Golden Rule Peace Boat visits Baltimore, bringing message of nuclear disarmament / By Cindy Farquhar

The crew of Golden Rule at an open dock event, Pier 5, Baltimore. | Margaret Baldridge / People’s World

Originally published in the People’s World on May 12, 2023

BALTIMORE—Do you know about the back story behind the U.S., U.K., and USSR signing the “Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water” in 1963?

It is a very dramatic tale, involving illegal arrests in international waters, switching missions from one ship to another, children tasting nuclear fallout as it came down like snow—and it all began with Hiroshima.

The atomic bomb which the U.S. dropped on that Japanese city on Aug. 6, 1945, caused Albert Bigelow to leave his military career as a Navy captain just before his date of retirement.

Bigelow eventually found a boat, the Golden Rule, and developed a crew and a mission—to put their bodies in the space where daily atomic bombs were being tested: the Marshall Islands.

Fast forward to 2023.

Mary Ann Van Cura, crew member of the Golden Rule Peace Boat. | Margaret Baldridge / People’s World

Thanks to Veterans for Peace, the Golden Rule is travelling “the Great Loop” of the eastern U.S. with a new mission—to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

As part of its tour, the crew docked in Baltimore from April 27 to May 3 to share the peace boat’s story through a number of events. These included a welcoming proclamation from the Baltimore City Council and a brass band performance, courtesy of public school music students in the group ORCHKids.

The crew interacted with students at a local college, spoke at a bookstore and several church events, and were treated to Baltimore jazz and guitar musicians. Homemade cake sporting a replica of the boat’s sails was shared to commemorate the first arrest of the Golden Rule crew back in 1958.

As part of the Golden Rule visit, history professor Dr. Vincent Intondi spoke on his new book, Saving the World from Nuclear War. In it, he explains how the elimination of nuclear weapons has progressed since the million-person June 12, 1982, rally at the United Nations.

And there has been progress—from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (1987) to successive START Treaties, to an absolute decrease of nuclear weapons from 70,000 in 1986 to 13,000 today.

In 2021, the U.N. ratified the Treaty of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the African continent has been a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone for a decade.

People’s World interviewed Golden Rule crew member Mary Ann Van Cura. We asked her if the crew had met many young people at their port-of-call events and whether there is a generation gap in the disarmament movement.

“There is just a plain gap,” she responded. “It’s so complicated that no one wants to talk about it, but nuclear issues are in the background. The Golden Rule attracts people by its beauty, and the story is a moral story of grace and integrity and ultimate benefit for the community.”

Van Cura went on to explain that nuclear waste affects all communities, as the Golden Rule crew has been finding out in its travels on inland rivers. There is unexploded ordnance in many U.S. towns, for instance.

Paducah, Ky., where a gaseous diffusion plant has been a part of the nuclear bomb-making process for decades, is just one example. It will take until 2065 to close it down completely, and even then, there will still be material that is basically indisposable. Many Americans, she said, know there are leftover landmines and ordnance in Vietnam and northern France; few know that such dangerous material is also scattered around the U.S.

Check out the itinerary of the Golden Rule Peace Boat here.

The Golden Rule crew has met many city managers who are in regular meetings with the Federal Government to get funds for mitigation processes on nuclear-related material.

Moreover, communities of Marshallese people are living in the U.S. and getting health care here, but since they are not citizens, their visa status must be reapproved periodically. On a prior tour of the Golden Rule, 200 Marshallese came to meet the boat in Dubuque, Iowa, and discuss the radiation poisoning that continues to make Bikini and Eniwetok Atolls unlivable.

On May 3, the Golden Rule sailed out of Baltimore toward Havre de Grace, Md., and ports north, to continue spreading her message to any who will hear it: Peace, disarmament, sustainability, and the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Cindy Farquhar is a progressive community activist in Baltimore.

Chomsky and Prashad: Cuba is not a state sponsor of terrorism / BY Noam Chomsky, Vijay Prashad

José Rodríguez Fuster (Cuba), Granma, 2013. Source: “A Bit of Hope That Doesn’t Come from Miami: The Sixteenth Newsletter (2021),” The Tricontinental, April 22, 2021.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Cuba, a country of 11 million people, has been under an illegal embargo by the United States government for over six decades.

Despite this embargo, Cuba’s people have been able to transcend the indignities of hunger, ill health, and illiteracy, all three being social plagues that continue to trouble much of the world.

Due to its innovations in health care delivery, for instance, Cuba has been able to send its medical workers to other countries, including during the pandemic, to provide vital assistance. Cuba exports its medical workers, not terrorism.

In the last days of the Trump administration, the U.S. government returned Cuba to its state sponsors of terrorism list.

This was a vindictive act. Trump said it was because Cuba played host to guerrilla groups from Colombia, which was actually part of Cuba’s role as host of the peace talks.

Cuba played a key role in bringing peace in Colombia, a country that has been wracked by a terrible civil war since 1948 that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. For two years, the Biden administration has maintained Trump’s vindictive policy, one that punishes Cuba not for terrorism but for the promotion of peace.

Biden can remove Cuba from this list with a stroke of his pen. It’s as simple as that. When he was running for the presidency, Biden said he would even reverse the harsher of Trump’s sanctions. But he has not done so. He must do so now.

Noam Chomsky is a linguist, philosopher, and political activist. He is the laureate professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona. His most recent books are Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet and The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

MR Online, February 14, 2023,

U.S. faith leaders, activists demand Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine / by John Wojcik and C. J. Atkins

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, during World War I, British soldiers heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing carols and saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the two sides. The following day, on Christmas, British and German soldiers met in ‘no man’s land’ and exchanged gifts, took photographs, and played impromptu games of football. They also buried casualties and repaired trenches and dugouts. After the short truce, fighting unfortunately carried on. Today, U.S. faith and peace leaders are calling for a Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine and demanding negotiations to end the war. | Imperial War Museum

Activists and faith leaders in the United States are calling for an immediate Christmas season truce, a ceasefire, and talks to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict. They issued their call in the wake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the Congress on Wednesday.

Zelensky called for continued flows of U.S. arms into his country to fight the Russians and promised that the weapons would be put to use. “We are alive and kicking and will never surrender,” he declared. He said that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was not charity but an investment in security for the future.

At a meeting with Zelensky just prior to the Capitol speech, President Joe Biden vowed to back Ukraine with arms “for as long as it takes.” He also pledged to send new Patriot missiles, the most advanced in the U.S. military arsenal, to Ukraine.

This was coupled with approval in the Senate on Thursday of an unprecedented $850-billion military budget, swollen to historic levels by billions more for the Ukraine war and multi-billion-dollar guarantees to the U.S. armaments makers that if any decision they make to increase armament production causes them to lose money, the U.S. treasury will jump in with “socialism for the rich” and cover their losses.

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, react as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presents lawmakers with a Ukrainian flag autographed by front-line troops. Zelensky spoke to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 21. | AP

Completely under the radar is this week’s call by more than 1,000 faith leaders demanding the Christmas season truce in Ukraine. Almost all of those leaders have, since the war began, strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting death and suffering of the Ukrainian people. They are also concerned, however, about U.S. culpability in the war and the refusal thus far in Washington to push for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the fighting.

Led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Bishop William Barber, who leads the Poor People’s Campaign, they recalled the Christmas truce in 1914 during the First World War. They declared: “We urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.”

Co-founder of Code Pink Medea Benjamin, one of the signers, said: “There is nothing glorious about the Ukraine war. It is a lose-lose for everyone except weapons makers. Zelensky should be calling for peace. So should Putin. And Biden. And everyone else. #ChristmasTruceNow.”

Benjamin said the war “must move from the battlefield to the negotiating table—no more dollars for war! Peace talks instead!” Supplies of more advanced weaponry would “only bring us closer to a direct war with Russia…and nuclear armageddon,” she added.

Zelensky essentially told the Congress this week, however, that no peace would be possible and no ceasefire was possible until Russia pulls out of Ukraine altogether. He said he has a 10-point peace plan that he discussed with Biden but gave no details. Biden has also not disclosed any specifics of the supposed plan.

A Biden administration spokesperson, retired Admiral John Kirby, said on MSNBC that the Zelensky plan was “not really a peace plan but rather a framework within which discussion between Ukraine and the U.S. can be held.”

The huge military budget is causing enormous problems in the U.S. already. First is the obvious diversion of funds away from programs to address social needs. In addition, existing critical funds are under threat. The trillion-dollar omnibus bill approved in the Senate this week does not specify what part of it can be used to provide more than $1.7 billion needed, for example, to keep Medicaid benefits flowing to those in need.

Federal money for states that have opted into Obamacare could be endangered if there are not adequate funds allocated for that in the federal budget. Millions who rely on these benefits could be harmed.

The conflict is increasingly looks like the proxy war between the U.S. and Russia that many peace activists say it is. They have been saying that Ukraine is caught in the middle of a long-term battle that the U.S. is waging against Russia.

Ukrainians stand around a Christmas tree adorned with peace doves in Kiev on Dec. 17, as partial power outages kept much of the capital city dark. | Felipe Dana / AP

While the U.S. announced billions in new weapons for the Ukraine war this week, Russia responded by announcing plans on Wednesday to increase the size of its army from one million to 1.5 million members, and government officials rolled out plans to create entirely new, “better trained” units.

Meanwhile, NATO which is under the control of Washington, continues its plans to expand—an expansion that is seen as a major cause of the war in the first place. Two countries are slated to soon become new members.

Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said his country needed to safeguard its security because of those NATO plans, which involve the incorporation of Finland and Sweden into the alliance.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also responded this week to U.S. plans for sending more weapons into the conflict. He declared that the move would not “bode well” for Ukraine, as Russian bombardments continued to pound the country’s energy infrastructure.

This news analysis published here reflects the views of the authors.

      John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

        C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

        People’s World, December 23, 2022,

        Colombian Intelligence Operations, with US Backing, Are Bad for Peace / by W. T. Whitney Jr.

        A Venezuelan couple use the Francisco De Paula Santander Bridge to cross between Urena, Venezuela, and Cucuta, Colombia, Aug. 6, 2022. | Matias Delacroix / AP

        Colombia’s new president Gustavo Petro wants peace. Colombia’s military, the largest in Latin America, except for that of Brazil, stands in the way. It benefits from U.S. largesse while attending to U.S. needs. Its intelligence branch, discussed here, is not about peace and reconciliation.

        The U.S. government, militarily involved in Colombia for decades is likewise an obstacle to peace. As explained recently by analyst Hernando Calvo Ospina, military cooperation has been central to the U.S.-Colombian alliance. He details how since World War II the United States has partnered with Colombia in dominating the entire region to maintain access to strategic resources, exclude Communism, and suppress left-wing movements. Calvo Ospina mentions Colombian-U.S. drug-war operations and the two countries’ addiction to military and ruling-class power. This is the setting for the intelligence operations described below.

        Colombian intelligence operations serve U.S. imperialist objectives as they target Cuba and Venezuela. Colombian governing authorities appear to have forgotten the legacy of independence hero Simón Bolívar who, up against Spanish rule and U.S. pretentions, fought for Latin American unity. In 1829 he remarked that, “The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” He was denouncing unencumbered U.S. license to control Spanish America, as proclaimed in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and still in force. 

        Trump-era national security advisor John Bolton recently boasted he had planned coups to unseat the Maduro government in Venezuela. Current White House advisor on Western Hemisphere affairs Juan González took a different tack while speaking in Colombia in August: “40 years ago the United States would have done everything possible to avoid the election of Gustavo Petro and, once elected would have done everything possible to sabotage his policies.”  Now, says González, the United States wants to collaborate and “navigate that change.” 

        Meanwhile, Petro wants young people to choose social service and not do military service. His government will be negotiating peace with National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas. He rejects the U.S.-promoted drug war and has re-established diplomatic relations with Venezuela, the object of U.S. hybrid war. On August 12, Petro named new military chiefs and replaced 40 generals and admirals because of corruption and human rights violations.

        This report turns to Colombian military intelligence. The Revista Raya website, directed by Edinson Bolaños, recently published three articles on Colombian intelligence operations that began in 2016 and continued for almost six years. (See the end note for possible translations in English of “raya.”)

        Face-off against Cuba

        The first article, titled “International Espionage: Operation Cuba,” appeared on the website on August 19.  One learns that, “Revista Raya had access to thousands of classified Colombian military intelligence documents where evidence appears of spying on Cuban diplomats and officials, left-leaning [Colombian] political leaders, journalists, and social leaders.” The folders contained “profiles of targeted personnel, photographs, videos of subjects being followed, maps, sketches and drawings.”

        Agents posing as journalists or photographers mapped routes to facilities used by diplomats. They photographed the interiors of the Cuban embassy, consulates, and diplomats’ quarters, and also diplomats’ automobiles and license plates. They monitored diplomats’ encounters with Colombian activists and politicians. Operatives gained access to phones, computers and on-line communications.

        They were able to alter the text of the Cubans’ email communications. Colombian intelligence operatives communicated their findings with U.S. counterparts. U.S. documents with responses and commentary show up in the files.

        Operatives attended solidarity gatherings in Colombia and farther afield – at a Sao Paolo Forum of leftist political parties, for example. At these venues, they identified attendees, monitored conversations, gained access to email communications, and informed intelligence agencies in home countries of their citizens’ participation in leftist or pro-Cuba activities. They spied on solidarity gatherings at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp near Havana.

        People attending various events had their phone calls intercepted, among them: Cuban ambassador José Luis Ponce and Vice Consul Kendry Sosa, leftist senators Iván Cepeda and Gloria Flórez; Communist Party leaders Jaime Caycedo and Carlos Lozano Guillén; and FARC lawyer Diego Martínez. Among attendees monitored at the Sao Paolo Forum in 2019 were Communist Party member Gloria Inés Ramírez, now President Petro’s labor minister, and leftist senator Piedad Córdoba.

        One purpose for the phone monitoring, according to Revista Raya, was to unearth or install material suggesting that Cuban operatives were promoting the protest demonstrations that rocked Colombia in 2019 and later, and contributed to the election of President Petro. The intelligence units also sought to connect Cuba’s government with leftist insurgents in Colombia, particularly the National Liberation Army (ELN).

        According to documents in the report, agents “sewed” information in the computers of ELN guerrilla leaders suggesting the “complicity of Cuba’s government with the ELN in manufacturing the violence associated with the social protests.”  Nothing appeared in the files indicating that Cuba’s government actually did promote anti-government activities, according to Revista Raya.

        Agents planted “evidence” of alleged terrorism undertaken by ELN guerrilla leader Andrés Vanegas Londoño, alias “Uriel,” and sent it to Colombian prosecutors and to Interpol. They communicated his location in Choco department. Uriel died in a bombardment of his camp 20 days later, on October 25, 1920.

        Targeting Venezuela

        Encouraged by its U.S. partner, Colombia’s government has long taken steps to destabilize Venezuelan society and government operations, and more so recently. Secret operations have taken place in Venezuela’s border region with Colombia. Colombian narco-traffickers are active there, and also Colombian paramilitaries. A small U.S.-Colombian force, Operation Gideon, carried out a maritime invasion of Venezuela in 2020.

        Colombian military intelligence engaged with agencies and personnel of Venezuela’s government. On August 24, Revista Raya published “International Espionage: Objective Venezuela. The survey covers destabilization plans and monitoring of Colombian and Venezuelan politicians and Venezuelan diplomats.

        Colombia’s intelligence service secreted 28 spies within various branches of Venezuela’s military. As part of so-called “Operation Vengeance,” operatives “tried to encourage the Venezuelan Army to carry out military operations against the ELN,” whose detachments were active in Venezuelan territory. They created hostile pamphlets and audio recordings and attributed them to the ELN.The spies “totally infiltrated” the communications of a Venezuelan press attaché in Bogota and monitored his contacts with prominent Colombian politicians of the left. Colombian officials later expelled him. 

        Citing “another hundred documents,” Revista Raya shows that, during the presidency of President Iván Duque (2018 -2022), Colombian spies entered, photographed, and took material from the Venezuela’s consulate in Cartagena. The Colombian intelligence operatives attended primarily to consul Ayskel Torres.  

        Under “Operation Sunset,” they “monitored her contacts with leftist social leaders in the region and her “sentimental relationship” with the “military attaché of a Caribbean country.” They were blackmailed and the latter provided a list of “cooperating” contacts.

        Spying ceased after February 23, 2019, when The Maduro government broke relations with Colombia. The spies had monitored Venezuelan diplomats’ communications about the safety of money and sensitive documents lodged in an Embassy strong box. After the Venezuelans had departed, spies entered the building, took photographs, opened the strong box and stole documents and money. 


        The last section of this three-part Revista Raya series is titled “International Espionage: Massive Profiling.” Documents were cited that contained “telephone numbers, homes addresses, political preferences, work places, email addresses, nationalities, and date of identification” for 450 persons. The article presents political profiles of eight individuals as examples of other profiles that were created. Dozens of images appear.

        The targeted individuals included “political, social, and union leaders and also diplomats and officials of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.” Intelligence agents descended on them when they attended “commemorations and political events relating to socialist countries,” or “peaceful mobilizations and … political events in Colombia.”

        This last article in the series identifies the chief of Navy Intelligence as the individual primarily responsible for the illegal spying.

        Rear Admiral Norman Iván Cabrera Martínez heads that agency now. He served as naval attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Washington and the U.S government awarded him a Meritorious Service Medal. Cabrera Martínez assumed his post on August 27, 2022. 

        Colombian Communist Party secretary general Jaime Caycedo, the object of spying, commented to Revista Raya: “We … think this is a violation flagrant of our rights and constitutional liberties …[We] attach great importance to the journalistic work you are doing. You showed how we fell into their hands. You explained how public resources and public entities were used to maltreat citizens with this illegal profiling and to spy on diplomats of friendly countries with diplomatic relations.”

        Note: The meaning in English of “raya,” as used in the website’s name, is mysterious here. We opt for “line-by-line review.” “Raya” may signify victim or despised person in that a “tienda de raya” in Mexico was a store operated by a company or hacienda relying on a laborer’s written line for a signature. A possibility from Colombia is “detective.”  Another commentator suggests “memorable happenings.”

        W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

        Pope suggests NATO facilitated war by ‘barking at Russia’s door’ / by John Wojcik

        Pope Francis waves to the crowds that gathered in St.Peter’s Square at the Vatican as he recites the Regina Coeli noon prayer from the window of his studio, April 24, 2022. Andrew Medichini | AP

        Pope Francis appears to be at least partially blaming the West for the war in Ukraine. In an interview published this week, he suggested that Russia’s invasion may have been encouraged by the “barking of NATO at Russia’s door.”

        The Pontiff held back from accusing NATO or the U.S. of directly provoking the invasion itself, however, when he talked about Russian anger about the role of the West in the buildup to the conflict. He described that anger as “an anger that I don’t know if you can say it was provoked but maybe facilitated,” in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

        He was unequivocal, however, in his condemnation of the invasion itself and of the arms industry in the West, describing the pumping of weapons into Ukraine and the subsequent profiteering by armaments makers as a “scandal” that he has heard “too few oppose.”

        Francis has used his papacy to advocate for disarmament. He has traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to pray for peace, and he has called out the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for what they have done in Yemen.

        He castigated the weapons manufacturers for using the war in Ukraine to test ever more dangerous and deadly weapons.

        “What is clear is that in that land, weapons are being tested,” he said. “That is why you make wars: to test weapons we have created.”

        In Rome on April 15, Francis said he was concerned that World War III is already being fought, although piecemeal, in “every corner of the world—in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Africa, one war after another.”

        The Pope told his interviewer that he could not answer the question of whether it is right to send weapons to Ukraine.

        “I can’t answer, I’m too far away, to the question of whether it is right to supply the Ukrainians,” Francis said. “There are international interests in every bit. One cannot think that a free state can wage war on another free state. In Ukraine, it was the others [the Russians] who created the conflict.”

        The Pope has avoided condemning Putin directly, however, in the hope he can serve as a peacemaker and said this week that he wants to go to Moscow.

        A June meeting between Francis and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill in Jerusalem was called off recently over Vatican concerns that it would send what the Vatican called an “ambiguous” signal, but the two did talk for 40 minutes over videoconference in March. Kirill has strongly supported Russia’s position on the war.

        Francis said in the interview that Kirill spent half of that March meeting reading off “all the justifications for the war” and said that Kirill must not “transform himself into Putin’s altar boy.”

        For years, the Pope has tried to improve relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, but those efforts are endangered now because of the war. Increased sanctions that were discussed Wednesday by the European Union have reportedly infuriated Kirill.

        Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda suggested that sanctions would only delay peace.

        “You have to be completely unaware of the history of our church to think that it’s possible to scare its clergy and believers by putting them on some kind of lists,” Legoyda said Wednesday.

        The Pope’s suggestion that the West and NATO bear some of the responsibility for the war in Ukraine was not received positively in government circles in strongly Catholic Poland. Zbigniew Rau, the Polish foreign minister, said he was holding his face in his hands when he heard the Pope’s criticisms.

        Poland, a country led now by the extreme right-wing Law and Justice Party, has allowed NATO to place nuclear-capable missiles on its eastern borders, close to Russia. Other countries doing the same include Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

        This story features material from the Associated Press and other sources

        John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

        People’s World, May 5, 2022,

        Good Friday vigil: No nuclear weapons, diplomacy, not war, in Ukraine / by Marilyn Bechtel

        The urgency of organizing against nuclear weaponry, much of it produced at the Livermore Labs in California, was one of the demands for peace at the annual Good Friday event, a virtual one this year. Above, Nagasaki, Japan, the last city to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. The bomb was dropped by the U.S., the only country ever to drop a nuclear bomb on another country. | Yosuke Yamahata/UN

        LIVERMORE, Calif. – As nuclear disarmament, peace and justice advocates gathered virtually April 15 for the annual Good Friday Worship and Witness focusing on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, they posed a question: “This Tax Day – What Does the Lord Require of Us?”

        Participants in the event organized by the Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy & Laity Concerned and Livermore Conversion Project linked the struggles to eliminate nuclear weapons and to win peace in the Ukraine and worldwide with the observance of Easter, Ramadan and Passover, and the significance of Tax Day.

        Addressing the gathering from just outside the Lab’s West Gate, Marylia Kelley, executive director of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, warned that work to increase and expand nuclear weapons capabilities is “at an inflection point. We need to change course.”

        Reminding the gathering that Livermore Lab is one of two U.S. national laboratories that design every nuclear warhead and bomb in the U.S. arsenal, she told the gathering, “On this Good Friday, we must confront that the Biden administration’s request for Fiscal 2023 is the largest military request in U.S. history.”

        Of the $813 billion the administration is requesting, Kelley said, some $30 billion would go to the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons and related programs. Livermore Lab would receive about $2 billion, with some 80 percent going to fund nuclear weapons activities.

        Heading the list are two new warheads, the W80-4 and the W87-1.

        The lab is developing the W80-4 for what’s being called the Long Range Stand Off Weapon, which Kelley said is meant to enable pilots to stand off a target a thousand miles away and launch a precisely-guided, radar-evading nuclear weapon. “By any measure,” she said, “Livermore Lab’s new warhead for the Long Range Stand Off capability is an offensive, first-use weapon – and I mean both meanings of that word, offensive – it’s immoral!”

        When development of the W80-4 is completed, Livermore Lab plans to modify it for use on a new sea-launched missile to arm small attack submarines that at present don’t carry nuclear weapons. Kelley warned that the resulting inability of a potential target to know whether an incoming missile is conventional or nuclear “might trigger nuclear annihilation for all of us.”

        The other warhead, the W87-1, is the first completely new nuclear warhead the U.S. has developed since the end of the Cold War. Kelley said among a long list of new technologies being developed for the W87-1 are its new plutonium bomb cores, slated to cost billions of dollars.

        Besides its work to halt development of nuclear weapons and abolish them completely, Tri-Valley CAREs also addresses the great environmental and health harms their development has caused in Livermore and surrounding areas.

        Kelley said the lab has dribbled over a million curies of radiation into the air during its decades of operation, and the related Experimental Test Site 300 near the city of Tracy has also been polluted by the lab’s activities, and both are now on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of the country’s most polluted sites. Lab employees have experienced high levels of cancers and other illnesses from exposure to radiation on the job, and children in Livermore have experienced more cancers than similar children living elsewhere.

        Kelley urged vigil participants to press the U.S. government to change its nuclear weapons policy, including joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, often called the Ban Treaty, “in whatever creative nonviolent ways you feel moved to do.”

        In her homily, the Rev. Allison Tanner of Oakland’s Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church called the war in Ukraine “another manifestation of expanding empire that is seeking to destroy yet another people, community and culture and land.”

        But, she said, “Glorification of war to keep our enemies at bay is not the answer. If we are committed to peace and justice, we must find humane ways to hold tyrants accountable, to hold warmongers accountable – ways to hold people accountable without destroying our own humanity, our environment, our world, in the process.”

        Turning to April 15’s significance as Tax Day, Tanner said the day “calls on us to answer the question, where are we putting our money, our resources and our attention?” In 2018, she said, “nearly $20 billion of our tax dollars were used to fund nuclear weapons … We gather to say we cannot fully control what happens to our tax dollars but we can insist that it’s wrong. We can insist that we will give to God the deepest treasures that we have and we will follow the ways of peace and justice and love as best we are able.”

        Tanner cited Roman Catholic Archbishop John Wester’s Pastoral Letter, in which he declares, “We can no longer deny or ignore the dangerous predicament that we have created for ourselves. We need to start talking about it with one another – all of us – and figure out concrete steps toward abolishing nuclear weapons and ending nuclear threats if we care about humanity.” She urged participants in the Worship and Witness to discuss the issue with family and friends, read and share the Pastoral Letter, express their support for the Ban Treaty, and divest from nuclear weapons activities.

        Among the many who helped to lead the observance were Farha Andrabi Navaid, Mountain View/Palo Alto Musalla; musicians Betsy Rose and the Rev. Silvia Brandon-Perez; liturgical dancers Carla de Sola and Zara Anwar; Carl Anderson, Livermore Conversion Project; Janet Cordes Gibson, Ecumenical Peace Institute; Isabella Zizi of the Northern Cheyenne, Arikara and Muskogee Creek Nations and Mark Coplan, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Berkeley.

        Marilyn Bechtel writes for People’s World from the San Francisco Bay Area. She joined the PW staff in 1986 and currently participates as a volunteer.

        People’s World, April 20, 2022,

        Now is the time for nonalignment and peace / by Roger McKenzie, Vijay Prashad

        Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia at the Bandung Conference in 1955.

        As countries in the Global North push to escalate the war in Ukraine, the Global South has overwhelmingly pushed for a perspective of dialogue and peace. Roger McKenzie and Vijay Prashad reflect on the need to create a fresh Non-Aligned Movement.

        War is an ugly part of the human experience. Everything about it is hideous. War is most obviously the act of invasion and the brutality that goes along with its operations. No war is precise; every war hurts civilians. Each act of bombardment sends a neurological shudder through a society.

        World War II demonstrated this ugliness in the Holocaust and in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From Hiroshima and the Holocaust rose two mighty movements, one for peace and against the perils of further nuclear attacks, and the other for an end to the divisions of humanity and for a nonalignment from these divisions. The Stockholm Appeal of 1950, signed by 300 million people, called for an absolute ban on nuclear weapons. Five years later, 29 countries from Africa and Asia, representing 54 percent of the world’s population, gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, to sign a 10-point pledge against war and for the “promotion of mutual interests and cooperation.” The Bandung Spirit was for peace and for nonalignment, for the peoples of the world to put their efforts into building a process to eradicate history’s burdens (illiteracy, ill health, hunger) by using their social wealth. Why spend money on nuclear weapons when money should be spent on classrooms and hospitals?

        Despite the major gains of many of the new nations that had emerged out of colonialism, the overwhelming force of the older colonial powers prevented the Bandung Spirit from defining human history. Instead, the civilization of war prevailed. This civilization of war is revealed in the massive waste of human wealth in the production of armed forces—sufficient to destroy hundreds of planets—and the use of these armed forces as the first instinct to settle disputes. Since the 1950s, the battlefield of these ambitions has not been in Europe or in North America, but rather it has been in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—areas of the world where old colonial sensibilities believe that human life is less important. This international division of humanity—which says that a war in Yemen is normal, whereas a war in Ukraine is horrific—defines our time. There are 40 wars taking place across the globe; there needs to be political will to fight to end each of these, not just those that are taking place within Europe. The Ukrainian flag is ubiquitous in the West; what are the colors of the Yemeni flag, of the Saharawi flag, and of the Somali flag?

        Return to peace, return to nonalignment

        We are overwhelmed these days with certainties that seem less and less real. As Russia’s war in Ukraine continues, there is a baffling view that negotiations are futile. This view circulates even when reasonable people agree that all wars must end in negotiations. If that is the case, then why not call for an immediate ceasefire and build the trust necessary for negotiations? Negotiations are only feasible if there is respect on all sides, and if there is an attempt to understand that all sides in a military conflict have reasonable demands. To wit, to paint this war as the whims of Russian President Vladimir Putin is part of the exercise of permanent war. Security guarantees for Ukraine are necessary; but so are security guarantees for Russia, which would include a return to a serious international arms control regime.

        Peace does not come merely because we wish for it. It requires a fight in the trenches of ideas and institutions. The political forces in power profit from war, and so they clothe themselves in machismo to better represent the arms dealers who want more war, not less. These people in the blue suits of bureaucracy are not to be trusted with the world’s future. They fail us when it comes to the climate catastrophe; they fail us when it comes to the pandemic; they fail us when it comes to peacemaking. We need to summon up the old spirits of peace and nonalignment and bring these to life inside mass movements that are the only hope of this planet.

        It is not merely sentimental to reach back to the past to breathe life into the Non-Aligned Movement of today. Already the contradictions of the present have raised the specter of nonalignment in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Most of these countries voted against the condemnation of Russia not because they support Russia’s war in Ukraine, but rather because they recognize that polarization is a fatal error. What is needed is an alternative to the two-camp world of the Cold War. That is the reason why many of the leaders of these countries—from China’s Xi Jinping to India’s Narendra Modi to South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa—have called, despite their very different political orientations, for a departure from the “Cold War mentality.” They are already walking toward a new nonaligned platform. It is this actual movement of history that provokes us to reflect on a return to the concepts of nonalignment and peace.

        Nobody wants to imagine the full implications of the encirclement of China and Russia by the United States and its allies. Even countries that are closely allied with the United States—such as Germany and Japan—recognize that if a new iron curtain descends around China and Russia, it would be fatal for their own countries. Already, the war and sanctions have created serious political crises in Honduras, Pakistan, Peru, and Sri Lanka, with others to follow as food and fuel prices rise astronomically. War is too expensive for the poorer nations. Spending for war is eating into the human spirit, and warfare itself increases people’s general sense of despair.

        The warmakers are idealists. Their wars do not settle the major dilemmas of humanity. The ideas of nonalignment and peace, on the other hand, are realistic; their framework has answers to the children who want to eat and to learn, to play and to dream.

        Roger McKenzie is a reporter for the Morning Star. He is the general secretary of Liberation, one of the oldest UK human rights organizations.

        Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.

        This article was produced by the Morning Star and Globetrotter.

        People’s Dispatch, April 18, 2022,

        Putin regime emerges as the main danger to global peace and security / John Bachtell

        Baba Vanga and Vladimir Putin superimposed on destruction in Ukraine. The blind clairvoyant Bulgarian mystic, Baba Vanga, died in 1996.Called the Nostradamus of the Balkans, she made various predictions of events that supposedly would happen up until and including the year 5000. Right wing Russian national chauvinists, including Vladimir Putin himself, must like one of the prophecies she made before her death: “Russia will become the lord of the world whereas Europe will become a wasteland. All will thaw, as if ice, only one will remain untouched – Vladimir’s glory, the glory of Russia.” She made the prophecy shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries in Europe which did usher in warfare and conflicts after a period of 50 years of peace in Europe following World War II. It did not take much clairvoyance to see that inter capitalist rivalries and nationalism would lead to the big trouble we see unfolding today in Europe. AP

        Russia continues its unrelenting, brutal, and immoral invasion of Ukraine while ignoring the growing global outcry to stop. Russian military forces have widened their lethal destruction to break the will of the Ukrainian population and their unexpected fierce resistance.

        It is hard to grasp the breadth of destruction in Ukraine and the danger the world faces. Once unleashed, the dogs of war pursue a path with unpredictable and unknown consequences.

        The attack has created deep hostilities against Russia by Ukrainians in the first place, which will take years to repair, and inflamed Ukrainian and Russian nationalism. Europe faces a humanitarian disaster not seen since WWII, with over 5 million Ukrainian refugees and another 2 million people internally displaced.

        The most urgent issue facing the world is bringing the invasion, death, and destruction to an end as quickly as possible. The global community must prevent the conflict from spreading to neighboring countries and escalating to a nuclear standoff between Russia and the U.S. which possess 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

        Gross violations of law committed

        Russian military forces have committed gross violations of international law and war crimes. These include the invasion of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, leveling of cities, using cluster munitions, deliberately targeting civilians, including children, forced displacement, attacking refugee evacuation corridors, destroying hospitals, schools, and government buildings, and reports of rapes and executions.

        The worst may be yet to come. On Feb. 27, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s “deterrence forces,” including its nuclear forces, on combat readiness. Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons against any country interfering with the invasion. His Feb. 24 speech invokes the language of Russia’s updated nuclear policy adopted in June 2020 to justify their possible use. Biden’s refusal to impose a no-fly zone, which risks escalation to a nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, and global annihilation, has been validated.

        Meanwhile, Putin and Russia’s ruling kleptocracy has unleashed its repressive state apparatus upon the growing and courageous Russian opposition to the invasion. The regime has jailed thousands, suppressed the independent media as “foreign agents,” and outlawed any criticism of the invasion or challenge to state-sponsored disinformation justifying it. In a chilling speech on Mar. 16, Putin likened the anti-war movement to “traitors” and a “fifth column” and that Russia must self-purify by getting rid of them.

        Settlement requires withdrawal

        A peace settlement likely requires a Russian withdrawal, recognition of Ukraine’s (and other countries in the region) national sovereignty, right to self-determination, non-interference in its internal affairs, and security guarantees for its territorial integrity. Ukraine likely accepts neutrality concerning NATO, already twice offered by President Volodymyr Zelensky, barring foreign military bases on its soil, recognition of Russian language rights, and may face some painful concessions, including loss of territory.

        However, Putin’s response to Zelensky’s offer was to bomb a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians and children were taking shelter. The action suggests Putin’s real goal may be to take over Ukraine, or at the very least its partition or ruination of its economy and infrastructure, the liquidation of the Ukrainian state, and installation of a puppet regime. Putin has already declared his intention to establish tribunals to try Ukrainian opposition and extinguish all “Western” influence, similar to “purifying” Russia of internal “traitors” and resistance.

        It is hard to know all that the Biden administration has done behind the scenes to prevent the war and end it. But the administration’s outreach to China, which has a significant influence on Russia, is encouraging.

        The Biden Administration knew about Putin’s plans and thought exposing them would give Putin pause. Perhaps at that moment, more could have been done to forge a compromise to stop the invasion, including emphatically taking NATO membership off the table. At the very least, it would have brought additional pressure to bear.

        But suppose the Biden Administration and NATO’s only approach is sanctions against Russia and arms for Ukraine, without a diplomatic blitz. In that case, one wonders if the intent is to drag Russia into an Afghanistan-type quagmire at the expense of the Ukrainian people? A drawn-out war will only result in more destruction, death, and suffering.

        The mythic origin narrative

        Putin laid out his view of Russia-Ukraine history and relations in a lengthy article on July 12, 2021, which many historians have criticized. In it, Putin conjures up a mythic Russian origin narrative and declares Ukraine an illegitimate state, created by Bolshevik policies following the 1917 October Revolution. In reality, the revolution formed the USSR as a union of republics to address the Ukrainian people’s legitimate national rights and aspirations and other nations oppressed by Czarist Russia, known as the “prison house of nations.”

        But Putin believes Russia and Ukraine, along with Belarus, form three branches of a distinct historically developed Russian people. In this version of history, Putin invents a justification for violating Ukraine’s national sovereignty. Putin concluded by stating, “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.” And therefore, the aim becomes to absorb Ukraine into Russia or make Ukraine a subordinate colony.

        Therefore, taking Putin at his word, the very existence of Ukraine as a sovereign nation is at stake. Ukrainians will never accept such an outcome and the fierce resistance reflects their national aspirations. An occupation will result in ongoing resistance by Ukrainians and brutal repression by Russia.

        But the invasion and Ukraine’s struggle for national sovereignty and self-determination also occurs under sharpening global geopolitical rivalries, including between U.S. and Russian imperialism and the US’s “strategic competition” with China and Russia. Simultaneously, Russia is attempting to assert its role in the global order, including military means, and upend the US’s still mainly hegemonic role. The invasion may signal a tectonic shift in international affairs, an era of greater instability and fracturing, and a growing world war danger.

        NATO and other factors

        But it still begs the question: did NATO expansion precipitate the invasion, or did other factors play a role? Indeed, NATO expansion and U.S. interference were critical to laying the foundation for the crisis. But it can never justify Russia’s brutal invasion and war of choice over diplomacy. In any case, NATO wouldn’t have accepted Ukraine’s bid for membership because Germany and France opposed it.

        Indeed, Putin would have known a Russian invasion would strengthen support for NATO and militarization of Europe, which precisely is what has happened. Perhaps Putin didn’t care and made it quite clear in his Feb. 22 speech that all territory once part of the Russian empire is fair game.

        Whether Putin means this as a rhetorical device or not, it alarms those countries that were former Russian colonies which have struggled for independence against Russian domination historically. As such, public opinion has swung in favor of NATO. That includes the countries of the former USSR, including the Baltic States, Finland, and Poland.

        Not only do NATO countries in Eastern Europe feel more vulnerable, but previously unaligned countries like Finland are aligning with NATO, and Germany and Norway are increasing military budgets. Any effort to phase out NATO, demilitarize and denuclearize Europe is now much more difficult, if not impossible, for the foreseeable future.

        An even more significant issue may be Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union, robbing Russia of what Putin believes is a critical part of Russia’s economic sphere. Putin refuses to acknowledge Ukraine’s right to pursue its foreign policy, trade, and financial relationships.

        Other justifications falling apart

        Putin’s other justifications for invading are falling apart. By shelling majority Russian-speaking cities, Putin undercuts his claim to be protecting Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

        The military offensive across the breadth of Ukraine undermines the claim of “denazification” of the Donbas region. A “fascist regime” doesn’t square with a country that elected a Jewish president, who lost family in the holocaust, by 73% of the vote and where far-right parties got less than 3% of the vote in the last presidential election.

        Nor does Putin define what he means by “fascists,” which could encompass the Ukrainian people as a whole given its historical meaning in Russia. Ousting the Zelensky government, what Putin describes as the “neo-fascist” regime, is a cover for justifying the imperial expansion of Russia.

        Indeed, Ukraine has become deeply polarized since the Euromaidan events of 2014, Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and the orientation toward EU and NATO. Since the invasion, the government has curtailed democratic rights, including banning political parties, and inflamed nationalism, including far-right nationalism.

        Right-wing nationalism and the integration of fascist militias, including the Azov Battalion and other followers of the WWII fascist Stephen Bandera, into the national guard in the Donbas region is a dangerous development made worse by the invasion. But this still does not justify the attack, and defeating this menace is an internal matter for the Ukrainian people.

        The struggle for economic and political democracy is a matter for the Ukrainian people, as it is for each country. And Ukraine’s national democratic movement has been struggling to win advances. Still, it now wages the fight for democracy and against far-right movements while defending national sovereignty in a war situation.

        Great Russian nationalism and fascism

        According to some scholars, the ideas of Ivan Ilyin, Russia’s Christian fascist philosopher and an admirer of Hitler and Mussolini, have a significant and insidious influence on Putin. Ilyin asserts “a quasi-mystical belief in the destiny of nations and rulers” and that Russia is pure and the embodiment of redemption from the corruption of the West.

        By combining ideas of Russian national and racial supremacy with authoritarianism, anti-Semitism, and white Christian nationalism, the result touches many of the hallmarks of fascism. Indeed, these ideas resonate with fascist movements globally, and Putin and Russia are a beacon for far-right movements, white nationalists, and fascists worldwide, including the US.

        Putin’s stated objective is to break up the prevailing world order by brute force, one he sees dominated by the U.S. and “globalists,” which is eerily similar to the “global Jewish conspiracy.” Putin seeks to ensure Russia has a top place in a multipolar world and sees himself as the historic figure who will restore the traditional Russian empire under authoritarian rule.

        A new global reality

        Russia’s invasion challenges the post-Cold War paradigm whereby U.S imperialism is the world’s sole superpower and source of global tensions. And anything opposing U.S. policies, including by Russia in Ukraine, is seen as anti-imperialist.

        U.S. imperialism has a long, shameful history of invading and occupying other countries, committing state-sponsored terrorism and war crimes, engineering coups, installing puppet governments, possessing colonies, and controlling and exploiting other countries by dominating the global financial system. But that view doesn’t account for a vastly changed world in which U.S. domination is steadily giving way to a multipolar world, and other actors have emerged on the global stage.

        The rise of China as the world’s largest economy and its growing trade and diplomatic relations is profoundly influencing global developments. The newly emerging economies like Russia, Brazil, and India, the election of left governments in Latin America and elsewhere, and other global alliances also herald a new era of globalization.

        On the one hand, U.S. imperialism is not behind every development. On the other, nations and people are not passive actors but also have agency. Domestic democratic movements impact national developments and national sovereignty within the broader geopolitical struggle.

        At the same time, new threats to peace, security, and democracy have emerged, including climate change, pandemics, mass disinformation, global fascism, white nationalism, other anti-democratic movements, regional rivalries, and far-right religious nationalist movements.

        The main danger to peace and democracy

        The invasion of Ukraine reflects the logical outcome of what some call kleptocratic patronage capitalism and the narrow economic interests of Russia’s ruling elite. This immensely wealthy cabal enriched themselves by looting the vast wealth of the USSR. Putin’s extreme nationalism and reverence for the glory of Czarism and Russian fascism reflect this gangster-reactionary class outlook. Repression and attacks on democratic rights flow from this internal dynamic.

        As part of the sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry with the U.S. and effort to assert its role in the world order, the Putin regime interfered in U.S .internal affairs, including the 2016 elections when it helped Trump. Russia also interfered in the 2018 and 2020 elections, Brexit vote, and spread mass disinformation about covid vaccines to widen internal political divisions in the U.S .and other capitalist countries.

        By invading Ukraine and seeking to redraw internationally recognized borders violently based on Great Russian chauvinism, the Putin regime has emerged as the main danger to global peace and international law at this moment. Global collective unity is required on the order of the WWII anti-fascist alliance to end the invasion and in solidarity with the Russian people to oust Putin from power.

        The world must chart a way forward that rejects war and seeks a new global democratic order. One that strengthens international law respects national sovereignty and self-determination, non-interference in internal affairs, equality of nations, democratic and human rights, demilitarization, and dissolving military alliances.

        Humanity faces existential threats from ecological crises and nuclear destruction. Our survival depends on global cooperation over competition and peaceful co-existence between states. Too much is at stake.

        John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People’s World. He served as national chair of the Communist Party USA from 2014 to 2019. He is a regular writer for People’s World, and active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Albuquerque and attended Antioch College. He currently lives in Chicago where he is an avid swimmer, cyclist, runner, and dabbler in guitar and occasional singer in a community chorus.

        People’s World, March 23, 2002,