Topic

humanitarian aid

39 petitions

Started 4 days ago

Petition to President of the United States, United States Department of Defense

Make the US Government Apologize for the Laconia Incident of 1942

Upon reading an article the other day, a certain story stuck out that if finally resolved and handled correctly, could greatly improve US - European relations.  In war, many crimes are committed, that comes with the practice.  When the Allies found out what atrocities the Nazis had committed to Jews, and the Japanese treatment of American POWs, the American people were outraged.  However, with the war ending, many events which are also war crimes were left in the shadows when these large cases came to light, and some have yet to be acknowledged or apologized for.  One such crime were the actions made by the United States following the sinking of the British Ocean Liner, the RMS Laconia.  The Laconia was sunk by a German navy U Boat (submarine) captain since it was carrying mounted weapons on the decks.  The ship at the time was carrying Axis prisoners of war, specifically 268 British soldiers, 160 Polish soldiers (who were on guard), 80 civilians, and 1,800 Italian prisoners.  Surfacing to aid any of the few survivors he would have expected from a cargo vessel, captain Werner Hartenstein surfaced to find several thousand people in the water, many of whom were civilians.  He immediately requested any nearby ships in the area to aid in picking up survivors on an open radio frequency, as well as eventually draping red cross flags over his sub to avoid air attack and protect the survivors.  Another submarine soon arrived and assisted, but eventually a United States Air Force B24 Liberator bomber soon loomed overhead.  The pilot, Lieutenant James D. Harden, saw the scene and radioed in the situation; despite the messages, red cross flags, and even the signaling in morse code of an RAF officer standing with the U boat crew on the conning tower, the bomber was ordered by Captain Robert C. Richardson III to attack and made multiple attack runs, dropping bombs and depth charges around the submarines.  Several life boats being towed behind the U boats were hit with bombs, killing dozens of Allied sailors and civilians.  Aware that this would not end as long as he was visible, captain Hartenstein ordered survivors off his submarine and back into the water, while slowly submerging to avoid further attack.  The plane was reported to have sunk the submarine, but in reality they had missed.  This event caused the German Admiral Karl  Doenitz to prohibit the rescue of any survivors of sinking ships for fear of more attacks on submarines.  At Nuremberg in 1946, American prosecutors indicted Doenitz of multiple war crimes, including the Laconia order, but this backfired into embarrassment when American Admiral of the Pacific US Fleet Chester Nimitz made a statement denouncing that specific charge on the ground that the American navy had operated under unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific since war was declared in 1941.  To sum up this mess, the United States Army Air Corps (now  the USAF) had attacked a rescue operation of both allied civilians and sailors as well as countless Italian prisoners of war.  According to International Law Studies, both Robert Richardson and James Harden should have been charged and convicted of war crimes.   That is why I am urging the United States government, specifically the Department of Defense or President Trump, to offer an apology to all parties who suffered casualties that go against the rules of conventional warfare.  I believe that this would not only bury a long over due hatchet and gap in history books, but also help better relations between the US and its European Allies, specifically England, Poland, Italy, and Germany (the nationality of those attacked), some of which have been disturbed by the comments made by Mr. Trump concerning the UN and NATO.  

Ian Anderson
9 supporters
Started 3 months ago

Petition to Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, William Keating, Michael Brady

Propose the Constitutional Amendment: Peace Corps Military Parity

This petition is asking Massachusetts Senators and Representatives to introduce legislation to the US Congress and Massachusetts State Senate that proposes the Peace Corps Military Parity Constitutional Amendment.  The amendment greatly expands the role of the United States Peace Corps by increasing its funding, except during time of war, to be equal or greater than that of the combined military forces of the United States.  It also grants Peace Corps veterans the same status as military veterans.  The amendment stipulates that it shall take effect five years after the date of its ratification. Full Text: Peace Corps Military Parity Section 1: For all periods excepting those expressed in section 2, Congress shall allocate funds to the United States Peace Corps in an amount no less than the sum-total of all United States military spending for the same period.  Section 2: Congress shall be exempt from section 1 during periods in which Congress has declared a war with clearly defined objectives for either victory or timely cessation of hostilities on a foreign sovereign nation-state or its equivalent. Section 3: Excepting the office of the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States, oversight, direction, and command of the United States Peace Corps shall be independent of the oversight, direction, and command of the United States military. Section 4: All government agencies, all laws, and all government programs that grant honors, privileges, services, or rights to veterans shall hold service in the United States Peace Corps to be equivalent to service in the United States Military. Section 5: This amendment shall take effect five years after the date of ratification. Impacts: Given that the 2016 annual budget of the United States Peace Corps is $140 Million, and the 2015 fiscal year military spending is projected to total $595.5 Billion, if no other changes were made to the Federal Budget, ceteris parabis, the amendment would require Congress to increase the budget of the Peace Corps by a factor of four thousand.  Given that the 2015 military spending accounts for approximately 54% of all federal discretionary spending, it is likely that Congress would face political pressure to significantly draw down peace-time military spending in order to comply with the amendment.  Therefore, it is unlikely Peace Corps funding will reach the level of 2015 military spending in inflation adjusted dollars. The ratification of the amendment would likely lead to significant domestic social and economic changes.  It would add an opposing economic and political Check-and-Balance to the Military-Industrial-Complex warned of by President Dwight D Eisenhower.  Many technological advancements over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries have had US military origins, notable examples being nuclear power, computers, human interplanetary space travel, and GPS location.  With parity of funding, the Peace Corps may be able to catalyze comparable advancements in the fields of medicine, hunger, poverty reduction, and natural disaster response, prevention, and preparedness.  The amendment does not threaten the economic interests of existing military contractors.  Even if the amendment leads to a decrease in military contracts, new Peace Corps contracts will become logistical necessities.  The same companies that have been competing for military contracts can compete for Peace Corps contracts. The ratification of the amendment would also likely lead to significant changes abroad.  This would be a new and powerful tool for US foreign policy and diplomacy.  The non-sequitur orders of the Bush administration to the US military to “win the hearts and minds” of the Iraqi and Afghani people illustrate the application of this tool.  Military personnel do not have the training, equipment, or institutional mandate to engage in the on-the-ground diplomacy inherent in these orders, nor is there a plausible historical example of an occupying military force being welcomed by the people it subjugated.  An expanded Peace Corps could feasibly fulfill this role. Exceptions and historical examples: The amendment allows Congress significant flexibility during times of national crisis, and gives guidelines that Congress can follow in order to be temporarily unrestricted in its military spending.  The exemption in section 2 allows Congress to decrease funding to the Peace Corps, or to increase funding to the military without a corresponding increase to the Peace Corps, with a declaration of war that meets two of three conditions.  The first condition is that the conflict has clearly defined objectives for victory.  An example of a historical conflict within the last 100 years that would not have met this criteria is the Vietnam conflict, given that Congress never declared war.  Even if Congress had declared war, this criterion may not have been met given the July 1, 1965 memo by George Ball to President Lyndon Johnson and other documented correspondences from the era declaring the war to be unwinnable. The second condition, which can be met in lieu of the first, is that Congress define an objective for timely cessation of hostilities.  This criterion could have exempted the Iraqi and Afghani conflicts following the September 11th 2001 terror attacks, but only after President Barack Obama’s establishment of a timetable for withdrawal. The third condition must be met by all declarations of war.  The war must be declared against a “a foreign sovereign nation-state or its equivalent.”  This criterion would exclude the Reagan era “War on Drugs” and Bush era “War on Terror.”  The criterion is flexible enough, however, that Congress could feasibly apply this exemption if it were to declare war on large and well organized terrorist organizations such as the organization currently known as ISIS/ISIL.  

Roy Gernhardt
27 supporters