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A Time for Nostalgia

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015 | 11:11am | Comment on this

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson: On Peace & War

There was never time for nostalgia, here, even when I wrote this column every month. Just as PJALS was so often derailed from local projects by global violence and the siren call of war, my plans for a 40th anniversary recollection have been curbed by horrible attacks in Paris. Curbed, but not cancelled.

Here’s what must be said in November, 2015: The established powers of the earth continue to prepare for the same war, thinking we’ve learned from every tragic human sacrifice offered in the names of peace, panic and greed. Now, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our outraged allies to prove we have not yet learned the lesson of the Trojan Horse, never mind Vietnam or Iraq. Read more »


Rusty Nelson on Peace and War: Trying to Support the Troops

Friday, Feb 27, 2015 | 12:12pm | Comment on this

Rusty Nelson on Peace and War: Trying to Support the Troops

               It must have been several years ago because the signs we held said “Free Bradley Manning,” and we Vets for Peace didn’t have to defend Chelsea Manning’s transgender rights while bringing attention to the persecuted, military whistle-blower Americans were trying to ignore. At an event in Riverfront Park, I was approached by two burly young men who said they were active duty military and considered Manning to be a traitor. They thought the army intelligence analyst’s reporting a massacre by U.S. helicopter crews was insignificant compared to the release of other classified information to Wikileaks. At least they knew something about the case. But then, they issued a challenge they might like to have back, now. “If you want to do something for an American soldier, put our government to work to free Beau Bergdahl.”

How things change. Private Manning, known now as Chelsea, is serving a 45-year prison sentence while the soldiers she reported remain uncharged and unpunished. Sgt. Beau Bergdahl is back in the U.S. after a controversial hostage/prisoner exchange, awaiting a decision on whether he will be charged with a crime. The story is different from the one several years ago, and several men from his unit want to see Bergdahl punished for being a deserter and putting them at risk. Read more »


Another Look at the Cycle of Violence

Friday, Aug 29, 2014 | 12:12pm | Comment on this
Rusty

Rusty Nelson on Peace & War

I believe you know that support for capital punishment in this country: is diminishing; was only a foot deep when it was a mile wide; is based upon fear and ignorance rather than common sense or justice, and; is always weakened when executions are honestly examined as factors in the cycle of violence in our communities and institutions.

You should also know that Gov. Inslee’s moratorium on executions is little comfort to the men on our death row in Walla Walla, who believe they are likely to be killed when a new governor takes office. Believing this is a splendid time to ban the death penalty and that public enlightenment is the best way forward, the Inland Northwest Death Penalty Abolition Group wants Spokane to see its new production of The Exonerated on November 21 or 22, at Gonzaga University. The Center for Justice produced two performances of The Exonerated, five years ago at the Civic Theatre, and is co-sponsoring this show, which will, again, be directed by Bryan Harniteaux, Spokane’s attorney/playwright. Read more »


Write, Tinker, Abolish

Monday, Jun 2, 2014 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War

By the time I wrote my first editorial about the death penalty, Nancy had produced several articles, including a commentary in the Spokesman Review, but Washington had not yet killed Dodd and Campbell. Lethal injection was catching on, but Nevada had resumed executions with a firing squad, Florida electrocuted a man whose crime would have been self-defense if he had not been gay, and Washington was dusting off its gallows. If I had been better organized and more careful, I could compile a book from our experiences, observations and opinions on state killings. And I have a lot more to say. More than I’ll try to cram into this space.

To paraphrase Einstein, everything’s changed about executions in the U.S. but the way we think about them. Two recent developments should affect the way Americans think about capital punishment, but thinking doesn’t change easily. Read more »


Commemoration of What?

Friday, Feb 28, 2014 | 10:22pm | 3 comments

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War 

Veterans for Peace is such a tonic for me that it seems almost unthinkable there could be sharp divisions among its members and chapters. I remember the thrill of solidarity at the national convention in Seattle a few years ago and affirmation from Spokane vets who attended subsequent conventions. I loved being with Western Washington members last November in Auburn, and in Tacoma in February, not to mention planning, laughing, and solving global problems with our local members.

What disharmony could exist among veterans who agree that war should be abolished as our default foreign policy and that our leaders should be accountable for the devastating costs of war? Alright. That’s a silly question for anyone who’s spent years working in peace and justice organizations.  Peace mongers come in all imaginable types. In fact, it was reassuring to hear VFP leaders talk, at our Tacoma conference, about recent internal squabbles, because they involve disagreements which allow for constructive discourse and encourage independent points of view.

As one who joined VFP about the time I started working for PJALS, I was not drawn to the regional conference to be enlightened by workshops, but to be part of the community-building for our chapter as well as among state-wide chapters. Feeling some success in that, I was caught off guard by one workshop: “Vietnam Commemoration.” Read more »


Over the counter

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 | 12:12pm | 3 comments

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War 

May Americans with some degree of accountability or any inclination for peace please agree to stop pretending that counter-terrorism is something other than terrorism?

It seems to me that the land of the free and the home of the brave used to be a little more squeamish about openly discussing our intentions to terrorize populations in other parts of the world. Today, anyone we want to call a terrorist is considered fair game for murder or torture by our counter-terrorists, and if we kill a few too many bystanders who happen to be elderly, pre-adolescent, and/or female, well, they could hardly have been less than potential terrorists. “Collateral damage” is a specious term and so last war. And if we can’t nail them as terrorists, they must be, at least, insurgents. This is all said or thought, not out of freedom or courage, but out of debilitating fear. Read more »


The Unknown Peace Pact

Tuesday, Sep 3, 2013 | 1:13pm | Comment on this

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War

Why is it that we – humans, Americans, patriots, progressives, veterans, educators and educated, thinkers and doers – have never been able to get violence out of our system? This question screamed at me, again, as I pondered the unlikely existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed by most of the world’s nations in 1928. Read more »


Fretting about Fairchild …and other chronic ills

Friday, Jun 21, 2013 | 10:10am | 4 comments

Rusty NelsonRusty Nelson on Peace and War

Long ago, in a time of relative innocence and prosperity, the people of the Spokane area hitched themselves to the star of the U.S. Air Force. It didn’t take much reflection or study, just a simple faith that our country and it’s military establishment had always been noble and right and would never betray our confidence that Fairchild Air Force Base would make us all safer, prouder, and wealthier.

As the USAF celebrates 65 years, many of us have been cynical for a long time, especially we who have done horrible things under military orders and then watched as our safety, pride and wealth are stripped from people and bestowed upon corporations. In spite of hard numbers and unresolved superfund sites, we are expected to believe that Fairchild is the best thing that ever happened to our area’s economy. Read more »