Simon Heywood & Robin Brookes Defend “Peace Tax” Schemes

In two messages over at The Peace Tax Seven Message Forum Simon Heywood and Robin Brookes (both members of the Peace Tax Seven) take issue with my recent criticism of “Peace Tax Fund” schemes. Simon Heywood writes:

Robin Brookes adds:

This seems a more effective and thorough “peace tax” than what I had envisioned in my criticism, although I’m skeptical about how “ring-fenced” this fund will be, knowing what I know about how the government treats its other such funds. However this proposal also seems far less likely to make much headway in the legislature, largely because it requires so much more than a simple checkbox (ministries, watchdogs, etc.) and also because it seems designed to be more effective at doing what its proponents would like it to do.

At this point my criticism changes from “why try to get the government to grant a symbolic victory that won’t mean much” to “if you’re going to ask the government for such an unlikely concession, why not go for something more directly to-the-point (e.g. nuclear disarmament, permanent abolition of the draft, etc.)?”

But everybody’s got their own battles to choose, and I’m sure from many perspectives mine seem no less ridiculous.

It sounds like Gandhi’s grandson’s trip to visit Yasser Arafat wasn’t just one of those for-the-cameras gestures. According to ’s Guardian, “The Palestinian leadership has announced a three-point programme of non-violent resistance in an attempt to wrest the diplomatic initiative from Israel. They hope to push Israel into allowing elections, to lead mass protests against the separation barrier and the maltreatment of prisoners, and to challenge Israel in the international courts.”

Various Palestinian resistance groups are currently in negotiation to determine to what extent they will be suspending violent resistance during the campaign.

If you can stand to read any more, investigators into the abuses at Abu Ghraib have released their reports. One detainee “was made to bark like a dog and crawl on his stomach while U.S. soldiers spat and urinated on him. He also was beaten into unconsciousness. On another occasion, he was forced to lie on the ground while MPs jumped on his back and legs. He also was sodomized with a police stick, the report said.” And they went after the juvenile detainees with police dogs to try to get them to piss and shit themselves. You can find the unclassified portions of the Fay Report (PDF) on-line. Read it before Donald Rumsfeld does.

But the core of the city around [the shrine], a destination of longing for millions of Shiite Muslims, is so mauled that American commanders debate which famously ruined wartime cityscape Najaf now resembles most.

“It’s like Stalingrad,” a senior 5th Cavalry officer said.

“Sarajevo,” Rainey maintained.

“Beirut,” a Marine commander said.

“Not Dresden,” an Army field officer said while standing watch at a panorama of blackened, half-destroyed buildings a few dozen yards north of the glittering shrine. “Not enough fire.”

The damage to Najaf is the consequence of an urban setting for battle, a woefully overmatched enemy and an American military doctrine that unites terrifying firepower with almost zero tolerance for casualties in its own ranks.