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Laughing Our Way to Destruction

If members of the U.S. public were ever to wonder what the other 95% of humanity thinks about them, would it be better to break that harsh truth to them gently or just to blurt it out?

I'm going to go with the latter.

Here's Frankie Boyle explaining the advantages of Scottish independence: "Scotland would no longer have to invade places like Afghanistan for American interests. . . . I don't support America's wars. I don't even think they are wars. They're one-way traffic, mass-murder. There's never been a time when a shepherd has beaten a helicopter. You never switch on the news to see 'A shock result in Afghanistan today when a missile was destroyed by a wedding.' Because not only will America go into your country and kill all your people. But what's worse I think is they'll come back twenty years later and make a movie about how killing your people made their soldiers feel sad. Oh boo hoo hoo. Americans making a movie about what Vietnam did to the soldiers is like a serial killer telling you what stopping suddenly for hitchhikers did to his clutch."

If you don't think people find such remarks acceptable, listen to this laughter:

Living in the United States we've been trained to appreciate the fact that the wars do in fact make the soldiers feel sad. In fact they significantly increase rates of depression and violence and suicide. We tell each other not to blame the soldiers, rather to blame the top politicians. But then we don't really do that, do we? Bush is off painting himself in the bathtub and otherwise doing his imitation of the original King George III during his blue urine period. Obama is cheered by his fans because his wars make him sad and he declares them with such heartfelt reluctance. But from the point of view of people who are told about non-American deaths in their newspapers and on their televisions and radios (that is, from the point of view of 95% of humanity) U.S. wars are mass-slaughter of innocents. Ninety percent of the deaths are on one side. Ninety percent of those deaths are civilians by every definition. When the U.S. says it's going to launch another war because it opposes genocide, the rest of the world responds "We what the f%^$^! do you call your wars?"

Think the rest of the world is crazy? Think it's just bad jokes that miss the serious complicated facts of the matter. Watch how an intelligent Englishman watches an Obama speech:

Or you can watch how an American views Lindsey Graham's speeches:

Or how an American comedian views U.S. foreign policy:

When an American gets honest about U.S. warmongering it has to be a joke. It has to sneak in. We don't want to hear it. But we shouldn't keep imagining the rest of the world doesn't know what's going on.

After New York: Rally for Peace and Climate in DC

An interactive townhall discussion of how we get to peace

Speakers: Andy Shallal, Barbara Wien, David Swanson, and YOU

When: Monday, September 22, 11:30-1:30

Where: SIS Founders Room, American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Food and drink provided!



War, Whistleblowing, and Independent Journalism
 
Join us for the powerful documentary Body of War (co-produced and co-directed by Phil Donahue), followed by a discussion with whistleblowers and journalists.
 
When: Monday, September 22
 
6:30 pm: Body of War film screening

8 pm: Q&A with Phil Donahue

8:15 pm: Panel
*  William Binney, NSA whistleblower
*  Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, EPA whistleblower
*  Phil Donahue, journalist
*  Thomas Drake, NSA whistleblower
*  Peter Kuznick, professor of history
*  Jesselyn Radack, DOJ whistleblower
*  Kirk Wiebe, NSA whistleblower
Moderator: Norman Solomon
 
Where: American University -- Butler Board Room (located on the 6th floor above the Bender arena sports complex)

Optional: You can sign up on FaceBook here.

This event is sponsored by RootsAction.org and the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, and co-sponsored by ExposeFacts.org.

For more information on the speakers, click here
.
 
 

Nonviolent civil resistance for peace and climate at the White House

When: Tuesday, September 23, 10 a.m.

Where: Pennsylvania Ave. in front of White House.

More information.

James Foley Is Not a War Ad

To the extent that the U.S. public is newly, and probably momentarily, accepting of war -- an extent that is wildly exaggerated, but still real -- it is because of videos of beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

When 9-11 victims were used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9-11, some of the victims' relatives pushed back.

Now James Foley is pushing back from the grave.

Here is video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley's killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.

The video shows Foley in Chicago helping Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago -- a film about the last NATO protest before the recent one in Wales.  I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO and war. And I've met Wexler who has tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie

Watch Foley in the video discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage -- watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley cheering like a weapons-maker or a Congress member for President Obama's announcement of more war. Try to imagine Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.

You can't do it. He's not an ad for war any more than the WMDs were a justification for war. His absence as a war justification has been exposed even faster than the absence of the WMDs was.

While ISIS may have purchased Sotloff, if not Foley, from another group, when Foley's mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley's mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we're going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.

The Coalition of the Willing is already crumbling. What if people in the United States were to watch the video of Foley when he was alive and speaking and laughing, not the one when he was a prop in a piece of propaganda almost certainly aimed at provoking the violence that Obama has just obligingly announced?

Foley said he believed his responsibility was to the truth. It didn't set him free. Is it perhaps not too late for the rest of us?

A Paradigm for Peace

Raise your hand if you weren't surprised when fancy films of beheadings resulted in bombings?

Keep your hand up if you weren't shocked when bombings resulted in more brutality and beheadings?

Is it possible we need a radically different way of thinking about how to solve violence?

Listen to this quote:

"Neither governments nor terrorists analyze the Defensive and Aggressive Roots of Violence within their enemies and themselves. Consequently, their policy solutions are imbalanced, hostile, and impractical. The habit of antagonistic debate further impedes the development of solutions, while threat-oriented psychological patterns and assumptions buttress a belief in war."

Please don't scream "What are we suppose to do, have a friendly discussion with the man with a knife on our throat?"

I actually know someone who did that and lived to tell the tale. But that's not the idea. We don't actually have a collective throat, and we aren't actually engaged in debates or discussions of any sort with the people our government is bombing thousands of miles from home. The point, as I take it, is to alter how we are thinking about matters of war and peace. Kristin Christman, whose quote that is, has produced a remarkable project called Paradigm For Peace.

She takes on the policy of war and the propaganda of war. She rethinks it all in her own language, very much the autodidact but very much dedicated to seeing the perspectives of others. Her writing could help war supporters begin to question their beliefs, which she sees as often noble, if often also shameful, if always misguided, in motivation. Christman applies the same generosity and insight to an analysis of war supporters on both sides. That is, she asks both why someone would support bombing Iraq and why someone would support anti-U.S. terrorism.

Another excerpt:

"Since its first foreign policies towards Native Americans, the U.S. has perceived the opponent as two-dimensional and deficient in qualities worth respecting and perspectives worth understanding. It is similar to the faulty way in which some have perceived slaves, children, animals, trees, rocks, rivers, and land itself: to be much less than they really are. Yet trying to obliterate the enemy does not resolve the threat; it does not address why the enemy became a threat. And if motivations are not discussed, solutions to motivations will be omitted. Foreign policy must be based upon a Science of Peace."

And one more, just to get a proper taste:

"We wouldn’t kick a car to make it go. If something were wrong with it, we would figure out which system wasn’t working and why: How is it not working? Does it turn on a little? Are the wheels spinning in mud? Does the battery need recharging? Are gas and air getting through? Like kicking the car, an approach to conflict that relies on military solutions does not figure things out: It does not distinguish between the causes of violence and does not address aggressive and defensive motivations."

Christman has organized her ideas into a system of categories that can be a bit intimidating, but often extremely valuable. I've sometimes struggled with the concept of the "roots of war" because I recognize factors that facilitate war, while recognizing that they are neither necessary nor sufficient to actually cause war. Christman makes use of a very helpful category that she calls "The Escalators of Violence." These are broken up into mental, legal, and physical varieties -- that is to say, mental habits that make war a first resort, legal structures that permit war, and physical facts like the presence of weapons and troops that make war the easiest option.

The "Roots of Violence" is another piece of Christman's analysis, itself divided into defensive, aggressive, and accidental roots. Christman is not using "defensive" as a legal justification for war, but rather as a category to facilitate understanding of what is motivating the actions of one's government or its declared enemies.

Continuing her mission of categorization, Christman creates a "Taxonomny of Peace" including an in-depth and specific look at roots and escalators of violence, and at solutions -- with a focus in particular on the United States and Western Asia (the "Middle East"). In fact, Christman lists 650 Solutions for Peace.

That's quite a leap from the currently common U.S. wisdom that one must choose between bombing and nothing, to a menu of 651 choices (including bombing as 1).  But the 650 are not all concrete and discrete steps.  Many are guides to better thinking.  Many are rules for what not to do. For example: "Do Not Determine Solutions Based Merely upon Snapshots of a Conflict" is the heading of one of the 650 sections.

I spoke at an event along with Christman some weeks back (video), and recognized that she was a brilliant independent thinker. It then took me weeks to get around to reading her work, which I still haven't finished. Why? Because it's too big, too disorganized, needs an editor, needs a web designer, and ought to be published in a hardcopy book for us old-fashioned types who like those. I mean all of that as constructive criticism, and I really very much do hope those steps are taken.

In the meantime, take any amount of time you have (such as time you might have wasted watching TV news) and check this out.

Warning to War Supporters

I know you mean well. I know you think you've found a bargain that nobody else noticed hidden in a back corner of the used car lot. Let me warn you: it's a clunker. Here, I'll list the defects. You can have your own mechanic check them out:

1. If you want to bomb a country every time an evil group murders people in a gruesome manner, you'll have to bomb a lot of countries including our own.  ISIS draws its strength in Iraq from resentment of the Iraqi government, which bombs its own cities using U.S. weapons, and which beheads people, albeit in grainier footage with lower production values.  Allies in the region, including allies that support ISIS, including allies armed by the United States (some of which arms end up in the hands of ISIS), themselves behead people regularly. But is that worse than other types of killing? When President Barack Obama blew up a 16 year old American boy whom nobody had ever accused of so much as jaywalking, and blew up six other kids who were too close to him at the time, do you imagine his head remained on his body?

As with most drone strikes, that boy could have been arrested and questioned. Had he been, though, gruesome death would have remained a possibility. In April, the United States injected a man with chemicals that made him writhe in excruciating pain for 43 minutes and die. Last week in the United States a man facing a similar fate on death row was proven innocent and freed. The prosecutor who had put him there 30 years earlier showed zero remorse. Now I'm not proposing that we bomb North Carolina because I'm angry at that prosecutor. I'm not even angry at that prosecutor. I am suggesting that there are evil killers all over the place, some wearing Western suits and ties, some wearing military uniforms. Bombs, which mostly kill innocent people who had nothing to do with it, won't help.

2. The bombs will mostly kill innocent people who had nothing to do with it, and will only make the crisis worse. Most people who die in wars are civilians by everyone's definition. People still use words like "battlefield" as if wars were waged in a field the way a football game is played. They couldn't play football on our streets and sidewalks because grandparents and baby strollers would end up tackled and crushed. Well, wars are waged on people's streets and sidewalks, even when one side is only present in the sky above in the form of unmanned robot death planes. The slow-moving die first: the very old and the very young. And when anyone dies, according to top U.S. officials, more enemies are created in greater numbers. Thus, the operation is counterproductive on its own terms, making us less safe rather than safer. This is why President Obama is always saying "There is no military solution" just before proposing to use the military to seek a solution. When he proposes bombing Iraq for three more years, that number has no basis in military calculation whatsoever. I challenge you to find a general who says otherwise. It is a number almost certainly based on the U.S. election schedule, aimed at convincing us to accept a war without question until a date after the next presidential election. When Obama says he's going to get a good government in place in Iraq this week and then make a speech, he's delusional or enjoying toying with your gullibility, but he's also pointing to the actual problem: a nation destroyed by 24 years of wars and sanctions and lacking a legitimate governing system.

3. Bombing is crazy, and bombing for three years is certifiable. Bombing strengthens ISIS. Three years is longer than most U.S. wars have taken from beginning to end.  The U.S. Constitution, which did not foresee a permanent standing army, much less one permanently standing in most other nations on earth, did not permit -- and does not permit -- creating and funding one for a longer period than two years at a time (Article I. Section 8.). But of course nothing guarantees that the bombing will stop after three years and not go on for thirty more. And nothing guarantees that this war will involve only bombing. Already Obama has sent over 1,100 troops, and is promising to send some number less than 100,000. Read that twice please, slowly. Obama wants Congress to debate his war plans but not vote on them. Why not? Because Congress might be compelled by you and me to vote no, if not on this war then on the next one. Obama wants himself and all future presidents free to launch wars without Congress, exactly what he campaigned for office opposing.

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." —Senator Barack Obama. 

The U.S. "intelligence" agencies, by the way, deem ISIS no threat to the United States. Apart from trashing the Constitution and really the one thing its framers got right, President Obama is trashing the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact, laws that forbid war.

4. The fact that it's Obama doesn't make it OK. A majority of you supported attacking Afghanistan and within a couple of years a majority of you said Afghanistan should not have been attacked. Why not? Not because there weren't evil people in Afghanistan, but because bombing the country made everything worse, not better.  You kept telling pollsters it was a bad idea for over another decade, but the war rolled on, and still rolls on.  Iraq is a similar story, although you were even faster to change your mind.  And the occupation ended when President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed an agreement for three more years of that war, and then the three years ran out.  At that point, President Obama tried to win approval from the Iraqi government to keep U.S. troops in Iraq longer, but with immunity for any crimes they might commit.  Failing at that, Obama withdrew the troops.  Having won that concession now, he's sending them back in.  Does the fact that it's Obama doing it, rather than Bush, make it OK? Remember the massive protests when Bush proposed a war on Iraq? Obama just put the band back together in Wales, and you're squealing with delight that he visited Stonehenge, or you're busy coloring in your "I'm Ready for Hillary" posters.

The nation of Iraq was utterly destroyed last time. The place is in total chaos: violence, hatred, poverty, illness, desperation, fanaticism.  Dumping gasoline on that fire is worse now than before, not better. And now we have NATO toying with a nuclear confrontation with Russia, drone wars generating violence and terrorism in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, the U.S. Navy poking China in the eye with a stick, troops heading into a dozen new parts of Africa -- How is starting a war this time better than last time, which you came to view as a mistake by 2004, elected a Congress to end in 2006, thought you were voting against again in 2008, and cheered for the eventual ending of in 2011? Observers have called this the most dangerous moment since World War II. Please don't tell me you trust Obama, believed the fraudulent threat to Benghazi and are now unaware of the disaster he created in Libya, where France has just proposed yet another war to fix the damage of the last war. Please don't tell me you believed the disproven claims of evidence that Assad used chemical weapons or Russia shot down an airplane. This is a government that lies about possible grounds for war and possible outcomes of war, just like its predecessors.

5. The enemy of your enemy is your other weapons customer. Public pressure was instrumental last year in halting proposed attacks on Syria, the plans for which involved massive death and destruction. But the White House and CIA went right ahead and armed and trained one side in that war, the ISIS side. ISIS now has weapons provided directly to it and indirectly to it by the United States, including those seized from the Iraqi government. ISIS has troops trained by the United States and "radicalized" (enraged) by the United States in its brutal prisons in Iraq, as well as troops previously in the Iraqi military who were thrown out of work in 2003 by the U.S. occupation.  Last year, the evil to be confronted was Assad, at all costs. To your great credit you didn't fall for it. Why not? Not because Assad doesn't do evil things, but because you understood that more war would make things even worse.  

Now you're being told that Assad's enemies must be attacked at all cost, and you're falling for it, to your great discredit.  With supposed surgical precision the "moderate" beheaders will be spared, in order to blow up only the "extremist" beheaders. Don't believe it.  Six months ago the great Satan was Iran.  Now you're on Iran's side.  Were you aware of that? You're stirring up trouble to the ultimate benefit of only one group: the weapons makers.  You think of the Middle East as a violent place, but 80% of the weapons come from the United States. Imagine how much less violent the Middle East could be if it only had 20% of the weapons.  We're not talking about stockpiles. These weapons get used.

6. There are other options. Try telling a four-year-old he has only two choices: eat the broccoli or eat the lima beans.  He'll throw another 18 alternatives at you in less than a minute, beginning with eating ice cream. Try telling a non-American adult about the current state of disaster in Iraq, and they'll begin by opposing making it worse, and then start discussing a variety of steps to make it better, from humanitarian aid to diplomacy to disarmament to emergency U.N. police forces, etc.  But tell a U.S. adult that Iraq must be bombed or we must do nothing other than sit back and revel in our evil state of ISIS-loving, and your befuddled manipulated subject will shout "Bomb em! Bomb em!" Why?

Last year we were told that we had to bomb Syria or love the poisoning of children with chemical weapons. We did not accept that those were the only two choices. Why not? Because we were thinking straight.  We hadn't been frightened into blind stupidity by high-quality videos of beheadings and threats that we might be next.  Nobody thinks well when they're scared. That's why the government likes to scare you.  That's why your you're hearing all this nonsense about ISIS coming to your neighborhood. The more the U.S. keeps bombing people, the more some of those people will want to fight back. Did you ever wonder why nations that spend 2% what the U.S. does on its military feel so much safer than you do? Part of it is the reality that war generates enemies rather than removing them, but mostly it's a culture of cowardice that we're living in. Here are 15 things we could do about ISIS instead of bombing.

7. We don't have time for this barbaric insanity. War is sucking our resources and energy and attention away from where they are needed, namely on a massive campaign to protect the climate of the earth. Imagine a proposal to dump untold trillions of dollars and every ounce of energy into that project! Would Congress step aside and allow it? It would benefit even your short-term economic interests, but would you permit it? Would you demand it? Would you join with me in insisting that we stop the wars and save the climate?

UPDATE: Newsweek says ISIS is intentionally manipulating you into attacking it.

UPDATE 2: Matt Hoh Says the Beheadings Are Bait

Talk Nation Radio: Lindsey German: NATO Should Be Abolished

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-lindsey-german-nato-lhould-be-abolished

Lindsey German is Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition ( http://stopwar.org.uk ) and was part of the protests and counter-summit at the just-completed NATO summit in Wales. We speak with her about NATO and the state of war and peace in the world. German's books include A People's History of London; How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women: Work, Family, and Liberation; Material Girls: Women, Men, and Work; Sex Class and Socialism; and Stop the War: The Story of Britain's Biggest Mass Movement.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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

 

Peace Ecology

With serendipitous timing, as a big march for the climate, and various related events, are planned on and around the International Day of Peace, Randall Amster has just published an important book called Peace Ecology.

This book bridges divides that very much need to be bridged between peace activism and peace academia, and between peace advocacy and environmentalism.  This is, in fact, a peace book for deep environmentalists and an environmental book for deep peace advocates.

Typically, I think, peace activists appear to the peace academic as a bit uninformed, ahistorical, reactive, and negative in the sense of being "against something rather than for something."

Peace academics, I'm afraid, often appear to the peace activist as uninterested in ending wars, uncurious about the evils of wars, unimpressed by the military industrial complex as a cause of wars, and altogether too concerned with the personal virtues of people who are in no way responsible for the scourge of war. It is the rare political studies academic who occasionally can be spotted opposing war or documenting the superiority of nonviolent struggle, whereas the peace studies scholars are essentially advocates of environmentalism and democracy who -- unlike other environmentalists and democrats -- happen to recognize the ginormous roadblock that militarism presents for their agenda. Or so it appears to the activist, who searches in vain for any large academic contingent giving war and war propaganda the full critique they so richly deserve.

The environmentalist, meanwhile, as represented by the larger environmentalist groups and their spokespeople, appears to the peace activist as a dupe or a war-monger, someone who wants to save the earth while cheering on the institution that constitutes its single biggest destroyer. 

The peace activist, when spotted by the otherwise occupied environmentalist, must appear something of a fool, a traitor, or a Vladimir-Putin-lover.

Amster is an academic for peace and the environment with a strong inclination toward activism. Parts of his book could have been written by an environmentalist enamored with war, but most of it could not have been. What Amster is after is a worldview within which we avert the dangers of both war and environmental destruction, including by recognizing their interaction.

War advocates would tell those developing organic communal gardens and gift economies and natural sanctuaries, and other projects that Amster writes about, that "our brave troops" are providing the safe space in which to pursue such luxuries.  Amster would, I think, tell the war advocates that their project is in fact rapidly reducing that space, that these "luxury" efforts are in fact necessary for survival, and that understanding them requires a state of mind that also condemns war as an unmitigated disaster.

"This may seem idealistic," Amster writes of the prospect of a society dedicated to peace, "but consider that it is no more so than continuing on our present course and hoping for a happy ending." 

Amster notes that the New York Times considers it "accepted wisdom" that advocates of protecting the climate must promote the idea that climate change threatens "national security."  The idea is that climate-induced disasters and shortages produce wars. While Amster doesn't say so, this is a view that has been expressed by Bill McKibben, prominent organizer of the upcoming march. If his organization, 350.org, would object each time President Obama sends another 350 troops to Iraq, it would begin taking on the biggest consumer of oil we have: the military. Such an act would be unprecedented for any large U.S. environmental organization.

Of course, in reality disasters lead to wars only when a society chooses to address them with wars, and resource abundance has led to wars as often as scarcity. Sustainability and egalitarianism, Amster argues, can encourage stability, whereas unsustainable exploitation and inequality mean instability and potentially war.  Should we work to limit the level of climate change or to limit its suffering by adapting to it? Amster points out that the same practices can often do both. One that can't, however, is war which exacerbates the problem while in fact failing to adapt to it.

Ian Morris recently published a remarkably stupid book arguing for the merits of war. In it he claimed Thomas Hobbes as a hero of peace who understood the path to peace to lie through imperialist wars and governmental monopoly on violence. Amster provides a healthy rebuttal, pointing out that in fact "civilized" governments oversee very violent societies that have normalized brutal competition by imagining it as inevitable and blinding themselves to the merits of other cultures. Amster leads us to reject Hobbes' most basic assumptions.

Amster does the same for Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons. If actual human beings were mathematical game pieces driven purely by sociopathic greed and calculation, population growth and prosperity must lead to tragedy. But as human beings exhibit generosity and friendship as often as limitless greed and selfishness, it turns out not to be the existence of open commons that leads to tragedy but the privatization and enclosure of the commons -- or, rather, the abandonment of the life of the commons, that leads inexorably to crisis.

What have we got left that could be treated as commons? Amster suggests air, water, parks, sidewalks, libraries, airwaves, the internet, biodiversity, transportation, Antarctica, open-source software, outer space, and much else. And he provides examples of people behaving accordingly.

Do people developing healthy ways of living necessarily learn that bombing is not a useful response to a throat-slitting by ISIS? Possibly not. But there's another way to see the connection. Control of fossil fuels is a major motivation for wars, and wars are a major consumer of fossil fuels.  In fact it was the desire to fuel the British navy that first created the Western obsession with Middle Eastern oil.  But a society dedicated to peace would not have sought to fuel a navy or to fight wars in order to fuel a navy. A society dedicated to peace would be developing green energy and green lifestyles.

An environmental movement that wanted millions of dedicated participants would want a society committed to peace.  A side benefit would be the freeing up of $2 trillion a year globally, $1 trillion in the United States, that had been used for war preparation but now could be used to quickly end all the pretense that green energy cannot work wonders.

If you live in an area not massively illuminated at night, you can -- simply by walking around after dark -- get a sense of the human built environment utterly transformed by nature. Darkness coats everything.  And in the part of the world I live in, the sound of insects completely dominates the darkness. 

If you live in an area that has proved less desirable for non-"tragic" exploitation than it used to be, you can get a sense of what the non-human world will do to human creations if humanity takes its leave. Streets and buildings will vanish as surely as the dinosaurs. Only nuclear waste will eventually remain as evidence of our species' existence.

Unless we change.

"Save the environment" might not be our best motto, Amster suggests. More to the point might be "Save the humans."

Three Cheers for Canada and Germany

NATO tried to get its members to commit to spending at least 2% of GDP on war preparations. And if a nation got richer it would have to spend more -- not because of any particular supposed need, but just because military spending was to be seen as an end in itself. Well, Canada and Germany blocked the proposal. The U.S., Estonia, the United Kingdom, and Greece already spend over 2% of their GDP, but other NATO nations do not. Read more here.

Why End War in 2 Minutes

Talk Nation Radio: Rep. Barbara Lee on War Powers, Marjorie Cohn on Prosecuting Congress for War Crimes

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rep-barbara-lee-on-war-powers-marjorie-cohn-on-prosecuting-congress-for-war-crimes

Congresswoman Barbara Lee has represented the East Bay area of California since 1998. She discusses Congressional war powers.

Marjorie Cohn is a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures throughout the world on international human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her latest book is The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. Her website is http://www.marjoriecohn.com She discusses a letter sent by the National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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

 

Society as a Failed Experiment

There's little dispute among social scientists that most of our major public programs are counter-productive on their own terms. There is also little analysis of this phenomenon as a pattern in need of an explanation and a solution.

Prisons are supposedly intended to reduce crime, but instead increase it. Young people who when they commit crimes are arrested and punished become much more likely to commit crimes as adults than are those young people who when they commit crimes are just left alone.

Fixing public schools by requiring endless test-preparation and testing is ruining public schools. Kids are emerging with less education than before the fix. Parents are sending their kids to private schools or charter schools or homeschooling them or even pulling them out of school for a few months during the worst of the test-preparation binging. 

Free trade policies are supposed to enrich us. Trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are supposed to enrich us. We keep trying them and they keep impoverishing us.

War preparations are supposed to enrich us, but impoverish us instead. War is supposed to protect us, but generates enemies. Or war is supposed to benefit some far away place, but leaves it in ruins. Is more war the answer?

When a road gets crowded, we enlarge it or build another road. The traffic responds by enlarging to fill the new roads. So we cut funds for trains in order to build yet more roads.

We're several times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist. So, we give police officers weapons of war to make us safe.

We're making the earth's climate unlivable by consuming fossil fuels. So we ramp up the consumption of fossil fuels.

Guns are supposed to protect us, but the more we spread the guns around the more we get killed intentionally and accidentally with guns.

What causes us to pursue counterproductive programs and policies? And why does it seem that the bigger the program is the more we pursue its counterproductive agenda? Well, let's look at the above list again and ask who benefits.

We've made prisons into a for-profit industry and an economic rescue program for depressed rural areas. Enormous profits are being made from children who abandon public schools; from the point of view of those profiteers there's every reason to fix schools in a manner that actually makes them horrible. Corporate trade pacts and tax exemptions for billionaires don't impoverish everyone, just us non-billionaires. Some people get rich from road construction. Weapons companies don't mind when one war leads to three more (especially if they're arming all sides), or when police pick up used weaponry that can then be replaced. Oil and coal profiteers aren't focused on the inhabitability of the earth. Gun manufacturers aren't worried about how many people die so much as how many guns are sold.

What keeps us from seeing this as a pattern is the myth that we live in a democracy in which decisions are made by majority opinion. In reality, majority opinion is badly distorted by anti-democratic news media and largely ignored by anti-democratic officials. 

Major public pressure will be needed to change this situation, to strip corporations of power, ban bribery, provide free media and public financing of elections, and create a democratic communications system.

We should begin by dropping the pretense that we're rationally testing policies and adjusting them as we go. No, the whole thing is broken. Experiments keep failing upward with no end in sight. Enough is enough. Let's change direction.

Iraq Has WMDs and Russia Has Invaded!

How did they imagine they'd get away with it, claiming that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and even nuclear weapons?

Defectors had made clear the chemical and biological weapons (some of them provided by the United States) had been destroyed. Inspectors had searched almost every inch of Iraq and said they'd get to the last few inches if given a few more days. Iraq was screaming that it had no such weapons. Numerous nations around the world were agreeing with Iraq. Colin Powell's own staff warned him that his claims would not be deemed plausible.

And yet, they got away with it to such an extent that most well-intentioned people in the United States to this day maintain that nobody can possibly be sure that Bush, Cheney, et alia, knew their statements were false when they made them.

"All this was inspired by the principle -- which is quite true within itself -- that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods." —Adolf Hitler

The U.S. media has repeatedly been claiming that Russia has invaded Ukraine.  They claim it for a while, and there's obviously been no invasion, so they pause.  Then they claim it again.  Or they claim that a convoy of aid trucks constitutes an invasion.  But the aid trucks look like aid trucks in all the photographs, and yet nobody has taken similar photographs of any invasion.  When Ukrainian tanks rolled into eastern Ukraine and were surrounded by civilians, we saw photographs and videos. Now there's just a Colin-Powellesque satellite photo from NATO supposedly showing Russian artillery in Ukraine. 

The major Russian invasion that apparently comes complete with some sort of muggle-and-photographer-repellant charm is said to consist of 1,000 troops -- or roughly as many troops as the U.S. has now sent back into Iraq in no sort of invasion to worry about whatsoever. 

But where are the 1,000 Russian troops invading Ukraine? Ukraine claims to have captured 10 of them, but the captured troops don't seem to have agreed to the story.  And what happened to the other 990?  How did someone get close enough to capture 10 but not photograph the other 990?

Meanwhile Russia says it's all lies and publicly urges the United States to engage with Ukraine diplomatically and urge the Ukrainian government to stop bombing its own citizens and work out a federalist system that represents everyone within its borders.

But NATO is busy announcing a counter-invasion to the invisible Russian invasion.

How do they imagine they'll get away with it? Well, let's see. Not a single individual responsible for the lies that launched the destruction of Iraq and the death of some million people and the predictable and predicted chaos now tormenting Iraq's whole region has been held accountable in any way.

The lie that Gadaffi was about to slaughter innocents, the lie that facilitated the attack on Libya and the hell that has now been established there -- No one has been held accountable for that lie in any way whatsoever.

The lie that the White House had proof that Assad had used chemical weapons -- No one has been held accountable.  No one has even had to recant as they switch targets and propose bombing Assad's enemies.

The lie that drone strikes don't kill innocents and don't kill those who could easily have been arrested instead -- No one has been held accountable.

The lie that the United States had proof Russia had shot down an airplane over Ukraine -- No one has been held accountable, and the United States is opposing an independent investigation.

The lie that torture makes us safe, a lie that led to the United States torturing some folks -- No one at the level of air-conditioned office work has been held responsible at all.

Why do they think they can get away with it?

Because you let them. Because you don't want to believe they commit such atrocities. Because you don't want to believe they tell big lies.

You know, some people feel like idiots for having believed the Iraq lies. Imagine how they're going to feel when they find out they believed a nation had been invaded when it hadn't.

 

David Swanson is author of War Is A Lie.

A New Calendar of Holidays

calendarcoverA new calendar of peace holidays has just been published. And none too soon, if you’ve noticed the epidemic of military holidays around us.

I can understand that Catholics have a saint for every day of the year. And I’m not shocked that various ancient religions have holidays for a high proportion of the year’s days. But what to make of the United States, which now has a military holiday for at least 66 separate days, including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and lesser known days like the just passed Marine Corps Reserve Birthday?

In the coming weeks we have V-J Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day / Patriot Day, the U.S. Air Force Birthday, National POW / MIA Recognition Day, and Gold Star Mother’s Day. There are, in addition, six week-long military holidays and three month-long ones. May, for example, is National Military Appreciation Month.

The military memorializes past war lies (Remember the Maine Day), cultural depravity normalized by eternal war (Month of the Military Child), and past crimes like attacking Cuba and killing a mule (Mantanzas Mule Day). This website even — wonderfully and accidentally — includes the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which is a day dedicated to opposing militarism. The same website — disgustingly and inappropriately — includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday as a military holiday.

Still, the general pattern is this: in the United States there are holidays to celebrate militarism just about every week, and increasingly one hears about them on the radio, at public events, and in corporate advertising that apparently believes militarism sells.

What would a calendar of peace holidays look like? At WorldBeyondWar we believe it would look something like this.

We’re making it available for free as a PDF that you can print out and make use of: PDF, Word.

We’re also displaying on the front page of WorldBeyondWar.org the holiday, if any, to be marked or celebrated on whatever day it happens to be at the time. So you can always just check there.

We think that part of developing a peace culture is marking great peace moments from the past. Knowing what peace holiday any given day is, or what holidays are coming up soon, can be very useful in creating and promoting events, writing op-eds, and interesting the corporate media in something that is otherwise too important and news worthy to be touched.

World peace holidays can build unity among activists. They can be used for education (celebrating the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 on May 18th could cause someone to want to know what that conference was). And they can be used for encouragement and inspiration (on a gloomy March 20th it might be nice to know that “on this day in 1983, 150,000 peace rallies were held in Australia”).

In this initial draft of the World Beyond War Calendar we’ve included 154 holidays, all of them days — no weeks or months. We could have included a significant peace event for 365 days a year but chose to be selective. It’s a tightly held secret, of course, but there has been a lot more peace than war in the world.

Some of the days are also military days re-purposed. For example:

September 11. On this day in 1973 the United States backed a coup that overthrew the government of Chile. Also on this day in 2001 terrorists attacked in the United States using hijacked airplanes. This is a good day to oppose violence and nationalism and revenge.

Others are military days the military doesn’t celebrate. For example:

January 11. On this day in 2002 the United States opened its notorious prison in Guantanamo. This is a good day to oppose all imprisonment without trial.

August 6. On this day in 1945 the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing some 140,000 men, women, and children. President Truman went on the radio to justify this as revenge and lie that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city. This is a very good day to oppose nuclear weapons.

Others are well-known days reclaimed for peace. For example:

January 15. On this day in 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. was born. The holiday, however, is celebrated on the third Monday of January. These are good opportunities to recall King’s work against militarism, extreme materialism, and racism.

Mothers Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. In many places it is the second Sunday in May. This is a good day to read the Mother’s Day Proclamation and rededicate the day to peace.

December 25. This is Christmas, traditionally a holiday of peace for Christians. On this day in 1776, George Washington led a surprise night crossing of the Delaware River and pre-dawn raid on unarmed hung-over-from-Christmas troops still in their underwear — a founding act of violence for the new nation. Also on this day in 1875 Jessie Wallace Hughan, founder of the War Resisters League, was born. Also on this day in 1914, soldiers on both sides of the trenches of World War I took part in a Christmas Truce. This is a good day to work for peace on earth.

Other days are new to most people. For example:

August 27. This is Kellogg-Briand Day. On this day in 1928, in what was the biggest news story of the year, the major nations of the world gathered in Paris, France, to sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning all war. The treaty remains on the books today. The day is increasingly being recognized and celebrated as a holiday.

November 5. On this day in 1855 Eugene V. Debs was born. Also on this day in 1968 Richard Nixon was elected U.S. president after secretly and treasonously sending Anna Chennault to sabotage Vietnam peace talks, campaigning on a nonexistent secret plan for peace, and actually planning to continue the war, as he did once elected. This is a good day to think about who our real leaders are.

November 6. This is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

Here’s the web version.

Here’s the PDF.

Here’s the Word.

The calendar is a first of what we expect to be many editions. In fact, it will be constantly updated. So please send additions and corrections to info@worldbeyondwar.org.

Monty Python State Department

Scene:  A cafe.  One table is occupied by a group of Vikings wearing horned helmets. 

Whenever the word "war" is repeated, they begin singing and/or chanting. 

A man and woman enter.  The man is played by Eric Idle, the woman is played by Graham Chapman (in drag), and the Secretary of State is played by Terry Jones, also in drag.

Man:   You sit here, dear.    

Woman:          All right.

Man:   Morning!

Secretary of State:     Morning!

Man:   Well, what've you got?

Secretary of State:     Well, there's sanctions and prosecutions; sanctions drone strikes and prosecutions; sanctions and war; sanctions prosecutions and war; sanctions prosecutions drone strikes and war; war prosecutions drone strikes and war; war sanctions war war prosecutions and war; war drone strikes war war prosecutions war cyber war and war;

Vikings:           War war war war...

Secretary of State:     ...war war war sanctions and war; war war war war war war targeted assassinations war war war...

Vikings:           War! Lovely war! Lovely war!

Secretary of State:     ...or a United Nations resolution combined with infiltration, a USAID fake Twitter application, a CIA overthrow, trained enhanced interrogators and with crippling sanctions on top and war.

Woman:          Have you got anything without war?

Secretary of State:     Well, there's war sanctions drone strikes and war, that's not got much war in it.

Woman:          I don't want ANY war!

Man:   Why can't she have sanctions prosecutions war and drone strikes?

Woman:          THAT'S got war in it!

Man:   Hasn't got as much war in it as war sanctions drone strikes and war, has it?

Vikings:           War war war war... (Crescendo through next few lines...)

Woman:          Could you do the sanctions prosecutions war and drone strikes without the war then?

Secretary of State:     Urgghh!

Woman:          What do you mean 'Urgghh'? I don't like war!

Vikings:           Lovely war! Wonderful war!

Secretary of State:     Shut up!

Vikings:           Lovely war! Wonderful war!

Secretary of State:     Shut up! (Vikings stop) Bloody Vikings! You can't have sanctions prosecutions war and drone strikes without the war.

Woman:          I don't like war!

Man:   Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your war. I love it. I'm having war war war war war war war targeted assassinations war war war and war!

Vikings:           War war war war. Lovely war! Wonderful war!

Secretary of State:     Shut up!! Targeted assassinations are off.

Man:   Well could I have her war instead of the targeted assassinations then?

Secretary of State:     You mean war war war war war war... (but it is too late and the Vikings drown her words)

Vikings:           (Singing elaborately...) War war war war. Lovely war! Wonderful war! War w-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-r war w-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-r war. Lovely war! Lovely war! Lovely war! Lovely war! Lovely war! War war war war!

 

 

No actual diplomats were harmed in the making of this production.

Dave Lindorff and David Swanson Try to Count the Current Wars

Host Dave Lindorff interviews David Swanson, labor and peace activist, author of the book “War No More: The Case for Abolition” and the website warisacrime.org, about the rapidly expanding crises that the US has been promoting in RUSSIA-HISTORY-WWII-PARADE-REHEARSALUkraine, Syria, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and the many countries where the US is using attack drones. Swanson argues that the US has been working hard to make Russia into an enemy again, that after portraying Syrian leader Bushar al Assad as a “Hitler” and arming and training his islamic rebel enemies, now a year later, Washington sees Assad as the “good guy” and is gearing up to bomb and kill the rebels, both in Syria and in Iraq, where they have expanded their rebellion. At least two of the crises, in Ukraine and the Persian Gulf, where a Coast Guard vessel has fired at an Iranian vessel, there is a real risk of war, either against Russia or Iran, Swanson warns.

From THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING

NATO Forces in Eastern Europe May Lead to Endless War, Hostilities - Expert

RIANOVOSTI

WASHINGTON, August 28 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – The deployment of NATO forces to new bases in Eastern Europe opens new possibilities for endless war and hostilities, New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) Alice Slater told RIA Novosti.

The disturbing saber rattling from NATO chief Anders Rasmussen announcing that NATO will deploy troops for the first time in Eastern Europe since the Cold War ended, build a “readiness action plan,” boost Ukraine’s military capacity so that “in the future you will see a more visible NATO presence in the east,” while withdrawing Russia’s invitation to an upcoming NATO meeting in Wales, “opens new possibilities for endless war and hostilities,” Slater said.

The NATO secretary-general told European journalists that the alliance was to deploy its forces in Eastern Europe in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and to counter the threat posed by Russia to the former Soviet Baltic republics.

"It is ironic, that at this moment in history when so many people and nations around the world are acknowledging the 100th anniversary of our planet’s hapless stumble into World War I, great powers and their allies are once again provoking new dangers where governments appear to be sleepwalking towards a restoration of old Cold War battles,” Slater said.

"A barrage of conflicting information is broadcast in the various national and nationalistic media with alternative versions of reality that provoke and stoke new enmities and rivalries across national borders," the expert added.

The nongovernmental organization director noted that with the United States and Russia in possession of more than 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit such conflicting views of history and that opposing assessments of the facts on the ground can lead to a 21st century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.

"While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we must remember that the Russian people lost 20 million people during World War II to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment," she explained.

"This, despite a promise to Gorbachev when the wall came down peacefully and the Soviet Union ended its post WWII occupation of Eastern Europe, that NATO would not be expanded eastward, beyond the incorporation of East Germany into that rusty Cold War alliance," Slater added.

"Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO," Slater concluded.

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported Sunday that Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia felt threatened by Russia's intervention in Ukraine and feared of what they described as Russian aggression.

NATO members are scheduled to meet in Wales to discuss the alliance's response to Russia, which it accuses of interfering in Ukrainian affairs.

Ahead of the NATO summit at the end of next week, the four countries have urged the military bloc to mention Moscow as a potential aggressor in its summit communique.

Russia’s Permanent Mission to NATO told RIA Novosti on Monday that Moscow has no plans to participate in any activities during the NATO summit in Wales.

What to Do About ISIS

John Horgan asked me for a paragraph on what to do about ISIS. I sent him this:

I'd say start by recognizing where ISIS came from. The U.S. and its junior partners destroyed Iraq, left a sectarian division, poverty, desperation, and an illegitimate government in Baghdad that did not represent Sunnis or other groups. Then the U.S. armed and trained ISIS and allied groups in Syria, while continuing to prop up the Baghdad government, providing Hellfire missiles with which to attack Iraqis in Fallujah and elsewhere. ISIS has religious adherents but also opportunistic supporters who see it as the force resisting an unwanted rule from Baghdad and who increasingly see it as resisting the United States. It is in possession of U.S. weaponry provided directly to it in Syria and siezed from the Iraqi government. At last count by the U.S. government, 79% of weapons transfered to Middle Eastern governments come from the United States, not counting transfers to groups like ISIS, and not counting weapons in the possession of the United States. So, the first thing to do differently going forward: stop bombing nations into ruins, and stop shipping weapons into the area you've left in chaos.  Libya is of course another example of the disasters that U.S. wars leave behind them -- a war, by the way, with U.S. weapons used on boith sides, and a war launched on the pretext of a claim well documented to have been false that Gadaffi was threatening to massacre civilians.  So, here's the next thing to do: be very sceptical of humanitarian claims.  The U.S. bombing around Erbil to protect Kurdish and U.S. oil interests was initially justified as bombing to protect people on a mountain.  But most of those people on the mountain were in no need of rescue, and that justification has now been set aside, just as Benghazi was.  Recall also that Obama was forced to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq when he couldn't get the Iraqi government to give them immunity for crimes they commit.  He has now obtained that immunity and back in they go, the crimes preceding them in the form of 500 pound bombs.  While trying to rescue hostages and discovering an empty house, and racing to a mountain to save 30,000 people but finding 3,000 and most of those not wanting to leave, the U.S. claims to know exactly whom the 500-pound bombs are killing.  But whoever they are killing, they are generating more enemies, and they are building support for ISIS, not diminishing it.  So, now the U.S. finds itself on the opposite side of the war in Syria, so what does it do? Flip sides!  Now the great moral imperative is not to bomb Assad but to bomb in defense of Assad, the only consistent point being that "something must be done" and the only conceivable something is to pick some party and bomb it. But why is that the only conceivable thing to be done? I can think of some others:

1. Apologize for brutalizing the leader of ISIS in Abu Ghraib and to every other prisoner victimized under U.S. occupation

2. Apologize for destroying the nation of Iraq and to every family there

3. Begin making restitution by delivering aid (not "military aid" but actual aid, food, medicine) to the entire nation of Iraq

4. Apologize for role in war in Syria

5. Begin making restitution by delivering actual aid to Syria

6. Announce a commitment not to provide weapons to Iraq or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt or Bahrain or any other nation anywhere on earth and to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from foreign territories and seas, including Afghanistan. (The U.S. Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf has clearly forgotten where the coast of the U.S. is!)

7. Announce a commitment to invest heavily in solar, wind, and other green energy and to provide the same to democratic representative governments.

8. Begin providing Iran with free wind and solar technologies -- at much lower cost of course than what it is costing the U.S. and Israel to threaten Iran over a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

9. End economic sanctions.

10. Send diplomats to Baghdad and Damascus to negotiate aid and to encourage serious reforms.

11. Send journalists, aid workers, peaceworkers, human shields, and negotiators into crisis zones, understanding that this means risking lives, but fewer lives than further militarization risks.

12. Empower people with agricultural assistance, education, cameras, and internet access.

13. Launch a communications campaign in the United States to replace military recruitment campaigns, focused on building sympathy and desire to serve as critical aid workers, persuading doctors and engineers to volunteer their time to travel to and visit these areas of crisis.

14. Work through the United Nations on all of this.

15. Sign the United States on to the International Criminal Court and voluntarily propose the prosecution of top U.S. officials of this and the preceding regimes for their crimes.

Obama and ISIS in Dance of Death

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 8/25/14

Obama and ISIS in Dance of Death

The growing U.S. bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria serves no one but war profiteers, said veteran anti-war activist David Swanson. “I know that ISIS had to be aware that slitting throats on camera would result in more bombing, just as President Obama had to be aware that blowing men, women and children up with 500-pound bombs would result in slitting throats,” said Swanson, publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.Org. “The beneficiaries of escalation, which is entirely predictable, are the weapons makers.”

Black Strategies Must Include Self-Defense

“First and foremost, it is right for our people to rebel,” said Kali Akuno, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and co-author of the groundbreaking report “Operation Ghetto Storm,” which documented extrajudicial killings of Black Americans under color of law. “I think it boiled over in Ferguson as a result of a transformation in our people’s consciousness, especially our young folks,” said Akuno. “They’ve had enough of the brutality, of being systematically excluded.” Black community self-defense must be part of any organizing strategy. “This has been part and parcel of what we know we have to do in the face of white supremacy and in the face of the brutality that the capitalist system has reserved for us, in particular.”

Black Passivity is Mentally Unhealthy

Political protest is therapeutic for Black Americans, said Dr. Vernellia Randall, professor emeritus of law at the University of Dayton and author Dying While Black. “I want us to be less passive, I want us to engage in civil disobedience” – and not the kind of protest-like activities sanctioned by the authorities. “If they’re telling us, Here’s how you can protest, then that, to me, is not civil disobedience,” said Randall. “If you are coloring within the lines that the establishment establishes, then you are putting no pressure on the establishment.”

Cuba Should Join in Fight for Slavery Reparations

The young United States was a horrible example of democracy, but it did lead the way in the business of human trafficking. “After the establishment of the United States, it quickly became the leader in the African slave trade to Cuba,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston and author of Race to Revolution: The United States and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. “They also became the leader of the African slave trade to Brazil, helping to account for the fact that Brazil has more people of African descent than any other nation outside Nigeria,” said Horne, who hopes to enlist Cuba in “our journey to claim reparations for the enslavement of Africans in the Americas.”

Click here to download the show.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: One hour.

John Kerry Makes a Deal

Barry! Barr -er Mr. President, I got Congress out in the parking lot looking at the new SUVs. I'm pushing the missile strikes on the Syrian government hard, but just a few little ones, and then ka-blam we get em with the whole package deal, 800 vehicles plus fuel and maintenance, a little shock, a little awe, a little razzmatazz, and we reel em right in.

Ataboy, John, go get em.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Oh, damn it all.  Barry, it's not my fault. They were on recess and listening to people at town hall meetings. And AIPAC is totally AWOL. And the lousy stinking pacifist Brits voted it down when I never even asked them.  Apparently the entire House of Representatives is going to ride bicycles from now on.

That's all right, John. That's all right. They can't hold out long. You'll get em next time.

It makes no sense, Mr. President. We rolled right over them on Afghanistan and Libya and all the drone strikes and all the bases, and here they go saying No to bombing Syria. And I told them Assad was Hitler. And you told them it was this or support poisoning children. But nothing. What are we missing? What if we throw in free GPS and hands-free telephoning. Plus, that way we can keep a close eye on them while they pay us for the favor. Huh? Huh?

You see, there's the old spirit. Now, listen, what we don't want is for them to go rogue and get desperate and pick up an old wreck from down in the back lot.  You steer them away from that broken down Iranian convertible, OK?

Yes, Sir! John Kerry reporting for duty, Sir!

Oh, cut the shit, John, I've told you 18 times I'm not taping everything like Nixon.

Nixon didn't have the technology to . . .

LET ME BE CLEAR, the problem with the missile strikes on Syria last time wasn't the human cost or the financial cost or any of that crap.  People didn't want to join a war on the side of al Qaeda rebels and terrorists.  We'd told them those were the Enemy for over a decade.  So here's what we're going to do.  We're going to find a war where we can jump in on the side of the government, against the Islamic Extremists.  Congress loves governments.  The media loves governments.  Everybody hates extremists.  And guess where we're going to find this war?

Israel?

Good guess. Try again.

Iraq?

Getting warmer. Try again.

Well, I don't . . .

Try again, that's a direct order.

Ukraine?

Now I'll tell you: Syria.

Syria?

Think about it, John. It's genius, if I do say so myself.  Look, people forget that Syria was our ally a few years back, but Congress remembers.  We just flip back.  We have to, or we're fighting both sides of a war in Iraq and Syria.  The key on Syria is to do something.  Well what counts as doing something?  Blowing shit up, that's what.  And nobody wants us blowing up the government.  Well, we'll blow up the rebels.  Either way, we're destroying U.S. weaponry on the ground, which is much smarter than giving it to local police as a means of creating demand for more.  You think they won't go for it because we're flip-flopping, right?  You're always so damn terrified of flip-flopping.

You don't know. You didn't go through what . . .

Oh hell, they stole the votes in Ohio, John, and you bent over and said "Thank you sir, may I have another?" We're not flip-flopping.  We're blowing up evil, evil people, lots of them.  That's the story.  We've been funding and arming all sides in all of these wars for some time now, payments to the Taliban, weapons to ISIS. You know, the troops on the ground in Libya three years ago could have exchanged parts -- they had the same U.S. guns. 

Mr. President, there are hundreds of Americans who listened to us last year and have gone off and joined the rebels in Syria. 

They can provide information, switch sides, or pay the price, John. Now, are you ready to go out there and make the pitch? I see the leadership on the curb there.

Mr. President, in all good faith, we've sold humanitarians on the need to bomb Assad, not bomb in defense of Assad.

Mr. Secretary, I'm giving you an order.

Mr. President, with all due respect, you keep saying there's no military solution, there's a million other approaches that don't create this sort of SNAFU, that just . . .

Mr. Secretary, Hillary would not hesitate.

I'm on it.

The U.S. Public Smarter (But Lazier) Than It Looks

A BBC audio podcast from the show "Four Thought" (go here and click on the date "13 8 14") includes a talk by Italian journalist Mara Oliva. She grew up in the same Italy infatuated with the U.S. that I lived in as an exchange student -- an Italy that has largely fallen out of love with the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Oliva makes a case that the U.S. public is not nearly as pro-war as its government.

As early as 1954 the U.S. public opposed a U.S. war in Vietnam, and favored diplomacy with China, according to polls commissioned by President Eisenhower.  Nixon finally went to China decades after the public had begun favoring that move.

In January 2003, two-thirds of the U.S. public wanted U.N. inspections to be allowed to continue in Iraq. In February 2003, a majority still wanted to see more evidence and wanted U.N. inspections to continue.

In September 2013, 80% in the U.S. were against attacking Syria. (Let's hope that holds now that Obomber wants to attack the other side in that war.)

So, it remains possible to be fond of the United States if one looks away from what we allow our government to do and focuses instead on what we tell pollsters we'd like.

But our expressing good opinions and then sitting on our hands is perhaps not the height of good world citizenship.

Text of Forthcoming Advertisement from Pax Christi

 From Just War to Just Peace: The Time Is Now
“Those who use the sword are sooner or later destroyed by it.” - Matthew 27:52

“If we cannot know from the New Testament that Christ totally rejects violence, then we can know nothing of His person or message. It is the clearest of teachings.” - Rev. John L. McKenzie, Biblical Scholar

“War is the suicide of humanity because it kills the heart and kills love." - Pope Francis, June 2, 2013

So, I Asked the Russian Ambassador What He Thinks of NATO

The Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, spoke at the University of Virginia on Tuesday evening, in an event organized by the Center for Politics, which no doubt has video of the proceedings. Kislyak was once ambassador to Belgium and to NATO.

Kislyak spoke to a packed auditorium and took, I think, well over an hour of questions. He spoke frankly, and the questions he was asked by students, professors, and other participants were polite and for the most part far more intelligent than he would have been asked on, for example, Meet the Press.

He told the audience that Russia had known there were no WMDs in Iraq, and had known that attacking Iraq would bring "great difficulties" to that country. "And look what is happening today," he said.  He made the same comment about Libya. He spoke of the U.S. and Russia working together to successfully remove chemical weapons from the Syrian government. But he warned against attacking Syria now.

There will be no new Cold War, Kislyak said, but there is now a greater divide in some ways than during the Cold War.  Back then, he said, the U.S. Congress sent delegations over to meet with legislators, and the Supreme Court likewise. Now there is no contact.  It's easy in the U.S. to be anti-Russian, he said, and hard to defend Russia.  He complained about U.S. economic sanctions against Russia intended to "suffocate" Russian agriculture.

Asked about "annexing" Crimea, Kislyak rejected that characterization, pointed to the armed overthrow of the Ukrainian government, and insisted that Kiev must stop bombing its own people and instead talk about federalism within Ukraine.

There were remarkably few questions put to the ambassador that seemed informed by U.S. television "news." One was from a politics professor who insisted that Kislyak assign blame to Russia over Ukraine.  Kislyak didn't.

I always sit in the back, thinking I might leave, but Kislyak was only taking questions from the front. So I moved up and was finally called on for the last question of the evening.  For an hour and a half, Kislyak had addressed war and peace and Russian-U.S. relations, but he'd never blamed the U.S. for anything in Ukraine any more than Russia.  No one had uttered the word "NATO."

So I pointed out the upcoming NATO protests. I recalled the history of Russia being told that NATO would not expand eastward. I asked Kislyak whether NATO ought to be disbanded.

The ambassador said that he had been the first Russian to "present his credentials" to NATO, and that he had "overestimated" NATO's ability to work with Russia. He'd been disappointed by NATO actions in Serbia, he said, and Libya, by the expansion eastward, by NATO pressure on Ukraine and Poland, and by the pretense that Russia might be about to attack Poland.

"We were promised," Kislyak said, that NATO would not expand eastward at all upon the reunification of Germany. "And now look." NATO has declared that Ukraine and Georgia will join NATO, Kislyak pointed out, and NATO says this even while a majority of the people in Ukraine say they're opposed. 

The ambassador used the word "disappointed" a few times.

"We'll have to take measures to assure our defense," he said, "but we would have preferred to build on a situation with decreased presence and decreased readiness."

Wouldn't we all.

Join the campaign to shut down NATO.

Sign a petition for an independent investigation into the airplane crash in Ukraine.

Send a note to the Russian Embassy to let them know you're against a new Cold War too.

Peacenvironmentalism

Talk Nation Radio: Matthew Hoh Refutes Arguments for Bombing Iraq

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-matthew-hoh-refutes-arguments-for-bombing-iraq

Matthew Hoh is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, a network of foreign and public policy experts and professionals advocating for a change in US strategy in Afghanistan. A former State Department official, Matthew resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan over US strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in September 2009. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Matthew was in Iraq; first in 2004-5 in Salah ad Din Province with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then in 2006-7 in Anbar Province as a Marine Corps company commander. When not deployed, Matthew worked on Afghanistan and Iraq policy and operations issues at the Pentagon and State Department from 2002-8. Matthew’s writings have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Defense News, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The Council on Foreign Relations has cited Matthew’s resignation letter from his post in Afghanistan as an Essential Document. In 2010, Matthew was named the Ridenhour Prize Recipient for Truth Telling. Matthew is a member of the Board of Directors for Council for a Livable World and is an Advisory Board Member for Expose Facts (ExposeFacts.org). He writes on issues of war, peace and post-traumatic stress disorder recovery at MatthewHoh.com.

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Losing Losers and the Pentagon That Hires Them

At the 200th anniversary of the jackasses of 1812 getting the U.S. capital burned by the British in 1814, I found myself watching a new film by Rory Kennedy called Last Days in Vietnam. This film covers the moment of loss, of defeat, of the U.S. military at long last receiving its final ass kicking by the Vietnamese, for whom these were not the last days of Vietnam but the last days of the American War and of Western military occupation.

As in the Middle East these days, where the United States has been busy losing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and wrecking Libya and Pakistan and Yemen and Palestine on the side, Vietnam was a disaster by the time the movie begins. As the U.S. news media blames ISIS for the state of Iraq, Last Days in Vietnam blames the North Vietnamese. This is the story of the loss in Vietnam, but it is told primarily by the losers.

A Pentagon-funded online celebration of the U.S. war on Vietnam describes the incidents shown in this film thus:

"The American evacuation ends. Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese troops, and organized South Vietnamese resistance to the communist forces ends. President Duong Van Minh announces the unconditional surrender of the Republic of Vietnam."

I recommend Veterans For Peace for a counter to the Pentagon's current $65 million campaign to glorify the U.S. war on Vietnam.  And I recommend watching Last Days in Vietnam for an understanding of how wars end. In particular, this film should be watched by anyone who has managed to continue after all these decades to falsely associate war with victory or winning or success or accomplishment. 

The final months of U.S. presence in Vietnam were a time of denial, by the U.S. ambassador and others, that the North Vietnamese were coming to kick them out.  Every American and every one of their Vietnamese allies and collaborators, and all of the family members of both groups, could have been safely evacuated.  Instead, there was a last-minute mad rush with helicopters dumped into the ocean after they unloaded passengers onto ships, and many left behind to be killed.

The film blames Congress for rejecting President Ford's request to fund an evacuation.  But the Pentagon could quite easily have simply done it, and President Ford apparently never instructed the ambassador to do so.  So, the spooky music plays, and the color of blood flows down the map from North to South as the barbaric communist aggressors who go so far as to use violence, something Americans would never do, approach Saigon.  And they only come because President Nixon was driven out by the peaceniks.  Never mind that that was several months earlier, they never would have come had Nixon been in the White House.

Of course, the views of the losers tend to obscure as much as to reveal. The war had to end. The people fighting for their homes had to prevail, sooner or later, over the people fighting for the fact that they'd already been fighting and couldn't face the shame of stopping.  But Last Days in Vietnam shows the Americans watching the rushed evacuation from home, the Americans who had earlier "served" in Vietnam. And they believed all their efforts had "come to nothing." 

Nothing? Nothing? Four million men, women, and children slaughtered. The U.S. society calls that nothing.  The Germans are expected to know how many millions their government killed.  The Japanese are required to study the past sins of Japan. But the United States is supposed to gaze at its navel, glorify its sinners, and pretend that its defeats are neutral, indifferent, nothingness.  Try telling that story about Afghanistan or Iraq or Gaza, I dare you.

War in the Hundred Acre Woods

In the 1920s and 1930s, anybody who was anybody tried to figure out how to rid the world of war. Collectively, I'd say they got three-quarters of the way to an answer. But from 1945 to 2014, they've been ignored when possible (which is most of the time), laughed at when necessary, and on the very rare occasions that require it: attacked.

What a flock of idiots the leading thinkers of a generation all must have been. World War II happened. Therefore, war is eternal.  Everyone knows that.

But slavery abolitionists pushed on despite slavery happening another year, and another year.  Women sought the right to vote in the next election cycle following each one they were barred from.  Undoubtedly war is trickier to get rid off, because governments claim that all the other governments (and any other war makers) must go first or do it simultaneously. The possibility of someone else launching a war, combined with the false notion that war is the best way to defend against war, creates a seemingly permanent maze from which the world cannot emerge.

But difficult is far too easily distorted into impossible.  War will have to be abolished through a careful and gradual practice; it will require cleaning up the corruption of government by war profiteers; it will result in a very different world in just about every way: economically, culturally, morally.  But war will not be abolished at all if the meditations of the abolitionists are buried and not read.

Imagine if children, when they'd just gotten a bit too old for Winnie the Pooh and we're becoming old enough to read serious arguments, were told that A.A. Milne also wrote a book in 1933-1934 called Peace With Honour. Who wouldn't want to know what the creator of Winnie the Pooh thought of war and peace? And who wouldn't be thrilled to discover his wit and humor applied in all seriousness to the case for ending the most horrific enterprise to remain perfectly acceptable in polite society?

Now, Milne had served as a war propagandist and soldier in World War I, his 1934 view of Germany as not really wanting war looks (at least at first glance) ludicrous in retrospect, and Milne himself abandoned his opposition to war in order to cheer for World War II.  So we can reject his wisdom as hypocrisy, naiveté, and as having been rejected by the author.  But we'd be depriving ourselves of insight because the author was imperfect, and we'd be prioritizing the ravings of a drunk over statements made during a period of sobriety.  Even the ideal diagnostician of war fever can sound like a different man once he's contracted the disease himself.

In Peace With Honour, Milne shows that he has listened to the rhetoric of the war promoters and found that the "honor" they fight for is essentially prestige (or what is more recently called in the United States, "credibility").  As Milne puts it:

"When a nation talks of its honour, it means its prestige. National prestige is a reputation for the will to war. A nation's honour, then, is measured by a nation's willingness to use force to maintain its reputation as a user of force. If one could imagine the game of tiddleywinks assuming a supreme importance in the eyes of statesmen, and if some innocent savage were to ask why tiddleywinks was so important to Europeans, the answer would be that only by skill at tiddleywinks could a country preserve its reputation as a country skilful at tiddleywinks. Which answer might cause the savage some amusement."

Milne debates popular arguments for war and comes back again and again to ridiculing it as a foolish cultural choice dressed up as necessary or inevitable. Why, he asks, do Christian churches sanction mass murder by bombing of men, women, and children? Would they sanction mass conversion to Islam if it were required to protect their country? No. Would they sanction widespread adultery if population growth were the only path to defense of their country? No. So why do they sanction mass murder?

Milne tries a thought experiment to demonstrate that wars are optional and chosen by individuals who could choose otherwise.  Let us suppose, he says, that an outbreak of war would mean the certain and immediate death of Mussolini, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, Sir John Simon, one unnamed cabinet minister chosen by lot on the day war is declared, the ministers responsible for the military, Winston Churchill, two unnamed Generals, two unnamed Admirals, two unnamed directors of armaments firms chosen by lot, Lords Beaverbrook and Rothermere, the editors of The Times and The Morning Post, and corresponding representatives of France. Would there, in this situation, ever be a war?  Milne says definitely not. And therefore was is not "natural" or "inevitable" at all.

Milne makes a similar case around wartime conventions and rules:

"As soon as we begin making rules for war, as soon as we say that this is legitimate warfare and that the other is not, we are admitting that war is merely an agreed way of settling an argument."

But, Milne writes -- accurately depicting the 1945 to 2014 history of a U.N. and NATO-run world -- you cannot make a rule against aggressive war and keep defensive war.  It won't work.  It's self-defeating.  War will roll on under such circumstances, Milne predicts -- and we know he was right.  "To renounce aggression is not enough," writes Milne. "We must also renounce defence."

What do we replace it with? Milne depicts a world of nonviolent dispute resolution, arbitration, and a changed conception of honor or prestige that finds war shameful rather than honorable.  And not just shameful, but mad. He quotes a war supporter remarking, "At the present moment, which may prove to be the eve of another Armageddon, we are not ready." Asks Milne: "Which of these two facts [Armageddon or unpreparedness] is of the more importance to civilization?"

Peacenvironmentalism

Remarks at North Carolina Peace Action Event in Raleigh, N.C., August 23, 2014.

Thank you for inviting me, and thank you to North Carolina Peace Action, and to John Heuer whom I consider a tireless selfless and inspired peacemaker himself.  Can we thank John?

It's an honor for me to have a role in honoring the 2014 Student Peacemaker, iMatter Youth North Carolina. I've followed what iMatter has been doing around the country for years, I've sat in on a court case they brought in Washington, D.C., I've shared a stage with them at a public event, I've organized an online petition with them at RootsAction.org, I've written about them and watched them inspire writers like Jeremy Brecher whom I recommend reading.  Here is an organization acting in the interests of all future generations of all species and being led -- and led well -- by human kids.  Can we give them some applause?

But, perhaps revealing the short-sightedness and self-centeredness of myself as a member of a species that didn't evolve to manage a whole planet, I'm especially happy to be recognizing iMatter Youth North Carolina because my own niece Hallie Turner and my nephew Travis Turner are part of it.  They deserve LOTS of applause.

And the full iMatter planning team, I'm told, is represented tonight as well by Zack Kingery, Nora White, and Ari Nicholson. They should have even more applause.

I take complete credit for Hallie and Travis's work, because although I didn't really teach them anything, I did, before they were born, tell my sister she should go to our high school reunion, at which she met the man who became my brother in law.  Without that, no Hallie and no Travis.

However, it was my parents -- who I suppose by the same logic (although in this case I of course reject it) get complete credit for anything I do -- it was they who took Hallie to her first rally, at the White House protesting a tar sands pipeline.  I'm told that Hallie didn't know what it was all about at first or why the good people were being arrested, instead of the people committing the offenses against our loved ones and our earth being arrested. But by the end of the rally Hallie was right in the thick of it, wouldn't leave until the last person had gone off to jail for justice, and she pronounced the occasion the most important day of her life thus far, or words to that effect.

Perhaps, as it turns out, that was an important day, not just for Hallie but also for iMatter Youth North Carolina, and, who knows, just maybe -- like the day Gandhi was thrown off a train, or the day Bayard Rustin talked Martin Luther King Jr. into giving up his guns, or the day a teacher assigned Thomas Clarkson to write an essay on whether slavery was acceptable -- it will eventually turn out to have been an important day for more of us.

I'm a bit ashamed of two things though, despite all my pride. 

One is that we adults leave kids to discover moral action and serious political engagement by accident rather than teaching it to them systematically and universally, as if we don't really think they want meaningful lives, as if we imagine comfortable lives is the complete human ideal.  We are asking kids to lead the way on the environment, because we -- I'm speaking collectively of everyone over 30, the people Bob Dylan said not to trust until he was over 30 -- we are not doing it, and the kids are taking us to court, and our government is allowing its fellow leading destroyers of the environment to become voluntary co-defendants (can you imagine volunteering to be sued along with someone else who's facing a law suit? No, wait, sue me too!), and the voluntary co-defendants, including the National Association of Manufacturers, are providing teams of lawyers that probably cost more than the schools Hallie and Travis attend, and the courts are ruling that it is an individual right of non-human entities called corporations to destroy the inhabitability of the planet for everyone, despite the evident logic that says the corporations will cease to exist as well. 

Should our kids do as we say or as we do?  Neither!  They should run in the opposite direction from anything we've touched.  There are exceptions, of course. Some of us try a little.  But it is an uphill effort to undo the cultural indoctrination that has us saying phrases like "throw this away" as if there really were an away, or labeling the destruction of a forest "economic growth," or worrying about so-called peak oil and how we'll live when the oil runs out, even though we've already found five times what we can safely burn and still be able to live on this beautiful rock. 

But kids are different.  The need to protect the earth and use clean energy even if it means a few inconveniences or even some serious personal risk, is no more unusual or strange to a kid than half the other stuff they are presented with for the first time, like algebra, or swim meets, or uncles.  They haven't spent as many years being told that renewable energy doesn't work.  They haven't developed the fine-tuned sense of patriotism that allows us to keep believing renewable energy cannot work even as we hear about it working in other countries. (That's German physics!)

Our young leaders have fewer years of indoctrination into what Martin Luther King Jr. called extreme materialism, militarism, and racism.  Adults block the way in the courts, so kids take to the streets, they organize and agitate and educate.  And so they must, but they are up against an educational system and an employment system and an entertainment system that often tells them they are powerless, that serious change is impossible, and that the most important thing you can do is vote. 

Now, adults telling each other that the most important thing they can do is vote is bad enough, but saying that to kids who aren't old enough to vote is like telling them to do nothing.  We need a few percent of our population doing the opposite of nothing, living and breathing dedicated activism.  We need creative nonviolent resistance, re-education, redirection of our resources, boycotts, divestments, the creation of sustainable practices as models for others, and the impeding of an established order that is politely and smilingly steering us over a cliff.  Rallies organized by iMatter Youth North Carolina look like moves in the right direction to me.  So, let's thank them again.

The second thing I'm a little ashamed of is that it is not at all uncommon for a peace organization to arrive at an environmental activist when choosing someone to honor, whereas I have never once heard of the reverse. Hallie and Travis have an uncle who works largely on peace, but they live in a culture where the activism that receives funding and attention and mainstream acceptance, to the limited extent that any does and of course trailing far behind 5Ks against breast cancer and the sort of activism that lacks real opponents, is activism for the environment.  But I think there's a problem with what I've just done and what we usually tend to do, that is, with categorizing people as peace activists or environmental activists or clean elections activists or media reform activists or anti-racism activists.  As we came to realize a few years back, we all add up to 99% of the population, but those who are really active are divided, in reality as well as in people's perceptions.

Peace and environmentalism should, I think, be combined into the single word peacenvironmentalism, because neither movement is likely to succeed without the other.  iMatter wants to live as if our future matters.  You can't do that with militarism, with the resources it takes, with the destruction it causes, with the risk that grows greater with each passing day that nuclear weapons will be intentionally or accidentally detonated.  If you could really figure out how to nuke another nation while shooting its missiles out of the sky, which of course nobody has figured out, the impact on the atmosphere and climate would severely impact your own nation as well.  But that's a fantasy.  In a real world scenario, a nuclear weapon is launched on purpose or by mistake, and many more are quickly launched in every direction.  This has in fact nearly happened numerous times, and the fact that we pay almost no attention to it anymore makes it more rather than less likely.  I imagine you know what happened 50 miles southeast of here on January 24, 1961?  That's right, the U.S. military accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs and got very lucky they didn't explode.  Nothing to worry about, says comedy news anchor John Oliver, that's why we have TWO Carolinas.

iMatter advocates for an economic shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and for sustainable jobs.  If only there were a couple of trillion dollars a year being wasted on something useless or destructive!  And of course there is, worldwide, that unfathomable sum is being spent on preparations for war, half of it by the United States, three quarters of it by the United States and its allies -- and much of that last bit on U.S. weapons.  For a fraction of it, starvation and disease could be seriously dealt with, and so could climate change.  War kills primarily through taking spending away from where it's needed.  For a small fraction of war preparations spending, college could be free here and provided free in some other parts of the world too.  Imagine how many more environmental activists we could have if college graduates didn't owe tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for the human right of an education!  How do you pay that back without going to work for the destroyers of the earth?

79% of weapons in the Middle East come from the United States, not counting those belonging to the U.S. military.  U.S. weapons were on both sides in Libya three years ago and are on both sides in Syria and Iraq.  Weapons making is an unsustainable job if ever I saw one.  It drains the economy.  The same dollars spent on clean energy or infrastructure or education or even tax cuts for non-billionaires produces more jobs than military spending.  Militarism fuels more violence, rather than protecting us.  The weapons have to be used up, destroyed, or given to local police who will begin to see local people as enemies, so that new weapons can be made. And this process is, by some measures, the biggest destroyer of the environment we have.

The U.S. military burned through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day, as measured in 2006. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption. If you removed the Pentagon from the total oil consumption by the United States, then the United States would still rank first with nobody else anywhere close. But you would have spared the atmosphere the burning of more oil than most countries consume, and would have spared the planet all the mischief the U.S. military manages to fuel with it. No other institution in the United States consumes remotely as much oil as the military.

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spends $622 million trying to figure out how to produce power without oil, while the military spends hundreds of billions of dollars burning oil in wars fought and on bases maintained to control the oil supplies. The million dollars spent to keep each soldier in a foreign occupation for a year could create 20 green energy jobs at $50,000 each.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War "rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality," according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.  Leaning divides war's environmental impact into four areas: "production and testing of nuclear weapons, aerial and naval bombardment of terrain, dispersal and persistence of land mines and buried ordnance, and use or storage of military despoliants, toxins, and waste."  A 1993 U.S. State Department report called land mines "the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind." Millions of hectares in Europe, North Africa, and Asia are under interdiction. One-third of the land in Libya conceals land mines and unexploded World War II munitions.

The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.

You may not care about politics, the saying goes, but politics cares about you.  That goes for war.  John Wayne avoided going off to World War II by making movies to glorify other people going.  And do you know what happened to him? He made a movie in Utah near a nuclear testing area.  Of the 220 people who worked on the film, 91, rather than the 30 that would have been the norm, developed cancer including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell.

We need a different direction.  In Connecticut, Peace Action and many other groups have been involved in successfully persuading the state government to set up a commission to work on converting from weapons to peaceful industries.  Labor unions and management support it.  Environmental and peace groups are part of it.  It's very much a work in progress.  It was likely stimulated by false stories that the military was being slashed.  But whether we can make that a reality or not, the environmental need to shift our resources to green energy is going to grow, and there is no reason North Carolina shouldn't be the second state in the country to do this.  You have moral Mondays here. Why not have moral every days of the year?

Major changes look larger before they happen than after.  Environmentalism has come on very quickly.  The U.S. already had nuclear submarines back when whales were still being used as a source of raw materials, lubricants, and fuels, including in nuclear submarines.  Now whales are, almost suddenly, seen as marvelous intelligent creatures to be protected, and the nuclear submarines have begun to look a bit archaic, and the deadly sound pollution that the Navy imposes on the world's oceans looks a bit barbaric.

iMatter's lawsuits seek to protect the public trust for future generations.  The ability to care about future generations is, in terms of the imagination required, almost identical to the ability to care about foreign people at a distance in space rather than time.  If we can think of our community as including those not yet born, who of course we hope far outnumber the rest of us, we can probably think of it as including the 95% of those alive today who don't happen to be in the United States of America, and vice versa.

But even if environmentalism and peace activism were not a single movement, we'd have to join them and several others together in order to have the sort of Occupy 2.0 coalition we need to effect change.  A big chance to do that is coming up around September 21st which is the International Day of Peace and the time when a rally and all sorts of events for the climate will be happening in New York City.

At WorldBeyondWar.org you'll find all sorts of resources for holding your own event for peace and the environment.  You'll also find a short two-sentence statement in favor of ending all war, a statement that has been signed in the past few months by people in 81 nations and rising.  You can sign it on paper here this evening.  We need your help, young and old.  But we should be especially glad that time and numbers are on the side of the young around the world, to whom I say along with Shelley:

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few
.

Audio: Inside Charlottesville: David Swanson on Events in Ferguson

GUEST: David Swanson, author, activist, and blogger. His books includes Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union and War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. Follow him on Twitter.

TOPIC: David reacts to the events in Ferguson, Missouri and the related militarization of law enforcement and drug war. 

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Thursday, August 21, 2014.

LISTEN HERE.

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