Peace Almanac August



August 1. On this day in 1914, as World War I begins, Harry Hodgkin, a British Quaker and Friedrich Siegmund-Schulte, a German Lutheran pastor, attending a conference in Germany, pledged to continue sowing the “seeds of peace and love, no matter what the future might bring,” germinating the idea of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

August 2. On this day in 1931, Albert Einstein urges all scientists to refuse military work.

August 3. On this day in 1882, congress passes the first law to restrict immigration in the United States.

August 4. On this day in 1912, the United States invaded in Nicaragua.

August 5. On this day in 1963, the U.S., USSR, and Great Britain signed a treaty banning nuclear testing in the atmosphere. President John F. Kennedy ran for office pledging to eliminate nuclear weapons testing. Radioactive deposits found in crops and milk in the Northern United States by scientists in the 1950s led them to condemn the post WWII nuclear arms race as unwarranted poisoning of the environment. The United Nations Disarmament Commission called for an immediate end to all nuclear testing, initiating a temporary moratorium between the U.S. and the Soviets from 1958-61. Kennedy attempted to ban the ongoing underground testing by meeting with Soviet Premier Khrushchev in 1961. The threat of inspections to verify the ban led to the fear of spying, and Soviet testing continued until the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Both sides then agreed to more direct communication, and the Moscow-Washington hotline was established. Discussions eased tensions and led to Kennedy’s unprecedented challenge to Khrushchev “not to an arms race, but to a peace race.” Their subsequent talks led to both eliminating weapons from other countries, and a Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty allowing underground testing “as long as no radioactive debris falls outside the boundaries of the nation conducting the test.” The United Nations finally passed a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996 banning all, even underground, nuclear testing. Seventy-one nations, most without these weapons, agreed that a nuclear war would benefit no one. President Bill Clinton signed the comprehensive treaty. The U.S. Senate, however, in a vote of 48-51, chose to continue the nuclear arms race.

August 6. On this day in 1945 the American bomber Enola Gay dropped a five-ton atomic bomb — equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT — on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb destroyed four square miles of the city and killed 80,000 people. In the weeks following, thousands more died from wounds and radiation poisoning. President Harry Truman, who had assumed office less than four months earlier, claimed that he made the decision to drop the bomb after being told by his advisers that dropping the bomb would end the war quickly and would avoid the need to invade Japan, which would result in the deaths of a million American soldiers. This version of history does not hold up to scrutiny. Several months earlier, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area, had sent a 40-page memo to President Roosevelt that summarized five different offers of surrender from high-ranking Japanese officials. The USA, however, knew that the Russians had made significant advances in the east and in all likelihood would be in Japan by September, well before the U.S. could mount an invasion. If this were to pass, Japan would surrender to Russia, not the U.S. This was unacceptable to the U.S., which had already developed a post-war strategy of economic and geo-political hegemony. So, despite strong opposition from military and political leaders and Japan’s willingness to surrender, the bomb was dropped. Many have called this the first act of the Cold War. Dwight D. Eisenhower said years later, “Japan was already defeated . . . dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”

August 7. On this day in 1904, Ralph Bunche born, the first African-American to hold a key position at the State Department, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the 1948 Arab-Israeli truce.

August 8.  On this day in 1883, at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, President Chester Arthur meets with Shoshoni Chief Washaki, becoming the first president to officially visit a Native American tribe.

August 9. On this day in 1945, the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing some 65,000 men, women, and children.

Also on this day in 1974, U.S. President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace. U.S. warmaking was considerably scaled back for years to follow. This is a good day to work for an equal rule of law for all and governments accountable to people.

August 10. On this date in 1964, the U.S. Congress and President enacted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in response to the fraudulent Tonkin Gulf incident in which the Vietnamese allegedly committed an act of aggression against the U.S. ships that were attacking the coast of Vietnam. In reality, the attack did not occur. This is an appropriate day to educate the world about war lies.

August 11.  On this day in 1965, riots broke out in the Watts district of Los Angles. — SWAT – militarized police

August 12. On this day in 1995, thousands demonstrate in Philadelphia in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, on death row since 1982, in the largest anti-death penalty rally in the U.S.

August 13. On this day in 1964, Britain last used the death penalty.

August 14. On this day in 1947, India achieved independence from British rule without a war.

August 15. On this date in 1973, the U.S. conceded defeat and stopped killing Vietnamese, ending a war that had faced the military opposition of the Vietnamese and the activist opposition of much of the U.S. public and the world.


August 16. On this date in 1980, the Solidarity movement was organized in Poland that would go on to nonviolently overturn the government. This is a good day to tell someone to stop saying “resort to violence” and start saying “resort to nonviolence.”

August 17. On this date in 1862, the Dakota War of 1862 began.

August 18. On this date in 1941, almost 4 months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill met with his cabinet at 10 Downing Street. The meeting had some similarity to the July 23, 2002, meeting at the same address, the minutes of which became known as the Downing Street Minutes. Both meetings revealed secret U.S. intentions to go to war. In the 1941 meeting, Churchill told his cabinet, according to the minutes: “The President had said he would wage war but not declare it.” In addition, “Everything was to be done to force an incident.” This is a good date on which to discuss the impossibility of a good war.

August 19. On this day in 1953, the CIA overthrew Iran’s democracy. This is a good day on which to contemplate the disastrous and never-ending consequences — whether unforeseen or deemed unimportant — that predictably result from violent injustice.

August 20. On this day in 1968, a Soviet invasion was met with nonviolent resistance in Czechoslovakia.

August 21. On this day in 1983, Aquino assassinated in the Philippines; hundreds of thousands demonstrate against Marcos.

August 22. On this day in 1934, Smedley Butler was asked to lead a coup against the U.S. government.

August 23. On this day in 1989, A million join hands in a 400 mile chain of resistance to USSR, Baltic states.

August 24. On this day in 1967, Abbie Hoffman & Jerry Rubin threw 300 one-dollar bills from the balcony onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to disrupt business as usual. Abbie Hoffman, a theater loving psychologist, moved to New York in the 1960s as activists and anti-war protesters were staging sit-ins and marches in Central Park. Hoffman had been involved with an activist group connected to the theater, the Diggers, in San Francisco. Through experiences there, he learned the value of performances in regard to drawing attention to causes, as protests and marches were becoming so common they sometimes went unacknowledged by the media. Hoffman met activist Jerry Rubin who shared his disdain for capitalism as the root cause of war and inequality in the United States. Together with gay-rights activist Jim Fouratt, Hoffman and Rubin organized a demonstration at the New York Stock Exchange inviting Marty Jezer, editor of the War Resisters League publication WIN magazine, Korean War veteran Keith Lampe, and peace activist Stewart Albert, along with a dozen others, and reporters. The group asked for a tour of the NYSE building where Hoffman shared handfuls of one dollar bills with each before they were guided to the second floor where they stood looking down on the Wall Street brokers. The bills were then tossed over the rail, raining down onto the floor below. Brokers stopped their trading as they scrambled to collect as many bills as possible, leading to claims of possible trade losses. Hoffman later simply explained: “Showering money on the Wall Street brokers was the TV-age version of driving the money changers from the temple.”

August 25. On this day in 1990, UN Security Council declares embargo against Iraq.

August 26. On this day in 1920, U.S. women gained the right to vote.

August 27. This is Kellogg-Briand Day. On this day in 1928, in what was the biggest news story of the year, the major nations of the world gathered in Paris, France, to sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning all war. The treaty remains on the books today. The day is increasingly being recognized and celebrated as a holiday.

August 28. On this day in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech at the march on Washington.

August 29. This is the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

August 30. On this day in 1963, “Hot line” telephone link established between Kremlin & White House.

August 31. On this day in 1941,  2000 attend “World Unity or World Destruction” rally, London.

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