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Her Name Is Jody Williams

Jody Williams' new book is called My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl's Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, and it's a remarkable story by a remarkable person.  It's also a very well-told autobiography, including in the early childhood chapters in which there are few hints of the activism to come. 

One could read this book and come away thinking "Anyone really could win the Nobel Peace Prize," if people in fact told their children they could do that instead of telling them they could be president, and if one was thinking of Nobel peace laureates as saintly beings.  In a certain sense, of course, anyone can win the Nobel Peace Prize, as it's often given to good people who have nothing to do with peace, and at other times it's given to warmongers.  To win the Nobel Peace Prize and deserve it, as Williams did -- that's another story.  That requires, not saintliness, but activism.

Activism is usually 99% perspiration and the dedication that drives it, just like genius.  But in the case of the Nobel Peace Prize, and of the sort of rapid success it honors when applied in accordance with Alfred Nobel's will, the perspiration is 49%.  The other 50% is timing.  The activists who recruited Williams to lead the campaign to ban landmines had the timing perfect.  Williams tapped into something powerful.  She orchestrated some initial successes, communicated the viability and importance of the project, worked night and day, and watched many other people, in many countries, throw themselves into the campaign in a manner that people only do when they believe something will dramatically and rapidly improve the world.

How does one pick the right issue at the right time?  Following the example of the land mine campaign, one must pick a topic on which the rest of the world can do some good without the participation of the U.S. government, and in fact succeed despite fierce opposition from the U.S. government, and then drag the U.S. government along, kicking and screaming, once the rest of the world has moved forward.

What strikes me most about the first half or so of Williams' book is how hard we always make it for anyone who wants to work for a better world to find appropriate employment.  We dump billions into recruiting young people into the military or into business careers.  Imagine if young people had to find those paths on their own.  Imagine if television ads and video games and movies and spectacles at big sporting events were all used to recruit young people into nonviolent activism for peace or justice.  Williams and many others could have found their way more quickly.

Williams argued with her father over the U.S. war on Vietnam.  He began to come around with the exposure of the Gulf of Tonkin incident as fictional, and with the looming threat of a son being drafted -- and no doubt also as a result of Williams' persuasiveness.

What got Williams into full-time paid activism, years later, was a flyer handed to her at a Washington, D.C., metro stop.  The headline read: "El Salvador: Another Vietnam?"  Eventually, Williams found herself engaged in activist work that "didn't feel like work."  I take this to mean that for something to "feel like work" it needed to be a waste of time.  Activism, of course, is not.  Think about what sort of society we have constructed in which the norm is uselessness.

Finding activism does not, of course, mean finding an easy life.  It means sacrifice and risk, but fulfilling sacrifice and risk.  Williams risked death and injury in Central America and suffered, among other things, rape.  Years later she publicly told that story before an audience of 2,000 as part of The Vagina Monologues.  "I felt it was time to use the example to tell women they didn't have to let horrible experiences ruin their lives. I didn't let it ruin mine."  She didn't let all sorts of other horrible experiences stop her either.

Once Williams had begun organizing the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), success began coming much more rapidly than she expected.  Resistance grew right along with it.  Landmines don't kill people, governments said, people kill people.  The United States was the worst, proposing to use "smart landmines" that would switch off when wars ended, thus killing the right people but not the wrong ones, killing soldiers but not farmers and children.  Williams recounts the way she cursed at and denounced a U.S. diplomat who was trying to persuade her of the merits of "smart landmines."  Williams didn't find peace "in her heart" or in her personal interactions in order to advance peace in the world.  She advanced peace in the world through passion, and through smart strategy.  The people of the world were not prepared to get passionate about working for a ban on dumb landmines.  A campaign to ban dumb landmines would have resulted in nothing at all.

Williams gave not an inch in response to then-President Bill Clinton's speeches against landmines, which accompanied his policy in fierce defense of landmines.  "Soaring rhetoric does nothing to save lives," she remarked -- a piece of advice of potentially endless value to supporters of President Obama's speeches against his own policies.

Campaigns against landmines developed, with Williams' help, in many countries.  In Italy, activists forced the issue into the media and moved the minister of defense to support a ban.  They also convinced the trade unions whose members produced landmines for a living to support a ban.  Williams participated in a long march to a factory town, where four women workers held up a banner that said "We will not feed our children by making landmines that kill other people's children."  Imagine creating a culture in the United States in which people took that step in significant numbers! Maybe it's starting.

The ICBL combined diplomacy with activist pressure.  At a meeting with government officials in Geneva, campaigners arranged to have the sound of a landmine explosion projected every 20 minutes, and a counter display the rising count of victims around the world (one every 20 minutes).  Photos of victims were displayed.  Ads and stickers were everywhere.  In France and Austria, campaigners delivered piles of empty shoes to prominent locations.  In some African nations, the ICBL helped develop an activist civil society where there hadn't been one.

Williams had to deal with all the usual divisions that arise in a movement.  Some objected to the cost of meetings when money was needed for the "real work" of removing landmines.  "They somehow managed to avoid understanding that, without the pressure generated by meetings, there would have been little interest in putting up money for mine clearance at all."

In 1996, Canada took the lead in proposing to sign a treaty banning landmines in 1997.  Nation after nation committed.  But the United States went to incredible lengths to try to sabotage the process.  At a meeting in Oslo, activists arranged for diplomats to enter the building through a simulated mine field, and to confront landmine victims when they'd made it in.  Pressure was building in the right direction, but "the degree and crudeness of U.S. bullying was hard to fathom."

Williams built momentum for a very clear demand: "no loopholes, no exceptions, and no reservations."  But the United States strong-armed nations and just about turned Canada against its own initiative.  The ICBL began calling Canada the 51st state.  Props mocked Canada even as pro-ban Canadian diplomats passed by. "What the fuck is your government doing?" Williams demanded of a Canadian official.  "You started all this!  If Canada caves, we will publicly fry your foreign minister." 

Then came the Nobel Peace Prize, and Williams famously calling President Clinton a weenie for refusing to support the ban.  It was a peace prize that actually helped a movement, and a peace prize whose recipient responded appropriately, rededicating herself to peace. 

Then came the treaty to ban landmines.  Then came virtually complete compliance with it, including by the United States which has still not signed on. 

In her Nobel speech, Williams said this was the first time the leaders of governments had heeded a public demand.  That is, of course, not true.  Exceptions include August 27, 1928, when the nations of the world banned war.  But such an occurrence is very rare, and the question is how to make it happen again.  Blinding laser weapons were banned in 1996, and cluster bombs in 2008.

There is a movement now forming to try to ban autonomous drones.  There's a parallel there to landmines, if one thinks of both as killing without human discretion.  Yet, the family visited by hellfire missiles simply will not care whether a human pressed the button.  And the revulsion those living under the drones feel in particular toward unmanned airplanes hardly has room to expand should those drones become autonomous.  Drone murders already look like murders, even to many Americans, in a way in which much killing in war does not.  Why, I wonder, shouldn't the movement be to ban weaponized drones?

Or should the movement perhaps be to enforce the ban on war?  Perhaps somehow partial movements against elements of war should begin advancing an understanding of total abolition along the way.  A movement to ban military bases in foreign nations, for example, could be pursued with a fundamentally anti-war philosophy.  In any case, we can certainly learn about the best way forward by picking up Williams' book and engaging in a little of that practice that President Obama so despises: looking backwards.

Past Wars on Indians Aren't Even Past

Hammer in hand, one sees nails everywhere. Successful unpunished genocide at home in hand, the Pentagon sees Indian Country on six continents.  But don't imagine the U.S. military is finished with the original Indian Country yet, including Native American reservations and territories, and including the places where the rest of us now live.

Compare and contrast:

Exhibit 1 from the New York Times:

"Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."

Exhibit 2 from a U.S. Army dispatch in 1864:

"All Apache . . . large enough to bear arms who may be encountered in Arizona will be slain whenever met unless they give themselves up as prisoners."

Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech at Fort Carson with cavalry troops on horseback dressed in Indian-killing outfits behind him, as he praised troops in Iraq for living up to the legend of Kit Carson -- a man who marched hundreds of human beings to a camp later used as a model for the Nazis'. 

Osama bin Laden was renamed by the U.S. military, Geronimo.

Winona LaDuke's The Militarization of Indian Country tells a history that isn't over, and describes a scene that cannot escape from its past.  Like Coleman Smith's and Clare Hanrahan's survey of the militarization of the Southeast, LaDuke's survey of militarized Indian Country piles up numerous outrages to convey a picture of purposeful devastation on a stunning scale. 

Many Native Americans live in places called Fort This or Fort That, keeping ever present the concentration camps these places were.  They remain among the poorest and most environmentally devastated sacrifice zones in the United States.

"The modern U.S. military," LaDuke writes, "has taken our lands for bombing exercises and military bases, and for the experimentation and storage of the deadliest chemical agents and toxins known to mankind. Today the military continues to bomb  Native Hawaiian lands, from Makua to the Big Island, destroying life."

Later, LaDuke summarizes: "From the more than a thousand nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific and the Nevada desert that started in the 1940s, obliterating atolls and spreading radioactive contamination throughout the ocean and across large areas in the American West, to the Vietnam War-era use of napalm and Agent Orange to defoliate and poison vast swaths of Vietnam, to the widespread use of depleted uranium and chemical weaponry since that time, the role of the U.S. military in contaminating the planet cannot be overstated."

In Alaska, 700 active and abandoned military sites include 1,900 toxic hot spots.  People forget the seriousness of a failed plan to create a harbor in Alaska by dropping a series of nuclear bombs.  Some of the actions that have in fact been taken have been only moderately less destructive than that proposal.

Uranium mines, depleted uranium testing, and nuclear waste storage have done as much or more damage to Indian Country as nuclear bomb testing.  U.S. nuclear weapons are largely located in Native American territories, as well.  If the Great Sioux Nation were in control of its 1851 treaty areas, LaDuke writes, "it would be the third greatest nuclear weapons power on the face of the earth." 

Many Native Americans recognize in current U.S. foreign wars echoes of wars against the Indian nations.  And yet, American Indians have the highest military enlistment rate of any ethnic group and the largest number of living veterans (about 22 percent of Native Americans aged 18 or over).  "How," LaDuke asks, "did we move from being the target of the U.S. military to being the U.S. military itself?"  Native Americans also suffer from PTSD at higher rates than other groups -- supposedly due to higher rates of combat, but just conceivably also because of greater cognitive dissonance.

I admit to finding a little of the latter even in LaDuke's wonderful book.  She claims that sometimes there are "righteous reasons to fight."  She opposes militarism but wants veterans to be honored.  I'm writing this from a national convention of Veterans For Peace where I know numerous veterans would reject the idea that veterans should be honored.  What veterans should do is organize more Native Americans and other Americans together into a movement for the abolition of militarism as well as the righting of past wrongs so that they will not any longer be repeated.

The Missiles That Brought Down TWA Flight 800

If the U.S. public began to raise a fuss about U.S. missile strikes that blow up large numbers of civilians at wedding parties abroad, it's not beyond the realm of the imaginable that the U.S. government would begin blaming the explosions on faulty candles in the wedding cakes.  A similarly implausible excuse was used to explain the 1996 explosion of TWA flight 800 off Long Island, New York, and the U.S. public has thus far either swallowed the story whole or ignored the matter.

If you watch Kristina Borjesson's new film, TWA Flight 800, you'll see a highly persuasive case that this passenger jet full of passengers was brought down by missiles, killing all on board. 

A CIA propaganda video aired by U.S. television networks fits with none of the known facts, makes the claim that there were no missiles, and offers no theory as to what then did cause the explosion(s) and crash into the sea. 

A coverup by the FBI and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) was blatant and extensive, involving intimidation of witnesses and investigators, tampering with evidence, false testimony before Congress, censoring reports, and numerous violations of normal protocols.  Some of the government's own official investigators concluded that the explosion(s) occurred outside the airplane.  They were not permitted to write analyses in their reports, as in every other investigation.  Their reports were censored.  They were forbidden to testify.  Some 200 eyewitnesses -- people on the ground and in other planes, at least many of whom described seeing one or more missiles rising from the ground to the airplane -- were censored as well.  Not a single witness was permitted to testify at the public hearing.

The military staged a test firing of missiles with witnesses, in an attempt to prove that the witnesses would either not see the missiles or testify inaccurately about what they saw.  However, the witnesses all reported seeing the missiles well.  The report on this test came to the opposite conclusion of what had been hoped for, but the government fed the original, hoped-for line to the media, which dutifully reported it.

Investigators thought and still think a missile or missiles brought down the plane.  Eye-witnesses thought and still think the same.  Explosives residue in the plane wreckage and other physical evidence in the wreckage suggests missile(s).  Data from several different radars at the time of the disaster show pieces of the plane being blown off at speeds that could only have been generated by high explosives, not by a fuel tank exploding.  Radar data also show the plane falling, not rising.  (The CIA claimed, without offering any evidence, that the plane rose into the sky as it was exploding, thus accounting for witnesses' reports of seeing objects rising.)  The damage to the seats and passengers in the plane was random, not greater closer to a fuel tank.

No more evidence was ever offered for a fuel tank exploding than could be offered in the theoretical fiction of a wedding cake exploding, or -- for that matter -- was ever offered for the Maine having been attacked by the Spanish in Havana harbor or for the Gulf of Tonkin incident having occurred or for the WMDs piling up in Iraq, or than has been offered thus far for the dreaded Iranian nuclear bomb program.  There was no wiring near the fuel tank that could have caused it to explode and no other explanation than faulty wiring even hypothesized.

The film concludes that likely three missiles were shot from near the Long Island coast, including at least one from a ship at sea.  The film does not address the question of who did this or why.  But it presents the evidence that it happened, and that the coverup began immediately, with the disaster site being quickly closed off and guarded by roughly 1,000 police officers, roughly half of them FBI -- not the normal procedure for a plane crash.  The likely speculation is, of course, that the U.S. military committed this crime.  Was someone on the plane targeted for murder, and everyone else killed in the process?  Was this a test of technology?  Was it a mistake?  Was it part of some larger plot that failed to develop?  I don't know. 

But I do know that the nation didn't go into a collective state of vicious rabid insanity, demanding vengeance against evildoers who hate us for our freedoms.  No nations were destroyed in a sick parody of justice following the destruction of TWA flight 800.  But neither were those responsible held publicly accountable in any way.

The New York Times seems impressed by the film and favors a new investigation but laments the supposed lack of any entity that could credibly perform an investigation.  Think about that.  The U.S. government comes off as so untrustworthy in the film that it can't be trusted to re-investigate itself.  And a leading newspaper, whose job it ought to be to investigate the government, feels at a loss for what to do without a government that can credibly and voluntarily perform the media's own job for it and hold itself accountable.

The New York Post, too, takes the film quite seriously, and simply recounts its arguments without adding any commentary other than agreement.  But the Daily News offers instead a textbook example of how self-censorship and obedience to authoritarianism work.  Here's the complete Daily News review with my comments inserted:

"If you need to get a person's attention fast, just whisper, 'There's something the government isn't telling you.'

"Works every time."

Like the time the NSA claimed to be complying with the Fourth Amendment? Like the time nobody was being tortured in Iraq? Like the time the fracking studies showed no damage to ground water? Like the time drones weren't killing any civilians with their missile strikes?

Sure, there are bound to be times when the government is honest with us. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but it stands to reason that there are.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  And it's certainly possible to invent all sorts of fantasies to allege the government to be lying about.  I'm not convinced Obama was born in Africa, aliens visited New Mexico, the World Trade Center was blown up from within, or every person who emails me to complain about it is really being zapped with invisible mind-control weapons (for all I know they just watch television and come away feeling like that).  But shouldn't we take claims of government deception as possibly right and possibly wrong and follow the evidence where it leads? I'm not willing to swear any of the things I list here isn't true unless evidence establishes that.

"In this case, filmmakers Kristina Borjesson and Tom Stalcup are convinced that ill-fated TWA Flight 800, which exploded over Great South Bay on July 17, 1996, was shot down by a missile."

And does the evidence suggest that they are right or wrong?  Should we just pretend to know that they're wrong because the government says so?  Yep:

"The original government investigation and later a second probe by the National Transportation Safety Board disagreed. Both concluded the explosion was caused by a spark in the center fuel tank."

Yet they offered no explanation for where such a spark might have come from, or why so many airplanes have been permitted to fly since, in danger of falling victim to such a spark.

"So someone is wrong. But 'TWA Flight 800' says it's more insidious than that. The government also knows it was a missile, the film strongly suggests, and simply chooses to lie.  Charges of conspiratorial coverups are as common as jaywalking, of course, but 'TWA Flight 800' has more evidence than most. The advocates here include several original investigators as well as aircraft engineers, transportation and safety experts. There also are a half dozen people, civilians with no agendas, who all say they saw something streaking across the sky toward the plane before it exploded."

Why is that insidious?  You don't know whether all these people are right, but the suggestion that they might be is insidious?  The film in fact doesn't say the government "simply" chooses to lie.  In fact, many in the government choose to speak out, forming much of the basis for the film.  Others choose to cover up what happened.  Most of them are clearly just following orders.  Others must have motivations, but whether those motivations are simple or complex is not touched on in the film -- as this review goes on to acknowledge:

"The film doesn't really address two of the biggest questions raised by most conspiracy charges. First, why would someone cover up the truth, and second, given the number of people involved in this investigation, could they all keep a secret this big for 17 years?"

In fact, they aren't all keeping it secret.  Many have been shouting the truth, as they see it, from the rooftops.  Others recount why they've kept quiet.  One woman explains that she was applying for U.S. citizenship and was threatened that her application would be rejected if she spoke out.  The film does not address motivations for the coverup, but let me take a wild stab at doing so: If the U.S. military blew up a passenger jet full of passengers, including U.S. citizens, for no damn good reason, wouldn't we need an explanation for its wanting to go public with that?  Doesn't the military's wanting to keep that quiet require no explanation at all?  When the Joint Special Operations Command murders Afghan women in a night raid and then digs bullets out of their bodies with knives and claims that they were killed by their families, and then later admits the truth, are we shocked by the routine lies or by the vicious crime?  Wouldn't we be more seriously shocked if the U.S. military gratuitously blurted out something true?  Wouldn't taking responsibility for TWA 800 be a remarkable act of civic virtue worthy of the record books?

"But the film isn't after 'why.' It just wants to say that a lot of physical and circumstantial evidence points to a missile.

"Toward that goal, it's on target."

It is indeed, though one wouldn't have guessed that from the beginning of this newspaper's review, from media coverage in general, from history books, or from how most people have been conditioned to react to the next suspicious disaster yet to come.

Talk Nation Radio: Rooj Alwazir: U.S. Drones Terrorize Yemen

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rooj-alwazir

Rooj Alwazir is a Yemeni American peace activist and an organizer and cofounder of the Support Yemen Media Collective: http://supportyemen.org She describes the horror and the disaster that is the U.S. drone war on Yemen.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

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Now Two States Pursue Truly Affordable Education

Maryland may soon join Oregon in exploring solutions to the crisis of student debt and unaffordable education.

Education is supposed to be a human right.  But the United States puts people into deep debt to pay for it.  Short of taxing billionaires or dismantling bombers (both of which we're all, I hope, working on), what's the solution?

The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  See Katrina vanden Heuvel: An Oregon Trail to End Student Debt.

This is not a plan to make education truly free, and that would probably be ideal.  But this is not, I think, a step that would move us away from that goal -- in the way that strengthening but tweaking the private health insurance system arguably moves us away from a single-payer solution.

This is, however, a plan that makes college tuition at state universities initially free.  Students would pay nothing up-front and borrow nothing from loan sharks.  Then they would pay the state back 3% of their income for some number of years, possibly 20.  The graduate who brings in $100 million per year would hand over $3 million.  The graduate who brings in $10,000 would pay $300.  While the purpose of an education for many students may not be related to money, in terms of money one is paying for what one gets.  If you buy an unmarketable skill, you pay nothing for it.  Some have responded by calling this perfect capitalism, while others have noted its correspondence with the ideal of "from each according to his/her means."  This system also seems fair to those not interested in college: they pay nothing.

There are shortcomings, of course.  Wealthy users of private universities contribute nothing to public universities under this scheme.  Pursuers of high-paying careers might drift in greater numbers toward private universities, if they can afford to.  A big investment is need to start this up, and then long-term trust in the public system is needed to keep it going in the face of inevitable pretenses that it's collapsing like Social Security (which -- breaking news! -- is not collapsing).  Most importantly, perhaps, the Oregon model covers only tuition. Room and board and books should be included as well, or the problem of student debt won't be solved.

But this is a creative possible step forward that could someday spread to every state and to private institutions as well, which might discover it is needed for them to compete. 

RootsAction.org members in every state and Washington, D.C., recently emailed their state legislators by the thousands asking them to set up commissions similar to Oregon's and to seriously pursue solutions to unaffordable education.  You can do the same.

Here's the email that's being sent (you can edit it): 

"As a constituent, I urge you to consider:

"The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  Under this plan, tuition at state universities will not be paid upfront or borrowed from loan sharks.  Graduates will pay the state back by handing over 3% of their income for some number of years.

"The Oregon model could be improved.  As proposed it covers only tuition.  Room and board and books should be included as well, or the problem of student debt won't be solved.

"Getting such a program started will take serious investment and political will.

"For our children and our grandchildren, please exercise the sort of leadership needed and move our state toward treating education as a right, not a privilege."
 

Almost immediately, RootsAction heard from Maryland State Delegate Kirill Reznik who said he had been considering this idea and wanted to move on it now.  He sent out this announcement:

"DELEGATE KIRILL REZNIK TO INTRODUCE “PAY IT FORWARD, PAY IT BACK” INITIATIVE IN 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

"(ANNAPOLIS, MD) August 2, 2013 Following the recent passage of the 'Pay It Forward, Pay It Back' bill that overwhelmingly passed the Oregon State Legislature in July, Delegate Kirill Reznik (D- Germantown) plans to introduce a similar bill in Maryland. If passed, Maryland would become the second state to explore alternative options to the mounting student loan debt epidemic.

"'Pay It Forward, Pay It Back,' is an idea that originated out of a Capstone Seminar on student debt out of Portland State University, generating an innovative solution to student loan debt. Whereby students would go to college tuition free and then give back a small percentage of their gross annual income over the next 20-25 years until their tuition was paid in full. Ironically, Oregon passed the “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” bill on the same day that Congress voted to double student loan rates.

"Delegate Reznik will be introducing legislation to authorize a study to determine whether or not such an idea will work and how best to roll it out.

"'Receiving a higher education is the most effective way to promote economic mobility. Unfortunately, the cost of education shuts out those opportunities for too many Marylanders. As the State with the best public education system in the country, we should also be on the forefront of expanding higher education. The economic opportunities that will come along with this innovative approach will make Maryland a top destination for business and industry,' said Delegate Reznik.

###

"Delegate Kirill Reznik is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing the 39th District in Montgomery County. His district includes the areas of Gaithersburg, Germantown, Montgomery Village, Washington Grove, North Potomac and segments of Darnestown, and Derwood. He began serving in the House of Delegates in October 2007, and sits on the Health Government Operations committee. He was currently appointed to serve as the Chair of the County Affairs Committee within the Montgomery County House Delegation."

Now, the question arises: What about your state?!

Harry Truman and Memory of Mass Murder

Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."

Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German?  There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did.  Yet we debate, every August 6th or so, whether Truman was willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Japanese lives in order to scare Russians with his nuclear bombs.  He was willing; he was not willing; he was willing.  Left out of this debate is the obvious possibility that killing as many Japanese as possible was among Truman's goals.

A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded the United States' naval forces in the South Pacific during World War II, thought of his mission as "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs," and had vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell. War correspondent Edgar L. Jones wrote in the February 1946 Atlantic Monthly, "What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought anyway? We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off  the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers."

On August 6, 1945, President Truman announced: "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T.  It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British 'Grand Slam' which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare."Hiroshima was, of course, a city full of people, not an Army base. But those people were merely Japanese. Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey had told the New York Times: "Fighting Japs is not like fighting normal human beings. The Jap is a little barbarian…. We are not dealing with humans as we know them. We are dealing with something primitive. Our troops have the right view of the Japs. They regard them as vermin."

Some try to imagine that the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away. And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

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

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

Whatever dropping the bombs might possibly have contributed to ending the war, it is curious that the approach of threatening to drop them, the approach used during a half-century of Cold War to follow, was never tried.  An explanation may perhaps be found in Truman's comments suggesting the motive of revenge:

"Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare."

Truman doesn't say he used the bomb to shorten the war or save lives.  He says he used the bomb because he could. "Having found the bomb we have used it."  And he provides as reasons for having used it three characteristics of the people murdered: they (or their government) attacked U.S. troops, they (or their government) brutalized U.S. prisoners, and they (or their government) -- and this is without any irony intended -- oppose international law.

Truman could not, incidentally, have chosen Tokyo as a target -- not because it was a city, but because we (or our government) had already reduced it to rubble. 

The nuclear catastrophes may have been, not the ending of a World War, but the theatrical opening of the Cold War, aimed at sending a message to the Soviets. Many low and high ranking officials in the U.S. military, including commanders in chief, have been tempted to nuke more cities ever since, beginning with Truman threatening to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower's enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes," Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam.

I just want you to think, instead, about this poem:

Hiroshima
by Sherwood Ross

I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
A graduate of Emory College, Atlanta,
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.
Fearing for my wife and family
I ran back into the city
Where I saw hundreds and hundreds fleeing
Every one of them hurt in some way.
The eyebrows of some were burned off
Skin hung from their faces and hands
Some were vomiting as they walked
On some naked bodies the burns had made patterns
Of the shapes of flowers transferred
From their kimonos to human skin.
Almost all had their heads bowed
Looked straight ahead, were silent
And showed no expression whatever.
Under many houses I heard trapped people screaming
Crying for help but there were none to help
And the fire was coming.
I came to a young woman holding her dead baby
Who pleaded with me to find her husband
So he could see the baby one last time.
There was nothing I could do but humor her.
By accident I ran into my own wife
Both she and our child were alive and well.
For days I carried water and food to the wounded and the dying.
I apologized to them: "Forgive me," I said, "for not sharing your burden."
I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.

Remaking the World from Madison Wisconsin

I'm on my way to Madison, Wisconsin, and I hope you are too, and not just for the beer and (veggie) bratwursts.  Here are seven other good reasons:

·      The Student Power Convergence, Aug. 1-5 (ending now, but folks sticking around).

·      The Democracy Convention, Aug. 7-11.

·      The Veterans For Peace Convention, Aug. 7-11.

·      Marking the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with opponents of war.

·      The opening of Dirty Wars with after-screening talks with Jeremy Scahill.

·      The daily singing and protesting in the state capitol!

·      And the big town hall meeting, Aug. 7, on "Illegal Wars, Torture & Spying: Millions Demanded Bush's Impeachment; Should Obama be Impeached for Continuing Bush's Crimes?"

Activists are converging on Madison, allowing for cross-fertilization and creative planning of future actions for peace and justice in the United States.  I recently invited Roshan Bliss of the Student Power Convergence, Ben Manski of Democracy Convention, and Doug Rawlings of Veterans For Peace to discuss these events on my radio show, Talk Nation Radio.  Click and take a listen.

The town hall on impeachment is, I think, the first of its kind I will speak at since Obama moved into the White House and began continuing the crimes for which a majority of Americans in various polls favored Bush's impeachment.  It's not that I've turned down other invitations.  It's not that I haven't been invited.  This is the first Impeach Obama (for sane reasons) meeting I've heard of.  Check it out.  Also speaking: Coleen Rowley, Debra Sweet, Buzz Davis, Don McKeating, Joe Elder -- and you if you can make it.

The VFP Convention is the 28th such event.  Veterans For Peace, a leading antiwar organization with members in every U.S. state and several other countries, will hold its 28th national convention at the Concourse Hotel at 1 Dayton Street.  The convention, open to veterans and non-veterans, will feature speakers, entertainers, and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to the advancement of peace and the abolition of war.

Free public events include:

Lanterns for Peace,commemorating Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Aug. 6, 7-9:30 p.m. Tenney Park Shelter
Poetry Night, Aug. 7, 8-10:30 p.m. Room of One's Own Bookstore, 315 W Gorham Street
Activist Night with national and local speakers, open mic, music, Aug. 8, 7-10 p.m., Concourse Hotel Ballroom
Rally and Peace Parade, families invited, bring peace banners, Aug. 10, 4 p.m., State Street and Capitol Square
Tribute to Lincoln Grahlfs, Aug. 11, 9-11 a.m., Capitol Lakes Retirement Center, 333 West Main Street
Iraq Veterans Against the War Art Exhibit, Aug 7-11, Rainbow Bookstore, 426 W. Gilman Street

Speakers at the VFP convention include:

Elliott Adams, former VFP president, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Carlos Arredondo, Costa Rican-American peace activist and American Red Cross volunteer.
Leah Bolger,former VFP president, Drones Quilt Project.
Paul Chappell,
Iraq War veteran, author, peace leadership director at Nuclear Age Peace Fdtn.
Ben Griffin, UK war resister.
Tarak Kauff, Vietnam War veteran, VFP board member, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders.
Sister Maureen McDonnell, OP, Dominican sister of Sinsinawa and a spiritual guide.
Michael McPhearson, Gulf War veteran, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice.
Patrick McCann,
Vietnam War resister, president of Veterans For Peace.
David Newby,
founder of U.S. Labor Against the War and former President of WI AFL-CIO.
Scott Olsen, Iraq War veteran, shot in the head at Occupy Oakland.
John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders.
Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine.
Paul Soglin, mayor of Madison.
Margaret Stevens, VFP board member and Director of the Urban Issues Institute at Essex County College.
Nick Turse, journalist, historian, and author.
Mike Wiggins Jr., tribal chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
S. Brian Willson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Diane Wilson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, fisherwoman, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Col. Ann Wright (ret.), recently returned from meeting with families of drone victims in Pakistan.
James Yee, former U.S. Army chaplain at Guantanamo, falsely accused of "aiding the enemy."

Entertainers at the convention will include Lem Genovese, Ryan Harvey, Solidarity singalong, Forward Marching Band, Madison Raging Grannies, Watermelon Slim, Honor Among Thieves, Jim Walktendonk. Also Regis Tremblay will be screening his new film The Ghosts of Jeju. A drones quilt will be displayed during the convention.

Workshops at the VFP convention will include such topics as: Veterans farming, Creating a culture of peace, Educating the community, Agent Orange, Nonviolent bioregional revolutionary strategies, Debt and death: making clear the costs of war, Labor's role, Environmental disaster, the United Nations, Helping homeless veterans, Palestine, Veteran suicide, Military sexual trauma and suicides, Voices of Iraq: resolution, reconciliation, reparation, The written word for peace and reconciliation, Bradley Manning and G.I. resisters, The perversion of just war reasoning, U.S. policy in the Middle East, The long war for central Asia, Building peace in Vietnam, and Abolishing war as an instrument of national policy.  The full program is available at http://VFPNationalConvention.org

Democracy Convention - register nowGar Alperovitz who authored an important book on the decision to drop the nuclear bombs on Japan will be in town, but he'll be speaking at the Democracy Convention on the topic of worker ownership and how people can create enough power to fix our broken democracy. He recently discussed his new book on Talk Nation Radio. Take a listen.  Peter Kuznick, another great writer on the nuclear decision, currently in Japan with Oliver Stone, was also a recent guest. Listen here.

The Democracy Convention is a real movement and coalition building project pulling together activists from a wide variety of sectors to find strength and inspiration in numbers.  Several conferences will overlap and interact, including:

The Race and Democracy Conference.

The Earth Democracy Conference.

The Democratizing Defense Conference.

The Constitutional Reform Conference.

The Education for Democracy Conference.

The Economic Democracy Conference.

The Media Democracy Conference.

The Representative Democracy Conference.

The Local Democracy Conference.

Think for a minute about who you'd most like to see leading conferences on those topics.  Then click the links, and in most cases I think you'll find that they are doing so! We hope you can join us!

The Democracy Convention website describes Madison thus:

"You've seen the images and reports of the mass protests in Madison. The Wisconsin uprising was the first wave of the global anti-austerity protests to arrive in the United States. But it should be no surprise that Madison, Wisconsin, is at the center of the national movement against corporate power and economic austerity.

"Since Wisconsin statehood, in the revolutionary year of 1848, Madisonians have led the way, co-founding and leading the National Organization for Women (NOW), United States Student Association (USSA), United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Sierra Club, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and four national political parties: the early, radical Republican Party, and then later, the Progressive Party of the 1920-30s, and the New Party and Green Party. Madison, Wisconsin, has long served as the capital city of the heartland of the progressive movement.

"Today, the Madison Common Council and Dane County Board are populated with progressive alders and supervisors, and a newly returned mayor, Paul Soglin, famous for his progressive leadership as mayor in the 1970s. Madison is a labor city with a very high density of union membership, as well as a center of the cooperative and credit union movements; nearly half the population of Madison belongs to some form of cooperatively owned and operated economic enterprise.

"If you've ever visited Madison in late August, you know you're in for great weather in a wonderful city. Join us this August 7-11 in downtown Madison, near the now world-famous Wisconsin State Capitol, easily one of the most stunning buildings in North America. In visiting, you will have the opportunity to take part in our downtown farmers market, one the world's largest, and the nation's oldest. You can also take some time off on the shores of one of Madison's four (or five, depending on how you count them) major lakes. If you've been wanting to return to Madison and Wisconsin, or to visit for the first time, August 7-11 will be the time to do that."

John Kerry Needs an Intervention

If John Kerry was beating his children and promising to stop "very very soon" and then explaining that he meant "very very soon" in a geological sense, he'd be forced to resign his office.

If we even discovered that John Kerry had once beaten one of his children, even many years ago, perhaps shortly after he returned from killing people in Vietnam, he'd be forced to resign.

Imagine if we were to discover that John Kerry was actually murdering children, and women, and men, using missiles shot out of flying robots and promising to stop "very very soon" and explaining that what he meant by that was "I'd like to see you try to stop me you goddamn primitive Pashtun peons." 

Would we respond?

We didn't respond when he claimed Bush won Ohio.  How'd that work out?

What if we were about to consider possibly responding, and maybe even growing indignant, and John Kerry stood up on a pile of corpses and screamed "Wolf! Giant ass wolf right behind you! Arabic speaking wolf! Wolf! Wolf!"

And what if he added, "The safest thing for you to do now is to go shopping. But try not to get blown up.  What? You don't believe me? Look, here are all the details of what the terrorists are planning.  If Bradley Manning gave you this kind of information, I'd hang him by his ears and get a red hot poker with one of those . . . .  I mean, the point is very very soon I'm going to stop killing people.  Not very soon, but very very soon."

Would we react with the outrage we'd achieve if John Kerry drove drunk? if John Kerry smoked pot? if John Kerry had sex with someone not his wife? if John Kerry promised never to nuke Iran? 

Are we sure we've got our priorities straight? 

It's been months since Obama gave a speech on prison victims and drone victims.  Since then no prisoners have been freed, Obama's drones have kept killing, and people who cheered for Obama's speech are ready to cheer for John Kerry's. 

As our global Zimmermen stand their ground, we need to step in.  Addicts who oppose their own addictions -- be they to caffeine or hellfire missiles -- are ready to take the next step in shaking the habit. 

John Kerry needs an intervention.

If he were beating his wife, we'd advise her to leave.  So, we must advise the world's governments.  Stop putting makeup over your bruises and covering up for your abuser.  The time has come to walk away.  You don't need any more drone strikes.  John Kerry does not love you and he never will.

There was once a time, from the birth of the nation to the birth of the internet, when the U.S. government could tell the Native Americans or the Mexicans or the Filipinos one thing, and the good citizens back home something else. 

No longer.

The Washington Post can compare innocent prisoners in Guantanamo with Nazis, but not without the world recognizing the extent of the sickness from which the U.S. establishment is suffering.

A 16 year old American boy murdered by presidential drone has a grandfather who is suing in court to find out why his grandson was killed. 

I am confident he'll receive an answer very very soon.

 

Global Hot Spots

Remarks at the War Resisters League's 90th Year Convention at Georgetown University, August 2, 2013.

Videos here.

Congratulations on 90 years! The War Resisters League is almost as old as the Espionage Act and may outlast it yet. 

So I sat down yesterday to think about what connects global hot spots, and the first obvious answer I thought of for a great many of them was the United States military.  By some strange coincidence numerous war-torn places on the globe have been given or sold weapons or sent troops or been visited by airplanes or drones courtesy of the same nation that spends the most on its military, keeps the most troops stationed in the most countries, engages in the most conflicts, sells the most weaponry to others, and thumbs its nose most blatantly at the use of courts to restrain its warmaking or even, any more, to put individuals on trial who can just as easily be hit with a hellfire missile.  When I heard that our government had set up an atrocities prevention board, I immediately pictured a 2x4 being stuck through the door handles at the Pentagon to keep the place closed.  That would truly be an atrocities prevention board.

(Is that espionage to say that, or have people heard of 2x4s before?)

I've been working on a book about abolishing war, and most of those writing on the subject who think it can't be done, and those who think it can, and those who think war is already abolishing itself so there's really nothing to worry about, all tend to treat war as arising out of poor nations of dark skinned people.  So the debates over whether this factor or that factor makes war inevitable focus on things like resource scarcity or population density.  The evidence is overwhelming, by the way, that no such factor makes war inevitable.  Missing from the debate are the factors contributing most significantly to war-making right now: the power of the military industrial complex, the skill of propagandists, the open bribery and corruption of our politics, and the perversion and impoverishment of our educational and entertainment and civic engagement systems that lead so many people in the United States to support and so many others to tolerate a permanent state of war in search of enemies and profits despite decades-long demonstrations that the war machine makes us less safe, drains our economy, strips away our rights, degrades our environment, distributes our income ever upward, debases our morality, and bestows on the wealthiest nation on earth miserably low rankings in life-expectancy, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. 

None of these factors are insurmountable, but we won't surmount them if we imagine the path to peace is to impose our superior will on backward foreigners by means of cluster bombs and napalm meant to prevent atrocities.

According to the standards of a White House fact sheet posted on April 23, 2012, and addressing nations guilty of atrocities, if the standards were consistently applied, then actions taken by the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and other countries should compel the U.S. government to sanction itself, deny itself entry into itself, surge civilians from the State Department and USAID into itself, write reports about itself, block the flow of money to itself, prosecute itself for its crimes, seek to have itself prosecuted internationally, and unleash its military against itself as needed. The same standards seem to require action against Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and numerous other nations where the United States chooses to support atrocities rather than dropping new atrocities from the sky to prevent the existing ones.  In fact, it seems the United States has a moral responsibility to join in on both sides of the war in Syria, given the horrors each side has by now committed, and the responsibility the war machine believes it has to wage war against anyone waging war.

We are a nation of misconceptions.  A majority of people in the United States believes Iraq benefitted from the war that destroyed Iraq.  And a plurality believes the Iraqis are grateful.  Those who admit that the weapons of mass destruction were fictional claim the U.S. still needed to overthrow Saddam Hussein, even though Bush reportedly told the Prime Minister of Spain that Hussein had offered to leave if he could keep $1 billion.  He'd also offered to withdraw from Kuwait before the previous war.  And even further back in the mists of time, the U.S. government had supported and armed him. 

Not only did the U.S. government not need to overthrow Hussein, not only could it have refrained from supporting him in the first place, but overthrowing a government is a crime, war is a crime, and these wars are one-sided slaughters.  Iraq lost 1.4 million men, women, and children at best estimate.  U.S. deaths were 0.3% of the deaths, yet people in the U.S. think they suffered while Iraq benefitted.  As important as it is for Americans to hear about financial costs and costs to U.S. troops, which are certainly horrendous, we're going to have to do a better job of spreading the news about the costs to the wars' victims.  Those reluctant to invade Syria because the Syrians aren't worth it will be ready to support the next war if a case is made that it's in U.S. interests. 

What ended the war in Iraq, after eight years of efforts by Iraqis and five years or so by a significant U.S. peace movement, wasn't the Nobel laureate in the White House pushing Iraq to allow U.S. personnel to stay in Iraq with immunity from prosecution for the crimes they would commit.  What helped the Iraqi government to reject those demands was the evidence of past murder and torture made public by a heroic young man named Bradley Manning.

If you want Manning to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, go to ManningNobel.org.

You know, we could be far better off ourselves in this country and make ourselves the most beloved people in the world at the same time.  We could do it by practicing democracy rather than preaching it.  We could end starvation around the globe for a year, for a third of what we just spent for year #13 of the supposedly winding down war in Afghanistan still scheduled to go on for longer than most wars used to take from beginning to end.  We could give the world clean drinking water for a third of what it cost us to keep kids from starving.  Al Qaeda is gaining popularity in places like Yemen where it was barely heard of before by opposing U.S. drone strikes and by providing basic services to people.  The United States has the resources, if it could find the humility to distribute them respectfully, to make itself remarkably popular by coating the globe with schools and hospitals and solar panels.

I'm tired of hearing that such things would cost money.  We're building the world's largest building in Utah dedicated purely to violating the Fourth Amendment.  We're putting drone blimps in the skies above Washington.  If anybody has a War Resisters League pie chart on them, I can point out exactly where the money would come from, and the billions extra that we could set aside for the things we'll become capable of imagining only after war is gone.

Down in Charlottesville VA we passed a city resolution against drones as at least three other cities have done since, and we quickly formed a coalition that included people who don't want to be spied on and people who don't want to murder foreigners. I think some of the peace activists came to value the need to avoid getting spied on. And I think some of the libertarians, civil and otherwise, came to understand the need to stop the president from picking men, women, and children to murder at meetings every Tuesday.  We didn't tone anything down.  We welcomed everything in. 

That's what I think abolition movements should do.  That's where the passion is.  We don't need to civilize war into a process that will supposedly someday exclude every crime but murder.  We need to put an end to murder along with all of the other abuses it inevitably drags along in its wake.

A weapons profiteer on National Pentagon Radio was asked what he would do if the occupation of Afghanistan were to end, and he replied that he hoped there could be an occupation of Libya. He was clearly joking. But had he joked about molesting children or practicing racism his comments would not have aired. Joking about a new war has not yet been made offensive.  It is not yet understood as joking about mass murder. 

I don't think it need take 90 more years.  I think we're closer than ever.  But I think we're going to have to resist harder the closer we get.

Join the War Resisters League.

The next big conference not to miss.

A Nuclear Free World

We've managed to outgrow or to come within sight of outgrowing cannibalism, slavery, blood feuds, duels, capital punishment, child labor, tar and feathering, the stocks and pillory, wives as chattel, the punishment of homosexuality, and listening to Rush Limbaugh.  To various degrees, these practices -- and many others -- have been eliminated or reduced and stigmatized. 

While the stupidest practice ever created -- the mass killing known as war -- remains, we've seen most of the world ban poison gas, land mines, cluster bombs, biological weapons, depleted uranium, napalm, white phosphorous, and other disgusting weaponry.  But the worst weapon of all remains, and the treaty requiring its reduction and elimination is completely ignored.

We've begun learning to avoid long-lasting environmental damage.  We try not to poison our fruit trees or our grass or our rivers.  But when it comes to damage that lasts longer than humanity has existed, we go right on producing it.  And in so doing, we contribute to a slowly building crisis that could soon slip out of humanity's control and eventually remove humanity from existence.  Meanwhile, Pandora's Propaganda tells us that nuclear energy -- the same stuff that proliferates the weaponry -- will help the earth's climate rather than hurting it.

Uh huh.  And blood-letting and lobotomy will heal what ails you. 

Except that they won't.  And we've come to admit and accept that and to move on.  We don't fund lobotomies.  Why must we fund nuclear energy?  And don't say: because television can replace lobotomies but will never reproduce Fukushima.

August is Nuclear Free Future Month.  Take a look at what Fukushima is like two years after.  Here's a hint: its former residents have to visit it by Youtube too. 

Here's something you can do to help: Set up a screening of this new film: The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age.

The Ultimate Wish is the wish for a world without nukes.  This is a film that connects Fukushima to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Here we watch a survivor of Nagasaki meet a survivor of Auschwitz.  And it strikes us with crystalline clarity that they are both victims of incredible stupidity and cruelty.  We completely set aside the fact that the holocaust was created by bad German lies about a master race while the dropping of the bombs was created by good U.S. lies about ending World War II and starting the Cold War.  The politics fades, and we're left with the human species treating itself as even ants would never treat their fellow ants.

In The Ultimate Wish, produced by Robert Richter and Kathleen Sullivan, we see nuclear survivors in classrooms speaking with young people.  One teacher asks the students to close their eyes.  She drops a single ball bearing into a metal pan, the noise meant to represent all the bombs of World War II, all the bullets, all the grenades, even the two nuclear bombs.  Then, to represent the nuclear weapons now in existence, she dumps a whole noisy bag of ball bearings.

A large coalition has issued the following appeal:

Do you want to reach thousands on August 9 with our message on the need for the Obama administration to engage in multilateral negotiations now for a nuclear free future?

Then join our Thunderclap. Watch a brief video and learn about how a Thunderclap works.

Thousands will see the message below on all of our Facebook pages and Twitter accounts on August 9 at 11:02 a.m., the time the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki:

Aug 9 1945 US A-bombed Nagasaki. Pres #Obama: Speak out at Sept 26 UN Nuclear Disarmament Summit! #NoMoreNagasakis http://nuclearfreefuture.org

How do you join the Thunderclap? Click on this link http://thndr.it/13ioRhC and sign up.

And on August 9 the message will automatically be sent to all your friends and supporters.

Not a bad idea, huh?  Try to reach some of your non-friends and non-supporters too.

UPDATE: Link for the film: http://www.newday.com/films/The_Ultimate_Wish.html

Dirty Wars Comes to Baltimore on July 26

The amazing anti-war film Dirty Wars is coming to the Charles Theater in Baltimore this Friday.

I've been working, on behalf of the producers, with peace groups around the country to spread the word about this film, and the feedback has been incredibly encouraging.  I've led discussions at the conclusion of the film in DC and Norfolk and Charlottesville.

I'll be leading a Q&A following the 7:10 p.m. screening on Friday July 26 in Baltimore at the Charles Theater, 1711 North Charles Street, 410-727-FILM.

Dirty Wars may be one of the best educational outreach opportunities the peace movement has had in a long time.  The film is about secretive aspects of U.S. wars: imprisonment, torture, night raids, drone kills.

Dirty Wars won the Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2013 and the Grand Jury Prize at the Boston Independent Film Festival. Variety calls it "jaw-dropping ... [with] the power to pry open government lockboxes." The Sundance jury said it is "one of the most stunning looking documentaries [we've] ever seen."

Dirty Wars makes a powerful case that U.S. wars, aside from all of their known drawbacks, actually make the United States less safeDirty Wars also makes real the humanity of our wars' victims.  A great deal of activism has been generated by this film. 

Please bring people to see the movie who have not been actively engaged in trying to end warmaking.  The discussion afterwards will be open to questions and comments from any and all points of view.  

What Slavery Cost

As I head off to a rally for Trayvon Martin, I notice a column by Bob Koehler in which he says the unpaid work of slaves in the United States is now estimated at $1.4 trillion.  Oddly, that's not terribly far from the $1.2 trillion or so, possibly more now, that we spend each year preparing for and fighting wars.  If we abolished war we could perhaps afford to compensate descendants of those victimized by slavery.  If we abolished prisons, we'd have at least another $100 billion.  And, of course, we'd have all those savings again the next year and the next year and the next year.

Talk Nation Radio: Hunger Strikers and the Law vs. the Prison Industry

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-hunger

Diana Zuniga is statewide coordinator for CURB, Californians United for a Responsible Budget: CurbPrisonSpending.org  She discusses the hunger strike in California prisons and the ongoing struggle to resist further expansion of mass incarceration, and to move our society in a healthier direction.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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

Congress to Vote on Ending Endless War Today

Win Without War

After nearly 12 years, the House is on the verge of a historic vote that would put a nail in the coffin of George W. Bush's War on Terror. The legal foundation for what has become a global, endless war is the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Later today the House will vote on an amendment by Congressman Adam Schiff that would bar any funds from being spent on the 2001 AUMF after December 31, 2014, when the war in Afghanistan is scheduled to conclude.  This vote is the first time Congress will vote on repealing the 2001 AUMF and it is going to happen this afternoon! Your Member of Congress needs to hear from you! 

Take 30 seconds and call your Member of Congress now!

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Member of Congress. Then tell them:

"I'm calling today to ask you to support the Schiff amendment #73 to the Defense Appropriations Act. After more than 12 years of war, it is time to repeal the AUMF. Thank you."

More than a decade ago, Congress responded to the attacks of 9/11 by passing the 2001 AUMF. No one could have imagined what would be done over the next 12 years allegedly under that authority. From drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen to special forces operations in the Phillipines, the AUMF has been interpreted to allow for a global, endless war against not just Al Qaeda but countless other groups, many of whom have no intention of attacking America. Congressman Schiff's amendment would simply say that after the war in Afghanistan ends in 2014, the AUMF will come to an end. America would still have ample ability to defend ourselves and protect our interests, but there would no longer be a sweeping legal authority to go to war anywhere, at anytime, against nearly anyone in the world. 

Tell your Member of Congress you support ending the AUMF.  Call at (202) 224-3121 now!

Thank you for working for peace,

-Stephen, Tom, and the Win Without War Team

 

Copperhead

Copperhead was a name for Northern Democrats opposed to the Civil War.  Now it's also the name of a remarkable new film: CopperheadTheMovie.com.  This is not the first film about a family opposed to the Civil War.  Many will probably recall the 1965 film Shenandoah starring Jimmy Stewart.  But Copperhead is the one to see.

This is a war movie that neither sanitizes war nor pornographies it.  This is a war movie set far away from the war, in upstate New York to be precise -- just as all of our wars today are far away from all 50 states.  It's an unpredictable movie, an engaging movie, a personal drama that makes the Civil War and the politics surrounding it more comprehensible than a gazillion tours of battlefields or hours of PBS specials.

We come, through this film, to understand the viewpoint of a man, and others like him, who opposed slavery but believed the cure of war to be worse than the disease.  Here was a man of principle and courage who saw better than others what war would mean, and who opposed it.  Here was someone opposing President Lincoln's assault on the Bill of Rights as he was engaged in it, not just centuries later as Lincoln's example is used to justify similar abuses.

Copperhead does a remarkable job of bringing us to understand the mindset of the copperheads, these opponents of mass-killing who found themselves accused of "aiding the enemy."  And yet I wish this film went one step further.  I wish it addressed directly the inevitable audience response that -- reasonable as the copperheads may have seemed at the time -- the war proponents were eventually proved right by the ending of slavery.

But the copperheads never claimed the war couldn't end slavery, only that slavery should be ended without war, as it had been in other countries and would go on to be in still more.  Today we have more African Americans in prisons, jails, and under the supervision of the U.S. justice system than were enslaved in the United States in 1850.  If we were to wake up tomorrow and discover that everybody was suddenly appropriately outraged by this horror, would a helpful proposal be for us to gather in some large fields and kill each other off by the hundreds of thousands?  Of course not!  What would that have to do with prison reform or with prison abolition?  And what did it have to do with slavery abolition?

Anti-slavery activists in the U.K. had already been somewhat disappointed when Parliament had chosen to compensate slave owners for the liberation of their slaves.  The slaves themselves were, of course, not compensated.  They had little but hard times ahead.  But the compensation of slave owners offered a model that might have served the United States better than bloody civil war.

During the American revolutionary war, the British had recruited slaves to fight on their side by promising them freedom.  After the war, slave owners, including George Washington, demanded their slaves back.  A British commander, General Sir Guy Carleton, refused.  Thousands of freed slaves were transported from New York to Nova Scotia to avoid their re-enslavement.  But Carleton did promise to compensate the slaves' owners, and Washington settled for that.  So, it was good enough for George Washington!

The original British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson, greatly influenced Americans like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. But few picked up on the idea of compensated emancipation, which had not originated with the abolitionists.  Elihu Burritt was an exception.  From 1856 to 1860 he promoted a plan to prevent a U.S. civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, following the example that the English had set in the West Indies.  Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking.  He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland.  He lined up prominent supporters.  He edited newsletters.  He behaved, in other words, like Clarkson and many an activist since.

And Burritt was right.  Britain had freed its slaves without a civil war or a slave rebellion on the scale that was possible.  Russia had freed its serfs without a war.  Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that.  And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.

Veterans For Peace to Hold 28th National Convention

Veterans For Peace, a leading antiwar organization with chapters in every U.S. state and several other countries, will hold its 28th national convention in Madison, Wisconsin, August 7-11, 2013, at the Concourse Hotel at 1 Dayton Street.

The convention, open to veterans and non-veterans, will feature speakers, entertainers, and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to the advancement of peace and the abolition of war.

Free public events include:

Lanterns for Peace,
commemorating Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Aug. 6, 7-9:30 p.m. Tenney Park Shelter
Poetry Night, Aug. 7, 8-10:30 p.m. Room of One's Own Bookstore, 315 W Gorham Street
Activist Night with national and local speakers, open mic, music, Aug. 8, 7-10 p.m., Concourse Hotel Ballroom
Rally and Peace Parade, families invited, bring peace banners, Aug. 10, 4 p.m., State Street and Capitol Square
Tribute to Lincoln Grahlfs, Aug. 11, 9-11 a.m., Capitol Lakes Retirement Center, 333 West Main Street
Iraq Veterans Against the War Art Exhibit, Aug 7-11, Rainbow Bookstore, 426 W. Gilman Street

Speakers at the convention (and available for interviews) include:

Nick Turse,
journalist, historian, and author.
Diane Wilson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, fisherwoman, hungerstriker for Gitmo.
James Yee, former U.S. Army chaplain, falsely accused of "aiding the enemy."
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders.
Paul Chappell, Iraq War veteran, author, peace leadership director at Nuclear Age Peace Fdtn.
Ben Griffin, UK war resister.
S. Brian Willson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, hungerstriker for Gitmo.
John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders.
Paul Soglin, mayor of Madison.
Mike Wiggins Jr., tribal chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
Carlos Arredondo, Costa Rican-American peace activist and American Red Cross volunteer.
David Newby, founder of U.S. Labor Against the War and former President of WI AFL-CIO.
Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine.
Scott Olsen, Iraq War veteran, shot in the head at Occupy Oakland.

Entertainers at the convention:

Lem Genovese, Ryan Harvey, Solidarity singalong, Forward Marching Band, Madison Raging Grannies, Watermelon Slim, Honor Among Thieves, Jim Walktendonk.

Workshops:

Some of the topics will be: Veterans farming, Creating a culture of peace, Educating the community, Agent Orange, Nonviolent bioregional revolutionary strategies, Debt and death: making clear the costs of war, Labor's role, Environmental disaster, the United Nations, Helping homeless veterans, Palestine, Veteran suicide, Military sexual trauma and suicides, Voices of Iraq: resolution, reconciliation, reparation, The written word for peace and reconciliation, Bradley Manning and G.I. resisters, The perversion of just war reasoning, U.S. policy in the Middle East, The long war for central Asia, Building peace in Vietnam, and Abolishing war as an instrument of national policy.

The full program is available at http://VFPNationalConvention.org

Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

##

TPP: The Terrible Plutocratic Plan

By David Swanson

Remarks July 21, 2013 at an Occupy Harrisonburg (Va.) Event. 
Make your voice heard here.

Thanks to Michael Feikema and Doug Hendren for inviting me.  Like most of you I do not spend my life studying trade agreements, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is disturbing enough to make me devote a little time to it, and I hope you will do the same and get your neighbors to do the same and get them to get their friends to do the same -- as soon as possible.

I spend most of my time reading and writing about war and peace.  I'm in the middle of writing a book about the possibility and need to abolish war and militarism.  I hate to take a break from that.  But if we think trade and militarism are separate topics we're fooling ourselves.

Manning Wins Peace Prize

U.S. whistleblower and international hero Bradley Manning has just been awarded the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award by the International Peace Bureau, itself a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for which Manning is a nominee this year.

A petition supporting Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize has gathered 88,000 signatures, many of them with comments, and is aiming for 100,000 before delivering it to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.  Anyone can sign and add their comments at ManningNobel.org

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) represents 320 organizations in 70 countries.  It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910.  Over the years, 13 of IPB's officers have been Nobel Peace laureates. See ipb.org

The Sean MacBride prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau, founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) - 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights.

The medal is made of "peace bronze," a material created out of disarmed and recycled nuclear weapons systems, by fromwartopeace.com  The prize will be formally awarded on Sept. 14 in Stockholm, at a special evening on whistleblowing, which forms part of the triennial gathering of the International Peace Bureau. See brochure at: PDF.

IPB's Co-President Tomas Magnusson said, “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the U.S. military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies - especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the U.S. claims to uphold."

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire recently wrote: "I have chosen to nominate U.S. Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere."

Maguire explains how far-reaching Manning's impact has been: "While there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred. In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning's whistleblowing -- the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments' control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.

". . . If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how U.S. forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq . . . Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict."


Won't you add your name to the petition now?

Mairead Maguire adds: "Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and 'aiding the enemy'. This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy -- rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries."

Talk Nation Radio: John Whitehead on Our Government of Wolves

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john

John Whitehead discusses a recent attack by Alcohol Beverage Control agents on college students purchasing water and the larger trends toward a police state in the United States.  Learn more at http://Rutherford.org Whitehead's latest book is A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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

Madison Wisconsin Forum August 7 With Buzz Davis, David Swanson, Coleen Rowley, Debra Sweet, Don McKeating

Free Town Hall Meeting August 7, 2013 Madison, WI 5:30-9PM

Location: Ingraham Hall, Rm. B10, 1155 Observatory Dr., top of Bascom Hill, W-Mad. Campus

 

Illegal Wars, Torture & Spying:

Millions Demanded Bush's Impeachment

Should Obama be Impeached for Continuing Bush's Crimes?

SIGN UP HERE TO ATTEND.

 Speaker Buzz Davis, "America Needs a Revolution: Shall It be Bloody or Peaceful?  Impeachment Process, Review of U.S. House Resolution to Impeach Bush & Why Not Obama?"  Davis,from Stoughton, WI, is a member of Veterans for Peace & led the WI Impeachment/Bring Our Troops Home Coalition.  He's aformer VISTA Volunteer ('65-66), 1st Lt.US Army (trained in infantry & signal corps '67-70 (S. Korea '69-70) &has a masters in urban affairs UW-Milw.('72) & a masters in public administration Syracuse Univ. ('73).  He's a retired planner with the state of WI, former elected official (city council & county board), union organizer & official, Democratic Party leader and is a senior activist & member of various boards.  608-239-5354 (cell), dbuzzdavis@aol.com

http://www.davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/images/davidsmiling.preview.jpg Speaker David Swanson, "The Imperial Presidency That Won't Go Away: Bush's Wars, Torture & Spying Become Obama's Accepted Policies."  Swanson's books include: War Is A Lie (2010), When the World Outlawed War (2011), and The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012).  He is the host of  Talk Nation Radio, has been a journalist, activist, organizer, educator, and agitator & helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011.  He holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of VA, has worked as a newspaper reporter & as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association & for three years as communications coordinator for ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.) He blogs at http://davidswanson.org & http://warisacrime.org & works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org  Swanson also works on the communications committee of Veterans For Peace, of which he is an associate (non-veteran) member & is Sec. of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

 Speaker:  Coleen Rowley, "Decreasing Personal Privacy and Civil Rights Coupled with Increasing Governmental Secrecy and Control is Unethical, Illegal and Counter-productive" Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division legal counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, leading to her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as a two year long Department of Justice Inspector General investigation.  She was named one of Time Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002 which honored “whistleblowers.”

 

 Speaker:  Debra Sweet.  Sweet is the Director of World Can’t Wait which began in 2005 to “drive out the Bush regime.” Based in New York City, she leads the organization’s work during the Obama administration’s repression of whistle-blowers and underlying war crimes, including the expansion of the unjust occupation of Afghanistan, the spreading secret drone wars, use of indefinite detention in Guantanamo and elsewhere, and vast surveillance on whole populations.

Speaker Don McKeating, "Economic, Social & Political Consequences of Our Double Standards."  McKeating was in an Army artillery unit in Vietnam '68-69, a police officer in IL for 27 years, a police union organizer & representative, a founding member of the Madison Area Peace Coalition, drafted the Madison city council resolution to defend the Bill of Rights & civil liberties after passage of the Patriot Act, organized & was the first president of VFP Ch. 25 Madison, WI, is president of VFP Ch. 119 St. Petersburg, FL & was a contributing author to the book Long Shadows:Veterans' Paths to Peaceaward winner in France.

High-resolution photo of Joseph (Joe) W. ElderModerator, Prof. Joe Elder.  Elder is a University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor in the Departments of Sociology, Languages and Cultures of Asia, and Integrated Liberal Studies. In addition to producing a lifetime of scholarly books, articles, and documentary films, Elder has helped organize campus "teach-ins" against US military activities in Vietnam and southwest Asia. In  2009 the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice awarded Elder its "Lifetime Peacemaker Award" for his reconciliation activities in My Lai (site of the 1968 massacre in Vietnam) and for serving as a Quaker message-carrier between opposing sides in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, the USA, Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Fourth U.S. City Says No to Drones

Following Charlottesville VA in February, St. Bonifacius MN in April, and Evanston IL on May 28th, Northampton MA on July 11th passed a resolution against drones.

WGGB reports:

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) – The city council in Northampton has voted to accept a resolution on drone aircrafts Thursday night.

The resolution calls for the end of unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and violent purposes, as well as putting the airspace above the homes of residents under local control.

That would not only prevent the government or large companies from using that airspace, but it would also allow people to fly their own drones in that space.

“If farmers do not maintain ownership of their airspace above their property, they cannot use aircrafts to monitor their crops. And we’re talking about small low cost aircrafts and historically what has been done, or used, are larger aircrafts that are manned and that’s very costly,” says resident Aaron Cantrell who supported the council’s vote.

The resolution is the first of its kind in New England.

Dirty Wars Comes to Charlottesville VA on July 19

The amazing anti-war film Dirty Wars is coming to Vinegar Hill Theater in Charlottesville, Va.

I've been working, on behalf of the producers, with peace groups around the country to spread the word about this film, and the feedback has been incredibly encouraging.  I've led discussions at the conclusion of the film in DC and Norfolk and will do so in Charlottesville following the 7:30 p.m. screening on Friday July 19.

Get your tickets from Vinegar Hill or another ticket seller, but sign up here so I know you're coming and so you can invite your friends and ask them to invite their friends and so on.

Dirty Wars may be one of the best educational outreach opportunities the peace movement has had in a long time.  The film is about secretive aspects of U.S. wars: imprisonment, torture, night raids, drone kills.

Dirty Wars won the Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2013 and the Grand Jury Prize at the Boston Independent Film Festival. Variety calls it "jaw-dropping ... [with] the power to pry open government lockboxes." The Sundance jury said it is "one of the most stunning looking documentaries [we've] ever seen."

Dirty Wars makes a powerful case that U.S. wars, aside from all of their known drawbacks, actually make the United States less safeDirty Wars also makes real the humanity of our wars' victims.  A great deal of activism has been generated by this film.  To learn about and take action on one outrage the film depicts, go here

More importantly, bring people to see the movie who have not been actively engaged in trying to end warmaking.  The discussion afterwards will be open to questions and comments from any and all points of view.  You can post questions or comments ahead of time here.

--David Swanson

SPONSORS:
WarIsACrime.org
Amnesty International - Charlottesville
<--break- />
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice

Talk Nation Radio: Gar Alperovitz Points to Worker Ownership as Fix for Broken Democracy

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-gar

Gar Alperovitz discusses his new book, What Then Must We Do: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution.  Alperovitz points to long-term trends in wealth and income inequality, environmental destruction, civil liberties loss, incarceration rates, and others, to argue that ordinary political change is not enough, that systemic changes in the distribution of power are badly needed.  See http://www.garalperovitz.com

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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

Wartime U.S. Travelogue

In Washington Dulles airport I noticed a large advertisement.  I'd seen it before and not paid attention.  (No doubt that's why they saturate public space with the things.)  It showed a woman's face with the words: "A car crash in California almost took her leg.  A bomb blast in Iraq helped save it."  It directed one to a website: orthoinfo.org/dominique

I'm against car crashes in California.  I'm in favor of saving Dominique's leg.  But at the website what we find is a claim that her leg was saved because her orthopaedic surgeon had experience in Iraq.  And I don't mean in the Iraqi hospitals that existed before we destroyed that country.  I mean he had experience in the destruction process. 

"Thank you, Dr. Paul Girard. How lucky was I to have an orthopaedic surgeon with wartime experience and special insights on how to treat an injury like mine?"  Thus writes Dominique, whose partner James comments on the doctor: "His experience as a wartime orthopaedic surgeon in Iraq gave him a special familiarity with traumatic limb injuries."  How would James know this?  Presumably the doctor, whose own comments don't mention the war, told him.  Or someone ghost wrote the website.

The orthoinfo.org website was created by three societies of orthopaedic surgeons that clearly know which side of the mutilated troop their bread is buttered on.  (Orthopaedic comes through French from the Greek for boneheaded.)

Surely a few people walk through U.S. airports while simultaneously living in reality, the reality in which the United States destroyed the nation of Iraq, slaughtered 1.4 million people, created 4.5 million refugees, destroyed the health and education and energy infrastructures, created epidemics of disease and birth defects, traumatized millions of children, and left behind a ruined violent anarchic state cursed with deep divisions previously unknown.

Surely some of those reality-based people are aware that a majority of Americans believes the war benefitted Iraq, and a plurality believes Iraqis are grateful.  To read, on top of that perversity, the claim that a bomb blast in Iraq saved Dominique's leg is sickening.  A doctor saved her leg.  He found a silver lining in a genocide.  The bomb blasts didn't fucking save people.  The bomb blasts killed people.  And very few of the killers or their funders or their voters seem to care.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the state capitol is surrounded by war memorials.  No evidence of opposition to war is apparent to the casual visitor.  Militarism, as anywhere else in the United States, is everywhere visible.  The sports arena flashes a giant electronic ad for the National Guard.  But the ad flashes on Kellogg Boulevard.  Almost no one knows what Kellogg Boulevard was named for.  But local son Frank Kellogg won the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the major nations of the world to ban war, and did so prior to all the wars honored on the grounds of the state capitol.  This of course proves that Kellogg's war opposition should be forgotten since the wars so stupidly and barbarically fought in violation of the law since his day have brought us such a wealth of benefits.  For example . . . medical miracle jackasses capable of surgery but not moral reflection. 

Local activists plan to revive memory of Kellogg's Peace Pact this August.  Stay tuned. 

Wisconsin: I remember when it was alive with protest, as North Carolina is now, when the activists joined with the Democrats and therefore labor.  I remember the pizzas ordered for Wisconsin from Cairo and vice versa.  Egypt's fate is far from clear.  But this we know.  Egypt has set an example of independent, partisan-free, uncompromising populism that shows no signs of fading away.  Egypt threw out a corrupt leader and then threw out his corrupt replacement.  We let a corrupt leader rule the United States for 8 years and then bowed down before his corrupt successor.

This country is far far too big, and the population of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area far too uncomprehending for us to walk like an Egyptian.  Clearly the people of any state you care to visit could run a respectable country if it weren't for the other 49. 

I know you don't want to hear the word secession.  But what about the word shame?  Would that be too much to ask for?

Dirty Wars Comes to Norfolk July 10

On Wednesday, July 10, at 7:15 p.m. the great Naro Cinema in Norfolk Va will be screening the great film Dirty Wars, and I'll be leading a discussion at the conclusion of the screening of the issues covered by the film and actions that can be taken.  (The film itself is about 90 minutes.)

http://narocinema.com

http://dirtywars.org

http://davidswanson.org

--David Swanson

Talk Nation Radio: Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Says Syrians Oppose Intervention

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-nobel-peace

Mairead Maguire, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize, speaks about here recent trip to Lebanon and Syria, where she met with refugees, combatants, members of the opposition, and members of the government.  She found that supporters and opponents of the government, including those working for political changes, overwhelming oppose foreign interference and violence.  Maguire is a founder of Peace People and of the Nobel Women's Initiative.  Maguire has nominated Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize and credits his work with helping to discourage the West from intervening in Syria.

Add your name to the petition to get Manning the Peace Prize at ManningNobel.org

Also read "Ten Problems With the Latest Excuse for War" by David Swanson.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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

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