Save Tom Friedman’s Mind: Restore Armistice Day

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, November 1, 2021

When the New York Times is paying Thomas Friedman many thousands of dollars to wonder whether Russia or China would help the United States if space aliens attack it, a few conclusions can be drawn.

The ludicrousness of the UFO propaganda coming out of a U.S. military establishment unable to gin up a credible enemy on Earth to justify weapons production is invisible to its own proponents.

The eagerness of Russia and China to ban weapons from space is an unknowable fact within the New York Times offices. The U.S. intent to dominate the weaponization of space creates the notion in addled war-brains of a space alien attack on Earth constituting an attack on Earth’s self-appointed weaponizer alone.

The willingness of China to recommend to the United States policies that have kept COVID deaths in China under 5,000 compared with 750,000 in the U.S. is more resented than appreciated, like a 9-11 memorial given to the U.S. by Russia and hidden away in New Jersey.

In some corner of the war-thinking complex there are undoubtedly theories already concocted to urge the space aliens to focus their attacks (as if beings that survived long enough to learn space travel would have the morality of Thomas Friedman) on China and Russia, the stupidity of which theories is really less than that of manufacturing, maintaining, and threatening to use nuclear weapons, which is less than that of excluding militaries entirely and much else besides from climate agreements that have failed for 25 meetings with meeting number 26 openly planned to fail.

The New York Times has a policy of not mentioning military contributions to climate destruction.

When the need to avoid too many more wars because of the priority of belatedly slowing the exacerbation of climate collapse catches up with Tom “Suck On This” Friedman, an alternative to global cooperation or the rule of law or a strong and fair and actionable treaty will emerge in his mind just as the world meets to take up those possibilities, and just as Congress makes clear its refusal to act. And that alternative, laid out in Friedman’s November 1st column, is for the United States to act without Congress or the world, laying down a unilateral challenge by executive fiat leading all others and thereby creating a virtuous cycle, a beneficial competition, without in the least diminishing nationalism, competitiveness, hostility, mutual ignorance, or exceptionalist delusions.

The Friedman solution will not involve any changes in behavior, any scaling back of militarism or consumption or travel or carnivorism or destruction of ecosystems, but rather technological fixes alone, which could indeed work wonders in some sectors, but not in others — including not in militarism, and which alone will not be enough, and which alone will not work without government action of a sort Friedman would oppose as too-China-like even if it saved millions — action like the direct creation of non-military green jobs in huge numbers at living wages.

But perhaps I’m the one being too hostile here. Perhaps Thomas Friedman’s mental state needs to be reconsidered. Perhaps he doesn’t fully grasp how many planets we have to work with or what cooperation looks like. Perhaps he’s kicked in one too many Arab doors in his million-dollar imagination, and he — like the Earth’s climate -has already reached a point of no turning back.

As with the Earth, I think we have a moral responsibility to do what we can to bring back such minds, even if we may fail. And, as it happens, one way to nudge them toward sanity will soon be upon us. I mean the restoration of Armistice Day on November 11th — undoing its transformation into so-called Veterans Day, taking a day of war propaganda and turning it back into a day for the elimination of war.

The Past and Future of Armistice / Remembrance Day: A Global Webinar

We’re planning a big online event for November 4, 2021, at 3 p.m. ET. Plan to wear a sky blue scarf and a white poppy! Find all the details and register for free here. This is part of how we help people be able to think in terms of cooperation, equality, and respect.

Peace Activism on November 11th

What the Day Means and Where It Came From

November 11, 2021, is Remembrance /Armistice Day 104 which is 103 years since World War I was ended in Europe (while it continued for weeks in Africa) at the scheduled moment of 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 (with an extra 11,000 people dead, wounded, or missing after the decision to end the war had been reached early in the morning — we might add “for no reason,” except that it would imply the rest of the war was for some reason).

In many parts of the world, principally but not exclusively in British Commonwealth nations, this day is called Remembrance Day and should be a day of mourning the dead and working to abolish war so as not to create any more war dead. But the day is being militarized, and a strange alchemy cooked up by the weapons companies is using the day to tell people that unless they support killing more men, women, and children in war they will dishonor those already killed.

For decades in the United States, as elsewhere, this day was called Armistice Day, and was identified as a holiday of peace, including by the U.S. government. It was a day of sad remembrance and joyful ending of war, and of a commitment to preventing war in the future. The holiday’s name was changed in the United States after the U.S. war on Korea to “Veterans Day,” a largely pro-war holiday on which some U.S. cities forbid Veterans For Peace groups from marching in their parades, because the day has become understood as a day to praise war — in contrast to how it began.

We seek to make Armistice / Remembrance Day a day to mourn all victims of war and advocate for the ending of all war.

White Poppies and Sky Blue Scarves

White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war (including the vast majority of war victims who are civilians), a commitment to peace, and a challenge to attempts to glamorize or celebrate war. Make your own or get them here in the UK and here in Canada.

Sky blue scarves were first worn by peace activists in Afghanistan. They represent our collective wish as a human family to live without wars, to share our resources, and to take care of our earth under the same blue sky. Make your own or get them here.

Henry Nicholas John Gunther

The story from the first Armistice Day of the last soldier killed in Europe in the last major war in the world in which most of the people killed were soldiers highlights the stupidity of war. Henry Nicholas John Gunther had been born in Baltimore, Maryland, to parents who had immigrated from Germany. In September 1917 he had been drafted to help kill Germans. When he had written home from Europe to describe how horrible the war was and to encourage others to avoid being drafted, he had been demoted (and his letter censored). After that, he had told his buddies that he would prove himself. As the deadline of 11:00 a.m. approached on that final day in November, Henry got up, against orders, and bravely charged with his bayonet toward two German machine guns. The Germans were aware of the Armistice and tried to wave him off. He kept approaching and shooting. When he got close, a short burst of machine gun fire ended his life at 10:59 a.m. Henry was given his rank back, but not his life. It’s not known whether, had he lived, he would have been given a regular New York Times column.






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