We’re Dealing With a New Type of War Lie

When the U.S. public was told that Spain had blown up the Maine, or Vietnam had returned fire, or Iraq had stockpiled weapons, or Libya was planning a massacre, the claims were straightforward and disprovable. Before people began referring to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, somebody had to lie that it had happened, and there had to be an understanding of what had supposedly happened. No investigation into whether anything had happened could have taken as its starting point the certainty that a Vietnamese attack or attacks had happened. And no investigation into whether a Vietnamese attack had happened could have focused its efforts on unrelated matters, such as whether anyone in Vietnam had ever done business with any relatives or colleagues of Robert McNamara.

All of this is otherwise with the idea that the Russian government determined the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. corporate media reports often claim that Russia did decide the election or tried to do that or wanted to try to do that. But they also often admit to not knowing whether any such thing is the case. There is no established account, with or without evidence to support it, of exactly what Russia supposedly did. And yet there are countless articles casually referring, as if to established fact to the . . .

“Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election” (Yahoo).
“Russian attempts to disrupt the election” (New York Times).
“Russian … interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election” (ABC).
“Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election” (The Intercept).
“a multi-pronged investigation to uncover the full extent of Russia’s election-meddling” (Time).
“Russian interference in the US election” (CNN).
“Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election” (American Constitution Society).
“Russian hacking in US Election” (Business Standard).”

“Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking” we’re told by the New York Times, but what is “election hacking”? Its definition seems to vary widely. And what evidence is there of Russia having done it?

The “Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections” even exists as a factual event in Wikipedia, not as an allegation or a theory. But the factual nature of it is not so much asserted as brushed aside.

Former CIA director John Brennan, in the same Congressional testimony in which he took the principled stand “I don’t do evidence,” testified that “the fact that the Russians tried to influence resources and authority and power, and the fact that the Russians tried to influence that election so that the will of the American people was not going to be realized by that election, I find outrageous and something that we need to, with every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist and try to act to prevent further instances of that.” He provided no evidence.

Activists have even planned “demonstrations to call for urgent investigations into Russian interference in the US election.” They declare that “every day we learn more about the role Russian state-led hacking and information warfare played in the 2016 election.” (March for Truth.)

Belief that Russia helped put Trump in the White House is steadily rising in the U.S. public. Anything commonly referred to as fact will gain credibility. People will assume that at some point someone actually established that it was a fact.

Keeping the story in the news without evidence are articles about polling, about the opinions of celebrities, and about all kinds of tangentially related scandals, their investigations, and obstruction thereof. Most of the substance of most of the articles that lead off with reference to the “Russian influence on the election” is about White House officials having some sort of connections to the Russian government, or Russian businesses, or just Russians. It’s as if an investigation of Iraqi WMD claims focused on Blackwater murders or whether Scooter Libby had taken lessons in Arabic, or whether the photo of Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands was taken by an Iraqi.

A general trend away from empirical evidence has been extensively noted and discussed. There is no more public evidence that Seth Rich leaked Democratic emails than there is that the Russian government stole them. Yet both claims have passionate believers. Still, the claims about Russia are unique in their wide proliferation, broad acceptance, and status as something to be constantly referred to as though already established, constantly augmented by other Russia-related stories that add nothing to the central claim. This phenomenon, in my view, is as dangerous as any lies and fabrications coming out of the racist right.

U.S. Human Rights Groups Recommend Bombing Victims Move Underground, Develop Militias

The International Committee of the Red Cross and InterAction (a coalition of U.S. human rights groups) have published a report on how to protect civilians when waging war on cities. They seek to catalog the “humanitarian challenges specific to urban warfare.”

While I would not (one wishes it were needless to say) prefer that they strive to maximize the human destruction possible in urban warfare, I want to note that any report seeking to address the humanitarian challenges specific to slavery or rape or child abuse or the slaughter of kittens (rather than humans) would be dismissed with outrage. Nowhere do these human rights advocates hint at the possibility of ceasing to bomb cities. Nowhere do they recognize the illegality of all recent U.S. bombings of cities under the U.N. Charter or, for that matter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Instead, the authors treat the practice of bombing cities as inevitable and natural, and attribute the growth of urban warfare to the migration of people from rural to urban areas.

What should be done? While the authors discuss various types of massive slaughter and destruction as “intended or not,” they also suggest that the key reform to be sought is better intentions and more careful planning. The “development” types should work better with the “humanitarians,” provide more “flexible” funding for the human rights groups, and do “proportionality analysis,” we’re told.

The word “proportionality” appears in every Just War theory and in thousands of mainstream news reports, yet nobody, including these authors, has ever devised a test whereby one can determine whether a war or a particular bombing was “proportional” or not. If I say killing 14 children in order to kill a particular man was disproportional, what’s to stop someone else arguing that this particular man needed to be killed to an extent that would have justified killing anywhere up to 16.37 children? Of course, I can point out that most wars kill mostly civilians, so that launching them is an act that guarantees great injustice, but I can’t stop someone else claiming that “proportionally” killing 500,000 children is “worth it” in the context of some just cause (as then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once claimed).

The most serious recommendation that these authors make is that no more large bombs, only small bombs, be dropped on cities, with the large bombs saved for rural areas. It’s worth noting that the U.S. government is developing “more usable” nuclear bombs and tends to ignore such restrictions, that small bombs like large bombs still commit mass-murder while endangering us and costing a fortune and poisoning the environment, that a number of small bombs adds up to a large bomb, and that large bombs in rural areas do all of the same destructive things even if hitting fewer people and less centralized infrastructure.

The most disturbing recommendations in this report include creating safe exit routes (even while claiming people should have the right not to leave), moving schools and hospitals underground, avoiding ground floor windows, and taking up arms and developing local militias.

This report is the product of a human rights industry feeding off its total acceptance of war and violence. When you can bring yourself to the point of making these recommendations to the people your government is bombing, but you cannot ever bring yourself to the point of even hinting at the possibility that your government should stop bombing people all over the world, you’ve become an Orwellian ministry of human rights, not an actual movement to expand the well-being of humans.

Talk Nation Radio: Francis Boyle on How to Impeach Trump

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-francis-boyle-on-how-to-impeach-trump


Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Professor Boyle has served as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. He has represented the Blackfoot Nation, the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. And he has been a strong advocate over the years for the proper use of the power of impeachment.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.

Producer: David Swanson.

Music by Duke Ellington.

Find this show on Youtube.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://TalkNationRadio.org and at https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

LEAKED: Text of Trump’s Peaceful Islam Speech

By Donald Trump
Translated into English by David Swanson

I am very honored to have been invited here to tell you about Islam. King Salman invited me, and I said you know I really need to go to Israel first because I have a connection to any chosen people. I was chosen by the majority of Americans last November, of electoral Americans. They love me. But King Salman — great guy, really great guy, and such beautiful houses — King Salman told me what he wanted me to talk about, and then I had to say yes. I had to. There was no question.

King Salman — and you know people in the United States are thinking of giving me that same title, King, they’re thinking about it, I won’t say they’re going to do it, but they really really want to — King Salman said to me, “Donald,” he said, “do you remember when I closed that nude beach in France so that we could have a little party, just a simple private party? Do you remember,” he said, “how the French were upset and claimed I was against nude beaches?”

Why You Should Visit Russia

Just back from a week in Moscow, I feel obliged to point out a few things about it.

  • Most people there still love Americans.
  • Many people there speak English.
  • Learning basic Russian is not that hard.
  • Moscow is the biggest city in Europe (and far bigger than any in the United States).
  • Moscow has the charm, culture, architecture, history, activities, events, parks, museums, and entertainment to match any other city in Europe.
  • It’s warm there now with flowers everywhere.
  • Moscow is safer than U.S. cities. You can walk around alone at night with no worries.
  • The Metro goes everywhere. A train comes every 2 minutes. The trains have free Wi-Fi. So do the parks.
  • You can rent bicycles at lots of different spots and return them to any other.
  • You can fly direct from New York to Moscow, and if you fly on the Russian airline Aeroflot you’ll get a nostalgic reminder of what it’s like to have airplane seats large enough to hold a human being.
  • Everybody says that St. Petersburg and various other cities are even more beautiful than Moscow.
  • Right now the sun is up from 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Moscow, and until 9:30 p.m. in St. Petersburg. The longest day of the year in St. Petersburg is 18-and-a-half hours.

Americans seem not to know about Russia. While four-and-a-half million Americans visit Italy in a year, and two-and-a-half million go to Germany as tourists, only 86 thousand go to Russia. More tourists go to Russia from several other countries than go there from the U.S.

American/Russian Vladimir Posner on the State of Journalism

Vladimir Posner, who spent his youth in the United States, France, and the Soviet Union, and who cohosted a show with Phil Donahue on U.S. television for years, met with a group of visitors to Moscow from the U.S. on Monday, offering his well-informed views on a range of media-related topics.

Posner said that for years he worked on Soviet propaganda aimed at the United States. The first blow to his full belief in the rectitude of the USSR came, he said, with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He eventually concluded that he was not telling the truth, that by telling only good things he was telling half the truth, which is a falsehood. He quit the job and he quit the Communist Party.

What I Saw When I Visited a Russian School

As I was heading off to visit Russia, a friend told me of a friend who knew a Russian school teacher. I asked if I could visit the school, and I brought along a couple of American friends. Here's a video of what we saw there.

Racists Love Russia?

Photo by Daily Progress.

While I’ve been in Russia trying to make friends, back home in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, a group of torch-bearing supporters of Robert E. Lee has held a rally generally understood as a proclamation of white supremacy. I’ve previously written at some length about this white identity group, their humanity, their legitimate grievances, and their support for Donald Trump.

They chanted: “You will not replace us!” possibly because the city of Charlottesville has decided to replace a statue of Robert E. Lee with something less racist.

They chanted: “Blood and soil!” I suppose to express their lengthy connection to the land (although their leader is no more from Virginia than Robert E. Lee is from Charlottesville), or — less charitably — just because of the flagrantly fascist sound of the slogan.

And they chanted: “Russia is our friend!”

A Russian Journalist’s Perspective

Dmitri Babich has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1989, for newspapers, news agencies, radio, and television. He says that he used to always interview people, while lately people interview him.

According to Babich, myths about Russian media, such as that one cannot criticize the president in Russia, can be dispelled simply by visiting Russian news websites and using Google Translator. More newspapers in Russia oppose Putin than support him, Babich says.

If Russian news is propaganda, Babich asks, why are people so afraid of it? Was anyone ever afraid of Brezhnev’s propaganda? (One might reply that it wasn’t available on the internet or television.) In Babich’s view the threat of Russian news lies in its accuracy, not in its falsehood. In the 1930s, he says, French and British media, in good “objective” style, suggested that Hitler wasn’t anything much to worry about. But the Soviet media had Hitler right. (On Stalin perhaps not so much.)

A Russian Entrepreneur’s Perspective

I’ve been in Moscow some days now and have yet to meet an oligarch (although perhaps they don’t identify themselves). I have met an entrepreneur named Andrei Davidovich. He’s started several companies since his first in 1998, including a software company, a marketing agency, a publishing company, etc. He says it takes 5 days to create a new company in Russia.

He gives U.S. friends thanks for technology, research, and knowledge. He tells the U.S. government thanks for nothing.

Davidovich has been in touch for years with the U.S.-based Center for Citizen Initiatives, the excellent organization that can bring you to Russia to learn all about it, and that brought some 6,000 Russian businessmen and women, including Davidovich, to the U.S. during the previous cold war.

Things Russians Can Teach Americans

I suppose the list is lengthy and includes dancing, comedy, karaoke singing, vodka drinking, monument building, diplomacy, novel writing, and thousands of other fields of human endeavor, in some of which Americans can teach Russians as well. But what I’m struck by at the moment in Russia is the skill of honest political self-reflection, as found in Germany, Japan, and many other nations to a great degree as well. I think the unexamined political life is not worth sustaining, but it is all we have back home in the not so united states.

Here, as a tourist in Moscow, not only friends and random people will point out the good and the bad, but hired tour guides will do the same.

“Here on the left is the parliament where they make all of those laws. We disagree with many of them, you know.”

“Here on your right is where they are building a 30-meter bronze wall for the victims of Stalin’s purges.”

Gorbachev: It Was Worse Than This, and We Fixed It

By Дэвид Суонсон (David Swanson)

On Friday in Moscow I and a group from the United States met with former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. He said the current relationship between Washington and Moscow alarmed him. But, he said, it is possible to rebuild trust. “We had a situation that was worse, but we were able to rebuild trust. And people-to-people contacts helped to rebuild trust.”

When Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan first met, presidents of the two countries had not met for six years. Members of Reagan’s cabinet opposed the meeting. Gorbachev came out of the meeting saying of Reagan “He’s not a hawk, he’s a dinosaur.” Reagan came out denouncing Gorbachev as “a die-hard communist.”



But they kept meeting. Eventually and inevitably Reagan asked what the Soviets would do if the U.S. were attacked by a meteor or aliens. Both men said their countries would help each other. However, Reagan was a fan of Star Wars, both the weapons boondoggle and the movie — which he may have kept distinct from each other in his mind. Gorbachev and Reagan accomplished a great deal of disarmament, not to mention Gorbachev’s accomplishing the nonviolent dissolution of an empire. But they could not get rid of all the nuclear weapons, and they could not take other serious steps in that direction, because Reagan was not willing, and the U.S. government was not willing.

The U.S. Behavior That Concerns Russia

I attended a meeting in Moscow on Friday with Vladimir Kozin, longtime member of Russia’s foreign service, advisor to the government, author, and advocate for arms reduction. He handed out the list of 16 unresolved problems above. While he noted that the United States funds NGOs in Russia, as well as Ukraine, to influence elections, and described that as a reality in contrast to U.S. stories of Russia trying to influence a U.S. election, which he called a fairy tale, the topic did not make the top-16 list.

He added to the top of the list as something that could be obtainable, and something he considers very important, the need for an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on no first use of nuclear weapons, an agreement that he thinks other nations would subsequently join.

Then he stressed what he’s listed as the first item above: removing what the U.S. calls missile “defense” but what Russia views as offensive weaponry from Romania, and ceasing the construction of the same in Poland. These weapons combined with no commitment to no first use, Kozin said opens up the possibility of an accident or a misinterpretation of a flock of geese leading to the destruction of all human civilization.

Kozin said that NATO is encircling Russia, creating wars outside of the United Nations, and planning for first use.  Pentagon documents, Kozin accurately stated, list Russia as a top enemy, an “aggressor” and an “annexer.” The U.S. would like, he said, to break Russia apart into small republics. “It will not happen,” Kozin assured us.

Sanctions, Kozin said, are actually benefitting Russia by moving it from importation to domestic production of goods. The problem, he said, is not sanctions but the total lack of action on arms reduction. I asked him if Russia would propose a treaty to ban weaponized drones, and he said that he favored one and that it should not cover only fully automated drones, but he stopped short of saying that Russia should propose it.

Kozin supported the proliferation of nuclear power, without explaining away the problems of accidents like Fukushima, the creation of targets for terrorism, and the moving of any nation that acquires nuclear power closer to nuclear weaponry. In fact, he later warned that Saudi Arabia is acting with just that intention. (But why worry, the Saudis seem very reasonable!) He also noted that Poland has asked for U.S. nukes, while Donald Trump has talked of spreading nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea.

Kozin would like to see a world free of nuclear weapons by 2045, a century since the defeat of the Nazis. He believes that only the U.S. and Russia can lead the way (though I believe the non-nuclear nations are right now doing so). Kozin would like to see a U.S.-Russia summit on nothing but arms control. He recalls that the U.S. and Soviet Union signed six arms control agreements.

Kozin defends weapons sales as long as they are legal, without explaining how they are not destructive.

He also defends holding out optimism that Trump might meet some of his pre-election promises regarding better relations with Russia, including a commitment to no first use, even while noting that Trump has gone back on most such promises since the election. Kozin noted that what he called the Democratic Party’s promotion of fairytales has been very damaging.

Kozin spent some time on the usual fact-based response to the as-yet-unproven U.S. accusations of election interference, as well as providing the usual reality-focused response to accusations of invading Crimea. He called Crimea Russian land since 1783 and Khruschev’s giving it away as illegal. He asked the leader of a delegation of Americans that visited Crimea if she had found a single person who wanted to rejoin Ukraine. “No,” was the response.

While Russia had the right to keep 25,00 troops in Crimea, he said, in March 2014 it had 16,000 there, even as Ukraine had 18,000. But there was no violence, no shooting, just an election in which (perhaps disturbingly to Americans, I guess) the winner of the popular vote was actually declared the winner.

Love from Russians

On Wednesday, I flew out of a New York airport around which armed soldiers in camouflaged uniforms wandered — a New York area that had long ago hidden in the hardest to reach corner of New Jersey the monument that Russia gave the United States in sympathy with the horror of September 11, 2001. I left a country where the corporate media used “ties to Russia” as the equivalent of “servant of Satan,” and treated financial and criminal corruption as honorable or offensive depending purely on whether anyone Russian was involved.

I flew on an airplane named for Pushkin, along with over 400 other passengers, up over Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the beautiful mountains of Norway and Sweden, perfectly visible below, the great expanse of Estonia and Russia, and the suburban houses in pine woods approaching Moscow — the largest city I’ve ever been to with over 20 times the population of Washington, D.C.

It’s a city that I have found, thus far, full of people eager to express their love for the United States and its people. Moscow is a safe, clean, beautiful city of unarmed police, free Wi-Fi on fast trains, traffic jams of shiny new cars, new construction everywhere, and a sense on behalf of at least many people that more is improving than is getting worse — a notion not widely encountered back home in some decades. In Russia, more expatriates are returning, and more young people staying. Many have grievances, but the Canadian Embassy is not overrun following elections.

Many speak English and are happy to assist you in learning Russian. On a tour of subway stations, as above ground as well, you’ll see everywhere efforts to remember the good and the bad of every period of Russian (and Soviet) history. You’ll see monuments to every type of worker: architects, farmers, geographers, and every other occupation rarely thanked for its service back home. And you’ll see monuments to peace (the same word as world) alongside monuments to the defeat of numerous invaders over the centuries, most prominently the Nazis.

Even the major holiday of Victory Day just passed on May 9 resembles the old Armistice Day in the U.S. more closely than it does the current Veterans Day. People march with portraits of those killed in war, not support for ever more wars around the world.

Moscow is alive late into the night. You can call an uber car on your smartphone, for which the restaurants (and I doubt there is one better than this one) will give you a charger. And the hardest thing to find is resentment, even over the U.S. openly taking credit for imposing on Russia its own Donald Trump in the person of Boris Yeltsin.

Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, America's Wars and the "More" Strategy

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

The Constitution suddenly seems to have bestirred itself and declared itself, through its many Washington spokespeople, to be in crisis.

I’m sorry, interjects the world, but what the hell took you so long?

We laid out the clear Constitutional violations of Trump’s financial and business interests on the day he became president (in the real sense, not the media event months later when “He finally became president” by bombing enough people) at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org.

Since the later hours of Day 1 back in January through the present instant, the clear and documented (when not openly bragged about) Constitutional offenses have been piling up.

Tomgram: William Hartung, Ignoring the Costs of War

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, What Obsessing About You-Know-Who Causes Us To Miss

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Since the late eighteenth century, the United States has been involved in an almost ceaseless string of wars, interventions, punitive expeditions, and other types of military ventures abroad -- from fighting the British and Mexicans to the Filipinos and Koreans to the Vietnamese and Laotians to the Afghans and Iraqis. The country has formally declared war 11 times and has often engaged in undeclared conflicts with some form of congressional authorization, as with the post-9/11 “wars” that rage on today.

Thousands in U.S. send messages of friendship to Russians

As of this writing, 7,269 people in the United States, and rising steadily, have posted messages of friendship to the people of Russia. They can be read, and more can be added at RootsAction.org.

People’s individual messages are added as comments endorsing this statement:

To the people of Russia:

We residents of the United States wish you, our brothers and sisters in Russia, nothing but well. We oppose the hostility and militarism of our government. We favor disarmament and peaceful cooperation. We desire greater friendship and cultural exchange between us. You should not believe everything you hear from the American corporate media. It is not a true representation of Americans. While we do not control any major media outlets, we are numerous. We oppose wars, sanctions, threats, and insults. We send you greetings of solidarity, trust, love, and hope for collaboration on building a better world safe from the dangers of nuclear, military, and environmental destruction.

Here is a sampling, but I encourage you to go and read more:

Robert Wist, AZ: A world of friends is far better than a world of enemies. – I wish for us to be friends.

Arthur Daniels, FL: Americans and Russians = friends forever!

Peter Bergel, OR: After meeting many different kinds of Russians on my trip to your beautiful country last year, I am especially motivated to wish you well and to resist the efforts of my government to create enmity between our countries. Together our countries should lead the world toward peace, not further conflict.

Charles Schultz, UT: All of my friends and I have nothing but love, and the utmost respect, for the Russian people! We are not your enemies! We want to be your friends. We do not agree with our government, the members of congress, the president, any of the agencies of government that are constantly accusing Russia of every problem, not only here in the US, but also throughout the entire world!

Tomgram: John Dower, Terror Is in the Eye of the Beholder

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Talk Nation Radio: John Washington: We Need a Whistle-Blower in U.S. Customs and Border Protection

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-washington-we-need-a-whistle-blower-in-us-customs-and-border-protection

John Washington is a writer and translator based in Arizona. His most recent translation, A History of Violence, about Central American politics, was published by Verso Books in 2016. He writes regularly for The Nation and In These Times. We discuss his recent articles on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Nation's appeal for a whistleblower.

Read Washington's articles:
https://www.thenation.com/authors/john-washington

Submit information anonymously:
http://www.thenation.com/tips

Find John Washington on Twitter at @jbwashing

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Tomgram: Nomi Prins, All in the Family Trump

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

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