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February 05, 2003

Space, Peace, Granny D

I'm going to try to stop pointing to every single new edition of Mondo Washington, really I am, but I continue to be impressed with its incisive coverage of current events. It consistently delivers short, punchy perspectives you just won't get from the mainstream media. For example, check out this view on the Shuttle Columbia disaster:

"It's unfortunate that lives were lost in a mission that did not advance science in a meaningful way, and that is exactly what we have to avoid in the future," Francis Slakey, a Georgetown University physics professor who writes on space issues, told the Voice.

Ok, sure, the media are covering the building controversy over the value of the shuttle program, but Ridgeway gives it to you straight up, no chaser. Here's another: Is the U.S. a nation that's helping create a more just and peaceful world? Well, um...:

The U.S. now accounts for more than 50 percent of all the armaments sold on the planet. In 2001 we exported $12.2 billion in arms and signed up $13.1 billion in new business through the Foreign Military Sales program. What's more, our subsidies to the weapons industry are second only to those we give agribusiness.

"U.S.-origin weapons find their way into conflicts the world over," says a recent report from the Federation of American Scientists. "Of the active conflicts in 1999, the United States supplied arms or military technology to parties in more than 92 percent of them—39 out of 42." American troops have had to face armies we trained in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and Afghanistan. Because we trained and armed them with modern weaponry, we have had to spend yet more money to develop high-tech arms to, in effect, defeat ourselves. In addition, we soon will subsidize the sale of additional weapons to former Soviet republics and East Bloc nations, which are modernizing to meet NATO standards.

What do you think? Does the whole "peace via bullets" thing really seem to be working? It doesn't look like it's very effective to me; using violence to create peace has almost never been more than a temporary solution that tends to eventually make bad situations worse. But you don't have to take it from me; listen to Granny D., who has been working for peace and justice longer than most of us have been alive. Her message? A better world begins with you and me. In a recent speech Granny D put it this way:

How we live shapes the entire world. I am no angel. I buy clothing that is a bargain and I look at the tag with guilt if it is from some faraway place where the workers may be abused. My part of New England used to be a great textile center, so I also care about the fact that my purchasing may take jobs from my neighbors.

What we drive, what we buy, the entertainment we choose, the way we use electricity and water – all of these things matter. Our little decisions work for or against our dream of a fair world that spins along with nature in balance and with people living well in their local economies. Poverty happens, war happens, imperialism happens, when all the little bad decisions of a nation's people accumulate and find political expression.

We cannot have world peace without peace in our own lives. We cannot attack our planet by the way we live, and then go off to a peace rally and hope to set right all the imbalance we have caused. Peace is first a private matter. It cannot grow except from there.

You tell us, Granny.

Posted February 5, 2003 01:56 PM | general politics

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