Thursday, August 07, 2014

Scarred Anniversaries and Article 9

by Gary Berg-Cross

Hard on the heels of the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI Japan marked the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima this week. Quite an August for conflict in memory and in the flesh of 2014. This doesn't even include the anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkingiving President Johnson war powersto use  against the North Vietnamese or Nixon's resignation which followed a decade later in 1974.

 In Hiroshima it is quite a big deal. People don’t want to forget.  They want to move on and solve the problem of nukes. You can proably throw in other means of mass killing such as we have going in a few spots around the world. Joan Rivers made an uncomfortable comparison to the deaths of innocents in Hiroshima and Gaza.

But in Hiroshima’s peace park doves fly in the rain as you can still see some atomic bomb-scars of  building shell mixed with pleas for rational solutions to conflict.  The historical reflection by Noam Chomsky on Hiroshima Day 2014 and things like the US 1960 strategic plan for the use of nukes , for example, are sobering.

Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, was on hand to hear entries to disarm.  It must have seemed a bit strange with prominent conflicts going on and prime minister Abe seeking to make Japan a more “normal country.”  How?  By allowing it to “defend foreign countries and play greater roles overseas.”   Seems like a slippery slope to war launched off of that slogan – a country has a right to defend itself.  Well actually, yes, but as people like Chomsky note, maybe not by violence and war and masses of civilian death.  

Abe is a moving away of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes involving the Japanese state. It is worth considering the power of Article 9's 73 words tempered after the Hiroshima bomb to secure a lasting peace.

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

One wishes these were written into more, not fewer, constitutions.

“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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