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Thursday, May 26, 2005

ADDICTED TO WAR 

By Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D.

Warlust eventually ravages nations just like a highly addictive narcotic ravages people. Warfare’s savagery inflicts destruction on prey nations immediately, whereas it destroys predator nations mediately. War initially produces a stimulative “high” for the predator’s domestic economy. Leaders in predator nations ignore this opiate-like economic addiction to war because it serves to enrich their upper classes. Warfare is instantaneously lucrative for the military-industrial complex’s depraved war profiteers but can cause an entire region’s economy to become depraved war addicts over time.

Consider that the economic high from an addiction to war is always a Faustian bargain. It compels the addicted nation to start an endless succession of destructive wars in order to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms, which otherwise would appear in the form of recessions and depressions. Penultimately, it forces the working class to pay the highest price in blood and treasure. Their children become cannon fodder and their taxes are squandered to finance military adventures. Ultimately, war destroys empires as well as it does people. Militaristic nations always collapse because their criminal acts of aggression are not only morally indefensible but also economically unsustainable.

One certainly need not be a pacifist to recognize that …the USA is economically addicted to war. If so, this would explain why our political system is dominated by the ultra-militarist War Party and the crypto-fascist Bush family (i.e., the pushers), while our economic system is dominated by the military-industrial complex and its mafiosiesque war profiteers (i.e., the kingpins).

Finally, if the USA is economically addicted to war, that raises some important moral questions. Readers of good conscience should be asking themselves: Am I willing to engage in loving acts of nonviolent noncooperation with evil in order to stop my nation’s wars of aggression? Or will I watch in craven silence as this nation descends – like the Bush family’s multigenerational war profiteers – into a vampiric career of bloodthirsty murderousness? If it’s the latter, won’t I be sending America’s children the depraved message that it’s permissible to murder people, so long as it’s profitable? Which destiny am I going to choose – nonviolent redemption or militaristic perdition?

In short, we’ve proved in Iraq that violence only begets more violence, and war more wars. It’s time to show the world the force of our example, not the example of our force.

[Excerpted from “American Militarism: Is the USA Addicted to War?” See Orb Standard at http://orbstandard.com/News/Peterson/peterson_is_the_us_addicted_to_war.html.]

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

SF JAZZ & OTHER PLEASURES 

Everything is politics but politics is not everything. Those of us who are fortunate to live on the left coast, particularly in the greater San Francisco area, enjoy the opportunity to engage in a rich cultural life as well as enlightened politics.

In its sixth season, San Francisco Jazz has featured such icons and luminaries as Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Michael Brecker, McCoy Tyner, Dianne Reeves and Etta James. The torch has been carried forward by Portuguese Fado singer, Mariza, whose performance is as much a seduction as an entertainment, by Brazilian Maria Rita, who summons the memory of Etta Fitzgerald, and this Saturday last at the Palace of Fine Arts by Madeleine Peyroux, a Brooklyn kid by way of Paris who channels the voice and spirit of the immortal Lady Day and, in sacred moments, captures her very soul.

The San Francisco Jazz Collective has featured the masterful renditions of Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis and Bobby Hutcherson among others, with this year's work dedicated to the incomparable John Coltrane, whose son Ravi played a magnificent set as warmup to the Marsalis Quartet.

Theatres are offering challenging materials (see The Intersection for the Arts) and theatres beyond the bay have rediscovered Beckett, Stoppard and Miller. Even cinema has suddenly come alive for the audience that wants more than candy (Kingdom of Heaven, The Interpreter, Crash).

For baseball fans, Pac Bell (I refuse to rename it) remains the greatest ball park in America east of Fenway. This weekend the Giants unveiled a statue of the Dominican-born legend, Juan Maricial, and for the first time in Major League history, sported uniforms with a Spanish team logo: Viva Gigantes!

Politics aside, life is good on the left coast.

Jazz.

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