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On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas. It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good.
I'll be there, joining in the people's response (http://ThePeoplesResponse.org) with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.
"The Bush Center's surrounding native Texas landscape," the center's PR office says, "including trees from the Bush family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush's longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency."
Does it, now? Is that what you recall? Bush the environmentalist?
Well, maybe you and I remember things differently, but do we have a major educational institution that will effectively repeat our corrections of the Lie Bury's claims for decades to come?
According to the Lie Bury, Bush was and is an education leader, saving our schools by turning them into test-taking factories and getting unqualified military officers to run them. This is something to be proud of, we're told.
The Lie Bury's annual report shows Bush with the Dalai Lama. No blood is anywhere to be seen. The Lie Bury's website has a photo of a smiling George W. golfing for war. "The Warrior Open," it explains, "is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that takes place over two days every fall in the Dallas area. The event honors U.S. service members wounded in the global war on terror."
Now, I actually know of some soldiers wounded in what they call by that name who don't feel honored by Bush's golfing, just as millions of Iraqis living as refugees within or outside of the nation he destroyed find Bush's liberty to walk outdoors, much less golf for the glory of war, offensive. But none of them has a quarter-billion dollar "center" from which to spread the gospel of history as it actually happened -- as it happened to its losers, to those water-boarded, shot in the face, or otherwise liberated by Bush and his subordinates.
When Bush lied about excuses to start a war on Iraq -- as with everything else he did -- he did so incompetently. As a result, a majority of Americans in the most recent polls, still say he lied to start the war. But few grasp the lesson as it should be applied to wars launched by more competent liars. And memory of Bush's lies is fading, buried under forgetfulness, avoidance, misdirection, revisionism, a mythical "surge" success, and a radically inaccurate understanding of what our government did to Iraq.
I won't be attending the Lie Bury ceremony for vengeance, but in hopes of ridding our culture of the vengeance promoted by Bush. He based a foreign policy and a domestic stripping away of rights on the thirst for vengeance -- even if misdirected vengeance. We have a responsibility to establish that we will not support that approach going forward.
Bush himself is relevant only as his treatment can deter future crimes and abuses. No one should wish Bush or any other human being ill. In fact, we should strive to understand him, as it will help us understand others who behave as he has.
Bush, of course, knew what he was doing when he tried to launch a war while pretending a war would be his last resort, suggesting harebrained schemes to get the war going to Tony Blair. Bush knew the basic facts. He knew he was killing a lot of people for no good reason. He was not so much factually clueless as morally clueless.
For Bush, as for many other people, killing human beings in wars exists outside the realm of morality. Morality is the area of abortions, gay marriage, shop lifting, fornicating, or discriminating. Remember when Bush said that a singer's suggestion that he didn't care about black people was the worst moment in his presidency? Racism may be understood by Bush as a question of morality. Mass murder not so much. Bush's mother remarked that war deaths were not worthy of troubling her beautiful mind. Asked why he'd lied about Iraqi weapons, George W. Bush asked what difference it made. Well, 1.4 million dead bodies, but who's counting?
I won't be attending the Lie Bury because Bush's successor is an improvement. On the contrary, our failure to hold Bush accountable has predictably led to his successor being significantly worse in matters of abusing presidential power. And not just predictably, but predicted. When we used to demand Bush's impeachment, people would accuse us of disliking him or his political party. No, we'd say, if he isn't held accountable, future presidents will be worse, and it won't matter from which party they come.
I helped draft about 70 articles of impeachment against Bush, from which Congressman Dennis Kucinich selected 35 and introduced them. I later looked through those 35 and found 27 that applied to President Barack Obama, even though his own innovations in abusive behavior weren't on the list. Bush's lying Congress into war (not that Congress wasn't eager to play along) is actually a standard to aspire to now. When Obama went to war in Libya, against the will of Congress, he avoided even bothering to involve the first branch of our government.
When Bush locked people up or tortured them to death, he kept it as secret as he could. Obama -- despite radically expanding secrecy powers and persecuting whistleblowers -- does most of his wrongdoing wide out in the open. Warrantless spying is openly acknowledged policy. Imprisonment without trial is "law." Torture is a policy choice, and the choice these days is to outsource it. Murder is, however, the new torture. The CIA calls it "cleaner." I picture Bush's recent paintings of himself washing off whatever filth his mind is aware he carries.
Obama runs through a list of men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, picks some, and has them murdered. We don't know this because of a whistleblower or a journalist. We know this because the White House wanted us to know it, and to know it before the election. Think about that. We moved from the pre-insanity state we were in circa 1999 to an age in which presidents want us to know they murder people. That was primarily the work of George W. Bush, and every single person who yawned, who looked away, who cheered, who was too busy, who said "it's more important to elect a new president than to keep presidential powers in check," or who said "impeachment would be traumatic" -- as if this isn't.
In Guatemala a prosecutor has charged a former dictator with genocide, remarking, "It's sending the most important message of the rule of law -- that nobody is above the law." It's not so many years ago that the United States had the decency at least to hypocritically propose that standard to the world. Now, we advance the standard of lawlessness, of "looking forward, not backward."
That's why the people need to respond to the lie bury. Ann Wright is going to be there. And Diane Wilson. Robert Jensen and Ray McGovern are coming. So are Lon Burnam and Bill McElvaney and Debra Sweet. Hadi Jawad and Leah Bolger and Marjorie Cohn and Kathy Kelly are coming. As are Coleen Rowley and Bill Moyer and Jacob David George and Medea Benjamin and Chas Jacquier and Drums Not Guns.
Also coming will be many familiar faces from the days when we used to protest in Crawford. When we'd go into that one restaurant at the intersection in Crawford, there'd be a cardboard cut-out Dubya standing there. We picked him up and stood him in the corner, facing the corner. We said he needed to stay there until he understood what he'd done wrong. In reality, of course, he was cardboard. The lesson was for everyone else in the restaurant. It's a lesson that still needs to be taught.
I have the opportunity to travel to Iran in April with some of the best peace activists in the United States on a mission of peace. We will report on everything we are able to do and learn. I can only go if you can help me fund the trip. Please chip in anything you can here http://davidswanson.org/donate
NB: We are waiting for our visas. If the visas do not come through, funds you've donated will be used when the trip can be rescheduled or will be put to other good use in the cause of peace.
Thank you! --David Swanson
Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he should receive it.
No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism" than Bradley Manning. The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world combined. Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. warmaking, and therefore militarism around the world. What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number of other nations as well.
And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Alfred Nobel's will left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
The intent of the prize was to fund this work. As a result of enormous legal expenses, Bradley Manning is in need of that funding, unlike some other peace prize recipients. In addition, his secret trial -- with a potential death sentence -- could use all the attention that can be shined on it.
The people of the United States and the rest of the world have learned more about the intentions of the U.S. government from Bradley Manning than from anyone else. "Thanks to Manning's alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have an image of how Washington operates in the world," author Chase Madar wrote in his book about Manning's whistleblowing.
"Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War. We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation. We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation."
Manning revealed a secret U.S. war in Yemen, U.S. records of massive civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, video of a U.S. helicopter attack on civilians and their rescuers in Baghdad, and facts about the corruption of numerous governments including those of the United States, Tunisia, and Egypt. In those last two nations Manning's revelations contributed to nonviolent pro-democracy movements.
Among the revelations made by Manning through WikiLeaks is the extent of time and energy the U.S. State Department puts into marketing U.S. weapons to the world's governments. We all have a better understanding of the work that is needed for peace as a result of this exposure of "diplomacy" as consisting so greatly of weapons selling.
The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailed last week how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads. Maggie O'Kane, executive producer of the documentary, said: "I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, 'If you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And that's called counter-insurgency. . . .' This would not be coming to light if it hadn't been for Bradley Manning."
Not only has Manning done the most to resist militarism, but he has done it for its own sake, and not by chance or for any ulterior motive. This is made clear by his recent statement in court and by his earlier communications in the chat logs that have long been a part of his case. Manning was horrified by crimes and abuses. He believed the public should know what was happening. He believed democracy was more important than blind subservience in the name of a "democracy."
Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Movement in the Icelandic Parliament, the Pirates of the EU; representatives from the Swedish Pirate Party, and the former Secretary of State in Tunisia for Sport & Youth. The nomination states, in part: "These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee (send them a note) can either begin awarding the peace prize to opponents of war or continue on its current course -- one which already has many questioning, not whether Manning is worthy of the prize, but whether the prize is worthy of Manning.
March 21-28 Week of Action for Bahrain
Fast from March 24-30 in solidarity with those detained indefinitely and on hunger strike at Guantanamo. Vigils will take place in NYC, Washingt on DC, Chicago, Des Moines, and other cities on March 24. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
March 26-30 World Social Forum in Tunis
March - April, NY City, Festival of Conscience
April 4 Another Life with David Swanson
April 1-30 Fasting for the climate
April 4 - July 3 Tour de Peace across the country
April 5-7 Historians Against War in Baltimore, Md.
April 8-10 Washington, D.C., School of the Americas Watch
April 4-6 San Diego, protest drones
April 4-7 – Drone Manufacturing. Actions around the country directed at drone manufacturing facilities in region and calling for an end to manufacturing weaponized and surveillance drones. Coordinator: Joe Scarry – email@example.com
April 16-18 – Drone Research/Training. Actions/teach-ins, etc. at colleges & universities that do drone research or pilot training. Demand an end to research and training related to drone warfare. Coordinator: Marge Van Cleef firstname.lastname@example.org
April 27-28 – Drone Bases. Organize protests at bases in region. Hancock Reaper drone base protest organizers calling for large demonstrations there. Coordinator: Dave Soumis email@example.com
More April Anti-Drone-Kill Events
April 13 Anti-Drone Kills March on White House
April 13 Hyattsville, Md., "Building Bridges: Creating the Beloved Community"
April 15 Global Day of Action on Military Spending
April 20 Robin Hood Tax -- Noon Rally at Murrow Park (Pennsylvania Ave between 18th & 19th Streets) in Washington, DC, 12:30pm – March to IMF, World Bank, and US Treasury
April 22-26 Dallas, Texas, People's Response to George W. Bush Lie-Bury
March and Rally April 25th
May 1, MAY DAY
May 3-5 Asheville, NC, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
May 10-12 Labor Fight Back Conference at Rutgers
June 1 Fort Meade, Md., Rally for Bradley Manning
June 7-9 Left Forum in NYC
June 22 Little Rock, Ark., United We Stand Festival
August 3 Abolish It
August 7-11, 2013, Veterans For Peace Convention in Madison, WI
August 7-11, 2013, Democracy Convention in Madison, WI
August 18-19 Philadelphia, Penn., Marking 60 years since overthrow of Mossadegh
November 22 Occupy the Grassy Knoll