Curtain Raiser

This War Cannot Be Won, Colltalers

As the United Nations’ team of nuclear experts waits to travel to Zaporizhzhia, the world holds its prayers that an errant missile doesn’t hit Europe’s biggest nuke. The specter of Chernobyl still haunts us all. Worst yet, Russia’s just rejected the U.N. review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has strengthened the status of “Dreamers,” children born in this country to undocumented parents. The so-called DACA waits on Congress to pass its legislation. And the affidavit of the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago’s just proved its validity.
Let’s begin in Pakistan, where rains and floods have killed over 1,000, with thousands more left homeless, since June. “Pakistan is going through its eighth cycle of monsoon,” Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said. “Normally there are only three or four” per year.
In Myanmar, the military junta arrested artist and peace activist Ko Htein Lin and his wife, former British ambassador Vicky Bowman, on “immigration law violations.” They were taken to the feared Insein Prison, where prisoners have been taken to, and vanished, for years.
In Sri Lanka, student activists Wasantha Mudalige, Hashantha Jeewantha Gunathilake, and Galwewa Siridhamma were detained along with others, under an anti-terrorist law. Last July’s economic collapse led president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the nation and citizens to occupy his palace. But to popular dismay, the new president and Minister of Defense Ranil Wickremesinghe is actually arresting people.
In India, there’s anger with the release of 11 men who were in jail for life for gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman in 2002. Scores were killed in the bloody religious violence that irrupted in Gujarat state, including her three-year-old and six other members of her family.
In Finland, the personal party habits of Prime Minister Sanna Marin have suddenly exposed deeply-rooted misogyny in Finnish society. ‘Quite a soup.’ Unlike some of her world male counterparts, whose personal amoral conduct has hardly affected their electability and ratings – as the 45th and many others – Marin is being chastised for leaked personal pictures whose business is no one’s but hers. No niin.
In Brazil, the police raided several businessmen who support President Bolsonaro’s reelection, after news site Metrópoles reported that they were members of a WhatsApp group planning a coup d’etat if he loses. As former president Lula grows his lead as a front runner to return to the capital Brasília’s Alvorada palace, there’s concern about the possibility of a new, destabilizing coup, despite military denials.
In the Amazon forest, there’s mourning for the passing of a Tanaru Indigenous man, a survivor of his tribe’s massacre. The “Índio do buraco” (“Man of the hole”), as he was known, spent 26 years avoiding any human contact ever since his family and people were killed by white men in 1990. His tragic, iconic plight has mirrored the fate of thousands of natives, aggravated by Bolsonaro’s genocidal policies.
And in Texas, a Trump-nominated judge ruled that there aren’t enough young bucks ‘packing heat’ around and overturned a state ban on people 18 to 20 carrying guns. “Undisputed historical evidence,” Judge Mark T. Pittman wrote about his absurd ruling. While handguns fell under the rule, AK-15s and other assault weapons are free to kill, as shown by the teen who murdered 19 Uvalde school kids last May.
We should hear a lot about the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s independent group of nuclear experts established in 1957 to inspect nukes around the world. Then, fears of the ultimate bomb were still raw. Perhaps it’s time to refresh those fears as the IAEA gets ready to check Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, which’s currently under heavy shelling from Ukrainian and Russian troops.
There’s little that inspectors can do but their presence may put a temporary stop to the war and perhaps represent an opportunity for peace. Or that should be the aim of such a risky foray since it’s obvious that neither country seems open to a dialogue. But in six months of war, thousands of deaths, and utter devastation, there’s no other hope to hold on to that new U.S.-provided weaponry won’t destroy.
The 191 signatories of the 50-year-old NPT expressed “grave concern for the military activities” near the plants but their mandatory five-year, monthlong review of the treaty was rejected by Russia for lacking “balance,” and for being “political in nature,” robbing the review of a consensus that would reinforce its conclusions. China struck a conciliatory tone though, calling the effort “genuine multilateralism.”
The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, has been in the crossfire of conservatives since its inception, as it’s being used as a dog whistle to incite xenophobes. But there have never been doubts about its legitimacy: these constitutional Americans never called another country their home. Biden did what presidents can, sign an executive order. But Congress must pass a law to guarantee it.
Finally, everyone knows that the ex-president did illegally take thousands of classified documents, including U.S nuclear secrets, and that broke the law. The Justice Department was forced to release a heavily redacted version of the affidavit that allowed the FBI to search his properties, but it didn’t have to. For much less handling of top secrets, Reality Winner and Chelsea Manning were thrown in jail for years.
Still, the affidavit only confirmed and in fact, corroborated what we expected and more from Trump and his grifters. That being said and shown, it’s now time for Attorney General Merrick Garland to charge the wrongdoer. He must cover all angles though, lest it not provoke even more death threats from his supporters against the FBI, other judges, and anyone on their path. That or we’ll have Trump 2 in 2024.
Before that will ever happen, we’re getting back to the moon. Our journey starts today, weather permitting, when NASA’s Artemis I lifts off in a trial flight. For all its tainted past as a trying ground for weaponry development, our dream of visiting at least our nearest celestial neighbors is still imbued with hope and idealism. If we preserve this sense of wonder, part of what we are will last forever. Bon voyage. WC


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