Thursday, July 31, 2014

the threat of Western capitalism in southeastern Ukraine


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

July 31, 2014


                I’m listening to “experts” struggle to explain popular support for President Putin’s resistance to a Ukrainian government that seeks military control with collateral damage to gain hegemony from rebel forces.  Nowhere so far in news media in my country to I hear mention of the economic stakes in the Ukrainian civil war.  What about opening up the largely Russian-speaking breadbasket of the country by German-centered banking and transnational corporate ownership?  Farther west, the U.S. government had led the world in efforts to isolate Russia since 1917, and after WWII, and to compete economically.

                When I let myself imagine not becoming owned by Western capital, and recognize that Ukrainians to the north joined German troops to overrun the southeast in WWII, I find a lot to fear in the triumph of Euro-Ukraine, I find a lot to fear in being overrun by Western capital.  It’s not hard to empathize with Ukrainian resistance and Russian support for aid to Ukrainian separatists—literally fighting for ownership of their own lands.  Love and peace, hal 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"The Social Construction of 'Terrorism'"


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

July 29, 2014


                “The Social Construction of ‘Terrorism’” is the title of a chapter that Arnold Sherman contributed to a book, Rethinking Criminology, that I edited in 1982.  (I can send my scanned copy of the chapter on email request, if it is not already attached to an email of this post you are receiving; it is a very timely read.)  Arnie traces the consequences of the attempts of the British colonizers to ban the Kikuyu Mau-Mau as a terrorist organization in the 1950s.  His essay is a reaction to the newly inaugurated Reagan administration’s declaration of a war on “international terrorism.”  To me, he highlights the structural violence inherent in the use of the terrorist label.  In legal parlance, the label means that the parties a government is fighting have no standing to be heard.  Such has been the case with the Israeli’s unending failure to talk with the elected governors of Gaza, Hamas…in fact to treat residents of Gaza as having no recognized voice whatsoever.

                 To treat one’s opponent as “terrorist” is implicitly genocidal.  It implicitly defines the opponent as subhuman.  In Gaza, squeezing, destroying, killing, blaming it on Palestinians’ wish to sacrifice their own children, sadly carries the war into a new generation, with nothing but bloodshed, misery, destruction and fire in its wake.  And that hatred will inevitably extend to the US Government, which remains unqualified in its arming and unqualified endorsement of “Israel’s right to defend itself.”  It is also sadly reminiscent of the US government resolute destruction of Native Americans.

                The issue is beyond blame.  Anti-Semitism as WWII ended touched my own family.  My father’s appointment to the University of Texas faculty in 1945 was not approved by the regents because he was a Jew.  For the US and British governments, partition of Palestine was an alternative to welcoming Jewish refugees into their own countries.  I remember my mother remarking that it was an anachronism for the United Nations to create a religious state.  And indeed Israelis in turn fought and died for their own national existence in the aftermath…as they pushed Palestinians out.  What matters is not who started the violence in the region, but practically speaking, what increases or reduces the level of violence that both suffer upon one another.

                When you can’t talk with your enemy, you can’t stop fighting.  Love and peace, hal

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Framing the Crash of Flight M17


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

July 27, 2014


                In my country, the crash of Flight M17 is framed across media news and commentary as proving who did it.  I think it is obvious that a military force that was shooting down Ukrainian government fighter planes bombing them, and made a mistake in a war zone.  Blaming one side or the other only fuels a civil war.  In a war, economically and historically, all sides are driven by real fears, real anger.  That being the case, it is high time that we in the US start covering and listening to what drives rebels against the Ukrainian state, to give balance to voices we hear and attend to.  The only US news outlet I find seeking voices from otherwise unheard sides is, the first place I heard news that Ukrainian government planes were bombing Ukrainian cities, and now in Gaza, is the one place I hear both from Israeli advocates for lifting the siege of Gaza, and in Gaza, as from UN personnel and from its former staff member, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, on the tragedy there of killing Gazans for being human shields.  There I suspect that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, present but silent, may be serving the role of neutral mediator.  There, in Ukraine, in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, among refugees from Central America, it is a particular challenge to us who live in the heart of military empire to listen to the voices of those we blame for “our” problems.   Love and peace, hal