Monday, July 16, 2018

A Model Peace Treaty



A Model Peace Treaty

In these days of “Shock & Awe” bombing of the capital of a country (Baghdad) by another country across the sea (the US);  the bombing by pilotless drones, based on rumor;  and the assassination of the leader of one country (Gaddafi of Libya) by a consortium of military appointees (NATO) — the World is in desperate need of a Model Peace Treaty. 

As it happens, in 821 CE, the Kingdoms of China and Tibet were wise enough to offer civilization such a Model Peace Treaty that would last for 10,000 years.

First, they were respectful, addressing each other by their proper tiles: “The Great King of Tibet, the Miraculous Divine Lord, and the Great King of China, Hwang-ti”. They seemed to know that we might need such a treaty or two in the 21st century, and so engraved a stone pillar in both languages at the Cathedral at Lhasa, “to inform future ages and generations that they extend their benevolence impartially with the single desire of acting for the peace and benefit of all their subjects. They agree on the high purpose of ensuring lasting good, and have made this great treaty to live in peace and share the blessings of happiness for 10,000 years.”

The Great Kings also instructed that messengers be sent to exchange messages of friendship regarding the harmonious relationship between the two Kings. The envoys were instructed to treat each other with honor and respect.

They also had expectations that the people of both Tibet and China would follow the example of their leaders, that “the very word ‘enemy’ shall not be spoken.”

Surely, there are leaders of nations today who are more interested in respect and in their legacy than in ordinary money, perhaps in 10,000 years of Peace.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Holy Land – The No-State Solution (2)


This column was originally written 6/10/09
Hereafter, it will be called the Holy Land, not Palestine, not Israel. The name change is necessary to bring about the only possible solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict – the No-State Solution.
Before there were Jews and Muslims, before there was a Yahweh, the Near East was well settled by different peoples. The Sumerians, having migrated from Central Asia, settled in Mesopotamia. Bedouins from the desert were accepted into their midst. Earlier, population centers had developed at Catal Huyuk in central Anatolia (Turkey) and at Jericho in the Levant some 9,000 years ago. Different races (by skull type) apparently got along together. On the Mediterranean coast only a little later, cities developed at Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre. Many people and many peoples cultivated crops and herded animals in the Near East . They became craftsmen using materials found in the earth. Trade existed from earliest times in the Neolithic — obsidian and pottery are but two examples.
In these ancient times, most folks worshipped many gods: Utu (Samas) the sun god, Nanna (Sin) the moon god, Ea the god of sweet water, Enlil the god of air and wind, Ninhursag (Nintu) the goddess of the earth, and scores more. You could call upon Innana the goddess of love, but after Sumerian times, it was a little trickier as she became Istar, who was in charge of both love and war. Perhaps that’s when Nanshe the goddess of morality stepped up to keep some balance among mortals.
Around 1900 BCE, a Semite named Abram, who lived in the city of Ur on the Euphrates, had a vision and made a covenant with a God who said He was in charge of everything. Abe changed his name from Abram to Abraham and set off for Canaan on the Western Sea. Abraham had some major doubt when this new God asked him to sacrifice his #2 son, Isaac. When the request was rescinded at the last moment, Abraham kept his half of the deal. God, over the following generations performed a few tricks (miracles) to convince the skeptical who still had favorites among the other gods. Soon, or maybe not so soon, monotheism among the Semites became established. There followed a few centuries of wandering around the Near East – once a nomad it’s hard to cleanse your blood of the inclination – before three major branches of monotheism grew: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The denominations of each will wait till later in our discussion.
Today, there is great animosity between Jews and Muslims, especially between Israelis and Arabs. Some pundits say the conflict has always existed and never will be resolved. But, past history tells us otherwise and professional seers say the future isn’t writ is stone. Here’s the story.
At the western end of the Mediterranean, the Moors converted to Islam and established their rule in southern Spain. In Andalusia, the city of Cordoba became the pre-eminent center of intellectual activity: science, medicine, mathematics, literature, and philosophy. Scholars were attracted from the entire world of the time. Jews were tolerated and even served in high posts in government. Some change occurred from one caliphate to the next, but Islamic rule began in the 8th century and lasted almost 800 years. The great Jewish philosopher-physician-rabbi Maimonides lived under Islamic rule in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt during this time (12th century).
At the eastern end of the Mediterranean, Jews and Muslims had lived together peaceably in the Levant for centuries. When Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade and his forces captured Jerusalem (1099), Jews and Muslims were slaughtered with equal fervor. Fighting over political and economic power makes for strange friends and enemies – strange to us today.
Let us go back further to Sumerian times in Mesopotamia – many Bedouins from the Arabian desert settled in and around the Sumerian city-states of the Fertile Crescent and a few integrated with the urban populations. By 2300 BCE, Sargon, a descendant of these nomadic tribes, took power and embarked on a series of military adventures by which he established the Akkad empire. War became an established way of doing business thereafter. Before Akkad rule, the city-states – Ur, Uruk, Kish, Babylon, Larsa, Eridu, and others – were each ruled by a king. But one city, Nippur, was considered neutral ground. It was a holy city under the protection of the great god Enlil and respected by all. When kings of different cities would send their ministers to Nippur to confer (or confront), they were not allowed to bring warriors with weapons. Agreement was easier without spears and swords for distraction. Archeologists have found many documents in clay (hard copy, then) stamped with seals of several cities in common agreement.
Nippur is a fine model for a no-state solution for Israel and Palestine. Jews and Muslims can start integrating the cities one after another: Jericho, Jerusalem, Gaza, Askalon, and Hebron – all the oldest cities first. They would live side by side and even welcome Christians and Pagans. Integration of the countryside would follow in short order. Arabs and Jews working in the olive groves and raising figs and pomegranates – the deserts would bloom. Muslims and Jews have a common tradition. They both speak of Abraham as their common Patriarch. Their dietary habits are similar to this day. In the Levant, many Israeli Jews speak Arabic and Israeli Arabs all speak Hebrew. We know opposites attract and can expect there to be a few who fall in love and marry. The Holy Land will be the new land of man & womankind. The Holy Land currency will be written in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, just as it was in the early 20th century. The tradition of Isaiah will attract diplomats, negotiators, and conciliators. Enemies here and there around the world will become only adversaries, and then it’s just a short thought to collaboration. Jerusalem, in the spirit of Solomon, will be the place for resolving world conflicts peacefully. What work could be more holy?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Holy Land – The No-State Solution

This essay originally was written 6/10/09
Hereafter, it will be called the Holy Land, not Palestine, not Israel. The name change is necessary to bring about the only possible solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict – the No-State Solution.
Before there were Jews and Muslims, before there was a Yahweh, the Near East was well settled by different peoples. The Sumerians, having migrated from Central Asia, settled in Mesopotamia. Bedouins from the desert were accepted into their midst. Earlier, population centers had developed at Catal Huyuk in central Anatolia (Turkey) and at Jericho in the Levant some 9,000 years ago. Different races (by skull type) apparently got along together. On the Mediterranean coast only a little later, cities developed at Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre. Many people and many peoples cultivated crops and herded animals in the Near East . They became craftsmen using materials found in the earth. Trade existed from earliest times in the Neolithic — obsidian and pottery are but two examples.
In these ancient times, most folks worshipped many gods: Utu (Samas) the sun god, Nanna (Sin) the moon god, Ea the god of sweet water, Enlil the god of air and wind, Ninhursag (Nintu) the goddess of the earth, and scores more. You could call upon Innana the goddess of love, but after Sumerian times, it was a little trickier as she became Istar, who was in charge of both love and war. Perhaps that’s when Nanshe the goddess of morality stepped up to keep some balance among mortals.
Around 1900 BCE, a Semite named Abram, who lived in the city of Ur on the Euphrates, had a vision and made a covenant with a God who said He was in charge of everything. Abe changed his name from Abram to Abraham and set off for Canaan on the Western Sea. Abraham had some major doubt when this new God asked him to sacrifice his #2 son, Isaac. When the request was rescinded at the last moment, Abraham kept his half of the deal. God, over the following generations performed a few tricks (miracles) to convince the skeptical who still had favorites among the other gods. Soon, or maybe not so soon, monotheism among the Semites became established. There followed a few centuries of wandering around the Near East – once a nomad it’s hard to cleanse your blood of the inclination – before three major branches of monotheism grew: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The denominations of each will wait till later in our discussion.
Today, there is great animosity between Jews and Muslims, especially between Israelis and Arabs. Some pundits say the conflict has always existed and never will be resolved. But, past history tells us otherwise and professional seers say the future isn’t writ is stone. Here’s the story.
At the western end of the Mediterranean, the Moors converted to Islam and established their rule in southern Spain. In Andalusia, the city of Cordoba became the pre-eminent center of intellectual activity: science, medicine, mathematics, literature, and philosophy. Scholars were attracted from the entire world of the time. Jews were tolerated and even served in high posts in government. Some change occurred from one caliphate to the next, but Islamic rule began in the 8th century and lasted almost 800 years. The great Jewish philosopher-physician-rabbi Maimonides lived under Islamic rule in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt during this time (12th century).
At the eastern end of the Mediterranean, Jews and Muslims had lived together peaceably in the Levant for centuries. When Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade and his forces captured Jerusalem (1099), Jews and Muslims were slaughtered with equal fervor. Fighting over political and economic power makes for strange friends and enemies – strange to us today.
Let us go back further to Sumerian times in Mesopotamia – many Bedouins from the Arabian desert settled in and around the Sumerian city-states of the Fertile Crescent and a few integrated with the urban populations. By 2300 BCE, Sargon, a descendant of these nomadic tribes, took power and embarked on a series of military adventures by which he established the Akkad empire. War became an established way of doing business thereafter. Before Akkad rule, the city-states – Ur, Uruk, Kish, Babylon, Larsa, Eridu, and others – were each ruled by a king. But one city, Nippur, was considered neutral ground. It was a holy city under the protection of the great god Enlil and respected by all. When kings of different cities would send their ministers to Nippur to confer (or confront), they were not allowed to bring warriors with weapons. Agreement was easier without spears and swords for distraction. Archeologists have found many documents in clay (hard copy, then) stamped with seals of several cities in common agreement.
Nippur is a fine model for a no-state solution for Israel and Palestine. Jews and Muslims can start integrating the cities one after another: Jericho, Jerusalem, Gaza, Askalon, and Hebron – all the oldest cities first. They would live side by side and even welcome Christians and Pagans. Integration of the countryside would follow in short order. Arabs and Jews working in the olive groves and raising figs and pomegranates – the deserts would bloom. Muslims and Jews have a common tradition. They both speak of Abraham as their common Patriarch. Their dietary habits are similar to this day. In the Levant, many Israeli Jews speak Arabic and Israeli Arabs all speak Hebrew. We know opposites attract and can expect there to be a few who fall in love and marry. The Holy Land will be the new land of man & womankind. The Holy Land currency will be written in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, just as it was in the early 20th century. The tradition of Isaiah will attract diplomats, negotiators, and conciliators. Enemies here and there around the world will become only adversaries, and then it’s just a short thought to collaboration. Jerusalem, in the spirit of Solomon, will be the place for resolving world conflicts peacefully. What work could be more holy?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Our Origins in Ancient History

Jews and Palestinians are both Semitic people — originally from the Arabian (not necessarily the Saudi Arabian) desert.

In the 5th to 3rd millennia BCE, the Sumerians migrated from Central Asia to the Mesopotamian Valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers where they became farmers and herders. Between farming and trading, the Sumerians became prosperous and built towns and cities.

Some of the nomads from the nearby dessert became attracted to the life in the settlements and were welcomed, even as the Semites and the Sumerians exhibited different physiognomies. 

The centuries went by — the Sumerian Early Dynastic time from 3,000 BCE to mid-millennium, the Akkad period of Empire, the invasion of the  barbaric Gutian mountain tribes and dark times,  and then the Third Dynasty of Ur resurgence. It was 2,000 BCE, the time that Abraham lived — a thousand years into the Bronze Age. Religion had been polytheistic among the people in all the cities: Shamash, the sun god;  Enlil , god of wind and storm;  Inanna, goddess of love;   Ea, god of sweet water;  and a patron god of each city-state. People liked the idea of choice, and they especially liked the stories about the relations between the gods.

At the time of Ur III, God revealed Himself to Abraham (then called Abram) as the one true God and promised a land for his descendants. The story went through Moses and the Ten Commandments, Jesus and the New Testament, the Prophet and Islam. The bottom line is that Abraham was and is the Patriarch of both Jews and Muslims, both having been desert nomads and of Semitic origin.

So why are the Jews and Arabs forever fighting with each other? As Rabih Alaneddine, the Lebanese writer told us, “At the heart of most antagonisms are irreconcilable similarities.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Timing

North Korea, as everyone knows, is secretive. So, we have to depend on the US corporate press for our truth & perception of the young and crazy leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. But there are other sources of information such as South Korea and logic as taught by Aristotle in Ancient Greece. It is also generally known that Kim likes VSOP French Brandy and pretty, young women, one of whom is his wife. How crazy is that?

But, if Kim Jong Un is not so young and crazy, why is he suddenly testing new and long-range ballistic missiles to carry his nuclear warheads — 27 more tests at last count in 2017? So far, they might reach only to Hawaii or Alaska, though not to Hollywood or San Diego. It could not be because of the joint US-South Korea war games, which are now annual affairs. Nor could it be that the US withdrew from the Agreed Framework by which the two countries were to normalize their relations in exchange for North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. That withdrawal took place in 2003 coinciding with the Shock & Awe bombing of Iraq.  

So why has Kim Jong Un pressed the Panic Button concluding with a missile test that flew 2300 miles over the Pacific in September 2017? Let’s look at the back story of the bombing and invasion of Iraq based on information given by the CIA informant, Curveball. Saddam was captured in 2006 and ended up being hanged in 2006. A second backstory concerns NATO warplanes forcing Qaddafi of Libya into the hands of the Benghazians and an even more horrible fate in 2011.

Now for the Timing. In late 2016, North Korean cyber experts hacked into South Korean military computers and down-loaded a ton of documents [ok, so it was only 235 gigabytes] that included the details of US plans to assassinate Kim Jong UN and attack North Korea. The story came from the BBC who got it from the Defense Committee of the South Korean National Assembly, not from Kim’s barber.

So, Kim is young and wears a non-conformist hair style, but he is not so crazy. He is just wants a credible deterrent — maybe a missile that can reach the White House or Trump Tower. Alternately, we could sign a peace treaty with North Korea, ending the Korean War. China would be happy to act as a guarantor. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Second Amendment


Lots of facts and opinion are floating around the cyberwaves re: guns, gun-control, and the Second Amendment following the recent mass shooting in Florida. Notice that the guns are called assault rifles or semi-automatics, but not weapons of mass destruction, even though the gunman killed 17  and seriously wounded others.

The Constitution:  “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” is often quoted in the defense of gun ownership, but it’s always the second part of the Second Amendment, never the first. Now, an amendment to the 2nd Amendment has been proposed that would ban discrimination. The National Dyslexia Society has claimed the right to arm bears and no discrimination would be allowed. Black bears, brown bears, and white bears shall be equal under under the law. 

Other groups want to ban discrimination in the nature of the weapon. All kinds of weapons would be allowed: muzzle loaded rifles, semi- automatic assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns, cruise missiles, and anti-tank guns with depleted uranium shells. Only ICBMs with nuclear explosives are forbidden as being in the domain of the gods. Some gun-control freaks have objected to assault rifles with high capacity magazines that can fire off up to 32 rounds without reloading. But, suppose you were attacked by a herd of mastodons or even a pair of angry wooly rhinos.
 
Some gun entrepreneurs have been taking free enterprise to a shameful  extreme, only a week after the school shooting in Florida by sending out a mass e-mailing, inviting respondents to”Qualify to carry concealed — new loophole for US residents to carry a gun legally. Qualify in minutes. Get your concealed carry license before they take away your rights.”

Maybe Australia did it right. In 1996, there was a terrible mass shooting in Port Arthur Tasmania. In response, the Prime Minister drafted the National Firearms Agreement that established a Registry of all guns and a straight-out ban on semi-automatic assault rifles. Another part of the Agreement mandated a buy-back program of all banned guns. The results were remarkable— suicides declined by 57% and homicides by 42%. Nearby South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand have seen only the rarest case of a mass shooting. New Zealand police are not routinely armed — They say it would destroy the trust between the police and the people. These nations still look for ways such as comprehensive national registries to diminish the chances for a mass shooting ever to occur. In the US they look for loopholes.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gadfly Plays Archaeologist The Earliest History of Homo sapiens — A Thesis

Homo sapiens, a gracile creature, first appeared on Planet Earth about 200,000 years ago. He/She were not well suited for survival. Neither strong, nor fleet a-foot, no rapier canines or sharp claws, humans were poor hunters and not so good at gathering either. For the first 100,000 years, human populations grew agonizingly slowly. At some points, according to geneticists studying m-DNA, they were down to 5,000 breeding females, a recipe for extinction. 

The one saving grace was the high level of cooperation among the females, both in gathering plant-foods and in caring for children, who matured very slowly. OK, they had fire, too — a help. At about 90,000 to 70,000 BP, the men started to copy the females and formed hunting parties instead of only hunting in ones and twos. They became more successful and brought in more and larger prey. The meat was cooked slowly over a campfire, and the amount of nicotinamide (vitamin D3) in the diet increased sharply. Brain changes occurred, leading to a high level of conceptual thinking. It was a whole new ball game, and some empathy was thrown in for good measure. The time was the Upper Paleolithic Era, when our genome became established.

But in the Bronze Age, only 5,000 years ago, a question arose and became more insistent recently. We began to ask if man was violent by nature? We were hunters, after all. That’s ipso facto violence, isn’t it? A look at the archaeological record of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods says otherwise. Two evolutionary anthropologists reviewed 400 widely scattered excavation sites, including 2900 skeletons, dated to that time. There were only five or six injuries that could be interpreted as involving human violence. 

The Thesis asks: Our Genetic Heritage: Are We Wired For Violence & War OR For Cooperation & Caring?  The Thesis Answers: Cooperation.

A book is almost complete — nine chapters — and is being sent to publishers. Chapter 5 is the last chapter being completed: Peace Heroes. It starts with ancient Sumerian and Egyptian times — Urukagina and Hatshepsut, Gadfly will offer a brief summary of a long list  of Peace Heroes right into the 21st century. We all should be familiar with them.  They carry our genetic and cultural heritage of peace.