Category: War

No Man’s Land (2001)

What do you get when you stick a Bosnian and a Serb together between the front lines? Plus one Bosnian stuck on a mine? Absurdity and allegory abound in No Man’s Land, set in 1993 during the Bosnian War. Consider watching this very funny and very moving Oscar-winning, debut film from director Danis Tanovic. BTW, it beat Amelie (2001) for the best foreign film Oscar–which is saying something.

Future Conflict Risk

Read this article on a study by the National Intelligence Council. The study is fascinating. The future condensed! Let’s remember to look back at it and see how accurate it is. Here’s an excerpt (vague though it may be):

About 50 countries around the world will be at risk of internal conflict or wars with neighbors, the study says, most sparked by increasing nationalism and border rivalries fought out in the absence of any regional security architecture to resolve them.

The risk of conflict within a state — like a civil war or an insurgency — is expected to decline in Latin America, but will remain high in sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of the Middle East and South Asia, as well as in some Asia-Pacific island hot spots, the study warns.

“A more fragmented international system increases the risks” of conflict between states, the study also cautions. “Additionally, increased resource competition, spread of lethal technologies and spillover from regional conflicts increase the potential for interstate conflicts.”

Most worrisome — and already part of the global security dynamic — is an assessment that future wars in Asia and the Middle East could include nuclear weapons.

Powerful Images

Be ready to be moved.

Melville on War

Read about Herman Melville and consider Battlepieces and Aspects of the War (free Google eBook). Here is an excerpt from “The March into Virginia”

Did all the lets and bars appear
      To every just or larger end,
Whence should come the trust and cheer?
      Youth must its ignorant impulse lend—
Age finds place in the rear.
      All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys,
The champions and enthusiasts of the state:
      Turbid ardors and vain joys
            Not barrenly abate—
Stimulants to the power mature,
      Preparatives of fate.

Cease-fire in Syria

If only every day were a holiday! The Syrian Army has announced a truce for the most important Muslim holiday of the year. This reminds me of WWI’s “Christmas truce,” though the happenings in Syria are less heartwarming. Here are some details about the Christmas Truce:

It began in most places with nighttime singing from the trenches, was followed by shouted overtures and then forays between the lines by a few brave men. There followed, in daylight, a burying of the dead that had lain for weeks on the denuded ground called no man’s land. After that, large numbers of soldiers poured over the front lip of the trench.

Throughout the day they exchanged food, tobacco and, in a few places, alcohol. Some chatted, usually in English, a language enough German enlistees spoke to make small talk possible. In several places, they kicked around a soccer ball, or a stuffed bag functioning as one, although contrary to legend there appears to have been no official, scored matches.

Mostly, the soldiers survived, which is what they wanted from the day. They did not shoot each other.

1000 cranes

Make-A-Crane has donated a string of 1000 cranes to Half the Sky for their silent auction 🙂

Wise Words on War

“A country cannot simultaneously prepare and prevent war.” –Albert Einstein

World’s Most Powerful Photographs

The Americans

An excerpt (the last stanza) from a poem by Robert Hayden:

confess i am curiously drawn     unmentionable     to
the americans     doubt i could exist among them for 
long however     psychic demands far too severe 
much violence     much that repels     i am attracted 
none the less     their variousness their ingenuity 
their elan vital     and that some thing     essence 
quiddity     i cannot penetrate or name

War Letters

An interesting project from PBS.

Global Peace Index

Here is the 2012 Global Peace Index.

Women for Women International

“I believe the way to stop violence against women is to speak out and refuse to be silent.”

“Women are the glue of families and societies; when women thrive, countries thrive.”

–Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi woman who founded Women for Women International at age 23, in 1993

There is lots more from the website!: Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time.

First Opera on the War in Iraq

It is named Fallujah. See here for movie clips.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

On their website:

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.

NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.

People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.

The NVC community is active in over 65 countries around the globe. Find out more about how NVC is changing the world and how you can get involved.

Give Peace A Chance

Antiwar Photographer

“I used to call myself a war photographer…Now I consider myself an antiwar photographer.” -James Nachtwey

Nachtwey has covered conflict in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, South Africa, the West Bank and Gaza, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.


Do other animals besides humans commit genocide? Engage in war?


Photo Essays from Mother Jones. Here is the environment page. And politics pageCharles Taylor. For those who don’t know what Mother Jones is, prepare yourselves:

“Mother Jones is a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting. We currently have two main “platforms”: an award-winning bimonthly national magazine (circulation 240,000), and a website featuring new, original reporting 24-7. (In the past we’ve had a radio show and TV specials; theme parks are in the conceptual stage.) Why should you read or support us? Because “smart, fearless journalism” keeps people informed—”informed” being pretty much indispensable to a democracy that actually works. Because we’ve been ahead of the curve time and again. Because this is journalism not funded by or beholden to corporations. Because we bust bullshit and get results. Because we’re expanding our investigative coverage while the rest of the media are contracting. Because you can count on us to take no prisoners, cleave to no dogma, and tell it like it is. Plus we’re pretty damn fun.”

Obama: “Warrior In Chief”

This portrait of the Nobel Peace Prize winner is disheartening.

Conflict Photography

Here are amazing photography and explanations tagged as “Conflict Photography” from the New York Times.

Trained to Kill

“I thought, I can’t, I can’t allow myself to be trained to kill on orders, to take life on orders.” -Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, on NPR Fresh Air. Merwin was put in a psychiatric ward in 1946 for being a Pacifist (as he’d enlisted when he was 17 previously), he said.

John Hunter on the World Peace Game

Revolutionary teaching.

Carnegie Endowment…

…for International Peace

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Wilson Center. Students might be interested in this.

The Costs* Of War

This was written September 8, 2011, by Hugh Gusterson. It mentions a study sponsored by Brown University, and the link to the site – which has quite a bit of information and a video – is here.

*What are costs? Pages on the website include:

Human Costs

Economic Costs

Social and Political Costs

Are there Benefits

Alternatives and Recommendations


fetial \FEE-shuhl\, adjective:

Concerned with declarations of war and treaties of peace.

When a just and rightful war was declared upon a foreign enemy—and were there any other kinds of wars?—a special fetial priest was called upon to hurl a spear from the steps of the temple over the exact top of the ancient stone pillar into the earth of Enemy Territory.
— Colleen McCullough, The First Man in Rome

He struck his treaties with foreign princes in the Forum, sacrificing a pig and reciting the ancient formula of the fetial priests.
— Edited by John Carew Rolfe, Suetonius

Fetial comes directly from the Latin word fētiālis, which referred to a member of the Roman college of priests who were representatives in disputes with foreign nations.

Free Documentary Site

This is a wonderful site! You can watch documentaries ranging the spectrum of possibilities.

Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Into Law

Read this, on the American Civil Liberties Union website page.

Too many politicians talk the talk and neglect the walking part.

Steve McCurry’s Photos On Afghanistan

This is a beautiful photo essay by Steve McCurry, a worldwide photographer. It is called “Afghanistan: A Look Back.” Subscribe to his blog to get these kinds of posts by email.

Cirkus Columbia

(Based on the novel Cirkus Columbia and directed by Danis Tanović, who also directed and wrote the script for No Man’s Land)

Miss Saigon

I was moved by this tragic love story between a Vietnamese bargirl (Kim) and an American GI (Chris). The context is the Vietnam War and it (in part) demonstrates how f****d war and all associated with it can be. It has a beautiful, powerful musical score. Below are two songs, “The Movie in My Mind” and “Sun and Moon,” with lyrics:

They are not nice, they’re mostly noise
They swear like men, they screw like boys
I know there’s nothing in their hearts
But every time I take one in my arms
It starts:
The movie in my mind
The dream they leave behind
A scene I can’t erase
And in a strong GI’s embrace
Flee this life
Flee this place
The movie plays and plays
The screen before me fills
He takes me to New York
He gives me dollar bills
Our children laugh all day
And eat too much ice cream
And life is like a dream
The dream I long to find
The movie in my mind

I will not cry, I will not think
I’ll do my dance, I’ll make them drink
When I make love, it won’t be me
And if they hurt me, I’ll just close my eyes

And see they are not nice, they’re mostly noise
The movie in my mind they kill like men, they die like boys
The dream that fills my head they give their cash, they keep their hearts
A man who will not kill but every night again it starts

Who’ll fight for me instead
He’ll keep us safe all day
So no one comes at night
To blow the dream away
The dream I have to find
The movie in my mind

And in a strong GI’s embrace
Flee this life
Flee this place

A world that’s far away
Where life is not unkind
The movie in my mind

You are sunlight and I moon
Joined by the gods of fortune
Midnight and high noon
Sharing the sky
We have been blessed, you and I

You are here like a mystery
I’m from a world that’s so different
From all that you are
How in the light of one night
Did we come so far?

Outside day starts to dawn

Your moon still floats on high

The birds awake

The stars shine too

My hands still shake

I reach for you

And we meet in the sky!

You are sunlight and I moon
Joined here
Bright’ning the sky
With the flame
Of love

Made of

Tomorrow will be the full moon
I can bring friends to bless our room
With paper unicorns and perfume
If you want me to

Unicorns? sure. . .

Before We Were Free

In the short historical novel Before We Were Free, Julia Alvarez writes of the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, a tumultuous time of government secret police, the dictator el Trujillo, brave rebels fighting for justice, family, immigration, and adolescence – all from a young girl’s perspective. A good, informative, moving read that made me cry and think. It made me think of the immigrant experience in America, of what countries “resort” to (embargoes, invasions) to “help” other countries, and how (if?) it is possible to attain peace without such measures. There is always a short and/or long-term cost, to being a bystander, indirectly interfering, and directly interfering.

Here is a quote from Julia Alvarez in the “About the Author” section:

“I believe stories have this power–they enter us, they transport us, they change things inside of us invisibly, so minutely, that sometimes we’re not even aware that we come out of a great book as a different person from the person we were when we began reading it.”

Poem 444

It feels a shame to be Alive—
When Men so brave— are dead—
One envies the Distinguished Dust—
Permitted— such a Head—

The Stone— that tells defending Whom
This Spartan put away
What little of Him we— possessed
In Pawn for Liberty—

The price is great— Sublimely paid—
Do we deserve— a Thing—
That lives— like Dollars— must be piled
Before we may obtain?

Are we that wait— sufficient worth—
That such Enormous Pearl
As life— dissolved be— for Us—
In Battle’s— horrid Bowl?

It may be— a Renown to live—
I think the Man who die—
Those unsustained— Saviors—
Present Divinity—

Emily Dickinson

Look Down Fair Moon

Look down fair moon and
bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night’s
nimbus floods on
faces ghastly,
swollen, purple,
On the dead on their
backs with arms
toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted
nimbus sacred moon.

Walt Whitman

Income Tax

Didn’t know that anything pie-related could be so disgusting. $1372 billion on the military in income taxes?! Almost half?! Maybe I need to learn how to read pie charts more carefully…?

The Selville Statement on Violence

Spain, 1986

Human violence is not biological. Check it out!

Here’s an article on the subject. It begins like this:

“It is scientifically incorrect to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors … that war or any other violent behaviour is genetically programmed into our human nature … [and] that humans have a ‘violent brain’.”

These are the ringing words of the ‘Seville Statement on Violence’, fashioned by 20 leading natural and social scientists in 1986 as part of the United Nations International Year of Peace, and later adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It was written to counter the pessimistic view that violence and war are inevitable features of human life.

The decades since have not been kind to these cherished beliefs. A growing number of psychologists, neuroscientists and anthropologists have accumulated evidence that understanding many aspects of antisocial behaviour, including violence and murder, requires the study of brains, genes and evolution, as well as the societies those factors have wrought. Continue here.

Seeds of Peace

Here is a description of Seeds of Peace from the website:

What began in 1993 as a camp program with 46 Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian teenagers has expanded into a global operation with offices in over ten cities around the world and over 4,000 young leaders (“Seeds”) working for peace.

Eighteen years of conflict resolution programming has produced an impressive cadre of Seeds working in international affairs, politics, business, medicine, nonprofit and media.


“Since wars begin in the minds of people, it is in the minds of people that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” -UNESCO Constitution (1945)

MLK Quote

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.” -Martin Luther King, December 1964

War Quote

“War has a look. It is the bloody and anonymous bodies. It is the billowy mushroom cloud, the wall of flame rising from a forest that’s been napalmed, the sky of Kuwait blackened by oil fires.” -William Tsutsui, Japanese-American historian

Sunday Bloody Sunday

On January 30, 1972, British troops opened fire on unarmed and peaceful civilians in Derry, Ireland during a civil rights march. Riveting performance.

The War Logs

From the website:

The At War blog is following reaction to the release of classified American field reports from the Iraq War, which contain information about many episodes never made public in such detail. The New York Times had access to the documents and published a series of reports.

War/No More Trouble

Miss Sarajevo

Not Ready to Make Nice

An autobiographical song standing by Natalie Maines’ remarks about Bush and the war in Iraq, as well as mentioning the subsequent death threats they received. Gives me chills.

Where Do the Children Play

Peace as a Process

“What’s odd is that when you try to think about peace, you end up mostly thinking about war…but surely peace is something more than the mere absence of something else…Peace is not the rarefied and unblemished state of our fondest imaginings, but a more common experience that includes conflict but is not consumed by it. Peace is not a fixed or final state of being but an experimental and evolving process, necessarily imperfect and always tending towards a harmony that may never be fully attained.”

-Mark Sommer in Whole Earth Review, Summer 1986

Peace is not Passive

“Peace is not simply the absence of war. It is not a passive state of being. We must wage peace, as vigilantly as we wage war.” -Dalai Lama

Southern Sudan

Here is another more informative article on the situation in Sudan. An excerpt:

On Sunday, after decades of war and more than two million lives lost, southern Sudan will get the moment it has been yearning for, a referendum on independence. All signs point to the people here voting overwhelmingly for secession, and the largest country on the continent will then begin the delicate process of splitting in two.

The United States government has played a pivotal role in bringing this moment to fruition, pushing the northern and southern Sudanese to sign a peace treaty in 2005 that set the referendum in motion. A proud, new African country is about to be born, but it will step onto the world stage with shaky legs. As it stands now, southern Sudan is one of the poorest places on earth.

Can “the moment” really translate into all that is hoped for?

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights, according to the website.  What a wealth of information! You can find information by country and topic, watch videos, and learn about how you can help, such as by writing letters standing up for individuals at risk. (i.e. Liu Xiaobao would be an example, as would someone convicted of the death penalty.) Here is Amnesty International’s blog.