ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: gush shalom

G u s h S h a l o m - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033, Israel
[After a week of daily heroic non-violent demonstrations against the destruction and theft of land for the internationally condemned Wall (or just for the pretext of being needed for it!) Uri Avnery's comment ("The Bogyman") of this week bemoans a society dominated by Chiefs of Staff such as the new one whom we consider a case forThe Hague, and the departing one whose doom scenarios you can read in full at ).

But first, the text of our weekly statement, commemorating the occupation's anniversary.]
עברית בהקדם
And there is no peace. There is no security.
After the Six-Day War, we could have achieved peace.
We could have given back the conquered territories to the
Palestinian people and enabled them to set up their state there.
But the craving for territory made us crazy. Instead of choosing peace and security, we chose settlements.
The occupation has exacted a terrible price from both peoples: human, social, moral, political and economic.
[Gush Shalom ad published in Ha'aretz, June 3th, 2005]
שלושים ושמונה שנים אחרי
ואין לנו שלום. אין לנו ביטחון.
למחרת מלחמת ששת-הימים יכולנו להשיג שלום.
יכולנו להחזיר את השטחים שכבשנו
ולאפשר לעם הפלסטיני להקים בהם את מדינתו.
אבל תאוות השטחים העבירה אותנו על דעתנו.
במקום לבחור בשלום וביטחון, בחרנו בהתנחלויות.
הכיבוש גבה משני העמים מחיר נורא-
אנושי, חברתי, מוסרי, מדיני וכלכלי.
מודעת גוש שלום, "הארץ", 3 ביוני 2005
The Bogyman
Uri Avnery
המקור העברי בקרוב באתר / Hebrew original soon on the website

While the new Chief-of-Staff, Air Force general Dan Halutz, was assuming his new job, I stood with a group of demonstrators at the gate of the General Staff building, to protest against his appointment. Our slogan was: "You have blood on your wings!" - a reminder of his remarks when the Air Force dropped a one-ton bomb on a residential area in Gaza, in order to kill Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh. As will be remembered, the bomb also killed 14 uninvolved people, including nine children.

When Halutz was asked at the time what he feels after dropping a bomb, he replied: "A slight bump to the wing." He added that afterwards he sleeps well. I don't think that a person who expresses himself like that should be the supreme commander of our army.

That does not mean that his predecessor was much better. But there is a rule: "Every bad office-holder can be replaced by a worse one."

(That reminds one of the Jewish joke about the mean rich man in the ghetto. When he passed away, nobody could be found to say something good about him, as required by custom. In the end, someone volunteered: "We all know that he was an evil old man, a thief and a miser, but compared to his son he was an angel!")

Even before he took off his uniform, the dismissed Chief-of-Staff, Moshe ("Bogy") Yaalon, shot off a salvo of declarations that disclose both his character and his views. In an interview with the right-wing Haaretz journalist, Ari Shavit, he said:
(1) "If we don't give the Palestinians more and more and more, there will be a violent explosion. There is a high probability of a second terrorist war … Kfar Sava (on the Israeli side of the Green line) will be treated like Sderot. Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem too." Sderot was a regular target for Qassam missiles.
(2) "What will happen after the disengagement? … Terrorist attacks of all kinds, shooting, bombs, suicide bombers, mortars, Qassam rockets … You left Gaza? Quiet. You will leave Judea and Samaria? There will be quiet. You will leave Tel-Aviv? There will be real quiet … (The Palestinian side) speaks about Safed and Haifa and Tel-Aviv."
(3) "The paradigm of the Two States will not bring about stability. No! … (The Two-State solution) is not relevant. Not relevant … (The Palestinian state) will undermine the State of Israel. From there, the confrontation will go on."
(4) "The State of Israel is ready to give the Palestinians an independent Palestinian state, but the Palestinians are not ready to give us an independent Jewish state … Every agreement you make will be the starting point of the next irredenta. The next conflict. The next war."
(5) "The establishment of a Palestinian state will lead at some stage to war. Such a war can be dangerous to the State of Israel. The idea that it is possible to set up a Palestinian state by 2008 and to achieve stability is disconnected from reality and dangerous … Bush's vision is disconnected from reality."
(6) "(So what is the solution?) A much longer process, that will first of all necessitate a revolution of values on the Palestinian side … I do not see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in my generation."
(7) "Abu Mazen has not given up the Right of Return …to come back to the homes, to come back to the villages …This would mean that there will be no Jewish state …Even Abu Mazen is not ready to accept a Jewish State here."
(8) "(On Palestinian democracy) This is democracy? This is gangs!"
(9) "There is a possibility that the Israeli army will be compelled (after the disengagement) to return to the Gaza Strip."

The general outlook: "We are a society at war. Our sword must remain unsheathed. Every day it must remain unsheathed … A society at war. Without illusions. Without the false belief that we shall solve this, one way or another. No, it will not be solved."

What does that remind one of? This is an almost exact copy of the famous speech made by Moshe Dayan in May 1955 at the grave of Roi Rotenberg. Moshe Yaalon was a toddler at that time. Like the Bourbon monarchy in France, he has forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

One can view this discourse with cynicism. Yaalon is full of resentment against Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz, the two people who pushed him out of office after only three years, instead of giving him the customary fourth year.

Since the withdrawal from Gaza is the baby of Sharon and Mofaz, Yaalon is trying to torpedo it.

But why stop there? One could cynically assert that Yaalon is expressing the views of the army High Command, and the army has no interest in peace. No human organization seeks a situation that will make it superfluous. On the contrary, it yearns for circumstances where it will be needed even more. Therefore, the higher officers' corps is not really interested in a peaceful solution.

This is confirmed by the fact that after the publication of these remarks, on the day Yaalon left office, he was treated to a huge outpouring of support and affection from his colleagues. Nobody contradicted him, not even anonymously.

However, the cynical approach does not lead to a deeper understanding. This phenomenon goes beyond conscious personal interests.

The army educates for war and thinks only in terms of war. A real general cannot even imagine himself in a state of peace. For many years no important Israeli general (with the honorable exceptions of Amram Mitzna and Ami Ayalon) has made a declaration from which it could be adduced that he really believes in peace.

That is serious for two reasons:
  • Yaalon represents an elite group that has a huge influence on Israeli society. Through the hundreds of retired generals, the "generals' party" controls almost all the key political and economic positions in the country, from the government, the cabinet and the political parties to most of the big public and private corporations.
  • the Chief-of-Staff, the chief of the Mossad and the Chief of the Security Service attend cabinet meetings, and their political evaluations practically dictate the steps of the government. The views of the C-o-S are not a private matter - they have a huge impact on the behavior of the entire state.
For three years, Yaalon was the chief of the Israeli army. During this period, the West Bank has been covered with more than a hundred settlement "outposts". One of the founders of these outposts testifies in Haim Yavin's new TV series that all these outposts were put up according to army directives, according to a military plan designed to cut the West Bank into ribbons and thereby prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Yaalon's declarations expose the ideological background of this.

When the Chief-of-Staff believes that peace is impossible, now and in the future, naturally all his advice to the cabinet - advice with the force of directives - is influenced by this belief.

Yaalon's assertions lead to the conclusion that there is not - and cannot be - a Palestinian partner. In this respect there is total agreement between General Yaalon, General Ehud Barak and General Sharon. Abu Mazen, who is plotting to lead four million Palestinian refugees back to their former homes and villages, certainly is no partner. The conclusion: the disengagement must be unilateral, as decided by Sharon. Another conclusion: There is no place for a political process after the disengagement, since the Palestinians just want "more and more and more".

Peace? Don't make Bogy laugh. Or Ehud. Or Arik, either.

For several weeks now Yaalon has been busy with a farewell tour he has organized for himself. He has gone from command-post to command-post, from camp to camp, and everywhere had himself photographed from every angle, always with the helmet on his head, the boots on his feet and the gun at his shoulder. Rather pathetic.

His subordinates and colleagues accorded him the adulation due to one of the great Captains of History, the man who "vanquished terrorism".

Truth is, of course, that Yaalon was a very small captain. At best, the Israeli army finished the "war" with a draw. It did not find an answer to the mortar shells and the Qassam rockets, it was compelled to accept an unofficial cease-fire it did not want. In a confrontation between a mighty army and small underground organizations, a draw is a big failure for the C-o-S. All in all, he failed like all his predecessors, as his successor will also fail. As all generals around the world have failed in similar situations.

As his last remarks have shown, Yaalon is a rather limited person, with an average intellect and quite primitive views. In his declarations one can find all the stereotypes and all the myths of 120 years of Zionism. There is not a gram of independent thought.

And that may well be the most depressing aspect of the affair.

While in office, the leaders of our army are shielded from all critical appraisal. They are surrounded by a protective shield of spittle-licking "military correspondents" and spokespersons duty-bound to lie. They always appear omniscient, in possession of a superb analytical mind, devoted with head and heart to the security and the future of the state, having no other interest.

When they take off their uniforms and lose the military aura, they reappear as quite different people. Recast as civilians, the former chiefs of the army, the Mossad and the Security Service show themselves as very ordinary people, most of them mediocre, some rather less. Occasionally there was one of serious caliber, but not a few were plain stupid, and perhaps disturbed. It is quite frightening to think that such people led the state and were responsible for matters of life and death.

What is even more frightening is that Yaalon does indeed look like an angel compared to his successor.

For access to a lot of interesting material:
--The brochure Truth Against Truth (available in many languages)
--Boycott list of settlement products
--video footage of hot spots
--Archive of articles and documents

Go to:
w w w . g u s h - s h a l o m . o r g
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Specific Actions to Stop the Onging Genocide

On Tuesday, May 24, 2005 Africa Action hosted a media briefing, in Washington, D.C., along with other national advocacy groups, to demand that President Bush take specific steps to stop the genocide in Darfur. The groups released an Open Letter to the President on Darfur, signed by 80 prominent national organizations and leadership figures, representing millions of Americans. The letter lays out the most important immediate steps that leading advocacy groups and leadership figures from across the U.S. believe the Bush Administration must take to stop the genocide and protect the people in Darfur.

Heads of leading advocacy organizations spoke about the urgency of the situation in Darfur and the necessary U.S. and international response. Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said, "The President of the U.S. has recognized that genocide is occurring, but apparently there are more pressing matters requiring his attention. We must ask, what could possibly be more pressing than genocide? Unless there is an immediate international intervention in Darfur, up to a million people may be dead by the end of this year."

The Open Letter to the President on Darfur asserts the need for an urgent international intervention to support the African Union’s mission in Darfur, in order to:

(1) stop the killing and provide security for millions of internally displaced people (IDPs);

(2) facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance;

(3) enforce the cease fire and provide a stable environment for meaningful peace talks to proceed; and

(4) facilitate the voluntary return of IDPs to their land and the reconstruction of their homes by providing a secure environment.

The letter calls on the Bush Administration to

(1) work through the United Nations (UN) to achieve a stronger civilian protection mandate for the African Union mission and for a broader international force, and

(2) encourage the UN to quickly approve and assemble a robust international force to integrate or co-deploy with the African Union and reinforce its efforts.

The original signatories of the Open Letter to the President on Darfur are: Africa Action, American Jewish World Service, Coalition for International Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Foreign Policy in Focus, Genocide Intervention Fund, Physicians for Human Rights, Save Darfur Coalition, TransAfrica Forum and Professor Eric Reeves.

Some of the prominent additional signatories to the letter include Members of Congress, the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the General Secretaries of the All Africa Conference of Churches and the National Council of Churches (USA), as well as interfaith & labor leaders, heads of women’s groups and advocacy organizations and other leadership figures from across the U.S. The letter and full list of signatories are below:

Open Letter to the President on the Genocide in Darfur

Dear President Bush,

In September 2004, your Administration rightfully recognized that the crisis in Darfur constitutes genocide. Yet the U.S. has failed to respond to this genocide with the urgency that is required. As the death toll in Darfur continues to mount, it is clear that nothing short of international intervention can protect the people of Darfur. We call on you to assert U.S. leadership to ensure such an international intervention takes place as a matter of the greatest urgency.

Up to 400,000 people have lost their lives in Darfur since the government-sponsored genocide began in 2003. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced, their livelihoods and villages destroyed by government forces and their proxy militias, and many thousands of women and girls have been raped by these forces. Recent reports confirm that the government-sponsored violence continues in Darfur, and that the security situation is deteriorating. The humanitarian crisis that forms part of the genocide is escalating, as the government of Sudan continues to obstruct humanitarian operations, creating famine conditions for millions of vulnerable people.

Mr. President, our most important priority must be providing protection to the people of Darfur. The African Union (AU) has shown important leadership, and its mission in Darfur is doing what it can on the ground in the face of growing insecurity. But the AU cannot address this crisis alone, and nor should it have to. Genocide is an international crime, a crime against humanity, and it requires an international response.

Unless there is an urgent international intervention in Darfur, up to a million people may be dead by the end of this year. An international intervention is essential to support the AU’s efforts, and can achieve four critical purposes: (1) stop the killing and provide security for millions of internally displaced people (IDPs); (2) facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance; (3) enforce the cease fire and provide a stable environment for meaningful peace talks to proceed; and (4) facilitate the voluntary return of IDPs to their land and the reconstruction of their homes by providing a secure environment.

The U.S. is to date the only government that has rightfully recognized that genocide is taking place in Darfur. We urge you to immediately take the following steps to support an urgent international intervention to stop genocide in Darfur:

First, the U.S. must assert leadership at the United Nations (UN) by circulating a resolution calling for a stronger civilian protection mandate for the African Union mission and for a broader international force under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

Second, the U.S. must encourage the UN to quickly approve and assemble a robust international force, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, to integrate or co-deploy with the African Union and reinforce its efforts. Such a force can be assembled with troop contributions and financial and logistical support from additional countries within and outside the African continent.

Mr. President, genocide is a unique crime and it requires a unique and urgent response. We can still save thousands of lives in Darfur if we act now. We look to you to provide strong leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur by supporting an international intervention force to protect the people of Darfur as a critical first step to bringing peace and stability to this troubled region.

Original Signatories:

Salih Booker,
Executive Director
Africa Action

Ruth Messinger,
American Jewish World Service

Nina Bang-Jensen,
Executive Director
Coalition for International Justice

Elnour Adam,
Darfur Rehabilitation Project

Emira Woods,
Foreign Policy in Focus

Mark Hanis,
Genocide Intervention Fund

Leonard Rubenstein,
Executive Director
Physicians for Human Rights

David Rubenstein,
Save Darfur Coalition

Eric Reeves
Smith College*

Bill Fletcher, Jr.,
TransAfrica Forum

Additional Signatories:

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop (D-GA)
Member of Congress

Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)
Member of Congress

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Member of Congress

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Member of Congress +

Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ)
Member of Congress

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
Member of Congress

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Member of Congress

Hilary Shelton,
Director, Washington Bureau
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Dorothy I. Height
Chair and President Emerita
National Council of Negro Women
National STAND Coalition (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur)

Bishop Mvume Dandala
General Secretary
All Africa Conference of Churches

Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar,
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches USA

Rev. Dr. William Lesher
Chair, Board of Trustees,
Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions*

Bishop Charles E. Blake
Presiding Bishop Church of God in Christ
Founder and President
Pan African Children’s Fund

Rev. Jim Wallis
Sojourners Magazine

James E. Winkler, General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Church

Suliman A. Giddo,
Darfur Peace and Development

Morton Bahr
Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO*

Edgar Romney
Executive Vice-President

Samantha Power
Professor, Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University*

Aram Hamparian,
Executive Director
Armenian National Committee of America

Mayor Roosevelt Dorn
City of Inglewood, CA
National Council of Black Mayors*

Capt. Brian Steidle
USMC (retired)*

Rabbi Eric Yoffie
Union for Reform Judaism

David A. Harris
Executive Director
The American Jewish Committee

Shelley Lindauer
Executive Director
Women of Reform Judaism

Rev. William G. Sinkford,
Unitarian Universalist Association

Ron Stief
Director, Washington Office
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries

Susie Johnson,
Washington Office of Public Policy,
Women’s Division, General Board of Global Ministries

Joseph Beasley
Founder and President
African Ascension

Bishop Beverly J. Shamana, President
General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Church

Sameer Dossani
50 Years is Enough Network

+ Denotes Africa Action Board member

Sister Marilyn Kesler
Provincial Council Leader
School Sisters of Notre Dame

Kateri Caron
Interfaith Council

H. Eric Schockman, Ph.D
President MAZON:
A Jewish Response To Hunger

Daniel Sokatch,
Executive Director
Progressive Jewish Alliance

Norman L. Epstein
Canadians Against Slavery & Torture in Sudan (CASTS)

David Rosenberg,
Coordinator Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition

John Goott
Community Relations Committee Chair
Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

Rabbi David Steinberg
Temple Beth Israel*
Plattsburgh, NY

Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum,
Executive Director
Board of Rabbis of Northern California

Rev. Dr. George F. Regas
Rector Emeritus,
All Saints Church, Pasadena, California

Mansour Kane
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Mauritania

Rabbi Saul J. Berman

Rabbi Deborah Bronstein
Congregation Har HaShem
Boulder, CO

Rev. Francis Mercer,
Executive Director,
Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office

Leonard Glickman
President and CEO
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Rev. Dr. Peter A. Terpenning,
Community United Church of Christ, Boulder, CO

Marie Abrams,
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Florence Johnson,
Former Councilwoman
East Orange, NJ

Tony Hileman,
Executive Director
American Humanist Association

Rev. Dr. James Vigen
Director for International Relations and Human Rights
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Jim Fussell
Prevent Genocide International

Eve Ensler,
Founder & Artistic Director

Seddik Abdel Jabbar
Western Sudan Aid Relief In The U.S.A

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church, (USA)

Sabit Alley
Area Coordinator
South Sudanese Community in America

Kim Nichols
Executive Director
African Services Committee

Dedrick Mohammed,
Executive Director
Global Justice

Linda Burnham
Executive Director
Women of Color Resource Center

Dr. Ronald Walters
Professor/Director of the African American Leadership Institute
University of Maryland*

Carolyn Makinson
Executive Director
Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children

Jehmu Greene
Executive Director
Rock the Vote*

Marcia Thomas
Executive Director
USA for Africa

Marie Lucey, OSF
LCWR Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Marie Dennis,
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Gretchen S. Wallace,
Global Grassroots Network

Dr. Toyin Falola
Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters
University of Texas at Austin*

Ritu Sharma,
Co-Founder & President
Women’s Edge Coalition

M. William Howard, Jr., DD, DHL, LLD, Pastor
Bethany Baptist Church
Newark, New Jersey

Amy Woolam Echeverria
Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office

*Affiliation listed for identification purposes only



Draft? or No Draft?
We Say No!

FROM THE Center on Conscience & War

with continued support of duckdaotsu media

June 1, 2005

On May 26, 2005 Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) renewed his call for the reinstatement of the military draft. Rep. Rangel re-introduced his notorious draft bill from the last Congress under the same name with a new number, the Universal National Service Act of 2005 (H.R. 2723). Additionally, on May 18 Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced a bill (H.R. 2455) to repeal the Selective Service Act. Paul’s bill will eliminate the Selective Service System and give a definite assurance that a draft is truly, not coming back.

Through a press statement released by the his office, Rangel said, “I oppose the war in Iraq, but I support the military and the men and women who serve in it, what is happening now indicates to me that the entire volunteer system is in danger of collapse under the weight of the burden being placed on those who are serving.” Rangel goes on to talk about the failure by the Army to meet its recruiting goals during the past several months and he says that a having a draft will solve the quantitative problem of having the right number of people to serve in Iraq and other places. Rep. Rangel also states that officials in the White House will be less likely to go to war if their own children and the children of “CEOs in the boardrooms” were serving. Rangel believes that a military draft will solve the problem of social and class inequity in the military and act as a deterrent to war.

Contrary to Rangel’s belief the draft has never and will not act as a deterrent to war. And it will never make the Armed Forces a representative force! People of low income and people of color will continue to serve on the front lines, with or without a draft. The wealthy and the powerful have always been able to exploit the system to avoid being drafted. (SEE BELOW FOR TALKING POINTS ABOUT THE DRAFT)

Rep. Rangel is correct in saying that the military is having a much harder time luring fresh recruits and that the “entire volunteer system is in danger of collapse.” However, a military draft is not a way to solve the problem. The United States needs to consider seriously a major shift in its foreign policy and not rush to war.

The good news is that (due to lobbying efforts by CCW and others) H.R. 2723 does not have any original co-sponsors. Rep. Rangel, so far, is the sole sponsor of the bill. Furthermore, Rangel’s new bill is less objectionable. It gives better provisions for conscientious objectors than his conscription bill in the previous Congress. CO provision in H.R. 2723 reflects the language that is already in law under the Selective Service Act. Anyone opposed to “participation in war in any form” will be exempt from military service and will be required to perform alternative civilian service.

H.R. 2723 was referred to the Armed Services committee, where it is expected to stay.

The majority of Congressional members are saying that they will not support a draft. Now is the time to reaffirm that. Get in touch with your Congressional member and ask them to co-sponsor the Ron Paul bill (H.R. 2455) and tell them that a draft is never a viable option and that there is no such thing as a “fair draft.”

[Go to to contact your Representative]


* Conscientious Objector Belief Sheet
* Anti-draft geared toward members sympathetic towards COs
* Anti-draft geared toward conservative Congress members


The Center on Conscience & War (CCW), formerly the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), was formed in 1940 by an association of religious bodies. CCW works to defend and extend the rights of conscientious objectors. The Center is committed to supporting all those who question participation in war, whether they are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, documented or undocumented immigrants--or citizens in other countries.

CCW, located in Washington, DC, is governed by a Board of Directors and employs a staff to serve the Center's national constituency. Services are provided to the public at no charge. CCW participates in the G.I. Rights Hotline, a national referral and counseling service for military personnel. In the event of a military draft, CCW will assist in the placement of conscientious objectors in alternative service programs. The Center is opposed to all forms of conscription.

The Center is a non-profit organization recognized under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. As such, donations to the Center are tax deductible to the exent of the law.

Mailing Address:

Center on Conscience & War (NISBCO)
1830 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009

Telephone: (202) 483-2220
Fax: (202) 483-1246
Center on Conscience & War
National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors

Conscription: Curbing Freedom

“The most fundamental objection to draft registration is moral...a draft or draft registration destroys the very values that our society is committed to defending.”
— Ronald Reagan

Certain signs point in the direction of a military draft. U.S. Troops are stretched thin across the globe with commitments in hundreds of countries. Many National Guard and Reserve units are being used for tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with a continual rise in casualty many GIs are saying that they will not reenlist. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who introduced a conscription bill in order to make the Armed Services equitable, has revived his push for this bill. In the wake of another “national emergency” there will be more serious calls for the return of the draft. Bringing back the draft will make things worse for America, in regard to its military strength and individual freedom.

  • Conscription will take away the fundamental right to individual freedom. It will transfer power from civil society to the state. As a result, America’s youth will loose control of their destiny to the government.
  • The Military’s problem of troop retention will worsen under a draft. Retention is a problem even under an “all-volunteer” force. Under conscription, the Armed Services will be filled with people who don’t want to be there.
  • The “War on Terrorism” requires Elite Forces, not mass conscripts. To fight an elusive enemy, a mass army would be counter-productive .
  • Conscription has never made the Armed Services more equitable – neither racially nor economically.
  • Throughout the draft during Vietnam, minorities disproportionately served on the front lines. The affluent had, and still have, the means to gain medical deferments, or to get positions that will not place them on the front lines of the battle. The draft will never make the military an equitable force.
  • The draft has never acted as a deterrent to war, as some believe. While the draft was in effect, the U.S. was involved in numerous wars. In fact, during the Vietnam War conscription ensured a steady flow of bodies into the battlefield.
  • Another way to avoid a draft is by reforming recruitment tactics. Many recruits, after joining, feel that the recruiter has deceived them. There will not be a troop retention problem if recruitment tactics were reformed.
  • If there is a proposal for the return of the draft, members of Congress should opt against it for the sake of liberty and individual freedom.
Center on Conscience & War
National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors

Draft and Conscientious Objection

“So, for the record, here is what conscientious objectors object to: We object to killing…. We object to being forced to register for war and killing, and we object to being forced to participate in the preparations for war and killing. We object to killing innocent civilians, and we object to killing soldiers…when war comes, many of us will perform peaceful alternative service. Many of us will go to jail rather than compromise deeply held beliefs. But we will not fight. We will not kill.”
-- Charles A. Maresca Jr.,
Former Associate Director of the Center on Conscience & War.


Certain signs point in the direction of a military draft. U.S. Troops are stretched thin across the globe with commitments in over two hundred countries. Many National Guard and Reserve units are being used for tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with a continual rise in casualty many are saying that they will not reenlist. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who introduced a conscription bill in the last Congress, is likely to introduce it again. In the wake of another “national emergency” there will be more serious calls for the return of conscription. The rights of conscientious objectors need to be protected in the event of a military draft.

  • Conscientious objectors (CO) are opposed to their participation in any kind of war and they oppose being involved in the preparations for war.
  • Conscription has never made the Armed Services more equitable – neither racially nor economically. During the draft in the Vietnam War, minorities disproportionately served on the front lines. The affluent had, and still have, the means to gain medical deferments, or to get positions that will not place them on the front lines of the battle. The draft will never make the military an equitable force.

  • The draft has never acted as a deterrent to war, as some believe. While the draft was in effect, the U.S. began numerous wars. In fact, during World War I, the reason for the instatement of the draft was to ensure a steady flow of soldiers into the battlefield.

  • Rather than a draft the United States must reduce military commitments abroad, reduce the burden on National Guard and Reserve units, and seek multilateral diplomatic means for solving conflicts.

  • If there is a proposal for the return of the draft, members of Congress should opt against it for the sake of liberty and religious freedom.
Center on Conscience & War
National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious Objectors

In our efforts to educate Congress about conscientious objection (CO), it is important to recognize that COs can be placed on a wide spectrum of range and depth of beliefs. The government defines a CO as someone who is “opposed to participation in war in any form based on a religious or moral belief.” In reality, however, not all COs can fit into such a strict definition. The range of CO beliefs are as follows:

• Every person is a conscientious objector. Everyone has ethical, moral, or religious objections to their participation in some form of war, violence, preparations for war, or paying for war. Everybody has moral standards that their conscience will forbid them to cross.

• Conscientious objectors are those who are opposed to participating in a particular or an unjust war. There are some who believe that there can be certain wars that are justified. While they do not oppose their participation in just wars, their conscience, however, will not allow them to participate in unjust wars.

• Conscientious objectors are those who will serve in the military only as non-combatants.
Some do not oppose being part of the military, but their conscience will not allow them to carry a weapon or kill another person.

• Conscientious objectors are those who are opposed to participating in all wars. Some believe that there can be no wars that are justified. Their participation in any war will be a violation of their conscience.

• Conscientious objectors are those who refuse to register with Selective Service. Many COs are willing to comply with Selective Service by registering. There are, however, many others who cannot, without violating deeply held beliefs, register for the draft. They would rather forego government aid for college and face other serious penalties than violate their beliefs.

• Conscientious objectors are those who refuse to perform alternative service during a draft. Most COs are willing to perform alternative service in the event of a draft. However, there are others who believe that by performing alternative service, they are legitimizing the draft system. As a result they would rather go to jail than violate their conscience.

• Conscientious objectors are those who refuse to pay military taxes. There are some COs who believe that it is wrong for them to pay taxes which fund the military. They would rather have property taken from them or live below the poverty line and avoid paying for war, than violate deeply held beliefs.

Chinese brush and ink on paper HORSE by XU YUN

I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,
business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle
while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself:
I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,
I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where
the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man's door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me Shall you be overcome.

"Conscientious Objector"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Horse by Xu Yun Ink on Paper 27" x 54"

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Lessons from Newsweek's Retraction: F.A.I.R.

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

June 1, 2005

In the rush to condemn Newsweek's May 9 report about abuse of the Quran at Guantanamo, little attention has been paid to a technique the magazine used in reporting its original story: submitting articles to government officials prior to publication.

According to Newsweek's accounts of the reporting behind the brief "Periscope" item that caused so much controversy, a draft of the item was actually given to a military official for review. Wrote assistant managing editor Even Thomas in a post-controversy reexamination (5/23/05): "Newsweek national security correspondent John Barry, realizing the sensitivity of the story, provided a draft of the Newsweek 'Periscope' item to a senior Defense official, asking, 'Is this accurate or not?'"

Newsweek's editor-in-chief Richard M. Smith later explained (5/30/05), "One of the frustrating aspects of our initial inquiry is that we seem to have taken so many appropriate steps in reporting the Guantanamo story…. We sought comment from one military spokesman (he declined) and provided the entire story to a senior Defense Department official, who disputed one assertion (which we changed) and said nothing about the charge of abusing the Quran."

Given the relative media silence over the matter, one would conclude that this action raised few ethical questions among mainstream reporters. Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz commented in an online chat (5/16/05), "Newsweek did the right thing by running a draft of the item by a senior Pentagon official, and it's odd that the Pentagon didn't raise any red flags." Post ombudsman Michael Getler agreed (5/22/05) that Newsweek "did the right thing in taking the item to two Pentagon officials for comment before publication."

But is showing articles to government officials prepublication really "the right thing" to do? Such advance looks can't help but imply that journalists are asking for permission to publish critical articles about the government--a dangerous impression to give if the news media hope to maintain a free press. The prepublication review also invites officials to give feedback not only on facts but on questions of balance, organization and tone as well--areas in which government officials have no special expertise, but which as interested parties to the story they have every incentive to weigh in on.

Of course, checking facts is an important part of the journalistic process. But fact-checking traditionally involves asking sources about the facts in a report, not giving sources a chance to review the entire report ahead of time. This not only protects the story from attempts by sources to participate in the editing process, it's also less fallible than Newsweek's method. When an official is shown a story in advance and makes no comment about a particular allegation, that can mean many things: "That's true"; "I don't know if that's true or not"; "That's less important than other things I'd like to comment on"; "I hope publishing this false report blows up in your face."

If Newsweek had taken the more time-consuming approach of fact-checking by asking about specific allegations in the story, it would have not only insulated its journalism from the potential for official interference, it might have gotten a more useful response when it asked about the alleged Quran incident.

While the practice of having officials vet stories in advance has received little attention, conventional wisdom holds that the real ethical lesson of the Newsweek incident is to avoid anonymous sources. In a letter to readers in the magazine's May 30 issue, Newsweek's Smith vowed, "We will raise the standards for the use of anonymous sources throughout the magazine. Historically, unnamed sources have helped to break or advance stories of great national importance, but overuse can lead to distrust among readers and carelessness among journalists."

While there's no denying that unnamed sources are overused, the kind of anonymity granted in the May 9 "Periscope" item--protecting a source who is breaking government secrecy to expose official wrongdoing--is actually the most justifiable, and such uses make up a small minority of the anonymous sources who appear in the news media every day. Overwhelmingly, the officials who are quoted without being identified are not whistleblowers, but rather government officials looking to spin the news in favor of themselves and their bosses.

Sure enough, a few pages from that editor's note, Newsweek ran a piece on a meeting between George W. Bush and Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Nazif. The meeting occurred behind closed doors, so Newsweek's only source for what happened there was an anonymous White House official--remaining unnamed, the magazine said, "because the meeting was private"--who, unsurprisingly, took the opportunity to boast about Bush's performance. In the source's version, Bush "counseled patience," "emphasized his commitment to nation-building" and showed a "more nurturing approach" during the meeting. "It's not a simplistic foreign policy," Newsweek quoted the source. "It's not just a shoot-from-the-hip, idealistic thing." This more common use of anonymous sources--to give administration officials a chance to flatter themselves--raised few if any eyebrows among the critics who supposedly objected to Newsweek's reliance on the unnamed.

When asked to explain the discrepancy between the White House's criticism of Newsweek's anonymous sourcing of its Quran item and the fact that the White House itself regularly gives anonymous briefings to reporters, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said (5/17/05) it was acceptable to quote anonymous "officials who are helping to provide context to on-the-record comments made by people like the President or the Secretary of State or others"; the real problem was that "some media organizations have used anonymous sources that are hiding behind that anonymity in order to generate negative attacks."

It's easy to see why the White House press secretary would approve of anonymous sources when they help the administration and condemn them when they don't. What's more puzzling is that some in the media seem to be judging anonymous sources the same way.
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The *Social* in Social Security

I find it hard to follow the national "debate" on social security. There is something like a discussion ongoing, but it all seems to be about "solvency" of the system, with great disagreements on whether there really is a crisis.

Some, like Paul Krugman, believe that this is largely a manufactured event that will allow the GOP Troglodytes to further "starve the beast." From the 1970s onward, the two branches of the oligarchy have been committed to the curtailment of government's role in the reconfiguration of social inequality. If the Republicans are enthusiastic about a "small government" for social programs and a "big government" for state repression, the main-line Democrats are only half an emotion behind. Whether on welfare or on prisons, the convergence between them is stunning (even as a bloc of elected Democratic representatives, such as most of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, remain out of step with the leadership in their party).

On social security the distinctions are meaningful in public policy terms, but not so stark in the realm of ideology. Bush and Co. wants to privatize social security, whereas the Boxer team wants to hold onto a more fiscally stable collective pot to which we pay and from which we draw. One wants to nix it, the other wants to fix it. This is a sizable disagreement.

Nonetheless, the two sides share an ideological terrain: both see the social security in individualistic terms, and in this cultivation of the individualism the GOP Troglodytes will always have the upper hand. The only way to promote a true cultural change is to nurture the collective value of social security, not the benefit for an individual based on his/her payments into a retirement system. Such a collective (dare one say, socialist) value will provide a fundamental cultural challenge to the dog-eat-dog world of market individualism.

No need to belabor the point about the Bush plan. It is plainly individualistic, eager to turn over the responsibility of care and concern from the state and from its citizens to that of the individuals (and their families, which, in our sexist society, often means that women pick up the burden). If families cannot make it, the Bush-Gingrich approach asks the indigent to turn themselves in to faith-based charity homes. In addition, the Bush approach will free up vast amounts of money to be invested in a stock market that is ravenous for more funds.

The new "progressive plan" from Bush, to limit the benefits to the rich, has all the flavor of a political squeeze: the Democrats will like the "progressive" aspect of it, it will allow both the parties to celebrate the solvency of the system (because of the lowered outlay), and it will set up the Republicans to vilify it in a few years as just another welfare system for the indolent. Even with so little support for his plan, Bush still seems to have one or two tricks up his sleeve to set the debate's agenda.

The mainline Democrats have been forthright in their criticisms of the Bush agenda on social security. They see the system as one in which a worker pays in for old age, and then gets that money back in some form when he or she retires. The Democrats defend the system as one where the workers allow their money to be held back on their behalf so that they might enjoy it when they are older. The way the system works, they aver, is that one generation's workers pay for another generation's retirement. That said, the Democrats still depict the system as if it were to protect the retirement pay of each worker: I pay in so that I might get mine when I retire.

As the business cycle moves into recession territory, the vast society security funds allow the state to conduct all kinds of anti-cyclical measures. Our social security funds are in a "trust fund" managed by the state. The managers of this fund typically use the money to maintain the fiscal stability of the system. Being the more liberal branch of the oligarchy, the mainline Democrats are less willing to ignore widespread distress among workers when the economy contracts.

They therefore turn to this fund to maintain order in the system, something that ameliorates the problems of the workers but which ultimately benefits the oligarchy. The "trust fund" could, however, be used to build the power of the workers, and so toward the transformation of the system. The concept of the "trust fund," the reservoir of the workers' capital, does not have an inherent class bias.

The social security debate provides the Left with an excellent opportunity to clarify and broadcast our values, in sharp contradistinction to the bankruptcy of both liberalism and the GOP Troglodytes. The first point to emphasize is the origins of social security. It does not come to us because of noblesse oblige. Rather it is driven by the demands of the trade unions in the 19th Century.

The idea of social insurance pushed for by workers' organizations is simple; rather than seek an individual return on withheld income in case of injury, sickness or old age, the workers demanded the creation of a fund to which they would all contribute and from which they could all draw. This fund exemplified the slogan, "from each according to her/his abilities, to each according to her/his needs" Since the totality of the population, the wage workers and the plutocracy, pay into the system, it functions as an instrument for the redistribution of income. And, given that the totality of society participates in the program, it allows for the creation of social solidarity.

But "social security" or "social insurance" cannot stand alone. The concept of "social insurance" makes far more sense if it is paired with that of the "social wage." The "social wage" is that amount of the deferred wages that goes toward the creation of various publicly-available goods such as public transportation, public health services, public schools, public parks, public postal delivery, public safety, and what not. Public services are available to all, regardless of income and social standing, even as they are paid for by a progressive tax. Social insurance schemes are part of the social wage.

The provision of a social wage is an objective condition that could produce a collective social consciousness out of the egotistic individualism of our horrid times.

Let us return to the question of social security. You have an elderly parent who lives rather far from you. Consumed by work and by bills, you cannot afford to uproot yourself to take care of your parent nor can you hire someone to do so for you. In addition, your parent might not want to leave behind their friends and their familiar town to move to you.

The small social security check is useful, and so is the government medical assistance, but it is largely insufficient. The parent can no longer drive, and the co-pay for medicines and for visits to the doctor, is burdensome. A genuinely produced social wage could provide for the parent: public transport would allow the elderly parent to continue to be mobile and independent, while public health (and controls on pharmaceutical firms) would make healing affordable.

The social wage (and social security) does not only provide for one's own distant future, but it already provides peace of mind for one's parents, for the elderly, and for their children.

The debate on social security should allow us to expand the imagination of our friends and neighbors, those who, like me, are bored to tears by the narrow frame of reference used by the 'experts.' The idea of the social wage allows us to articulate our values in this public policy dialogue on social security.

The social wage is no substitute for the necessary struggles to increase the actual wages of the workers: we don't want to demand more benefits in exchange for no raises. That bargain is false. The demand for an expanded social wage allows us to describe our vision for the future. It also affords us the opportunity to fight for the creation of public institutions that will be the building-blocks for the future. For us, social insurance schemes are not about our own future alone. They are about the creation of a healthy and just social world.

ZNet Commentary May 31, 2005 By Vijay Prashad

UN told it ignored years of abuse by peacekeepers

31 May 2005 22:09:46 GMT
By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday condemned for the first time sexual abuse among peacekeepers after being told U.N. members ignored such exploitation for decades, fearing exposure of their own soldiers' wrongdoing.

The United Nations has accused peacekeepers and civilian staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo of rape, pedophilia, and enticing hungry children with food or money in exchange for sex. Sexual abuse on a smaller scale was discovered in other missions.

A U.S.-drafted statement read at a formal meeting urged all nations to adopt recent proposals by a U.N. inquiry to end and prevent sexual abuse. But it says the countries contributing troops have primary responsibility for the conduct of their soldiers.

"The Security Council condemns in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by U.N. peacekeeping personnel, the council's statement said. "The distinguished and honorable record of accomplishment in U.N. peacekeeping is being tarnished by the acts of a few individuals."

Jordan's U.N. ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, who investigated the abuse and made extensive recommendations in March, told the council that embarrassment and pride prevented the exposure of abuse in past years.

"We, the member states, have refrained, from opening up this subject to public discourse over the last 60 years (because) sentiments of pride, mixed in with a deep sense of embarrassment, have often produced in us only outright denials," Zeid told the council.

"And yet almost all countries that have participated in U.N. peacekeeping operations have, at one stage or another, had some reason to feel deeply ashamed over the activities of some of their peacekeepers," Zeid said.

Since December 2004, 117 soldiers, 32 civilians and three U.N. police have been investigated. Five U.N. staff have been dismissed, nine more are undergoing a disciplinary process and four have been cleared, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, told the council.

In addition, 77 military and two policemen had been sent home, including six military commanders, he said. The United Nations has 17 peacekeeping missions with 66,500 personnel at a cost of more than $4 billion annually.

Guehenno said the problem of exploitation and abuse was likely "to look worse before it looks better" because victims were now more likely to come forward.

He said areas frequented by prostitutes had been declared off-limits to missions in the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ethiopia, Kosovo and East Timor as well as the Congo. But only in Congo are soldiers forbidden to fraternize with the local population.

Zeid estimated it would take two years to put most of his recommendations in place and a legal team was studying "complex issues" of immunities for U.N. staff and what do do when "they commit "frightful offenses, such as murder."

Among other recommendations, Zeid has proposed conducting trials in the country where the abuse took place so victims could testify. He said soldiers' pay should be docked and a fund set up for any women they impregnated.

The council's statement, responsible for peacekeeping mandates, asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to include in his reports a summary of the "preventable measures taken to implement a zero-tolerance policy." It also asks him to report the outcome of "actions taken against personnel found culpable for sexual exploitation and abuse."

Bush Administration: the Nuclear Bully

The nuclear bully

The Bush administration tried and failed to strong-arm the rest of the world on nukes. As a result, the chances of runaway proliferation are higher than they've been in decades.

By Ian Williams June 1, 2005

Although John Bolton has not yet been confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, his work goes marching before him. His "dead hand" was firmly clutching the throat of the American delegation at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference -- a monthlong gathering at the United Nations that petered out May 27 without agreement on a formal agenda, let alone on further steps toward nonproliferation.

Without saying it quite as explicitly as Bolton has said it in the past, the American position was to deny that the treaty has any force over the United States while at the same time demanding that it be applied vigorously against those it has unilaterally nominated as bearings on the "axis of evil." The Bush administration refused to allow anything else substantial, such as previous American commitments in the treaty and at earlier conferences, onto the agenda.

The failure of the conference led most of its delegates and observers to conclude that the chances of runaway nuclear proliferation are higher than they have been for many decades. Although most countries did not want to add themselves to future putative axes of evil by laying blame explicitly from the rostrum, their speeches and even more their off-podium talk made it clear whom they hold responsible for the failure of the conference: It was above all Washington, in its intransigence and seemingly untrammeled capacity for saying, "Do as we say, not as we do."

With no such inhibitions, Alice Slater of the anti-nuke organization Abolition 2000 declared, "By refusing even to discuss the commitments it made at past meetings, the U.S. has turned the world of nuclear proliferation into the Wild West, with a complete disrespect for the rule of law. The U.S. delegation is using cowboy politics to sabotage the [treaty] review conference."

Indeed, she and others accuse the die-hard nuclear hawks in the administration of deliberately trying to provoke North Korea into a nuclear test, since that would make it politically more feasible for the Pentagon to restart its own testing. And of course North Korea's nuclear ambitions provide the latest excuse trotted out by the administration for expansion of the Strategic Defense Initiative, aka the "Star Wars" program. "They think they are going to bomb [their] way out of proliferation," Slater comments sardonically.

In 1970, faced with the prospect of dozens of new nuclear states, almost everyone in the world greeted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty with relief. The only nonsignatories were Israel, India and Pakistan, for reasons that are now all too apparent. With an original term of 25 years, the treaty was basically a deal among the five "public" nuclear powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- that they would move toward eventual nuclear disarmament in return for the nonnuclear powers staying that way. The nuclear powers also agreed to assist the others in the development of "peaceful" nuclear technology.

When the treaty was expiring in 1995, the Clinton administration tried to extend it indefinitely, without qualifications, but other countries had already become suspicious of the sincerity of the nuclear powers, and in particular of Bill Clinton's inability to restrain the Pentagon's fixation on nuclear weaponry. The nonnuclear powers therefore exacted a price for extending the treaty, part of which was a review every five years of how it was working.

Both in 1995 and in 2000, when the first review occurred, the United States joined in a unanimous agreement that included a pledge by all nuclear powers to reduce existing nuclear weapons and to refrain from working on new ones. It also supported a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. In this year's review, however, the United States refused even to allow those previous commitments onto the agenda and made it clear that the Bush administration had now "unsupported" them. It now regards these as "historic," opening the way for other signatories to regard the treaty itself as historic and defunct, since they agreed to extend its 25-year life in return for those commitments.

Specifically, the U.S. delegation refused to allow any discussion of Israel's nuclear weapons or of the failure of the nuclear states to meet their obligations under the treaty. Instead, the delegation wanted to concentrate on Iran, which, with some justice, claims that its present activities are permitted under the treaty, and North Korea, which had dropped out of the treaty -- perhaps following the example of Bolton's "unsigning" of the International Criminal Court treaty.

Unfortunately for the administration, the news about its plans to weaponize space -- also a violation of existing treaties -- broke in the middle of the conference. Adding to the undiplomatic signals it is sending the rest of the world, the administration has refused to send the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification, has earmarked billions in preparations for resumed nuclear testing, and has budgeted funds for research on new "bunker-busting" nuclear weapons while continuing to conduct computer simulations of new weapons.

The United States of course has long been complicit in Israel's and, to a lesser extent, India's and Pakistan's becoming nuclear powers. Its reaction to their successful programs has been to try to sell them more conventional weapons, such as planes that can deliver the bombs, and to court them diplomatically.

And while the United States pressures Pakistan to "render" motley Islamists for incarceration, it has failed even to interview Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father of the Pakistani bomb," who has spent the past several decades hawking do-it-yourself A-bomb kits around the world in a fashion that makes the al-Qaida threat seem jejune. In convenient amnesia, the Bush administration even seems to have forgotten that his work was originally touted as the "Islamic bomb."

Nor did it help the administration's posture that while delegates were considering the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in New York, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual convention in Washington was featuring a sort of ghost train touch-and-see exhibit on Iran's potential for developing nuclear weapons. In contrast, Israel's estimated nuclear arsenal of more than 200 weapons has gone completely unremarked by anyone in Washington.

The treaty clearly has some holes that need patching, but the Bush administration is ripping off the existing patches, not cooperating in creating new ones. The developments in North Korea highlighted one major flaw. A country can (and indeed did) use the cover of the treaty to build "peaceful" reactors with foreign help and then withdraw from the treaty, as Iran is also threatening to do. The problem is, if you build a nuclear-powered reactor, your byproduct is the fixings for a fission bomb.

Among the patches that the conference could, and probably would, have considered if the majority of countries had had their way are the addition of a no-exit clause and better enforcement and inspection. Some have suggested that a complete ban on enriching uranium may be in order, since there are no serious peaceful purposes for it, but in some ways that would be rendered nugatory by the trade in plutonium that some reactors produce as a byproduct.

Under the circumstances, it is perhaps surprising that more countries have not followed the nuclear path. In an otherwise gloomy outlook, the one bright spot of the conference review is that so many signatories so sincerely want it to succeed -- even though the country that blusters most about nonproliferation sabotaged the conference so successfully.

All in all, it was a fitting curtain raiser for Bolton's likely new job, since his publicly stated peculiar views on international law, and his previous job performance as head of the State Department's disarmament affairs desk, are in large measure responsible for driving the North Koreans to nuclear weapons and for getting the Iranians to think wistfully about them. As the old curse has it, we face interesting times, certainly more so than in any period since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
Ian Williams is the U.N. correspondent for the Nation and author of "The UN for Beginners." His last book was "Deserter: Bush's War on Military Families, Veterans and His Own Past," and his next, due in August 2005, is "Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776."