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The Trump Doctrine

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Donald Trump 5 ba566

Here's a condensed version of Donald Trump's recent speech that I'm considering offering on gold-ish plating for $19.98:

Nationalism, World War II mythology, and militarism must go unquestioned. But when they've been used in the past 25 years the results have been disastrous. We're all ready now to admit that Iraq was a horror, and we can do that more comfortably by lumping it with the horrors of Libya and Syria, and by pretending that people in our government meant well. But U.S. militarism created ISIS.

Here's how we fix this. First, pretend that the most expensive military in the history of the world has been skimping and struggling, and blame that on the economy, rather than recognizing that the economy is staggering under the weight of the military machine. I'll fix the economy using magic, and that will fix the military.

Second, while I haven't explained how more or different spending could have transformed disastrous wars into successes, let's have future wars more heavily paid for by others. But I'm not really threatening to close bases or end NATO, because I'm all talk. In fact, let's just fuel a global arms race by requiring other countries to buy more weapons. That U.S. weapons are already the top supplier to so-called friend and foe alike, including ISIS, shouldn't worry you, because at least you won't have to hear that phony humanitarian in the White House calling ISIS "ISIL" anymore, and because I'm planning to use magic.

Third, if you think Hillary can tell whoppers and demonize Iran at Israel's bidding, wait till you see how fast I can fall in line. I can get so scared of Iranians that my hair blows off. In fact, I'll start a war to out-do the last dozen disastrous wars, including the Iraq war that I pretend I opposed, and I'll do it at the slightest slight to my honor as a noble duelling jackass in deep romantic love with the holy state of Israel which I may have spoken about with a slight tinge of honesty a month ago, but that was then.

Fourth, the North Koreans are coming to get us! And the Chinese! Let's ignore the fact that Obama is to all appearances trying to start World War III in the South China Sea while I'm yammering on, he is in fact weak! Weak!

Lastly, we need a plan for something different from endless counterproductive war, and I have no idea what such a thing might look like, so here's what I propose: more endless counterproductive war, with possible lapses as I fail to get countries to pay for their own bombings, and combined with a major increase in hatred and persecution of immigrants and minorities within the United States. As a result of this new approach, and magic, ISIS will cease to exist. So, trust me when I lie to you that military spending has been shrinking and leaving the U.S. behind other militaries. Elect me and, exactly as if you elected Hillary Clinton, you can expect every dime possible and more to be dumped into militarism.

It comes back to this: we must be more selfish, more jingoist, more nationalist, and -- if that's even possible -- more militarist than ever. We must treat all of this shit as if it were a new idea that I just had. And yet I will hold out a tiny olive branch of hope that I might actually risk nuclear apocalypse a teensy bit less than Hillary, since I'm willing to talk about the slight possibility of peace with Russia. If Russia does what I want!

The key word is slight. I once talked about ending NATO, and now I've been so brought into line that I'm talking about inventing some new purpose for NATO to exist. Don't feel too sorry for whatever poor country becomes that purpose -- perhaps I'll just keep it as Afghanistan, a place I haven't even mentioned in this speech. Or perhaps I'll just keep it Russia.

But I'll drop all the Clintonian pretenses of humanitarian murder and respect for, while violating, the rule of law. So, at least with me, the summer peace activists and partisan sunshine war opponents will act as if they oppose wars again. How much of a difference will such a movement make in a nation with its leadership demanding fascistic hatred and greed? Probably not much. Perhaps a bit more if it were to get a head start by opposing Obama's seven existing wars now. Of course, Democrats won't do that. So, I'm not worried. Believe me.

Talk Nation Radio: Peter Enns on How Public Punitiveness Led to Mass Incarceration

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-peter-enns-on-how-public-punitiveness-led-to-mass-incarceration

Peter Enns is Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Executive Director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University. He is also team leader of the Institute for Social Science theme project on the Causes, Consequences, and Future of Mass Incarceration in the United States.

His research focuses on public opinion, representation, mass incarceration, and inequality. Peter also teaches courses on quantitative research methods. Peter’s new book, Incarceration Nation, (Cambridge University Press) explains why the public became more punitive in the 1960s, 70s, 80, and 90s, and how this increasing punitiveness led to the rise of mass incarceration in the United States.

Peter received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007) and his undergraduate degree from Colorado College (1998). Prior to graduate school, he taught high school Spanish for three years in Baltimore, MD, through Teach For America. Additional information on his research and teaching is available on his personal website.

Total run time: 29:00

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

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The United States Just Bombed Germany

If the bombing occurs when the bombs that have been dropped from U.S. airplanes explode, then the United States just bombed Germany and has been bombing Germany every year for over 70 years.

There are still over 100,000 yet-to-explode U.S. and British bombs from World War II lying hidden in the ground in Germany. Notes the Smithsonian Magazine:

"Before any construction project begins in Germany, from the extension of a home to track-laying by the national railroad authority, the ground must be certified as cleared of unexploded ordnance. Still, last May, some 20,000 people were cleared from an area of Cologne while authorities removed a one-ton bomb that had been discovered during construction work. In November 2013, another 20,000 people in Dortmund were evacuated while experts defused a 4,000-pound 'Blockbuster' bomb that could destroy most of a city block. In 2011, 45,000 people—the largest evacuation in Germany since World War II—were forced to leave their homes when a drought revealed a similar device lying on the bed of the Rhine in the middle of Koblenz. Although the country has been at peace for three generations, German bomb-disposal squads are among the busiest in the world. Eleven bomb technicians have been killed in Germany since 2000, including three who died in a single explosion while trying to defuse a 1,000-pound bomb on the site of a popular flea market in Göttingen in 2010."

A new film called The Bomb Hunters focuses on the town of Oranienburg, where a huge concentration of bombs keeps up a constant menace. In particular the film focuses on one man whose house blew up in 2013. He lost everything. Oranienburg, now known as the city of bombs, was a center of nuclear research that the U.S. government did not want the advancing Soviets to acquire. At least that's one reason offered for the massive bombing of Oranienburg. Rather than possibly speed up the Soviet acquisition of nukes by a handful of years, Oranienburg had to be rained on with blankets of enormous bombs -- to explode for decades to come.

They weren't just bombs. They were delayed-fuse bombs, all of them. Delayed-fuse bombs were usually included along with non-delaying bombs in order to terrorize a population further and hinder humanitarian rescue operations after a bombing, similar to how cluster bombs have been used in recent U.S. wars to extend the terrorizing of a population by blowing up children for months to come, and similar to "double taps" in the business of drone murder -- the first missile or "tap" to kill, the second to kill any rescuer bringing aid. Delayed-fuse bombs go off some hours or days after landing, but only if they land the right way up. Otherwise they can go off some hours or days or weeks or months or years or decades or god-knows-when later. Presumably this was understood at the time and intended. So, that intention perhaps adds to the logic of my headline above. Perhaps the United States didn't just intend to bomb Germany, but it intended 70 years ago to bomb Germany this year.

A bomb or two goes off every year, but the greatest concentration is in Oranienburg where thousands and thousands of bombs were dropped. The town has been making a concerted effort to find and eliminate the bombs. Hundreds may remain. When bombs are found, neighborhoods are evacuated. The bomb is disabled, or it is detonated. Even during the search for bombs, the government must damage houses as it drills test holes into the ground at evenly spaced intervals. Sometimes the government even tears down a house in order to conduct the search for bombs beneath it.

A U.S. pilot involved in this madness way back when says in the film that he thought about those under the bombs, but believed the war to be for the salvation of humanity, thus justifying anything. Now, he says, he can see no justification for war.

Also in the film, a U.S. veteran writes to the Mayor of Oranienburg and sends $100 to apologize. But the Mayor says there's nothing to be sorry for, that the United States was only doing what it had to. Well, thanks for the codependency, Mr. Mayor. I'd love to get you on a talk show with Kurt Vonnegut's ghost. Seriously, Germany's guilt is immensely admirable and worthy of emulation in the guilt-free United States, which grotesquely imagines itself forever sinless. But these two extremes build on each other in a toxic relationship.

When imagining that you've justified a war involves imagining that you've thereby justified any and every atrocity in that war, the results are things like nuclear bombings and bombings so intense that a country remains covered with unexploded bombs at a time when almost nobody involved in the war is alive anymore. Germany should strengthen its peace-identity by shaking off its guilt-ridden subservience to the United States and putting an end to U.S. warmaking from bases on German soil. It should ask the U.S. military to get out and to take all of its bombs with it.

What Is a Global Citizen, and Can it Save Us?

Headlines this past week claimed that for the first time ever more than half of poll respondents around the world said they saw themselves more as a global citizen than as a citizen of a country. What did they mean in saying that?

Well, first of all, to lower the heart-rate of U.S. readers, we should state that they clearly did not mean that they were aware of a secret global government to which they had sworn loyalty until the Dark Side crushes all light from the Force, or until Mom, apple pie, and sacred national sovereignty expire in the satanic flames of Internationalism. How do I know this? Well, for one thing, something that a majority of the planet is aware of is the opposite of a secret. But, more importantly, what's at issue here is the poll respondents' attitude, not their situation. In many nations, the responses were almost evenly split; half the people weren't wrong, they were just differently minded.

Still, what did they mean?

In the United States, rather stunningly, 22 percent of respondents supposedly said they strongly agreed that they saw themselves more as a global citizen, while another 21 percent somewhat agreed. How you can somewhat agree with a binary choice I haven't the foggiest idea, but supposedly they did. That's 43 percent total agreeing either strongly or somewhat in the land of flag-waving militarized exceptionalism, if you can believe it -- or if it doesn't actually mean much.

Canada is slightly higher at 53 percent. But what does it mean? Were respondents shocked into agreement with a sensible sounding idea they'd never heard mentioned before? Is a strong minority really enlightened beyond the common nationalism? Russia, Germany, Chile, and Mexico had the least identification as global citizens. Should we look down on that? Nigeria, China, Peru, and India had the highest. Should we emulate that? Are people identifying with humanity or against their country or in support of their own desire to emigrate, or against the desires of others to immigrate? Or are people employed by globalized capital actually turning against nationalism?

I've always thought that if people would stop speaking in the first person about the crimes of their country's military, and start identifying with all of humanity, we might achieve peace. So I compared the "global citizen" results with the results of a 2014 poll that asked if people would be willing to fight in a war for their country. The results of that poll were also stunningly encouraging, with strong majorities in many countries saying they would not fight in a war. But there does not appear to be a correlation between the two polls. Unless we can find a way to correct for other important factors, it does not seem that being a global citizen and refusing to fight have anything consistently in common. Nationalistic countries are and are not willing to fight in wars. "Global citizen" countries are and are not willing to fight in wars.

Of course, the willingness to fight responses are sheer nonsense. The United States has numerous wars up and running, recruitment offices in most towns, and 44% of the country saying it "would" fight if there were a war. (What's stopping them?) And, again, the global citizen responses may be largely nonsense too. Still, Canada does roughly as much better than the United States in each of the two polls. Perhaps they make the sort of sense I'm looking for but only in North America. Asian nations, however, are both biggest on global citizenship and most willing to participate in wars (or to make that claim to a pollster).

Whatever it may mean, I take it to be wonderful news that a majority of humanity identifies with the world. It's up to us to now make it mean what it should. We need to develop a belief in world citizenship that begins by recognizing every other human on earth, and other living things in their own way, as sharing in it. A citizen of the globe does not expect to necessarily have much in common with the inhabitants of some far-off corner of the earth, but does certainly understand that no war can be waged against fellow citizens.

We don't need clean elections or an end to war profits or the expansion of the ICC to impose the rule of law on countries outside of Africa in order to create world citizenship. We just need our own minds. And if we get it right in our own minds, all of those other things had better get ready to happen.

So how do we think like world citizens? Try this. Read an article about a distant place. Think: "That happened to some of us." By "us" mean humanity. Read an article about peace activists protesting war who say aloud "We are bombing innocent people," identifying themselves with the U.S. military. Work at it until you can find such statements incomprehensible. Search online for articles mentioning "enemy." Correct them to reflect the fact that everyone has the same enemies: war, environmental destruction, disease, starvation. Search for "them" and "those people" and change it to us and we humans.

This is in fact a massive project, but apparently there are millions of us already identifying with it, and many hands make light work.

Psst. Slip This Onto Obama's Teleprompter in Hiroshima

Thank you. Thank you for welcoming me to this hallowed ground, given meaning like the fields of Gettysburg by those who died here, far more than any speech can pretend to add.

Those deaths, here and in Nagasaki, those hundreds of thousands of lives taken in a pair of fiery nuclear infernos, were the entire point. After 70 years of lying about this, let me be clear, the purpose of dropping the bombs was dropping the bombs. The more deaths the better. The bigger the explosion, the bigger the destruction, the bigger the news story, the bolder the opening of the Cold War the better.

Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible." This is how the U.S. president who destroyed Hiroshima thought about the value of European life. Perhaps I needn't remind you of the value Americans placed on Japanese lives during the war.

A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded the United States' naval forces in the South Pacific during World War II, thought of his mission as "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs," and had vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell.

On August 6, 1945, President Truman lied on the radio that a nuclear bomb had been dropped on an army base, rather than on a city. And he justified it, not as speeding the end of the war, but as revenge against Japanese offenses. "Mr. Truman was jubilant," wrote Dorothy Day on the spot, and so he was.

People back home, let me be clear, still believe false justifications for the bombings. But here I am with you in this sacred place thousands of miles away, with these words flowing so well on this teleprompter, and I'm going to make a full confession. There has for many years no longer been any serious dispute. Weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." President Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war." Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in." Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about." Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,"… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender," he said.

Apart from the question of how rudely Truman was maneuvered into the bombing decision by his subordinates, he justified the barbarous weapon's use in purely barbarous terms, saying: "Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare."

He didn't pretend to any humanitarian purpose, the way we are obliged to do these days. He told it like it was. War need not bow before any humanitarian calculation. War is the ultimate power. During my presidency, I have bombed seven countries and empowered war making in all kinds of new ways. But I have always put up a pretense of exercising some sort of restraint. I have even talked about abolishing nukes. Meanwhile I'm investing in building newer, better nukes that we now think of as more useable.

Now, I know that this policy is creating a new nuclear arms race, and that eight other nuclear nations are following suit. I know the chance of ending all life through a nuclear accident, never mind a nuclear action, has multiplied several fold. But I am going to keep pushing the U.S. war machine forward in every possible way, and the consequences be damned. And I'm not going to apologize for the mass murder committed on this site by my predecessor, because I have already told you what I know. The fact that I know the real situation and must necessarily know what ought to be done, even though I never do it, has always been good enough to satisfy my supporters back home, and it damn well ought to be good enough to satisfy you people too.

Thank you.

And God Bless the United States of America.

A Pro- and Anti-War Dialogue

Anti-War Advocate: Is there a case that can be made for war?

Pro-War Advocate: Well, yes. In a word: Hitler!

Anti-War Advocate: Is "Hitler!" a case for future wars? Let me suggest some reasons why I think it isn't. First, the world of the 1940s is gone, its colonialism and imperialism replaced by other varieties, its absence of nuclear weapons replaced by their ever-present threat. No matter how many people you call "Hitler," none of them is Hitler, none of them is seeking to roll tanks into wealthy nations. And, no, Russia did not invade Ukraine any of the numerous times you heard that reported in recent years. In fact, the U.S. government facilitated a coup that empowered Nazis in Ukraine. And even those Nazis are not "Hitler!"

When you go back 75 years to find a justification for the institution of war, the biggest public project of the United States for each of the past 75 years, you're going back to a different world -- something we wouldn't do with any other project. If schools had made people dumber for 75 years but educated someone 75 years ago, would that justify next year's spending on schools? If the last time a hospital saved a life was 75 years ago, would that justify next year's spending on hospitals? If wars have caused nothing but suffering for 75 years, what is the value of claiming that there was a good one 75 years ago?

Also, World War II was decades in the making, and there is no need to spend decades creating any new war. By avoiding World War I -- a war that virtually nobody even tries to justify -- earth would have avoided World War II. The Treaty of Versailles ended World War I in a stupid manner that many predicted on the spot would lead to World War II. Then Wall Street spent decades investing in the Nazis. While reckless behavior that makes wars more likely remains common, we are perfectly capable of recognizing it and ceasing it.

Pro-War Advocate: But what makes you think we will? The fact that we could in theory prevent a new Hitler doesn't exactly put the mind at ease.

Anti-War Advocate: Not a new "Hitler!" Even Hitler wasn't "Hitler!" The idea that Hitler intended to conquer the world including the Americas was ginned up with fraudulent documents by FDR and Churchill including a phony map carving up South America and a phony plan to end all religion. There was no German threat to the United States, and ships that FDR claimed were innocently attacked were actually helping British war planes. Hitler might have enjoyed conquering the world, but lacked any plan or ability to do so, as those places he did conquer continued to resist.

Pro-War Advocate: So just let the Jews die? Is that what you're saying?

Anti-War Advocate: The war had nothing to do with saving the Jews or any other victims. The United States and other nations refused Jewish refugees. The U.S. Coast Guard chased a ship of Jewish refugees away from Miami. The blockade of Germany and then the all-out war on German cities led to deaths that a negotiated settlement might have spared, as peace advocates argued. The United States did negotiate with Germany about prisoners of war, just not about prisoners of death camps and not about peace. World War II in total killed roughly ten times the number of people killed in the German camps. Alternatives might have been horrible but could hardly have been worse. The war, not its supposed, after-the-fact justification, was the very worst thing humans have ever done to themselves.

The U.S. President wanted into the war, promised Churchill as much, did everything possible to provoke Japan, knew an attack was coming, and that same night drafted a declaration of war against both Japan and Germany. The victory over Germany was very largely a Soviet victory, with the United States playing a relatively bit role. So, to the extent that a war can be a victory for an ideology (probably not at all) it would make more sense to call WWII a victory for "communism" than for "democracy."

Pro-War Advocate: What about protecting England and France?

Anti-War Advocate: And China, and the rest of Europe and Asia? Again, if you're going to go back 75 years, you can go back a dozen more and avoid creating the problem. If you're going to use the knowledge we have 75 years later, you can apply organized nonviolent resistance techniques to great effect. We are sitting on 75 years of additional knowledge of how powerful nonviolent action can be, including how powerful it was when employed against the Nazis. Because nonviolent non-cooperation is more likely to succeed, and that success more likely to last, there is no need for war. And even if you could justify joining in World War II, you would still have to justify continuing it for years and expanding it into total war on civilians and infrastructure aimed at maximum death and unconditional surrender, an approach which of course cost millions of lives rather than saving them -- and which bestowed on us a legacy of all-out war that has killed tens of millions more since.

Pro-War Advocate: There's a difference between fighting on the right side and the wrong side.

Anti-War Advocate: Is it a difference you can see from under the bombs? While the human rights failures of a foreign culture do not justify bombing people (the worst such failure possible!), and the goodness of one's own culture likewise doesn't justify killing anybody (thereby erasing any supposed goodness). But it is worth remembering or learning, that leading up to, during, and after World War II, the United States engaged in eugenics, human experimentation, apartheid for African Americans, camps for Japanese Americans, and the widespread promotion of racism, anti-Semitism, and imperialism. Upon the end of World War II, after the United States had, with no justification, dropped nuclear bombs on two cities, the U.S. military quietly hired hundreds of former Nazis, including some of the worst criminals, who found a home quite comfortably in the U.S. war industry.

Pro-War Advocate: That's all well and good, but, Hitler . . .

Anti-War Advocate: You said that.

Pro-War Advocate: Well, then, forget Hitler. Do you support slavery or the U.S. Civil War?

Anti-War Advocate: Yes, well, let's imagine that we wanted to end mass-incarceration or fossil-fuel consumption or the slaughter of animals. Would it make the most sense to first find some big fields in which to kill each other in large numbers and to then make the desired policy change, or would it make the most sense to skip the killing and simply jump ahead to doing the thing we want done? This was what other countries and Washington D.C. (the District of Columbia) did with ending slavery. Fighting a war contributed nothing, and in fact failed to end slavery, which continued under other names for nearly a century in the U.S. South, while the bitterness and violence of the war have yet to recede. The dispute between the North and South was over the slavery or freedom of new territories to be stolen and killed for in the west. When the South left over that dispute, the North's demand was to retain its empire. 

Pro-War Advocate: What was the North supposed to do?

Anti-War Advocate: Instead of war? The answer to that is always the same: not wage war. If the South left, let it leave. Be happier with a smaller, more self-governable nation. Cease returning anyone escaping from slavery. Cease economically supporting slavery. Put every nonviolent tool to use in forwarding the cause of abolition in the South. Just don't kill three-quarters of a million people and burn cities and generate everlasting hatred.

Pro-War Advocate: I imagine you'd say the same of the American Revolution?

Anti-War Advocate: I'd say you have to squint pretty hard to see what Canada lost by not having one, other than the dead and destroyed, the tradition of war glorification, and the same history of violent westward expansion that the war unleashed.

Pro-War Advocate: Easy for you to say looking back. How do you know what it looked like then and there, if you're so much wiser than George Washington?

Anti-War Advocate: I think it would be easy for anyone to say looking back. We've had leading war makers looking back and regretting their wars from their rocking chairs for centuries. We've had a majority of the public say each war it supported was wrong to begin, a year or two too late, for quite a while now. My interest is in rejecting the idea that there could be a good war in the future, never mind the past.

Pro-War Advocate: As everyone realizes at this point, there have even been good wars, such as in Rwanda, that have been missed, that should have been.

Anti-War Advocate: Why do you use the word "even"? Isn't it only the wars that didn't happen that are held up as good these days? Aren't all the humanitarian wars that actually happen universally recognized as catastrophes? I remember being told to support bombing Libya because "Rwanda!" but now nobody ever tells me to bomb Syria because "Libya!" -- it's still always because "Rwanda!" But the slaughter in Rwanda was preceded by years of U.S.-backed militarism in Uganda, and assassinations by the U.S.-designated future ruler of Rwanda, for whom the United States stood out of the way, including in subsequent years as the war in Congo took millions of lives. But never was there a crisis that would have been alleviated by bombing Rwanda. There was a completely avoidable moment, created by war making, during which peaceworkers and aid workers and armed police might have helped, but not bombs.

Pro-War Advocate: So you don't support humanitarian wars?

Anti-War Advocate: No more than humanitarian slavery. U.S. wars kill almost entirely on one side and almost entirely locals, civilians. These wars are genocides. Meanwhile the atrocities we're told to call genocides because foreign are produced by and consist of war. War is not a tool for preventing something worse. There is nothing worse. War kills first and foremost through the massive diversion of funds to the war industries, funds that could have saved lives. War is the top destroyer of the natural environment. Nuclear war or accident is, along with environmental destruction, a top threat to human life. War is the top eroder of civil liberties. There's nothing humanitarian about it.

Pro-War Advocate: So we should just let ISIS get away with it?

Anti-War Advocate: That would be wiser than continuing to make matters worse through a war on terrorism that generates more terrorism. Why not try disarmament, aid, diplomacy, and clean energy?

Pro-War Advocate: You know, no mater what you say, war maintains our way of life, and we're not going to just end it.

Anti-War Advocate: The arms trade, in which the United States leads the world, is a way of death, not a way of life. It enriches a few at the expense of the many economically and of the many who die as a result. The war industry itself is an economic drain, not a job creator. We could have more jobs than exist in the death industries from a smaller investment in life industries. And other industries are not able to cruelly exploit the poor of the world because of war -- but if they were, I'd be glad to see that ended as war ended.

Pro-War Advocate: You can dream, but war is inevitable and natural; it's part of human nature.

Anti-War Advocate: In fact at least 90% of humanity's governments invest dramatically less in war than does the U.S. government, and at least 99% of people in the United States do not participate in the military. Meanwhile there are 0 cases of PTSD from war deprivation, and the top killer of U.S. troops is suicide. Natural, you say?!

Pro-War Advocate: You can't hold up foreigners as examples when we're talking about human nature. Besides, we've now developed drone wars which eliminate concerns with other wars, since in drone wars nobody gets killed.

Anti-War Advocate: Truly you are a real humanitarian.

Pro-War Advocate: Um, thank you. It just takes being serious enough to face the tough decisions.

Talk Nation Radio: John Dear on Catholic Church Rejecting "Just War" Theory

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-dear-on-catholic-church-rejecting-just-war-theory

After 1700 years, the Catholic Church is turning against the idea that there can be a "just war." We speak with John Dear.

John Dear is an internationally recognized voice for peace and nonviolence. A priest, pastor, retreat leader, and author, he served for years as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the U.S. After September 11, 2001, he was a Red Cross coordinator of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center in New York, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. John has traveled the war zones of the world, been arrested some 75 times for peace, led Nobel Peace prize winners to Iraq, recently visited Afghanistan, given thousands of lectures on peace across the U.S., and served as a pastor of several churches in New Mexico.

His many books include: The Nonviolent Life; Walking the Way; Thomas Merton Peacemaker; A Persistent Peace; Transfiguration;  You Will Be My Witnesses;   Living Peace;  The Questions of Jesus;   The God of Peace;  Jesus the Rebel;   Peace Behind Bars;  and Disarming the Heart.  He has been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sen Barbara Mikulski. He works for www.campaignnonviolence.org, is a priest of the Diocese of Monterey, Cal., and lives in New Mexico. See: www.johndear.org

Statement from April 11-13 Vatican Meeting:
http://www.paxchristi.net/news/appeal-catholic-church-recommit-centrality-gospel-nonviolence/5855#sthash.gBLNmWLZ.Ko153230.dpbs

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

Their Mouths Are Moving, or How Can You Tell a Politician Is Lying About War?

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

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Someone asked me to find war lies during the past few years. Perhaps they had in mind the humanitarian pretenses around attacking Libya in 2011 and Iraq in 2014, or the false claims about chemical weapons in 2013, or the lies about an airplane in Ukraine or the endlessly reported Russian invasions of Ukraine. Maybe they were thinking of the "ISIS Is In Brooklyn" headlines or the routine false claims about the identities of drone victims or the supposedly imminent victory in Afghanistan or in one of the other wars. The lies seem far too numerous for me to fit into an essay, though I've tried many times, and they are layered over a bedrock of more general lies about what works, what is legal, and what is moral. Just a Prince Tribute selection of lies could include Qadaffi's viagra for the troops and CNN's sex-toys flag as evidence of ISIS in Europe. It's hard to scrape the surface of all U.S. war lies in something less than a book, which is why I wrote a book.

So, I replied that I would look for war lies just in 2016. But that was way too big as well, of course. I once tried to find all the lies in one speech by Obama and ended up just writing about the top 45. So, I've taken a glance at two of the most recent speeches on the White House website, one by Obama and one by Susan Rice. I think they provide ample evidence of how we're being lied to.

Fear of ISIS Used to Justify Continued Military Intervention in Middle East

By David Swanson, Just World Books | Book Excerpt

Why was the US public willing to tolerate new US war-making in Iraq and Syria in 2014–2015, after having opposed it in 2013? This time the advertised enemy was not the Syrian government, but terrorists scarier than al Qaeda, called ISIS. And ISIS was shown to be cutting the throats of Americans on videos. And something switched off in people's brains and they stopped thinking -- with a few exceptions. A few journalists pointed out that the Iraqi government bombing Iraqi Sunnis was in fact driving the latter to support ISIS. As if to hammer this point home, ISIS produced a 60-minute movie depicting itself as the leading enemy of the United States and virtually begging the United States to attack it. (When the United States did attack, recruitment soared, just as ISIS had expected.) Even Newsweek published a clear-eyed warning that ISIS would not last long unless the United States saved it by bombing it. Matthew Hoh warned that the beheadings were bait not to be taken. And of course I shouted the warnings of this book everywhere I could. But the US government and much of the public took the bait.

READ THE REST AT Truthout.org.

Sue Saudi for 9/11 and U.S. for all its wars

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

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President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry say that allowing family members of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for its complicity in that crime would set a terrible precedent that would open the United States up to lawsuits from abroad.

Wonderful! Let the lawsuits rain down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream!

Suing Saudis over 9/11 will only set a precedent if it succeeds, which is to say if there is evidence of Saudi complicity. We know that there is, according to former Senator Bob Graham and others who have read 28 pages censored from a U.S. Senate report. Pressure is building in Congress both to reveal those 28 pages and to allow lawsuits. And yet another Senate bill gaining support would block further U.S. arming of Saudi Arabia.

The precedent of allowing international victims to sue those complicit in murder would not place you, dear reader, or I at risk of any lawsuits. It would, however, put numerous top U.S. officials and former officials at risk of suits from many corners of the globe, including from the seven nations that President Obama has bragged about bombing: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya. It's not as if any of these wars is legal under Kellogg-Briand or the U.N. Charter.

Combined with the possible precedent of allowing victims of U.S. domestic gun violence to sue gun manufacturers, the possibility could emerge for countless parents, children, and siblings of U.S. killings in countless countries to begin suing Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, etc.  

Even just the precedent of allowing suits against Saudi Arabia could have far-reaching consequences before expanding it to other countries. Imagine if Yemenis could sue Saudis for the current slaughter from the air? If they could, then what about Boeing? And what about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who allowed Boeing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia after Boeing gave her family foundation $900,000 and Saudi Arabia gave over $10 million?

In her last ditch effort at the presidency, Clinton has joined Senator Bernie Sanders in claiming that she supports allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia -- something she is highly unlikely to take any other steps to advance.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is threatening to sell off $750 billion worth of U.S. properties. (No word on whether Hillary Clinton is listed among those properties.) I say let the sales commence! Let the U.S. government take three-quarter's of one-year's military spending, buy those properties, and give them to the public or use them to compensate the people of Yemen. Or freeze those assets now without buying them, and give them to the U.S. and Yemeni people.

Of course, Obama and Kerry may be raising the notion of a precedent for suing the U.S. mostly as cover for the fact that they are showing greater loyalty to the Saudi royalty than to 9/11 victims. The U.S. public needs only the slightest excuse to avoid recognizing where its rulers true loyalties lie. Italy has convicted CIA agents of kidnapping to torture, and never sought their extradition. Pakistani courts have already ruled against U.S. drone murders, and the U.S. has failed to so much as yawn in response. The U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court, and claims a unique status outside the rule of law -- a rogue status for which it would urge sanctions on any other nation claiming something similar while possessing too much oil or not enough U.S. weaponry.

Still, precedents can be set politically and legally, even against the will of one of the parties involved. For U.S. foreign policy to be compelled to treat 9/11 as the crime that it was, a crime committed by certain individuals, could mean a few important things: (1) a serious investigation of 9/11, (2) rejection of the idea that 9/11 was part of a war launched by the entire world, or the Muslim portion of the world, and in which the United States is entitled to seek revenge thousands of times over and without limits in time or space, (3) greater understanding that U.S. terrorism, just like 9/11 but on a larger scale, is criminal activity for which particular individuals can be held accountable.

What could answer the deepest needs of the 9/11 victims and family members could also answer many needs of U.S. victims in Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, etc., and that is a truth and reconciliation commission. Getting to that will be accomplished by precedents and changes in thinking in our culture, not by any particular legal development. Such a procedure would be a success if afterwards the U.S. and Saudi and other governments began paying reparations in the form of humanitarian aid, costing them far less than they are now putting into wars, but doing a world of good for people rather than the criminal harm being done right now and for years past.

Talk Nation Radio: John Hanrahan on Avaaz's Warmongering

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-hanrahan-on-avaazs-warmongering

John Hanrahan, currently on the editorial board of ExposeFacts, is a former executive director of The Fund for Investigative Journalism and reporter for  The Washington Post, The Washington Star, UPI and other news organizations. He also has extensive experience as a legal investigator. Hanrahan is the author of Government by Contract and co-author of Lost Frontier: The Marketing of Alaska. He has written extensively for NiemanWatchdog.org, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

We discuss these articles by Hanrahan at Truthout.org:

As in Libya, Avaaz Campaigned for Syria No-Fly Zone That Even Top Generals Opposed

***

Avaaz Ignored Libya Lessons When Advocating for Syria No-Fly Zone

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

Guinness Book of Warmongering

My son left a 2015 Guinness Book of World Records lying around. It's largely a mix of athletic feats, extravagant spending, freakish body conditions and diseases, and people who do dumb stuff in order to get into the book. It also features two sections focused on mass-murder. One celebrates the technology used to kill people. In that section, the United States is featured almost exclusively. The other section looks more at the wars, killing, and dying. In that section, the United States could not be avoided, but every effort was made.

Starting with the celebration of the tools of death, Guinness chooses to include these awards for the United States of America:

Most sea craft.

Most aircraft.

Most total firepower.

Most expensive super carrier.

Longest range stealth mini-sub.

Most expensive drone.

Most expensive military aircraft program.

Largest air force.

Most common fighter aircraft.

Longest "serving" bomber.

Largest anti-mine naval exercise.

Largest aerial assault using poisoned mice.

First successful combat submarine.

First air-to-air refueling.

First pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific.

First drone launched from a submerged submarine.

Highest number of firearms per person.

First 3-D printed pistol.

 

Wow! Cool! Exciting! Go, Science!

Now, flip to the pages with wars, and the U.S. role seems to shrink a bit. Lots of other nations emerge from the shadows. The United States is listed as spending the most money on militarism and launching the most drone strikes. And if you're paying attention, you'll notice that the "least peaceful" nations (Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria) are all nations that the United States is bombing, and that the nation from which the most refugees have fled (Afghanistan) has seen that happen during a U.S. "liberation" or occupation. But every effort is made to depict war as emerging from somewhere other than the Pentagon.

The deadliest conflict for children is supposedly in Syria, with no mention of Iraq. The list of wars with the highest death tolls since 1955 includes the war on Vietnam, but no mention of Iraq at all. The highest number of civilian deaths in an undeclared war is supposedly Syria, perhaps because somebody is thinking that somebody else "declared" "War!" before destroying Iraq. The "least secure" nukes are supposedly in North Korea. Etc.

A serious look at world records would be a little different. It might look something like this:

 

Nation fighting greatest number of simultaneous wars: United States.

Nation with greatest number of troops stationed abroad: United States.

Nation with greatest number of foreign bases: United States.

Nation with troops in greatest number of nations: United States.

Nation with greatest number of troops at sea: United States.

Nation with greatest military use of outerspace: United States.

Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to the world: United States.

Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to the Middle East: United States.

Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to poor nations: United States.

Nation giving the greatest quantity of weaponry to other nations: United States.

Nation giving the greatest quantity of weaponry to proxy fighters abroad: United States.

Nation whose weaponry is used on both sides of the greatest number of wars: United States.

Nation whose military most often trains two sets of troops to fight against each other: United States.

Nation holding out on ratifying the greatest number of treaties restricting weaponry and war-making: United States.

Only nation that has dropped nuclear bombs on cities: United States.

Nation using and selling the most cluster bombs, depleted uranium weapons, white phosphorus, and napalm: United States.

Nation whose military consumes the most petroleum: United States.

Nation that has overthrown the most other governments: United States.

Nation that has participated in the most wars since World War II: United States.

Nation that has dropped the most bombs since World War II: United States.

Nation that has killed the most people since World War II: United States.

Only nation in which a presidential candidate has been asked in a televised debate if he will be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of his basic duties if elected: United States.

What's the Truth Hidden by the "Super Predators" Lie?

The desire to punish for the joy of punishing, for revenge, or for racist or sadistic domination has always had certain difficulties hiding behind the pretense of punishing for protection from danger. Creating fear of (young, black, male) "super predators" was a propaganda tactic for politicians like Hillary Clinton that bore some similarity to the efforts by politicians like Hillary Clinton to create fear of Iraqi weapons that didn't exist. The latter was meant to hide U.S. aggression toward Iraq. The former was meant to hide mad, raging punitive vindictiveness that sought to put lots of people in cages for lots of time regardless of the damage done.

One of the difficulties that pretending to punish people for public safety has in hiding real motives for mass incarceration is that the people whom the punishers most want to lock up for the longest time (or execute) are generally the least likely people to commit another crime (even if guilty of the first one). A 2009 study cited in the remarkable new book, Boy With a Knife, found that those who had been incarcerated for homicide were the very least likely to commit any kind of crime. In California in 2011 almost 49% of prisoners released later returned to prison for new criminal convictions, but that figure was less than 1% for those released who had been convicted of murder.

Part of the explanation for this may be that those convicted of murder were kept longer in prison and that older people are less likely to murder than younger people. But many studies have also found that prison has the opposite effect of rehabilitation, that people who learn to survive in prison are learning how not to survive when released, and that being released with the label of "felon" and little to no assistance in finding employment or income makes rehabilitation less likely. But even the theory that age is a factor or a theory that prison actually rehabilitates people cuts against the theory of the "super predator," of the subhuman monster incapable of reform.

There's also overwhelming evidence that locking up children makes them more likely to commit crimes as adults. This is true in general, and most children who are locked up are locked up for minor, non-violent crimes, the sorts of crimes that tend to be repeated a lot more than murder does. Yet, the United States, now the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would put an end to such practices, locks up children in adult prisons and tells itself this outrage is justified by the need to protect the public from what Hillary Clinton used to call "super predators." The U.S. tries about 250,000 children in adult courts each year, not because this serves the children or adults or society, but because of a general sense of hatred of and fear of those children. Wildly out of proportion to actual levels of crime, 62% of the children tried in adult courts are African American.

Boy With a Knife provides this context but principally tells the true account of a crime and its punishment. In 1993 in Massachusetts a white boy named Karter Reed fatally stabbed another boy. Nothing excuses that action anymore than anything excuses flying an airplane into the World Trade Center. But learning the events that led up to it explains it, just as learning what U.S. foreign policy was during the 1990s explains 9/11. Reed was denied a father by incarceration. Reed grew up in a culture of violence and danger. Reed believed, just like the Pentagon, that being armed with deadly weaponry would keep him safe. Reed panicked and lashed out, not bombing Libya but sticking a knife into another boy's stomach. He did so not imagining the boy would die. Nobody dies from such things on television, after all. He did so in a crowded school classroom full of adults there to break up a fight, adults who were guaranteed to witness his action and to apprehend him.

Karter was tried in adult court and sent away to adult prison following a trial in which he was falsely presented as a monster who had killed joyfully. Beyond the actual crime, which was indeed monstrous, Karter was prosecuted for supposedly being rebellious, anti-social, cool and calculating, enjoying murder and reveling in it -- all of which happened not to be true, but none of which had anything to do with the suffering of the victim, the victim's loved-ones, the witnesses, or the community. How many decades should be added to a child's sentence in hell for having smiled or for having broken trivial prison rules since being locked up pre-trial? How is restitution made or justice restored by locking a child in a cage until he's old?

The answer, it seems, is: with great difficulty and struggle and rarity. Karter Reed's story is one of redemption, of beating the odds, of rehabilitating himself despite prison, not because of it. It's one of the better stories from among the thousands of stories that we know so little of and that should not have to exist.

War Is A Lie: What Your Taxes Buy

By David Swanson
Remarks prepared for April 14 eventin Bellingham, Wash.

I believe that people in the United States often tend to have a particular hatred for taxes for three reasons above all others, but that many are not entirely clear in their thinking about these reasons. They are:

1) Unlike in many other countries, in the United States you don't really get very much for your taxes, so they seem like theft rather than a fair exchange.

2) To a greater extent than in many countries, U.S. taxes are not fairly applied. Working people often end up paying more than some very wealthy non-working people, as well as more than some very wealthy non-working non-people, otherwise known as corporations.

3) U.S. taxes originated as means to pay for wars, which were meant to be temporary, but our government has created a system of permanent war and permanent taxes (the majority of which go every year to wars and preparations for wars). Even those who cheer for wars can be upset when they find out the price tag. And those who recognize wars as immoral, counter-productive, one-sided slaughters of human beings see the resources wasted on wars as adding to the disaster of militarism in a major way because of what could have been done with those resources instead.

A bit more on these three points:

Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next and Steven Hill's Europe's Promise provide glimpses of what it must be like to pay taxes and receive something substantive in return. There are countries where, in exchange for your taxes, you receive guaranteed top-quality education from preschool through college, guaranteed comprehensive healthcare, up-to-date and relatively sustainable systems of parks, transportation, energy, and infrastructure, as well as laws guaranteeing paid parental leave and sick leave and vacation and retirement. These countries have better health, greater life-expectancy, smaller carbon footprints, higher happiness, and the freedoms and choices that come with not having to struggle for security all your life.

A governor of New York not long ago proposed spending a relatively paltry sum on college education for prisoners, to reduce recidivism, crime, and the greater expense of additional incarceration (and perhaps also to improve people's lives and those of their families and communities). The public threw such a fit that he withdrew the proposal. That would sound crazy in Europe, but in a country where most people have no easy way to go to college, a situation could have been created in which the simplest way to get to college would have been to commit a crime. Perhaps it was right to oppose that, but only if we instead create free college for all who want it.

The money now dodging taxes in Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming likely dwarfs that found in Panama. The wealthy do not pay payroll taxes on most of their income. They don't pay taxes, or pay outrageously low taxes, on wealth, on financial transactions, on estates, on what's hidden in shell companies, on what rolls in from work done by others. Corporate owners' rank and file employees sometimes pay higher tax rates than they do. This sort of injustice breeds deep resentment, and as we've all been trained to admire the skills of the wealthy (or the so-called "successful") no matter how they cheat, the resentment becomes focused primarily on the IRS.

If you hate taxes but dutifully cheer for wars, it's lucky you also oppose school funding sufficient to produce historical literacy. Taxes are a byproduct of wars. Were it not for wars and war propaganda, this country would have never begun paying taxes. If we were to end wars, and only if we were to end wars, we could consider ending taxes too.

Between 1789 and 1815, tariffs produced 90 percent of government revenue. But taxes were needed for wars, including wars against protesters of the taxes -- such as President Washington's quashing of the Whiskey Rebellion.

A property tax was put in place in 1789 in order to build up a Navy. More taxes were needed in 1798 because of the troublesome French. But taxation really got going with the War of 1812 and took many forms, sales taxes, land taxes, etc.

The income tax was brought to you courtesy of the Civil War. The North began an income tax in 1862, and the Confederacy in 1863, both of them progressive and graduated. The income tax and the inheritance tax were dropped by 1872, and big taxation did not come back until World War I and its accompanying propaganda campaign. The Great War included an income tax, an estate tax, a munitions tax, an excess profits tax, and other big taxes on corporations and luxuries. Some of these taxes vanished after the war, but the income tax didn't. However, most ordinary people were still not seriously touched by taxation, which drew heavily from the wealthy.

World War II, which has in this and many other ways never ended, changed all that. The income tax became mainstream. By the end of World War II over 90% of U.S. workers were filing tax returns and the income tax had become the single biggest source of government funding. It was called "the Victory Tax." In a Disney cartoon, the narrator warned Donald Duck that "It takes taxes to beat the Axis!" An Irving Berlin song was titled "I Paid My Income Tax Today." Among the lyrics: "You see those bombers in the sky? Rockefeller helped to build them, So did I!"

Lucky me! We've never stopped building the bombers or paying the taxes. But the U.S. government has slashed taxes on corporations and on the wealthy and borrowed heavily. Increasingly the burden to pay is on working people, and what's paid for is largely the ongoing permanent preparations for war. Currently about 54% of discretionary spending goes into militarism. Imagine if, during tax week debates and interviews, the media were to ask presidential candidates whether they think 54% is low, high, or just right. We'd learn what they think about basic spending priorities, and many TV viewers might learn for the first time what our government's current spending priorities are.

The typical U.S. debate between spending more money on the one hand, and spending less money while building a bigger military on the other, is at odds with the reality in which the military takes a majority of the money, and in which additional big chunks go toward making the United States #1 in prisons and highways and fracking, etc. We need a debate not just on how much money the government gets, but on where it gets it from and what it spends it on. There's a movement called the Global Day of Action on Military Spending that cites UN reports to the effect that the world each year is spending about $25 billion on life-saving assistance to those harmed by wars and natural disasters, but $1,776 billion on creating more wars.

We could radically transform for the better the lives of people in the United States and abroad, with money to spare, if we moved a fraction of the U.S. military budget to productive peaceful spending.

The Habit of Thought That Made U.S. #1 in Prisons and Wars

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune
Remarks prepared for April 12 event in Baltimore.

I'm going to start with a few brief opening remarks about what I think is the habit of thought that has made the United States #1 in the world in prisons and wars. And then I'll be glad to try to answer as many questions as you think of. These remarks will be published online at American Herald Tribune.

No matter how long I debunk and refute and mock and condemn arguments for wars, I continue over and over again to conclude that I'm still giving advocates for war too much credit. How ever little I take seriously as rational ideas the notions that U.S. wars can be defensive or humanitarian or peace-keeping, it's always too much. Wars' supporters, in large part, do not themselves actually hold such beliefs. Rather they have a lust for war that must be examined outside of any question of utilitarian impact.

I'm referring here to the mental processes of both top officials deciding to wage war, and ordinary members of the U.S. public expressing their approval. Of course, the two are not identical. Motives of profit are hushed up, while phony motives such as waging wars in order to "support the troops" are manufactured for public consumption but never ever mentioned in the private emails of war makers. Nonetheless, there is great overlap in the thinking of all members of a culture, including the thinking of cynical politicians in a corrupt regime, and there are points on which virtually all politicians, from best to worst, agree without giving the matter any thought.

One part of the common lust for war is the desire to punish wrongdoers. This motivation overlaps with revenge when depicted as a response to some wrong done to "us." It overlaps with defensiveness when depicted as punishing some person, force, or group that constitutes a dangerous threat. It overlaps with the drives for power and domination when presented as punishing a challenger to the authority of the U.S. government, or of the U.S. government and the handful of oligarchs who constitute "the international community." But this drive to punish can be distinguished as an important motivation that often seems to underpin more superficial rationalizations.

Look at a typical "humanitarian" war, such as the war to rescue Libyan civilians from imminent slaughter in 2011 or the war to rescue mountaintop dwellers from ISIS in 2013 which is ongoing and escalating. In both cases, the humanitarian rationale was essentially false. Gadaffi did not threaten to massacre civilians. The U.S. did not try to rescue civilians from ISIS; some were rescued by Kurds, some had no interest in being rescued. In both the case of Libya and that of ISIS, war supporters piled all sorts of other rationales on top of the humanitarian one, many of these related to punishment, including punishment of ISIS for beheading U.S. citizens with knives. Old grievances, some of them based on dubious claims themselves, were dredged up against Qadaffi. TV host Ed Schultz, for example, suddenly developed a passion for punishing Qadaffi for crimes that as far as I know hadn't disturbed Schultz's sleep for years prior if ever. Americans who could have all fit on a single and readily available airplane supposedly needed to be saved from the ISIS menace by a bombing campaign that focused on an oil-rich area, not on the threatened mountaintop.

In both cases, also, the humanitarian excuse was quickly abandoned. The rescues were quickly forgotten as the U.S. entered into a war to quickly overthrow the Libyan government and a war to slowly "destroy ISIS." In both cases, few questions were raised about this switch, and to many it was not perceived as a switch. Once you rescue helpless innocents from an evil menace, punishing the evil menace is just a normal follow through like completing a golf swing over your shoulder. In this way of thinking, the humanitarian argument isn't seen as a deceitful way to get a war started but as a justification for continuing the war until the wrongdoers are properly punished.

Look at a typical "defensive" war by the United States, like the vicious aggression against Iraq in 2003. Mixed in with all the lies about the supposed threat from Iraq was plenty of talk about punishing Iraq for violating UN resolutions and for that common reason given for bombing the people of a foreign nation: the tyrant of Iraq had "killed his own people" -- using, as is common, U.S. weapons. Similarly, the Gulf War had been punishment for the invasion of Kuwait, and the war on Afghanistan has been 15 years and counting of punishment for 9/11 of people who for the most part had never heard of 9/11.

What makes me turn from factually correcting a rational belief that these wars are somehow defensive to lamenting an irrational desire to punish somebody regardless of the consequences is the fact that when the wars are exposed as counterproductive, many of their supporters go right on supporting them and talking about the need to punish those who do evil -- even if the punishment itself constitutes a greater evil. Numerous top officials in the U.S. military and so-called intelligence so-called community admit the day after they retire that the drone wars and occupations are counterproductive, that they are generating more enemies than they are killing. This fact is casually referred to as self-evident in editorials by the biggest U.S. newspapers and in reports by U.N. rapporteurs, but never ever as an argument for ending these policies.

The global war on terrorism is predictably and admittedly generating more terrorism, and its supporters just don't care. The world's most expensive military, with troops in the most places and engagement in the most wars, creates for itself the most resentment and blowback, and the solution of the true believers is even more militarism.

What is the purpose of a war that brings more war? One answer can be found in listening to ordinary war supporters who ask whether war opponents want to just "let them get away with it," and in the remarks of President Obama who claims to be murdering with drones only individuals who could not possibly be apprehended and prosecuted. But, in fact, none of his victims has even been indicted, many if not most of them could easily have been apprehended, and most have not even been identified by name. The point of throwing around the word "prosecution" in discussing the new kill policy, as in discussing the old imprison-without-trial-and-torture policy is to convey the idea that what is being done is punishment.

We find, in fact, the drive to punish in arguments for wars going back for centuries. The Mexicans had to be punished for invading the United States, whether they did so or not. The Spanish had to be punished for blowing up the Maine, whether they did so or not. King George had to be punished for his crimes, the South had to be punished for seceding, the Vietnamese had to be punished for Tonkin whether it happened or not, etc. An especially curious thing about the drive to punish, as we see in foreign and domestic policy alike, is that it seems to be largely satisfied entirely regardless of whether the correct person is punished. And if the right person is punished, that person's background is of little concern.

Was ISIS created by the invasion of Iraq and the arming of fighters in Syria? Who cares? Does the bombing of ISIS kill innocents and boost ISIS recruiting? Who cares? Was a murderer and rapist brutally abused as a child? Who cares? Does DNA prove that he didn't do it at all? As long as that evidence can be kept from the judge or jury, who really cares? The important thing is to punish somebody.

There are probably more innocent men and women in prison in the United States now than there were people in prison here total -- innocent and guilty -- 30 years ago, or than there are total people in prison (proportionately or as an absolute number) in most nations on earth.

I don't mean that people are locked up for actions that shouldn't be considered crimes, although they are. I don't mean that people are policed and indicted and prosecuted by a racist system that makes some people far more likely to end up in prison than other people guilty of the same actions, although that is true, just as it's also true that the justice system works better for the wealthy than for the poor. I am referring rather to men and women who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they simply did not commit. I'm not even counting Guantanamo or Bagram or immigrants' prisons. I'm talking about the prisons just up the road, full of people from just down the road.

I don't know whether wrongful convictions have increased as a percentage of convictions. What has indisputably increased is the number of convictions and the lengths of sentences. The prison population has skyrocketed. It's multiplied several fold. And it's done so during a political climate that has rewarded legislators, judges, prosecutors, and police for locking people up -- and not for preventing the conviction of innocents. This growth does not correlate in any way with an underlying growth in crime. Nor have U.S. wars multiplied as the result of greater lawlessness among dictators who've fallen out of favor in Washington.

At the same time, evidence has emerged of a pattern of wrongful convictions. This emerging evidence is largely the result of prosecutions during the 1980s, primarily for rape but also for murder, before DNA testing had come into its own, but when evidence (including semen and blood) was sometimes preserved. Other factors have contributed: messy murderers, rapists who didn't use condoms, advances in DNA science that helps to convict the guilty as well as to free the innocent, avenues for appeal that were in some ways wider before the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and the heroic work of a relative handful of people.

An examination of the plea bargains and trials that put people behind bars ought to make clear to anyone that many of those convicted are innocent. But DNA exonerations have opened a lot of eyes to that fact. The trouble is that most convicts do not have anything that can be tested for DNA to prove their guilt or innocence. There are very likely hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the U.S. prison system. Are they innocent of everything? Are they saints? Of course not. They are innocent of the crimes for which they were punished. In the minds of many that doesn't matter. After all, they are poor, they are black, they have bad friends, they were in bad places. This is the thinking that supports bombing foreign nations. Did everyone in that foreign nation supposedly blow up an airplane decades ago? Of course not, but they are Muslim, they have dark skin, they hate us for our freedoms. If we're punishing them for the wrong crime, it all evens out because we're punishing them for some other crime or for their general criminal evilness.

Peter Enns has just published a book called Incarceration Nation that makes the case that punitiveness in U.S. public attitudes has played a huge role in the growth of mass incarceration. It may also have played a huge role in the growth of the permanent state of war. In absolute numbers and per-capita the United States dwarfs the rest of the world in war making and incarceration, and has seen huge growth in both in recent years. Enns cites studies finding that U.S. mass incarceration may actually increase rather than reduce crime. That finding has impacted U.S. debates on criminal punishment like a massive oak falling in a deserted forest. Nobody cares. What does it matter if mass incarceration increases crime? That's not the point. The point is to punish. And many are willing to be treated as criminals in airports, in banks, in schools, in their own neighborhoods, if it means that criminals are being severely punished. Many are willing to give the police the benefit of every doubt if racial and religious groups demonized by war propaganda are alleged to be a threat nearby.

Ending the U.S. system of counterproductive criminal punishment is as unthinkable in U.S. politics as ending the counterproductive "destroying of ISIS."

These ideas have to be unthinkable, because thinking about them could lead to radical change. Militarism and incarceration drain incredible resources from actually beneficial projects, they do horrendous damage to their victims and those victims' families, but also to prison guards, police, and members of the U.S. military. They increase racism, sexism, homophobia, and violence. They erode civil liberties. They destroy communities. They spread hatred and violence. They ruin lives. Their damage spreads for generations. Why is the United States tops in both of these evils? Are they connected?

Public opinion matters in any society. The United States is very far from democratic, but a cheap and easy way to gain electoral support while simultaneously pleasing ones funders has been to press policies labeled tough on crime and tough on terrorism. That these policies may increase crime and terrorism in comparison with other available and unconsidered options doesn't change this fact as long as people cry out for punishment at all costs. Careers in Washington, D.C., are not typically advanced by opposing wars. Prosecutors are not typically celebrated or rewarded for refraining from prosecuting the innocent. This problem is so universal as to go almost unnoticed.

I recently noticed a study by U.S. academics in the Journal of Peace Research, a study of whether the loss of lives or dollars increased or decreased U.S. public support for wars. The study only considered the loss of U.S. lives, even though the single biggest result of U.S. wars is the killing of foreigners. The possibility that the loss of non-U.S. lives could have any impact on U.S. support for wars was not deemed worthy even of consideration. The same could be said in many contexts for the prosecution of innocents in U.S. courts.

Scientists at Yale University who run experiments observing babies and toddlers claim that very, very young U.S. citizens exhibit a desire to see wrongdoers punished, even at a cost to themselves or others. These are, however, very young people who have been rapidly inhaling U.S. culture for months or years. And if we accept the unproven and perhaps unprovable claim that babies are somehow born with such desires, we still have to accept that 96% of humanity seems to set them aside in ways that people in the United States, when they grow older, do not.

Still, the author of the book Just Babies is onto something. He cites the phenomenon of internet lynch mobs. A video of a woman putting a cat in a dumpster can result in death threats. The exoneration of a man who witnessed a vicious crime and did not prevent it has led to widespread efforts to ruin his life. People not involved in these incidents in any way, hear about them and organize ways to cause punishment. That inclination to punish, to lynch, to "bring to justice," is also an inclination that has helped kill millions of people in the Middle East in recent decades and helped ruin millions of lives at the hands of the U.S. police and prison system.

If I'm right about this, then we could help reduce and end wars and reduce and eliminate incarceration by eliminating or radically reducing and reforming the desire to punish wrongdoers for the sake of that punishment, for the Schadenfreude, the punishment for punishment's sake. And we might be able to advance that cause by developing restorative justice at home and abroad.

I recommend Rebecca Gordon's new book, American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. But I don't want to see Bush or Obama or Rumsfeld or Hillary Clinton suffer. I want to see understanding of their crimes developed, repetition of their crimes deterred, restitution for their crimes attempted, remorse and reconciliation advanced. In urging yet another people's tribunal without the power to punish, Gordon urges the importance of making reparations and accomplishing public acknowledgment. The first such tribunal I testified at regarding Bush-Cheney war crimes was in January 2006, over a decade ago. The trick will clearly be to do one and simultaneously purchase a television network. The important point here, however, is that the desire for truth and reconciliation without punishment is not uncommon. Even in the United States there are many cases of murder victims' families opposing excessive punishment of those convicted of the murder. And there are families of 9/11 victims who have opposed from the start using 9/11 as an excuse for wars.

One year ago today Baltimore police murdered Freddie Gray, and many believed that because the police had done it, it was punishment -- for something. When people protested, police were brought in from all over the area, including police who had been trained in occupying enemy territory in Israel, police with weapons given them by the U.S. military, police trained by the federal government to think of themselves as at war with the public rather than serving the public.

The people of the city of Baltimore gave the federal government in taxes last year $606 million just for the Department of so-called Defense, not counting wars, not counting so-called Homeland Security, not counting nukes in the Department of Energy or Mercenaries in the Department of State or veterans care or debt on past spending. The people of Baltimore handed over further millions to pay for those things, possibly $1 billion in all. And another billion this year, and another the next. It's not clear what the people of Baltimore get for that beyond chaos, disaster and hatred of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, a militarized police force, the damage to U.S. troops from Baltimore, the erosion of our civil rights, the destruction of our natural environment, and the lack of funding for human needs.

Activist groups seem to be making these connections with events titled things like "From Ferguson to Palestine." A group in Los Angeles called Fight for the Soul of Our Cities is planning a march and rally on April 22nd against the militarization of police. There's a huge opportunity available if opponents of war and incarceration recognize that they are up against the same forces, the same mental habits, the same propaganda, the same corruption. If we can build a bigger movement, we can achieve bigger goals. But if we build that movement around the desire to punish the latest warmonger or police chief we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. We may get farther in the long run if we build a movement around a vision of a world without wars, prisons, or poverty -- and without the desire to punish people.

Why Do Ethics Classes Fantasize About Murder So Much?

At a post-screening discussion where I questioned the director of Eye in the Sky about the disconnect between his drone-kill movie and reality, he launched into a bunch of thought-experiment stuff of the sort I've tried to avoid since finishing my master's in philosophy. Mostly I've avoided hanging out with torture supporters.

If this were a philosophy paper I would now tell you that I am going to show that consequentialism is the most useful ethical framework. Then I would show you that. Then I would tell you I'd just shown you that. And the annoyingness would be only beginning. Luckily, I'm out of school and have told you my central concern in the headline.

Consequentialism, the idea that we should base our actions on the good or bad of the expected consequences, has always been very troubling to philosophy professors, possibly because of some of these reasons:

> It leaves ethics up to humans without any sort of pseudo-divine guidance.

> It means otherwise brilliant people like Immanuel Kant were quite wrong.

> Concluding that consequentialism is the way to go would eliminate the entire academic discipline of debating what is the way to go.

Talk Nation Radio: Gregory Shupak on the Case Against Bombing ISIS

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-gregory-shupak-on-the-case-against-bombing-isis

Dr. Gregory Shupak has a PhD in Literary Studies and teaches Media Studies at the University of Guelph in Toronto. He is an activist and a fiction writer and his political analysis appears regularly on Jacobin, Middle East Eye, and elsewhere.He discusses these topics:

"The Case Against Bombing ISIS"

and

"Abolish the Military"

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.

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Ten Revealing War Lies

Read the initial remarks as an article at teleSUR.

No More Nukes

Israeli War Lies Fall As Corporate Media Falls

A new film narrated by Roger Waters, The Occupation of the American Mind, traces the rise of Israeli war propaganda in the United States. This propaganda, which has skillfully swayed U.S. public opinion in support of Israeli wars and occupations, has in fact been not so much a matter of skill as a matter of control.

The U.S. corporate media has obeyed the Israeli propaganda office, because the U.S. government has done so, and the U.S. corporate media generally obeys the U.S. government. How much the U.S. government's stance is shaped by its own independent, albeit perverse, interests, and how much by Israeli propagandizing and corruption is one question. But the U.S. corporate media's lockdown on criticism of Israeli wars is only a slight variation on its coverage of U.S. wars.

What happens when you take the control away? When young people in the United States get their news from the internet and foreign media, their support for Israeli wars and occupations plummets. Backers of Israeli wars find it necessary to start trying to ban criticism on U.S. college campuses. Just as young people have overwhelmingly backed Bernie Sanders despite corporate media opposition, those who avoid the corporate media are able to back justice for Palestinians (and often to a much greater extent than Sanders does).

When informed people in the United States hear about international opposition to Israeli crimes, they are hardly shocked, and might just yawn. But Fox News reports shock, outrage, and disbelief in its staff:

"You can't make it up. UN names democratic Israel as world's top human rights violator"!

Fox wants enemies, and thus reports in this way on a story that much of the U.S. media will likely ignore or downplay. If most corporate media consumers in the United States learned that Israel was viewed by the world as a top abuser of human rights, they would react approximately like Fox News.

One of the great services that The Occupation of the American Mind provides is that it shows us footage of news coverage of Israeli wars in the United States and, in great contrast, in Europe. In Europe we see Palestinian voices included, and we see false claims questioned by tough grilling of Israeli officials. In the United States we see top U.S. officials of both political parties, and top media figures parroting over and over again the same exact words dictated by Israeli propagandists or their U.S. advisers.

This film is good for beginners who've never escaped their televisions before, in that it provides a basic history of Zionism and the Nakba. But it quickly turns to a particular subject that should intrigue the better informed as well, namely the rise of Israeli propaganda since 1982. We see footage of U.S. network TV news readers reporting honestly and straightforwardly on Israeli bombing of Lebanon, and on Israeli facilitated massacres in refugee camps -- and showing footage of the carnage.

In 1984 the American Jewish Congress held a meeting in Jerusalem on "hasbara" (propaganda, war lies) chaired by a U.S. advertiser who had made "tastes great / less filling" ads for Miller Light beer. In 2009 Frank Luntz produced the Israel Project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary. These efforts are not kept secret. In fact, a television show in Israel similar to Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" is called "The Ambassador," and it challenges contestants to do the best job of selling Israeli war crimes as being justified or admirable. The acceptance of such a show is itself terrific hasbara, of course, as it suggests that concocting excuses for killing people is justifiable and admirable.

The central lie of Israeli war propaganda is also the most effective lie in the United States and the focus of the first chapter of my book War Is A Lie, namely the lie that wars are defensive. Just as the U.S. corporate media engages in blowback denial with September 11 or Brussels, it tells us that Palestinian resistance is spontaneous irrational aggression, unprovoked and inexplicable except by understanding Palestinians as less than human. In the U.S. corporate media, the Palestinians always started it, and Israel is always acting in defense, even when it's aggressively bombing civilians as it was doing in 1982 when U.S. media voices had not yet been properly trained.

The undercurrent to the "defense" lies is the justification of revenge, which threads through all war propaganda, even that for U.S. wars, which has often tended in recent years to emphasize a lie of "humanitarianism" in which a war that is also supposedly defensive and a last resort is somehow also a benefit to people it is rescuing. Israel has not used that line, and it's worth noting that the U.S. government has found it ineffective in reaching more than a sliver of the U.S. population.

It would be humorous if it weren't so blood-soaked to watch U.S. politicians and pundits parrot specific Israeli military talking points over and over. The 1988 Hamas Charter, long since disavowed by the Hamas leadership, is quoted over and over again, like the mistranslation of then-Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and with identical words in both cases, while the actual platform of the Likud Party is never mentioned. The lie that Israel freed Gaza in 2005 is repeated so many times a Gazan might start to believe it.

When Israel broke a ceasefire on the day of the 2008 U.S. elections and then claimed the Palestinians had done so, the facts were available, but the lie was endlessly repeated on U.S. television. We see footage in The Occupation of the American Mind of a European journalist confronting an Israeli official with an Israeli report acknowledging the truth, but nothing like that on U.S. corporate newsertainment networks.

Phrases like "rockets raining down" and "what would you do?" and "what would the U.S. do?" are chanted like mantras. Sadly, we know what the U.S. would do in response to blowback. We know what it has been doing for the past 15 years.

The chief difference in U.S. discourse between propaganda for Israeli wars and for U.S. wars (other than awareness of where the weapons came from -- the United States in both cases) is the difference between "anti-American" and "anti-Semitic." In the film we see Ted Cruz object to criticizing Israel because of the holocaust. Any criticism of Israel is defined as anti-Semitic.

There have been times in U.S. history when any war criticism earned one the title "anti-American." Currently it is far more likely to earn you the title of "peacenik who would have opposed World War II" -- with World War II falsely understood as having been fought for the Jews who in fact the U.S. government refused to allow in and certainly didn't give a damn about. Thus, advocating civilized conflict resolution in the United States circles back to a charge of "anti-Semitism" as well.

As the corporate media's dominance crumbles, so potentially does all of this nonsense. And the first to fall may be U.S. support for Israeli wars. That opposition to U.S. wars lags behind among U.S. youth may suggest a certain power to the label of "anti-American" after all, or rather an internalized nationalism that hardly needs name-calling to prop it up. But any failure of war propaganda advances the total failure of war propaganda, if we can keep organizing, keep educating, keep BDSing, keep the internet open, and go watch The Occupation of the American Mind.

David Swanson's book War Is A Lie: Second Edition will be published April 5, 2016.

U.S. State Department: Don't Hurt ISIS

So Many Enemies, So Little Logic
By David Swanson, teleSUR

Islamic State Group fighters

The U.S. State Department does not want the government of Syria to defeat or weaken ISIS, at least not if doing so means any sort of gain for the Syrian government. Watching a recent video of a State Department spokesperson speaking on that subject might confuse some U.S. war supporters. I doubt many residents of Palmyra, Virginia, or Palmyra, Pennsylvania, or Palmyra, New York could give a coherent account of the U.S. government's position on which enemy should control the ancient Palmyra in Syria.

The U.S. government has been arming Al Qaeda in Syria. I doubt many people in the United States, of whatever political extraction, could explain why. In my experience, having just begun a tour of speaking events, very few in the United States can even name the seven nations that President Barack Obama has bragged about bombing, much less explain which parties he is or is not bombing in those countries. No nation in the history of the world has had so many enemies to keep track of as the United States has now, and bothered so little about doing so.

The particular problem with Syria is that the U.S. government has prioritized one enemy, whom it has utterly failed to scare the U.S. public with, while the U.S. government has made a distant second priority of attacking another enemy that most people in the United States are so terrified of they can hardly think straight. Consider what changed between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, President Obama was prepared to heavily bomb the Syrian government. But he did not claim that the Syrian government wanted to attack the United States, or even to attack a handful of white people from the United States. Instead he argued, unpersuasively, that he knew who was responsible for killing Syrians with chemical weapons. This was in the midst of a war in which thousands were dying on all sides from all kinds of weapons. The outrage over a particular type of weapon, the dubious claims, and the eagerness to overthrow a government, were all too close to U.S. memories of the 2003 attack on Iraq.

Congress Members in 2013 found themselves at public events confronted with the question of why the U.S. would overthrow a government in a war on the same side as al Qaeda. Were they going to start another Iraq War? U.S. and British public pressure reversed Obama's decision. But U.S. opinion was even more against arming proxies, and a new CIA report said that doing so had never worked, yet that was the approach Obama went with. The overthrow, which Hillary Clinton still says should have happened, would have quickly created the chaos and terror that Obama set about developing slowly.

In 2014, Obama was able to step up direct U.S. military action in Syria and Iraq with virtually no resistance from the public. What had changed? People had heard about videos of ISIS killing white people with knives. It didn't seem to matter that jumping into the war against ISIS was the opposite side from what Obama had said in 2013 the U.S. needed to join. It didn't even seem to matter that the U.S. clearly intended to join in both sides. Nothing related to logic or sense mattered in the least. ISIS had done a little bit of what U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Iraq and elsewhere did routinely, and had done it to Americans. And a fictional group, even scarier, the Khorasan Group, was coming to get us, ISIS was slipping across the border from Mexico and Canada, if we didn't do something really big and brutal we were all going to die.

That being why the U.S. public finally said yes to open-ended war again -- after really not falling for the lies about a humanitarian rescue in Libya, or not caring -- the U.S. public naturally assumes that the U.S. government has prioritized destroying the evil dark force of Islamic Terror. It hasn't. The U.S. government says to itself, in its little-noticed reports, that ISIS is no threat to the United States. It knows perfectly well, and its top commanders blurt it out upon retirement, that attacking terrorists only strengthens their forces. The U.S. priority remains overthrowing the Syrian government, ruining that country, and creating chaos. Here's part of that project: U.S.-backed troops in Syria fighting other U.S. backed troops in Syria. That's not incompetence if the goal is to destroy a nation, as it seems to be in Hillary Clinton's emails - (the following is a draft of this article):

"The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. ... Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about -- but cannot talk about -- is losing their nuclear monopoly. ... It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security."

ISIS, Al Qaeda, and terrorism are far better tools for marketing wars than communism ever was, because they can be imagined using knives rather than nukes, and because terrorism can never collapse and vanish. If (counterproductively) attacking groups like al Qaeda were what motivated the wars, the United States would not be aiding Saudi Arabia in slaughtering the people of Yemen and increasing the power of Al Qaeda there. If peace were the goal, the U.S. would not be sending troops back into Iraq to use the same actions that destroyed that country to supposedly fix it. If winning particular sides of wars were the main objective, the United States would not have served as the primary funding for both sides in Afghanistan for all these years, with decades more planned.

Why did Senator Harry Truman say the United States should help either the Germans or the Russians, whichever side was losing? Why did President Ronald Reagan back Iraq against Iran and also Iran against Iraq? Why could fighters on both sides in Libya exchange parts for their weapons? Because two goals that outweigh all others for the U.S. government often align in the cause of sheer destruction and death. One is U.S. domination of the globe, and all other peoples be damned. The second is arms sales. No matter who's winning and who's dying, the weapons makers profit, and the majority of weapons in the Middle East have been shipped there from the United States. Peace would cut into those profits horribly.

Blowback Denial, Climate Denial, and Apocalypse

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Sanders Trump 6f237

Last week Donald Trump suggested something Bernie Sanders would never dare: getting rid of NATO. I took some time to read people's comments and tweets online about it, and a huge number seemed to believe that NATO and the U.S. military have been performing a service for Europe, and that it's time for Europe to pay its own bills. But will someone explain to me what the service is?

The United States dragged NATO into a -- thus far -- over-14-year-long war on the people of Afghanistan that has turned a country in poor shape into hell on earth, compounding the damage inflicted by U.S. (and Soviet) policies since the 1970s.

The United States dragged European nations into a disastrous war in Iraq in 2003, without NATO. But when Belgium allowed a prosecution of U.S. commander in Iraq Tommy Franks to move forward, Donald Rumsfeld threatened to move NATO headquarters out of Brussels. Franks' apparent crimes suddenly became part of a noble and legal humanitarian effort.

The United States and France used NATO to destroy Libya in 2011 and proliferate weapons across the region. The United States and Turkey have been compounding the chaos by generating reasons for NATO to exist in Syria. And perhaps NATO headquarters views the wars that created ISIS, and the U.S. support for Al Qaeda in Syria in just those terms. But to an ordinary observer, a war on terrorism that continues to increase terrorism has a fundamental flaw.

Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer says the more the U.S. fights terrorism the more it creates terrorism. U.S. Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, says blowing people up with missiles is generating more blowback, not less. The CIA's own report says drone killing is counterproductive. Admiral Dennis Blair, the former director of National Intelligence, says the same. Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says drone strikes could be undermining long-term efforts: "We're seeing that blowback. If you're trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you're going to upset people even if they're not targeted." Dozens of just retired top officials agree.

So, it seems, does much of the public in Europe, which turns out protests of NATO meetings, as well as wars, of a size rarely seen in the United States. When the U.S. military builds new bases in Italy, the protests are so huge they've toppled local and national governments. It was a vote of the House of Commons in London not to bomb Syria in 2013 that helped reverse President Obama's decision to do so. To tell the people of Europe that they must start taking responsibility to pay a greater share of the bill for killing Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, and Syrians, and for generating the blowback that sets off bombs in their train stations and airports, and for creating the refugee crises they face might prove just a step too far into the realm of delusion.

Thinking this way requires blowback denial, the Trumpian belief that Muslims do evil things because they are Muslims. The U.S. government knows better. George W. Bush's own Pentagon concluded that nobody hated us "for our freedoms" but rather they hated bombs and occupying armies, and free weapons and support for Israel's wars. One wishes it were needless to say that such motivations don't excuse acts of murder, but knowledge of such motivations puts additional blood on the hands of those continuing to generate them while engaging in blowback denial.

Climate denial is not so very different. Just as every anti-western terrorist says they're outraged by the bombs and bases and armies and buzzing drones, every scientific study says unnecessary and wasteful human activities (first among them: war making) are pushing the earth's ecosystem toward collapse. Yet billions of people fail to shut every thing down until basic policies are altered. And many fail to do anything at all to resist environmental devastation, by means of denying to themselves that it is real.

Clearly, the human species evolved to favor relatively short-term localized thinking. While more Americans are killed by dumb accidents, pollution, or toddlers with guns than by foreign terrorists with knives, the latter danger dominates all public policy thinking. While the earth is at severe risk of environmental or nuclear holocaust, the weather looks nice outside today and all the bears and leopards seem to have long since been killed off, so what's your worry?

When humans killed off those animals millennia ago, they replaced them with gods. Now humans pray to those gods rather than thinking. Now they wish for what they'd like and call it a prediction. Now they vote for hope and change and call it progress. And this habit of wishful thinking may be at the root of the greatest threats to end us all.

Talk Nation Radio: Erin Aubry Kaplan on Loving Obama No Matter What

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-erin-aubry-kaplan-on-loving-obama-no-matter-what

Erin Aubry Kaplan is a Los Angeles journalist and columnist. She discusses her book I Heart Obama.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

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

Talk Nation Radio: Paul Engler on THIS IS AN UPRISING

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/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
http://TalkNationRadio.org

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

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.

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

By David Swanson, Telesur

Obama

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.

Hillary Is A Neocon

http://hillaryisaneocon.com

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

Videos

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##

Speaking Events

2016

War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Book Tour

May 19, Sarasota, FL, 7:00 p.m. Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota, FL

May 20, Jacksonville, FL, 7:00 p.m., Florida Christian Center Auditorium, 1115 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville, FL 32205, (904) 381-4800.

May 21, Gainesville, FL
7:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Florida
4225 NW 34th St, Gainesville, FL 32605
(352) 377-1669
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May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
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2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
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Fresno, CA 93710


June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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