Amy Goodman's Democracy Now captures a surreal scene. Stein contention is that there should be a return to League of Women Voters criteria that "anyone who does the work to be on the ballot in enough states to win electoral vote" should be allowed to debate. As the arrest is taking place, the arresting officer can be heard professing concern for the flag Dr. Stein and her VP Cheryl Honkala are holding, and that no one step on it by accident.
This video clearly shows that Jill Stein is one gutsy and classy lady.
On October 9, 2012, the legislature of Albany County, New York approved a proclamation calling upon Congress to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, cut the U.S. military budget, and use the savings to fund vital public programs at home.
This official demand for new national priorities—by a county of 304,000 people—was not entirely novel. Within the past year or so, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a similar resolution, as did the governments of numerous cities, including Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Hartford, and Portland. Even so, the idea of “moving the money” from war to peace had largely fallen off the political radar screen. The Albany County Peace Dividend Proclamation, as it was soon dubbed, has helped bring it back to public attention.
The Albany campaign began this past July, when—in my capacity as a national board member of Peace Action, America’s largest peace organization—I learned that the city of Philadelphia had just passed a “move the money” resolution. As Doug Bullock, a long-time friend of mine in Albany’s peace and social justice community, was a member of the Albany county legislature, I passed along this news to him, suggesting rather casually that he might want to promote a similar resolution on the Albany county level. He replied that he’d be happy to try it, but needed a public campaign to back him up. Could we put one together?
Tuesday's Presidential debate spoke volumes about the sorry state of politics today. Granted, both contenders gave a good show: Obama was back on his game and Romney did his best to sound like Ronald Reagan. The pundits have been given a lovely hopper of fodder to hold them for a week or so. It has been agreed that Americans only care for a spectacle, so this debate will be analyzed and judged the same way any theatrical event gets reviewed by the critics.
The search for peace and reconciliation following wartime service can devastate and overwhelm many veterans as a result of service related personal, moral, and physical challenges. Join us for a unique conversation on the difficulties of finding peace after military service and the insights garnered from this distinguished panel.
Russell Snyder, former Army Psychological Operations Specialist, author of Hearts and Mines with the Marines in Al Anbar, and a NCSU undergraduate in International Studies
Sam Winstead, World War II Marine veteran, founder of Americans for Peace who bicycled from Raleigh to Washington, DC in Sam’s Ride for Peace in 2011
John Heuer, US Coast Guard in 1965, served as an Ordinary Seaman in Viet Nam in 1968, current president of the Eisenhower Chapter of Veterans For Peace, and on the national board of directors of VFP
Timothy Virgilio,Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works with veterans and incoming Vice-Chair for Military Missions in Action
Sponsored by the International Studies Department and International Studies Club
For more information contact Dr. Carol Ann Lewald at 515-6964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, October 26, the Bradley Manning Support Network is proud to present an evening in support of Army PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower. The night will feature a discussion led by Bradley Manning Support Network organizer Emma Cape, as well as an intimate acoustic performance by legendary singer-songwriter Graham Nash.
A large portion of each ticket is tax-deductible. This fundraiser comes amid the Bradley Manning Support Network’s $50,000 matching challenge, in which the Brightwater Fund has agreed to match dollar for dollar all donations to Bradley’s defense fund until November 6.
Nash, who has long supported Bradley Manning, wrote the song “Almost Gone” for the alleged whistle-blower, drawing attention to the brutal treatment he endured in Quantico.
Propaganda in the U.S. media is very real. In an attempt to counteract its effects and to offer the Charlottesville public a deeper understanding of the situation in the Middle East, Random Row Books has invited several local experts to give their take on the continuing volatility in that region.
Wednesday, October 24th beginning at 7 PM
at Random Row Books
Helena Cobban is a British-American writer and researcher on international relations, with special interests in the Middle East, the international system, and transitional justice. In March 2010, she founded Just World Publishing.
W. Scott Harrop currently teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Culture at UVA, with Iran as his area of expertise.
David Swanson is a local author and activist at the forefront of the peace movement in America. During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to New York for the U.N. talks, David was one of several activists who had dinner with the Iranian president. His most recent books are War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. He also hosts Talk Nation Radio.
Roy Hange pastors Charlottesville Mennonite Church and has worked with Mennonite Central Committee in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. He has taught faith-based peacebuilding courses at EMU and UVA.
At 3:00 p.m. Meet at South corner of Hempstead Turnpike and California Avenue (South Campus) Here Veterans For Peace Long Island, World Can't Wait, Occupy the Debates, and many other peace and social justice organizations, will make a presence outside, as close as we can be, to the debate venue to make our concerns known to the candidates, the press, and to the public. Bring your message with signs, banners, etc.
Transportation and Directions:
By car: Grand Central/Northern State Parkway to Meadowbrook Pkway So. to Exit M4 Hempstead Turnpike Westbound. Here is a link for more detailed directions. By train: Take the LIRR to Hempstead Station and transfer to the N70, N71, N72 or the Hofstra Shuttle Bus. See Map here.
After spending much of her 94-years as a civil rights activist this Washington, DC resident is understandably supportive of the Barack Obama presidency because she like many African-Americans never thought she’d ever see a black man sitting in that Oval Office seat designated for the most powerful person on earth.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense [sic] than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Time To Break Silence,” April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City
On a recent visit to my neighborhood library in SE Portland, Oregon, I was asked outside the entrance if I would sign a petition to place a public school bond measure on the fall ballot. Though I support full funding of public schools, I balked. Knowing that Portland libraries are also planning to place a taxing district on the same ballot, I felt fury building up inside of me at how obscene lawless military spending is sucking our nation’s resources dry. I told the person asking for my signature that I would only sign such petition when and if the Portland School Board, Portland City Commissioners and Mayor, and all other City and County entities become part of an active anti-war movement to stop the looting of our Commons by the Military-Industrial-Banking-Congressional-Presidential Complex.
DIRECT Costs Are FELT Only By A Small Percentage of the Public At Large
The US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc., are, in reality, only viscerally experienced by a small percentage of the US American people. No direct taxes on the people have been assessed to fund the wars. They are funded instead by debt. And the absence of general conscription (a military draft) relieves the vast majority of the population from the emotional burden of worrying whether a family member will be forced into military service.
A de facto economic draft does exist whereby those unable to find adequate employment in our economically depressed society are offered a subsidized job track in the military, and trained as combatants or placed in any number of supportive roles in imperial adventures around the globe.
But most members of US society have gone about their lives business as usual, experiencing little anxiety or hardship, indeed, hardly “feeling” the wars.
INDIRECT Costs Severely Affecting the 99 Percent
However, even though the direct, experiential costs of US wars have been largely absent in popular discussion and politically unaccounted for, the resulting residual costs are enormous. The national resource base has been so severely drained by war costs that we are in domestic “austerity” budgeting. An audit of the Federal Reserve has revealed $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out US American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. That is equivalent to our National Debt. That amounts to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child, enough to revive a healthy main street. Meanwhile four million homeowners lost their homes to foreclosures due to massive collusion between Wall Street and banks in granting fraudulent mortgages. Every foreclosed homeowner could have been publicly refinanced instead.
November 10, 2:00 p.m., Walnut Creek David Swanson Mt. Diablo Peace Center, 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 - (925) 933-7850 - http://mtdpc.org Free and open to the public.
Sunday, November 11, 1:30-4:30 p.m. San Francisco Medea Benjamin, Cindy Sheehan, and David Swanson On the traditional Armistice Day, the War and Law League (WALL), http://warandlaw.org, presents a forum on the theme, "U.S. Wars -- Are They Lawful?" Admission is free. The forum, highlighting WALL's biennial general meeting, is endorsed by the S.F. American Friends Service Committee and East Bay Peace Action. Main Public Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street at Grove Street, San Francisco, CA, near Civic Center BART/Muni station.
November 11, 7:00 p.m. Marin County Medea Benjamin and David Swanson "Stopping War: The Next One? Forever? -- An Armistice Day Instead of Veterans Day Event" Sponsor: Marin Peace & Justice Coalition. Co-sponsors: Social Justice Center of Marin and Community Media Center of Marin. Olney Hall, College of Marin, 835 College Ave, Kentfield, CA Admission $10 (No one turned away for lack of funds).
WHAT: On Saturday a thousand Americans will lay their bodies down on a San Francisco beach to spell out "DUMP CITIZENS UNITED!"
WHEN: Saturday, October 13, 2012, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stairway #7, Ocean Beach, SF – 200 yards north of Beach Chalet Restaurant.
WHY: Some truths are so self-evident that the Founders felt no need to mention them. Truths like, “Corporations are NOT People.” “Money is NOT Speech.” “Elections are NOT Auctions.“ The 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United spit in the face of these sacred principles, swamped our democracy in corporate cash and must be overturned. Also, this election San Francisco voters can vote Yes on Measure G to tell Congress to Dump Citizens United!
While electoral politics tends to suck the oxygen out of the room (and apparently out of many people's brains) in these last few weeks before an election, a number of U.S. citizens committed to ending the wars took to the streets this week. Demonstrations in at least 38 cities in the U.S. as well as in some foreign countries -- most notably Code Pink's courageous peace march in Pakistan -- are marking the 11th year anniversary of the longest war in U.S. history.
From the speech by Stephanie Tang for the San Francisco rally against the war in Afghanistan: Yesterday I was at a high school with a young army vet on the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour. We spoke in 3 classes, telling the students the truth about America’s wars. These students were between 4 and 6 years old the day the U.S. attacked Afghanistan. Now they see military recruiters prowling their campuses because the empire needs them to fight, kill, and die for it. I am outraged - Are you?
We here know the story of these 11 years. How Bush launched illegal illegitimate war in Iraq/Afghanistan. How Obama’s expanded those wars into 3 more countries.
For as long as there's been a United States of America, its private citizens have done some of its best diplomacy. In 1798 Dr. George Logan eased tensions between France and this country. He got a law named for him, criminalizing such services, but nobody's ever been prosecuted under it -- probably because the crime prosecuted would itself be the act of crime prevention.
One of my favorite cases, recounted in When the World Outlawed War, involved James Shotwell, who worked for the Carnegie Endowment for Peace (created by Andrew Carnegie to work exclusively on abolishing war, and currently working on everything but).
In 1927, Shotwell drafted a public statement for the Foreign Minister of France proposing to the United States the creation of a treaty criminalizing war. When few took notice, Shotwell's colleague Nicholas Murray Butler wrote a response to the Foreign Minister in the New York Times. These two ventriloquists' public diplomacy resulted in a treaty banning war to which the United States, France, and 79 other nations are party today. (Ssh! Don't tell them.)
Whether they're meeting with the president of Iran, as many of us did last month, or bringing downed U.S. pilots home from Vietnam, peace activists speak for and relate to the vast majority of every country, which always favors peace. At RootsAction.org we've recently encouraged Spain and Italy in their investigations and prosecutions of U.S. torturers, letting those nations know that we, too, support the rule of law, even when our own government does not.
Some of the most important work of citizen diplomacy that's been done in a long time, I suspect, is the trip recently organized by Code Pink that took nearly 40 U.S. peace activists to Pakistan. They met with elected officials, tribal leaders, drone victims whose existence the U.S. government denies, and with the U.S. Ambassador. They brought with them petitions signed by many thousands of Americans. They brought world attention to U.S. drone murders in Pakistan. And they brought awareness to many Pakistanis that we in the United States do not all passively accept the slaughter of their neighbors and loved ones. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan recently said that drone strikes are the top cause of anti-Americanism in Pakistan. While the U.S. ambassador is still struggling with step 1 (admitting he has a problem), citizens are bridging international divides.
If we look at the State Department depicted by its own cables released through WikiLeaks, we see a sales office for U.S. weapons companies, a bully for the Pentagon, and a hotbed of corruption scheming against the principle of honest representative government in nations around the world. We're working on our own step 1 with regard to what our government has become. And our greatest assistance in that regard has come from the Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, who by all rights should be announced this week as the winner of that prize, Bradley Manning.
There are 231 nominees, and I don't know who they all are. I suspect that few if any have done remotely as much as Manning to earn a Nobel Peace Prize.
Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Peace congresses (having nothing to do with the U.S. Congress) were understood, in that age, as conferences that would bring together both peace activists and important members of national governments. The "abolition of armies" actually meant what it said. Most Nobel peace laureates, after the very early years of the award's history, have not worked for the abolition or reduction of standing armies. Many would adamantly denounce the very idea, as Barack Obama did in his acceptance speech.
We know the most limited information about Bradley Manning's intentions, but what we know does not conflict with the actions credited to him. Most other nominees are almost certainly either individuals and organizations that have done good humanitarian work unrelated to abolishing war, or in fact warmongers of great notoriety. There are, of course, thousands of people doing tremendous work around the world toward the abolition of war. I just don't expect them to be among the nominees.
Code Pink should be considered next year, following its work in Pakistan and elsewhere to end drone wars. A dozen other groups merit similar consideration. Members of Veterans For Peace, which I write press releases for when I can keep up with the work being done, this week took part in the anti-drone march in Pakistan (hesitating not at all in the face of threats from the Taliban), recruited active-duty soldiers in Washington State to refuse to deploy to Afghanistan, went to jail in New York nonviolently demonstrating against war, sailed on an aid ship to Gaza expected to be met by the Israeli military next week, and planned an upcoming trip to Iran, among other actions. Not a terribly atypical week.
Our government doesn't talk to others, takes great pride in not talking to others, and assassinates rather than trying alleged criminals in court where they'd have to be spoken to. But we have a government of the people even when our government is of the oligarchs. Sending pizzas to Tahrir Square has done far more good than sending tear gas. We have the ability and the responsibility not to let a government that doesn't speak for us, speak for us.
"Our times cry out for a smart, witty and courageous Populist who hasn’t forgotten how to play offense. Luckily we have David Swanson." —Mike Ferner, Veterans For Peace.
"David Swanson is an antidote to the toxins of complacency and evasion. He insists on rousing the sleepwalkers, confronting the deadly prevaricators and shining a bright light on possibilities for a truly better world." —Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy.
Swanson's books include:
War is a Lie! and When the World Outlawed War, and Editor of The Military Industrial Complex at 50.
Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning? Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds? Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school? Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day? You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.
Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow? Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip? Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast? If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know. And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.
“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley
“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis
“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie
About Shane Burke: Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper. You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com
We Are Not Your Soldiers is up to a good start this fall semester visiting high schools and colleges with veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We have been to several schools in NYC and northern California and have plans in the works for Chicago, Hawaii and other locations. Students learn about the vets' experiences and why they should not enlist to fight in these ongoing wars.
Starting tonight in Honolulu, through the weekend and into next week, protests against the ELEVENTH anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan are happening all around the country. Don't sit this out—find a protest near you and raise your voice against the crimes of your government.
Desde la invasión hasta acabar con la Explotación - Lucha trae victoria en Ecuador y Nicaragua y a nuestros campos de tomate.
Sunday, October 14, 2012 gather at 11:30 @
NW 41st St. & NW 97th Ave in Doral, FL
From the invasion by Columbus in 1492 to the struggles of today in the tomato fields of Florida, the peoples of the Americas have suffered 520 years of repression while giving of themselves in 520 years of resistance. Join us to work for justice and celebrate our successes.
Protest the existence of the SOA/WHINSEC, reject the use of drones by the U.S. Southern Command against our brothers & sisters in Latin America and demand peace & justice for all the peoples of the Americas.
Sponsored by: CODEPINK: Miami & SOA Watch: South Florida
Co-sponsors include: Coalition of Immokalee Workers; CODEPINK: South Florida; Progressive Democrats, Miami
After a years-long media black-out and a grueling battle to get the film shown in the US, The Prosecution of an American President, the brainchild of the Los Angeles County prosecutor who prosecuted Charles Manson, opens at theaters this week. In its long trek to the American big screen, the movie was originally scheduled to be run on HBO before the channel dropped it at the last minute. Bugliosi then had to go outside the country to find a producer, Windsor Ontario NAFTC Studios.
On the morning of the big march through midtown Manhattan on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004, I and a few friends were having breakfast at a little coffee shop near 96th Street on the Upper West Side. We had a few homemade signs and were clearly headed for a political action. Across from us were three New York City cops, carrying riot helmets, having their breakfast. They were clearly headed to the same place we were.
MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT, GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST THE WAR, CODE PINK, BROOKLYN FOR PEACE, PEACE ACTION NEW YORK STATE, Sponsor:
DEMONSTRATION TO PROTEST 11 YEARS OF DEATH & DEBT IN AFGHANISTAN
Place: 60 East 14th Street between Broadway and 4th Avenue in front of Nordstrom’s opposite Union Square, New York City
Date: Sunday, October 7
Time: 2:00 to 6:00 P.M.
PROTEST FALL 2012 DEPLOYMENT OF 3,500 NEW YORK TROOPS FROM FT. DRUM PAID BY OUR TAXES, 6 Battalions: 14th Infantry regiment; 2nd Brigade Special Troop Battalion; 1st Squad 89th Cavalry; 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 15 Field Artillery; 210th Brigade Supply Battalion.
From Sep 9- 22 In Afghanistan were killed: Sgt Lee Davidson 32 England, Sgt Kyle Osborn 26 Lafayette IN, Cpl Duane Groom 32 Fiji, Sgt Bradley Atwell 27 Kokomo IN, Col Christopher Raible 40 Huntington PA, Pvt Thomas Wroem 18 England, Sgt Gareth Thursby 29 England, Pvt Jon Townsend 19 Claremore OK, Pvt Genaro Bedoy 20 Amarillo TX, Spc Joshua Nelson 22 Greenville NC, Sgt Sapuro Nena 25 Honolulu HI, Sgt Jason Swindle 24 Cabot AR, Sgt Jonathan Kups 38 England, Cap James Tonley 29 UK, 200 Afghani and Pakistani were killed.
NAMES OF THE FALLEN WILL BE READ
2,123 U.S., 1,065 NATO & COUNTLESS AFGHANI DEATHS
We spend $1,000,000 for each soldier per year, while 24 US kids die of poverty EACH DAY, tens of thousands of homeless children live in shelters and they cut teachers. Say NO!
For further information: (646) 824-5506 email@example.com
MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT is a national group of families related to soldiers who served since 9/11, opposed to the Afghan war.
There is a simple answer to the refusal of the Two Party-Controlled Presidential Debate Commission's refusal to include third party candidates in its three debates: An alternative televised debate that would include the third party candidates, and that would air right after the corrupt and largely meaningless debate between Obama and Romney ends.
A writer at the Atlantic named Conor Friedersdorf recently noted the level of evil many have been brought to support:
"Tell certain liberals and progressives that you can't bring yourself to vote for a candidate who opposes gay rights, or who doesn't believe in Darwinian evolution, and they'll nod along. Say that you'd never vote for a politician caught using the 'n'-word, even if you agreed with him on more policy issues than his opponent, and the vast majority of left-leaning Americans would understand. But these same people cannot conceive of how anyone can discern Mitt Romney's flaws, which I've chronicled in the course of the campaign, and still not vote for Obama. Don't they see that Obama's transgressions are worse than any I've mentioned? I don't see how anyone who confronts Obama's record with clear eyes can enthusiastically support him. I do understand how they might concluded that he is the lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly, but I'd have thought more people on the left would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers."
Not long ago, I attended a speech by Obama, along with thousands of his adoring cheerleaders formerly known as citizens. I asked him to stop killing people in Afghanistan, and the Secret Service asked me to leave. But, just now, I got a phone call from the local Obama office. They had my name because I'd picked up a ticket to attend the speech. The young woman wanted to know if I would come help phone other people. I asked if she was familiar with the president's kill list and his policy of killing men, women, and children with drones. She said she knew nothing about that but "respected my opinion." She hung up. Objecting to presidential murder is now an opinion, and willingness to be aware of its existence is an appendage to the opinion. If you don't object to presidential murder by Democrat, then you simply arrange not to know about it. Thus, in your opinion, it doesn't exist.
Some of my friends at this moment are in Pakistan apologizing to its government and its people for the endless murderous drone war fought there by our country. They're meeting with victims' families. They're speaking publicly in opposition to the crimes of our government. And my neighbors, living in some other universe, believe most fundamentally, not that one candidate will save us, not that the two parties are fundamentally opposed, not that a citizen's job is to vote, not that war is all right if it's meant well -- although they clearly believe all of those things -- but, most fundamentally, they believe that unpleasant facts should simply be avoided. So, in a spirit of afflicting the comfortable to comfort the afflicted, here are a few from recent days:
WAR IS A LIE
We know that in the past "defensive" wars have been intentionally launched by fraud or provocation. We know that many in our government want a war with Iran. We know that several years ago then-Vice President Dick Cheney proposed disguising U.S. ships as Iranian and attacking other U.S. ships with them. We know that then-President George W. Bush proposed disguising a plane as belonging to the United Nations, flying it low, and trying to get Iraq to shoot at it. We know that there was no Gulf of Tonkin incident, no evidence that Spain attacked the Maine, no doubt that the weapons and troops on board the Lusitania were public knowledge, no question that FDR worked hard to provoke an attack by Japan, and so on. And we know that Iran has not attacked another nation in centuries. So, it almost goes without saying that Washington warmongers are contemplating ways to get Iran to make the "first move." Assassinating scientists hasn't worked, blowing up buildings doesn't seem to do it, cyber-war isn't blossoming into real war, sanctions are not sanctioning armed resistance, and dubious accusations of Iranian terrorism aren't sticking. Exactly what do we have to do to get ourselves innocently attacked by the forces of evil?
The Israel Lobby to the rescue! Patrick Clawson, Director of Research at the Washington Institute Of Near East Policy, blurted out the following on video this week:
"Crisis initiation is really tough. And it's very hard for me to see how the United States president can get us to war with Iran. . . . The traditional way America gets to war is what would be best for U.S. interests. Some people might think that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into World War II . . . . You may recall, we had to wait for Pearl Harbor. Some people might think Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War I. You may recall that he had to wait for the Lusitania episode. Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to send troops to Vietnam. You may recall he had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode. We didn't go to war with Spain until the Maine exploded. And Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the federal army until Fort Sumter was attacked, which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack. So, if in fact the Iranians aren't going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war. . . . I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. I mean, look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down. Someday one of them might not come up. Who would know why? [LAUGHTER FROM AUDIENCE] . . . . We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier."
This is serious advocacy for manufacturing a "defensive" and "humanitarian" war. This is not a war critic or a Yes Men prankster. The position of most elected officials in Washington, including the President, fits well with this. That position includes the ultimatum that Iran must cease doing what U.S. National Intelligence Estimates say it is not doing, namely building nuclear weapons. The goal at the bottom of all of this is war. The purpose of the war is not related to any of the excuses for it. The purpose is something else entirely. But it's ugly, so it's easier not to look.
We often forget that war is the worst thing there is. Hence our government's shift in policy back to outsourcing a lot of the torture and insourcing the "cleaner" approach of assassination without torture. Hence, also, our common fantasy that war can be used to solve a problem that is somehow worse than war.
We also forget that torturing people can be crueler than experimenting on them. Torture has been given an acceptance in the United States during the past decade that "human experimentation" has not. So, we are still capable of a bit of shock when a story comes out like this one: During the 1950s and 1960s the U.S. Army sprayed zinc cadmium sulfide, apparently including radioactive particles, in poor neighborhoods in St. Louis and other cities, to test the results on the people who unknowingly breathed it.
At the end of World War II, the U.S. military's Operation Paperclip brought nearly 500 Nazi scientists to the United States to work on U.S. weaponry. Many view their influence on the nascent military industrial complex as critical to its sadistic and sociopathic tendencies ever since. In fairness to the Nazis, it's possible that they simply fit in well, serving the military of a nation with a long history of genocide, slavery, torture, and public deception.
I came across a member of Veterans For Peace this week who's been struggling many years as a result of experimental vaccines and drugs given to hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers during the Gulf War. We also learned this week that every prisoner in the Guantanamo death camp has been given experimental drugs without their knowledge or at least without their consent.
"A congressional investigation has revealed a top U.S. general in Afghanistan sought to stall an investigation into abuse at a U.S.-funded hospital in Kabul that kept patients in, quote, 'Auschwitz-like' conditions. Army whistleblowers revealed photographs taken in 2010 which show severely neglected, starving patients at Dawood Hospital, considered the crown jewel of the Afghan medical system, where the country's military personnel are treated. The photos show severely emaciated patients, some suffering from gangrene and maggot-infested wounds. For TV viewers of Democracy Now!, please be warned: these images are extremely graphic and may be disturbing."
NOTHING MORE EVIL
Here's what I'm trying to get at. If you try to think of something more evil than what we are now doing, you'll fail. Name your evil: destroying the earth's climate? President Barack Obama flew to Copenhagen to single-handedly derail any process for protecting the earth's atmosphere. The only way in which to fantasize about greater evil is quantitative, not qualitative. We could drop more bombs. We could starve more children. We could experiment on more prisoners. In fact, this is what Lesser Evilism amounts to. A Lesser Evilist today is not choosing less evil policies, but the same policies in what he or she hopes will be lesser amounts.
That might be a rational calculation within a polling place. But living it prior to and after an election, apologizing and cheering for one of two teams, as if self-governance were a spectator sport, is nothing other than complicity in the most hideous forms of cruelty and murder. That complicity is insidious. Evil begins to look like something else, because the Lesser Evilist, within his or her own mind, comes to view the Lesser Evil forces as good, if not glorious, if not saintly.
This past Thursday was a beautiful day for a protest, both in London, England, and in San Diego, California. Fortunately for those of us who still care about peace and justice in the world -- even to the point of opposing cold-blooded murder no matter who does the murdering or how far away the victim is -- Veterans For Peace has become an international organization.
General Atomics is the manufacturer of the Predator and Reaper UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) in service with the U.S. and U.K. militaries. These drones have been used in numerous attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. People targeted by these weapons are killed from above without warning and without due legal process. Numerous entirely innocent people including women and children have been killed by these weapon systems. Here's a former British drone pilot who just admitted that he was minutes away from murdering "an insurgent" when he realized it was a little kid playing in the dirt.
Many of us remember taking over General Atomics' offices in Washington, D.C., last October (video). That's me and Tighe Barry, with filmmaker Dennis Trainor Jr., going in the side door and opening the front door for the crowd.
As it happens, General Atomics does its evil work in San Diego and London. Veterans for Peace has no tolerance for murderous robot planes, wherever they're made. Mike Reid, executive director of Veterans For Peace, said on Thursday, "If we oppose murder at close range, we should oppose it at long distance. If we oppose it when it's risky and difficult, we should be horrified of a practice that makes it trivial and easy. Imagining that drone wars don't damage the very culture of the people engaged in them is naive. Those manufacturing these instruments of death, in particular, should think long and hard about the road they are on."
They had a chance to do just that on Thursday. "On a bright autumn afternoon," reports Ben Griffin, "VFP UK headed to Tower 42, which contains the offices of General Atomics in London. We took our placards bearing the slogans 'GROUND THE DRONES' and 'GENERAL ATOMICS, DEATH FROM ABOVE.' We unfurled our VFP flag donated by Gerry Condon and set about handing out our flyers."
"Within minutes we were joined by over 20 nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. They had heard about our protest and wanted to join in. They were soon into full song and dealt with an inquiring policeman effectively. Folks from Occupy, Friends of Bradley Manning, London Catholic Worker and supporters of Julian Assange also turned up."
Griffin's remarks to that crowd included this:
"People are targeted with these weapons without being identified and are killed from above without warning. Numerous innocent civilians including women and children have been killed as a result of these attacks. Mosques, schools, funerals and meetings of elders have all been attacked by drones. People responding to drone strikes by pulling the wounded out of buildings have also been attacked with these weapons. We must spread the word about these weapons, and the hidden wars they are used in."
And the word was spread to passing cars honking their support, passersby stopping to inquire, and many people who worked in the building, some of them surprised to learn that General Atomics was there as well.
A bit later on Thursday, the afternoon sun reached General Atomics in Poway, California, where, Dave Patterson reports, "Veterans For Peace, Chapter 91, had terrific posters and banners. I think I can say that our momentum is picking up for this cause now in week 6 of sequential demonstrations."
If you're in Southern California on a Thursday, join the protest from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and General Atomics Way in Poway, CA.
Veterans For Peace is calling for the grounding of Predator and Reaper Drones and for General Atomics to stop manufacturing them. Other members of VFP are currently traveling from the United States to Pakistan as part of a delegation organized by Code Pink to visit one area where U.S. drone strikes have become frequent. VFP is part of a coalition organizing an online petition in support of banning weaponized drones.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
David Swanson is an associate (meaning non-veteran) member of and a paid contractor for Veterans For Peace.