Stolen primary in Arizona?: Questioning Hillary’s Tuesday Primary Win Amid Widespread Evidence of Voter Suppression in Phoenix

By Dave Lindorff


         It sure looks like there was some voter fraud committed in the Democratic primary in Arizona on Tuesday.


So Torture 'Works?'





US Intel Vets Warn Against Torture




Editor Note: Experienced intelligence professionals reaffirm that torture – while popular with “tough” politicians – doesn’t work in getting accurate and actionable information.

By Ray McGovern

To those living “outside the Beltway” it may seem counterintuitive that those of us whose analysis has been correct on key issues that the U.S. government got criminally wrong – like the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – would be blacklisted from “mainstream” media and ostracized by the Smart People of the Establishment. But, alas, that’s the way it is.

Protest The Vanguard of Killing-for-Profit, April 20, Noon, Phila. Convention Center.

Spread the word! Protest the Vanguard Group at Speech of its CEO, F. Willian McNabb III

33_Drone Attacks

The  Brandywine Peace Community,, Phila. Area Anti-Drone Network, World Can't Wait, and other social justice, community and anti-war and anti-mass incarceration activists will demonstrate at noon on April 20 at the Philadelphia (PA) Convention Center to protest the unconscionable profit-making of the $3 trillion Vanguard Group on drone killing, private prisons and small arms manufacture.
The protesters will call on F. William McNabb III, CEO of Vanguard Group, headquartered in Malvern, PA, who will be speaking at the convention center during the protest, to drop Vanguard’s investments in:
  1. Military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Honeywell Corporation, and Boeing, all of which profit from from drone killing and war in general. Military hardware is Vanguard’s largest investment sector.
  1. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit private prison company in which Vanguard is the largest investor
  1. Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm-Ruger firearms manufacturers. Smith & Wesson manufactured two of the guns used in the San Bernardino massacre. Vanguard also invests in ammunition makers in Vista Outdoor (VSTO) and Orbital ATK (OA).
The group will also call on Amy Guttman, president of the University of Pennsylvania, who appears to have been paid over $1.2 million by Vanguard as a member of its board of directors, to take a public position against Vanguard’s investment in war, mass incarceration and small arms.  Guttmam's salary at UPenn is reportedly $3.4 million.  She has been on the Vanguard board since
Today, racism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia and  the hatred of immigrants and the undocumented fuels the  investments of the Vanguard Ground no less than presidential candidates that speak of  bigger and bigger walls, more bombing, and banning refugees fleeing U.S. wars from Syria to Afghanistan.    
Our protest is also directed at the gun industry and the scourge of violence  across the U.S., particularly in poor and communities of color which are also the targets of the for-profit prison industry that has grown alongside the U.S. system of economic apartheid: mass incarceration. 
Corrections Corporation of America
Drone warfare, gun violence, for-profit prisons and mass incarceration are the death ship on which the investments of the Vanguard group sail.
VanguardJoin the protest of  the Vanguard Group on Wednesday, April 20th 2016 from 12Noon - 2:00 p.m. outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center at the intersection of 12th and Arch Streets where F. William McNabb will be the keynote speaker for the Urban Land Institute's 2016 Convention.
For more information about the demonstration and what you can do, call the Brandywine Peace Community, (610) 544-1818

The Boys Who Said NO! A Documentary on the Nonviolent Draft Resistance Movement during the Vietnam War


Over the past 200 years, there have been a series of dynamic and successful nonviolent direct action movements in the U.S. stretching from abolishing slavery and winning women’s rights to advancing wider civil rights, equality, disarmament, and peace.  Influential Americans including William Penn, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Addams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all opposed war and defended human rights, and countless numbers of others have followed their example throughout the country and around the world. 

In that tradition, tens of thousands of young people followed their consciences and actively refused to cooperate with the draft and the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 70s because of the injustice and violence they represented.  Featuring recently filmed interviews with the men and women involved, The Boys Who Said NO! explores the important but little known story of young people who organized resistance to the draft and chose prison instead of war.

Nationally, over half a million young men evaded or resisted the draft during these years, and tens of thousands risked substantial fines and prison sentences of up to five years for publicly taking a stand.  In the end, the government convicted 3,250 draft resisters and sentenced them to between one and five years in federal prison.

These young men became part of the largest mass incarceration of war resisters in U.S. history. Ultimately, they inspired and influenced countless others to question the war, oppose conscription, and end the conflict in Vietnam.  United States history shows that activists like these, who have developed effective conflict resolution strategies using nonviolence, have moved critical national issues forwards without violence.

Our director is Judith Ehrlich, who won an Academy Award nomination for codirecting The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Her earlier films include The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It, about conscientious objectors in WWII. Our producer Christopher C. Jones was inspired to make this film by a reunion of seventy nonviolent activists in 2013. He is a former draft resister as are our other Advisory Team members Robert Cooney, Steve Ladd and Lee Swenson. Bill Prince, MD is our co-producer.

How do the lessons of the nonviolent draft resistance movement relate to social conflicts we have today and in the future? What impacts did the imprisonment of these young Americans have on their lives, on society and on stopping the war?  These are some of the questions the film explores. Please visit our website and see some early edited draft film segments:

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Mar 23 , 2016

New emails highlight interaction between State, Clinton Foundation - TheHill

Judicial Watch: New internal State Department documents raise questions on Benghazi, Clinton Foundation - Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch submits proposed witness list, discovery plan to Federal Court in Clinton email matter - Breitbart

As Hillary bolstered Boeing, company returned the favor giving millions to Clinton Foundation and six-figure speeches to Bill - Seattle Times

Ex-Im Bank beneficiaries are heavy Clinton Foundation donors - The Daily Caller

ARCHIVE: Boeing Refuses to Disclose Any Boeing-State Department-Clinton Foundation Email Correspondence -

Clinton Foundation discloses $40 Million in Wall Street donations - Breitbart

ARCHIVE: Clinton Foundation donors got weapons deals from Hillary Clinton's State Department -

Congresswoman Blackburn to ask FTC to investigate the Clinton Foundation’s charitable status - Breitbart

Hillary’s other email server scandal: Clinton Foundation and the unethical mixing of Mrs. Clinton’s public work and her personal fundraising/speech-giving/favor-doing - WSJ

ARCHIVE: Clinton Foundation received subpoena from State Department investigators - The Washington Post

HRC's final paid speech: $260K from the ACA, Why would a non-profit promoting summer camps spend 10 per cent of its annual budget on a Hillary Clinton speech? -

Clinton Foundation hires H-1B guest workers in place of American graduates - Breitbart

REPORT: Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation -

REPORT: Special report concerning latest amended disclosures of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation (attached) - Charles Ortel

Hillary Clinton campaign's foreign fundraisers under scrutiny -

WikiLeaks publishes searchable archive of Clinton emails - Washington Examiner

POLL: Trump, Clinton score historic unfavorable ratings -



Uproar over Hillary's role in Honduran coup grows as her campaign denies connection - Alternet

The Clinton-backed Honduran regime is picking off indigenous leaders - The Nation

Hillary Clinton needs to answer for her actions in Honduras and Haiti - The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton's response to Honduran coup was scrubbed from her paperback memoirs -

High hopes for Hillary Clinton, then disappointment in Haiti - The New York Times

Haitians protest Hillary Clinton’s ‘destruction’ of country -

7 articles to read uncovering Hillary Clinton’s Haiti record - The Haitian Times

The mysterious gap in Hillary Clinton’s Haiti emails -

Clinton aide demanded to clear Department’s travel warnings and human rights report on Haiti, releases interfered with fundraiser benefitting the country -

ARCHIVE: Gov’t memo said Clinton would steer State Department resources to donor’s Haiti Project, instead of building houses Claudio Osorio went to prison -

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

A Call For Actions During the NATO Summit in Warsaw July 8-9 2016

No to War

No to NATO Bases │ No to the Defence Missile Shield │ No to Arms Race│
Disarmament - Welfare Not Warfare │ Refugees Welcome Here │ Solidarity with peace and anti-war movements

The next NATO summit is planned to take place in Warsaw on 8-9 July. This summit will be held during a period of wars, heightened global instability and conflict. The wars raged by the West in the Middle East and Afghanistan have left hundreds of thousands dead; destroyed these countries’ infrastructure and ruined the conditions for political stability and social peace. The terrorism that has spread around the world is a terrible legacy of these conflicts. Millions of refugees have been forced to flee their homes in search of a safe place for them and their families to live. And when they reach the shores of Europe and the USA, they often meet hostility and racism from those very countries that started the wars from which they are escaping.

The promise of peaceful Europe in a peaceful world that was developed after the end of the Cold War has failed. One of the reasons is the enlargement of the NATO to the east. We are presently in the middle of a new East-West arms race, seen clearly in the area of Central and Eastern Europe. The war in the east of Ukraine, in which thousands have lost their lives, is a terrible example of this rivalry. The proposals of NATO to expand further to the East further threaten to escalate this conflict. The proposals of the present Polish government to station permanent NATO bases in Poland and build a new Missile Defence Shield in the country would not guarantee the country’s safety but rather place it on the frontline of these new hostilities. NATO is urging all member states to rise its military spending to at least 2% of GDP. Not only will this intensify the arms race in the world, but it will mean that during a time of economic austerity more funds will move from welfare to war. When the governments and Generals meet in Warsaw in July an alternative voice must be heard. A coalition of the peace and anti-war movements in Poland and internationally plan to hold a number of events during the NATO summit in Warsaw:

-        On Friday 8 July we shall hold a conference bringing together the organisations and activists of the peace and anti-war movements. This will be an opportunity to discuss and debate alternatives to the policies of militarisation and war being proposed by NATO. In the evening we shall hold a large public meeting. We already have a number of prominent speakers (both international and from Poland) confirmed, including former Colonel Ann Wright, Maite Mola, and Tarja Cronberg.

-        On Saturday we will take our protest to the streets of Warsaw to express our opposition to the NATO summit.

-        On the Saturday evening a cultural/social event will be held.

-        On Sunday a meeting of peace activists and organisations will be held to give us a chance to discuss our further cooperation and activity in the pursuit of a peaceful world.

We invite you to participate and urge you to mobilise for this important event. If you wish more information or have any suggestions or questions please write to us:

Our goal is a world without war and nuclear weapons. We are fighting to overcome NATO through the politics of common security and disarmament and solidarity with global peace, anti-war & anti-militaristic movements.

International Network No to War – No to NATO, Stop the War Initiative Poland, Social Justice Movement Poland, Warsaw Anarchist Federation,Workers Democracy Poland



Program of Alternative Summit (as of March 17)

Friday July 8th

12:00 opening of the alternative summit

-        NN Poland

-        Kristine Karch, No to War – No to NATO

12:15 – 14:00 Plenary: Why we are against NATO

-        NN Poland

-        Ludo de Brabander, vrede, Belgium

-        Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, GB

-        Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee, USA

-        Natalie Gauchet, Mouvement de la Paix, France

-        Claudia Haydt, Information Centre Militarization, Germany

-        Tatiana Zdanoka, MEP, Green Party, Latvia (tbc)


15:00 – 17:00 Working groups

-        Military spending

-        Nuclear weapons and weapons in space

-        How to overcome the war against terror?

-        Militarization and women rights

19:00 Public event: Peace politics in Europe – for a Europe of peace and social justice, for a common security

-        Barbara Lee, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, USA (video message)

-        Ann Wright, former Colonel of the US army, USA

-        Maite Mola, Vice President of the European Left, Spain

-        Reiner Braun, International Peace Bureau/ IALANA, Germany

-        NN Poland

-        NN Russia

-        Tarja Cronberg, former MEP, Green Party, Finland

Saturday July 9th

-        Demonstration

-        Peace gathering: exchange of information and lesson learnt from peace movements in Europe

-        Cultural evening event

Sunday July 10th

9:30 till 11:00 Special forum on refugees, migration and wars

Introduction: Lucas Wirl, No to War – No to NATO

11.30 till 13:30 How to come to peace in Europe? Ideas for strategy

With 10 minute introduction

13:30 END, Afterwards: common lunch


REGISTRATION and further information:

Talk Nation Radio: Paul Engler on THIS IS AN UPRISING

Paul Engler is founding director of the Center for the Working Poor and one of the founders of Momentum Training. He is co-author of the new book: This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century.

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

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Tomgram: William Astore, America's Post-Democratic Military

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

Belgium attacks: more proof that the TSA is useless

The bomb attacks in Belgium today -- three of them, two at different locations in the airport and one in the subway -- present in high relief yet more proof  of what some us have been pointing out for years: the TSA is a charade. The TSA does not and cannot and will never prevent terror attacks. All the pre-boarding bullying, harassing, scanning, and groping doesn't make a damn bit of difference, because -- duh -- people can set off bombs anywhere, not just on a plane.  

Tomgram: Adam Hochschild, A Corporation Goes to War

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

Focus: Donald Trump and the GOP Establishment - Mar 21, 2016


Trump: If GOP takes my nomination 'a lot of unhappy people', supporters won't vote in the general elections -

VIDEO: Donald Trump Interview at 'ABC This Week' - YouTube

RNC chair says GOP prepping for possible brokered convention - NY Daily News

VIDEO: RNC chair Reince Priebus: Nothing nefarious about an open convention - YouTube

TRANSCRIPT: Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, Denis McDonough, and Sen. Mitch McConnell on ‘ABC This Week'- ABC News

Republican leaders map a strategy to derail Donald Trump - The New York Times

Trump to huddle with influential Republicans in D.C. ahead of AIPAC speech - The Washington Post

Some RNC members weighs scrapping convention rule book to head off anti-Trump maneuvers - Washington Times

Conservatives call for anti-Trump unity, hint at a Cruz-Kasich ticket - POLITICO

Kasich responds to anti-Trump forces ‘split the map’ strategy -

Graham: Trump is a "demagogue of the greatest proportion” (VIDEO) - CBS News

PAC Club for Growth nets $4 million for fight against Trump - POLITICO

Anti-Trump super-PAC Our Principles raises $4.8 Million in February - Bloomberg Politics

Here's Everything the Republican party is doing to try to stop Donald Trump -

Lifelong Republican: voting for Trump is 'the middle finger vote' to a good ole boy system that lines the pockets of elites in Washington while neglecting working men and women -

Donald Trump's campaign threatens to steal tea party thunder - LA Times

Democrats beware: Donald Trump is finding success well outside the Republican fringe - LA Times

Donald Trump's type of voter found in big numbers in Pennsylvania, nearly 55,000 voters switched registration from Democrat to Republican this year - The Morning Call

VIDEO: Judge Jeanine Pirro pro-Trump opening statement: Donald Trump Vs the GOP establishment - YouTube

POLL: Trump still holds 15-point lead over Cruz nationally - Rasmussen Reports

Donald Trump Owes At Least $250 Million to Banks - WSJ



Man charged with allegedly punching and kicking anti-Trump protester at rally - ABC News

VIDEO: Protester punched and kicked at Donald Trump rally - YouTube

New York anti-Trump protest draws thousands; some detained and pepper-sprayed after scuffle with cops (VIDEO) - NY Daily News

VIDEO: Violence and pepper spray at anti-Trump rally in New York - YouTube

Protesters block road to Trump rally In Arizona, supporters getting out of their cars and walking to the rally (VIDEO, PHOTOS) - Huffington Post

Trump campaign manager accused of another physical altercation, appears to have grabbed a protester by the collar - POLITICO

VIDEO: Here is Donald Trump's campaign manager in the Tucson crowd grabbing the collar of a protester - Jacqueline Alemany on Twitter

Anti-Trump protester April Foster charged with hitting police horse in Kansas City - Breitbart

Donald Trump's sister, son receive threatening letters demanding that the billionaire drop out of the presidential race -


Donald Trump's campaign to add rally security amid violence - Bloomberg Politics

Donald Trump says protesters are violating his First Amendment rights -

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Hillary Clinton backed the coup: Shine the Light of Truth on Poor Honduras

By John Grant


Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places in the world.

U.S. Air Force's Ability to Deliver Death But Not Food Is A Choice

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

aircraft drops pallets of water and food 959ae

According to news reports, there are areas of Syria where people are literally starving to death, and where the United Nations is attempting to drop food from the air but missing its target so wildly that the food is damaged or simply cannot be found.

A U.S. Air Force expert on dropping food from great heights in high winds has given what most people will take for a technical comment but which is actually a devastating moral condemnation of U.S. and Western governments' priorities:

"For high-altitude, high-accuracy drops, the U.S. military uses a technology known as the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS), which has been deployed for only about a decade. The system includes a dropsonde, a sort of probe that's dropped prior to the cargo to take readings of wind speed and direction, which it sends to the mission planning software. That data helps planners determine their Computed Air Release Point, or CARP. Once the payload is dropped, onboard actuators and a steerable parafoil canopy help guide the pallet to its target. That's critical, Al says, because a pallet dropped from 20,000 feet will take five or six minutes to reach the ground, and will be subject to wind that entire time. 'It's always windy up high,' Al says. JPADS systems cost about $60,000 apiece and usually must be recovered on the ground after a drop. 'You wouldn't use it for a purely humanitarian drop.'"

Read that last bit again. Because this technology costs $60,000, you would not use it merely to save the lives of human beings. If you were using it to take the lives of human beings, then it would of course be a drop in the bucket of cash you'd be willing to blow, as long as "you" were the U.S. Air Force.

I asked dedicated peace activist Kathy Kelly what she makes of the contrast between the Air Force's claimed ability to blow up a particular individual with a missile from a drone, and its claimed inability to drop food within a mile of a target -- at least without spending money that can't be justified by something as trivial as saving human lives.

"Northrop Grumman spends billions to design spy blimps, drones, persistent threat detection systems and a dizzying array of high-tech surveillance equipment," she said. "Many of these airships hover over , one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan, where the UN reports that 'food insecurity' afflicts over one third of the people. Northrop Grumman executives profit wildly, yet a U.S. government watchdog reported in January of 2016 that 'the Taliban controls more of the country than at any time since U.S. troops invaded in 2001.' Why should U.S. people bamboozle themselves into thinking that funding the so-called defense industry ethically trumps efforts to feed starving people?  

"The 2017 DOD budget request also will contain $71.4 billion for military research. On February 2, 2016, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Economic Club of Washington that the Department of Defense budget requests '$7.5 billion for weapons like GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets.' One research initiative involves creating 'an arsenal plane that turns one of the military's older planes into a flying launch pad for a range of conventional payloads.' Yes, what if deliveries of food pallets topped the list of 'conventional payloads?' The U.S. could become a beloved country, known for extending a generous hand of friendship and care."

What about unmanned planes, also known as drones? Aren't they supposed to serve some useful purpose while avoiding getting pilots shot down? But don't they mostly buzz so high up they can't be shot, and mostly send missiles screaming into people's houses generating ever more hatred and blowback?

"Drone helicopters could be used to bring food," peace activist Nick Mottern tells me, pointing in particular to the pilotless cargo helicopters from Lockheed Martin being tested in Afghanistan. This approach to saving, rather than "bugsplatting" or "pink misting," human lives, could avoid the problems of high wind altogether by landing the drone helicopters on the ground, full of food.

"Using the drone helicopter for food delivery seems to be a very good idea," says Mottern, "and tactics would have to be developed for situations in which the drone would be under fire. Possibly it could be flown at maximum altitude to over the drop zone and then descend rapidly through the column of air over the zone. Or the helicopter might descend to several hundred feet over the drop zone to reduce exposure to ground fire, drop a specially packaged load and then rise again. The point of maximum vulnerability to ground fire would likely be when the helicopter comes for an instant to a dead stop to drop its load, but there might be a tactic that would enable the machine to keep forward motion while flinging its payload on release. There would probably have to be some special balancing controls installed to let this happen, but it should be possible. The Marines were using the K-Max at night, which might be a good tactic for relief operations."

This would mean risking the expense of significantly more than $60,000, as Mottern recognizes: "Of course the use of the drone helicopter would mean that the owner(s) of the helicopter would be willing to risk having it shot down. Ideally world relief organizations would have fleets of them to be able to make adequate relief drops recognizing that some drone helicopters would be lost."

U.S. television advertisement viewers could be forgiven if they imagine the U.S. military to be a world relief organization. Sadly, the trillion dollars a year that the U.S. government puts into militarism may be famously wasteful and unaudited, but it is very tightly controlled in one particular sense: never shall too big a crumb be expended merely on saving human lives.

Understanding Self-Hatred in World Affairs

If you have ever wondered why the global elite hoards their wealth instead of using it to help break down the violence and injustice in our world, I would like to suggest an answer to your question: self-hatred.


If you have ever wondered why weapons manufacturers make weapons to kill other living beings and destroy the Earth, I would like to suggest an answer to your question: self-hatred.

Crimea, Russia Celebrate 2nd anniversary of remarriage



Behind the Crimea/Russia Reunion



Editor Note: Official Washington marches in propaganda lockstep about Crimea’s decision to rejoin Russia two years ago, with references to a Russian “invasion” and a “sham” referendum of Crimea’s voters, but the reality is different.

By Ray McGovern

With high symbolism Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Crimea “to check on the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge, which will link the Crimean peninsula and continental Russia,” the Kremlin announced on Thursday.

Why I won’t be voting for Hillary in November: A Neolib Posing as a Progressive vs. a Reality TV Star Posing as a Fascist

By Dave Lindorff


            I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic Party nomination for president, and I won’t heed Bernie Sanders if, as he has vowed to do, he calls on his supporters to “come together” after the convention, should he lose, to support Clinton and prevent Donald Trump or another Republican from becoming president.


Obama's Seven Slaughters: It's a Disease, Not a Doctrine

By David Swanson, Telesur


Former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg's "The Obama Doctrine" in The Atlantic presents President Barack Obama's view of his own foreign policy (with input from a few of his close subordinates). Obama views himself as a radical leader in military restraint, in brave resistance to war mongers, and in scaling back excessive fear mongering in U.S. culture.

The U.S. President who has overseen the highest Pentagon budget in history, created drone wars, launched wars against the will of Congress, dramatically expanded foreign arms sales and special operations and the arming of proxies, claimed to be "really good at killing people," and openly bragged about having bombed seven nations that are inhabited largely by dark-skinned Muslims, bolsters his "doctrine" by offering accurate antiwar assessments of Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush's wars. (He essentially admits to Reagan's October Surprise negotiations with Iran that sabotaged the 1980 U.S. elections.) Obama's and Goldberg's discussion of Obama's own wars does not display the same accuracy or wisdom.

The Goldberg / Obama portrait is shaped largely by the choice of what to include. The primary focus is on Obama's 2013 reversal of his plan to bomb Syria, with a minor emphasis on his negotiation of the Iran nuclear agreement. Much of his more militaristic behavior is completely ignored or brushed aside in passing reference. And even in those cases that come into focus, myths go unquestioned -- even when they are debunked later in this same book-length article.

Goldberg writes as unquestioned fact that "Assad's army had murdered more than 1,400 civilians with Sarin gas" many paragraphs prior to stating that one of Obama's reasons for reversing course on bombing Syria was the CIA's warning that this claim was "not a slam dunk." Goldberg writes that "the strong sentiment inside the Obama administration was that Assad had earned dire punishment." Thus a proposal to drop 500-pound bombs all over Syria, killing countless people, is made respectable in Washington by depicting it as revenge, and nowhere does Goldberg mention oil pipelines, a Russian rivalry, the overthrow of Assad as a step toward Iranian overthrow, or other factors actually at work for which the dubious chemical weapons claims served as an excuse to bomb.

Of course, not bombing was the right thing to do, and Obama deserves praise for it, while Hillary Clinton's publicly stated belief that this was the wrong decision, and John Kerry's continued private advocacy for bombing, are reprehensible. It's also quite valuable that Obama does something rare in this article when he admits that public and Congressional and British opposition to bombing Syria helped prevent him from committing that crime. This is clearly not a false claim but the admission of what is generally denied by U.S. politicians whom even the public cheers for their usual pretense of ignoring polls and protests.

But the public was even more opposed in polls (if less engaged as activists) to arming proxies in Syria. Obama commissioned a CIA report on the past success or failure of such operations, and the CIA admitted there had been no successes (except in 1980s Afghanistan, which involved a bit of well-known blowback). So, Obama chose not, as he puts it, to "do stupid shit," opting instead to do halfway stupid shit, which proved quite predictably to make matters worse, and to make cries for even stupider shit shriller.

In a similar manner, though it goes virtually unmentioned in Goldberg's tome, Obama has launched wars with drones that he has viewed as the exercise of great restraint in comparison to the launching of ground wars. But the drone wars kill large numbers and do so just as indiscriminately, and they contribute to the destabilization of nations just as disastrously. When Obama was holding up Yemen as a model success, some of us were pointing out that the drone war had not replaced some other kind of war but would probably lead to one. Now, Obama, whose "doctrine" claims to have discovered the unimportance of the Middle East (in comparison with the supposed need to build up for wars in the Far East), is dealing unprecedented levels of weapons to Middle Eastern nations, first and foremost to Saudi Arabia. And Obama's military is collaborating in the Saudi bombing of Yemen, which is killing thousands and fueling al Qaeda. Obama, through Goldberg, blames his Saudi policy on "foreign-policy orthodoxy," which somehow "compels" him to do this particular stupid shit -- if that's a sufficiently harsh term for mass murder.

Obama's Only-Do-Halfway-Stupid-Shit doctrine has proven most disastrous where it has succeeded in overthrowing governments, as in Libya. Obama now says that illegally overthrowing the Libyan government "didn't work." But the President pretends, and Goldberg lets him, that the United Nations authorized that action, that the best laid plans were made for after the regime change (in fact, none were), and that Gadaffi was threatening to slaughter civilians in Benghazi. Obama even seems to claim that things would have been even worse somehow without his criminal action. That he's resumed bombing Libya in an effort to fix what he broke by bombing Libya gets the barest mention.

Obama's doctrine has also included tripling down on the stupidest of stupid shit. Through Goldberg he blames the Pentagon for imposing an escalation of troops in Afghanistan on him, though the escalation he has in mind is clearly the second one he oversaw, not the first, the one that tripled the war he'd inherited, not the one that doubled it and which he'd promised as a candidate for the presidency. When military commanders publicly insisted on that escalation, Obama said nothing. When one of them made some minor rude comments to Rolling Stone, in contrast, Obama fired him.

Obama laughably claims to be an internationalist (in part, he brags, because he's forced other countries to buy more weapons). This is the same Obama whose abuse of the U.N. in attacking Libya finally moved China and Russia to block a similar attempt on Syria. Obama even claims that he backed off bombing Syria in 2013 because the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power of war. This is the same Obama who has since been bombing Syria and who told Congress in his final State of the Union speech that he'd wage wars with or without them -- as he's done in Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, etc. Goldberg even quotes an "expert" characterizing the Obama doctrine as "spending less" despite Obama's increases in military spending.

Goldberg's Obama uses the military primarily for human rights, supported the uprising of the Arab Spring, and has developed a very sage and serious approach to ISIS based on his analysis of a Batman movie. ISIS, in Goldberg's telling, was created by the Saudis and Gulf states plus Assad, with no mention of the U.S. role in destroying Iraq or arming Syrian rebels. In fact, Obama, through Goldberg, restates the imperial view that backward Middle Easterners suffer from millennia-old tribalism, while the United States brings humanitarian services to all it touches. In Obama-Goldberg history, Russia invaded Crimea, only the threat of war made Syria give up its chemical weapons, and Rwanda was a missed opportunity for war, not the result of U.S.-backed war and assassination.

"Sometimes you have to take a life to save even more lives," says Obama confidant John Brennan, pushing the drone propaganda also found in the film, Eye in the Sky. Facts are apparently irrelevant to a portrait of a president. Obama, who signed an executive order last year ridiculously declaring Venezuela to be a national security threat tells Goldberg that he wisely came into office in 2009 and squashed any silly idea that Venezuela was any kind of threat. Goldberg's Obama is a peacemaker with Russia whose weapons build-up on Russia's border goes unmentioned, as does the coup in Ukraine, even as Obama packs insults of Vladimir Putin into this article.

The fact is that Barack Obama has slaughtered human beings with missiles and bombs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia -- and every one of those places is worse off for it. He's passing his successor greater war-making powers than ever possessed by any previous member of the human species. The unquestioned assumptions of his doctrine look more like a disease. There's little an American president could do to make things better in the Middle East, he says, never stopping to consider the possibility of halting arms shipments, stopping the bombings, grounding the drones, ceasing the overthrows, dropping support for dictators, withdrawing troops, paying reparations, giving aid, shifting to green energy, and treating others with respectful cooperation. Those sorts of things just don't qualify as a doctrine in Washington, D.C.

Protest Trump in DC

Its outrageous (but not surprising) that Donald Trump will be speaking Monday at the The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington D.C. Join CODEPINK outside the conference to protest both Trump and AIPAC’s dangerous racist, Islamophobic rhetoric which foments hatred and undermines efforts to achieve peace. 

When: Monday March 21 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM 

Where: Verizon Center 601 F St NW, Washington, DC - 
F St Entrance between 6th St and 7th St 

RSVP here. If you can, bring your handmade sign.

Co-sponsors include: CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace - D.C. chapter, Roots Action, Peace Action Montgomery, Interfaith Peace Builders, Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace.
Know Your Rights/Civil Disobedience Training Saturday March 19 3:00 PM. Contact to attend.

NOWRUZ - Being with the Afghan New Year
"We the young generation of this country have extend our hands together to build a green and equal world for all Women in Afghanistan and the World.” 

The Borderfree Cycling Solidarity ride, 9th March 2016

Speak with the Afghan Peace Volunteers

Monday, March 21, 2016

Beginning at 4 pm Kabul, Afghanistan time; 7:30 am Eastern time (US)

Feeling the warmth of Spring : Nowruz is here, now!
Growing peace from a good relationship with our friends in war-torn places.

Listen to the conversation live:

4 –  7pm : Kabul, Afghanistan
1:30 – 4:30 pm : Gaza, Palestine; Israel
12:30 – 3:30 pm  : UK
7:30 – 10:30 am : Eastern time US 

JOIN THE CALL see the schedule

to join the call write to:

We welcome friends from Canada, France, Gaza, the US,
and look forward to expanding the conversation to borderfree friends all over the globe.

Day Seven at the ICJ: Making a Big Fuss


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) today concluded the preliminary phase of oral arguments in nuclear disarmament cases brought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The hearings, which took place at the ICJ from 7-16 March, were the first contentious cases on nuclear disarmament ever heard at the Court. This set of hearings addressed the respondent nations’ objections to the cases relating to questions of jurisdiction and admissibility.

This morning, India delivered its final oral arguments. India’s legal team doubled down on its assertions that its words speak louder than its actions. While repeatedly highlighting “irrefutable evidence of India’s positions in United Nations forums on disarmament,” India’s lawyers denied that test-launches of nuclear-capable missiles – including on Day One and Day Three of the ICJ’s hearings in the case against India – indicated participation in the nuclear arms race.

Mr. Amandeep Gill, Co-Agent of India, expressed dismay that Tony de Brum, Co-Agent of the Marshall Islands, told the Court that India’s nuclear arsenal threatens the world. “What else,” asked Mr. Gill, “could be more political, more contrived and more artificial than this allegation of a threat to the world?” A 2013 report by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War entitled “Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk” shows that, even in a “limited” nuclear war using as few as 100 nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, the global climate and agricultural production would be disrupted so severely that the lives of more than two billion people would be in jeopardy.

Mr. Alain Pellet, Counsel to India, wondered aloud why the Marshall Islands is now “making such a big fuss” about the International Court of Justice’s 1996 Advisory Opinion. The ICJ ruled in that opinion that for all nations, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

In the afternoon session, the Marshall Islands presented its final oral arguments in the case against the United Kingdom. Phon van den Biesen opened the session by answering the question posed by Judge Bennouna at the Court last Friday. Mr. van den Biesen presented numerous examples to the judges illustrating the Marshall Islands’ interpretation of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the time that its Application against the United Kingdom was filed (24 April 2014).

Tony de Brum, Co-Agent and former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, concluded today’s arguments against the United Kingdom. He said, “The States possessing nuclear weapons that joined the NPT made a legally binding promise, in accordance with the goals they expressly adopted in the NPT Preamble, to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race, pursuant to Article VI.  The dispute in this case is over whether the UK is in breach of that bargained-for, legal obligation.”

He continued, “At the end of the day, the UK position boils down to an assertion that the RMI has no legally enforceable rights under NPT Article VI. If that were true, the Strategic Bargain of the NPT is illusory.” The strategic bargain to which Mr. de Brum referred is, at its core, that NPT signatories that possess nuclear weapons promise to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear weapons in exchange for non-nuclear-armed signatories agreeing never to acquire such weapons.

Mr. de Brum again asked the Court “to adjudge and declare that the Court has jurisdiction over the claims of the Marshall Islands submitted in its Application of 24 April 2014; and to adjudge and declare that the Marshall Islands’ claims are admissible.”

The 15 judges of the ICJ, along with judge-ad-hoc Mohammed Bedjaoui, will now deliberate on jurisdiction and admissibility issues raised in the written and oral pleadings. The Court will announce its decisions in a public sitting at a date to be announced.

Hillary Is A Neocon

She has the record and the vision

"For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be." —Robert Kagan

"I have a sense that she's one of the more competent members of the current administration and it would be interesting to speculate about how she might perform were she to be president." —Dick Cheney

"I've known her for many years now, and I respect her intellect. And she ran the State Department in the most effective way that I've ever seen." —Henry Kissinger

Nobody Beats This Record

  • She says President Obama was wrong not to launch missile strikes on Syria in 2013.
  • She pushed hard for the overthrow of Qadaffi in 2011.
  • She supported the coup government in Honduras in 2009.
  • She has backed escalation and prolongation of war in Afghanistan.
  • She voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • She skillfully promoted the White House justification for the war on Iraq.
  • She does not hesitate to back the use of drones for targeted killing.
  • She has consistently backed the military initiatives of Israel.
  • She was not ashamed to laugh at the killing of Qadaffi.
  • She has not hesitated to warn that she could obliterate Iran.
  • She is not afraid to antagonize Russia.
  • She helped facilitate a military coup in Ukraine.
  • She has the financial support of the arms makers and many of their foreign customers.
  • She waived restrictions at the State Department on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all states wise enough to donate to the Clinton Foundation.
  • She supported President Bill Clinton's wars and the power of the president to make war without Congress.
  • She has advocated for arming fighters in Syria.
  • She supported a surge in Iraq even before President Bush did.

Further Reading




Promote Democracy Without Bombs

Demand Democratic Superdelegates Represent Their Constituents at the National Convention.

Kick the War Habit

Pledge to Work to End War.

Know anybody who just doesn't get it? Forward this to them!


The Trillion Dollar Question

By Lawrence S. Wittner

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

The expenditure is for a 30-year program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities.  Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died.  It has been replaced by an administration plan to build a new generation of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities to last the nation well into the second half of the twenty-first century.  This plan, which has received almost no attention by the mass media, includes redesigned nuclear warheads, as well as new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants.  The estimated cost?  $1,000,000,000,000.00—or, for those readers unfamiliar with such lofty figures, $1 trillion. 

Critics charge that the expenditure of this staggering sum will either bankrupt the country or, at the least, require massive cutbacks in funding for other federal government programs.  “We’re . . . wondering how the heck we’re going to pay for it,” admitted Brian McKeon, an undersecretary of defense.  And we’re “probably thanking our stars we won’t be here to have to have to answer the question,” he added with a chuckle.

Of course, this nuclear “modernization” plan violates the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the nuclear powers to engage in nuclear disarmament.  The plan is also moving forward despite the fact that the U.S. government already possesses roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons that can easily destroy the world.  Although climate change might end up accomplishing much the same thing, a nuclear war does have the advantage of terminating life on earth more rapidly.

This trillion dollar nuclear weapons buildup has yet to inspire any questions about it by the moderators during the numerous presidential debates.  Even so, in the course of the campaign, the presidential candidates have begun to reveal their attitudes toward it.

On the Republican side, the candidates—despite their professed distaste for federal expenditures and “big government”—have been enthusiastic supporters of this great leap forward in the nuclear arms race.  Donald Trump, the frontrunner, contended in his presidential announcement speech that “our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work,” insisting that it is out of date.  Although he didn’t mention the $1 trillion price tag for “modernization,” the program is clearly something he favors, especially given his campaign’s focus on building a U.S. military machine “so big, powerful, and strong that no one will mess with us.”

His Republican rivals have adopted a similar approach.  Marco Rubio, asked while campaigning in Iowa about whether he supported the trillion dollar investment in new nuclear weapons, replied that “we have to have them.  No country in the world faces the threats America faces.”  When a peace activist questioned Ted Cruz on the campaign trail about whether he agreed with Ronald Reagan on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the Texas senator replied:  “I think we’re a long way from that and, in the meantime, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves.  The best way to avoid war is to be strong enough that no one wants to mess with the United States.”  Apparently, Republican candidates are particularly worried about being “messed with.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been more ambiguous about her stance toward a dramatic expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  Asked by a peace activist about the trillion dollar nuclear plan, she replied that she would “look into that,” adding:  “It doesn’t make sense to me.”  Even so, like other issues that the former secretary of defense has promised to “look into,” this one remains unresolved.  Moreover, the “National Security” section of her campaign website promises that she will maintain the “strongest military the world has ever known”—not a propitious sign for critics of nuclear weapons.

Only Bernie Sanders has adopted a position of outright rejection.  In May 2015, shortly after declaring his candidacy, Sanders was asked at a public meeting about the trillion dollar nuclear weapons program.  He replied:  “What all of this is about is our national priorities.  Who are we as a people?  Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex” that “has never seen a war that they didn’t like?  Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting?”  In fact, Sanders is one of only three U.S. Senators who support the SANE Act, legislation that would significantly reduce U.S. government spending on nuclear weapons.  In addition, on the campaign trail, Sanders has not only called for cuts in spending on nuclear weapons, but has affirmed his support for their total abolition.

Nevertheless, given the failure of the presidential debate moderators to raise the issue of nuclear weapons “modernization,” the American people have been left largely uninformed about the candidates’ opinions on this subject.  So, if Americans would like more light shed on their future president’s response to this enormously expensive surge in the nuclear arms race, it looks like they are the ones who are going to have to ask the candidates the trillion dollar question.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany.  His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

$1,000 Prize for First Place Peace Essay

2016 Peace Essay-Response Contest Rules

The West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition is once again sponsoring a Peace Essay Contest with a $1,000.00 award to the winner, $300 for the runner-up, and $100 for third place. As in the previous year’s contest, essays will have to be directed to a person who can help promote knowledge of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (KBP) and, from whom a response is expected. Essays will be judged not only on the quality of the essay but on the impact of the response. Everyone is eligible to participate; there are no restrictions regarding age or country of residence. Participants are required to take the following 3 steps:

1.To enter the contest send a Peace Essay Request email to coordinator Frank Goetz at Provide your Name, Mailing Address, Email Address, Phone Number, and, if under 19, Age. Also, provide the Name and Position of the person or persons to whom the Essay will be directed. Your application acceptance as a contest participant will be acknowledged in an email containing your assigned 4-digit Essay Number. [If information is missing or confusing you will be contacted by email or phone.]

2.In 800 words or less write your essay on: How Can We Obey the Law Against War? As soon as possible but at least by April 15, 2016 send the essay to the person named in your application and a copy to with your Essay Number in the Subject line.

3. By May 15, 2016 send Essay Response documentation to with your Essay Number in the Subject line.

Some examples of impact:

  1. The President agrees to explain the limitations placed on the government by KBP.

  2. A member of congress supports a resolution to make August 27 a Day of Reflection.

  3. The ACT or SAT administration agrees to include questions regarding KBP.

  4. A newspaper includes a KBP story.

  5. A school board revises its curriculum to expand KBP studies.

  6. A religious leader calls for nonviolent actions.

Act now: We may have to limit the number of contestants and it takes time to get responses. We will announce the Winners at a festive event honoring the 88th Anniversary of the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 2016.

What No One in the Media Has Asked the Candidates About War

If you can get presidential candidates in the Democratic or Republican parties to answer any of these, please let me know.

1. President Obama's 2017 budget proposal, according to the National Priorities Project, devotes 54% of discretionary spending (or $622.6 billion) to militarism. This figure does not include care for veterans or debt payments on past military spending. Is the percentage of discretionary spending now devoted to militarism, as compared to what you would propose for 2018,
_______too high,
_______too low,
_______just right.
Approximately what level would you propose? ______________________.

2. The United States budgets approximately $25 billion per year for non-military foreign aid, which is less per capita or in relation to the nation's economy than many other countries. Is the percentage of discretionary spending now devoted to non-military foreign aid, as compared to what you would propose for 2018,
_______too high,
_______too low,
_______just right.
Approximately what level would you propose? ______________________.

3. Does the Kellogg-Briand Pact forbid war? _____________________.

4. Does the United Nations Charter forbid war that is neither actually defensive nor authorized by the United Nations Security Council? _________________.

5. Does the U.S. Constitution require a Congressional declaration of war? __________________.

6. Do the anti-torture and war crimes statutes in the U.S. code ban torture? _________________.

7. Does the U.S. Constitution forbid imprisoning people without charge or trial? ________________.

8. The United States is the leading weapons supplier, through sales and gifts, to the Middle East, as to the world. In what ways would you reduce this arms trade?_______________________ _________________ ______________________ _________________________ _________________________ ___________________ _________________ _________________ ____________________.

9. Does the U.S. president have the legal authority to kill people with missiles from drones or manned airplanes or by any other means? Where does that legal authority originate? _____________ ____________ __________ ___________________ _________________ ______________ ___________________ __________________.

10. The United States military has troops in at least 175 countries. Some 800 bases house hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in some 70 foreign nations, not including numerous "trainers" and participants in "non-permanent" exercises that last indefinitely, at a cost over $100 billion a year. Is this,
_____ too many,
_____ too few,
_____ just right.
What level would be appropriate? ___________ ________________ ________________ _______________ ____________.

11. Would you end U.S. war making in
_____ Afghanistan
_____ Iraq
_____ Syria
_____ Libya
_____ Somalia
_____ Pakistan
_____ Yemen

12. Does the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty require the United States to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control? ________.

13. Would you sign and encourage ratification of,
________ the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
________ the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
________ the Convention on Cluster Munitions
________ the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
________ the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture
________ the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
________ the proposed treaty on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space

14. Should the U.S. government continue to subsidize
______ fossil fuels
______ nuclear energy

15. How, and how much, would you propose to invest in bringing renewable, green, non-nuclear energy to the United States and the world? ______________ _______________ _____________ ________________ _____________ ________________ ____________ ______________ ___________________ _________________.

Focus: Bernie Sanders - Mar 17, 2016


Following the results of yesterday’s primaries, the odds are against Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination at the convention according to the delegate and superdelegate math. There are primaries in the coming weeks that will give a clearer picture. More than half of the delegates are yet to be chosen and the next races may favor Sanders campaign while the past primaries have been in Clinton territory. Clinton is winning the Democratic nomination thanks to the super Pac and rich donor money which finances her campaign and the campaigns of the Democratic congressmen that endorsed her. The Democratic party machine and a sympathetic media coverage promote her candidacy notwithstanding her domestic failures, foreign policy blunders and revelations about her private email server and the Clinton Foundation dealings.

It may come the time for Sanders to consider the option of running as an independent for President if he does not collect enough delegates to win the nomination, which is likely unless there is a political earthquake such as Hillary Clinton indicted by the FBI or else. There are more than seven months to the November elections, an arc of time long enough to turn events around. Sanders and the movement, which he represents, deserve to make their case until the November elections given the crucial issues facing the nation. As shown in several polls Clinton won the majority of Democrats in most primaries and Sanders won the independents and the new voters, two groups that will have more weight in the November elections than in the primaries which are slanted in favor of the political parties. 

If Sanders runs as an independent for President chances are he will not be a “spoiler,” the label used against third-party candidate Nader when Gore lost to Bush in 2000. On the contrary Sanders may attract Trump low-income supporters who share his same concerns on the issues of jobs, trade, economic inequality, health insurance, college tuition, etc. On the other end Hillary Clinton may lose in a matchup with Trump or Cruz because of her political past and a majority of Americans think she is not honest and trustworthy. Personally I think that Sanders has a chance to win a three way contest between him, Clinton and Trump (or Cruz.) 

Time will run out to be an independent candidate for President if Sanders wants to go this route. There are deadlines for gaining ballot access to run as an independent or 3rd party candidate in every state starting with Texas on May 9, North Carolina June 9, Illinois June 27, Indiana and New Mexico June 30 and so on. Here are filing deadlines and signature requirements for independent presidential candidates in all states.


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)


By Robert C. Koehler

The snaking line was more than a mile long. Thousands of us had been waiting for hours in the bitter cold to get into Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre to hear Bernie Sanders speak. It was Monday night. The Illinois and four other state primaries were the next day and, as has been the case for the last three weeks now, the fate of the country — and the planet — seemed to hang in the balance.

Signs were everywhere: A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN, of course. And FEEL THE BERN, and variations thereof. BERNIE: PROPHET, HILLARY: PROFIT. And my favorite: SHAMANS FOR SANDERS.

The elevated train — Chicago’s L — rattled and clattered overhead at regular intervals, adding random noise to the windy, exhilarating night. Cheers erupted here and there for no apparent reason. The camaraderie was joyous. Even the police were friendly.

What if Trump people showed up and tried to start something? That rumor had been hovering for several days, but here in the midst of this crowd nothing seemed more preposterous. “If Trump people show up we need to show them love,” a woman standing nearby said. “Welcome them! Invite them to be one of us!” This was the sort of energy that infused the crowd. If nothing else, it flooded the cold March night with warmth.

And people chanted: “This is what democracy looks like!”

Oh Lord.

What I thought was: Maybe they’re right. A day and a half later, as I write, I’m still transfixed by those words, even though all the energy has scattered. Democracy is about depth of participation, not about winning and losing. And something is happening this election cycle that is opening up a participatory consciousness I haven’t felt, at least at the national level, in four decades.

What I want is more than a fleeting image of democracy on a bitter Chicago night. I want a lasting sense of social involvement and participation in crucial change. This is what democracy looks like. Democracy is the precondition of social evolution. And for this to occur at the national and global level — for society to reorganize itself in a way that defangs the four horsemen of social collapse: war, poverty, racism and climate change — we have to be engaged not as spectators but at the level of every human soul.

The doors opened. A huge segment of the waiting crowd did not get in, but I made it. Wow. A burst of light and warmth in the historic old theater. Jill Sobule is on stage with her guitar. “When they say they want America back . . . America back . . . what the fuck do they mean?”

Speakers address the crowd. Someone says: “The only thing that’s been able to trump hatred and fear is beauty and love.” Old rock music fills the air. Twentysomethings get up and start to dance. A mom in front of me is holding a month-old baby and I can hardly contain my emotions.

The candidate himself didn’t step onto the stage till 11 p.m. He went nonstop for about 40 minutes, addressing, by my count, 15 issues, none of which — of course! — were part of the media coverage of the primaries. Here are a few highlights:

·        “This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. We need to invest in our children. Get our priorities right. We are not going to be shutting down schools while Wall Street makes huge profits. . . . No more water systems that poison children.”

·        “This should be a country with the highest voter turnout, not one of the lowest.”

·        “Together we are going to repair a broken criminal justice system. . . . We need to demilitarize the police.”

·        “Substance abuse is a health issue, not a criminal issue. We need to rethink the so-called war on drugs.”

·        “There are 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. living in fear: We need comprehensive immigration reform.”

·         “The way we have treated Native Americans for centuries is an absolute disgrace.”

·        “Barack Obama’s father was born in Kenya. My father was born in Poland, but no one is asking me for my birth certificate. Maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin.”

·        “I’m opposed to death penalty. In a world where there is so much violence, the state should not be a part of that.”

Finally and, it almost seemed, reluctantly, Sanders brought up the matter of war. He condemned the Iraq invasion as one of the worst blunders in American history and added: “I will do everything I can to see that the men and women in the military do not get sucked into perpetual war.”

Yeah, this is what democracy looks like, on both the inside and the outside. I hear the words of the one major-party candidate who dares to question America’s militarized relationship with the rest of the world. I also hear the wiggle room. I wish Sanders’ stance on war and the unfathomable U.S. military budget had the certainty of most of his other policy positions; and I wonder if his momentum — his reach into the soul of the electorate — would be more powerful if that were the case.

I know this much. When I hear someone dismiss Sanders’ social programs, such as free college tuition, on the grounds that “the money’s not there,” I will ask why nobody ever says: “We can’t develop the next generation of nuclear weapons; the money’s just not there!”

When it comes to militarism, I have yet to see what democracy looks like.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. Contact him at or visit his website at


The Unmentionable

By Winslow Myers

The silence is breathtaking. Not once has a professional journalist raised the question about the issue in all the debates of either party. If any citizen broached a concern about it in close encounters with candidates during the primaries, it’s news to me.

I’m speaking, of course, about the plans of the United States government to spend upwards of a trillion dollars over the next few decades to renew our already bloated nuclear arsenal.

In the long, painful history of war, every weapon invented has eventually been used. There is no reason nuclear weapons will be any different—sadly we witnessed this in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But wait, maybe there is a reason it could be different with nukes. That reason is a ray of hope and sanity: computer models suggest that a war that used as few as .05% of nuclear weapons in the world’s arsenals could cause worldwide climate change and subsequent famine. What makes this hopeful, and not a further nightmare?

Because the absolute negativity of nuclear winter is something all nations share as the context of negotiation toward less and less rather than more and more, or newer and newer, weapons systems. Our military rationalizes renewal by saying they are developing smaller and more precise nuclear weapons. This only makes more likely the possibility of crossing the nuclear threshold in the midst of battle. The hope that escalation can be controlled is a mirage.

Many of us have serious reservations about letting someone like Mr. Trump anywhere near such weapons. The truth is that they are way too powerful for any human, no matter how smart or professionally trained, to use as a strategic tool.

Obsolete establishment logic goes like this: the only way to make sure these horrendous weapons will never be used is for the U.S. to possess overwhelming nuclear superiority. Politicians cling to this unworkable status quo because disarmament plans with teeth are a political third rail. Admitting the futility of nuclear strategy suggests to the electorate appeasement or cowardice, leaving aside the threat to the bottom line of weapons manufacturers. Dr. Ashton Carter, our Secretary of Defense, recently gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club firmly declaring the unavoidability of the trillion-dollar upgrade.

We don’t have to be experts to see that this is nonsense posing as sober-sided necessity. Carter’s confident assertion only becomes an incentive for other nuclear powers to keep up. We build, they build, toward an inevitable omega-point of misunderstanding, misjudgment, and mass death.

Meanwhile where is that trillion dollars really needed, if we are to have any realistic chance of preventing tragedy? Wouldn’t it be to mitigate the effects of global climate change, the disruptions of which strategists predict will be the major cause of future conflicts? Wouldn’t it be to accelerate the process of global transition to sustainable energy and agriculture? A trillion would be more than enough.

Whether in Russia or China, in Israel or North Korea, in India or Pakistan, in Britain or the U.S., the empire of deterrence has no clothes. The U.S. should lead by example and begin to cut back on present levels of armaments, instead of doing just the opposite as the primary driver of a race toward the ever-receding goal of superiority.

We should participate vigorously in existing conferences on nuclear weapons built around helping the nine present nuclear powers to live up to our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. We should aggressively advocate for new conferences, weapons sales bans, and weapons-free areas. Twenty-four American cities or counties, points of common sense in a sea of darkness, have declared themselves nuclear-free zones.

The community of nations—and without nuclear weapons we would indeed be more of a community—choosing together to turn away from certain mass death and toward life for all will be a useful precedent for finding solutions to other international challenges including global climate instability.

Let’s mention the unmentionable, and urge candidates to tell us where they stand on nuclear weapons renewal as a crucial test of our national vision.

Winslow Myers, the author of Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide, writes on global issues and serves on the advisory board of the War Prevention Initiative.

Secession, Trump, and the Avoidability of Civil War

The Governor of California has joked about building a wall all the way around his state if Donald Trump becomes president of the other 49. Secession would not be a joke had it not been given an undeserved bad name. It would not have that bad name but for our universal acceptance of imperialism and of an overly simplistic history of the U.S. Civil War.

Slavery in the U.S. South was widespread through World War II, Jim Crow through the 1960s, mass incarceration through the current day, and bitterness over the Civil War for the foreseeable future. Had the U.S. avoided civil war through a compromise that restricted slavery to existing slave states, or even through a compromise that allowed its possible expansion, or through simply allowing states to secede without war, the net result might have been good or bad. A few things are certain. The bitterness over the war would not exist, the 700,000 killed and many more injured and the incredible destruction of burned cities and fields would not have happened, and war would not have been glorified during the childhoods of the generation that would launch global U.S. imperialism at the dawn of the 20th century.

Very likely, in addition, slavery would have ended more quickly and more thoroughly than it did. Of course, that cannot be stated with certainty. But a nation half-slave, half-free that sought to work through problems without war would have very likely ended slavery through some form of compensated emancipation fairly quickly, bringing up the rear in a global process of liberation. Two or more smaller nations that sought to avoid war would have very likely also put an end to slavery in the one or more nations maintaining it, in part because of international and economic forces and the absence of a fugitive slave law, but also because smaller nations, all else equal, have an easier time achieving democracy. If we had smaller nations on this continent now, or if we were to choose to in the future, we would see the ability of people to bring popular pressure to bear on the governments soar.

Of course, it's anything but an easy moral question whether 4 million people should be left enslaved another moment, or whether a nation should launch a war that might benefit them, though in the end it actually brought very limited and short-lived gains along with 700,000 killed and numerous disastrous results for decades to come. Not only are the results known only after the war, but the moral question has been invented after the war. Many in the North did not want a war to free slaves. A draft had to finally be created, as in the South as well, to compel people to kill and die. And those in power in Washington, including President-elect Lincoln, did not want war to free the slaves, only to prevent the expansion of slavery westward. When the South would not agree to restricting slavery to its current boundaries, Northern decision makers chose to launch a war over "union" -- preferring slaughter to permitting the South, or some part of it, to leave.

Mark Tooley has published a book called The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War. It may remain a forgotten story for at least four reasons that leap out at me. First, Tooley adds in so much gossip-column fluff on clothes and parties and families and churches that it's almost physically impossible to make it through his book if you're looking only for what happened at the conference; this is truly a shame in a culture that already considers peace boring and war exciting. Second, Tooley concludes that the war was "inevitable" anyway, so why should you care? (And why did he give his book the title he did?) Third, Tooley almost completely overlooks the possibility that was most open to the North, namely allowing the South to leave in peace. Fourth, if you look into the details and consider how easily peace might have been chosen instead of war, you may feel a bit of discomfort in your mind. You may come up against the fact that many nations did end slavery without a civil war, and then have to start questioning whether in fact lots of other wars have also been "inevitable."

A strong case could be made that the peace conference was begun too late. Seven states had already seceded. A conference on peaceful secession before secession, or a conference on a slavery compromise before secession, would have been easier. Oh and, by the way, the entire topic of the conference was slavery, not some other vague cause of "states rights" or anything of the sort. Nonetheless, the conference had numerous chances to reach an agreement, and in the end did reach an agreement -- which Congress tossed aside in favor of war, and which Congress was assisted in tossing aside by some members of the peace conference who quickly badmouthed what they had done and opted for war. Among the latter was former U.S. President John Tyler who had chaired the peace conference before returning to Virginia and denouncing it.

Under consideration at the conference was not primarily slavery in the slave states, and certainly not ending it through compensated emancipation, as would be done in Washington, D.C., and numerous foreign countries. At issue was principally the expansion of slavery into the expanding western empire. Both sides insisted on imperial expansion to such an extent that it was truly beyond debate. If they'd been somehow made content with the current size of the country, that too could have resolved the dispute and averted war. So, in that peculiar sense, the Civil War was a war of empire. Delegates from both Northern and Southern states (quite a crowd of former senators and justices and the like) tended also to assume that their choices were either union or war, not peaceful division. A greater willingness to accept peaceful separation could also have averted war.

Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin sent no delegates. William Lloyd Garrison urged the desirability of war. Peace conference delegate Roger Baldwin of Connecticut advocated no compromise with slavery. Some Southern delegates urged no compromise with freedom, even while whining about threats to their own rights and comforts without a thought for those of the people enslaved in their states. The peace conference dragged on unpeacefully for 19 days, with Congress and the states holding their breath and holding off on actions.

Delegate Reverdy Johnson of Maryland made a case for compromise to both sides, urging the North to accept the deal of the old Missouri Compromise as preferable to the Dred Scott decision's ruling that slavery could spread north of latitude 36°30'. Southern delegates were intent on not just preserving slavery but expanding it westward. President-elect Lincoln met with the peace conference and made clear that he would never stand for that and would prefer war; he would leave slavery alone where it existed but never allow it to expand.

After all variety of proposals were heard and rejected, ultimately a compromise was reached by the peace conference that reinstated the Missouri Compromise, required a majority of slave-state senators to approve of new territory, prohibited Congressional interference with slavery, banned the importation of enslaved people from abroad, and affirmed fugitive slave laws but also allowed for compensation paid to an owner to make an escaped slave free. Arguably this final agreement and other proposals that were rejected all propped up slavery more than simply allowing secession would have. The Senate and House quickly took up the peace conference agreement and rejected it. This was a Congress now missing any representatives from eight states, another reason why acting sooner might have succeeded.

During the course of the conference, some hints at another possible course were heard. General Winfield Scott said that dividing the country into four countries would be a "lesser evil" than war. Senator Salmon Chase of Ohio said, "The thing to be done is to let the South go." Former Massachusetts Governor George Boutwell said that the union should be kept free of slavery or not kept. (But he warned ominously that the South could try to annex Mexico and other land, and block the North's expansion to the Pacific. Again, it was all about empire.) Former New York Congressman Francis Granger raised the example of letting the South go as an act too cruel to be considered (so beneficial, apparently, was union with the North). George Summers of Virginia proposed a new nation of the border states, letting the Deep South and New England do their own things.

Victory, and thereby top praise in the history books, went to those who wanted war, including those who opposed slavery, those who demanded "union," and those who insisted on expanding slavery far and wide.

But when secession is proposed in the future, we should not be rash in rejecting it. If the North had let the South go way back when, both countries might be much better off today. If, after the Civil War, someone had been able to turn the clock back four years, the North might have been very willing to let the South go. The South might also have been very willing to give up slavery, or at least its expansion westward, without the insanity and horror of a war. Secession may be an improvement on what we've got now. There are only so many immigrants Canada is going to take.

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David Swanson in Fairbanks, Alaska, October 22, 2016.


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