Peace Almanac October



October 1. On this day in 1990, the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers. The U.S. supported their attack on Rwanda for three-and-a-half years. This is a good day to remember that while wars cannot prevent genocides, they can cause them. When you oppose war these days you’ll very quickly hear two words: “Hitler” and “Rwanda.” Because Rwanda faced a crisis in need of police, the argument goes, Libya or Syria or Iraq must be bombed. But Rwanda faced a crisis created by militarism, not a crisis in need of militarism. U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali maintained that “the genocide in Rwanda was one hundred percent the responsibility of the Americans!” Why? Well, the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda on October 1, 1990. Africa Watch (later called Human Rights Watch/Africa) exaggerated and denounced human rights violations by Rwanda, not the war. People not killed fled the invaders, creating a refugee crisis, ruined agriculture, and wrecked economy. The U.S. and the West armed the warmakers and applied additional pressure through the World Bank, IMF, and USAID. Hostility increased between Hutus and Tutsis. In April 1994, the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed, almost certainly by U.S.-backed war-maker and Rwandan president-to-be Paul Kagame. The chaotic and not simply one-sided genocide followed that killing. At that point, peaceworkers, aid, diplomacy, apology, or legal prosecutions might have helped. Bombs would not have. The U.S. sat back until Kagame seized power. He would take the war into Congo, where 6 million would die.

October 2. This is International Day of Non-Violence and the day on which Mohandas Gandhi was born in 1869.

October 3. On this day in 1967 the first draft-card turn-in was held by over 1,500 men opposing the U.S. war on Vietnam.

October 4. Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.

October 5. On this day in 1923, Birthday of activist Philip Berrigan.

Also on this day in 1979, 2,000 activists demonstrate against development of uranium mines in Black Hills, South Dakota.

October 6. On this day in 1683, the first German Quakers arrived in Philadelphia on the Concord at the invitation of William Penn.

October 7. On this date in 2001, the United States attacked Afghanistan and began one of the longest wars in U.S. history. Children born after it began fought on the U.S. side and died on the Afghan side. This is a good day to remember that wars are more easily prevented than ended. This one surely could have been prevented. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States demanded that the Taliban surrender suspected mastermind Osama Bin Laden. Consistent with Afghan tradition, the Taliban asked for evidence. The U.S. responded with an ultimatum. The Taliban dropped the request for evidence and suggested negotiating Bin Laden’s extradition for trial in another country, perhaps one that might even decide to send him on to the U.S. The U.S. responded to that by beginning a bombing campaign and invading a country that had not attacked it, killing the first of the hundreds of thousands of civilians who would die in the 9/11 revenge wars. Considering the worldwide outpouring of sympathy after 9/11, the United States might have gained UN approval for some kind of military action, even though there was in actuality no lawful justification for it. The U.S. did not bother to try. The U.S. eventually drew in the UN and even NATO, but maintained its unilateral intervention force, quaintly named “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Eventually, the U.S. was left virtually alone to continue the effort to prop up the warlords it had chosen over other warlords in an ongoing war that had lost any semblance of meaning or justification. It is indeed a good day to remember that wars are more easily prevented than ended.

October 8. This is the date on the oldest manuscript of Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce et Decorum est.”

October 9. On this day in 1944 the Dumbarton Oaks Proposal for a postwar peace organization was published.

October 10. On this day in 1990, the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States lied to the U.S. Congress, as coached by the Hill and Knowlton public relations company, that Iraqi soldiers had taken babies out of incubators and left the babies to die. This fiction was used by President George H.W. Bush and members of Congress to justify the first Gulf War. Also on this day in 1991 Women in Black began regular Wednesday vigils against war in Belgrade, Serbia. Also on this day in 2002 Congress authorized President George W. Bush to attack Iraq.

The second Monday in October is Columbus Day, the day the native peoples of the Americas discovered European genocide. This is a good day on which to study history.

October 11. On this day in 1882, Eleanor Roosevelt, drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was born.

October 12. On this date in 1921, the League of Nations achieved its first major peaceful settlement, of the Upper Silesia dispute. This was a banner day for intelligence overcoming brute force. The sanity of civility reigned at least momentarily. An organization created to build bridges of peaceful integrity made its first successful entry on to the world stage  The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization that was founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference. The League was initially established as a worldwide peace-keeping organization. The League’s primary goals included prevention of war through collective security and disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Created on January 10, 1920 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, its first action was to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending World War I, in 1919. Although the debate goes on as to the effectiveness of the League, it certainly had many small success in the 1920’s, and stopped conflicts, saving lives and creating the groundwork for what would eventually follow in 1945, the United Nations. As to the Silesia Dispute it arose after the First World War and was a land battle between Poland and Germany. When no compromise seemed to work, the decision was handed over to the fledgling League of Nations. The League’s decision was accepted by both parties in October of 1921. The decision and its acceptance placed sanity above brutality and held out hope that some day nations could rely on discourse and understanding as opposed to violence and destruction.

October 13. On this day in 1812, the second wave of U.S. militiamen suddenly remember their “home defense” oath and refused to cross the Niagara river to join the Battle of Queenston Heights. Also on this day in 1922, the United States sent its first representative to the League of Nations, Grace Abbott. Also on this day in 1954 Mordechai Vanunu was born.

October 14. On this day in 1644, William Penn as born.

October 15. On this day in 1969, 2 million people participated in the first moratorium against the war on Vietnam.


October 16. On this day in 1934, the Peace Pledge Union was founded in Britain.

October 17. On this day in 1905, the Czar of Russia conceded many of the demands of a nonviolent resistance movement in Russia. This is a good day to study and practice nonviolence.

October 18. On this day in 1907, the Hague Conventions on Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Rules of War were signed.

October 19. On this day in 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested at the Atlanta sit-in at Rich’s Bar.

October 20. On this day in 1917, Alice Paul began a seven-month jail sentence for nonviolently protesting for suffrage. Born in 1885 in a Quaker village, Paul entered Swarthmore in 1801. She went on to the University of Pennsylvania studying economics, political science, and sociology. A trip to England confirmed her belief that the suffrage movement both at home and abroad was the most significant social injustice going unaddressed. While earning three more degrees in law, Paul devoted her life to ensuring that women were allowed a voice and treated as equal citizens. Her first organized march in Washington, DC, took place on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s 1913 inauguration. The suffrage movement was initially ignored, yet led to four years of nonviolent lobbying, petitioning, campaigning, and broadening marches. As WWI loomed, Paul demanded that before supposedly spreading democracy abroad, the U.S. government should address it at home. She and a dozen followers, the “Silent Sentinels,” began to picket at the White House Gates in January of 1917. The women were periodically attacked by men, especially war supporters, finally arrested, and imprisoned. Although the war was capturing headlines, some word of the severe treatment shown to the suffrage movement drew increasing support to their cause. Many who had gone on hunger strikes in prison were being force fed under brutal conditions; and Paul had been confined to a prison psychiatric ward. Wilson finally agreed to support women’s suffrage, and all charges were dropped. Paul continued to fight for the Civil Rights Act, and then the Equal Rights Amendment, setting precedents throughout her life by peaceful protest.

October 21. On this day in 1837, The U.S. Army wins the Seminole wars in the Florida Everglades by inviting Osceola to a “peace conference”, then jailing him.

Also on this day in 1967, 100,000 march on Pentagon to end Vietnam War, 700 arrested.

October 22. On this day in 1934, the First International Voluntary Service Corps left Europe for India.

October 23. On this day in 1951, four U.S. pacifists distributed literature to Russian solders behind the Iron Curtain.

October 24. This is United Nations Day. This is a good day to push for democratization of the United Nations.

October 25. On this day in 1983, the U.S. Marines attacked the massive threatening leviathan of Grenada.

October 26. On this day in 1905, Norway nonviolently won its independence from Sweden in the Treaty of Karlstadt.

October 27. On this day in 1941, two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech in which he falsely claimed that two U.S. ships attacked by German submarines had been innocent of engagement in the war, falsely claimed to have in his possession a Nazi map planning the conquering and division of South America, and falsely claimed to have a Nazi document that planned the elimination of all religion from the earth. This is a good day to study the impossibility of a good war. Also on this day in 1967 Phil Berrigan poured his blood on draft files.

October 28. On this day in 1466, Desiderius Erasmus was born. Also on this day in 1962 Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to de-escalate the Cuban missile crisis. This is a good day on which to remember that talking is preferable to bombing, especially with nuclear bombs.

October 29. On this day in 1983, at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England, 187 women were arrested for cutting two miles of base fence.

October 30. On this day in 1943, Russia and China agreed to a postwar international organization in the Moscow Declaration.

October 31. On this day in 1914, the Women’s Peace Party, the first formal feminist peace organization, was founded at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

NO To NATO: A Peace Festival

Washington DC, April 3, 2019



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