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U.S. Ambassador to Russia Blames U.S. and NATO for Ukraine Crisis

February 1, 2008:

"5. (C) Ukraine and Georgia's NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face."

Obama Badly Wanted to Bomb Syria Last Year

There are those claiming that Obama never wanted to send missiles into Syria.  Thus they explain that public pressure against those missile strikes was pointless and unnecessary, as opposed to effective and successful.  However, Obama made a hard pitch to the public and Congress in favor of the strikes, and it's on video.  Watch him try to sell the public:

Watch him try to sell Congress:

HERE.

Watch the videos he showed Congress and the public:

Honestly, War Is Over

Remarks in Los Angeles, May 10, 2014.

Thank you to Pat Alviso and all the individuals and groups involved in setting this event up. Thank you to Lila Garrett for doing twice what I do at twice my age, including hosting the best radio show around. And thank you to our friend, recently lost, Tim Carpenter, for whom there is a memorial event today in Massachusetts. We will not forget you, Tim, and we will carry on.

Now, about ending war.

Everybody's Got Afghanistan Wrong

This goes deeper than the usual war lies.

We've had plenty of those. We weren't told the Taliban was willing to turn bin Laden over to a neutral nation to stand trial. We weren't told the Taliban was a reluctant tolerator of al Qaeda, and a completely distinct group. We weren't told the 911 attacks had also been planned in Germany and Maryland and various other places not marked for bombing. We weren't told that most of the people who would die in Afghanistan, many more than died on 911, not only didn't support 911 but never heard of it. We weren't told our government would kill large numbers of civilians, imprison people without trial, hang people by their feet and whip them until they were dead. We weren't told how this illegal war would advance the acceptability of illegal wars or how it would make the United States hated in much of the world. We weren't given the background of how the U.S. interfered in Afghanistan and provoked a Soviet invasion and armed resistance to the Soviets and left the people to the tender mercies of that armed resistance once the Soviets left.  We weren't told that Tony Blair wanted Afghanistan first before he'd get the UK to help destroy Iraq.  We certainly weren't told that bin Laden had been an ally of the U.S. government, that the 911 hijackers were mostly Saudi, or that there might be anything at all amiss with the government of Saudi Arabia. And nobody mentioned the trillions of dollars we'd waste or the civil liberties we'd have to lose at home or the severe damage that would be inflicted on the natural environment. Even birds don't go to Afghanistan anymore.

OK. That's all sort of par-for-the-course, war-marketing bullshit.  People who pay attention know all of that.  People who don't want to know any of that are the last great hope of military recruiters everywhere.  And don't let the past tense fool you. The White House is trying to keep the occupation of Afghanistan going for TEN MORE YEARS ("and beyond"), and articles have been popping up this week about sending U.S. troops back into Iraq. But there's something more.

I've just read an excellent new book by Anand Gopal calledNo Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes. Gopal has spent years in Afghanistan, learned local languages, interviewed people in depth, researched their stories, and produced a true-crime book more gripping, as well as more accurate, than anything Truman Capote came up with.  Gopal's book is like a novel that interweaves the stories of a number of characters -- stories that occasionally overlap.  It's the kind of book that makes me worry I'll spoil it if I say too much about the fate of the characters, so I'll be careful not to. 

The characters include Americans, Afghans allied with the U.S. occupation, Afghans fighting the U.S. occupation, and men and women trying to survive -- including by shifting their loyalties toward whichever party seems least likely in that moment to imprison or kill them.  What we discover from this is not just that enemies, too, are human beings. We discover that the same human beings switch from one category to another quite easily.  The blunder of the U.S. occupation's de-Baathification policy in Iraq has been widely discussed.  Throwing all the skilled and armed killers out of work turned out not to be the most brilliant move.  But think about what motivated it: the idea that whoever had supported the evil regime was irredeemably evil (even though Ronald Reagan and Donald Rumsfeld had supported the evil regime too -- OK, bad example, but you see what I mean). In Afghanistan the same cartoonish thinking, the same falling for one's own propaganda, went on.

People in Afghanistan whose personal stories are recounted here sided with or against Pakistan, with or against the USSR, with or against the Taliban, with or against the U.S. and NATO, as the tides of fortune turned.  Some tried to make a living at peaceful employment when that possibility seemed to open up, including early-on in the U.S. occupation.  The Taliban was very swiftly destroyed in 2001 through a combination of overwhelming killing power and desertion.  The U.S. then began hunting for anyone who had once been a member of the Taliban.  But these included many of the people now leading the support of the U.S. regime -- and many such allied leaders were killed and captured despite not having been Taliban as well, through sheer stupidity and corruption. We've often heard how dangling $5000 rewards in front of poor people produced false-accusations that landed their rivals in Bagram or Guantanamo. But Gopal's book recounts how the removal of these often key figures devastated communities, and turned communities against the United States that had previously been inclined to support it.  Add to this the vicious and insulting abuse of whole families, including women and children captured and harassed by U.S. troops, and the revival of the Taliban under the U.S. occupation begins to become clear.  The lie we've been told to explain it is that the U.S. became distracted by Iraq.  Gopal documents, however, that the Taliban revived precisely where U.S. troops were imposing a rule of violence and not where other internationals were negotiating compromises using, you know, words.

We find here a story of a bumbling oblivious and uncomprehending foreign occupation torturing and murdering a lot of its own strongest allies, shipping some of them off to Gitmo -- even shipping to Gitmo young boys whose only offense had been being the sexual assault victims of U.S. allies. The danger in this type of narrative that dives deep into the crushing Kafkan horror of rule by brute ignorant force is that a reader will think: Let's do the next war better.  If occupations can't work, let's just blow shit up and leave. To which I respond: Yeah, how are things working out in Libya? The lesson for us to learn is not that wars are badly managed, but that human beings are not Good Guys or Bad Guys. And here's the hard part: That includes Russians.

Want to do something useful for Afghanistan? Go here. Or here.

Possibly the Biggest Unknown Known Risks Exposure

A petition to the President and the Attorney General has just been posted by several organizations, including one I work for, asking that the Department of Justice stop threatening New York Times reporter James Risen with prison if he refuses to reveal a confidential source.

This story, among other stunning features, I think, threatens to expose an unknown known of the highest magnitude -- by which I mean, not something lying outside Donald Rumsfeld's imagination, but something that everyone paying attention has known all about for years but which would explode the brains of most consumers of corporate media if they ever heard about it.

Here's a great summary of the matter at the Progressive.  The focus there and in the petition is on the threat to freedom of the press.  But read this offhand bit of the explanation carefully:

"The information concerns a source for a chapter in Risen’s terrific 2006 book, 'State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.' That chapter dealt with a scheme to give the Iranians faulty blueprints for a nuclear weapon."

Not only is the Justice Department (universally understood to take its orders from the White House) trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source, but it's trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source who told him that the United States gave Iran plans for building a nuclear bomb.

Imagine if the general public had a clue that this had happened!

Rather than reporter, I should probably be saying author.  And I should stop attaching the insulting modifier "New York Times" in front of "reporter".  Because this was a story published in a book.  The same book included several interesting stories that I don't think ever made it into major media outlets. 

One exception was a story about NSA mass-surveillance.  The New York Times had sat on that story for over a year and explained that failure as a desire not to inform the public of what its government was up to prior to an election (the 2004 election).  When the book came out, the New York Times finally reported the story.  But if the Times or other outlets have informed the public that the CIA gave Iran nuke plans, I've missed it.  This shocker certainly has not been extensively covered.

The genius plan was to give Iran nuclear bomb plans with some little portion altered. But reportedly it was quite clear to scientists -- yes, even in Iran they have scientists -- which bit had been altered. 

The result was not the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb program.  As Gareth Porter's new book documents in detail, Iran has never had a nuclear bomb program, and we've simply been lied to about that fact for 35 years. 

But, here's the point: if your Uncle Homer knew the sort of moron stunts the CIA was engaged in with a nation marketed for 35 years as a force of evil, the result would out-do by far the outrage heard last summer when Obama and Kerry proposed joining a war in Syria on the side of al Qaeda (which everyone had been told was Evil Inc. up to that moment).

Don't Obama and Holder risk bringing more attention to this lunacy by prosecuting James Risen? Can they really trust the Press Corpse (sic) to bury the substance of the story? 

More to the point: Will we let them? Please sign the petition to the President and the Attorney General.

Italians Enter Hated U.S. Army Base, Plant Marijuana Seeds Everywhere

Thanks to Kit OConnell at FireDogLake and ViceNews and NoDalMolin:

Vicenza without a base would be healthier!

Background.

Any War Criminal Can Be Scared Away from Your Town or College

Someone just emailed me to say that Dick Cheney is coming to his town and that he knows Cheney can't be scared away like Condi, but isn't there anything that can be done? WTF? We scared Cheney away from Charlottesville VA -- This is not difficult.  Follow the steps below:

https://www.readthehook.com/101987/cheney-postpones-visit-amid-planned-protest-calls-arrest

http://warisacrime.org/content/will-dick-cheney-be-arrested-wednesday

http://davidswanson.org/node/3457

Talk Nation Radio: Rebecca Gordon on Mainstreaming Torture

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rebecca-gordon-on-mainstreaming-torture

A new book called Mainstreaming Torture argues that torture has been with us for a long time and remains with us and has been mainstreamed and increased in acceptability in the years since Bush and Cheney left office.  We speak with the author, Rebecca Gordon. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua  and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People. She is an editor of WarTimes/Tiempo de guerras, which seeks to bring a race, class, and gender perspective to issues of war and peace.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

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Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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

Leverett Becomes Sixth City to Pass Anti-Drone Resolution

Here are the other five.

Leverett and Amherst, Mass., both were expected to consider resolutions. I haven't heard any news from Amherst.

The Leverett news is courtesy of Beth Adams.

I haven't seen official text, but here's some idea of what was passed, or at least what was considered for passage, in Leverett:

The Recorder:

Town meeting in Leverett will consider a resolution calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations on foreign soil and to enact regulations on the use of the unmanned aircraft in the United States.

It would ask U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. James McGovern to bring forward legislation “to end the practice of extrajudicial killing by armed drone aircraft” by withholding money for that purpose and “to make restitution for injuries, fatalities and environmental damage resulting from the actions of the United States government, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, allied nations and/or its private contractors.”

The second aspect of the article is to ensure that drones stay at least 500 feet above private properties unless otherwise authorized by town officials.

According to Beth Adams, a Leverett resident and co-author of the measure, the resolution was inspired by one passed in Northampton last summer. “We think it is important for the public to be informed about the rule-making going on without any public input,” Adams said.

May 3 town meeting

The resolution in Leverett, which was authored by a group called Pioneer Valley Citizens Concerned About Drones, received 19 signatures — nearly double the number required to get an article on the warrant. It will be voted on close to the end of the meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. May 3, according to Town Clerk Lisa Stratford.

Adams said “We think people need to be educated about this topic, and we hope other communities will follow our example and pass resolutions that will protect their communities from potential violations before the (Federal Aviation Administration) changes the rules.”

Boston Globe:

"Town meetings in Amherst and Leverett will consider resolutions calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations and regulate the unmanned aircraft locally. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that Amherst Select Board member James Wald said he isn’t comfortable with the town having a foreign policy when the federal government doesn’t have one. Frank Gatti, a Town Meeting member and lead petitioner in Amherst, said the drone resolution would express concern about the US government killing people in Pakistan and Yemen. It would ask US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and Representative James McGovern to propose legislation to stop funding drone killings. A second restriction would keep drones at least 500 feet above private property unless otherwise authorized by town officials."

AP:

"A second restriction would keep drones at least 500 feet above private property unless otherwise authorized by town officials."

United We Stand and Shout and Dance and Make it Better

I'm looking forward to speaking on Saturday, May 10, at the United We Stand Festival in Los Angeles (and at an earlier event) where dozens of speakers and musicians will be standing together against such evils as: "the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, NSA, war on drugs, drones, ... war, GMO, ... central banks, corporatism," and in favor of "Internet freedom, election reform, honest media/music/art, education/student leadership, the environment, ...."

This is nice timing, with Vermont having just become the first state to call for a Constitutional Convention to strip legalized bribery out of U.S. politics, and with the U.S. Senate planning a vote on a Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to limit said bribery. Sixteen states have urged Congress to act, which remains a quixotic pursuit. Even more disturbing than Congressional dithering is the failure of each of those 16 states to tack on a few words to do what Vermont has done and create a work-around should Congress members choose not to bite the greasy hand that feeds them.  Think about what must motivate that failure to add a call for a Constitutional Convention.

There's also the problem that should Congress and the states ever pass an amendment allowing Congress to limit campaign "contributions," Congress would still have to take the additional step of actually doing so. And you can guess as well as I can what Congress considers a reasonable limitation -- just look at the minimal limitations that Congress was imposing before the Supreme Court outrageously attacked those limits in Citizens United and McCutcheon, after which the impeachment of some justices, or the legislative removal of some powers from the Supreme Court would have made more sense than accepting that the Constitution needed changing. 

The Constitution was not intended to give rights to corporations or to equate bribery with the protected act of free speech.  But it's going to take a massive movement of public pressure to compel our government to read or rewrite the Constitution well.  So, perhaps we're just as well off rewriting it.  And that opens up all sorts of possibilities, most of which can't possibly be worse than what we've got now.  We could end the presidential system, the Supreme Court's unaccountability, gerrymandering, corporate monopolies -- including of communications media -- and the pretended legality of war.  We could create a guaranteed income and mandate environmental sustainability.

But without even diving that deeply into creating a better Constitution, we could add something like this:

<<The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be entirely publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section.

State and local governments shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for state or local public office or any state or local ballot measure.

The right of the individual U.S. citizen to vote and to directly elect all candidates by popular vote in all pertinent local, state, and federal elections shall not be violated. Citizens will be automatically registered to vote upon reaching the age of 18 or upon becoming citizens at an age above 18, and the right to vote shall not be taken away from them. Votes shall be recorded on paper ballots, which shall be publicly counted at the polling place. Election day shall be a national holiday.

Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

During a designated campaign period of no longer than six months, free air time shall be provided in equal measure to all candidates for federal office on national, state, or district television and radio stations, provided that each candidate has, during the previous year, received the supporting signatures of at least five percent of their potential voting-age constituents. The same supporting signatures shall also place the candidate's name on the ballot and require their invitation to participate in any public debate among the candidates for the same office.>>

I'm confident that there are thousands of people who can draft this reform that well or better, that Congress will only scrape the surface (and that only if a Constitutional Convention is looming), that such a Convention actually happening would be a big step forward, and that people who are ready for serious change are starting to stand united: https://unitedwestandfest.com

Mayor From Okinawa Coming to Washington to Try to Stop the Base He Was Elected to Stop

U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa and Japan-U.S. Relationship: A Discussion with Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, Member of the Japanese House of Representatives (Okinawa) Denny Tamaki and other experts, facilitated by journalist David Swanson. 
When: May 20, 6pm - 8pm
Where: Busboys and Poets, (14th & V) 2021 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1440683952839158

Seventy years after WWII, Okinawa, one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the Pacific War (1941-45), continues to be occupied by U.S. military bases, mostly marine bases, posing threats to the safety, health, and life of people and the environment. Despite firm opposition by the majority of the people of Okinawa, U.S. and Japanese governments are forcing through their plan to build yet another marine airbase with a military port, with massive reclamation that is likely to cause damage to the endangered bio-diverse environment of the Northeastern shore of Okinawa. Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, where the planned military base construction site is, was first elected in 2010 and re-elected this January, both on the platform of opposing the new base. Please join Mayor Inamine and a panel of experts think together about the U.S. citizens’ responsibility to bring justice and democracy back to Okinawa.

Sponsored by Busboys and Poets and the New Diplomacy Initiative.

Inquiry: Busboys and Poets, phone: 202-387-7638

New Diplomacy Initiative, info@nd-initiative.org

In Search of a Good War

The U.S. public is not longing for a U.S. war in Ukraine.

Seven percent want military options considered (poll by McClatchy-Marist, April 7-10), up from six percent a bit earlier (Pew, March 20-23), or 12 percent for U.S. ground troops and 17 percent for air strikes (CNN, March 7-9).

Polling is similar on U.S. desire for a war with Iran, or for U.S. military involvement in Syria.  Many more Americans believe in ghosts and UFOs, according to the polls, than believe that these would be good wars.

The U.S. public never got behind the war on Libya, and for years a majority has said that the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan never should have been launched.

The search for a good war is beginning to look as futile as the search for the mythical city of El Dorado.  And yet that search remains our top public project. 

The U.S. military swallows 55.2 percent of federal discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project. Televised U.S. sporting events thank members of the military for watching from 175 nations. U.S. aircraft carriers patrol the world's seas. U.S. drones buzz the skies of nations thousands of miles from our shores.

No other nation spends remotely comparable funds on militarism, and much of what the United States buys has no defensive purpose -- unless "defense" is understood as deterrence or preemption or, indeed, aggression.  As the world's number one supplier of weapons to other nations, ours may be said to extend its search for a good war beyond its own affairs as well.

A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate found that U.S. wars were generating anti-U.S. sentiment.  Former military officials, including Stanley McChrystal, say drone strikes are producing more enemies than they are killing.  A WIN/Gallup poll of 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the U.S. far ahead of any other as the nation people believed was the greatest threat to peace in the world.

It is the ethics of a coward to believe that safety justifies all, but of a fool to commit immoral acts that actually endanger oneself.  And what is more immoral than modern wars, with deaths and injuries so massive, so one-sided, and so heavily civilian?

Military spending produces fewer jobs than spending on education or infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people, according to studies by the Political Economy Research Institute.  It is the ethics of a sociopath to justify killing for economic gain, but of a fool to do so for economic loss.

The military is our top consumer of petroleum and creator of superfund sites, in addition to being the hole into which we sink the funds that could address the real danger of climate change.

War justifies secrecy and the erosion of liberties: warrantless surveillance, lawless imprisonment, torture, and assassination, even as wars are marketed as defending "freedom."

And of course the maintenance of nuclear and other weapons for war risks intentional or accidental catastrophe.

The downsides to war, even for an aggressor nation with overwhelming fire power, are voluminous.  The upside would seem to be that if we keep fighting wars, one of them might turn out to be a good one.

But ask people to name a good war, and most will go back 73 years to World War II.  A few will express badly misinformed views about Yugoslavia or Rwanda, but most will focus right in on Adolf Hitler.  Think about that.  Our top public project for the past three-quarters of a century has to go back that far to find a popular example of its use.

We live in a vastly changed world, and public opinion reflects that.  The power of nonviolent action to resist tyranny and injustice is dramatically more realized, as is understanding of nonviolent conflict resolution and wise conflict avoidance. 

Winston Churchill called World War II "the Unnecessary War" claiming that "there was never a war more easy to stop."  That war would not have happened without World War I, which nobody claims was itself unavoidable. 

Just as the U.S. sells weapons to abusive nations today and prioritizes militarism over aid to refugees, Western nations helped fund the rise of the Nazis and refused to accept Jewish refugees.  There are ways to prevent situations from ever reaching the point of war.

Or rather there would be if we weren't so invested in the military industrial complex of whose "total influence" President Dwight Eisenhower warned.

##

David Swanson's books include War No More: The Case for Abolition and projects include WorldBeyondWar.org.

Mayor From Okinawa to Bring Surprising Message to Washington

Imagine if China were stationing large numbers of troops in the United States.  Imagine that most of them were based in a small rural county in Mississippi.  Imagine -- this shouldn't be hard -- that their presence was problematic, that nations they threatened in Latin America resented the United States' hospitality, and that the communities around the bases resented the noise and pollution and drinking and raping of local girls.

Now imagine a proposal by the Chinese government, with support from the federal government in Washington, to build another big new base in that same corner of Mississippi.  Imagine the governor of Mississippi supported the base, but just before his reelection pretended to oppose it, and after being reelected went back to supporting it.  Imagine that the mayor of the town where the base would be built made opposition to it the entire focus of his reelection campaign and won, with exit polls showing that voters overwhelmingly agreed with him.  And imagine that the mayor meant it.

Where would your sympathies lie? Would you want anyone in China to hear what that mayor had to say?

Sometimes in the United States we forget that there are heavily armed employees of our government permanently stationed in most nations on earth.  Sometimes when we remember, we imagine that the other nations must appreciate it.  We turn away from the public uproar in the Philippines as the U.S. military tries to return troops to those islands from which they were driven by public pressure.  We avoid knowing what anti-U.S. terrorists say motivates them, as if by merely knowing what they say we would be approving of their violence.  We manage not to know of the heroic nonviolent struggle underway on Jeju Island, South Korea, as residents try to stop the construction of a new base for the U.S. Navy. We live on oblivious to the massive nonviolent resistance of the people of Vicenza, Italy, who for years voted and demonstrated and lobbied and protested a huge new U.S. Army base that has gone right ahead regardless.

Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, Okinawa, (population 61,000) is headed to the United States, where he may have to do a bit of afflicting the comfortable as he tries to comfort the afflicted back home.  Okinawa Prefecture has hosted major U.S. military bases for 68 years.  Over 73% of the U.S. troop presence in Japan is concentrated in Okinawa, which makes up a mere 0.6% of the Japanese land area.  As a result of public protest, one base is being closed -- the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.  The U.S. government wants a new Marine base in Nago City.  The people of Nago City do not.

Inamine was first elected as mayor of Nago City in January 2010 promising to block the new base.  He was reelected this past January 19th still promising to block the base.  The Japanese government had worked hard to defeat him, but exit polls showed 68% of voters opposing the base, and 27% in favor of it.  In February U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy visited Okinawa, where she met with the Governor but declined to meet with the mayor.

That's all right. The Mayor can meet with the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon, and the Congress.  He'll be in Washington, D.C. in mid-May, where he hopes to appeal directly to the U.S. government and the U.S. public.  He'll speak at an open, public event at Busboys and Poets restaurant at 14th and V Streets at 6:00 p.m. on May 20th.

A great summary of the situation in Okinawa can be found in this statement: "International Scholars, Peace Advocates and Artists Condemn Agreement To Build New U.S. Marine Base in Okinawa."  An excerpt:

"Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa."

Here's background on the Governor of Okinawa.

Here's an organization working to support the will of the public of Okinawa on this issue.

And here's a video worth watching:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzAw-jOQwME#t=0

The Art of Satyagraha

Michael Nagler has just published The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action, a quick book to read and a long one to digest, a book that's rich in a way that people of a very different inclination bizarrely imagine Sun Tzu's to be.  That is, rather than a collection of misguided platitudes, this book proposes what still remains a radically different way of thinking, a habit of living that is not in our air. In fact, Nagler's first piece of advice is to avoid the airwaves, turn off the television, opt out of the relentless normalization of violence.

We don't need the art of war applied to a peace movement. We need the art of satyagraha applied to the movement for a peaceful, just, free, and sustainable world.  This means we have to stop trying to defeat the Military Industrial Complex (how's that been working out?) and start working to replace it and to convert the people who make up its parts to new behaviors that are better for them as well as for us.

It can seem out of place to shift from a discussion of the world's largest military to personal interactions. Surely giving John Kerry a complete personality transplant would leave in place corrupt elections, war profiteering, complicit media outlets, and the assumption held by legions of career bureaucrats that war is the way to peace.

No doubt, but only by learning to think and live nonviolence can we build an activist movement with the greatest potential to transform our structures of government.  Nagler's examples highlight the importance of knowing what is negotiable, what should be compromised, and what must not be; what is substantive and what symbolic; when a movement is ready to escalate its nonviolence and when it is too soon or too late; and when (always?) not to tack on new demands in the middle of a campaign.

Tiananmen Square should have been abandoned and other tactics pursued, Nagler believes.  Holding the square was symbolic.  When protesters took over the Ecuadorean Congress in 2000 one of their leaders was elected president.  Why?  Nagler points out that the Congress was a place of power, not just a symbol; the activists were strong enough to take power, not just ask for it; and the occupation was part of a larger campaign that preceded and followed it.

Nagler has a lot of praise and hope for the Occupy movement, but also draws examples of failure from there. When a group of churches in one city offered to join with Occupy if everyone would stop cursing, Occupiers refused. Dumb decision. Not only is the point not to get to do every little thing we want, but we are not engaging in a struggle for power -- rather, in a learning process and a process of building relationships, even with those we are organizing to challenge -- and certainly with those who want to help us if we'll refrain from cussing. It can even be helpful, Nagler documents, to be accomodating to those we are challenging, when such steps are taken in friendship rather than subservience.

We are after the welfare of all parties, Nagler writes.  Even those we want removed from office? Even those we want prosecuted for crimes? Is there restorative justice that can make an official who has launched a war see his or her removal from office and sanctioning as advantageous? Maybe. Maybe not. But seeking to remove people from office in order to uphold the rule of law and end injustices is very different from acting out of vengeance.

We should not seek out victories over others, Nager advises.  But doesn't the organizing of activists require informing the deeply victory-dependent of every partial success achieved?  Maybe. But a victory need not be over someone; it can be with someone. Oil barons have grandchildren who will enjoy a livable planet as much as the rest of us.

Nagler outlines obstructive and constructive actions, citing Gandhi's efforts in India and the first Intifada as examples of combining the two.  The Landless Worker Movement in Brazil uses constructive nonviolence, while the Arab Spring used obstructive.  Ideally, Nagler thinks, a movement should begin with constructive projects and then add obstruction.  The Occupy Movement has gone in the opposite direction, developing aid for storm victims and banking victims after protests were driven out of public squares.  The potential for change, Nagler believes, lies in the possibility of Occupy or another movement combining the two approaches.

Nagler's sequential steps in a nonviolent action campaign include: 1. Conflict Resolution, 2. Satyagraha, 3. The Ultimate Sacrifice.

I imagine Nagler would agree with me that what we need as much as peaceful behavior by our government is Conflict Avoidance. So much is done to generate conflicts that need not be.  U.S. troops in 175 countries, and drones in some of the remaining few, are known to generate hostility; yet that hostility is used to justify the stationing of more troops. While it's important to realize we'll never rid the world of conflict, I'm sure we could come a lot closer if we tried.

But Nagler is outlining a plan for a popular campaign, not for the State Department. His three stages are a guide for how we ought to be outlining our future course of action. Step 0.5, then, is not Conflict Avoidance but Infiltration of Corporate Media or Development of Alternative Means to Communicate. Or so it occurs to me. I'll host Nagler on Talk Nation Radio soon, so send questions I should ask him to david at davidswanson dot org.

Nagler sees growing success and even greater potential for nonviolent action done wisely and strategically, and points out the extent to which violence remains the default approach of our government. And the case Nagler makes is made strong and credible by his extensive knowledge of nonviolent campaigns engaged in around the world over the past several decades. Nagler looks helpfully at successes, failures, and partial successes to draw out the lessons we need moving forward. I'm tempted to write a review of this book nearly as long as or even longer than the book itself, but believe it might be most helpful simply to say this:

Trust me. Buy this book. Carry it with you.

Olympic Capitalism: Bread and Circuses Without the Bread

The author of Brazil's Dance With the Devil, Dave Zirin, must love sports, as I do, as billions of us do, or he wouldn't keep writing about where sports have gone wrong.  But, wow, have they gone wrong!

Brazil is set to host the World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016.  In preparation Brazil is evicting 200,000 people from their homes, eliminating poor neighborhoods, defunding public services, investing in a militarized police and surveillance state, using slave and prison labor to build outrageous stadiums unlikely to be filled more than once, and "improving" a famous old stadium (the world's largest for 50 years) by removing over half the capacity in favor of luxury seats.  Meanwhile, popular protests and graffiti carry the message: "We want 'FIFA standard' hospitals and schools!" not to mention this one:

(FIFA = Fédération Internationale de Football Association, aka Soccer Profiteers International)

Brazil is just the latest in a string of nations that have chosen the glory of hosting mega sports events like the Olympics and World Cup despite the drawbacks.  And Zirin makes a case that nations' governments don't see the drawbacks as drawbacks at all, that in fact they are the actual motivation.  "Countries don't want these mega-events in spite of the threats to public welfare, addled construction projects, and repression they bring, but because of them."  Just as a storm or a war can be used as an excuse to strip away rights and concentrate wealth, so can the storm of sporting events that, coincidentally or not, have their origins in the preparation of nations for warmaking.

Zirin notes that the modern Olympics were launched by a group of European aristocrats and generals who favored nationalism and war -- led by Pierre de Coubertin who believed sport was "an indirect preparation for war." "In sports," he said, "all the same qualities flourish which serve for warfare: indifference toward one's well being, courage, readiness for the unforeseen."  The trappings of the Olympic celebration as we know it, however -- the opening ceremonies, marching athletes, Olympic torch run, etc., -- were created by the Nazis' propaganda office for the 1936 games.  The World Cup, on the other hand, began in 1934 in Mussolini's Italy with a tournament rigged to guarantee an Italian win.

More worrisome than what sports prepare athletes for is what they may prepare fans for.  There are great similarities between rooting for a sports team, especially a national sports team, and rooting for a national military.  "As soon as the question of prestige arises," wrote George Orwell, whom Zirin quotes, "as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused."  And there is prestige not just in "your" team winning, but in "your" nation hosting the grand event.  Zirin spoke with people in Brazil who were of mixed minds, opposing the injustices the Olympics bring but still glad the Olympics was coming to Brazil.  Zirin also quotes Brazilian politicians who seem to share the goal of national prestige.

At some point the prestige and the profits and the corruption and the commercialism seem to take over the athletics.  "[T]he Olympics aren't about  sport any more than the Iraq war was about democracy," Zirin writes. "The Olympics are not about athletes.  And they're definitely not about bringing together the 'community of nations.' They are a neoliberal Trojan horse aimed at bringing in business and rolling back the most basic civil liberties."

And yet ... And yet ... the damn thing still is about sports, no matter what else it's about, no matter what alternative venues for sports are possible or imaginable.  The fact remains that there are great athletes engaged in great sporting activities in the Olympics and the World Cup.  The attraction of the circus is still real, even when we know it's at the expense of bread, rather than accompanying bread.  And dangerous as the circus may be for the patriotic and militarist minded -- just as a sip of beer might be dangerous to an alcoholic -- one has the darndest time trying to find anything wrong with one's own appreciation for sports; at least I do.

The Olympics are also decidedly less militaristic -- or at least overtly militaristic -- than U.S. sports like football, baseball, and basketball, with their endless glorification of the U.S. military.  "Thank you to our service men and women watching in 175 countries and keeping us safe." The Olympics is also one of the few times that people in the U.S. see people from other countries on their televisions without wars being involved. 

Zirin's portrait of Brazil leaves me with similarly mixed sentiments. His research is impressive. He describes a rich and complex history.  Despite all the corruption and cruelty, I can't help being attracted to a nation that won its independence without a war, abolished slavery without a war, reduces poverty by giving poor people money, denounces U.S. drone murders at the U.N., joins with Turkey to propose an agreement between the United States and Iran, joins with Russia, India, and China to resist U.S. imperialism; and on the same day this year that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed ending the open internet, Brazil created the world's first internet bill of rights. For a deeply flawed place, there's a lot to like.

It's also hard to resist a group of people that pushes back against the outrages being imposed on it.  When a bunch of houses in a poor Brazilian neighborhood were slated for demolition, an artist took photos of the residents, blew them up, and pasted them on the walls of the houses, finally shaming the government into letting the houses stand.  That approach to injustice, much like the Pakistani artists' recent placement of an enormous photo of a drone victim in a field for U.S. drone pilots to see, has huge potential. 

Now, the question is how to display the Olympics' victims to enough Olympics fans around the world so that no new nation will be able to accept this monster on the terms it has been imposing.

Talk Nation Radio: Fahad Desmukh: Western PR Firms Cover for Bahrain's Abuses

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-fahad-desmukh-western-pr-firms-cover-for-bahrain

The brutal monarchy in Bahrain hires Western public relations firms (not to mention a lawyer now in the news for marrying U.S. actor George Clooney) to clean up its public image. We speak with Fahad Desmukh, a founding member of Bahrain Watch and a freelance journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. He grew up in Bahrain and was among the first generation of bloggers in the country, writing under the pseudonym of "Chanad Bahraini".  Bahrain Watch is an independent research and advocacy organization that seeks to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in Bahrain. See https://bahrainwatch.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Tim Carpenter Will Be Badly Missed

Tim Carpenter seemed unstoppable.  He was part of this website from day 1, when its name was AfterDowningStreet. He was part of activism in this country from long before that.  He was an organizer, a lobbyist, a rabble rouser, and a talker.  The cell phone never left his ear, but that didn't prevent him talking to you in person, and getting in more words per minute -- and all of them right to the point -- than an auctioneer.  His emails were shorter, often a few words, or a single word.  Often that word was "Teamwork!" But they made up for brevity in the sheer number of them.  If anyone could make the current U.S.

Rep. Hurt Confuses Iraq and Afghanistan

Congressman Hurt just wrote below:

"I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families.  As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat the insurgency and prevent Iraq from again becoming a safe-haven for international terrorists. I think that the withdrawal of our troops should be based on the conditions on the ground, not political agendas."

When WAS Iraq a safe-haven for international terrorists? 

What American men and women (as opposed to weapons) are now "serving" in Iraq?

Does the Congressman have Iraq and Afghanistan confused?

And should a government that can't keep all of its wars straight still be fighting them?

And should it hide its decision to engage in these murderous expeditions behind pretended concern for the young people sent to do the killing?

 
 

April 25, 2014

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Swanson:

 

Thank you for your recent communication concerning the United States' current involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts on this important matter.  I am grateful for the privilege of representing you and serving as a voice for the citizens of Virginia's Fifth District.  

 

I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families.  As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat the insurgency and prevent Iraq from again becoming a safe-haven for international terrorists.  I think that the withdrawal of our troops should be based on the conditions on the ground, not political agendas. We must not embolden the terrorists who believe that free societies will cave under the pressure of their violent acts.  My highest priority is to safeguard our homeland.  Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the conditions on the ground and will keep your thoughts in mind as events in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to unfold.  

 

I hope you will stay connected to our office with updates on the latest news, legislation, and other useful information, by signing up for our e-newsletter on our website, hurt.house.gov.  Thank you again for your communication and please do not hesitate to contact our office with any future questions or comments.

 

 

 


Sincerely,

 

Robert Hurt
Member of Congress

 

 

David Swanson to Speak in Los Angeles, May 10, on Ending All War

Flyer: PDF.

Sign-up: go here.

David Swanson is working to end all war with WorldBeyondWar.org

His books include: War No More: The Case for Abolition, War Is A Lie, When the World Outlawed War, and The Military Industrial Complex at 50.  

He is the host of  Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, and communications coordinator for ACORN. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsaCrime.org and works for RootsAction.org Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

Swanson will sign books.

United University Church
817 W 34th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90089

Exposition Light Rail: Jefferson / USC Station

Parking in the UUC lot and Lot M. Access to UUC parking is through Gate 5, McClintock/Jefferson entrance to USC. Get a parking permit at Gate 5 kiosk. Tell them you are going to the church. Turn left onto 34th Street and then next left onto Watt Way. Turn right into Lot M and go through Lot M to UUC Lot.

12:00 - 2:30 p.m. May 10, 2014

Free Admission, Open to All.

Wheelchair accessible.

Sponsored by: California Peace Alliance, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Military Families Speak Out, MLK Coalition LA, Peace Center of United University Church, Project Great Futures, Topanga Peace Alliance, United Teachers of Los Angeles Human Rights Committee, and Veterans For Peace.

CONTACT: Kathleen at 310-339-1770.

If War Was Funded Like College Tuition

Are you as tired as I am of news stories about college tuition costs rising? I've been out of college for many years, and you'd have to pay me to go back, but this is ridiculous. 

To see how ridiculous, try a little thought experiment. Imagine opening your newspaper and reading this:

"War and War Preparations Costs to U.S. Households Rose Again This Year

"Continuing a decades-long trend, the cost each U.S. resident pays for his or her wars and war preparations rose 5.3 percent this year. 

"With all costs of the U.S. military, across numerous government departments, reaching $1.2 trillion annually, according to Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project, and with a U.S. population of 314 million people, bills to those opting for war-making as their foreign policy choice this year came to $3,822 each -- not counting room, board, and books."

Of course, that bill is for anyone who supports the U.S. government's spending priorities and anyone who doesn't, and it's a bill for every person, from disabled senior citizen to new-born infant. 

It's a bill that might strike some as a bit high.  So, here's one way this imaginary news story might develop:

"In an expanding trend, thousands of Americans opted for a smaller military investment this year.  Choosing to pay their share of a military the size of China's -- $188 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute -- some war consumers bought the $599 war plan this year. 

"Others opted for the Russian model at a cost of $280.  But with polls showing that Americans believe Iran to be the greatest threat to peace, the Iranian-sized military has become this year's most rapid climber in the rankings; of course, the $20 price tag doesn't hurt.

"Buddy Beaverton of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, remarked at the post office as he mailed a check: 'If we could have Canada's annual supply of wars for $59 each, why should I have to pay $3,822? It's bad enough they've got cheaper prescription drugs that we're not allowed to buy!'"

Mr. Beaverton would have a point.  Some other nations that don't invest in wars and war preparations the way the United States does also make college education free or affordable -- and still have plenty of money to spare for frivolous luxuries like healthcare or energy systems that don't render the planet unlivable.

What would our lives be like if college were as free and unquestionable as military spending is now, but military spending arrived as an optional bill? 

Those who didn't want it could choose not to pay.  Those who wanted a coast guard, a national guard, and some anti-aircraft weapons could chip in a few bucks.  Those who wanted a bit more than that could pay a bit more.

And those who wanted troops in 175 nations, aircraft carriers in every sea, enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on several planets, and fleets of drones with which to traumatize and antagonize several nations at once -- well, they could pay their $3,822, plus of course another $3,822 for anybody opting out.

What a naive proposal! Left to individual choice, the commons would be destroyed, and our national defense would crumble!

Really?  People in the United States give over $300 billion to charity each year.  Nobody forces them to.  If they believed weapons and wars were the most important cause to donate their dollars to, they'd do it.  No nation on earth spends $300 billion or anywhere close to it on its military, other than the United States.

And with the government no longer funding the military in its socialistic manner, it might choose instead to fund many of the humanitarian causes to which private charity is now largely devoted. Private giving could take care of the Pentagon. 

But if wisdom about the counter-productive results of militarism spread, if nonviolent alternatives were learned, if free college had a positive impact on our collective intellect, and if the fact that we could end global poverty or halt global warming for a fraction of current military spending leaked out, who knows? Maybe militarism would fail in the free market.

Talk Nation Radio: Charles Komanoff: We Need a Carbon Tax

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-charles-komanoff-we-need-a-carbon-tax

Charles Komanoff is an activist, economist and policy-analyst. He directs the Carbon Tax Center and develops traffic-pricing modeling tools for the Nurture Nature Foundation. His work includes books (Power Plant Cost Escalation, Killed By Automobile, The Bicycle Blueprint), computer models, scholarly articles, and journalism. He discusses the need for a carbon tax. See http://carbontax.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Three Images the World Needed

Employees of the U.S. government refer to people they murder as "bugsplat." They pretend that the men, women, and children they are killing with drones are just bugs, because they just look like little fuzzy creatures on a computer screen. Thank goodness for the artists who have put a giant portrait of a child in a field for the drone murderers to see and think about.  Maybe the rest of us could think about it, and do more than think about it, too.

In Davidson, North Carolina, among many other places in the world, wealthy people ignore the suffering of the poor right nearby them as well as thousands of miles away. A fraction of what the U.S. government spends killing people with drones could end starvation in the world, and many certainly seem not to care. A fraction of what someone spends in a shopping mall could make a real difference in the life of someone sleeping on a bench, but most people provide no help.

But in an odd irony, many people in North Carolina, among many other places in the world, cling to ancient magical beliefs that just happen to include worshiping a man who was poor and who recommended caring for the poor. A sculpture of a homeless Jesus, a man you're supposed to worship because he has nail marks on his metallic feet, has got some people wondering whether they should find a little decency and compassion for those homeless people on benches who are made of flesh and blood.

CIA Director John Brennan, aka Obama's Cheney, was dispatched to Ukraine, where the U.S. had already spent $5 billion stirring up trouble. Ukrainian troops were immediately sent to attack protesters in eastern cities. Brennan may have had drones in his head. Drones have been known to crash, but never to stop and have a beer with the enemy.  Drones often blow up the "wrong people," but they don't invite people to climb on board and share a laugh.  When unarmed Ukrainians confronted tanks, many soldiers joined the people. How Brennan thought Ukrainians could be sent to kill Ukrainians seems a mystery after the images of human decency have taken over.  How Christians think the poor and homeless, the hungry and ill-clothed can be blamed for their own inability to satiate their greed seems baffling when faced with the homeless Jesus.  How drone "pilots" can sit and take part in the world's worst real-life Milgram experiment ought to horrify anyone who stops and thinks -- and nothing can make people stop and think the way a great work of art can. A picture is worth a million words, and a few lives let's hope.

War Is Good for Us, Dumb New Book Claims

Ian Morris has stuck his dog's ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed "Man Bites Dog." His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things.  It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.

Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman.  Once you've made peace, he believes, prosperity follows.  And from that prosperity flows happiness.  Therefore, war creates happiness.  But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is -- you guessed it -- war.

This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions.  These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I'm greatly tempted to get caught up in the details.  But none of it has much impact on the book's conclusions.  All of Morris's history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use.  He's telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result.

When small, medium, and large societies have been and are peaceful, Morris ignores them.  There are lots of ways to define peaceful, but none of them put the leading war maker at the top, and none of them place at the top only nations that could be imagined to fall under a Pax Americana. 

When societies have been enlarged peacefully, as in the formation of the European Union, Morris applauds (he thinks the E.U. earned its peace prize, and no doubt all the more so for its extensive war making as deputy globocop) but he just skips over the fact that war wasn't used in the E.U.'s formation.  (He avoids the United Nations entirely.) 

When the globocop brings death and destruction and disorder to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, Morris sticks his fingers in his ears and hums.  "Interstate wars" he informs us (like most of his other claims, without any footnotes) have "almost disappeared."  Well isn't that great news?!  (Morris grotesquely minimizes Iraqi deaths from the recent [nonexistent?] war, and of course supplies no footnote.)

In a culture that has long waged wars, it has been possible to say that wars bring courage, wars bring heroism, wars bring slaves, wars bring cultural exchange. One could have asserted at various points that wars were the only way to a great many ends, not just large societies that reduce small-scale murders.  Barely a century ago William James was worried there was no way to build character without war, and defenders of war were advertising it as good for its participants in a much more direct way than Morris has been reduced to.  Has war been the means of building empires and nations? Sure, but that neither means that empires are the only way to peace, nor that war was the only nation-building tool available, nor that we must keep waging wars in an age in which we aren't forming empires or nations any longer.  That ancient pyramids may have been built by slaves hardly makes slavery the best or only way to preserve the pyramids.

Tying something good, such as ending slavery in the United States, to a war, such as the U.S. Civil War, doesn't make war the only way to end slavery.  In fact, most nations that ended slavery did so without a war.  Much less is continuing to wage wars the only possible way (or even a useful way at all) to hold off the restoration of slavery or to complete its eradication.  And, by the way, a great many societies that Morris credits with making progress through war also had slavery, monarchy, women-as-property, environmental destruction, and worship of religions now defunct.  Were those institutions also necessary for peace and prosperity, or are they irrelevant to it, or did we overcome some of them through peaceful means?  Morris, at one point, acknowledges that slavery (not just war) generated European wealth, later crediting the industrial revolution as well -- the godfather of which, in his mind, was no doubt peace created by war.  (What did you expect, the Spanish Inquisition?)

The tools of nonviolence that have achieved so much in the past century are never encountered in Morris' book, so no comparison with war is offered.  Nonviolent revolutions have tended to dismember empires or alter the leadership of a nation that remains the same size, so Morris must not view them as useful tools, even when they produce more free and prosperous societies.  But it's not clear Morris can recognize those when he sees them.  Morris claims that in the past 30 years "we" (he seems to mean in the United States, but could mean the world, it's not totally clear) have become "safer and richer than ever." 

Morris brags about U.S. murder rates falling, and yet dozens of nations from every continent have lower murder rates than the U.S.  Nor do larger nations tend to have lower murder rates than smaller nations.  Morris holds up Denmark as a model, but never looks at Denmark's society, its distribution of wealth, its social supports.  Morris claims the whole world is growing more equal in wealth. 

Back here in reality, historians of the Middle Ages say that our age has the greater disparities -- disparities that are growing within the United States in particular, but globally as well.  Oxfam reports that the richest 85 people in the world have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion.  That is the peace that Morris swears is not a wasteland.  The United States ranks third in average wealth but 27th in median wealth.  Yet, somehow Morris believes the United States can lead the way to "Denmark" and that Denmark itself can only be Denmark because of how many people the United States kills in "productive wars" (even though they have "almost disappeared").  Morris writes these scraps of wisdom from Silicon Valley, where he says he sees nothing but wealth, yet where people with nowhere to sleep but in a car may soon be banned from doing so.

We're also safer, Morris thinks, because he sees no climate emergency worth worrying about.  He's quite openly in favor of wars for oil, yet never notices oil's effects until the end of the book when he takes a moment to brush such concerns aside. 

We're also safer, Morris tells us, because there are no longer enough nukes in the world to kill us all.  Has he never heard of nuclear famine?  Does he not understand the growing risks of proliferating nuclear weapons and energy?  Two nations have thousands of nukes ready to launch in an instant, every one of them many times more powerful than the two nuclear bombs dropped thus far; and one of those nations is prodding the other one with a stick in Ukraine, resulting in more, not less, violence in the beneficiary of such expansionism.  Meanwhile the officials overseeing U.S. nukes keep getting caught cheating on tests or shipping nukes across the country unguarded, and generally view nuclear weapons oversight as the lowest most dead-end career track.  This makes us safer?

Morris hypes lies about Iran pursuing nuclear weapons.  He opens the book with a tale of a near nuclear holocaust (one of many he could have chosen). And yet, somehow disarmament isn't on the agenda, at least not with the priority given to maintaining or increasing war spending.  Not to worry, he assures us, "missile defense" actually works, or might someday, so that'll protect us -- although he parenthetically admits it won't.  The point is it's warlike, and war is good, because war spreads peace.  That's the role the U.S. must play for the good of all: policeman of the world.  Morris, while clearly a huge fan of Barack Obama, believes that all recent U.S. presidents should have a Nobel Peace Prize.  Never does Morris comment on the fact that the rest of the world sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.

Morris admits that the United States is encircling China with weapons, but he describes in sinister tones China's response of building weaponry that will only serve a function near China's own shores, not as defensive or unimperialistic, but at "asymmetrical" -- and we all know what that means: unfair!  China might make it hard for the globocop to wage war on and around China.  This Morris sees as the looming danger.  The solution, he thinks, is for the United States to keep its militaristic edge (never mind that its military makes China's look like a child's toy).  More drone killing is not only good but also (and this sort of nonsense always makes you wonder why its advocate bothers advocating) inevitable.  Of course, the United States won't start a war against China, says Morris, because launching wars hurts a nation's reputation so severely.  (You can see how badly the U.S. reputation has suffered in Morris' eyes following its latest string of wars.) 

And yet, what lies on the horizon, almost inevitably, Morris contends, is World War III.

There's nothing you can do about it.  Don't bother working for peace, Morris says.  But a solution may arrive nonetheless.  If we can go on dumping our money into wars for just one more century, or maybe more, proliferating weapons, destroying the environment, losing our liberties in the model land of the free, then -- if we're really lucky -- the computer programmers of Silicon Valley will save us, or some of us, or something, by . . . wait for it . . . hooking us up to computers so that our minds all meld together. 

Morris may be more confident than I that the result of this computerized rapture will be worldwide empathy rather than revulsion.  But then, he's had longer to get used to living with the way he thinks.

The Loss of John Judge Hits Hard

Our society has lost a great activist today with the death of John Judge.  No one spoke more clearly, strongly, and informedly on political power, militarism, and activism for positive change.  While John lived nextdoor to Dennis Kucinich -- and with one of the best views and one of the best collections of political books and documents -- in Washington, D.C., it was as staff person for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney that he advanced numerous causes of peace and justice and accountability for the powerful on Capitol Hill.  On impeaching Bush and Cheney he was there first.  John's expertise reached back into history and across continents.  From the Kennedy assassination to conscientious objection to how-a-bill-becomes-a-law, he was a person to turn to for information and wisdom who was never anything but helpful, friendly, cheerful, and energetic.  He could describe the hiring of Nazis in Operation Paperclip and the creation of the Cold War and then suggest that perhaps the Nazis actually won World War II.  He could explain the creation of standing armies in such a manner that you knew without a doubt that either our society was insane or you were.  He could get you thinking and get you active.  And always with complete humility and good will.  He will be missed.

I just opened this small selection of videos of John all at once, and it wasn't enough:

The Climate Is Invading the Earth!

If an alien invader with a face were attacking the earth, the difficulties that governments have getting populations to support wars on other humans would be multiplied a thousand fold.  The most common response to officials calling some petty foreign despot "a new Hitler" would shift from "yeah, right" to "who cares?" The people of the world would unite in common defense against the hostile alien.

If only it had a face.  And what's a face anyway?  Doctors can create faces now.  You'd still love your loved ones if they lost their faces.  And I hear there's a movie in which a guy falls in love with his faceless computer.

The point is that there is an alien invader attacking the earth.  Its name is climate change.  And Uncle Sam wants YOU to fight it, as does Uncle Boris and Aunt Hannah and Cousin Juan and Brother Feng.  The whole family is in agreement on this one, and we are a family now all of a sudden.

Climate change breathes fire on our land and roasts it, killing crops, drying up water supplies, breeding dangerous diseases and infestations.  Climate change circles over the oceans and blows tidal waves toward our coasts.  It melts the icebergs in its evil claws and sinks our beach resorts beneath the sea.

How do we fight back?  We organize quickly, as only humans can.  We grab the $2 trillion that we spend on wars among ourselves each year, plus a few trillion more from some multi-billionaires who suddenly realize they don't have another planet to spend it on.  We start coating the rooftops with solar panels, aimed right at the face of the monster.  We put up windmills that will turn his nasty breath against himself. 

And we hit him where it really hurts, we cut off his supplies with crippling sanctions: we stop buying and making and consuming and discarding such incredible piles of crap every day.  Consumerism becomes rapidly understood as planetary treason, support for the Evil One.  We put a stop to its worst excesses and begin reining it in systematically -- working together as we never have before.

Ah, but the dark lord of the heat is subtle.  He has cells of loyalists among us.  They push fossil fuels on us and tell us comforting lies.  No longer!  We will drag them before the House UnEarthly Activities Committee.  "Are you now or have you ever been a promoter of oil, gas, or coal consumption?"  They'll crumble under the pressure.

Imagine how we could unite for this battle, what wits and courage and self-sacrifice we could put into it, what inspiring acts of bravery, what stunning creations of intellect!

Ah, but climate change is not a person, so forget the whole thing.  Did you ever notice what a funny grin Vladimir Putin has?  It's beginning to get on my nerves.

Talk Nation Radio: Winslow Myers on Living Beyond War

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-winslow-myers-on-living-beyond-war

Winslow Myers is an artist and activist who lives in mid-Coast Maine. For ten years he coordinated events and activities for Beyond War in central Massachusetts and led many seminars on personal and social change. Later he served on the board of Beyond War while it was based in Portland OR. He has written over a hundred opinion-editorial pieces on the subject of the prevention of war and building a world beyond war, some of which have seen print in national newspapers like the Christian Science Monitor, the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and all of which have been published online. He is the author of Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide. He serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative, and is active in WorldBeyondWar.org.  His website is WinslowMyers.com.

Total run time: 29:00

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

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

Rumsfeld Film Screening in Norfolk VA

Wednesday, April 30 at 7:15pm at Naro Cinema
THE UNKNOWN KNOWN Academy Award winning director Errol Morris (The Fog of War) offers a portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, one of the key architects of the Iraq War, and a larger-than-life character who provoked equal levels of fury and adulation from the American public. (103 mins)
 
"The film is a cat-and-mouse game in which each player thinks he's the cat, making it both thrilling and disconcerting to watch. It is also a nature documentary about behavior at the very top of the imperial food chain and a detective story about the search for a mystery that is hidden in plain sight." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
 
Post-Film Speaker and discussion:
David Swanson is an author, speaker, radio host, and activist. His books include War No More: The Case for Abolition, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency, and When The World Outlawed War. He is founder of the organization and movement http://worldbeyondwar.org

For more info visit http://www.narocinema.com

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