David Swanson is “an author, activist, journalist, and radio host, director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is a Lie and War Is a Crime. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.”
On May 27th, he published an article, widely mirrored by others, entitled Obama in Hiroshima Paints a Peace Sign on a Bomb. I read the article; you can too. The title is apparently metaphoric. I did a cursory search for images of the ceremony in Japan and came up with little in the way of paints, paint brushes, or peace signs. I thought maybe the wreath had a certain design. Move your coffee off your desk and click on the link below.
I appreciate the commentary on the seeming and obvious duplicity or hypocrisy in Obama’s acts and words. I’ve posted similar statements at my news blog Occurrences.
Meanwhile Japan seems to have veered back into militarism, at least covertly.
Not yet posted in Occurrences, off last night’s RiceFarmer.blogspot news links, is Chuck Spinney’s. article at Consortium News.
I’ve extracted the core information from Spinney’s lead into Cockburn’s interview of Truman historian Alperovitz.
“President Obama’s administration is planting the seed money for an across-the-board-modernization of nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and support systems that will cost at least a trillion dollars (more likely $2 trillion to $3 trillion, IMO) over the next 15-30 years.
While its details are shrouded in secrecy, public information is oozing out (e.g. see this link). Present information now suggests this program includes: a new ballistic missile launching submarine; a new strategic bomber; a new land-based intercontinental missile; a new air-launched cruise missile; modernization of and adding precision guidance to the B-61 “dial-a-yield” gravity bomb; modernization of strategic ballistic missile warheads; upgrades to the sea launched ballistic missiles; a massive upgrade to the surveillance, reconnaissance, command, control, and communications systems needed to manage nuclear warfighting; continuation and upgrades to ballistic missile defense systems (rationale: gotta have a “shield” to protect the aforementioned “swords”); modernization of the nuclear weapons laboratory infrastructure; and the increasingly demanding problem of nuclear weapons facilities cleanup (e.g. Hanford).
Given the highly evolved nature of the domestic politics driving defense spending (i.e., the domestic operations of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (I described this in “The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War”), history shows the golden cornucopia of this nuc “bow wave” or programs will quickly evolve into an unstoppable tsunami of front-loaded and politically engineered contracts and subcontracts that will grow over time to overwhelm and paralyze future Presidents and Congresses for the next 20-30 years….”
The debate about bombing Japan into submission will continue; if you want to drill deeply and follow along with the US military/executive branch, read The Image Before the Weapon: A Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian, by Helen M. Kinsella (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2011). I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that I’ve read it. I haven’t. But I did read the review of it by a Fellow in the Thinking Matters Program at Stanford University; it is encapsulated here: image before weapon review
“The atomic bombs killed several hundred thousand people, many instantly in the nuclear fire, many later with burns, injuries and radiation sickness, and still many others, over the years, with cancers and birth defects. These deaths continue to this day. Like most of the cities bombed in World War II, the majority of the inhabitants were women, children and the elderly.
Before the war began, bombing cities was considered an act of total barbarism; there were no “conventional bombs” and it certainly was not considered “conventional” to target civilian populations for mass destruction. But this ideal was shattered early in the war, and eventually all sides engaged in mass bombing raids against cities and civilians.
After the Nazis conducted their massive bombing raids against London, the British retaliated by developing incendiary bombs, fire-bombs designed to burn down cities. British and American bombers dropped these bombs on 5 German cities, killing hundreds of thousands of German civilians in Hamburg, Dresden, Kassel, Darmstadt, and Stuttgart. In March, 1945, the U.S. fire-bombed the city of Tokyo, killing at least 100,000 people.
By the time the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, 50 million people had already died in World War II. The bombing/murder of civilian populations had occurred so many times that it was no longer even regarded as unusual. I believe this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the war, and it set the stage for the Cold War and the nuclear arms race that followed.
When you view these images of Hiroshima, remember that there is a good chance that a nuclear weapon may now be targeted on your own city and home.”
In Occurrences, I’ve also routinely posted the back-and-forth intensifying stand-offs between Russia and the US, and the Chinese-US Pacific/South China Sea naval confrontations.
If the moves by Obama noted by Spinney don’t get us into a massive thermonuclear exchange, they’ll bankrupt us.
You can play the home version of thermonuclear exchange here: http://www.nucleardarkness.org/nuclear/nuclearexplosionsimulator/
Much has been said about the role of the Christian fundamentalist and Dominion movements within the US and particularly within the US military, especially the US Air Force. I hope degrees in divinity and theology are not required to have a coherent and common sense conversation about the basic realities of nuclear tactics and strategy.
But what struck me is the metaphorical peace sign in Swanson’s title. The peace sign is no simplistic hippie fawning. Flowers whose stems have been tossed down the muzzles of weapons is enough symbolism. Fake blood poured by Catholics on nuclear technology works as well. We need somehing that can transmit the meaning of an awful outcome that we can still barely conceive, even half a century beyond the events that were studied, filmed, and researched. A lot of literature has been crerated about the real and supposed effects of the detonations of modern weapons, even the small battlefield or neutron bombs that pretend to make their use acceptable. The world will not see and often are not allowed to see the horrors of the use of phosphorus or depleted uranium, so certainly we will not be allowed to talk about the effects of the kinds of advanced weapons systems both sides either boast about or rush to manufacture.
It is a truism that no weapon has been made that hasn’t eventually been used.
If I’m wrong about this, name it.
So I am not amused when I see Swanson drop a reference to the peace sign so blithely. You see, it is suggested by some that the peace sign is a sign of Satan. It is associated with Socialists and Communists. According to that source, it was the Teutonic rune of death, used to signifiy hatred of Christians, and is associated with Masonry. But maybe that’s a reference from a bunch of crazies.
The author of this peaceday.org web page has extended “an open invitation over the last twenty years for anyone to show me any proof the peace sign was used” before 1958.
“… the Peace symbol surfaced on letters from the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War in its original form as early as March 1958. Bertrand Russell was a member of this committee and, through his writings, has left us with an unmistakable history of when, where and who created the Peace Sign. Here are quotes from letters Bertrand Russell wrote in response to H. Pickles from Lichthort Verlag who wrote to complain that the peace symbol was a death symbol because the arms pointed downwards. Russell’s reply: “I am afraid that I cannot follow your argument that the ND badge is a death-symbol. It was invented by a member of our movement as the badge of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, for the first Aldermaston March. It was designed from the naval code of semaphore, and the symbol represents the code letters for ND. To the best of my knowledge, the Navy does not employ signallers who work upside down.’’
“Gerald Holtom [sic] is in fact widely credited with the design of the nuclear disarmament symbol (aka the peace symbol). The earliest reference I could find is in American journalist and playwright Herb Greer’s “Mud Pie” (London: Parrish, 1964). Mr Greer has since written to me to corroborate my facts. A little before the first Aldermaston march at Easter 1958, Holtom showed up at the offices of “Peace News,” in London, with drawings for banners and the symbol: “On a purple square was superimposed a white circle with a purple cross inside it, or almost a cross. The arms had slipped and were drooping against the lower sides of the circle. Holtom had made the design by combining the semaphore letters N and D: N for nuclear and D, naturally, for disarmament.” (P. 30) Holtom was a commercial artist with, it seems, a “visual aid factory”. Greer told me that he put his factory in Twickenham to making “lollipop signs” marked with the droopy cross. In correspondence through email he added, “I was actually there on and before the first Aldermaston March for which it was created. I visited Holtom, I saw the original sketches and discussed it with him. The reason for the symbol being upside down (D over N) is that semaphore is a military code. Upside down, anti-military.” For a much later account by a famous march organizer who witnessed Holtom’s presentation, see Michael Randle, “Non-Violent Direct Action in the 1950s and 1960s”, in Richard Taylor and Nigel Young, _Campaigns for Peace: British Peace Movements in the Twentieth Century_ (Manchester: Manchester U. Press, 1987), p. 134. The symbol was to appear at either end of banners stretching from one side of a streetful of marchers to the other.”
Now you may say is there anything else you can tell us about the Peace Sign?? Of course!!
“From a design point of view, it is interesting to note that the original sketches are preserved at the School of Peace Studies, Bradford University (ibid., p. 159). The original symbol wasn’t just sticks in a thinly bounded circle. The ends of the “arms” and “legs” thicken and splay out noticeably as they approach the circumference. And the circle itself is thick — when it has an outer edge. (Thus there are at least 2 designs.) You can see the original symbol on the banners and “lollipops” of the marchers in plates in another book by Taylor, “The Protest Makers” (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1980). The thickening itself has two versions: in one, all the straight strokes are thickened; in the other, only those in the lower half of the circle. Both are amply represented here in literature preserved by Bertrand Russell from his days at the head of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Committee of 100. Some are eminently scannable, too. The original designs are much nicer than what might be termed the sanserif abstraction that took over the banners by 1961.”
Dave Dionisi points out that the peace sign most of us are familiar with “combines a circle, a vertical line, and downward sloping lines. Throughout history the peace symbol was not always used in the spirit of love and service to humanity. For this reason, the Teach Peace Foundation does not use the peace symbol.”
That teachpeace link goes on describe the Gerald Herbert Holtom source/design story as a popular explanation and notes the fact that Bertrand Russell “supported Holtom’s claim and aggressively promoted the arms down symbol. The arms down peace sign made its first public appearance in the United Kingdom during the 1958 Easter weekend Direct Action Committee anti-nuclear march from London to Aldermaston. Russell was the march organizer responsible for placing the arms down peace symbol on buttons and banners.”
“Russell’s interest in the peace symbol becomes visible when you know he was a member of the British Fabian Socialist Society, a secret society advocating a New World Order. Russell wrote in his book The Impact of Science on Society that a “Black Death” or bacteriological warfare would be helpful every generation to cull the population. One of Russell’s frustrations was war had proved to be disappointing in dramatically reducing populations.3 When you realize Russell supported both communism and peace without God, his alignment with all the New World Order tenets becomes visible. Specifically, he wanted to abolish God, abolish representative government, abolish private property, abolish food independence, abolish the family, and abolish most people as part of his anti-Christian crusade…..”
“Russell’s primary interest in the symbol was to communicate defeat, despair, and disrespecting Jesus. Secret societies advancing the Great Plan enjoy seeing people, especially young children, wearing the peace symbol with the arms down because in their Luciferian religion they believe deception produces a dark energy helping to pave the way for the Antichrist.
American journalist and playwright Herb Greer adds support for the Holtom explanation. He reported, “I was actually there on and before the first Aldermaston march for which it was created. I visited Holtom, I saw the original sketches and discussed it with him.”
Ken Kolsbun, author of the book Peace: The Biography of a Symbol, reported that Holtom expressed regret in not designing the peace symbol with the joyful lifting of arms towards the sky.5 For most of Holtom’s life he would draw only the upright peace symbol….”
Holtom’s wish that the peace symbol connotation of despair be changed to joy is illustrated by the picture on the right. When the peace symbol is inverted the letter “N” becomes the semaphore code for “U” which could mean “universal” disarmament or the less popular but courageous “unilateral” disarmament.7
While it appears reasonable that the modern day peace symbol comes from Gerald Holtom, this logic fails to address the fact that the symbol has been used for evil both in modern times and for thousands of years.
This same symbol was used by Hitler’s 3rd Panzer Division from 1941 to 1945. The regimental 3rd Panzer Division symbol. Soviet, Polish, and Hungarian citizens, having suffered from the Nazi massacres, undoubtedly struggled with Holtom’s use of the symbol as a thoughtful way to communicate peace. The symbol can also be found on some of Hitler’s SS soldiers’ tombstones.8 Another flaw in the Holtom creation story is the use of the symbol as an anti-Christian symbol by the Saracens as early as 711 A.D.9 For the Saracens, the image placed on their shields symbolized the breaking of the Christian cross.
For some the broken cross was equated to a satanic symbol known as the raven’s craw or witch’s foot. While Holtom may not have known the historical meaning of the peace symbol, Bertrand Russell was a historian and member of the Fabian Society. A 1970 article in the American Opinion magazine claimed Russell knew the historical occult meaning and intentionally selected an “anti-Christian design long associated with Satanism.”10
The fifth and final Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Nero (born Lucius Domitius Ahenabarbus 37 – 68 AD), is remembered in history for persecuting Christians. Nero’s rule was so wicked he even had his mother executed. The First Roman-Jewish War (66 – 70 AD) started during his reign and today the term “Nero Cross” is the symbol of the “broken Jew” or “broken cross.” The most famous person believed to be crucified by Nero was the Apostle Peter. To symbolize humility and unworthiness in comparison to Christ, Peter requested that he be crucified with his head toward the ground. As a result of Peter’s death the upside down cross was used by early Christians as a positive symbol for peace.
The symbol of the upside down cross changes its meaning when the person on the upside down cross is no longer Peter but Jesus. Anti-religious and satanic groups use the “Nero Cross” or inverted “Latin Cross” to symbolize everything opposite of Christianity. Today this is clearly illustrated by “black metal” or heavy metal music lyrics and imagery that communicate anti-Christian sentiments.11 An album cover for the black metal group, Mayhem, is shown on the left. The first letter “M” in “Mayhem” and the last “m” depict the upside down cross. In addition to musicians, film makers have reinforced the notion that the upside down cross is an anti-Christian symbol as illustrated by The Omen in 1976 and The Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005.
The symbol has also been used to communicate support for communism. Bertrand Russell once said: “There is no hope in anything but the Soviet way.” Governments–both those who supported communism and those opposed to it–have perceived benefits in aligning the peace symbol with communist ideology. For people like Bertrand Russell, the author of the 1927 essay Why I Am Not Christian, the symbol represented not only a pro-communism meaning but peace without God.12
The confusion about what the modern day peace symbol means is further clouded by the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. LaVey used the symbol as the backdrop for his altar.13 Rudolf Koch’s Book of Signs explains the downward pointed fork represents the death of man.14 Placed in the circle the symbol means the total death of all people which is the exact opposite of what Holtom worked to prevent with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
While the anti-God, communist and death of man arguments are far from representative of the majority of people that carry or wear a peace symbol, they can frustrate the sincere efforts of peacemakers.
Today because many people carry the symbol without understanding the history, we miss an opportunity to address historical uses and move forward to reclaim the symbol for good.15 The Focus Fusion Society is honoring Holtom’s by putting the peace symbol arms up.16
Unfortunately even the upward arms peace symbol is not problem-free. For example, the white racist group, National Alliance, uses the upward arm symbol shown on the right.17
When you see the peace symbol, with the exception of groups specifically promoting violence, the person displaying it is attempting to communicating a message of love. Rather than use the arms down or arms up peace symbol, communicating love with kindness is recommended.”
Sources for and additional information about Dave Dionisi’s article are at the link: http://www.teachpeace.com/peacesymbolhistory.htm
Hands down, though, the recurrent problem is the devastatingly stupid expansionist funding and support for, and planning for the use of, nuclear weapons.
The image that comes to mind is five people lined up in an interlocking daisy chain perhaps not unlike the alignment of the symbol itself, each person’s right hand extended in a reach to the back of the head of the person in front of them, pointed at the middle of the brainstem, each holding a Glock automatic loaded with a .40 hollow-point ACP in the chamber, safeties off, practicing synchronized rhythmic breathing in the hopes that no one twitches. Bathroom and meal breaks are allowed so long as each person hands off the weapon to his or replacement.
Other images come to mind of the types of exercises routinely and repeatedly undertaken by entry-level aikido students to practice grappling, movement, and weapons defense and take-away techniques.
The most vivid “image” that arose from the text above is the one that suggests unilateral disarmament.
What happens when one combatant puts down their weapon before the other?
Most people with military or police training would tell you that would be suicidally stupid. (See Put Down Your Gun and Step Away.)
Everybody sees the other as evil, dangerous, cowardly.
Spiritual breakthrough is often describined as what results when you have seen that everything and everyone is the same thing.
In aikido, situational awareness for combatants is made of foreign concepts like the techniques and practices of bowing, metsuke, ma-ai, and the like. These are forms of heightened awareness and heightened regard for the Other.
I am no sensei.
I am not qualified in any sense to talk about this thing they call the discipline of the spirit of harmony.
But getting combatants to practice synchronized abdominal stress-reducing breathing might be a good start. Every aikido session begins and ends with meditation.
And what little I know about aikido is that its entire purpose is the expression of love.