Patricia Fontes is a longtime activist in Providence who has no fear about standing up to the military-industrial complex and its poisonous militarist culture that has infected America and pushed it further to the right over the past fifteen years. On Wednesday, September 21 at 7 PM at McVinney Auditorium, Pax Christi Rhode Island, Rhode Island Antiwar Committee, Tuesday Interfaith Peace Group, and the American Friends Service Committee are going to be holding an evening summit about A New Global Nuclear Arms Race: Risks, Prevention and Moral Imperatives. It will feature Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director of Global Security Program-Union of Concerned Scientists and Stephen Colecchi, Director of Office of International Justice and Peace-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“I thought ‘if we get all three of us working together, maybe we can get a really big turn-out’,” she says.
The American peace movement is in a sad state these days. With the exception of mainstay Catholic Worker and Quaker demonstrators, not to mention groups like those Fontes represents, who have worked to turn swords into plowshares over the last eight years, the resistance to 21st century empire that saw a pinnacle with opposition to the war on Iraq has been de-fanged in the Age of Obama. Part of this can be attributed to the rise of the Tea Party, their poisonous and racist rhetoric towards the first black President alienated a significant portion of the public for understandable reasons. But also a good deal of progressives simply refused to turn out for protests against Obama over anything at all. The late Alexander Cockburn wrote a very relevant essay at the start of the Obama years that is worth quoting at length regarding the US-sponsored 2009 coup in Honduras titled Gob-Smacked:
There’s no continent where the pwogwessive “left” (I have to set this exhausted noun on the crutches of gloomy quotemarks) in the United States has entertained higher hopes of Obamian change from traditional U.S. thuggery than Latin America… [A]fter six months [in office], the desire among many of these pwogs to believe that in the White House resides Gob (Good Obama) rather than Jaaap (Just Another Awful American President) is pitiful to behold. What, in Latin America, do they have to hang their hat on, regarding Gob’s actual performance? He’s maintaining the embargo on Cuba, pushing for the “free trade pacts” that have laid waste Latin American for a generation. He fondly embraces the vicious Uribe regime in Colombia. The zig-zagging response of the Obama administration to last Sunday’s coup in Honduras has now put these hopes to to the test of reality yet again, and already the progressives are successfully persuading themselves that either it’s “unclear” what Obama’s complicity amounted to, or even that he opposed it from the getgo. To believe this nonsense requires powerful doses of self-deception about the nature of this presidency.
As the Obama administration has continued to fund a War of Terror on the Global South and engaged in a series of actions at the Russian and Chinese borders that bring us closer and closer to a potential nuclear standoff on a daily basis, self-righteous Democrats carry on like a cadre of the Knights Templar as they vilify peace candidate Jill Stein and boost for Obama’s major collaborator-cum-cheerleader Hillary Clinton. It is only this small cadre that continues on the waging of peace.
“I belong to three of the four peace groups that came together to do this and the whole thing started because Pax Christi, which is the Catholic peace organization in Rhode Island, has a long-standing interest in anti-nuclear weapons [and] anti-nuclear arms. And about a year or so ago, Pax Christi got in touch with Joseph Gerson through the American Friends Service Committee and Martha Yager. Joseph was as the time attending the Vienna conference on…reactivating the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which of course every five years is brought up for review by the UN but never goes anywhere,” says Fontes. She describes how this event is a gathering that will address nuclear disarmament and hopefully begin to rebuild the ranks.
Click the Player Below to Listen to My Interview with Fontes!
“The constant complaint is ‘we’re too few, we haven’t got a critical mass!'”, she continues.
It is proving to be a year where the most unlikely of allies are emerging in regards to opposition to war and militarism. Donald Trump’s anti-NATO statements got explosive cheers from his base while Clinton boosters all of a sudden began defending that organization.
Justin Raimondo at AntiWar.com continues to publish Libertarian anti-militarist material that could be spoken by Noam Chomsky.
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity sends out daily emails aggregating stories by authors on the Left and Right who oppose empire.
Meanwhile, Obama and Clinton continue to push for a further assault on Russia through either the outright aggression exhibited by recent NATO exercises on their borders or palace intrigues such as the coup several years ago in Ukraine. The proliferation of fracking is in fact an effort to further isolate Russia, a country that could provide all the natural gas necessary for Europe and America to transition to a green energy infrastructure. The TPP and TTIP ‘free trade’ treaties are formulated to cut Russia and China out of trade in the EU and Pacific, not unlike how FDR provoked the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor by cutting them off from natural resource trade routes.
The arithmetic of imperial war and militarism is simply unsustainable. Differences between progressives and libertarians would perhaps melt away were the Pentagon’s entitlement eliminated so to properly fund domestic programs. The squabbling that currently exists over the crumbs left over by the military-industrial complex is a distraction from the location of a coalition that could be rebuilding America domestically. We waste 54% of the federal discretionary budget on empire and all suffer as a result.
Building a peace movement up would therefore bring together unique allies with a variety of perspectives. Perhaps having an intermediary like the faith community is important. It is from here we can learn about the patience to work with such allies and to teach each other to be better people. When I was a little boy, my priest used to call that ‘grace’.