New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

The Moment Is Now!

January 15, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Matt Meyer, Politics

African Civil Resistance in 2015

by Matt Meyer

“I am younger than I was YEARS AGO!” proclaimed South African activist Zenzile Khoisan, known to many around the world as the exiled freedom fighter who spent many years in New York City as an intrepid reporter for Pacifica panpen2radio. A skilled journalist, he returned to his homeland as a lead investigator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Khoisan’s optimistic outlook in the face of increasingly bleak domestic conditions is not only a grand way to start the new year, or – as it were – to start the first morning plenary of the War Resisters’ International (WRI) conference held at Cape Town’s historic City Hall. It is also symptomatic of the hope still evident in the country with the current highest per capita rate of mass mobilizations, civil society protests, labor strikes, and general unrest. It is a fitting cry of exuberance and excitement from a continent bubbling over with grassroots initiatives and actions in every corner of its vast land mass, built by diverse people who are coming together with growing enthusiasm and a unified perspective that the power of the people – greater than any government or even transnational corporate giant – will be the determining factor in the years to come. (more…)

Seeing Through War

September 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Resistance Opens Possibilities for Conflict Transformation

by Robert C. Koehler

“Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them.”

Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders?

On Tuesday night — hallelujah — he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government’s single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war.

The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one’s own behavior, and in our ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in our determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil. (more…)

On Credibility

September 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Winslow Myers

Where Are the Stout Hearts of Diplomatic Conflict Resolution?

by Winslow Myers

Lord have mercy, a half-century beyond the Cuban Missile Crisis and almost as many years beyond Vietnam, our erstwhile leaders are still mouthing stale clichés about “credibility.” Remember Dean Rusk saying we went eyeball to eyeball with the Soviets and they blinked? Of course the world almost ended, but never mind.

And to go back a little further into the too-soon-forgotten past, some historians surmise that Truman dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki not to force an already forthcoming Japanese surrender, but to make ourselves more threateningly credible to the expansionist Soviets as the World War II wound down.

Credibility was the main motif of Secretary of State Kerry’s statement rationalizing possible military action against Syria. If we’re going to kill a few thousand non-combatants in the next few days or weeks, and it looks increasingly as if we are, could we not do it for some better reason than maintaining to the world, as if the world cared, that we are not a pitiful helpless giant? (more…)

What Works

April 03, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Michael True, Politics

Notes on the Invention of Peacemaking

by Michael True

As human beings, we have been persistent and sophisticated in developing means of killing one another, most recently with weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons and drones that have victimized hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Strategies for war-making date from about 2,500 years ago, with the publication of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” which has been updated, reprinted, and translated hundreds of times in many languages.

In contrast, we are only beginning to develop strategies for peacemaking and to commit ourselves to learning the skills that it requires.

In “The Invention of Peace” (2001), Sir Michael Howard, a major English military historian, points out that the concept of peace in international and public affairs dates from the publication of Immanuel Kant’s 1795 treatise, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” only just over two centuries ago. (more…)

Lessons from Iraq

March 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Guest Author, Politics

Hard Realities Ten Years After a Preventable War

by Robert F. Dodge

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. As one of the longest and one of the most costly wars in U.S. history, the true costs in dollars, lives, environmental contamination and opportunity costs may never be fully appreciated.  This “preventive war” waged on our behalf has forever tainted the world view and standing of the U.S. Disregarding international and domestic public opinion and international law before the war, this illegal war was destined to happen regardless of that opinion. Perhaps the most significant outcome of the war is the identification and clarification, a “How To” of what doesn’t work in resolving international conflict. Namely war itself.

Dollar estimates of the combined war costs range from $1.4 trillion to $4 trillion dollars spent and obligated or a bill of between $4,500 and $12,742 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. (more…)

Getting to Know Us

February 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Politics, Winslow Myers

A Memo to U.S. Adversaries

by Winslow Myers

One of the first things you need to know about the U.S. is how difficult it is for us to tolerate ambiguity — especially when untangling our own motives. An example was our second invasion of Iraq. After 9/11 we felt an itch to retaliate against a clear enemy. Because we could not pinpoint one, we scratched the itch by inventing a false enemy — conveniently, one with lots of oil under its sand — and going to war against it, to no one’s great benefit.

That endeavor revealed a lot about us at this moment in our history, though similar themes can be found in our past.  We have been all too certain, like some of you, that we are exceptional, that wrongs done to us justify our flouting international law, and that violent military force is the only way to get our way. (more…)

Time Is Money

January 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Erin Niemela

The Devastating Impacts of American Culture on Foreign Policy

by Erin Niemela

Two days before Christmas my brother called, frantically demanding I tell him what to purchase for my two young children and myself. For the kids, I said, buy Legos. For myself, I neither need nor want anything. I requested he write for me a brief letter answering the following question: If you could give me anything in the world for Christmas, what would it be and why?  My dear brother’s response was less than agreeable: “What the hell? I’m too busy to do that! Just tell me what you want!” In his defense, he just had a new baby, but his response warrants a closer look into American culture and how it impacts all of us.

My brother, like many other Americans, has aggressively adopted the metaphor for daily life time is money, and so asking him to spend 20 minutes thinking of me was in many ways more expensive than the 20 dollars he opted to spend for my brand new touch-screen Agloves. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, cognitive linguists, confronted the time is money metaphor in 1980 with their masterful text, Metaphors We Live By, explaining that in Western industrialized culture, time is a commodity, a finite resource that can be spent, invested, budgeted and borrowed. (more…)