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Church of All Russian Saints Ukraine Message

(Church of All Russian Saints Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Burlingame, California, USA)

When I lived in California, I used to walk by this church all the time. It always fascinated me with its blue and gold domes, magnificent painting of the Virgin Mary, and clean, white walls. I rarely saw anybody there, and it seemed like one of those mysteries of life, kept locked up and tucked away, that strikes us with awe but never gets solved. For some reason, I was thinking about this church in relation to Easter and the disaster in Ukraine and decided to look it up.

Established in 1952, the church is part of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. This Diocese is also called the “Russian Church in Exile” because it has always seen itself as “part of the suffering Orthodox Church in Russia during the decades of Soviet turmoil, persecution, and subjugation of the Church and its faithful.” In 2007, the Diocese reunited with the Mother Church in Russia.

Like everybody else, our Russian immigrants here in America are shocked and dismayed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the message of hope and prayer posted on the church’s website:

“We are overcome with grief over the tragic events in Ukraine, for many of us the land of our forefathers, and for some the land where our relatives live today. We pray to the All-Merciful Lord and His Most-Holy Mother for speedy secession of all hostilities and long-lasting peace.

Prayer to the Lord:
O Lord, Lover of mankind, King of the ages and Giver of good things: having destroyed the
divisions of enmity and granted peace unto the human race, grant even now peace unto Thy
servants, planting within them the fear of Thee and establishing them in love for one another.
Quench all strife, and remove all dissensions and temptations; for Thou art our peace and to
Thee do we offer up glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever
and unto the ages of ages, Amen.
Владыко Человѣколюбче, Царю вѣковъ и Подателю благихъ, разрушившiй вражды
средостѣнiя и мир подавшiй роду человѣческому, даруй и нынѣ миръ рабомъ Твоимъ,
вкорени нихъ страхъ Твой и другъ къ другу любовь утверди: угаси всяку распрю,
отыми вся разногласiя и соблазны. Яко Ты еси миръ нашъ и Тебе славу возсылаемъ,
Отцу и Сыну и Святому Духу, нынѣ и присно и во вѣки вѣковъ. Аминь.


Prayer to the Mother of God:
O much sorrowing Mother of God, more highly exalted than all other of the daughters of the
earth, according to thy purity and the multitude of thy suffering endured by thee on earth:
Hearken to our sighs and soften the hearts of evil men, and protect us under the shelter of thy
mercy. For we know no other refuge and ardent intercessor apart from thee, but as thou hast
great boldness before the One Who was born of thee, help and save us by thy prayers, that
without offense we may attain the Heavenly Kingdom where, with all the saints, we will sing
the thrice-holy hymn to One God Almighty in the Trinity, always now and ever and unto the
ages of ages. Amen.
О, многострадальная Мати Божiя, Превысшая всѣхъ дщерей земли, по чистотѣ Своей и
по множеству страданiй, Тобою на земли перенесенныхъ, прiими многоболезненныя
воздыханiя наша и сохрани насъ подъ кровомъ Твоея милости. Инаго бо прибѣжища
теплаго предстательста развѣ Тебѣ не вѣмы, но яко дерзновенiе имущая къ Иже изъ
Тебѣ рожденному, помози и спаси ны молитвами Своими, да непреткновенно
достигнемъ Царствiя Небеснаго, идеже со всѣми святыми будемъ воспѣвати въ Троицѣ
единому Богу нынѣ и присно и во вѣки вѣков. Аминь.”

(Parish Choir Lent Recital, 2018)

Whatever your faith – Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Protestant, Catholic, Russian/Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Wiccan – please pray and extend your best wishes and hopes for the people of Ukraine!

Dawn Pisturino

April 4, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

(Photo from The Guardian)

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

       Fighting terrorism is a different situation than fighting a conventional war because it is not about one nation in conflict with another nation.  Terrorists embody an ideology which conflicts with established culture and values.  In the case of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, radical interpretations of Islam were used to recruit jihadists to wage guerilla warfare against all people in the West and even other Muslims who did not agree with their interpretation (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).   This defies both the jus ad bellum and jus in bellum traditional requirements for just war.

Jean Bethke Elshtain and the War on Terrorism

       Osama bin Laden fought as a freedom fighter (mujahideen) in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.  After the Russians were driven out of the country, he organized the terrorist group, Al Qaeda.  The CIA did not become aware of Al Qaeda and its leader until 1996-1997 (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).  After the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden became one of the FBI’s “most wanted fugitives” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017, pg. 390).  After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the creation of the Department of Homeland Security with Executive Order No. 13228 on October 8, 2001 (Exec. Order No. 13,228, 2001, pg. 51812). 

       Although Osama bin Laden and the majority of 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Al Qaeda training camps were located in Afghanistan.  In fact, forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan were collaborating with the terrorists.  Al Qaeda also had the support of regular citizens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan who felt a strong hatred for the United States.  The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group, had taken over large parts of Afghanistan and supported the use of terror against the West (9/11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-68).

       Invading Afghanistan was a natural response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  But the U.S. military should have stayed focused on destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before embarking on a war in Iraq, especially since the 9/11 Commission found no involvement by Iraq with the attacks on the World Trade Center (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-80).  Imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan instead of giving them economic aid, in my opinion, might have yielded results sooner.

       The invasion of Afghanistan was justified, from the point of view of Jean Bethke Elshtain, because “those who launched the 9/11 attacks cannot be reasoned with, in the manner the ‘humanists’ would like – and that no change in U.S. policy would have that effect – for the simple reason that: they loathe us because of who we are and what our society represents” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220-221).

What Role did the U.S. have in Afghanistan Beyond Military Action?

       “In October 2001, the United States of America initiated air strikes on Afghanistan, followed by a ground offensive called Operation Enduring Freedom, to topple the Taliban government and drive out Al Qaeda forces hosted in Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 47, 48).  A new government was installed, and with a new regime in control, U.S. troops became peacekeepers, which undermined the original military offensive.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued to push back at the expense of American troops.  Although bin Laden was finally killed in 2011, this did not extinguish Al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The U.S. concentrated on re-building Afghanistan, and a new terrorist threat emerged under President Obama: ISIS.

       Elshtain believed that the United States’ War on Terrorism was just because “the United States must take the lead – not alone, to be sure – but it must take the lead in defending human dignity. ‘As the world’s superpower’”” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 221).  If the United States failed in Afghanistan, in my opinion, it is because we lost sight of our goal to destroy the terrorist camps and the power of the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  By not going in and finishing the job, the United States left itself open for more terrorist attacks on American soil, especially since the Taliban now control Afghanistan.

Given the Larger Human Rights Implication that Elshtain Addresses, what Role did the World at Large have in Combating Terrorism?

       Few countries in the world have been left untouched by terrorism, whether it is direct terrorist attacks or taking in refugees from war-torn countries.  For security reasons alone, the United Nations and all countries in the world should be working together to address the issue – which certainly will not go away anytime soon.

       Ultimately, it is the non-combatant citizens who suffer the most when terrorists are wreaking havoc in a country.  According to Amnesty International (2011): “The Taliban and related insurgent groups in Afghanistan show little regard for human rights and the laws of war and systematically and deliberately target civilians, aid workers, and civilian facilities like schools (particularly girls’ schools)” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 51).

       The larger humanitarian issues of violence, refugees, homelessness, poverty, and starvation affect all nations in one way or another, and all nations have a moral obligation to address it.  Elshtain called it the “principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us” (Dissent, 2005, pg. 60).                                                                                                                                         

References

9-11 Commission. (2004). 9-11 Commission report. Retrieved from

https://www.9-11Commission.gov/report

Bellal, A., Giacca, G., Casey-Maslen, C. (2011, March). International law and armed non-state 

       actors in afghanistan. International Review of the Red Cross 93(881), 47-79.

       Retrieved from https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r27089.pdf

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Exec. Order No. 13228, 66 Fed. Reg. 196 (October 10, 2001)

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management.

       (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon: 

       Routledge

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; April 1, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Irish Blessings for St. Paddy’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here are some traditional Irish blessings for you!

~

~May your day be touched

By a bit of IRISH LUCK,

Brightened by a song in your heart,

And warmed by the smiles

Of the people you LOVE.~

~

~May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.~

~

~May good luck be with you

Wherever you go,

And your blessings outnumber

The shamrocks that grow.~

~

~May your days be many and your troubles be few,

May all God’s blessings descend upon you,

May peace be within you,

May your heart be strong,

May you find what you’re seeking

Wherever you roam.~

~

~May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,

The foresight to know where you’re going,

And the insight to know when you’re going too far.~

~

~May you always have walls for the winds,

A roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,

Laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,

And all your heart might desire.~

~

~May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load,

May the mist of Irish magic shorten every road,

May you taste the sweetest pleasures that fortune ere bestowed,

And may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed.~

~

~May the Irish hills caress you.

May her lakes and rivers bless you.

May the luck of the Irish enfold you.

May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.~

~

~Here’s to a long life and a merry one,

A quick death and an easy one,

A pretty girl and an honest one,

A cold beer and another one!~

~

Enjoy this rousing performance of “The Wearing of the Green.”

May the luck of the Irish be with you, now and always!

Dawn Pisturino

March 17, 2022

17 Comments »

Humanitarian Aid and Peacekeeping in Somalia, 1992-1994

(Famine in Somalia, December 13, 1992. Photo by Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s book, Women and War, insisted that “the roles men and women play in war are represented and narrated in the stories we tell about ourselves” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218). Women are represented as “beautiful souls” and men as “just warriors,” but ethicist Elshtain felt that this was too simplistic and that the roles were “more ambiguous and complex” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218) in reality. She believed that St. Augustine had the best understanding of humans and their relationship to war and peace because he saw that humans are fragile and limited in their ability to control the world and human impulses. She further elaborates on this theme in Augustine and the Limits of Politics. (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218-220) By the time she wrote Just War Against Terror, she was convinced that the United States had to embrace its role of most powerful nation and step up to the plate to address terrorism (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220,221).

Based on her beliefs, I believe she would have encouraged the United States’ involvement in Somalia. In an interview with Dissent magazine (2005), she said:

“Beginning with that principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us. So we are then obliged to consider this horrible situation and think about whether there is something we can do to stop it. Would the use of force make a difference in this situation? Minimally you are obliged to do that. Perhaps the use of force would not. But one must not just evade the question. Another minimal requirement is that if you have decided that you can’t intervene you are obliged to explain why that is, in light of the principle of equal moral regard.”

However, she would have recognized our limitations and possibilities for human inadequacy when dealing with the situation in Somalia.

The Role of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia

In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power in Somalia through a military coup. The regime became more and more repressive, and opposition forces removed him from office in January 1991. “The country descended into chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions began to unfold” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1). The Somali people faced “the combination of civil war, a famine after a poor harvest, and a prolonged drought” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

The United Nations and the United States attempted to aid the Somali people in 1992, but “intense fighting between the warlords impeded the delivery of aid to those who needed it most, and so the United Nations contemplated stronger action” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

“There was a fairly lengthy period in which preventative diplomacy and the focused attention of the international community could have headed off the catastrophe in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 5). The United Nations and the international community could have engaged in diplomatic negotiations when: 1) the Somali National Movement (SNM) was repressed by Barre in 1988 and the situation exposed by Amnesty International and Africa Watch; 2) the Manifesto Group arose in 1990 and suggestions by the Inter-African Group “that the UN appoint a special envoy to conduct ‘shutter diplomacy’ in the Horn” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6) were squashed; 3) Barre left office in January 1991 with no replacement government in place and the UN declined to get involved until a year later, when it passed its first resolution on Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6).

From January to March 1992, UN resolutions “called for an arms embargo and increased humanitarian aid, and urged the parties to agree to a cease-fire, which they did through an UN-sponsored meeting in New York in February” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). In April, the Security Council approved UNOSOM, which “was intended to provide humanitarian help and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). However, these efforts met with resistance from warlord militia leaders Aideed and Ali Mahdi. In August, Operation Provide Relief was implemented which authorized the United States to deliver humanitarian aid and bring in five hundred peacekeepers (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). Later, a Hundred Day Plan was devised to bring together UN agencies and NGOs to deliver aid, but continued violence interfered with the plan (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7).

Bureaucracy at the United Nations also held up operations. “Food and medicine could not be distributed because of looting . . . [and] famine intensified as the civil war continued” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). People around the world reacted emotionally to the famine in Somalia, and “President George [H.W.] Bush announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7) on December 4, 1992. The United Task Force (UNITAF) was “a multinational coalition of military units under the command and control of the American military” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8) authorized by a United Nations resolution (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8). UNITAF’s goal was to provide “security in the service of humanitarian ends for a brief period” (United States Institute of Peace. 1994, pg. 8) in compliance with Chapter VII of the United Nations charter and allowed the use of force (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8-11).

Unfortunately, conflicts arose between the United Nations and UNITAF which impeded the efficiency of these efforts. Secretary General Boutros Ghali insisted on nationwide disarmament in Somalia with the United States in charge of implementation, but UNITAF refused. The task force was more interested in a cease-fire.  The UN also insisted on top-down reconstruction of the country, whereas the United States believed that reconstruction should begin at the local level. The UN refused to take long-term responsibility in the operation, insisting that UNITAF held that responsibility. The United States countered “that the project was limited not only in scope but in time, and that when certain humanitarian and security goals had been met, responsibility for Somalia would be turned back over to a ‘regular UN peacekeeping force’” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 10). When Ghali created the peacekeeping force, UNOSOM II, the United States agreed to participate (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 9,10).

On May 4, 1993, UNOSOM II assumed all military responsibilities in Somalia and became “the first UN peacekeeping force authorized under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 11). The new goal for the force was rebuilding Somalia and safeguarding the peace.

After Aideed and his soldiers killed twenty-four Pakistani and three American peacekeepers, the United Nations and United States agreed to go after Aideed. The effort resulted in the raid of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, which killed eighteen American soldiers. By the end of March 1994, all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 12).

Responsibility of the International Community

The United Nations had a definite responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and to make an attempt to end the violence. This is the designated function of the United Nations. People around the world, shocked by the starvation in Somalia, were demanding action. The United States, as the most powerful country with the most resources, was obligated to get involved. Politically and morally, it was the right thing to do.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, as a proponent of St. Augustine and his writings, would have supported it because Augustine stressed love of neighbor and extending charity to others. To ignore the situation would have been immoral and inhuman.

The problem with Somalia isn’t that nations got involved. The problem is that the fierceness and tenacity of the warlord militias was underestimated, and bureaucracy and internal disagreements were allowed to undermine the operation, as outlined by the United States Institute of Peace. But both St. Augustine and Elshtain would have recognized that humans are imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world, and as such, there is only so much we can do to contain and control chaos.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 15, 2021; March 11, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1993-2000: Somalia,

       1992-1993. Department of State. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/somalia

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Mugabi, I. (2018, December). Opinion: How George h.w. bush’s failed somalia intervention

       shaped us-africa ties. DW. Retrieved from

       http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-how-george-hwbushs-failed-somalia-intervention-shaped-

       us-africa-ties/a-46598215

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon:  

       Routledge

Special Report. (1994). Restoring hope: The real lessons of Somalia for the future of                                                                                                                                       

       intervention. United states institute of peace. Retrieved from

       http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr950000.pdf

5 Comments »

Foreign Non-Intervention: Soviet Invasion of Hungary, 1956

In light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it seems appropriate to remind people that Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev invaded Hungary in 1956 in a similar way when the Imre Nagy regime began to institute democratic reforms and pull away from the Soviet Union.

On October 22, 1956, student protests began in Budapest, and a list of sixteen demands were adopted which included the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary, free elections, free speech, workers’ rights, and a multi-party political system. By 6:00 pm, 200,000 to 300,000 people had joined the protest. At 9:30 pm, the statue of Stalin was overturned.

The next night, around 9:00 pm, tear gas bombs were thrown into the crowd of protestors, and State Security Police (AVH) began firing into the crowd. A number of people were killed and wounded. The infuriated crowd attacked other AVH police who arrived wearing white doctors’ coats. At first, Hungarian forces came to the aid of the AVH and then sided with the protestors.

In other parts of Budapest, workers drove through the city, snatching up weapons and firearms wherever they could find them. Many soldiers voluntarily gave over their firearms to the protestors.

In the early hours of October 24th, protestors seized and occupied the Radio Building and then were driven out. Again, AVH police fired into a crowd of unarmed protestors, further infuriating the people. Armed protestors fought back against the AVH and seized the newspaper building. At 2:00 am, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest.

The important thing to understand is that the Soviet Union had already been planning to invade Hungary before the protests began. The invasion was intended to overthrow Premier Imre Nagy’s government and to install a more cooperative Soviet puppet in his place.

Neither the United Nations nor the United States intervened to help the people of Hungary, before, during, or after the invasion. And, so far, this is holding true for the people of Ukraine.

~

Immanuel Kant, the United Nations, and International Law

Philosopher Immanuel Kant, who despaired in his lifetime that “there [was] no reliable or effective international authority” to prevent war, could not foresee that in the future there would exist the League of Nations and then the United Nations. These organizations arose in the aftermath of World War I and World War II to provide a forum for nations to come together and discuss their differences in order to prevent world war.  The United Nations, in my opinion, has not been very effective in dealing with international conflicts. It does, however, have a good track record of attempting to provide humanitarian aid to countries wracked by internal conflict and natural disasters.

“The UN Charter recognizes self-defense as the only legitimate use of force (although only until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to ensure international peace and security, Article 51)” (Brown, 2018, pg. 209). And since the time of Kant, we have established “the Law of Armed Conflict (also known as International Humanitarian Law), that is, the Geneva and Hague Treaties and the accompanying Protocols” (Brown, 2018, pg. 209). The international community has come together to set rules to limit and prevent war. But, the United Nations and other organizations seem very ineffective. Conflicts never seem to get resolved, and human rights abuses continue without redress. Situations drag on for years with no resolution, leading to a different kind of war – prolonged conflict.

Michael Walzer’s Arguments against Foreign Intervention

Just war theorist Michael Walzer believes that nations have autonomy to decide for themselves, regardless of the form of government they have embraced. “Outsiders are obliged to assume that whatever form of government exists reflects the wishes of the people concerned; even if pro-democracy movements are suppressed, as long as the society has not collapsed into civil war and insurrection, it has to be presumed that there is a ‘fit’ between government and people . . . the only real circumstances in which outsiders would be entitled (although not obliged) to intervene would be in the case of genocide or mass enslavement” (Brown, 2018, pg.211).

Clearly, the Hungarian people wanted their freedom and were prepared to fight and die to get it. Clearly, Premier Imre Nagy tried to institute reforms, limit the Soviet Union’s influence in Hungary, and create a free Hungarian State. Clearly, there was no “fit” between the Hungarian people and their Soviet oppressors. From Walzer’s point of view, then, the Hungarian people were exercising their right to autonomy, and the United States should have offered assistance if our leaders were sincere about fighting totalitarianism and helping oppressed people to gain their freedom. Since the Voice of America had been broadcasting this message to the Hungarian people and “approximately 30,000 Hungarian refugees were allowed to enter the United States” (History, 2021, pg. 3), President Dwight D. Eisenhower should have offered some sort of assistance. To just stand by and offer sympathy was hypocritical.

And where was the United Nations in all of this? I have found no indication that the United Nations tried to intervene. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1957 that the UN compiled a report on the Soviet invasion of Hungary and its causes. According to the report, “Consideration of the Hungarian question by the United Nations was legally proper and paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the Charter does not justify objections to such consideration. A massive armed intervention by one Power on the territory of another with the avowed intention of interfering in its internal affairs must, by the Soviet Union’s own definition of aggression, be a matter of international concern” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31).

The United Nations Special Committee determined, after the fact, that the Hungarian national uprising was spontaneous in nature, with Hungarians wanting to be free of Soviet oppression and rule; the protestors demanded an independent, democratic socialist government; the protest occurred in reaction to Poland’s efforts to gain independence from the Soviet Union; the Soviets were already making plans for an armed invasion as early as October 20, 1956; the initial protests of October 23, 1956 were peaceful until the AVH (State Security Police) opened fire onto the crowds; rumors circulated that Nagy had requested help from the Soviets, which turned out to be false; rumors also circulated that Kadar had requested Soviet troop intervention during the second round of protests, which turned out to be false; the real power was in the hands of the Revolutionary and Workers’ Councils – not Nagy; after the first few days of freedom, freedom of speech was established, with the support of the people; reported lynchings and beatings were carried out by members of the AVH (State Security Police); negotiations were conducted between the Nagy government and the Soviet Union for full withdrawal; the Workers’ Councils began initiating the reforms demanded by the people and life was returning to normal; the Hungarian people’s human rights “were violated by the Hungarian Governments before 23 October, especially up to the autumn of 1955, and such violations have been resumed since 4 November” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31); Hungarian citizens were deported to the U.S.S.R. in order to suppress the uprising; Hungarians showed no support for the Kadar government, which reinstated Soviet-style repression and totalitarianism and put elections on hold; negotiations on Soviet troop withdrawals were suspended; and 190,000 Hungarians sought asylum in other countries, with most refusing to return (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31).

The Hungarian people had chosen freedom and the kind of government they wanted, and their newly-won liberation was subverted by outsiders who would not intervene after “Budapest Radio broadcast its last message before going off the air . . . an appeal to the writers and scientists of the world to help the people of Hungary” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 26). But this aligns with Walzer’s philosophy of limitations on foreign intervention, to the detriment of the Hungarian people.  And that means that I cannot agree with him.

What Role could the U.S. have Played in Hungary

It is clear from the United Nations report that the Soviet Union was preparing for the invasion as early as October 20, 1956. And it is possible, although not proven, that the Soviets had planned for Kadar to replace Nagy from the beginning. I believe Nagy and the members of the Revolutionary and Workers’ Councils were naive in thinking that the Soviets would give up Hungary without a fight. As soon as the Hungarians achieved their liberation, they should have consulted the United Nations, and the leaders of the United States and Europe, for help in keeping it. Instead, Nagy waited until November 1, 1956, when Soviet troops had already crossed the border into Hungary, to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and to notify embassies located in Budapest and the United Nations of the situation. He specifically requested “the aid of the four Great Powers in defense of Hungary’s Neutrality . . . [and appealed] to our neighbors, countries near and far, to respect the unalterable decision of our people” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 25). By this time, there was no time for either the United Nations or the United States to stop the Soviet invasion (United Nations, 1957, pg. 18-31).

The Risks of War with the Soviet Union

If the United Nations and the United States (and the “four Great Powers”) had been involved in the negotiations with the Soviet Union, urging a complete troop withdrawal from Hungary, the Soviet Union might have backed down or delayed taking any action against Hungary. But this also risked getting the “four Great Powers” involved in another major conflict, one few could afford after World War II.

What Measures, if any, could have been Aimed at the Soviet Union?

Economic sanctions and isolation are about the only measures the United Nations could have taken to pressure the Soviet Union into leaving Hungary. Under pressure from the United States, the United Nations General Assembly passed several resolutions early in 1957, demanding the Soviets avoid all military offensives against the Hungarian people; withdrawal of  all troops from Hungarian soil; restoration of the legitimate government chosen by the Hungarian people; establishment of free elections; the end of deportations to the U.S.S.R.; and permission for UN officials to go into Hungary to assess and observe the situation (Harrison, 2012, pg. 3).

Unfortunately, the resolutions could not be enforced, but Soviet expansion was stalled by public pressure, Kadar’s government was not given official recognition, and Hungary lost its membership in the United Nations. Ultimately, the non-compliance of the Soviet Union with these UN resolutions led to the creation of the United Nations Special Committee that compiled the report. This Special Committee submitted public protests against the execution of Nagy in 1958 and kept the Hungary issue on the UN agenda because of its continued maltreatment and human rights abuses of the Hungarian people (Harrison, 2012, pg. 3).

At the same time, the United States and the Soviet Union were attempting to improve relations, and the Hungarian situation became less important as the Soviets convinced other countries to look the other way. On December 20, 1962, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to drop the Hungary situation altogether (Harrison, 2012, pg. 4).

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 29, 2021; updated February 24, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Brown, C. (2018). Michael walzer (1935-present). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (205-215). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Harrison. (2012). United nations report on the hungarian uprising 1956. Libcom. Retrieved from

       http://www.libcom.org/history/united-nations-report-hungarian-uprising-1956

History, The Editors. (2019). This day in history: Soviets put a brutal end to hungarian

       revolution. History. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-put-brutal-end-to-hungarian-revolution

United Nations Special Committee. (1957). Report of the un special committee on the

       problem of hungary (compiled 1957). Libcom. Retrieved from http://www.libcom.org

23 Comments »

Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement

(Mario Savio, University of California, Berkeley)

Anybody who was alive, breathing, conscious, and living in California during the 1960s remembers Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Savio’s energy and passionate speeches helped to bring the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam war protests to college campuses all across America. He was a fierce champion of both FREE SPEECH and DEBATE. Plaques dedicated to his memory still grace the University of California, Berkeley campus.

He is best known for his speech called “The Bodies on the Gears” and his explicit description of the federal government as violent, intolerant, overbearing, over-reaching, authoritarian, paternalistic, and out of control. He believed that speaking out and refusing to comply with unreasonable government demands was a legitimate form of protest. The interesting thing is that, despite Berkeley’s loving remembrance of Savio and the Free Speech Movement, UC Berkeley does not currently practice what Savio preached. Berkeley may still have the appearance of an enlightened, left-wing, politically active college campus, but the administration has squelched lectures and debates sponsored by political moderates and conservatives under the guise of “security concerns” and appears to have no interest in providing a forum for free speech for ALL AMERICANS and ALL POINTS OF VIEW. In the same vein, Antifa memberships and violence have flourished with the support of intolerant, closed-minded teachers and students alike.

Savio and the Free Speech Movement were not about violence and censorship. They were about speaking up, carrying on healthy debates, discussing the issues, and solving social justice issues through reasonable and intelligent channels. All young people, who have the energy, optimism, and idealism, have the option to engage in social activism without the use of violence and bullying. But it takes a certain amount of critical thinking skills, common sense, self-confidence, and mental agility to debate your opponent, listen to his or her views, and offer a rational and intelligent response. It requires patience and a thoughtful formulation of your personal ideas. The American educational system in the 1960s still taught those skills. I cannot say the same thing for our current educational institutions.

Dawn Pisturino

January 8, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments »

Books and Censorship

“Censorship — The Assassination of an Idea.” ~Bookmans Entertainment Exchange~

What’s in the raging flame
of banned books burning?
Knowledge, truth, learning,
courage, freedom, yearning.
~Terri Guillemets~

Banned Books Week will be held from September 18 – 24, 2022. But censorship is an everyday concern, especially for writers, poets, artists, journalists, and other creative people. We’re seeing too much of it right now in the current political climate.

We’ve seen authors mobbed on Amazon and other sites and deliberately given poor ratings simply because the content of a book did not conform to the narrative of the people mobbing the book. This is using censorship and harassment (bullying) to create a politically correct environment where creativity is essentially dead. Show me one writer/artist worth his salt who is politically correct! Only sell-outs conform to the mob.

(Berlin book burning, 1933)

The Nazis confiscated and burned any book that they deemed “un-German.” What does that even mean? No more French porn? No Italian cookbooks? No English poetry? Who decided what was “un-German?” And it wasn’t just books that were condemned. Music, architecture, inventions, paintings, sculptures, and even dress fashions had to conform to a certain German aesthetic. Who wants to live like that? Who wants the government deciding what you can eat, read, think, create?

The Bolsheviks did the same thing after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Anything reminiscent of the previous regime was confiscated, suppressed, burned, destroyed, and labeled “too bourgeois.” The great Russian composer, Rachmaninoff, emigrated to America because his music was condemned by the Communist authorities. The great Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, was censored and suppressed. If his novel had not been smuggled out of Russia, a great piece of literature would have been lost to the world. Doctor Zhivago describes this shameful period in world history.

Chairman Mao did the same thing in China. The Chinese Communist Party is STILL suppressing free speech and writers who speak out against oppression. The CCP STILL controls access to information and the content of that information. American companies like Twitter and Facebook help the CCP censor and control information in China. That’s how they are allowed to do business there.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment GUARANTEE every American citizen the right of free speech and peaceable assembly to express that free speech. Free speech makes some people uncomfortable. It causes some people to feel threatened. It makes some people close their minds to new ideas. It opens the minds of others. It is divisive, combative, uniting, liberating, threatening, and compromising — all at the same time. Free speech is the basis of CREATIVITY. Free speech is the foundation of FREEDOM. Taking it one step further, FREEDOM is the bedrock on which FREE SPEECH and CREATIVITY stand. If we lose our freedom and submit to totalitarianism, we may as well start looking for another universe to inhabit, because the freedom to CREATE and EXPRESS OURSELVES will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

(NOTE: violence is not an expression of free speech and is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution. Devolving into burning, looting, shooting, destroying private and public property, tearing down statues, committing assault and battery, killing police, and threatening people, is just criminal behavior committed by people who have no respect for law and order. These people belong in jail. Furthermore, there is a big difference between exercising free speech and engaging in a two-way debate and just being rude, ill-mannered, and stupid. There was a time when our society valued good manners and intelligent debate.)

(NOTE: Some famous writers banned or partially banned in Nazi Germany: Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde.)

Thank you for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Radical Islamic Bullies

While discussing the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviet Union, many people fail to understand that Osama bin Laden was one of the freedom fighters (mujahideen) who helped to defeat the Soviets. The United States backed these freedom fighters economically and militarily.

Afghanistan is where bin Laden and his followers learned to use weapons, engage in guerilla warfare, and the art of making bombs. Bin Laden — a Saudi Islamic fundamentalist — objected to the presence of U.S. military bases on “holy soil” in Saudi Arabia. He organized the terrorist group Al-Qaeda to fight westernization in Muslim countries and the U.S. itself. It was Saudis linked to Al-Qaeda who slammed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.

President Bill Clinton and the CIA warned the American people about Al-Qaeda, but people did not know enough about radical Islam to understand. Nor could they imagine such a terrible thing happening.

Instead of addressing the problem head on, President Bush invaded Iraq and avoided any major military action against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where their camps were actually located. This was incomprehensible to many people. (If he was going to break international law and invade a country, it should have been Afghanistan.)

Under President Obama’s watch, bin Laden was finally killed and Al-Qaeda temporarily dispersed. But another threat emerged: ISIS. They announced their presence to the world through video-taped beheadings of Western journalists and other unlucky victims. Instead of taking these horrific actions seriously, Europe failed to act, and President Obama laughed and called them “J.V.” Realistically, the western world should have acted after the first beheading.

NO RADICAL ISLAMIC GROUP CAN BE WRITTEN OFF AS NOTHING BECAUSE ALL OF THESE GROUPS ARE WILLING TO USE VIOLENCE AND A CALL TO ISLAMIC UNITY AND PURITY TO PROMOTE THEIR AGENDAS. The media either downplays these groups or portrays them as “victims” of colonialism, even though European colonialism ended a long time ago. In point of fact, the Islamic governments which arose after colonialism puppet governments failed, are the real culprits.

The Muslim world has been uniquely divided against itself since the time of the the Prophet Muhammad. Westernization, which brought many countries into the 20th century, has been rejected over and over again when fundamentalist regimes have taken power. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were allowed to take over, resulting in an extreme form of Islamic oppression. The media – and the current Biden administration – does a poor job of reporting on situations like this. The realities of these events are so far removed from American life that people cannot comprehend the horrors of daily life for people in Afghanistan. Before the fall of Kabul, a poll revealed that 75% of the Afghanistan population hated the Taliban. People who were desperate to leave the country died, trying to get on airplanes leaving the airport.

Terrorism on U.S. soil was not as active under President Trump because he was proactive in preventing it. But in Europe, the media still tends to downplay any connection to radical Islamic terrorism when something happens because of the large numbers of Muslim refugees who have been allowed into European countries.

When an act of radical Islamic terrorism occurs — wherever it occurs — people need to know who did it and why. Trying to sweep it under the rug is just ignoring the problem. For example, the goal of ISIS (and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and other, lesser-known groups) is to re-establish the caliphate in the Middle East. Although this sounds unrealistic to most people, it is a rallying point for ISIS and these other groups in recruiting new members. Referring back to the glory days of Islamic civilization gives down-trodden, oppressed people pride and hope for the future. ISIS – and these other groups – employs technology experts and does much of its recruiting on the Dark Web. The media does not report on this enough.

In reality, some Muslims DO become radicalized. Some of them DO become involved in violent terrorism. Some Americans have been seduced into joining radical Islamic terrorist groups. The media – and our government – has a responsibility to report fully and truthfully on this. Instead, President Biden plans to send $65 million to the Taliban in Afghanistan under the guise of helping the women and children of this war-torn country. The people will never see a dime of that money. Just like the U.S. military left behind $85 billion of weapons and other military equipment for the Taliban to use, the money will be spent on a terrorist government and terrorist activities. Biden has already allowed unvetted Afghanistanis to leave the country as refugees. Nobody knows how many are actual terrorists in disguise.

When we have politicians like Senator Krysten Sinema encouraging Americans to fight with the Taliban; government officials like John Kerry weaponizing terrorist countries like Iran (the leading country when it comes to financing terrorism); and presidents like Obama and Biden kissing terrorists’ asses, the American people are sitting ducks for violence, torture, and death.

Islamic fundamentalists are bullies. And they don’t care what you and I think about it. They are hate-filled, ideology-driven idealists determined to fulfill a goal – the Islamization of the whole world. Groups in America that became influential under the Obama-Biden regime are the Muslim Brotherhood (a well-known terrorist organization that was given access to the White House on numerous occasions under Obama), CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). These three groups are all connected.

Are all Muslims terrorists? Of course not, and the good ones should not be confused with the bad ones. But we know who the bad ones are, and it is unacceptable and completely unthinkable that our political leaders are negotiating and doing business with these guys. Even worse, it is total incompetence when the CIA and the FBI become aware of active groups and fail to act. The heads of these organizations should be immediately fired when something happens.

Finally, it is up to the American people to educate themselves and demand change from our own government.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 5, 2019; updated September 13, 2021

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

In Honor of the Flight 93 Heroes, September 11, 2001

Flight 93 National Memorial Wall of Names in Pennsylvania

I’m crying as I write this.

It’s hard to remember and write about the events that happened on 9/11 without weeping, gnashing my teeth in anger, and praising the innocent brave souls who lost their lives. As our country moves farther away from decency, patriotism, and traditional American values, it’s important to remember the heroes who willingly gave their lives trying to divert another terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. It’s imperative that we defeat and crush the enemies of the United States, both inside and outside of America – no matter who they are and what position they might hold.

We now have members of Congress who actively work against decent citizens of the United States. These worthless dogs dress themselves up in fine clothes, healthy bank accounts, and politically correct (for the Left) rhetoric and prey on the weak-minded and uneducated. (Having a college degree doesn’t make a person educated.)

We now have a President and Vice-President who deliberately sell themselves to Communist China and terrorists, while undermining the interests of America and the American people. These “leaders” – and I use the word loosely – come off as treasonous traitors to the United States. In my opinion, they should be court-martialed and face a military firing squad for their crimes against America and the American people. The same should be true of all politicians and corporate leaders who line their pockets at the people’s expense and betray our great country.

The sacrifice of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 calls out to us, urging us to save our country from the obscene, degraded, and depraved maniacs who hate their own country, pervert science, normalize insanity and criminality, glorify death and destruction, and revel in dirt and excrement.

Timeline of Events

At 09:23 am, the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) began issuing warnings about hijackers boarding planes and using them as weapons of mass destruction. United Airlines Flight 93 was notified at 09:27:25 am.

At 09:28:05 am, members of the radical Islamic terrorist group, Al Qaeda, hijacked the plane, taking over the cockpit and subduing the passengers. They were later identified as Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Numi, Ahmed al-Haznawi, and Saeed al-Ghamdi. Their leader, Jarrah, had trained in Afghanistan for three months, met Osama bin Laden in January of 2000, and arrived in Florida in June of 2000 to take flight lessons and to study martial arts.

At 09:28:17 am, the Cleveland controller heard screaming over the radio transmission and LeRoy Homer, Jr. crying, “Mayday! Mayday! Get out of here! Get out of here! Get out of here!”

At 09:31:57 am, the cockpit voice recorder kicked in and recorded the last 30 minutes of the flight. Jarrah was heard talking to the passengers and saying, “We have a bomb on board.” The message was accidentally sent to the Cleveland Air Traffic controller.

At 09:39 am, Jarrah was heard announcing, “We are going back to the airport, and we have our demands.” In reality, the flight was turned eastward towards Washington, D.C. Although some have speculated that the White House was the target, the 9/11 Commission believed, based on evidence, that it was the U.S. Capitol Building that was the real target.

At this point, Captain Jason Dahl may have disabled the autopilot. It was later discovered that passengers and crew had made 35 airphone calls and two cell phone calls, warning family and friends of what was happening. The passengers came up with a plan to take back the plane and revolted at 09:57 am. They allegedly used the food cart to try and break into the cockpit. One of the hijackers guarding the door may have been killed.

At 10:03:09 am, a male voice speaking English cried, “Pull it up!” The plane was deliberately crashed by the hijackers at 10:03:11 am.

In the meantime, Vice-President Dick Cheney, safe inside the Presidential Emergency Operation Center under the White House, ordered Flight 93 to be shot down. After the plane crashed, he called the passengers and crew “heroes.”

A permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 was dedicated on September 10, 2011.

Crew members

Captain Jason Dahl

First Officer LeRoy Homer, Jr.

Lorraine Bay

Sandra Bradshaw

Wanda Green

CeeCee Lyles

Deborah Welsh

The 33 passengers included several foreign nationals.

The American passengers were innocent victims and died for their country. They sacrificed their own lives by standing up to the terrorists, who were forced to then crash the plane into an empty field in Pennsylvania. The foreign passengers who died as innocent victims were in the wrong country at the wrong time. Please pray for all of them and their families.

Let this be a lesson to all of us that life can change on the turn of a dime. The enemies of America never sleep. And we must be equally watchful and alert to the danger they pose.

Dawn Pisturino

September 8, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments »

Question Authority

“Question Authority” means questioning Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; questioning the Democrats and the Republicans; questioning the actions of Big Tech and corporate America; and questioning Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the motives of people on both the Left and the Right. We are free people – not a bunch of sheep!

Dawn Pisturino

May 8, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

3 Comments »

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