Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Nuclear War: Donald Trump Is A Threat To The World, Noam Chomsky Says

In Climate change, Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on December 8, 2016 at 11:24 pm


Prominent scientist and philosopher Noam Chomsky said Tuesday the world faces great difficulties and possible threats from both nuclear war and climate change under President-elect Donald Trump. Chomsky, 87, stressed young people could reignite the middle class and labor movement while praising former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders.

“The threats and dangers are very real. There are plenty of opportunities. And as we face them, again, particularly the younger people among you, we should never overlook the fact that the threats that we now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history,” Chomsky told a crowd at Riverside Church in New York City. “They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns. They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on Nov. 8th, for the reasons you know… They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and author also touched on issues like labor and foreign policy and how the country has been walled off by South American and Asian nations at Democracy Now!’s 20th-anniversary event in New York. Chomsky said the U.S. has been isolating itself for years. He said President Barack Obama’s economic “pivot” toward Asia, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and China’s glaring absence from it, has led to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and other trade agreements excluding the U.S. while its allies sign up. By extension, Chomsky said Trump’s threat of “tearing up” a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran could only further isolate the U.S.
“Another step toward isolation may soon take place if the president-elect carries through his promise to terminate the nuclear weapons—the nuclear deal with Iran,” he said. “Other countries who are parties to the deal might well continue. They might even—Europe, mainly. That means ignoring U.S. sanctions. That will extend U.S. isolation, even from Europe. And in fact Europe might move, under these circumstances, toward backing off from the confrontation with Russia.”

Chomsky said Sanders’ campaign offered hopes for younger people, the middle class and laborers, who he said have “suffered” due to neo-liberal policies started in 1979, according to The Independent.

“Suppose people like you, the Sanders movement, offered an authentic, constructive program for real hope and change, it would win these people back,” Chomsky said. “I think many of the Trump voters could have voted for Sanders if there had been the right kind of activism and organization. and those are possibilities. It’s been done in the past under much harsher circumstances.”

Nuclear Danger Is Not Gone

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on December 6, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Dr. Bert Crain M.D., Guest Columnist, Citizen-Tines 9:12 a.m. EST December 5, 2016

The issue of nuclear weapons is a terrible problem shared by all humanity. The dangers we are facing do not loom large in the public consciousness as they did right after World War II when the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists voiced their first warnings that we should not elect to live in the dread of sudden annihilation and the publication The Nation felt strongly that it was now “one world or none”. We stumbled through the Cold War facing off the Soviet Union with a policy of mutually assured destruction. MAD worked but we were lucky. There were many close calls, the Cuban Missile Crisis being perhaps the best remembered.

Nearly 10 years ago four senior statesmen including two former secretaries of state offered a commentary in The Wall Street Journal that documented the tremendous danger, but also historic opportunity, that then existed. They emphasized the increasing hazard, the steps that should be taken, and the importance of U.S. leadership in a bold initiative consistent with our moral heritage. They emphasized that there was urgent need to amplify the gains that had been made in the Reagan-Gorbachev summits and subsequent détente of 1987. Barack Obama reinforced those leaders’ vision, calling for nuclear abolition in his speech in Prague in April 2009.

The danger now is greater than it was during the Cold War. Since the Russian Federation annexed the Crimea, invaded the Ukraine and began fighting for Bashar El Assad in Syria, the rhetoric has escalated with nuclear weapons once again being celebrated as symbols of national power. Some statesmen believe that Putin’s posture is more bravado from a fearful Russia encircled by NATO and trying to keep Ukraine in their domain.

In any case since the greatest threat we face is the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the U.S., the talk can be unnerving. In addition, all of the nuclear armed states are planning costly upgrades in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. We are threatening to start a new arms race. Many, including the late cosmologist Carl Sagan, an eloquent advocate for science and humanity, considered nuclear proliferation as collective madness.

Those who are anchored to nuclear weapons argue that nuclear deterrence has prevented a major power conflict since 1945. The price has been millions of people held hostage to the threat of extinction. It is now critical to also realize that unlike the ideological conflict of the Cold War, when everyone wanted to live, religious extremists intent on mass murder of nonbelievers and a glorious martyrdom will not be deterred by mutually assured destruction. This chilling fact alone should push the nuclear armed states toward cooperating in verifiable reductions and securing fissile material.

Many of us have been working for decades to enable public opinion through enlightened self- interest to push governments to not do insane things, but the political-military-industrial complex is a hungry beast. The newest and most potent abolitionist movement is The Humanitarian Initiative proposed by a majority of the non-nuclear states. On Oct. 27, 123 nations at the UN General Assembly, voted in favor of adopting a resolution that sets up negotiations in 2017 to establish a legally binding instrument that abolishes nuclear weapons. Physicians for Social Responsibility urges our nation’s citizens to embrace sanity, to pressure our elected officials to support this international effort and to demand a stop to a new nuclear arms race.

Bert Crain, M.D. is a member of Western North Carolina Physicians for Social Responsibility. For more see http://www.psr.org and http://www.wncpsr.org

Emergency at Standing Rock, ND

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Peace, Public Health, Race, Uncategorized, War on November 27, 2016 at 12:44 am

This came to me from Ina Russell.

In case you may not have known: people are likely to start dying at Standing Rock– if they aren’t already:
The Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council released this statement: “The physicians and tribal healers with the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council call for the immediate cessation of use of water cannons on people who are outdoors in 28F ambient weather with no means of active rewarming in these conditions. As medical professionals, we are concerned for the real risk of loss of life due to severe hypothermia under these conditions.”
Not to mention continuous mass tear gas, rubber bullets, as well as stinger grenades and LRAND (Long Range Acoustic Device) for 3 hours
Law enforcement also shot down three media drones and targeted journalists with less lethal rounds.
National Lawyers Guild legal observers on the frontlines have confirmed that multiple people were unconscious and bleeding after being shot in the head with rubber bullets. One elder went into cardiac arrest at the frontlines but medics administered CPR and were able to resuscitate him. The camp’s medical staff and facilities are overwhelmed and the local community of Cannonball has opened their school gymnasium for emergency relief.
ND Office of the Governor: 701-328-2200.
Morton County Sheriff’s Department:
701-328-8118 & 701-667-3330.
ND National Guard: 701-333-2000
202 224.2043 call the senator of North Dakota
Call often, please.
Please copy and paste; don’t click share. Then pass it on. Thank you.

Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look

In Cost, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Peace, War on November 23, 2016 at 10:42 am

Programs to account for a significant share of defense budget boost.

By John M. Donnelly, Nov. 21, 2016

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing space-based weapons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missile defense and military space programs are likely to get a substantial funding boost under the incoming Republican-dominated government, lawmakers and analysts say.

Coming soon are a greater number of more capable anti-missile interceptors and radars deployed around the globe — on land, at sea and possibly in space, say these legislators and experts, several of whom have consulted with President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers. More government money will be directed at protecting U.S. satellites from attack — potentially including systems that can ram into or otherwise disable another country’s satellites. And senior Republicans who oversee Pentagon spending said in interviews this week that they support considering all such systems.

“I believe we need lots of platforms for every eventuality, including those,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the New Jersey Republican who is expected to chair the House Appropriations Committee in the next Congress.
Trump’s thoughts on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals, such as growing the Army and building more warships. As a candidate, Trump said little on the subject. But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.

Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican on House Armed Services, said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.

“It was a Democrat mindset that caused us to step back from space-based defense assets to ostensibly not ‘weaponize space,’ while our enemies proceeded to do just that, and now, we find ourselves in a grave deficit,” Franks said. “In every area of warfare, within the Geneva Conventions, America should be second to none. That includes satellite warfare, if it’s necessary. We cannot be victims of our own decency here.”

[More Potential Picks for Trump’s Cabinet]

One of Trump’s only mentions of missile defense came in a September speech on national security in Philadelphia. The GOP nominee promised more missile defense systems to protect against North Korea and Iran, including ships in an expanded Navy.

“We propose to rebuild the key tools of missile defense, starting with the Navy cruisers that are the foundation of our missile defense capabilities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” Trump said. “As we expand our Navy toward the goal of 350 ships, we will also procure additional modern destroyers that are designed to handle the missile defense mission in the coming years.”
Riki Ellison, chairman and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes anti-missile systems, said his organization responded to a request from the Trump campaign for a briefing earlier this year and has had extensive consultations. Ellison believes the Pentagon programs coming down the line include not only those mentioned by Trump and his attorney general nominee, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, but also a new battery of anti-missile interceptors on the East Coast of the United States, plus lasers and weapons capable of being launched either from or into space.

The concept of a space-based anti-missile shield has long been a favorite of many Republicans, dating back to the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

This year, the House-passed defense authorization bill contains a provision, written by Franks, that would require the Pentagon to start a research program for space-based anti-missile systems. The final version of that bill is being written by a House-Senate conference and may get a vote in one or both chambers by the end of November.

[Not Your Father’s GOP: The Deficit Debate Has Disappeared]

Experts at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which is expected to have the ear of Republicans in Congress and the new administration, have long been on record advocating space-based missile defenses. Michaela Dodge, a Heritage analyst, recommended in a September report that Congress should “demand that the next administration develop and deploy a space-based missile defense interceptor layer.”

Other aides and experts, who requested anonymity and who may have a role in — or influence on — the next administration, believe that research into space weapons is all but a given in the next administration, though procurement and deployment would be a separate debate and, in any event, would not occur for years. The multibillion-dollar cost of such systems will be a key element of the debate.

The Pentagon has sought $7.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency in fiscal 2017, down from the agency’s high-water mark of $9.4 billion in fiscal 2007, during the George W. Bush administration.

“I think and hope they will get more of a priority, said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican who serves on House Armed Services, referring to anti-missile programs in the new administration.

If Pentagon spending rises in the years ahead, “it’s fair to assume that national security space would definitely benefit from this,” said Kevin Cook, vice president of marketing and communications at the Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for the space industry.

Anti-satellite weapons, known as ASAT, are arguably a harder sell than anti-missile satellites. Rather than destroying an enemy missile in flight, they would obliterate or disable an adversary’s satellite in orbit.

U.S. military and commercial satellites perform missions from surveillance to communications to navigation to weather. They form the linchpin of U.S. military prowess. But U.S. officials say Russia and China are increasingly focused on developing weapons that can neutralize this U.S. advantage — from anti-satellite missiles to jamming of frequencies to cyberattacks to miniature killer satellites.

[Chambers Split on East Coast Missile Defense Site]

“I’d like to see the new administration really redouble the focus on space security issues and on what type of space capabilities we are going to buy,” said Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Obama administration added about $1 billion a year to its budgets in order to improve efforts to protect U.S. satellites. The Defense Department now considers this a war-fighting mission and has begun to adjust its organizations and procedures accordingly.

Almost all the solutions are defensive — including shifting to a larger number of satellites, hardening them against jamming, protecting their cyberlinks and improving surveillance of what is happening in space. Such efforts are likely to continue and perhaps expand under Trump, experts said.

“We’re certainly not seeking a competition on the offensive side,” said Winston Beauchamp, the Air Force’s deputy under secretary for space, at a Washington conference on Thursday. “But we will do whatever is necessary to make sure our assets can continue to operate through such a conflict, if it were to occur, which I think is no one’s best interest. … And if something happens in space, our response wouldn’t necessarily be in space.”

The Pentagon has, starting in the Cold War, spent money developing weapons that could destroy or disable an enemy’s satellites. The programs, including a kinetic energy ASAT weapon that was in planning stages in the 1990s, have come and gone. Some experts believe such initiatives still exist in classified form.

Referring to anti-satellite and anti-missile weapons in space, Lamborn of Armed Services said: “Some of the technical issues around those concepts need to be researched, but there’s a lot of exciting options.”

The Trump administration may also consider exploring ways to launch weapons from space to hit targets on Earth.

“The future military necessity of using smaller force projection into hostile arenas will demand the speed and agility that only space-based assets can supply,” wrote Robert Walker and Peter Navarro, two space advisers to Trump, in a Space News op-ed in October. Walker, a lobbyist, is a Pennsylvania Republican who served two decades in the House and chaired the Science Committee. Navarro is a business professor at the University of California, Irvine.

News from the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Noverber 2016

In Climate change, Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on November 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Terra Incognita

Who knows what a Donald Trump administration will bring? Perhaps efforts to implement the darkest elements of Trump’s campaign pronouncements. Any such moves must be resolutely resisted. We must insist on respect for the Constitution, the UN Charter, human rights and international humanitarian law, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And we must do our utmost to prevent backsliding on climate protection. In the nuclear sphere, we should be alert to any opportunities for halting and reversing nuclear arms racing presented by Trump’s stated desire to improve relations with Russia. (See June LCNP memo to presidential campaigns.) The multilateral agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program, joined with a Security Council resolution, must be preserved.

The incoming UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, as LCNP consultant Alyn Ware writes, has no record on nuclear disarmament, but will have plenty of opportunities to facilitate dispute resolution among the nuclear powers and to carry forward Ban Ki-moon’s emphasis on the historic UN mission of accomplishing elimination of weapons of mass destruction. We recommend to Mr. Guterres, and eNews readers as well, the recent publication of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs – Rethinking General and Complete Disarmament in the 21st Century, which is available online. LCNP Executive Director John Burroughs has a chapter on legal aspects; LCNP Consultative Council member Jackie Cabasso and Andrew Lichterman have a chapter on broad-spectrum arms racing and nuclear disarmament; and Consultative Council member Randy Rydell has a chapter on creating disarmament synergies.
Negotiations in 2017 on a Ban Treaty

The UN General Assembly will soon adopt a resolution recommended by its First Committee deciding to commence negotiations in 2017 at the UN in New York on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading to their elimination. The resolution builds on the work of 2016 UN Open-ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament. The governments leading the initiative on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, especially Austria and Mexico, and also Thailand, the chair of the working group, have done a marvelous job in getting this far, as have our colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

While nothing is set in stone, the current direction is toward a treaty that will prohibit the development, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons but not contain detailed provisions relating to the verified elimination of existing nuclear arsenals. That is in large part because as things now stand, the nuclear-armed states will not participate in the negotiations. The result would be a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons applying to states that do not have such weapons and are furthermore barred by the Non-Proliferation Treaty and regional nuclear weapons free zones from acquiring them. Nonetheless, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have been vociferous (Russia especially so) in opposing the initiative.

Why? The answer must be that they fear its effects in delegitimizing reliance on nuclear weapons, aka ‘nuclear deterrence’, in entrenching the norm of non-use, and in catalyzing nuclear disarmament. This in itself is a good reason to support the ban treaty initiative. In this connection, LCNP emphasizes that a ban treaty by its terms must acknowledge and confirm the existing illegality of use of nuclear weapons under international law protecting civilians and the environment from the effects of warfare. See this paper by LCNP’s international body, IALANA, for more, as well as this paper by Burroughs for The Simons Foundation.
Dismissal of the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Cases

On October 5, by narrow margins, the International Court of Justice dismissed the three nuclear disarmament cases brought by the Marshall Islands against India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. The Court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction because no legal dispute existed when the Marshall Islands filed applications initiating the cases in April 2014. In the UK case, the judges were divided eight to eight, with the vote of the Court’s president breaking the tie; in the India and Pakistan cases, the vote was nine to seven.

As the dissenting judges observed, the ruling ignores the fact that the Marshall Islands’ claims were rooted in longstanding opposing views of the large majority of the world’s states, on the one side, and the states possessing nuclear arsenals, on the other, regarding whether the latter states are complying with the Court’s unanimous conclusion in its 1996 Advisory Opinion that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects. (See John Burroughs’ assessment of the opinion in Arms Control Today on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its release.) The ruling also gave insufficient weight to the Marshall Islands’ articulation of claims in multilateral forums prior to bringing the cases and to the opposing positions taken by the Marshall Islands and the respondent states in the proceedings after the cases began.

LCNP salutes the courage and determination, rooted in tragic experience, and the good faith as well, of the Marshall Islands and its then Foreign Minister Tony deBrum in bringing the cases. Simply doing so raised to world attention the failure of the nuclear powers to fulfill the obligation to negotiate the global elimination of nuclear weapons. LCNP also commends the hard work of the Marshall Islands’ international legal team. The Marshall Islands’ pleadings are a rich resource for the development of political and legal arguments for disarmament.

For more on the outcome, see this Arms Control Today story, this Nuclear Age Peace Foundation press release, and the case pages at http://www.icj-cij.org. See also Burroughs’ appreciation of the Marshall Islands and deBrum in remarks at an August rally at the Livermore nuclear weapons laboratory in California.

William Perry at All Souls Church

With the All Souls Nuclear Disarmament Task Force and Peace Action of New York State, LCNP organized a well-attended event featuring Bill Perry, former US Secretary of Defense, speaking on “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” the title of his recent book, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan on October 24. See this video for his riveting talk and Q&A, in which Perry discusses the risk of nuclear catastrophe (higher than during the Cold War), the necessity of repairing relations with Russia and halting the emerging nuclear arms race, dangerous tensions in South Asia, the proposed ban treaty (he supports it), the imperative of education (esp. of millennials) to lay the basis for action to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, and much more. There is also an excellent introduction of Perry by Peter Weiss with reflections on use of language – thus the only true ‘nuclear security’ is the global elimination of nuclear arsenals. The event was endorsed by Global Security Institute; NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security; Brooklyn For Peace; Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives; and United Religions Initiative.

EPA Proposes Shocking Thousand-Fold Increase in Radioactivity Allowed in Drinking Water

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Policy, Public Health, Radiation Standards, Uncategorized on November 20, 2016 at 10:29 am

Proposal would permit radiation exposures equivalent to 250 chest X-rays a year.

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. EPA quietly issued proposals to allow radioactive contamination in drinking water at concentrations vastly greater than allowed under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The new guidance would permit radiation exposures equivalent to 250 chest X-rays a year. Today, environmental groups called the proposal “shocking” and “egregious.”

The EPA proposed Protective Action Guides (PAGs) would allow the general population to drink water hundreds to thousands of times more radioactive than is now legal. For example, radioactive iodine-131 has a current limit of 3 pico-curies per liter (pCi/L), in water but the new guidance would allow 10,350 (pCi/L), 3,450 times higher. For strontium-90, which causes leukemia, the current limit is 8 pCi/L; the new proposed value is 7,400 pCi/L, a 925-fold increase.

“Clean Water is essential for health. Just like lead, radiation when ingested in small amounts is very hazardous to our health. It is inconceivable that EPA could now quietly propose allowing enormous increases in radioactive contamination with no action to protect the public, even if concentrations are a thousand times higher than under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The Bush Administration in its last days unsuccessfully tried to put forward similar proposals, which the incoming Obama Administration pulled back. Now, in the waning months of the Obama Administration, EPA’s radiation office is trying again.

“These levels are even higher than those proposed by the Bush Administration—really unprecedented and shocking,” said Diane D’Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

The Bush Administration proposal for strontium 90 was 6,650 pCi/L; the new proposal is 7,400 pCi/L. For iodine-131, the Bush proposal was 8,490 pCi/L; the new proposal is 10,350 pCi/L. For cesium-137, the proposal was for 13,600 pCi/L; Obama “beats” Bush with a value of 16,570 pCi/L.

All radionuclides can cause cancer and other health and reproductive problems; there is no completely safe level. Strontium causes bone cancer and leukemia. Babies, children, and females are at even greater risk than adult males.

PAGs apply not just to emergencies such as “dirty bombs,” and Fukushima-type nuclear power meltdowns but also to any radiological release for which a protective action may be considered – even a radiopharmaceutical transport spill. The proposed drinking water PAG would apply not to the immediate phase after a release, but rather to the intermediate phase, after the release has been stabilized, and lasting up to several years thereafter.

Radiation doses (in rems) cannot be measured but are calculated based on some measurements and many assumptions. The current Safe Drinking Water Act limits are based on 4 millirems per year. The PAGs would allow 500 millirems per year for the general population. A single chest X-ray gives about 2 millirems. Because of the way EPA is changing the definition of dose, for many radionuclides, the allowable concentration would be thousands, tens of thousands, and even millions of times higher than set under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Internal EPA documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act [links below] show that the EPA itself concluded that the proposed concentrations “would exceed MCLs [Maximum Contaminant Limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act] by a factor of 100, 1000, and in two instances, 7 million.” The EPA internal analysis showed that for one radionuclide, “drinking a very small glass of water of approximately 4 ounces … would result in an exposure that corresponds to a lifetime of drinking … water … at the MCL level.”

“All of this is extraordinary, since EPA has recently accepted the National Academy of Sciences’ most current risk estimates for radiation, indicating radiation is considerably more dangerous per unit dose than previously believed,” said D’Arrigo. “Pushing allowable concentrations of radioactivity in drinking water up orders of magnitude above the longstanding Safe Drinking Water Act levels goes in exactly the opposite direction than the official radiation risk estimates go.”

“Under these proposals, people would be forced to get the radiation equivalent of a chest X-ray 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, for up to several years, with no medical benefit or informed consent, just from drinking water. This is immoral,” said D’Arrigo.

The public has 45 days from when it is published in the Federal Register to comment to the EPA on the PAG-Protective Action Guides.

“These proposed changes are a particularly egregious gift to the energy industry, which would essentially be given a free pass whenever nuclear or fracking waste enters our water supply,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the new book, Frackopoly. “The EPA under President Obama has also whitewashed the impact of fracking on drinking water. This is more of the same when it comes to his EPA’s pro-industry, hands-off regulation of toxic practices that can harm public health.”

The EPA Proposal


Trump Could Face a Nuclear Decision Soon

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on November 18, 2016 at 2:28 am

I was the former nuclear missile launch officer who in October appeared in a TV advertisement for Hillary Clinton, saying: “The thought of Donald Trump with nuclear weapons scares me to death. It should scare everyone.” The ad featured various quotes from Trump’s campaign rallies and interviews, in which he says, among other things: “I would bomb the shit out of ’em,” “I wanna be unpredictable,” and “I love war.” As I walked through a nuclear missile launch center in the ad, I explained that “self-control may be all that keeps these missiles from firing.”

We will see all of our fears—and the new president-elect’s self-control—put to the test over the next four years. When Trump takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2017, there will be no shortage of combustible tensions around the globe. And Trump will need to make some critical decisions quickly—including whether he truly wants, as he suggested during the campaign, a world in which there are even more nuclear powers than we have today.
These tensions are present even now and show no signs of easing. For starters, U.S.-led NATO and Russian military forces are shadow boxing with increasing intensity. The mutual intimidation is steadily escalating, and Trump’s soft commitment to NATO’s defense has not helped. Rather than assuaging the Russians, it has only stoked insecurity in Europe and perhaps tempted Russia to intervene in the Baltic states. In other words, appeasement only makes matters more unstable.

In East Asia, meanwhile, a mercurial and belligerent leader of North Korea will soon be able to brandish nuclear-armed missiles to credibly threaten South Korea, Japan and the U.S. homeland with nuclear devastation. The timeline for this threat to materialize is very short—months or a low number of years. (Trump himself mentioned the threat in his “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday.) Kim Jong Un’s provocations combined with Trump’s soft-pedaling of the U.S. defense commitment in Asia have put the entire region on edge and provoked South Korea to consider acquiring a nuclear arsenal in self defense.

There are other crises brewing as well, including in the South China Sea and the Middle East. As China lays claim to nearly all of this sea in part to create safe bastions for its new fleet of ballistic missile submarines, the U.S. has intensified its air, sea, and undersea surveillance and anti-submarine warfare operations, increasing the chances of hostile encounters. In the Middle East, U.S. and Russian forces are operating in very close and not-so-friendly quarters in the Syrian theater, and the specter of a region going nuclear looms larger than ever as Trump warns he will tear up and re-negotiate the hard-won Iranian nuclear deal. This ill-advised move would set Iran free to resume its nuclear program, while spurring Iran’s enemies to follow suit, as well as re-opening the debate over U.S.-Israeli pre-emptive strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.


All of these crises are percolating at once. They threaten to overwhelm even the savviest of presidents and advisers. Can we rely on Trump to act with diligence, competence, diplomatic skill, reason and restraint? The verdict of a plurality of the electorate who voted for Clinton and of the vast majority of foreign policy experts is one of profound doubt that he can handle the pressure. He has proved himself over and over again to be quick-tempered, defensive, prone to lash out, adamant in dividing the world into winners and losers, and quick to invoke either the use of force or the backing away from U.S. defense commitments. He is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and the policies that govern their role and use. He offhandedly entertains their use, raising doubts whether he can be trusted with the nuclear codes. The danger exists that the Trump national security team headed by an inexperienced and hot-headed commander in chief will prove too inept to defuse a crisis, and that it will escalate to nuclear conflict with devastating consequences for the country, our allies and the world.

Given that unpredictability appears to be the crux of his national security game plan, predicting his behavior is perhaps a fool’s errand. But let’s consider the two most immediate and fraught crises that he will inherit—the U.S.-Russian stand-off and the imminent nuclear threat from North Korea.

There are grounds for some optimism that the former can be defused. In past, confrontations with the Soviets, such as the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, presidents sometimes rattled the nuclear saber but rejected using it. Trump has been much more open to the first use of nukes than any of his predecessors since Eisenhower. The better news is that he seems determined to improve relations with Russia. Many of the leading candidates for appointment to his national security team are ideologues who are very likely to advise against extending an olive branch to the Russian bear. They harbor deep-seated suspicions of Russia and will attempt to smother any pragmatic moves toward rapprochement. But if Trump’s pragmatism prevails without eroding NATO solidarity and weakening its security, then he might succeed not only in de-escalating the situation but also in paving the way for security cooperation on many fronts.

One intriguing possibility is that he would pursue détente with Russia through nuclear arms control. A breakthrough in the relationship might even yield a grand bargain that, say, reduces nuclear arms by one-third to 1,000 on each side, pledges both sides not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, stands down their nuclear missiles on hair-trigger launch readiness, establishes a joint center to process early warning data in order to prevent false alarms from inducing an inadvertent launch, reaffirms their obligations to existing treaties and scraps the missile defense systems in Europe that Russia so vehemently opposes.

Trump’s deal-making talent may prove wanting, however as congressional Republicans adamantly support missile defenses and comprehensive modernization of U.S. nuclear strike forces. Other factors could also thwart an overture to Russia, including intentional acts or accidents between rival fighter aircraft that result in loss of life, triggering further escalation of tensions that could ultimately spin out of control. A conventional conflict could ensue and precipitate a nuclear response, probably by Russia, which relies much more on nuclear weapons than does the United States, but who knows how an unpredictable commander in chief who consults mainly with himself might behave.

This raises the perennial question of Trump’s reaction to indications of a Russian nuclear missile attack received in the wee hours of the night in the midst of an escalating crisis. Would he have a steady hand, or lose his composure and convulse with a knee-jerk reaction?

Nobody knows the answer, but we do know two things. First, such a challenge plays to Trump’s cognitive and emotional weaknesses. An imminent threat to the White House from incoming nuclear warheads flying at four miles per second would surely cause intense emotion and unsettle the steadiest of leaders. With only three to seven minutes allowed to assess whether the indications are true or false and decide whether and how to retaliate, any leader could make a bad call. (This system clearly needs to be reformed to greatly increase warning and decision time.) But Trump’s erratic and volatile personality makes for low confidence in his ability to reach the right decision. Second, a mistake would be irrevocable. If the president gives the order, which takes seconds to convey to his military, missiles would fire from their underground silos within five minutes and from their submarine tubes within 15 minutes. The missiles cannot be recalled or destroyed in flight once they are launched. They would reach their targets on the other side of the planet in 15 to 30 minutes.

Game over.


Perhaps the biggest unknown is how Trump will handle North Korea. He suggested that we outsource the problem of disarming this pariah state to China, which could bring it to heel under U.S. pressure. What else might he attempt to do to defang North Korea of its ability to lob nukes at its neighbors and the United States? Sanctions have proved toothless. High-tailing it out of the region would be counterproductive. He needs to do just the opposite of retreat, in fact, and reassure our Asian allies while engaging more deeply than ever with China and North Korea. If Trump can resist his instinct to bail and instead pursue an out-of-the box solution that allays the insecurity of the North Korean regime and China’s fear of a reunited Korean peninsula allied with the U.S.—then his penchant for defying long-held premises and shibboleths may be the ticket that’s needed to dismantle the Dear Leader’s arsenal.

But the trajectory of this crisis is ominous, and it could easily escalate to the brink of nuclear use. Again, this would test the mettle of any national security apparatus. Managing a complex crisis is hard enough for the most talented security officials, diplomats and military commanders. History shows that in the heat of crisis, the national security apparatus of the belligerent states often verge on collapse from situational confusion, miscalculation, breakdown of communications, fatigue, failure of imagination and lack of empathy. Exasperated leaders tend to get caught up in strong escalatory updrafts. In this case, escalation could all too easily culminate in the outbreak of military conflict and lead to nuclear war.

Nobody knows what could happen inside Trump’s head if Kim Jong Un begins deploying nuclear missiles into battle positions and prepares for all-out war while threatening to turn his enemies’ countries into radiating rubble. But here is a hypothetical scenario that at least plausibly aligns with the evident temperament and judgment of Donald Trump.

Imagine the following:

—Trump receives urgent intelligence of North Korea’s prepping for nuclear attack and calls an emergency session of his National Security Council in the Situation Room. All his key military commanders around the world are patched into the call. The secretary of state reports that his counterparts in Japan and South Korea are appealing urgently for action to protect their nations from the erratic, volatile, and maniacal commander of the North’s nuclear forces. The CIA reports that communications intercepts and space reconnaissance reveal the Dear Leader’s forces are at maximum readiness poised for immediate launch and that he has instructed his military to prepare for nuclear conflict. And then Dear Leader slings vitriol at Trump himself, and demands an immediate cessation of joint U.S.-South Korean-Japanese military exercises in the region or else suffer the consequences of thermonuclear strikes.

—An irked Trump decides to teach the Dear Leader a lesson and returns the insults and the ultimatum: Stand down your nuclear missiles within 24 hours or else they will be taken out. The secretary of state delivers the demarche. Trump orders his military commanders to prepare their forces for a quick surgical strike on the North’s nuclear bases. He is told that a strike with U.S. and allied precision-guided conventional weapons delivered by aircraft and cruise missile stands a 95 percent chance of wiping out the nuclear threat. Trump says he believes that winning requires the destruction of 100 percent, and orders the Strategic Command to prepare to use nuclear weapons in order to ensure that none of the North’s nuclear weapons would survive and that the Kim dynasty is finally ended.

—During the next 24 hours, senior officials and military commanders discuss and debate the pros and cons of attacking the North, let alone employing nuclear weapons, and speculate on the president’s true intentions. Is it all a bluff, or does he in fact intend to strike and bring down the regime along with its nuclear forces. Might he actually order the use of nuclear weapons?

—North Korea, as is its wont, will not stand down—indeed becomes only more belligerent and defiant. A consensus then jells among most U.S. officials that the North’s outrageous behavior and rhetoric are par for the course and that the hot air does not warrant a pre-emptive military strike by U.S. coalition forces, much less a nuclear strike. But the situation on the ground has dramatically changed since the North’s nuclear missile forces became capable of destroying the major cities of its enemies. And when the 24-hour deadline arrives, and the CIA reports that nothing has changed except that intercepts reveal peak readiness to fire the missiles, the denizens of the Situation Room have internalized the distinct possibility that the president will in fact order a nuclear strike. They have prepared for it, and thus tacitly accommodated the decision.

Again, nobody knows how Trump and his senior advisers would behave. It is quite possible that serious objections would be voiced, perhaps with great vehemence. Would Trump listen to them and revise his thinking? Perhaps not. He brags (vacuously) that he has a big brain and primarily consults with himself. Surrounded by many hard-liners, it is also possible that a kind of group-think prevails bearing great deference to the commander in chief’s decision, however convoluted and emotion-racked his thinking seems to be. His team has come to regard the nuclear option as legitimate and perhaps even necessary.

One thing is certain: Trump will have the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons whenever he chooses with a single phone call. This (oversimplified) scenario suggests that even if Trump, consulting nobody, lashes out because of pique over Kim’s disrespect, his advisers might well simply demur, but if they do object and refuse they have no recourse but to excuse themselves from the proceedings and take what comes. That’s because there simply are no checks and balances on his authority, which is derived from the Constitution. There is no congressional or Supreme Court veto. And there would be no veto by anyone in the president’s circle of advisers or the military.

Finally, there is the question of whether Trump would reverse decades of firm policy against nuclear proliferation and allow more countries into the nuclear club. Today, there are nine leaders with their fingers on the button. The four nuclear weapons countries in Asia are building up their arsenals and moving them toward hair-trigger status. India’s Nahrendra Modi has been equipped with a nuclear suitcase linked by dedicated communications channels to his nuclear forces in order to expedite his authorization for their use. The others are following in his footsteps. Meanwhile, some 50 nations around the world have nuclear programs intended for civilian purposes that could be switched to weapons purposes, and at least 10 of them have national security grounds to consider doing so, especially in light of doubts about the reliability of Trump’s commitment to their defense and his irresponsible promise to trash the Iran deal.

Trump’s seeming indifference to these trends is baffling and disconcerting. If they continue, nuclear proliferation will reach the point of no return and nuclear weapons will inevitably be used. Trump’s rhetoric only encourages the world to adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward nuclear acquisition and use.

So, yes, I am still scared. We can only hope that the new president learns quickly that nuclear weapons are not to be trifled with.

Bruce G. Blair is a nuclear security expert and a research scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton and the co-founder of Global Zero.

We need Active Hope now more than ever!

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Public Health, Race, Uncategorized on November 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

Dear LeRoy,

I am still reeling from the realization that Donal Trump will be our next president, a man who is a climate denier, a racist, a bully, a liar, an abuser, and a narcissist. We are stepping into the most challenging of times.

As you wrestle with your responses to the impending changes, I would like to remind you of the power of The Work That Reconnects spiral and encourage you to take yourself through the four stages. This is a such a gift during these trying times. (Thank you, Joanna Macy!)

Gratitude: surround yourself with loved ones. celebrate the beauty around you. remind yourself of those things that fill you with joy.

Honor Your Pain: please, please, please take the time to feel your pain. create a sacred space, a safe container where you can touch your fear, your grief, your anger, your despair, your numbness. Cry, yell, scream, pound pillows, rant, speak softly through your tears, breathe in the silence. dance, sing. It is vital that you give yourself permission to FEEL, let the emotions move through you.

See With New Eyes: we are being called to see our country, our issues, our challenges, ourselves, the root of such discontent in new ways. we are being challenged to show up in new and more powerful ways. Here are some readings that I am finding helpful to me in seeing with new eyes.

(from Charter for Compassion email)
the invitation has arrived
to step into our courage
and our full humanity

from this day forward
the harm can only unfold
and multiply and spread

with our silence
with our consent
with our participation

we will not be silent
we do not consent and
we will not participate
in legitimating violence, lies and division

the love that we are
the love that connects us all
the love that bends history
even in this dark moment
towards liberation

We are one
we are many and
we are one
it is time
dear friends
the revolution of love
must be completed

And it is only possible
if on this day
we commit our lives
to walking the hard road
because there is now only one way forward

adapted from work by Taj James, founder and Executive Director of the Movement Strategy Center

The Warrior of Light Sometimes Behaves Like Water

The Warrior of Light sometimes behaves like water,
flowing around the obstacles he encounters.

Occasionally, resistance might mean destruction,
and so he adapts to the circumstances.
He accepts, without complaint, that the stones in his path
hinder his way though the mountains.
Therein lies the strength of water.
It cannot be touched by a hammer or ripped to shreds by a knife.
The strongest sword in the world cannot scar its surface.
The river adapts itself to whatever route proves possible,
but the river never forgets its one objective; the sea.

So fragile at its source,
it gradually gathers the strength of the other rivers it encounters.
And, after a certain point, its power is absolute.

from The Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho

A Letter to America from Leslie Knope regarding Donald Trump
Meeting The Times by Deena Metzger
Stop Shaming Trump Supporters by Rabbi Michael Lerner

Going Forth: you make a difference every day of your life. find the ways you are being called to bear witness to your truth for our world. find your next best step to show your love for yourself, each other, our brother/sister species, the world. speak up, stand up, show up.

You are not alone. We are not alone. These times are calling out the best in us. Let us also seek the best in others. Be the hope you wish to see in the world!

With deep gratitude and fierce love,
Kathleen Rude

Trump’s election and after

In Climate change, Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Peace, Public Health, Race, War on November 14, 2016 at 3:55 am

The election of Trump on November 8 is the result of many years of

  • triumph of big money,
  • fostering poverty and then marginalizing the poor of all races and colors,
  • waging war to protect predatory industries,
  • systematically destroying the ecology on which we rely for our very being,
  • claiming to be special as we dominate others,
  • spending far more on the military than on need — education, housing, medical care, the infrastructure,
  • isolation and alienation from others, fostered by the mechanics of cell phones and social media, treating others but also ourselves like automatons rather than living, breathing  people.

The racism vividly expressed in this election is an expression of the racist heritage on which this country was built. Though the negativity toward Indians, Blacks, Hispanics and Muslims was visceral, it is not new.

Those who voted for Trump not only felt betrayed, they were betrayed. They expressed their anger as much as any approval of Trump. We must befriend them as much as they believe he did.

Let’s recruit others and work together to get money out of politics, to distribute wealth to all, to change priorities to need rather than greed, to replace war and militarism with care for the world in which we all live and on which we all depend.

Let us begin locally while also doing what we can beyond, in the state, the country, the globe.

The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Peace, Public Health, Race, War on November 12, 2016 at 4:33 am

By Charles Eisenstein, Creative Commons, Posted on Nov 10, 2016

Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.

A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better. It would have obscured the reality of continued neoliberal economics, imperial wars, and resource extraction behind a veil of faux-progressive feminism. Now that we have, in the words of my friend Kelly Brogan, rejected a wolf in sheep’s clothing in favor of a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that illusion will be impossible to maintain.

The wolf, Donald Trump (and I’m not sure he’d be offended by that moniker) will not provide the usual sugarcoating on the poison pills the policy elites have foisted on us for the last forty years. The prison-industrial complex, the endless wars, the surveillance state, the pipelines, the nuclear weapons expansion were easier for liberals to swallow when they came with a dose, albeit grudging, of LGBTQ rights under an African-American President.

I am willing to suspend my judgement of Trump and (very skeptically) hold the possibility that he will disrupt the elite policy consensus of free trade and military confrontation – major themes of his campaign. One might always hope for miracles. However, because he apparently lacks any robust political ideology of his own, it is more likely that he will fill his cabinet with neocon war hawks, Wall Street insiders, and corporate reavers, trampling the wellbeing of the working class whites who elected him while providing them their own sugar-coating of social conservatism.

The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed under President Trump are likely to incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder. For Clinton supporters, many of whom were halfhearted to begin with, the Trump administration could mark the end of their loyalty to our present institutions of government. For Trump supporters, the initial celebration will collide with gritty reality when Trump proves as unable or unwilling as his predecessors to challenge the entrenched systems that continually degrade their lives: global finance capital, the deep state, and their programming ideologies. Add to this the likelihood of a major economic crisis, and the public’s frayed loyalty to the existing system could snap.

We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. It may seem that the world is falling apart. For many, that process started on election night, when Trump’s victory provoked incredulity, shock, even vertigo. “I can’t believe this is happening!”

At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. Anyone who disputes the blame narrative may receive more hostility than the opponents themselves, as in wartime when pacifists are more reviled than the enemy.

Racism and misogyny are devastatingly real in this country, but to blame bigotry and sexism for voters’ repudiation of the Establishment is to deny the validity of their deep sense of betrayal and alienation. The vast majority of Trump voters were expressing extreme dissatisfaction with the system in the way most readily available to them. (See here, here, here, here) Millions of Obama voters voted for Trump (six states who went for Obama twice switched to Trump). Did they suddenly become racists in the last four years? The blame-the-racists (the fools, the yokels…) narrative generates a clear demarcation between good (us) and evil (them), but it does violence to the truth. It also obscures an important root of racism – anger displaced away from an oppressive system and its elites and onto other victims of that system. Finally, it employs the same dehumanization of the other that is the essence of racism and the precondition for war. Such is the cost of preserving a dying story. That is one reason why paroxysms of violence so often accompany a culture-defining story’s demise.

The dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress is going to intensify. That presents a tremendous opportunity and danger, because when normal falls apart the ensuing vacuum draws in formerly unthinkable ideas from the margins. Unthinkable ideas range from rounding up the Muslims in concentration camps, to dismantling the military-industrial complex and closing down overseas military bases. They range from nationwide stop-and-frisk to replacing criminal punishment with restorative justice. Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions. When the animating force behind these new ideas is hate or fear, all manner of fascistic and totalitarian nightmares can ensue, whether enacted by existing powers or those that arise in revolution against them.

That is why, as we enter a period of intensifying disorder, it is important to introduce a different kind of force to animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble. I would call it love if it weren’t for the risk of triggering your New Age bullshit detector, and besides, how does one practically bring love into the world in the realm of politics? So let’s start with empathy. Politically, empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together.

We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead. Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths (Putin!), wandering aimlessly from “doctrine” to “doctrine” – and they have no idea what to do. Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism. When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum.

We are entering a space between stories. After various retrograde versions of a new story rise and fall and we enter a period of true unknowing, an authentic next story will emerge. What would it take for it to embody love, compassion, and interbeing? I see its lineaments in those marginal structures and practices that we call holistic, alternative, regenerative, and restorative. All of them source from empathy, the result of the compassionate inquiry: What is it like to be you?

It is time now to bring this question and the empathy it arouses into our political discourse as a new animating force. If you are appalled at the election outcome and feel the call of hate, perhaps try asking yourself, “What is it like to be a Trump supporter?” Ask it not with a patronizing condescension, but for real, looking underneath the caricature of misogynist and bigot to find the real person.

Even if the person you face IS a misogynist or bigot, ask, “Is this who they are, really?” Ask what confluence of circumstances, social, economic, and biographical, may have brought them there. You may still not know how to engage them, but at least you will not be on the warpath automatically. We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. So let’s stop making our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil.

We’ve got to stop acting out hate. I see no less of it in the liberal media than I do in the right-wing. It is just better disguised, hiding beneath pseudo-psychological epithets and dehumanizing ideological labels. Exercising it, we create more of it. What is beneath the hate? My acupuncturist Sarah Fields wrote to me, “Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When people lose the hate, they are forced to deal with the pain beneath.”

I think the pain beneath is fundamentally the same pain that animates misogyny and racism – hate in a different form. Please stop thinking you are better than these people! We are all victims of the same world-dominating machine, suffering different mutations of the same wound of separation. Something hurts in there. We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, intimate connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the kingdom of childhood, and so much more. The acute trauma endured by the incarcerated, the abused, the raped, the trafficked, the starved, the murdered, and the dispossessed does not exempt the perpetrators. They feel it in mirror image, adding damage to their souls atop the damage that compels them to violence. Thus it is that suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. military. Thus it is that addiction is rampant among the police. Thus it is that depression is epidemic in the upper middle class. We are all in this together.

Something hurts in there. Can you feel it? We are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people.

We have entertained teachings like these long enough in our spiritual retreats, meditations, and prayers. Can we take them now into the political world and create an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex? It is time to do it, time to up our game. It is time to stop feeding hate. Next time you post on line, check your words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate: dehumanization, snark, belittling, derision.., some invitation to us versus them. Notice how it feels kind of good to do that, like getting a fix. And notice what hurts underneath, and how it doesn’t feel good, not really. Maybe it is time to stop.

This does not mean to withdraw from political conversation, but to rewrite its vocabulary. It is to speak hard truths with love. It is to offer acute political analysis that doesn’t carry the implicit message of “Aren’t those people horrible?” Such analysis is rare. Usually, those evangelizing compassion do not write about politics, and sometimes they veer into passivity. We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do we will receive an invitation to give in to the dark side and hate “the deplorables.” We must not shy away from those confrontations. Instead, we can engage them empowered by the inner mantra that my friend Pancho Ramos-Stierle uses in confrontations with his jailers: “Brother, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this work.” If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement, and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty.