the only, or even the greatest threat we face. Pandemics, global warming, super volcanoes, asteroids, and now Artificial Intelligence are also grave threats to our freedom and security. If you doubt this read Global Catastrophic Risks 2018
Yet our government’s war budging priorities and procedures have only escalated. Today we are spending more on defense (still more than the 7 next largest national military budgets combined most of those nations are our allies) and budgeting for a Space Force with the possibility of putting nuclear weapons in space. Few policy makers question the opportunity costs of relying on weapons to protect us, while our capacity to prevent other threats we know will come and deal more effectively with those we can never really prevent.
Most discussions about any national security threat now stress the word ‘resilience. Meaning we aren’t going to be able to prevent them given the limited funds our government has, the constraints of our Constitution, and the abhorrent constipation of our elected policy making bodies.
Those who study ‘war’ or ‘peace’ need to get schooled rapidly regarding the fundamental causes of both. Nothing less will end the inevitable budget breaking costs and accelerating trajectory of weapons and war. Too many “peace and justice” activist refuse to yield on their decades long ambition to cut military spending, stop arms sales, and their fetish for the ‘elimination of nuclear weapons’. And those who champion “peace through strength” need to realize that security is not a function of more and better weapons. Lasting security is a function of ‘Liberty and justice for all’. This is the prerequisite to improving any and every element of our human condition. It’s even biblical in origin.
And, too many in our government continue to pass policies without a serious consideration of our nation’s vulnerabilities and our unyielding global dependence on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”, so profoundly stated in our Declaration of Independence.
In this context the education of all Americans is the most vital element essential to our national security. Unknown to most Americans this was the weighty conclusion of the last report offered by a bi-partisan Presidential Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. It was released just six months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. It considered a lack of education in the US as the second greatest threat to our nation, behind terrorism.
When we think about honoring veterans or celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of WW I this November 11th (and the coming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights December 10th) it would be good to remember or learn about President Kennedy’s creation of the Peace Corps. He knew the foundation of peace and since its creation over 220,000 Americans have served in it. They also risked their lives in villages and hamlets around the world to bring education, health care, and farming to the poor. They deserved to be honored as much as military veterans, who many today actually try to perform such vital services while deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout Africa. Many rightfully debate the value of having our military do nation building but our best military leaders say if we don’t fund more humanitarian efforts we need to “buy them more bullets”.
Fundamentally, ‘we the people’ need to urgently redefine what is meant by national security and how it will be achieved. The answer lies more in how we use our Constitution to address the root causes of war, disease, genocide, hunger, poverty and other global injustices. We must put all people first, not our national pride. That is the biblical concept that helped create our great nation. Failing it, we will fail to be great, or even exist as a nation given the evolution of weapons and war.
The foundations of peace and security were recognized and articulated 38 years ago in a bipartisan Presidential Commission on World Hunger. “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…”
The commission specifically warned that “The most potentially explosive force in the world today is the frustrated desire of poor people to attain a decent standard of living.
The anger, despair and often hatred that result represent real and persistent threats to international order… Neither the cost to national security of allowing malnutrition to spread nor the gain to be derived by a genuine effort to resolve the problem can be predicted or measured in any precise, mathematical way. Nor can monetary value be placed on avoiding the chaos that will ensue unless the United States and the rest of the world begin to develop a common institutional framework for meeting such other critical global threats as the growing scarcity of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources, environmental hazards, pollution of the seas, and international terrorism. Calculable or not, however, this combination of problems now threatens the national security of all countries just as surely as advancing armies or nuclear arsenals.”
The commission also stated “that promoting economic development in general, and overcoming hunger in particular, are tasks far more critical to the U.S. national security than most policymakers acknowledge or even believe.
Since the advent of nuclear weapons most Americans have been conditioned to equate national security with the strength of strategic military forces. The Commission considers this prevailing belief to be a simplistic illusion. Armed might represents merely the physical aspect of national security. Military force is ultimately useless in the absence of the global security that only coordinated international progress toward social justice can bring.”
Today, the only thing other than the 2nd coming of Christ to comprehensively address global injustices is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals every nation agreed to in 2015. Funding them can be done without increasing any debt to any government. Such funding options will be explained in the days to come. Affordable, achievable, and nationally agreed upon solutions exist. All that is missing the political will of your elected officials to make it happen.
If you voted for them or not, or voted at all, the most important thing we can do as a citizen is to educate those in power on what our priorities are. Their job is to represent you/us. They swore to protect the Constitution. It will not protect you.
It is far more important that we all fulfill our individual and founders promise of liberty and justice for all. Right now, our best way of doing that is achieving the 17 SDGs.
Connect the dots (everything is connected!). See the web (of life). Insist on justice for all (17 SDGs). Or prepare for the catastrophic consequences (Global Catastrophic Risks 2018
Chuck Woolery, Former Chair
United Nations Association, Council of Organizations efreakinmath http://dothefreakinmath.blogspot.com (June 2006 to Nov 2016)
The Trilemma http://trilemma.blogspot.com/ (Oct 2011 to Nov 2013)
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.” -Albert Einstein. As quoted in Quantum Reality, Beyond the New Physics, p. 250.
Connect the dots! See the web of life! Achieve ‘justice for all’. Or, prepare for the catastrhophic conseqeunces. cw