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Locals Protest, Sabotage U.S. Navy Base Construction in Desert in Sicily

270975_539703539401621_956848714_nThere's a popular movement in Sicily called No MUOS. MUOS means Mobile User Objective System. It's a satellite communications system created by the U.S. Navy. The primary contractor and profiteer building the satellite equipment at the U.S. Navy base in the desert in Sicily is Lockheed Martin Space Systems. This is one of four ground stations, each intended to include three swivelling very-high-frequency satellite dishes with a diameter of 18.4 meters and two Ultra High Frequency (UHF) helical antennas.

Protests have been growing in the nearby town of Niscemi since 2012. In October 2012, construction was suspended for a few weeks. In early 2013 the President of the Region of Sicily revoked the authorization for the MUOS construction. The Italian government conducted a dubious study of health impacts and concluded the project was safe. Work recommenced. The town of Niscemi appealed, and in April 2014 the Regional Administrative Tribunal requested a new study. Construction goes on, as does resistance.

no-muos_danila-damico-9I spoke with Fabio D'Alessandro, a giornalist and law school graduate living in Niscemi. "I'm part of the No MUOS movement," he told me, "a movement that works to prevent the installation of the U.S. satellite system called MUOS. To be specific, I'm part of the No MUOS committee of Niscemi, which is part of the coalition of No MUOS committees, a network of committees spread around Sicily and in the major Italian cities."

"It is very sad," said D'Alessandro,"to realize that in the United States people know little about MUOS. MUOS is a system for high-frequency and narrowband satellite communications, composed of five satellites and four stations on earth, one of which is planned for Niscemi. MUOS was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. The purpose of the program is the creation of a global communications network that allows communication in real time with any soldier in any part of the world. In addition it will be possible to send encrypted messages. One of the principal functions of MUOS, apart from the speed of communications, is the ability to remotely pilot drones. Recent tests have demonstrated how MUOS can be used at the North Pole. In short, MUOS will serve to support any U.S. conflict in the Mediterranean or the Middle East or Asia. It's all part of the effort to automate war, entrusting the choice of targets to machines."

arton2002"There are many reasons to oppose MUOS," D'Alessandro told me, "first of all the local community has not been advised of the installation. The MUOS satellite dishes and antennas are built within a non-NATO U.S. military base that has existed in Niscemi since 1991. The base was constructed within a nature preserve, destroying thousands of cork oaks and devestating the landscape by means of bulldozers that leveled a hill. The base is larger than the town of Niscemi itself. The presence of the satellite dishes and antennas puts at serious risk a fragile habitat including flora and fauna that exist only in this place. And no study has been conducted of the dangers of the electromagnetic waves emitted, neither for the animal population nor for the human inhabitants and the civilian flights from the Comiso Airport approximately 20 kilometers away.

"Within the base there are already present 46 satellite dishes, surpassing the limit set by Italian law. Moreover, as determined anti-militarists, we oppose further militarizing this area, which already has the base at Sigonella and other U.S. bases in Sicily. We don't want to be complicit in the next wars. And we don't want to become a target for whoever attempts to attack the U.S. military."

What have you done thus far, I asked.

31485102017330209529241454212518n"We've engaged in lots of different actions against the base: more than once we've cut through the fences; three times we've invaded the base en masse; twice we've entered the base with thousands demonstrating. We've blocked the roads to prevent access for the workers and the American military personnel. There has been sabotage of the optical communication wires, and many other actions."

The No Dal Molin movement against the new base at Vicenza, Italy, has not stopped that base. Have you learned anything from their efforts? Are you in touch with them?

"We are in constant contact with No Dal Molin, and we know their history well. The company that is building MUOS, Gemmo SPA, is the same that did the work on Dal Molin and is currently under investigation subsequent to the seizure of the MUOS building site by the courts in Caltagirone. Anyone attempting to bring into doubt the legitimacy of U.S. military bases in Italy is obliged to work with political groups on the right and left that have always been pro-NATO. And in this case the first supporters of MUOS were the politicians just as happened at Dal Molin. We often meet with delegations of activists from Vicenza and three times have been their guests."

1411326635_fullI went with representatives of No Dal Molin to meet with Congress Members and Senators and their staffs in Washington, and they simply asked us where the base should go if not Vicenza. We replied "Nowhere." Have you met with anyone in the U.S. government or communicated with them in any way?

"Many times the U.S. consuls have come to Niscemi but we have never been permitted to speak with them. We have never in any way communicated with U.S. senators/representatives, and none have ever asked to meet with us."

Where are the other three MOUS sites? Are you in touch with resisters there? Or with the resistance to bases on Jeju Island or Okinawa or the Philippines or elsewhere around the world? The Chagossians seeking to return might make good allies, right? What about the groups studying the military damage to Sardinia? Environmental groups are concerned about Jeju and about Pagan Island Are they helpful in Sicily?

10543873_10203509508010001_785299914_n"We are in direct contact with the No Radar group in Sardinia. One of the planners of that struggle has worked (for free) for us. We know the other anti-U.S.-base movements around the world, and thanks to No Dal Molin and to David Vine, we have been able to hold some virtual meetings. Also thanks to the support of Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space we are trying to get in touch with those in Hawaii and Okinawa."

What would you most like people in the United States to know?

"The imperialism that the United States is imposing on the countries that lost the Second World War is shameful. We are tired of having to be slaves to a foreign politics that to us is crazy and that obliges us to make enormous sacrifices and that makes Sicily and Italy no longer lands of welcome and peace, but lands of war, deserts in use by the U.S. Navy."


558e285b-0c12-4656-c906-a66e2f8aee861Fabio D'Alessandro in his own words:

Io mi chiamo Fabio D'Alessandro, sono un giornalista prossimo alla laurea in Legge. Vivo ormai in modo stabile a Niscemi.  Durante gli anni universitari ho fatto parte di collettivi politici ed ho occupato un teatro da destinare a centro sociale. Faccio parte del Movimento No Muos, un movimento che lotta per bloccare l'installazione e la messa in funzione dell'impianto satellitare Usa chiamato Muos. In particolare faccio parte del Comitato No Muos di Niscemi, che fa parte del Coordinamento dei Comitati No Muos, una fitta rete di comitati territoriali sparsi in tutta la Sicilia e nelle maggiori città italiane.

È molto triste sapere che negli Usa si sappia poco di Muos. Il Muos, (Mobile User Objective System) è un sistema di comunicazioni satellitari  ad alta frequenza (UHF) e a banda stretta  composto da cinque satelliti e quattro stazioni di terra, una delle quali è stata prevista a Niscemi, in Sicilia. Il programma MUOS è gestito dal Dipartimento della Difesa USA. Scopo del programma è la creazione di una rete globale di comunicazione che permetterà di comunicare in tempo reale con qualunque soldato o mezzo  in qualunque parte del mondo. Inoltre sarà possibile inviare informazioni criptate. Una delle caratteristiche fondamentali del Muos, oltre alla velocità di comunicazione, sarà la capacità di teleguidare i droni, aerei senza piloti. Recenti test hanno dimostrato come il Muos sia utilizzabile al Polo Nord (north pole), zona strategica. Insomma, il Muos servirà da supporto a qualunque conflitto Usa nel mediterraneo e nel medio e lontano oriente. Il tutto nel tentativo di automatizzare la guerra, affidando la scelta dei bersagli alle macchine. Un'arma strategica e fondamentale per i prossimi conflitti e per tenere sotto controllo un'area ormai destabilizzata.

Ci sono molti motivi per opporsi: anzitutto la comunità locale non è stata avvisata dell'installazione. Le antenne Muos sorgono all'interno di una base militare USA (non Nato) presente a Niscemi dal 1991. La base è stata costruita all'interno di una riserva naturale (regional park) distruggendo sughere (oak) millenarie e devastando il paesaggio a causa delle ruspe che hanno sbancato una collina. La base è più grande della stessa città di Niscemi, la città più vicina all'installazione. La presenza delle antenne mette a serio rischio un habitat delicato, fatto da flora e fauna presenti solo in questo territorio. Inoltre nessuno studio è stato mai fatto circa la pericolosità delle onde elettromagnetiche emesse, né per quanto riguarda la popolazione animale nè per quanto riguarda gli abitanti e i voli civili dell'aeroporto di Comiso, distante circa 20 km dalle antenne. All'interno della base sono già presenti 46 antenne che superano i limiti previsti dalla legge italiana. Inoltre, da convinti antimilitaristi, riteniamo che non si possa militarizzare ulteriormente il territorio, avendo già la base di Sigonella e altre installazioni militari USA in Sicilia. Non vogliamo essere complici delle prossime guerre, non vogliamo diventare obiettivo sensibile per chiunque intenda colpire gli Usa.

Contro la base sono state fatte diverse azioni: abbiamo più volte tagliato le reti di recinzione, abbiamo 3 volte invaso la base in massa, in particolare per ben due volte siamo entrati dentro in migliaia di manifestanti. Abbiamo effettuato dei blocchi stradali per vietare l'ingresso agli operai e ai militari americani. Inoltre sono stati fatti dei sabotaggi riguardanti le fibre ottiche di comunicazione e molte altre azioni.

Siamo in costante contatto con i No Dal Molin, e conosciamo bene la loro storia. La "company" che sta realizzando il Muos, la Gemmo SPA, è la stessa azienda che ha realizzato i lavori del Dal Molin e attualmente è indagata a seguito del sequestro del cantiere Muos da parte dei giudici di Caltagirone. Chiunque provi a mettere in dubbio la legittimità delle basi militari americane in Italia è costretto a fare i conti con la politica, di destra e di sinistra, da sempre filo-Nato. Anche in questo caso i primi sponsor del Muos sono stati i politici, così come accadde con il Dal Molin. Spesso incontriamo delegazioni di attivisti di Vicenza e per 3 volte sono stato ospite dei No Dal Molin.

Molte volte i consoli Usa sono venuti a Niscemi ma non ci hanno mai permesso di parlare con loro. In nessun modo abbiamo contatti con senatori Usa, nessuno ci ha mai chiesto un incontro.

Abbiamo contatti diretti con i No Radar della Sardegna, uno degli ingegneri della lotta No Radar ha lavorato (gratis) per noi. Conosciamo le altre questioni contro le basi Usa nel mondo e, grazie ai No Dal Molin e David Vine, siamo riusciti a realizzare alcuni meeting virtuali. Inoltre, grazie all'appoggio di Bruce Gagnon del Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space stiamo cercando di ottenere contatti con gli abitanti delle Hawaii e di Okinawa.

L'imperialismo che gli Usa obbliga ai paesi che hanno perso la seconda guerra mondiale è vergognoso. Siamo stanchi di dover essere schiavi di una politica estera per noi folle, che ci obbliga ad enormi sacrifici e che rende la Sicilia e l'italia non più terre di accoglienza e di pace ma terre di guerra, deserti in uso alla marina statunitense.

The Video That Could Indict the Pentagon for Murder

As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting points out, until a video surfaced of South Carolina policeman Michael Slager murdering Walter Scott, the media was reporting a package of lies manufactured by the police: a fight that never occurred, witnesses who didn't exist, the victim taking the policeman's taser, etc. The lies collapsed because the video appeared.

I find myself asking why videos of missiles blowing children into little bits and pieces can't dissolve the stories churned out by the Pentagon. With several qualifications, I think part of the answer is that there are not enough videos. The struggle for the right to videotape the police at home in the United States should be accompanied by a campaign to provide video cameras to populations targeted for wars. Of course the struggle to videotape people dying under a bombing campaign is at least as great a challenge as videotaping a murderous policeman, but enough cameras would produce some footage.

There are other parts to the answer as well, of course. One is complexity, exacerbated by intentional obfuscation. To explain the current war in Yemen, the Washington Post finds someone to quote saying, "nobody can figure out either who started this fight or how to end it."

Really? Nobody? The second U.S.-armed dictator in the past few years is overthrown by militants empowered by opposition to U.S.-armed dictatorship. This after a Yemeni man told the U.S. Congress to their faces that the U.S. drone strikes were empowering terrorists. A larger neighboring U.S.-armed dictatorship in Saudi Arabia starts bombing and threatening to take over, as in nearby U.S.-armed dictatorship Bahrain. Saudi U.S. weapons are destroying piles of Yemeni U.S. weapons, and nobody can figure anything out?

Here are some U.S. children hiding from Soviet nukes many years ago, and a Yemeni child hiding from U.S. drone strikes more recently (source). How does that alone not indict anyone?

Here are photos and stories of innocent children murdered with U.S. drones in Yemen. How does that not indict anyone?

Beyond complexity and obfuscation and the justification of pretended rationales and euphemized explanations like "collateral damage," lies the problem of getting Americans to give a damn about people far away. But the U.S. government is horrified by the idea of releasing more photos and videos of torture in Abu Ghraib. It seems that direct, personal violence, even short of murder, is seen as more offensive than mass-murder by aerial assault.

I think these weaknesses in how visual documentation of killing in war is perceived can be overcome, and that in fact a greater volume of videos and photos obtained more rapidly could have a qualitative impact. Most Americans imagine a video like collateral murder to be an exception. Most have no idea at all that U.S. wars are one-sided slaughters killing primarily civilians and overwhelmingly the people who live where the wars are fought. One video of a family being dismembered by a bomb could be dismissed as accidental. Tens of thousands of such videos could not be.

Of course, logically, war victim selfie videos ought not to be needed. It's no secret that the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and Libya have fueled greater violence and failed utterly to drop little baskets of liberty and democracy on the people being burned to death. It ought to be no secret that 80 to 90 percent of the weapons in the supposedly inherently violent region of the Middle East are U.S.-made. The White House does not deny that it has significantly increased weapons sales to that region among others. With no plan for success and open confession that "there is no military solution" it rushes more weapons into war after war with no end in sight.

But words don't seem to do the job. Explaining that police were getting away with murder wasn't producing any indictments. A video finally indicted a cop. Now we need the video that can indict the world's policeman.

Talk Nation Radio: NYU Students on Hiring a War Criminal to Teach Humanitarian Law

Amanda Bass and Aman Singh are law students at NYU and organizers of a letter condemning the hiring of Harold Koh. Read and sign the letter here:

Amanda Bass is a third year student at NYU School of Law where her work has focused on human rights and racial justice. Amanda has interned with the Worker Justice Center of New York, where she assisted workers with wage and hour claims, and with the Southern Center for Human Rights, where she worked on the post-conviction appeal of an individual sentenced to death-in-prison by Alabama courts. Upon graduation from law school, Amanda plans to return to Alabama to work with the Equal Justice Initiative on behalf of prisoners.

Aman Singh is a second year student at NYU School of Law.

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Lower Drinking Age, Raise Killing Age

The United States sends people to kill and die in war that it doesn't trust with a beer.

It trains police in war skills to assault young people it suspects of going near beer.

Here's an idea: Drink At 18, Don't Kill Till 21.

Alcohol prohibition is not working, and creates unsafe drinking by people old enough to vote, drive, and work. A case can be made, and is being made, for returning the drinking age to 18.

But allowing 18-year-olds to join the military has created illegal and immoral recruitment of minors, not to mention deep moral regret, post-traumatic stress, and suicide in young veterans.

Raising the age for war participation (for joining either the military or one of its contractors) to 21 would do more for education and informed career choices -- not to mention reducing drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide -- than banning alcohol does.

Make-Daiquiris-Not-War is a policy based on actual dangers. The problem with alcohol is not responsible drinking of it. Alcohol is not a satanic liquid to be counterproductively made into a forbidden fruit. The problems with alcohol are: drinking and driving, which should be addressed by avoiding the driving, not through an unenforceable ban on drinking; drinking to dangerous excess, which should be addressed through open discussion, not the secretive plotting of contemporary speakeasies; and addiction, which is driven not so much by the chemicals involved as by the life of the person who becomes addicted.

And what could we most easily do to assist young people in leading more fulfilling, less horrific, lives? We could put off the decision to join in a program of mass murder until age 21, thereby giving a young person a chance to consider all the options.

In many nations there is no drinking age. In others the drinking age is after you're dead (alcohol is prohibited). Among those with a drinking age between zero and forever, far and away the most common is 18.  Exceptions are Egypt, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Indonesia, the United States, and various Pacific island colonies of the United States, all of which make the legal age to drink 21.

But how's that working out for them? In Egypt if you happen to witness the police murder someone, you'll face prison or worse, while the U.S. President chats with the Egyptian President promising him more weapons and money, but if you want to drink underage, apparently nobody really minds. The inevitable result of making it legal to sell alcohol to some but not all adults (taking adults to be 18 and up) seems to be either stiffer and stiffer penalties or routine violation. This of course creates both a disrespect for laws and drinking in secret without appropriate discussion of dangers and measures to prevent recklessness.

In Argentina enlistment in the military is allowed at 21, or at 18 with parental consent. In Bahrain and Kazakhstan military enlistment starts at 15. Who's right? Who's respecting the enlistees? Well, according to some brain scientists at MIT -- not that they should know anything:

"As a number of researchers have put it, 'the rental car companies have it right.' The brain isn't fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car."

Scientists at Dartmouth agree. (But they would, wouldn't they?) Not to mention neuroscientists who write books and go on NPR.

So upping the killing age to 21 would be moving in the direction of the wisdom of the scientists and the rental car companies. Why lower the drinking age at the same time? Because alcohol needs to be treated principally not as a means of drunken escape, but as an enjoyable beverage with dinner. Nations with no drinking age at all tend to have less alcoholism than do puritanical nations. The point is not that 18 year olds are qualified to head off to parties at which they'll drink gallons of hard liquor (as some currently do, law or no law) but that alcohol, like other enjoyable and risky parts of life -- from dangerous sports to sex to other drugs to those televisions in airports blasting Fox News -- should be dealt with openly and calmly by parents and teachers and friends, with the actual dangers made crystal clear and imaginary dangers debunked.

The fact is that prohibiting alcohol leads to more reckless drinking, while prohibiting war participation leads to less reckless killing. We've got our priorities wrong. Let's rework them.

Canada, Do Not Follow U.S. Into Permawar

By David Swanson and Robert Fantina

Oh Canada, to thine own self be true, not to thine heavily militarized neighbor. Robin Williams called you a nice apartment over a meth lab for a reason, and now you're bringing the drugs upstairs.

We write to you as two U.S. citizens, one of whom moved to Canada when George W. Bush became U.S. president. Every wise observer in Texas had warned this country about their Governor Bush, but the message hadn't gotten through.

We need the message to reach you now before you follow the United States down a path it has been on since its creation, a path that used to include regular invasions of your land, a path impeded a little by your generous sanctuary for those refusing war participation, and a path that now invites you to ruin yourself along with us. Misery and addiction and illegality love company, Canada. Alone they wither, but with aiders and abettors they flourish.

At the end of 2013 Gallup polls asked Canadians what nation they'd most like to move to, and zero of the Canadians polled said the United States, while people in the United States picked Canada as their most desired destination. Should the more desirable nation be imitating the less desirable, or the other way around?

In the same poll almost every nation of the 65 surveyed said the United States was the greatest threat to peace in the world. In the United States, bizarrely, people said Iran was the greatest threat -- despite Iran spending less than 1% of what the United States does on militarism. In Canada, Iran and the United States tied for first place. You seem to be of two minds, Canada, one of them thoughtful, the other breathing the fumes of your downstairs neighbor.

At the end of 2014 Gallup asked people if they would fight for their country in a war. In many nations 60% to 70% said no, while 10% to 20% said yes. In Canada 45% said no, but 30% said yes. In the United States 44% said yes and 30% no. Of course they're all lying, thank goodness. The United States always has several wars running, and everyone is free to sign up; almost none of the professed willing fighters do. But as a measure of support for war and approval of war participation, the U.S. numbers tell you where Canada is headed if it follows its southern friends.

A recent poll in Canada indicates that a majority of Canadians support going to war in Iraq and Syria, with support being highest, as might be expected, among Conservatives, with members of the NDP and Liberal parties offering less, but still significant, support. All this may be part of the Islamophobia that is sweeping much of North America and Europe. But, take it from us, the support is soon replaced with regret -- and the wars do not end when the public turns against them. A majority of the U.S. public has believed the 2001 and 2003 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should never have been begun for the majority of those wars' existence. Once begun, however, the wars roll on, in the absence of serious public pressure to halt them.

Recent polling in Canada also indicates that while over 50% of respondents feel uncomfortable with someone wearing a hijab or abaya, over 60% of respondents support their right to wear it. That's stunning and praiseworthy. To accept discomfort out of respect for others is a top qualifying characteristic of a peacemaker, not a warmaker. Follow that inclination, Canada!

The Canadian government, like the U.S. government, uses fear-mongering to implement its war policies. But again, there is cause for some limited optimism. A recently-proposed anti-terror bill, that legal experts have decried as depriving Canada of some basic rights, has received significant opposition, and is being amended. Unlike the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, which sailed through Congress with little if any opposition, Canadian bill C-51 which, among other things, would stifle dissent, has been widely opposed both in Parliament and in the streets.

Build on that resistance to every evil justified by war, Canada. Resist the degradation of morality, the erosion of civil liberties, the drain to the economy, the environmental destruction, the tendency toward oligarchic rule and rogue illegality. Resist, in fact, the root problem, namely war.

It has been several years since the U.S. media regularly showed pictures of flag-draped coffins arriving on U.S. soil from far-flung war zones. And most of the victims of U.S. wars -- those living where the wars are fought -- are shown hardly at all. But Canada's media may do better. You may literally see the evil of your wars. But will you see your way clear to getting out of them? It is far easier to not launch them. It is far easier still to not plan and prepare for them.

We remember the lead you took, Canada, in banning land mines. The United States sells flying land mines called cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, which attacks its neighbors. The United States uses those cluster bombs on its own war victims. Is this the path you want to follow? Do you imagine, like some Las Vegas tiger tamer, that you'll civilize the wars you join? Not to put too fine a point on it, Canada, you will not. Murder will not be civilized. It can, however, be ended -- if you help us.

Ending War: Spring Rising

Houston: Peace or Wars Without End? US Foreign Policy: A Conference to Explore Our Choices

Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 9:00am - 5:45pm
Texas Southern University, Cleburne St & Tierwester St, Houston, TX 77004
Please register at this conference registration link.

Blowback and US foreign policy have put America and the world in jeopardy.

A left-right convergence of progressive Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and Republicans is issuing a call to participate in a foreign policy conference, to be held at TSU in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Building, in conjunction with TSU's Thurgood Marshall School of Law.  The conference theme is "Peace, or Wars without End - a Conference to Explore Our Choices".  Experts from the left and right will be coming together to question the overuse of U.S. military forces to (attempt to) solve conflicts.

Conference Flyer - Peace or Wars Without End?

Speakers and workshop leaders

We've already confirmed these speakers:

  • David Swanson - an activist, blogger and author, labor activist, former press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2003-2004 Presidential campaign, active in the movement to indict George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes - see  He now also hosts Talk Nation Radio, which airs on several Pacifica radio stations and their affiliates.
  • Col. Lawrence Wilkerson -a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson has criticized many aspects of the Iraq War, including his own preparation of Powell's presentation to the UN. He appears as a frequent Republican commentator on The Ed Show with Ed Schultz on MSNBC commenting about the problems with Republican Party. Also see his interview "Who Makes US Foreign Policy?"
  • Dr. Robert Jensen, professor of journalism at UT Austin, activist, and speaker. Jensen writes for popular media, both alternative and mainstream. His opinion and analytic pieces on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, economics, and ecology have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and web sites all over the world. He contributes to local organizing in Austin, TX, through his work with the Third Coast Activist Resource Center, which offers educational resources and organizes community events about U.S. policy around the world; and 5604 Manor, a progressive community center that brings people together to make positive social change.
  • Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, who was one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. She has written many articles in the Huffington Post and elsewhere about US misuse of our military as well as of domestic issues.  She will be joining us by teleconference.
  • Marilyn White - Human rights activist who has worked for peace and justice in Latin America with School of the Americas Watch, Witness for PeaceCodePink and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

  • Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute, served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 to 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

Register now for the conference

Discount pre-registration is $30, by April 20 (deadline subject to change, depending on requirements of the caterer).  Late registration (after that date) is $40.  Students may register for free.  Others of limited income may pay what they wish, but everyone should pre-register so we can order enough food for everyone for lunch.   Please register at this conference registration link.

Program Booklet Ads

Ads in the program booklet for the conference will allow you, your organization, or business to get some recognition, while helping to make the conference affordable to everyone.  You can choose from full page to classified-size ads.  To buy an ad, go to this form:

Location, Getting There, Parking:

The Conference will be at Texas Southern University, building 151, on this TSU campus map.  This is the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Building, just south of the corner of Tierwester and Cleburne St.  See Google map below.

You can get there via Metro bus routes 29, 30, 52, 68, and 80.  If you drive, paid visitor parking is available in the East Side Parking Garage for $3 for all day.  This garage is across Cleburne St. from the School of Public Affairs Bldg, on the north side of Cleburne St.  The visitor parking entrance is via Tierwester St.  You might be able to park for free on the street, but watch for no parking zones.


Houston Peace and Justice Center
Contact Bob Henschen

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility Annual Event

Join us for Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Annual Chapter Dinner

Saturday, April 18th 6-9 pm at

The Church of the Redeemer
5603 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210

Our featured guest speaker is author, activist and radio host David Swanson

David will speak on trends that are driving change in our society. His talk will encompass three areas of great interest and concern to Chesapeake PSR -- peace, environment, and democracy.

The cost for dinner is $40. Limited financial assistance available.

Please RSVP to or 240-246-4492

Annual Conference of Pax Christi Michigan

Annual State Conference of Pax Christi Michigan
Saturday, April 11, 2015
St. John Fisher University Chapel - Auburn Hills, MI

Register Here.

Pax Christi Michigan is honored to welcome author, activist, radio host, and journalist David Swanson to be our keynote speaker. His books advocate the abolition of war and its replacement by a culture of peace. He is a frequent public speaker, radio and TV guest, columnist and reporter, and an online presence via his blogs at and (originally

During the past year, Swanson has been instrumental in creating and has served as director of a new global nonprofit organization called World Beyond War. Thousands of people from 105 nations have signed a pledge at that website in recent months, indicating their desire to work to eliminate all war.  World Beyond War has begun working to advance understanding of the possibility, necessity, and desirability of ending all war. The arguments made closely parallel those of Swanson's book, War No More, the Case for Abolition.

Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio, a weekly program syndicated to many radio stations, advancing the causes of disarmament, diplomacy, and peace. He has been an organizer of numerous events, conferences, rallies, and protests, including the 2006 Camp Democracy and the 2011 "Occupation" of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., as well as the 2011 conference on the Military Industrial Complex at 50 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 Swanson's books include:
    Killing is Not A Way of Life (December 2014)
    When the World Outlawed War (2011) -- named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read.
    War Is A Lie (2010) -- widely praised best-selling classic.
    The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush (2008) -- Swanson wrote the introduction, as well as organized a team of writers to draft the articles for then-U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

David is currently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  We are indeed fortunate to have David as our keynote speaker.

Also featuring...Elliott Adams on "International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as a Tool for Ending War"

We struggle to end war and to create justice. Yet many of us do not realize that the Nuremberg Principles and international law give us tools to do just that. We view international law as some distant or abstract thing, but it is in fact part of our domestic law. And we do not understand that we are an important part of making it work.

Elliott Adams was a paratrooper in Vietnam and President of Veterans For Peace. He spent over 15 years in elected public office. He has dedicated his life to ending war. For this work he has demonstrated in the streets, testified before the U.S. Congress Judiciary Committee, been arrested and jailed. This talk grows out of Elliott's time in court defending himself from being arrested for exercising his Constitutional right to petition the government for redress from illegal wars.

The 2015 Purple Ribbon for Peace Award will be presented to Nancy and Rick “Doc” Peters. The Peters have been leaders of Pax Christi Muskegon for several years and served on the PCM State Council for 6 years; Rick serving as secretary and Nancy as the board facilitator.

Our 2015 Young Adult Peacemaker Award - Tera Warn She helped plan and facilitate the Young Peace Activists State Conference workshops.  She also served as co-chair of the State Council with Hugh Conahan and then chair for one year until she left to spend a semester attending language school in Ecuador and experiencing the people and culture. She returned briefly to the Council before graduating from MSU and then working in Iquitos, Peru for an afterschool tutoring program that served low income/at-risk children.

St. John Fisher University Chapel
3665 Walton Boulevard
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Emerg. Phone: 517-214-9490
Handicapper accessible

The main keynote presentations will take place in the sanctuary (i.e., wooden pews).  If you think you need it, feel free to BYOC:  Bring Your Own Cushion
$40 fee includes conference, breakfast, & lunch

Register Here.

Talk Nation Radio: Brian Terrell: Anti-Drone-War-Movement Is Growing

Brian Terrell discusses a recent major protest of drone murders at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and the state of the anti-drone-war movement. Brian is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and event coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience. He lives on a Catholic Worker farm in Maloy, Iowa. From this farm, Brian travels, speaking and acting with various communities working for peace. Two years ago he was serving a six month prison sentence for protesting drone killing from Whiteman Air force Base in Missouri, and this past month he returned from a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at

and at

Stop Smoking the Democrack


By Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson

 The U.S. government is toying with a war with nuclear Russia while already waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, having done severe damage to Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Military spending is climbing ever higher. Presidential war powers are ever more extreme. The proliferation of nuclear technology is combining with the ease and secrecy of drone wars to raise the risk of a Dr. Strangelove finish to the human species. And, let's face it, you had more time to give a damn when the president was a Republican.

 The top means by which war kills is the diversion of unfathomable piles of money away from life-saving initiatives. That spending continues without pause. President Obama and most of Congress want it increased even more next year. The Congressional Progressive Caucus just put out a budget that made no mention of military spending but -- if you searched through the numbers -- was proposing to cut it by 1% ($13 billion of $1.3 trillion in spending across several departments). We're talking about the single item that takes up over half of discretionary spending. One or two percent of it could make U.S. college education free, or end starvation on earth. A bigger slice could take on climate protection. Everyone across the inch-wide chasm of the political divide in Washington prefers to see the militarism continue. Of 100 senators, 100 favor sanctions on Iran. Bipartisanship is alive and well when it comes to war promotion.

The top risk from war is nuclear holocaust. That danger continues to grow with active U.S. assistance. The second worst thing a U.S. president can do about war is grab more war powers and pass them on to all future presidents. In that regard, President Obama has outdone President Bush. Lying to Congress is now totally routine: Congress and the United Nations can simply be ignored. Secrecy has mushroomed. President Obama picks out men, women, and children to murder from a list on Tuesdays. The public, the Congress, and the courts have no say and often no knowledge. President Obama has dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales abroad -- the U.S. being far and away the top supplier of weapons to regions that the U.S. public thinks of as inherently violent. 

While Obama's body count doesn't yet begin to approach Bush's in terms of people directly and violently killed, that's not a standard that will get us to survival, much less peace and prosperity.

Why do so many people think of the political party that lied the United States into two world wars, the Korean war, the war on Vietnam, the Kosovo war, the Libya war, and the war on ISIS -- the party that dropped the nukes on Japan -- as a party for peace?

Why do longtime war advocates like Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton get a pass? What benefit from making Hillary president could outweigh shutting down the peace movement for 4 or 8 years?

Hillary was instrumental in persuading her husband to bomb the former Yugoslavia against the will of Congress. She pushed for the 2003 attack on Iraq and the 2011 attack on Libya. She tried to get a U.S. war on Syria going in 2013. She pushed for the Obama-era escalation in Afghanistan -- a war that is now more Obama's than Bush's by every measure.

Hillary has urged Iran to be aware that she could "obliterate" it. She has giggled with pleasure at having killed Muamar Gadaffi. She's hawkish on Ukraine.

What can be done?

Tell people you know what warmaking has become, because someday the president will be a Republican and they'll grow outraged.

Give up on the idea of bestowing royal tokenism on every deserving demographic before the planet's trashed. We don't have that kind of time to work with.

Oregon has just made voter registration automatic, and California is proposing the same. Devote yourself to making sure that your state does likewise, and refuse to any longer think of registering people to vote as useful activism or to waste your time doing it.

Rather than giving a blank check to war mongering for the next nearly two years and then possibly beginning to object, save us all the suffering and pretend the president right now is Dick Cheney. Protest accordingly.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc Casey Sheehan who was murdered in Iraq on 04/04/04 by the US Empire and has become a non-flinching and uncompromising peace activist and host of her own podcast: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and Editor in Chief of the Soapbox People's Network.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Can Anne Hathaway Help End the Mindset That Creates Wars?

"If others have their will Ann hath a way. By cock, she was to blame. She put the comether on him, sweet and twentysix. The greyeyed goddess who bends over the boy Adonis, stooping to conquer, as prologue to the swelling act, is a boldfaced Stratford wench who tumbles in a cornfield a lover younger than herself." —James Joyce

Can it matter that a famous actress will play a drone pilot on stage in New York and play it as a troubled murderer with an updated effort to wash out the damn spot of blood on her famous hands?

With permanent war declared the norm and entirely acceptable, only a generation removed from wisdom and understanding, hadn't we better hope so?

April 7 to May 17, Anne Hathaway stars in Grounded. I've read the script, or at least an earlier version of the script, and believe this could make the difference that's needed.

Of course this other movie about a troubled drone pilot has come and gone.

Real life troubled drone pilots have tried to be heard.

The patterns of stress and suicide have been documented. Moral injury and post-traumatic stress plague the desk-bound flight-suited pilots at Creech Air Force Base where the commander told a reporter he was surprised by and unable to meet the demand for counselors and chaplains.

One proposed solution is allowing a drone pilot to instruct a computerized personality, like Siri in iPhones, to do the killing for him or her. A better solution might be to deprive President Obama of that trick. When he goes through his Tuesday list of men, women, and children and picks which ones to have murdered, he doesn't have to do the murdering. Presidents spend countless hours visiting all kinds of workplaces and taking part in all variety of ceremonies; why not require that they take a brief shift at the drone joystick when the victim has been spotted and fire the missile themselves, and watch the body parts scatter themselves, and see the little children who were in the wrong place blown to bits themselves, and feel the sweat and the guilt themselves?

Perhaps the next best thing will be seeing a celebrity, whom people imagine they know, play the role of drone pilot on stage. Anne Hathaway has acted in many films and plays but is familiar even to people who've seen none of them. Seeing her in Grounded has the potential to cause people to engage in the activity that seems the absolute hardest to provoke, namely thinking.

Grounded won't give you the statistics on how most of the people murdered with drones are no threat to the United States at all, or how drone murders are producing more enemies than they kill, or how the idea that a drone war on Yemen is better than another kind of war falls apart when you realize that the drone war replaced no war at all and has now predictably generated a ground war as, in fact, some of us predicted it would.

Grounded won't tell you that most drone victims are traumatized by the constant threat of instant death with no possible defense. But it will show us what that godlike power does to those who use it. The problem with drone murders is not the distance or the lack of bravery and risk; the problem is the murdering of people. Drone pilots see their victims in new ways, via video, and see them for days or weeks before murdering them.

The transition from mass-murderer to civilian living peacefully in a society that forbids murder must happen every single day for a drone pilot who drives home to sleep. One can imagine how disorienting the shift must be. It should become equally jarring for those of us who live peaceful lives and then read about the latest murders in our names by distant flying robot death machines.

Here's one way to help if you're anywhere near New York: attend the play and while you're there, collect signatures on this petition:

Top 10 Reasons Bill Maher Is Not "Our Best Weapon Against ISIS"

10. This sort of argument for debunking Islam in the media as the best way to "defeat" ISIS/ISIL misses the fact that ISIS recruits from the United States make up almost certainly much less than 1% of recruits, so that 99% of the problem, even on its own terms, remains completely unsolved.

9. Even if failure to expose Islam and other religions as ancient myths lacking basis in reality were a significant cause of people joining ISIS, it would not approach the primary cause without which ISIS would not exist, namely U.S. violence in the Middle East. Explaining to would-be ISIS martyrs that there aren't really 72 virgins and isn't really a heaven couldn't possibly do as much to reduce ISIS recruitment as explaining to active and would-be members of the U.S. military that arming and bombing and drone-striking distant lands doesn't actually protect the United States but rather generates so much hostility against it that groups like ISIS produce full-length films imploring the U.S. military to attack it.

8. Of course religion is often a huge part of what motivates members of the U.S. military as well. Congressman Sam Johnson has introduced the "Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015," to force cadets at the Air Force Academy to say "so help me God" in their oaths. Ted Cruz just announced his campaign for the U.S. presidency at Liberty University, where students learn to drone-murder for Jesus. What is "our best weapon" against that?

7. U.S. recruits to ISIS enamored of Muslim martyrdom could just as well have risked their lives preaching Islam in Alabama. Why choose to risk their lives attacking U.S. troops? The reason is not simply a variety of Islam. Rather it is alienation from the United States. Anwar Al-Awlaki was plenty Muslim when he supported U.S. wars. It was U.S. racism, bigotry, brutality, and militarism that drove him into opposition to the U.S. -- which tragically took the form of advocating violence.

6. Bill Maher pushes racism and bigotry, even concentration camps. The idea that such attitudes are the best response to Islamic hostility and violence is outrageously naive. Were Maher advocating inclusiveness and community at home and abroad, I might take seriously the idea that he was helping.

5. Who is the group to which "Our" is applied in the phrase "our best weapon"? As a human I want an answer to ISIS that works for people in the United States, Europe, Iraq, Syria, and the rest of that region, including Sunnis, and including members of ISIS. The idea that a new war on ISIS is going to repair the damage of the previous wars, which created ISIS, is sadly delusional (but if it leads President Obama to make peace with Iran, I'll take that result gratefully).

4. What is the "weapon" in "our best weapon"? When speech is understood as a weapon it ceases to be useful as speech. Religion is declining in the West and even in the United States, but thinking of those still clinging to it as wartime enemies is exactly the wrong way to advance that process. Thinking of an actual war that has numerous motivations as a struggle over religious beliefs will, likely as not, cause those sympathetic to one side or the other to adopt those beliefs or to hold them more firmly.

3. Highlighting stories of a small number of would-be U.S. recruits is propaganda aimed at instilling fear and suggesting a local presence and an actual threat from what is after all a small and very distant group of people.

2. Such propaganda hides actual motivations and causes. Causes hidden include: past wars on Iraq, sectarian divisions created by those wars, poverty and desperation, regional power grabs, international power grabs, the flow of weapons into the region (largely from the United States), the brutality and cruelty and incompetence of the government of Iraq, the weapons and trainers provided by the United States to the "moderate" groups that cease to be moderate or that surrender to those that are not. Motivations include: rage, hunger, fear, the desire for revenge, the desire to see the United States leave the region, the desire to achieve power or safety or riches, the profit motives of the weapons sellers and oil barons, and the belief that violence can be used to end violence.

1. Hiding the primary problems keeps us from seeing the primary solutions. Each of these steps would work wonders compared to telling U.S. television viewers that Islam isn't true: Ceasing to ship weapons to the region; urging an arms embargo on all parties; negotiating a ceasefire with all regional parties including Iran and Russia; sending in a major contingent of nonviolent peaceworkers and human shields, independent journalists, aid workers, and nonviolent activist trainers; providing reparations and aid on a Marshall Plan scale; negotiating a WMD-free Middle East. If those steps were being taken well, I'd be all for finding time to critique religions.

Talk Nation Radio: Margaret Flowers on Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Margaret Flowers is a Maryland pediatrician who currently serves as co-director of and is co-host of Clearing the FOG Radio. She has been fighting to stop fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership for more than three years. We discuss upcoming efforts to block passage of the TPP.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at

and at

A Nuke Free Future

A Liberal Lawyer Gives Up on Preventing Murder

Rosa Brooks' article in Foreign Policy is called "There is no such thing as peacetime." Brooks is a law professor who has testified before Congress to the effect that if a drone war is labeled a proper war then blowing children apart with missiles is legal, but that if it's not properly a war then the same action is murder.

Rosa Brooks has apparently come to see the problem with that distinction. How can a secret presidential memo in a drawer somewhere, that she and her colleagues have empowered to determine whether of not an action is part of a war, actually decide on the legitimacy of sending hellfire missiles into houses and restaurants, the behavior of futuristic gangsters on steroids?

But Brooks' solution is not to call murder murder and seek to end it. Rather she proposes to eliminate the distinction between wartime laws and peacetime laws by merging them, so that some of what's illegal in peacetime is just always illegal, and some of what gets a pass in wartime just always gets a pass (she actually only mentions the latter in any specifics). I suppose any simplifying proposal from a lawyer is a noble one, as it does eliminate work for the legal profession. But this is not a proposal to uphold the rule of law or to empower people with legal self-governance. This is a proposal to give up, to throw in the towel on civilization, to accept war as the norm, and to treat murder as a policy in need of constant monitoring and tweaking with reforms around the edges.

"A decade and a half after 9/11," Brooks writes, "the war on terror continues to open new fronts from Syria to Libya to Nigeria. And it's hard to see this changing under a Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush administration. Perpetual war is unlikely to end in our lifetimes." If that knocked you down, please get back up and consider what's so flooringly awful about it. Because the U.S. government is waging endless war, we shouldn't try to stop it. Because it is proposing for its highest profile office for two years from now various hacks who will continue the permawar, we shouldn't try to stop it for two years or the next four or ever again.

"For much of human history," Brooks claims, "war has been the norm and peace has been the exception, though Americans have been largely blind to this reality. Foreign attacks on U.S. soil have been few and far between, and for most of U.S. history, the country's wars have been fought by a small and highly professionalized military, making them largely invisible to the bulk of the American population. . . . [A]s legal historian Mary Dudziak notes in her fine book War Time, 'It is only through forgetting the small wars that so much of American history is remembered as peacetime.'"

Yes but it is only through shortsightedness that U.S. writers can ignore the other 95 percent of humanity which is represented by governments that do not wage war to anywhere near the extent that Washington does -- as well as ignoring the 95% of human existence that was pre-history and pre-war. War has been sporadic in human existence since its creation, more absent than present. Nations that have known war have abandoned it. Japan is currently trying to maintain its second lengthy period of peace. War is not the norm in most countries. The proliferation of drones may, however, help it become so. That war is becoming the norm is an idea promoted even by the United Nations' reports on drones. The policy of drone murder in the United States has been allowed to remove war from public, legislative, judicial, or international oversight. The choice before us is whether to accept that and attempt the truly quixotic task of mitigating the damage, or whether to reject it as entirely unacceptable.

Brooks presents the contrast between war and peace standards quite well: "The police, for instance, can't just decide to bomb an apartment building in which suspected criminals lie sleeping, and they can't write off the deaths of innocent people as 'collateral damage.' In peacetime, the intentional destruction of private property and severe restrictions on individual liberties are also impermissible. Wartime turns these rules upside down. Actions that are considered both immoral and illegal in peacetime are permissible — even praiseworthy — in wartime."

But isn't it right to consider murder immoral and illegal? When the drone murders are stripped of the protection of "wartime" flags and music, doesn't it become obvious that they are counterproductive on their own terms as well as damaging to their victims, to our civil liberties, to the rule of law? Not to Brooks who wants to "develop better mechanisms to prevent arbitrariness, mistake, and abuse in targeted killings." Listen to that language. Try to distinguish an abusive from a non-abusive targeted killing, I dare you. I don't think it can be done in under 6 years of law school, and even then trouble sleeping at night might result.

Should we do away with the difference between laws of war and peace? Of course we should. But that means that the people in Guantanamo should have rights, not that you should lose yours. That means that people living far away should have rights, not that the local police should get to kill you with their war weapons. That means an end to secret torture prisons abroad, not the opening of new ones in Chicago. There should be one set of laws and it should include the nations' laws against murder. It should include the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It should include the U.N. Charter until a better institution replaces the U.N. It should include universal support for an independent International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court that prosecutes the crime of war, not just "war crimes."

The drones buzzing around the French nuclear plants seem to bother Brooks less than they do me. Perhaps the growing nuclear danger that lies in the proliferation of nuclear energy and weaponry can make the point. The reality is not that there is no such thing as peace time, but rather that there is no such thing as wartime. If permawar is allowed to continue, the human species that dumps $2 trillion into this greatest environmental destroyer every year, rather than into useful protection against real dangers, will cease to exist.

The Russian Military Asked Me to Publish Its Propaganda

On Friday, March 20th, I spoke at the University of the District of Columbia Law School in Washington, D.C., as part of a series of teach-ins about peace organized by While there, a young man in a suit with a Russian accent approached me. He gave me his card, which says at the top "Embassy of the Russian Federation." It identifies him as a Major and as The Air Attaché Assistant. His name: Alexsei G. Padalko. The card includes the address of the Russian Embassy in Washington, two phone numbers, a fax number, and a gmail email address. His name appears on lists of diplomats on the websites of the Russian Embassy and the U.S. State Department.

Alexsei bought one of my books, which I signed, but he said he had another he hadn't brought with him and wanted signed, and he wanted to discuss working together for peace. I said I'd meet him the next day at a coffee shop. When we met, he began talking about having information about Ukraine. He wanted to slip me articles already written and pay me to publish them under my name. He claimed a personal interest in peace and a desire to keep this secret from his employers. It was fine to email him, he said, but he'd have to give me the articles in person. I told him that I would not post articles as by me if not by me, and I would not post them with a pseudonym for someone working for the Russian (or American or any other) military, but if he wanted to give me information to report on under my name in articles I researched with multiple sources, I would keep the confidentiality of any source entirely. I, of course, had told him I wouldn't take any money for anything. And he didn't explain where the money would have come from. He said the information was not secret. He had no interest in using secret email. Nothing was less than above board, he said. But then why the secrecy? And who would be writing the articles? (This man's English was not up to the job.) I told him what I considered proper journalistic behavior and he expressed surprise and concern that I would bring up journalism since I was a blogger. Apparently a blogger is someone you can feed propaganda to, while a journalist is someone who's out to get you. I tried to tell him I was actually interested in communicating the facts about Ukraine to the U.S. public and that I thought that doing so would benefit both Russia and peace. We parted with the understanding that I would email him a time to meet in Washington, and that he would give me information that I could use as a reporter.

I gave it some thought. I could not believe that he was acting against the wishes of his employers. Where was the money to have come from? Who was writing the articles? Why so openly give me his card and meet with me? And what would he want known in the interests of peace that his employers wouldn't? No, he was doing his job. I decided that I would avoid any of the secrecy, and if he wanted to tell me anything that I could report he could do that openly. I would, of course, seek to confirm it with other sources, give the State Department its chance to comment, and report it.

Later that same day I emailed him this:


"I'd like to write an article on Ukraine that includes Russian points of view, regarding any of the following: the history of NATO expansion, the coup, Malaysian Flight 17, Crimea, recent conflict, U.S. and NATO allegations, possible peaceful resolution.

"If you or anyone you know can provide any perspective on the matter, please just email or call."

He replied:

"No problem, deal"

Late that night, I wrote:

"Also, would Ambassador Kislyak like to explain Russia's view of Ukraine on a radio show that airs on lots of stations? See I'm the host, and the shows are pre-recorded by telephone at the guest's convenience. An interview can be anywhere from 1 to 28 minutes. I recommend 28 minutes. I would simply ask him for his view of the situation in Ukraine and let him talk. You can just let me know a day and a time and a phone number."

Alexsei has not yet replied to that offer.

Now, I'd like to call the Russian Embassy's main number and ask to be connected to Alexsei and make sure it's the same person. But a friend warns me that doing so produces "meta-data" to be used in framing people with crimes. And I don't seriously doubt the man's identity.

I write this in order to protect myself from any misunderstanding or frame-up, and in order to offer my unsolicited advice to the Russian government: My friends, independent media and small media outlets that are interested in the truth and in considering your points of view are in that position because of their honesty. When you approach them with secrecy and money you ruin the opportunity to have information shared in a credible and effective way. I and countless other bloggers and freelancers who could never bring ourselves to write the Pentagon propaganda that passes for journalism in major U.S. newspapers are not on your team. We're on the side of truth and the side of peace.

Many of us are well aware of the lie that NATO and the U.S. told Russia upon the reunification of Germany to the effect that NATO would not expand eastward. We're outraged by the expansion to your borders. We condemn the U.S.-backed violent coup in Kiev. We denounce the Nazi and foreign-imposed government of Ukraine. We oppose the U.S. arms shipments, the U.S. "National Guard" now guarding the wrong nation, the war games, the baseless characterizations of Russia's behavior, the lies about your aggression.

But you can't fix lies about your aggression by behaving aggressively. If the truth is on your side, don't imagine that it can't be reported and understood at least by some.

I'm aware that most of the military commentators in U.S. media outlets are in the pay of the U.S. military or its private contractors or their think tanks. I'm aware that matters of life and death cause rash decisions. But I encourage you to openly publish your views and to send them to me and anyone else open to them. I encourage you to place guests on my and other radio shows. Don't give those who have twisted reality beyond recognition an excuse to accuse you of the same.

Opposing War With a Smile

Remarks at teach-in at Spring Rising event March 20, 2015, UDC Law School. Note: Rally at White House is noon, March 21.

More times than I can count, after I've given a speech about war and peace without tears in my eyes I've afterward been either blamed or credited with optimism. As in "What the hell are you so optimistic about?" or "Oh, I'm so glad you're optimistic." So, as our local Nobel Laureate would say, let me be clear: I am not an advocate for optimism, have no respect for it, and as a matter of fact deeply despise it. I once interviewed a real expert on both nuclear dangers and environmental collapse, someone I truly respect and learn from, and asked him if he thought we'd survive these twin dangers. Yes, he declared, no question. Why? Because, he said, if you watch movies they always end happily. I don't mean that as the unconscious explanation of his confidence. I mean that's what he said and repeated when I questioned him disbelievingly. Because Hollywood, not to mention novels, plays, cartoons, etc., tends to have happy endings, at least in our culture, so will our species. What? That, to me, is about as logical as Samantha Powers' claim that bombing Iraq will work out better if we pay less attention to how bombing Libya worked out. If Hollywood is an accurate portrayal of reality, then torture works, violence rarely traumatizes, and high-speed car chases through city squares rarely hurt anybody. Are we at the point of openly encouraging each other to be idiots? That's how I view optimism.

Now, when I oppose a U.S. war on ISIS, I'm generally accused of supporting an ISIS war on the United States. After all, if you're against one side you must be for the other side. So, when I oppose optimism, I'm generally accused of supporting pessimism. And yet, in reality, I view pessimism as optimism's evil mutant twin. And I view the knowing spreading of pessimism as treason against the universe. This is because I don't think one should work to prevent death and suffering for the purpose of enjoying success. When you do that, you end up working for peace only in those cases where success is guaranteed or highly likely to arrive fast. Now, I find struggling for peace and justice highly rewarding, but that has nothing to do with the occasional successes, the expectations of success, or of course the lucrative salaries. I find struggling for peace and justice an end in itself, as Camus' Sisyphus found rolling the rock up the hill a joyful fulfillment.

Optimism and pessimism seem rather beside the point, and a bit self-indulgent. And by that I do not mean that we should act without strategic consideration of most likely routes to success. What other way to act is there? If we can lessen the damage on one particular war ever so slightly, we absolutely must do so even if we'd rather be painting a detailed picture of what a world without the institution of war would look like. The choice between demanding alternatives to war, as two of the four witnesses at a Congressional Progressive Caucus event did this week, and urging a properly civilized and limited war as the other two witnesses did, is a strategic choice, not a question of personality or emotional preference or zodiacal sign. If we don't present alternatives, the logic of war-or-nothing will land us in war up to our necks.

I've met thousands of peace activists over the past many years, and I wouldn't wish away a single one of them. We need each to bring a thousand more into the movement. But I find that I, as a proselytizing atheist who longs for a world beyond religion as well as war, often tend to have the most appreciation for the religiously driven peace activists, and I believe we usually have the most to learn from them. Why would this be? Well, for one thing, they tend not to be driven by optimism or pessimism but by something else, which they might call God's distaste for war and I might interpret as their own distaste for war. In addition, they're not typically as driven by partisanship, but rather by that purer opposition to war. And further, they're not as likely to oppose a particular war while favoring others, but to see opposing one war as a step on the path to ending all wars. On top of which, they are likely to make a moral argument against killing the people who make up over 95% of the victims of U.S. wars, namely the people who live where the wars are fought.

And here's why I prefer that approach despite rejecting as archaic its fundamental premise: I think it's the most likely to work. A U.S. war was prevented in 2013 because too many people thought it sounded too much like the war that began in 2003. But no alternative was pursued because we hadn't communicated the possibility of taking an alternative approach to the world. So the masters of war bided their time, fueled the war with trainers and weapons, and launched the same war, albeit on the opposite side of the conflict, in 2014 when the propaganda was right. By that I mean the beheading videos, which were much like the beheadings done by Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies, but these ones were used to manufacture consent for a military solution to a problem that everyone admits has no military solution although it does have a military origin.

When we wait for the right war, the right war always comes. And it is always the wrong choice.

War has a lot of new weapons these days. Who can tell me the single way in which war kills the most people? Just shout it out.

If you said through taking needed resources away from human needs you are correct, and if there's any justice we'll get President Obama's Nobel Prize transferred to you, because you've now done more than he has to earn it.

We like to get upset about the financial cost of war budgets. Yet the routine military budget, which is somehow considered non-war is typically 10 times the war budget. The solution to this is not an audit, not ending the slush-fund use of the war budget, and not ending the manufacture of weapons that don't work. The weapons that don't work are far preferable to the weapons that do work -- I mean if you're on the side of the victims rather than the executioners. The world spends about $2 trillion on war preparations each year, and the United States alone spends half of that. Meanwhile tens of billions could solve starvation, clean water, and other enormous problems, not just in a particular crisis zone but globally. That choice of how to spend unfathomable amounts of money is the top way war kills.

When we buy TV ads as one organization has just done, supporting diplomacy with Iran but falsely implying that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it, and stating that the danger in a war on Iran is that Americans might die, we like to think we're being strategic. After all, people are selfish and stupid, and one must appeal to their selfishness and stupidity. I don't think so. If Iran were really trying to build a nuke and kill us all (including themselves of course) I'd be scared and lean toward distrust and be more likely to urge a tough approach. If a war to prevent the total destruction of Israel could really be prevented by risking a handful of U.S. deaths, I'd consider that brave and noble -- and I'd feel obliged to sign up. It matters when our rhetoric and the facts we tell and the facts we don't tell guide people away from the action we propose.

By the way, the new year in Iran begins at 6:45 and we apologize to anyone who couldn't be here for that reason. Sadly, there is a holiday for a different group of people any day we choose, and we have to schedule things as best we can.

Let's go back to 2013 for a moment. People and groups favoring peace, or at least a time-out from war, argued, in some cases, that investing in U.S. schools and roads and parks would be preferable to wasting our money on $2 million missiles for Syria. Smart and strategic, right? Appeal to selfishness in order to prevent what Seymour Hersh later exposed as a massive campaign to destroy Syria from the air. But humanitarian warriors were given an opening and they jumped through it. We must bomb Syria because we care about the Syrians, they said. Rejecting the argument that Iraqis had failed to be grateful for the destruction of Iraq, they proposed a generous and magnanimous, even friendly, launching of missiles into Syria for the good of the Syrians, and opposed that to the greed of people who wanted more, more, more at home -- isolationist irresponsible first-world ostriches. But of course wars cost very little compared to the base military budget that Congress now wants to increase to record heights, and yet even the war budgets could fund massive investment in human needs both at home and abroad. Why choose? And why allow a debate to go on in ignorance of the fact that non-Americans die in wars, thousands and thousands of them, women, men, children, and infants?

A week ago, the Washington Post ran a column claiming that a war on Iran was the best choice. Imagine the firestorm if they'd said that racism or rape or child abuse or cruelty to cats was the best choice. Nobody would have said "They print lots of columns against torturing kittens, would you stifle debate by censoring one column in support?" Some things are rightly put beyond the realm of acceptable behavior. Not war. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch put out a report on events of last August 31st when U.S. and Iraqi air strikes "drove ISIS forces away from the town" of Amerli. No doubt, many people died and were maimed and traumatized (also known as terrorized) by those "air strikes," but that's just part of war, which it wouldn't be ethical for Human Rights Watch to question. What concerns Human Rights Watch is what began on September 1st. About 6,000 fighters for the Iraqi government and various militias moved in, with their U.S. weaponry. They destroyed villages. They demolished homes, businesses, mosques, and public buildings. They looted. They burned. They abducted. In fact they behaved exactly as troops taught to hate and murder certain groups of people had behaved in every previously recorded war. Human Rights Watch recommends that Iraq disband the militias and care for the refugees who have fled their wrath, while holding "accountable" those responsible for the documented violations of the "laws of war." Human Rights Watch wants the United States to establish "reform benchmarks." That ought to do it. The possibility of ending participation in the war, creating an arms embargo, negotiating a ceasefire, and redirecting ALL energy into aid and restitution doesn't arise in reports on the proper and civilized if illusory conduct of mass murder.

What if we're trying to fix something that can't be fixed? What if we're asking rapists to wear condoms? Are there not things that should be ended rather than mended because they cannot be mended? Think of fossil fuel use or health insurance corporations or the death penalty or the prison complex or the United States Senate. If your children don't recite the pledge of allegiance will they be in danger of devoting their lives to the Soviet Union? Does altering the hand position to look less Nazi make the pledge non-fascist? Don't some things outlast their usefulness? The Bible verses cited to prove that climate change isn't real may have once served a purpose. Perhaps war did too.

The Strategy Committee of World Beyond War, led by Kent Shifferd, has produced a document that I have learned a lot from. It's called A Global Security System: An Alternative to War, and it begins thus:

"In On Violence, Hannah Arendt wrote that the reason warfare is still with us is not a death wish of our species nor some instinct of aggression, '. . . but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.' The Alternative Global Security System we describe here is the substitute. The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security."

When we look at a rational proposal like this new book from World Beyond War, our first reaction should not be to choose optimism or pessimism. Many people look at the relentless presence of war despite all rational arguments and resign themselves to the idea that humans are driven by primitive primate inclinations. The problem with pessimism is not about whether its adherents are right or wrong on some analysis, it is that they turn their analysis into defeatism. This is the process that blaming things on biology is part of. For the vast majority of the existence of the human species there was zero war. War, which for millennia was closer to a game of football than to a nuclear strike, has been sporadically and rarely present. Most countries are not at war most of the time, and most people take no part. In many countries, large majorities say they would never take part in fighting for their country. War requires more conditioning than any other behavior, and the results are more damage to participants than from any other behavior. Not one single person has ever suffered PTSD from war deprivation. And we pick this institution to excuse as inevitable and natural?

No, the case made in A Global Security System is that war cannot result from an individual's or a group's emotional inclinations. It requires long-term investment, planning, and preparation. And if we prepare for other means of avoiding and resolving conflicts then we will end up using those means. If we create a culture of peace, develop peace journalism, invest in peace planning, support systems of global law and dispute resolution, disarm the world of which the United States is the leading armer, send in peaceworkers rather than bombs, negotiate ceasefires rather than military alliances -- if we strengthen and reform and ultimately replace international structures with global, democratic, and nonviolent means of solving our problems, war will go the way of blood feuds, dueling, and colored bathrooms.

Big changes will be needed in our politics, our economy, our energy use, our culture, and in the stories we tell each other about the world. But these changes can come step-by-step and advance self-aware toward complete replacement of the war system with a peace system. Attempting such a change, which is in some ways well underway already, can hardly be less sensible than the knowing failure of war. A few weeks ago Time Magazine featured a debate on the war on ISIS. One side argued for U.S. ground troops while admitting it probably wouldn't solve anything. The other side argued for U.S. bombs and local troops, while admitting that it probably wouldn't work. This is beyond attempting the same thing and expecting a different result. This is attempting the same thing and expecting the same disastrous result.

We can do better.

Blood on the Corner: Dear UVA From an Alumnus

I'm just back from a rally in front of the Charlottesville Police Department at which I heard a black UVA student say that black friends were going to think twice about trying to attend UVA after what happened tonight.

Unless more video materializes we won't know exactly what happened, but we know this: a black UVA student needed 10 stitches to the head. The policemen who injured him have made known no injuries to themselves whatsoever. In fact they've charged him with "obstruction of justice without force." However it may be that a young man standing on a sidewalk obstructs justice without using force, one thing seems clear: he didn't use force. He's also not accused of threatening to use force. Rather, he's charged with "profane swearing and/or intoxication," neither of which justifies ANY action by police, much less the sort of brutality that requires 10 stitches and leaves blood on the street.

As an alumnus and a local resident may I humbly request that UVA prosecute the police officers responsible and seek, not a Department of Justice report telling us what we know, but meaningful restorative justice that involves actual understanding and reform by those involved.

I have to confess, I'm getting a little tired of the scandals, UVA. And I don't mean playing a shooter with a broken finger in the ACC tournament. I mean:

Paying your employees so little they need second jobs.

Jumping at a false tale of rape, damaging true accounts among other things damaged.

Hosting forums advocating U.S. war in Syria.

Bringing Blackwater mercenaries, neocon reactionaries, torture defenders, and warmongers of all stripes to speak at the Miller Center.

Sending law students to observe the Guantanamo human experimentation camp, who find nothing to oppose.

Weakening the honor code.

Empowering a corporate board that attempts coups -- a board that meets this coming Tuesday and should be confronted with a plan for serious reform.

I know it wasn't your cops tonight, UVA. Nor was it your cops who assaulted the young woman for buying a case of water. But it's your response that can set things right. We don't need a scapegoat or more cameras or a "study." We need the University to instruct the police that violence will not be tolerated.

The University has an honor code but exists in the midst of a society in which police are being turned into warriors -- and guess who plays the role of the enemy? The rumor is that tonight's victim had a fake ID for entering a bar -- certainly less than honorable, but something millions of people have done for many years without being attacked or brutalized.

There's video of a young woman being attacked by a policeman at the rally tonight protesting the initial crime. Apparently her offense was standing in a street and being unable to move because of the surrounding crowd. This assault is on video and should be prosecuted without delay.

I'm not going to urge you to restore the honorable tradition of your imperialist enslaving rapist founder, UVA. I want your to aspire to something better than you've been. I think you can do it.

50,000th War in a Row Violates the Laws of War

I think we must be due some kind of prize. This is the 50,000th war in a row to have violated the "laws of war."

The documentation comes from Human Rights Watch which reports that last August 31st U.S. and Iraqi air strikes "drove ISIS forces away from the town" of Amerli. No doubt, many people died and were maimed and traumatized (also known as terrorized) by those "air strikes," but that's just part of war, which it wouldn't be ethical for Human Rights Watch to question.

What concerns Human Rights Watch is what began on September 1st. About 6,000 fighters for the Iraqi government and various militias moved in, with their U.S. weaponry. They destroyed villages. They demolished homes, businesses, mosques, and public buildings. They looted. They burned. They abducted. In fact they behaved exactly as troops taught to hate and murder certain groups of people had behaved in the 49,999 previous recorded wars. "The actions violated the laws of war," Human Rights Watch says.

Human Rights Watch recommends that Iraq disband the militias and care for the refugees who have fled their wrath, while holding "accountable" those responsible for the documented violations of the "laws of war." Human Rights Watch wants the United States to establish "reform benchmarks." The possibility of ending participation in the war, creating an arms embargo, negotiating a ceasefire, and redirecting ALL energy into aid and restitution doesn't arise.

The "laws of war" are not laws of physics. If they were, the first law of war would be:

People instructed to murder will engage in lesser crimes as well.

Laws of war, unlike laws of physics, are just not this sort of observation of something that always happens. On the contrary, they are laws that are always violated. Human Rights Watch explains:

"International humanitarian law, the laws of war, governs fighting in non-international armed conflicts such as that between Iraqi government forces, government-backed militias, and opposition armed groups. The laws of war governing the methods and means of warfare in non-international armed conflicts are primarily found in the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the First Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I). . . . Central to the laws of war is the principle of distinction, which requires parties to a conflict to distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians. . . . While Iraqi government forces may have destroyed property for military reasons in some cases, Human Rights Watch found that the large-scale destruction of property by pro-government militias in the cases detailed in this report appear to violate international law. . . . In the instances detailed above, it appeared militias destroyed property after fighting had finished in the area and when combatants from ISIS had fled from the area. Therefore it suggests their justification for the attacks may have been for punitive reasons; or in order to prevent Sunni residents from returning to the areas from which they fled."

So, the next time you're murdering large numbers of Sunnis, and the ones designated as combatants have left, please begin behaving decently to all the others. Do not torture anyone you wounded while trying to murder them. Do not destroy people's homes with thoughts of punishment or demographic change in your head, but rather ponder military objectives while burning houses, and as quickly as possible get back to the acceptable and legal efforts to kill combatants, especially whenever possible with bombs from airplanes whose pilots have been carefully instructed to only intend to kill combatants and whose commander in chief defines "combatant" as military-aged male.

Talk Nation Radio: Michael Heaney on What Partisanship Does to a Peace Movement

Michael T. Heaney is co-author with Fabio Rojas of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11. We discuss how partisanship built up and then tore down a peace movement, and what to do about it. Heaney is Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies and Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has previously served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of American Politics at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, and as the William A. Steiger Fellow in the Congressional Fellowship Program at the American Political Science Association. His research has received funding from the National Science Foundation and has been published in a wide array of academic journals, such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of SociologySocial Networks, and Perspectives on Politics.

Total run time: 29:00

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Gallup: U.S. Population Highly Militaristic

In early 2014 there were unusual news stories about Gallup's end-of-2013 polling because after polling in 65 countries with the question "Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?" the overwhelming winner had been the United States of America.

Had Gallup then conducted a poll on whether Gallup would ever ask that question again, I'm willing to bet large numbers would have said no. And thus far they would have been right. But Gallup managed to ask some other good questions, almost certainly by accident as well, in its end-of-2014 polling, revealing something else about the United States and militarism.

Curiously, Gallup's end-of-2014 polling managed to ask a lot more questions -- 32 instead of 6 and even squeezed in one on whether people wash their hands after using the bathroom -- so the threat-to-peace question wasn't dropped for lack of space.

In both the 2013 and the 2014 polling, the first question is whether people think the next year will be better than the last, the second whether their country's economy will do well, and the third whether the person is happy. This sort of fluff is odd, because Gallup advertises the polling with this quote from Dr. George H. Gallup: "If democracy is supposed to be based on the will of the people, then somebody should go out and find out what that will is." So, what policies do the people want? Who the hell can tell from this sort of questioning?

By question 4 of those questions made public, the 2013 and 2014 polls diverge. Here's what was asked in 2013:

  • If there were no barrier to living in any country of the world, which country would you like to live in?
  • If politicians were predominantly women, do you believe the world would in general be a better place, a worse place or no different?
  • Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?

And that's it. There's nothing like Should your government invest more or less in militarism? or Should your government expand or reduce support for fossil fuels? or Does your government imprison too many or too few people? or Do you favor greater or less public investment in education? The questions Gallup asks are supposed to produce fluff. What happened is that the last question ended up producing a substantive response by accident. When the rest of the world declared the United States the greatest threat to peace (the people of the United States gave Iran that designation) it amounted to a recommendation to the U.S. government, namely that it stop launching so many wars.

We can't have that! Polling is supposed to be fun and diverting!

Here are the remaining questions from the end of 2014:

  • Compared to this year, do you think that 2015 will be a more peaceful year freer of international dispute, remain the same or a troubled year with more international discord?

What a great polling question, if you don't want to learn anything! Any discord is equated with the opposite of peace, i.e. war, and people are asked for a baseless prediction, not a policy preference.

  • If there were a war that involved [your country's name] would you be willing to fight for your country?

This reduces respondents from citizen sovereigns to cannon fodder. It's not "Should your country seek out more wars?" but "Would you be willing to commit murder on behalf of your country in an unspecified war for an unstated purpose?" And again, Gallup accidentally revealed something here, but let's come back to that after listing the rest of the questions (feel free to just skim the list).

  • Do you feel that elections in [your country's name] are free and fair?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: [your country's name] is ruled by the will of the people.
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Democracy may have problems but it is the best system of government.
  • Which of the following is more important to you: your continent, your nationality, your local county/state/province/city, your religion, your ethnic group, or none of these?
  • Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: lack of political or religious freedom in their country?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: to join their family who are already in the country?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: fleeing persecution in their country?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: wanting a better life?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: escaping sexual or gender discrimination?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: escaping war or armed conflict?
  • Overall do you think globalization is a good thing, bad thing, or neither good nor bad for the USA?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Judges?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Journalists?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Politicians?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Business people?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Military?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Healthcare workers?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Police?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Teachers?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Bankers?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Religious leaders?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: We should not allow corrupt foreign politicians and business people to spend their proceeds from corruption in my country.
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: The Government is effective at preventing corrupt politicians and business people from spending their proceeds from corruption in my country.
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: The Government should require companies to publish the real names of their shareholders and owners.
  • How strongly do you feel that your mobile device (including mobile phone and other hand held devices) enhances your quality of life?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: Washing my hands with soap after going to the toilet is something I automatically do.

Now, something interesting might be gathered from any of these questions, even the soap one. It's interesting that in religiosity the United States resembles the places it wages war on, as opposed to the places its military is allied with which have virtually no use for religion. And the questions on corrupt investment and shareholder transparency almost seem like policy questions, although the predictably one-sided responses give them a dog-bites-man non-news quality.

Which Nations' Populations Are Most Accepting of More Wars?

This question is quite interesting because of the answers given around the world: "If there were a war that involved [your country's name] would you be willing to fight for your country?" Now, if your country were under attack or recently under attack or threatened with attack, that might, I suppose, lead you toward a yes answer. Or if you trusted your government not to launch offensive wars, that too -- I'm guessing -- might lead you toward a yes answer. But the United States routinely launches wars that, before long, a majority of its population says shouldn't have been launched. What percentage of Americans will nonetheless say they're theoretically willing to join in any war whatsoever?

Of course, the question is a bit vague. What if "a war that involved the United States" were taken to mean the actual United States and not the affairs of its government thousands of miles away? Or what if "fight for your country" were taken to mean "fight in actual defense of your actual country"? Obviously such interpretations would add to the yes answers. But such interpretations would require serious distance from reality; those aren't the kind of wars that are waged by the United States. And very clearly people who answered this survey in some other parts of the world tended not to use such an interpretation. Or even if they understood the question to involve an attack on their nation, they did not see war as a viable response worthy of their participation.

In Italy 68 percent of Italians polled said they would NOT fight for their country, while 20 percent said they would. In Germany 62 percent said they would not, while 18 percent said they would. In the Czech Republic, 64 percent would not fight for their country, while 23 percent would. In the Netherlands, 64 percent would not fight for their country, while 15 percent would. In Belgium, 56 percent would not, while 19 percent would. Even in the UK, 51 percent would not participate in a UK war, while 27 percent would. In France, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland, more people would refuse to be part of a war than would agree. The same goes for Australia and Canada. In Japan only 10 percent would fight for their country.

What about the United States? Despite waging the greatest number of most baseless and most costly wars, the United States manages 44 percent claiming a willingness to fight and 31 percent refusing. By no means is that the world record. Israel is at 66 percent ready to fight and 13 percent not. Afghanistan is at 76 to 20. Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Greece are all ready to fight with strong majorities. Argentina and Denmark have ties between those who would fight and those who would not.

But look at the incredible contrast in the two places I've lived, for example: the United States and Italy. Italians clearly view it as largely unacceptable to say you would participate in a war. The United States has 44 percent saying that despite the destruction of Iraq, despite the chaos brought to Libya, despite the misery added to Afghanistan's lot, despite the destabilization of Yemen, despite the costs even to the aggressor and despite the world believing the United States to be the greatest threat to peace on earth, those 44 percent at least feel obliged to claim they would participate in an unspecified war.

Are those 44 percent rushing to the recruitment offices to get trained up and be ready? Luckily, no. It's just a poll, and we all know how Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly would have answered it, but even lies told in polls reflect cultural preferences. The fact is that there is a sizable minority in the United States that has never believed any of its recent wars were crimes or blunders, never questioned trillion dollar military spending, and never desired a world without war in it. Trying to explain that to people from the Netherlands can be like trying to explain why Americans don't want healthcare. The gap is wide, and I thank Gallup for accidentally revealing it.

Further study is needed to find the roots of the relative degrees of militarism revealed.

The Washington Post Will Kill Us All

"War with Iran is probably our best option." This is an actual headline from the Washington Post.

Yes it's an op-ed, but don't fantasize that it's part of some sort of balanced wide-ranging array of varied opinions. The Washington Post wouldn't print a column advocating peace to save its life -- as such an act just might help to do. And you can imagine the response if the headline had been: "Racism is probably our best option," or "Rape is probably our best option," or "Child abuse is probably our best option." Nobody would object: "But they've probably had lots of columns opposing child abuse. Surely they can have one in favor, or do you want to shut down debate?" No, some things are rightly considered beyond the range of acceptability. War, in Washington, is not one of them.

Now, war propaganda is illegal under the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights. War itself is illegal under the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter. But the Washington Post isn't one to worry about legal niceties.

There was quite a brouhaha last week when 47 senators tried to impede negotiations between the White House / State Department and Iran. Yes, charges of violating the Logan Act were ridiculous. If that was a violation, there have been thousands.  In fact here's one now from the Washington Post. Iran's government reads this vicious piece of propaganda just as surely as it reads an "open letter" from 47 sexually repressed climate-denying bible-thumping nimrods with corporate funding. When my town's government passed a resolution opposing any U.S. war on Iran I was immediately contacted by Iranian media, and our city council members were never charged with undermining the federal government's so-called foreign policy. But the nonpartisan substance of the critique of the 47 Fools and of the Netanyahu Get-Up-Sit-Down aerobics workout was important and applies equally to the Washington Post: advocating war is immoral, illegal, and idiotic.

It is no secret what war on Iran means: lots of death and suffering -- the extreme version being if Israel were to use its nuclear weapons:

"Iranian cities -- owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities -- are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, 'Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran: Lethality Beyond the Pale,' published in the journal Conflict & Health by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region.

"Its scenarios are staggering. An Israeli attack on the Iranian capital of Tehran using five 500-kiloton weapons would, the study estimates, kill seven million people -- 86% of the population -- and leave close to 800,000 wounded. A strike with five 250-kiloton weapons would kill an estimated 5.6 million and injure 1.6 million, according to predictions made using an advanced software package designed to calculate mass casualties from a nuclear detonation.

"Estimates of the civilian toll in other Iranian cities are even more horrendous. A nuclear assault on the city ofArak, the site of a heavy water plant central to Iran's nuclear program, would potentially kill 93% of its 424,000 residents. Three 100-kiloton nuclear weapons hitting the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas would slaughter an estimated 94% of its 468,000 citizens, leaving just 1% of the population uninjured. A multi-weapon strike on Kermanshah, a Kurdish city with a population of 752,000, would result in an almost unfathomable 99.9% casualty rate."

The barbaric boneheadedness of someone who would write such murder off as acceptable because the victims are not Americans is almost unfathomable. The response would be attacks on U.S. soldiers and U.S. citizens and the United States. The potential for escalation into a global and nuclear war would be significant, particularly with the U.S. playing at war games on Russia's western border and arming attacks on the government of Syria.

But here comes Joshua Muravchik in the Washington Post. He's funded by corporate-funded and war-industry-funded institutes. He's backed all the recent wars, including the war on Iraq. He has no shame, no repentance. He wants more war. And all the many wars that President Obama is happy to wage or provoke just aren't enough. There must be a war on Iran.

Muravchik calls Iran "violent, rapacious, devious, and redolent with hatred for Israel and the United States" without offering any evidence or explanation, and then claims -- contrary to some 17 U.S. and 1 Israeli spy agencies -- that Iran "is bound to continue its quest for nuclear weapons." Imagine submitting an op-ed to the Washington Post that asserted that Iran had never had and does not have a nuclear weapons program. The editors would demand proof. Imaging providing the proof. The editors would reject it out of hand. After all, "both sides" make the same baseless accusations. President Obama and Senator McCain will both tell you that Iran is trying to build a nuke and must be stopped. They'll just disagree on how to stop it, with Obama proposing a response that fits better with reality than it does with his own rhetoric.

Muravchik objects to any deal that might be reached with Iran because it will, necessarily and by definition, have Iran's agreement. A better option, he says, would be the above mass-murder scenario. "What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons?" Iran is abiding by its treaty obligations, unlike the United States or Israel. Its nuclear energy puts it close to nuclear weaponry, but no closer than many other nations including all the Gulf dictatorships to which the West is currently spreading nuclear energy, just as it did to Iran -- not to mention the CIA's handing nuclear bomb plans to Iran and scapegoating Jeffrey Sterling over it. Beyond a negotiated agreement, a little leading by example, the removal of Israel's nukes, the provision of clean energy, and a coordinated elimination of nuclear energy are entirely doable.

Muravchik knows this. And he knows that anyone you can talk to can work out a deal with you that is far superior to murdering millions of human beings. In fact everyone who's not a vicious fascist pig knows this. So, there are two solutions in the standard propaganda toolbox: 1) claim Iran cannot be talked to, 2) call Iran a bunch of Nazis:

"Ideology is the raison d'etre of Iran's regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world. Iran aims to carry its Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond. A nuclear arsenal, even if it is only brandished, would vastly enhance Iran's power to achieve that goal."

He admits that nuclear arsenals tend not to be used. But he claims that the madmen of Iran, even while exhibiting such rational restraint, would nonetheless spread their imperial conquests. Never mind that the United States has troops in 175 nations while Iran has not attacked another nation in centuries. If Iran can be imagined as behaving the way the United States would, and the United States can be imagined as behaving the way civilized countries do, then violence can be made to seem justified.

But you have to catapult the propaganda: "Sanctions may have induced Iran to enter negotiations, but they have not persuaded it to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons." There is of course no evidence for the opening claim in that sentence, nor for the concluding lie.

So, what we need, according to the Washington Post's columnist is another knowingly self-defeating war that makes everything even worse: "Wouldn't an attack cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime? Perhaps, but military losses have also served to undermine regimes, including the Greek and Argentine juntas, the Russian czar and the Russian communists." Our over-excited neocon may actually be at the point of imagining that Ronald Reagan invaded the USSR. The Washington Post, if questioned, will tell you that accuracy is not relevant in opinion writing.

And, if at first you kill millions of innocent people while accomplishing nothing: "Wouldn't destroying much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race."

Surely. And if not, what's the viability of life on planet earth in the grand scheme of things? After all, there is some "us" for whom a war on Iran is "our" best option. For this crowd, there is a more important world than this one. It is the world of sacred self-deluded megalomaniacal murderers for whom killing is a sacrament.

And never mind the uncontrollable outbreak of wider war, when you've already written off the planet: "And finally, wouldn't Iran retaliate by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans — as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — with new ferocity? Probably. " But, says our sociopathic friend, it is better for the United States to suffer hard losses, while killing lots of Iranians unworthy of any notice, than to suffer the even worse losses that would surely come if an imaginary Iran that behaved like the United States attacked its neighbors and the United States were "drawn in" to those wars.

When you're starting wars, not on the grounds that fictional weapons of mass destruction will kill you otherwise, not on the pretense of preventing an attack on civilians, but on the grounds that if you don't start a war now someone else could theoretically start one later, you have set up a logic of Armageddon. And it may kill us all. We may die in part of overdosing on Hollywood movies with happy endings that convince us reality looks like that. But we won't all die, I feel fairly certain, without the Washington Post cheering death through the door.

Open Letter to the People and Leaders of Iran from the People of the United States

Sign here.

It has come to our attention while observing the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States government that a group of 47 U.S. Senators are attempting, against the will of the majority of the American people, to sabotage any agreement due to their hope of creating additional conflict between our country and the people of Iran.

We would also like to bring to your attention that many people in the United States are aware that the United States government is in violation of a treaty approved by the Senate and signed into law. The treaty imposes an affirmative obligation on the United States and all other countries possessing nuclear weapons to act to diminish and eventually eliminate all of their existing nuclear weapons as a condition for relieving non-nuclear countries of the need to acquire such terrifying weapons. The official name of this treaty is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or NPT.

We also wanted to bring to your attention that under the U.S. Constitution, (Article 6, Clause 2), any treaty approved by the Senate and signed into law “shall be the supreme law of the land” in the United States.

Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty requires the United States as a nuclear power to: “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control". (our emphasis)

We wanted to make sure that you were aware that the U.S. Constitution, recognizing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the supreme law of the land in the United States, requires government officials to carry out two specific tasks:

First, to eliminate the U.S. nuclear arsenal under its Treaty pledge of “general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control;”

And second, to “pursue negotiations in good faith” with other nations for the achievement of nuclear disarmament.

As things stand, the United States is in violation of this “supreme law of the land.”

The United States is not ridding itself of nuclear weapons. It possesses thousands of operational nuclear weapons that it is not destroying. In fact, it is in the process of improving their capability, deploying them on updated fighter aircraft, and other land-attack missiles, aircraft carriers and submarine platforms at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in new government funding.

The United States also provides more than $4 billion in military and economic aid to the state of Israel although Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or allow outside inspectors, and does not deny that it possesses a considerable arsenal of nuclear weapons. We are not aware of any call by U.S. officials insisting that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or begin liquidating its own nuclear arsenal.  

We, the people of the United States, are also aware that Iran as a signatory to the same Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has the absolute legal right, as do all signatory countries, to develop a nuclear capability for civilian energy purposes.

Article IV of the Treaty states: “Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

As a side note, we are also aware that when your country was ruled by a monarch installed in power in 1953 as a consequence of a CIA led-coup against the then constitutional government in Iran, the policy of the U.S. government was to encourage the development of an Iranian nuclear program.

We hope that this letter enriches your understanding that the spirit and content of the Open Letter by 47 Republican Senators does not conform with the views and desires of a broad section of public opinion inside the United States.

Their real aim in scuttling and sabotaging the current negotiations between the United States and Iran, perhaps unprecedented in the form they have chosen, is to create more conflict including the danger of military action against Iran.

Be assured that the last thing the American people want is war with or against Iran.

Initial signers
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General • Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman • Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition • Cindy Sheehan, peace activist • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund • Heidi Boghosian, Esq., Constitutional Rights attorney • James Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles • Debra Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait • Chuck Kauffman, National Co-Coordinator of Alliance for Global Justice • Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst • Eugene Puryear, Party for Socialism and Liberation • Medea Benjamin, co-founder, Code Pink • David Swanson, • Juan Jose Gutierrez, Vamos Unidos, USA • Malachy Kilbride, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance • Imam Mahdi Bray, American Muslim Alliance • Phil Wilayto, author and editor, Virginia Defenders Newspaper • Don DeBar, Host, CPR News • Arturo Garcia, Alliance Philippines • Radhika Miller, Attorney, Washington, D.C. • Rev. Claudia de la Cruz, Rebel Diaz Arts Collective (RDACBX) • Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte • Benjamin N. Dictor, Attorney, New York, NY • John Beacham, ANSWER Chicago • Phil Portluck, • Preston Wood, ANSWER - LA • Mike Prysner, March Forward! • Jeff Bigelow, labor organizer • Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five           

Which Party Do You View Iran Through?

Most people in the United States have little contact with Iran or its culture. Iran comes up as a scary threat in the speeches of demagogues. A range of debate is offered between obliterate it and pressure it into compliance with our civilized norms, or at least the civilized norms of some other country that doesn't obliterate or pressure people.

So how do Americans view Iran? Many view it, like all governmental matters, through the lens of either the Democratic or the Republican Party. The Democratic President has come to be seen as on the side of preventing a war with Iran. The Republican Congress has come to be seen as pushing for that war. In this framework, something remarkable happens. Democrats begin recognizing all of the arguments against war that ought to be applied to every war.

Liberals and progressives are full of talk about respecting their president and their commander in chief and following his course to tame the Iranian threat, and so forth. But they are also pointing out that war is optional, that it is not a justifiable last resort because there are always other choices. They are pointing out the undesirability of war, the horrors of war, and the preferability of a diplomatic resolution, indeed the generation of friendly and cooperative relations -- albeit in some cases as a means to fighting another war with Iran as an ally. (This seems to be Obama's scheme for using war to fix the disaster left by a past war.)

Online activist organizations that identify with the Democratic Party are actually doing remarkably well at arguing against a war with Iran. They've largely dropped the President's own rhetoric that baselessly claims Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, preferring to rail against the danger of Republican warmongering. That's a reality-based position held by neither Party -- the Republicans don't claim they're starting a war and the White House doesn't generally focus on accusing them of it. Yes, these groups are still pushing the idea that Republicans disrespecting their president is an even bigger deal than starting a war, but when they turn to the topic of war they truly sound like they oppose it and understand why we always all should.

If you see Iran through that left-Democratic lens, that is if you are opposed to Republican efforts to start yet another unnecessary catastrophic war, this one with Iran, I have a few ideas I'd like to run by you.

1. What if President Obama were opposed to efforts to undermine and overthrow the government of Venezuela? What if Republicans in Congress were ridiculously claiming that Venezuela was a threat to the United States? What if the Republicans were writing letters of encouragement to the leaders of coup attempts in Venezuela to let them know that they had U.S. backing regardless of what the State Department might say? Would you oppose the overthrow of the Venezuelan government?

2. What if Congress had sent a delegation to instigate a violent coup in Kiev, behind the back of the State Department and the White House? What if pressure was building toward a war with nuclear Russia, and Republican leaders of Congress were eagerly fanning the flames while the White House pursued the alternatives of diplomacy, demilitarization, ceasefires, negotiations, aid, and the international rule of law? Would you oppose U.S. Congressional support for the rightwing coup government in Ukraine and its antagonization of Russia?

3. What if President Obama gave an eloquent speech acknowledging that not only is there "no military solution" in Iraq or Syria but that it's wrong to keep saying that while pursuing a military solution? What if he pulled U.S. troops out of that region and out of Afghanistan and asked Congress to fund a Marshall Plan of aid and restitution, at a much lower price tag than the troop presence of course? And what if Republicans introduced a bill to put all the troops back in? Would you oppose that bill?

4. What if the Congressional armed "services" committees set up panels to review kill lists and ordered men, women, and children targeted and murdered with drone strikes, along with anyone too close to them and anyone with a suspicious profile? What if President Obama accused Congress of violating national laws on murder, the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Kellogg Briand Pact, the Ten Commandments, and the lessons of the past that show such reckless actions to generate more enemies than they kill? Would you protest drone kills and demand the elimination of armed drones?

Here's what worries me. There are some positive signs right now and were some in late 2013 and at moments since. But the anti-Republican-war movement of 2002-2007 may not be matched again until the U.S. President is again a Republican (if that ever again happens). And by then, President George W. Bush's wars will have long passed without any penalties for those responsible. And President Obama will have increased military spending and foreign presence and privatization, given the CIA the power to wage wars, eliminated the practice of gaining UN approval for wars, ended the custom of gaining Congressional sanction for wars, established the practice of murdering people with missiles anywhere on earth (and armed half the earth's nations with similar ability), while continuing to spread violence and weaponry through Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and on and on.

One last question: If you had a chance to oppose things you dislike, even though they're the result of bipartisanship, would you?

Talk Nation Radio: Michael Schwartz: Israel's Wars Are for Oil

Michael Schwartz is an Emeritus Distinguished Teaching Professor of sociology at Stony Brook State University and the author of six books and scores of articles and commentaries, including award winning books on popular protest and insurgency. His most recent book, War Without End, analyzes how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to dismantle the Iraqi state and economy while fueling sectarian civil war inside Iraq. His work on the Middle East  appears regularly in TomDispatch including his latest article, "The Great Game in the Holy Land."

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad!


A national conference to connect all the issues:

“Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad!”

(to register now, click the link below)

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) invites you to attend the “Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad!” conference, to be held May 8-10, 2015, in Secaucus, N.J, just outside New York City.

More and more, we can see how all the problems of the world are connected. The trillions of dollars being spent on wars-for-profit abroad could be used here at home to rebuild our cities, educate our youth, employ our jobless, repair damage to the environment – and try to make up for the endless suffering the Pentagon is inflicting on people around the world, most of them people of color, the vast majority of whom have nothing to do with threatening us or anyone else.

Some of the connections are even more striking. Some of the very same kinds of military equipment used in Iraq was seen this past summer on the streets of Ferguson, Mo. Surveillance drones developed for use by the military are now being used by domestic police departments. The endless “war on terror” is being used to justify taking away our civil liberties here at home. Wars for oil in the Middle East keep fossil fuels flowing, accelerating the climate change that threatens all humanity.

This conference will be an opportunity to meet and network with activists from across the country and learn about the many struggles going on today, both at home and around the world. Speakers with decades of experience will be joined by members of the new generations of activists who are bringing fresh energy and ideas into the movement. Together, we will learn from and inspire each other.

Most conferences cost many hundreds of dollars to attend, but UNAC organizers are doing their best to keep this one affordable for young activists and working people. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to expand your knowledge, make many new progressive friends and build the movement for fundamental social change. 

Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad!

For more information and to register for the conference, see:

To place an ad in the conference journal, see:


P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054  ●  Ph:  518-227-6947

Email: ●  Web:

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

World Beyond War has just published a short book titled A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.

This act constitutes an intervention into the debate over whether to create a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force. In fact, this document should help stimulate a debate over whether to continue with the war approach to global conflicts, authorized or not.

It has become routine to acknowledge that "there is no military solution" even while pursuing military actions as preferable to doing nothing. A Global Security System builds a case for alternative actions, both in a moment of crisis, and on the long-term path toward preventing conflict and developing nonviolent means of resolving conflict.

This book describes the "hardware" of creating a peace system, and the "software" — the values and concepts — necessary to operate a peace system, and the means to spread these globally. This report is based on the work of many experts in international relations and peace studies and on the experience of many activists. A quotation from the first section reads:

"In On Violence, Hannah Arendt wrote that the reason warfare is still with us is not a death wish of our species nor some instinct of aggression, '. . . but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.' The Alternative Global Security System we describe here is the substitute. The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security."

The book is available free online at, including the Executive Summary and full Table of Contents. Here is the full PDF version. The paperback is available at your local bookstore or any online bookseller. The distributor is Ingram. The ISBN is 978-0983083085. Buy online at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. The audio book can be purchased here. The eBook editions (978-1495147159) are coming soon.

Comments can be posted under each section of the book on the website. Some of the top experts in various fields will be engaging in conversation in these comment sections. Each book section is posted along with graphics, an audio version, and related actions that can be taken. Check it out!

A teach-in on this topic is planned for 5:00-6:30 p.m. March 20, 2015, at University of the District of Columbia Law School at 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC, as part of four days of events planned by Spring Rising. Speaking will be David Swanson, author and director of World Beyond War; Matthew Hoh, a former State Department official who resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan; and Robert Fantina, author and journalist whose most recent book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.

Putin Wants to Eat Your Children

If U.S. television and politicians started saying that Saudi Arabia should be bombed because it kills and tortures innocent people, within a week many millions of Americans would demand just that. And because those voices do say that about ISIS, many millions of Americans do favor a war on ISIS.

My point is not that bombs would be worse than the problem addressed and would make the problem itself worse as well, although that's all true. Rather, my point is that most people who favor wars do so in order to blindly support a nation, and in blindly supporting that nation they allow it to dictate which wars they will favor. Although war supporters will give you reasons for the wars they favor, they actually favor whichever wars they are told to favor, and no others. And they'll give you the reasons they are told to believe in as well.

More often than not, the U.S. public is advised to favor a war on a single individual of demonic nature, even though a war against an individual is completely nonsensical. According to nonsensical propaganda, you don't bomb Iraqis; you bomb former-U.S.-ally Saddam Hussein. You don't bomb Afghans; you bomb former-U.S.-ally Osama bin Laden. You don't drone kill Pakistani and Yemeni and Somali children and women and men; you drone kill Al Qaeda Terrorist Number Three, over and over again. You don't liberate Libya from what stability it had; you kill former-U.S.-ally Muammar Gadaffi. You don't attack Panama; you attack former-U.S.-ally Manuel Noriega. Et cetera et cetera.

Well, it's Vladimir Putin's turn, which means Russia is at risk, which means the world is at risk, and yet the rough beast stumbling toward Bethlehem to be born is as oblivious to its conception as any unborn thing or television viewer.

The Washington Post has a criticism of the U.S. television show "House of Cards" as being unrealistic in its portrayal of a Putin character because the actor is too tall, the White House would never invite the Russian band Pussy Riot (jailed by Putin) to dinner with Putin, etc. If you actually watch the episode it gets a lot more unrealistic than that.

First the Putin character is made so obnoxious that you're supposed to take the sociopathic (hands-on) murderer who's the U.S. president for a nice reasonable guy. Then you're supposed to accept the whole pretense that the United States wants to and can create "peace" between Israel and its victims despite giving Israel billions of dollars of weapons every year and blocking all global accountability for its crimes. Then you're supposed to imagine that Russia and the United States can and should join forces and use those forces to violently bring about a state of nonviolence without ever even considering any of the grievances or injustices at the root of the problem.

Then comes a pretense that is central to the formulaic but muddy thinking that takes the U.S. into wars. When Pussy Riot protests Putin's domestic abuses, the U.S. president declares that he will follow their example and "stand up" to Putin. This equation between protesting domestic crimes and threatening military hostility from abroad is absolutely insane but absolutely standard in war propaganda.

And why does the President feel obliged to "stand up" to Putin? Because of how the negotiations had gone earlier in the program. The U.S. asked for Putin's help in "bringing peace" to the Middle East, and Putin said OK but I'd like you to take your missiles that are directed at Russia out of Eastern Europe. The President said he would pull out a small unspecified number but his doing so would have to be kept secret. Putin replied that such a bargain should not be secret and there would be no accountability if it were. And the U.S. President at that point freaked out, determined that Putin was an obnoxious jerk who ruined parties, imposed himself on the First Lady, and generally made everyone hate him as much as humanly possible, and therefore Russia deserved nothing and the world would be condemned to a greater likelihood of nuclear war.

You won't find that account in the Washington Post but you will see it if you watch the program. Or if you read U.S. magazines you'll find something similar. If you read U.S. books you'll find the same themes. If you listen to your Congress members you'll get the same general line. A war went from unpopular in 2013 to popular in 2014 because of some ugly videos of murders and the redirection of the war toward the murderers. Vladimir Putin is being set up as the reason for a popular war even as hostility is being provoked in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe.

This could be the last such set-up if we quickly learn our lesson and pull it back, or if we don't.



Lee Camp points out to me that the song Pussy Riot sings at the end of the show has some interesting words:


U.S. Standing Alone Against Children

Lawrence Wittner points out that the United States will soon be the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And why not? Wittner focuses on general backward stupidness: the treaty would "override" the Constitution or the importance of families or the rights of parents. He points out the treaty's support for parents and families and the impossibility of overriding the Constitution -- which we might note in any case says nothing on the subject.

Then Wittner mentions some more substantive reasons for opposition:

"... in fairness to the critics, it must be acknowledged that some current American laws do clash with the Convention’s child protection features. For example, in the United States, children under the age of 18 can be jailed for life, with no possibility of parole. Also, as Human Rights Watch notes, “exemptions in U.S. child labor laws allow children as young as 12 to be put to work in agriculture for long hours and under dangerous conditions.” Moreover, the treaty prohibits cruel and degrading punishment of children―a possible source of challenge to the one-third of U.S. states that still allow corporal punishment in their schools."

That's actually a pretty major in-fairness-to-the-critics point. The United States wants to maintain the ability to lock children in cages for the rest of their lives or to work them in the fields or to physically abuse them in school. In fact, the child prison industry is a major presence in the United States.

And there's another industry that has a dog in this fight. The U.S. military openly recruits children.

And let's not forget that there are children on the drone kill list and children who have been killed with drone strikes.

There are other nations that engage in some of these same abuses. Is it better to ratify a basic human rights treaty and violate it or to refuse to ratify it because you intend to act against it as a matter of principle?

I'm inclined to think the latter suggests the further remove from decent tendencies.

Speaking Events

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


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