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But, Mr. Putin, You Just Don't Understand

Once in a while one of the videos somebody emails me a link to turns out to be well worth watching. Such is this one. In it a former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union tries to explain to Vladimir Putin why new U.S. missile bases near the border of Russia should not be understood as threatening. He explains that the motivation in Washington, D.C., is not to threaten Russia but to create jobs. Putin responds that, in that case, the United States could have created jobs in peaceful industries rather than in war.

Putin may or may not be familiar with U.S. economic studies finding that, in fact, the same investment in peaceful industries would create more jobs than does military spending. But he is almost certainly aware that, in U.S. politics, elected officials have, for the better part of a century, only been willing to invest heavily in military jobs and no others. Still, Putin, who may also be familiar with how routine it has become for Congress members to talk about the military as a jobs program, appears in the video a bit surprised that someone would offer that excuse to a foreign government fixed in U.S. sights.

Timothy Skeers who sent me the video link commented: "Maybe Khrushchev should have just told Kennedy he was just trying to create jobs for Soviet citizens when he put those missiles in Cuba." Imagining how that would have played out may help people in the United States to grasp how their elected officials sound to the rest of the world.

That one main motivation for U.S. military expansion in Eastern Europe is "jobs," or rather, profits, is almost openly admitted by the Pentagon. In May the Politico newspaper reported on Pentagon testimony in Congress to the effect that Russia had a superior and threatening military, but followed that with this: "'This is the "Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling" set in the Army,' the senior Pentagon officer said. 'These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There's a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock."

Politico then cited a less-than-credible "study" of Russian military superiority and aggression and added:

"While the reporting about the Army study made headlines in the major media, a large number in the military's influential retired community, including former senior Army officers, rolled their eyes. 'That's news to me,' one of these highly respected officers told me. 'Swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles? Surprisingly lethal tanks? How come this is the first we've heard of it?'"

It's always the retired officials speaking truth to corruption, inlcuding retired Ambassador Jack Matlock in the video. Money and bureaucracy are euphemized as "jobs," and their influence is real but still explains nothing. You can have money and bureaucracy promote peaceful industries. The choice to promote war is not a rational one. In fact, it is well described by a U.S. writer in the New York Times projecting U.S. attitudes onto Russia and Putin:

"The strategic purpose of his wars is war itself. This is true in Ukraine, where territory was a mere pretext, and this is true of Syria, where protecting Mr. Assad and fighting ISIS are pretexts too. Both conflicts are wars with no end in sight because, in Mr. Putin's view, only at war can Russia feel at peace."

This was, in fact, how the New York Times reported last October on the event from which the video linked above is taken. (More here.) I condemn the Russian bombing of Syria all the time, including on Russian media on almost a weekly basis, but if there is a nation that is always at war it is the United States, which backed a right-wing anti-Russia coup in Ukraine and now refers to the Russian response as irrational war-making.

The wisdom of the New York Times writer, like the wisdom of Nuremberg, is selectively applied in a hostile manner, but still wise. The purpose of war is indeed war itself. The justifications are always pretexts.

The Problem with Chanting "USA"

These were instructions passed around during the last night of the Wells Fargo Arena Anti-Russia Don't-Say-TPP Call-It-Debt-Free-College-Not-Free-College Democratic Party Extravaganza. Noise Makers were deployed. Lights could be switched off on people as needed. Delegates were prevented from walking out. And chants like "Black Lives Matter" and "Love Is Love" were joined in by the corporatists.

However, if you chanted "Ban Fracking Now," they would chant "Hillary" back at you, as if having Hillary as their beloved leader was better than banning fracking. Also if you chanted "Stop TPP" or "Walk the Walk" you'd be greeted by screams of "Hillary!"

But what if you shouted "No More War"? Wouldn't they join in and try to own that one? Don't Christmas decorations even today still sometimes say "Peace on Earth"? Didn't Tim Kaine pretend in his speech that Woodrow Wilson was a peace maker? Doesn't the Pentagon claim that it kills people for peace? Wouldn't trying to shout down opposition to war be a step too far even for a pro-fracking, pro-corporate-trade, cult of personality?

The response of USA has got to be the worst choice they could have gone with. The poison of nationalism/patriotism is the driving force behind support for mass-murder expeditions. It turns clever shouts into mindless obedience.

Shout this over and over again, out loud: Hey You Ass Hey You Ass Hey You Ass Hey. Not the nicest thing to scream at a retired four-star mass-murderer, but still less repulsive than USA, USA, USA. This was supposed to be a convention marketing a candidate, an incredibly unpopular candidate, as the anti-fascist. Instead it became the convention of militarism, bluster, and blind loyalty to the god of war.

It's Not the Economy, Stupid

The last time a Clinton tried to get into the White House, his campaign motto was "It's the economy, stupid!"

If you engage with peace organizations, you will very quickly be told repeatedly that nobody gives a damn about distant mass murder, and that consequently a smart organizer will talk to them about something local, such as the local impact of the financial burden of war, or perhaps the militarization of the police, or local recruitment, or local environmental damage from military bases, etc., but mostly the financial cost.

The reasoning behind all such thinking is that people are often busy, overworked, overstressed, concerned with their day-to-day struggles, etc., and so, while some of them might occasionally also take a mild interest in the affairs of others in distant corners of the globe, virtually everyone can be appealed to using local community concerns and, in particular, economic concerns related to their own needs and greed.

The evidence that this line of thinking misses something includes the following:

People often back political candidates who work against their economic interests, but who win their support for other reasons, including race, religion, militarism, nationalism, scapegoating, etc. Blaming China for U.S. poverty, or opposing the TPP and the WTO, or promising fewer wars or the abolition of NATO -- these are economic positions, but they are something else as well.

Other people back political candidates who work against their economic interests, but who appeal to other needs. The Democrats are framing themselves as the inclusive, loving, multicultural, corporate militarist party, in contrast to the angry, white, bigot, corporate militarist party. Talking about equal (low) pay for equal work, and paid family leave, support for people with disabilities, equal rights for LGBTQ people, etc. -- these are economic positions, and the Democrats defend them as supposed engines of economic growth, but they are something else as well.

People take incredible interest in elections, while taking very, very little interest in activist campaigns for better economic policies. People who try to maintain living wage standards or even stop banker bailouts make up a tiny fraction of the number of people who obsess over candidates' personalities and related pomp and fluff.

Millions of people take part in some way in religion, which for the majority of them is not a tool for economic advancement, but something else entirely, often -- for better or worse -- a means of advancing a moral vision.

Activism around protecting the earth's climate is far more widespread than activism around ending the earth's wars and preventing nuclear holocaust. Neither disaster is local or economic in a simple immediate and selfish sense. Both activist campaigns are up against that same supposed hurdle. I would suggest that what actually holds back peace activism in comparison to other types of non-local activism is primarily pro-war patriotism and propaganda.

Pro-war propaganda does not focus primarily on any supposed economic benefit of wars. Sure, there are false claims made about militarism serving as a jobs program. But what turns people out in the streets to cheer for wars usually has nothing to do with their busy economic struggles. Rather, it's a moral vision related to the supposed good work of policing the globe (whether the globe wants it or not), punishing evil monsters, slaughtering inferior populations, rescuing less fortunate peoples, etc.

When people all across the United States suddenly declare "We are all France," this is not because France is in their neighborhood any more than Syria or Congo or Afghanistan is in their neighborhood. The magic of television and the internet has long made distance irrelevant. When people hold local drives to collect supplies for victims of a hurricane in Central America, it's not because that helps their budgets or increases their job security. It's because they have been encouraged to care about others suffering in a country not currently being targeted for war. The same applies to helping victims of natural disasters within the United States -- often they are thousands of miles from those helping them. A candle light vigil for victims of 9/11, a marathon against cancer, and a campaign to save rainforests -- these and millions of other activities have nothing to do with local economic well-being.

The peace movement of the 1920s was driven by as altruistic a distaste for any human suffering as was the movement to abolish the slave trade in Britain. And it succeeded in so far as it did by advancing a moral argument against war, not a claim that war would hurt your next paycheck.

Of course there is an economic argument against war, but there is also a civil liberties argument, an environmental argument, an argument for safety against the counterproductive impact of war, and -- critically -- a moral argument against mass murder. And there is powerful potential in making the case for a coherent worldview that outgrows war and manages foreign relations by other means.

My point is not that peace activism is more important than economic activism. And of course economic activism must focus on the economy, stupidly or otherwise. But the need to do so with a passionate vision of a better world remains. At the Democratic Convention now underway, a victim of Trump University began her remarks by saying that Donald Trump had been born into extreme wealth. "And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that," she said, before denouncing the scams by which he maintained and enlarged his wealth.

The main problem with this is not the nasty schemes by which Trump's racist slumlord father piled up his money, but that once you've claimed that hoarding obscene piles of wealth is just fine you're never going to rid the world of ripoffs far worse than Trump University -- and people know it. People want the billionaires, bankers, and corporations taxed. People want the war profiteering ended. People want widespread prosperity and peace and massive investment in environmental and human needs including free college. They don't want acceptance of plutocracy except for one plutocrat who's running for president against another one. They don't want equal lousy pay, taxes for weapons, but paid family leave for a week or two. That doesn't excite them.

The Democrats have no idea why Bernie Sanders almost won, even against their organized rigging of the primary. I think this failure to grasp the obvious is in part a reflection of how lesser-evilist thinking is modeled on economic game theory in which human beings are reduced to robots with very limited interests programmed in to them. Only a privileged white person would go off and vote for a decent candidate like Jill Stein, the Democrats say, privileged as they are to not live in any of the countries their own candidate would bomb, and privileged as they are to have forgotten all the damage that she and her husband have done for decades, packing prisons, merging media, outsourcing jobs through NAFTA, destroying welfare, etc. They forget all this by focusing on fear of Donald Trump.

Sure, appealing to fear of Trump is an emotional appeal. But hardcore lesser evilists who recognize how bad Clinton herself is, argue for a vote against Trump and for Clinton, based on the idea that humans won't act like humans. The theoretical lesser evil humanoid will protest Clinton's wrongs while campaigning for her and after electing her, threatening her with voting for her again while feeling even more flustered about it than last time -- and such a theoretical creature will do so only in swing states, while voting for Jill Stein in non-swing states.

The real world doesn't work that way. People who join a team join its delusions and distortions. Campaigning for and resisting candidates don't mix. And people don't build momentum around mediocre muddling. They will, however, pour energy into a powerful vision of a better world, if allowed to imagine it's possible.

The Democrats' War Within, War at Home, and War Abroad

On this episode of "By Any Means Necessary" host Eugene Puryear is joined by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Presidential candidate to talk about the fall out at the DNC over leaked emails exposing their coordination with the Clinton campaign.

And later in the show Eugene is joined by David Swanson, author, activist, and journalist and Reece Chenault, National Coordinator for US Labor Against the War to talk about the Democrats false narrative of supporting the rebuilding of American communities while at the same time supporting foreign war. The group also discusses the current state of the anti-war movement and its intersection with the labor movement within the United States.

Listen here.

Talk Nation Radio: Jill Stein on Why You Should Help Make Her President of the United States

Jill Stein is Green Party candidate for U.S. President. Learn more at

Total run time: 29:00

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

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DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism

So, the "neutral" DNC secretly plotted to hurt Bernie Sanders' campaign by getting him asked if he was an atheist. Did the DNC succeed in this? Sanders was in fact asked repeatedly in public fora about his religion. Did the DNC make those questions happen? I don't know. It's worth investigating. The DNC was in touch with Anderson Cooper who asked one of the questions to Bernie, but I've seen no indication they influenced his questions. As I recall, Cooper was himself intent on asking every possible non-policy fluff question he could think of that day. Same for Jimmy Kimmel who asked another of the questions to Bernie.

More significant is what we already know if we choose to see it: Being exposed as an atheist by any other name did not hurt Bernie Sanders in the least. That is to say, in U.S. politics now, if you present an atheistic point of view but don't call it that, you're totally fine. You could even get yourself nominated by the Democratic Party if it weren't so corrupt. If Bernie Sanders were to go before a randomly sampled audience of Americans right now and face these two questions:

1) Do you believe in God?
2) Do you still support the DNC and the legitimacy of its primary results?

... his answer to the first would win applause, although he would not say he believes in God. But his answer to the second would get him roundly booed, although he would declare his allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Sanders' website calls him "secular" and "not particularly religious." His answers to a religion question during that CNN "town hall" were typical. A member of the audience asked about religion and race, and Sanders answered only about race. Then the moderator asked again about religion. And this was Sanders' answer:

"It's a guiding principle in my life. Absolutely it is. You know, everybody practices religion in a different way. To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings. I believe that, as a human being, the pain that one person feels, if we have children that are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can't afford their prescription drugs, you know what? That impacts you, that impacts me, and I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, 'It doesn't matter to me. I got it. I don't care about other people.' So, my spirituality is that we are all in this together, and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me. That is my very strong spiritual feeling."

It's also my very strong non-spiritual feeling. But that was a typical Bernie answer, one he's given many times, typical even in its focus on only 4% of humanity and on only a particular type of homeless people. Some states, by the way, are making huge strides toward ending the shame of homelessness for veterans, so that soon all homeless people in the United States may be people who have never been part of a mass-murder operation. I point this out not to oppose it. Better more people with homes, no matter how it's done! And I point it out not to quibble with Sanders' statement of generosity and humanism, but to suggest that part of how Sanders slipped a completely irreligious answer past an audience that asked a religious question is that Sanders identified himself with the true U.S. religion -- the religion of war, the religion of national exceptionalism. Who can forget Ron Paul being booed in a primary debate for applying the golden rule to non-Americans?

When Sanders is asked explicitly if he "believes in God," he also answers, "What my spirituality is about is that we're all in this together." Exactly what my non-spirituality is about. I think it's safe to assume politicians will never be asked if they believe in death (which television sponsors would be pleased by that topic?), so "God" is the question they'll get, and they won't be required to answer it. The United States has moved against religion and even more so against "organized religion." Some of us always preferred the organized part (the community, the music, etc.) to the religion, but the larger trend here is a rejection of elite institutions telling us how to run our lives while demonstrably running the world into the ground. And who has more to answer for in that regard than God?

Rejecting organized religion while proclaiming an individual "spirituality" may be all that is needed, and that is tremendous news. That Sanders has done this while professing an ideology of generosity and solidarity, and winning applause for that, is even better news. Studies find that lack of religion can correlate with greater generosity, as certainly seems to be the case with the Scandinavian societies Sanders points to as models. (Seventeen percent of Swedes, as compared to 65% of U.S. Americans, say religion is "important".)

A majority in the United States say they wouldn't vote for an atheist, but for many atheism, like gender, race, sexual preference, and other identifiers is now a matter of self-identification. Someone must choose to call themselves an atheist. Just having no use for theism doesn't qualify them. The media also seems to have no direct interest in attacking candidates on religion. Nobody pays them to do that. And it doesn't show a lot of potential as a weapon. Donald Trump was seen as the least religious candidate in the field, and some of the most religious voters say they support him and just don't care. In addition, Sanders is a supporter of religious freedom, tolerance, and even tax exemptions. He doesn't fit the mold of the bigoted atheist who finds Islam dangerously more religious than Christianity. The media is also no big fan of Ted Cruz, who was on a Dubya-like mission from God. All of these factors seem to have made it possible to run for president of the United States on a platform of pure enlightenment humanism. I didn't think I'd live to see that.

To some extent people also excuse religious differences as cultural, accepting that people "believe" what their parents told them. The same could apply with similar logic to partisanship, but it is not so applied, not to anything like the same extent. That is to say, if you watch the Democratic Party rig an election for an unpopular candidate like Hillary Clinton and you go on supporting the Democratic Party, most people are going to blame or credit that decision on nobody but yourself.

The World Must Support Ireland Against U.S. Wars

A Letter to Ireland from World Beyond War

Add your name here.

Those of us outside Ireland, and in particular those of us in the United States, have a pressing and urgent responsibility to lend all the support we can to our brothers and sisters in Ireland who are resisting U.S. wars.

Despite Ireland’s officially neutral status and its claim to have not gone to war since its founding in 1922, Ireland allowed the United States to use Shannon Airport during the Gulf War and, as part of the so-called coalition of the willing, during the wars that began in 2001. Between 2002 and the present date, over 2.5 million U.S. troops have passed through Shannon Airport, along with many weapons, and CIA airplanes used to transfer prisoners to places of torture. Casement Aerodrome has also been used. And, despite not being a member of NATO, Ireland has sent troops to participate in the illegal war on Afghanistan.


Under Hague Convention V in force since 1910, and to which the United States has been a party from the start, and which under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is part of the supreme law of the United States, “Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power.” Under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which both the United States and Ireland are parties, and which has been incorporated into very selectively enforced felonies in the U.S. Code since before George W. Bush left Texas for Washington, D.C., any complicity in torture must be investigated and prosecuted. Under both the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, to both of which the United States and Ireland have been parties since their creation, the war in Afghanistan and all the other U.S. wars since 2001 have been illegal.

The people of Ireland have a strong tradition of resisting imperialism, dating back even before the 1916 revolution of which this year is the centenary, and they aspire to representative or democratic government. In a 2007 poll, by 58% to 19% they opposed allowing the U.S. military to use Shannon Airport. In a 2013 poll, over 75% supported neutrality. In 2011, a new government of Ireland announced that it would support neutrality, but it did not. Instead it has continued to allow the U.S. military to keep planes and personnel at Shannon Airport, and to bring troops and weapons through on a regular basis, including over 20,000 troops already this year.

The United States military has no need for Shannon Airport. Its planes could reach other destinations without running out of fuel. One of the purposes of regularly using Shannon Airport, perhaps the main purpose, is very likely simply to keep Ireland within the coalition of the killing. On U.S. television, announcers thank “the troops” for watching this or that major sporting event from 175 countries. The U.S. military and its profiteers would hardly notice if that number dropped to 174, but their goal, perhaps their main purpose and driving objective, is to increase that number to 200. Total global dominance is the explicitly stated objective of the U.S. military. Once a nation is added to the list, all steps will be taken, by the State Department, by the military, by the CIA, and by any possible collaborators, to keep that nation on the list. The United States government fears an Ireland free of U.S. militarism more than we probably can imagine. The global peace movement should desire it more than we probably do, including for the example it would set to Scotland, Wales, England, and the rest of the world.

How do we, outside of Ireland, know anything at all about what the U.S. military does in Ireland? We certainly don’t learn it from the U.S. government or U.S. journalism. And the Irish government takes no active steps to reveal what it knows, which is likely not everything. We know what we know because of brave and dedicated peace activists in Ireland, representing majority opinion, upholding the rule of law, exercising creative nonviolence, and working through numerous organizations, most prominently These heroes have pried loose information, elected and lobbied members of the Irish legislature, entered the grounds of Shannon Airport to ask question and draw attention and face criminal prosecution for the cause of peace. If not for them, citizens of the United States — a nation that literally bombs other countries in the name of democracy — would have no idea what was happening whatsoever. Even now, most people in the United States have no idea. We have to help tell them. Even U.S. supporters of war don’t support a mandatory draft, at least not until they themselves are too old to qualify. Many should be willing to oppose forcing Ireland to take part in wars it wants no part in.

If U.S. military transport continues to make use of Shannon Airport, a disaster will inevitably occur there. Of course the moral disaster of participating in the mass killing of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc., is ongoing. The cultural disaster of insidiously creating the impression that war is normal is underway. The financial cost to Ireland, the environmental and noise pollution, the heightened “security” that erodes civil liberties: all of those things are part of the package, along with the racism that finds a target in the refugees fleeing the wars. But if Shannon Airport survives routine U.S. military use without a major accident, spill, explosion, crash, or mass-killing, it will be the first. The U.S. military has poisoned and polluted some of the most beautiful spots in the United States and around the world. The unsurpassed beauty of Ireland is not immune.

And then there is the blowback. By participating in counterproductive wars that generate international terrorism, Ireland makes itself a target. When Spain became a target it pulled out of the war on Iraq, making itself safer. When Britain and France became targets, they doubled down on their own participation in terrorism-too-large-to-carry-that-name, generating more blowback and deepening the vicious cycle of violence. Which path would Ireland choose? We cannot know. But we do know that it would be wisest for Ireland to pull out of its criminal participation in the barbaric institution of war before the war comes home.

Sign here.

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RNC War Party, DNC War Makers

If you believe that Hillary Clinton might be working with (or be) Lucifer, if you believe that supporting Israeli wars helps bring about the re-election campaign, as it were, of Jesus Christ (who will deal with those Israelis like the Muslims and atheists they exactly resemble as soon as he gets here), if you think eternally burning to death is a fate too mild for Muslims who burn people to death (something no missile made by Raytheon would ever do), if you believe military weaponry is appropriate for police as long as they focus on the real criminals (black people), if you want Muslims banned and deported, you just might -- I'm going to go out on a limb here -- you just might be a Republican.

But if you are a hard-core promoter of wars like Robert Kagan, Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, Jamie Weinstein, Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Richard Perle, George Shultz, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and many others, you have either endorsed or said very positive things about Hillary Clinton. How to explain this? Are the most rabid war supporters on one side and the most dependable war makers getting nominated by the other? Well, maybe.

But if you believe that the U.S. military is a force for good that hardly ever kills anyone worthy of redemption, that the chief role of the military is to rescue poor innocents from evil by overthrowing tyrants and spreading democracy by drone missile, if you believe air wars are more humane because in air wars nobody gets hurt, if you think presidents checking off kill lists on Tuesdays is ideal as long as it's the right presidents doing it, if you cheer for diversity in the U.S. military and want the Selective Service expanded to force every 18-year-old woman to register for the draft, if you believe Honduras and Ukraine and Libya had it coming or you have no idea what I'm referring to, if you think suggesting the abolition of NATO or a halt to overthrowing governments is crazy talk, and if you believe a good heavy bombing campaign of Syria would be the perfect way to demonstrate that we care about Syrians and value them as human beings, you just might be a Democrat.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is the most dependable war monger nominated by a major party in the United States in many years. She has the most consistent and lengthy record of doing what she's paid to do, of marketing U.S. weaponry abroad, of manufacturing justifications for wars, of lobbying branches of the U.S. government and foreign governments to support wars. And she'll do so while keeping up a pretense of abiding by some selection of laws.

What if it were to strike Donald Trump that arming the world, including the opposite side of many U.S. wars, with U.S. weapons was dumb or not great? What if he were to conclude that NATO really did have to go? What if he were to alienate possible accomplices before a new war? What if he were to just skip ahead to nuking everybody, or start sharing nukes with any non-Muslim or non-Mexican nation? He's too unpredictable.

But Trump is almost guaranteed to continue, escalate, and launch new wars, just like Clinton -- though that has little to do with what his supporters -- the group that Ted Cruz calls servile puppies -- want. In a representative system, one would suppose that electing the leader of the most war-crazed party would bring on the most war. In fact, what Trump or Clinton does will not necessarily bear much in common with what the majority of Republicans or Democrats want. So, it does make sense for real war mongers to base their pick on the candidate rather than the party. But how will party demands play out under one of these two regimes?

I've studied the marketing of wars, and the most successful war marketing campaigns in the United States include, in order from most to least necessary:

1) The pretense of a threat to anyone in the United States, most powerfully if it is a threat of torture or rape or death by hand or knife. It need not be the least bit realistic.
2) The demonization of an entire foreign population.
3) The demonization of a particular foreign person.
4) Revenge.
5) The pretense of urgency, inevitability, and ideally of the state of being already underway.
6) The pretense of upholding the rule of law.
7) The pretense of humanitarianism.

Point #7 will pick up a section of the population's support, even among people opposed to some of the other justifications. But alone it won't work. Points #1 and #2 can do well without #7.  Any of these points can be strengthened or undone by partisanship if the war is labeled the possession of one political party or the other. And once the war is really up and rolling, a new justification slides into the #1 spot, namely the need to "support the troops" by killing more of them.

A Trump war would have the support of Trump followers, but that category does not include many Republicans and Independents, much less Democrats. Those groups are all maybes. Left-leaning and Democratic peace activists would be quite likely to oppose a Trump war -- albeit in the face of nasty police attacks.

A Clinton war would have the support of Clinton followers, but that category is as limited as Trump's. Would war-mad Republicans find supporting a war or opposing Clinton more appealing? The devil, if not Lucifer, is in the details. But the peace movement would be limited to people willing to challenge Democrats in the cause of peace -- and that could mean that Clinton could get away with lower ranked excuses (such as numbers 4 through 7), but there is no reason to imagine she wouldn't reach for numbers 1-3 as well.

Laugh about it, wrote Paul Simon. Shout about it. When you've got to choose. Every way you look at it you lose. Unless you support Jill Stein and/or build a more principled peace movement.

Top 10 Reasons Why It's Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children

Is it really necessary for me to explain to you why it's acceptable, necessary, and admirable for the United States and its minor allies to be blowing up houses, families, men, women, and children in Syria?

This latest story of blowing up 85 civilians in their homes has some people confused and concerned. Let me help you out.

1. Somebody mistook them for ISIS fighters, determined that each of them was a continuing and imminent threat to the United States, verified a near zero possibility of any civilians being hurt in the process, and determined that some more bombing was just the way to advance a cease-fire in Syria. So this was not only an accident, but a series of unfortunate events, mistakes, and miscalculations of such proportions that they're unlikely ever to all align again for at least a few days to come.

2. This isn't actually news. That the United States is blowing up civilians by the hundreds in Syria has been endlessly reported and is really of no news value, which is why you don't hear anybody at presidential conventions or on TV talking about it, and why you shouldn't talk aboiut it either if you know what's good for you.

3. Quite a lot of families actually got away without being blown up and are now refugees, which is truly the ideal thing to be in Syria, which is the most totally prepared place for more refugees in the history of the earth, or would be if liberal internationalist do-gooders would provide some aid and stop whining about all the bombs falling.

4. Who gets labeled a "civilian" is pretty arbitrary. The United States has killed thousands of people who clearly were not civilians, and who likely had no loved ones or anyone who would become enraged by their deaths. So why lump particular groups of families into the category of "civilian," and why just assume that every 3-year-old is a civilian, and then turn around and complain with a straight face when the government labels every 18-year-old male a combatant?

5. Houses do not actually have feelings. Why be so bothered that people are blown up in their houses? I'll let you in on a little secret: The word "battlefield" hasn't meant anything that looks like a field for decades. They don't even have fields in some of these countries that don't know any better than to get themselves bombed over and over again. These wars are always in houses. Do you want the houses bombed or do you want the doors kicked in? Because when the Marines start kicking in doors and hauling people off to torture camps you whine about that too.

6. People who live in an ISIS territory are responsible for ISIS. Even those who didn't vote in the most recent ISIS election have a responsibility to get themselves burned alive, and if not then they are responsible for the evil of ISIS and ought to be burned alive by Raytheon missiles which at least make somebody some money in the process for godsake. And if ISIS won't let people flee its territory, but won't burn them alive, then it's time for the international community to step in with efficient burning-alive systems that meet international standards.

7. Donald Trump has sworn he would start killing families. If the U.S. government does not continue its centuries-old practice of killing families, Trump might gain support and endanger us all by creating the new policy of killing families.

8. When airplanes take off from Turkey to commit mass murder in Syria, it helps to bring Turkey back into the community of the rule of law and international respect for human rights, following the recent coup attempt. Keeping U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey serves a similar purpose.

9. Sometimes when you blow people up in their houses, their heads can remain on their bodies. When U.S.-armed moderates behead children, they're doing it for the goal of moderating the moderation of moderate allies and allied moderates. But when the United States kills directly, it is important that there be a chance of some heads remaining on bodies.

10. Unlike every other country on earth, the United States is not a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, so, in the words of the great Thomas Friedman, suck on this.

White Plains, NY, Spies on Residents With Drone

At right is a photo of a drone taken by Sue McAnanama at a July 14, 2016, march, in White Plains, N.Y.

Nick Mottern of says, "I just spoke with White Plains Assistant Chief of Police Anne Fitzsimmons who declined to acknowledge whether or not the White Plains Police have a drone much less whether the police used a drone to undertake surveillance of people at the County-wide March for Justice held in White Plains last Thursday, July 14.

"Asked if the police had used a drone at the march, she said that she would not give any information having to do with 'tactics'.   No information will be provided, she said, because 'we need to maintain the integrity of our ability to protect the public.'

"She said further that since there are 'many, many cameras out there' the question of the use of a drone is 'a moot point'."

It's worth noting the meaningless and militaristic language this supposedly domestic civilian public servant uses to deny information to the public. Just label something a "tactic" and you can keep it secret, she thinks, so that the enemy doesn't learn your tactics. But who is the enemy? And the "integrity" of serving the public requires not letting the public know what you are doing (and spying on that public)?

Mottern points out that, in fact, there are differences between drone cameras and other cameras that might film people attempting to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble and speak. "Drones are able to focus in on individuals and groups and to follow them for extended periods; drones can be fitted with pepper spray, tear gas and other anti-personnel weapons," Mottern says. Yes, and they can be used to intimidate, to target political enemies, to restrict people's rights. And if they really were no different from other means of surveillance, what sort of excuse would that be? Nobody excuses police killings on the grounds that there are lots of other killings anyway.

Syracuse, N.Y., was the fifth city in the country to join the list of those banning drones. Meanwhile White Plains just goes ahead with this new abuse without making any sort of public decision. "It seems quite extraordinary," says Mottern, "that the White Plains Police feel that they can begin to use a highly intrusive tool of public surveillance and intimidation without informing the public and, moreover, without public debate and a vote by the White Plains City Council."

Talk Nation Radio: Edward Hasbrouck: Extend Selective Service to Women or End it for Men?

Edward Hasbrouck is a long-time member of the War Resisters League and maintains one of the most comprehensive websites about "Selective Service," the draft, draft registration, and draft resistance. His website at includes news about the current proposals to expand draft registration to women as well as men, and FAQs about what to do if you don't want to be drafted. Edward was one of 20 people who were prosecuted for organizing resistance to draft registration in the 1980s. He spent 4 1/2 months in a federal prison camp in 1983-1984 before the government gave up trying to enforce the Selective Service law in 1987 in the face of massive noncompliance.

Dump draft registration, don’t extend it to women (Op-Ed by Edward Hasbrouck, San Francisco Chronicle, June 4, 2016)

Support H.R. 4523 to end draft registration

Petition to the U.S. Congress: Pass the new bill to abolish the military draft

Women: Do not register for the draft. (by Rivera Sun, PeaceVoice, June 17, 2016)

Gender-Neutral Draft Registration Would Create Millions of Female Felons (U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 2016)

Total run time: 29:00

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

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What About Theresa May Plagiarizing Genghis Kahn?

There are scandals and then there are the things that should be scandals. Melania Trump gave a speech on Monday plagiarizing a speech by Michelle Obama, not to mention a song by Rick Astley (that, like these speeches, someone else wrote). Yes, that's funny. The accented immigrant spouse campaigning for the xenophobic bigot is funny in itself. So are her pornographic photos in the context of the Republican Party's denunciation of pornography as a major threat. But, between you and me, if you base your voting on someone's spouse's mindless cynical blather about "values," you've got worse problems than trying to choose between two parties that can swap such blather word-for-word with each other -- and so, consequently, do we all.

And if you can take a look at opening night of the Republican Convention and worry more about Melania's nonsense than about the endless repetition of the dogma that holds 96% of humanity in contempt, that declares the United States to be the only place in the world that matters, then you're missing the forest for the trees and the arsenal for the guns. Go back and watch Virginia Foxx suggesting that only in the United States does anyone value families. Or watch a crazed looking Michael Flynn declare that "the destructive pattern of putting the interests of other nations ahead of our own will end." Then please devote some moments to trying to identify all the nations whose interests the United States puts ahead of its own. Flynn, by the way, said he favored "a new American century." Should the fact that he didn't call it "the project for" really get him off the hook? Yes, yes, it's too short and common a phrase to truly count as plagiarism, but it has already killed a lot more people than Michelle's/Melania's "your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise."

Also on Monday the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May declared that she would be willing to kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women, and children, and that she would be willing to do it using a weapon that in reality is likely to kill several times that many. How is that not a scandal? If she'd said "American" men, women, and children, you can bet your fat french-fry ass it'd be the biggest roaring scandal of the week. That she is assumed to have meant some other variety of men, women, and children avoids any scandal in the U.S. media, as other people must surely be a bit more deserving of dying. However, there's a problem with that unarticulated thought process, namely that the modifier May did use was precisely this: "innocent." You can't get any more innocent than "innocent," and that's who she's willing to slaughter.

And for what purpose is Theresa "Seven Days in" May, just seven days into her prime ministership, willing to commit mass murder? In order, she says, to ensure that her enemies know she is willing to, because that knowledge will deter them from something or other. Of course, Tony Blair was warned that attacking countries would create anti-UK violence, not deter it. And that warning proved accurate. Imagine how many enemies Theresa May would have if she started nuking people? She'd have the whole surviving world for enemies. ISIS could blow its whole recruitment budget on self-flagellation or whatever ISISers do for fun. May would have it covered. In trying to defend her nuclearism, May is not just plagiarizing Genghis Kahn, but plagiarizing the false claims of her U.S. and UK predecessors, and doing so just as mindlessly as Melania Trump.

When Spain was victimized by a terrorist attack it pulled out of the war on Iraq, and the terrorist attacks stopped. That's an important lesson. And the lesson is not to do whatever a bully demands. The lesson is to stop being a bully if you don't want your victims to hit back. Spain didn't agree to commit some new crime. It just agreed to stop committing a larger crime. This was the lesson when George W. Bush pulled the U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia or Ronald Reagan pulled them out of Lebanon. But pulling out of Saudi Arabia and moving into Iraq was not well thought through, unless the goal was chaos.

There was a bit of a scandal on Monday in the UK. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that mass murder is not a good way to handle international affairs. It would have been nice last December if the Democratic or Republican Party in the United States had had a Jeremy Corbyn in it. That was when CNN's Hugh Hewitt asked Republican candidate Ben Carson if he would be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of children. To Carson's great credit, he responded by answering a question from an exam he'd taken in medical school for which the answer had only just occurred to him, and then wandered off into recounting a dream or something. But the asking of the question, the assumption that a president's basic duty is mass murder created no scandal, and won't unless someone answers it by plagiarizing Ben Carson.

Best Speech a U.S. President Ever Gave

In planning an upcoming conference and nonviolent action aimed at challenging the institution of war, with the conference to be held at American University, I can't help but be drawn to the speech a U.S. president gave at American University a little more than 50 years ago. Whether or not you agree with me that this is the best speech ever given by a U.S. president, there should be little dispute that it is the speech most out of step with what anyone will say at either the Republican or the Democratic national convention this year. Here's a video of the best portion of the speech:

President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a time when, like now, Russia and the United States had enough nuclear weapons ready to fire at each other on a moment's notice to destroy the earth for human life many times over. At that time, however, in 1963, there were only three nations, not the current nine, with nuclear weapons, and many fewer than now with nuclear energy. NATO was far removed from Russia's borders. The United States had not just facilitated a coup in Ukraine. The United States wasn't organizing military exercises in Poland or placing missiles in Poland and Romania. Nor was it manufacturing smaller nukes that it described as "more usable." The work of managing U.S. nuclear weapons was then deemed prestigious in the U.S. military, not the dumping ground for drunks and misfits that it has become. Hostility between Russia and the United States was high in 1963, but the problem was widely known about in the United States, in contrast to the current vast ignorance. Some voices of sanity and restraint were permitted in the U.S. media and even in the White House. Kennedy was using peace activist Norman Cousins as a messenger to Nikita Khrushchev, whom he never described, as Hillary Clinton has described Vladimir Putin, as "Hitler."  

Kennedy framed his speech as a remedy for ignorance, specifically the ignorant view that war is inevitable. This is the opposite of what President Barack Obama said recently in Hiroshima and earlier in Prague and Oslo. Kennedy called peace "the most important topic on earth." It is a topic not touched on in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. I fully expect this year's Republican national convention to celebrate ignorance.

Kennedy renounced the idea of a "Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war," precisely what both big political parties now and most speeches on war by most past U.S. presidents ever have favored. Kennedy went so far as to profess to care about 100% rather than 4% of humanity:

U.S. Drone Program Proves Counterproductive on Own Terms

If there's any debate right now in the major U.S. media regarding blowing people up with missiles from drones, it's about "transparency" (official reporting on who's killed) or death counts of those people somehow identified as civilians. But unless drones are just a means of vicariously venting rage, or of profiting drone manufacturers, they are -- like the wider wars they are part of -- supposed to serve some purpose.

Although terrorism keeps increasing during the Overseas Contingency Operations Formerly Known as the Global War on Terrorism, in theory the war making is supposed to (1) not be terrorism itself, and (2) reduce terrorism or end it. While I think a strong case can be made that neither of those conditions has been or ever could be met, and that even as mass therapy or economic catalyst the whole thing is doomed to failure, the drones are the piece of it that has begun to be recognized as counterproductive.

In a master's thesis from a student at Georgetown University, summarized in a recent article, Emily Manna took data on terrorism in Pakistan between 2006 and 2012 from the Global Terrorism Database and data on drone strikes where it was corroborated by both the New America Foundation and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Manna found that after the United States begins attacking a province with drones, terrorism increases there.

Three years ago, a young man from Yemen whose village had been attacked by a U.S. drone the week before, testified before Congress. Farea Al-muslimi said that, as with many known drone strikes, the supposed target was a well-known man who could very easily have been arrested. Al-muslimi said that when his neighbors think of America, they think of "the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads ready to fire missiles at any time. What violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America."

President Barack Obama used to hold up Yemen as the example of a successful drone war. That was before the drone strikes contributed to creating a wider war, and before the wider war waged by Saudi Arabia and the United States further strengthened al Qaeda in Yemen.

The Chicot report recently highlighted the fact that Prime Minister Tony Blair was warned before the attack on Iraq that it would increase terrorism and could result, as it did, in something like ISIS. The U.S. government had the same understanding as well, and also had the same expectation of likely chaos for Syria if its government were overthrown, before beginning to work for that overthrow. Later Obama asked the CIA for a report on whether arming proxies had ever worked. The closest the CIA could come to a successful case was 1980s Afghanistan. Need I spell out what that created? (Yes, Obama proceeded to arm proxies in Syria anyway.)

A CIA report warns that drone strikes can increase terrorism:

"The potential negative effects . . . include increasing the level of insurgent support […], strengthening an armed group's bonds with the population, radicalizing an insurgent group's remaining leaders, creating a vacuum into which more radical groups can enter."

Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Paterson's cables published by WikiLeaks stated that drone strikes "risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal."

According to Mark Mazzetti, "The CIA station chief in Islamabad thought the drone strikes in 2005 and 2006 — which, while infrequent at that time, were often based on bad intelligence and had resulted in many civilian casualties — had done little except fuel hatred for the United States inside Pakistan and put Pakistani officials in the uncomfortable position of having to lie about the strikes."

Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that while "drone attacks did help reduce the Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, they also increased hatred of America."

Another Obama advisor, Michael Boyle, said drone strikes have "adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists … The vast increase in the number of deaths of low-ranking operatives has deepened political resistance to the U.S. program in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries."

Yet another, Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, according to the New York Times, that "America's aggressive campaign of drone strikes could be undermining long-term efforts to battle extremism. 'We're seeing that blowback. If you're trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you're going to upset people even if they're not targeted.'"

Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations has found that "There appears to be a strong correlation in Yemen between increased targeted killings since December 2009 and heightened anger toward the United States and sympathy with or allegiance to AQAP ... One former senior military official closely involved in U.S. targeted killings argued that 'drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America ... A world characterized by the proliferation of armed drones ... would undermine core U.S. interests, such as preventing armed conflict, promoting human rights, and strengthening international legal regimes.' Because of drones' inherent advantages over other weapons platforms, states and nonstate actors would be much more likely to use lethal force against the United States and its allies."

Robert Grenier, who was Director of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center from 2004 to 2006, has asked: "How many Yemenis may be moved in future to violent extremism in reaction to carelessly targeted missile strikes, and how many Yemeni militants with strictly local agendas will become dedicated enemies of the West in response to U.S. military actions against them?"

Here's an answer. Former U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Yemen, Nabeel Khoury, has warned that "the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP operative killed by drones."

You wouldn't know this from most New York Times reports, but a New York Times editorial blurts it out as obvious: "Of course, we already know that torture and drone strikes pose a profound threat to America's national security and the safety of its citizens abroad."

But if it's so "of course" that drones endanger us rather than protect us, and they cost a fortune, and they damage the environment, and they kill thousands of people, and they erode basic civil liberties, and they make small wars that develop into large wars so much easier to start, and their proliferation to numerous other nations is going to be a disaster, then why do it?

Of course, more research will be done, most of it likely funded by the drone profiteers. But did we actually need any? Just imagine for a moment that the bomb the police used to blow a man up in Dallas, Texas, this month was a matter of routine, that these bombs were going off in all U.S. cities, that they were targeting people who looked suspicious or who had the cell phone of someone who had looked suspicious, that they were targeting those who rushed to the assistance of victims of an earlier strike, that the drones to deliver the bombs were buzzing constantly overhead as an ever-present threat so that parents were refusing to allow their kids out the door to go to school. Imagine that, and ask yourself if anyone would get angry.

We need to ban weaponized drones:

What Makes Obama Think His Wars Are Legal?

President Barack Obama's lawyers, working on our dime, have just laid out a 46-page explanation of why current wars are legal. They've done so in response to a lawsuit, which has limited the argument in some significant ways.

First, while Obama has bragged about bombing seven nations, this lawsuit deals only with whichever parts of the world ISIS is in. But there is every reason to believe that Obama would make similar arguments for the legality of his other wars.

Second, while Tony Blair may be in hot water for violating the UN Charter's ban on threatening or using war, and while Germans and Japanese were once prosecuted for violating the Kellogg-Briand Pact's ban on waging war, this lawsuit takes no notice of such laws whatsoever, and thus neither does Obama's response. In fact, the "Most Progressive Democratic Party Platform in History" itself violates the UN Charter by threatening war on Iran and, a bit less explicitly, on Syria.

The lawsuit accuses Obama of waging war against ISIS in violation of the War Powers Resolution. Obama's lawyers (or, if you prefer the idiom of "our troops," we can say "our lawyers") try four different arguments for why that isn't so.

Will the Zanana Ever Stop?

In the dialect of Gaza, where drones buzzed and blew things up for 51 days two years ago, there's an onomatopoetic word for drones: zanana. When Atef Abu Saif's kids would ask him, during that war, to take them out of doors somewhere, and he would refuse, they would then ask: "But you'll take us when the zanana stops?"

Saif has published his diary from that time, with 51 entries, called The Drone Eats With Me. I recommend reading one chapter a day. You're not too late to read most of them on the two-year anniversary of their happening. Reading the book straight through may not properly convey the length of the experience. On the other hand, you may want to finish before the next war on Gaza begins, and I really can't say when that will be.

The 2014 war was the third that Saif's family had been part of in five years. It's not that he or his wife or his little children joined the military. They didn't head off to that mythical land that U.S. journalism calls the "battlefield." No, the wars come right to them. From their point of view beneath the planes and drones, the killing is entirely random. Tonight it's the building next door destroyed, tomorrow some houses just out of sight. Roads are blown up, and orchards, even a cemetery so as not to deny the dead a share in the hell of the living. Long dead bones fly out of the soil in the explosions with as much logical purpose as your cousin's kids are decapitated or your grandmother's home flattened.

When you venture outside during a war in Gaza, the impression is apparently of being toyed with by giants, ferocious and enormous creatures able to pick apart large buildings as if they were made with Legos. And the giants have eyes in the form of ever-watching and ever-buzzing drones:

"A young man who sold kids' food -- sweets, chocolates, crisps -- became, in the eye of the drone operator, a valid target, a danger to Israel."

". . . The operator looks at Gaza the way an unruly boy looks at the screen of a video game. He presses a button that might destroy an entire street. He might decide to terminate the life of someone walking along the pavement, or he might uproot a tree in an orchard that hasn't yet borne fruit."

Saif and his family hide indoors, with mattresses in the hallway, away from windows, day after day. He ventures out against his own better judgment. "I feel more and more stupid each night," he writes,

"walking between the camp and Saftawi with drones whirring above me. Last night, I even saw one: it was glinting in the night sky like a star. If you don't know what to look for, you wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a star. I scanned the sky for about ten minutes as I walked, looking for anything that moved. There are stars and planes up there of course. But a drone is different, the only light it gives off is reflected so it's harder to see than a star or a plane. It's like a satellite, only it's much closer to the ground and therefore moves faster. I spotted one as I turned onto al-Bahar Street, then kept my eyes firmly fixed on it. The missiles are easy to see once they're launched -- they blaze through the sky blindingly -- but keeping my eye on the drone meant I had a second or two more notice than anyone else, should it decide to fire."

Living under the drones, Gazans learn not to make heat, which could be interpreted as a weapon. But they grow accustomed to the ever-present threat, and the explicit threats delivered to their cell phones. When the Israeli army texts everyone in a refugee camp to get out, nobody moves. Where are they to flee to, with their houses destroyed, and having already fled?

If you allow yourself to listen to the drones at night, you'll never sleep, Saif wrote. "So I did my best to ignore them, which was hard. In the dark, you can almost believe they're in your bedroom with you, behind the curtains, above the wardrobe. You imagine that, if you wave your hand above your face, you might catch it in your hand or even swat it as you would a mosquito."

I'm reminded of a line of poetry from, I think, Pakistan, but it could be from any of the drone-warred nations: "My love for you is as constant as a drone." But it isn't love that the drone nations are bestowing on their distant victims, is it?

Abandon all hope for the Democratic Party

For decades, people have tried to fix the Democratic Party. They've imagined that their failings in this regard could be overcome by a greater effort. But it is hard to imagine anyone in the future mounting as significant an effort as did Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

We're cynically told to just wait, because younger people hold better views. But the holding of views, by anyone, has nothing to do with it. And younger people have a pretty consistent record of becoming older people.

Why does the holding of views have nothing to do with it? Because the Democratic Party is bought and paid for and directed from the top down.

Here is a party that pretends to have solved the healthcare crisis with such self-deluding intensity that it refuses to express support for providing universal healthcare.

Here is a party that criminally pushes for more militarism and war including the overthrow of the Syrian government, and that will not admit the existence of occupied Palestine.

Here is a party that continues to refuse to oppose fracking, that won't put opposition to the TPP in its platform even while its candidate pretends to hold that position, and that won't put free college in its platform even while its candidate pretends to hold that position.

This is where the Democratic Party is after -- just as before -- a challenge from within and without that, if not for systemic corruption, probably would have made a decent candidate the party's nominee and did make that candidate the winner of nearly 50% in its primaries and caucuses. A greater challenge than this is highly unlikely in the coming days, months, years, or decades.

Let's pause a moment and listen to the breeze. There it is. Wait for it.

All together now and con brio: So I want Donald Trump to transform the country into fascism because I hate women, right?

I want you to vote for a woman named Jill Stein, with or without Bernie Sanders on her ticket.

I also want you to recognize that the system is totally corrupted. Cleaning the money out, fixing the communications system, opening up the ballots and debates, abolishing or democratizing the Senate, undoing gerrymandering, creating hand-counted paper ballots at each polling place and an election holiday, banning bribery, publicly funding elections, ending the electoral college and delegates and superdelegates, creating direct democracy through referenda, redistributing power to states and localities, and other necessary reforms are not going to be achieved because of whom we elect within the broken system so much as by what we do to bring pressure to bear on everyone working within it.

The reason to break free of both election obsession and lesser evilism is not that one evil candidate is or isn't worse than another evil candidate. The reason is to make ourselves independent minded throughout the year and to direct our focus toward policy-based popular campaigns for radical change rather than dissipating a movement into cheerleading for a particular set of Misrepresentatives.

The majority of the United States cannot stand either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. That majority needs to take a clear stand for a system of government that does not impose such people on us. Don't fund them. Don't work for them. Don't allow them to go outdoors without protest. Don't allow them to go indoors without protest. #NoTrumpNoClinton should be our position. And our agenda should be investing unprecedented, undreamed of quantities of energy and funding and time and creativity into building a movement to overwhelm whoever claims to be our public servants with our legitimate majority demands to try to save this planet, stop killing, share the wealth, and improve rather than degrade peoples lives with public resources.

Talk Nation Radio: Joseph Gerson on NATO's Drive Toward War with Russia

Dr. Joseph Gerson has just attended an anti-NATO summit in Poland and has just authored an article called Imperial NATO: Before and After Brexit. Gerson is Director of Programs for the American Friends Service Committee’s Northeast Region and Director of AFSC’s Peace & Economic Security Program. He focuses on preventing nuclear war and achieving nuclear weapons abolition, education and organizing for peaceful and just alternatives to U.S.-led militarization of the Asia-Pacific, and prevention of U.S. wars, focusing most recently on NATO, Ukraine and Iraq. His books include Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World and The Sun Never Sets…Confronting the Network of U.S. Foreign Military Bases.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at

To Prosecute Blair for War You Do Not Need the ICC

To prosecute Tony Blair or George W. Bush or others responsible for the criminal attack on Iraq, or other top officials for other recent wars, does not require the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is commonplace to insist that the ICC cannot handle the supreme crime of aggression, although it might at some point in the future. The United States is also believed to be immune from prosecution as a non-ICC member.

But this focus on the ICC is a sign of weakness in a global movement for justice that has other tools readily available. When the losers of World War II were prosecuted, there was no ICC. The ICC's existence does not impede anything that was done in Nuremberg or Tokyo, where the crime of making war was prosecuted by the victors of World War II under the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Nor does the existence of the UN Charter throw up any obstacles. The invasion of Iraq (and every other recent Western war) was just as illegal under the UN Charter as under Kellogg-Briand.

Nor does one have to go back to Nuremberg for a precedent. The special tribunals set up for Yugoslavia and Rwanda prosecuted the waging of war under the name of "genocide." The notion that the West cannot commit genocide (anymore) is pure prejudice. The scale and type of killing unleashed on Iraqis by the 2003 coalition perfectly fits the definition of genocide as routinely applied to non-Westerners.

The special tribunal on Rwanda is also a model for addressing the lies and propaganda that are such a focus of the Chilcot Report. As at Nuremberg, the propagandists were prosecuted in Rwanda. While Fox News executives should certainly be prosecuted for sexual harassment where merited, in a fair world in which the rule of law were applied equally, they would face additional charges as well. War propaganda is as illegal under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as war was under Kellogg-Briand.

What we are lacking is not the legal ability to prosecute, but the will power and the democratic control of institutions. In war or genocide, as with torture and other atrocities constituting "the evil of the whole," we are dealing with crimes that can be prosecuted in any court under universal jurisdiction. The possibility that U.S. or UK courts are going to handle this matter themselves has long since been ruled out, freeing the courts of any other nation to act.

Now, I'm not against prosecuting Blair before Bush. And I'm not against prosecuting Blair for minor components of his crime before the entirety. But if we wanted to end war, we would pursue those lesser measures with an openly expressed understanding of what is actually possible if only we had the will.

When France, Russia, China, Germany, Chile, and so many others stood against the crime of attacking Iraq, they acknowledged the responsibility they have shunned ever since of seeking prosecution. Do they fear the precedent? Do they prefer that war not be prosecutable because of their own wars? Imagine how shortsighted that would be, and how ignorant of the damage they do to the world by allowing the truly monstrous warmakers to walk free.

U.S. Plans to Saturate Globe With Weapons

My headline above is a plain English translation of this Pentagonspeak found in a Reuters headline today: "Demand for U.S. arms exports set to keep growing, official says."

As the United States and NATO antagonize Russia, and pressure NATO members to buy more weapons, and showcase U.S. weapons in numerous wars, and use every carrot and stick in the State Department to market U.S. weapons, an "official" who happens to have been located at a giant weapons trade show predicts that of its own accord "demand" for weaponry is going to grow. Here's Reuters' first sentence:

"International demand for U.S. weapons systems is expected to continue growing in coming years, a senior U.S. Air Force official said on Sunday, citing strong interest in unmanned systems, munitions and fighter jets."

Thus is the proliferation of drones around the world spun as something positive, along with bombs and jets. And thus is it spun as something that simply results from the quality and desirability of the products.

Quick, which five nations do you most want murdering their enemies with missiles from drones over the United States?

Impeach and Prosecute Tony Blair

The Chilcot report's "findings" have virtually all been part of the public record for a decade, and it avoids key pieces of evidence. Its recommendations are essentially to continue using war as a threat and a tool of foreign policy, but to please try not to lie so much, make sure to win over a bit more of the public, and don't promise any positive outcomes given the likelihood of catastrophe.

The report is a confused jumble, given that it records evidence of the supreme crime but tries to excuse it. The closer you get to the beginning of the executive summary, the more the report reads as if written by the very criminals it's reporting on. Yet the report makes clear, as we always knew, that even in 2001-2003 there were honest people working in the British, as also in the U.S., government -- some of whom became whistleblowers, others of whom accurately identified the planned war as a crime that would endanger rather than protect, but stayed in their jobs when the war was launched.

Chilcot makes clear that the attack on Iraq was illegal, against the British public, against the international community and the UN Charter, expected to increase terrorism, based on lies about terrorism and weapons, and -- like every other war ever launched -- not a last resort. Chilcot records, as reality-based reporting always has, that Iraq claimed honestly to have no nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Chilcot fails to explain with any clarity that one cannot legally or morally attack another nation even when it does have such things.

Chilcot does make clear the extent to which France was pushing back against war, along with Russia and Germany and Chile and China. The key supporter of U.S. war plans was the UK, and there is some possibility that a UK refusal to join in this crime might really have done some good.

But Chilcot steers away from criminal responsibility, and from the damage done by the crime. It avoids the Downing Street Memo, the White House Memo, Hussein Kamel, the spying and threatening and bribing involved in the failed effort to win UN authorization, Aznar's account of Bush's admission that Saddam Hussein was willing to leave, etc. This is a report that aims for politeness and tranquility.

Not to worry, Chilcot tells us, as nothing like this will happen again even if we just let the criminals walk. Chilcot claims bizarrely that every other war before and since has been defensive and in response to some attack, rather than an act of aggression like this one. Of course, no list of those other wars is provided.

Even more bizarrely, Chilcot claims that Blair and gang literally never considered the possibility that Iraq had no "weapons of mass destruction." How you make all kinds of assertions, contrary to your evidence, that Iraq has weapons without considering the question is beyond me. But Chilcot credits with great significance the supposedly excusing grace of groupthink and the passion with which people like Blair supposedly believed their own lies. Chilcot even feeds into the disgusting lie that Blair pushes to this day that Iraqis chose to destroy their own country while their occupiers nobly attempted "reconstruction."

Despite itself, however, Chilcot may do some good. In the United States, when James Comey describes crimes by Hillary Clinton and assures us they should not be prosecuted, most people can be counted on to lie back and accept that blindly or even fervently. Yet our friends in Britain appear less than eager to accept the attitude with which Chilcot has reported on the supreme international crime.

Tony Blair may now be impeached as he needs to be. Yes -- sigh -- one can and should impeach people no longer in office, as has been usefully done in both British and U.S. history. Removal from office is one penalty that sometimes follows a conviction at a trial following an impeachment; it is not itself the definition of impeachment. Blair should be tried and convicted by Parliament. He should also be put on trial by the International Criminal Court or, better, by a special tribunal established for Iraq as for World War II or Yugoslavia.

The victors in World War II used the Kellogg-Briand Pact to prosecute the losers for the new crime of launching a war. Blair violated both the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the newer, yet never used, United Nations Charter, which also bans war. While Kellogg-Briand allows no exceptions, the exceptions in the UN Charter were famously not met in the case of the war on Iraq or, for that matter, any other recent western wars.

You can sign a petition urging Blair's impeachment and prosecution here. Of course the goal must be to build momentum for holding the chief (U.S.) war criminals accountable, pursuing truth and reconciliation, and making massive reparations to the people of Iraq and their region. What the U.S. needs is action, not a 7-year "investigation." Our own Chilcot report, better in fact, was written long ago.

The Chilcot report could, against its own wishes, move us in that direction.

The Activist as a Young Girl

Clare Hanrahan's memoir The Half Life of a Free Radical: Growing Up Irish Catholic in Jim Crow Memphis is a remarkable feat: part Jack Kerouac, part Dorothy Day, part Howard Zinn, and a bit of Forest Gump.

First and foremost this is an entertaining and irreverent tale of childhood and adolescence told with great humor, honesty, and empathy. But it's also told by someone who became a peace and justice and environmentalist activist in later life, someone able to look back on the poverty, racism, consumerism, militarism, sexism, and Catholicism of her youth with passion and perspective -- even appreciation for all the good that was mixed in with the bad. Hanrahan writes what in outline form would read like an endless tale of misfortune, and yet leaves you with the thought of how much riotous fun she and her eight siblings and other acquaintances had.

I know Clare, though I learned much more about her from this book, and I wouldn't risk changing her if I had a time machine and magical powers. But I still found myself wondering, as with most stories of most people in the United States and much of the world, how different Hanrahan's life would have been in a society with the decency to provide free college and free job training as needed, or a society that integrated civic activism into everyone's life, or a society in which peace activist careers were marketed on the level of military recruitment ads or even marketed at all so that they weren't so frequently found so late, or a society in which some of the best people didn't live below a taxable salary level so as not to pay taxes for wars.

Hanrahan gives us her family genealogy first, and by doing so teaches some U.S. history that echoes through the book and the years. So, she shows us the cruelty of Jim Crow, for example, through personal experiences as a white girl, but illuminates it with an understanding of its origins, and -- even more importantly -- an awareness of its latest incarnations today. She also contrasts what she knows of the history of Memphis with what she was taught in school in Memphis growing up.

Hanrahan tells her story largely in chronological order, with no lengthy flashbacks, but with numerous quick bits of foreshadowing. For example:

"Brother Tommy gouged his initials, TPH, with a pocket knife on that same bannister long before the American war in Viet Nam maimed his hand, stole his youth, poisoned him with Agent Orange, and eventually took his life and that of his twin brother Danny. The bannister was later knocked down by a speeding car that careened into the porch stopping just short of the front bedroom."

Tommy returned from Vietnam to a  hospital. "In my naiveté," Hanrahan writes,

"I rushed to my brother's bedside to embrace him. I may even have called him 'my hero' as I approached, expecting a hug. Lightning fast his good arm flailed out knocking me across the room and onto the floor. 'Wake up!' he said. 'Wake up you stupid bitch.' I can still hear those harsh words. Dazed and confused, I picked myself up and backed away. This was not the brother I had sent away with a patriotic poem, proudly recited before my senior class."

Hanrahan's two veteran brothers suffered in many ways, and failed to fit back into society in many ways, but it was the cruelty toward women that they came back from the war with that their sister Clare eventually found intolerable.

When Hanrahan left Memphis she saw a lot of the country and a bit of the world, including living off the grid on land and water, joining intentional communities and finding her way to a job writing for peace. She also protested for peace and spent six months behind bars. During the course of her ramblings, Hanrahan managed to be present at or part of an extraordinary number of crucial events and developments in recent U.S. history. Hanrahan became editor of Rural Southern Voice for Peace just in time for the first Gulf War and the awful wars that have followed.

Hanrahan found her way back to Memphis on numerous occasions, sometimes for funerals, but also to be part of activist efforts such as the successful campaign to preserve the band shell in Overton Park launched by one of her brothers. Hanrahan intersperses her memories with her dreams and poetry, adding emotional depth to an account of an extraordinary family in a struggling city that I've enjoyed visiting but would like to visit again with this book as a guide.

Talk Nation Radio: Mel Duncan on why unarmed civilian protection is better than war

Mel Duncan is a co-founder and current Director of Advocacy and Outreach for Nonviolent Peaceforce, an international non-governmental organization that provides direct protection to civilians caught in violent conflict and works with local civil society groups on violence deterrence throughout the world.  He has received numerous awards. The Utne Reader named Duncan one of “50 Visionaries Who are Changing Our World.”  The American Friends Service Committee nominated Nonviolent Peaceforce for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Guess Who Wants Authority to Murder by Drone

If you haven't been hiding under a partisan rock for the past several years, you're aware that President Barack Obama has given himself the sort-of legalish right to murder anyone anywhere with missiles from drones.

He's not the only one who wants that power.

Yes, President Obama has claimed to have put restrictions on whom he'll murder, but in no known case has he followed any of his self-imposed non-legal restrictions. Nowhere has someone been arrested instead of killed, while in many known cases people have been killed who could have easily been arrested. In no known case has someone been killed who was an "imminent and continuing threat to the United States," or for that matter just plain imminent or just plain continuing. It's not even clear how someone could be both an imminent and a continuing threat until you study up on how the Obama administration has redefined imminent to mean theoretically imaginable someday. And, of course, in numerous cases civilians have been killed in large numbers and people have been targeted without identifying who they are. Lying dead from U.S. drone strikes are men, women, children, non-Americans, and Americans, not a single one of them charged with a crime or their extradition sought.

Who else would like to be able to do this?

One answer is most nations on earth. We now read news stories from Syria of people dying from a drone strike, with the reporter unable to determine if the missile came from a U.S., U.K., Russian, or Iranian drone. Just wait. The skies will be filled if the trend is not reversed.

Another answer is Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, but not Jill Stein. Yes, those first three candidates have said they want this power.

Another answer, however, should be just as disturbing as those already mentioned. Military commanders around the world want the authority to murder people with drones without bothering to get approval from civilian officials back home. Here's a fun quiz:

How many zones has the United States divided the globe into for purposes of complete military domination, and what are their names?

Answer: Six. They are Northcom, Southcom, Eucom, Pacom, Centcom, and Africom. (Jack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack were already taken.) In normal English they are: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Western Asia, and Africa.

Now here comes the hard question. Which of those zones has a new would-be commander who was just encouraged by a prominent Senator in an open Congressional hearing to acquire the authority to murder people in his zone without getting approval from the U.S. president?

Clue #1. It's a zone with the empire's headquarters not even located in the zone, so that this new commander speaks of killing people there as playing "an away game."

Clue #2. It's a poor zone that does not manufacture weapons but it saturated with weapons made in the United States plus France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, and China.

Clue #3. Many of the people in this zone have skin resembling people who are disproportionately targets of U.S. police department killings.

Did you get it right? That's correct: Africom is being encouraged by Senator Lindsay Graham, who a short time back wanted to be president, to blow people up with missiles from flying robots without presidential approval.

Now here's where the morality of war can wreak havoc with humanitarian imperialism. If a drone killing is not part of a war, then it looks like murder. And handing out licenses to murder to additional people looks like a worsening of the state of affairs in which just one person claims to hold such a license. But if drone killing is part of a war, and Captain Africom claims to be at war with Somalia, or with a group in Somalia, for example, well then, he wouldn't need special permission to blow up a bunch of people with manned aircraft; so why should he need it when using robotic unmanned bombers?

The trouble is that saying the word "war" doesn't have the moral or legal powers often imagined. No current U.S. war is legal under either the U.N. Charter or the Kellogg-Briand Pact. And the intuition that murdering people with a drone is wrong can't be a useful one if murdering people with a piloted plane is right, and vice versa. We actually have to choose. We actually have to set aside the scale of the killing, the type of technology, the role of robots, and all other extraneous factors, and choose whether it's acceptable, moral, legal, smart, or strategic to murder people or not.

If that seems too much of a mental strain, here's an easier guide. Just imagine what your response would be if the ruler of Europe Command asked for the authority to murder at will people of his choosing along with anybody too close to them at the time.

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